POLITICS
08/24/2010 10:02 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

WATCH: Arianna Explains The Meaning Of 'Third World America'

Arianna's upcoming book, Third World America, unflinchingly details how our political and business leaders have abandoned the middle class and betrayed the American Dream.

In this new video, she explains why she wrote the book -- and why the United States is in danger of becoming a Third World nation.

She also talks about why, despite all the problems America is facing, writing the book ultimately left her feeling hopeful.

WATCH:

In Third World America, Arianna cites a number of alarming facts and figures that suggest America's middle class is on the decline. For example:

  • 26 million Americans unemployed or underemployed (as of July 2010)
  • 270,000 homes were repossessed by banks in the second quarter of 2010, up 38% from the year before
  • 1.51 million people filed for personal bankruptcy during the 12 months ending June 30, 2010
  • Meanwhile, spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq topped $1 trillion in 2010. That's a cost of $136.5 billion just to California taxpayers alone.
  • Forty years ago, top executives at S&P companies made an average of 30 times what their workers did; today they make 300 times what their workers make
  • Between 1980 and 2005, over 80 percent of the total increase in income went to the top 1 percent.
  • The percentage of all income taken home by the wealthiest 10 percent in 2007: 49.7 -- the highest share recorded since 1917
  • The percentage of financial wealth that, by 2007, was owned by the top 20 percent of Americans: 93
  • Income distribution in America is worse than in parts of Latin America, such as Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, according to the Central Intelligence Agency. It is roughly equivalent to that of Uruguay, Argentina, and Ecuador.
  • As of July 2010, nearly 15 million people -- roughly one in 10 -- were out of work. But this figure excludes those who have given up looking for work altogether.
  • The unemployment rate, by the end of 2009, for the bottom 10 percent of income earners: 31 (versus just 3 percent for those in the top 10 percent, earning $150,000 per year or more)
  • Forty-six percent of the unemployed have been out of work for more than six months -- the highest rate of long-term unemployment since the government began keeping such records in 1948.
  • One in five American households is financially insecure, meaning they've lost at least 25 percent of their income within a year due to a job loss and/or large out-of-pocket medical expenses, and don't have enough savings to replace those losses, according to Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker.
  • The percentage by which the poverty rate grew in the suburbs of the largest metro areas in the United States between 2000 and 2008: 25 -- making the suburbs home to the country's biggest and most rapidly expanding segment of the poor
  • The percentage of Americans born to parents in the bottom fifth of income who will climb to the top fifth as adults: 7
  • Canada, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and even the often reviled France have greater upward mobility than we do
  • The financial industry's share of domestic corporate profits just before the financial crisis hit: 41 percent (versus 21-30 percent in the 1990s and no more than 16 percent from 1973 to1985)
  • Percentage of workers who have borrowed against their 401(k) plans, according to Fidelity Investments: 22
  • The percentage of Americans who have less than $10K saved for retirement: 43