Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Free Market Fantasies

I just finished another groundbreaking book called High Wire: The Precarious Financial Lives of American Families. This is a must read!!

It explains America's financial crisis- and not just the precipitous stock market or housing market. It explains how Americans are being forced to take much more risk than ever before. Families are being given the risk that government and businesses used to shoulder. It's not a bunch of generalizations either. It's filled with specific examples of how we've unknowingly taken the burden of risk- in housing, healthcare, insurance, retirement, education. It's just... startling.

For 200 years our country functioned on the premise that we have an obligation to our fellow human beings. And that shared risk encourages capitalism. For instance, Ben Franklin invented fire insurance. And the Mayflower Compact was an agreement "for the general good of the colony". But since the 1970's we've been slowly stripped of our safety nets. Safety nets like pensions and laws that protect the public from corporate greed. Pooled risk is an integral part of the American Dream and it's all but disappeared.

Thank you, Peter Gosselin, for bringing this to our attention.

(Here is another person's perspective on the book).

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