Radiozine on 05/18/12

Air date: 
Fri, 05/18/2012 - 11:00am - 12:00pm
Short Description: 
"The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do about It"

Host Michelle Schroeder Fletcher speaks with Timothy Noah, author of "The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do about It."

For the past three decades, America has steadily become a nation of haves and have-nots. We have less equality of income than Venezuela, Kenya, or Yemen.

In "The Great Divergence", Timothy Noah explains not only how the Great Divergence has come about, but why it threatens American democracy—and most important, how we can begin to reverse it.



Great Divergence (income) Amid Greater Diversions

Thank you for a very relevant and illuminating interview with Timothy Noah, whose analysis of the U.S.'s growing income inequality and the threat it poses to democracy makes for the sort of discussion that needs to be elevated above the competing cultural diversions before we're all living under the bridges.

Perhaps as KBOO Outreach a Town Hall Meeting KBOO-sponsored Special Event could be organized, taped and available for rebroadcast or listener-membership premium along with Tim Noah's book.  Over a year ago when KBOO informed its listener-supporters it had retained a corporate consulting team to help with outreach and growth of membership I suggested just such a series of KBOO-sponsored Town Hall Meetings to the Outreach Committee headed by Sun, but alas nobody at KBOO did as they said they would, namely call those of us who signed on to the committee and discuss just such a project. Instead KBOO raised money by bringing 911 Truther Conspiracist Hucksters like Michael Ruppert to speak in town and raise money by turning KBOO into a laughingstock of the hard-working community organizers.

What we need by way of public discussion is to have a social critic with Tim Noah's priorities and socio-economic curiosities on a panel with any of the masses of mainstream Economists who've been adding the intellectual putty that has engineered this neo-liberal Humpty Dumpty economic model that transfers massive commonwealth into the hands of a few faceless oligarchs (Phil Gramm, anyone?)

 Gramm's obliging reach-across-the-aisle to Democrat President Bill "Putting America Back To WorkClinton (not content with decimating US workers via that Great Sucking Sound of NAFTA jobs leaving the country) who signed the 1998 Bank Modernization Act did away with Glass-Steagall banking regulations that had forestalled another Great Depression for 50 years. So faceless are these oiligarchs who preside over the common-ilth that no journalist noticed or thought to seek an interview with former patriotic Senator Phil Gramm, so concerned with US banks remaining competitive that soon as he got voted out of the US senate he went to sit on the board of directors of Union Swiss Bank.  

Takes a whole lot of deregulation as Popi Bush knew in 1989 when he got on tv and convinced taxpayers not to tighten banking & investment regulations after the Savings & Loan collapse on his watch resulting in the earlier transfer of public wealth into private gamblers' often offshore accounts.  As Bill Clinton and his economic team of Ron Brown (PR man for the Duvalier family in Haiti), CitiGroup board member Robert Rubin (bailing out the Mexican Peso so fleeing President Salinas de Gortari could take the cash to his Harvard teaching gig) and the pre-Obama wonks like Summers & Orszag now CitiGroup's VP of Global Banking after timing out of Obama's cabinet in two years agreed with the first Bush and Phil Gramm (from Republican Conservative Patriotic Senator from Texas and co-author of Bank Modernization Act to board member of Union Swiss Bank during the collapse) that US banks needed to remain competitive with their global rivals (recall Pakistan's and the CIA's BCCI).

The Great Depression legitimized Socialism as a political option, the WPA legitimized government spending to create jobs and build infrastructure as an economic plan.  WW II kickstarted the government into spending to revive manufacturing when the private sector only spent to supply the Nazis.  The belief that government was there to provide equal opportunities and serve a common public trust was on the ascendant because first we had to prove the good ol' US was not a fascist state like them Nazis, Franco Spaniards, Il Duche-lovin' Italians and Petain collaborationist French.  Then after WW II we had to pivot hard against Stalin (good move) and the USSR and make sure Amurrikins didn't get too serious about all this Socialist talk of a growing middle class and sharing the booty won in WW II by just such Socialist institutions (not the Stalinist or Maoist Communist cult of personality).  So LBJ and even Nixon were all about the Cold War industry of making the Soviets look bad for having peasants while we Amurrikins build housing projects to pen up our underclass and keep em from edjamacating themselves. Throughout the 1950's, 60's, 70's right up until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the USSR in 1991 the industrious Cold Warriors (who would organize the mujahideen in Afghanistan under Carter & Reagan to expel the Soviets and sink Afghanistan back into medieval mayhem soon to be directed against the West) had to prove to the world that the US provided opportunities and didn't have a homeless peasant class. 

