90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
George Packer On America’s ‘Unwinding’

New Yorker writer George Packer’s inside history of the great unwinding of America’s 20th century way of life and where we stand now.

Writer George Packer. (Guillermo Riveros/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Writer George Packer. (Guillermo Riveros/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

New Yorker writer George Packer writes big and deep about the world, whether it’s Silicon Valley or the Iraq War or American inequality.

Now he’s writing about a great American era coming to an end.  The era of a strong middle class, and things you could count on, and “we’re all in this together.”

A great “unwinding” of American institutions and assumptions.  It can feel like the end of America.  Packer’s been out talking with ordinary people and with our modern-day Gatsbys.

Up next On Point: George Packer on the great unwinding and the unsettling birth of a new America.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guest

George Packer, writer at the New Yorker and author of the new book “The Unwinding: An Inner History Of The New America.” He also recently wrote the New York Times op-ed “Celebrating Inequality” and the New Yorker feature “Change The World.”

Show Highlights

For transcripts of individual show highlights, read this hour’s complementary blog post.

Excerpt

Excerpted from The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer, published in May 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2013 by George Packer. All rights reserved.

You can also read a longer excerpt here.

PROLOGUE

Book jacket for "The Unwinding: An Inner History Of The New America" by George Packer. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

No one can say when the unwinding began—when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way. Like any great change, the unwinding began at countless times, in countless ways—and at some moment the country, always the same country, crossed a line of history and became irretrievably different.

If you were born around 1960 or afterward, you have spent your adult life in the vertigo of that unwinding. You watched structures that had been in place before your birth collapse like pillars of salt across the vast visible landscape—the farms of the Carolina Piedmont, the factories of the Mahoning Valley, Florida subdivisions, California schools. And other things, harder to see but no less vital in supporting the order of everyday life, changed beyond recognition—ways and means in Washington caucus rooms, taboos on New York trading desks, manners and morals everywhere. When the norms that made the old institutions useful began to unwind, and the leaders abandoned their posts, the Roosevelt Republic that had reigned for almost half a century came undone. The void was filled by the default force in American life, organized money.

The unwinding is nothing new. There have been unwindings every generation or two: the fall to earth of the Founders’ heavenly Republic in a noisy marketplace of quarrelsome factions; the war that tore the United States apart and turned them from plural to singular; the crash that laid waste to the business of America, making way for a democracy of bureau-crats and everymen. Each decline brought renewal, each implosion re-leased energy, out of each unwinding came a new cohesion.

The unwinding brings freedom, more than the world has ever granted, and to more kinds of people than ever before—freedom to go away, free-dom to return, freedom to change your story, get your facts, get hired, get fired, get high, marry, divorce, go broke, begin again, start a business, have it both ways, take it to the limit, walk away from the ruins, succeed be-yond your dreams and boast about it, fail abjectly and try again. And with freedom the unwinding brings its illusions, for all these pursuits are as fragile as thought balloons popping against circumstances. Winning and losing are all-American games, and in the unwinding winners win bigger than ever, floating away like bloated dirigibles, and losers have a long way to fall before they hit bottom, and sometimes they never do.

This much freedom leaves you on your own. More Americans than ever before live alone, but even a family can exist in isolation, just managing to survive in the shadow of a huge military base without a soul to lend a hand. A shiny new community can spring up overnight miles from any-where, then fade away just as fast. An old city can lose its industrial foundation and two-thirds of its people, while all its mainstays—churches, government, businesses, charities, unions—fall like building flats in a strong wind, hardly making a sound.

Alone on a landscape without solid structures, Americans have to im-provise their own destinies, plot their own stories of success and salva-tion. A North Carolina boy clutching a Bible in the sunlight grows up to receive a new vision of how the countryside could be resurrected. A young man goes to Washington and spends the rest of his career trying to recall the idea that drew him there in the first place. An Ohio girl has to hold her life together as everything around her falls apart, until, in middle age, she finally seizes the chance to do more than survive.

As these obscure Americans find their way in the unwinding, they pass alongside new monuments where the old institutions once stood— the outsized lives of their most famous countrymen, celebrities who only grow more exalted as other things recede. These icons sometimes occupy the personal place of household gods, and they offer themselves as answers to the riddle of how to live a good or better life.

In the unwinding, everything changes and nothing lasts, except for the voices, American voices, open, sentimental, angry, matter-of-fact; in-flected with borrowed ideas, God, TV, and the dimly remembered past— telling a joke above the noise of the assembly line, complaining behind window shades drawn against the world, thundering justice to a crowded park or an empty chamber, closing a deal on the phone, dreaming aloud late at night on a front porch as trucks rush by in the darkness.

Tweets From During The Show

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: Celebrating Inequality – “What are celebrities, after all? They dominate the landscape, like giant monuments to aspiration, fulfillment and overreach. They are as intimate as they are grand, and they offer themselves for worship by ordinary people searching for a suitable object of devotion. But in times of widespread opportunity, the distance between gods and mortals closes, the monuments shrink closer to human size and the centrality of celebrities in the culture recedes. They loom larger in times like now, when inequality is soaring and trust in institutions — governments, corporations, schools, the press — is falling.”

Chicago Tribune: Review: ‘The Unwinding’ By George Packer — “The New America of George Packer’s ambitious history, “The Unwinding,” is a morally compromised patchwork of failed institutions, Ponzi schemes, bankruptcies, foreclosures, ignorance and fear. But it is also a country where idealism still exists, and well-meaning individuals struggle to effect change in the face of overpowering obstacles.”

Salon: ‘The Unwinding’: What’s Gone Wrong With America — “Think of George Packer’s new book, “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America” as the un-Internet take on the transformation this country has undergone in the past 35 years. It’s wide ranging, deeply reported, historically grounded and ideologically restrained. To write “The Unwinding”, Packer clearly had to spend a lot of time out of his own habitat and in the company of other people, listening more than talking, and largely keeping his opinions to himself. Imagine that! It’s called journalism.”

NPR: Stories Of Hope Amid America’s ‘Unwinding’ – “According to New Yorker writer George Packer, there used to be a kind of deal among Americans — a deal in which everyone had a place. ‘People were more constrained than they are today, they had less freedom,’ he says, ‘but they had more security and there was a sense in which each generation felt that the next generation would be able to improve itself, to do better.’ But over the last generation, that deal has come undone.”

Playlist

“So Ambitious” by Jay-Z (featuring Pharrell)

“We Take Care Of Our Own” by Bruce Springsteen

Extra: Commencement Address

On Saturday, comedian Stephen Colbert addressed University of Virginia’s graduating students at its 2013 Valedictory Exercises.  His wife attended UVA as a student, but Colbert did not — his application to attend as a transfer student was rejected.

He joked about the university’s notable graduate Georgia O’Keefe, dropout Edgar Allan Poe and founder Thomas Jefferson.  He concluded with the mandatory advice section for graduates.

We’ll end our show by playing this excerpt from Colbert’s remarks:

You can also watch his full speech here:

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Yar

    My guess is that the Tornadoes in Oklahoma will push this discussion to another day.  This picture is a classic tornadic  storm. Global warming is part of the unwinding and so is the loss of biodiversity.  Bees are one example.  To think we can make the world more livable by making it more complex is a big part of our problems. 

    http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/130520212748-ireport-moore-tornado-horizontal-gallery.jpg

    • Shag_Wevera

      I hope not.  I’ll be the crass bastard to say that a tornado at the heart of tornado alley can wait a day to be bantered about.  What’s to say, other than the offering of condolences?

      • Yar

        You are correct that one event does not define climate change. For every action there is a reaction.  We try to use technology to react to each event, (pesticides for pests) in doing so we have created an environment that we cannot discern cause and effect.  In response, do we build stronger schools, in Moore or Sandy Hook? Do we pay a living wage so people can build  storm shelters or get access to mental health care?  If we let go of our anger toward an individual we can see past the event and start to see cause. The unwinding, or unraveling as I call it is the short sighted vision of this quarter’s profit, not what makes our nation strong over generations.  We have pretty much quit investing in our future.  Maybe we are all wrong, but if we work together we can still do the right things.  That means we have to drop the ideology or us and them.

        • http://lowenfoundation.org/index.html Flowen

          You’re totally right Yar! I’m just afraid that Homo Sapiens seem to be losing their capacity for humility. As big as Man’s brain is, it doesn’t seem intelligent enough to recognize the difference between ideas (ideology) and reality.
          Neanderthals will probably prove to be the more successful species.

    • Gregg Smith

      Is it a “classic storm” as in like all the gazzillions of tornadoes previous?

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    Defy entropy !

    • Shag_Wevera

      What does that mean?

      • Ratsandwich

        It means you suck.  

        • Shag_Wevera

          Free speech and discourse be damned, I wish you’d go away.  You don’t even offer an argument. 

          • StilllHere

            I don’t know, he’s got a point.

  • StilllHere

    Change is good.

    • Shag_Wevera

      What does that mean?

    • Michiganjf

      Another genius Republican…

      “Change is good.”

      “I want my America back.”

      • Michiganjf

        D’uhhh…. I’m not Republican, Homer…. I just vote Republican and espouse every Republican viewpoint.

      • Ray in VT

        All of those “Take back Vermont” people up here a decade ago didn’t think that change was so good.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Now I’m curious: Is Take Back Vermont  “off the grid” Vermonters, or apocryphal Northeast Kingdom sorts who barely got on the grid to begin with?

          • Ray in VT

            No.  I think that most of the people here who might favor off the grid living had little to do with the Take Back Vermonters.  The movement came about in 2000 as a response to Civil Unions, and it was pretty much dead by 2002, as the single issue candidates failed to repeal Civil Unions and didn’t try to do much else while in office.  Most lost re-election bids in 2002.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Thanks for the clarification.

            What are the Take Backers up to now that suburbanites all over are dressing up like Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys?

      • Shag_Wevera

        That’s pronounced “Merka”.

    • nj_v2

      Trolls are lame.

  • brettearle

    The demoralizing thing, in Packer’s brilliant excerpt, above, is that Unwinding, truly, is the one encompassing theme that one can discern from all the scenarios, about which he writes.

    And yet, to me, Unwinding is NOT a theme–but rather an entropic, anarchic, and chaotic sprawl of disconnected events, incidents, and conflicts….that can only be connected by that word.

    If Packer’s accurate, I think NASA better make plans, sooner–for private citizens to make a run for it, to other planets.

    Hawking’s right.

    • BOBinRSI

      Why bother going to another planet? I say its better to just fizzle out. Maybe something better will crawl out of the seas in a few million years.

      • brettearle

        Ha. Ha.

        Never thought I’d see the day when someone would Trump my cynicism.

        But when I use the pun, Trump, ay least give me some credit for Irony and Poignancy….

      • Payhole Everdouche

        I hope MaMa Nature puts some Sizzle in your Fizzle. 

  • BOBinRSI

    Is the “unwinding” a surprise? I can’t imagine why an empire based on unbridled capitalism should work forever. Our greed, macro and micro, has gotten too big for our borders and its pulling us down to the levels of the rest of the world. Equilibrium perhaps. Maybe that is where we are supposed to be.

    • brettearle

      If it’s true, eventually, we will see a Revolution–10, maybe 20, years from now.

      People aren’t equipped to accept such Breakdown:  What’s more, it is, very likely, an ongoing destruction that may very well accelerate in the coming years.

    • William

       Do we really have “unbridled capitalism”? I would say no and we have a very corrupt crony capitalism with heavy government interference and corruption involved at all levels.

  • Shag_Wevera

    An unsustainable standard of living was created for us at the conclusion of the Second World War.  The good times rolled for almost a half century.  It is coming to an end.  No more solid middle class existence for marginally educated factory workers.  No more promises about education, health care, or retirement.  Welcome back to the “Brave Old World”.  So, so sad.   

    • brettearle

      There are some who say that the Good Times rolled only for a few years out of WWII.

      Then the Cold War, JFK’s assassination, VietNam, Watergate, Economic downturns periodically, etc…

      We’re `simply’ watching the gradual `end times’ of what was a slower, more gradual process earlier.

      • notafeminista

        Well the both of you can always hope. 

        • Shag_Wevera

          For what?

  • Ed75

    Looking back I think the element that will be seen as the cause of America’s unravelling – whether it’s the cost of health care and pensions because there aren’t enough young people, or violence, or other things - is abortion. These are human beings who were here and now, unjustly, aren’t, and we’re seeing their absence.

    Of course abortion followed many other steps our society had already taken. When natural law is violated, as it is here, the Church preaches against it, and it threatens penalties, but it also knows that a society that breaks the natural law will break itself.

    • brettearle

      Your Religiosity is relentless.  You’ve been demonstrating this on, “On Point” threads, unceasingly, for a long time.

      It’s almost as if, coming from your viewpoint, if there are deadly germs in meat, it’s because of Abortion; if NFL coaches pay their players to injure others on opposing teams, it’s because of Abortion; if Clint Eastwood makes a mediocre film, it’s because of Abortion.

      If you need to proselytize, no matter what, why not have the Courage to say it, outright?   Indeed, why not simply say it in exact words?

      “America is falling apart because it permits legalized Murder.”

      Say it.

      Or, I know….why not blame Scalia for not finding a way to get SCOTUS to order the due process clause to be Reinterpreted?

      Failing all these things, why don’t you simply get your own program on an AM Christian radio station–where you can be properly marginalized?

      You have a right to your views and to express them.

      But if you are going to do it over and over and over and over again, the I’m going to call you on it.

      You’ll use ANY excuse to bring up Abortion.

      No Matter. What.

