Bill Moyers redux and more
Watched Moyers and Company from the DVR last night and a couple of statements made during the interview prompted this diary. (In case others weren’t aware, Moyers is back on PBS at 10PM PST on Fridays)
“Unemployment among our youngest adults is almost twice the national average. 25 to 34 year-old male high school graduates are earning 25 percent less than they earned in 1980. Almost 40 percent of young adults say their personal debt increased in the last four years, a lot of that directly related to student loans.”
“HEATHER McGHEE: Well, let’s take, for example, the fact that since I was born, there’s an entirely new industry that didn’t used to exist. That of corporate lobbyists, for which there are now 24 for every member of congress.”
“HEATHER McGHEE: You know, I think the right solution would be for us to undo what Sallie Mae and other lenders got slipped into that terrible 2005 bankruptcy bill. Which is that private student loans and student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. I mean, think about it, bankruptcy, which, you know, huge, multi-billion dollar corporations are– seem to be filing every day and move on, just as if nothing happened.”
And I can tell you from personal experience that being able to discharge such loans DID exist at one time.
This interview with Bruce Bartlett of Reagan fame (When he called George W. Bush out as “a pretend conservative” in his book Impostor: Why George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, Bartlett was fired from his position as a senior fellow at a conservative think tank. His new book is The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform — Why We Need It and What It Will Take) is a must read and provides the fodder to fire back at those who claim to be acolytes of Reaganism; refer the two books to Republican’s and tea partiers. Though I have to say I am of the same opinion as Bartlett when he says “People have to be given the factual information they need to make decisions. And they’re not getting it. And they may not even want it.” And THAT is what I despair most about.
“BILL MOYERS: I just read a summary of a study done at the University of Michigan that over a period of time shows that people have confronted with facts they believe to be true will reject them nonetheless if they offend or undermine their belief system. That their beliefs — our beliefs are more important to us than the facts.
BRUCE BARTLETT: Oh, I think we need some — instead of talking to economists like me, we need to be talking to psychologists and sociologists to try to get at the root of this problem.”
And yet when I posted a diary about someone who is a psychologist specializing in moral and political thought, many couldn’t see his views as being valid. Which was ok but I do concur with Bartlett that the issues have moved beyond solution by politicians and economists.
For instance, how does this get dealt with? “BILL MOYERS: You remind me that ideology is a worldview that can be believed despite all the evidence to the contrary.
BRUCE BARTLETT: Well, it’s very much like religion. And I think that it’s not a surprise that so many very, you know, devout Christians are a part of the Republican Party and accept a lot of this. Because the nature of deep religious belief is faith, which means you accept things for which there is no proof.
And so, I think it’s not that hard to shift that faith over to believe a lot other things that you’ve been told are true so many times that you just accept that on faith as well. That if you cut taxes, revenues will go up, you know, and things of this sort. That all tax cuts are good and all spending cuts are good, and all government is bad.”
“BRUCE BARTLETT: One idea that a friend of mine, Mike Lofgren came up with, is that the conservative side of this political spectrum hates government, per se. And it’s in their interest to make it be ineffective. And so, they’ll cut the budget, for example, for a regulatory agency such as the Securities and Exchange Commission.
And then, when some problem arises on Wall Street, they will then say, ‘Ha-ha, this proves that the SEC doesn’t work.’ And this will justify further cuts in the agency’s budget, so that everything that they do reinforces their basic ideology, which is that government is the source of all of our problems. Government doesn’t work. And then they make sure that it doesn’t work by cutting its budget and tying its hands so that everything is a race to the bottom and it didn’t use to be that way.”
“it didn’t use to be that way”; very true and and anyone who calls it ‘progress’ is someone who would be happy in a truly authoritarian regime.
Now that I’ve presented the ‘downside’, here’s some ‘upside’:
With the passage of AB 361 on October 9th, 2011, California became the sixth state to adopt legislation allowing the formation of “benefit corporations”—corporations whose purpose is not just to make money but to make the world a better place.
Sponsored by California Assemblymember Jared Huffman, the new law will allow corporations to voluntarily register as Benefit Corps rather than the more traditional LLCs or C corporations. Registered Benefit Corps broaden their goals to include serving non-financial interests, verified by an independent third party. For example, they may provide low-income communities with beneficial products or services, promote economic opportunity for individuals or communities beyond the creation of jobs in the ordinary course of business, preserve the environment, or improve human health. Perhaps even more significantly, the new Benefit Corp status relieves a corporation from its obligation to maximize shareholder profit and be sold to the highest bidder.