BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company.

PAUL PIERSON: I think a lot of people know that inequality has grown in the United States. But saying that inequality has grown doesn't begin to describe what's happened.

JACOB HACKER It's not the haves versus the have-nots. It's the have-it-alls versus the rest of Americans.


LINNEA PALMER PATON: This is supposed to be a government run by the people and if our voices don’t matter because we’re not wealthy, that’s really unacceptable and it’s dangerous.

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. This is pledge time for Public Television. The time we keep reminding viewers like you that you cannot find anywhere else the programs you see right here on this station. Case in point, the program you are about to see.

There is no issue more crucial this election year, then how we rebuild our economy to give every-day people a fair chance at a decent job and a decent living. We can’t do this as long as the rules of politics are written as they are now, so that the very rich get richer at the expense of everyone else.

Because this is the defining reality in America today, we’re giving you a second look at our series on how it came about. How it was made to happen by powerful players in Washington and on Wall Street.

BUD FOX: How much is enough Gordon?

BILL MOYERS: Hollywood saw it coming.

GORDON GEKKO: The richest one percent of this country owns half our country's wealth: five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows' idiot sons and what I do -- stock and real estate speculation. It's bullshit. You got 90 percent of the American people have little or no net worth. I create nothing; I own.

We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval; the price of a paper clip. We pull the rabbit out of the hat while everybody else sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now, you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy are you, Buddy?

BILL MOYERS: That, of course, was Michael Douglas as the wheeler-dealer Gordon Gekko, in the movie “Wall Street,” 25 years ago!

That little speech about the richest one percent and the demise of democracy proved to be prophetic. Flesh-and-blood Americans are living now every day with the consequences:

AMANDA GREUBEL: My name is Amanda Greubel. I am 32 years old, born and raised in Iowa. I've been married for ten years today to my high school sweetheart, Josh. He’s the High School Band Director in the same district where I am the Family Resource Center Director. We have a five-year old son Benen, and our second child on the way in December. Like a lot American families, we have a lot of debt - mortgage, two vehicles, and because we both have masters degrees, a lot of student loan debt.

BILL MOYERS: Amanda Greubel was invited to testify last summer at a Senate hearing on how Americans are coping in hard times. When the state cut funding for local school districts, Amanda Greubel and her husband feared they might lose their jobs. At the last minute, they were spared, although her salary was reduced by $10,000.

AMANDA GREUBEL: $10,000 might not seem like a lot to some people, but that loss of income required a complete financial, emotional and spiritual overhaul in our family. […] It means that even though I would rather shop at local grocers, I shop at WalMart for groceries because that's where the lowest prices are. Sometimes the grocery money runs out before the end of the month, and then we have to be creative with what's in the cupboard - and that was a fun challenge at first, but the novelty wears off after a while. […] This past spring our son was hospitalized for three days, resulting in $1000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses beyond what our insurance covered. Then a problem with our roof required $1500 in repairs. Even though we'd been setting aside money every month for emergencies like that, we still didn't have enough. And so we’ve spent the last few months catching up.

BILL MOYERS: She told the senators how the sour economy has affected her students and their parents.

AMANDA GREUBEL: If my family with two Master's degrees is struggling, you can imagine how bad it is for other people.

The past few years our school district has seen our percentage of students on free and reduced lunch increase steadily. In a community that has a reputation of being very well off, over 30 percent of our elementary level students qualified for that program this year. I’ve sat with parents as they’ve completed that eligibility application, and they cry tears of shame, and they say things like “I never thought I’d have to do this,” and “I’ve never needed this help before.” They worry that their neighbors will find out and that their kids will be embarrassed. And it’s my job to reassure them that reaching out for help when you need it is no problem – it’s not a shame, it’s not anything to be embarrassed about. […] I may have been called on to be the voice of struggling families today, but there are millions more out there who want and need to be heard by you. And I would ask that you not only listen, but that you then come back here and do something.

BILL MOYERS: Our once and future middle class is fading. Their share of the nation’s income is shrinking, while the share going to the top is growing. Wages are at an all-time low as a percentage of the economy, and chronic unemployment is at the highest level since the Great Depression, but the richest Americans now hold more wealth than at any time in modern history.

This gross inequality didn’t just happen. It was made to happen. It was politically engineered by powerful players in Washington and on Wall Street. You can read how they did it in this book, Winner-Take-All Politics, by two of the country’s top political scientists, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson.

They were drawn to a mystery every bit as puzzling as a crime drama: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.

Quote: “We wanted to know how our economy stopped working to provide prosperity and security for the broad middle class.” And that’s what you saw.

PAUL PIERSON: I think a lot of people know that inequality has grown in the United States. But saying that inequality has grown doesn't begin to describe what's happened. The metaphor that we had been using lately is if you imagine a ladder, with the rungs in the ladder, and you think, "Okay, well inequality's growing. So the rungs are getting further apart from each other."

That's not what's happened in the United States. What's happened in the United States is that the top one or two rungs have shot up, you know, into the stratosphere while all the other ones have stayed more or less in place. It's really astonishing how concentrated the gains of economic growth have been.

JACOB HACKER: You know, the startling statistic that we have in the book is that if you take all of the income gains from 1979 to 2007, so all the increased household income over that period, around 40 percent of those gains went to the top one percent. And if you look at the bottom 90 percent they had less than that combined.

And it is not just a one or two year story. I mean, we've seen a terrible economy over the last few years. And the last decade is now being called "The Lost Decade" because there was no growth in middle incomes, there was no, there was an increase in the share of Americans without health insurance, more people are poor. So there was a terrible ten years.

But we were actually looking at the last 30 years, and seeing that the middle class had only gotten ahead to the extent that it had because of families working more hours.

So this is a story that isn't just about those at the top doing much, much better. But is, also, we found, a story about those in the middle not getting ahead, often falling behind in important ways, failing to have the same kinds of opportunity and economic security that they once had.

BILL MOYERS: Let's take a look at just how dramatic the inequality is. You have a chart here. I'm not an astute reader of charts, but this one did hit me. What are you saying with that chart?

JACOB HACKER: It says how much did people at different points on the income ladder earn in 1979 and how much did they earn in 2006 after adjusting for inflation?

It exploded at the top. The line for the top one percent, it's hard to fit on the graph because it's so much out of proportion to the increases that occurred among other income groups including people who are just below the top one percent. So, that top one percent saw its real incomes increase by over 250 percent between 1979 and 2006. Yeah. Over 250 percent.

PAUL PIERSON: And actually, even this graph-- we couldn't find a graph that fully describes it because even this graph actually really understates the story. Because it—

BILL MOYERS: Understates it?

PAUL PIERSON: Understates it.

BILL MOYERS: I mean, this is pretty powerful. When I looked I thought it was a showstopper.

PAUL PIERSON: Okay, so well, if you really if you really want the showstopper you have to go one step further because that big increase is for the top one percent. But the real action is inside the top one percent. If you go to the top tenth of one percent or the top hundredth of one percent, you know, you would need a much bigger graph to show what's happening to incomes for that for that more select group. Because they've gone up much faster than have incomes for just your average top one percent kind of person.

BILL MOYERS: But we've all known for a long time that the rich were getting richer, and the middle class was barely holding its own. I mean, that was no mystery, right?

JACOB HACKER: Oh, it is. It's a mystery when you start to look beneath the familiar, common statement that inequality has grown. Because when you think about rising inequality, we think, "Oh, it's the haves versus the have-nots." That the top third of the income distribution, say, is pulling away from the bottom third.

And what we found is it's not the haves versus the have-nots. It's the have-it-alls versus the rest of Americans. And those have-it-alls, which are households in say the top one-tenth of one percent of the income distribution, the richest one-in-a-thousand households are truly living in an unparalleled age.

Since we've been keeping records on the incomes of the richest from tax statistics in the early 20th century, we never saw as large a share of national income going to the richest one-in-a-thousand households as we did just before the great recession.

Their share of national income quadrupled over this period, to the point where they were pulling down about one in eight dollars in our economy. One-in-a-thousand households pulling down about one in eight dollars in our economy before the great recession began.

BILL MOYERS: You set out to try to solve three mysteries: who done it, who created the circumstances and conditions for the creation of a winner-take-all economy. And your answer to that in one sentence is?

JACOB HACKER: American politics did it far more than we would have believed when we started this research. What government has done and not done and the politics that produced it is really at the heart of the rise of an economy that has showered huge riches on the very, very, very well off.

BILL MOYERS: It's the politics, stupid?


BILL MOYERS: How did they do it?

PAUL PIERSON: Through organized combat is the short answer.

BILL MOYERS: And why did they do it?

JACOB HACKER: Because they could. Because the transformation of political organization, the creation of a powerful, organized business community, the degree to which that was self-reinforcing within both parties has meant that politicians have found that they can on issue after issue cater to the interests of the very well off while either ignoring or only symbolically addressing many of the concerns that are felt by most Americans and get reelected and survive politically.

PAUL PIERSON: If you listen to many public officials over the over the last 20 or 30 years as they've started to recognize that inequality has grown, typically what they'll say is, this is a result just of economic change. It's a result of globalization changes in technology that have advantaged the educated at those with high skills at the expense of the uneducated.

And there, clearly, there is some truth to this story that education matters more in determining economic rewards. But the more we looked at this, the less satisfied we were with that explanation.

That it couldn't explain why the economic gains were so concentrated within a very small subset of the educated people in American society. I mean, 29 percent of Americans now have college degrees. But a much, much smaller percentage of Americans were benefiting from this economic transformation.

BILL MOYERS: Well, as you speak, I can hear all of those free-marketers out they say, "Come on, Piers-- come on Hacker it is the global economy. It's that cheap labor overseas. It's those high technology skills that you say are required, these deep forces that actually are beyond our control, and are making inevitable this division between the top and everyone else." Right? That's what they're saying as they listen to you right now.

JACOB HACKER: We think the story that’s told about how the global economy has shifted clearly matters. But that it doesn’t get to the sort of really powerful role that government played in adapting to this new environment and in changing the well-being of people in the middle and at the top.

PAUL PIERSON And again, we wouldn't want to say that the kinds of changes that they're talking about don't matter at all. But they still leave open for a country to decide how they're going to respond to those kinds of economic challenges.

And when you look at other affluent democracies that have also been exposed to these same kinds of pressures, who are actually more open -- smaller economies are often more open to the global economy than the United States is -- you don't see anything like the run-up in inequality, especially this very concentrated high-end inequality, in most of these other countries that you see in the United States. Which to us, really, was a very strong clue that we need to understand why the American response to globalization, to technological change has been different than the response of most other wealthy democracies.

