Foreclosures. Evictions. Homeless people. Food lines. Hungry children. This is not an opening scene to a dystopian novel nor images from a third-world country. This is America, but not the America that so many of us have dreamt of.
There was once a time when the American dream was real. People got jobs that paid enough for food, mortgages, education, and all things worthy of first-world comfort. It was a time when an honest person could find a job and stick with it for practically their whole life and still be living decently. It was a time when the working class was practically part of the “middle class.” Not anymore.
If you’re wondering what exactly went wrong, the actions that hurtled the country into this trajectory, then you’ll find Dan McCrory’s book especially informative. Told as a personal memoir interspersed with a detailed analysis of the capitalist system, Capitalism Killed the Middle Class: 25 Ways the System is Rigged against You is a lament and a war cry rolled into one. A quick look at what the book is all about will tell you exactly why.
For 37 years, the book’s author worked for a prominent phone company and became immensely involved in representing employees as a labor leader. Further in his career, he became involved in politics and even ran as a Democratic candidate in 2008 and 2013. These experiences put Dan in a unique position to see how the capitalist economic and political machinery works from the inside and out.
In the book, Dan decries how, for many decades, workers’ wages have been depressed to the point that the class is slowly being integrated into the lower ranks of the economic ladder. He also points out the glaring income gap that grows even bigger with each year. But wages and inequality are just the beginning of the story. Most comprehensively, Dan details at least 25 different ways that the capitalist system is designed to corral the working class from the get-go. As they say in the gambling industry, “The house always wins.”
Now that the world is facing an unprecedented health challenge that shakes the very foundations of the nation’s economic stability, many of the arguments presented in the book have ceased to be points of debate and have become established realities. In fact, it can be argued that many of the hardships we now see during this pandemic are but an amplification of the disparities that have already existed for years.
Not all is lost, however, even for Dan. As a firm believer of American democracy, he thinks there are ways that the people can use the system to bring back what was rightfully theirs. He thus offers a few alternative solutions in which people can work or expand the limits of the two-party system to make capitalism work for them. It’s a fitting end to the book that shines a glimmer of hope in what would otherwise seem like a hopeless situation.