BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company.

BRUCE BARTLETT: You see members of both parties now going hat in hand to the exact same group of people on Wall Street. And it's naïve to think that they're not getting something for their contributions.


HEATHER McGHEE: In order for us as Americans, who want to see public solutions to our common problems, to really achieve what we want to achieve, we are going to have to clean up Washington first.

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. While Republicans are still fighting the culture wars primary by primary, and caucus by caucus, President Obama is campaigning rather feverishly to win back the votes of the Millennials. Who are they? Well, the Millennials are the generation of young Americans born roughly between the years of 1978 and 2000. They are coming now to political maturity.

Two-thirds of Millennials voted for Obama in 2008, but a new Harvard study shows that in the last two years his approval rating among them has dropped 12 points. That's enough to decide a close election in November. And that may be why the President recently threatened to cut federal aid to schools that, quote, “jack up tuition.” Many of the Millennials are coming out of college with big loans to repay.

Yet another study describes their enthusiasm for him as “substantially depleted” so his reelection campaign has been wooing them recently through what Obama himself calls this “new fangled” thing, social media.

This week, we’re going to talk with one the Millennials’ most thoughtful advocates. Her name is Heather McGhee. Listen.

HEATHER McGHEE: I turned 30 last year which puts me at the very start of the Millennial generation. And we are known for our sense of entrepreneurship, our volunteerism our tolerance of diversity and for being the first generation in American history to not do better than their parents. And that was clear before the Wall Street banks crashed the economy and left our generation to graduate into the worst job market since the Great Depression.

BILL MOYERS: As we’ve been reporting in our series on winner-take-all politics, the Millennials grew up in the years when crony capitalists and powerful officials in Washington rewrote the rules of the economic game to favor the relative few at the top over everyone else. That collusion brought devastating results, from the financial crash four years ago, to the greatest inequality in America since the great depression of the 1930’s. Our economy stopped working for everyday Americans.

So this generation of young people faces a stacked deck. They will find it tough to make their way to the middle class. And as you heard Heather McGhee say, Millennials are the first generation not-likely to do better than the one that came before them.

There are 80 plus million of them, 60 percent are white, 14 percent black, 19 percent Latino, five percent Asian, and a smattering of others. Here is something of what they’re up against:

Unemployment among our youngest adults is almost twice the national average. 25 to 34 year-old male high school graduates are earning 25 percent less than they earned in 1980. Almost 40 percent of young adults say their personal debt increased in the last four years, a lot of that directly related to student loans.

Back in 1980, college tuition averaged three thousand dollars, adjusted for inflation. Today that average has almost tripled.

Back then, pell grants covered more than two-thirds of the cost for low income students. Today it’s down to just over one-third. And those who graduate are in debt an average of 25 thousand dollars.

And yet, despite the dire statistics, almost 80 percent of young people say they still believe in the American dream. That’s true across race and ethnicity. Hope, fortunately, springs eternal.

Heather McGhee graduated from Yale and the law school of the University of California at Berkeley. She now runs the Washington office of the research and advocacy group Dēmos. She was active in fighting for financial reform in Congress after the crash of '08 and for new measures to protect consumers.

Heather McGhee, welcome.

HEATHER McGHEE: Thank you.

BILL MOYERS: You know, the facts and figures paint a very dismal picture of your generation. But let me ask you this. Is it something of a myth, this upward mobility in American life? Because I could take you to the hollows of West Virginia, to the back streets of our big cities, to small towns throughout the country, where poor kids never got up and out.

HEATHER McGHEE: Absolutely. I mean, I think it's a myth that every kid is going to have that opportunity. And that's one of the great myths that's been quite destructive, actually, to our willingness as a country to make sure that there are those ladders of opportunity in place, through policies like universal education, child care, and early child care and development.

But the truth has been that over the course of our history, every generation as a whole has done better financially. And in fact, up until a few generations ago, has been able to do better financially by working even less, by being more productive and having more time for home life and for civic life.

BILL MOYERS You know, other generations have faced severe problems. They've experienced depression, recession, war. What makes this different?

HEATHER McGHEE: I think what's different about this generation is that all of the external changes that happened, globalization, technological change, the information age. All of that happened, and yet it happened at a time when we lost our social contract. So America could have weathered all of the economic storms that happened over the course of our lifetimes in a much better way that did not decimate the middle class, if we had a social contract in this country. If we had not, at the same time, decided that, in fact, the economy would work better if everybody was on their own. So that's what's different.

BILL MOYERS: Well, do you and your peers get together and say, 'What hit us?'

HEATHER McGHEE: Most of my friends, who are not political and don't have an economics background, who are starting out their lives right now, having children, getting a house don’t even think about the fact that these are common problems that could have public solutions. They don't think there could be financial aid for childcare. They don't think that health care could be portable and go with them and be guaranteed.

They don't think that there could be a pension that is more solid and durable than a 401(k). That's actually been sort of the most pernicious effect of the Reagan revolution is to take the horizon of public policy solutions that could really help people sort of off the radar entirely.

BILL MOYERS: But if your peers, don't think they have a problem, do they have a problem?

HEATHER McGHEE: They know that they have the problems. They just don't know that there could be public solutions.

I think that's one of the major projects that we have to do is really to create a generational comparison. Where we say, for example, 'My generation-- my grandparents were able to go to college, go to higher education, have a middle class life, save for the future, retire comfortably because of public investments that were made, like the G.I. Bill, because of the federal highway system, because of the retirement system that labor and union jobs were able to provide.'

BILL MOYERS: How did you get a start? What were your-- who were your parents? What did they do?

HEATHER McGHEE: I'm the descendent of American slaves. I'm from the South -- Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana. My grandparents and great-grandparents moved up to work in the steel mills of Chicago.

My grandmother and grandfather both had public sector jobs at a time when there was rampant discrimination in the private sector. They became, you know, leaders in the police force in Chicago, a social worker in the Chicago public schools. And they were able to retire comfortably. And they were able to help my parents out. And my parents were able, in turn, to help me out. But the idea that I'm going to be able to do that for my children, given the amount of debt that I have is something that I think I've just had to let go of.

BILL MOYERS: Well, that's what can happen in the public sector. That the public sector over the last 50 years has created a very large middle class for people who would otherwise never have gotten into it. And now with the assault on public unions and public sector, that ladder's being taken down, right?

HEATHER McGHEE: Absolutely. It's been so shocking to see the demonization of public servants. It's really part of this 40-year attack on the public. And I think the fact that we're seeing right now that teachers, public janitors, school workers, bus drivers, cops, firefighters are the new welfare queens in our public life.

I mean, really they are. I mean, if you think about the stereotype that's being trafficked right now. They're talking about these lazy, you know, bloated pensions that are just, you know, cheating the system. I mean, that's the welfare queens of the 1980s. And what has been-- what's the same between the welfare queen and this image of the postal worker who doesn't really deserve the benefits they're getting? These old shop worn stereotypes of race and gender.

BILL MOYERS: Does it seem to you that inequality is sort of the bequest your generation has been handed.

HEATHER McGHEE: Absolutely. I mean, our generation is, you know, the most diverse generation in American history. Half of young people under 18 are children of color. But we are also the generation that is experiencing this record inequality, inequality in our economy and inequality in our democracy.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean inequality in democracy?

HEATHER McGHEE: Well, let's take, for example, the fact that since I was born, there's an entirely new industry that didn't used to exist. That of corporate lobbyists, for which there are now 24 for every member of congress.

I mean, if you think about who people in congress spend their time with, who they listen to, who they spend one out of every three minutes that they're in office fundraising around, it is people in the top one percent. It is their lobbyists. It is the corporate CEOs. And so much of the policy decisions, whether they are the decision to keep the minimum wage low.

I mean, if we-- the minimum wage was at its peak in 1968 and has lost nearly half of its purchasing power. I mean, just think of that one policy decision that is a number one target for the Chamber of Commerce, year after year, to make sure that the minimum wage stays low. That absolutely benefits people who are invested in big corporations and the executives of big corporations. But the American worker has seen their buying power erode and erode.

BILL MOYERS: So is this what you meant in that speech when you said that what has happened to your generation was the consequence of a social experiment? Is that what you mean?

HEATHER McGHEE: Yeah, it's been a really grand experiment that has-- in, sort of, neo-liberal economics, the trickle-down experiment. The experiment that said that, in fact, the best way that we can shape our economy is to make sure that the most gains are amassed and kept at the very top. And then that somehow those would trickle down.

That's been an experiment. It's been-- it was a theory that was tested. My generation were the guinea pigs. And that experiment has absolutely failed if the aim was to produce greater prosperity for America. That means American people. If the aim was to actually stop at the top and just create greater corporate profits and greater G.D.P. growth, then it's been a success. But I think most Americans would not have bought in to that kind of experiment.

BILL MOYERS: I read just the other day that only 29 percent of Americans have college degrees. Is college still a way up and out?

HEATHER McGHEE: It is. And you would think-- I mean, this is one of those great ironies. At the same time that we had the globalization, the transfer from the industrial age to the information age, and so the premium on higher education became so high. At the same time that we decided to reorder our economy so that those with information and with knowledge would be able to gallop ahead, we also made it less affordable and more difficult for people to get that new golden ticket to a middle class life.

It doesn't make any sense. At around that same time, around when I was born, we shifted our federal support for higher education. It used to be the majority of it was grants, grants like the G.I. Bill that put my grandparents to college, grants like my parents had, to loans, which is what the majority of my generation is now taking on in order to basically pay government and the banks for the privilege of having a middle class life.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, what does it say that many of you have to pay Wall Street to go to college today?

HEATHER McGHEE: It's amazing, isn't it? And not only do we have to do that, but particularly with these private loans, which are just galloping, galloping away, in terms of how quickly they're becoming a share of the market, it's like 18 percent interest on some of these private loans. It's like putting your $10,000 tuition on a high-interest credit card.

And if you think about that, if you think about the fact that the next generation has to pay an 18 percent interest rate to get a college education, whereas the very banks and financial companies that they're paying that interest to are getting basically a zero interest loan from the government every day, it's shocking.

BILL MOYERS: We have a video clip of a young man who's speaking at a rally objecting to tuition increases. Let's take a look at it.

PROTESTER: Me myself, I’m in debt $70,000 and when do I expect to be free of this? Possibly never. I actually got a letter from Sallie Mae, saying that if I don’t start paying today, $900 a month, they are going to have more aggressive attempts at collecting my debt […] And so I refuse to pay this student debt, for this ball and chain that will follow me the rest of my life. And so I’m going to burn this right here and now.

BILL MOYERS: How do you respond to that?

HEATHER McGHEE: Honestly, it really does breaks my heart, Bill. If you think about what young people are facing when they know that they have to play by the rules, go to college, get a good education. And yet, they know that the price of that is going to be tens of thousands of dollars of debt on the other end, what options are young people supposed to have? I really don't think that we can say as a country that we are a middle class nation, that we care about recreating a middle class for the future generation, and have an entire generation indebted. And have so much money diverted from more productive uses in the economy simply to pay off loans from a really flawed financial aid system.

BILL MOYERS: He quoted a letter from Sallie Mae. For the benefit of my audience, who's Sallie Mae?