JACOB HACKER: So it's one thing to say, "Oh, the rich are getting richer because we have this new global economy."

But how do you explain the fact that we've seen over this period where the rich have gotten richer the tax rates on the richest of the rich come dramatically down. You know, Warren Buffet now says that he thinks he's paying a lower tax rate than the people who work for him do.

PAUL PIERSON: The thing that got us going at the very beginning was the Bush tax cuts.

GEORGE W. BUSH: This tax relief plan is principled. We cut taxes for every income taxpayer. We target nobody in, we target nobody out. And tax relief is now on the way. Today is a great day for America.

PAUL PIERSON: The Bush tax cuts in a lot of ways were written like a subprime mortgage. You know, they were designed to make people see certain things, and not see a lot of the fine print.

JACOB HACKER: Fully 30 to 40 percent of the benefits were going to the very top, of the income distribution. The top one percent. And when you broke it down, it was really the top one-tenth of one percent that did so well because of the estate tax changes, and because of the changes in the top tax rates, the changes in the capital gains taxes. And if you go to 2003, changes in the dividend tax.

I mean, these were all tax breaks that were worth a vast amount to the richest of Americans and worth very little to middle class Americans.

PAUL PIERSON: Within a few weeks after the legislation was passed, we all get a letter that says Congress and the President have given you this tax cut. And then that's pretty much it for the middle class. But for higher income groups, the further forward you go in time, the bigger and bigger the benefits get. So it was really designed to front-load the relatively modest benefits for the middle class, and to back-load the benefits for the wealthy.

JACOB HACKER So why? Why do the winners get policies that make their winnings even larger? You know, this is not a trivial change. If you say from the mid-90s to 2007, those top 400 tax payers, they've seen their tax rates decline so much that it's worth about $46 million for every one--

BILL MOYERS: For every--

JACOB HACKER: Of those 400 tax payers. So it's-- the numbers are staggering. When you start to look within the top one percent, and look at what government has done to help those people out, through taxes, through changes in the market, financial deregulation and the like, and through protecting them from efforts to try to push back.

BILL MOYERS: Protecting them?

JACOB HACKER: Well, I think this is something that really needs to be understood. You know, these large shifts in our economy had been propelled in part by what government has done, say deregulating the market, the financial markets, to allow wealthy people to gamble with their own and other peoples' money, and ways to put all of us at risk, but allow them to make huge fortunes.

And at the same time, when those risks have become apparent, there has been a studious effort on the part of political leaders to try to protect against government stepping in and regulating or changing the rules.

BILL MOYERS You write, we have a government that's been promoting inequality, and at the same time, as you just said, failing to counteract it. This has been going on, you write, 30 years or more. And here's the key sentence: Step by step, and debate by debate, our public officials have rewritten the rules of the economy in ways that favor the few at the expense of the many.

PAUL PIERSON: In some ways, the fundamental myth that we're trying to break out of is the idea that there's something natural out there called "the American economy" that is prior to government, prior to politics. And that government, if it's involved at all, is only involved sort of at the end of the day, maybe tidying things up around the edges, or redistributing money from some people to another.

And I think the financial crisis has been a rude awakening for people who viewed the economic world that way. It's now, I think, very clear in retrospect that the decisions that leading public officials made over a period of decades helped to get us to a point where a financial crisis could be so devastating to all Americans.

BILL MOYERS: How can this happen? How could Washington turn its back on the broad middle class to favor a relatively few at the top in a democracy?

JACOB HACKER: What has really changed is the organization of American politics, particularly the organizations that represent the deepest pocketed members of American society. What we've seen as an organizational revolution over the last 30 years that has meant that business, and Wall Street, and ideological conservative organizations that are pushing for free market policies have all become much more influential.

And at the same time, a lot of the organizations that once represented the middle class, labor unions, broad-based civic organizations and, sort of, organizations at the local and grassroots level, including social movements, have all lost enormous ground.

And so it's that imbalance, that shift, I think, that is the sort of underlying pressure that plays out in our politics today. The way we describe it in the book is as if the ecosystem of American politics has changed. And everyone in American politics, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives has had to adapt to this new world where money matters much more in our politics, and where groups representing business and the wealthy are much more powerful than in the past.

BILL MOYERS: And you don't beat around the bush. You say, quote, "Most voters of moderate means…have been organized out of politics, left adrift as the foundations of middle class democracy have washed away.”

JACOB HACKER: Yeah, I mean, if you look at the history of American democracy it is about a broadening of our understanding of political equality to incorporate African Americans and women and ultimately to also incorporate the idea that large inequalities of property were a threat to democratic equality. So FDR during the Great Depression famously said that political equality was meaningless in the face of economic inequality.

So we now, I think, understand that inequality of income and wealth is part of a capitalist society, but it can't overwhelm our democracy. And what we've seen in the last 30 years is a gradual erosion of the firewalls that protect our democracy from the inequalities that are occurring in the market. Money has come into politics much more.

And the power that people have in the market is being used more and more in politics as well. And that's a concern because Americans have very complex views about equality, but they all agree in this basic idea that as Thomas Jefferson famously said, "All men are created equal."

And he meant men probably, but you know, the modern understand of that phrase, we believe that people whether they're rich or they're poor, whether they have lots of property or not, whether they're in, on Wall Street or off, they should have equal potential to influence what government does. Anybody who looks around at our government today cannot believe that's the case or that we're even close to that.

PAUL PIERSON: Well certainly you just have to look at recent headlines to see a Washington that seems preoccupied with the economic concerns of those at the top and is resistant in many cases to steps that are clearly favored by a majority of the electorate such as wanting to increase taxes on the very well-to-do, letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire as if you want to do something about the deficit. That’s the single most popular proposal for doing something about the deficit would be to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. And yet that gets nowhere in Washington.

JACOB HACKER You know, there is an organized, powerful constituency for deregulation, for high end tax cuts, for policies that are neglecting some of the serious middle class strains. And there just isn't anything of comparable size or power on the other side.

And that has pulled Washington way toward the concerns of the most affluent, most privileged members of our society and led them to often neglect the real struggles that Americans are facing during this economic crisis, struggles that are magnified versions of what Americans have been going through for 25 years or so.

BILL MOYERS: There was a time when we were sure that a strong middle class was the backbone of a democracy. And there was a time, after the second World War when I was a young man when incomes actually grew slightly faster at the bottom and the middle than at the top, is that right? Do your figures support that?

PAUL PIERSON: Yes, they do. And we describe that period after World War II, which lasted for about 30 years as being a country which we labeled Broadland. And—

BILL MOYERS: Broadland?

PAUL PIERSON: Broadland. And I think it's most clearly captured by that old idea that a rising tide lifts all boats.

Everybody's income is going up at the roughly the same rate, slightly faster actually towards the bottom of the income distribution than towards the top, but everybody's incomes were going up. And it's important to understand, so this wasn't some egalitarian fantasy world. It wasn't Sweden.

It was the United States, recognizably the United States with significant inequalities of wealth, but everybody was participating in prosperity and seeing their incomes rise. And then after the mid 1970's we start moving towards a distribution of income that looks more like that of a third world oligarchy. It looks more like Mexico or Brazil or Russia. Income inequality that statistics on income inequality now suggest that inequality is higher in the U.S. than it is in Egypt. And that’s quite a journey from where we were when I was growing up.

JACOB HACKER: Right now I think we're seeing the kind of bitter fruit of winner-take-all politics because this financial crisis was not an act of God or work of nature. It was brought on by poor decisions that were made in Washington and on Wall Street. Yes, there's a global dimension to this, but a big part of it was failures of domestic policy. You know, if you look to our northern neighbor, Canada, it had nothing like the same degree of banking crisis the United States did. And that's partly because it had much more effective regulations of the financial sector. You know, over this period that we saw leverage and speculation increasing on Wall Street, Washington, both Democrats and Republicans, were trying as hard as they could to allow Wall Street to do even more.

BILL MOYERS: So the winner-take-all politics has produced a winner-take-all economy? Right?



BILL MOYERS: And the winners are?

JACOB HACKER: The winners are those who've made out so well in this new economy, the very well off and financial-- and people in the highest reaches of finance and corporate executives suites.

BILL MOYERS: And the losers?

PAUL PIERSON: Well, the losers are, I think, almost all of us. I think almost all Americans lose from the shift toward a society in which rewards are so narrowly concentrated on a small segment of the population.

JACOB HACKER: And there's no sign that the sort of massive concentration of the gains of the economy at the very top is slowing down. In fact, this downturn has been remarkable in the degree to which those at the very top seem to have weathered it pretty well. Profits are still very high. Those who are on Wall Street have recovered thanks to a massive government bailout.

BILL MOYERS: Taxpayers put it up. I mean, they're spending taxpayer money.

JACOB HACKER: Yes, yes. And so we've seen the economy over 30 years very consistently shift in this direction. And what I think has not happened and what concerns us greatly is a kind of real undermining, deep undermining, of the operation of our democratic institutions.

I mean, we're describing a massive erosion, but the question is could we see those democratic political institutions really cease to function effectively in the future if we have a society that continues to tilt so heavily towards winner-take-all. And that's why we wrote the book because, you know, Walter Lippmann back in the early 20th century said the challenge for democratic reform is that democracy has to lift itself up by its own bootstraps.

And we're, we are deep believers in the ability of American democracy to reform itself, of the strength of our democratic institutions. But they're in very serious disrepair right now. And we've seen in recent political fights a sort of paralysis and a broad loss of faith in government. And that sort of secession of the wealthy from our economic life that we've already started to see could be matched by a secession of them from our political life and a sort of loss of that broad democracy that was characteristic of mid-20th century. That's the greatest fear that we have.

BILL MOYERS: Would you say we still have a middle class country?



PAUL PIERSON: No, no, I wouldn't, I wouldn't.

BILL MOYERS: You're hesitant.

PAUL PIERSON: If you asked me if you asked me that point blank, I mean--

BILL MOYERS: Point blank, Paul, do we still have a middle class country?

PAUL PIERSON: I would say no. I mean, obviously there is still something there is still something that we would recognize as a middle class, it's still probably the biggest segment of the population. But in terms of its weight in the society, its ability to produce a society and reproduce a society that is oriented around the needs and concerns and opportunities of the middle class, I don't think that we live in that country anymore.

JACOB HACKER: There was a poll done in 2010 that asked Americans whether the federal government had helped a great deal the following groups: large financial institutions and banks, 53 percent of Americans said they'd been helped a great deal.

What about large corporations? 44 percent of Americans said they'd been helped a great deal. Then they asked, well, has the federal government helped the middle class a great deal? And do you want to guess what percent of Americans said that they'd been helped a great deal-- the middle class had been helped a great deal? Two percent.