      • Ed75

        I guess you didn’t like my post, though your examples were enjoyable. It’s such a serious matter that, like slavery in the 19th century, it has ramifications all over. I’ll try to be more judicious.

        • brettearle

          Thanks for your reply and your potential willingness….

          • Ratsandwich

            @ brett.  Awesome. That was amazing.  

        • d clark

          Except of course you are a false prophet and a fraud. You do not see “sanctity of Life” in executions; you are for it. You don’t in your church excoriate american capitalism which demeans people made in the image of God. You only see abortion and the real reason you rail against it is not because of God (please show me ‘thou shalt not abort thy fetus in Bible. You can’t-though I can hardly turn a page without ‘do not oppress the poor’). The real reason is your patriarchal view of the faith and your ABSOLUTE need to control women and their bodies. For that reason you are a fraud. For your failure to call out your capitalist culture (your true religion) you are a false prophet.

          • Ed75

            There’s a lot here. Actually, I’m not much on the death penaltly and the Catholic Church has been arguing that in the U.S. the penalty isn’t really necessary.

            At the time of Marx Pope Leo XIII wrote the encyclical ‘Rerum Novarum’, on the new world order, which addressed the terrible working conditions of unrestrained capitalism (it was banned in England). Since then, culminating in Pope Benedict’s encyclical on the economy (2008?) the Church has promoted regulated capitalism as an imperfect system but the best one available. John Paul criticized the capitalism of the West more on the grounds of consumerism.

            You’re right, the Bible always stresses care for the poor, but it also warns against an umbalanced care for the poor, to the neglect of other things. We give money to the poor, and to the altars, says St. John Vianney, because we find Christ in both places. The LCWR sisters’ leadership committee is making just this mistake: they serve the poor, but they neglect correct theology.

            The Holy Spirit in the Bible usually doesn’t explicitly name horrible sins. But the Holy Spirit refers to them without naming them, so abortion does appear in the Bible:

            -In Genesis, when God gives mankind the command (apparently not the first command) – Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Abortion is a breaking of this command.
            -In Hosea 9:10-14, after the fall of Israel in worshipping the Baal-of-Peor at the end of the sojourn in the desert, God describes their punishment in terms of ‘a womb that miscarries’, infertility, seen in the O.T. as a punishment for sin.
            -Jesus says ‘He who accepts a little child in my name accepts me’. Abortion is a refusal to accept a child.
            -More directly, at the Last Supper, Jesus is asked who will betray him, and says ‘It would be better for that man if he had never been born.’ He didn’t say ‘never existed’, and the only possibility is that he was conceived but didn’t make it to birth. Judas made the largest mistake and suffered the desolation of separation from God and killed himself, so the comparison indicates that not reaching birth is a very bad thing.
            -In the Catholic Church we hold that tradition carries truth, in fact that the New Testament is product of the Church’s Tradition. We have a document from about the year 100 called the Didache, a document describing Christian life and worship, especially Mass around the year 100. It’s the earliest such document we have. It condemns clearly the ending of pregnancies with chemicals or other means as gravely sinful.

            It’s interesting about the patriarchal view you mention. It’s kind of like communists and capitalists, the partriarchal charge is part of a whole view which contradicts the Church’s view. And there really is no compromise, one accepts one view or the other. People are pro-life to control women’s bodies (the fetus in in their body but not part of it), or they are pro-life out of justice and respect for human life. The Vatican acts to support patriarchy, or it acts to carry out the will of God.  It’s one view or the other. (And one can note that the Church is the largest supplier of services to the poor on the face of the earth, which is appropriate since she finds Christ there.)

            Sorry for the length.

          • d clark

            Well Ed, you’re right there’s lot here. I deduce you are of course Roman Catholic, though I believe not a priest or theologian as neither would sully themselves in conversation with one “outside the church and the sacrements”; that is to say, a Protestant. So I must let you know that I reject some of your premises about the theological authority of Rome, for all the many reasons that have spilled so much blood for so long. So to one of your last points first. The New Testament is ALL I recognize as authoritative. Yes, the NT came from the church, but once complete the church was under it’s authority not the other way around. Obviously, this is something we will never agree upon. So I find the Didache to some degree useful, but not binding.

            You mistake me if you think I am absolutely in favor of abortion. I am not. I do believe God is always willing to the direction of life. But he also wills toward freedom and for the church (and the state as the church’s agent) to deprive women of bodily autonomy that men enjoy (under pretense of the “unborn”) is wrong.

            You make my point for me about poverty versus abortion by your use  (misuse) of Scripture. All the passages you chose have been wrenched out of context, and only by torurous exegesis can be called to address abortion. Whereas, all the scriptures about the care of the poor are clear, unambiguous and directly related to the issue at hand. Yes, the church catholic (little c is important here) has lead the way of care for the poor. My point is that the Roman Catholic and other fundamentalist churches want to seize upon the one issue (which I believe they do so for ulterior motives of control of female sexuality) while not focusing on the runaway capitalism of America that harms so many more. That is, you worry your sister about the speck in her eye without seeing the log in your eye.

          • Ed75

            I think the Catholic position is that there are three sources of authority which work together: the Tradition, the Magisterium, and the Scriptures. The Scriptures emerged from the Tradition; the Magisterium interprets the Scriptures and the Tradition, etc. In the Catholic view Tradition is still operative.

            I wonder why you call the Catholic Church fundamentalist? I remember hearing this but don’t remember why at this point. The Catholic view is that fundamentalists are kind of on the far edge of the Protestant tradition, usually stressing inspiration by the Holy Spirit, and of course giving a literal reading of the Scriptures with no outside assistance.

      • notafeminista

        So?

    • jefe68

      Ever heard of the separation of Church and State.
      Sounds like you want to live in theocracy. 

  • Ed75

    This book sounds like a clear-eyed assessment of the large problems of American society, a description of the dismantling of the wonderful society described by deToqueville.

    • Eric_Duncan

      The “wonderful society” where Tocqueville describes the tyranny of the majority, the way to power is to get people focused on what their neighbor has or is doing rather than what the rulers are doing. That society which sounds rather spot on?  Perhaps you might want to re-read Democracy in America.

      Or, you know stop listening to Straussian Poli Sci thinkers

  • arydberg

    Perhaps the world wide demonstration against Monsanto being held this weekend  in most all major cities will help.    

    • Ratsandwich

      Monsanto! Jesus they are the absolute worst thing ever. I love hearing their name because I know the next thing I hear will be a cross between sci-fi-horror and corporate political angling. 

      • Barry Kort

        Or you might hear a song parody …

        Title: I Ain’t Gonna Plant Monsanto’s Corn No More
        Composer: Bob Dylan and Barsoom Tork Associates
        Artist: Rat Sandwich
        YouTube: http://youtu.be/hyZS0aCIYIk

        I ain’t gonna plant Monsanto’s corn no more. 
        No, I ain’t gonna plant Monsanto’s corn no more. 
        Well, I wake up in the morning, 
        Raise my hands and decry their grain. 
        I got a head full of ideas 
        That are drivin’ me insane. 
        It’s a shame the way Monsanto boots me out the door. 
        I ain’t gonna plant Monsanto’s corn no more. 

        I ain’t gonna buy Monsanto’s seed no more. 
        No, I ain’t gonna buy Monsanto’s seed no more. 
        Well, they charge you a nickel, 
        They charge you a dime, 
        They ask you with a grin 
        If you’re growin’ a good crop, 
        Then they profit every time you walk in the store. 
        I ain’t gonna buy Monsanto’s seed no more. 

        I ain’t gonna grow Monsanto’s corn no more. 
        No, I ain’t gonna grow Monsanto’s corn no more. 
        Well, they flaunt GMO patents

        In your face ‘cuz they’re dicks. 
        Monsanto’s corporate board room 
        Is made out of bricks. 
        The USPTO stands behind their spore. 
        Ah, I ain’t gonna grow Monsanto’s corn no more. 

        I ain’t gonna eat Monsanto’s corn no more. 
        No, I ain’t gonna eat Monsanto’s corn no more. 
        Well, they argue with the judges 
        About man and God and law. 
        Everybody says 
        They’re abusing patent law. 
        Genome sixty-eight is now mutant twenty-four. 
        I ain’t gonna eat Monsanto’s corn no more. 

        I ain’t gonna plant Monsanto’s corn no more. 
        No, I ain’t gonna plant Monsanto’s corn no more. 
        Well, I try my best 
        To farm like my dad, 
        But everybody sells me 
        This inorganic fad. 
        They’ll put you in the grave if you don’t know the score. 
        I ain’t gonna plant Monsanto’s corn no more.

        CopyClef 2013 Bob Dylan and Barsoom Tork Associates.
        North American Bupkis. All songs abused.

        “At North American Bupkis, our atrocious song parodies are your everlasting earworm.”

    • daveincatskills

      We can only hope.  Unfortunately protests have had diminished impact as free speech has been limited.  Protests have been moved away from downtowns miles away under the false guise of “security”.  Protest is protected speech but too many marginalize the protestors as fringe elements.

    • StilllHere

      Monsanto is single-handily responsible for gigantic increases in field yield bringing food to the starving.  I will raise my corn on the cob to them this weekend!

      • arydberg

        Monsanto has been directly involved in the poisoning of thousands of people with PKU  by never telling them the soda they were drinking used aspartame as a sweetner or that their    prescription  medications were sweetened with aspartame.  

  • DrewInGeorgia

    While I (and likely most others) would agree with George Packer’s underlying premise, reading the supplied material has almost put me off listening to today’s show. We all know what is happening in this country. We all see it whether we openly acknowledge it or not. We are eating ourselves.

    President Jimmy Carter laid out “The Unwinding” at the tail end of his administration. He did so without hyphenated melodrama.
    Did we listen? We don’t need a tragic portrait hung and displayed with immense poetic license to gaze upon. Anyone who fails to see the cannibalism of our society and our planet which has ramped up exponentially in the past thirty-five years remains blind by choice. We need solutions, are there some in this book? Let me guess, I’ll have to buy it to find out…

  • TomK_in_Boston

    The unwinding can be summarized in 1 word:

    Reaganomics

    It wasn’t forced on us, voters chose it, albeit often duped by the corporate media. We could start “rewinding” in a heartbeat: tax the rich and the corporations, regulate the corporations, support public institutions, support unions, take steps to make offshoring less attractive. 

    Unfortunately, too many voters act as if they have had voodoo econ injected into their brains, even as the middle class keeps sinking. And, there are very few old style progressive pols to vote for even if they got some clarity.

    • Ratsandwich

      Massachusetts is the biggest pig riddled welfare state.  Laws created without even a nod to the electorate and an atmosphere of “The State Knows Best” that pervades all aspects of daily life.  Commonwealth. Your a second class citizen behind the Gov. employee army that is the Commonwelth. RaRara…

      • TomK_in_Boston

        LOL, I wonder how we got the explosion of biotech, internet and robotics companies that puts everywhere but silicon valley in the shade. Sorry if you’re a loser, maybe try for that GED, but I’m lovin’ it in MA.

    • daveincatskills

      Reaganomics coupled with Bretton Woods. 

      Reagan has been lionized as brilliant however he legimitized deficit spending, doubling it anually.  Just listen to David Stockman his budget chief. Reagan could not put the genie back in the bottle. Clinton was able to finally balance the budget, however Bush II embraced voodoo economics and drove us off the cliff.

      Take a look at the deficit figures and the % of GDP collected in taxes today is 15% compared to 18% historically. Less taxes means higher revenue.   

  • Michiganjf

    D’uhhh…. I’m not Republican, Homer…. I just vote Republican and espouse every Republican viewpoint.

  • donniethebrasco

    The unwinding can be summarized in 3 words:

    The Great Society

    By creating an underclass reliant on government handouts to pay rent and buy food, “The Great Society” has created generations of citizens who can’t feed, clothe, or house themselves. It also has created a government bureaucracy which sees these needy people as clients.

    The more poverty, the more jobs helping people in poverty. You get what you incentivize.

    • Ratsandwich

      Word.  

    • StilllHere

      So true, once the incentive to contribute was removed, all was lost.

  • donniethebrasco

    Freedom from harassment from the IRS, if you are a left leaning group, like MoveOn.crap

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      *Yawn*

      The NAACP, Greenpeace, and Pasadena Episcopal church want you to learn the meaning of “IRS audit”.

    • StilllHere

      Please, they probably have administration officials fill out the forms for them.

  • Molly Pittman

    This is a sincere, not rhetorical, question:

    Did we lose some of our freedom to grow and develop, and maybe rightly so, to protect the environment?

  • keltcrusader

    Although I find Pat Buchanan a total bore normally for some reason this column struck me. Mostly because he ties the failing of America to the loss of jobs due to Globalization and the lack of economic patriotism from our Big Corporations. I mean, really, who could have guessed that putting millions of Americans out of work by exporting almost all our manufacturing out of the country would create a society that couldn’t afford to buy the goods made elsewhere that used to be made here?? I mean, really, who knew?? 
     
    http://buchanan.org/blog/the-pope-and-godless-capitalism-5550

    • donniethebrasco

       Buchanan is a smart political analyst who believes in freedom.  Even though he is a traditional conservative, he does understand the left and the power of their politics.  Sometimes he agrees with the left.

      NPR and its moronic listeners are trying to rationalize the IRS abuse scandal, which shows their stridency.

      • Shag_Wevera

        You must be a listener.

      • Shag_Wevera

        So if you are conservative, you can never agree with a liberal?

  • Ratsandwich

    There HAS to be a way for Assbrook to fit Newtown and guns in here.  Tornadoes! Internet! Ban Firearms!