HEATHER McGHEE: Sallie Mae, other than being one of the most profligate contributors to Washington and one of the biggest lobbies, is a massive financial company that is, their entire business model is on student loans, private and federally subsidized.

BILL MOYERS: As you know, the Obama Administration tried to do something to clean up that student loan business, and got a piece of legislation through that was promising. But then lobbyists from the industry, including many who belong to the Democratic Party swarmed all over it, and have, in effect, throttled it. What does that say to you?

HEATHER McGHEE: It says that the financial industry is an equal opportunity employer of Congress people, unfortunately. We've really seen an incredible explosion in the amount of financial contributions from the financial sector, including Sallie Mae, Wall Street banks, real estate, insurance over just the period of my lifetime. And the result has been that any time there are any kinds of steps forward, there's always a desire to sort of erode the progress.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, you're sympathetic to that young man and to all of them like him. But do you think refusing to pay is a solution?

HEATHER McGHEE: You know, I think the right solution would be for us to undo what Sallie Mae and other lenders got slipped into that terrible 2005 bankruptcy bill. Which is that private student loans and student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. I mean, think about it, bankruptcy, which, you know, huge, multi-billion dollar corporations are-- seem to be filing every day and move on, just as if nothing happened.

And yet, regular, middle class families, the average American family, the two most important loans in their life, the two most onerous loans in their life, for education and for their primary residence, they can't be relieved of in bankruptcy. Our bankruptcy code says to the American people, "You don't have any second chance when it comes to those two major primary loans." We're just making people give up so early on, because it's impossible to get out from under debt like that.

BILL MOYERS: What's the answer to the high cost of college and the loans that kids have to take out?

HEATHER McGHEE: Yeah. We need to fundamentally shift back to a system of grants, not loans. I mean, we cannot indenture a generation just to pay for the ticket to the middle-- to a middle class life. But we also need to do something for people who are not going to get bachelor's degrees, which are still-- it's not the majority of young people who have a college degree.

So I think we need to raise the wage floor. We absolutely have to get back to a place of embracing unions in this country. And we have--


HEATHER McGHEE: Because unions created the middle class in this country. Because the jobs that were the steelworker jobs that so many of the people in my family had weren't good jobs. They were made into good jobs, because the people who were working those jobs had a voice on the shop floor, and had some power when it came to setting their wages. Which makes all of the sense in the world. That the people baking the pie should be the ones who get to have a decent slice of it.

BILL MOYERS: What are the racial dimensions of this? I just read the other day that 30 percent of all young African Americans below 24 are out of work?

HEATHER McGHEE: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think that this is what I think is, in a way, the great unspoken disaster of our lifetime. When we saw the rapid de-industrialization of our cities, where we saw the jobs that used to be able to create decent working and middle class lifestyles for people who went to work every day, but didn't have a college degree. When we had that deindustrialization from the inner cities, who greatly, greatly was damaged by that economic policy, essentially, were particularly people who were trapped in inner cities.

And that generally speaking throughout our history, people as economic flows have changed, people have been free to move and follow jobs. But because race is so pernicious, because segregation is still very real, because of the redlining by the F.H.A. that went straight in through the 1980s, we did not see that flow. And then we haven't seen the kind of commitment to evening out the pockets of privation in our country. That we need to see in order for us to have a strong middle class that's diverse and that looks like America.

BILL MOYERS: How do you have a new social contract if we don't have a sense of community?

HEATHER McGHEE: I think that is the great question of our time. Because if you look at this sort of hostility and anxiety around public solutions, at its root, it's anxiety around who the public is. And I think that that's happened, because of the real explosion in diversity.

But I think it's something that there is an answer to. It takes leadership. I mean, you have to think about the same system that allows people based on their physical appearance to be valued so differently, to create this hierarchy, is at its root, in terms of cognitively, the same system that allows, for example, the CEO of Walmart, who makes about $16,000 an hour. Whereas his coworker, the associate on the shop floor, makes about seven dollars an hour. And then the woman or man in Malaysia or India, who actually is making the product on the shelves makes pennies an hour.

And yet, they're all in the same enterprise. You have to think about what that says to us as people, when we value the labor of three people who are in the same enterprise, essentially, so differently. I mean, when you and I walk into a store and we see a phone on the shelves. And one is $30 and one is $300, what do we decide about the more expensive one? That it's better.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, automatically, right?

HEATHER McGHEE: Automatically.

BILL MOYERS: Something about it.

HEATHER McGHEE: Exactly. If it's more expensive, it's better. And the logic of applying that same logic to human beings, which we do all the time in this free market with no fundamental values of human dignity is really dangerous. But it's the same kind of logic that leads us to have racial hierarchies and gender hierarchies, as well.

BILL MOYERS: Which leads me to a political question. In 2008, millennial, your generation, voted for Obama by a 34 point margin compared to a nine-point margin, four years earlier, for John Kerry. I mean, they came out -- you came out, your generation, and were a decisive, if not the decisive factor in Obama's margin. Will your generation come out for Obama again?

HEATHER McGHEE: I think it's a really difficult question. I think the Millennial generation still is showing preferences for Democratic policies for Democratic values and ideals and for Democratic candidates over Republican candidates. But you have to realize that just like with all other kinds of voters, young voters are voting on the economy.

And as the Dēmos report "The State of Young America" has shown, this generation, my generation is really feeling the brunt of the recession that capped off 30 years of widening economic inequality and insecurity. And so young people can't say that they're better off financially than they were four years ago. I really believe that given the levels of unemployment in the young adult generation, the president needs to call for-- and I understand it would be difficult to pass through Congress.

But on the campaign trail, he needs to call for a WPA style, generational jobs program all across this country. And it would be a transformational generational experience. It would be something that would expose people to different Americans from different walks of life. But it would also be something that would say, finally, for once and for all, 'Yes, your American Government is on your side, young people. We're not always going to leave you to the mercy of the banks and selfish employers and the vagaries of the so-called 'free market. We're going to say that your future matters to us as a country.'

BILL MOYERS: You're calling for more and more government help. You just asked Obama to take a more aggressive position with using the government to put people to work. You're up against, of course, the predisposition of people out across the country that, 'I don't want to pay taxes to those folks who haven't been spending it well, fighting wars, passing the cost on. Extending benefits to Wall Street, bailing out the banks. I don't want to support government anymore.'

HEATHER McGHEE: Absolutely. I mean I think that in order for us as Americans, who want to see public solutions to our common problems, to really achieve what we want to achieve, we are going to have to clean up Washington first. It is absolutely important. For example, why would the American people trust Washington to do what's right when they know that so much of their energy is focused on rewarding the people who brought them to the party, which is the wealthiest people in the country and the organized corporate elite?

And so we've got to clean up the money in politics problem. And it's time to take that incredibly personal issue of your own personal finances and make them political.

BILL MOYERS: Doing what?

HEATHER McGHEE: I think we need to stay politically involved on policy issues. We need to, as a generation, really be the generation that calls for and holds leaders accountable for cleaning up Washington, for addressing the political inequality that is perpetuating economic inequality. We need to become a very politically engaged generation. We need to run for office, debt be damned.

BILL MOYERS: Heather McGhee, I’ve enjoyed this conversation. Thank you for joining me.

HEATHER McGHEE: Thank you so much for having me, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: Heather McGhee speaks of how the neoliberal economic experience of the last 30 years – including cutting taxes on the rich and waiting for the wealth and prosperity to trickle down -- has left her generation of Millennials standing under a spigot someone forgot to turn on. After a few drips and drops, it went dry. So did the very notion of equal opportunity for all. And today we’re living in a country deeply divided between winners and losers. Nowhere is that more evident than in our tax system – so distorted by loopholes, exemptions, credits, and deductions favoring the already rich and powerful that it no longer can raise the money needed to pay the government’s bills.

Among the people who saw this crisis coming was the conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, the supply-side champion who wrote the manifesto for the Reagan Revolution. Bartlett became a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House and a top official at the Treasury Department under the first George Bush. Yet for all those credentials, he is today an outcast from the very conservative ranks where he was once so influential. That’s because Bruce Bartlett dared to write a book criticizing the second George Bush as a pretend conservative who slashed taxes but still spent with wild abandon. The subtitle says it all: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.

For his heresy Bartlett was sacked by the conservative think tank where he worked. Undaunted, this card-carrying advocate of free markets and small government has been a prolific writer for popular and academic journals and has just published a new book: The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform - Why We Need It and What It Will Take. It’s a layman’s guide through the jungle of a tax system that, thanks to rented politicians and anti-tax ideologues like Grover Norquist, enable the one percent to make off like bandits while our national debt soars sky-high. I talked to Bruce Bartlett soon after he had finished his new book.

BILL MOYERS: You've made the point that America's top earning one percent had an effective 33.1 percent federal income tax rate in 1986, and an effective rate of only 23.3 percent in 2008. And you say if the top one percent had kept paying at the 1986 effective rate, quote, "the federal debt today would be $1.7 trillion lower." That's a lot of money.

BRUCE BARTLETT: Well, that's right. And when I say effective rate that means the taxes that they paid divided by their income. So that tells you what the revenue is that the government gets from taxing them. And clearly, they were doing okay at the beginning of that period.

And that was Ronald Reagan's administration. Up until 1986, the top marginal rate, the top statutory rate was 50 percent. Now it's 35 percent. And all the pressure is on to lower that even further. And this just doesn't make a great deal of sense to me. When people say, 'Oh, we can't raise taxes on the rich. They'll go on strike, they'll move to another country.' But within recent memory, it hasn't been that long ago that we had rates that were substantially higher. And these people did just fine.

BILL MOYERS: Well, when I was growing up in the '50s the top marginal tax rate, if I remember correctly, was 91 percent.

BRUCE BARTLETT: That's right. And I just think that there's a disconnect between the facts of what taxes do and the sort of mythology of what they do.

I think in many ways, the tax debate is a code for an attitude towards the individual vis-à-vis government. If you think government is bad or incompetent, if you glorify the individual against the state, then taxes is sort of your, the territory where you're going to fight these battles.

It's a signaling mechanism. It tells people you're one of us on the tax issue. You're for tax cuts and low tax rates and things like that. And that translates into an attitude towards government that goes into spending and lots of other issues.

BILL MOYERS: It's also a case, though, isn't it, that if you pay taxes, whatever taxes you pay, you want to get some services in return. You want your mail to be delivered on time, the potholes to be fixed, the bridge to be safe, the schools to teach your children. And there is that dissatisfaction with government because it hasn't been delivering the services that people really have a right to expect.

BRUCE BARTLETT: That's true. The composition of government spending has changed enormously over the last 50 years or so. The vast bulk of federal spending goes to Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, interest on the debt. And that has a lot to do with, I think, people's attitudes towards government. They view this redistribution policy as taking from me and giving to them, so there is an antagonistic attitude towards that kind of just shuffling money around. And, but people don't seem to be willing or able to confront that fact, and instead, have concentrated solely on the tax side of the equation. But you can't do one without the other. You just can't keep cutting taxes unless you're going to start cutting spending meaningfully, which means essentially, cutting Medicare. That is the 600 pound gorilla.

BILL MOYERS: You write the Bush tax cuts have added at least $3 trillion to the debt. When Bush took office, budget projections showed a $6 trillion surplus, enough to pay off the pending $6 trillion national debt.

