Class War

Book by Charles M. Kelly

Review by Thom Hartmann, originally published at buzzflash.com on May 11, 2004.

Class war by the rich against the working class has been openly declared in America several times -- the gilded age is a good example -- but few are as obvious, calculated, and well covered-up as the class warfare declared against average Americans by the so-called "conservatives" beginning with the Reagan administration. In "Class War In America," Charles Kelly lays bare the core of this war against the American middle class, its origins, and its methods.

The author of an earlier book titled "The Great Limbaugh Con," Kelly knows how to write in a compelling fashion (despite the fact that he has a Ph.D. in industrial communications and teaches at the university level). "Class War In America" is startling, revelatory, filled with factoids and ammunition for the water cooler wars, and is also the sort of book that you pick up on a Saturday afternoon and can’t put down until bedtime when you’ve finished it.

Kelly’s main thesis is that wage levels in a nation are more a function of power relationships than supply and demand. Although conservative pundits would have you think this contradicts classical economic theory (Smith, Ricardo, etc.), in fact it’s largely in agreement with economists who have observed the growth of ancient guilds (the Masons, for example) and modern unions.

When labor has power equal to management, wages will increase and a middle class will blossom -- and when the power of labor is stripped, as Reagan systematically began when he broke the PATCO strike, wages decrease and the middle class deteriorates into the working poor at the same time corporate profits and CEO compensation explode.

One of the most remarkable parts of Kelly’s work is how nearly the entire superstructure of the book is derived from quotes from conservatives themselves -- particularly Alan Greenspan -- describing in business publications like The Wall Street Journal and Forbes how they execute their strategy to reduce worker power and thus increase CEO compensation and corporate profits.

It’s clear that conservatives declared class war on the American middle class in the 1980s, hired well-paid shills to run their PR machine (think Limbaugh, etc.), and, while openly discussing it among themselves in publicly available venues, have managed to keep most Americans in the dark about their real agenda.

"Class War In America" by Charles M. Kelly is a wake-up, a primer, and a powerful handbook for restoring America’s middle class.

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From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
"Beneath the success and rise of American enterprise is an untold history that is antithetical to every value Americans hold dear. This is a seminal work, a godsend really, a clear message to every citizen about the need to reform our country, laws, and companies."
Paul Hawken, coauthor of Natural Capitalism and author of The Ecology of Commerce
From Screwed:
"Once again, Thom Hartmann hits the bull’s eye with a much needed exposé of the so-called ‘free market.’ Anyone concerned about the future of our nation needs to read Screwed now."
Michael Toms, Founding President, New Dimensions World Broadcasting Network and author of A Time For Choices: Deep Dialogues for Deep Democracy
From Cracking the Code:
"No one communicates more thoughtfully or effectively on the radio airwaves than Thom Hartmann. He gets inside the arguments and helps people to think them through—to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."