    • Shag_Wevera

      I’m for deletion of this comment.  Violates the rules of the format and the rules of civility.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Seconded, plus: If one is gonna call the host names, maybe put a bit of effort into it. “Assbrook” sounds darn lazy, and doesn’t even come close to hitting The Rule of Funny.

        • Ratsandwich

          Your right. It was lazy. I apologize.  Letting it stand as a mark against me though. 

      • Ratsandwich

        Clown. Just slinging some mud around in your face.  Ease up.  Watch he’ll mention guns somewhere in here today. 

        • StilllHere

          Wow, you got censured for a typo! 

          • nj_v2

            Illiterate troll.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    The dystopia unfolding is the inevitable byproduct of the efforts of organized wealth (
    both corporate and private ) to protect what’s theirs and gather more.
    The corruption of our socio-economic system is approaching the
    extreme, evidenced by the ‘anonymous’ slipping of the Monsanto
    Protection Act into HR 993.

    How pray tell, in our democracy, can
    legislation be anonymously be submitted? This is antithetical to
    democracy and the individual or individuals responsible should have the
    IRS resources freed up from 503c investigations focused exclusively on
    crawling up their butts with microscopes. This business as usual,
    legislation to order has to stop.

  • Talisker23

    People are confusing America and past prosperity and conservativism, with increasingly lower taxes, individualism and corporate profits. These in fact, were not the hallmarks of our former middle class democracy. Between early 1950′s through 1964, the progressive taxrate maxed out at 91% on incomes above 200k. This, perhaps the greatest growth years in the middle class. Today we have class warfare, the rich increasingly rich and the middle class, increasingly poor. Hedgefund managers paying 15% tax on capital gains while the working stiff pays more while working 9-5 dead end jobs. Yes, we are in decline. People have no vision, no direction. We are lost.

    There is nothing conservative with radical reductions in taxation on the wealthy. There is nothing conservative with radical acknowledgement of the 1% of scientists who say global warming is not caused by humans. There is nothing conservative with refusal to find common sense middle ground in government and the adherance to the single word, “No”.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Exactly. The Unwinding is nothing less than a hostile takeover by the plutocrats. Why is tuition no longer free at great State Universities, leading to the cancer of student loan debt? Why, it’s to keep taxes low on the romney types. Wake up, people. 

    • donniethebrasco

       The 91% tax rates also had lots of deductions.  Personal deductions, child deductions were much higher.  You could deduct your ‘business meals,’ vacations, second homes, mortgages, etc.  This made the effective tax rate similar today.

      Now the restrictions on deductions are much stronger.

      • Talisker23

        The biggest insult regarding the recent tax increases, is that capital gains on hedge fund profit, is still much lower than a working stiffs pay. That is outrageaus.

        • TomK_in_Boston

          The plutocrat takeover is alive and well.

          When’s the last time you heard of a financial transactions tax?

      • nj_v2

        You’re full of crap.

        Effective tax rates, accounting for deductions, ran from about 50% from the early 50s, falling to about 30% by 1961. In the mid-50s, top 1% paid about 30%. (In late 2000s, top 1% were paying about 24%.)

        Current effective rates at higher brackets ($77m+) are, at 20% lower than brackets just below that. 

        http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/06/07/1097958/-Surprise-Tax-data-shows-top-earners-not-paying-their-fair-share

        Mittens dog-on-the-car-roof Romney was paying about 14% during the campaign.

    • donniethebrasco

       You don’t have half the story on how compensation in Private Equity/Venture capital works.

      They pay 15% on their 2% management fees.  Their fund may never turn a profit, but they are allowed to pay capital gains on not only their actual capital gains, but also the “carry fees.”

      This is being investigated by the DA or AG in New York.  It is criminal and should be prosecuted criminally.

    • jpolock

      Perfectly put.  It is the “WalMartization” of America, where all becomes cheap, forcing the downward spiral of wages and benefits, competing with Bangladeshi workers etc…just for the concentration of wealth at the very tippy top.  (The WalMart family alone, about 12 people, have more wealth than the bottom 60% of America: that’s almost 200 Million people, human beings.)

      Cheap crap, disposable, creates ever more consumption, ever more pressure on resources, ever more downward pressures as above, in a death spiral as “consumers” (hate that! we are humans!) have ever less to spend thus need ever cheaper products, requiring ever cheaper labor and resource depletion…on and on….

  • donniethebrasco

    The thing I can’t understand is the strong liberalism in wealthy suburbs.

    They move away from cities, minorities, and poor, then vote for policies that mollify the poor with cash, but keep them poor because of the incentives they create.

    Maybe they like them to come and mow their lawn under the table for cash, but don’t want them to go to their school with their little cupcakes.

    • Shag_Wevera

      More educated people tend to be liberal.

      • Ratsandwich

        Che Guevara.  Hipster. Whatever.  
        More affluent people tend to be educated. 
        More educated people who are affluent are republicans. Go figure. 

      • donniethebrasco

         Then why do they behave stupidly.

        1. Encouraging government policies that create poverty.

        2. Moving away from poor people so that their children don’t have to go to school with them.

        3. Hire household workers under the table to save a couple of bucks.  These workers can be criminals, collecting SSI, or living 25 in a 2 bedroom apartment.

    • nj_v2

      Yet again, the ugly, stupid, right-wing distortion that poor people like to stay poor because of all the profligate government “handouts” they receive.

      This was lame and tiresome a long time ago.

    • Paducah72

      It’s because they realize they didn’t become wealthy in a vacuum. Yes, they worked hard, but they also had access to the right people and resources. They know that not everyone starts out with the same opportunities to succeed, so they avoid voting for politicians that make life harder on the poor. They’re long term thinkers who understand that poverty can happen to anyone.

  • MarkVII88

    The message behind Mr. Packer’s words on today’s show is that America has forgotten how to do the best for everyone, like it did historically…to give everyone a shot.  I’m not saying I necessarily care whether everyone gets a shot or an opportunity, but his argument is that everyone benefits when everyone benefits.  That may not sit well with many (read 1%) because it might diminish the overwhelming profits they stand to reap.  It’s like someone who can make $100 million by themselves, or make $90 million and help hundreds of others in their lives.  More often than not, that person chooses the $100 million.

    • donniethebrasco

      Business owners behave as the government encourages them.  Their business models are so tight, they have cut Christmas parties, etc.

      Also, the rolling back of estate taxes are starting to make people think that they can take it with them.

      Estates over $1MM should be taxed at 50%, then behavior will change.

  • Ratsandwich

    Sorry. I do love this show. I like Ashbrook but his lefty pulpit sometimes pisses me off.

  • Barry Kort

    Our Place In the Cosmos

    Two years ago, Wired Magazine reported that Neil deGrasse Tyson would host a sequel to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos which aired on PBS three decades ago.

    The producers of the new sequel say the new series will tell “the story of how human beings began to comprehend the laws of nature and find our place in space and time.”

    This also creates a parallel opportunity to review our place in the story known as “The Advance of Civilization.”

    We can pick up where Giambattista Vico, James Joyce, Warren McCulloch, Gregory Bateson, Douglas Hofstadter, Benoit Mandelbrot, and Harold Bloom left off in The Canon of Western Literature.

    The hardest law of nature to apprehend is the mathematical nature of recursive systems. We live in a physical universe, a biological niche, and socio-political culture all governed by recursion laws which we struggle to discover, understand and reveal.

    Per Vico and Bloom’s model, we have, over the past 4000 years, repeatedly passed through three recurring ages:

    The Viconian cycle consists of three recurring phases:
    (1) The Theocratic or Divine Age, represented in primitive society by the family life of the cave, to which the thunderous voice of God has driven mankind;
    (2) The Aristocratic or Heroic Age, characterized by incessant conflict between the ruling patricians and their subject plebeians;
    (3) The Democratic Age, in which rank and privilege have finally been eradicated by the revolutions of the preceding age.

    Currently, we are ensnared in the Fourth Age, as anticipated by Vico, and as explicated by any number of modern sources:

    (4) The Chaotic Age, characterized by the bewildering collapse of democratic society, which is inherently dysfunctional and therefore riddled with a panoply of hellish and baffleplexing problems: conflict, violence, oppression, injustice corruption, poverty, ignorance, alienation, suffering, and terrorism.

    The resolution of this nightmare age of unrelenting chaos is to evolve to the Fifth Age where we master the art of taming the ill-mannered recursion laws that define and characterize the Chaotic Age:

    (5) The Cybernetic Age, in which the otherwise mind-boggling math of recursive loops is tamed and tuned to gracefully converge to the long-dreamed of Omega Point.

    To emerge from the Chaotic Age and evolve into the Cybernetic Age, we are going to have to conscientiously educate ourselves in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a concentrated effort to master the fractious mathematics of recursive systems.

    As I see it, the key to mastering the Fifth Age is to embrace the Fifth Discipline of Peter Senge.  The key is to master the Ninth Intelligence of Systems Thinking.

    Once STEM fully integrates Systems Thinking into our tools for thought, we can then team up with Artists who can shape this work for public consumption as part of the evolving Canon of Western Media.  Once STEM is teamed up with the Artistry, we’ll be on our way to the Cybernetic Age with a Full Head of STEAM.

    • Ratsandwich

      baffleplexing.  

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Personally, I am waiting for the sequel to “Limitless” . Hopefully, the movie houses will be passing out new
      “nootropics” that are effective at crossing the brain’s blood barrier : )

  • yingyangyou

    “Unwinding” is a euphemism for “unraveling”, which has the connotation of insanity and dysfunction. “Unraveling” is more to the point. Can we be a world of 7 billion entrepreneur-celebrities, all of which got their by cutting a line or being criminals? The hypnosis of corporate-controlled media would have us believe so. Publishers are also corporate-controlled, it seems. Selling a book seems to require soft-peddling impending disaster with politically correct pablum.

    • StilllHere

      So true, the self-published book describing how everything is great gets no attention. 

    • donniethebrasco

       Without criminals, there would be no Kennedys.

  • Rollo Williams

    Cheap oil drove a lot of the economic boom times after WWII and through the 60s.  Long, slow spiral down now.  Read James Howard Kunstler’s blog at http://kunstler.com/blog/ for some good companion material to Packer.

    • StilllHere

      Hobbled competitors, Europe and Japan, drove the boom times.  US labor kept us in the dark ages while the world caught up and passed us.

  • Abel Collins

    I’m very much looking forward to reading “The Unwinding.” Unless and until the public finds the will to bring our multinational corporations to heel, social, political and economic injustice will continue to grow. A good place to start is constitutional corporate reform that would assert a corporation (for profit or not) is not a person and political spending is not free speech. In Rhode Island, there is legislation that would put a referendum on next year’s ballot to make that change to our State Constitution. The same should be considered around the country to get the process of amending the US Constitution moving as quickly as possible.

    • StilllHere

      Sure, as long as you don’t tax them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=22624601 Cony B. Metcalf III

    What do you expect when the US has pushed for economic liberalization around the world for the last 60 years? Its finally caught up to us and is now reforming our society as it has already reformed other societies around the world. We have to live in a ‘globalized’ world of our own creation.

  • Yar

    I challenge the notion  that we are more free.  Janis Joplin sang Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.  Facebook and all does little to provide a living wage to the average citizen, or provide access to health care.  We are more constrained in all areas out of fear of losing our job, our friends, or sense of community.  We have to get past tribe to find freedom.  We have to accept diverse communities. We have to stop polarizing our responses.  What is in the paper each day? Anything useful to make a better life?  We don’t talk about all the money that left the community because of the lottery.  No, we only want to look at the winner.
    Never at the wake.  Who is willing to plant what they have no hope of harvesting?  We need more people who tell stories like Wendell Berry.

    • donniethebrasco

      You start a solar power company, Solyndra.

      You donate money to Barack Obama.

      Your solar power company starts going out of business.

      Barack Obama gives your Solyndra enough money to pay off the loan you made to your Solyndra.

      3 months after your friend, the president, lets you take all of your money out of a failed investment, Solyndra fails.

      Pay to play.

      • Talisker23

        Donnie, we lost 500 million on Solyndra. The real story about Solyndra is that China is investing (government money) 500 billion on alternative energy companies. 

        We were outspent and many of us are crying about a bad investment, not seeing the forest for the trees.

      • daveincatskills

        Solyndra is peanuts and is a false flag.  TBTF banks donate to both parties and blackmailed them into $700 B in TARP and ZIRP. Not one prosecution for the criminal conspiracy that destroyed 401 Ks, and trillions in individual wealth. Both parties are the problem. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/josh.graciano.3 Josh Graciano

    Mr Packer reached a similar conclusion to my own.  Inspired by recent reports about colleges spending more money subsidizing wealthy students than those who need financial help, I decided that the meritocracy- the decision to support all capable boats when the post WW2 tide rose is not only over, but is an anomaly our descendants will look back on with awe.
      I see this anomaly as so much more than economic, as it involves civil rights.  We are less free than in the 1970s, and it’s only going to get worse.  For a few years the internet was wild and free, now it is censored not by the government but by the private sector.   Public and private sectors working hand in hand- to make the wealthy wealthier.

    America is not in decline, Americans are.   We have unwound and this will continue until we reach feudalism.   America is going backwards- public and private sectors, waving the flag, pissing on our backs and denouncing us for not appreciating the rain.

  • Scott B

    We, the under-paid and over-worked 99% are told, “Save!”, and “Bootstrap it!” by people that were born with a trust fund, and whose boots are made by Gucci.  On minimum wage and families to provide for, save what? How?  Live like us for six months and see America from our ditch.

