When you get to the end of these blog posts, do you find yourself saying: “I wish this guy wrote a book?” Oh, you don’t? Hmmm. Man, did I waste a lot of time.
Because I did write a book: “The Six Facts that Matter: Understanding Inequality in the U.S.” And, it took me five years. For a while, I tried to publish it through a professional publishing house. But, the book kept getting rejected. The message I got was that I needed to be more provocative, more confrontational. But, that didn’t sit too well with me. I wanted this book to be something about inequality that could teach people who hold different points of view. I figured it was best to keep an even keel, and try to explain the complexities of rising inequality in the U.S honestly and without too much editorializing. And, besides that, I’m stubborn (why is my wife nodding so vigorously?).
So, I self published my book with the help of Amazon Direct Publishing. The link to purchase the book is provided below, with 25 percent of my proceeds to be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts. Because I’m a nice guy (or maybe just so someone reads at least one chapter of this thing), I’ve provided a free preview of my book’s prologue below. If you like the prologue, please purchase the book. If you like the book, it would mean a lot to me if you’d review it on Amazon. And, if you could, spread the word to your friends and family.
Prologue to The Six Facts that Matter
“Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.”Colleen Wilcox, Educator
I love to teach…probably because it runs in my family. My grandmother was an elementary school teacher. My father taught criminal justice classes at a community college. And my mom coordinated our county’s volunteer learning program for high schoolers. Heck, I even married someone who teaches – my wife is a Psychology professor. Ultimately, teaching is the goal of this book. I believe that by understanding six facts about the U.S. economy, you can greatly improve your grasp of issues related to inequality in this country. I want you to understand inequality, because I hope that you will then want to do something about it.
The goal of teaching about inequality has been important to me for a long time. I became interested in the topic of inequality way back in high school. I was doing a service-learning project, helping out at a summer daycare for kids from low-income backgrounds. While working with the kids, I noticed that many of them were having trouble behaving, and seemed a bit behind academically.
In this volunteer project, I was visiting what seemed like a different world. The simplest way to put it was that the people who lived there – and by extension their kids – had fewer resources. The playgrounds were not as nice, the buildings not as well kept, the homes smaller, and the kids were typically living with one parent who had to work during the day. Hence, in the summer, they needed a below average babysitter like me.
This situation was somewhat surprising to me, even though it shouldn’t have been. I grew up in a small town in central Maryland. Growing up, I had not really known many kids outside of my own socioeconomic status. My parents were together and both had good jobs in the public sector. And, I mostly hung around with other kids in similar situations.
The fact that these young kids were having so much trouble did not jive with my view of the United States as a land of opportunity. After all, if the kids were behind at age 4, how would they fare as adults? If they fared poorly as adults, who could blame them? And, why were their parents struggling so much in the first place? These questions got my high school brain thinking about economic inequality (for the 10 percent of the time it wasn’t thinking about food, girls, and sports).
I was so interested in the topic, that when I went to school at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, I decided to major in Economics. Because I liked that so much – and honestly because I didn’t want to get a real job – I went straight from my undergraduate degree to pursue a PhD in Economics at Boston College. By the time I was done, I could do what I always wanted to, which was teach Economics to others.
For a while, I taught classes with boring sounding titles, like “Microeconomic Theory” and “Econometrics.” But, one day, the Economics Department asked me to teach an elective of my choosing. My mind shot back to my interest in inequality. However, it was harder than I thought to put together a course that captured all the issues that I thought were important. So, I started from scratch. I pieced together a class from various textbooks and academic articles. After all that work, I’ve realized that it doesn’t make sense to only make my students suffer through it. So, I figured writing a book for smart people like you could get some of the information to more people. Now you get to suffer too. You’re welcome!
So, what topics did I decide to include in my class? Honestly, this question is tough. Close your eyes and think about the word inequality (but not for too long, you need to keep reading). What did you think about? Was it the lower wages that Black workers experience? Or, was it the fact that women still make less than men? Did you picture a CEO in a private jet? Perhaps you saw a little kid struggling with their behavior, like I saw at my volunteer opportunity. Inequality means different things to different people. And all of those different kinds of inequality have different causes. My plan is to cover them all through the six facts that this book is based on. I want to provide you with a one stop shop for up-to-date economic thinking on the struggling middle-class, gender inequality, racial inequality, the success of the very rich, and the reasons behind the dearth of opportunity for poor children.
Along the way, you will learn the answers to some cool questions. Like, what kinds of jobs are robots really good at? Or, what does work from home have to do with the gender pay gap? And my personal favorite – what does Beyoncé’s income have to do with a CEO’s? You’ll even learn what fake resumes can teach us about racial discrimination. If these questions sound interesting to you, keep reading. If they do not interest you, I hope you didn’t figure that out until you already bought the book.
But before we get to any of that, I need to introduce you to the six facts that will help you better understand inequality in the U.S. Let’s go!
 OK, it’s pretty early in the book and I feel a disclaimer is necessary. While I was “volunteering,” it was a required part of my high school degree. We had to have a set number of hours of volunteer service to graduate. And, like I said, my mom was in charge of the program. So, it would not be a good look for my family if I did not do my hours. So, now we have established that I am not some saint who went around helping people in high school out of the goodness of my heart. I feel better. We are definitely off on a more honest foot than if I just let that slide.
 For the record, the titles of the classes sound boring, but these topics rule.
 I’m only sort of kidding.