follow us on twitter@booktv. or visit our website booktv.org and click on news about books. there will be other people that want to tell you what you're about and they don't have your best interest in mind. that's where a kind of survivalist manhood becomes insistent about what i am and being fixed to what i am. an open question is how much is that unique to prisons. is that how most americans are who are young strangely absolutist and pleurallist at the same time? my truth is the one true truth but i recognize your right to some wrong truth. i don't know the answer to that question. absolutely.
now on booktv lawrence samuel exam the past, current, and future state of the american middle class. the author reports that a strong middle class emerged following world war ii in the 1950s. and began to eroded in the succeeding decades. this is a little over an hour. >> host: i'm going jump in. i took a chronological approach to the story. as you'll see. i went decade by decade. i picked up the story right after world war ii. i feel like that's when the middle class, as we know it, rose in numbers and power. then go through the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and up to today and wrap up. that's basically the approach i took to the book just track with the book. basically, why i wrote the book there's a lot of chatter these days about the middle class not
surprising. someone talking about the middle class a lot, of course, is president obama like most bases. -- politicians. i counted twentd times he mentioned the middle class in his speech a couple of years ago and. and more recently in the 2012 state of the union. he said the end of world war ii, another generation of hero return home from combat they build the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known. the defining issue of our time is how to keep the prompts alive. it's a bold statement when the president of the united states calls a particular topic or subject the defining issue of our time. it's certainly matter. i think we all agree. so i think a lot of us would agree with this idea that the plight of the middle class is central to our national conversation. it's one of the biggest story of our time and place. if you look at the numbers, if you look at the research there are many fewer of us than there
used to be. we lost power both economically, socially, and politically. i think it has huge implication in term of what kind of country we want to be. i think it means something. basically my approach was to trace the back store. i pick up the story again right after world war ii. it was really in the 20s and 30s between the war is when an authentic american middle class emerged in significant numbers. and i pick it up right after that. it places, what i think, is a crisis in a larger context or perspective. it's not a new idea, of course. a lot of people are talking about the middle class. basically there's generally agreement there was 19 70s economics and then the double whammy of '80s that dismantled the middle class. the story generally goes that tax policy favored the rich particularly in the 80s created the idea of a hazmat society which we're going to talk about.
the very sort of plump section of united states economically and socially became skinnier as you moved up our down. and i don't challenge that agree. i agree with that. basically what i do is push the story further back. i actually think it was in the mid '60s when the american middle class started breaking up for reasons that weren't really economic at all. it was part of the larger fragmentation or bulkization of the united states that happened in the mid 'out of as the counter culture came along. i pushed the story back further. the irony with the subject given how much chatter there is nobody really knows what it is. nobody has a firm definition of the middle class. it's impossible to define it definitively. the most common use is economics. particularly income. which i think is a terrible way to define the american middle class as we'll talk about. if you don't use economics, you go in to subjective criteria
like college education, if you own a home or a car. can you afford health care? do you have a retirement nest egg or enough money to go to disney land? all of these have been used at different times to define the american middle class at. which illustrates how hard its to dwient group. i define it as those who are in the middle third of net worth rather than income. which means a third of us are middle class. that's definnively in term of worth. it's 33.3% of the population. net worth is the financial value of one's total asset less liability. it's not income. i think really swings greatly. you could have a million dollar year one year and lose your job and make no money the next year. are you no longer middle class? middle class before? i don't know. i think it's a terrible measure and the most commonly used. if you start looking at thing like college education or owning
a car or home. it's a slippery slope. it's so judgmental and subjective about whether someone qualifies or not. you get to issues like $60 ,000 electrician because he's not educate. a $40,000 teacher who has a master degree is middle class. i don't know. i don't think it's a good way to define the group. i think the idea it's difficult define the middle class is reflective of the bigger thing. we have problems with class in america. we don't like distinction and class. we have issues with race, of course with that's at least pretty much in the open. class we just deny. we don't talk about. it's not really part of what we talk about. that's because social and economic rank are contradictly to our founding principle. they go against the grain in term of thinking of rank of any
sort. that's why rich and poor are vied as viewed as suspicious. they violate a national creed we're equal in some way. if we're all middle clasdz it means our democracy is working. that's the idea. the problem is just not true. there's always been vast equality. great inequality of wealth and social status. every since the founding even before the founding of the country. the boston tea party was basically a revolt by upper middle class people who were protecting their financial interest. it's just not true. the perception we're a middle class nation which a term that you see a lot or we're a classless society. it's mythologies. it's not true. as is upper mobility. a lot of people believe you can rise through the rank. you can but it's unusual if you look at dat. i think this is reflective of our hatred of other kinds of
government. again, if we're all middle class it mean our democracy is working. it's a myth we share to sort of think of ourselves as better than other countries politically. this is not new. you can go back to the late 18th century and people are talking about the rank in a positive way. and so it's a idea of average americans symbolic of what make the country great and unique. being in a middle class in at love countries is disparaging. if you go to many countries in europe or russia, if you are called middle class it's an insult. everyone here is proud to be middle class. so we're different in that we're not structured around large upper class and small lower class. t a reflective idea to protect stability in term of stability.
