• Eye Opening
  • Background


Journalist Edward Luce conducted a nine-month examination of America’s middle class, education system, innovative ability, basic research capacity and government. He spoke to makers and movers like Bill Gates and to less exalted working people, including an electrician who had to retrain as a nurse. He finds that the middle class is disappearing as jobs flee to the East, leaving low-paying health care and service “opportunities” in their wake. He says the country’s famous can-do attitude has retreated before risk aversion, apathy and political polarization. Schools do not teach needed skills, and Congress stagnates under the thumb of money and lobbyists. Luce tells his tale too well. He reports dire scenarios skillfully and vividly, though the few cures he offers are unconvincing. In some areas, you may long for a few balancing insights or some small ray of sunshine, like a note about progress that is underway. Still, getAbstract recommends Luce’s bleak insights to America’s levelheaded decision makers and doers – who can address the nation’s problems – and to thoughtful observers anywhere.



Too many liberals and conservatives are looking back to sunnier times when they should focus on the future. Military planners want fast, practical action from Washington on crucial issues, but suspect it will not come. Another financial meltdown is possible. Immigration issues remain unresolved. The decline of the urban population in Midwestern cities – formerly manufacturing hubs – rivals the wipe-out of Europe’s Black Death. The business cycle from 2002 to 2007 left most households worse off – a first in modern history. Despite these conditions and their parallel dilemmas, Americans and their leaders keep turning their attention to less complex topics. The crux of the problem is that government fails to act pragmatically, if it acts at all.

“The Lonely Middle”

At $25 billion annually, the increasing profitability of rental storage centers tells a sad tale of foreclosures, small-business collapses and personal bankruptcies. Ignoring the reality of ongoing middle-class decline, Republicans and Democrats trade blame for the 2008 financial crisis. Manufacturing jobs have moved to the East, replaced by service “opportunities” that pay workers 25% ...

About the Author

Edward Luce, Washington commentator and former South Asia Bureau Chief for London’s Financial Times, was a speechwriter for former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers during the Clinton administration.

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