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Winner-Take-All Politics

Crony Capitalism

Media & the Economy
"Politicians are interested in people.  Not that this is always a virtue.  Fleas are interested in dogs."
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Bill Moyers Informative Journals

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WINNER-TAKE-ALL POLITICS

     A review of the first in the series of new Moyers Informative Journals.

Sunday, January 15, 2012 brought the first of the new Bill Moyers series of TV news articles.  The one hour show was run again, March 4, 2012.

Moyers began with the question, “Why has our economy stopped producing?”  

Moyers tells us that wages are at an all time low and chronic unemployment is at the highest level since the Great Depression. 

Yet, the richest people now have more wealth than at any time in modern history.

He shows how American politics over the past 30 years have created a winner-take-all economy.  “An economy that has showered huge riches on the very well off.”

Moyers makes a case that our economy has changed in a way that allows the very wealthy (the 1%) to reap great profits from our economy.  Mean while, the rest of Americans,(the 99%) are left to struggle.

Moyers said,    “It is not the ‘haves’ versus the ‘have nots’.” 

                        “It’s the ‘have-it-alls’ versus the rest of the Americans.” 

Moyers asked guest speakers Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson,

            How did they (the super rich) do it?

Pierson - “Through organized combat.”

Moyers - “Why did they do it?”

Hacker - “Because they could.”

Hacker explained that politicians have found that they can cater to the issues of the very rich while only symbolically catering to the needs of most Americans.

Hacker and Pierson say that over the past 30 years, there has been an erosion of the government systems protecting us.  Now, the power that the wealthy have is being used in politics to their benefit.

Pierson, “The financial crisis has been a rude awakening.  It’s now clear that decisions officials made over a period of decades brought us to this.”

Hacker, “The organizations that once represented the middle class, the labor unions, the broad based civic organizations, & organizations at the grass root level, have all lost ground.” 

“There is an organized powerful effort for deregulation and for high end tax cuts.”

These changes are designed to benefit the super rich while everyone else, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents find themselves having to adapt and do with much less.

Pierson says the single most effective way to reduce the deficit would be to let the Bush tax cuts expire.  “Yet there’s no one in Washington that can let it happen.”  After the mid 1970’s, our economy began to look more like Brazil, Mexico and Russia.  The statistics of inequality now say that our economy is worse than Egypt.

“We’re seeing the bitter fruit of ‘winner-take-all politics’…”

Moyers says our financial crisis is not an act of God.  It was brought on by poor decisions that were made in Washington and on Wall Street over the past 30 years.

 

Moyers concluded with some powerful thoughts.

            When one group (the very wealthy) completely dominates the economy,

            it will also dominate the politics.

            There was an unwritten bargain between the generations.

            That bargain is being shredded.

 

When speaking about the growing inequality between the wealthy and the middle class, Moyers said,    

             “If you get sick without health coverage, inequality matters.”


             “If you loose your job as you’re about to retire, inequality matters.”


             “If the financial system collapses and knocks the blocks from beneath

               your pension system, inequality matters.”

 

It appears Moyers has successfully identified a frightening change in our government and our economy.  This powerful one hour show is a must for anyone who wants to learn about what is happening in our country. 

The program can be viewed online at the Moyers website:  www.billmoyers.com      A CD of this program can also be purchased at the Moyers site.    If you’re not very computer literate, ask your local library about a copy.

Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson are the authors of the book “Winner-Take-All Politics” published by Simon & Schuster.

If you are able to watch this program, let us know what you think.  Please tell us how you think this new economy will affect seniors and the housebound.


CRONY CAPITALISM

A review of the Second in the series of new Moyers Informative Journals.


“The big powered money institutions are in control in Washington.  There’s no doubt about it.”                                                                                     David Stockman

“You and I don’t have a lobbyist and so we are not represented.”

