Last week I attended a very interesting seminar by Peter Temin about his new book (out next year), The Vanishing Middle Class. The book concentrates on the US. Prof Temin began with the data: defining middle class as those on between two thirds of median income and twice median income, the proportion of the US population who are middle class declined from 62% in 1970 to 43% in 2014. Much of the talk concerned the overlap between this decline and the role of race in the United States. The figures on poverty and incarceration for African-Americans are shocking. One in three black men will go to prison during their lives. However, Professor Temin pointed out that – although race has been a forceful part of the political argument used in favour of minimal welfare in the US – less than a fifth of low wage workers are black, a fifth Hispanic, and 80% white.
The book sounds like it will be a must-read. Meanwhile, some of the books cited during his talk were: Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow; Jane Mayer, Dark Money (on the Koch brothers); and Ta Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me.
New Jim Crow, The Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right Between the World and Me (Thorndike Press Large Print Popular and Narrative Nonfiction Series)