BILL MOYERS: Welcome. The new Gilded Age is roaring down on us, an uncaged tiger on a rampage. Walk out to the street in front of our office and turn right and you can see the symbol of it: a fancy new skyscraper going up two blocks away. When finished, this high rise among high rises will tower a thousand feet, the tallest residential building in the city.

The New York Times has dubbed it "the global billionaires club," and for good reason. At least of two of the apartments are under contract for more than $90 million each. Others, more modest, range in price from $45 million to more than 50 million.

Simultaneously, the powers-that-be have just awarded Donald Trump -- yes, that Donald Trump -- the right to run a golf course in the Bronx which taxpayers are spending at least $97 million to build. What “amounts to a public subsidy,” says the indignant city comptroller, "for a luxury golf course." Good grief. A handout to the plutocrat's plutocrat.

This, in a city where economic inequality rivals that of a third-world country. Of America's 25 largest cities, New York is now the most unequal. The median income for the bottom 20% last year was less than $9,000, while the top one percent of New Yorkers has an average annual income of $2.2 million.

Across America, this divide between the superrich and everyone else has become a yawning chasm and studies indicate it may stifle jobs and growth for years to come. At no time in modern history has the top one hundredth of one percent owned more of our wealth or paid so low a tax rate. But in neither of the two presidential debates so far has the vastness of this astounding inequality gap been discussed. Not by Mitt Romney, who is the embodiment of the predatory world of financial capitalism. And not even by Barack Obama, whose party once fought for working men and women against the economic royalists.

So just in time, if not too late, comes this definitive examination of inequality: Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. Its author is Chrystia Freeland, whose journalism is steeped in years of covering robber barons from Russia to Mexico and India. Once deputy editor of The Globe and Mail in Canada and a correspondent for The Financial Times and The Economist, she is now the editor of Thomson Reuters Digital.

We're joined by the perceptive and merciless Matt Taibbi, who has made the magazine Rolling Stone a go-to source for understanding the financial scandals that roil America. Who can forget his 2009 article on "The Great American Bubble Machine," which described investment bank Goldman Sachs as quote, "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”?

Welcome to you both.

MATT TAIBBI: Thank you.

BILL MOYERS: Income inequality has soared to the highest level since the Great Depression, with the top one percent taking 93 percent of the income earned in the first year after the recovery, the first full year after the recovery. Why are the two candidates not talking about inequality growing at breakneck speed?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: You know, I think because it is still a taboo in American political life and in American cultural life. One of the economists I talk to he works for the World Bank. And he said to me, you know, and he's a specialist in income inequality.

And he said, "When you go to think tanks you say you'd like to do a study about poverty, they say, 'That's fine. That's great. We're happy to fund it,' because writing about poverty makes everybody feel good and feel that they're being charitable and beneficent. But if you say, 'Actually, I want to study income inequality,' and even most dangerously, 'I want to study what's happening at the very top of the distribution," what Branko Milanović said to me is the think tanks immediately pull away because they say, "Our donors won't like it."

And that actually challenges the whole economic setup of the United States and of western capitalism. It’s very, very threatening. And I think that that’s why you've had the billionaire class. You know, the minute Barack Obama, I would actually say rather gently suggested that the millionaires and the billionaires should pay a little bit more, you had immediate cries of class warfare from the plutocrats. And very emotional. You know, there was an activist investor who sent an e-mail to his friends. The subject line is, "battered wives." And in the e-mail he compares himself and his fellow multi-millionaires to battered wives who are being beaten by the president. He actually uses those words.

MATT TAIBBI: And I thought it was really interesting in your book how you pointed out that Bill Clinton, himself, responded to Obama's criticism by saying, "You know, I would have done it a little bit differently. I think, you know, you can't attack these people for their success." And I think that's very relevant because if you go back in time, it wasn't always this way.

But I think the shift really began with Clinton and the New Democrats. I think after, you know, Walter Mondale lost in 1984, the Democrats decided, "You know, we're never going to lose the funding battle again." And they began this sort of imperceptible shift, where they continued to campaign on social issues the same way they had before.

They retained their liberalism in that sense. But economically, they began to side more and more with Wall Street and more and more with the very rich. And they've, I think we've now reached the point where neither party really represents the very poor in the way that the Democrats maybe used to. And so, that there's, that's why, you know, you don't see it in the debates, because neither party is really an advocate for that kind of left behind class anymore.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: It is the people at the bottom, as Matt says. But it's also the people in the middle.


CHRYSTIA FREELAND: You know, the middle class is being--

MATT TAIBBI: Decimated, yeah.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: --hammered. Those jobs are hollowed out. And where are the people pulling back and saying, "Okay, technology revolution, we love it." Globalization, I love that too. And I think it's great people are being raised up in India and China and now Africa. But let's think about how our society and our politics need to change to accommodate this. And no one is doing that. And meanwhile, the guys at the top, who are making, who are doing so, so well actually are saying, "We need to slant the political system even more in our own favor."

BILL MOYERS: Why are we so passive about this?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, I think the, first of all the poor in this country have been incredibly demoralized whether it's the relentless attention of, you know, bill collectors. Or if you go to poor neighborhoods, you know, I was out in Queens last night interviewing a kid who's been stopped and frisked 70 times already. He's 22 years old. You have this constant interference by the police if you live in a bad neighborhood.

There're all these obstacles to getting up and rising up and having your own voice. And also I think in the media we get these relentless messages that being poor is actually your own fault and that people who are rich deserve to be rich. And a lot of Americans are disillusioned about their situation. They believe, they actually do believe on some level that if they're poor, they deserve to be that way. I think they're, and so they're reluctant to go out and revolt the way maybe Europeans in the last century, early in the last century would have.

BILL MOYERS: Left unanswered, left unanswered where does this vast inequality take America?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Well, I think to a very bad place. And I see two real and present dangers. One is that you see an increase of the political capture.


CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Of the political capture. So of the people at the very, very top, capturing the political system. And most crucially, I think something that an economist, a guy called Willem Buiter, who's the chief economist at Citigroup, he calls it cognitive capture. Where he says, look, it's not like this vast conspiracy. It's not as if, you know, everyone is on the payroll of the plutocrats.

And this guy, okay, he is now the chief economist of Citigroup. He wrote this when he was an academic economist. But so it's, he's hardly, you know, some kind of Marxist on the barricades. His argument was that part of the reason the financial crisis happened is the entire intellectual establishment, not just people inside investment banks, but regulators, academic economists, financial journalists, had all been captured by the financial sector's vision of how the economy should work. And in particular, light touch regulation.

And I think there is a broader cognitive capture of, you know, you might call it the intellectual class, the public intellectuals, around maybe the inevitability of plutocracy. You know, as Matt was saying, this notion that if you're poor, it's your own fault. You're part of this dependent 47 percent. Unions are very bad. All of that sort of stuff.

So I think that that cognitive capture increases. And I think what you see increasingly is, you know, elites like to think of themselves as acting in the collective interest, even as they act in their personal vested interest. And so what I think you'll end up seeing is social mobility, which is already decreasing in the United States, being increasingly squeezed. You see particularly powerful sectors, finance, oil. I would say the technology sector is going to be next in line, getting lots of government subsidies.

And meanwhile, I think you see much less money spent on the things that the middle class and the poor need. That's why have this, you know, full bore attack on entitlements, right? Why is the plutocracy so enthusiastic about cutting entitlement spending? Because they don't need it. But they're very worried about their tax dollars funding it.

MATT TAIBBI: Right. Where was that outrage when the $5 trillion or $6 trillion in bailouts was coming their way?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Right. So I really worry about that. And then the other thing that I worry about is you do start actually stifling economic growth. So, you know, if you want my dystopia scenario for the United States, it is that America's moving into a more Latin American structure of the economy.

BILL MOYERS: People at the top, rich. And a lot of people—

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: A few incredibly rich, you know, having just great lives. And then people at the bottom really struggling.

MATT TAIBBI: We both lived that. We saw that in Russia and it happened in the mid-'90s. And—

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, you both cut your teeth in journalism covering Russia. What do you take away from that that is relevant to what's happening in this country?

MATT TAIBBI: You know, I, that experience completely shaped the way I look at the present situation in the, in America. In the mid-'90s, suddenly when Russia became a "capitalist society" you suddenly has this instant division of the entire society into this very, very tiny group of people at the top who had more money than anybody in the world. And then there was everybody else who had nothing. And—

BILL MOYERS: And they got it through privatization, the government sold off the resources of--

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: "Sold" in quotation marks--


MATT TAIBBI: But that was, that's the key part that I think people don't understand, is that what happened in Russian was really a merger of state and private power that empowered this one tiny little class. There was this moment in Russia's history called loans-for-shares. The loans-for-shares privatizations, where a few people, a lot of them were ex-KGB types, were essentially handed the jewels of Russian industry by the people in the Yeltsin government. There were companies that were put in charge of their own auctions. So they--

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: They were all in charge of their own auctions.

MATT TAIBBI: They were all in charge of their own auctions. So they, you would have an auction for an oil company and a bank would be put in charge of that auction. And the bank magically, you know, would win the auction for the oil company, which was worth, you know, billions or even hundreds of billions of dollars. And that's how they instantly created this super wealthy class of people. And everybody else had nothing. This one story, for me this image that I'll never forget. I went to a coal mine up in the Russian arctic north where workers hadn't been paid their salaries for nine, ten months at a time. And when I went to the mine, the mine owners, the first thing they wanted to do was to take me to their bright shiny new lounge that they had built for themselves and show off their brand new slate pool table that they had built with the money that they weren't paying to their workers.

And that, to me, perfectly expressed the divide in modern Russian society. You had these people who were living off nothing on the one hand. And then you had these super wealthy people who had been enabled who had just kept the money for themselves. And that's I think, you know, it's a caricature of what we're experiencing here in America. But I think that's where the world is drifting toward now.

BILL MOYERS: You write about some of these super rich, not only with insight, but with empathy. That is, you've gotten to talk to a lot of them. You have moved among them as a financial journalist, been to Davos and other places like that. And I'm wondering, how did you crack what is clearly a tight knit world?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Well, I guess the way journalists do it, just by talking to people, writing about them. I think you write stories that show people that actually you're interested in what they're doing. And what I would also say is, you know, I believe in capitalism. And I also actually believe in globalization and the technology revolution. If you gave me the option of turning the clock back to the 1950s, I wouldn't do it. Partly because I'm a woman and things were not that great for us then.


CHRYSTIA FREELAND: And, you know, it's important, you know, I think a mistake that the left can make in criticizing income inequality is to behave as if this is entirely a political confection. It's entirely about political capture. There are no genuine, legitimate and actually benign economic forces driving it. Because I think there are. I think the winner take all economic dynamic is something that is existing separate from the politics. The politics in the United States are exacerbating that division rather than mitigating it.

But I do think that when you pull back and look at the global picture, which is something that was important for me to do in the book, it becomes a little bit harder to say, "this particular American tax break," or even, "this particular American financial reform is the only thing driving income inequality," because the really remarkable thing is the extent to which this is a global phenomenon.

It's happening across the western industrialized world. I'm Canadian. So I'm practically born a socialist in the view of many Americans. But even in Canada, income inequality is increasing. It's even, you know, for a while in the economic literature the one outlier was France. And so, insofar as economists make jokes they would say, "oh, the French. They have to be exceptional even in this area." But now you're seeing it increase in France too. And you're seeing it increase in the emerging market economies. So I think we do have to accept that there are some economic drivers.

Now those economic drivers are partly put in place by the politics. It was politics that allowed globalization to happen. And in the United States really crucially, and I think you can't emphasize this too much. Look at what happened with the tax code. I mean, in the 1950s, this era when America felt itself to be a very conservative society, and it was, the top marginal tax rate was above 90 percent.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, 91 percent, I believe.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Right, just think about that. Imagine if Barack Obama had said in the debate this week, "You know what Governor Romney? I think America in the '50s was a wonderful place. That was the age of the greatest generation. They, too, faced a real budget deficit they had to pay off. And the people at the very top were willing to pay a 90 percent top marginal tax rate. Would you be willing to do that, Governor?" I mean, imagine if he had said that.