BILL MOYERS: Two percent?

JACOB HACKER: Two percent.

BILL MOYERS: Well, this is—

JACOB HACKER: And so it's just a remarkable sense that Washington isn't working for the middle class. And after writing this book I think Paul and I feel as if that assessment, while excessively harsh, is grounded in a reality that Washington isn't working well for most Americans.

BILL MOYERS Did either of you happen to catch the Senate hearings last summer when a procession of ordinary Americans came and testified about what was happening?

AMANDA GREUBEL: We did everything we were always told to do to have the American dream. We finished high school, we went to college, we got married, we work hard, we pay our bills. We have no credit card debt. We waited to have children until we believed we were ready. We both got graduate degrees to be better at our jobs and make ourselves more marketable and increase our worth as employees. We volunteer, we donate to help those in need, and we vote. We did everything that all the experts said we should do, and yet still we’re struggling. And when you work that hard and you still feel sometimes like you’re scraping, it gets you really down really quick.

JACOB HACKER: When I hear stories like that I think , what is wrong with the priorities of our society that we cannot figure out how to translate our great wealth, our ingenuity, the hard work of our citizens, into a better standard of living that is shared broadly across the population? That’s a fundamental thing that a well-functioning democracy should do.

BILL MOYERS: And you say we are way behind in mobility. Behind Australia, Norway, Finland, Germany, France, Spain, and Canada. We are way down the list in terms of social mobility. Am I reading you right?

JACOB HACKER: Over this period in which those at the very top have done better and better the chance of climbing up the economic ladder hasn't grown at all, it may have actually declined. And that is reflected, I think, in a sense of pessimism that you see among many middle class Americans about whether the American dream still holds true.

At the individual level Americans are extremely optimistic. And if you ask them, "Will you achieve the American dream?" Most Americans say yes. But at a collective level when you ask people, "Does the American dream still hold true?" We're seeing in surveys for the first time that only about, you know, half of Americans are agreeing that the American dream still holds true. And that's remarkable.

BILL MOYERS: What's the practical consequences of that? Of giving up faith and hope in that dream?

JACOB HACKER: The fact is that for most middle class and working class Americans the politics seems increasingly removed from their everyday experience and their life. And there is a current of distrust and anger towards Washington is that is so deep right now.

AMANDA GREUBEL: When we turn on our TV's, our radios, or pick up our newspapers, we read about what is going on in our federal and state governments, and we start to believe that you don’t care about us. We hear that corporate welfare continues and CEO's get six-figure bonuses at taxpayer expense, and we wonder who you’re working for. And we look across the kitchen table at our families eating Ramen noodles for the third time this week and wonder how that’s fair. We read that the wealthy get bigger tax breaks in hopes that their money will “trickle down” to us, then we turn the page and read about how our school districts are forced to cut staff again. We know that money talks around here, and that means you don't hear us.

JACOB HACKER: That is one of the big changes that occurs over this period. Money becomes more important for campaigns and it also becomes much more important in terms of lobbying, which in some ways is the more important way that money changed American politics. It's really the development of lobbying over this this last 25, 30 years that stands out as the most dramatic role of money in American politics.

We tell the story in the book of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, because this was one of these great examples when the lobbyists were overcome. You know, the Gucci Gulch right outside the Senate chamber where the well-heeled lobbyists attend to members of congress. Well, Gucci Gulch was a place of, not of celebration, but of despair after 1986 because all these tax loopholes were closed, rates were brought down in a way that was actually making the tax code more equitable. And that was considered to be a big step forward for the public interest.

Well, a few years later lobbyists had written a lot of these loopholes back into the tax code. Ten years later, you know, you could hardly see any traces of the 1986 Tax Reform Act. Almost all of the good government public interest reforms that were put into the tax code in 1986 overcoming the lobbyists have been put back in, have been overwhelmed by the day in, day out lobbying to get those tax provisions right back into place.

BILL MOYERS: Quite a cycle, I mean, if you're creating a winner-take-all economy the winners have more money to contribute to the politicians, who turn it into a winner-take-all politics. I mean, it just keeps—

PAUL PIERSON: Right. It is the story that we try to tell in this book that there has been a 30 year war in which the sound of the voice of ordinary Americans has been quieter and quieter in American politics and the voice of business and the wealthy has been louder and louder. Many people, I think, read this book and think it's a pessimistic book, that it's grim reading and there are ways in which that's true.

But Jacob and I genuinely believe that it's an optimistic story compared with the story that we're typically told about what's been happening to the American economy. Because what we're typically told is there's nothing you can do about this, that it's just an economic reality, there's no point in blaming any political party.

And I think the main punch line of our story and the optimistic message is that politics got us into this mess and therefore potentially politics can get us out of it.

BILL MOYERS: But if both political parties are indebted to the winners where do the losers find an army to join?

JACOB HACKER: When citizens are organized and when they press their claims forcefully, when there are reformist leaders within government and outside it who work on their behalf, then we do see reform. This is the story of the American democratic experiment of wave after wave of reform leading to a much broader franchise, to a much broader understanding of the American idea.

In the mid-20th century we saw a period in which income gains were broadly distributed, in which middle class Americans had voice through labor unions, through civic organizations and through, ultimately, their government. We've seen an erosion of that world, but just because it’s lost ground doesn't mean it can't be saved. And so in writing this book we were hoping to sort of tell Americans that what was valuable in the past could be a part of our future.

BILL MOYERS: Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, thank you.

PAUL PIERSON: Thank you so much.

JACOB HACKER: Thank you.

BILL MOYERS: This is pledge time for Public Television and some stations will be stepping away from us for a short while to ask for your support. For others, we’ll resume in just a few moments. NARRATOR: We now continue with Moyers & Company.

BILL MOYERS: By coincidence I first met with Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson on the very day Occupy Wall Street had sprung up in lower Manhattan. And I wondered, as so many others did, were we seeing the advance guard of a movement by organized people to challenge the power of organized money? Well, it’s still too soon to know. But in the weeks that followed, every time we went down to the encampment, there was no mistaking the message.

LINNEA PALMER PATON: I don’t have thousands of dollars to go buy myself a lobbyist to lobby for my views, but corporations do.

BILL MOYERS: Linnea Palmer Paton is 23 and an Occupy Wall Street volunteer.

LINNEA PALMER PATON: This is supposed to be a government for the people, run by the people and if our voices don’t matter because we’re not wealthy, that’s really unacceptable and it’s dangerous.

HERO VINCENT: My name is Hero Vincent, I'm 21 years old. I’ve been here since day one. My parents were foreclosed on, my father’s been unemployed a couple of years. My mother was the only one taking care of the family for a while. I’ve been working since I’ve been 14 years old, you know, trying to put food on our table, trying to help out with the bills. So all these circumstances-- my sister is in college and she-- we can barely afford it, you know. And so it brought us here. The struggle brought us to this occupation, this day, this moment.

[NATSOT]: It ain’t hard to occupy if you’re set on freedom.

BILL MOYERS: Amin Husain is a former corporate lawyer. He’s now an artist who has become one of the many organizers of Occupy Wall Street.

AMIN HUSAIN: This connection between government and state regulating money and the flow of money at the expense of 99 percent of the population is untenable and it’s no longer being accepted. There’s been a shift in the way that people think of themselves in this political process. That there has been a level of empowerment. But this movement is about transforming society.

WOMAN AT PROTEST: I just need to interrupt one second and say you’re doing a great! I love you. All of us who are sleeping at home, we’re writing letters, we’re thinking about you.

AMIN HUSAIN: Thank you, thank you. I really appreciate it.

WOMAN AT PROTEST: We’re changing our bank accounts!

YESENIA BARRAGAN: My family’s home was almost foreclosed in Hackensack, NJ. First by Providian Bank, then by Bank of America, then Chase. The names changes. And we were almost homeless.

BILL MOYERS: Yesenia Barragan is working for her doctorate in Latin American history at Columbia University.

YESENIA BARRAGAN: We were able to gather enough resources, enough money within our family to save the house. So we like to say that we were the lucky ones. And I’m basically here because I don’t want to live in a world where there are lucky ones and unlucky ones.

DANIEL LYNCH: My name is Daniel Lynch, I live in Manhattan. And in my spare time I try to trade stocks. I might even be center-right! And I still support this, and I want people to know that, right, 99 percent exactly, right? I’ve been worried for a long time about problems with wealth inequality in the country, income inequality, and I just wanted to throw my support a little. I don’t march, I don’t carry a sign. But I come down at night I talk to some people.

I believe in capitalism, I believe in capital markets. But unchecked like this, especially the way we have estate taxes, income taxes, it subverts capitalism, it becomes feudalism. Owners of capital are winning so much more than laborers, right capital it has no roots, right? To just deny that that’s happening and not have a little bit of an activist tax policy about it, I think is naïve, it’s destructive, and it’s just absurd.

NELINI STAMP: My name is Nelini Stamp, I’m 24 years old.

BILL MOYERS: Nelini Stamp is a community organizer. She joined Occupy Wall Street on its first day.

NELINI STAMP: I’ve been fed up with having to worry about living pay check to pay check because of corporate greed and because we don’t have a very high minimum wage in New York. I really just wanted to take a major leap in fighting back.

I think that we need to, first of all, have public financing of elections. That is a huge deal one of the reasons is why corporations-- because there’s an unlimited amount of donations that they can give to political campaigns. And it’s about time we all stand up and take this back.

TYLER COMBELIC: I found my voice. I’ve been very apathetic, very cynical of the system that: do I matter? Do I matter to politicians? Do I matter to government when policies are being made?

BILL MOYERS: Tyler Combelic is a volunteer with the media outreach team.

TYLER COMBELIC: Personally, I want to see money out of government. I’m a very big proponent of campaign finance reform, of limiting the role of lobbyists, and limiting the role of corporate personhood because I feel right now, who has the largest war chest is the determiner of who’s going to be elected for a specific office or what kind of laws are going to be passed by Congress. And that corporatist-type of government is not what the United States is supposed to be.

MAN AT PROTEST: You got a better chance of being an organ donor than seeing any retirement money!

PETER CRAYCROFT: I think this is a perfect kind of forum for us all to come and talk about--

STEPHEN HAYS: Back and forth.

PETER CRAYCROFT: Yeah. I’ve seen many souls changed in the last three days.


PETER CRAYCROFT: Yeah. On all sides. Including the other side of the--

STEPHEN HAYS: You see I came through the Woodstock generation and I thought it’s just back to business as usual and sort of it was a big party. That’s what I see this as, a party with no cover. I’m a defender of money. Freedom, individual freedom, rich people. Because I’m still, even though I’ve got gray, I’m still trying to be one. Because the more money I have the more good I can do. And it will be my decision as to how I allocate that good. How I allocate that capital.

