Book Club

Moyers Book Club: Plutocrats, by Chrystia Freeland

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We’ve noticed in comments here and on Facebook that many of you have been inspired to read books written by Moyers & Company guests. We think it’s wonderful (and so do our guests!) — so wonderful, in fact, that we’ve decided to start a Moyers Book Club. First up: Chrystia Freeland’s new book, Plutocrats.

Over the next three weeks, we’ll post book reviews, interviews, discussion questions and other related content to this Book Club blog. In the fourth week, we’ll present a live chat with the author in which you — and your entire book club — can ask questions and share your thoughts with the author. We’ll start over with a new book each month or so.

Sound good? Good!

THE FIRST BOOK:

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, by Chrystia Freeland

“Just in time – if not too late – comes this definitive examination of inequality in our time. I think it’s the bookend to the Hacker-Pierson book, Winner-Take-All Politics. These two are essential reading for anybody who wants to understand where we are.”
—Bill Moyers

“[P]rovides us with a glimpse of the lives of America’s elites and a disquieting look at the society that produces them.”
—Joseph Stiglitz

As the author notes on her book jacket: Forget the 1 percent, it’s time to focus in on the 0.01 percent…

There has always been some gap between rich and poor, but it has never been wider than it is right now. The uber-wealthy have redefined what it means to be rich in the 21st century. Today’s titans belong to a transglobal community and have more in common with each other than with their countrymen. They think nothing of dropping $3 million on a birthday party and their view of the rest of us reveals much more about them than it does about us. Freeland’s insider access takes her from Davos to Dubai to interview these (mostly) self-made billionaires. Plutocrats offers a window into the psyches, lifestyles and philosophies of the super rich grounded in the history and modern-day realities of capitalism.

We hope you and your book club will enjoy reading it.

Read an excerpt »
Visit the publisher »
Watch Bill’s October 2012 conversation with Freeland and Matt Taibbi »

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chrystia Freeland is the editor of Thomson Reuters Digital. She’s written for The Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, and was deputy editor of Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. In this video, she explains why she decided to write Plutocrats, and what she hopes Moyers & Company viewers will get out it. She looks forward to talking with you about the book.

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  • Lionwarningcat

    I just finished watching your program on the entitled attitudes of the 1 percent. I look forward to reading Chrystia’s book.

    The irony I find in my own immediate family is that my parents were lifelong Democrats and my father and oldest sister still are as well as myself. We were raised to be broadminded and tolerant of all kinds of people and cultures.

    I never knew the majority of my brothers and sisters (there are six of us) were racist until we elected a black president. I can’t even have a civil discourse on the presidential race with my twin sister. She agrees with Mitt Romney that 47% of the population of the United States are freeloaders with an overblown sense of entitlement.

    My mother is probably looking down from heaven and saying, ” I didn’t raise you with these values.”

    I think I will buy Christia’s book as Christmas presents for my ultra-conservative family members!

  • Moyer’s fan

    I also just finished watching your program related to the plutocracy and am also eager to read Chrystia’s book. I recently had the experience of sharing a few days with an old university friend of 20+ years. During the weekend I mentioned a few mildly progressive ideas which so angered the old friend that she emailed me later saying that we could no longer communicate. It occurs to me that those holding these right-wing ideas cannot conceive how anyone with any sense at all can hold opposing ideas. This was mentioned in the discussion about the feeling of entitlement of these plutocrats.

  • Chan

    Your program on Plutocrats was very compelling. Chrystia seemed very sharp, intelligent and well spoken. I have heard that the rich were getting richer and the poor, poorer…but I haven’t been faced with the issue as this evening when watching your show. This seems like one of the top issues of our time. I look forward to reading Chrystia’s book and learning more.

  • Lenafreed

    smesgel4T I just finished reading a book called The Party is Over by Mike Lofgren – all about our bought and paid for Government. The last chapter is chock full of good ideas about how to begin to solve our problems. I would suggest this book for a future book club pick. I just downloaded Chrystia’s book and will start reading it right now. Love Moyers and Company!

  • LIK

    I think that Chrystia’s most helpful insight was to point out that Henry Ford totally needed paid workers to manufacture his auto product. Their wage allowed them not only to buy the product, but to enter a “middle class.” Romney’s position that tax breaks to businesses = new jobs had more credibility in the 30″s thru the 70′s. A look at contemporary automation & IT in manufacturing (and many other endeavors) is frightening. As a businessman, assuming I even wished to use the tax break money to invest in my business, I’d probably be more inclined to buy automation equipment or IT from Japan or China. Why add a new human being who will want not only a salary, but medical & pension benefits, etc., etc. I might even be able to get rid of a costly employee I already have. An exaggeration maybe. However, the displacement of all types of human labor is a world problem that needs to be addressed with new models. A capitalist society simply can not function for long without a satisfied middle class that also is “invested”. As a capitalist myself, I worry about an Allende / Pinochet scenario or a contemporary American Hugo Chavez.

  • beth

    I enjoyed the intellectual conversation from your guests last night. What mostly sticks with me is the comment that the rich are actually convinced they alone can solve our economic crisis if only they can remain rich and take from those who are not. To my friends, I often refer to the equity in my house and the retirement earnings as “stolen” from me yet no one has gone to jail. People look at my blankly and don’t know what to say. Keep informing the public and maybe others will listen!

  • American

    The bailouts saved civilization. Right.

    No, the bailouts saved the asses of the criminal rich.

  • Anonymous

    Chris Hedges wrote a book “The Death of the Liberal Class”, in which he makes clear that liberals, who used to be the watchdogs of fairness, have abdicated that role in favor of financial rewards and inclusion in the plutocrat class. Journalist and media have caved to the power of money and status. Chrystia Freeland has done a great job explaining how their cowardliness has effected us all. Bill Moyers is one of the few anchors for independence and truthfulness.

  • Guest

    I’ve had a very simular experience with a friend.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.langridge.5 Joe Langridge

    the issue that most concerns me is income/expense ratio burdening most Americans. It is on our minds every day; where as this issue never enters the ruling class’s minds.

  • Okir

    The subject is not a secret, but an old ever growing human phenomena getting closer and closer to a disaster. A not so famous philosopher put it correctly in perspective some time ago when he said that “The LOVE of money is a root of all kinds of evil…and people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a TRAP and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” I just can’t imagine the loneliness, foolishness, misery and emptiness harvested by this kind of life style.

  • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

    Freeland is a complete shill for the establishment neoliberal/Keynesian status quot. To the extent that she advocates change it’s always for more regulation and taxation, which results only in a growing wealth gap. Remember, the super wealthy hire people to aid them in legally avoiding taxes, while the poor and middle class are subject to them. What’s more, she advocates more wasteful spending on pop buzzwords like “infrastructure”, without understanding that it will only result in more borrowing and inflation. Government-created inflation is doing more to wipe out the middle class and grow the wealth of the super elites than any other single factor.

  • Anonymous

    Infrastructure is not a “pop buzzword” but the name for all the physical built material structures in our civilization; roads, bridges, trains, schools,housing etc. We need to build the right kind of infrastructure (solar energy rather than coal for instance). It is the proper role of government to oversee what infrastructure we encourage.
    The Plutocrats are the ones who are afraid of inflation. They have wealth; the middle and lower economic classes have debt. Who do you think would benefit from a less valuable dollar? Certainly not Plutocrats; the loans they have lent out would be repaid with less valuable dollars.

  • Stuart Boyle

    I think a possible area of focus is to look at why the Plutocrats dislike regulation. In my opinion, one reason is because they have earned excess profits from inefficiencies in the marketplace and they want to protect these inefficiencies. They do not want regulation which promotes transparency and commiditze their products and services. So, I am arguing that they don’t really like the free market which is the cornerstone of free market capitalism.

  • Stuart Boyle

    In situations like this, you really need to educate yourself and to be prepared to reply in a knowledge way. For example, to say the poor people are lazy and wealthy people are hard working is simply not true. I am sure there are a lot a very hard working poor people and there are a lot of lazy wealthy people.

  • Lynn Lee

    An important book to pair with Freeland’s is from another Canadian, Naomi Klein, THe Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Knoff, 2007. Here she tells of the origins of what we now have as Plutocracy Throughout the world. Not at all by accident, and we may have the resounding victory in Citizens United and Banks-too-Big-to-Fail and ALEC.
    Trying not to weep.
    CLH

  • Andrea Wilson-Harvey

    How do we respond to entitlement? How can we make rich people understand that they can be responsible and rich?

  • Joseph Cotton Louisville Ky

    Heard brief interview: your concept that 50s Capitolism is over seems correct. Looking fortward to other insights in your book. thanks. joseph Cotton

  • Steve Ohno

    Great idea, Mr. Moyers! I picked up Ms. Freeland’s book yesterday and look forward to participating in the online discussion. While I have read books by some of your previous guests (e.g., Winner Take All Politics), your Book Club will help me to think about and apply their insights in a broader context.

  • Anonymous

    I luckily caught the last part of today’s show on TV. I’ve saved the info about “Plutocrats,” but won’t be able to buy it in the foreseeable future, because I’ve run out of unemployment compensation and have no job lined up so far. Freeland called for new ideas and solutions to our country’s problems from “progressives.” She may not realize to what extent money & fame influence the progression of such ideas from a person’s brain to the mainstream, or even non-mainstream, media, including C-SPAN and the Sunday AM talk shows. I’ve got a new idea from several years ago, but no print medium, and just 2 online-only locations, have accepted it. If Freeland would provide a digital way I could reach her, I’d be happy to e-mail her my 4-page article as an attachment. Here, all I can do is give you the URL to my petition on Change.org: http://www.change.org/petitions/demand-workforce-guided-job-creation

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Bill M. for all you do!…your space is an oasis.

    I believe the single most important focal point in righting the Ship of State and mending the social fabric is to change the way lobbying is done. Everything else, including taking down Citizen’s United, will be impotent efforts without lobby reform.

    As we all know, professional lobbying is the source and impetus of all legislation, regulation and government spending policy; and, it is entirely one-sided with industry and financial interests all pulling away from, and conflicted with the interests of the middle class and the public.

    The public interest is missing and virtually un-represented in the face of tax-deductible billions spent annually by industry and commercial interests that increase the trend towards privatizing profits, and socializing costs, expenses, and risk.

    Without recognizing this battle, the war for equity and fairness will be lost.

    While it is unconstitutional to require that lobbyists present both sides of an issue, if there is a will there is a way. The simplest way would be to create a Lobby Tax where any private expenditure intended to affect legislation or government policy would be subject to a 100% tax; with the tax revenue utilized to present and develop the other side of the issue, almost always the public interest which is currently missing or ineffectually presented.

    In addition to preventing bad policy, such an approach offers great benefits in that it represents no cost to government, and it will deepen the understanding of all issues by providing a two-sided argument, for a change.

    If lobbying is not changed, nothing else will matter. It can be done.

    I know this pig won’t fly, but let’s start talking seriously about the Lobby Problem….it is the crux of our socio-political economic problems.

  • Steve Ohno

    Good point – but, actually, I think it did both.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BuddyMaggart Brandon Maggart

    I bought the book right after watching that great show. Thank you, Bill Moyers.

  • askingtherightquestions

    Bill, you provide an extraordinary service during these odd times! Todays program provided continued documentation of the ongoing march to economic imbalance in western society. Matt has written many lively and compelling accounts of the unrelieved greed of Wall Street and the surprisingly unexamined behavior of Wall Street executives. Christina has also done some stellar work and I look forward to reading her book. I did have one helpful update for my American friends. Christina mentioned the fact that Canada was the one G8 nation to avoid major harm during the 2008 financial crisis because the Liberal government of the day refused to allow concentration in the banking industry. That common sense behavior has changed dramatically with the election of a the majority Conservative government of Stephen Harper in 2011. This pseudoRepublican has moved quickly to change regulations and demonize regulatory structures, WITHOUT EVIDENCE, in a way unseen in Canadian history. The damage can occur quickly, the effects are likely to be long term. Change can only occur when “the deciders” are truly held accountable for their decisions! (Where are Bush and Cheney now and why have they been allowed to become the names that no Republican (or Democrat for that matter) are allowed to mention??)

  • askingtherightquestions

    This is so very true. How can the great sums of money involved in lobbying be considered a part of a healthy democracy. The ability to “buy” congressional and senate exposure is antithetical to democratic function. Government by the people for the people.

  • Rashad Burke

    Just bought Plutocrats yesterday. I’m looking forward to reading it

  • Anonymous

    You talk as though regulation is either good or bad…which, like a firearm, it is neither. However, we have A LOT of bad regulation, and some good regulation. A realistic view is that we need less bad regulation, and more good regulation. In my experience, we have very little good regulation that constrains the moneyed interests, and way too much regulation that gets in the way of real small business people, not including Romney/Ryan “small businessmen” like the Koch brothers.

    The super-wealthy don’t only hire people to avoid taxes, they hire people to change the law so their illegal behavior becomes legal…voilá!

