On Sunday evening, I was delighted to catch the first episode of the new PBS series, Moyers & Company. You can view it, and a lot more, on the new website, http://billmoyers.com/.
Moyers interviewed political scientists, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, authors of, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer–and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.
The conversation startled me, as Hacker and Pierson said they were startled during their research. They found that the current income gap in this country – greater than in some third world countries like Egypt – was not an inevitable consequence of free market dynamics or trends like globalization. It was politically engineered over the last 30 years. Hacker and Pierson argue that the current American leadership more closely resembles a third world oligarchy than the democracy our parents knew.
“Who’s the culprit? “American politics did it– far more than we would have believed when we started this research,” Hacker explains. “What government has done and not done, and the politics that produced it, is really at the heart of the rise of an economy that has showered huge riches on the very, very, very well off.”
Bill considers their book the best he’s seen detailing “how politicians rewrote the rules to create a winner-take-all economy that favors the 1% over everyone else, putting our once and future middle class in peril.” – (from billmoyers.com)
Winner Take All Politics is going into my already overcrowded book-queue, since it appears to be of critical importance. The first step in correcting a problem is gaining an accurate understanding of its nature. The fact that the assault on the middle class was created and not fated is good news, according to Hacker and Pierson. Something done can be undone. Along with Moyers, they agree that our current national sense of outrage is a positive sign.
Moyers’ work and website are important to bring up today. On the website you can find an April, 2010 interview with two African American lawyers, discussing what Dr. King would have made of America today. Lawyer Bryan Stevenson said:
“I think in America, the opposite of poverty is justice. I think there are structures and systems that have created poverty, and have made that poverty so permanent, that until we think in a more just way about how to deal with poverty in this country, we’re never gonna make the progress that Dr. King envisioned.” http://billmoyers.com/content/bryan-stevenson-and-michelle-alexander/
These are important things to consider, especially today.