When I look around at all these buildings, hospitals, colleges, I don’t see many poor people’s names. They’re all rich people. Reverend Ike a black minister who used to preach up here in New York. Used to say, “If you curse the rich, you’ll never be one.”

CALVIN BELL: Look at the people out here! You think they’re out here just hanging out? I mean, that blows my mind that you came out here and you said, well, people out here, you know, they have something against wealthy people, you know, wealthy people should be allowed to be wealthy people, because while we’re wealthy people we’ll throw money out and sprinkle them all and make people’s lives better. It’s not happening. Wealthy companies are not making the common person’s lives better. They’re taking their money, they’re moving it abroad, they’re doing different things. What’s that got to do with anything?

STEPHEN HAYS: You’ve got a nice camera, you’ve got clothes, you’re blessed.

CALVIN BELL: I just told you that I’m not one of the ones—

STEPHEN HAYS: I can’t be so pessimistic about things.

CALVIN BELL: I’m being realistic.

I live in a very nice house, my family’s blessed. So I’m not going to pretend that, you know, I don’t have anything. But I do also recognize that a lot of the situations we’re in now is because of greed. It’s because – it’s not what he said, you just let people take their money and they’ll do good things with it. Not all people do good things with their money.

BILL BLACK during a teach-in: The one percent have dominant political power over both parties.

BILL MOYERS: Organizers invited Bill Black to lead a teach-in at “the people’s microphone.”

BILL BLACK during a teach-in: How many think they stole from all of us?

BILL MOYERS: A senior federal regulator in the 1980s, Black cracked down on banks during the savings and loan crisis. He now teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

BILL BLACK: What we have is recurrent, intensifying financial crises driven by elite fraud and now it's done with almost absolute impunity. So the whole idea of noblesse oblige and such and that the rich were supposed to have special responsibilities, that's all gone, right? They have a God-given right to the lowest conceivable taxes.

When you put anti-regulators in charge of the agencies who believe that regulation is bad and completely unnecessary and they destroy it, creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that produces massive fraud at the most elite levels.

But, worse, it all feeds into politics. So, once you get a group that completely dominates the economy, they're going to completely dominate politics, as well.

BILL BLACK during a teach-in: There is no excuse for not prosecuting. It is an obscenity. It’s surrender to crony capitalism.

BILL BLACK: What's distressed me, and I think is one of the major reasons we get recurrent intensifying crises, is we seem to have lost our capacity for outrage. And it's only people getting outraged that produces really positive social change.

[NATSOT]: We are the 99 percent! So are you! We are the 99 percent! So are you!

MARILYN BRANDEE: I’ve been waiting years for people to get angry enough to do something. We want to just support these young people and the people who are sacrificing so much comfort for all of us.

RONNI TERR: So this is a start, I hope that it makes a dent. But the fact that it’s not just here, but it’s all over the country now, means that somebody is waking up.

BILL MOYERS: Waking up is right. Waking up to the fact that our democracy has gone off the tracks and stopped working for everyday Americans who simply want a chance to succeed. What we’re talking about goes deep into our history. The historian Gordon Wood won the Pulitzer Prize for his book on "The Radicalism of the American Revolution." He wrote that America discovered its greatness “by creating a prosperous free society belonging to obscure people with their workaday concerns." This democracy, he said, changed the lives of "hitherto neglected and despised masses of common laboring people.”

Those words moved me when I read them, because they described Henry and Ruby Moyers, my parents. My father dropped out of the fourth grade and never returned to school because his family needed him to pick cotton to help make ends meet. Mother managed to finish the eighth grade before she followed him into the fields.

They were tenant farmers when the great depression knocked them down and almost out. He never took home more than 100 dollars a week in his working life. So I was one of the poorest white kids in town. Yet in many respects I was the equal of my friend who was the daughter of the richest man in town. I went to good public schools, had access to a good public library, played sand-lot ball in a good public park, and traveled on good public roads with good public facilities to a good public university. All made possible by people -- tax payers -- who believed in building a good society. So although we didn’t have much money, I never thought of myself as poor because I was rich in public goods. In time I came to realize that people like the Moyers had been included in the original bargain. “We, the people” included us.

As you’ve just heard, that bargain’s been shredded. And people are waking up to what’s been lost – that’s what Occupy Wall Street is about. I saw one young fellow there wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words: “The system’s not broken. It’s fixed.” That’s right – rigged.

Yes, more and more people get it. And that’s a start. Waking up means opening our eyes and seeing what’s happening: the Superpacs. The secret money. Billionaires bidding for pliant politicians. The degrading, deceptive TV ads. The rotten tax code. The revolving door. The influence peddlers swarming all over Capitol Hill. The corporate-friendly court. All part of winner-take-all politics. It’s enough to bring on despair. But it’s also enough to gird ourselves for the fight to reclaim it. Look around, pick your spot, and go at it.

I’m Bill Moyers…

Watch By Segment

  • Jacob Hacker & Paul Pierson on Engineered Inequality

    In this encore presentation, Bill Moyers investigates America’s economic disparity — how it happened and who’s to blame.

    Air Date: March 1, 2012
    Photo Credit: Dale Robbins
    Jacob Hacker & Paul Pierson on Engineered Inequality
  • Bill Moyers Essay: Occupying a Cause

    In this encore presentation, Bill Moyers investigates America’s economic disparity — how it happened and who’s to blame.

    Air Date: March 1, 2012
    Members of Local 100 of the Transport Workers enter Zuccotti Park in support of the Wall Street protestors in New York. September 2011(AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)
    Bill Moyers Essay: Occupying a Cause

Encore: On Winner-Take-All Politics

March 1, 2012

A version of this program originally aired January 13, 2012

How, in a nation as wealthy as America, can the economy simply stop working for people at large, while super-serving those at the very top? This weekend, in an encore broadcast of the premiere episode of Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers looks at America’s economic disparity and investigates how it happened and who’s to blame. His detectives: political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, authors of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. Through exhaustive research and analysis, Hacker and Pierson — whom Moyers regards as the “Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson” of economics — detail important truths behind a 30-year economic assault against the middle class.

Moyers calls the book “the best account I’ve seen of how politicians rewrote the rules to create a winner-take-all economy that favors the 1% over everyone else, putting our once and future middle class in peril.”

The show includes testimony of middle class Americans at a Senate hearing about the impact of hard times on families, as well as an essay on how Occupy Wall Street reflects a widespread belief that politics no longer works for ordinary people, including footage we took at the OWS rally from October-December 2011.

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  • Nkautsky

    Bill Moyers: You have made the public aware of the factions that have caused the wide discrepancy  in income among the nation’s citizens.  We’re do we go from here ?

  • Winsafe

    You are the number one source for what we citizens need to know.  Thanks for coming back.
    Can you please repost the clip about Alinsky’s work which mentions the Rochester NY group FIGHT (think it was from a 1999 documentary).  

  • George

    We need to tax at 90% for those making over 1 million dollars a year. I think it was 90% in the 1950’s

  • DH Fabian

    No need to worry about economic disparities.  When one of our esteemed middle class workers loses his job, nothing happens — unless he chooses the poverty lifestyle. In that case , he needs to be treated harshly, making our contempt for the poor very clear.  Indeed, Americans (at least, this generation) have proved to be quite skilled at this.  This will help him choose to  abandon poverty for productivity, returning to the middle class.  And should he choose not to take personal responsibility, pulling himself up by his bootstraps, whatever happens is his own fault. If he dies, it is a deserved death. We know this is true because our entire welfare “reform” agenda is based on this understanding of poverty.

  • Lvgardens

    And you express this opinion because you have had personal experience knowing these people that bring up the bile of your contempt? “…a deserved death.”; what an unempathetic person you are! Shame on you!  Everytime someone points a finger, there is always three fingers pointing back at them.

  • Crystal Silva

    I do believe DH FABIAN was being facitious and not speaking  from his own perspective.

  • Larry

    Our current plutocracy is the product of much more than wealth’s influence. There has been a receptivity, or at least a malaise, on the part of the public whilst this cancer on our democracy took hold and grew. A profit-conflicted media. subtle public relations efforts by wealthy interests and a divide and conquer scheme have all contributed to the erosion of our no longer representative democracy.

    “Winner Take All” found fertile ground in the cultural underpinnings that persist in America today. We still debate supply-side economics and trickle down despite overwhelming evidence that these are failed theories. A shocking number of Americans still believe that we can cut our way to prosperity. Many Americans still believe that their path to the American Dream is through support of the interests of the most wealthy.

    We are imobilized now in anger and discord, despite efforts to reverse Citizens United and Occupy movements. For a fuller discussion of the cultural factors that continue to shackle us, and what we can do to change the paradigm, see the book America Adrift. Until we address these cultural factors we will continue to remain dysfunctional, divided and lacking in the kind of consensus that can change “Winner take All.”

  • AnneLBS
  • Virginia_jarvis

    What if there are no jobs to return to? Your hard hearted attitude certainly is no inspiration. Lots of people try and fail because they are held down and even kicked down by people like you.

  • Monali Khandagle

    wake up call to all who care to change politics in USA.

    It is time to take away ‘corporate person hood’.

    It is time to stop corporations from
    donating to election campaigns,

    It is time to swing into action, ‘Occupy
    Wall Street.’

    Take back your government from

  • Monali Khandagle

     I just commented, ‘vote to take away corporate power to control elections’. Take action and  demand that your elected representatives cannot accept corporate donations for their election campaigns at all.

  • B-Tork

    What can the average person do to stop the  politicions from selling out the middle class?  Maybe we have sat back to long and let them get the best of us!!!!!

  • Jillscherb7

     I believe Mr. Fabian was being ironic.  Of course, he will not return to the middle class, since that’s what’s eroding.  Of course, it’s not his own fault.  He’s just showing us what the attitudes are out there–in a word, contempt.  Do not take everything literally.  That seems to be one of the simplifications to which were are currently subject.  Literalists miss the subtleties of not just arguments, but life itself.  You’re right, of course.  The jobs are gone.  Downsized.  Overseas.  Eliminated.  This was always the direction of industrialization. But without regulation and without proper taxation, we’ve allowed the direction of industrialization to return full-circle to the abuses of the past–a re-Dickensification of our lives when people become so desperate, they break laws in order to eat.  But that’s covered, too, now.  With corporate prisons, prisoners represent profit to the superrich. So . . . we need to take to the streets.  All of us! All 99%!  It needs to be clear that  we will not take it anymore.  We want taxes on the superrich.  We want regulation of speculation.  We want regulation of lobbyists and money out of governent as influence. We want campaign reform that’s real, not token.  And, for God’s sake, we want not just jobs, but living wages, health care that allows us a modicum of security in which to perform our labor, and just reward for our contributions to the the whole.  Everyone contributes something.  Even the beggar shows us whether or not we ourselves are compassionate or have contempt.

