June 17, 2014

Bill Moyers speaks the truth to power

Gerry's note: I am still wrestling with Blogger format, hindering my updating. The links should now be active.

Hey Friends,

If you are not watching Bill Moyers either on TV (half-hour on PBS weekly) or online computer streaming http://billmoyers.com/, you are missing a number of remarkable guests and insights on topics regarding the world we live in today. I see that often solutions are proposed by Bill and his guests, such as Joseph Stiglitz’s remarks as he talked with Moyers last week.

The solutions, however, usually require that we the people do something: not just "suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," but that we stop corporate America and its 1% from taking "huge profits," while leaving less and less income for the 99%, many of whom  who do the work and take the risks.

Professor Stiglitz emphasizes in his comments to Moyers that he grew up in a working class family in Gary, Indiana, a city he says was back then the scene of widespread discrimination and disadvantage, as well as wide fluctuations in employment opportunities. But he got out of Gary—to Amherst College and MIT. He is now a Nobel laureate and a Roosevelt Fellow in economics at Columbia University. 

Stiglitz is personable as a guest on camera. He does not mince his words regarding big bankers' excess profits and our pressing need for national tax reform. The full interview:

The following is taken from a transcript of Joseph Stiglitz’s remarks to the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles on September 8, 2013:

I’m an economist — I study how economies work and don’t work. It’s been clear to me that our economy has been sick for a long time. One of the reasons it’s been so sick is inequality and I decided to write an article and a book about it.

Two years ago, I wrote an article for Vanity Fair called, “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%,” which really got to the gist of it. For too long, the hardworking and rule-abiding had seen their paychecks shrink or stay the same, while the rule-breakers raked in huge profits and wealth. It made our economy sick and our politics sick, too.

You all know the facts: while the productivity of America’s workers has soared, wages have stagnated. You’ve worked hard — since 1979, your output per hour has increased 40 percent, but pay has barely increased.

Stiglitz says of his book:

The central message of my book, The Price of Inequality, is that all of us, rich and poor, are footing the bill for this yawning gap. And that this inequality is not inevitable. It is not, as Rich said yesterday, like the weather, something that just happens to us. It is not the result of the laws of nature or the laws of economics. Rather, it is something that we create, by our policies, by what we do.
Meanwhile, the top 1 percent take home more than 20 percent of the national income.

And his book, reviewed in NYTimes:

The importance of Stiglitz’s contribution (and that of other dissidents) to the public debate cannot be overestimated. The news media and the Congress are ill-­equipped to address the role of economic power in shaping policy. Both institutions are, in fact, unaware of the extent to which they themselves are subject to the influence of money.

Stiglitz describes the economic capture of regulatory authorities by the interests under their jurisdiction — and the more subtle intellectual capture of policy makers of all kinds. The calculated and purposeful shaping of public discussion allowed conservative analyses to dominate debate in the years before the collapse of 2008, and in the years since they have been dominant as well.

 Full review in NYTimes:

I hope you'll follow this and other oppportunities at http://billmoyers.com/

Good health to all,