                                                                                  Gretchen Morgenson

 

Moyers’ apparent purpose in this program is to give us a further understanding of how big money, big banks and the stock market remain intertwined and in control in our government. He speaks of how many high level politicians have worked for big banks prior to coming to an office in Washington and as a result, the big banks are able to have a significant influence in Washington.  This influence ultimately leads to large profits for them at taxpayer expense.

The first guest speaker, David Stockman, was appointed to the position of Budget Director under President Ronald Regan.  Mr. Stockman helped to develop Regan’s “Trickle Down” policy.  Stockman now says that Trickle Down was a failure and that as a result, he wrote a book, “The Triumph of Politics.”

Moyers said that Stockman helped usher in the largest tax cut in U.S. history, a cut that mainly favored the rich.

Moyers says, “But things didn’t exactly go as they planned them.” 

The economy sagged and in 1982 and 1984 and Regan and Stockman had to increase taxes.

A year later, Stockman left the government and wrote, “The Triumph of Politics”.

Thirty years later, Stockman is writing a new book, “The Triumph of Crony Capitalism.”  Stockman says the book is about the greater use of money, influence and power to achieve goals that couldn’t otherwise be reached.  “Money dominates politics and as a result, we have neither capitalism nor democracy.”  He says we now have “Crony Capitalism.”

Stockman added, “Crony Capitalism is not a free market.

Stockman and Moyers have an insightful discussion about the use of power to “plunder” the government for funds and that the 2008 Wall Street Banking crisis actions weren’t thought through.

Stockman says mistakes were made in the 2008 underwriting of the banks,                                                    “The rules shouldn’t have been set aside when they were needed most. 

He believes that we will see reoccurring bouts of the 2008 failures saying,                                                         “If the banks are too big to fail, they are too big to exist.”

Stockman ties the start of the bailout concept to the 1990’s under Greenspan during the failure of the Mexican peso.  Again in 1998, a long term capital crisis reoccurred and the Federal Reserve System stepped in again.  Ten years later (2008) we had another banking crisis leading to the housing crisis and President Bush asking congress to step in again.

Stockman says the banks should have been required to raise their own funds to pay off creditors and investors.  He describes our government system as now being run by the powerful and the corporate influences.

Moyers asked, “When you say that President Obama had appointed Jeffery Emmelt (of GE) as the as the head of his (Obama’s) Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, what went through your Mind?”

Stockman, “While, I was in the middle of being very disgusted with what my own Republican party had done and with what Bush had done and then when I saw this, I got the title for my book, “The Triumph of Crony Capitalism.”

Referring to the Emmelt appointment, Stockman said, “It’s so obvious that we have a new kind of system (in our government) and that we have a real crisis.”

Moyers, “Shouldn’t these people (bankers) have been a little ashamed of running the economy into the ditch and then saying, ‘Come lift me out?’”

Stockman, “Yes.”

“It’s so disproportionate because the average American is struggling to make ends meet.  They don’t have time to weight into the political equation, the daily, hourly lobbying and pressuring (in Washington)…”

Stockman concluded with, “Nothing is going to change until we get money out of politics and the way the process is influenced by money…”

Moyers’ second guest was Gretchen Morgenson, author of the book “Reckless Endangerment.”

Ms. Morgenson also thinks a crisis will happen again.  She also thinks that the new law intended to solve the problem, Dodd-Frank, has already failed.  She pointed that, in one example, the banks are lobbying to keep the highly volatile derivatives in the shadows as opposed to regulating them.

Moyers, “Why don’t we have the reform we want?”

Morgenson, “A big part of it is the money problem.  The big powered, moneyed institutions are in control in Washington.  There is no doubt about it.”  “You and I don’t have a lobbyist and so we are not represented.  “There are no penalties paid accept by innocent taxpayers…”

Morgenson says that the most vulnerable people, the minorities, the low income and the people just starting out, were targeted with highly toxic loans.  They were abused and people profited and I think that’s wrong.”

She concluded by saying that what’s good is that people are starting to understand what happened to them.  “There is anger.  There is rage, and just maybe someone in Washington might pay attention to this.”