Instead, by the time Bush left office, the national debt had ballooned to over ten trillion, and the Republicans are refusing to take responsibility for having driven the borrowing binge that put the nation in the hole it is in now.

BRUCE BARTLETT: That's exactly correct. One of the things that Bush argued during the campaign, not so much after he took office, is that budget surpluses are a bad thing. Because they might get spent. It really sounds silly when you say that. But he did say this over and over again.

And so, the idea of cutting taxes was a part of a policy that I call starving the beast. It's you take away the government's credit card, as Ronald Reagan said. And this will force spending down. This will shrink the size of government. And conservatives believe that there's only so much freedom out there. And the more the government, the more power government has, there's less freedom for the people.

And they have a tendency to look at this in terms of spending as a share of GDP. So it can be measured very precisely. So if the federal government takes 25 percent of GDP, then essentially, we have only 75 percent freedom. We're not 100 percent free. You know, if we could cut government spending down to 20 percent of GDP, then we would gain five percent freedom. We'll go from being 75 percent free to being 80 percent.

I'm serious. This is the way they think. And this drives a lot of these policies that on the surface don't make any sense. They're just about taking away the government's resources to force it to shrink to -- if you cut the budgets of the regulatory agencies, then they can't regulate. This is a good thing.

They really believe that there's absolutely nothing good that comes out of government, unless it comes out of the Pentagon.

And the starve the beast theory is really extraordinarily pernicious, because one of the things that it is related to is the so-called tax pledge, which my friend Grover Norquist came up with. And which has become a ban on raising taxes at any time for any reason.

But at the same time, all tax cuts are okay. So you just have this constant ratchet down. Every time you can cut taxes, you've lowered the threshold that you can never then go up against. So it's like you're coming down a series of stairs. And this is all very conscious, because Grover believes that if you take away the government's ability to tax, it will necessarily be forced to spend less. Government will shrink. Freedom will increase. It's that simple.

BILL MOYERS: Grover Norquist is the one who famously said that he'd like to shrink the government to the size where it could fit into a bathtub and be drowned, take it back to the size it was before World War II.

BRUCE BARTLETT: Well, we'd have to go back before World War I, really, to get to that size.

BILL MOYERS: You remember back when the first George Bush was in the White House, and he raised taxes because even though he had said, "Read my lips, no new taxes," in his convention speech, his acceptance speech, he raised taxes because he felt the economic situation necessitated new taxes. And the conservative Republicans went after him. They were willing to take down one of their own.

BRUCE BARTLETT: Yes. And they did. Remember, you had Ross Perot running. You had -- and a great many Republicans voted for him because they thought that George Bush was a turncoat, and I think Mr. Bush's support for a tax increase in 1990 was an enormous act of courage that no Republican has been willing to show since, and probably never will.

I mean, would you want to be a Republican running in a Republican primary, where Grover Norquist comes in and says, ‘This guy must be defeated because he violated the pledge, or he refused to sign the pledge’? The members of the Tea Party don't need to know anything else. That guy's history.

And we saw during the 2010 campaign that these Tea Party people are capable and perfectly willing to defeat incumbent Republicans even when -- at the cost of having that seat go to the Democrats. You saw guys like Robert Bennett in Utah, who is no liberal by any means.

BILL MOYERS: He was the epitome of the conservative--

BRUCE BARTLETT: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: Stalwart. And--

BRUCE BARTLETT: But he wasn't conservative enough. And so, they tossed him out.

And Republicans lost seats in places like Colorado and Delaware, where the Tea Party people were so insistent that their own people be in there, and that they don't have these RINO Republicans, you’ve probably heard that term, stands for Republican in name only. And believe me, among Republicans there's nothing worse that you can be called. But there’s other groups as well. The Club for Growth has been extraordinarily important.

Because they ensure that there will always be unlimited or virtually unlimited financing available to anybody who runs against a RINO, against a tax pledge breaker, or somebody who refuses to sign the pledge. They're very, very obsessed about this.

And they just have vast sums of money. And even before the Citizens United decision made it easier for them to raise money, they still had an enormous amount of money available. And I honestly don't know where it's coming from or what we can do about it.

BILL MOYERS: You've made it clear that the Bush cuts were worth little to those making $150,000, but a huge amount to those making five, ten, 15, $25 million. Do those folks in the Tea Party get that?

I'm not sure. I'm not sure if they really know very much about taxation. Back when the Tea Party first came into existence, back in 2009 they had a big demonstration in Washington. And we went around and we surveyed a good percentage of the people in this demonstration about what they knew about taxes, what they thought the top rate was, what they thought their tax rate was. You know, questions of just straight factual knowledge, not opinion.

And it turned out that these people all thought taxes were vastly higher than they really are, and that they were paying exorbitantly high tax rates that would be impossible for them to pay. And so, I think that this is part of what's going on here, is simple misinformation.

And there have been other polls and things that are showing the same thing. I mean, if you really thought, if you're a typical middle class person, you really believe the government was taking half your income, you'd be out demonstrating. But the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people pay less than 10 percent federal income taxes. So they simply have a wrong understanding of what they pay.

BILL MOYERS: Well, there are all the other taxes, of course. State taxes, sales taxes, toll fees and all of that.

BRUCE BARTLETT: That's true. But all taxes taken together as a share of GDP is only about a third, or even less. More -- it's like 30 percent. That's all federal, state and local taxes all put together. So that you're not going to have taxes being much higher than that for anybody.

BILL MOYERS: You remind me that ideology is a worldview that can be believed despite all the evidence to the contrary.

BRUCE BARTLETT: Well, it's very much like religion. And I think that it's not a surprise that so many very, you know, devout Christians are a part of the Republican Party and accept a lot of this. Because the nature of deep religious belief is faith, which means you accept things for which there is no proof.

And so, I think it's not that hard to shift that faith over to believe a lot other things that you've been told are true so many times that you just accept that on faith as well. That if you cut taxes, revenues will go up, you know, and things of this sort. That all tax cuts are good and all spending cuts are good, and all government is bad.

BILL MOYERS: Are you pessimistic?

BRUCE BARTLETT: Oh, absolutely. I'm very pessimistic.

BILL MOYERS: What makes you most pessimistic right now?

BRUCE BARTLETT: The gridlock in Congress. Or I don't know. It's the lack of willingness to discuss issues in a reality-based way. We just seem to live in a zone in which people no longer really seem to care about facts or analysis. And we talk in sound bites.

And the media of course contribute to this. The decline of the major media. People don't want to read magazines. They don't even want to read a newspaper article if it's more than a couple of inches. And if it doesn't mention Lindsay Lohan, they move on.

Clearly people don't seem to know as much. And they don't seem to care that they don't know as much about public policy or just the basic facts of, you know, how much does the government tax, how much does the government spend? What does the government spend money on? I've seen more than one poll that shows people believe that 20 percent of government spending goes to foreign aid.

20 percent. It's actually one percent. But of course if you believe a huge percentage of government spending is going to just giveaways to foreigners then why not cut taxes and slash spending? It's not coming out of anything that matters to you. People have to be given the factual information they need to make decisions. And they're not getting it. And they may not even want it.

BILL MOYERS: I just read a summary of a study done at the University of Michigan that over a period of time shows that people have confronted with facts they believe to be true will reject them nonetheless if they offend or undermine their belief system. That their beliefs -- our beliefs are more important to us than the facts.

BRUCE BARTLETT: Oh, I think we need some -- instead of talking to economists like me, we need to be talking to psychologists and sociologists to try to get at the root of this problem.

BILL MOYERS: You wrote in the "Washington Post," "The growing inequality of wealth and income distribution is both a moral and economic problem." How do you see it as a moral problem?

BRUCE BARTLETT: Well, I think it's wrong to have people with such extraordinary wealth that pass it down from one generation to another, with people not having to work for a living, being able to have control perhaps over government. Clearly wealth and power are interrelated at least to some extent. And, of course you see members of both parties now going hat in hand to the exact same group of people on Wall Street.

And it's naïve to think that they're not getting something for their contributions. I don't think it means that politicians are being bought. But when the class of people that they spend all of their time with, talking to and so on, they're bound to pick up part of their point of view, their attitude. And, of course, many politicians these days hope to be able to join those groups of people.

BILL MOYERS: When they leave office--

BRUCE BARTLETT: When they leave office, that's right.

BILL MOYERS: 300 former members of Congress are now lobbying in Washington.

BRUCE BARTLETT: Yes indeed. But it’s more, I don't know, class consciousness is the only word I can think of, but it doesn't really get quite at what I'm talking about. It's the community of shared interests.

But we have public policy problems. For example, we have a large budget deficit that many people, myself included, believe will require higher taxes to deal with at some point. But -- and so, if the wealthy don't contribute more, then the rest of us are going to have to contribute more.

If the wealthy are unwilling to pay more taxes, then this is going to lead to spending cuts. And if you put off the table things like national defense, then you're going to end up cutting more and more out of programs that aid the poor. So, I think there are consequences to this idea that tolerance for inequality requires us to -- to just do nothing to make the wealthy contribute a higher share of resources to fund the government.

BILL MOYERS: Here's some data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Let me see what you think about this.

Between 1979 and 2007, about 30 years there, roughly 40 percent of all income growth, post-tax, post-benefit, accrued to the upper one percent. And in just the five years between 2002 and 2007, over half went to the top one percent. What do you make of that?

BRUCE BARTLETT: It's extraordinary. But I think it's even worse than the data show because if you disaggregate the one percent, you find out that the vast bulk of the gains made by the one percent were by the top 0.1 percent. So -- and this also makes another point, which is that if you ignore the top one percent, the increase in inequality is not that great.

The income classes of the bottom 99 percent have moved more or less together. It's the top one percent that has just skyrocketed up out of proportion to everybody else. So, in other words, there's a huge difference between being in the ninety-eighth percentile and being in the ninety-ninth percentile. And it's important not to lump in people who merely make, you know, a couple hundred thousand dollars a year with people who are making millions upon millions, and even billions of dollars a year.

And that's something that I think is not -- doesn't always come through in the context of the debate. We're talking about a really small number of people, in the hundreds, who have really acquired a huge outsized share of all of the gains that this country has made in terms of income and wealth over the last few years.

BILL MOYERS: More than any other group, the tax rates for the wealthiest Americans have been coming down these last 30 years. This couldn't have happened without a bipartisan consensus that it's a good thing.


BILL MOYERS: How did that happen?

BRUCE BARTLETT: Clearly, ideology has a great deal to do with it. The conservative side of our political spectrum has had an outsized voice over the last few years. I think especially since the establishment of Fox News, which has created an echo chamber in which people just hear the same ideas repeated ad infinitum.

And you know, it's just basic advertising, basically. You hear the same idea over and over again. Or you can call it propaganda if you like. It's broadly believed and people just keep saying these things all the time, that ‘Rich people create jobs.’ ‘Yes, rich people create jobs.’ ‘They're motivated primarily by taxation.’ ‘Yes, they're motivated by taxation.’ ‘We must cut their taxes.’ ‘Yes, we must cut their taxes.’

BILL MOYERS: Becomes a mantra.

BRUCE BARTLETT: That's right. Year after year after year of people watching Fox News and listening to talk radio, had conditioned them in advance to believe that the government is responsible for all of our problems.

