Mortimer Zuckerman's "The American Dream Goes On" [June 23-30] caused amazement, even consternation.
Where and for whom? Not for the millions of normally hard-working, patriotic Americans who don't have a job and can't find one, except sometimes in the service sector, maybe only part-time, with a fraction of the pay they had before, struggling to put food on the table and pay the rent or the mortgage, much less pay for healthcare and education for their children. Not for the multitude of small business owners, bereft of their livelihood by globalization and out-sourcing. Where does he get the idea that "growing inequality" is not yet a political issue? Not only do people talk about it, but the candidates too realize its importance and place in the forefront of political thinking everywhere across the country. I am not normally pessimistic, but the complexity of the problems facing this country today (and thus the next president) is daunting to many of us, and certainly not encouraging. I believe this will become even more apparent as the battle for the presidency goes on.
Ruby C. Gakeler
Dowling Park, Fla.
Zuckerman is off base in "The American Dream Goes On." He writes, "There are 12 percent more households earning in excess of $100,000 than 20 or so years ago. And those making less than $30,000 have not increased. So virtually the entire 'decline' of the middle-class group has come from people moving up the income ladder, not down." The cost of living in the last 20 years or so is up probably 75 to 100 percent, so the fact that 12 percent more households are bringing in more than $100,000 today indicates a declining middle-class to me. A large percentage of the group making less than $30,000 20 years ago were probably not doing too badly, but the purchasing power of that amount is dramatically less today. I blame our free trade policies for a great part of the decline. Big business now has much of the products sold here manufactured overseas at a tremendous cost savings. I feared years ago that free trade would not increase our prosperity, but rather dilute our standard of living to a level closer to a world average. The figures quoted by Zuckerman justify my fears.
Mokelumne Hill, Calif.
American productivity has gone up 70 percent in the last 30 years, yet workers' wages for this magnificent feat have gone up by how much for this same period of time? Two percent! Why aren't the workers sharing in the increase brought about by their hard work? Where's that money going? The title of your editorial should have been "Mort Zuckerman Dreams On."
Los Gatos, Calif.