  • Jillscherb7

     Y’all need to stop interpreting people literally.  See above.

  • Jillscherb7

     Yeah! Someone “got it”!  BTW, it’s “facetious.”  I know, not everyone can spell and not everyone uses spell check.  Just saying.

  • Veritas

    Ralph Nader, an American national treasure – who’s devoted his life to improving the safety and welfare of the American People resulting in innumerable invaluable achievements – gave the American electorate a few opportunities to “wake up and smell the coffee,” i.e., to appreciate the inadequacy of the corrupted two-party system and to effect significant, beneficial change by electing a third party candidate with the platform he offered, e.g., political and financial reform, a more judicious use of the US Armed Forces, preferring the use of “soft power,” etc. 

    Unfortunately, e.g. in 2000 and 2004, the voters chose a status quo “Fortunate Son,” Geo. W. Bush vs. Ralph Nader, a true intellectual with impeccable qualifications and the will to set this nation on a sensible, sustainable course into the future.

    Why the electorate consistently rejects candidates who think “outside the box,” e.g. Anderson, Perot, Nader, and Dr. Paul, is, I think, a manifest reflection of the failure of our education system to equip the the majority of children with citizenship knowledge and the critical thinking skills necessary for them as adults to maintain freedom,  and democracy, and an egalitarian, just society.

    To witness the predictable decline of the quality of life in, and the erosion of the stature of the United States internationally, is a shame.  The squandering of the United States many unique advantages at the hands of corrupt political parties (recall that George Washington presciently warned about the dangers of self-serving, divisive “factions.”)  It’s tragic.

    While I believe it’ sin the best interest of the United States that the Obama admin. serves a second term, I hope there are more political party alternatives available to the electorate  in 2016. 

  • Dickdon1

    There is nothing wrong with the capitalistic system as long as we acknowledge that it needs some controls.  We put the brightest of our society as CEO’s and tell them their only objective is to make the most money they can for their shareholders.
    We need to:
    1-eliminate treating corporations as persons.
    2-restrict campaign financing to the Government
    3-Limit passing wealth on to heirs
    4-Enforce the laws we already have on the books that regulate commerce and preserve competition ( such as the Sherman anti-trust laws).
    5-Require corporations to have CEO and board member salaries approved or regulated by the stockholders.
    6- Revamp laws regulating the pricing of medical drugs

  • Barbara Jarvis

    I was born premature and crippled due to mom’s attempt to abort me. All I ever recieved was hatred and contempt from her and classmates at school (republican). Where is there safe haven in this world? It gets meaner and nastier as the rich get richer at our expense. I became an activist socialist wanting a more sociable society. It would work for the betterment of all if enuf people wised up and stopped sucking up. My sympathies are like Jesus were  always toward the underdog. He saw society as it really was and stll is. Not all christians are followers of Christ. Some are socialists – Christians in action.

  • kantor

     Sorry, but your first sentence sounds like
    “there is nothing wrong with the capitalistic system, except for the fact that is capitalistic”.
    In other words, in the exact moment you propose to curb it in some way you acknowledge that there is something wrong.

    I’m not proposing to replace capitalism with something else; it has been tried and so far has been proven a dismal failure. However one cannot escape reality; what’s happened in the USA is a totally normal consequence of capitalism, in fact the only possible consequence in my opinion.

    Sure, you can try to soften the aftermath but you should not harbor illusions; we have been here before e we shall be here again.

  • larry blair

    If every working American would watch and digest this
    essay, the Republican Party might become an endangered

  • Pam

    This was an excellent show and I am glad that Moyers is back!  Paste the interview and send to friends, co-workers, neighbors and family members.  Everyone needs to see Winner Takes All Politics.

  • Rpsweeper

    power in numbers, far more power than all the corporate money polluting the
    walls of congress! We are the majority and we must be heard!

    I was never an activist in my life, but one Sunday morning I
    opened the local paper and started to read about Madison and the busting of the
    unions, laying off teachers and attacking public sector workers.  I am not a union member but my thoughts were
    if people want to join a union so be it! 
    I was dismayed at what was going on in my neighboring state and in my
    country. I don’t know what took over me, but at that moment, still in my bathrobe,
    I walked out into the garage, grab a couple big sheets of cardboard  off my husband’s work bench and proceeded to
    make myself some very nice signs.  My
    husband came home from walking the dog and asked what I was doing, as I was feverishly
    writing on my cardboard on the kitchen floor. 
    I told him I was going to Madison to protest, that I could not sit by
    anymore and not do SOMETHING about what is happening in our country.  He just looked at me and knew there was no
    discussion, and he went back out in the garage and got me a nice stick to attach
    my sign; I hit the computer to find directions to the nearest protest I could participate
    in.  Sign thrown in the back of the car,
    dressed in layers as it was a very cold wintery day and off I drove, by myself  to attend the first of four more protest and
    it wasn’t even my state!  I was mad as
    hell and I wasn’t going to sit by anymore and hope others would speak out on my
    behalf!  If it was happening in Wisconsin,
    how long before it happened at home.

     This turned out to be
    one of the most wonderful experience of my life, I met wonderful, fantastic
    people, people just like me that were fed up!   I
    helped in handing out hot coffee, I held my sign, I yelled and sang and I
    helped to make a difference!  I showed the
    politicians they were are all aware of what they are doing and we are no longer
    asleep, Wisconsin fought back hard, state senators were recalled, Governor Walker
    will face recall, and I knew I was not alone in the disgust of what our government
    is doing to the middle class, when we are many, we are strong!

    So if we are going to change this mess that our political
    system has brought upon, if we want our children and their children to grow up
    in a country where we all are equal and we all have the same opportunities,  then we must  get up and get out there and change this rotten
    septic system!  Money can only do so
    much, the common day people can do more. 
    Read the history of this great nation, this is not the first time that citizens
    had to rise up against the powerful wealthy. 
    PLEASE get involved in saving this county for the next generations to

     Thank you Mr. Moyer
    for this program, I will be sending a link on to my representatives and asking
    them WHAT ARE THEY DOING ABOUT THIS WINNER TAKE ALL POLITICS,  both my representatives are democrats but that
    does not matter,  either they are part of
    the solution or part of the problem.



  • Virginia Baker

    God bless Bill Moyers!  He’s one of the very few truth tellers in the public eye.  He is gathering great karma.  Thank you.

  • Scunni2876

    Thank you to Bill Moyers for getting this information out there for all to see and hear.  It’s disgraceful what has happend to our great nation in just 30 years.   My daughter is drowning in school debt and my husband has been out of work in the construction industry off and on for 4 years now.  Not good!

  • Scunni2876

    Both parties are implicated in these schemes, not just the Republicans. 

  • Scunni2876

    Wow! You hit the nail on the head!  I do believe that ignorance is part of the problem in these elections!  There have been some wonderful third party candidates out there, as you mention, but they never get anywhere.  Could it be that they are not as well funded???  I don’t know!  Possibly!

  • Scunni2876

    Using taxpayer money to bail out these corporation who screwed up…just think where else that taxpayer money could’ve gone instead…to rebuild our roads, help communities become more prosperous, give middle and low income people breaks on loans for college, give incentives for lower income people to attend college at all (even community colleges are out of reach for many)…

  • Alex

    This should not be news. Ever since Reagan’s “Trickling Down” never happened we should have noticed that there is a gutter catching any tidbit of trickle. Most of us are in the real gutter. The ONLY thing that can reverse this horses$@!* is to stop buying as we know it. Change to local economies where we support those who do have a vested interest in our own well being and re-create a world where this beast Hacker & Pierson describe just starves because WE exert real power and control in our own lives.

  • Genobenda

    As average American citizens and part of the middle class we have been experiencing it over the last 20 years or so. When I keep working and working and working and not making it up the economic ladder and actually farther behind now than I was when I started working-you know there is inequality. When I drive to work, bickering and complaining about my economic stagnation, and I keep on hearing on the news all the inequities in government in both parties, my self remarks are, “it’s all corrupt…politics and corporations are in on it”. All the evidence is there in their book. They are one group of numerous studies, investigations, reports, statistics, tens of thousands of pages of documentation….and what recourse we have? The only option was to OCCUPY to use our last option of free speech and assembly. That was shut down by the political elite in the towns, cities, colleges, and in the public parks. Now what do we do? Even if the media brings all this inequity to the forefront where is the accountability? No one is being held responsible and who pays for all the mess…? The tax payer. The OCCUPY movement must take hold once again!

  • Dadkins1

    Unable to receive your program on 3/3/12 on GA PBS 30 (Direct TV). They have a show Ed Slott’s Retirement Rescue at the 10:30 time slot. Will it be on at another time?

  • Michael Bratkowski

    Can you guys put up a link to Amanda Greubel’s video testimony? I’d like to see the whole tape. Thanks. Havent managed to google a link to it yet.

  • Matthew Garrett

    Bill thanks so much for your coverage of this bubbling revolution in America.  The People are awakening, but it’s still slow in some places.  I live in Peoria, IL (FOX news country, believe me) and people here are still acting like this isn’t happening, it’s quite surreal.  Programs like yours helps us all get the word out, great job!

  • Mike Carr

    It”s about time somebody with educational credentials, to truly know what they are talking about, came out and said what is truly happening in this country.  You”re not going to get any truth out of politicians.  They”re all just looking to feather their own nests.

  • Matthew Garrett

    I like you’re thinking.  I’ll tell you what I’d prescribe:  we assemble the masses using new social networking technology that we define that allows the 99% to gather around common views and/or values issues.  Then we use that gathering place to define and identify the common ground issues that a high enough % of Americans agreeing on them for us to be effective in our efforts, then we go straight at the biggest one first, make an example of them.  We hit them where it hurts, we are their consumers, their laborers, their truck drivers, the key to all their profits and all their dividends, etc.  We develop new ways to use our collective power to affect what’s most important to them, their precious profits.  

    We pick our first fight with an offender that 80%+ of our members agree on, and we boycott, pr campaign, picket, buzz online, talk to reporters, etc and shout with the entire collective thunder of our brand, which we assembled and identified using the one free conduit they still can’t control – the internet.  Then we use that power to remind them who the country belongs to.  They want us divided, we’ll have to break the red and blue alliance mentality in every town in America, and we do that using the same gathering place by arming people with information and sending them back into their towns, infecting every little nook with the truth, which will spread like a virus.  We could still even affect the 2012 races too, if we got started building it.  I used to do stuff like that for a job, when I was learning “the dark side.”  

