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Plutocracy in America: How Increasing Inequality Destroys the Middle Class and Exploits the Poor

by Ronald P Formisano Johns Hopkins University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 272 pages
AU$52.99 NZ$54.77
Product Status: In Stock Now
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The growing gap between the most affluent Americans and the rest of society is changing the country into one defined more than almost any other developed nation by exceptional inequality of income, wealth, and opportunity. This book reveals that an infrastructure of inequality, both open and hidden, obstructs the great majority in pursuing happiness, living healthy lives, and exercising basic rights.

A government dominated by finance, corporate interests, and the wealthy has undermined democracy, stunted social mobility, and changed the character of the nation. In this tough-minded dissection of the gulf between the super-rich and the working and middle classes, Ronald P. Formisano explores how the dramatic rise of income inequality over the past four decades has transformed America from a land of democratic promise into one of diminished opportunity. Since the 1970s, government policies have contributed to the flow of wealth to the top income strata. The United States now is more a plutocracy than a democracy.

Formisano surveys the widening circle of inequalities effects, the exploitation of the poor and the middle class, and the new ways that predators take money out of Americans pockets while passive federal and state governments stand by. This data-driven book offers insight into the fallacy of widespread opportunity, the fate of the middle class, and the mechanisms that perpetuate income disparity.

1. The Web of Inequality
The Founders' Vision
American Think They Live in Sweden
The Middle Class and Poverty
Rising Public Awareness
The Great Recession
Some Are More Unequal Than Others
2. The Myth of Opportunity
The For-Profits
Eating Tuition
Rise of the Adjuncts
Death of a Contingent
3. The Shrinking Middle Class
The Lost Decade
The Geographic Dimension
Running in Place and Falling Behind
Jobs and Wages
Wage-Productivity Gap
" Why Screwing Unions Screws the Entire Middle Class"
Staying Afloat / Sinking in the New Economy
4. Keeping the Rich (Filthy) Rich and the Poor (Dirt) Poor
Rent Seeking and George Washington Plunkitt
Two Tax Systems
Corporate Taxes and CEO Compensation
The 47 Percent
Keeping the Poor Poor
Minimum-Wage Welfare Queens
5. Inequality, Life, and Quality of Life
A Tale of Two Counties
Struggling to Make Ends Meet
Food Insecurity, or Hunger amid Moocher Agribusiness
Inequality and Health
Two Americas?
The Spirit Level
Affluenza versus the "Hidden Prosperity of the Poor"
6. Political Inequality
Participation and Citizens United
Political Polarization
The Assault on Voting
The Assault on Voting, Continued
Prisons and Felons
Deferred Maintenance and Inequality
7. The Fracturing of America
Americans Do Care about Inequality
The Founders Cared about Inequality
Public Opinion
The Constitutional Stacked Deck
The Decline of "the Commons"
Antipoverty Programs
The Undeserving Poor
The Undeserving Rich
Plutocracy on the March, Democracy Trampled Underfoot

"Sebbene l'orientamento politico-culturale dell'autore sia evidente fin dall'introduzione, la massa rilevante di dati e informazioni sostiene la validit+รก della sua tesi"

Ronald P. Formisano is the William T. Bryan Chair of American History at the University of Kentucky. His most recent book is For the People: American Populist Movements from the Revolution to the 1850s.