Center of Concern | Wed, Jul 23, 2008
“Our faith calls us to measure this economy, not by what it produces but also by how it touches human life and whether it protects or undermines the dignity of the human person.” This statement appeared in the first paragraph of Economic Justice for All, the pastoral letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. economy that was issued by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 1986.
In 2008, twenty-two years after the bishops provided a moral framework for evaluating the economy, Steven Greenhouse, a labor and workplace correspondent for the New York Times since 1995, has provided us a report card on the economy and how it measures up to the standard of protecting the dignity of the human person.
The title of Greenhouse’s book, The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker, will give you some idea of his report card grade on the economy. He looks at the economy from the perspective of the workers and their families, from the bottom up, and not as an analyst from Wall Street, but he certainly knows the pressures that have been placed on companies by Wall Street.
The book documents, as noted in the dust cover: “…how the social contract between employers and employees, guaranteeing steady work and good pensions, has eroded over the last three decades, damaged by massive layoffs of factory and office workers and Wall Street’s demands for ever-higher profits.”
Greenhouse’s book is one that needs to be read by voters as well as candidates for public office and those already holding positions of trust as elected officials. I am in full agreement with Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: “Any presidential candidate—or voter—who overlooks this book will be clueless about what’s really going on in America.”
The book is well researched and documented (632 referenced notes) and indexed. Some of the stories of the workers will break your heart, and will, as one reviewer noted, make your “blood boil.” Those committed to working for economic justice cannot afford to not read this book.
Posted by Bob Stewart—Ignatian Volunteer