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June 17, 2010

A Class Act

Posted by Dana

In today's post, regular contributor Denise Neary recommends a book club pick that is perhaps a bit unusual, but oh so pertinent.  I'm putting it on my list for sure.  Has your group read books like this?  Have you read this book in particular?  As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts!

Warren_e05.jpgElizabeth Warren is a champion for the American dream. 

She is a Harvard Law professor who teaches bankruptcy, corporations, and contracts.   She chairs the Congressional Oversight panel tasked with chasing the TARP (troubled asset relief program) money used to bailout banks.  She is smart, beautiful, accomplished---a woman of modest means who has risen to the top of her profession.

And she is passionate about the middle class in America.

She has become a symbol for Americans who seek transparency and accountability in government and on Wall Street.   She has been advocating, to everyone who will listen, for better consumer protection.  She has made the rounds, vowing to speak for those with no voice in government----she writes editorials for newspapers, frequently contributes to blogs, and she has been heard all over the airwaves, in places as dissimilar as NPR and the Colbert Report.

Have you read her book, THE TWO INCOME TRAP?  Warren wrote the book with her daughter Amelia Warren Tygani.   Its subtitle---why middle class parents are going broke---sets the stage and the reader’s expectations.  Warren and Tygani counter the idea that Americans are over consuming and overspending their way to financial ruin---rather, they set up a scary premise that American families are on a treadmill, running as fast as they can to keep up financially.    And that the treadmill can collapse all too easily.

The book is a perfect book club read.   Set well before our current financial crisis, and told in part as a set of stories of recognizable and sympathetic characters, the book crystallizes what many of us knew at some level----that there are shifts going on around how the American family budget works.  How many stories do you know of people who overspent their house budget to get into a better school district? 

The book has so many themes that make for great discussion.  What is a luxury, what is a necessity?  What is the American dream?   Are we a country of all for one, or one for all?   And if we don’t like what is happening, what do we do about it?  

Writing the book helped turn Elizabeth Warren into a reluctant champion for the rights of the middle class.   Who knows the effects reading it could have!

-- Denise Neary, Regular Contributor

P.S.   And speaking of women I admire......don't forget to vote for our RGG leader,  Dana  Barrett.   She has a great audition, for a show about something we all love----books---- to the Oprah network.   Books, Dana, Oprah---what is NOT to like about this idea?