there's a great fear through most of american history there's going to be a revolution of some sort. a small but powerful ruling class will take over the government or the masses the lower classes are going to take over the government. and so this idea of a giant middle class helps protect us from revolution, which sounds a little crazy. it happened over and over through history. that's, i think, another reason we like to invest in the concept of the middle class. if you see a threat coming to the middle class of any kind whether it's higher taxesover whatever. it's basically attack the united states as whole. it's so central to the american idea. if you go back and look at the literature as i did and read everything i could find on the middle class they are always at least over the last 75 years being squeezed. that was a term you commonly see. there's another book called "pinch" about the squeezing of the middle class. they are in decline. they disappear, or
disappearing. bearing the brunt of the tax burden. goes back to basically '50s. whether it's true or not. we can debate that. it has been debated. politicians are basically forced in to the position of defending and aligning themselves with the american middle class. it's hard to conceive of -- being against the middle class. you won't get elected or re-elected. if you look at the survey, that's because of 90% claim to belong to the group. how many people would say that are middle class honestly? looks like 90%. i'm there too. okay. i'm going begin with the 1950s. from the start there's an interest in the middle class being the group that is going to lead us to the prosperity we
want and deserve after the thrift of the depression and the war. the middle class is going enjoy the bounty of those tough years. we're envisioning unemployment being low and command for consumers goods high which actually happens. we have a perfect recipe after the war for a strong economy, political stability, and average folks can realize their american dream. doesn't happen right away. through the late '40s inflation is high. which is typical after a war. people are sort of frustrated that they're not doing as well as they think they're doing. they're employed. anybody can basically get a job at that time. they have no money in the pocket. it's a beginning of the concept of the middle class squeeze. you make good money, you are employed but you have no money because of higher inflation. it's a running theme throughout the story.
by the early '50s we are on track to take off in great number. vast number come in. all kinds of occupations. people, you know, fat bureaucracies at corporation, salespeople are in salaried professionals, in terms of doctors and lawyers are coming to the middle class. teachers, professors and blue collar workers with union jobs are coming in. it's a new thing historically to think of blue collar coming to the middle class. it hasn't happened. people up above are coming in because the tax rate people don't remember was a high of 82% in the 19 50s. we're complining about taxes now. it you are at the highest income bracket. that's stems from sort of the new deal nfdr's war on the rich. it's flattening. called a great compression. you have working class people
coming up and rich people coming down to the great middle. okay. the media notices this it's different and surprising. business week said the economy is making everyone middle class the next year they said united states is becoming a one class market of prosperous middle income people. it's very clear that interesting and perhaps revolution nation is happening. there's an enormous class of people that are not wealthy, rich, they're not the upper income group. the elite. they can afford to buy a lot of thing. it call it is probably the most sensational economic story of modern times, which i don't think is too much of an exaggeration. that's how big a story this is. what is driving to social trends. you have baby boom, civil
organization, driving new money middle class. these are young families typical in high consumption mode. the media perceive them as homogeneous. they are all the seam. t not true at all. it's the perception. you have the organization man. you have what is it? the affluent society. and another best seller is "white collar." he calls the middle class small creature living quiet live of desperation. it's an idea that they're desperate culture. van packard at the end of the decade. they file pecking orders and climb totem pole. the elite is hard in the middle
class for their way. this is the peeking in power. okay. the american middle class, i think is peeking in number and power as jfk gets elect. they call the almost classless society the revolution of the jones. the revolution occurred. it wasn't the kind of revolution that was envisioned by people like marx in the 19th century. and you have working class and upper class looking and acting middle class. you don't want to look rich and you don't want to look poor. the idea that there had been predicted 100 years earlier there would be a social revolution by the masses. , you know, they would achieve the affluence they deserved and own property. but it wasn't at all the way marx predicted. no heads had been chopped off. there was no blood in the street
like paris. basically the wage earners became the property owners. which was became they became very quietly without may him. it's an incredible story. we have a new hybrid class because you have both blue collar and white collar that are middle class at the same time. living and working next to each other. and different terms come about to name the group. some people call them light blue, some people call them blue collar aristocrat. they make repair themselves but they own their home. they like the factory job but strike if warranted. they're not rich. they can't afford everything like somebody who owned a home before. they have to do it themselves. they protect the company at all costs. it's a different kind of middle
class. a lot of subculture are looking to raise gender for age and in term of youth culture for identity that two against the norm or the value for the american middle class. it begins to fragment at the seam. the center cannot hold. you begin to lose people. youth culture. watch the grot if you want a upper middle class guy. it's typical of what is going on in the middle '60s and late '60s. again the center is basically adopting if you think about it more broadly. counter culture value. okay. the post war economic machine is running out of juice. and folk become very dissatisfied with the government
with the taxes are going. the britishment if you think about is becoming more and more -- not just the radical. we talk may mainstream folk. we have revolt of the middle class which the media coins in the late '60s. that voters call the forgotten man of american politics. and he or she is basically tired of paying for the great society that lbj enadditioned. okay. he basically picked up, you know, the new deal and going eliminate poverty. that was the idea. so he was focusing on the underclass to lift that class up. the middle class got tired of paying for it. they have other beef. crime, racialist, and vietnam war. we end the '60s than the '50s. they were peeking in power and happiness. now they not happy.
