Archive for July 29th, 2010
Author Daniel Brook will be kicking off the FHL Foundation’s Roll Your Own Lecture (RYOL) Series. Daniel is coming to Albuquerque on Friday, September 10th, 2010, to talk about his book The Trap—Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America.
Here’s what Daniel’s publisher has to say about Daniel’s book:
In this witty and revealing polemic, journalist Daniel Brook argues that the exploding income gap—a product of the conservative ascendance—is systematically dismantling the American dream, as debt-laden, well-educated young people are torn between their passions and the pressure to earn six-figure incomes.
Rising education, housing, and health-care costs have made it virtually impossible for all but the corporate elite to enjoy what were once considered middle-class comforts. Thousands are afflicted with a wrenching choice: take up residence on America’s financial and social margins or sell out. From the activist who works to give others a living wage but isn’t paid one himself, to the universal health-care advocate who becomes a management consultant for Big Pharma, Brook presents a damning indictment of the economic and political landscape that traps young Americans.
I first heard about Daniel’s work as I listened to a radio interview being conducted on the now defunct Air America Radio. I remember hearing Brook tell the interviewer (and for the life of me I can’t remember who it was) that because of the growing income gap in the U.S., non-profit agencies will increasingly have a hard time attracting quality employees, especially at the level of executive director. What I heard Daniel say was that, in effect, the days of the “Ralph Nader Crusader” were over. Back when Nader (an attorney) was starting out in the 1960s, he could choose a life of social service and activism and be fairly assured that he could lead a comfortable life—reasonable size house (not too fancy), kids to a good public school, nice suits but probably from JC Penney, a paid-for car pushing five years old (but not a Chevy Corvair), and so on. I grew up with this image (and had to often hear my father grumble about Nader’s attacks against the Corvair because my father owned one). Brook told the interviewer that a student today just coming out of law school will either have to pick a life of social service and live close to poverty conditions—out of the question are a nice house, car, and a family with kids—or pick a life as a corporate attorney and live close to something approaching a normal life (with the prospect of paying off heavy student loans before retirement sets in).
This interview caught my attention because if Daniel is correct (and he makes a compelling argument in his book), then in the not-too-distant future non-profits will suffer because they simply cannot attract hot shot activists of all stripes whether managers, attorneys, or lobbyists. As a philanthropist who regularly works with non-profit agencies, Brook’s alarm caught my attention. His message reinforces the one that has been ringing through the halls of the non-profit world for several years now: once the baby boomers of the Peace Corps era retire (which they are starting to do), there will be no new natural pool of non-profit workers and leaders from which replacements can be found. I think many of us in the non-profit world are concerned about this huge brain- and talent-drain spike that ominously looms on the horizon.
But there’s a bigger question here: where is this widening income gap—the gap between the haves and have nots—coming from? In his book, Brook points to two key areas: 1) a failed New Deal revolution, and, 2) a thirty-plus-year conservative fiscal policy with its focus on what Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism.” The former has led to such phenomena as what Anthony DiMaggio calls a “neoliberal gutting of public education” while the latter has led to such processes as what Kenneth Saltman calls “the militarization and corporatization of public schools.” Working as a psychotherapist back in the 1990s, I witnessed firsthand this process of transmogrifying social service programs so that they “increasingly resemble the military and prisons” (quoting Saltman).
All this to say that I thought it would be a good idea to invite Daniel to Albuquerque to tell us more about such topics as the following:
- The increasing income gap and its causes
- A failed New Deal revolution
- The public service brain and talent drain
- Conservative fiscal policy and its effects on public schools, social service programs, and even local politics
If Daniel’s talk sounds of interest to you, then by all means please click on the REGISTER NOW button within the right sidebar. Clicking on this button will take you to the EventBright Registration Service where you can learn more about the event (i.e., location, times, etc.) as well as register for a ticket. Tickets are free (a limit of four per organization), however, for every ticket that is registered for AND used, the FHL Foundation will make a $50 grant to a beneficiary organization, which, in this case, will be the local chapter of the National Center for Socials Entrepreneurs (NCSE). Seating is limited (only 30 seats). For more information on the Foundation’s Roll Your Own Lecture (RYOL) Series, click on the button above. If you have questions concerning the RYOL Lecture Series, please click on the CONTACT US button above.
In a post scheduled for July 30th, 2010, I’ll present a few bullet points from the notes that I took as I read through Daniel’s book. If you’d like to know more about Daniel’s book The Trap before deciding whether to hear his talk, feel free to access this follow-up post (which you can easily find by using the FIND POSTS BY CALENDAR feature in the right sidebar).