Historians divide history into epochs. The Gilded Age and the Great Depression, for example, are familiar to most Americans. Our current epoch, however–a period that has seen soaring grand fortunes for a new American superrich and a fading American Dream for nearly everyone else–lacks a label. Some commentators have tried to supply one. Paul Krugman calls our past three decades of growing inequality the Great Divergence. Berkeley economist Harley Shaiken speaks about the Great Disconnect, his tag for years of stagnant and declining wages amid a growing economy.
Here at The Nation, we’d like to speed this naming process along. That’s why we’re joining the Institute for Policy Studies and announcing a fabulous new contest chock-full of redeeming social significance. We invite you to help us Name Our Epoch! Entering couldn’t be easier. Just send an e-mail to NameOurEpoch@ips-dc.org with your suggested label for our excruciatingly unequal times. Put your thinking cap on now–we need your entry by July 4. Our all-star progressive panel of judges–historian Howard Zinn, journalist Barbara Ehrenreich and novelist Walter Mosley–will pore over the entries and announce a winner.
What’s in this for you if you win–besides the eternal gratitude of humankind? Win the Name Our Epoch sweepstakes and you’ll receive a private corporate jet! Can’t afford the rising cost of jet fuel? No problem–this jet’s a model. Need more incentive? Our contest winner will also receive personally autographed books written by each of our three distinguished judges.
So don’t delay. Our epoch desperately needs a label. After all, if we can’t name the misfortune that has been visited upon us, how are we ever going to end it?