Silent Depression: The Fate of the American Dream

Overview

With the U.S. economy once again a top priority of policy makers, it is worth understanding that matters are worse than they seem. Output, the traditional "bottom-line" measure of the economy's health, has turned up. The recession of 1990-91 is over. But the tepid recovery leaves much to be desired. Digging deeper, longtime observer of the economy Wallace C. Peterson finds plenty of cause for alarm. Wages, family income, and productivity growth began a long, downward trend in 1973 that continues to this day. The ...
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Overview

With the U.S. economy once again a top priority of policy makers, it is worth understanding that matters are worse than they seem. Output, the traditional "bottom-line" measure of the economy's health, has turned up. The recession of 1990-91 is over. But the tepid recovery leaves much to be desired. Digging deeper, longtime observer of the economy Wallace C. Peterson finds plenty of cause for alarm. Wages, family income, and productivity growth began a long, downward trend in 1973 that continues to this day. The riveting drama of the 1929 stock market crash will not be repeated, but the numbers tell a clear story: the American Dream has taken on a nightmarish cast. Slow and insidious, largely unnoticed for much too long, a silent depression has taken hold that now affects four out of five American families. The causes lie, reports Professor Peterson, in the diversion of too much of the nation's scarce scientific and engineering resources to military purposes for the forty years of the Cold War, a serious falloff in the rate of investment in the nation's infrastructure, a loss of well-paying blue-collar jobs in manufacturing, the fragmentation of America's labor force because of the globalization of the economy, and misguided tax policies from the 1980s. Strong medicine is called for and, as Professor Peterson finds, the Clinton economic initiatives have provided a small step in the right direction. The book closes with a series of more dramatic proposals for health care, education, and revision of the tax system that will help speed the recovery.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Peterson, economist and author of Transfer Spending, Taxes, and the American Welfare State , posits that America has been in the bitter grasp of an unrelenting, silent ``depression'' since 1973. This economic metamorphosis, a ``serious and long-lasting deterioration in the basic economic fortunes for large numbers of American families,'' triggered pronounced increases in poverty and deindustrialization and a sustained erosion of the American dream. Peterson's observations on the loss of manufacturing jobs, poverty, education, the infrastructure and the emergence of ever greater economic inequalities are perceptive. ``Far-reaching changes in the structure of the economy--changes that are both a cause and a consequence of the silent depression--have sharpened the difference between classes in America.'' This exemplary study is a significant contribution to economics. (Jan.)
Library Journal
``Twenty years of the silent depression have left America with a legacy of a shrinking middle class, lost jobs, and fear in the hearts of many young persons that they will never achieve the economic standard of life enjoyed by their parents.'' Peterson, an economist and journalist, clearly explains the significant changes in the economy over the last two decades that have contributed to this dilemma and outlines some basic remedies to our economic problems. Remedies include investing in the infrastructure, job creation, training to increase productivity, health reform, and decreasing the complexity of the tax code. He argues that solutions necessitate profound economic and political changes that will not occur quickly. This work is readable, provides good examples, and will be appreciated by academic and general readers. Highly recommended for every library collection.-- Jane M. Kathman, Coll. of St. Benedict Lib., St. Joseph, Minn.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393035865
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Pages: 317
  • Product dimensions: 5.81 (w) x 8.55 (h) x 1.14 (d)

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