    And government created inflation was at the beckoning of the financial industry, who are at the heart of virtually all inflation we see: health, education, and housing. Their activities have ratcheted the prices of these essentials TEN-FOLD; and if that wasn’t enough, they created a bubble of private debt so great, the government had to swap public debt for private debt to “save your civilization”…[ref Monger].

    It is not the government that caused the inflation and trillions of bad debt, and it wasn’t the government that played a shell game with real wealth under one cup, and trillions of debt in the other cups, and voilá again!…who ends up with the real wealth?… and who gets the fake credit-dollar debt?

    Hint: while the people have no money, and governments have no money, the rich and their corporations have more money and income than they have ever had before! Those are not earnings, profit, or luck….it’s booty! It is un-earned and taken by pirates.

  • J.Michael

    Thank you Chrystia for your book and your appearance on Bill’s show. Would be interested in why you think Canada’s government is able to stand up to pressures from their banking industry to loosen regulations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chutchins Christine Sue Hutchins

    Reading the book right now.

  • Tim

    If you have any doubts as to Ms. Freeland’s story, read Jeffrey Winter’s “Oligarchy”.
    Plutocrats are behind any and every form of government, at any and every time in our history. Only the truly naive or willfully ignorant would see otherwise. The only way of dealing with the rest of us is to what degree of coercive violence they are willing to use to keep their fortunes. Romans would crucify 20,000 to make a point. Marcos simply assassinated his father’s victor for winning an election. Mafia Commissions used overt forms of violence to keep what they claimed was theirs. We, in America, use the tax code.
    It’s a long and often told story of the illusion we all labor under that we are different this time, better able to have a deciding hand in our futures, when all we do is quietly give into false beliefs.
    It would be in the best interests of everyone, from both sides of this equation, to see to it that the Plutocrats take a long, hard look at what they’re doing lest things get out of hand.

  • http://twitter.com/JKFisher Kevin Fisher

    Great interview on bill moyers. .

  • Tim

    One thing that caught me attention was when Chrystia said that the ubber wealthy are taking off stratospherically and Bill Moyers agreed. This corresponds to what the rich say publicly when it comes to allegiance to this country: they have none. They say they are part of a global community (where the other super wealthy live). Taking into consideration that they conflate their wealth with their patriotism, and that their community resides outside the physical boundaries of this country, then what can we actually expect from them? Just more of the same, only on an exponential scale.
    Though it scares some to hear it, we have been copying the Soviet model for some time now simply because it worked. The same with labor practices and lending policies. The 3rd world was intended for exploitation and it worked so well that they brought it home.

  • Harriet Lebish Hiller

    Bravo. Thanks for introducing me to this remarkable woman. I will be happy to read her book.

  • greensachs

    …there are many principled, participants that diverge with Freeland’s “must bail” the insolvent
    banks, the very ones which caused and benefited from the bubble era
    corruption and ensuing bailouts (yet ongoing).

    …the thought
    or solution being a Resolution Trust Authority (RTA) which would seize
    or temporarily nationalize these uncontrollable financial predatory
    parasites.

    …remove, investigate, indict and convict the
    executive suite. Break off the systemically dangerous units from the
    commercial banking side, sell off the remaining value and instill
    regulation with teeth that would, in the future, give regulators the
    ability to bring criminal prosecutions for white collar frauds.Including
    fines, asset seizures, and financial recovery proceedings, enabling
    ill-gotten gains and bonuses to be recovered…business or white-collar
    criminals should view regulators in the same deterrent fashion as a
    ordinary thief would view the police.

    .Any
    bailouts (and there are a series of shell-games whereby10′s of
    trillions were funneled to the banking side) would have been allowed to go the other side (i.e. pensions, funds, homeowners, students, workers
    (opportunity, public education, wages benefits, etc.).
    Freeland’s assumptions are forged within the financial “blob” that is itself the fixed-market of corrupting influence. The question is, does she even realize this.

  • greensachs

    …there are many principled, participants that diverge with Freeland’s “must bail” the insolvent
    banks, the very ones which caused and benefited from the bubble era
    corruption and ensuing bailouts (yet ongoing).

    …the thought
    or solution being a Resolution Trust Authority (RTA) which would seize
    or temporarily nationalize these uncontrollable financial predatory
    parasites.

    …remove, investigate, indict and convict the
    executive suite. Break off the systemically dangerous units from the
    commercial banking side, sell off the remaining value and instill
    regulation with teeth that would, in the future, give regulators the
    ability to bring criminal prosecutions for white collar frauds.Including
    fines, asset seizures, and financial recovery proceedings, enabling
    ill-gotten gains and bonuses to be recovered…business or white-collar
    criminals should view regulators in the same deterrent fashion as a
    ordinary thief would view the police.

    .Any

    bailouts (and there are a series of shell-games whereby10′s of
    trillions were funneled to the banking side) would have been allowed to
    go the other side (i.e. pensions, funds, homeowners, students, workers
    (opportunity, public education, wages benefits, etc.).
    Freeland’s
    assumptions are forged within the financial “blob” that is itself the
    fixed-market of corrupting influence. The question is, does she even
    realize this.

  • Pat

    As a Canadian myself, I was dismayed to hear once again, this time Chyrstia Freeland, brag about the superiority of the Canadian banking system and its resilience during the the recent financial meltdown in the U.S. I wonder if she has had access to a study by David Macdonald, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. If so, she would learn the following: ( A quote from his summary of the study) “In reality, Canada’s big banks started receiving Canadian and American government financial aid in Sept. 2008 and continued to draw on government help well into 2010.
    “Between September 2008 and the peak of government support in March 2009, Canada’s banks were the recipients of $114 billion in support from the Bank of Canada, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation.
    “They continued receiving this support while at the same time racking up huge profits and raising the slaries of their CEOs who were already among the highest paid in Canada. In fact, several banks drew government support whose value exceeded the bank’s own actual value.
    “…Three of Canada’s banks – CIBC, Bank of Montreal and ScotiaBank were at some point completely under water with government aid exceeding the banks’ value.”
    I cite the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor bulletin of May 2012.

  • Deborah

    Plutocrats equate with Narccistic sociopaths. They are unable to feel remorse and guilt. They lack empathy and have a incapacity to love. This is where the disconnect happens. They fill this hole within, chasing and accumulating money. The sense of entitlement is they feel themselves to be the center of the universe so what threatens them naturally threatens us all, we are just to uneducated to know it. Their money accumulated legally or illegally is their self-worth. When you question, criticize their money you criticize the core of their existence.
    The solution the 99% that have been occupying for over a year. We can support them financially, equipment, space, meet-ups, alternative media giving them a voice or any other way you see and continually chip away at this very thin skinned armour. They FEAR exsposure.

