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In case you’re wondering about the book he’ll be promoting at next week’s N.C. Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon, today’s Weekly Briefing provides a brief review. of veteran journalist Hedrick Smith’s newest effort, which is entitled Who Stole the American Dream?

The bottom line: It’s definitely worth your time, money and effort. It’s not really a “feel good” book, but you’ll have a much, much better understanding of how America got into the fix in which it finds itself. There are also some promising and hopeful recommendations for what the hell we do to get out the current situation.

Click here to read the article.

Please join the staff of NC Policy Watch for a very special, Crucial Conversation luncheon:

Who Stole the American Dream? A conversation with legendary American journalist Hedrick Smith.

Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning former The New York Times reporter and editor and Emmy award-winning producer/correspondent, has established himself over the past 50 years as one of America’s most distinguished journalists.

His new book, Who Stole the American Dream, steps back from the partisan fever of the 2012 campaign to explain how we got to where we are today—how America moved from an era of middle class prosperity and power, effective bipartisanship and grass roots activism to today’s polarized gridlock, unequal democracy and an even more unequal economy that has unraveled the American Dream for millions of middle class families.

Don’t miss the chance to hear from this extraordinary American at this critical moment in our national political conversation. Read More

In case you missed them, there were two very different but equally powerful history lessons that were made available online in recent days:

#1 – The first came from a professor of history, Duke University’s William Chafe, whose op-ed in Raleigh’s News & Observer provided a refresher course on the close link between the rise and fall of the middle class and our ebbing and flowing societal commitment to public investments.

#2 – The second came from author Larkin Warren whose piece for the New York Times (“I Was a Welfare Mother”) provides a powerful refutation of those who seek to “divide and conquer” or simply ignore the Americans who find themselves, at times, “dependent” on public assistance.

Great stuff.

Data released Wednesday by the Census Bureau show that the middle class lost ground in terms of income for the fourth consecutive year. This slump occurred even though the economy was growing, albeit modestly. In 2011, real household income in the middle of the income distribution was $50,054, a 1.5 percent ($780) decline since 2010. These households are bringing home less real income than they did in 1996. Since 2007, the year the Great Recession began, median household income dropped by 8.1 percent ($4,400).

Working age households in the middle of the income distribution were hit even harder in 2011. Median household income for this group was $55,600, falling by 2.4 percent ($1,400) since 2010 and 9 percent ($5,700) since 2007. Workers’ wages are falling behind even though productivity is up in the nation. Budget and Tax Center research shows that North Carolina’s workers’ pay growth is also lagging far behind productivity gains.

Well, if the middle class lost ground and the poverty rate was unchanged during the same time period, to whom did the economic gains accrue? Read More