BILL MOYERS: You cover some of the same crowd that Chrystia's writing about, but you do so with a, with complete irreverence. Do you still gain access to them? Or have all the doors been slammed in your face?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, the very, very top people won't talk to me. You know, I don't have access to the same people that Chrystia maybe talks to. But I do talk to a lot of people who work on Wall Street. In fact I got started down the road of this whole topic, you know, after I wrote a couple of articles. And then suddenly on this there was this outpouring of people from Wall Street who suddenly wanted to talk to me because they were upset about the direction that the financial services industry was taking.

So I'm hearing a lot from people sort of from the middle on down on Wall Street. And what they're really upset about is corruption. Is this merging of state and private power, where the losers don't lose anymore. I think the people who get really upset are small hedge funds, small banks. And they see companies like, you know, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase make mistake after mistake. And they get rewarded for it what with bailouts and even greater market share than they had before.

And so, you know, my analysis is informed by those people. And I think, you know, I think Chrystia and I agree about a lot of things about, particularly about the growing divide and how extreme it's become. My analysis just might be a little bit angrier just because the, you know, from the point of view that I'm particularly looking at is the corruption and the use of force and state power to keep divide where it is and increase it.

BILL MOYERS: You both have pointed out that we tend to talk as if Wall Street and the plutocracy were a monolith. But it's not. Do you think there is a civil war within the one percent?

MATT TAIBBI: There is absolutely a schism developing in this community. Think about it just on one level, on the level of banking, right? If you have these too big to fail banks, everybody in the world knows that nobody's going to l allow the very biggest commercial banks to go out of business. It will never happen. 2008 proved it, that if they ever get in trouble the government will come in and rescue them. So what does that mean for those banks?

It means that it allows them to borrow money more cheaply because anybody who lends them money knows they're always going to get paid off. The government if, in the worst case scenario, they're going to get paid off. So this gives them an inherent financial advantage over the small, regional commercial bank, which does not have that implied government guarantee. And so those people are furious.

They're furious that they have to compete against these gigantic monoliths that have the implicit backing of the U.S. government. Then there's the other problem of corruption. I mean, I hear all the time from hedge funds you know, these smaller guys who believe that some of the big investment banks are selling them out to even bigger hedge funds, that are, you know, giving away information about their positions to even bigger clients so that somebody else can trade against them.

Or maybe the banks themselves are front running their positions and trading against their own clients. There's this schism developing between the smaller guy the medium size financial player and the very, very big too big to fail companies that are perceived as getting a break, and getting the backing of the government. And also are perceived as getting away with stuff that they wouldn't get away with.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: I agree with Matt. And I think what you’re really seeing , actually, it's sort of the battle of the millionaires versus the billionaires because this winner take all dynamic is not just between, you know, the 10 percent and the 90 percent or the one percent and the 99 percent.

What's quite interesting and leads me to really believe that there're some deep economic forces involved is it's happening just as much within the top one percent. We saw it in the recovery. You sited those statistics, Bill, about 93 percent of the recovery going to the one percent. Thirty-seven percent of the recovery went to the top 0.01 percent.

So even in there, there's, you know, even more of a gap. And the people one layer down can be very, very aggrieved precisely because, you know, they see what's going on. They see that unfairness. And it makes them really, really mad.

You know, one of the things that I found as I was writing my book and talking to plutocrats was, you know, as Matt says, these are very, very smart people. And many of them, not all, some—

BILL MOYERS: They work very hard too, don't they?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: This is not Downton Abbey. These are not people, this is not a landed gentry. These are people who even, and even if they're sort of a Mitt Romney or a Bill Gates who grew up very affluent, their actual business, they did build themselves. They built in a society that was very supportive of that, but they built it. So, you know, they're hardworking. They have to be thoughtful about the world because they're making investments.

And what I found was very interesting was they were very keen to divide the world into the good plutocrats and the bad plutocrats. And what was very funny was everyone was happy to make that division. But everyone felt that they themselves and their particular type of business belonged to good plutocrats, and somebody else belonged to bad ones. So you talk to the Silicon Valley guys, they love talking about this, especially after the financial crisis because their view was, "Of course income inequality is a problem. Of course there has been state capture by those bad guys in New York. "We however, are the innovators. We created value ourselves. We are completely pure and good. And these issues really have nothing to do with us."

BILL MOYERS: Do you think they think they're really defending honest capitalism?

MATT TAIBBI: Oh, absolutely. I, you know, the one thing that's consistent in my exposure to the financial services industry is that the people who work within it, and particularly the people you know, at the very, very top, sincerely believe that they have not done anything wrong. And, you know, when you bring up things like the mass sale of fraudulent mortgage backed securities, it's just like you say.

It's always somebody else who made that mistake. You know, "We didn't know at the time that we were selling billions and billions of dollars of junk and we were dumping this on pension funds and foreign trade unions." It was always somebody else who was doing that. And they also have built up this very, very powerful insulating psychological justification for their lifestyles. They've adopted this sort of Randian point of view, where--


MATT TAIBBI: Yeah exactly, you know, they genuinely believe that they are the wealth creators and that they should get every advantage and break whereas everybody else is a parasite and they're living off of them. So when you bring up to them, for instance, how is it that nobody, despite this mass epidemic of fraud that appears to have happened before the 2008 crash, how come nobody of consequence has gone to jail after that?

They always, you know, they always argue against more regulation and more enforcement because they say, "We need room to, we need air to breathe, we need room to create jobs. And this is just counterproductive to put people in jail. It'll cast a pall over society.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: If I may say so Bill, this very sincere, absolutely, absolutely sincere self-justification, I think, is one of the most dangerous things that's happening because in our society, and I would say this is particularly powerful in America. Really since the Reagan era, there has been this vision of the successful businessperson as really a leader for the whole society. And there has been a view that the businessperson, what he thinks, and, by the way, all of my plutocrats are men.

But, you know, what he thinks about how society should be ordered, we should all listen to because he, after all, is the hero of our time, is the hero of capitalist narrative. And I think it's so important for us to really understand that what is good for an individual business, particularly in this age of very high income inequality and the ways of thinking, the ideas that are no doubt absolutely the right ones for this particular business, may very well not be good for society as a whole.

BILL MOYERS: Both of you write in different ways that, with irony, that they threaten the system that created them.

MATT TAIBBI: Well this was another thing, another image from Russia that always stuck in my mind. And I studied in Russia when it was still communist. I remember going through the countryside. And you had all these villages and people walked around in the villages.

And then suddenly in the mid to late '90s in Russia you drove through the Russian countryside. And suddenly there were these big brick houses that had these huge walls on the outside, these big brick walls with guards on the outside. It was the rich had sort of built this wall that insulated them from the rest of society.

They were living, there was one society on one side of those walls, and then one society on the other side of it. And I think that's where we're headed now. We have this kind of community of rich people who sort of live, hop from place to place. And they never have any sort of intercourse with the rest of the world.

BILL MOYERS: Disconnected?

MATT TAIBBI: They're completely disconnected. And so they've built this kind of nation where inside, it's all, you know, nice and everything works logically. And it makes sense to them. But they never really see what goes on on the outside.

BILL MOYERS: Do they feel entitled?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Yes. Absolutely. And, you--

BILL MOYERS: For what reason?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Because they are treated so well. So my favorite story about this was when I was at Heathrow Airport, about to go to a fancy conference. And I ran into someone also going to a fancy conference, a Silicon Valley senior technology person. You know, I didn't have a car. But he had a car coming to picking him up and so he offered to share the ride. So we're in the car and this technology guy said to me, when you live our life, you are surrounded by such power and such entitlement, you lose touch with reality." And his very personal example was he said, "I was recently staying at this lovely Four Seasons Hotel. And I was beside the pool. I was eating a melon. And my spoon fell to the ground. And he said, "Before I could summon anyone, someone rushed up to me with three spoons of different sizes on a linen napkin so that, God forbid, you know, I shouldn't have the wrong size spoon."

And what he said was, "You know, what was amazing to me," he's talking about himself, "is when I reentered my real life," he said, "I was kind of a jerk because I like, I expected to live a life where I was constantly being presented with three spoons of different sizes. And I just I couldn't deal with the frustrations of everyday life." What makes this a totally ironic story is here he's telling this kind of self-aware story about the plutocracy.

But when we had been in the airport waiting for the car, he was on the phone, screaming at someone about "Where is my car," et cetera, et cetera.

So this is, you know, morning in Heathrow. Middle of the night, you know, in San Francisco. And he's yelling at someone there because she hasn't organized his car and we had to wait for five minutes. And then he tells me this story about how entitlement can make you not an ideal person. That kind of says it all, right?

BILL MOYERS: But political behavior's another thing. And there's no doubt in either of your minds, is there, that they tilt the rules in their favor through their influence and power over the politicians.

MATT TAIBBI: Absolutely. I mean--

BILL MOYERS: I mean, our own government relaxed the regulations, upended the rules, leveled the laws to make way for them.

MATT TAIBBI: They have this power and influence over the government to and they've been continually deregulating the atmosphere to legalize whatever it is that they want to do, whether it's, you know, merging insurance companies and investment banks, whatever it is. The derivatives, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, they lobbied heavily to create a completely deregulated atmosphere for that. And we saw what happened with that in 2008 with the collapse of companies like AIG. They've been incredibly successful in creating their own landscape where they get to do business the way they want to do business.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: And what I think is crucial is, this is not framed as, "I want government to do this so I can get rich and my company can prosper." This is framed as "We need to do these things for the greater good." And this is where I think another big problem in America today is a disempowering and a devaluing of the role of government and of its authority as an independent, respected arbitrating body in the center of the ring. And one of the great contrasts for me in the past decade has been looking at what happened in bank regulation in the United States and looking at what happened in Canada. Matt has just spoken about bank mergers. And with hindsight, you know, one of the great brave decisions taken by the Canadian government was to not allow the Canadian banks to merge. They wanted to. Huge lobbying effort. And they made the same arguments about, "Oh, if we can't merge, we'll never operate on a global scale. You know, Canada will be left behind. We'll be a provincial backwater." And the government just said no. And that decision I think flows directly into the Canadian government's ability to regulate the financial sector.

Leverage at U.S. levels was not allowed. And the consequence was Canada didn't have a financial crisis. It's the only G7 country that didn't have to bail out its banks. So government can actually hold the line. Government can--

BILL MOYERS: But not if it's captured, Chrystia.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Not if it's captured. Not if it's captured. And so--

BILL MOYERS: And it is captured—

MATT TAIBBI: But now we're completely captured, with the banking example, now we have these banks that are literally too big to fail in America because we didn't do the same thing.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: But government can act. I mean, I think it's important not to have a counsel of despair. That you can have a sophisticated, industrialized western economy. People can live, you know, civilized lives. They can have bankers. Their bankers even, maybe they're not going to earn $25 million. But they can earn $5 million or $6 million.

They can be perfectly affluent. And government can actually stand up to its banks and stand up to other sectors of industry and say, "You know what? I'm sure that would be great for you guys. My judgment is it's wrong for the country. And you're not going to do it."

BILL MOYERS: They resent any criticism, despite all the advantages and entitlements they have. They also exhibit disdain, as Mitt Romney made clear in that infamous or famous 47 percent video. You know, when he talked about other people being dependent on government.

MATT TAIBBI: I've heard that attitude more than once, and not just from Mitt Romney. I think it's, again, it's consistent with this mindset that there is an intellectual atmosphere that these people I think have to work within in order to justify a lot of what they do, because you have to be completely disconnected from the real world in order to do things like sell fraudulent mortgages to a state pension fund. If you're actually thinking about that, you know, you're taking somebody's life savings away when you do that. But you can't think about that.

BILL MOYERS: Matt, you quoted the billionaire Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway, who said that anyone who wants to complain about the Wall Street bailout should realize they were, "absolutely required to save your civilization." What did he mean by that?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, again, this group of people believe that all of civilization depends on their health and their wellbeing. So when they were threatened in 2008, when they were all about to collapse, it made absolute sense to them that the government should immediately intervene and give them as much money as they needed, to not only to get back on their feet, but to restore their lifestyles to the level that they had been accustomed to.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: So I'm going to, here, step in as a voice in favor of the bailout. I think that Munger was right. I do actually believe--

BILL MOYERS: Saving civilization?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Yeah, I think it was. I think that the bailouts were absolutely essential. I think that, had there not been a bailout, which, by the way, let's remember, voices on the right as well as the left were objecting to the bailout at the time. I think had there not been a bailout, you would've had a much more severe crisis. You would've had a full financial collapse and a much, much deeper economic recession. Now, I think where you can and should criticize is first of all, why was the crisis allowed to happen in the first place and the regulatory failure beforehand. I think second of all, you know, where were the strings attached? And actually Charlie Munger's great business partner, Warren Buffett, drove a much harder bargain with Goldman Sachs than the U.S. Treasury did.