    We boiled our boots straps to eat long ago when the economy tanked, and then we boiled the boots when we got jobs that paid single-digit dollar amounts over the limit to qualify for food stamps, taking away the meager food they allotted us.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      I used to dream of eating bootstraps. Well, that, and living in a corridor.

      Seriously, the media’s acquiescence to “moral hazard” as something that’s almost exclusively a problem for the people in the lower-middle and working class is bothersome, even as the American worker becomes more productive every year. (And “moral hazard” is creeping up the income ladder as we speak. Time to bleed SocSec in order to save it.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1043274337 Sara Moore Giannoni

    I would love to see you speak to Chris Martensen in a future show.  He talks a great deal about this subject, peak oil, our reliance on government, etc: http://www.peakprosperity.com/

  • MatthewNashville

    Is there a way to simply rip the band aid off and lets just move onto what we are inevitability being forced into? What makes me crazy is the denial of any problem and the unwillingness to address it.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Like politicians saying “America’s best days are still ahead”?  I despise that clap-trap.

    • MarkVII88

      I understand what you’re saying.  There is so much tiptoeing around the notion of social welfare.  Either this country has to seriously pledge and follow-through on helping those in need or it has to completely write them off and give them no support at all.  This half-baked system we have now where we give with one hand and take away with another is just stringing millions of Americans (sadly so many children) along without any hope of improvement or being put out of their misery.  We need to poop or get off the pot.

  • Shag_Wevera

    On Point Producers:  Would you please tighten the reigns on banal and insulting posts that provide no value?  Some really insulting garbage being cast about today by some posters.

    • Ratsandwich

      Mommy! Mommy!

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        You sound like a troll who got beat up on the playground a lot and wondered why people didn’t like you.

        • StilllHere

          Sounds like you know of what you speak.  Figures.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            I stopped picking on helpless idiots ages ago. With my fists, I mean.

  • creaker

    Once upon a time the 1% in the US were dependent on those in the US to get richer, which gave labor the power to win  concessions.  And we all benefited.

    Over the last generation or so the 1% has gone global and the US is being fed to the vultures for their benefit. They still want our money – but they no longer need us.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Did caller Jill at :31 say “I hate to say it but there’s something about President Obama where he can’t get people to look beyond his race”?

    I suggest that this has little to do with the President, and everything to do with his political enemies.

    Edit: The caller sounds like an honest broker on this. She’s not crying crocodile tears whining that “He was supposed to change everything and be post-partisan”.

  • MarkVII88

    Perhaps this unwinding, as Mr. Packer highlights, is due to many individuals seeing the writing on the wall for our society.  What do you do when you know a crisis is coming…you stockpile what you need, and you don’t care so much about your neighbor.  Those who can’t get ahead now and those who can’t scrape enough together in-time will, sadly, be SOL when it comes time to essentially “write-off” a portion of our population so that the majority can thrive.  I’m not talking about a rapture-esque event but one of our own making given the path our world is headed down. Could be global warming, could be a conflict, could be economic…

    • JustEdith

       That’s an interesting perspective.  I can see how one could get that feeling but could you be more specific?  How do you invision the ‘write-off’?  Do you see it coming due to some natural catastrophic event? Who will the majority be?

      • MarkVII88

        What I envision is a situation where the global economic or physical environment requires such a cost for citizens just to maintain what they have that our government won’t be able to afford to support those who do not make a net monetary contribution to the system.  It’s all about the money. 

        • JustEdith

          I’ve thought about the same thing. The way things are going I do worry about a future like that where a lot of people are simply priced out of basic human needs, as already is the case in what we call the third world.  I wonder if that insecurity will not spread as inequality widens and democracies remain unresponsive.  My concern, however, is that it will not be a majority that thrives but a majority who struggle everyday just to get by to the next one. 

          • MarkVII88

             I don’t necessarily think it’ll be the majority who struggle.  But I do believe there won’t be too many second chances, and certainly no third or fourth chances for people who make bad life/financial decisions or who can’t see both short and long-term.

    • Barry Kort

      The Handwriting On the Wall

      The phrase, “handwriting on the wall,” comes from an Old Testament story found in Chapter 5 of the Book of Daniel.  The (Hebrew) words written on the wall were “Mene, Mene, Tekel, uParsin” which we may poetically translate as “Money, Money, Token and Portion.”

      Nowadays, the writing on the wall is mostly found on Facebook, where it is occasionally as cryptic and foreboding as the ominous example from the Book of Daniel.

      If one were to update these puzzling words to reflect the Daily Zeitgeist, the writing on the wall might read, “Lulz, Lulz, Psychodrama, and Fractiousness.”

      I reckon that “lulz” needs no explanation, as there is no shortage of gleeful schadenfreude in the modern age.

      The difficulty comes in weighing the dreadfulness of the psychodramatic mind games that underlie the dopamine-driven pursuit of lulz.  Some people laugh it off or shrug it off, while others are totally creeped out and/or phreaked out.

      And thus arises the fractiousness, as the audience divides into polar camps, depending on the level of arousal of their amygdala (the brain’s full-time fear-processor).

      I tend to side with the sentiments of FDR, who said, “The amygdala has nothing to process but fear itself.”
       
      Or something like that.

  • donniethebrasco

    You start a solar power company, Solyndra.

    You donate money to Barack Obama.

    Your solar power company starts going out of business.

    Barack Obama gives your Solyndra enough money to pay off the loan you made to your Solyndra.

    3 months after your friend, the president, lets you take all of your money out of a failed investment, Solyndra fails.

    Pay to play.
     

    • daveincatskills

      False Flag intended to divert attention from TBTF and Wall Street Revolving Door. TBTF received $700 B in Bailouts and did not have to face liquidation.  Fed punished savers and gifted same TBTF ZIRP.

  • Scott B

    If a company can pay execs millions, and has money to pay shareholders, then they have money to pay taxes, and shouldn’t be getting tens and hundreds of millions on dollars in tax returns  in tax breaks found by an army of tax lawyers.

  • Michiganjf

    “An erosion of trust?”

    I think it’s been more of a DELIBERATE ATTACK ON TRUST by Republicans, who, for decades now, have tried to undermine any trust in government whatever through deliberate incompetence and obstructionism.

  • InActionMan

    Packer is hardly visionary he is just restating the work of Strauss and Howe in their books from over twenty-five years ago “Generations” and “The Fourth Turning”. Both of these books use Generational theory to to predict the future.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generational_theory

    Strauss and Howe predicted in a very general way everything from 9/11 to the financial crisis to the election of Obama.

    Our country and planet’s problems will not be tackled until the calcified, selfish and racist Baby Boomers and Silent generations are swept from political power in America. A New Alliance of of Gen X and Millennials must take control and right the ship of state.

    We have met the enemy, it is our parents and grandparents.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    15 minutes of shame… Washington’s culture has degenerated into a shameless culture. 30, 40 years ago people caught red-handed used to crawl under rocks to die lonely deaths… now, the price is 15 minutes of shame, then redemption, born-againtion, personal reinvention. They may loose their stripes, but they repeatedly prove that they are still Tigers.

    There is no shame in Washington, in Hollywood, in the Boardroom or in the courtroom.

  • http://www.facebook.com/emily.h.lacroix Emily Harvey Lacroix

    Yup, we’ve got problems. I don’t think we need more coverage of them. Let’s hear some solutions.

    • nj_v2

      The solutions are the same as the ever were.

      Organize. Get involved. Organize. Work hard. Take back the government at all levels. Organize. Subvert the prevailing, entrenched power structure. Organize.

      • notafeminista

        Gee, the Tea Party is trying to do just that and ya’ll sicced the IRS on ‘em.   Make up your mind.

  • KateOmaha

    I resent the comment that those who dislike President Obama are unable to see beyond the color of his skin. I’ve heard many comments like this in the last few weeks and it angers me greatly. I voted for President Obama in 2008 and am incredibly disappointed with his administration. I dislike the current President for a multitude of reasons, none of which has anything to do with the color of his skin. It is easy for those who support the President to label anyone who dislikes him as racist, but is only a sign of narrow minded thinking on the part of those who make such accusations.

  • jpx234

    I REMEMBER THE RECESSION OF THE 80′S WHEN FOR THE FIRST TIME, ‘WHITE COLLAR’ LAYOFFS AND LAYOFFS OF LONG TIME EMPLOYEES TOOK PLACE AS A TURNING POINT.  THERE WAS A FEELING THAT ANY SENSE OF FAITHFULNESS AND TRUST BETWEEN OWNER AND STAFF SUDDENLY ENDED.  THIS WAS MADE WORSE WHEN IN FOLLOWING RECESSIONS PEOPLES RETIREMENT FUNDS VANISHED – WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE CEO’S

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    America has undergone an inversion of values. As the price of everything essential to life has risen, the value of a “useful” human life has declined. I point the finger at “too big to fail” corporate organizations in cahoots with the defacto single-party government & the mainstream media.  

    We are smarter than we think, however. If only we’d use our noggins instead of our blind loyalties & magical thinking, I believe we can do better than this.

    • StilllHere

      Actually, everthing is cheaper; water, food, shelter …

  • TSchafer

    My theory is that the unique moment in US history between 1940-1990 was a direct result of the combination of the Great Depression and WWII.  The collective experience of hardship and the draft allowed elites to relate to the working class in a direct way.  This led to public policies that focused on the public good.  Once that experience faded, the impetus to create policy for the public good dissipated.  Now elites promote the welfare of elites and they have rigged the system.  

    Meanwhile, it seems like many of the rest of us are under a veil of hypnosis. Time and again, folks are acting against their own interest.  Things will change but only after things become much worse.  

    • InActionMan

       The post war period was good for working people because the oligarchy was scared to death of Communism.

      Half the planet had gone Communist. The Oligarchs had to prove that capitalism was better to the average Joe and Jane so they shared more of the wealth.

      After the failure of Communism with no philosophy to replace it the Oligarchs got cocky and greedy. It is not a coincidence that things got bad for the average Westerner after the fall of the Soviet Union and the embracing of Capitalism by the Chinese totalitarians.

      American Capitalism has metastasized into a corporatism bordering on Fascism.

      I’m a capitalist, capitalism works but, only with healthy dose of socialism especially for the young.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        “The post war period was good for working people because the oligarchy was scared to death of Communism.”

        Hell, I’ll go one further: The pre-war period was good for working people because of the threat of communism.

        It may not seem it compared to our video-saturated and 24-hour-breaking-news mediascape, but violence from the lower-classes was much closer to the surface in the Great Depression. Scared oligarchs are a big part of how the New Deal happened.

      • jpolock

        Excellent point!  I mentioned in a post earlier how FDR SPECIFICALLY made the very same point upon his campaign for the New Deal… 

  • jpolock

    Wow, I’m surprised by your thoughts on Estate taxes, since you’ve been pulling the conservative party line in most of your posts!

    You’ve actually requested a MASSIVE tax increase over current law, which if I’m not mistaken doesn’t get to the 50% mark until 8, 10 million or higher…

    Maybe you are closer to the founders who actually considered BANNING inheritance, and confiscating all estates at death….in order to cut the path to a Royal Class…

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Ashes In The Fall
    by Rage Against The Machine

    A mass of hands press on the market window
    Ghosts of progress
    Dressed in slow death
    Feeding on hunger
    And glaring through the promise
    Upon the food that rots slowly in the aisle
    A mass of nameless at the oasis
    That hides the graves beneath the master’s hill
    Are buried for drinking
    The river’s water
    While shackled to the line
    At the empty well

    This is the new sound
    Just like the old sound
    Just like the noose wound
    Over the new ground

    Listen to the fascist sing
    “Take hope here
    War is elsewhere
    You were chosen
    This is god’s land
    Soon we’ll be free
    Of blot and mixture
    Seeds planted by our
    Forefather’s hand”

    A mass of promises
    Begin to rupture
    Like the pockets
    Of the new world kings
    Like swollen stomachs
    In Appalachia
    It’s the priests that !@#$ you
    As they whisper holy things
    A mass of tears have transformed to stones now
    Sharpened on suffering
    And woven into slings
    Hope lies in the rubble of this rich fortress
    Taking today what tomorrow never brings

    This is the new sound
    Just like the old sound
    Just like the noose wound
    Over the new ground

    Ain’t it funny how the factory doors close
    Round the time that the school doors close
    Round the time that the doors of the jail cells
    Open up to greet you like the reaper

    Ain’t it funny how the factory doors close
    Round the time that the school doors close
    Round the time that the doors of the jail cells
    Open up to greet you like the reaper

    This is the new sound
    Just like the old sound
    Just like the noose wound
    Over the new ground

    Like ashes in the fall

  • Loay112

    Descriptive but not explanatory.  How about an interview with John Gray author of False Dawn: Th edelusions of Global Capitalism  “The free market works to weaken social cohesion. Its productivity is
    prodigious; but so are its human costs. At present the costs of the
    free market are taboo subjects in American discourse; they are voiced
    only by a handful of sceptical liberals. If the fact that free markets
    and social stability are at odds could be admitted, the conflict
    between them would not thereby disappear, but it could perhaps be
    moderated”

    Nihilism is were we have ended up with. I suggest Jacque Ellul’s The
    Technological Society and his Propaganda, the formation of Mens
    attitude.

  • M S

    That last caller, referencing, George Bush and Iraq, very true, however, Bill Clinton, taught us that lying is okay as well.

    • anamaria23

      Does impeachment  not say loud and clear that lying is NOT okay?  

      • M S

        He was acquitted on all counts. What does that say?