  • Billie O Donnel

    Bill, Have you read the new book about the GOP’s “PERFECT TRAP” (Kindle/Amazon) that describes in detail the GOP’s 20+ year plan to create a needy, desparate middle class that would consider voting for the very party that BURNED THE FARM DOWN IN THE FIRST PLACE – to save them from the ashes the Greed Over People Party created. It fits tongue and groove with the message of “Plutocrats” by Chrystia Feeland. Send reply to BacktoReason@hotmail.com

  • Lynn

    Jim Hightower’s been addressing this for years!

  • Mike

    Another WOW moment. An eye opener. How can 50% of the American people buy into furthering this?
    Bill thanks for being there.

  • http://twitter.com/StephenKMackSD Stephen K. Mack

    Chrystia,
    Please come back to Left,Right and Center!!! These guys really need to hear a women’s voice on a consistent basis.
    Best regards,
    StephenKMackSD

  • Anonymous

    Hi Deborah

    Many of these people are psychopathic. I believe the public is slowly coming to recognize you are so right: these leaders of business, government, and media are psychologically sick, not just greedy.

    Psychopaths are not just demented killers, but they all seek power as a need to prove their superiority, most of all to themselves. As power seekers, it is to be expected that they will be found at the seats of power…that is their calling.

    Psychopathic traits include 1) the need to demonstrate superiority; 2) seeing their own interest as being everyone’s interest; 2) entitlement; 3) grandiose image of self and self importance; 4) inability to feel empathy, embarrassment, guilt, remorse, etc; 5) often the smartest, most manipulative person in the room (their sense of self depends on it; how else do serial killers get away with it so long?); 6) identification with image of self, not actual self, so identification with wealth, position, and/or power; 7) incapable of fulfillment as a real person, so enough is never enough; 8) beyond seeing how to get what they want, they are blind to the realities of the world.

    With so much technological power, their blindness is destroying our human environment: social, natural, and built environments all.

    Sound like anyone you can think of? Some are out in plain view like Trump (celebrated no less, by a psychopathic driven media), some are in the weeds like K. Rove and J. Immelt, but many more we’ve never heard of.

    Irrational behavior is rationalized, and lies are more accepted than truth. It’s very scary.

    People will get the best government they deserve, and the worst government they will tolerate.

  • Diane

    As I watched yesterday I wondered to myself if it may be relevant when discussing
    treatment of the poor and their plight , to ask the people being interviewed what percentage of their earnings do they write a check for to help the poor on a regular basis.

  • PJS

    Thank you for the program. I will read the book. We live in dangerous times and I fear when the poor and middle class are driven to despair, they may follow a dictator who promises the moon. Then violence will be widespread.

  • PJS

    Your comments are so true. The huge problem is, how do we not tolerate it?

  • steve b

    steve. Hi bill Moyer. I watch your show every tuesday. Thanks for today shows very educationally. The government needs to start being a government and not a loan shark to the rich. And to big business. I have been following your shows on the government and the revolving door in government . And to my dismay. How can some of the so called lawmakers in either house of the governments can honestly go to sleep at night knowing they are hurting the majority of the american people in which they promised toserve and to prtect them! I would like to see a whole new slate of people in washington. Start complelety over. Thanks for listening to me I will be buys the pulotcrats book and read. Bye steve b

  • M L Janssen

    Perhaps we should re-read the history books that are based on lies and deception from the beginnining of the founding of this country when we stole it from the first people who welcomed us with open arms but soon learned the hard way how greed works against those who are willing to trust someone they do not really know very well. The greedy have learned well from their predicessors.

  • Anonymous

    Hi furrious1

    You are so right in all except your statement that Plutocrats are afraid of inflation.

    Plutocrats are all for inflation in the Have economy, deflation for the Have-Not economy….which of course is what we currently have: a bifurcated economy like never before. For most people, what you need to survive, food, energy, housing, education, health have been highly inflated over the decades. What most people have to sell, your house, your car, your labor have been deflated, worth less and less.

    Put the two together and you have very low inflation, which allows for low interest rates (great for rich people who can borrow, horrible for retirees who depend on savings) and quantitative easing, which directly inflates financial assets, currently adding $40 Billion monthly into the economy to buy financial assets.

    Plutocrats do not fear inflation, they thrive on it. Remember how the banks and brokers leveraged their capital 30 to 1 and greater?….they create their wealth by borrowed money, always a good bet in a period of high inflation of financial assets. “Capital appreciation,” taxed at extremely low favorable rates occurs mostly due to inflation. They LOVE IT!

    The only thing the plutocrats like more than inflation is the confusion the public is subjected to….confusion of the population is the tool used to create grid-lock of policy and politics and maintain the Status Quo. The only change we can expect is much more of the same.

  • Anonymous

    I am not an economist, in fact I HATE economists for their quizzling ways of quantifying real human values and thereby debasing them (see Michael Sandel’s What Money Can’t Buy).
    Having admitted that, I just want to say that the trillions of dollars that these Plutocrats control are not under some enormous mattresses but invested in financial instruments; many of them are loans to businesses and housing, mortgages in other words. These Plutocrats would not want inflation to cheapen the dollars with which they will be paid back . In an inflationary cycle real goods, esp. real estate retains value while money loses value. The winners are the owners of the assets.
    Of course its much more complex than this and there are certainly ways in which Plutocrats do profit from inflation.
    One of the reasons for courting inflation is that it is kind of a uniform tax on us all-makes all goods more expensive and is a way out of this massive debt that we are wringing our hands about.
    I would be interested in a complete description of how these Plutocrats managed to end up on top. Maybe a longer reply in this discussion in which you kind of lay it out “Financial Crisis for Dummies” style. I would like to understand more of the nuances of what transpired and your credentials as a Moyers viewer qualify you because you are interested in justice and fairness. .

  • Anonymous

    Economics is like psychology, it is only half “science.” It fascinates me. It would take a book, and it needs to be understood in both economic and psychological terms.

    Plutocrats or elites have always been on top, to lesser degree than now. Now is different and unprecedented because of the scale of technology, industry, and commercialism. In the past, without efficient mechanization, man could not fish out the oceans, or melt the glaciers. Now that we have that ability, plutocrats are unprecedentedly dangerous to our civilized developed culture.