You know, 2008 is not so long ago. And already, the anti-regulation chorus is so strong. You know, I think the re-regulation was not done well at all.

But the fact that people are already making a very, you know, powerful and proud argument against government regulation, bankers are making this argument. I mean, how dare they. How dare they have the gall to actually argue that too much regulation of American financial services is what is killing the economy.

MATT TAIBBI: Right. Right. Just to be clear, I actually agree that the bailouts were necessary. What I completely disagree with was the way they were done. They just simply threw a whole bunch of money at this community and didn't have any conditions at all. They didn't sweep in and change any rules. You know, and after the S&L crisis, for instance, we went in and there were massive criminal investigations.

We put 1,000 people in jail. There were no such investigations this time around. So this was just making everybody well again and restoring everybody to the status quo, which I think was a major mistake because it produced precisely the result we're talking about now. It allowed everybody to think that the previous status quo was okay.

BILL MOYERS: Let me talk about the CEO class because it seems almost every day now there's a new story of some CEO, some boss of a big company who's attempting to tell voters to vote as they say.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: If you really see yourself as a job creator, someone who is not just pursuing their business interest in getting richer, but someone who is creating jobs, doing great things for America and for your workers, and you also sincerely believe that Barack Obama is a bad guy, then you feel you have to help your workers to understand this. You know, you have to let them know that you, the job creator, believe that this job creation of which they are the fortunate beneficiaries, you know, that engine is going to slow down. It's going to grind to a halt.

BILL MOYERS: Do you see this as different from what unions do in urging their voters to go out and vote for the candidates of their choice? Do you see it differently?

MATT TAIBBI: I think it's a little different just because there's an implied threat. It's very, very vague, but, you know, if the CEO of your company suggests to you that you have to vote for Mitt Romney or you have to give money to the Romney campaign, I think the tendency to, you know, to not break ranks, is going to be a little stronger than maybe it would be in a union.

But I think it grows out of this, you know, companies and corporations, they're not democracies. They're authoritarian structures. And the people who work in those companies-- they start to adopt those attitudes after a while. And especially the people at the very top.

I think they've begun to actually believe that their authority extends beyond that. And I just think that people– it’s a little bit different when it’s something your boss tells you to do something than when your union brothers tell you something.

BILL MOYERS: Matt, you have written a lot about the tax code and these plutocrats. Exactly how do they work the tax system?

MATT TAIBBI: Well the plainest example is Mitt Romney. I mean, you know, if you look at his tax returns, he paid, you know, rates of 14, 13 percent. That's totally normal in this world if you work in a private equity fund. Your income is—

BILL MOYERS: Again, he's not an exception, he's an embodiment.

MATT TAIBBI: He's an embodiment. In the financial services industry for sure, the very, very rich mostly receive income as capital gains or if they're private equity people, as carried interest.

In both of those, the max rate is 15 percent. So people who make $20 million, $30 million, $50 million a year like Mitt Romney and like, you know, Steve Schwarzman of whoever it is, they pay half the tax rate of, you know, a nurse or a doctor or a fireman or a teacher. And it's considered totally normal in that world.

BILL MOYERS: So they really do consider tax reform a threat?

MATT TAIBBI: Absolutely. I mean every time that there's been any discussion about rolling back the carried interest tax break in particular, there's suddenly been this intense, you know, hurricane of lobbying. And it never seems to get rolled back. Barack Obama promised to repeal that tax break and didn't do it.

BILL MOYERS: Give us a working definition in the vernacular of carried interest.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: So basically, what this means is that if you're in, if you work in a private equity firm, the money that you earn– so, you invest a little bit of your own money. And the gains that you make on that investment would be treated under any definition as a capital gain taxed at 15 percent. But you also earn money because you are investing on behalf of all of your investors.

That money that you earn, it's called carried interest. And it is treated as a capital gain in the same ways that the gains to the investors are treated.

The economic arguments in favor of the carried interest tax break are so weak. I mean, even Mike Bloomberg, who is, you know—

BILL MOYERS: The tenth richest man—

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: --very far from being a socialist. He has come out and said he doesn't support it. And it says something to you about the power of a very well heeled, very focused lobby group. That, you know, Barack Obama is president. He is opposed to this. He says he's opposed to it. Even Mike Bloomberg is opposed to it. So there's a body of Wall Street opinion that thinks it should go away. It's still there.

BILL MOYERS: But when there was an effort, when the Obama White House and others made an effort to revoke carried interest, the fight was led by people like Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer, representing Wall Street--

MATT TAIBBI: It’s always the New Yorkers.

BILL MOYERS: Yes, the New Yorkers. Of course, that's their constituency, they would say if they were sitting here. But the Democratic Party didn't come to the aid and relief of working people at that time.

MATT TAIBBI: Well right, because again, it's because you have a small, very, very concentrated lobby that is very, very noisy and is very, very specific in what it wants and what it needs. And then there's the rest of us who, how many people are really thinking about the carried interest tax break? So the advocacy against the carried interest tax break is dispersed. It's sort of random. It's not focused, whereas the advocacy for it is incredibly organized. It's disciplined. And it has a ton of money.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: And it is bipartisan.

BILL MOYERS: Who's looking out for the rest of us?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, there are, I mean, there definitely are good people in Washington. You know, I meet and talk to a lot of them. There are a lot of honest politicians who are trying to do the right thing. But the-- my experience, the money issue is so overwhelming to people in Congress that--

BILL MOYERS: Raising money for their campaign?

MATT TAIBBI: Raising money for their campaigns. It's so central to their daily lives, really. And especially in the House, where you have to essentially start raising money the instant you get elected because the reelection campaign is only a couple years away that -- it's just too overwhelming for most legislators to get past that issue.

BILL MOYERS: Despite how the plutocrats have reacted to Barack Obama, he does not seem to be like FDR, taking on the economic royalists or like Theodore Roosevelt, fighting the guys he says are taking the country down. How do you explain Obama's attitude toward these plutocrats?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Barack Obama in many ways is one of them. He is educated the way a plutocrat is educated. He had an opportunity to join the plutocracy. He could very easily right now be a top corporate lawyer. And they know that.

He thinks the way they do. He's a technocrat in the accepted manner of the current plutocracy. And I think they like that. I think that's why he had such a strong reception in 2008. So I think that's one element. Another element though, and I think that this is something that sort of bothers them, is he isn't over-awed by them. And that kind of bugs them too, because they do think they’re pretty great.

MATT TAIBBI: To answer your question about, you know, why doesn't he take the sort of fist shaking attitude of an FDR or a Teddy Roosevelt, I just think Barack Obama has surrounded himself with people, like Larry Summers, like Bob Rubin. And I think he's accepted a lot of the justifications and the arguments that come from Wall Street and the business community.

So I don't think he feels genuine class based rage towards this community. I just don't think that's in him. You know, I think the-- if you listen to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and the likes, they really believe that somewhere under there, there's this raging socialist. And, you know, there's Lenin ready to break out and put them all up against the wall in a firing squad. That guy just isn't there. He really is more one of them than they think.

BILL MOYERS: So you don't think he's fighting a class warfare as the right says he is?

MATT TAIBBI: Definitely not. No. No, I think he's very emotionally and culturally much closer to those people than he is to the rest of us.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: No, but he is moving-- he is and I don't think he says this as directly as perhaps, you know, some of his supporters would like. He is challenging this notion of the successful businessman as the hero and the driver of the American narrative. And that actually is a big-- if you think it through to its logical conclusion, that is a big challenge. And I think that accounts for this hurt. This seemingly completely disproportionate emotional reaction.

MATT TAIBBI: He's made a rhetorical mistake in the way he's occasionally described this community. And that's what's inspiring this whole reaction against him, this feeling that we are like battered wives because they've occasionally been described as rich.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: So it's easy to laugh about this, and we should. But this hurt feelings, the fact that this is really playing out in the emotional space as well as in the balance sheet space, I think is really an important point. I think it's hard for us civilians to get it because it seems so absurd. You know, really? That would hurt your feelings? Are you so thin skinned? But it is real. And I think that it's real for a reason, which is I think that Barack Obama, the Democratic party, but also the political discourse more generally is posing an existential threat, or certainly an existential question to the plutocrats, which makes them very, very anxious.

BILL MOYERS: I haven't heard that, Chrystia.


BILL MOYERS: Barack Obama said—


--I'll tell you what it is-- BILL MOYERS:

--in the debate this week that-- CHRYSTIA FREELAND: No, but I'll tell you—

BILL MOYERS: --he sounded like, he said, "I'm for free enterprise, I'm for--"

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: And I'm for free enterprise too. But what he had started to say—

BILL MOYERS: That sounds very tough on them.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: No, but there is an underlying point that he does make. I think he should make it more explicitly which is to say that American capitalism is not working the way it was in the '50s. That we are not living in a time when a rising tide is lifting all boats. That we are seeing the people at the very top take off. Their economic fortunes actually disconnect from those and from --

BILL MOYERS: Stratospherically leaving earth.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: --most everybody else. And they're not dependent. You know, that old Henry Ford model, where you needed the middle class to be well paid to buy Henry Ford's stuff, that that has broken down. And we can argue a lot, and we should, about the reasons. But the facts are that it has. And to say that, to actually state that, is profoundly threatening because it starts to break down this equation of my wealth equals my virtue.

The size of my bank account doesn't-- it isn't just good for me. It is a manifestation of my civic contribution. And that, in some ways, is Mitt Romney's campaign. He's saying, "I'm a successful businessman. So I will make a good president." And Barack Obama, he is actually saying, "You know what? I don't think that that equation works and is automatic." And actually, in saying that, the plutocrats are not wrong to detect there a very powerful ideological challenge.

BILL MOYERS: If plutocrats keep on winning, if they manage to avoid tax reform, if they keep low regulation, if they get a president who is sympathetic to them or even enables them, what's ahead for us?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, I mean, I fear that what's ahead is just a continual worsening of the situation. You know, what we've seen in our lifetime even since we've come back from Russia is this decimation of the middle class in America.

If we continue on this path, what we'll end up with is, you know, is Russia or some other third world country where, again, you have this handful of people who are protected and who have expanding wealth. And then there's this sort of massive population of everybody else. And that's what I worry about.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: I would like to really issue a clarion call to progressives because I think the sort of the progressive public intellectuals are to blame as well. I think a big reason people aren't protesting is no one is offering sufficiently compelling alternatives and solutions.

And when you think back to the history of the Industrial Revolution, the Progressive Era, the New Deal, these were brand new ideas and brand new institutions designed to cope with changed economic circumstances. What I think is the challenge for everyone who is worried about this, and I think all of us should be worried about it. We should be terrified. But I think we need to start taking the next step. And we need to realize the 1950s are not coming back. What angers me sometimes about these debates is people talking about manufacturing jobs coming back.

That-- it's just not going to happen. So let's really face the facts of how the world economy works. And really come up with what needs to be the political and social response.

And frankly, you know, I see the right not interested in addressing this issue at all. And I see the left not offering enough new thinking. And people know that. And that's why people aren't on the barricades. There's no manifesto to be waving.

MATT TAIBBI: One caveat I would like to just throw anytime you propose anything that has any kind of government, you know, component to it, there's this automatic criticism that it's communist and socialist. So, when you come up with a solution, the boundaries are let's come with a solution that doesn't have-- that can't be criticized as being communist or socialist. And that is incredibly difficult for people to work around.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Okay, but let’s at least see the new ideas. I mean, my argument is we are living through equally profound economic transformations. And we're just trying to rehash and re-tinker with the twentieth century institutions. I don't think it's enough.

BILL MOYERS: Matt Taibbi, Chrystia Freeland, thank you very much for being with me.

MATT TAIBBI: Thank you.


