It’s the Economy, People!

By James Carville & Stan Greenberg

Blue Rider Press 26.95 321 pages

It’s The Middle Class, Stupid! by James Carville and Stan Greenburg is an informative book put at somewhat of a disadvantage by its unfortunate title. Yes, I know that it’s a reprise of Carville’s successful campaign slogan for Bill Clinton in ‘92, but I don’t feel it transfers well. ||James and Stan, even though living quite different lives, both experienced the evils of segregation and were moved to fight for equality. Now, since the end of the harshest effects of discrimination, their emphasis has changed to almost equally pernicious economic inequality.

The Authors use focus groups and polls to define the middle class in its own words, using stories from participants. Chapter four uses many graphs to chart different aspects of middle class decline and further describe what the middle class looks like. What they don’t do, in my opinion, is explain why the health of the middle class is important to America as well as the individual people in it. Briefly, two thirds of America’s economy is driven by consumption. Poor people have little or no disposable income to consume with. There are comparatively few rich people and they cannot spend enough to drive the economy. So, that means we need a large middle class with enough disposable income to consume enough to drive the economy. Simply put, a healthy middle class means a healthy economy. The authors say it, but they cover too much ground to really give it that punch.

It’s not the peppiest read I’ve ever encountered, but the information is there, and accessible with a little perseverance.

Reviewed by Norman West

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