The American dream used to mean that if you worked hard, saved money, and didn’t spend extravagantly, you’d be guaranteed a decent life. That article of faith is no more; it has been replaced by a growing fear that even two incomes will prove insufficient to afford a home in a good neighborhood, a reliable vehicle, quality schools, healthcare, the means to care for aging relatives, and the leisure to properly raise children. The middle class is waking up to the sobering realization that the United States is fast becoming an unaffordable nation.
Transcending ordinary politics, Jeffrey Jones addresses every member of the American community, not as liberal or conservative or as Democrat or Republican, but in the most basic and equal of terms: in their capacities as working persons dependent upon their occupations, their employers, and the government regulation of both to earn a decent living. He uncovers the profound moral consensus among Americans from every walk of life regarding the entitlements that should follow from individual hard work.
Jones argues that regardless of political leanings, economic class, gender, and ethnic and racial differences, Americans remain united in the conviction that individuals who work hard should receive decent wages and other resources in return. He goes on to propose a "covenant on affordability," outlining the respective obligations of government, corporations, and individuals in ensuring a life that is affordable for every person who is willing to work hard.
The Unaffordable Nation is a must-read for every American concerned about the decreasing value of his or her labor, alongside the rising costs of nearly everything.
"Jeffrey Jones digs deep into the American political psyche to find a moral basis for the dissatisfaction many middle-class Americans feel with their economic circumstances. In this very accessible book, Jones articulates a public philosophy of reward for labor — the Covenant on Affordability — connecting it to a decent life .... he pulls together a striking range of references, from William Graham Sumner to contemporary credit card debt, to yield a unique and original analysis of our current economic and political malaise."
Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Education and
Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts—Boston
"A thoughtful, scholarly look at the morality behind America's betrayal of work."
ANYA KAMENETZ, author of Generation Debt