    The long answer as to why the current crop of plutocrats are on top is history itself. The short answer has to do with a psychological shift that began in the 1950s, and accelerated in the 1980s, where making money became the most highly valued goal, instead of the good feelings of doing a good job creating a product or service of genuine value, importantly but secondarily gaining financial reward for your contribution. It used to be that if you were only doing for money, you wouldn’t likely be successful. Now, making money is the means and end in itself. Although disguised and unseen in the weeds, from the 100,000 foot view, it is inflation.

    Now, business is predominantly concerned with growing margins and top and bottom lines in profit/loss reports. The product, service, employees and customers are exploitable sources of “earnings.” In the past, “the customer was always right;” now he is just an annoying, but necessary source of revenue.

    This psychological change has expressed itself in the ideological promotion of wealth as being the highest goal, and the means by which it is attained is immaterial as long as you don’t get caught and punished. Even the language of “moral hazard” disappeared from the lexicon after the Lehman Bros. collapse in Sept, 2008.

    With this psychological mindset, governments, universities, and media align themselves with the largest sources of money. Tax law, regulation and enforcement, business education and ethical training is all subservient to the interests of the wealthiest, who tend to be the top managers and owners of the largest corporations, financial engineers, politicians and lobbyists, and a few entertainment celebrities.

    We all know, at the urgings of lobbyists acting on behalf of corporations and commercial interest groups, tax law, general legislation, funding and rules for regulation and enforcement, etc etc etc is all created for the benefit of those in power. Less seen is an effort to create obstacles to entry for true small business people and potential competitors. The “small businesses” Romney/Ryan tout are in fact “private businesses…,” not small at all, including several with $30+ Billion annual revenue. By leaving out and glossing over important facts embedded in their claims and numbers, they create an illusion that their “plans” will be beneficial to small business without actually lying. The fact the media has never elaborated this fact is evidence of how the media serves to perpetuate confusion and polarization, I believe by design.

    Similar to the global warming debate. Despite the preponderance of scientific conclusion, and every individuals’ experience with their own senses, the Toxic Energy Industries have sufficiently confused the population in order to maintain and enhance the Status Quo through grid-lock.

    In the financial/economic weeds, the Simpson-Bowles Report and recommendations were the most refreshing in decades. As sensible and necessary as it is in the main, the true essence, value, and importance is never discussed [another failing of journalism]: mortgage interest deductions are nice for you and me, but they represent $100s of Billions of corporate welfare for the Financial Industry. Giving you and me deductions for buying a house, mortgage, health insurance, 6000# SUVs, etc etc etc is the means by which the government, at the behest of the people who stand to make obscene amounts of money, perform social engineering. If the government provides tax breaks to purchase some products and services but not others, it is not a free market, and the subsidy rewards manipulators, not entrepreneurs. It is disguised as a benefit to customers, while the reality is that it is the Holy Grail for corporate interests: social engineered wealth protection and enhancement by manipulation of tax law, legislation, regulation, and virtually guaranteed customers with minimal rights. It is what has created our dysfunctional un-sustainable situation.

    The US Government supports the oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and ethanol Toxic Energy Industries, and their money, in the same way. Plus, besides outright subsidies, tax breaks, favorable lease rates, the government subsidizes and promotes many of the products and services that use toxic energy. In contrast, the meager subsidy provided to the renewable energy industry is like a candle in a hurricane, despite the common myth of heavily subsidized “green energy.” It is another journalistic failing; in the case of the corporate broadcasters, it is sheer propaganda.

    Even with massive support for oil and gas production, in the US, we are using less and less oil/gasoline, over-all and imported; meanwhile, wind, solar, cow-power, and conservation are growing faster than people can track.

    The way the Plutocrats stay on top is to manipulate the government into creating an environment in which profits are privatized, and the associated costs and risks are socialized, ie swept under the rug (“externalities” like ground, water, and air pollution and associated health costs) or simply charged to you and me, the tax-payer.

    As long as the interests of the Powers-that-Be and the middle class and public are in conflict, little will change until we face sufficiently great breakdown and crisis. In the meantime, speaking out loudly and simply, doing whatever we can do, each and everyone of us, is all we can do.

    Like I said, there’s a book or more’s material here….otherwise I would apologize for being so long winded.

    Briefly, inflation is the expansion of the money supply by printing money (eg QE) or creating un-secured debt. It certainly affects everyone in the population, wealthy and poor alike; but, similar to the way the tax code works, the wealthy have many more options to take advantage of, and to protect themselves from the effects of inflation (or taxes). For the wealthy, inflation is friendly, deflation is not. Gold is a reasonable indicator of inflation. It has been said, an ounce of gold can buy a good suit, about $1700 today, $250 late 90s. With price controls, $35 in 1970.

    re my credentials, aside from my frustration with injustice, hypocrisy, and false patriotism, I have a unique background in psychology and psychotherapy. I have also had business, financial and legal experiences that most have not had. Other than that, I don’t remember graduating High School, although I did. It was in the 60s.

    My best credential is being human, a real person who can see what they’re looking at, tracking what I know and what I don’t know. I strive to track behavior and reality, not words and ideologies.

    Thanks for looking.

  • Apple Cake

    ditto — for any one of a strong religious background. the word of God (the one true that speaks to them…) and all that. That’s how entitlement works. The entitled are convinced they deserve it because they ARE who they ARE! And WHO ARE YOU?

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your response. It is close enough to my own views that I could have written it myself. My views are a distillation of my readiings. Informative books recently include: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, What Money Can’t Buy by Michael Sandel, The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb, The Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges, Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics by Marc Hethinger, Full Body Burden (about Rocky Flats Nuclear Site) by Kristen Iversen….and many many other books and sources that I find trustworthy and concentric with what I’ve already surmised (I can’t claim truth, just conformity with my already formed theories)
    I’ve heard and seen all the above authors (except Ms. Iversen) speak at events around my home in Cambridge MA. Mostly Harvard but also MIT. Just attended a talk by Devon Acemogulo on Why Nations Fail two days ago. Want to put in good word for Paul Krugman too. He’s the one that convinced me that inflation was a necessary part of the gov’t. spending that will be necessary in a Keynesian way , to pull us out (inflation would be a natural result of the spending)
    My main interest is philosophy and the field I am attracted to is philosophy of mind. Esp epistemology and truth claims as well as roots of consciousness. I am well aware that my beliefs are no better than second hand (or third , fourth , fifth!!!) and so my view of my own truths is that it is partial at best.
    Good to correspond with you. Richard

  • Anonymous

    Likewise Richard, and I appreciate the kind words.

    To a reader with your interests, I would encourage you to read “Pleasure: A Creative Approach to Life” by Alexander Lowen, M.D., my father. All the ideas I express are in alignment with my Dad, who has gone much further and deeper into the psychological and biological aspects of consciousness/unconsciousness than anyone I know.