Matt Taibbi and Chrystia Freeland on the One Percent’s Power and Privileges

The One Percent is not only increasing their share of wealth — they’re using it to spread millions among political candidates who serve their interests. Example: Goldman Sachs, which gave more money than any other major American corporation to Barack Obama in 2008, is switching alliances this year; their employees have given $900,000 both to Mitt Romney’s campaign and to the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. Why? Because, says the Wall Street Journal, the Goldman Sachs gang felt betrayed by President Obama’s modest attempts at financial reform.

To discuss how the super-rich have willfully confused their self-interest with America’s interest, Bill is joined by Rolling Stone magazine’s Matt Taibbi, who regularly shines his spotlight on scandals involving big business and government, and journalist Chrystia Freeland, author of the new book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.

“We have this community of rich people who genuinely believe that they are the wealth creators and they should get every advantage and break,” Taibbi tells Bill. “Whereas everybody else is a parasite and they’re living off of them”

Freeland adds, “You know, 2008 is not so long ago, and already, the anti-regulation chorus is so strong. How dare they have the gall to actually argue that too much regulation of American financial services is what is killing the economy?”

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  • Anonymous

    Matt Taibbi’s last comment about red-baiting was dead on. I think Chrystia Freeland has been spending too much time with Silicon Valley plutocrats :-). Silicon Valley plutocrats see innovation as the solution to all problems. In reality, most of them just got there first.

    All realistic solutions to our economic problems must involve significant government reforms and regulations. As long as the Plutocrats prevent significant reforms, the situation will just get worse.

  • Outsider

    Great discussion, however, I think two ideas were missing. First, I would have liked to have heard more about how the ideas of Ayn Rand have damaged our society. Matt touched on it, but the idea that some plutocrats think they are an aggrieved class comes right out of “Atlas Shrugged.”
    Second, there was no mention of how foreign policy ties into all of this. The military-industrial- security-financial-media compex runs this country and has convinced the mass of Americans that we must have endless wars and an ever expanding war machine. I kept hoping it would come up in an otherwise compelling discussion (that you’ll never see on commercial tv – take that O’Reilly).

  • bambafay

    Wow–I wonder if Freeland knows how her little-girl voice, upspeak, and embarrassing obsession with new (to her) jargon (“capture”) reduced her credibility from the outset of the program. Please, Bill, can someone on your staff vet guests for their maturity level?

  • bambafay

    Sorry for another comment, but I tried to finish the segment and found Freeland insufferable. Her privileged-girl affect and insensitivity to the obvious nature of much of what she’s posing as unique insights are all too familiar to me and my fellow veterans of university classrooms. Four of us watched this with dismay, and we all hope that Moyers and Company returns to usual high form next week. Love you, Bill.

  • Scott

    Outstanding points on the transformation of our country within just 40 years. Accelerated by technology, the notion of an “ownership class” and a “compassionate conservative” philosophy espoused by the Bush (crime family) was my first taste. I admired Bill Gates in the 80’s and his subsequent philanthropy made me realize the good plutocrats from the bad plutocrats; however, the socio-economic complexity of it all seems to dissolve into a depressing Fall of Rome lesson. History is a set of lies that are agreed upon, so we can only estimate striking similarities:

  • Carol Davidek-Waller

    Am a great fan of Matt Taibbi. Chrystia, not so much. Anyone that describes the 21st century pirates as ‘hard working’ has the same disconnect with reality that seems to characterize the people who she claims to write about.
    Garbage men are hard working…cat burglers, not really.
    Her take on the bailout is pure 1%.
    Iceland let their banks fail, jailed the crooks and kicked their go-fers out of government. They are well on the way to recovery. The US is well on the way to another economic disaster that seems to be only fruit born by the labors of the 1%.
    The mindset that Moyers and Taibbi describe is classic sociopath with a touch of the ‘divine right of kings’.
    They need treatment not more money.

  • davidp

    Interesting…millionaires vs billionaires or good plutocrats vs bad plutocrats. There was a good piece on democracy now couple days ago when Greg Palast talked about how the Romneys made tons of money from the bail-outs of the auto industry.

  • Christina

    Fantastic comment, and I agree completely with every point.

  • MaydayUSA

    I am a newer fan, I stumbled onto him about a year ago and haven’t missed an episode since. He should be on a prime time national platform with this one.

    First I am disappointed that Bill’s closing statement is not in this video as it was on PBS. In his closing statement Bill spoke about; the CEO’s threatening employees if Obama wins that there will be consequences and a coal company’s employees that where ordered to be at Romney’s campaign as mandatory unpaid time to make Romney look good because the CEO of that company likes Romney & went on with similar happenings about the Koach Brothers & other big big companies as well.
    I don’t understand how the top CEO’s that behave the way they do & are abusing their power & threatening peoples jobs & the economy are not considered financial terrorists.(in my eye’s they are)
    I believe that we as the American people should Brand these top CEO’s & their top people as Financial Terrorists when they threaten to & have the power to upset not just someones personal financial life but the entire economy as they did & are threatening to do so again if they don’t get what they want… Romney as the next President!
    With that said I think today’s episode was one of the best I have seen.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Anonymous

    Great program, as usual. I’m surprised and disappointed that previous comments have been so critical of Chrystia Freeland. It’s one thing to fall back on simplistic, radical cliches from a bygone society. It’s quite another to research and write an excellent book defining the ways in which the plutocrats are inches away from winning all, and enjoining us to reassert our primacy as “the people” for whom and by whom this government exists.

    Perhaps Chrystia’s call for new ideas from the progressives in the audience stung a bit? Exactly the sorts of comments that our putative overlords from the land of great wealth would to see. Divide and conquer, anyone?

    And for Bill Moyers and Matt Taibbi, my continued gratitude for keeping the flame alive and allowing the light to spread.

  • stumay75

    Towards the end of the discussion Chrystia Freeland mentions that progressives are lacking a vision of scale: there is no equivalent of the New Deal, no discernible ‘new big idea’. Well there is. There are thousands of them. All over the net. Dispersed, open, grass-roots, people orientated, decentralised. These ideas are huge and ground breaking….challenging the very notion of private property, challenging the thinking of ‘more for me is less for you’, challenging money as we now it. But these ideas are small scale. They don’t come out of smoked filled chambers near Whitehall. They come in the form of locally motivated interactions that organically develop between friends and neighbours and a wider internet community. This relies on Chrystia and me and you actually participating and contributing right in our backyards, shopping centres, playgounds, community halls, schools and on the net….. and that is the big idea she’s missed. So much of the discussion revolves around the disconnect… well, ‘we’ don’t need ‘them’. They can stay behind their brick walls and count the endless 0s in their bank accounts. The further away ‘we’ can get ‘them’ the better! Devolved, local, independent, technology driven communities for the growth of people, not money, will leave ‘them’ high and dry….. as they excluded us, we will exclude them. Until, of course, they ask very politely to come back and promise to play nicely!

  • MaydayUSA

    it is interesting, I often wondered if there was a divide among the wealthy.

  • stumay75

    Hi Dave10, you hit on a vital point. Going backwards is not a solution as Chrystia pointed out herself and which I wholeheartedly agree, although I am not a woman but get her point. Returning governance (not Government, which is an anachronism in my book) to the people in the future is absolutely vital and will only occur if everyone of us is stung by a proverbial hoard of hornets. Hopefully people like Chrystia, Matt, Bill, you and I will keep reminding people that we are already getting stung right between the eyes by the ‘putative overlords’, everyday. cheers

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    Bill Moyers’ reporting on single payer healthcare was superb. Since the health insurance industry execs are part of the 1%, I’m wondering what Bruce Springsteen meant when he said we have Universal Healthcare?

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    You might find this article by David Swanson interesting:

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    One solution, “TOGETHER – How cooperatives show resilience to the crisis” (39 minutes):!watch-the-film/cum7

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    You might find this article by David Swanson interesting:

  • Joseph A. Mungai
  • stumay75

    nice. Anarchy gets a real bad press. Makes the abuse of the word socialism on certain US networks look minor. Have you read the pamphlet by Mikail Bakunin, ‘Statism and Anarchy’? Despite it being written a century ago it is amazingly apt.


    This is journalism at it’s best. Bill Moyers ranks right up there with oxygen!

  • dave atch

    Just went through a bit of Taibbi’s piece in Rolling Stone via a facebook share on Romney’s idea of econ revolution for America. It wasn’t front and center on RS’s fb page, so I’ll opt to leave my comments on this board which is probably a good bit faster’n friendly than any at the actual RS site.
    IMO there are probably no writers or commentators out there today who put together the economic pieces in a way that’s requisite for polity solidarity (not as much as was behind FDR, and that degree of solidarity today with Citizens United IMO is not sufficient). Kuttner, Taibbi, Frank, and Galbraith are fairly decent, and thank you Bill for making them available to all of us who don’t shell out for cable TV. None of these guys, though, when talking have IMO a habit of returning to and joining big conceptual issues as they go along [doing it often enough anyway, like Nader did for instance]…for the benefit of overworked and/or self-absorbed, Fox-deluded, blue pill swallowing listeners without economic degrees. Keynesian doctrine needs to be re-explained to our voters today, and the WHOLE ECONOMY needs to be re-explained with quantities, sums, and resources graphically represented (the dangers of hedge funds and credit default swaps make it harder because hedge funds & credit default swaps are hard to explain in and of themselves). But net graphics repeatedly are not devoted to this chore. Stephen J. Rose’s circular flow diagram (US economy) lies somewhere in the dustbin, for instance, not updated. I believe unconsciously the experts, including the ones on our side, do not wish to set the concepts free out the bag…but wish to hold on to their positions trickl’n the info (merchandise) down to we the people.This is not quite the unconscious “hatred” Lasch spoke of on the part of upper middle class liberals, but, to me, it’s really…all in all…related.
    I’ll speak to all you guys: You see what Ryan’s say’n one should do to get an education. To hell with that. Why don’t you guys start giving away education? Today…with the net…do citizens have to work three jobs & borrow in order to apphrehend how our economy could work and should work? Why must citizens go through ALL THAT simply to encounter THEORY? America’s citizens in general are not inferior to you. They deserve THEORY just as much as Yale students. The electorate will NEVER put together this huge disjunctive mish mash of particulars our present media deliver and come to any kind of solidarity. But with the impending triage of challenges out there now WE NEED SOLIDARITY. With this insane austerity/neoliberalism “philosophy” screwing humans all over the world…don’t you realize there can be no solidarity gathered around a coral full of tweeks? It has to gather around an APPROACH or around a THEORY. Maybe Keynes’ position on the proven value (greater than 1.0) of the social spending “multiplier” would work.

  • Calm CalmCalm

    Just look at how the Ruling Class are attending to dissent and protests in Europe and wrap your head around the fact that the “American 1%” will be just as vicious and just as brutal as they refuse to relinguish any power whatever! The Ruling Class have planned for this event since at least 1980 and with the introduction of Free Trade. In 1980, the Ruling Class purposely decided to abandon the North American Continent and to walk away from all the promises made to the Working Class since the end of World War II. They recognized the “Generational Storm” on the horizon as 75 million Americans began to line up to collect the promised “decent” retirement and Social Security payments. And prior to moving their wealth offshore, they raided the cookie jar of government. Free Trade allowed the Ruling Class to move their wealth and assets offshore and out of reach to any lawsuits for failure to keep the promises made to the Working Class. Governments are heaped full of futurists and as early as the 1980’s they knew full well that as the population aged, there was going to be huge demands on medicaid and other programs. And in spite of this, they chose the route of tax breaks for the wealthy and the raiding of govenment funds with military spending. Any “Minor” changes to the status quo (the constitution) will take ten or 15 years and meanwhile Generation Y, (The Millennial Generation) will become Mannequins on the dustbin of history. Peaceful demonstrations are not gonna cut it. The citizens need to be just as vicious and just as brutal and just as determined as the Ruling Class is. We need immediate results and not 15 years from now. We need the Ruling Class forced to the negotiating table today, and the only way or means to begin to accomplish this feat is to shut down all freight railway service today. 80 percent of all goods move by freight rail. Calm

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    No I haven’t. I have read a little on Bakunin. I will be searching the web for this pamphlet. I usually watch videos, you might be interested in the documentarian Scott Noble and his latest project:

  • Anonymous

    I’ve heard the 93% figure about income gains, but wondered how
    much the top 1/100th of the top 1% receive.
    Thanks to Ms. Freeland, I now know.
    Here’s a quote from the Washington Post online (Ezra Klein, March 5,

    “In the first year of the recovery [2010], 93 percent of all
    income gains went to the top 1 percent.”