the table have been turning in ten years. okay. i want to get to the '70s the story gets worse. it's not a happy story. if you haven't realized. things go bad from worse. now you have the economics kick in. you have high inflation and have a stagnant economy. meaning a recession. you put it together and it's nasty. you have something called stack flags. it you also have social and political upheaval. you have watergate going on and energy crisis to boot. meaning all kind of oil and gas is more expensive than it ever had been. a lot of people do study to expose the myth of the middle class. the number suggest we're truly more of a working class nation than a middle class nation. if you want to brand our government or country something. it's more working class, actually. one very reliable study had 57% working class defined by occupation and income than middle class. people start realizing that one
of the key marketer is true. college education becomes unaffordable for middle class parent. tuition is going up. very quickly. many middle class families who could before get loan for college no longer can. there was later changes but it began as early as then. yeah. nixon was known for against students loans. actually it goes away back. and -- reagan -- yeah. reagan is the product of this. reagan capitalize on this. he's a little later.
he's at the right place in the right time. there's obviously no g.i. bill. so the idea of could be over. americans always believe that my generation is going to do than my parents and children's generation is going to do better than me. that was central to the american idea and american experience. people believe there could be downward mobility. that becomes a fact of life for many. u.s. news and world report in '74 said an era of self-doubt calls itself middle class. if you have to pick out one figure that em -- archie bunker. he's angry. angry, frustrated man whose american dream has not come
true. archie bunker is sort of the poster child to the middle class. it's the number one show, of course. another key marker that the middle class is declining buying and keeping a home is hard. cost and inflation is going up. you can't keep up. even if you have a down payment, the mortgage will be too high. we complain about 4% mortgage now because they were 2% a year ago. so even if you could afford the down payment on a house you could be cash poor. you couldn't maintain it. that's a key marker that the american middle class in trouble. the good news, if there's any, that the tradition until middle
class weakened aus to allow more people come in. you have a lot of white ethnic coming and african-americans coming in at the significant number for the first time in the 18970. mid '70s. as typical during bad time. there's a change in political power and administration. and the new savior? jimmy carter. they love jimmy carter because he's like a hands on guy. he was a peanut farmer. he fixed submarines in the navy. he belonged to the mid class think he's my kind of guy. he can fix stuff and the government and the economy. he's clearly not part of the northeastern liberal elite. he says exactly what the middle class is going to do. i'm going to cut government spending and trim bureaucracy. he promises that. does he to it well? sort of. the late '70s is better but tough times. inflation is still exceeding the
average rise in income. what is basically happening a lot of middle class is bumping up against the lower class because they either lost their job or underemployed. in the '50s they were bumping up to the upper class and the lower class. the likes are becoming increasingly clear. if you are lower middle class or in poverty which is real trouble. and "newsweek" calls the folks middle class poor. they are poor but somehow belong to the middle class. now we do, yes, up '80s and ronald reagan. the divide between the upper and lower ends is bigger than ever. we glean to two grows. upper and lower middle class. it's not one single unit. it's not there. the media starts calling the upper middle class the haves. and the have-not for the lower middle class. you have basically two chunks. and the media goes to town on
the idea there's a two group. have take exotdic vacation. invest. they are doing very well at the upper middle class. they live in nice homes, they drink wine buy designer clothes, go to movie and event. have not eat fast food. keep whatever savings in a bank. they drink beer. watch tv. the idea that, you know, that 1950 middle class was one group. similar consumer taste and preferences is long gone. now there are two groups. within the idea of have there's a sub segment. who was a young urban professional. i was aupy? i admit. they're a small group. it's only 5% of baby boomers would qualify to be a yuppie at the time. their culture influence was far greater. there was a lot of noise about them at the time if you remember.
