Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Smith's Who Stole the American Dream: I'm still working on my enemies list



I read a lot of books and blogs about politics and economics from a leftwing perspective.  If you look at the charts and graphs, so many of them show a disconnect with previous trends somewhere between 1970 and 1980.  I know that there are faces  and names that people like to point to as drivers of that and punk songs denouncing Ronnie and Maggie, but I was curious about the root of the deregulation movement and the rise of “neoliberalism” (however you want to define that term).  I had a feeling that there was someone behind the figureheads who helped birth our right wing nation between Nixon and Reagan.  

I thus asked a shorter version of that question and was recommended this book.  It is well written, though a bit longer than I prefer  (443 pages without the notes). Smith takes the prime mover to be the “Powell Memo,” a plan for the long game that got us here today.  For what I was interested in, that felt glossed over, and it was the contemporary situation that Smith explored in more depth – and well.  I hate to fault a book for being good but just not being good at what I was looking for, but here I am doing it. I think the title might be part of the problem. I felt that it was more about people who have lost the American dream and less about helping me build an enemies list.  A lot has been written about the current situation (and I am sure historians will write a lot more as time passes), but I wanted to know more about these guys where dismantling the dream.