Introductory remarks by Ambassador William vanden Heuvel.
Hedrick Smith’s Who Stole the American Dream? is an eye-opening account of how, over the past four decades, the American Dream was dismantled and we became two Americas. Smith knits together political and economic developments and significant shifts in American capitalism under the last six presidents and combines penetrating profiles of corporate and political leaders with close-up reporting on the experience of average Americans to show how seismic changes, sparked by a sequence of landmark political and economic decisions have transformed America.
This is a book full of surprises and revelations — the accidental beginnings of the 401(k) plan, with disastrous economic consequences for many; the major policy changes that began under Jimmy Carter; how the New Economy disrupted America’s engine of shared prosperity, the “virtuous circle” of growth; and how America lost the title of “Land of Opportunity.” Smith documents the transfer of $6 trillion in middle-class wealth from home-owners to banks even before the housing boom went bust, and how the U.S. policy tilt favoring the rich is stunting America’s economic growth. Smith reveals how pivotal laws and policies were altered while the public wasn’t looking, how Congress often ignores public opinion, why moderate politicians got shoved to the sidelines, and how Wall Street often wins politically by hiring over 1,400 former government officials as lobbyists.
In his bestselling The Russians, Smith took millions of readers inside the Soviet Union. In The Power Game, he took us inside Washington’s corridors of power. Now Smith takes us across America, talking to a wide range of people, telling the stories of Americans high and low. From political leaders such as Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to CEOs such as Al Dunlap, Bob Galvin, and Andy Grove, to heartland Middle Americans such as airline mechanic Pat O’Neill, software systems manager Kristine Serrano, small businessman John Terboss, and subcontractor Eliseo Guardado, Smith puts a human face on how middle-class America and the American Dream have been undermined. Finally, Smith offers ideas for restoring America’s great promise and reclaiming the American Dream.
This event was co-sponsored by the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College and Common Cause New York.
Hedrick Smith, the Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter and editor and Emmy award-winning television producer/correspondent, is one of America’s most distinguished journalists. In 26 years with The New York Times, Mr. Smith was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that produced the Pentagon Papers series. In 1974, he won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting from Russia and Eastern Europe. His book The Russians, based on his years as New York Times Moscow Bureau Chief from 1971-74, was a number-one best-seller. All five of his books have been best-sellers, including his most recent book Who Stole the American Dream? His other books include The Power Game: How Washington Works. Mr. Smith, who has won two Emmy Awards, has created 26 prime-time specials and mini-series for PBS since 1989, including “Inside the Terror Network,” “Is Wal-Mart Good for America?” “Inside Gorbachev’s USSR,” and “Duke Ellington’s Washington.”