PDF Ú BOOK The Unwinding An Inner History of the New America ô GEORGE PACKER

PDF ☆ The Unwinding An Inner History of the New America à George Packer

PDF ☆ The Unwinding An Inner History of the New America à George Packer Ories with biographical sketches of the era's leading public figures from Newt Gingrich to Jay Z and collages made from newspaper headlines advertising slogans and song lyrics that capture the flow of events and their undercurrents The Unwinding portrays a superpower in danger of coming apart at the seams its elites no longer elite its institutions no longer working its ordinary people left to improvise their own schemes for success and salvation Packer's novelistic and kaleidoscopic history of the new America is his most ambitious work to dateOne of the iTunes Bookstore's Ten Books You Must Read This Summ Packer follows the lives of three people from 1978 through 2012 filling in with many side vignettes to illustrate the dramatic changes in middle class life We see how people lost their jobs and their homes caught up in the boom and bust cycles of the period We see how powerful corporations and their political minions decimated the working class To those who bought into the American dream of the 1950’s and 60’s there was a rude awakening Sprinkled throughout are brief biographical sketches of influential people of the period such as Raymond Carver Newt Gingrich Sam Walton Colin Powell Oprah and Alice Waters Packer is an engaging writer who lets personal stories make a much larger point My notes followDean Price was raised in a dysfunctional poor farm family in the Piedmont of North Carolina The decline of tobacco farming left many fields unplowed and poverty widespread Despite an abusive father Dean was able to finish college and land a good job with Johnson Johnson as a pharmaceutical rep He found the job unsatisfying the go to college get a good corporate job and be happy line to be a myth Reading Napoleon Hill he decided to become an entrepreneur He opened a truck stop and manufactured his own biodiesel getting local farmers to grow canola he refined into biofuel He was both a businessman and a visionary on sustainability He became a millionaire then as the economic winds shifted and large oil industry competitors encroached he lost everything His capacity for innovative ideas exceeded his capacity to navigate the cutthroat world of business Trying to resurrect himself he relentlessly approached government officials at all levels to support local biofuel production but with only good words from Democrats and disdain from Republicans he got nowhere By 2010 with the rise of the Tea Party sustainability was a dirty word in the Piedmont However Packer ends Dean Price’s story on a wisp of hope that with some tweaking he will build a new biofuel business Jeff Connaughton was a gifted young MBA who first worked for Smith Barney and E F Hutton before following his heart and joining the 1987 Joe Biden presidential campaign taking a junior position fundraising The campaign fell apart when Biden was called out for plagiarizing a speech Connaughton went on to a job on the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee He left to get a law degree and returned to Washington ending up with a West Wing job as an assistant to Clinton’s White House Counsel Abner Mikva Following that Connaughton “sold out” as they used to say or “cashed in” as they say today taking a job as a lobbyist Packer notes that 42% of congressmen and senators leaving office from 1998 – 2004 became lobbyists In 2007 Connaughton joined Biden’s second presidential bid which also failed but when Biden became VP a new opportunity rose Biden’s former chief of staff Ted Kaufman was appointed to replace Biden in the senate and he made Connaughton his chief of staff The senator’s term was two years after which he would retire Unfettered by reelection concerns there was no need for fundraising or kowtowing to lobbyists Kaufman and Connaughton challenged special interests confronting the lobbyists with little success Even in the middle of the financial crisis the financial reform measures that were introduced were substantially weakened by the time they passed In short Kaufman and Connaughton’s gallant efforts proved that lobbyists almost always win Afterwards Connaughton moved far from the Washington melee to Savannah Georgia to write his memoirs If Biden runs in 2020 I wonder if Connaughton will return to the fold Tammy Thomas was raised by her great grandmother in Youngstown Ohio Her mother was an addict Tammy through perseverance finished high school and got a two year degree from a technical college Eventually she landed a good job at a local factory But Youngstown was already on the decline In the 1970s factories began closing and cutting back as the region uickly turned into the rust belt With few jobs in town housing values declined Unable to pay bills people lost everything Vacant houses littered the landscape and drug gangs infested them Tammy a union employee took a buyout and gave up her job As unions lost their power new hires would be non union and paid much less Fortunately Tammy had an ability to connect with people She found a position with a progressive organization as a community organizer While rallying kindred spirits provided a renewed sense of community little progress was made on bread and butter issues I found it interesting that she and her organization prioritized tearing down all the vacant homes over building new decent housing Packer cuts away to side stories such as one about the brilliant ambitious politically conservative Peter Thiel After Stanford Law School and a stint as a derivatives trader with Credit Suisse Thiel cofounded Pay Pal He was an extremely successful Silicon Valley investor making hundreds of millions on companies like Facebook He ended up moving his hedge fund to New York where he became a billionaire but lost most of it in 2008 9 He moved back to California then made billions again and currently is in the Forbes 400 Thiel finances far right conservative causes such as the ploy by video maker James O’Keefe that took down Acorn More recently after Packer’s book was published 2013 Thiel became a noted benefactor of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign Lately he has expressed some disappointment in Trump An irreverent libertarian Thiel believes the American system is broken and discourages innovation Another side story explores the pain of the housing debacle in 2007 8 Packer focuses on the Tampa area where developers sold track homes far from town to purchasers who would soon lose their jobs Developers also fed flippers a steady diet of homes they ultimately would not be able to sell Packer chronicles the devastation of entire neighborhoods and details personal tragedies of families left on the edge as they lost their jobs and homes Mortgage companies and banks often did not maintain accurate records or authentic documents often using robo signers Yet the courts didn’t blink an eye uickly disposing of foreclosures cases One regular court observer noted that it took her longer to get through the McDonald's drive thru line in the morning than for the court to throw a family out of their home Packer also reports on how the banks sold sketchy mortgage backed derivatives fueling the financial crisis But the banks Lehman Brothers excepted got bailed out the homeowners strung out Remarkably different citizen responses emerged to the financial crisis Packer tells how some locals in the Tampa area became Tea Party activists in 2010 Then he goes on to recount the short lived Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011 All of these stories are part of the unwinding of the American dream Get an education follow the rules a satisfying job and a wonderful life awaits you Many Americans who bought into this dream were sorely disappointed Economic cycles spun by corporate greed and self serving politics did them in Packer does not consider other contributing factors such as automation and globalization Against the Wall Street Washington steamroller well meaning politicians innovative small business people and social activists at best made small temporary gains Packer’s picture of America gives us portraits of some inspiring people but it does not offer much hope for the future I wonder how Packer would address the Trump era we are now in or what will follow when the current revved up economic boom ends in bust like the others Packer’s writing flows and the pages are easy to turn Adding in its human interest relevance and thought provoking nature this book is one just about everyone should be able to appreciate

