Middle Class

Storied Cities

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Athens is the birthplace of Western culture, with the physical ruins of its classical age still visibly present as a perpetual reminder. Virgil composed his epic poem, The Aeneid, recounting the mythic flight of Aeneas from defeated Troy to Italy, becoming the forbear of Rome. New York sees itself as unique center of commerce, founded when the Dutch (not the English) bought Manhattan for beads in the city’s first hustle. Nashville needs no reminder that it’s the center of country music, nor Detroit that it is the Motor City.  read more »

Urban Blues

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On the surface, progressive “Blue America” has never appeared stronger. President Donald Trump’s leadership failures exposed by the pandemic and the recent disorders, is sinking him in the polls. His rival, Joe Biden, seems likely to concede his traditionally moderate stances to placate the Democrats’ youthful activist and identitarian wings.  read more »

How the Virus Is Pushing America Toward a Better Future

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Pessimism is the mood of the day, with 80 percent of Americans saying the country is generally out of control. Even before civil unrest and pestilence, most Americans believed our country was in decline, Pew reported, with a shrinking middle class, increased indebtedness and growing polarization.  read more »

State of the Nation on July 4 and How It Has Changed Over Time

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Coronavirus, a shattered economy, racial tensions, deep partisan polarization. Is it any surprise that Americans are down in the dumps? How could it be otherwise? Putting today’s sentiments in historical perspective using polls conducted over many years helps to assess our current malaise.  read more »

Triumph of the Oligarchs

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A new class of overlords are making their bid for world domination.

The Coronavirus has trammeled the prospects of most Americans, particularly low-income workers. But for one small group, the pandemic has proved something like manna from heaven. Already ascendant beforehand, the tech oligarchy—a relatively small number of companies, venture, and private equity funds—are riding the current crisis to unprecedented dominion over our ever-weakening Republic.  read more »

Neo-Feudalism in California

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From the beginning, California promised much. While yet barely a name on the map, it entered American awareness as a symbol of renewal. It was a final frontier: of geography and of expectation.
—Kevin Starr, Americans and the California Dream: 1850–1915  read more »

Racism and the Working Class

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When I tell other middle-class professionals who don’t know me well that I’m writing a book about working-class culture, it’s amazing how often they respond approvingly that “white racism” is an important subject.  My reaction, depending on the circumstance, ranges from embarrassment to rage.  read more »

A New Age of Feudalism for the Working Class?

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In the past, fears of job losses from automation were often overstated. Technological progress eliminated some jobs but created others, and often better-paying ones. In the early days of the high-tech revolution, many of the pioneering firms—such as Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and IBM—were widely praised for treating their lower-level workers as part of the company and deserving of opportunities for advancement, as well as benefits including health insurance and a pension.  read more »

Pandemics and Pandemonium

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Minneapolis and urban centers across America are burning, most directly in response to the brutal killing of a black man by a white Minnesota police officer. But the rage ignited by the death of George Floyd is symptomatic of a profound sense of alienation that has been building for years among millions of poor, working class urbanites.  read more »

How Coronavirus Pandemic is Bringing a Return to Feudalism

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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many things, but also accelerated America’s descent into a new form of feudalism. The preexisting conditions of extreme economic concentration, inequality and reduced social mobility already were painfully evident before, but the pandemic has made them considerably worse.  read more »