John Ehrenreich

3 Simplistic Conservative Beliefs That Completely Slow All Progress

The following is an excerpt from the new book Third Wave Capitalism by John Ehrenreich (Cornell University Press, 2016): 

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The Surprising People on Both Sides of the Aisle Flirting With Prison Reform - and Then Backtracking

Reform of the criminal justice system has surfaced as a major issue in the presidential race. 2015 had seen the emergence of an unlikely coalition for reform, uniting conservatives and liberals, driven by widespread concern about the increase in the prison population and by street protests against the failure of prosecutors to address the targeting of blacks by police. Right-wing financier Charles Koch helped pull together a coalition of advocacy groups from both left and right to fight the “over-criminalization of America,” while George Soros’ left-leaning Open Society Foundations provided major financial support for justice reform efforts. In 2015, even Ted Cruz called for eliminating “draconian mandatory minimum sentences.”

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Barbara and John Ehrenreich: The Real Story Behind the Crash and Burn of America's Managerial Class

Every would-be populist in American politics purports to defend the “middle class,” although there is no agreement on what it is. Just in the last couple of years, the “middle class” has variously been defined as everybody, everybody minus the 15 percent living below the federal poverty level; or everybody minus the very richest Americans. Mitt Romney famously excluded “those in the low end” but included himself (2010 income $21.6 million) along with “80 to 90 percent” of Americans. The Department of Commerce has given up on income-based definitions, announcing in a 2010 report that “middle class families” are defined “by their aspirations more than their income […]. Middle class families aspire to home ownership, a car, college education for their children, health and retirement security and occasional family vacations”—which excludes almost no one.

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