they become the cultural upper type of the young middle class. they live in renovated town home. they're looking to the rich and borrow upon it. marketers are more than pleased to cater to the upper middle class by marketing what had been products for the rich to the bigger group of upper middle class. burberry, et. cetera, et. cetera, and mass marketers go after the lower middle class. okay. so you a biforindication of the marketplace. they are watching what is going on demographically, and becomes
sort of a self-fulfilling cycle now because the marketers are now feeding in to this idea of a devicive american middle class. it becomes more established only because marketers are making it that much more real. by the way, that is still happening today. marketers today are not at all interested in the center. they're either interested in the upper or lower. the numbers are fewer in the middle. it bodes very badly. you're seeing the work force also becoming bipolar as we shift. more to service-base and i.t. and manufacturing. i think a telling sign of times in the mid '80s. mcdonalds employs more people than general motors. it's bakely what is good for mcdonald is good for the
country. giving tax break for the upper class was good or bad. basically conservative says it's all, you know, goats are all floating higher because of the trickle down in economic. don't blame ronald reagan. blame the middle class itself because they're either wining because they can't afford stuff they want, or we're not living in the 50s. they have vcr, home computers. a lot more stuff is available in the marketplace in the '80s than the '50s. you want to spend more money. it's not that the economics has changed. the people have changed in response to what can be had with money. things considered luxury in the 19 50s if you own a second car, had a boat, went europe are not that unusual in the 19 80s. a lot of change in the
marketplace. there's no doubt that the cost of being middle is higher in the late '80s. you can't argue with those numbers. basically two jobs in one household is required to support a lifestyle. where one job was in the 1950. a lot of conservativers saying there's just as many in the middle class. what they don't say is two people are working or working three or four jobs. that's what is different. it's unlikely for an average own fore buy a first home unless they are making tons of money. tuition is beyond reach. you have smart kids applying to state university like austin, texas, or michigan. that's bumping down kids who are normally going those schools to second-tier school. you have a trickle down in college as well. as private school becomes too companyive. and the worst case scenario. everybody is fearing that i'll
get really sick because i'm uninsured or underinsured. even if you have, you know, an hmo at the time. 209% you have to kick in will wreck me financially. so we're up to the 1990s. there's very little cause to be optimistic at the point. we have george bush i. basically picks up are reagan left it. we have a recession in the early '90s. a lot are paying off the debt we accumulate in thed 1980 because we spent so much money. that's not good either. we have a new threat. outsourcing in a big way. at love jobs are going overseas. more bad news. the media focus on what they call the downsize middle class white worker. the worker is angry that protected minority are getting preferential treatment. ..
even if you are not poor unemployed work the barely making ends meet if you aren't a lower class in the middle 90s. it's not surprising that the presidential election in the early 90s becomes about winning the class voters. this one has basically exclusively about who is going to get the middle-class boat which continues up to this day. george bush won decides to look
more middle-class by having a pizza with factory workers. he buys socks at jcpenney as well. bill clinton just has a better story. he promises to rebuild the prosperity of ordinary americans. and it doesn't hurt that he's from hope arkansas so of course he wins. things are rough going in the early 90s but things pick up in the mid-90s when the economy starts turning around. the beneficiary of a good economy in the second term and the rising stock market. i'm sorry? the resurgence? the recession ended and then we have the technology boom. you have the internet coming along in 1995 just around his second term and the stock market goes crazy with the bubble so it's inflated in the bubble is not real but if you had money in the stock market you do very
well in the late 90s. so the upper middle class who does have money in the stock market pulse further away from the lower middle class who doesn't have a lot of money in the stock market. the stock market is benefiting from this tech boom this crazy tech boom where startups are being valued more than united airlines. if you have investments you are doing great and if you don't you are in trouble. now we are up to the new century the new millennium and the class is continuing to shrink and folks like hedge funders and others in finance or making incredible amounts of money just pull away at the very top level traits of this decades long trend that we were seeing becomes exponential i guess is the word. folks at this time begin thinking you know what, the 1950s is the exception. everyone kept thinking how do we get back to that post-war middle-class? they think that was the anomaly.
