Monday, May 18, 2009

War on the Middle Class

War on the Middle Class:
How the Government, Big Business, and Special Interest Groups Are Waging War on the American Dream and How to Fight Back
by Lou Dobbs

(Viking Adult / 0-670-03792-3 / 978-0-670-03792-6 / October 2006 / 288 pages / $24.95 hardcover / $19.96 Amazon / $7.19 Kindle / $4.99 Amazon Bargain Priced Paperback)

Lou Dobbs has become quite a controversial figure over the past few years. I have been watching his shows since practically the beginning of his Moneyline program back in 1980, but I have always weighed his subjects and opinions against an opposite reality. I like to see what I would call rational Republicans present their views in an intelligent manner, and Lou has done a lot of that these past twenty-five years or so, allowing for the breaks between his various positions at CNN. Let me make it clear that I like his friend Ted Turner considerably more than I like Dobbs, and I totally agree with Ted that Lou has recently somewhat lost touch with his own persona. That said, allow me to critique his third book, which happens to be the one released at the time I was most a true fan of Lou. For a little perspective, consider that although I acquired the book soon after its release, I did not get around to reading War on the Middle Class until now, after Lou has already tossed his cookies again.

I am retired from a career in various aspects of the financial services industry, and I been reviewing all sorts of books for my blog over the past three years. I have been a prognosticator of the doom and gloom scenario for decades. Some of my favorite authors and economists are Nouriel Roubini, Paul Stiles, and Paul Krugman, so the subject matter of Lou’s third book fits squarely into my interests. The catch is that The USA Titanic has already hit the iceberg and now everybody has been talking the doom and walking the gloom. To my mind, Lou stepped off the wagon when he began is Independents Day rants and plugs for his fourth book on his daily show. He was at least on the right track with this one before the iceberg hit, but then he started to just sound like a closet Republican hawking his book.

Lou Dobbs did the citizens a favor when he began publicizing the Dubai Ports deal, the H1-B Visa scam, the comprehensive illegal immigration scam, and most of all, the Ramos and Campean debacle. These issues desperately needed someone to bring them to the public’s attention.

There is very little new information in War on the Middle Class if you had been watching Lou Dobbs Tonight regularly in 2005-6. All the usual suspects have been included for your repeated amusement: Dubai, H1-B, the Sensenbrenner bill that caused such an uproar, NAFTA, CAFTA, and Lou’s disdain for the teachers’ union. One of my minor complaints is that although the page count of the book is 276, Lou’s actual, composed text ends at page 212. The remaining sixty pages include a reprinting of The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, and The Amendments, followed by Notes and an Index. I have no problem with this normal set of back matter in such a book. I especially prefer that all of what would have been footnotes interrupting the reader have been compiled into the Notes at the end. The reprinting of the legendary documents, though, could have been forgone. Call me uppity, but when I buy a book by Lou Dobbs, I want to read as many words composed by Lou Dobbs as possible. I’m sure I can find The Constitution reprinted online somewhere!

The point I most want to make is that Lou Dobbs has an intelligence and depth of experience that is more often than not pushed aside by his many detractors to make way for the single-minded slap-fight over illegal immigration issues. Yes, I am as mad at Lou right now as anyone, but not over his stance on illegal immigration. What part of illegal don’t you understand? Lou’s wife is Hispanic, for gosh sakes! How is illegal immigration from a single country fair to all the legal immigrants from the same or other countries? How can the left-wingers be so in favor of a policy that Wall Street loves? I am so far left that I am holding on to the left wing by my fingernails, but Lou is on the money on this issue!

Taken at face value as a 2006 release, War on the Middle Class hits the target with a bull’s eye. The disgusting part comes from having watched Lou degenerate into secret messages sent to the craziest of conservatives over the past two years. As much as I loved Lou Dobbs Tonight back in 2005-6, I generally cannot bear to watch the show in ’09 without a handy barf bag nearby. Now I’m just waiting for the old pseudo-Republican gasbag to retire so the news program can become sane again as The Kitty Pilgrim Hour.

See Also: The BNN Review

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