While America Aged: How Pension Debts Ruined General Motors, Stopped the New York Subways, Bankrupted San Diego, and Loom as the Next Financial Crisis

Roger Lowenstein, Author
Roger Lowenstein, Author . Penguin Press $25.95 (274p) ISBN 978-1-59420-167-7
Reviewed on: 03/17/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
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America’s impending pension problem is brutally simple: private companies and governments have pledged to provide retirement income and health care for workers, but have not set aside the money to make good on their promises. Typical accounts of the crisis tend to obfuscate the issue and fixate on laying blame, but Lowenstein (Origins of the Crash ) has a refreshing perspective—he tells three fascinating stories in American economic history and situates the current pension problems in the struggle for dignity for workers. Lowenstein regards fixing pensions as a worthy culmination to a century’s struggle for justice rather than a painful chore unfairly foisted on the present by the past. Unfortunately, after this incisive and inspiring history lesson, the 10 pages at the end devoted to solutions are too abstract and unoriginal. The book gives the reader lively stories and historical insight, but may disappoint those looking for policy recommendations. (May 5)

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