that was the exception. this is the reality. you know and that's basically the belief today is that the 50s were the exception and not the rule and that decade is not coming back. just look at the numbers. the top 1% earn as much money as the remaining 99% in 2005. that's incredible. if you think about it you could conceivably make the argument that the united states has a tiny upper-class that 1% and a huge underclass and none of us are middle class if you go by that number which is what the occupy movement is of course all about. now seeing an opportunity tv producers start focusing their shows around the plight of the middle class. this is good news. this is good stuff so you have reality shows offering all the perks of being middle class because they know that will get ratings among the middle-class. they want to see folks getting college tuition as a prize and getting a better house and even
surgical procedures summer offering to average folks who can't are free. opera courses giving away cars to teachers and other deserving members. television sees this idea that the middle classes in trouble. politicians are also trying to come to the rescue. one politician in particular charles schumer. i don't know if you know that he uses the middle-class basically is his whole platform and has sold that to the rest of the democratic party. it's called the schumer mandate and obama embraces it as well. he writes a book about it called positively american winning back the middle-class one majority of the time. let's make college tuition deductible. let's reduce property taxes. this is what is killing the middle-class. has any of this happened? no, of course not it is basically the platform of the democratic party these days. the democratic party has basically moved away from the working class and poor the new
deal and the great society because it's bigger numbers and more money to be in the middle-class. yes? there is no middle-class? well, to. [inaudible] yes, yeah basically. exactly. we all think we are middle-class so why not appeal to that idea? there is an upper middle class and lower middle class but there is no central middle-class. folks like mark zuckerman who has the u.s. news world report he he is a big advocate for the middle-class. lou dobbs has built an entire career based on defending the middle-class and you could even say rush limbaugh perhaps has done that. all sorts of folks from other fields are trying to come rally to support the middle-class in the 2000's because it's crystal
clear that something really bad is going on in the united states academics union leaders and others offer different ways and suggestions on how the middle-class might he saved. they basically argued that you know this great disparity in wealth isn't un-american idea and bad for america and the divide between these two groups is going to continue to hurt those in the middle if there are any in the middle left. obama just goes to town on this. he is like clinton was in the right place at the right time and appeals to the lower middle class in his first term when he gets elected. he cuts taxes on the group and creates a task force for the middle-class. joe biden headed that because he is very upper class. even obama began shifting focus from the working class and the poor to lower middle class so i think who he is appealing to while he was campaigning originally in his first term to average earners after the great
recession. the mortgage crisis. a lot of us were hurt. it didn't matter if you were in upper-middle-class you got hurt by the mortgage crisis as well. for him to get elected he started appealing towards wealthier people than he had in his first term. so where are we now? we are still at the one top% of households own one third of the total private health. it's staggering 5% of americanamerican s account for war than one third of consumer purchases. this idea of the bell curve of the post-war years does not exist anymore. regardless of your political inclinations. if you look at these numbers i'm not sure how you can say there is a genuine middle-class. and going to wrap up. i think the rise and fall of the american middle class is one if not the biggest story of the 20 century in this country. the crisis we are in right now is not new or unique.
people at than talking about for a long time. the crisis has been there since, for 50 years but if you look at it, there is at least some semblance of the middle-class left. there are survivors of a lot of big blows. the counterculture of the late 60's which sort of went out of way a lot of people from the middle-class in the late 60's and survived the recession. stagflation of the 70s, survived the haves and have-nots tax policies of reagan in the 80s and it survived the wealth divide of the 90s and the 2000's. so if there is still a middle-class and i believe there has to be in terms of my definition in terms of net worth congo there is a middle-class. a third of us are middle-class if you go by network. that is how i would define it. most people don't look at it that way. that's the way i define it. the numbers of surveys despite
all of this are clear that most of us still believe we belong to the middle-class whether we are rich or poor. again that reflects our ability to acknowledge matters of class. we all belong to the middle-class. it's a safer idea than to believe we are a society that are divided into rich or poor. and a lot of new books are coming out including mine. james carville has a new book called it's the middle-class stupid, which i think is great. this is a bipartisan idea that the group really need some support win in -- we are an endangered species and we need protection. both democratic -- democrats and republicans are in support of doing something from the middle-class. you are also seeing third parties jump on the middle-class crisis would it be the tea party and their is an american middle class party. a little one in connecticut and
it's on facebook if you want to join. i think those are really positive signs that a third party could possibly emerge and challenge the status quo that is directly supporting the interest of the middle-class. hostility is a very good thing so i'm not completely hopeless at the middle-class will go away completely. so that is what i have got. thank you very much. [applause] >> we have -- if you have questions we are going to walk around with the mic. >> this gentleman. okay. >> a classification -- classically no pun intended the concept of class or wealth for that matter or both was looked at as a socio- cultural thing and -- do not consider themselves to be class-based
society although was currently in that sense it was really much more of a social classification. now, about the two triads if you have them the country in lower middle class and middle class that is in something which emerged in the 80s. i believe that certainly existed immediately after world war ii and probably before that based on assets, traditionally the top two to top 4% for the wealthy in the bottom 15% and that would very based on the economic and the rest were somewhere in the middle-class specter, lower-class to middle upper class. how do you define that? when you say working class and you use the concept of the
working poor and the statement of middle-class. >> yeah, i agree. there were many studies by sociologist in the 30s. middletown i guess is one that focused on the different strata. i think he had five groups with three in the middle and then you had sort of the holier the at the end. so whether you want to define a socially or economically there is still the idea that it was a bell curve and somewhere in the middle was the peak and there was the fringe groups on the end. [inaudible] >> absolutely. i make that point, yes that in the late 18th century that it's a myth this idea that everyone had the same amount of money. there has always been fast inequality of wealth.