  • daveincatskills

    Mr. Packer’s analysis is spot on. Because we choose not to deal with facts, we choose sides.  As a result we lack the intellectual ability to understand the paradox and implications of our choices. 
    Use international trade as an example.  Because of the Bretton Woods agreement all international trade is conducted in dollars. As a result those that accumluate dollars are reluctant to see them depreciate.  This has resulted in the cost structure in the US rising relative to those overseas and the offshoring of US manufacturing. It is not that the US worker is unproductive, it is the fact that we cannot adjust our currency for when we do, the commodities that we import namely petroleum will rise.  Americans cannot grapple with this type of paradox and that to rebuild the US we will need to accept changes in other areas of the economy. 
    There are other examples of paradox’s that we are unwilling to confront.  What concerns me is what is next.  On the current glide slope the nation will descend into further paralysis and in- fighting unable to pay its debts, invest in its future, or care for those less well off.      

  • JustEdith

    I see that we are witnessing the decline of the nation state and the ascendancy of a new kind of global power in the form of capital and the corporation. I don’t think it’s a positive development for most people.      

    • Shag_Wevera

      JustEdith, I award you insight of the day. 

  • donniethebrasco

    WOW.

    This is great.

    The government wants people to look to them to make sure [fill in the blank] never happens again.  Then they create a bureaucracy to stop [blank].  People then feel that they don’t have to do anything about [blank].

    Then, 10 year later, [blank] happens.  The government says that we did not have the right resources.  The bureaucracy gets twice as much people/money instead of being punished for failing.

    • jefe68

      Wow, what a load of inanity. 

    • StilllHere

      An abridged history of the 20th Century.  Great!

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Big companies would just as soon have employees leave as stay. Easier to outsource that way.

    Benefits for the workers continue to decline while the execs cash in quarterly on their free “compensation stock” sales and ever increasing “total compensation” in the millions if not tens of millions. 

    Everything is “look good this quarter, never mind the crumbling infrastructure” as there is no incentive for good employees to stay. Job hopping pays better than loyalty.  

    Things not going so well? Pink slips for the workers, bonuses for the execs for “right sizing” the company when “factors out of their control” hurt the company.

    Things going well? Bonuses for the execs for doing a great job when “factors out of their control” help the company.

  • tabitha nash

    What does the author make of Charles Murray’s theory that the decline in marriage and participation in church and civic life is the undoing of our middle class?  

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      That Charles Murray says it makes me not believe it somehow. Has anyone else said it?

      (PS I’ve read “Bowling Alone”.)

    • jpolock

      What does poster think of The Enlightenment? And it’s subsequent effect upon mankind following the “religiosity” of the Medieval Period? (a.k.a. the Dark Ages)

  • jpx234

    THE RECESSION OF THE EIGHTIES WAS A MAJOR FACTOR –

    FOLKS WHO HAD MANY YEARS AT THEIR JOBS, WHITE COLLAR AND BLUE COLLAR WERE LAID OFF FOR THE FIRST TIME.  THIS WAS A HUGE SHOCK TO THE COUNTRY, AS I REMEMBER IT – AND ENDED THAT ‘THREAD’ OF TRUST AND FAITHFULNESS WHICH EXISTED BETWEEN STAFF AND BOSSES. 

    THEN FOLKS RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS AND PENSIONS VANISHED WHILE THE CEO’S TOOK HUGE RAISES…

    THEN CERTAIN PARTIES BECAME EVEN MORE STRIDENT IN GENERATING CONTINUOUS STRIFE AND SEPARATION BETWEEN CLASSES, RACES, SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND THEY KEEP HAMMERING AWAY….

  • jpolock

    You are both just Empirically wrong.  All lot of dullards get rich selling wigets, ahem, the inventor of “Spanks” is a billionaire…

    Don’t see too many millionaire/billionaire scientists (OK the occasional inventor like Gates).

    BUT, the FACT is MOST PhD’s, scientists, advanced degrees Professors etc, are on the Liberal side of the spectrum.

    And btw there is a huge difference between well off, and rich.

    Anyway, just compare any Blue state with the Reds, and the Blues outperform in general in almost every measurable way

    Including much lower poverty Donnie

    (don’t know why this landed here, was supposed to be a reply to a DonnieB and Ratsandwich below….)

    • donniethebrasco

       Poverty is a statistical construct.

      The people in the lower 20% of income are defined as “living in poverty.”

      Therefore, 20% of the population will always be considered “the poor.”

      • jpolock

        Wrong.  True the numbers move, but 20% is high. Also societal cost of living is a key factor.  But most importantly is the distribution.

        When 1% has more than 80% rest combined it is an OBVIOUS problem to any thinking person as Unsustainable…and will cause the growth in that poverty figure (the 1% can hire only so many servants: see feudalism)

        No one expects perfect equality. It is true, there will Always be underperformers, but our quality as a civilization is to be judged how we treat the least of us, we should simply have standards below which we will NOT GO.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          so what should be the minimum number of plasma tvs a person should have?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Jes sayin: Donald Trump and Bill Gates were raised by millionaires.

      Nobody in my family is in their situation, assets-wise. It cannot be forgotten that it takes a bit of “luck” to drop out of Harvard without being disowned by one’s family.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Why does anyone speak of armed revolution?
    The founding fathers gave us the right to Vote to obviate the need for armed insurrection. We have the opportunity for revolution every two years. All we need to do is get off of our sofas and vote. It may take several cycles, but it can happen.

    Only when our right to vote is destroyed, which Republican anti-fraud voting initiatives have started to do, is there any reason to consider anything other than a political revolution.

    • harverdphd

       “Hyper-partisanship makes people stupid.”  – MadMarkTheCodeWarrior  – 05/02/13

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        Am i contradicting myself in some way?

        By referring to scarey rhetoric on armed insurrection(that I did not attribute to the right… elements of which coincidently have been speaking of this lately), do I engage in hyper-partisanship?
         
        By pointing out the right’s efforts to disenfranchise the poor and elderly in the voting booth, do my statements rise to the level of hyper-partisanship?
        In recent history have there recently been any Democratic legeslative initiatives to make it harder to vote?

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      will you choose giant douchbag or turd sandwich?

  • Jim

    I praise the caller Jill for her description on Reagan… “the green light to be mean to each other”

    of course, the money hunger professionals would think otherwise and think Reagan as a God-like demagogue who keeps printing money for them…  and this goes directly to the Tea Party (a fraud society).. Reagan said “deficit does not matter”

    • donniethebrasco

       Anyone who likes this has never had to fire an employee.

      • StilllHere

        And likely works in the government or academia.

        • jefe68

          You are one offensive troll.

    • harverdphd

       Reagan was a long time ago.

      • Jim

        but why do people from the right keep quoting from him and praising him from those retarded conservative shows? He must be relevant, right? btw. they do not use his “deficit does not matter” quote… I wonder why?

        • StilllHere

          Maybe because he never said that.  But don’t let the truth interpret your false narrative. I believe he did say, “Jim knows nothing.”

          • Jim

            i guess you were not around in Reagan era and you are still in your teens. Remember to ask your parents to better educate you. otherwise, you will be sent to Iraq for Iraq War III as a clueless private. Do not ask heartless Americans like me to donate money to you when you come back as a handicap, ‘cos it aint’ happening, ok?

  • lanesvillian1

    No better example of the Unwinding of America can be found than in today’s news, with reports that Apple has hid billions in off-shore tax havens. To prepare for retirement, we’re left to contribute to our 401Ks and invest in the stock/bond markets. When an iconic company like Apple looks like it’s cheating, how can we then trust in any company or for that matter, the market as a whole?

    A decade since the collapse of the Enrons and Worldcoms of the world, we’ve done nothing. Saying that “we’ll have a better society when we want it” doesn’t cut it. We want a better society, but the masters of the universe–and yes, that includes Steve Jobs and other Silicon Valley titans–weren’t/aren’t going to let that happen.

    • jefe68

      The other news item is Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, said that he would “absolutely” push to offset any federal relief for the devastating tornado in Oklahoma with cuts elsewhere, Roll Call reports.

      “That’s always been his position [to offset disaster aid],” Coburn spokesman John Hart told the Huffington Post. ”He supported offsets to the bill funding the OKC bombing recovery effort.”

      Both Coburn and his colleague James Inhofe, also a Republican from Oklahoma, have repeatedly voted against federal disaster relief for various parts of the country, including, most recently, the aid package for Hurricane Sandy victims. Both have also opposed increasing FEMA’s funding.

      Source: http://www.salon.com/2013/05/21/oklahoma_senator_wants_to_offset_tornado_aid_with_other_cuts/

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        So much stupid. C’mon, Oklahomans, you deserve better than these idiots.

        We could just take it out of some other Federal money going to OK. It’s only fair.

        • StilllHere

          This from the “just print money” peanut gallery.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Submitted without comment.

            Really, you’ve reached the point where just saying “it’s StillHere” is the most insulting thing anyone can say of you.

          • jefe68

            Are you really as thick as you seem?

      • hennorama

        Perhaps Sen./Dr. Coburn could begin by defunding his entire Senate office, laying off his staff, and returning his salary to the U.S. Treasury. I’m sure he can find volunteers to work for him, and donors to pay for all of the expenses involved.

        Then he can turn over all the funds in his campaign coffers, as well as the various PACs and other entities supporting his political views, to the organizations involved in the disaster relief. After all, Coburn has pledged not to run again in 2016.

        According to opensecrets.org, his campaign committee and leadership PAC had over $243K in cash on hand as of 12/31/2012.

        See:
        http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?type=C&cid=n00005601&newMem=N&cycle=2012

        You can contact Sen./Dr. Coburn via email here:

        http://www.coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/ContactForm

        You can call his office here:

        Sen./Dr. Coburn’s office (Washington: 202-224-5754; Tulsa: 918-581-7651; Oklahoma City: 405-231-4941)

      • Bruce94

        I was wondering when someone would pick up on this.  As you note, similar posturing occurred after Hurricane Sandy.  Certainly, throwing up roadblocks to disaster relief fits the guest’s “unwinding of America” thesis and furnishes yet another example of how the concept of “limited government” has been perverted to delay or obstruct emergency preparedness, response and recovery efforts.

        Also, remember if the Mad Hatters and Ayn Rand acolytes in Congress (e.g. Paul Ryan, Rand Paul) and their apologists on this forum had their way, they would dismantle FEMA and pass a budget that includes draconian cuts to NOAA and NWS–actions that would jeopardize our collective capacity to plan for and mitigate disasters like the tornado in OK resulting in even greater loss of life.

    • donniethebrasco

      So, is it a problem that the IRS and the legislators allow Apple to get away with avoid taxes?

      Or is it more of a problem that we buy Apple phones even though they play this tax game?

      • lanesvillian1

         Neither.

        The problem is that to prepare for retirement, especially if you are under 55, you’d better be invested in the stock market (or else earn/inherit very big $$$). As reported, Apple has off-shored billions in taxes, on a scale not previously seen. Hard to invest in and trust companies that behave so unethically.

        And if, in this post-post modern world, ethics is now a quaint, out-of-it notion, that only shows how far we’ve declined.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Huge part of the problem. We should fix it and also put barriers in place to offshoring.

      There are few “American” corporations. They are trans-national entities with loyalty to none. “American” corporate oligarchs have more in common with Putin than with us.

    • highlandbird

      Do you think tax code has any role in these distortions?  Both corporations and the top quintile are full of lawyers/accountants working around the code.  Perhaps if our tax code was perceived as more fair and transparent, companies would not be keeping so much cash abroad but would bring it home.  Though lawyers and accountants may not be too happy.

  • arydberg

    There is a sea change here.  

    It is computers that allow people to exchange all types of help and information with each other while allowing the government to record and store indefinitely every keystroke to be used against these very same people.   This is a system targeted against the everyday citizen while ignoring the criminals who know (or will soon learn)   how to avoid these pitfalls.   It is hard to imagine  any good coming from all this.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      big brother and the tower of babel all in one

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    America is in decline??

    HERETIC!!!!

    Smart and also correct but the Republican party would rip him a new one if he ever said that out loud on a campaign trail. We are, after all, the greatest nation on earth, and well deserving of anything we can get.

    • donniethebrasco

       The Great Society is doing a great job encouraging our decline.

      Let’s go the way of Rome and enjoy ourselves along the way.  Bring on the Feasts, the Orgies, and the Vomitoriums.

      • jefe68

        You forgot about the plebs.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    “Comedian”, at some point, is an inadequate term with which to describe Colbert.

  • creaker

    A quantum shift will come when they finally yank the floor out – currently a patchwork of foodstamps, extended unemployment benefits and other entitlements have prevented millions from becoming hungry, homeless, hopeless, and politically and eventually violently active.

    When it becomes no longer possible to keep that economic floor in place, it’s going to get very ugly.

    • jpolock

      Nice!  “Let them eat Cake” comes to mind eh?

      Or as was the case in Rome (get this DonnieB?): Bread and Circus

    • donniethebrasco

      As long as there are rich people to tax, there will be no floor.

      Are you saying that is what happened in New Orleans during Katrina?  People who couldn’t take care of themselves were in trouble when their providers were indisposed?

      You won’t get anyone in NPR to agree.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Gee, I guess I remember Katrina differently: People with some means bought all the plane, and train and bus tickets, rented all the cars, and got their hands on the gasoline.

        Why didn’t poor people leave New Orleans as quickly as middle-class and wealthy people? Was it simply because they are lazy?

        • notafeminista

          Ray Nagin would be a good one to ask…the entire planet saw all those school buses under water.

      • jpolock

        and no Republicans blocking that taxation….

    • http://www.facebook.com/corwynr Corwyn Radi

      yup and republicans in all kinds of hurry to get us there instead of finding solutions that could prevent the problem.    All in the name supporting the top 1% who leach off the rest of us. 