    As a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, his mentor was Wilhelm Reich, who had been one of Sigmund Freud’s best students. Wilhelm Reich is one of very few scientist/authors who have the distinction of having had their books burned by the US Government, in the 1950s.

    Not to get distracted and long-winded, Dad wrote 14 books, including “Narcissism,” probably the best book on the subject; “Depression,” “Joy,” “Spirituality and the Body,” and “The Way to Vibrant Health” are all written for lay readers.

    I recommend “Pleasure…” based on our exchange. It examines pleasure, the lack of it, and the factors that affect pleasure for individuals, but also the affects it has on groups; the psychology and unconscious motivations driving individual and group behavior.

    Most interestingly, one of his major themes is that pleasure is the antithesis of power: pleasure is the only antidote for power. The title “Pleasure, A Creative Approach to Life” could also be “Power, the Source of Destruction.” It turns out the study of pleasure is also the study of power, like a shadow.

    If it resonates with you, check us out at the Alexander Lowen Foundation website. I can be reached through the email address.

    A last word about inflation: the extreme bifurcated nature of the economy, the Haves and Have-Nots, have created parallel economies, where both inflation in commodities and real and financial assets co-exist alongside deflation of labor. The deflation counter-balances and permits higher inflation of “real goods” and financial instruments, while allowing economists, governments, and central banks to declare “very modest inflation.”
    Government and cohorts are dependent on “very modest inflation” in order to maintain historic low 0-.25% short term interest rates (until June 2015!…is the plan), and to continue Quantitative Easing which targets keeping long term interest rates low.
    They are dependent on low interest rates, short and long, because of Federal Debt, and State and Municipal un-funded pension and healthcare liabilities into the future. They cannot afford to pay any more debt service than we currently do (it is negligible), and to the degree inflation eats away the value of the US$ (relative to food and energy, not to other currencies), it becomes easier and easier to manage all that government (and corporate) debt.
    The scary part (aside from climate change) is that there is no guarantee they can keep Jack (interest rates) in the Box so he doesn’t knock Humpty Dumpty off the wall!
    If you understand this stuff you can profit from it.

    It’s been fun Richard, but I gotta get back to work!

    See you online! Best of luck to us all.

  • Anonymous

    I have just ordered “Pleasure…” from my library. Wilhelm Reich has interested me for a long time. Almost visited his institute up in Maine. I do believe that your father is essentially correct is placing power on the opposite side of the spectrum from pleasure. Pleasure is an opening. Its difficult to be devious when one is in the throes of pleasure. philocafe.org is the website for a discussion group. Last week I led a discussion on the nature of work and leisure (pleasure). You might be interested to take a look. Thanks for your thoughtful responses. Richard Bennett

  • Suzy B.

    Really looking forward to following the books of the new book club, especially this first one by Chrystia. Loved the show tonight; thanks!

  • John Bazzil

    I guess then, we should just let our infrastructure rot even more than it has rotted and decayed and our country will start looking like the bombed out carcass that Iraq is now and the rest of the Middle East mess that George W. Bush created –

    WITH OUR TAX MONEY.

  • constitution sam

    A frighteningly real wakeup call for anyone who considers the dynamics of how and why this has been allowed to happen in our country and it has implications for all of us who consider ourselves stakeholders in this democracy. It means that we have drastic measures to impliment to right the wrongs of legistation that has been bought by this wealth and continues to allow that wealth to exponentially explode while the rest of the country hangs on by our finernails trying to keep the American Dream a reality for ourselves , our children and our grandchildren.

  • BeeDeva

    The New Jim Crow is definitely on the must read list for Americans. We have a caste system in place that assures, for one thing, that a huge voting block is disenfranchised. Couple this with the state legislature of Pennsylvania launching attacks on the poor and new voter suppression laws to prevent fraud this isn’t happening, we need to understand the systematic design of our prison complex perpetuated by the War on Drugs.

  • V.C Bestor

    Maybe our idea of wealth needs to be redefined. What do readers think of employing women in the wilderness as paradigm of a new economy? I refer to the “Fanged Wilds and Women Program.” The environment needs large predators to maintain biodiversity in climate change; the economy needs women to contribute solutions. Leverage empowerment of women via the “ecology of fear”: fear of lions, tigers & bears is invigorating for victims of poverty, sexism and girls’ biology.

  • Lizzy

    I have started reading the book and wonder what can we do? I feel like a yo-yo these days. Some days I am sure I can make it into the future, whatever it holds, then other days I feel like I am sinking. But I do thank you for putting the book on your list. We all need to know how this will effect us.

  • Rosie Scholl

    Good information. I have learned a lot. What about Tavis Smiley’s book, “The Rich and the Rest of Us” ?

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    For those that like video documentaries, watch “American Autumn” : http://vimeo.com/41486549. And now from the author comes an “Open Letter To Michael Moore” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6iOFSf8FQA

  • Charles Worboys

    How does one participate in the book club?

  • book club reader

    This book is a valuable resource for me in exploring the question of why there has been such an enormous increase in inequality in the US since the 70′s. I had not known about Henry George’s solution to inequality during the Great Depression, or FDR’s speech that makes the case for why free markets and government regulation must go hand in hand. I’ve grown after reading this book by appreciating the good that free markets can do, and no longer condemning the wealthy fortunate few outright but only condemning the crony ways that some pursue their fortunes.

    The book so far (I’m about halfway thru) has provided a good argument that corporations and government, by embracing pay-for-performance philosophy, technology growth, and globalization, have transformed society into a winner-take-all environment. In such an environment, I believe trickle down theory is exactly the wrong approach. As demonstrated by case studies in this book, with winner-take-all dynamics, money tends to go up the chain and stay in the hands of the few at the top, or circulate amongst a small pool of those few, while rarely making its way back down to the 100′s of millions of people at the bottom. Also, since wages then become stagnant or depressed due to added competition between the 100 million poor or near-poor, as government support is cut as it gains less in taxes than before, and as education is cut, the poor end up having no real opportunities left to better their lives. It is a naive and careless economic model to say a free market and more competition should somehow (cross your fingers) grow good paying jobs for these 100 million and then expect that they should all just start businesses since the rare entrepreneurs did.