DOC The Unwinding An Inner History of the New America

PDF Ú BOOK The Unwinding An Inner History of the New America ô GEORGE PACKER ô A riveting examination of a nation in crisis from one of the finest political journalists of our generationAmerican democracy is beset by a sense of crisis Seismic shifts during a single generation have created a coun A riveting examination of a nation in crisis from one of the finest political journalists of our generationAmerican democracy is beset by a sense of crisis Seismic shifts during a single generation have created a country of winners and losers allowing unprecedented freedom while rending the social contract driving the political system to the verge of breakdown and setting citizens adrift to find new paths forward In The Unwinding George Packer author of The Assassins' Gate America in Ira tells the story of the United States over the past three decades in an utterly original way with his characteristically After hearing about this book on NPR's Morning Edition and Tom Ashbrook's On Point I decided it sounded like a book I needed to read I tried to approach it with the caution that a possibly over hyped new book about current events deserves As I am not a journalist historian or economist I'm not exactly ualified to criticize this kind of book but I did my best to read it carefully scrutinizing the text to the best of my ability And aside from the occasional awkward sentence I found very little to complain about Packer has produced a fascinating and complex web of narratives that taken together form a grim tapestry of the last few decades of American life He follows all kinds of Americans from the most powerful and successful to some of the most downtrodden and unfortunate Contrasting stories of individuals who achieved staggering wealth and influence with heart wrenching accounts of folks who lost it all in the Great Recession Packer strikes at the very heart of the problem that is tearing modern America apart that level playing field the one we all heard so much about growing up––well if it was ever there to begin with it's gone now Packer convincingly argues that the erosion of our financial corporate and political infrastructures began in the early '70s and spent several decades snowballing into the shitstorm of ineuality and unrest we have todayThere are a lot of books that address similar topics and I often avoid them because I'm wary of people who talk about the end of America or the coming financialenvironmentalcultural apocalypse It's not that I don't believe these things might occur but that such ideas often seem effective for selling books than producing intelligent useful dialogue about difficult problems Packer's book may just be the new kid on that already worn out block but I'm not convinced that's the case Packer truly comes off as a writer whose only concern is for the welfare of average American citizens; he's humanist than ideologue Though he occasionally inserts a personal opinion Packer spends very little time on the soapbox here He masterfully allows a diverse cast of Americans to do the talking for him Each new character puts a human face on a particular American problem unrestrained lobbying socially irresponsible entrepreneurship political corruption the insane practices of our turgid financial institutions the decline of the rust belt Occupy Wall Street the housing bubble etc As someone who often has trouble understanding economics and finance I found that Packer's approach made these topics not only intellectually accessible but emotionally visceral It's striking how well many of Packer's subjects come to symbolize the very problems in which they are embroiled The overall narrative hinges on a sinister transformation events that are nauseating and deplorable in isolation meld into a remarkably beautiful piece of nonfiction It's been a long time since a book made me both angry and sad at once It made me feel ashamed of my country's inability to agree on enough basic principles to provide reliable sustained aid to the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society If I hadn't already abandoned the desire to have any positive effect on the world outside my immediate environment this could very well be the kind of book that would move me to political action As it is I will try to heed the many warnings here and put them to use in my daily life This book isn't enough to make me give up on my basic optimism about the future but it definitely threw a wrench into some of my rosier thinking I don't think the US has to continue being a place where those willing to gain from the losses of others always come out on top but it's tough to argue that this isn't the dominant thread in contemporary American life We spend a remarkable amount of time and untold resources figuring out how we can defeat one another from the sweeping financial stakes of Washington and Wall Street to the piddly corners of fast food joints It's like the zero sum game is a drug we just can't uit But if insightful writers like George Packer keep providing us with keen and heartfelt cultural criticism maybe we'll eventually come around and learn to work together and take care of each other