    The big difference between this revolution and the one they killed in the 60’s is that we have the technology and ability to connect across barriers (on common issues), and to assemble our hoard, in a way they did not.  They can’t stop an “information virus” that clever, that can assemble and morph that fast, and that can’t be silenced or stopped.  The only way we win is united, and they will fight hard to distract us.  I don’t think it’s unrealistic, if enough people believe.

    At least that’s what I’d prescribe.  It’s my goal to build such a place, but how to fund it?

  • Matthew Garrett

    I like you’re thinking.  I’ll
    tell you what I’d prescribe:  we assemble the masses using new social
    networking technology that we define that allows the 99% to gather around
    common views and/or values issues.  Then we use that gathering place to
    define and identify the common ground issues that a high enough % of Americans
    agreeing on them for us to be effective in our efforts, then we go straight at
    the biggest one first, make an example of them.  We hit them where it
    hurts, we are their consumers, their laborers, their truck drivers, the key to
    all their profits and all their dividends, etc.  We develop new ways to
    use our collective power to affect what’s most important to them, their
    precious profits.  

    We pick our first fight with an offender that 80%+ of our
    members agree on, and we boycott, pr campaign, picket, buzz online, talk to
    reporters, etc and shout with the entire collective thunder of our brand, which
    we assembled and identified using the one free conduit they still can’t control
    – the internet.  Then we use that power to remind them who the country
    belongs to.  They want us divided, we’ll have to break the red and blue
    alliance mentality in every town in America, and we do that using the same gathering
    place by arming people with information and sending them back into their towns,
    infecting every little nook with the truth, which will then spread like a virus because converts like to convert others to make up for their previous belief, it’s basic psychology.
     We could still even affect the 2012 races too, if we got started building
    it.  I used to do stuff like that for a job, when I was learning “the
    dark side” of capitalism.  

    The big difference between this revolution and the one they killed and imprisoned in the 60’s is that we now have the technology, infrastructure, and thus the ability to connect across
    barriers (on common issues), and to assemble our hoard, in a way they did not.  We’ll have to work on decent internet access in some economically-challenged places right away, but that’s underway (last I checked).  The bottom line is, education is our friend here, and they can’t stop an “information virus” that clever, that can
    assemble and morph that fast, that can arm it’s members with common tools and apps, etc. and that can’t be silenced or stopped.  The connectivity is the key, because the
    only way we win is united, and they will fight hard to distract us.  I genuinely don’t think it’s unrealistic, if enough people believe.

    At least that’s what
    I’d prescribe anyway.  It’s my goal to build such a place, but how to fund it?

  • JohnHhahm

    THIS is the issue. THIS is what OCCUPY WALL STREET is all about. And THIS is what Americans should think about when they go to the polls. Not Mr. Santorum’s “social issues.” Not Mr. Romney’s sugar-coated corporatism. The “bitter fruit” of the decades of laissez faire capitalist legislation is upon us now. What are we going to do about it in the Presidential and Congressional / Senatorial elections?

  • John Hahm

    THIS is the issue. THIS is what OCCUPY WALL STREET is all about. And THIS is what Americans should think about when they go to the polls. Not Mr. Santorum’s “social issues.” Not Mr. Romney’s sugar-coated corporatism. The “bitter fruit” of the decades of laissez faire capitalist legislation is upon us now. What are we going to do about it in the Presidential and Congressional / Senatorial elections?

  • John Hahm

    THIS is the issue. THIS is what OCCUPY WALL STREET is all about. And THIS is what Americans should think about when they go to the polls. Not Mr. Santorum’s “social issues.” Not Mr. Romney’s sugar-coated corporatism. The “bitter fruit” of the decades of laissez faire capitalist legislation is upon us now. What are we going to do about it in the Presidential and Congressional / Senatorial elections?

  • POLpursun

    The fact that capital and the finance sector extract far more of the productivity gains of the real (say Main —- in lieu of Wall— Street) economy than their contribution to it is much, much older than 40 years.   Nevertheless, noting that Hacker and Pierson refer to the period 1979 to 2007 re relative income gains, I point to the August 23, 1971 memo, “Attack on American Free Enterprise System”, by Lewis F. Powell, Jr. sent to Mr. Eugene B. Sydnor, Jr. Chairman, Education Committee, U.S. Chamber of Commerce,  as indicative of the deliberate broad cultural and political strategy, whether or not it was, at that time, envisioned as a winner-take-all one.

    By the way, the term Private Enterprise System is a less misleading term than Free Enterprise System.

  • Jose F. Garcia, Ret. Eduacator

    watching this exposure led me to offer my comment here:” if there is to be an improvement in America- people must insist upon having all political offices in all American government, subject to TERM LIMITATIONS.” Politicians cannot expect to have “Careers” written- in to any political office. This is the danger!

  • LInda Tisue

    American politics is personality driven, not policy driven. How many times has some one said, there is no difference in the parties?  In   parliamentary democracies people vote on parties because of their policies.  For U.S.  politics to change people have to demand policies from politicians   not just  who still has nice hair after the mud is slung.      As Mr. Person said ” It wasn’t an egalitarian promise land,I mean I wasn’t Sweden.” but there was a time that the political parties had platforms and  people voted for policies.  

  • RA

    While Congress was not is session, Bush was able to remove safeguards through executive action. Bush/Cheney started a war by lying.  Thousands died. Spending went through the roof.  Our surplus became the deficit. Wall street lobbied and took advantage of new freedoms to rob America. Big oil, big insurance, big pharma laughing all the way to the bank. All these people knew what they were doing.  Why are they not held accountable?  Why are we not outraged?  Why are we letting this happen to us right in front of our eyes?

  • Joe Beckmann

    First – it’s a repeat so don’t panic. Second, it’s on online AT THIS WEB SITE. Look and it shall be found.

  • Craig Clevidence

    Are you tired of the “Best
    government money can buy”?

    If you are done being treated like a “sheeple” and want your
    representative to be for “We the People” not their party or the
    biggest donors or organizations. Take Action. Support the Renew Democracy
    Amendment. It would greatly reduce the economic power of both parties evenly,
    end the Electoral College, and limit donations to only individual citizens.
    outline for an amendment that we propose is far more encompassing and will have
    a much greater effect than what is currently proposed by Common Cause, Move to
    Amend and others. By stating “.The right to contribute to
    political campaigns and political parties is held solely by individual
    citizens”. The RDA renders moot concerns about
    corporate personage as pertains to campaign finance. What this powerful statement
    also does is to eliminate political parties’ contributions to campaigns. This
    eliminates much of the financial control the political parties have over our
    representatives. All one has to do is look at the prevalence of party line
    voting to realize how detrimental party influence is to our effective
    governance as well. Sign on the wall at


  • Norsknelson

    Bill Moyers has been labelled as an independent reporter…. False.. When is the last time he has had a conservative on his program.  not Pierson & Hacker… both liberals.. Both parties are at fault but according to the liberal posts following Moyer that fact will not come out. Who repealed GlasSeagull, who deregulated the commodities market in the 90’s; who pushed for Fanny & Freddie.. Which politican got the most money from them.. In 2008 65% of the Wall St money went to Obama.. Who is finalizing Dodd Frank.. Yup the big banks..
    They are all for sale

  • Basirika101

    Yes -TERM LIMITS TO CONGRESS -1 term for the Senate,2 terms for the House -its the easiest of all options -will produce  immediate results -the elected will perform better since they will only have limited terms -corporations will not have the incentive to fund elections since the candidates will be changing frequently.

  • Urban Boomer

    They blamed both parties  – you’re not paying attention

  • Urban Boomer

    What is so frustrating is that there are comments here from people who watched the same show and STILL blame everything on the democrats and Obama

  • Pamelaroses

    Tell every dummy that’s spouting out fox news lies the truth. Call um all out and educate them!

  • Anonymous


    I have had a very heavy heart for the past couple years over
    how badly the US economy has been and the spirit of our nation is hurting. I
    missed Bill Moyers’ Journal when it ended. But NOW Moyers and Company is with
    us to help make sense to all the nonsense that is going on and give an
    authentic and legitimate voice to what is ailing America. My heart is now

    I have learned over the past several years through my one
    research that if the US system is broken “we the people” must fix it and…we
    are! The 99% movement will be in full force this spring, more people are
    getting involved is community level politics, family dinner tables are
    discussing more robustly political views and ideas and we are protesting when
    we see indignation from our political leaders. Look at Wisconsin and Governor Scott
    Walker; look at Ohio and the people power to overturn SB-5 and hand Republican Governor
    John Kasich a crushing defeat; look at the protesters in Indiana – union members have
    gone to federal court to ask a judge to block Indiana’s new right-to-work law
    from being enforced and yes, even Rush Limbaugh is getting pressure after a media
    and political firestorm, Limbaugh issued a much needed apology to a Georgetown
    student on his radio show this week. WOW, American is on a roll and spring is
    in the air and we are moving forward to take our country and government back.



  • Leonard C. Tekaat

    How do the people fix the economy? I have a few ideas.

  • Kenv

    I would like to know the motivation behind the drive of the top 1%. Certainly it is not need for goods and services that could be had for a few million and not require billions.  Is it power that comes with wealth? Is it simply score keeping to bolster an otherwise weak ego? Is it keeping up with the Jonses? I cannot understand the mentality of greed wherein wealth is accumulated knnowing that millions of others are suffereing as a result. , Boise, Idaho 

  • Iamtruetrytoo

     Why? because we are busy treading water just to pay our bills.

  • Zyida

      I feel the same way. I have a HARD TIME understanding how someone can
    be that greedy. I guess those people have lost in touch with reality and real people…most ppl in the world r very poor some 1 billion don’t even have clean water. I wonder if these people have any idea about the facts (excluding Warren Buffet and Bill Gates)

  • Poweredbyenoch

    I believe that this man in this YouTube video you are about to see saw this situation long before anyone in news broadcasting or our political system, watch and decide for yourself, enjoy

  • Whiitewolf

    That is the idea….keep the American worker/family too busy to see what they are doing.  

  • Deb Likes-Schroer

    Why doesn’t Occupy Wall St promote a movement to remove all politicians every four years? I would stand in the streets for that one.  As it stands now, it is so bloody vague on what it is they plan to accomplish.  If I knew what it was they wanted us to help with, I am so there.  Until then, we need to make changes to remove politicians that are there over four years, period.  I am with Bill on this one, find a spot and get in it….but where is the spot?