    In reading how entrepreneurs thrive in de-regulated free markets, and knowing that this de-regulation is fully supported by the Republican party and is both the opportunity that leads to billionaire’s fortunes and the cause of the Great Recession, I’m starting to believe that the crux of the chasm separating Democrats and Republicans is their differing conception of free markets. It would be fascinating if someone out there could explore this difference further. Republicans I’ve talked to seem to believe in a no-holds barred, de-regulated market, with a severely weakened government as the most ideal situation best for the common good, trusting by faith that markets will be able to self-regulate. ‘Free’ to them is ‘no rules’ since that is how the best opportunities for making money come about (and also I believe how many of the weaker people in society get trampled on). As a Democrat, I can only vouch for myself but I believe a free and efficient market is a market with a level playing field, which by necessity requires a government strong enough to regulate inevitable market failures. The point Chrystia made in the interview is paramount; Canada was spared the Great Recession because its government stood strong and refused to be swayed by the
    horde of deregulation lobbyists, unlike the US for instance.

    Republicans believe in free markets, Democrats believe in sustainable free markets. I believe Global Capitalism in its current incarnation is not based on sustainable principles and has no regard for the benefit of society or the common good. In this way our markets are inefficient, because they inherently under-value (by under-paying) workers that collectively make the enormous profits of CEO’s possible. Collectively, workers are valuable to the CEO and should then by fair market principles be paid appropriately, but as people are divided and unable to form unions, they can be paid much less thanks to competition for jobs and laws of supply and demand.

    Being inspired by this book, I believe it is free markets that can fix this situation, but the kind of markets believed in by Democrats, not the kind believed in by Republicans. I actually believe that Obama has the opportunity to make big policy moves with Republican support if he dresses his policies in free market concepts, while correcting for the blind spots in people’s conceptions of free market.

    To apply what I’ve learned from this book (I’m not an economist so admittedly this will be crude) I’ll explore one example – schools are currently under-paid and Republicans do not want to go along with spending more money on education. Meanwhile billionaire CEO’s inherently understand the value of education and spend huge sums of money to get their own children educated. Yet because the market under-values education of employees, these CEO’s will soon have trouble finding enough educated employees for their own company’s workforce, and indeed some already do.

    In our standard market system, there is little expectation that value should make its way down the chain to teachers and schools in society at large – only rock star teachers at prestigious universities may be paid better than most. With the majority of schools and teachers under-valued and under-funded, an enormous number of talented students that can’t make it into the limited slots at prestigious private schools and universities would be missed and their talents under-developed. This pool of students and their learning potential is of great value to CEO’s if they only knew how to get to them early on to sponsor them for fast track into their company. This knowledge is something that a market involving brokers could provide, but right now the connection is very loose, disorganized, and largely post-high-school, in the form of college scholarships and foundations. Government could step in to tighten the market significantly, leveraging its position of authority over educational policy on a nationwide scale to give company representatives some access to schools to seek and develop talented student prospects in exchange for some investment from the companies into the school systems that hold their interest. Maybe government could develop the market by promoting specialized tests and making specialized education plans and tracks available to kids starting in middle school (with educational aids and services even supplied by companies from different fields, where for instance, math and science knowledge or robotics skills are crucial). Government could also seek to generate better long term predictive statistics of student success and employee productivity per field of interest, based on a student’s performance in school subjects and on specialized tests.

    From a company’s perspective then, there is great value to be able to tap into markets for pools of talent in different areas and grow your business more quickly and smoothly, wherever you want to expand. From a student’s perspective it would be equally beneficial and motivational knowing there are companies interested in hiring you if you can pass their test or just do well in school. From a school’s perspective it would be an extra source of funding.

  • Nada

    Thanks for including the life and work of Henry George.