    As Ms. Freeland pointed out, 37% of the income gains went to the
    top 1/100th of 1%. These percents and
    proportions blur the picture somewhat, so here are my calculations and my
    translations into everyday terms.

    The average household in the top 1/100th of 1% (the top 1% of the
    top 1%) received 52,329 times as much in income gains as the average household
    in the bottom 99%. The average household
    in the bottom 99% is not poor, relatively speaking, but right in the middle –
    the middle of the middle class.

    Put another way, on a scale familiar to most of us (at least the
    first figure!): For every $1000 in
    income gains the average household in the bottom 99% received, the average
    household in the top 1% of the top 1% received more than $52,000,000 (yes, just
    to confirm, $52 million). The average
    household in the remainder of the top 1% (the bottom 99% of the top 1%)
    received only about $800,000. Stripping
    away most of the words:

    – Ave. gain, the bottom
    99%: $1,000

    – Ave. gain, bottom
    99% of top 1%: $800,000

    – Ave. gain, top 1%
    of top 1%: $52,000,000

    Put yet another way, roughly translating households into number of
    people (based on an estimated U.S. population of 310 million in 2010, with minor
    rounding off of the larger number): If
    you take the total dollar amount of the income gains from 2010 – 31,000 people “earned”
    more than five times as much money (in terms of income gains) as the remaining
    310,000,000 people.

    Any way you look at it, the numbers are beyond breathtaking. Here’s a final look:

    The majority of the top 1% (the bottom 99% of the top 1%)
    certainly have a beef with the top 1% of the top 1% – the top 1% of the top 1% received income gains 65
    times greater than the gains the remainder of the top 1% received.

    But if they, the merely wealthy bottom 99% of the top 1%, have a
    legitimate beef against the ultra-wealthy, the rest of us should have a
    cow. Or a whole herd of cattle, given
    the magnitude of the inequality.

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    Hi again stumay 75. I found Statism and Anarchy and will read it. Cooperatives address the commons and workers in charge of production. You might appreciate these online videos and DVDs: “The Mondragon Experiment” (BBC, 1980) – “TOGETHER” – How cooperatives show resilience to the crisis (39 minutes, 2012):!watch-the-film/cum7. DVD, Democracy In The Workplace: DVD, This Way Out – A Step By Step Guide To Starting A Workers Cooperative:

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry, but I consider,

    all these 1% Plutocrats are Sociopaths & Psychopaths.

    In their league, Economic forces are Not Natural Forces, unforeseen & unpredictable. Plutocrats know Exactly what they do and look forward in Doing It some More.

  • stumay75

    Have read most of the articles you recommended…. had to go for a bike ride on such a sunny day…… and the man knows his stuff. Unbelievable how anarchy has been warped by ‘the powers that be’.

    I am a big Scott Noble fan but haven’t seen this new stuff and will check out these other links. Thanks. You would definitely enjoy Charles Eisenstein’s ‘Sacred Economics’….. I suspect you might have read it already though!

  • Anonymous

    I think Chrystia Freeland has spent a little too much time Interviewing Plutocrats.

    That’s why she hasn’t seen Alternatives. She comes across, at times, as a victim of the Financial Media Bubble. She wants to appear objective and keep some love for her sources.

    Which, by the way, Matt Taibbi has no illusions.

  • Anna

    This show is exactly what we’ve been witnessing in corp America for about 10-15 yrs now. BRAVO!!

  • Big B

    You could not be more correct. Many mediocre men are rich and corporations successful simply because they were FIRST. Does McDonalds make the best food? Microsoft the best software? GM the best cars? of course not.

  • Big B

    Don’t kid yourself about Gates, he didn’t give his product away. He was (is) the most brutal businessman of the second half of the 20th century. Microsoft is a monopoly that is equaled in influence only by the former standard oil dynasty. Just because Bill has given away a pittance of what what he made by stomping on the throats of his competitors does not make him a philanthropist.

  • Big B

    Not since HunterThompson has a writer spoken truth to power like Tiabbi does. The problem is that in a couple of years, no matter who wins in november, his and all the other voices of dissent will be silenced. We are on the verge of some dark times people.

  • James M Peterson

    Common to almost all discussions of the inequality problem is a profound lack of understanding of money. A prime function of government is establishing a system of currency, producing and circulating that currency and denominating the units of that currency. It is provided by government simply to relieve citizens from the inefficiencies of barter — to facilitate commerce. Money is not wealth. When the citizenry begin to believe that money is a storage vehicle for wealth, problems have arisen throughout history. Now, our government has almost unlimited power to produce money but very weak and indirect power to recall it in the type of situation we now face: Vastly more money has been issued during the last 30 years than has been required for commerce. That is, growth of real wealth has not kept up with the growing volume of money held by citizens. Such “excess liquidity” will always gravitate to economically stagnant black holes of speculation, market manipulation and political correuption. Excess liquidity is the basic cause, or at least the fuel, for economic booms that always lead to crashes. I believe that sufficient constitutional and legislative authority exists for the executive branch to recall, directly, from time to time, stagnant money. It might be called a “net worth tax” by the inevitable opponents, but if properly constructed it could find a niche in the commerce powers.

  • stevenotnaive

    Great stuff. Would like to see Bill and guests explore why in the absence of anything resembling proof that the plutocrats are the heroes they imagine themselves, the myth of their superiority and benevolence has such currency with middle class voters.

  • susanpub

    Greg Palast is the best. I’m going to search that out.

  • Stephanie Parks

    I had an idea that we could all join together and be the “Atlas” in Atlas Shrugged instead of the, ahem, “job creators.” Working with each other in smaller communities, creating our own medium of exchange (like the Fourth Corner Exchange in the Northwest). If we work as hard for all of our mutual benefit as we do to make a few dollars from a corporation, we could accomplish much. It is beginning…

  • Robert Corum

    GREAT SHOW!!! Shows like this MAKE you show!! But…, I’ll have to write you directly about the piece in the end- about the company that Romney talked to, where the owners of the company let it be known to it’s workers where they stood in this election. They didn’t threaten their workers, fire them, write them up, therefore threatening them with their jobs. All they said was “This election is SO important, that if you don’t show up for this (Romney speaking), then that is where your allies lie, and we’ll know it” (that is what they were saying to their workers), but LOOK AT THE FACTS!!! If obama wins, THEY’LL BE OUT OF BUSINESS!!!!! OBAMA WILL SHUT THEM DOWN JUST SO HE CAN PLAY “TICKLE EACH OTHER’S BALLS” OVER IT UNTIL THEY PASS OUT FROM IT!!!! Now, what is worse, “Going to hear Romney speak, OR BEING OUT OF A JOB?!?!?!!!!

  • Robert Corum

    @ 42 min on- WRONG!!!! Obama is MORE OF A SOCIALIST/COMMUNIST THAN MOST PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY CAN IMAGINE!!!! I could go on FOREVER with all of obama’s socialist/communist stuff (“who is william aires?”- PFFFF!!!!!), but I know it would be better to say “Did Hitler tell his people WHO HE ‘REALLY’ WAS????” What if he did? Well GUESS WHAT?- OBAMA HAS BEEN A MASTER OF “NOT” TELLING WHO HE “REALLY” IS AS WELL!!!!! But because of the international media now, THE PROOF IS EVERYWHERE about it!!!! Now it’s up to you to SEE AND ACCEPT THE TRUTH, OR ONLY BELIEVE IN AND FOLLOW “LIES”, which will do NOTHING BUT END YOU UP IN HELL!!!!! (Rev. 21:8)

  • Robert Corum

    @ 46:51 WRONG AGAIN!!!! THAT is NOT the answer!!!! You see, people like this ARE THE ONES THAT JACK EVERYTHING UP AND KEEP IT JACKED UP!!! (this girl- whoever she is) She thinks that IF WE DON’T BUILD ANYTHING, but instead just say “We just need to come up with the political and social response” AND THAT’LL FIX IT ALL?!?!!!! PEOPLE LIKE THIS COME UP WITH WORDS LIKE “COMPREHENSIVE” (that they’ve been searching the dictionary for FOR YEARS), and when they find that word THEY RUN ALL OVER HELL SAYING THAT WORD, OVER AND OVER AND OVER…. TRYING TO ACT LIKE THEY ARE FIXING SO MUCH, “WHEN THEY AREN’T FIXING CRAP!!!!! (just like this statement from her- she thinks if she says “political and social response” THAT THAT WILL FIX IT ALL!!!!) Wanna talk about satan doing all he can to get HIS PEOPLE into the church to lead all of God’s people to hell- THIS IS IT!!!!! (and you all know lucifer will ALWAYS, in EVERYWAY HE CAN, be doing that- getting his people on the pulpit!!- WHAT A BETTER WAY TO MISLEAD EVERYONE, HUH????)

  • Robert Corum


  • David Rothauser

    I am interested to know if Chrystia Freeland and Matt Taibbi are familiar with the studies of G. Edward Griffin and Antony C. Sutton? Their work, Griffin’s “The Creature From Jekyll Island” and Sutton’s series on Wall Street clearly document the economic power structure that Matt and Chrystia were discussing, but Griffin and Sutton point out that the afore mentioned power structure was deeply in place by at least 1913 and the creation of the Federal Reserve. Equally important are the documented facts that every war the U.S. has been a part of from the Mexican Revolution to Afghanistan has been financed to a large extent by Wall Street. How might this information impact upon the future of the 99%?

  • Ted M

    Here are more stats to go along:

    Gini scores are a measurement of income distribution in a population, an index of the gap between the rich and poor. Most industrialized democracies rate between 2.5 and 3.5 – where the U.S. was in the 1950’s. In the 1980’s, our score started to shoot up and now we’re worse than the worst third world countries. 4.0 or greater is considered to be very inequitable. The U.S. is 5.2 and rising (2004).

  • Paul Calhoun

    It is interesting that one can have a pleasant discussion so to speak, about people whose greed literally leads to the death of so many people who fight their wars as well the many children and others who suffer and die from lack the food and medicine at least in part, because so few have so much. That they delude themselves into believing they are entitled and serve the greater good is of little consequence, one can think of many throughout the history of mankind who after all slaughtered millions believing their actions served a higher purpose.

  • SylviaD

    I have a hard time with Freeland’s idea that the plutocrats think of themselves as critical to survival, as some kind of do-gooders. While it is true that we all can get into denial and self aggrandizement I still cannot believe that they are not fully aware that they are viciously ripping off the world and are proud of their ability to do so.

  • Jim Farrell

    It’s like a rigged game of poker…. the players are the 1% against the .001% who all desire the chips (political policy) and we’re just the deck they already stacked. And when the game STILL doesn’t go in their favor, they are allowed to just re-shuffel !!!

  • Undercover Brother
  • MRS13

    @affablerogue:disqus You are absolutely right about Chrystia Freeland. On top of that, she felt the need to excuse herself several times by saying she was for capitalism. Even Mr. “In-your-face” Taibbi stayed subdued. I really like it when he said there might be a slight difference between the boss and a union telling you who to vote for. After exposing the situation aggressively, these three journalists cop out on the solution side.

    It is the 60s not the 50s that we need to go back to. The 60s was a time when people with a cause spoke out the establishment en bloc. It was a time when dissent was organized by militant leaders defending human rights against wealth and other forms of oppression. They were people like MLK and Malcolm X who were not afraid to look injustice in the eye and say “enough is enough”.

    This can no longer happen in the graveyard of democracy that the United States has been turned into by the financial (ex industrial)-military complex. The American political system is a superficial farce that systematically bypasses the people. By reducing choice to the two official parties, the American election process not only excludes dissent more efficiently than the one-party system in the former Soviet Union. No matter what the outcome, there is no way this system can be considered as free and just.

