I have to be honest, I rarely read non-fiction. The other day, however, a used book called Class Matters by correspondents of The New York Times came through the store and captured my interest. I borrowed it for a few days and I have been absolutely fascinated by the essays. I'm not quite finished with it, but I can't wait to the end to write about it.
In 2005 The New York Times did a large series on class and its function in America. After the series was published they compiled the essays into this book. I would find the book's commentary on our society interesting even if we hadn't just escaped the horror that was 2008. However, what happened in 2008 - to the nation's economy, the housing market, etc. makes this book especially eerie in its predictions.
In writing about class distinctions one journalist mentions how difficult it is to tell who is in what class. She writes that we may think we are a classless society, but it only appears that way because of how easy it is to get a credit card or a home loan. Within her article she quotes Travis B. Plunkett, the legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America. "Many families that never had access to credit now do. The problem is that a flood of credit is now available to many financially vulnerable families and extended in a reckless and aggressive manner in many cases without thought to implications."
Anyone else feel like clutching their head in agony after reading that quote?? Why didn't we listen!? Why didn't we pay attention so we could see the financial crisis coming instead of waking up one morning wondering what was happening to our country? Ah, well. Hindsight is 20-20, right?
As we move away from 2008 it's important to read books like this to see where we have been and where we may be going. Class Matters discusses health care, immigration, and other pertinent issues that will matter to all of us as we enter into this New Year with a new President.
Here's to 2009 - may it cause less panic, less worry, fewer bailouts and much joy.