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One of our most incisive and committed journalists—author of the classic All the Livelong Day—shows us the real human cost of our economic follies.

The Great Recession has thrown huge economic chal­lenges at almost all Americans save the super-affluent few, and we are only now beginning to reckon up the human toll it is taking. Down the Up Escalator is an urgent dispatch from the front lines of our vast collective struggle to keep our heads above water and maybe even—someday—get ahead. Garson has interviewed an economically and geographically wide variety of Americans to show the pain­ful waste in all this loss and insecurity, and describe how individuals are coping. Her broader historical focus, though, is on the causes and consequences of the long stag­nation of wages and how it has resulted in an increasingly desperate reliance on credit and a series of ever-larger bubbles—stocks, technology, real estate. This is no way to run an economy, or a democracy.

From the members of the Pink Slip Club in New York, to a California home health-care aide on the eve of eviction, to a subprime mortgage broker who still thinks it could have worked, Down the Up Escalator presents a sobering picture of what happens to a society when it becomes economically organized to benefit only the very rich and the quick-buck speculators. But it also demonstrates the wit and resilience of ordinary Americans—and why they deserve so much bet­ter than the hand they’ve been dealt.

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Down the Up Escalator
Average rating
5 / 5
Great, if alarming, read
April 22nd, 2013
This book really helped clarify and cement my own thoughts and feelings on being middle class and being squeezed by The State Of Things. Most of the things covered by Barbara Garson see still applicable to a Canadian audience. We may not have had a subprime mortgage crash, but we are still having trouble keeping up with our parents generation, like many of the subjects in this book. There is a certain catharsis in knowing that we may have made some bad financial decisions but that the deck is stacked against the regular worker in the North American economy, and probably most other places too.
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