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    I found Sacred Economics online. 450 pages. Due to my “faulty wiring” I instead watched a video of Charles Eisenstein briefly defining some of the concepts in his book that others might also find inspirational (7-parts: To my feeble mind, it seems that the abstract scientific thought process that put man on the moon and invented the atom bomb, is still governed by primitive authoritarian minds. To me, evolution has been conflict between those who believe in mutual aid and those who want to own the process and its outcomes for their purposes only. There’s some hope. Cooperatives, as in Mondragon, reveal that humans can utilize science, technology, sharing, social responsibility, money and cooperation to progress. I think Charles is, at least in part, describing Mondragon and the community activism created as seen in the video “Together” and economist Richard Wolff unpacks at the Brecht Forum (97 minutes): Now I’m aware of professor Eisenstein and his work — Thank you Stumay 75. PS – Add Finland’s educational system to the Cooperative structure for better performance by the individual and hence the collective: Apparently, it’s an illegal thought under the index finger of democrats and republicans.

  • Baron Monty

    The real trend is to restore three tiers: aristocracy, middle class, and peasants. Different laws are for each class. Most people are not needed for the necessities of life. That’s the virtue of technology. The middle age Baron is back with a twist

  • Anonymous

    She has a point, though. A lot of what I hear from the left sounds an idyllic fantasy of the 1950s. For example, what is magical about “manufacturing jobs”? We could very well have unprotected manufacturing jobs that pay like the service jobs of today.

  • Warren in NC

    The comparison to the Russian economy put a fine point on the discussion, a very scary point.
    And I do believe there is a disconnect between the wealthy and the rest of us. It’s almost as if extreme wealth creates a blind spot to humanity.
    Camels and needles come to mind.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know about the plutocrats … to my observation, though, some small business owners do. That is why those identify with the rhetoric of the plutocrats.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure what you consider the Left, but from my understanding from Left Economics is the fight against the Oligarchs & Monopolies. Also, Left Economics deals with the protection of the Commons & a more Egalitarian Society.

    As far as Manufacturing goes, you can’t get around the fact that a 1st World nation doesn’t get to stay 1st World if you don’t have a strong basis in Manufacturing. If jobs continue to be arbitraged to increase the Paychecks of the 1%, you will be destroying a country’s Domestic Market since nobody will have any money to buy the items from 3rd World factories. But that doesn’t bother Freeland’s CEOs. They will just Sail off to their Off-Shore Bank accounts and Retire to their Villas on the French Riviera.

    IMO, I’ll take a Marxist ~ Post-Keynesian economist (Left) over a Neo-Liberal Free Market (Right) one any day of the week.

  • Anonymous

    We have been judged and discounted, by those who have watched and noticed in hindsight, our capacity to accept and adapt to a lower class of living. We standby waiting in default, enablers to the predator corporatist profiteers as their caffeine riddled apprentices scramble to bonus designing new ways to take always more for themselves, leaving less for everyone else. Hacking existing government oversight fair play regulatory laws – via lobbyist friendly legislators – is the favorite sacrificial lamb when sniffing out easy prey for short term profit. They have their way casting a cold eye toward any negative impact transferred thereby to society and the nation. ” I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of Plutocracy. And to the Corporatists for which it stands One nation, under CEOs Unregulated With prosperity and profits for some.” I used to feel if we jsut understood our problems we could somehow rescue matters making things better. At this point in time having all the information in front of us, it seems we somehow are unable to process the facts and thereby gain our foothold as the rug is slowly, consistently, pulled from beneath our feet. I’ve come to realize our defenses have been analyzed and outmatched by those that would contain, control and use us like lab rats or split hoofed donkeys put out to walk gristmill circles. We remain hopeful Pluto will somehow have a change of heart and plan. In this case heart is reserved for family and close ties living inside the inner circle. Outsiders, not members of “The Big Club” should realize that heart is not the fuel that makes “their world” go around. Instead, money and more importantly addiction to the luxuries money can buy compels them. Those of us who complain are just annoying bumps in the road (road kill). We are the smelly annoying mess that litters their roads, dirtying their wheels and making stains on their white marble driveways

  • Bill Shapiro

    I wish that more citizens listened and understood this program in order to advocate for policies which could enhance our democratic process, and promote humanistic governing.

  • Mike D

    I found it shocking when Chrysta Freeland chastised progressives for “having no alternative, no manifesto at the barricades.” The fact that she is a journalist and that there are countless alternatives being proposed and acted on by people of vision shows how far “cognitive capture” can go.

    For example, in September, Bill had Jill Stein & Cheri Honkala of the Green Party propose a radically different path forward for the country and the earth. When the two tried to enter the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University this week, they were arrested. The media, of course, had nothing to say about their arrest and everything about the feistiness of the two celebrities on the stage. We are entering an election where all alternative ideas have been expunged from the collective consciousness.

  • Anonymous

    Hello, ..America? So long as you all continue to believe that their “Notional Values” (look it up) are actually REAL money, and you continue to invest (throw your money into the virtual grinder of the magic money box–never to be seen again) in these now PROVEN FRAUDS of High Finance, then ALL of this discussion is entirely moot. If you ALL continue to support them through your OWN CHOICES in banking and investment——– ———-why should they change? Parasites are parasites by nature. It’s one of the reasons we invented Pest Control. also, do you remember when Logic was a required course when attempting to achieve ANY title of Academia? J

  • Awake

    This is a fear factor for all Americans.

  • Vivian Calender

    Great story. I agree, the super rich have confused
    their interests with that of the country. SMH And see
    nothing wrong with that. This is one of the reasons for why affirmative action
    should not be abolished.

    Thanks, Bill.

  • Anonymous

    We must always keep in mind that, to reach such a position of power and amazing wealth, these people must be very different from the rest of us. I firmly believe that we are literally unable to understand how they view themselves and the world.

    I also believe we must consider the likelihood that a disproportionately large number of the ultra-wealthy are sociopathic. Estimates for the incidence of sociopathy in the U.S. population range from 1%-4%. While many sociopaths self-destruct, many others go on to achieve great wealth and power. There are plenty of resources on the internet that define and describe the sociopathic personality. Read up on sociopaths and see if you don’t think sociopathic behavior can explain much of what goes on in the two centers of power in the U.S. (Wall Street and Washington).

  • Anonymous

    Well, the truth is an Oligarchy not Plutocracy controls our government now with an iron fist by the Federal Reserve Private Banks of JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, etc.
    We COULD have had regulation and reform on the financial system IF we allowed the big banks TO fail. By bailing them out, we left those corruptors in power to continue business as usual instead of forcing them out, prosecuting them for their white collar cirmes, and reforming the system by angry citizens damaged by another great Depression.
    We SHOULD have let another great Depression to occur in order for the average American to wake up and take action with regulation and justice.
    We truly are in very troubling times in which the government system has broken down and Democracy has fallen to the highest bidder. Rome falling in its splendor by corruption here we are.

  • Richard

    You are absolutely correct. This notion that we are to accept a post-industrial America is absurd. There have been plenty of companies in the US that had profitable factories but sent them to China to make even greater profits. They had incentives. Free trade has been great for the 3d world and US corporations but have been a disaster
    for American workers.

  • Mark Smith

    Hedge fund managers do work long hours. I think Chrystia’s point was simply that they behave differently in that regard than did the landed gentry of yore. (Their kids will be the new landed gentry.) Her comment rankled me a bit, nonetheless. It’s just irrelevant. I don’t care if these guys manage to work 48 hours every day. We’d all be better off if they just stayed on their yachts and, well, did whatever people do on yachts.

  • laura c

    CAMPAIGN FINANCE! I believe that is one of the biggest causes of our current political corruption. Politicians wouldn’t be so readily bought and sold if they didn’t need more and more money for their campaigns. Let’s limit presidential campaigning to no more than 12 months before elections and no more than $10 million can be spent on the campaign. Maybe then we can get our “elected” (as opposed to bought) officials to govern for 99% of the people, and not for the 1%. I only recently started watching your show, but I think you’re great.
    I’ve been telling people about your guests and the topics you discuss.
    You seem to be the sole person in mainstream media that gets what is
    happening in this country and around the globe. I’m glad they haven’t shut you down yet.

  • Byron

    Taibbi says there lots of “honest politicians” in Washington. I’d like to see a list of these honest politicians.

    If a compelling message needs to be drafted by the Left in order to counter the increasing wealth gap and rise and domination of the plutocracy, the following phrase must be uttered at every media opp by every Democrat and leftist:

    The purpose of government in a democratic society is to improve the quality of life of the people it serves.

    This message is STILL not being expressed properly. Clinton and Obama talk about making society more inclusive but they don’t flat out say that the role and purpose of government is to improve the quality of life of the people it serves. And the “people” in this case are the 99% who are getting royally screwed by the plutocracy.

    And by all means, the democrats should champion class warfare upon the plutocracy! Of course they won’t since they need the plutocracy and all of their wealth in order to maintain any degree of power in a corrupted congress. But class warfare indeed! The plutocracy have engaged in committed warfare against the middle class and the 99% for a long time now.

    The only way to counter plutocracy is for the people to take back their government and force it to act on behalf of the 99%.

  • Eric Wynen

    This interview gives you such a far deeper understanding of the 2012 presidential election and enlightens you to aspects of wealth inequality that are barely perceptible in journalism. Incredible show you have Bill!

  • Anonymous

    Both candidates are different favors of 1% CEO puppets. Both are trains heading to the same destination– Globalization. One is slightly faster than the other.

    I was taken back by Chrystia Freeland who supports Globalization but thinks we need a social-political response. How naive is she, globalization is changing our society for the worst and the unfair competition against cost of living is inhumane and definitely unpatriotic. She obviously is pandering to her ‘Plutocrats’ friends for her career benefits.

  • Anonymous

    Right you are! The solution to this corruption and unfairness in our society is SO SIMPLE!!!

  • Anonymous

    The 1% have been brought up to act this way. The system encourages sycaths to succeed. Then the Higher Ed. Recruits them. While I a gee that higher Ed. Does a lot of things correct the price that society pays by these organizations enforcing this behavior it to much. These psychopaths are given these endorsements from the education septa. At these large institutions. maybe it’s time for them to go. How many times do we read that the ” scandal” was from a Harvard, or Warton,oR princely etc. Grad. They have to go.

  • Tom Moore

    A recent show examined Chrystia Freeland’s book Plutocracy. Ms Freeland concluded her remarks with a plea for new solutions. If we are to find new solutions, those that go beyond the ideas of Progressivism and the New Deal, we must begin with identifying and understanding the problems such new solutions are intended to address. The problem is not income inequality or poverty or the decline of the middle class. Those are simply descriptions, the signposts, of existing conditions. Rather it is the processes which produced those conditions which must be examined and addressed.

    The problem is capitalism. The best shorthand description of capitalism is that of Peter Schumpeter: “creative destruction.” The narrative of free market capitalism emphasizes the creative aspect of capitalism. Thus we hear about the value of innovative technologies, new products, new ways of making old products, new services, and new ways of delivering old services. There can be little doubt that capitalism has provided a life far exceeding the comfort offered by that of feudalism or the classical age of Greece and Rome – or even that of the mid-twentieth century. Moreover, we are not going to return to those earlier ages. Simultaneously we are blinded by the glitter of personal computers, iPhones, CT Scans, MRIs, etc. to the destructive side of capitalism, that wrought by those same creative processes of constant innovation. Shunted to the wayside are old products and old ways of producing products including, most importantly, employment in the form of the labor that produced and serviced those obsolete products and services. Such products and ways of making them are either converted into folk art, stylized activities, or abandoned altogether. Consider how many telephone operators exist today. This is structural unemployment and it promises to become far greater tomorrow than it is today. It is one piece of the problem for which we must find new solutions.

    If the dynamic of capitalism is creative destruction, the structure of capitalism is that of inequality. This is not merely the current condition of the capitalist classes; it is a condition constantly necessary to the operation of capitalism. The decision-making rule of free market capitalism is “sell to the highest bidder.” If that rule is to operate successfully it means that bidders must be unequal either in bidding resources or product desire. That inequality has been maintained throughout the history of the United States through gender, racial, ethnic, religious, and other forms of discrimination as well as through rules of property ownership that operate through educational opportunity and employment practices. But those inequalities are only the shape inequality takes. They are not fundamental to the system. The system would operate exactly the same if the roles of men and women and other discriminatory classes in society were reversed.