BILL MOYERS: Your old boss, Ronald Reagan, said government is the problem, not the solution. And Bill Clinton, Democrat, echoed that refrain when he was in office.

BRUCE BARTLETT: One idea that a friend of mine, Mike Lofgren came up with, is that the conservative side of this political spectrum hates government, per se. And it's in their interest to make it be ineffective. And so, they'll cut the budget, for example, for a regulatory agency such as the Securities and Exchange Commission.

And then, when some problem arises on Wall Street, they will then say, ‘Ha-ha, this proves that the SEC doesn't work.’ And this will justify further cuts in the agency's budget, so that everything that they do reinforces their basic ideology, which is that government is the source of all of our problems. Government doesn't work. And then they make sure that it doesn't work by cutting its budget and tying its hands so that everything is a race to the bottom and it didn't use to be that way.

I think coming out of World War II in particular, people had a much more positive attitude towards government. It was something that was capable of doing good. And, of course, that led to the creation of many programs, to aid the poor and the middle class. Housing programs, things of that sort.

BILL MOYERS: But if it's true that in some profound way Washington, the government, has made the rich richer, and turned its back on the middle class, you can hardly blame Tea Partiers and others for saying, ‘Why should I be taxed more for the government? The government's working for them. It's not working for me.’ Isn't that dynamic working out here?

BRUCE BARTLETT: I think so. I mean, certainly the Occupy Wall Street group has some similarities with the Tea Party group in that regard. And I've always thought that a lot of these Tea Party people could easily switch sides, like, overnight depending on the circumstances. For example it's obvious that a lot of Tea Party members tend to be elderly. You've seen that famous sign, "Tell the government to keep its hands off my Medicare." And I think as long as the government does keep its hands off their Medicare, they're fine with talking about low taxes.

But once they start to realize that the Republicans really do want to not just cut Medicare, but essentially abolish it, you know, I just think those people are not going to be part of the Tea Party. They're going to be over with the Occupy Wall Street.

BILL MOYERS: Bruce Bartlett, thank you very much for sharing this time with us.


BILL MOYERS: Watching what’s happening to our democracy is like watching the cruise ship Costa Concordia founder and slowly sink into the sea off the coast of Italy. The passengers, shorn of life vests, scramble for safety as best they can, while the captain trips and falls conveniently into a waiting life boat.

Here at home we are drowning, with gaping holes torn into the hull of the ship of state from charges detonated by the owners and manipulators of capital. Their wealth has become a demonic force in politics. Nothing can stop them. Not the law, which is written to accommodate them. Not scrutiny they have no shame. Not a decent respect for the welfare of others. The people without means, whose safety net has been shredded, leaving them helpless before events beyond their control, like those passengers on that ship.

The obstacles facing the millennial generation for example didn’t just happen. An economy skewed to the top, low wages and missing jobs, predatory interest on college loans. These are consequences of government politically engineered by and for the one percent. So is our tax code, the product of money and politics of influence and favoritism, of lobbyists and the laws they draft for politicians to enact.

So here’s what we’re up against. Read it and weep: “America’s Plutocrats Play the Political Ponies.” That’s from something called “Too Much,” an internet publication from the Institute for Policy Studies that describes itself as “an online weekly on excess and inequality.” Yes, the results are in and our elections have replaced horse racing as the sport of kings. Only these kings aren’t your everyday poobahs and potentates. These kings are multi-billionaires, corporate moguls who by the divine right -- not of God, but of the United States Supreme Court and its Citizens United Decision -- are now buying politicians like so much pricey horseflesh. All that money pouring into SuperPACs, much of it from secret sources: merely an investment, in the best government money can buy, should their horse pay off in November. All this can numb the soul, and chill the ardor of the most devoted citizen, who's exposed to the buying and selling of our democratic birthright. But there is an antidote, on our website We will link you to a vision of hope.

Sara Robinson, a senior editor of, has written an essay entitled “New Rules for Radicals: Ten Ways to Spark Change in a Post-Occupy World.” Check it out. My hunch is you’ll cease to weep over our sinking ship of state, and start working to repair it.

Coming up on Moyers & Company, Rita Dove and the poems that tell the story of America.

RITA DOVE: Suddenly there were these voices that came out, ordinary, town folk voices. And what he says in this poem is that, where are those voices. Do they disappear? Do they disappear when we shut the book?

BILL MOYERS: On our website,, you can find out more about the Millennial generation and hear directly from some of the young people who are struggling against economic inequality. That’s all at

See you there. And see you here, next time.

Watch By Segment

Economic Malpractice and the Millennials

February 10, 2012

There are 80-plus million Americans today who were born roughly between 1978 and 2000, and they’re getting hit hard by economic circumstances created over the past 30 years. The Millennials are the first generation of Americans who cannot count on doing better than their parents. Many Millennials are working longer hours, and have seen their earnings decrease.  Meanwhile, their personal debt has increased over the last four years to the point where they face unrelenting payments on interest for money they borrowed for college or just to stay above water.

How have these realities affected their outlook? And how will it impact Barack Obama’s future? Millennials turned out for him by huge margins in 2008, but their enthusiasm has waned. On this week’s Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers talks with a Millennial who has dedicated herself to tackling these issues. At 31, Heather McGhee directs the Washington office of the research and advocacy group Demos, and is fighting for financial reforms and consumer protection.

“Our generation is the most diverse generation in American history… But we are also the generation that is experiencing record inequality — inequality in our economy and inequality in our democracy,” McGhee tells Moyers. “We need to become a very politically-engaged generation.”

In the same broadcast, Moyers talks with conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, who wrote “the bible” for the Reagan Revolution, worked on domestic policy for the Reagan White House, and served as a top treasury official under the first President Bush. Now he’s a heretic in the conservative circles where he once was a star.

Bartlett argues that right-wing tax policies — pushed in part by Grover Norquist and Tea Party activists — are destroying the country’s economic foundation. When he called George W. Bush out as “a pretend conservative” in his book Impostor: Why George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, Bartlett was fired from his position as a senior fellow at a conservative think tank. His new book is The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform — Why We Need It and What It Will Take.

Bill Recommends:

Too Much: America’s Plutocrats Play the Political Ponies

Alternet: New Rules for Radicals: Ten Ways to Spark Change in a Post-Occupy World



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  • Anonymous

    Wow.  Another blockbuster episode.  If I’d been as articulate at 31 as  Heather McGhee, I’d be rich today.  But not Heather; she’ll still be paying off her student loans when she’s my age (which is advanced!).

    Bruce Bartlett articulated something that as a Canadian I’ve never been able to fully understand until now, namely the infantile American resistance to taxation.  It’s an infantilization that has slowly been spreading to Canada since the signing of our free trade agreement with the US and the lurch to the right by our Liberal party (which is now not even the Official Opposition). 

    Bartlett mentioned his “friend, Mike Lofgren.”  I am almost ashamed to admit that it was only yesterday that I read Lofgren’s long exposé of the Republican party’s descent into madness.  It was published in September of last year at TruthOut.  I don’t know how I missed it, but it’s one of the best analyses of the dysfunctional Congress.  Lofgren would make a splendid guest for Bill Moyers.  In case, like me, there’s somebody out there in Americaland who hasn’t read it, here’s the URL:

  • Anonymous

    Heather really did an excellent job considering her age.  As an American, I’m proud of her accomplishments so far.

    Bartlett was really an excellent interview as well.  It’s so refreshing hearing from a responsible balanced conservative just like I remember hearing from 30 years ago.  He’s was really excellent at standing up for properly considered conservative principles while taking to task right wing extremists who have tarnished the GOP.  I just told friends As a moderate liberal, I’d definitely shake his hand, buy him lunch, and enjoy a good chat about each of our ideals.  I know we’d come to a meeting of minds, precisely like we so desperately need in government right now.

  • TJ

    Alright Moyers! Another hit out of the ballpark (not the Yankee’s stadium, though, of course). Way to get the expert on and have him deliver the truth! Moyers is the best there is on television.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, you mean there still are living Canadians?  The GOP told us you were all dying from your socialist health care system.  :-)

    Actually I drove up through Alberta to Banff and on to Jasper.  Hadn’t done that since I was a kid 40+ years ago.  The GOP had assured me that I would find dead Canadians all along the side of the road everywhere I went.  There wasn’t a single one. I was shocked.  :-)

  • Selina

    Bill Moyers – Thank you for having both your guests. Both have heart AND brains. Both are clearheaded and down to earth. The FACT of them gives me hope.They are lights.

  • bystander.again bystander

    Bruce Bartlett, David Stockman, Gretchen Morgenson… the parade of Republicans needing rehabilitation continues on Moyers and Friends.  I value these Republicans who have been shunned by their tribe for running counter to the prevailing conservative  ideology.  But I’m having trouble seeing how any of them are offering much, if any, counterpoint to the prevailing neo-liberal ideology, which is the ideology of bipartisan consensus, and the ideology that gave us this economic meltdown.   While current reactionary and Tea Party  conservatism would take us to the abyss, it is neo-liberal economics that has brought us to our knees.  Each of these guests has given the impression that we can tinker at the margins of this free-market ideology to make it better, without going to the heart of why this ideology would inevitably had led us to exactly where we are!  You can’t solve a problem on the level where it was created.

    If you announce David Frum as your next guest, I’ll toss my hands heavenward… and/or, conclude that there is no Democrat, liberal or otherwise, who is willing to come onto your program to talk about our Winner Take All Economy.  I’m having a real hard time imagining that Jamie Galbraith, William Black, Yves Smith, and others have nothing to contribute to this discussion.

    BTW, nice dodge on Bartlett’s part about his affiliation with Reagan’s “Government is the problem, not the solution.”

    Bartlett’s book The Benefit and The Burden was favorably reviewed at Firedog Lake on January 29th; James Galbraith moderating.  Bruce’s own tax reform solution is a Value Added Tax.

  • Notsifancyfarm

    And what if we learn to do more with less? The econmy would trickle no where. Maybe we would see affordale houses affordable cars. There is power in not spending too. Just a thought.

  • Richard VanMetter

    Thank you! You are a jewel. Two more excellent interviews that I treasure.

  • Lindacreates

    I need the Bill Moyers special on the National Defense Authorization Act signed recently by Obama.

  • Lindacreates

    Please find Bill Moyers show on Ntnl. Defense Authorization Act being signed by Pres. Obama.  Thanks

  • Julie

    When you left PBS, I was despondent until I heard you were coming back in another form in another life. We will never allow you to retire now, so don’t even think about it. You provide the most valuable insights into our struggling world of all people on planet earth. Go Moyers go!

  • Anonymous

    Excellent commentary.

    “I honestly don’t know where [Tea Party money is] coming from”.

    I lost count of the times Bartlett strained credulity (of course, I was getting pretty disgusted along the way.) And poor Heather McGhee, she daren’t pin down the the national sin.

    Invite Richard Wolff, Michael Hudson, Dave McNally,  … Oh, never mind. Guess I’ll have to take a few shots before I watch.

  • Anonymous

    The student loan debt is a one trillion dollar problem and
    will be the next shoe to drop on our economic malaise. There is no way that someone
    coming out of college can afford to pay back the loans of $25,000 to $70,000
    with a Bachelors degree. Then to top it off with 18% interest is just
    unconscionable. When confronted with this insurmountable debt, and the reality
    of what they will face for years to come, the only way to deal with the debt is
    to walk away from it.


