Why Our Families Can't Afford America

eBook - 2018
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"<Strong>Squeezed</strong><strong>weaves together intimate reporting with sharp and lively critique </strong><strong>to show</strong> <strong>how the high cost of parenthood and our increasingly unstable job market have imploded the middle-class American Dream for many families, and offers surprising solutions for how we might change things</strong> Families today are squeezed on every side--from high childcare costs and harshemployment policies to workplaces without paid family leave or even dependable and regular working hours. Many realize that attaining the standard of living their parents managed has become impossible. Alissa Quart, executive editor of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, examines the lives of many middle-class Americans who can now barely afford to raise children. Through gripping firsthand storytelling, Quart shows how our country has failed its families. Her subjects--from professors to lawyers to caregivers to nurses--have been wrung out by a system that doesn't support them, and enriches only a tiny elite. Interlacing her own experience with close-up reporting on families that are just getting by, Quart reveals parenthood itself to be financially overwhelming, except for the wealthiest. She offers real solutions to these problems, including outlining necessary policy shifts, as well as detailing the DIY tactics some families are already putting into motion, and argues for the cultural reevaluation of parenthood and caregiving. Written in the spirit of Barbara Ehrenreich and Jennifer Senior, Squeezedis an eye-opening page-turner. Powerfully argued, deeply reported, and ultimately hopeful, itcasts a bright, clarifying light on families struggling to thrive in an economy that holds too few options. It will make readers think differently about their lives and those of their neighbors"--
Publisher: New York : Ecco, 2018.
ISBN: 9780062412270
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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Jan 20, 2019

While I hoped for more research and data, the anecdotal information within is still interesting, and highlights the challenges of Gen X and beyond in entering their adulthood in a time when college costs rapidly expanded and no longer ensured work; home prices skyrocketed, and the recession dawned, social infrastructure continued to rapidly crumble, and absolutely none of our policies even began to catch up to the new reality. Overall, the book would have been stronger if it had more voices outside of NYC.

Sep 24, 2018

For all the happy talk about flexibility and freedom, the mad scramble for stable situations seems to be accelerating.

Sep 22, 2018

The author's own experience as part of the "middle precariat" seems to be one of the prime motivators for writing this book, but I thought the parts about her own experience and her reportage about other financially insecure middle-class people did not always mesh that well. Some of the chapters are quite insightful and revealing, but others are less so, and seem rushed and underdeveloped (e.g. "The Rise of 1 Percent Television"). Quart's conclusions about the severe undervaluation of both paid and unpaid care work as underpinning the general "squeeze" she chronicles are convincing, but could have been better integrated into the book as a whole. I was also surprised at the number of typographical and other errors--for example, on page 230, she makes an analogy using the Steven Spielberg film "The Sugarland Express," but the Spielberg film she describes there is actually "Duel."

Aug 04, 2018

Do yourself a favor and avoid this book. The premise is that "attaining the standard of living their parents managed has become impossible." And unreliable anecdotal stories are used to try and sustain that premise - to push her mantra "it's not your fault." Unfortunately, facts contradict much of what Alissa Quart puts forth. Take housing as an example: Housing is believed to be more expensive today than it was 50 years ago. And the average home price has gone up faster than wage growth - but the problem is the average home size has grown almost 60% in that same time period. The cost per square foot of housing is actually down compared to wage growth... meaning the same size house your parents started in, is cheaper for you relative to average income. The issue is you want a house that is 50% larger and are mad you can't afford it. Alissa Quart's answer is, "it's not your fault." Michelle Belmont's story of taking on volumes of debt for her undergraduate degree, then taking on even more to get her graduate degree - to become a Technological Librarian (avg salary was about $20/hour when she decided to put six-figures of debt into that career). Alissa Quart's answer to Mrs. Belmont is "it's not your fault." This book put forth anecdotal arguments of how a more socialist government system would have helped people who made poor choices to take on debt, get an unnecessary education for a low-paying career, pursuing housing of the size or in an area they cannot afford, and so forth. When it comes to how affordable life is to the people in the middle (median income, and so forth), this book misses the boat, and the facts, entirely.

Aug 03, 2018

The structural problems in today's economy should make for good analysis and good reading. Quart misses the mark though. Her book focuses on fringe characters, most of whom have put themselves in poor positions with bad career choices and worse educations. Her solutions are laughable and don't address the larger problems effectively.


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