  • Johan Hasan

    Dig deeper, it goes deeper than you think

  • http://www.facebook.com/stuart.macgregor.54 Stuart Mac Gregor

    Chrystia speaks in her interview endorsing capitalism and she writes exuding confidence in capitalism in her book Plutocrats:
    “ . . . we need capitalists, because we need capitalism – it being, like democracy, the best system we’ve figured out so far. page xiv
    . . . today, the evidence that capitalism works is clear, and not only in the wreckage of the communist experiment.” page 21
    Chrystia also cites British economics professor van reenen in support of her contentions, who states: . . .” Eventually humanity will prosper. Capitalism does work , but over the medium term, thirty or forty years, there could be incredible dislocations. I am very worried about what happens in the next year or so.”
    Chrystia even relies on another British economist, Chairman of the Goldman Sachs Asset Management Division Jim O’Neill: “. . . the experience of the last two centuries has taught us that, with time, the creative destruction of capitalism inevitably brings an overall improvement in everyone’s standard of living.” page 30
    However, as the careful financial herstorian I know you are, I am sure you are aware that in the roughly 76 years between this economic meltdown between 1929 and 2009, there have been 11 other significant economic downturns under the capitalist economic system, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, whose notable members have included Economic Nobel Prize winners Joseph Stiglitz (2001), Paul Krugman (2008) and Milton Friedman (1976), among many others. And perhaps you will concede that the 130 years prior to the debacle of the 1930s/1940s were no less cyclically turbulent, if we want to include the 200 year history of capitalism.
    So my questions are:
    1) Are you aware that there are thousands of successful enterprises using a cooperative means of production that gives workers a democratic vote in how the company is run, effectively acting as their own CEO and board of directors while sharng in the profits? As for example, Mondragon Corporation in the Basque region of Spain, which has existed since 1956 when it was founded by the collective capital and effort of just six persons, and thrives today, in spite of the turmoil in Spain during this economic meltdow, as one of Spain’s 10 largest corporations with about 85,000 members and cooperative companies in many countries, including the US and China? To date Mondragon has found it necessary to lay off any of its members?
    2) The esteemed Federal Reserve has determined that about 25% of american productive capacity stands idle at this time, while the Dept. of Labor tells us that U6 is about 14.7%, U6 being the unemployment percentage for those unable to find work, those underemployed with part time work who would like full time work, and those workers who have become “discouraged” and stopped looking for work.
    a) In view of the 13 economic downturns from 1929 to the present, and the disconnect between available workers seeking work and the idle means for production, don’t you think that capitalism is a “stupifyingly unstable” economic system, one that is “out of control, irrational and wasteful “to use just a few critical words from economist and professor Richard Wolff (Yale), whose new book is Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism.
    3) Is it your opinion that our corrupt capitalist democracy cannot be improved upon, by corrupt I mean corrupted by capitalists, for the sake of capitalism?
    4) Could it also be said that life under the Roman Empire “eventually” raised the standard of living for all those countries it conquered by war? What about the British Empire, or the French or Spanish Empires?
    5) I am sure you understand that communist Russia in 1917 and communist China in 1949, did not change the means of production to allow workers to have a democratic say in how the business they were working for would be run, that in place of a CEO and board of directors, the government used central planning and state officials that usurped the same function.
    a) Do you think the outcome of Russia might have been different if a democratic means of production had been used, where workers made the important decisions and shared in the “surplus,” to use a term from Marx, or profits, to use an O’Neill term?
    b) Do you think US capitalism may at some point reach the same dissolution as did Russia, for similar reasons, meaning the sever and greedy corruption of CEOs, boards of directors and shareholders?
    6) In April of this year the FT published an article critical of Jim Yong Kim, now head of the World Bank, based on statements in his 1999 book where he remarked that capitalism had ruined the lives of millions of people in the introduction, and according to Forbes:
    Chrystia speaks in her interview endorsing capitalism and she writes exuding confidence in capitalism in her book Plutocrats:
    “ . . . we need capitalists, because we need capitalism – it being, like democracy, the best system we’ve figured out so far. page xiv
    . . . today, the evidence that capitalism works is clear, and not only in the wreckage of the communist experiment.” page 21
    Chrystia also cites British economics professor van reenen in support of her contentions, who states: . . .” Eventually humanity will prosper. Capitalism does work , but over the medium term, thirty or forty years, there could be incredible dislocations. I am very worried about what happens in the next year or so.”
    Chrystia even relies on another British economist, Chairman of the Goldman Sachs Asset Management Division Jim O’Neill: “. . . the experience of the last two centuries has taught us that, with time, the creative destruction of capitalism inevitably brings an overall improvement in everyone’s standard of living.” page 30
    However, as the careful financial herstorian I know you are, I am sure you are aware that in the roughly 76 years between this economic meltdown between 1929 and 2009, there have been 11 other significant economic downturns under the capitalist economic system, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, whose notable members have included Economic Nobel Prize winners Joseph Stiglitz (2001), Paul Krugman (2008) and Milton Friedman (1976), among many others. And perhaps you will concede that the 130 years prior to the debacle of the 1930s/1940s were no less cyclically turbulent, if we want to include the 200 year history of capitalism.
    So my questions are:
    1) Are you aware that there are thousands of successful enterprises using a cooperative means of production that gives workers a democratic vote in how the company is run, effectively acting as their own CEO and board of directors while sharng in the profits? As for example, Mondragon Corporation in the Basque region of Spain, which has existed since 1956 when it was founded by the collective capital and effort of just six persons, and thrives today, in spite of the turmoil in Spain during this economic meltdow, as one of Spain’s 10 largest corporations with about 85,000 members and cooperative companies in many countries, including the US and China? To date Mondragon has found it necessary to lay off any of its members?
    2) The esteemed Federal Reserve has determined that about 25% of american productive capacity stands idle at this time, while the Dept. of Labor tells us that U6 is about 14.7%, U6 being the unemployment percentage for those unable to find work, those underemployed with part time work who would like full time work, and those workers who have become “discouraged” and stopped looking for work.
    a) In view of the 13 economic downturns from 1929 to the present, and the disconnect between available workers seeking work and the idle means for production, don’t you think that capitalism is a “stupifyingly unstable” economic system, one that is “out of control, irrational and wasteful “to use just a few critical words from economist and professor Richard Wolff (Yale), whose new book is Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism.
    3) Is it your opinion that our corrupt capitalist democracy cannot be improved upon, by corrupt I mean corrupted by capitalists, for the sake of capitalism?
    4) I am sure you realize that communist Russia in 1917 and communist China in 1949, did not change the means of production to allow workers to have a democratic say in how the business they were working for would be run, that in place of a CEO and board of directors, the government used central planning and state officials that usurped the same function.
    a) Do you think the outcome of Russia might have been different if a democratic means of production had been used, where workers made the important decisions and shared in the “surplus,” to use a term from Marx, or profits, to use an O’Neill term?
    b) Do you think US capitalism may at some point reach the same dissolution as did Russia, for similar reasons, meaning the sever and greedy corruption of CEOs, boards of directors and shareholders?
    5) In April of this year the FT published an article critical of Jim Yong Kim, now head of the World Bank, based on statements in his 1999 book where he remarked in the introduction that capitalism had ruined the lives of millions of people.
    Forbes Magazine also took exception to Mr. Kim as president of the World Bank:
    7/23/12 Forbes – Doug Bandow Shut Down the World Bank
    Jim Yong Kim has been a critic of economic growth. He was one of several authors of Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor. The book’s chief target is “neoliberalism” which, the authors claimed, “asserts that economic growth is by definition good for everyone and that economic performance is optimized when governments refrain from interfering in markets.” Kim and his co-authors contended that “In many cases policies guided by neoliberal agendas have worsened the economic situation of the middle classes and the poor.”
    My question is why your book makes no mention of Mr. Kim’s opinions in Dying for Growth about the extreme harm capitalism has done?
    6) Until the great collapse of capitalism that began in 2007, the primary engine driving US capitalism, which continues today, was the obscene and unconscionable expenditure on military and defense, including veterans, homeland security and the Dept. of Secretary of State, which has been a front for the CIA for decades. If you visit the OPM site and look at the summary tables beginning with S-12, you will find that the budget for these “security agencies” now totals about 68.7% of discretionary spending!!
    Now, in addition to this immense and unsustainable burden placed on the 99% over decades since the 1970s, and for decades preceding the 1970s, in order to defend the interests of capitalism worldwide that the 99% has no direct interest in, the Federal Reserve has now, in cooperation with the last two administrations and that club of millionaires and billionaires we laughingly call Congress, transferred the toxic debt from major banks, insurance companies and failed corporations to the 99%, and continues to do so.
    Do you honestly believe that the people of this country, as ignorant as they are, will stand for any further pressure from the capitalists of the 1%, or any small part thereof, for any length of time? For how long?
    7) well why say more if you haven’t gotten the idea by now?

  • http://www.facebook.com/stuart.macgregor.54 Stuart Mac Gregor

    It is the Office of Buidget Management at the White House Web Site, OBM, not OPM, that has the summary tables for the 2012 US budget, beginning at Table S-11: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2012/assets/tables.pdf

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sean-Arthur-Joyce/100000193131777 Sean Arthur Joyce

    Fabulous interview with Taibbi and Freeland. However Freeland overstates the case that the Left has not offered any alternatives to monopoly capitalism. She should read Wilkinson & Pickett’s book ‘The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better’ which shows that across a wide range of indicators, societies with narrower income gaps have reduced levels of crime, better overall health, longevity, education, etc. Americans need to get over the ‘socialism’ bogeyman; this is nothing more than a tactic of the One Percent.