High Wire: The Precarious Financial Lives of American Families

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Peter Gosselin predicted in High Wire that the American worker would take on an exceedingly high level of risk in the American economy, and would be ever more exposed to the volatility of the market. Today, Gosselin’s worst fears have been realized. American families are walking a high wire in which a medical crisis, a natural disaster, or the loss of a job could send them into free fall. And as the housing crisis worsens and banks and insurers collapse, many have already fallen. High Wire reveals the quiet ...
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High Wire: The Precarious Financial Lives of American Families

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Overview


Peter Gosselin predicted in High Wire that the American worker would take on an exceedingly high level of risk in the American economy, and would be ever more exposed to the volatility of the market. Today, Gosselin’s worst fears have been realized. American families are walking a high wire in which a medical crisis, a natural disaster, or the loss of a job could send them into free fall. And as the housing crisis worsens and banks and insurers collapse, many have already fallen. High Wire reveals the quiet corrosion of American living standards and shows how the “ownership society” has turned into the “on-your-own society”—with devastating consequences.
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Editorial Reviews

Martha M. Hamilton
You might not expect a book on economic policy to be a page-turner, but Peter Gosselin's High Wire is just that. Gosselin, a national economics reporter for the Los Angeles Times, has written a systematic investigation of the many ways financial risk has been transferred from employers, the federal government and insurance companies to individuals and families. Gosselin shows, in frightening detail, how our lives as Americans have become riskier over the last few decades.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

L.A. Times economics correspondent Gosselin outlines the current economic situation of American families in light of specific policies initiated since the stalled economy of the 1970s. Today, Gosselin finds, fewer households are likely to fall into financial ruin, but those who do experience layoffs, expensive medical problems, foreclosure or other financial strain have a much harder time bouncing back, as old social safety nets have been systematically unraveled. Gosselin argues that in today's economy, families and individuals are assuming an unprecedented amount of financial risk; another aspect of the new economy is that upper-middle class families are at just as much risk as the less well-off. Each chapter takes an in-depth look at a different facet of the economy, healthcare, retirement, education and rebuilding New Orleans among them. Gosselin also discusses "unjobs," short-term and freelance gigs secured by an increasingly desperate labor force, and the new indispensability of two-income households. Though scholarly, Gosselin's writing is effortlessly readable, bolstered by anecdotes from real people facing financial adversity. Packed with insight and understanding, this no-nonsense look at the present and future of the American Dream should be of interest to any wage-earner or salary-man.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465002252
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 6/2/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Peter Gosselin is national economics correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and a member of the paper’s Washington bureau. A visiting fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., he lives with his wife, reporter Robin Toner, and their two children in Washington, D.C.
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Table of Contents


Preface     ix
Introduction     1
Benefits     35
The Numbers     79
Jobs     109
Unjobs     141
The Poor     165
Housing     187
Education     217
Health     233
Retirement     255
New Orleans     283
Conclusion     307
Methods     325
Acknowledgments     331
Notes     335
Index     367
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Examining the downside of the ownership society

    Peter Gosselin discusses real problems that American families face today, especially those of the working poor. However, he views the past nostalgically. Nostalgia can be comforting, as you retreat from an uncomfortable present to a better past. You imagine former times as simpler, richer and nobler than the reality with which you struggle each day. But people of the past faced problems, too, and those led them to make the choices that resulted in the current situation. Gosselin sincerely wishes to improve society. His perspective is progressive. Politically conservative readers may fear that his solution would turn more of the U.S. economy over to the control of politicians and bureaucrats, concentrating power and decision making into fewer hands. However, the book is a passionately written cry from the heart; if nothing else, it is a wake-up call. getAbstract recommends it to human resource personnel who are concerned about work-family balance and benefits, as well as to current-events junkies and observers of politics and the economy.

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