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Daniel Brook

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The choice between being a sell-out or a saint is the crux of Daniel Brook's The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America (Times Books). Brook, a progressive journalist, tells the stories of young idealists struggling to get by as rising health care, housing, and college tuition costs make a middle-class lifestyle elusive. Many, like former Fulbright scholar Claire, thought things would turn out differently. Saddled with undergraduate debt, she works weekends at a restaurant to supplement the low pay at her dream job for a nonprofit, combating the trafficking of sex workers. But with tuition at top schools hitting $40,000 a year even the "best

and brightest," faced with crippling student loans, are taking jobs with corporate consulting giants. Individual stories like Claire's help Brook weave a narrative of how conservative economic policies dating to the Reagan era have screwed the middle class, not to mention what happens to the fight for an egalitarian society when gadflies and activists sign up with McKinsey & Co. to pay the rent. Brook's analysis is muddled at times; he seems to have fallen for the conservative economic myth that almost everyone is middle class and focuses mainly on east coast elites. But he persuasively argues that a return to the progressive taxation policies of the 60s coupled with checks on corporate power would benefit not only young liberal arts graduates but all of us. a Wed 9/19, 7 PM, In These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee, 773-772-0100. --Aaron Sarver

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