Summary of The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans

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Following the success of Neal Gabler’s article “The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans” in the May 2016 issue of The Atlantic, the magazine’s editor, Scott Stossel, sat down with Gabler to discuss his thesis. The interview is casual and sometimes halting or repetitive, but it slowly reveals a narrative thread about the middle-class trend toward “financial fragility.” Though the magazine article may boast more polish and detail, and also emphasizes personal decisions and economic illiteracy as factors contributing to financial strain, getAbstract suggests that the video makes a worthwhile supplement to the article by providing some additional, fresh political takeaways.

About the Speakers

Neal Gabler is a writer, lecturer, film critic and author. Interviewer Scott Stossel is a journalist and the editor of The Atlantic magazine.



Middle-class Americans generally are ashamed to discuss their finances. Nearly half of all Americans don’t have the liquid assets to cope with a $400 emergency, according to a Federal Reserve Survey of Household Economics and Decision Making. Yet their struggle remains hidden due to taboos about “financial impotence.” The national culture posits that income determines your status as a winner or loser and that, if you work hard enough, you can’t fail, financially or otherwise. Neal Gabler wrote an article exploring the widespread but secret financial hardship of the middle class...

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