While America Aged
HOW PENSION DEBTS RUINED GENERAL MOTORS, STOPPED THE NYC SUBWAYS, BANKRUPTED SAN DIEGO AND LOOM AS THE NEXT FINANCIAL CRISIS
An ahead-of-its time forecast of the pension crisis facing America-and the road map for a way out.
In the last several decades, corporations and local governments made ruinous pension and healthcare promises to American workers. With these now coming due, they threaten to destroy twenty-first- century Americans’ hopes for a comfortable retirement and to undermine state and city and corporate solvency as well. With his trademark narrative panache, Lowenstein analyzes three fascinating case studies-General Motors from the era of Walter Reuther to the present, the New York City subway system, whose workers ultimately went on strike in a quest for higher pensions, and the city of San Diego, where the tension between union pension demands and budget and local tax constraints exploded into a major civic scandal. . When the book was first published, in 2008, the pension crisis was barely on anyone’s radar. Today, in the aftermath of GM’s bankruptcy, and of the municipal bankruptcies of Detroit, Mi., Stockton, Ca., and other cities, While America Aged stands as a prescient warning. Each of its cases offers a compelling story that illuminates how the pension crisis developed. Lowenstein’s warning that his trio of cases were the only first has proven to be only too true, and more such pension blow-ups inevitably loom. Aside from telling a gripping story of financial and political folly, While America Aged serves an urgent call to action and a prescription for reform.
"Lowenstein depicts the pension crisis like entertaining historical fiction with lessons in history, business, and human nature."
—Ellen Marsden, BookPage
"A chilling anatomy of one bad decision followed by another—and another."
"...examples not only of the way most individual Americans conduct their personal finances, but also of how the country as a whole has long lived beyond its means. . . Gripping."
—Phillip Longman, The Washington Post