Issue #26, Fall 2012

The Forgotten 40 Percent

Four years ago this month, the economy caved in. The collapse of Lehman Brothers set off a cascade that would paralyze the banking industry and plunge our economy into a deep recession. But even before Lehman’s collapse, the fundamentals of our economy, to borrow a fateful phrase from that year’s presidential campaign, were already showing signs of weakness. During the Bush years, wages stagnated, debt rose, and household savings fell. Most Americans were already struggling when the recession set in. Four years later, they’re still struggling.

In this symposium, we turn our attention to a part of America frequently unmentioned in our economic discussions—what one of our contributors calls the “bottom 40 percent,” the low- and moderate-income Americans who have been the hardest hit by the Great Recession. Front and center in this, our last issue before the November elections, is how to keep the American Dream alive for these Americans.

For far too long, efforts to alleviate poverty have focused on addressing the immediate needs and income of the poor. We think there’s a better way. This symposium calls for a broader approach: a focus on asset building—savings for college, retirement, emergencies, a house. How can poor and working-class Americans recover from the great loss of wealth in the recession? How can government help them accumulate assets to secure their future? And how do we make sure the losses of the great crash don’t happen again? The essays below, from the best minds in the asset-building movement, offer compelling answers.

The Forgotten 40 Percent

Asset Building: Now More Than Ever by Andrea Levere

Ownership and Debt: Minding the Balance Sheet by Ray Boshara

Wealth Stripping: Why It Costs So Much to Be Poor by James H. Carr

Manufactured Housing: The Homeowners No One Thinks Of by Paul Bradley & George McCarthy

Savings: The Poor Can Save, Too by Bob Friedman, Ying Shi, & Sarah Rosen Wartell

Tax Policy: Spreading the Benefits More Widely by Bob Annibale & Wade Henderson

 

More from Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

Asset Building: Now More Than Ever by Andrea Levere

Read More »
Issue #26, Fall 2012
 
Post a Comment

Tom Wilson:

Romney truly believes his 47% sociology: it is a legacy of Ayn Rand's system of thought, which posits that only 3% of the population are Producers and the rest are moochers and looters. In the final analsis, conservatism is the flip side of Soviet communism, which is to say, the 3% elite at the top of the income scale are exactly like the Soviet politburo and are arranging things so that their life styles are being subsidized by the 90% of Americans earning %50,000/yr or less, a form of Tory Socialism in a free enterprise economy. And this is what Romney intends to continue to implement.

Sep 19, 2012, 11:47 AM

Post a Comment

Name

Email

Comments (you may use HTML tags for style)

Verification

Note: Several minutes will pass while the system is processing and posting your comment. Do not resubmit during this time or your comment will post multiple times.