    How does a young student look at the cost benefit analysis
    of attending college knowing that they will face twenty or more years to pay
    back the debt incurred while their friends who decided not to go to college
    make better money then they do after you subtract the debt. It’s a recipe for
    driving America
    to the bottom of the educated world.

  • Twinks

    Its about time thanks Moyer.  I’m new to your show and I enjoyed every minute of it.  I have set my DVR to record upcoming shows.  You seem to be a very fair and honest individual.  I am  the working poor – and I need to wake up like everyone else.   My adult children are both working but are financial unable to move out and provide a living on their own with their low paying jobs.  

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Bill, for coming back when we really need your help and inspiration!

  • by definition

    OMG Bill, what a superb show. The Bartlett interview was a treasure. Love that commentary, your understated passion has me clawing my eyes out.

    One thing that comes to my mind is the “redistribution of wealth” in America. Government, through taxes, is hardly the only entity that redistributes wealth. Corporations, who collect even larger sums of money from citizens and government — in exchange for the products they sell, also redistribute wealth.

    Need I say more? The way corporations redistribute wealth in America, with astronomical levels of CEO and executive pay, and low levels of worker pay — or the leveraging tool of outsourcing — is the 1 percent’s way of redistribution of wealth.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for your very thoughtful show. Please keep up these stories. I am afraid our democracy may very well depend on it. The times are troubling. There seems to be so little that we, the 99%, can do about it other than watch the prosperity and values of this wonderful nation slip through our hands.  

  • Anonymous

    While there admittedly are gross inequities and a corrupted political
    system, there is a very false presumption that successive generations deserve
    to do better than their predecessors.   
    What barely anyone is willing to accept is that it is an impossibility
    that more and more people can continue to consume more and more goods and services
    into the indefinite future.   Garrett
    Hardin called this “The Cornucopia Fallacy”.  
    Notwithstanding that the Planet is on the verge of ecological collapse
    because we have used it up, foundering countries like Greece are pointing the
    way for where we are collectively headed if we do not give up our collective sense
    of entitlement.

  • feetheweasel

    Last nights program was informative for sure, but I continue to be disappointed that the news media and commentators including Mr. Moyers avoid the obvisous fix for everything in Washington…that being a Consititutional Amendment redefining corporations and eliminating lobbying and corporate/unions/pac/spacs from electoral contributions. After Citizens United an amendment is the only option. If you cant pull a lever in a voting booth, you shouldnt be allowed to influence our elections or law making. Thats democracy of the people. This easily passed amendment would end the partisanship in Washington, and replace it with a willingness to do whats best for the country as a whole. The program was quick to point out the divide in the country but the media today fails to scream out the fix….and trust me when i say this is the only fix, anything short and I have the same feeling as Mr. Bartlett and Ms. McGhee.
    Outlook Negative!!!

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Moyers,

    A recurring theme on your shows has been how both Reps and Dems have colluded to produce the mess we are in – so when are you going to do a show on the alternatives to them? I have a great person you can start with – she will make for a great show! 


  • Lewis2064

    The three perceptive, visionaries on this show . . Heather, Brad, and Bill . . why aren’t they in the top echelons of government?  Or at least top advisors?  Barack, are you listening?!?  Of course not.  He’s too busy running for office and is incredibly Out Of the Loop!  Insulated.  Would the three visionaries get sucked into the Beltway $urvival Cycle like every other DC politician, except maybe people like our Peter DeFazio?

  • Anonymous

    Leaders here are incapable of making that argument. Jimmy Carter tried it and was sabotaged.

    Basically what has happened is that the managerial segment of the population has sacrificed everyone else in awareness of the limitation you cite. We are in their endgame.

    That is why you don’t hear this on the BM show. It would incite class conflict. So you get widening inequality, hypocrisy, and silence.

    Maybe you agree with their strategy?

  • FranG

     Canada, please stay as sweet as you are. We need your shining example above us.

  • FranG

    Thanks. We needed a little humor.

  • Anonymous

     Here’s where Bill talks about such a constitutional amendment you recommend. It may cure your disappointment:

  • The Do Good Gauge

    Heather McGhee declares America’s  first priority as cleaning up Washington in the introduction  of this weeks episode of Bill Moyer and Company. 

    I would say solving the problem of civic apathy requires a higher priority.   Greed is not just a problem of politicians and Wall Street.  It’s a sin of society. 

    The idea that to make a man work you’ve got to hold gold in front of his
    eyes is a growth, not an axiom. We’ve done that for so long that we’ve
    forgotten there’s any other way.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald

    The progression of technology has been for the betterment of self at the expense of community.   The media is a one way channel of communication from the few to the individual.  Technology must evolve for the betterment of society.   A new technology needs to bring visibility to social problems, gather motivation, and encourage civil respect to build solutions with broader appeal.

    It’s time for a new media allowing each citizen to share a personal story. 

    When a story is told, it is not forgotten. It becomes something else, a memory of who we were, the hope of what we can become.Sara’s Key

  • Rex Styzens

    Great point.  Today, “doing better than your parents” can mean “slashing the rate of global warming.”

    I went to sleep happy last night that Moyers is back, only wishing everyone in the U.S. would have heard last night’s interviews.

  • Norskenelson

    The pro big govt; pro high taxes & racism practiced by the right   & Fox (not msnbc or cnn) is what you feel is america today.  Moyers your liberal views were not miss on PBS..Ops its an election year & you need to do the liberal bidding.  Bartlett stated as fact that conservative want to abolish medicare?????Where or from who did he get that info..Stopping 20% waste & fraud .. YES.. your biased point of view is apparent with all the postings..
    Bartlett stated that if conservative media repeats something enough it becomes fact… How about MM & your show.. OPS that cannot be.. John Corzine it a poster child of what’s wrong with Washington.. OPS he a liberal.. we’ll not hear about him on you programs.  Repeal of Glass/Seagell & unregulated commodoties fund all happened with Sumner; Bobert Rubin; Chris Dodd; & Allen Greenspan.. thus our collapse financially.. To heap everything on the conservatives is what liberals do best other than calling them racist.. We must not oppose any of Obama’s misguided policies.. Obama criticized Bush seemingly at every opportunity & no liberal called him a racists.. Ops only whites can  be racist … what a sick party.  I’m an Independent but when watch & read about this program it drives me to watch Fox.. Moyers it took allot of guts to come down on Fox only.. Question… ??? Who will be the next Dan Rather & boss during this election cycle… How could I bring that up… Well that is MM.  I miss the self admitted democrat Tim Russett.. He was the last of a dead breed

  • Donnageiger

    But don’t forget — many millenials’s are in debt that they willingly undertook in the belief a job would be forthcoming to enable that debt to be paid off…just as many homeowners thought their property would increase in value so that debt could be paid off….that optimism has been dealt a very serious blow and in the end what we have is a completely discredited system that requires serious modification…if not replacement.

  • Anonymous

    The implicit “promise” was a trap. I say this not as condemnation; education should be publicly funded. The debt imposed is rather a chain to be yanked when they get unruly.

  • Donnageiger

    I think Bartlett makes a provocative comment about Medicare and the Tea Party….the problem is Medicare does need reform as we continue to spend such a large percentage of the total on end of life care …. and more and more people are living into their 9th decades…the attack will have to come against corporate medicine in order to bring the Tea Partiers in.

  • Edgar

    This is a very discerning show.  You’ll find me among your regular viewers!

  • Jharring60

    Loving this program.  Learning more and more with every episode.  Thank you for taking the time to give us information to make informed decisions.  I have always been very skeptical of the “spin” and propaganda.    I hate to admit it, but by burying my head in the sand its made me ignorant.
    I do not feel aligned with either political party, discouraged with both more and more with each election. I struggle with the idealogies of both parties and do not trust either of them.  I am afraid of what the future holds for my children, now in their early 20’s.  I have played by the rules for all these years and do not see the golden future I was promised.  I do not mind paying my fair share of taxes, but I expect everyone else to do the same. 
    I may be naive, but there are a few things I question. 
    Why isnt’ there a flat tax?
    If you want to contribute financially to the elections, you should contribute to a fund, then the fund gets distributed evenly between all canidates.  Super Pacs should be illegal.
    Why is the interest rate on student loans so high when even mortgage rates are at historic lows?

    Thank you again for enlightening us.

  • Don Quackenbush
  • Judy Phillips

    Ah, you are so welcome in my home.  I did not think you would retire permanently…you knew we need you as well
    as Charlie Rose.

  • Judy Smith Phillips

    Welcome back into my home.  I missed you.

    Your friend, Charlie Rose, helped me cope without you.
    It was not easy.

  • Anonymous

    Bill Moyers is a sanctimonious jerk who piously ran a series of broadcasts that excoriated the Bush Administration for violating the American people’s right to privacy by initiating programs to protect the nation from a terrorist attack.

    Now it turns out that Moyers likes peeping through keyholes into people’s bedrooms. The Washington Post reports on the unearthing of some FBI documents from the 1960’s when Moyers worked for LBJ:

        Bill Moyers, a White House aide now best known as a liberal television commentator, is described in the records as seeking information on the sexual preferences of White House staff members. Moyers said by e-mail yesterday that his memory is unclear after so many years but that he may have been simply looking for details of allegations first brought to the president by Hoover.

    No, he wasn’t “just looking for details of allegations.” That is a baldfaced lie. From The Corner:

        Only a few weeks before the 1964 election, a powerful presidential assistant, Walter Jenkins, was arrested in a men’s room in Washington. Evidently, the president was concerned that Barry Goldwater would use that against him in the election. Another assistant, Bill Moyers, was tasked to direct Hoover to do an investigation of Goldwater’s staff to find similar evidence of homosexual activity. Mr. Moyers’ memo to the FBI was in one of the files.

    Gay Patriot (who gets the Hat Tip for the links) asks: “Isn’t using the FBI to dig up dirt on political opponents kind of similar to what Nixon did in Watergate?  There’s even a memo in the FBI files.”

    But this isn’t really news. It came out in 2005 but never caused a ripple of concern among our guardians of gay rights. If a Republican had tried something like that he would have been handed his manhood on a plate. Instead, Moyers is celebrated for his courage in speaking truth to power — even though when it comes to violating privacy rights, he has the inside track on knowledge of how to go about doing it.

    So where are the gay rights activists who would crucify a Republican if they outed a Democrat? John Avarosis at Americablog was involved in an effort a few years ago to out gay Republican Congressmen and staffers. Where is his outrage today? Where is the outrage of the rest of the left who get their panties in a twist every time a Republican mentions “gay marriage?”

    Where’s the outrage of the media? Why not drive this hypocritical Johnson toady out of broadcasting? If not for this, then certainly for the fact that he sicced the FBI on Martin Luther King among other targets. Tom Lifson covered this story when it surfaced again during the campaign. He links to a comment by journalist Thomas Lipscomb on Moyers’ website and quotes Morley Safer on Moyers’ hyopcrisy:

        I find it hard to believe that Bill Moyers would engage in character assassination over one evening news broadcast — even given the political imperatives of the moment. But I confess, I find it harder not to believe it.

