Is There Hope for the Middle Class? – Live Chat Transcript

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July 9, 2013

It’s a central premise of the American dream: If you’re willing to work hard, you’ll be able
to make a living and build a better life for your children.

But what if working hard isn’t enough to ensure success — or even the basics of daily life?

In Two American Families, Bill Moyers follows families in Milwaukee for more than two decades as they struggle year after year to stay out of poverty, often working longer days for less pay and fewer benefits. Despite their hard work, they only fell further behind.

They’re not alone. Over the last several decades, middle class families have struggled to keep pace with smaller paychecks, mounting debt and shrinking opportunities for steady work.

How are the Stanleys and Neumanns now? After fighting for living wages for more than 20 years, have they found an economic foothold? Is there still hope for a middle class in the new American economy?

We’ve asked the film’s producers, Tom Casciato and Kathleen Hughes, to join us in a live chat to answer those questions — and take yours. They’ll be joined by Keith Stanley, whose childhood is portrayed in the film and who is now executive director of the Avenues West Association, a Milwaukee nonprofit promoting business and economic development.

Our guest questioner is David Rohde, a Pulitzer-prize winning author and investigative journalist for Thomson Reuters and The Atlantic. He wrote the piece “In Milwaukee, an evaporating middle class” in 2011. He recently worked on a definitive series of pieces covering  income inequality in America for Thomson Reuters.

You can leave a question in the chat window below, and come by at 2 p.m. ET on July 10 to join the live discussion.


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