This Moyers program left this writer with an increased concern for the future and a desire to see Moyers’ next installment.

The program can be viewed online at the Moyers website:  www.billmoyers.com     A CD of this program can also be purchased at the Moyers site.    If you’re not very computer literate, ask your local library about a copy.


David Stockman is the author of “The Triumph of Politics: How the Regan Revolution Failed” published by Avon Books and “The Triumph of Crony Capitalism” projected publication date, January 29, 2013.

Gretchen Morgenson is the author of “Reckless Endangerment” published by Times Books.

If you are able to watch this Moyers program, let us know what you think.  Please tell us how you think this new economy will affect seniors and the housebound.

Media & the Economy

What you don’t know can kill you

                                                or somebody else’s child.”

 

A Review of the 2008 Moyers Speech – “Media & the Economy”

In 2008, Bill Moyers spoke to the National Conference for Media Reform about the obligation of media to return to the tradition of thorough reporting.  Moyers expressed concern about the affect of “tailored” information being released to reporters and the need for reporters to dig deeper.  He used the example of the war in Iraq to demonstrate to the audience how top level reporters had failed to question information coming from top officials.  Moyers said that although a few reporters managed to ask tough questions, they didn’t ask the right people.  Instead, they asked the government officials who were responsible for the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” misinformation in the first place.

Moyers says a political campaign to go to war in Iraq was begun with the tacit support of the existing media who relied on the misleading intelligence intended to deceive Americans.

Moyers said that if there had been better reporting, we might have known the truth about Iraq.  He says the truth could have saved Iraq from rack and ruin, saved thousands of American lives, freed billions of dollars and saved thousands of Iraqi lives.

Moyers also said that the level of information getting out to the public is affected by news publisher’s desire to cut costs and the subsequent impact on quality reporting. 

Moyers questions, “Where are the (good) writers that came along after Watergate?  After Vietnam?”

He speaks of a “corporate” media that has become so powerful that it is able to create political and economic news illusions with little contradiction from the rest of the media.  This, he says, means that the public will see only this viewpoint.  Thus journalism and advertising become rolled into one package and yet is still labeled as news.

To the audience he makes the case that this leaves you (the media) with a heavy burden,  “It is up to you to fight for the freedom that makes all other freedoms possible.”

Moyers believes, “As journalism goes, so goes Democracy.” 

Moyers tells an old Native American story from his childhood home in Oklahoma.  It seems there were an old tribal elder and a young boy.  The elder tells the child that he (the elder) has two wolves inside him.  One wolf is evil personifying anger, envy, sorrow, guilt, lies and false pride.  The other wolf is good embodying truth, joy, compassion, faith and generosity.  The old man says the two wolves are always fighting. 

The little boy asks, “Who won?”

The old man answers, “The one I feed.”

Moyers says that the accuracy of news in our democracy will be determined by the wolf reporters feed. 

He says good media needs strong support, not as a lap dog but as a watch dog.  He again stressed that if we had known the truth about Iraq, it might have been different.

Moyers says, “What you don’t know can kill you or someone else’s child.”

“It’s up to you, the media, to rekindle the patriot’s dream.”

 

As Senior Freedom Press moves forward, we continually see examples of the type of news that Moyers expressed concerns about and we can only hope that we are able to live up to his expectations.  Thank you again, Mr. Moyers.


Moyers’ 2008 one hour speech is run on a regular basis on LinkTV, a cable channel.  Also,  the program can be viewed online at the Moyers website:  www.billmoyers.com     A CD of this program can also be purchased at the Moyers site.    If you’re not very computer literate, ask your local library about a copy.  

We challenge you to be the journalist.  Judge Moyers for yourself and report back to us.


For a further understanding of how the dissemination of news has evolved since 2008, you may wish to read…

“Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload” 

By Bill Kovach & Tom Rosenstiel

Published by Bloomsbury USA (November 9, 2010)

This book could easily be considered the sequel to Moyers’ speech.

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