TACOMA, WASH. — Former New York Times reporter and Emmy-award winning documentary producer Hedrick Smith will present a lecture at the University of Washington Tacoma on Thurs., Nov. 14, at William Philip Hall.
Smith will discuss his recent book, Who Stole the American Dream, an analysis of the last 35 years of American economic history. He will describe how increasing income and wealth inequalities in the U.S. can be traced to pivotal law and policy changes starting in the early 1970s. His book pulls together such seemingly unrelated things as a 1971 memorandum written by Lewis Powell to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the “accidental beginnings” of the 401(k) plan; how the housing boom led to the transfer of trillions of dollars in wealth from middle-class home owners to banks; and the seminal changes made to the U.S. economy by the 95th congress in 1978.
Smith describes a United States moving on a long arc away from the “American Dream” to a society made up of an all-powerful wealthy class and “mass economic insecurity.” He offers 10 steps to restore middle-class stability, including significant infrastructure investments, expanded commitment to innovation and research, reinvesting in manufacturing, reforming tax codes, and “mobilizing the middle class.”
UW Tacoma professor Michael K. Honey has been instrumental in bringing Smith to campus. “Why does growing inequality and political polarization affect the richest nation in the world?” Honey asked. “Hedrick Smith helps us understand who stole the dream and can help us come together to understand how we can get it back.”
Smith was a reporter at the New York Times from 1962 to 1988. In 1971, as the Times’ chief diplomatic correspondent, he was a member of the news team that broke the Pentagon Papers story, subsequently winning a Pulitzer Prize for the series of reports. In 1974, he again won a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, based on his coverage of the Soviet Union and its allies. Other Times coverage included Martin Luther King, Jr. and struggles for civil rights; the Vietnam War; and the Middle East conflict from Cairo.
His other books include The Russians, based on his years as the Times’ Moscow bureau chief; and The Power Game: How Washington Works, said to be “bedside reading for President Clinton.”
Since 1989, Smith has produced 26 prime-time specials and mini-series for PBS on topics such as terrorism, Wall Street, Soviet perestroika, Wal-Mart, Exxon, Enron, tax evasion, educational reform, health care, the environment, and jazz music. Two programs he produced for the Frontline series won Emmy awards, and two others were nominated.
Smith’s lecture at UW Tacoma is being presented by the Milgard School of Business’s Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences’ Center for the Study of Community and Society, the University Book Store, the UW Tacoma Arts & Lecture Committee, and the UW Tacoma Student Activities Fee.
What: “Who Stole the American Dream?” lecture, discussion and book signing
Who: Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer-Prize- and Emmy-Award-winning reporter and documentary producer
When: Thursday, November 14, 2013, 7 p.m.
Where: William Philip Hall, UW Tacoma campus
Cost: Free, but registration is requested – www.tacoma.uw.edu/clsr/