  • Fred Daniel

    The program was great. However, one element was overlooked as a possible cause. In 1982 the SEC changed the definition of an “Accredited Investor.” Before 1982, a small company looking for investors simply satisfied itself a prospective investor had sufficient knowledge and experience in financial and business matters to evaluate the merits of the investment and the investor was able to bear the economic risk of the investment. After 1982, a prospective investor generally had to have a net worth in excess of $1,000,000 or make at least $200,000 annually, to be deemed Accredited. From 1982 through today, all perspective investors not passing this test were “locked out” of private investments, unless they were company founders. (Should someone not accredited invest and lose their funds, the company would be required to repay all losses.)  So regardless of the knowledge and experience of the prospective investor, only the richest 1% could enjoy these private investments, with their huge returns. Even today, our SEC has tightened the standard by deducting the value of the home from the net worth. And they are looking to raise the threshold, further limiting the pool of investors.  Gone are the days the middle class are able to participate in private investments. So much for government looking out for the little guy.

  • 19obert63

    Did anyone see 60 minutes last night in regards to the cyber attack on Iran?  If you missed it, I urge everyone to go to the 60 minutes website and watch this very disturbing segment; the blogs are just as good as the segment, the scenario is as frightening as the Cuban Missile Crisis of of 1962. Are we about to drill our students on how to hide under their school desks again? Now is the time; our investigative  reporters must  step up,  dislpaying a  courage that can save this country and our children,  60 minutes ended with
    an ominious warning,—- this time you have been warned.

  • Tinkasguy

    Since 2/3rds of the 1% have inherited their wealth, I think a large motivation is just to continue to own the wealth that has been accumulated- why the breaks in the estate tax were so important to them- I think for the other 1/3, it is the score keeping you referenced- that has always been the goal on Wall Street- to live large and flashy- now the dot commers are doing that too- 

  • JC

    Maybe they’re hoarders. Innocent victims of a physiological disorder brought on by a traumatic event in their past. Put them on that hoarders program on TLC so the psychologist can find the root of their hoarding and help them stop. Or maybe they could stand an intervention. Make sure to include some laid off public employees (school teachers, police officers, firemen, etc) on the couch.

  • Ibeyour1

    there should be NO contributions to campaigns. Campaigns should be free to all that run via “public airwaves”. No advertising allowed at all other than equal  free time to all that run so that not only rich can run.

  • Ibeyour1

    Put an end, outlaw lobbys! No more legal bribery

  • Baumgrenze

    Have others read this recent Nicholas Kristof column?



    In it he says “Greece truly was a mess. For example, if
    you’re a business owner, taxation often works like this: Instead of paying a
    tax bill of, say, $100,000, you pay $40,000 to the state, hand a $20,000 bribe
    to the tax collector, and keep $40,000. ….. Rather, it was corruption,
    inefficiency and a system in which laws are optional.


    He moved me to write to him and ask if he saw a
    US parallel in which the ‘bribe’ here is smaller (a relative token campaign
    contribution) and the amount of taxes paid vs taxes owed much less than the 40%
    he suggests in corrupt Greece. Our difference is that our Supreme Court has
    blessed the bribes in Citizen’s United, and “Winner Take All
    Capitalism” so favors the richest of our richest that we no longer see
    ‘bribes’ as bribes, but rather as support for lobbyists and campaign
    contributions to candidates.  In the
    cold light of day, the real difference between the USA and Greece is
    indistinguishable (or we come off worse because we fail to acknowledge the

  • Brianharveson

    Your rebroadcast of “Winner-Take-All-Politics” showed again a clip of a ‘Wallstreet type’ person talking to one of the ‘Occupiers’. The Wallstreeter’s comment struck me as self-serving and hollow, or at the least insensitive and as out-of-touch with America as many of Wall Street and the right wing of politics.
    He said (approximately) “People who don’t think they’ll be rich will never be rich.” It can be heard from others of that stratum.
    My question is: how insulated or privileged is that man? How wrapped in money, inherited or earned (skimmed?), and did he start from tough circumstances and work his way up?
    It sounds like he was privileged and has never seen the dark side of life. He demonstrated at best a lack of empathy so typical of people who have been LUCKY in life and investing rather than SMART, but they take their success to mean they are smart. He’s drunk on his achievements and blind to how connected we all are.

  • Dnadanyi

    At least Bartlett is speaking out about how W bankrupted America-havn’t read it yett.

  • Dnadanyi

    How do we get rid of clear channel.

  • Dnadanyi

    When you build it please contact me-I’m in.

  • Deb Likes-Schroer

    I am in as well!  If we can get 6 million folks to watch a video about a wicked man in Africa, surely we can get folks to participate in their democracy right?  Deb Sighs…..yeah right.

  • Anonymous

    Great program.
    Having watched as we struggled to save for Retirement and my Pension disappeared and I was “forced out” of a Fortune 5 Corporation, these people confirm everything I knew in my Guts but refused to believe and I was in self-denial.

    Why would my beloved three decade employer do this to an employee who worked hard and on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, working instead of going to my kids baseball game, football game, teachers conference, and other family events? 

     I was a long term employee, dedicated and loyal.

    Well, I am paying the ultimate price financially as the woman who testified. There was no reward for being Loyal and dedicated, I was just tossed aside like an old worn out shoe.

    We have to get people to understand what I denied for the past 3 or more decades. I was naive and had a positive outlook that gradually, was destroyed over 30 years.

    Thinking back, our government “incentivized” Corporations and the Rich with tax policies like in Eisenhower days, after WWII to create health care plans, defined benefit pensions, adoption services, good working conditions.

     Three decades ago, the employers treated employees as Assets, unlike today “throw away Commodities” and the 1%(which is usually the CEO and his Executive Boards) are taking everything, productivity increases, and abusing employees as if they are French Aristocrats who said ‘Let them eat Cake” that led to the French Aristocrats “Losing their heads”.

    Corporations and the Rich will Not stop taking. The only way to stop them is to “Incentivize them” and the best way is with tax policy and getting Money out of our Politics.

    Until we get elected officials into Washington who are not of the mindset of the last 30 years, we will have a tougher tiime.

    The expression “throw the bums out” in Congress should be the rallying cry this election. Not all, but specifically the ones that are “feathering their nest eggs” with bribes from Corporaitons and the Rich.

    See who are bought and paid for by the Rich and Corporations.

  • Anonymous

    Lots of laws were changed in 1981 and 1982, the “accounting rules change regarding defined benefit pensions that allowed the Corporations to “tap into” the deferred wages of their DB plans, where the Corporations used the DB funds to “feather the nest of the Executive Top Hat” SERP plans, that they had not contributed to.

    During the 80’s and 90’s, the schemes to take DB plans were the rage (under guises of “downsizing, rightsizing, force out older employees” that Bain Capital and others made $Billions with Merger and Aquistion schemes, bankrupting Companies and stealing the DB funds.

    We were snookered and no one in our government was looking our for us.

    See this:

  • Anonymous

    Maybe this might provide some perspective to why “Greed is out of control”.

    I use the CEO of the Company I spent three decades with, he ran the company for two decades and retired and later died. After his death, Wall Street took over.

    He was a B-17 pilot in WWII and his Dad was
    a member of the 1%. During his time flying over Germany, his crew were from all levels of standard of living. He knew, that kid from Kentucky in the tail gunner position was the difference between him living or dying. He had a deep appreciation for his “crew”

    When he became CEO, he took care of his “crew” provided a Retirment plan, health care, adoption services, and to prosective employees proudly displayed the benefits of working at his Company.

    But, in concert with that, our govenment had “tax incentives’ (give your employees a Defined Benefit Pension – tax break).

    But when we lost “the Draft”, CEO’s that graduated from the Ivy Leagues to take over from the WWII CEO’s lost association with people, except their immediate circle of Rich buddies. People were an expense and treated not as Assets, but as Commodities with little loyalty to the USA middle class.  They support sending our kids to War to protect their Financial Assets around the world, but they refuse to send their kids to War.

    But have no sense of guilt keeping their kids out of military service.

    The only way to give the CEO’s and his 1% Executives a wake up call is to use the only tool of the people “Tax Incentives” like the 91% Top Marginal Tax rate of Eisenhower and Estate taxation of 50%.

     The CEOls and Corporations who want to leave the USA, good riddence.

  • Dnadanyi

    In order to join the EU Greece had to have the correct debt to GDP ratio which it did not have soooo enter Goldman Sachs and their bag of toxic derivatives and currency manipulations and guess what-suddenly the debt is much larger. Why doesn’t our main street medium owned by 6 corporations tell us that Goldman was involved in the demise of Greece? Investment banks have been targeting less developed countries for years. They buy their debts for pennies on the dollar and then bet against them and cause their interst rates to soar. Finally the Vulture Capitalist goes after their assets namely their banks and utilities. Suddenly their water costs twice as much etc. (sounds like California and Enron doesn’t it?) Now Europe is being targeted and the countries really have their hands tied due to the rules of the EU.  They cannot grow their way out of their recession/depression.  They are forced into austerity programs which is making their debt situation much worse. So is there an ulterior motive behind the Euro? Maybe deregulation of the entire world is the secret motive. Corporations are becoming the Kings and Queens of the world and everyone else serfs. When did the IMF and the World Bank get involved in this scheme?So much for the corporate version of “free enterprise.” The next chapter is when our investment banks, vulture capitalists and legislators start betting against our own country-probably happening as we speak.

  • Dnadanyi

    Two four years terms for president is not working out either. The first 4 years is spent cleaning up the mess from the last president and pandering to the huge corporations so they have a chance at another 4 years.

  • Dnadanyi

    It is because the media is owned by 5 or 6 corporations. Lies are told over and over until people believe what they hear. Limbaugh told people over and over that Sadam was responsible for 9/11.  They believed him. Fox tells people that Fannie Mae and the community reinvestment act were the sole causes of our economic collapse. And people truly do believe it. Rove told people over and over that W. would keep them safe.  They believed him and W got a second term. People are told that Obama is a Muslim and people believe it. The truth is not on TV or in most newspapers.  The truth is in books and people do not read them. They only watch FOX.  They do not watch any public broadcasting. Even public broadcasting is being compromised by corporste funding. People carefully put on their filtered glasses and then the blinders as well. They have no idea what Occupy is about.

  • Dnadanyi

    And uneducated. College is for snobs unless you are Santorum or his family.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Throwing the bums out seems to yield worse, crazier bums, so what can we do. Voting has become a farce.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Well put. Can M&C address this?
    Probably forbidden.
    And they tell me Moyers is under no undue influence. Who could believe such fairy tails, of their freedom to pursue any story?

