Monday, September 24, 2012

Lou Dobbs' "War on the Middle Class" 1

I started Lou Dobbs' 2006 book, War on the Middle Class: How the Government, Big Business, and Special Interest Groups Are Waging War on the American Dream and How to Fight Back.

Here are some items:

1.  On pages 5-6, Lou Dobbs talks about how the Bush II Administration imposed a four-year embargo on White House staffers appearing on Dobbs' show.  The reason?  Dobbs criticized the Bush II Administration for using the term "war on terror" rather than highlighting that the war is against "radical Islamist terrorists".  This stood out to me because I recalled Newt Gingrich arguing that President Barack Obama's Administration boycotted Fox News because it did not like Fox's coverage.  Apparently, Lou Dobbs thinks that George W. Bush's Administration did the same sort of thing to him!  But I'm puzzled as to why the Bush II Administration did that, for I thought that the Bush II Administration publicly acknowledged that the U.S. was at war with radical Islam.

2.  On pages 6-7, Dobbs says that he criticized the U.S. Justice Department for indicting Arthur Andersen's Enron auditing firm rather than Arthur Andersen alone.  Dobbs did so because he was concerned for the "twenty-eight thousand innocent employees" who were put out of work because the entire firm was indicted.  Dobbs notes that the Justice Department later adopted a policy of indicting individuals rather than firms, and that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of the firm.

3.  On page 14, the book has a moving passage about how not all of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were from the elite.  Some of them were, but there were others who were millworkers and small businessmen.

4.  On page 19, Dobbs criticizes legislation to "roll back the estate tax", a tax that affects hardly two percent of Americans and brings in over $20 billion annually in taxes.  According to Dobbs, rolling this tax back will result in higher tax rates for "you"----which I take to be the middle class.  There is debate about who has a greater tax burden, the rich or the middle class.  Many conservatives have argued that the rich pay a lot of taxes, whereas there are many others in America who pay no federal income taxes.  But there are people on the left who contend that the rich pay less taxes as a percentage of their income than do the middle class.

5.  On page 20, Dobbs says that "less than a third of the richest people in the United States started out their lives in the middle or lower classes on the economic scale" (page 20).  For Dobbs, there is not much economic mobility in the U.S. these days.  And Dobbs thinks that a significant part of the problem is free trade policies, putting U.S. workers into competition with poorer workers in the world, tax cuts resulting in less funding for education, and lack of government concern about health care.  And, like Arianna Huffington, Dobbs criticizes the bankruptcy law, which robs middle-class people of the refuge of bankruptcy.

Dobbs says that free trade policies are "for the benefit of U.S. multinationals that remain uncompetitive in the global marketplace", but I wish that he'd explain how the multinationals are uncompetitive yet are benefiting.  I thought the problem was that we could not compete with cheaper foreign labor.  Maybe Dobbs will explain later in the book.

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