The minute the struggle for hearts and minds was over and the Commies fell (though not the successful Scandinavian and northern Euro socialist states with their workers rights and competitive economies kicking US butt in the World Trade Organization) Washington felt no more need for hiding our homeless.  How fast the homeless, including so many perpetual war vets from Korea to Vietnam to Iran-Contra to Panama, Honduras and El Salvador to Somalia then Afghanistan and Iraq piled up under our cracked freeways, crumbling bridges and non-existent high speed rail yards!  Since we don't have to stick it to Mao, Chiang Kai Shek, Kruschev, Brezhnev, Andropov anymore and since Chavez has cancer, Washington feels it imprudent to spend anything on the Disappearing American Middle Class. 

Too many KBOO or progressive or Occupy or Tea Party events only present the 'radical POV of the hour' and there is no deepening of understanding into the economics and our own often passive role in this most disastrous of social engineering projects.  How else to explain the lack of immediate and deafening uproar and outrage when the architects of this neo-liberal\ free-market fundamentalist\ financial services deregulated juggernaut were named named by the Reform Presidential 'candidate-of-change' Barack Obama to be the 'new' Secretary of the Treasury?

 Compare Timothy Geithner, the head of the NY or Wall Street Federal Reserve during the bubble bursting economic collapse with the Bush-Cheney Treasurer Henry Hank -Goldman Sachs recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars- Paulson.  Compare Obama's Chief Economic Advisor for digging out of the collapse's economic rubble Lawrence Summers with his predecessor Glenn Hubbard of the Bush-Cheney team and their bullying of financial regulators, see the doc INSIDE JOB for actual stock footage of this very public bullying!  Compare Bush-Cheney's Fed Reserve Czar Ben Bernancke the heir to Alan Greenspan aka the Great Deregulator & Ayn Rand acolyte preaching the wisdom of the Free Market's Hidden Hand with Obama's choice for Fed Reserve czar, uh oh yeah Obama chose to keep Bernancke and the fiscal direction set that led to the largest burst of income inequality via THE HAIRCUT that covered the biggest banks' deregulated mayhem with socialist support of losses coming from the same taxpayers who scream bloody murder about the dangers of a socialistic health care or shelter system!

For that matter compare the editorials of corporate media like the Oregonian during the decade leading up to the collapse on the subjects of ecnomic deregulation, compare it with the economists who predicted what would happen but had no access to printing presses and corporate-backed media outlets. Get both of those viewpoints on a stage together and leave time for a lively Q & A that may get to ask the questions the bought-off corporate journalists never dare ask and that truth-to-tell KBOO journalists often don't have the depth of knowledge to cross-examine either. That's where Tim Noah or any number of other alternate authors on the subject of economics come in, not to be annointed.

We do not need a revolution that lands us back at the same inequality with differing functionaries presiding.  We do need an evolutionary struggle back to where this society was after the Red Scare of the Great Depression when the crony capitalists and their Hoovervilles led to the utter popular discrediting of corporate government and creation of quasi-socialist institutions like WPA, Rural Electrification, Interstate Highway system, countlelss infrastructure projects maintained by municipal and public service employees whose security to raise families who could afford to be educated was assured by public service unions, not the enemy as the Tea Party and Libertarians would have us believe, but rather, unions assured a middle class in place of American Dream Fantasies hawked by Disney.

Thanks and keep on doing. As Samuel Beckett said: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."


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