It’s on your television screen, on the front page of all the papers, and all over the radio: Wal-Mart slashes full-time jobs, shootings in an Amish community, Medicare patients’ data at risk… Everywhere you look Americans are facing unprecedented levels of risk.
Jacob Hacker, author of The Great Risk Shift: The Assault on American Jobs, Families, Health Care, and Retirement And How You Can Fight Back would agree. In fact, his new book which we have been highlighting this week (check out his Q & A and the Risk Quiz), argues that the two great pillars of economic security – the family and the workplace- guarantee far less security than they once did. His book documents how our economic security has eroded and what we can do reinstate it. Hacker is not trying to erase risk, clearly that would be a futile battle, rather Hacker is looking to help Americans manage and prepare for risk, to safeguard ourselves against the inevitabilities of job insecurity, illness, and old age.
Don’t think Hacker’s concerns and advice apply to you? Below is a round up of news stories that highlight the intensified risk levels facing America. Risk is everywhere, the more imperative question is what can Americans do to protect themselves?:
- From the NYTimes, rebuilding after Katrina, “But some 30,000 houses are now being repaired or rebuilt around town…Those who try to rebuild do so with no guarantee of success, minimal encouragement from government and a willful faith their collective labors can actually change that future.”
- USA Today reports that “Millions of seniors and people with disabilities are being urged to re-examine the [health care]plan they chose for this year and compare plans again.”
- The Chicago Tribune reports that, “While people on Wall Street celebrate rising equity values, Lee Farris, 51, of Boston, doesn’t see anything at all equitable about today’s economic climate, in which an income gap has opened up between the affluent and the less affluent, including many in the middle class.”
- The results of a poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey of 753 unmarried women over the age of 18 who are registered to vote found that “Unmarried women strongly oppose the war in Iraq, but they also have deep economic concerns that have been largely unaddressed over the past five years. For younger women, jobs and wages dominate while older unmarried women are more focused on the issues of retirement security and health care.”
- From Slate, “Ford is fighting for its life and so is offering to buy out unionized employees, slashing the white-collar workforce by one-third, and suspending its quarterly dividend.”
This is only a taste of what is in the news this week. As Hacker tells us in his book, “We can see the common threat that unites these stories only by looking at them through the lens of risk…Increasingly, all of us – even those with good jobs and good pay, with children and spouses, with homes and college degrees – are riding the new economic roller coaster.”