    The fundamental inequality is this. Consider that there are four sectors within a capitalist economy: (1) the wealth-holders; (2) the wealth distributors (banks and other financial institutions); (3) industrialists and entrepreneurs; and (4) labor. The wealth distributed by the wealth-holders to the other sectors (investment, loans, wages) must be less than the wealth returned (return on investment, interest, hours) to the wealth-holders by the other sectors. Over time this means that wealth must accumulate in the hands of the wealth-holders. Occasionally the balance becomes obscene. That was the condition of the United States just prior to the financial crisis at the end of the Nineteenth century, in 1929 just prior to the Great Depression, and today.

    If we are to find solutions to the problems we face today, then we must address the fundamental structure and basic dynamics of capitalism – inequality and creative destruction. Historic solutions are programs for redistributing wealth. Those solutions were aimed at the consequences of capitalist operations. Contemporary solutions must be those which address not the consequences, e.g., racial discrimination, but the fundamental structure, inequality, and operational dynamics, creative destruction, of capitalism itself.

    A policy of sustainment would address just such concerns. Such a policy must sustain the individual through the individual human and family crisis that the destructive dynamic of capitalism creates. As an example, consider that a 40 year old individual is working a comfortable job at a comfortable wage when suddenly a new competitive product or manufacturing process bankrupts the firm for whom he/she is working. Such an individual is probably in the process of paying for the education of her/his children (with college looming in the future), is some one third to one half of the way through paying off a mortgage on his/her home, has health insurance of some form to which he/she is contributing, has a retirement fund and/or savings, and must meet the daily expenses of living. What is the individual to do when he/she is no longer unemployed? The individual must be sustained over the process of acquiring the new skills necessary to move into the “new” economy. Certainly unemployment compensation tied to re-educational requirements is a must. But she/he must be sustained in other ways as well. For example, the mortgage could be one of thirty-five years with a five year moratorium built in. The intent would be to pay off the mortgage in thirty years and if all went well that would happen. But if the individual looses an income, mortgage payments would be suspended until such time as the individual acquires new employment and has recovered a certain percentage of the old rate of income up to a period of five years. Interest rates might be slightly higher than “normal” rates on such a mortgage. However, the difference between such a rate and “regular” rates might be used to pay off the last few years/months of the mortgage if the individual never had to use the moratorium. Such a process might also work with health insurance.

    Such policies and others like them might be employed to soften the blow of the destructive part of creative destruction while simultaneously maintaining the creative aspects of capitalism. This is what I mean by addressing the problem and not the signs of the problem – that is, after the individual has lost a home or a health insurance policy.

  • Anonymous

    The problem is CORRUPTION not capitalism. Allowing NON-living entities to use their treasuries to influence a government for their special business interests has corrupted the system. Nothing wrong with capitalism, I just dont want a NON elected business interest controlling my government, life and freedom. Their life choices are certainly NOTmine.

  • Tom Moore

    I don’t care for corruption eiher. However, putting an end to corruption will not solve the basic problems facing the nation. Plutocracy is not just corruption, it is the “natural” outcome of a capitalist system.

  • Charley James

    It was a really interesting interview. Listening to Tiabbi and Freeland reminded me of two things.
    When Freeland was talking about her encounter with a Silicon Valley honcho who was yelling at someone because his car was late picking him up at Heathrow, I could only think of the Vittorio de Sica’s 1970 film, The Garden of the Finzi-Contini’s.. ( It was about a wealthy Jewish family in Italy at the start of World War II who truly believed that their garden – and the high wall surrounding it – protected them from being persecuted. It didn’t.
    Taibbi’s comment about the walled estates that suddenly appeared outside Moscow following the downfall of Communism brought to mind something the daughter of long-time Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko said about him after he died in 1989. “I don’t think my father stepped foot on a Moscow street in 40 years.”
    Both guests were terrific and both anecdotes are frighteningly close to how the American plutocracy see (or, more precisely, don’t see) the rest of the nation.

  • Charley James

    As usual, a very interesting show. Comments made by Matt Tiabbi and Chrystia Freeland reminded me of a few things that seem relevant.
    Ms Freeland’s statement about the Silicon Valley honcho who was yelling down the phone at somebody because his car was late picking him up at Heathrow brought to mind the 1970 Vittorioo de Sica film, The Garden Of The Finzi-Contini’s. Set just before World War II, it’s about a wealthy Jewish family in Italy who believed their wealth and high garden wall made them immune from the persecution that was sweeping Facist countries. It didn.t’
    I’ve only been in Moscow twice – once near the end of the Soviet era and once shortly after “democracy” came to Russia. What Mr Tiabbi said about the appearance of walled estates outside Moscow was both true and, in a way, shows a parallel to both the USSR and USA. How? After long-time Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko died in 1989, his daughter said of her father, “I don’t believe he walked or even stepped foot on a Moscow street in 40 years.” Today’s American plutocrats are not much different – and really don’t see why they should think about the way most of us proles live.

  • Bob Siegfried

    My only objection was to Ms. Freeland’s statement that manufacturing will never return. Manufacturing’s return will be a function of renewal of our education system.

    Comparisons with other developed economies are inadmissible in our politics. Such comparisons are instructive and provide context, and Mr. Taibbi and Ms. Freeland should be encouraged to explore the reasons for the absence of these comparisons and to draw the comparisons.

    Great show. Thanks.

  • James W. Montgomery Jr.

    Satire was removed. My attempt at Shavian satire for which I posed as a feudal Baron Monty of this century was removed,indeed. What goes on these days begs satire of the kind Shaw, Voltaire and many others did. Certainly Baron Monty was outrageous. It was satire, the much forgotten art.

  • Anonymous

    Without campaign finance limits and reformation, NO democratic government representation could ever be attained. Together with outlawing the revolving door and ethics enforcement, we can fix our political system and work along side capitalism.

  • Anonymous

    I feel manufacturing jobs will never return unless the playing field is changed. With the current campaign money spent by lobbyist firms and Super PACS, this would be impossible

    Eliminating abuses by U.S. corps on the ‘Free Trade Agreements’ and collecting Federal Taxes on foreign employees as well as tariffs on incoming U.S. foreign manufactured goods can eliminate the huge profit margins. We then could force the jobs back, but the 1% own the media propaganda machine and dont like lessening their stock option gains.

  • lgfromillinois

    I was ‘captured ‘ by the discussion. I am so disappointed by Obama’s timidity, but at least he knows the solution to America’s economic and social problems is not to increase the wealth of the 1%. Mr. Romney does not. I am convinced neither will over the next four years work us out the mess we have mired ourselves in by listening to right-wing nonsense. I hope Obama may find more backbone to do what is needed to ameliorate worsening conditions for poor and MIddle Class people. My optimism may be misplaced. The plutocrats may continue to have their way until they wreck themselves on their own greed as in 1929. I remember what Churchill quoted of a Tennyson poem, “The Clattering Train”, as WWII began. (“The Gathering Storm”, vol 1 of his WWII memoir) The train was descending down the track at high rate of speed, but “no one is in charge of the clattering train”.

  • kyle

    good video but i really cant say that i think mitt romney is exactly a plutocrat as described. the obamas have more servants helping them in the white house than the romneys ever will with all their money. only difference? your paying for the obamas luxuries with your tax money.

  • David F., N.A.

    When Chrystia Freeland was regularly on The Dylan Ratigan Show, I had agree with most of her comments, but, like one of the previous comments on this page had mentioned, she has been spending way too much time rubbing elbows with the plutocrats. After she said manufacturing jobs were not coming back, I thought she was going to start selling clean coal or fracking.

    I can understand her trying to motivate us true progressive into doing something to stop the slide of global wealth and dominants, and ultimately improving the welfare of the American people, but blaming us for not innovating new jobs is something I’d expect to hear on FBN or CNBC…literally.

    Why can’t globalization let the US have most of the manufacturing jobs while letting China, India, Russia and Brazil be the innovators (with something other than sweatshops and corporate espionage)? It is a proven fact that the country with the most manufacturing jobs has the most money, and the government with the most money dictates the global currency (Yuan).

    Plus, I wonder if Teddy and Franklin would have been able to survive if they had had to deal with conservative and conservaDem cable news channel cheerleaders. This is a major factor, if not, the major factor…you know?

    True progressives stood up in numbers with “Mr. Hope and Change,” but, now that that has turned out to be another plutocratic decoy, we will have to find a new new Rough Rider. Because, if we don’t it will be just like Matt Taibbi had mentioned, “If we continue on this path, what we’ll end up with is, you know, is Russia or some other third world country where, again, you have this handful of people who are protected and who have expanding wealth.”

  • Sally Clark


  • Anonymous

    I strongly disagree that progressives are “stung: by the suggestion of new ideas. On the contrary, I think generating new ideas is what it means to actually BE a progressive, as opposed to just paying lip service to the brand. Chrystia makes many great points and only bothers me by her rather arrogantly-optimistic, know it all manner, which Is the bread and butter of the pundit world she lives in. Taibbi is more sober in his thoughts and analysis. For instance, her comment that manufacturing jobs will never come back to the U.S. again is a ridiculous thing to say. How does she know what the country will look like in 100 years after most of the 1% have been beheaded (in the literal, not figurative sense), gone through several bloody revolutions, imposed historically high import tariffs on all goods entering the country…? Tariffs are the best way to get all of those plants and jobs back in a hurry. Thom Hartmann talks about this a lot. It just takes political will and probably a little bit more than peaceful occupy movements. History, as we all know by now, most certainly DOES repeat itself. The super rich usually surrender to change at gun point. There’s nothing like the prospect of a horrific, painful and humiliating death to turn things around fast. Of course, no one wants things to get this bad but history shows us that time and time again, the crap usually has to hit the fan first. And that’s what scares me most. The way Ghadafi and Hussein were killed publicly in a humiliating way like that seemed rather barbaric to most Americans. But from the point of view of the victims of those brutal regimes, it all makes perfect sense. It was important to show how “human” those lords really were as they were taking their last few breaths. When love and compassion no longer motivate men and women to behave appropriately/morally, fear is all that’s left. We should keep this thought in mind every day, every moment we’re processing and analyzing politics and holding mental images of people in power – politicians and CEOS in their fancy suits, clean cut haircuts, expensive cars, cheesy smiles. The next day they could be in the streets like Ghadaffi with blood all over their faces, a gun to the head and a stick up the rear end. It’s the old fashioned “tar and feather” approach that worked well back during the times of our Founding Fathers. Coming soon to a theater near you (is my rather bleak prediction). The writing’s on the wall….

  • Bill

    12 years ago u warned us not to vote for George W. because the silent majority of “religious ness” would ruin our lives. Tonight u were warning us of the autocratic danger of Romney. I stopped donating to PBS 12 years ago because of the Moyers bigotted, racist, narrow minded hate.

  • stumay75

    amplefire, you seem more sure of the future than Chrystia?

  • Leximize

    Three points:

    1) The rise of the financial industry starting in the 1980’s was the plutocracy’s answer to the reduction in manufacturing, and general production. They knew what was happening to the country and worked the system to build the most powerful industry on the planet. The likes of GS, MS, JPM, UBS, C, BAC, etc. are all indicative of the power they wield over our government, our economy, and our society. The growth of this industry must be curtailed. Stricter SEC, CFTC, FINRA regulations and a stricter Dodd-Frank, Volcker rules, and the return of some version of Glass-Steagall should be enacted.

    2) Corporation are too powerful. They have grown so over the last four decades with continuous support from corpgov, globalization and even the SCOTUS. Their power must be constrained. To do so we must eliminate their status as human beings. Corporations are NOT people. The 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution must be enacted.

    3) Our government is bought and sold by the plutocracy. This is done through lobbying, sponsoring and donations all directed toward what Taibbi alluded to as re-election infection. This must end. The 29th Amendment to the Constitution must be enacted. The 29th Amendment calls for single terms for all Congress. In one term, then you’re out. You must sit one term out of both Congress and the lobbyist industry before you may re-enter a congressional election. Three non-consecutive terms max.

    Chrystia, you want a manifesto – there you have it.
    1) Stronger financial regulations.
    2) 28th Amendment – corporations are not people.
    3) 29th Amendment – non-sequential terms for congress.

  • Anonymous

    You are confused. Go away.

