Aaron's Reviews > Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class

Winner-Take-All Politics by Jacob S. Hacker
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Nov 19, 10

Read in October, 2010

Not a great book, but a book with extremely important ideas.* Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson look at how, over the last 30 years, the middle class in America has seen its influence over policymaking eclipsed by the super-wealthy and corporate interests. As a result, the book argues, federal policies have helped make the rich immensely richer, while ignoring the stagnation of the American middle-class.

(Whether federal policies caused the change in income distribution is a matter of debate, but the growing divide between the super-rich and everyone else is inarguable: if you account for the increase in hours worked, and the rise of 2-earner families, the middle quintile of American households has seen no income growth in the last 30 years. Over the same period, the top 1% has seen their income grow by 256%.)

A key takeaway is that today's middle-class discontent is not about Obama, it is not about healthcare, the debt, or even 9% unemployment. Underlying the discontent is the feeling by many in the middle class that they've been had. They have worked hard for years, and they expected that their labor would be rewarded at the end of the day with a degree of dignity and financial security. What they are finding instead is that rather than dealing with the HARD problem of overhauling the US economy and workforce for shared prosperity in an age of global competition, the government has frittered away the last 30 years chasing the illusion that pleasing the super-wealthy was a shortcut to national prosperity.

*Full disclosure: I am working with the book's authors to generate publicity around this book.
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