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Please watch it when you can. This is as powerful a demonstration of the limited role of "reason," and the much deeper role of first-hand personal experience, in shaping views on public issues as you will ever find. (And see The Atlantic Wire. Also, I see that the clip comes with a 30-second pre-roll ad, but it's worth it.) 


This is also related to the theme of the ongoing discussion about Don Peck's "Can the Middle Class Be Saved?" article elsewhere on this site. Countless forces in American life -- residence patterns, increasingly stratified school systems and universities, the relative shortage of cross-class shared experience like the military draft as it functioned from the 1940s through the early 1960s, the differential effects of this recession in leaving some people almost permanently out of work and others doing better than ever -- have made it harder and harder for the "haves" in American society really to imagine, in a non-theoretical way, the daily realities of life and the essential humanity of the have-nots. In a little under five minutes, the video above shows why that separation is so important and damaging.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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