George Packer à The Unwinding An Inner History of the New America READER

The Unwinding An Inner History of the New AmericaSharp eye for detail and gift for weaving together complex narratives The Unwinding journeys through the lives of several Americans including Dean Price the son of tobacco farmers who becomes an evangelist for a new economy in the rural South; Tammy Thomas a factory worker in the Rust Belt trying to survive the collapse of her city; Jeff Connaughton a Washington insider oscillating between political idealism and the lure of organized money; and Peter Thiel a Silicon Valley billionaire who uestions the Internet's significance and arrives at a radical vision of the future Packer interweaves these intimate st George Packer returned from several years overseas writing about problems of the United States in the world never imagining that the United States would become his next subject But he was appalled with the condition of America when he returned and wondered what had happened to our forward momentum In reading this book you may feel the perplexity I had in the beginning for his stories are wide ranging and diverse and seem to bear no relation to one another But slowly the accretion of pages stories and facts begin to take their toll and we begin to glimpse the outlines of our recent past and possible reasons for it And something akin to a slow burning rage may take hold in your breastPacker might be flint to dry tinder—many of us know what we think might be wrong with governance banks farming energy policy education—Packer hits all the hot dry sore spots in his round the country assessment in the form of interviews He does not paint a flattering picture of anyone really which one of us is perfect but neither is he completely negative except for the portrait of Newt Gingrich Newt looks and sounds like a megalomaniac on the level of Ron Hubbard and according to Packer may have been the beginning of Washington’s political dysfunction and discourtesy If Newt had left Washington when he was thrown out of office we may have been saved but he stayed around tinkering with political leadership using money and words But Newt is not single handedly responsible We have ourselves to thankPacker allows us to imagine our own choices had we other people’s lives He is explanatory rather than judgmental He shows us the curve of the earth and allows us to use our experience and observation to draw our own conclusions And he is radicalizing me I realize my own collection of facts tempered by my education and experience have caused within me a slow burning anger over the widening ineuality and waste of our vast resources both human and soil based I do not admire the men and women of our Congress and I do not admire the echelons of wealthy bankers and corporate executives I do not aspire to nor do I wish children to aspire to their ranks I want them to realize they are us albeit with money they frankly do not deservePacker is not prescriptive so the answers must come from within ourselves But he does point out that the 99% have already staged a mass action in Occupy Wall Street Deep feelings of injustice already roil through our cities and countryside Now is the time to learn the skills you will need should your house be lost in a tornado an earthuake a flood or a firestorm Now is the time to be the leaders you wish your Congresspeople were Now is the time to think for ourselves Think Soon it will be time to short Wall Street