As the new century unfolds, we face a host of economic and social challenges--jobs lost to "off shoring," a huge and growing number of Americans without health insurance coverage, an expanding gap between rich and poor, stagnant wages, decaying public schools, and many others. These are difficult and complex problems, but our government's strategy for dealing with them has been essentially not to deal with them at all. Over and over, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, we're told that we're on our own--"Here's a tax cut and a private account; now go fend for yourself."
As Jared Bernstein points out, this approach doesn't make any sense as a strategy for solving the enormous systemic problems we face. It's just a way of shifting economic risk from those most able to bear it--the government and the nation's corporations--to those least able: individuals and families. The result has been greater wealth for the top 1% of Americans and stagnant living standards and increasing insecurity for the vast majority.
In All Together Now, Bernstein outlines a new strategy, one that applauds individual initiative but recognizes that the problems we face as a nation can be solved only if we take a more collaborative approach. The message is simple: we're all in this together.
Bernstein draws on recent and historic events to explore how the proponents of what he dubs the YOYO (you're-on-your-own) approach have sold the idea, exposing the fallacies and ulterior motives in their arguments as well as the disasterous consequences of their policies. More importantly, he details practical WITT (we're-in-this-together) initiatives in specific areas like globalization, health care, and employment that could improve the lives of millions of Americans without increasing overall national spending. And he offers advice on how to overcome objections to the WITT agenda and bring the country together so that both risks and benefits are shared more fairly.
While the prevailing philosophy insists that all we can do is cope with massive social forces, each of us on our own, Bernstein argues that we can unite and shape these forces to meet our needs. The optimistic message of All Together Now is that the economic challenges we face are not insoluble; we can wield the tools of government to meet them in such a way as to build a more just and equitable society.