    • StilllHere

      The leaching of the government will only get bigger. 

    • notafeminista

      There won’t be a yanking – demand will simply exceed supply – there will not be anything left.

  • StilllHere

    The unwinding began as self-reliance died, and people looked to the government to be their nanny.  We’ve grown soft.

    • jpolock

      So all those Okies fleeing the dustbowl, just to get their heads cracked open in California looking for work…were not “self reliant”?  Bullocks

      It’s not like our “safety net” is generous.  Would you prefer, or find it acceptable to find people literally dying on the streets again?

      As FDR said the New Deal was meant to save capitalism from itself, and maintain Democracy over Communism

      Sounds like you need to read a few history books…

      We’ll see who’s “soft” went it all drops

      • TyroneJ

        80 years ago called. They want their revision of history back. The dust bowl was entirely a man-made creation due to greed on the part of agricultural interests, big and small. We can also “blame” FDR for nuclear weapons, as well as for the New Deal. One of the problems with looking back to “the good old days” is that at the time, they usually were not anywhere nearly as “good” as memory would have you remember.

        The bottom line is that the US population, like the rest of the World’s population, has overgrown the place. We are not immune to Malthusian constrains, and it is only a matter of time before our systems eventually break down.

        • jpolock

          I agree with you. 

          I hope you are referring to StillHere for possible revisionism? 

          I was pointing out how BAD it was back then, and that FDR applied New Deal to stanch not just human pain, but revolt and possible Communism…

        • Sarah

          Dust bowl was man-made, eh??

          • Ray in VT

            To a certain extent is was.  There was a massive increase in the cultivation of marginal lands in the years leading to the Dust Bowl, so when the drought struck, the soil had been deprived of much of the natural vegetation that would have otherwise helped the soil sustain itself.

          • jefe68

            Yes, in part it was.
            It was a perfect storm of severe drought and bad farming practices of the day in combination with a very particular type of geology of this region, the grass land prairies of the Mid-West.  

            Part of the solution was turning the worst areas back into grasslands.

          • jefe68

            There is an excellant PBS documentary on the Dust Bowl that I would urge anyone who is interested in the subject to watch.

            http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/dustbowl/

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Caution: It doesn’t get graphic, but parts of it make for “non-marathon” viewing. If you have stories handed down in your family from The Depression, this will almost assuredly “top them”.

          • twenty_niner

            Yes.

          • Sarah

            Oh Lord, NOW I’ve heard it all… (sigh)

          • jefe68

            Are you saying the Dust Bowl was in part not manmade?

            The “oh lord” and “I’ve heard it all” is more in line with what seems a your perceived lack of historical context to what happened in this period and what lead up to it.

          • notafeminista

            Actually they’re correct – at least in part.  There is a school of thought that says all of the famines,droughts and otherwise unpleasant shortages were the product of political mismanagement (to put it politely).  Josef Stalin comes to mind.

            “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there would be a shortage of sand.” ~ Milton Friedman

          • jefe68

            Amazing.
            It’s amazing how you equate Stalin with the US federal government and then try to blame the bad farming practices on the government.

            The Federal government came in and turned this mess around.

            It would be one thing if you had some reality to base you diatribes on. The problem is you post these comments as they are fact based when they are not.

            Milton Friedman has been proven wrong on most of his hyperbolic anti-government rants. If we did not have a strong president and government  during WW2 we would have lost the war. It was not the private sector that came up with the idea of retooling for WW2, it was FDR’s leadership. 

          • notafeminista

            Oh it did not.  The federal government did not end the drought, nor did sell or manufacture anything to be sold.

            If FDR hadn’t painted Japan into a corner in the first place, there most likely would have been no need for re-tooling.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            yeah i am sure the private sector just hated profiteering off the war

        • jefe68

          Funny how Herbert Hoover is left out of your comment. 

          Hoover, as you well know was the man who also started some large government projects, such as the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the Hoover dam, and his government was buying up tons of wheat, soybeans and other farm products when the bottom was falling out of the market.

          You over simplify the causes of the Dust Bowl and conveniently left out the sever drought. Yes it is true that European farming practices were not suitable for a region that was a prairie before farming took route. You might want to look up 
          Hugh Hammond Bennett and the Soil Conservation Service.

          You claim to be a professor, I hope it’s not history.

        • notafeminista

          Ehrlich was wrong.

      • notafeminista

        Point being they went elsewhere to find work.  They didn’t demand the federal government subsidize them (read American People) until they did find work.

        FDR may have said it, but do you have any idea why it was and is completely false?

        • jefe68

          The point is you seem to have not a clue about this period and have white washed the disparity that the Great Depression caused. 
          Approximately 2.5 million people had left the region affected by the dust bowl by 1940.
          This was the largest migration in US history.

          http://pinterest.com/elfpin87/the-great-depression/

          • notafeminista

            You are correct in that it was the largest migration in US history.  You didn’t bother to argue the other point…which is in fact the point of the argument.  No one who migrated out of Dust Bowl regions demanded to be subsidized by the federal government (read American People).    In fact  until very recent times, being on the “government dole” was anathema.  Not so anymore.  

            Furthermore do you have any idea why one cannot use the federal government (or any government) to protect Democracy from Communism? Do you get how wrongheaded that statement is?

          • jefe68

            Excuse making? Have you any idea of the level of disparity of this time?
            People were asking for help and again, you white wash the reality of the times.

            I guess you have not heard of the Bonus Army.

            The ideology and myth of this so called “rugged individual” is just that a myth. 

            By the way the people were subsidized, that’s why they moved to that region in the first place.

            This family might not have asked for help. There is no way to know. One has to wonder how would they even begin to seek any help given the conditions they were living in.
            Are you really as cold and calculating as you come across?

          • notafeminista

            Actually no they probably would not have ..you would be alluding to “on the dole” which was not viewed favorably.  As for government “helping”  I suggest you read “Travels of a T Shirt in a Global Society.”  Pay special attention to the interviews with the sharecropper.

            I’m not sure how paying to attention to all history (and not just the part that I can feel sorry about) makes me cold and calculating. Are you really as dismissive as you come across?

          • jefe68

            There is a difference between government assistance in times of dire need, as the Great Depression was, and the dole.

            You come across as cold to me in how you white washed the intensity of what was that period. As if all people had to do was pick up themselves and their families up and find work. 

            Well millions did just that and did not find work. Government is the last resort in an event as large and overwhelming as the Great Depression.

            I’m dismissive of inanity.

          • notafeminista

            Government is no longer the last resort – of anything.

            Millions more did find work and millions were just fine.

            Let’s be dismissive of them shall we?

          • jefe68

            What a load
            of rubbish.

    • http://www.facebook.com/corwynr Corwyn Radi

      this kind of statement(s) are a huge part of the problem.
      The mythology of America by the wholy uneducated and uninformed.    
      At no time in the history of the world and certainly not the history of America has any one ever accomplished much without some level of support from the US govt.
      It is the errosion of that support as pointed out by the article, in education, funding of science (see moron GOP on the science commitees that believe that humans lived with dinosaurs), infrastructure and so on.  

      The rich have completely abandoned all pretence of patriotism in favor of profits and the congresss critters are selling anything and everything they can for the crumps.  

      • notafeminista

        Erosion of what support precisely?  Explain to me exactly how you expect “the rich” to be patriotic?  What is it you demand of “the rich”  – and just to start things off at what level do “the rich” operate?

        Tell me also, in the clearest of terms how it is patriotic to demand to be subsidized by “the rich” until one can find meaningful, fulfilling work that utilizes all the wonderful gifts with one has been bestowed.

        And as for your moron GOP and dinosaurs committees, I invite you to Google the sitting representative in the US Congress who thought Guam might sink.

        Just to finish things off, explain with all certainty how you tie patriotism to one’s income…or lack thereof.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Exactly. Unfortunately, there are enough brainwashed voters out there to keep the “unwinding” (= class warfare) going strong. 

        We have some of the lowest taxes in our history and zero corporate regulation, and the brainwashed accept the corporate spin that the poor rich folks are overtaxed and regulation is killing the economy. We are by far more “on our own” than citizens of any country in the OECD, and the brainwashed natter on about the “nanny state”.

        I know propaganda is powerful, but this is ridiculous.

      • jefe68

        Without the US Army and US Marshals service there would not have been much of a migration into the West. Or at least it would have taken a longer to subdue the Western Plains tribes. Government had more control over peoples lives than we think in the 19th century.

        You could not walk around Tombstone AZ with firearms as you can now is one example.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          no wonder its so much safer there now

      • StilllHere

        Please, just because I don’t subscribe to your pathetic view of the world …. Whatever.  And then you follow it up with some strawman that my view is about abolishing the government … really, is this the best you can do?  The support isn’t eroding, the support is being diverted to things that have nothing to do with education and science. Look at any school district that is in financial difficulty and you’ll see it’s lifetime benefits for retirees that is putting it there. 

        The % of taxes paid by the rich and philanthropy have never been higher, so take your envy and ignorance elsewhere.  The idea that those who sit around waiting for the next handout, demanding their free phone, flat screen, …) are more patriotic is exactly what is wrong with America and you probably think it’s just fine because you’re a taker, not a maker.

  • bilbo44

    Points about the economic decline. Reasons
    1. After WWII USA was basically the only mfg economy in the world.
    2. starting in 60′s and accelerating in the 70′s the rest of the world stared coming back. remember the 70′s of the Japanese  small cars coming to the big deal. Also VW bug.
    3. 80′s, 90′sand 21′s the era of technology. this eliminated many jobs in he name of productivity and reducing costs.
    4. Globalization of the production and corporations. in the need for lower costs, survival and competition corporations went global
    5. Mergers. many corporations merged over the years and it is hard to tell what is a USA corp or foreign corp is currently.
    6. Decisions of CEO are all controlled by the above factors not just ‘lets just save the jobs in USA and do the right thing for the country’. The world is a different place today. We could have a world wide trade war if we just thought about saving jobs and mfg in USA. Also companies could go bankrupt if they do not things that make them competitive. This could lose more jobs.

    Income of middle class also declined due to about factors not due some plan to ruin the middle class. The  1% is not that large and some have nothing to do with MFg and large industries. such as entertainers and sport figures. Yes their income increased due to income of corp and complexities of the jobs and other factors.

    Bottom line is that  it is easy to make excuses and to write off problems of the country to a few people or to the 1% class.  The truth is a lot more complicated and more difficult to explain or sell to people or to remedy.
    thanks Ron G

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      i would trace most of it back to prohibition

  • Trond33

    The United States has been in transition for a long time now, just that the banking crisis of 2007 finally made people sit up and take notice.  In the 1990s everyone was going to be an Internet star in some way or another.  In the 2000s everyone was going to sell mortgages. The problem now is that there is not a new fad to underpin the hopes.  Only a few join the fad bandwagon, but the bandwagon does create optimism.  

    The new “fad” is one of “go it on your own,” but this does not create optimism.  People reach “go it on your own” out of desperation.  The realization that the pillars and rules of society have changed.  There is a new harsh edge to the American social compact.  It is reflected in the number of people who have given up finding jobs or involuntarily being underemployed, brining the real unemployment rate above 20%.  

    The rise of a new order does bring opportunities.  Much has been written about the reality that individuals are increasingly forced into being independent contractors.  This reality is solidifying, individuals are grouping and forming their own entities.  In some ways it is a new form of unionizing.  At some point, traditional companies are going to find that they are not running the show when it comes to labor.  These new entities of highly skilled individuals will start to have the leverage to demand top dollars for their work.  This has been evident for some time in certain industries, such as specialized areas of engineering.  

    The emerging economy is going to be much more diffuse.  It already is much harsher to the individual.  Forcing the individual to further specialize.  As always, the reward comes to those who can sit at the cross-roads, directing traffic in a way.

    The societal benefit in a time of such restructuring is that innovation, creativity and individuality are rewarded.  Over the next 20 to 40 years, the path to social recognition and wealth is going to be less about smooth talking and rubbing shoulders, and more about insight and hard work.  A great number of traditional and “powerful” companies/corporations and individuals/families will dramatically fall in the process.  The landscape of the 2050s will be as different as the the landscape of the 1940s is to us today.  

    ———————–
    hmm, I should have enough hooks in this comment for the Internet Trolls to pounce and extol random meaningless replies. 

  • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

    FTA:
    But as Bennett and Lotus note, the problems of America 2.0 are all soluble, and, in what they call America 3.0, they will be solved. The solutions will be as different from America 2.0 as America 2.0 was from America 1.0. We’ll see a focus on smaller government, nimbler organization, and living within our means — because, frankly, we’ll have no choice. Something that can’t go on forever, won’t. If America 2.0 was a fit for the world of giant steel mills and monolithic corporations, America 3.0 will be fit for the world of consumer choice and Internet speed.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/05/20/benghazi-irs-good-news-column/2324597/

  • Duh

    Profits over principles, greed over good… this is the new America.  Its all about short term personal gain… 

  • 2Gary2

    we need to tax the rich and spr4ead the wealth.  Too much money is in too few hands.

    • notafeminista

      Read Article 2 of the Communist Manifesto.

  • StilllHere

    There’s also a new expectation that we get to have all that our neighbor’s have independent of effort, and the government is supposed to make up the difference. 

    As justification, they claim the playing field is slanted against them, even though they’re surrounded by contradictions.

    • hennorama

      More nonsense, with the amorphous and unnamed “they” again portrayed as the villains in this fairy tale.

      Your rock is StilllCalling.

  • Adrian_from_RI

    It took two millenniums to get from Aristotle (384-322 BC) to John Locke (1632-1704), from Classical Greece (4th Century BC) to the Age of Reason (18th Century) the culmination of which was the writing of the Declaration of Independence (1776).

