Workers > Greed

The American Boulevard of Stolen Dreams: Part I — 1945-1980s

By Hedrick Smith

The Globalist

December 19, 2012


Why has the American Dream slipped out of the reach of more and more of the middle class?

Who Stole the American Dream? explains how the United States moved from an era of middle class prosperity and power and effective bipartisan politics in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s to today’s polarized politics, starkly unequal democracy, gaping inequalities in the economy and a middle class — and a national economy — stuck in a rut.

The book breaks with the conventional wisdom that the demise of America’s middle class was caused by globalization, advancing technology and impersonal market forces. That is a misleading half-truth.

“Who Stole” argues that the real causes were a tectonic power shift in Washington, D.C., that began in the late 1970s under the Democrats. They expanded under the Republicans, who further tilted government policy in favor of the wealthy and corporations for three decades.

In addition, the “wedge economics” of shareholder capitalism that, since the 1980s, have increasingly cut the middle class out of its fair share of U.S. economic growth, rising productivity and rising corporate profits left today’s Americans with the greatest economic inequalities among advanced economies since 16th-century Spain.

Here is what the alternate form of contemporary U.S. economic history — one focused on the common man, not Fortune-riding heroes — looks like:


The “Treaty of Detroit” labor agreement between General Motors and the United Auto Workers Union gives GM labor peace and auto workers annual pay increases, health benefits and monthly pensions, setting a pattern for other industries, insuring that gains from U.S. economic growth are shared between labor and management.