Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The latest from Nan Mooney

The timely and alarming book that tells the story of our declining professional middle class...

Educator, artist, social worker, not-for-profit administrator, journalist—these white-collar professions are typically populated with college-educated, middle class professionals who forgo big-money careers in finance, medicine or law to pursue more “meaningful” work in creative and service-oriented sectors.

But increasingly, these career choices are leaving middle class professionals struggling to make ends meet, let alone fulfill social expectations and reach the economic stability of the “American dream.”

Through hundreds of interviews with families and individuals from across America, award-winning journalist Nan Mooney traces how and why today’s educated professional middle class is experiencing financial volatility more profound and paralyzing than the struggles experienced by previous generations. In (Not) Keeping Up With Our Parents, Mooney illustrates how members of this class are increasingly opting out of creative and service-oriented careers, choosing to delay or forgo having children, carrying significant debt well into middle age, and struggling so hard to keep their own finances secure that they have little resources to offer those less fortunate. The issues they face—negotiating massive student loan and credit card debt, struggling to pay for health and child care, and choosing between funding their children’s education and their own retirement—reveal an entire segment of society teetering on the edge.

In response, Mooney encourages today’s professional middle class to overcome their sense of fear and resignation and engage in the prospect of change. She proposes ways individuals and communities can stop the economic downward spiral—from advocating for more government support for education, child care, health care and retirement, to initiating a shift in values so that self worth is no longer defined by the size of one’s bank account.