Inequality Matters: The Growing Economic Divide in America and Its Poisonous Consequences
By James Lardner and David A. Smith, editors
Published by Demos/The New Press, 2006
Hardcover, 328 pp., $25.95

A handful of American intellectuals actually understand the ins and outs of the great ripoffs of American economics and cultural values in the past 26 years. They have the numbers that expose the great shifts in income, taxation and accumulated wealth, as well as the ruling-class propaganda machine that abets the heist with camouflage. The editors of “Inequality Matters” gathered some of these best and brightest intellectuals to create essays on intertwining topics such as racism, income distribution, student aid, class mobility and declining democracy. The pieces fit to a large description of a nation of people being sucked dry by corporate vampires under cover of paid liars.

Among the essayists are well-known critics of America’s bloodthirsty right wing such as TV commentator Bill Moyers and popular author Barbara Ehrenreich, who exposes the lies of low-income life in her recent book, “Nickel and Dimed.”

The downside of this very informative collection is its lack of class analysis and its failure to provide meaningful direction to overcome the ills so dramatically exposed. Throughout the book, authors talk about the American “middle class” when they mean “middle income.” Although they understand the evils of rapacious corporations, they don’t seem to see any ruling class capitalists behind them. Even though they realize that the workers are being exploited, they blur all the lines that make our class capable of uniting and fighting back.

They recommend two web sites that are, indeed, very informative: www.inequality.org and www.demos.org. The Demos page says, “As part of its mission to build a fairer, more democratic America, Demos works to address long range challenges to the well-being of our society. This work illuminates the intersection of different issues and often cuts across departments in the organization.” In the “events” section of both sites, they recommend a series of forums and symposiums.

While there is no denying the values of information and education, Americans are going to have to do a little more if any actual change is going to come about. “Inequality Matters” is no handbook for much-needed action, but it is a valuable source of information.

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