James Kinley and his wife Diane sit at their kitchen table in their small but impeccably kept trailer home. After 37 years of working at a local industry winding coil for transformers, James started having heart problems that forced him to get a pacemaker and quit his job. His longtime insurance company did not honor his claim for disability and is forcing him to pay back the money he received when he left his job. However, now that he turned 65, he qualifies for Medicare, the government’s health insurance for the elderly. He can’t lift heavy things anymore and tires easily, but he still believes a manual trade is the best kind of work. They raised their children to think there is always something else to do to make ends meet, and have taught them things like hands-on-gardening and cultivating honeybees. Their can-do attitude has helped them get by in tough times. But they fear that if Diane’s health were to decline, too, rising medical bills would make it impossible to keep their home and they would have to go and live with their son’s family.

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“In 1978, it might have been economically feasible and perfectly legal for an executive to award himself a multimillion-dollar bonus while shedding 40 percent of his work force and requiring the survivors to take annual furloughs without pay. But no executive would have wanted the shame and outrage that would have followed any more than an executive today would want to be quoted using a racial slur or photographed with a paid escort.”

- The Broken Contract: Inequality and American Decline by George Packe