  • GradyLeeHoward

    So hiding under a desk can prevent computer hacking? Iran has no WMDs threatening us at present. And our National Security State “hunts bugs (hackers) down like radar and kills them dead.” You’re short circuiting reality 190bert63.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    So Romney is a generation removed from egalitarian considerations, and Obama never experienced such things. The money has already left the States (Caymans, Switzerland, even China)
    Terrific history lesson.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Foreclose on the banks is what we should have done 4 years ago.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Inadequate… bandaid.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    College has been dumbed down and censored too.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Only 5% get political information from the Internet. It is mostly celebrities and social networking and shopping. So the second screen goes the way of the first (TV).

  • Anonymous

    We got burned by the ‘Tea Party” nuts. We thought these guys were a breath of fresh air but were snookered, by the Koch brothers, John Birchers and Libertarians who has funded the “Tea Party”.

    Listening to Clear Channel (Romney’s Bain Capital) owned media that broadcasts Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, and other Right of Right Wing nuts under cover for the disgrunted Billionaires were instruments to get us to vote for the “Tea Party”.

    Hopefully, people are finding PBS, NPR, the Internet, Ipodcasts, and Satellite TV and Radio to get their news.

    I don’t listen to the ‘Choose the Right” crap coming out of our local radio stations and found Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz, Diane Rheams of NPR and Bill Moyers of PBS and Need to Know and others.

    I also read books, lots of books along with shortwave and Internet WIFI radio (25,000 stations all over the world). Magazines from Newsweek, Time, Forbes, Fortune, Nation, Progressive, High Tower, AARP, Business Week, and others. I feel I am getting more balanced information today. The last time I felt I felt pretty good about what I heard off the air was Paul Harvey and Walter Cronkite.

    Today, Scott Pelly of CBS is coming close to Walter Cronkite as a news reporter.

    We need to vote, the Corporations and the Rich 1% are counting we get so ticked off we don’t vote and are changing voter ID laws to make it even harder, a real threat to our country.

    Corporations and the Rich want to get government as small as possible so they can run it. (Unfortunately, they already have so much control (Money, Lobbyists, and bills to be introduced into Congress written by and for the Corporations and the Rich 1% that comes along with the Bribes).

    If I was younger, I would consider moving to Australia, Universal Health Care and Mandatory Voting (don’t cast a vote in an Australian election, get fined”. That law here would really screw up the Rich and Corporatate 1% minority.

    We can turn this around, we just have to “Think outside the Box” and not rely on Mulitmillionaire Disk Jockeys like Limbaugh who are controlled by Corporations and the Rich 1% who want us to vote for the people who will benefit them and continue the shift to Poverty of the Middle Class.

    Get Active, show up, quit watching DVD’s and TV.

  • Dnadanyi

    The new head of the IMF was on Fareed’s show today.  She mentioned the above subject.  What I would love to know is which “private investors” (vultures)are unwilling to take the necessary cuts to their profits. Some are taking cuts and some are balking accoding to the Associated Press .

  • Dnadanyi

    When,how and why did that happen?

  • Michael

    It shows only one thing. Our politicians can be bought off on the peoples backs. We the people does not pertain to us. Only the greed driven politicians and corporations. It is looking more and more that this country is driven by political greed. It also looks like every time the ladder goes up one of the people in Washington are sitting on the top rung with a saw cutting the rungs below. It is time to get normal people in Washington that don’t care about the wealthy peoples feelings and think about the real people that break their backs to make a decent living.

  • Michael

    There are countrys that are fighting for reform. Maybe we need the same thing to happen here so the world will sit back and laugh since our so called people in Washington think that it can’t happen here. What a total joke. Our government sending the military into every city to end the conflict with the blessing of the billionairs.

  • Ktully

    tea party funded? I attended a couple of tea party rallies, no funding go on there.  Just everyday people wanting responsible representatives.

  • Anonymous

    Have you ever wondered “what you see is being manipulated by “Someone pulling strings” and people are being used?”

    Maybe this will help.

    Google Tea Party Funding to see other stories.

    The John Birchers and Libertarians are “hiding in the wings”.

    The fellows putting money into the Tea Party, want a government that will fit in a bathtub. When they accomplish that, they can then take over. The Middle Class will go away and they will have obtained their goal of a the USA as a “Third World Country” controlled and run by the Rich 1%. (They have almost succeeded but I think people are starting to “wake up”.

    They have no problem with us sending our kids and grandkids to War to fight for their “Global Assets” but refuse to send their kids. I refer you to Mitt Romney’s five military eligible sons.

  • Grouse Feather

    Oh please! The Koch brothers and Dick Armie are all the tea party.

  • Angus Cunningham

    If Winston Churchill were to visit the United States today, I can readily imagine him saying “Never have so few owed so much to so many”.  Frankly, that is a disgusting reality and it shows that the surfeits enjoyed by the few have resulted in them becoming less human.

  • MaryEllen

    Read the book; clearly, the slippage began with the intentional weakening of labor unions in this country.  So their re-emergence is essential to restore a government that pays attention to the average citizen–and the good of the nation!

  • Anonymous

    THANK YOU,  thank you for the courage to discuss and challenge crucial topics.  This show is by far the best I have watched of  any network discussing what got us into the financial disaster of today and of how greed, gluttony and desire for power is absolutely destroying US democracy.   Moderate and balance cannot continue to be   viewed as anti and wrong. 

  • Vjillh

     Money controlling politics is a symptom – the root of the problem is the imbalance in the monetary system that encourages the widening gap in wealth flows.  The economy is our most basic social dialog and the currency flows in the market are similar to the nutrient flows in an ecosystem.  Unless you address the imbalance of the currency flows you will not be able to address the symptoms like the rape of the environment in pursuit of currency accumulation.  I’ve appreciated your presence in our media for many years Mr. Moyers, and would ask you to please do a show on Silvio Gesell’s book “The Natural Economic Order” ( for a better understanding of balancing the currency flows within the market.

    Gesell believed that money had a privileged position in the market over consumable goods because all real assets decay and require investment of time/money to maintain over time.  Because money does not have the same holding cost as consumables it is easier to ‘store wealth’ in currency and those who hold it can extract a tribute of interest from society for its use.   He provides an excellent argument that the only way to keep interest rates within a healthy bound is to put a similar ‘holding cost’ on currency to the cost of maintaining consumables.  Having holding fee (demurrage) is a real shift in our economic paradigm (and many people wrongly equate that to the inflation of our current system) – but another way to think of this is as a flat tax on money.  Currently we tax money flows (in the form of income, consumption, etc…) but Gesell’s analysis points to the need to tax ‘stagnant’ money as well.

    Silvio Gesell’s demurrage currency properly addresses the reasons our money tends to pool into ever fewer hands, causing the velocity to slow and the inflationary injection of new money into the system by central banks. I believe that economists speak of ‘growth’ because of the ever slowing velocity of the currency, and that demurrage is a more sustainable way of increasing the velocity than growth.  Local governments should spend currency into the economy on those bond issues that we vote on.  The volume of the currency would be regulated differently than our current system.

    The most pressing structural problem with our monetary system is reflected in our definition of the “time value of money” which is critical to how we perceive the “storage of value” in our economy. While money should function as a catalyst for us to interact to produce real wealth by enhancing our environment, we have instead mistaken the money itself as wealth.  When the “time value of money” reflects an expectation of receiving a positive rate of return then we’re encouraged to invest in short term monetary gains over long term investments in infrastructure. (e.g. David Korten’s conversation with Malaysia’s minister of forestry who ironically noted that Malaysia would be better off once all it’s trees were cut down since the interest on the money grows faster than the trees).

    I think the major problem with imagining a demurrage model is the change it requires in thinking of “storage of value” – or how we ‘build our nest egg’ for our later years.  We’ve been living with an expansive inflationary system for so long, it’s hard to imagine any other way of meeting our retirement needs with out accumulating a couple million in the stock market.  If we finally put this unsustainable growth idea to rest by creating a viable sustainable market, then we wouldn’t need to feed the stock market beast which works against our best interests anyway.

    The Chiemgauer started as a school project and the reason it has been so much more successful than other community currencies is the demurrage fee coupled with the democratizing of how the money is spent back into the market (i.e. people choosing the non-profit they wish their currency to be supporting).

  • Michael Simpson

    THANK YOU, Mr. Moyers! 

    I’m reading Simon Schama’s book, “Citizens,” a new take on the French Revolution. This book resonates with what has been going on in the US for 30 years, according to Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson.

    It seems to me that democracy and capitalism cannot co-exist in this country.

    What is to be done? to quote Lenin.

    Revolutions are fearful things and don’t go where you want them to go. But I don’t see any other way except revolution to change the current status quo in the US, where, as Hacker and Pierson say, it’s no longer a matter of the haves and the have-nots but of the have-it-alls and the rest of us.


  • Mo Bjornestad

    Jacob and Paul,
    Thank You for your work.  How can we help?   I wrote this comment earlier today speaking to William Forbath’s NYT editorial “Workingman’s Constitution.  It, I believe, supports your understanding. Mo
    A democracy run by special interests to further empower and enrich the special interests is a mockery being sold to enough people to keep it going. Good people with good minds still believe we have a two party system where the best ideas will win. People who care about people in general are losing ground to people with no rules for seeking an advantage. The bully on the playground is easy to spot; the bully behind unregulated doors, K street lobbyists, and notable spin doctors are harder to spot and difficult to stop.Faced with outside enemies we not only preserved the free world, but improved the opportunity for middle class. Now, without a common goal, that energy is turned into putting the business of business in complete charge. Buying votes with claims about reducing taxes, changing laws and loosening regulation to encourage business growth, are all part of winning, not with a gun, but taking from the worker with endless repetition that unions are bad, regulation handicaps business, and taxes limit growth. It is true that laws and regulations limit growth, but the trade off for those limitations is that they look after the people who labor at the jobs of keeping the system going. Our first obligation is restore “….a constitutional vision of a national government empowered “to promote the general Welfare” and — in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s terse formula — “to regulate the national economy in the interest of those who labor to sustain it.

  • Erika Gallo

    What an excellent show for all Americans to watch, specially for those of use “middle class” that are still trying to figure out how one can work so hard and still struggle so much to get ahead.

  • Drumrunner

    All spot on. To which I’d add regarding cultural factors, this country is so driven to distraction with the digital enslaught of social media. Walk onto any train or into a coffee shop and you’ll see people with their heads down fiddling with smartphones instead of engaged in meaningful conversation. We are what we share on Facebook? Let’s hope not. Social media can help bring awareness to issues, but it sorely lacks in applied activism. Taking to the streets may be old school, but show me a better way.