before this country so i am agreeing with you but yeah it's an important point. that social rank or social class the problem is when you do the data you can't look at well does he or she have retirement nest egg or does he or she own a car onto a second car? they look at income which is a terrible measure again i think of class. [inaudible] yes, i agree. >> thank you for your presentation. [inaudible] >> 10 years later it was -- and i wonder it's not just cultural. it has to do more about values
that change somehow somewhere and i wonder why was that and i also think or wonder what is the parallel that we can establish where we can see and devise a view about whether it's right or wrong to spread the wealth? story about the average joe and all that. that is the first question and the second, what is your response to -- [inaudible] what is the chance to do something about it? >> wow, those are big. first of all going back to the first question comes to the redistribution of wealth the only way he can do that would be through government engineering. how will so sick going to be redistributed so the government was doing that is a legacy of fdr's days even if eisenhower is
empowered by taxing the rich very heavily. so you have again this great compression this flattening of the curve. [inaudible] >> right. people were in support of that, yes because they believed in the idea of the middle-class is being the central focus of the united states and so they would penalize the rich as they did in the 30s. they would say that out right. they did it through policies to try to bring the lower up through social programs to end poverty and by flattening it from the top, right. in the 60s -- [inaudible] we have the counterculture. the entire consensus society the 50s is thrown out. it's basically, it didn't work. poverty didn't and there becomes a much more egocentric need-based culture that emerges
and these folks don't want to have to pay for people that are not in their class. so there is a tax revolt in the wings. yes? [inaudible] prospered. you do, -- yeah. that changes but you have the weakening of the middle-class. a center doesn't hold again. again you have youth culture and women particularly looking at identity beyond the idea of the values of the male white american middle class represented by eisenhower. they looked for a kennedy in different places such as the concept of the american middle class patriarchy basically starts to break up in the late 60's. it loses power from within, not from without. people start looking in other places.
they defect and they don't want to be part of the middle-class actually. that's the establishment. the middle-class is representative of the establishment and you had vietnam and all that going on and they were looking for something different. >> the european debt to the u.s. and the europeans seem to be more responsible about paying taxes to repair the infrastruinfrastru cture and stuff like that. what we do say is the reason why europeans after world war ii when did the same direction as america? >> because they are socialist. it's a different political model than our political model. it's a much more socialist -- most of the country's, not all of them are used to paying high taxes and i think there's more of a communitarian ethos and a
lot of those countries. if you are a belgian you are a belgian. the united states is so multicultural and diverse, it's really hard to maintain a specific national identity so i think there is more of a tax revolt going on in this country. just a much more need a sculpture than a lot of those nations and so he were more likely to object to your taxes going to other people. so i think that's part of the problem. [inaudible] we have always been an need-based culture. we have always been yeah, we have always been a very individualistic strike out the american dream culture because we were new and we could start over and reinvent ourselves. europeans didn't have that. they were much more group oriented than we are.
they wanted to be part of the system in europe and not go against it. we have had that rebellious attitude. go and had. >> two quick questions, sir. india and china together have 40% of the worlds population. there are enough workers to work for $5 a day for the next 100 years so how do we bring back or create jobs for full employment in america? >> second question is the president gave a a speech on middle class this afternoon. what advice would you give the president? >> yes, read my book. i'm glad you bought my book. it's good you've wrought up other countries because where the action is and where the excitement is in the other countries. brazil russia and china. they are where we were 50 years ago. they have this huge lotion of
the middle-class. we can sell our products to their middle-class. that's the only good thing, right. i guess the only defense i see is that the united states is an incredibly ingenious creative -- i believe that apple would never have come out of china or india. those countries are wonderful in knocking off other products but they would never come up with an apple. 100 american companies i think would never exist there so i think that is where strength is. worker wise know we can't keep that. we have a higher standard of living. i think our strength is coming up with the ideas and making them buy our products. in terms of what i would tell obama calm, laws can be changed. why not adopt ideas and make
college education deductible. they're all kinds of things we can do. i don't see any laws being changed that benefit the middle-class so give us a tax break or throw us a bone once in a while. that is nothing. he needs to change the structure. he needs to stop rigging the system basically. he has to put his rhetoric into action, into words. do you want to follow up? [inaudible] >> i understand that. write, right. [inaudible] >> personally i don't care that much. does someone in india deserve a job as much as my neighbor? shure, why not? if you look at it as a global
economy why shouldn't that person benefit? so while i do support the american middle class and i think laws can be changed to help us i don't think it's terrible that people in other countries are doing well. i'm not going to argue with that. it is a wonderful thing. [inaudible] >> the concept of the middle-class and redistribution of the wealth versus less government and less regulation and all that stuff and the division in our government today. how do you strategize to make folks understand that concept? individualism and freedom of the markets doesn't mean freedom of
democracy because we are getting killed. corporations pay no taxes. they pay nothing. >> that is a huge deal. there are just too many loopholes. they're just too many ways -- but the counter argument is that there just aren't enough rich people to pay for the economy. i really don't think there are. that is why it's like what you said about that is where the money is, the banks conquer the safecracker. willie sutton, yeah. it's the same thing with the middle west. that is why politicians talk big but they don't want to do anything once they are in office. there aren't enough rich people. fdr said soak the rich. he couldn't do it. they're just worn enough people and the poor don't have enough money to tax of the money has to come from the masses, this middle-class.