        His part in Lyndon Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover’s bugging of Martin Luther King’s private life, the leaks to the press and diplomatic corps, the surveillance of civil rights groups at the 1964 Democratic Convention, and his request for damaging information from Hoover on members of the Goldwater campaign suggest he was not only a good soldier but a gleeful retainer feeding the appetites of Lyndon Johnson.

        It’s all too confusing. Bill Moyers, the sometimes overly pious public defender of liberal virtue, the First Amendment, and the rights of miniorities playing the role of Iago.”

  • scottduke

    what a wonderful, WONDERFUL speaker Heather McGhee is.  she is inspirational and i hope that one day after my education, i will be able to provide the strong and compassionate presence that i see in her.  thank you Bill!  thank you! 

  • Anonymous

    There’s always (repeating: always) one chicken that enthusiastically supports KFC.

  • Jonathan Miller

    Perfect, McGhee says the solution to her generation’s massive student loan debt is to have the taxpayers foot the bill. At no point did I hear her address the issue of why  colleges are able to raise tuition many times the rate of inflation. Seems the “fat cats” in academia are exempt from such scrutiny. Oh, I forgot, it must be George Bush’s fault somehow. Alright Bill, you’re veering off to the left again – more familiar territory?

  • Robbielamons

    Doing better does not mean consuming more!  It means being better educated, being better at solving problems, from were to put your garbage to global climate change, and as in Bhutan, “Gross National Happiness”.

  • Anonymous

    Phew! Just watching you do those mental somersaults makes me tired.

    The left is on the side of “fat cats” in academia? Sounds like you need an intervention, comrade. And maybe less Faux news.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Mr Moyers  for the excellent journalism! 
    Would that all members of the media had your integrity. 

  • Connie Johnson

    I love being able to read the transcript while watching online. I have recommended this show to everyone I know.

  • Lavigner

    I really enjoyed Heather but I thing that if the wages were a real living wage we would have been able to afford schooling and health care ins. and many other things but like she said keep the wealth at the top was bull..And as for  Bruce he never mentioned the cost of the PENTAGON to the Americana people at the tone of about$625 BILLION a YEAR so you see that it is not medicare or medicaid this is the BIG problem in the world today half truths .. The web page is check it out   Roger 

  • Debi Mazor

    Thank god you’re back on TV! I shunned Meet the Press this morning, so I’m glad to find out your show is on in the evening as well.  Both your guests made some “right on” points. I took out my first student loan in 1967 and racked up $20K in loans over my academic career.  Took me 20 years to pay it back. Until I did, I couldn’t even think of buying a house.  That loan was a mortgage on my life  and an albatross around my neck. I know of many others who have felt the same way.  Obama understands this.  Do we hear one word about it from anyone in the GOP? Nope.  Thanks for bringing it up.

  • Joseph B. Dolenz

    As usual your experts give clarity and perspective.  Heather McGee and Bruce Bartlett were extraordinary in putting  forth truths and solutions for our country’s betterment.  A copy should be available to our Congress to consider.  I would like you and them  to be my friends on face book.   Bernard Dolenz

  • Guest

    BOTH parties demolish wages with cheap labor, and it’s  very current issue.

    Just last week, Obama tried to increase tech guest workers while telling the wife of an unemployed semiconducter engineer ‘the word I’m getting, is that he shouldn’t be having any problem’ in a google ‘hangout’ chat.

    from “Obama’s H-1B answer in forum may haunt him” on the computerworld site

    The article refers to a letter from Senator Grassley to President Obama.  Part of it is copied below.  He sums it up pretty well.

    “I read with interest news reports about your Google Plus “hangout” on January 30th, specifically your conversation with Ms. Jennifer Wedel.  Ms. Wedel told of her husband’s personal struggle in trying to find employment despite the fact that he has an engineering degree and over ten years of experience.  She expressed concern that the government continues to distribute H-1B visas at a time of record unemployment.  I was surprised to learn that you responded to Ms. Wedel by saying “industry tells me that they don’t have enough highly skilled engineers.”  You also said that “the word we’re getting is that somebody in that kind of high-tech field, that kind of engineer, should be able to find something right away.”  You said there’s a huge demand for engineers across the country, with which Ms. Wedel seemed to take issue.  Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) would also suggest otherwise.  According to the BLS, the unemployment rate for electrical engineers rose 3.7% from 2006 to 2010.  Your response to Ms. Wedel leads me to believe that you don’t understand the plight of many unemployed high-skill Americans.  Mr. Wedel’s situation is all too common.  Thousands of qualified Americans remain out of work while companies are incentivized to import foreign workers.  I’m concerned that you’re hearing only one side of the story — from businesses who claim that there are better and brighter people abroad.  Despite your online chat and interest in investigating the problem, just last week, your administration proposed rules to “attract and retain highly skilled immigrants.”  The Department of Homeland Security will expand the eligibility for foreign students to stay in the U.S. under the Optional Practical Training program.  This program does not have U.S. worker protections, nor does it require that employers pay prevailing wages to these foreign students/employees.  Your administration will also provide work authorizations to spouses of H-1B visa holders, thus increasing the competition for many Americans who are looking for work.   It’s astonishing that, at this time of record unemployment, your administration’s solution is to grant more work authorizations to foreign workers.  These initiatives will do very little to boost our economy or increase our competitiveness.  ”

    Why is it that PBS seems to never cover this issue?

  • Rogel42

    Thanks for this program.  A topic I haven’t seen discussed is the role of computer analysis in the growth of financial interests, which I suspect is responsible for the enormous wealth of the 1% (or .1%)

  • Robinthebear

    The real problem with Heather McGhees asking us to deal with Washington is simple. That supposed level playing field is shattered and unable to be repaired. It has passed enough laws now that it doesnt NEED us. It will be able to do what it wants to do without change to anything.. It is an Entity unto itself now. Megalomanic, corrupt..and in control. THAT is our is this fairytale belief that somehow any of us can make any difference now is just not going to happen. AND..this belief has trickled down to all other forms of Government. State..Local..all are reading from this textbook now. We are at their mercy..not the other way around. They control our money…our military..our politicians..Welcome to fascism..pure and simple.

    And THEY have the police..and the Military at their disposal..least our protests become..too loud now.

    ONLY if….we devise a way to take our Governmoent back from them will this ever change now. I doubt it will tho. I doubt it ever will.
    But isnt that what you were saying on your sign-off?? I thought it was??

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Moyers… outstanding.  We should all celebrate fact-based discussions (Bartlett) as they have seemingly become a thing of the past!

  • Guest

    I think there is a view in our society, that if you are a white male, you can’t possibly face injustice or discrimination.  Corporations look at this view and say ‘party time’, knowing that they can go at white male tech workers with an economic meat cleaver, and count on silence from the so called ‘liberal’ media.

    Don’t believe me?  just google ‘PERM Fake youtube’ and see for yourself 

    key quotes:

    “Our goal is clearly NOT to find a qualified U.S. worker … our objective is to get this person a green card … so certainly we are not going to try to find a place where applicants would be most numerous.   ”
    If someone looks like they are very qualified, if necessary schedule an interview, go through the whole process to find a legal basis to disqualify them “Just ask yourself – would PBS have picked up this story, if they exact same process were used to exclude ‘African Americans”?

  • Anonymous

    It is extremely unfortunate, that last phrase of yours. First, PBS would be inclined not to pick up this story for another reason entirely. Second, it’s better to hammer on that point than ask rhetorical questions. Third, you muddied the waters with affirmative action, or reverse racism, or whatever your putative motive is.

  • Linda

    Thank you so so much … I’m 60 years old. Saw this coming back in the 70’s with Reagan California economics…so difficult to watch these interviews — even harder to watched “Tricke Down” eonomics bleed our American souls for so long.  So terrible to see what it’s done to so many I love.  I am so excited to make contact with Heather McGhee … and others … we can do it ! We can change things. This is America !!! This is our country. These are our children.

  • Joe Grimaldi

    Sounds to me we need a new Party of the people by the people and for the people.  Could be the cure for a mislead nation…..Can’t give up on America when it needs all Americans the most.  Several thousand years ago we were shown a way to make life work for all of us.  We screwed that up till now. because we have a second chance if we consider Humanity as our new direction…..It is a new World ahead!

  • Jgevans

    Bill, You gave Bruce Bartlett a free pass when he stated that the biggest part of the federal budget was Medicare and Social Security. No mention of the military budget which is the biggest part. And you did not challenge him!

    Social Security is a trust fund. Congress “borrows” from the fund and then puts the repayment obligation into the General Fund and relabels it as an “entitlement.”
    Social Security is not responsible for one dime of the federal budget deficit. Furthermore, the federal budget deficit is a false issue. Just ask a real economist like Paul Krugman.

  • Rose

    What is pleasure to listen to someone who is articulate and has well thought out ideas and ideals.  I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of the premises, but I am delighted to know that there are some millenials who can express and lead.

  • Caveman #3

    Bill, it’s great to see such balance on
    your show: A young lady who sincerely cares and with such a wise
    grasp at the dismal state we are in, to a soldier, from the man, who
    every other sentence a Republican is required to state – any critic
    who would argue differently about your balance is delusional and
    immune from any semblance of facts. I have 3 Millennial children and
    I’m truly scared for the cut throat world they’ll have to survive in.
    When we came down from the trees (and for our feverishly religious
    folk, just “hypothetically speaking”), we survived helping each
    other, not — Caveman 1: “…oh, look at Joe…isn’t that a Saber
    Tooth coming up from behind him?”. Caveman 2: “yeah, but don’t
    say anything, their will be more fruit on the tree for us.” It
    requires a Social Contract.

  • Eddie33147

    Bill, your show is truthful and informative. Everyone should watch it with an open mind and become educated on the facts. Happy to see you on TV once again!

  • Bear_truth

    Someone once said that a long memory is the most subversive thing on Earth.  Sorry, but I recall the theoreticians of  Reaganomics ( like Bartlett) suggesting three decades ago that our government was creating a society without ambition by “over-regulating” the competitive processes at work in the capitalistic marketplace.

    In counterpoint to these “trickle-down” wonks, Galbreath and other progressives — recalling a society saved from being torn asunder by Roosevelt’s alphabet soup — responded that we might descend into chaos if folks like Bartlett had their way.

    Those of us who REMEMBER this life and death debate draw cold comfort indeed from saying, “we told you so.”

  • Anonymous

    Is your TV still whole?

  • Denise Gant

    I’m thinking of an opportunity here. Sure, sure the details need to be
    worked out. But all opportunities start with an idea, Right? Since
    Corporations are ‘people’ they are legally bound by the same laws that
    people are bound by and can then be tried and found innocent/guilty by
    rule of law, sentenced, etc, etc…

  • Oblio

    I believe the only place where this young woman goes off course in her views is to assume that the spigot that got turned off just began with her generation.  This is not true.  The spigot got turned off in 1980 with the Reagan administration.  Everyone that followed, including myself, got screwed out of going to college.  I had a 4.0 GPA and never got to finish college because I could not afford the debt load.  I crunched the numbers and saw financial disaster coming in the form of a Depression, and with that in the future, I could not go into that much debt.  
    So I lived my life as a blue collar person and today I am doing better financially than most college grads.  College is not the golden key it is touted to be.  It is a farce.  It is a system to extract the backbone from our youth and force them into financial subjugation in order to earn a living, effectively turning the American working class into wage slaves.
    As a blue collar person I have personally saved 4 families from loosing their homes and have helped to keep their children in their neighborhoods, their schools, and their families in tact.  These were not relatives.  They were people I met along Life’s Highway.
    What have YOU done for others  And how much do YOU have in the saving account?  I have a grand total of $4,000. in the bank, but I am doing quite well.  I am still willing to help a friend in need.  Are YOU?
    The big joke of the Reagan “trickle down” neo liberal plan was that the rich who built this system KNEW they would be on top, pissing on the masses.  Hence their cruel nick name “trickle down”.
    We have turned our nation over to a bunch of fascists.  We need to take it back.  And we can’t do that if we keep dividing ourselves into “this generation” or “that generation”.  We need to speak of ourselves as “Americans”.  Young and old, colored or not.  We are all Americans and we are all in this mess together.  We need to stick together to overcome this.

