"Nickled and Dimed" author takes on positive thinking

Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:10pm EDT
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By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Author Barbara Ehrenreich thinks it's time for Americans to get angry.

After taking on the myth of American upward mobility with books like "Nickel and Dimed," Ehrenreich is tackling the U.S. cult of positive thinking with her new book "Bright-Sided."

"We're talking about something that is almost America's religion," she said of the positive thinking movement that has spawned businesses ranging from motivational speaking to outplacement services for the newly unemployed.

Ehrenreich and many others think Americans, known globally for their sunny dispositions, have good reason to be irate.

The income gap between the super rich and most of the rest of us is the largest since the 1920s; nearly one-sixth of the U.S. population is uninsured; and, contrary to popular belief, we are less likely to move to a higher financial status than Germans, Canadians, the French, Swedes, Norwegians or Danes.

"Over the years this positive thinking ideology has really diminished anger about economic inequality because the idea is you can be rich, you will be rich," Ehrenreich said.

The truth, she said, is that "many people you might have called middle class or working class before have been ground down toward poverty or even destitution ... This is the kind of thing that in the past caused serious social unrest," said the author, who joked that she was working to start an uprising of her own with the new book.

THINK AND GROW RICH!   Continued...