  • meg

    I’m reminded an observation I heard Dick Cavett make once about human nature…”it’s not enough to succeed, one’s friends must fail.” I think for these billionaires, it’s not enough for them to succeed, we must also fail.” How else can you describe their relentless pursuit of those less fortunate…

  • piksnilderf

    It seems nothing short of a Depression will convince a large segment of America that policies that “feed the rich” and increase income disparity are not healthy to a thriving economy.
    This debate needs to end so that Americans can unite to move the country forward.
    If Obama wins, the economy and unemployment will likely slowly improve, but not enough to prevent a total GOP lunatic from being elected in ’16. Such was the severity of the economic collapse that was left at Obama’s feet from his first day in office.
    Bring on Romney!
    Bring on another Great Depression.
    It’s what’s best for the country long term.

  • Matt Alic

    I am Canadian and she is lying when she says that Canada didn’t bailout their banks.
    We did through CMHC and programs that bought MBS from bank’s hands.

    Canada didn’t fail as much as USA because we’ve had big debt crisis in the end of 80’s and 90’s and had to introduced new tax (GST) to pay our debt down. We were entering financial crisis with lower debt (government and citizens) and during 2008 – 2011 we were able to use low interest rates to load up on debt everywhere.

    Today Canadians are more in debt than Americans and our RE market is topping. Smugness of my fellow citizens will bite us back.

    I like Matt but they both should focus on major problem that USA has.

    That problem is that social care, healthcare (Medicare+Medicaid), defense and food stamps are nearly 80% of USA budget. If you increase taxes, cut everything else you will not be able to resolve present US deficit. Especially when healthcare cost is growing 9%/year.

    I would prefer if they focused on “too much was promised” and can’t be delivered. 1% or not 1%. Plutocracy or not.

    I don’t like that nobody is in jail – like MF Global guy Corzine but real problem is somewhere else.

    Be wary of anybody who wants to save poor.
    Be wary of anybody who ask question like
    “Who’s looking out for rest of us”.
    Matt’s answer was a joke.
    Real answer is you and only you is looking after you.

    Wasted one hour listen to this. Usually enjoys Matt’s articles.

  • Richard

    all i can say .. wow

  • Randy Stortroen

    Ms Freeland, it seems to me, was trying to penetrate Mr. Taibbi’s frame of reference with her references to cognitive capture. The effort was futile but it recommended her book to me.

  • Jazzguitar

    Is this the reason why they want the military to be strong… to protect the well-to-do and their personal interests.

  • William Krapek

    “Perhaps Chrystia’s call for new ideas from the progressives in the audience stung a bit?”

    No. We’ve got plenty of new ideas. They just told us to shut the hell up. And in any event – who said *they* had any new ideas?

    “It’s quite another to research and write an excellent book defining the ways in which the plutocrats are inches away from winning all, and enjoining us to reassert our primacy as “the people” for whom and by whom this government exists.”

    I know exactly what’s going on here. C.G. jung called it ego inflation. “You needed to save the banking system. *I* am the banking system. Therefore you need to save *me.*” Utter psychotic rubbish.

    We could have saved the country with an aggressive stimulus. Then not even six months later we’d come roaring back. Those banks could have had a “managed failure,” and their regional competitors could have slowly been brought in to fill the void.

    Tomorrow I’m voting early down here in Texas. And I’m voting a straight Republican ticket. Let’m wreck the country. As far as I’m concerned the faster they get what they want…

    The faster I get what I want.

  • William Krapek

    Yes. Absolutely. No more illusions. No more pathetic embers of hope that we seize on every four years. It’s time to bring this nonsense to its natural conclusion.

    And soon.

  • shep

    Ms Freeland is absolutely and totally wrong and incoherent about technology.

  • Jochem Schmidt

    The Quiet Coup

    The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about
    the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief
    economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance
    industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that
    more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many
    emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the
    U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation:
    recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is
    blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression,
    we’re running out of time. This
    is truly a landmark article, and look at its date. Please distribute to
    anyone you think may be interested in the roots of this quagmire.

  • Ronnie Neuhauser

    Great discussion, but I do feel Chrystia’s assertion we can fix capitalism is truly way off base. The system itself creates these results because labor is not in control of the means of production and hierarchies always work in their own favor. And she of course didn’t address the massive damage to the ecosystem because of capitalism’s need for constant growth and consumption of resources on a planet with finite resources. We need a resource needs based economy. We can reform capitalism but only as we send it on it’s way out.

  • Ronnie Neuhasuer

    I want to add that I feel most people don’t realize the damage from over production and over population. We are removing species from the planet, toxifying the air, water and soil, our food supply and causing all sorts of illness and disease. Our system based on selling our labor to owners is only a step above chattel slavery. These institutions, including the corporations are truly top run down tyrannies, in the corporations case, pretty much an unaccountable tyranny that do extreme damage. Adhering to these institutions is definitely not healthy for humans, for all life for that matter. We need massive change and we must come together as communities and work them out in a horizontal democratic fashion. It’s time to redefine work and what is truly good for us and the ecosystem and for true happiness and development, not growth, but development.

  • Ronnie Neuhauser

    I agree with the reference to these folks being sociopaths. It is an illness to want to lord over people. Our system is based on hierarchy and privilege that makes these types of people congregate at the top. We need humane systems to work within, not top down run tyrannical systems that benefit the tiny minority of, well, sociopaths.

  • Paul Fretheim

    On your recent show with Matt Taibbi and Chrystia Freeland Ms. Freeland at one point said, “I believe in Capitalism.”

    I wish you had then asked, “What do you mean by that?” and then followed up with some tough questioning because I have no idea what it means to “believe” in Capitalism.

    What does that mean?

  • Paul Fretheim

    On your recent show with Matt Taibbi and Chrystia Freeland Ms. Freeland at one point said, “I believe in Capitalism.”

    I wish you had then asked, “What do you mean by that?” and then followed up with some tough questioning because I have no idea what it means to “believe” in Capitalism.

    What does that mean?

  • Reidman

    This article will give you an idea of how Americans are trying to fight the bully banks virtually alone as their elected officials, who are constantly trying to solicit their votes for Nov. 6th continue to ignore them and take a very indifferent look at their problem. They are about to be foreclosed upon by Bendett and McHugh, a foreclosure mill in Farmington, Ct. by Bank of New York Mellon (trustee) of the Countrywide RMBS pools at the behest of Bank of America, the bully master servicer that has left a definite trail of a plan to defraud this couple of it’s rights to fight back by offering them a “Trojan Horse” modification offer that would have led to a quicker foreclosure process for the bank as they had already transferred their loan out of MERS back in February of this year and wanted to circumvent the Connecticut Foreclosure Mediation Process by having the Mandells sign away their rights of free speech, press, bankruptcy and right to legal representation. The Mandells did not as they easily could read the 5 page waiver and the modification papers that clearly indicated that the mod was not a done deal and after they signed on the dotted line, all hell would have broke loose and they could have been instantly served vacate papers by a sheriff with a moving truck to throw their belongings on the lawn.
    See article below and if you know of a pro-bono lawyer interested in a well documented case of fraud by this bank, Bank of America, please have them call the Mandells directly at 203-745-1251 ASAP as the clock is ticking and they don’t want to have to go bankrupt, they pay all their other bills on time every month, they don’t want a hand-out, just a modification just like the one they were offered but without the strings attached.

    They have had the support of the local Occupy movement in New Haven, Ct. and one of their representatives can be reached at 201-274-6174.
    These good people, who are in the process of helping others who’s loans were just sold or transferred to Select Portfolio of Salt Lake City, Utah by Bank of America, who is cleaning house of all the Countrywide mortgages without modifying as they had agreed with the A/G’s selttlement as they throw the babies out with the bath water.

  • constitution sam

    Thanks for the great presentation on this subject. Yes, the conversation and more must move on this issue if we are to move forward as a nation of 300,000+ and not $3,000+ wealthy individuals. Our forefathers are stirring in their graves and about to throw up at what we , as citizens, have allowed to happen in this country and as our declaration states, we must be prepared to throw out the bad and remake anew when it no longer serves our needs. Clearly, this is such a time and the plutocracy that has been allowed to flourish in the past must be stopped at all cost for the good of the nation. REFORM the tax code so the share of burden is fair and balanced .

  • Linda Findley

    Well I’m sure they have the good insurance! My big wonder has always been what is today’s Discription of treason? Or working against the interests of our people. I really don’t think you must join the Taliban to be a traitor! We really must take a fresh look at the word. Traitor

  • foreverhippie

    So, you want another Great Depression: are you willing to accept fighting in the streets; wholesale death of the less well off, and the end to The Bill of Rights; then go ahead and vote for the serial corporate (personhood) killer.

  • foreverhippie

    “Got it in 1 Mr Garabaldi”

  • Anonymous

    No, it is “political capture”. I don’t know why they, Matt and Chrystia, would try to argue against a point that they had just validated. There is no other force at work here. Simply, the reason wealth is undistributed is because it is not being redistributed and the reason it is not being redistributed is because the government no longer has the power to tax the wealthy.

  • Plutocrats anonymous

    The fixation in this interview on plutocrats borders on obsessive. What they need to fixate on is getting people to enter and engage in, to use Taibbi’s word, commercial intercourse. Asian immigrants immediately figure out where the money is flowing and start a small business – a restaurant, a laundry, etc. If people don’t engage, the division will get larger, but focusing on the plutocrats doesn’t help the others at all, in fact makes them feel helpless to change things. Asian immigrants probably don’t worry about plutocrats – except when they are customers in their new restaurant.

  • Joseph

    Just want to compliment the intelligent responses on this site. It gives me hope that there is a chance, all be it remote, that the country can be saved.

    I agree with Tabbi that the US manufacturing base is gone. The tooth paste is out and can’t be put back in.

    The pure free market ideology espoused by Friedman and his ilk has helped tank our economy. The middle class is being displaced. Outsourced jobs are being replaced with service jobs, Hard working well intentioned college graduates lucky to get a job work for unsustainable wages with no benefts. Yoked with student loan debt that will not be repaid EVER.
    Get ready for the shock/austerity measures to be implemented soon… it will not be pretty.

  • Jeanne

    What should the new manifesto be, Chrystia?

  • lw

    And if the “Banana Republicans” have their way we will!

  • lw

    I remember sitting in on a sociology class in the late 70s at a community college and hearing, believing, and accepting that, as the way it’s gonna be!

  • Sharee Anne Gorman

    “We the People” A call to end plutocracy…a poem by annienomad-cyberpoet

  • Anonymous

    That was just AWESOME as always.

  • Anonymous

    I would love to see Matt dig in on the naked CDS scam and reveal the impact of the actions of Phil Gramm, Larry Summers & Robert Rubin and probably Schumer.

    The timing would be perfect.

  • Anonymous

    Capitalism is great, if you are a capitalist. To be a capitalist you need to make money from pulling money to work. If you’re a wage earner like most you are not a capitalist.

  • Anonymous

    Worse than that – Mr. Gates is trying to position himself to inflict policy on public schools (while exempting his own children) and sources of energy (his investments into nuclear power generation while poo pooing renewable energy).

    Remember too his eugenics efforts and seed-banking.

    Bill Gates is no friend of the masses.

  • Anonymous

    I would add that, not only are they not being taxed sufficiently, but they are also able to utilise huge bundles of tax dollars paid by an ever dwindling workforce

  • Hume

    Right you are …. AND a non-partisan Federal Electoral Commission to oversee elections and and voters registration and electorate district drawing and all the rest of the safeguards that are so much at risk currently …..

  • David Crymes

    I wish I could hear this interview. For those of us with profound hearing loss, subtitles are needed.

  • Okcitysuz

    Many Asian immigrants have a system. They group together to give loans and help other Asians when starting a new business. They nurture that business, give referrals, and get paid back! They help their community of immigrants. If one of them gets in trouble they have a group of elders that meets, reviews the circumstances and determine how to help them. they get them a job, pay the rent for one month so they are not homeless. They help each-other stand on their own feet. More importantly their children are in school and wouldn’t dare to bring home bad grades! They work hard to teach their culture to their children. They keep them close. It reminds me of small thriving communities. Just like the town I grew up in. Congratulations on continuing that practice. It takes a village!

  • Guest

    There is a link to the transcript beneath the video.