  • Denise Gant

     Actually, I think it better to allow the personhood.  That way, we can jail them for crimes against humanity and the planet, theft and bribery, etc…  A great way to recoup the loses we’ve incurred from spinlessly compliant representatives and put them in jail for the same crimes…  Just a thought.

  • Anonymous

    You have to give her credit in that she does not carry resentments on her sleeve. And, unlike you, I do think she has a a good case to. It was obvious where this was heading but most people just bored harder into speculation mania and planned to exit before the crash.

    A truly cynical generation(s) did precede hers. Their denial and guilt and desperation remain with us. You’ve done more than I, but I recognize too that this trauma should not be perpetuated in division.

    It would be nice to get a few tens of million apologies, however. And it might be good for them as well.

  • Anonymous

    In other episodes of this and other Moyers shows, he’s gone into detail about the issues you raise, and he takes the same stance that you do.

  • Sdetachment

    Dear Mr. Moyers,
    Again, thank you for giving us intelligent conversation that is balanced and fact-based!  I’m bringing this into the local church and connecting it to the mandate of the gospel.
    God bless,
    Scott Griffith

  • Kennith Clements

    Why do corporations push the limit on cost of products. Whatever happened to corporate responsability to the public. A fair price for a fair product. Not gaoge every penny they can out of thier wallets. I understand that they need to show a decent profit for the stockholders……but FAIR PROFIT is an HONEST PROFIT.        Ken Clements

  • Paradise8

    Bill Moyers, the individual as well as his programs (always on PBS),  is great and always has been. What a relief it was to hear Moyers & Company was on its way. And what great guests, and conversations with them, we’ve had to listen to. Even the comments are of such intelligence that I’ve never seen anything like it, anywhere. Bill Moyers is, IMHO, the best person to lead the Occupy Movement because he and his program is the most credible as for progressing reform of the socio-economic and political systems under which we all live. 

    As an aside, it irks me to no end to see the Koch brothers buying credibility with their support of science-type programming on PBS, and then using that credibility to further their right-wing agenda which can only further the retrograde, undemocratic, society which further enriches the .1 of 1% who now own us.

    In short, we should strive for Democratizing the Economy perhaps as much as, if not more than, trying to get more democracy in the political system. There are series of steps that should be taken – such as bringing back the Glass-Steagall Act, increasing taxes on the wealthiest of the wealthiest – and there’s nobody more able to direct the entire operation than the person who nows puts it all together on PBS: Bill Moyers. Mr. President, you ought to have Bill Moyers as one of your top advisors. If we are lucky, or much more likely good enough, to get you re-elected with a majority in congress you will have no excuse for not advancing a progressive agenda for the great benefit of American society in general. And once again, I nominate Bill Moyers to spearhead these changes that are critical to our survival as a people.

  • guest

    I thought it was a fair point.  Every year in February, PBS diligently reminds us that in 1960, blacks couldnt eat at a lunch counter at some parts of the country.  I was not alive in 1960, I didnt live in that part of the country, and I’ve never eaten at a woolworths lunch counter.

    But the blatent discrimination of the “PERM fake youtube” video happen in every single metro in the USA, including the metro area I live in, and it didnt happen 50 years ago, it’s happening right now.  It’s happened ever single year for at least the last 15 years, if not 20.

    So yes, I do feel it was ok to point this out, just as you feel an odd compulsion to critique everyone else’s posts, without really contributing anything of your own

  • Edie

    Hopefully, all the sane former conservatives,Stockman and Bartlett, will join forces with the occupy movement and amend the constitution to rid ourselves of Citizens United and money is speech and the plutocrats that are destroying our democracy.

  • by definition

    YES YES YES. If a foreign power fires missiles at the United States, thus destroying property, our government reacts so fast it makes your head spin. But if a foreign nation bombards us with immigrant workers (legal and otherwise) and outsourcing, thus threatening the economic life and wages of our citizens, the government and corporations welcome them with open arms. The govt is offering ZERO economic protection for workers.

    I am all in favor of cultural diversity. I love the people of the world. But outsourcing and immigration constitutes open economic warfare against the middle class, promulgated by business owners and the upper class.

    I am fed up with the pervasive anti-labor bias which permeates everything these days. Thanks for your posting.

  • Anonymous

    You realize, I hope, that racism had an economic basis. Your “discrimination” has an economic basis.

    You cannot conclude that your discrimination is racism, which it seems you are intent on. And the reason you are intent on this is because you dare not level the correct charge, which is that the economic system is unjust.

    That is your quandry.

    In addition, you seem to delegitimate southern racism in a bid to make your “discrimination” of this time and theirs of the past. That is very poor tactical rhetoric for which your concerns are easily demoted.

    I am in full agreement with you on the unjust exploit of law and lawmaking for attacks on labor. However, it is tactically stupid to claim it is racism in the manner you are doing because you open yourself up the charge of racism and discredit.

    Besides, it is obvious why PBS does not address this and it’s not “reverse racism”.

    I can see you are inclined to exaggerate in your indignation. I don’t blame you for the indignation. I think you should widen your critique, comrade.

  • Alanwald

    About 25 minutes into the program, Bill Moyers referred to U.S.  mail delivery as being tax supported.  Shame on Moyers for not knowing that the U.S. Postal Service has been 100 percent self-supporting since the Postal Reorganization Act of 1971.  Since then, not one penny of tax money has been used.

  • by definition

     Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking too. Military is the largest component of discretionary spending. And it’s astronomical and fully ensconced in it’s own culture of corruption and collusion. Maybe Bill was smart not to become confrontational with Bartlett, as Bartlett already has a number of superb things to say about the corrupt culture in Washington, and it would be counterproductive to make Bartlett clam up.

  • David

    Heather McGhee says, “We Millennials are the first generation not to do better than our parents.” The assumption here is that every generation has to have More Stuff, and certainly not Less. Why? The “Millennials” are living at an almost unimaginably opulent level compared to almost every civilization everywhere on earth in the whole of the world’s history. Why should they feel bereft if some of the opulence falls by the wayside? Suppose McGhee could say instead, “We Millennials will have less Stuff than our parents, and our kids will have less still. Cool! Let’s find out how much Stuff we really need in order to be fulfilled and happy.” Might there then be at least a remote chance at saving a world that is being physically destroyed by the grasping for more Stuff?

  • afan

    David, I think Heather is not referring to “stuff” necessarily, I think she’s referring to the fact that opportunities for our generation are far harder to pay for and pay off and that the gap between the “haves and have nots” has widened enormously. I agree with you that stuff doesn’t equal happiness.. she’s talking about the access to affordable opportunities that broaden not only young people’s minds, but their options as workers, citizens and people.

  • afan

    It is so refreshing and gives me a lot of hope to hear someone as articulate and compassionate as Ms. McGhee talk about the challenges my generation faces with such insight. 

    I will be following the organization she works for, Demos, after watching this. 

  • David

    Good points — I used “Stuff” loosely to refer to the kinds of things that take money to buy (your “affordable opportunities”). Heather seems to take for granted that not having more money to buy these things is bad: “Over our history until now,” she laments, “every generation as a whole has done better financially than the one before it.” Is not doing better financially the same as being unable to broaden our minds and options? Were people in earlier ages with a fraction of our buying power unable to broaden their minds? The increasingly outrageous gap between haves and have nots is a powerful point that needs addressing, but it should be considered separately from the question of whether we need to “do better financially” in order to flourish. No?

  • Anonymous

    No. It may be possible that in consumption reduction in the presence of an exploitative inequality a shift to “broadening minds and options” is possible. There are at least two reasons to think this is less likely than consumption reduction in relative equality. First, predatory competition will continue to reduce the resources for broadening minds. Second, broad minds and options are goods the predators desire.

    Obviously this is not determinative, but it surely should give everyone a reason to oppose this path (beyond the liberal’s greater concern with unfairness). So Heather was perfectly justified in this concern given the show addresses inequality and she did so diplomatically. 

    Selecting the best among the economically disadvantaged does not compensate for all the damage done the unselected for the benefit of the deceitful and corrupted.

  • si1

    Kennith – it was recently shown that the $13 billion in apple profit could be reduced by $1 billion or  – less than 10%  – and increase the wages of the chinese workers at foxconn from $1200 to $2300 a year or about 100%

    this is a race to the bottom worldwide until slavery is the standard everywhere

  • Nic Watkins

    Bruce was on target with his analogy of tea party beliefs to religious faith.

  • Kelley

    I watched both of these segments with amazement on Sunday, especially Heather McGhee.  There seemed to be no acceptance of the fact that there is a huge rupture in the fabric of this country, as well as the rest of the world, with regard to the fact that we are dealing with a global economy and things will never be the same again for the USA. 

    I believe that the faster we recognize this…the faster we can find a new normal that may be even better than the previous one…but certainly not the same.  It is also obvious that she has never run a business…it is so easy to talk about what business should be doing when you are not running one.  One thing I do know is that when it becomes too difficult to deal with employees and regulations…those of us who have worked 20 hours a day to support those working 8 hours a day…will simply not do it. 

     The reality is…you can’t go home again.

  • Guest

    you have an effete writing style

  • Anonymous

    No, you’re kind of dim.

  • Sagefeldemeyer

    You completely missed the point!  Our kids are saddled with an outrageous level of debt and no jobs to support them.  It is a crime how we’ve (politicians) have abandoned them.  They are supposed to be our future–our future debtors!

  • Paul Replogle

    I am so glad Mr. Moyers is back!

  • John

    Envision a
    bell shaped curve depicting the distributing of money and political power in
    the United States.  Skew the curve to the
    extreme left denoting Liberalism, The Democratic Party, Crony capitalism. Then
    skew the curve to the extreme right denoting Conservatism, The Republican Party,
    Free Market Capitalism.  If the result of
    either curve results in too much capital and political power in the hands of too
    few people the result is still socialism.

    From the day
    we are born to the day we die the quality of our lives is directly related to
    the level of risk we are willing to endure. 
    Depriving the individual the right to fail, not succeed, but to fail,
    deprives us the right to determine and control our own destiny.  

    During times
    predicated with fear and uncertainty people seem to seek out solutions that
    worked in the past, a comfort zone.  We
    cannot rely on the old forms of government programs, Roosevelt’s New Deal ,
    Johnson’s Great Society to rescue us from 
    our current conditions we voluntary through self-delusion took part in.   