i don't think they're picking up the -- a good question. yes? >> i wanted to make two points. the first proposal at the national political level to enact deductibility of college tuition goes back to the early years of the reagan administration. he was criticized by the democrats as being elitist for supporting the upper lower class rather than the lower middle class and cutting property taxes has definitely been a right-wing rule in the 70s and 80s. >> i agree. i don't think the parties are as as -- as we like to make them. i don't know who came up with them first but schumer is circulating them again whether they are new or original. again this is a bipartisan cause. i don't think it's really a partisan thing. you can be on any side and say the middle class needs help or
you are not going to a align with either party. i think both parties are or the middle-class. >> the more we at to subsidize college tuition directly or indirectly the more it's going to increase. and that is what has happened over the last 30 years. it's not because some college bureaucrats are scheming to do this. it's the natural economic law. right, right. i agree. see any other questions? >> all of our political leaders were military veterans and america first. bill clinton george w. and barack obama the new generation, are they less drabek the
political leaders in congress and the president than what our prior political leaders were? >> i don't think they are less patriotic at all. i think they might come from a different generation and life experience so they see america and what it's about differently but i don't think military background definitely makes one more patriotic. so, no i don't think so. you know, to look at romney versus obama. they were both equally patriotic that had completely different visions of what this country should need. is one more patriotic than the other? i don't think so and military background would be one more qualifier. i think you can be incredibly patriotic and not come from a military background. i don't know. [inaudible] >> well, obama comes from a different generation and life experience which is more global
so he does envision the united states role much differently than the classic american first model absolutely. that is why you can disagree with him for that. yes? >> i think the problem is you have to discuss this for the rest of the century that we are living on a different planet. we are living on a different planet. i believe that children -- children should be rare acquired to have entrepreneurship as a viable part of their education. financial literacy should be a viable part of their education. or they do not graduate. unless you can show that you can
start it is in this, or you know it's a different world. when i was growing up i was told you can't rely on a man or your husband. you need to be self-sufficient. now the young people should be told he can rely on an employer. you cannot rely on the whims of an employer. this is a different world. this is not our parents world. it's not our grandparents world. that's the problem. we are on a different planet. >> i agree. these systems are very hard -- it's like turning the cruise ship around especially education. it just doesn't happen quick lean enough. i totally agree.
[inaudible] maybe i don't know enough but just the argument that romney had was unclear to say the least just in terms of saving the middle-class. we need incentives to create jobs. i'm just saying -- let me rephrase the question. i'm sorry to be partisan, isn't the republicans beach less about the middle-class supported? >> it's no secret that republicans have lost their way because they don't have a clear compelling message. that is why they got destroyed in the election. nobody really knows what the republican party is about
anymore so romney was taking a libertarian tact i think by saying you know the american dream where everybody benefits. it wasn't the classic reagan trickle-down economics but at the end of the day i think the politicians are self-serving and they served and just so there's there's -- themselves and their cohorts. you could create any argument to support the middle-class basically when you are actually supporting your own interest, the rich. it just didn't fly. it just didn't sound -- i think it wasn't urgent -- on his part but it just didn't fly. yes? >> you said in the 50s marketing became the middle-class -- i feel like even at the time the majority are not
we tax you have your aunt in america it's a different kind of economy. [inaudible] >> that's a good way to look at it. >> i guess my point about the 50s there were a lot of factors in place to build a good lifestyle for average earners. you could buy a house for $100. there was easy credit so you could fill about football kinds of appliances. you could go to the chevy dealer the ford dealer in the car you bought would be a lot like someone who was a lot wealthier than you. it was a much flatter distribution of wealth. all those factors are basically gone now. it's much more segmented so there was this unique home and in time where if you were an average american you could benefit in all kinds of ways that you couldn't 10 years later
and now it's much worse than ever. we are just a much more divisive society much more niche oriented. that was my point comparing what happened in the decade and how it was a neat moment in time that will never come back. and how things change very rapidly after that because of all kinds of economic and social factors. good point. >> i find owning a house, i find it's not dade -- lifestyle because you used to be either a farmer or a dashed but now you have a double identity. you are living the city life but also -- that's a lot of work.