    About a century after 1776 the decline of America started, so aptly observed by George Packer in his book “The Unwinding.” I have often wondered what got us from the height of a Thomas Jefferson to the depth of a Bush and Obama. 

    To me it seems we are becoming more and more like the turbulent and irrational Weimar Republic.

    If you, too, are wondering I recommend a sweeping book on the history of ideas that made the Age of Reason and now its destruction possible. I recommend the 1982 book “The Ominous Parallels. The end of freedom in America” by Dr. Leonard Peikoff.

    • Bruce94

      You had me until “what got us to the depth of Bush and Obama” implying an utterly outrageous and false equivalence between the two. 

      Nice try reminiscent of the unabashed segregationist, George Wallace, when he famously said there “was not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties.”

      The good Doctor Peikoff was and probably still is a devotee of that Goddess of Greed Guru, Ayn Rand.  Just what we need to today–prescriptions provided by another laissez-faire cultist.

    • RobertLongView

      If it is anything like the “5000 year leap,” I will pass.  

  • Bruce94

    Interesting, the guest started off identifying Newt Gingrich as the prime example of the type of politician who used incendiary rhetoric and personal attacks to undermine one of the institutions that enabled the broad-based prosperity and middle-class expansion in the last century–government.

    Coincidentally, my last post after this past Friday’s Week-in-the-News program:  if the the GOP is not careful and they continue their attack-dog tactics to demonize President Obama before the relevant facts are ascertained, 2014 could wind up to be a repeat of 1998.  Recall that the mid-term elections that year were a huge disappoint to Republicans, who had expected to see spectacular gains after relentlessly exploiting the Lewinsky scandal in order to push for impeachment.  Not only did they fail to make gains, they lost 5 seats in the House prompting Newt Gingrich’s resignation as Speaker.  Later, Clinton would emerge with the highest end-of-office approval rating of any U.S. President since WWII.  Over time, Clinton’s approval rating rose and now, I believe, exceeds that of Ronald Reagan.  And Clinton’s legacy remained intact despite GOP efforts to vilify him reminiscent of the hysterical, hyper-partisan GOP campaign now underway to damage Obama with a barrage of unsubstantiated accusations, distortions of facts, and unwarranted conclusions drawn from those facts.

    Today I would simply add this:  When Reagan famously said that “government is not the solution to the problem, government IS the problem,” it marked the beginning of the end of progress for our brand of capitalism and middle-class expansion to the extent that government until then had been used effectively as an instrument for maintaining the social safety-net and promoting economic growth that was both sustainable and broadly shared. 

    After the Hollywood B-movie actor and ad man, Ronald Reagan, was elected as President and he bought into the bogus supply-side snake oil that an ex-professional football player (Jack Kemp) sold him, the Conservative Nirvana of increasing inequality and declining mobility was unleashed. 

    Moreover, the “unwinding of America” is what our reality begins to look like when the radical ideology and narcissistic fantasies of one B-Hollywood screenwriter, Ayn Rand, are given credence.  Case in point–in an area I happen to be familiar with, the stagnate Carolina Piedmont described by today’s guest, Ayn Rand has been required reading in some of the colleges that distinguish that landscape. 

    • notafeminista

      My goodness.  I stand breathless in your ability to use every last conservative “bogey man” in one entire post.  Well done I say, well done.

    • William

      Bill Clinton endorsed the “era of big government and welfare are over”. That was the center piece of his domestic agenda.  Certainly, you must give him credit too for the destruction of the social safety net. 

      • Bruce94

        To a certain extent, yes. TANF was ill-advised then and remains inadequate now and, along with the GOP-sponsored financial deregulation that he signed is regrettable.  However, at the same time, Clinton balanced spending cuts with tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans and a new energy tax.  Then, he expanded the EITC providing substantial relief to low-income families. The safety-net shrank, and we are currently paying the price for that, but the economic growth achieved under Clinton (unlike the growth experienced under Reagan and Bush) resulted in a prosperity broadly shared and an unemployment rate at the lowest level in 30 years.  Clinton used the new tax revenues and deficit spending to make public investments in education, training and infrastructure that would help American workers become more productive and, hence, better able to pay down the debt AND that would help modernize our infrastructure to support the development of human capital necessary to keeping living standards high.

        • William

           The Feds (taxpayers) spent nearly a trillion dollars on various social safety net programs last year. Clinton enjoyed the birth of high tech and a great stock market and tax cuts. He was forced to the table by Congress to control spending. We have always had adequate funding for education, infrastructure, and job training (waste), but it is all managed by the same inept and corrupt government officials. We have a permanent unelected elite governmen worker class in place that tolerates the never ending parade of elected officials that do a drive by depending on the whim of the voters. The current economic problems are a direct result of a failed, bloated, corrupt government that has no desire to fix anything and will just continue to stumble along and crush anyone that gets in it’s way. (IRS, EPA, OSHA etc…audits, inspections etc…)

          • RobertLongView

            And there’s one more but I can’t remember its acronym, eh.  How about FEMA?  Another partisan hack from Texas, most likely.

          • Bruce94

            I don’t know where the trillion dollar figure came from, but as a percent of GDP, our total fed. spending as well as tax burden is well below practically every other advanced, industrial (OECD) country that we compete against.  I’ll take your point about Clinton benefiting from the tech bubble, but he had the foresight and determination to raise taxes on the wealthy and to task the IRS with enforcement that would permit fed. revenue to increase and public investments to grow with the economic expansion underway. Take a listen to today’s On Point program, “Uncovering Apple’s Tax Havens” for a taste of tax non-compliance and tax avoidance behaviors that your conservative accomplices celebrate.  Your post also demonizes govt. workers in general concluding with the often repeated canard about how big govt. is the bogey man responsible for all of our economic problems.  Interesting position to take especially since Reagan appointee and former Ayn Rand acolyte, Alan Greenspan, testified that he was dead wrong and the culture of deregulation, lax regulation, no regulation or self-regulation that he helped to spawn was largely responsible for our economic collapse. I would agree there is some fraud, waste and abuse in govt., but would argue that by far the worst examples of these ills can be found in a tax code and tax-rate structure that coddles the super rich and kowtows to powerful, corporate interests at the expense of the middle-class and working-poor.  And if the Mad Hatters and Ayn Rand acolytes in Congress have their way, tax reform will never happen.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        the social safety net is gone? no one told her
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AZNb-UpwNU

  • marygrav

    Like frequently, I have no sound for the show, but the youtube is working, parttime.  But George Packer is on the money when he says Newt Gingrich is at the root of the Congressional Obstructionism that now passes as democracy in the US Congress.

    Gingrich came to D.C. with a plan of non-cooperation that still exist today, and what he created ate him up.  That’s why it is true that if you teach a dog to bite…..

    I want to listen online, but none of the instruction on How To Listen work.  Never does for me.

    • Trond33

      Have you tried downloading the show as a Podcast?  You can also see about streaming it from another source, such as a different NPR station.  

      What device are you using to access the show?  A computer, smartphone, tablet?  Let me know what you have available and I will check later and see if there are not more specific suggestions for you to access the show.  

    • StilllHere

      Wrong, Gingrich came in as a uniter and oversaw the first time the Republicans took control of the House. 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        He united the GOP house to levy the largest fine in House history, against a member of their own party. So, yeah.

  • Bruce94

    Disqus error

  • Zenplatypus

    Oh dear, a tome on American declinism by a liberal hack– what a novel concept. For good measure, let’s include a dollop of cloying nostalgia. And to top it off, let’s pretend the entire affair is something other than a partisan exercise.   

    The first caller — an apparent imbecile named Jill — got things rolling by laying our putative ruin at the feet of, who else, Reagan and GWB. Asked to comment on the idiot Obama, she attributed his failures to racism before admitting her background as –wait for it — a community organizer! From there on out in was nothing more than a succession of cliches about the inherent evil of Republicans.

    Do Ashbrook and his producers grasp that On Point is fast becoming a parody?       

    • StilllHere

      Well said!
      Today’s show was a joke, and Jill certainly set the tone.

      • jefe68

        Troll.

    • jefe68

      Lets see, you attack the show for being partisan and using a liberal hack, then some random caller who had a different point of view than yours. You then go on to call the President an idiot. 

      What I see here is a partisan hack job by someone who shows nothing but intolerance and ignorance.

      It is really astounding the level of nasty right wing bile you just posted. What’s the point of all this BS?
      Other than getting other right wingers to praise you like some small minded Caesar.

      • Zenplatypus

        Does your mommy know that you’re typing on the computer past your bedtime? What a big boy you are!

        • jefe68

          Ah yes, and you back it up with being an obnoxious turd. Way to go sparky.
          Speaking of mommy’s, I guess all your problems stem from you not being breast fed or something to that effect.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Hey, I was gonna suggest Platy has some potty-training trauma yet unresolved.

          • Zenplatypus

            A stinging rebuke to be sure, complete with spelling and
            grammatical errors. You’re a credit to Stalinists everywhere. Keep up the good
            work, comrade!

    • TeddyBM

      Mr. Packer gave me a lot to think about.  It is unfortunate that you as well as others immediately react with insults.  Whether you agree with Mr. Packer or not, you might pause for a moment to consider what it says about America if people do find resonance in what Mr. Packer has to say.  Regardless of your opinion, there are many people who are disillusioned with a country where the middle class is disappearing.

      As for the caller who pointed out the effect that Ronald Reagan had on our respect for others, I would say that President Reagan did something far worse for America and our democracy.  He turned the government into the enemy.  I decided on a career in the government because I was inspired by President Kennedy.  I graduated from one of the top law schools in the country and I could have worked for a major corporate law firm.  But, I considered it to be a great honor to be offered a job with the U.S. Department of Justice.  When Reagan came into office, the disrespect that I experienced as a government employee was marked.  Our hard work and dedication was disparaged.  We were now lazy and overcompensated. (Never mind that my income would have been many times greater had I chosen a path with a top law firm.)  Our efforts were no longer appreciated.  No matter what we did, we were told that the private sector could do it better.

      So, what was the long range effect?  Our best students gravitated toward the private sector.  Why work for the government when it was considered the place where lazy people went?  President Kennedy’s inspiration to serve others was gone.  Instead, students were encouraged to pursue careers where they could serve themselves, making as much money as possible.Ronald Reagan told the country that no matter what the government did, it was not good.  People lost confidence in the government even in arenas where it was performing very well.  People became cynical, evidenced by some of the comments here.  We didn’t elect people who wanted to improve the government.  We elected people who wanted to dismantle the government.

      It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. The American government started its decline because we had a President who encouraged us to despise our government – those who worked for the government and those who chose to serve as its leaders.  How can a democracy flourish when its citizens don’t believe in it?

      • lizziefromnj

        As a retired school social worker, my private sector friends told me that I was wasting my education and professional skills in the private sector. They told me ‘you’re make more money in the private sector so why are you staying in the public sector’. A few years later, I was told ‘you are a public servant and you’re making too much money and why do you have health insurance and sick days’.  Then, they would complain about ‘lazy public workers’ and ‘I pay your salary so you should get paid far less’.  I finally replied ‘you are paying the salary of the top 1% every time that you use a service, write a check, put your retirement funds into a 401K or other savings account and pay taxes on everything while most of the wealthiest Americans and multi-national corporations evade taxes or pay lower taxes because they have the money, access and influence to have the tax code changed to allow them to pay less taxes, hide their money off-shore, and outsource your jobs while getting tax breaks to do so’. A few of them finally said ‘you have a point’.  Until the majority of citizens take back the government from a very small percentage of our citizens and non-citizens, the majority of people will suffer.

    • Tyranipocrit

       republicans are a parody, a joke.  The two-party system is a parody.  Capitalism is a parody. 

    • http://lowenfoundation.org/index.html Flowen

      Your originality is breathtaking, and the depth is stunning. Real political dialogue! Clearly you are the brightest crayon in the box, right next to John the Orange Boner. 

      Packer’s point is proven by your existence. Do you grasp that you are a parody?

  • ultramarine73

    I think the “Golden Age” of the United States was largely an illusion. The rest of the world was gutted during WWII. We were the only man left standing! 

    I work as a coder from home. The internet is my friend. I and my family have a good life. I was allowed to plan my fertility (my grandmother in the time mentioned had 8 children, not because she wanted to, but because the doctors in her small town didn’t believe in birth control.)

    Speaking of the ‘useless’ Tumblr, I use it to advertise my original fiction: http://ibringthefireodin.tumblr.com/ Having a Tumblr blog is free. I don’t think in a previous age I could have earned a second income for my family with writing.

    I am so glad to be alive now.

  • Ellen Ramachandran

    I disagree strenuously with almost every word George Packer said. America is becoming a global citizen (rather than global hegemon) and experiencing the pain of this transition. There is no “end times”–only the disruption attendant to increased globalization.

  • SamEw

    Colbert sounds like grandpa Simpson randomly throwing together words he finds inspirational. 

    • StilllHere

      I believe his 15 minutes expired long ago.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Sour grapes cleanup on aisle Stillhere.

        Yeah, all those awards mean nothing. And he’s been supplanted by…which right-winger is the love child of a three-way Mark Twain, Lenny Bruce and Will Rogers, again?

        If the right-wing advocacy media didn’t suck so hard, and the courtiers in the middle were capable of punching their way out of a wet paper bag, there’d be no market for Colbert.

        That there is says something. I’d ask you to pay attention, but why should you start now?

  • burroak

    An important book, indeed.