    We cannot
    depend on government, especially the current administration to fix the problems
    they continue to foster. Regardless if the next or future administrations are Democratic
    or Republican with a Liberal or Conservative platform fundamentally nothing
    will change. Why you may ask?  All of
    them listen to the same leaders of the too big to fail banking industry.

    Since the
    60% control of this country’s GDP puts the banks with the cooperation of
    Congress in control of the country.  When
    the bell shaped curve is neither skewed left or right a mutual balance is
    achieved through proper regulation.

    Given the
    repeal of Glass Steagail Act by Congress at the insistence of the banking
    industry and the blessings of our leader, President Clinton, maybe we should
    take all our money out of the banks and Wall Street and see who is in control-a Monetary Revolution.

  • Anonymous

    Your definition of socialism does not agree with the dictionary’s. Socialization of private debt is not socialism.

    “with a Liberal or Conservative platform fundamentally nothingwill change.” Or rather, things will only get worse because neither Liberalism nor Conservatism can deal with the ecological or economic crisis.

    The dependency of both Liberalism and Conservatism on Capitalism means there is very little between them that can solve these crises which have been expected for a long time. In fact, this crisis is due to the inability of both to deal with the oncoming crisis and have only exacerbated it.

    A bank run will accomplish nothing but more draconian state intervention.

    “Risk the price for reward” is the 1%’s self-justification; risk is not the source of production, it is a measure supposedly used to allocate capital for the best average return, but it is mostly a fabrication used to justify profits.

  • Robert

    Historically the wealthy has always used pastoralism as a method to appease the workingman, depicting the rich as no-fun, can’t dance, a balding, boring bookworm; a
     ulcer prone neurotic, with a stiff expensive suits, more someone to pity than envy;  the poor were described as care free, democratic, sexually potent, wear what I like image,
    playing with a “its cool to be broke” attitude. The rich sold this garbage to the poor; the poor being so hungry ate it.

     “Some of the indigent among us die of scanty food is undoubtedly true”, a 1840’s unitarian pastor admitted,”but vastly more in this community die from eating too much than from eatin too little”-sound familiar? One hundred and sixty years later, times have not changed that much; compare your typical tv sitcom with this  Whig pastorialism in one of John Warland songs, who wrote campaign songs for Henry Clay:

      Song of the Manchester Factory Girl

          O sing me a song of the Factory girl
          So merry and glad and free
          The bloom on her cheeks, of health it speaks!
          O a happy ceature is she!

         She tends the loom, she watches the spindle,
         And cheerfully talketh away;
        Mid the din of wheels, her bright eyes kindle!
         And her bosom is ever gay
         —sadly, some of us are still filling our heads with this     propaganda

  • Adavisfaa

    You should contact Justin Draeger, President of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators to talk about student debt.  NASFAA is an association of financial aid administrators from across the country and as front-line with students, know the pain of debt and paying for college.

  • Joe

    Right, because now is the time to initiate new health care benefits, when Medicare and Medicaid are already breaking the bank.  Only a crazy person would want to pay reduced taxes.  Between income taxes, tolls, fees, real estate taxes, sales taxes, liquor taxes, cigarette taxes a disproportionate share of my income goes to taxes.  I make under $100k, to say I am crazy for thinking I pay over 50% to the government and for supporting limited government does not make me or any other tea party supporter insane.  And the thought that opposing viewpoints are insane does not evince a true desire to work together nor does it necessarily shine a glowing light on intelligence or grasp of reality of the proponent.

  • Get Out of the Way

    Love the show; so glad Bill is back.  Regarding Heather McGhee, however, I wish a better representative of the Millennials could have been a guest.  There is so much more to a discussion about Millennials than what was offered here.  

    For instance, the cause, as opposed to the effects, of the student debt crisis was not discussed.  Specifically, colleges and universities have been free to inflate the price of their educations because students are able to access student loans.  In the days of grants, education was literally a third of what it costs now.  Colleges and universities themselves must share a portion of the blame.  They have become bloated with tenured professors, and are institutions drunk on the debt they force upon their students.

    Also, the gravity of student debt situation should not be understated.  It is not just a question of misanthropic ‘occupiers’ refusing to pay their debt.  There is a very real danger here.  If you think that a few bad mortgages were the cause of the great recession, just wait until Wall Street realizes how truly “toxic” some of the students loans made to students really are.  Federal loans are made every day to students who “attend” for profit, online, “colleges” which offer degrees of little value, further offering no hope of social advancement.  Once that student is unable to pay back the loans for his degree, because employers know exactly what kind of degree it really is, that debt becomes a burden not just to that student, but on the rest of us as well.  As a minor reality check, just think what would happen if every dollar of student loan debt was called tomorrow.  If would make securitized mortgages look like treasury bonds.  

    Of course, Ms. McGhee was more interested in the “social compact” and other policy nonsense that I’m sure she learned well at Yale and Boalt.  The Millenials are facing, perhaps, greater challenges that the Gretest Generation, and those problems will not be solved by esoteric appeals yo poly-sci dogma.  

    What I really missed from the discussion is that there is a real sense of anger on the part of Millennials; generational anger.  As a Millennials, I was a sophomore in high school on the day of the Columbine massacre, and my first day of college was 9/11.  Every day since then has been a scramble to fight for every job, every admission, every hope for a better future which is consistently tempered by bad policy from Washington, bad rhetoric from both parties, and a persistent bad economy.  Millennials are angry that their futures are being squandered by a generation more concerned with doing battle over social issues on cable news then ensuring the welfare of our nation.  

    I look forward to the time when the values the Millennials hold are interposed on politics by virtue of our coming of age:  diversity; cooperation vs. competition; engagement; and self determination.  The message Ms. McGhee failed to report on behalf of the Millennials is simply this: get out of the way.  

  • Joe

    When the amount taken out is insufficient in the current year the tax is not functioning properly.  This tax has not functioned properly for years.  It is a drain on the economy because prior politicians spent the money.  It is broke, you can keep ignoring that but the payments will continue to consume a greater percentage of revenue.   Social Security has never been a trust fund.

  • James F Traynor

    Who should get out of the way?

  • Sandra Maura

    Echoing the viewer below: love the show and am so very glad Bill Moyers is back! 
    I think of him s as a great example of Buckminster Fuller’s vision of using television to educate millions without building expensive new infrastructure. Charlie Rose’s Brain Series, Journey of the Universe, Frontline, the Human Spark….so many others…) Bravo to PBS for their consistent intelligent programming and use of the medium. I would love to see more on the most up-to-date research on parenting so that parents can benefit from the expertise of experts without having to leave their homes (where they are providing child care!).

  • Meredith Small

    I have quoted Heather McGhee as saying that many students are paying about 18% for student loans.  What is her source for this data and are there many students paying this rate?  I can’t find any hard info.

  • Bill

    I didn’t get the impression that Heather was talking about millennials needing more stuff.  They just need the same opportunities we had.  When I got out of high school in ’62 I went to work in a lumber mill for a little above minimun wage.  Yet I could afford to live in a lower middle class home without a roommate.  I was also able to start working on a college degree at a community college that I paid for myself.  Try that today David. 

    The telling stastistic I heard was that the buying power of the minimum wage today is half of what it was in 1968.  Those kinds of facts are too often not considered is political disscussion.  I hear too much ideology and not enough evidence.

  • Tubadad

    I don’t think this is correct I believe mortgage debt can be discharged in bankruptcy.
    You know, I think the right solution would be for us to undo what Sallie
    Mae and other lenders got slipped into that terrible 2005 bankruptcy
    bill. Which is that private student loans and student loans are not
    dischargeable in bankruptcy. I mean, think about it, bankruptcy, which,
    you know, huge, multi-billion dollar corporations are– seem to be
    filing every day and move on, just as if nothing happened.

    And yet, regular, middle class families, the average American family,
    the two most important loans in their life, the two most onerous loans
    in their life, for education and for their primary residence, they can’t
    be relieved of in bankruptcy. Our bankruptcy code says to the American
    people, “You don’t have any second chance when it comes to those two
    major primary loans.” We’re just making people give up so early on,
    because it’s impossible to get out from under debt like that.

  • OMPohotsky

    We the self absorbed boomers and their proteges

  • P_lanus

    Dear Bill, thank you so much for having Heather McGee on your show–amazing young woman–and thank you for asking her the last question–Do what? My children are also her age, and my only hope at this time is to have my generation join theirs in re-installing the social contract in this country. First by voting out as many Republicans as possible, and supporting Pres. Obama. My second hope is that if he is re-elected, he will find the courage to do what I am sure he already knows is the right path for our country–I hope he will seize the opportunity to turn this country around, reversing so many of the bad policies of the past 40 years. I was so pleasantly surprised to hear her equating the Welfare Queens of the 80s to the middle class workers of today. Republicans function on fear, instilling fear and hate of anyone different than them. The more the Republicans talk and then act on their belief system in the open spaces of our country, the more Americans will hopefully see them as they really are. I hope Bruce Bartlett keeps on writing and talking, too! Perhaps some will begin to listen. Many thanks to you, Bill!

  • iww4ever

    Only thing I would say is Ms.McGee needs to anaylze her answer that more unions are the solution. Unions are at a point in this country to becoming irrelevant in politics due to dwindling numbers. As a former organizer for SEIU who was unfairly fired and now count myself as one of the unemployed, any organizer will tell you the best union busters are unions themselves. The public sector unions have created top- down structures where the “voice” in the workplace has been traded in for sweet heart deals between unions and the bosses. So, sadly, I think the unions that exist today are part of the problem. The best example is how Obama is not being held accountable for any of his lack of postive labor legislation or immigration reform by union dues that were the biggest contributors to his campaign. Another thing about electoral politics is Obama has let down my generation, leaving us with no trust in the electoral system that wants our votes. If Obama wanted to do something, he could. Bush did. Both of them.

  • Anonymous

    The reason why everything costs so much nowadays, particularly services largely geared towards the wealthier, is simply because “the greatest generation” spent their country into oblivion, even while bilking the rest of the world at the same time. There’s no conspiracy and no one else to blame. Ms McGhee, herself, seems to have advanced as a result of affirmative action and govt grants. And it appears that’s what she wants for everyone else. But if that approach had actually done the good it was supposed to, then we wouldn’t be seeing all the hand-wringing we are seeing now. The reason why college is at a premium can similarly have no rationale, except as a matter of status. But status doesn’t pay bills…unless it confers inequitable perquisites, which is, of course, why it is sought. That’s the reason why there’s more of a college debt problem now than mortgage problem. And there’s no darn reason why either should be discharged in bankruptcy when they are guaranteed by the taxpayers. It would seem those of her cohort are overwhelmingly for Ron Paul’s approach.

  • Anonymous

    The petitioner fails to note that in the exchange of promises for debt, the government backs the creditors. Thus  when creditors are at fault, it forces debtors to pay and taxpayers when the debtors are fictitious.

    This government service Dr. Paul sees as a cause when it is only a symptom of the decay of capitalism. Dr. Paul’s treatment would not be a cure.

  • Philgiralte

    Excellent program with forthright guests speaking in simple and easy to understand language. Highly recommended for all to watch. Excellent!!!

  • Astronautpolice

    Bill Moyers you are AMAZING! As a 26 year old highly disillusioned about what will come of this nation, your topics always speak in a real voice that ALL need to hear. Doing my best to spread the word. Thanks!