to me there's no efficiency. >> i think a lot of young people agree with that and don't want to own a car or a home. they want to spend their money on other things and don't want to be tied to one place. car ownership is way down among 20 somethings as his homeownership. most 20 somethings are living with their parents. i think you are right a young -- among young people in particular those values have shifted towards trying to live the american dream of the 1950s. they want no part of that. it's too much baggage. especially in new york. >> the coast. >> yeah come to the coast. that's a good point that's in the book that i didn't discuss. the whole idea of the middle classes depend on where you live. if you make $50,000 in new york versus kentucky it's an entirely different experience. that's really important and in, and subjective factors you know are just bad. they just don't work because geography and all kinds of demographic factors are so
>> you are watching booktv on c-span2 and here is a look at some of the books that are coming up this fall. we are joined by lara heimert who is the publisher at basic books. what are some of the books you have coming out this fall? >> we have a lot of history coming up this fall. some great books on everything from the history of genius to the history of the american meal. history has been a strong category for us at basic so we are excited for the christmas season. >> tell us about history of
genius. >> history of genius is a really long history. the idea of genius emerges with plato and aristotle and is identified in the history of christianity with the chapel of sistine or access to the divine. it's in the 18th century that we see genius emerged in the sense that leaves the day which is the secular. what's interesting about the book is that explains how genius emerged out of this idea of democratization which i think people were uncomfortable with because we want on some level to believe that but some people are so better than others and some people have some kind of access to the divine that others. the idea of genius emerges as an aristocracy of talent rather than an aristocracy of earth. bill gates is a genius and he is more special than the rest of us. i think the idea remains very current.
>> who is the author? dari: man who is an intellectual historian who wrote it book called happiness the history. he is doing it for genius this time. >> the history of the american meal. >> history of the american meal is an interesting history because a lot of us these days bemoaned the decline of the quality of the american meal and families and no longer sitting around like they did in the 50s being meals together. the plating in front of their computers are texting while they are eating. this book upon federal mythology and shows the american meal particularly the family dinner as we believe has been was a recent invention of the last 50 or 60 years and for most of american history people ate at work and they ate standing up area and of most houses in virginia during the colonial period didn't have chairs even to sit down or at least not a chair and a table. this idea that everyone should
share a common meal around a table in the evening is really something very new. our eating habits have been determined by the nature of the work that we do and not by some kind of historical natural way of consuming food trade. >> sub 10 what is your background? >> my background in the book world is i work for basic now as a publisher. i started at basic as an editor nine years ago. before that i worked at yale university press editing history books for university press. >> edward cohen has a new book coming out. >> edward cohen has a new book coming out. he did a wonderful book called hot time in that will town about the heatwave in new york city and theodore roosevelt's role in it and the heatwave and saving people from falling off of rooftops and dying at dehydration. that book was a piece of the new book he is doing which is really about new york city and the creation of theodore roosevelt.
so much of the historiography surrounding t.r. has been about the roughriders or the american west. this book points out quite rightly that roosevelt was born in new york and grew up in new york and made his politics in new york and all this other stuff was really a self-created mythology that he wanted people to think of him as a westerner or a frontiersman or a rough writer. what he really was in his heart was in new york are and growing up in an affluent part of new york in a wealthy family shaped him as the early experience as police commissioner etc.. it was in new york city that he was forged as a politician. this is a dual book on the city of on the verge of greatness. >> one of the book coming up from basic, churchill's bomb? >> graham barr mellows another returning author. he wrote a book called the strangest man which is the biography of paul tarak.
the new book is about the race to create nuclear technology during world war ii and all of the best scientists many of them who had immigrated into england from europe in the lead-up to world war ii were based in england. they were developing you know efforts to build an atomic tom. this is really a story about failed scientific leadership and churchill for all of his many wonderful political qualities actually really dropped the ball on the development of the atomic bomb. he offered no funding and knowing courage meant to the scientists and allowed america to take the lead and develop the atomic bomb. by the time the bombs were dropped on hiroshima and nagasaki the british role in all of this have been completely forgotten. the sad part of the story is later in his life churchill who was kind of dismissed with nuclear technology throughout his career as a politician suddenly becomes aware of how destructive and how dangerous it is