  • Clarendon Cruiser

    Evil Wall Street,….oooooh.  I’m going to dress like a day trader next Halloween.   Does this author really think that the Celebrities he’s so in love with are NOT investing in Wall Street?

  • Peter Sichel

    I would argue the unwinding is a direct result of allowing the financial sector to capture our economy and politics. It began with IRA’s and Mutual Funds in the 1980′s and the “maximizing share holder value” propaganda which GE CEO Jack Welch has called “The dumbest idea in the world”, yet even on this program you mention CEO compensation being legitimately tied to creating value for shareholders (based on fickle and ill informed public perception) instead of creating value by serving customers (which is the only real value business organizations create).

    Despite your best efforts, like most Americans, you’ve bought the propaganda and don’t see clearly what happened and why. The real reason the middle class has lost so much ground is the expansion of the financial sector and executive compensation.
    Our government has effectively been captured by the financial sector and is unable and unwilling to perform its regulatory function. Look at the massive bail outs the financial sector received and complete lack of any meaningful prosecution or regulatory reform. There simply aren’t enough subprime borrowers to create the massive financial collapse that resulted from the housing bubble. The financial sector engineered this crises by a combination of greed and gaming the system, and the biggest players continue to benefit from it.

    Any bank that is “too big to fail” and thus “too big to prosecute” needs to be split-up into smaller more limited units to avoid future catastrophes. Anyone paying attention saw the repeated series of mergers through the ’80s and ’90s that resulted in the current banking behemoths that are effectively beyond the reach of meaningful regulatory reform.

    Nobody meant for this to happen, but the system is now broken. The first step to effective change is to see reality clearly.

    Our leaders keep trotting out the “more education” fairy dust, yet we already have the most educated workforce in the history of the planet. That’s not the root of the problem, nor its solution.

    I realize even institutions like WBUR are constrained by the range of ideas the public considers respectable, so I can only hope this explanation helps in some small way.

    Respectfully submitted,

    • http://lowenfoundation.org/index.html Flowen

      “The first step to effective change is to see reality clearly.”
      That is the step the politico-corporates will not allow; as you say, even WBUR is constrained; Nova is sponsored by Koch, and Public Television by the McDonald’s widow and the American Petroleum Institute.

      As long as they can write pay-checks, the corporates and lobbyists will continue to confuse the public in order to maintain things just as they are. Polarization = No Action; keep things as they are….great, huh?

      Nothing will happen short of cumulating breakdowns that force reality on us….as is happening.

      People get the best government they deserve, and the worst government they will tolerate.

      We seem to be very tolerant of the government and their corporate masters; but intolerant of reality.

      Your piece is well stated and in my view, completely accurate!

      • brettearle

        Where can we say that the sponsorship you mention, above, has influenced the tenor and the slant of NPR and PBS?

        It is one thing to be suspicious of underwriting by Sponsors who seem to capture the commitments of Corporate America, or perhaps the Military-Industrial complex.

        But it is another thing to jump to conclusions about Content-tampering or Content-influence–simply because we don’t agree with the possible, or likely, Politics of those with Deep-Pockets.

        Archer-Midland-Daniels has been a sponsor of the NewsHour for years–and I defy you to show us if there is any corresponding bias, thereof, on that program…..

        • http://lowenfoundation.org/index.html Flowen

          You sound serious, so I’ll elaborate:

          re: “Where can we say that the sponsorship you mention, above, has influenced the tenor and the slant of NPR and PBS?”
          It’s like the global warming and human contribution question. While it’s impossible to prove the Moore, OK tornado or Hurricane Sandy was the result of human activity, it’s pretty obvious to anyone who trusts their senses, or believes in science.

          The effect of exploitive Big Money in commercial and public media is to keep people distracted from the real conflicts/questions/debates that threaten the way things are, to mention just a few: 
          1) in the Big Energy industrial complex (joined at the hip with the financial industry who has their grip on all other industry groups), re: fracking and tar sands, they perpetuate the myths: it is as rosy, safe, and beneficial as the profiteers want you to believe; it’s based on new technology (not Cheney eliminating environmental oversight); more energy creates jobs….if you believe this I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in… it is the nature of greater energy use displaces labor; and the more oil/gas they produce, the lower prices Americans will pay sounds good, is easy to believe, but IS NONSENSE.
          2) in healthcare, inflation is primarily due to the capture of the industry by the financial industrial complex running up the costs of everything as they exploit American’s fears of death and poor health with false guarantees of coverage;
          3) ditto similar with education and student loans;
          4) the thing the financial engineering geniuses know how to do best is play a complicated shell game where they keep track of the real wealth while everyone else ends up with worthless debt;
          5) the lobbying activity is so one-sided, how can anyone expect not to have the problems we have with the middle classes?….the public interest is NOT represented in comparison to the corporate interests.

          None of this can be proved, but it is what’s happening. Americans are powerless against it partly because they refuse to believe it is as bad as it is…and the media works at maintaining polarization and confusion….they could be blowing it wide open if their interest was to do the right thing, rather than maximize the money.

          Most financial pundits talk about what a good thing that the Corporations have record cash hoards and profitability now and following the 2008 crash, especially since governments and people don’t have any money. A good thing?…it looks to me like the Corporates stole it…except they legalized their activities through lobbying! You can’t say “stole”….my bad!  Some of the financial pundits know that, but they can’s say it!

          What happened to what’s-his-name Dan Rather? I think it had something to do with offending the powers-that-be.

          “Let’s get real” is too much to ask.

          • brettearle

            What you say, just above, includes a number of critical issues that you, and many others, (including myself) ought to be concerned about.

            But YOU AVOIDED ANSWERING MY QUESTION.

            My question challenged you to come up with examples where corporate sponsorships, of Public Broadcasting, have influenced Public Broadcasting.

            This what YOU alluded to–that sponsorships are, or may be influencing or constraining PBS/NPR–in your comment, prior to my first comment to you.

  • ExcellentNews

    George Packer has written a very good book that every American born and grown in the USA should read. But anyone who has lived in a third world country can tell you what the book describes – a banana republic ruled by the oligarchy for the oligarchy.

    Whether it is Russia, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand – to name a few, we are heading in the same direction (a hereditary oligarchy lording over desperate throngs of peons from which a few rise by luck or pluck) for the same reason (failure of the Jeffersonian and Roosevelt Republic institutions).

    There is no quick fix. To begin with, half of America knows nothing but what they hear on talk radio owned by Clear Channel Corporation and News Corp, and has been brainwashed to blame the problems on a “Kenyan-born” president and “people who hate America”.

    There is no easy fix. The oligarchy is just fine with the way things are. They do not want a return to an America with an uppity middle class, with equal opportunity for all. After all, a billion is worth a lot more in a country like Russia (no taxes, 95% poverty) rather than a country like Sweden (95% taxes, no poverty). And their “organized money” controls virtually every mean we the people have to better our lot – from education to politics. Just think of the total fraction of air time this book gets (maybe 0.0001%?) and compare it to the air time corporate shills like Romney got (I will balance the budget by giving tax cuts to “job creators”, 50% of air time or so…).

    • brettearle

      Your point about Talk Radio is spot-on.

      The true tragedy is that the Ugly Propaganda–spewing out of Right Wing Talk Radio–across the country, is so malignant that the listeners don’t even REALIZE how much their beliefs and their [raw] emotions are being influenced by such Manure.

      There is NO question that Angry AM Talk Radio is helping to bring down the country.

      This matter is a huge bete noire of mine.

    • twenty_niner

      “rather than a country like Sweden (95% taxes, no poverty)”

      Which is now on fire:

      “Stockholm burns as rioters battle police after three days of violence in immigrant ‘ghetto’”

      “It is Sweden’s worst disorder in years and has shocked the country and provoked a debate on how Sweden is coping with youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants.”

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2328952/Sweden-riots-Stockholm-burns-rioters-battle-police-days-violence-immigrant-ghetto.html

      • brettearle

        Translated?

        That this is supposed to prove the ineffectiveness of their political system….from your point of view?

        What political systems, that you agree with, don’t suffer from similar eruptions–or other kinds of disruptions that are just as bad or worse?

        • twenty_niner

          Translated:

          Europe’s social-welfare state is proving to be unsustainable especially in light of hoards of under-educated immigrants with low skills, which has corollary implications for the United States. 

          • brettearle

            Translated:

            Non-reply to my direct question.

          • twenty_niner

            Translated:

            Try reading again.

            Your question:

            “That this is supposed to prove the ineffectiveness of their political system?”

            My answer:

            “Europe’s social-welfare state is proving to be unsustainable”

          • brettearle

            Translated:

            TOTAL DODGE

            The first question was clearly a set-up question for my second question–which you totally avoided YET a second time.

            Try reading again.  And again.

          • twenty_niner

            Please, time is short, only one question per customer.

      • ExcellentNews

        Some comments are “on point”. Others are BESIDE the point. To bring up the riot in Stockholm in the context of what I said (organized money turning the US into a third-world nation) is a good example of the latter. It is also a classic “Karl Rove” tactic… But let’s pick it up and examine it…

        In mentioning countries like Sweden, I do not pretend they are some worker’s paradise. There is good and bad, and we in America need to LEARN from both.

        Northwest Europe is a great empirical validation that  Jefferson’s and Roosevelt’s ideas WORK (secular social democracy if you need a tag). After adopting them, Northwest Europe transformed itself from a war-ravaged, resource-poor wasteland into a prosperous region, where the index of quality of life has exceeded that in the US since 2001. Adjusting for currency rates, the individual MEDIAN income for the middle class in NW Europe is above that of the US since 2006.

        For sure, there are challenges. European financial troubles are NOT the result of the “welfare” system, they are the result of Northwest Europe paying the price tag for expanding the EU to countries that are not European-grade social democracies. Greece is a great example – a corrupt oligarchy, siphoning billions of DM into numbered accounts in Cyprus instead of investing into infrastructure and education.

        People often say “well, NW Europe works because they are homogeneous”. They are NOT. Percentage-wise, they have the SAME population of disaffected youths and non-integrated minorities as we do. Unlike us, where we have given up policing large swathes of inner city territory, they do something about it. Which is why there are riots in Stockholm. Los Angeles would be burning too (hey, didn’t that happen already?) if we policed it the same way the Swedes do their own.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    does he discuss how human labor is rapidly becomming obsolete?

  • Ed75

    That’s the question. We do have laws against murder and against stealing, we argue that they are part of natural law, common to human nature and common to all people, regardless of religion.

    The Church views abortion as part of natural law: it would be wrong (and was wrong before the Church) and people know it to be wrong without the Church saying anything, it’s part of natural law and the conscience of man.

    It’s similar to Martin Luther King arguing against racism, he was a Christian, and racism is condemned by his church, but we don’t say that his work against racism was based on a religious law, but one common to all people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brennan-Moriarty/100000655771831 Brennan Moriarty

    A-B x, y in the land of the free… A call border vis-à-vis tall order.
    I “generally” don’t want to hear the low class – no class supporting fear mongering nor crime or offence.
    I genuinely do want to hear the classiest of power’s narrative on the “normative GEO-nation” whether cop-out denial or sheer silent perpetual action.
    I’m told that the Bible’s 10 commandments can be boiled down to 2 main POINTS: “[thou] love thy neighbor”  [normative geo-reality] and worship true gods or “[thou] shalt not worship false gods” [general fallacies]/demigods…
    FEELINGS[!!!] are normal, thoughts are general. geography feels our presence. truly civilizations find PEACEFULL technology and functional purpose and generatively find good even in the… [never mind].
    Now!!! who likes conspiracy? who cares; health care?
    === 
    I aspire empires’ empathic consecration, per indi [nation] speculative quantum traction [revelation], lightly brightly out of sight in lee of dusk  the silent night[/twilighttyrant ] that the great morning of peace-fully-might, designed to trine environ’ {mental lee inverted} prime, eco sign, tangent’s managements and poly sublime. offence is dense but debt and trust-fund pets??? WTH? media and psycho-spec advertise campaign’$ regrets. [dissonance or love's-conviction decked]. 
    Breath, aware, compassion.
    [Imagine] A u.Unified s.Statistical a.Amelioration U.S.A. auto-humble. [god-speed {or ego fumble?} When we "flow" there'll be no bubble; class and pass to neutral trouble]
    Step back; the game of chess can provide rhetorical passage and/of rebirth in the new age of pure-in-tone goodness without the cage. What WE want and need -no rage.
    No shamanic crucifixion. No battlefield of/too oil addiction. The starry night where kings are made [[[blossoms tight _NO_ phallic sage]]no:)] the shrill contrite directions bade. The bible’s rival[?]/tribal leap…. we save.
    And… always look on the bright side of life -^` .;[=/ :) seriously.

  • burroak

    Why are so many great American cities desolate, decrepit, destitute…..abandoned.
    How can a great, powerful nation sustain if a societal snapshot reveals an increasing fissure between socio-economic cities, communities, and neighborhoods?
    Why has made in the U.S.A become the exception rather than the norm?
    And, whatever happened to the manufacturing-Midwestern-Man?
    America unwinding; it is unsettling, unfortunate, and sad.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

RECENT
SHOWS
Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

 
Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: August 29, 2014
Friday, Aug 29, 2014

On hypothetical questions, Beyoncé and the unending flow of social media.

More »
Comment
 
Drew Bledsoe Is Scoring Touchdowns (In The Vineyards)
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Football great — and vineyard owner — Drew Bledsoe talks wine, onions and the weird way they intersect sometimes in Walla Walla, Washington.

More »
Comment
 
Poutine Whoppers? Why Burger King Is Bailing Out For Canada
Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Why is Burger King buying a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain? (We’ll give you a hint: tax rates).

More »
1 Comment