Americans are more bitterly divided along political lines today than they have been in nearly a century. While the advent of social media and the shout-fests of opinionated radio and cable TV have played a role, the greatest factor driving today's political polarization is income inequality.
So says UC Berkeley Professor of Public Policy and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who argues that the erosion of the middle class - and the social contract that kept those in the middle from falling too far below - has led to a search for scapegoats, feeding the demagogues, the trolls and the sowers of division.
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REICH IS WRONG: There was no golden era when we succeeded or failed together. WWII and the Great Depression were at least as vicious and nasty with scapegoating and outbursts of anger as today. The racism back then was horrific. The 1% were also doing what they did best back then as now, screwing the population for every bit they could and redirecting the anger with the help of the media. Harry Truman and Dick Cheney are both warmongering peas in a pod. Fifty years from now middle school teachers will probably be teaching their students a very sanitized version of the Iraq War/War on Terror just like they read sanitize versions of WWII and the Great Depression today. REICH IS CORRECT: The greatest factor in today's polarization is income inequality. In fact, that is about the only thing that matters to the middle class. For a time, the middle class was unthreatened by inequality. The poor were effectively walled off into their own little ghetto and marginalized by the press. It was their fault because anyone can make it in America if they do the work and are persistent. The middle class was content to live with that myth (which most of them knew was a myth anyway) until it was their turn to be marginalize and increasingly walled off. The middle class is composed of mostly average people and average people are easily manipulated by the press. The middle class is angry and the media has someone for Republicans to blame and another network has someone for Democrats to blame.
+Jason Brown I really like Robert Reich and everyone would do well to listen attentively to what he has to say and buy his books. If he were to teach again and I had the opportunity to learn from him, I'd do it in a heartbeat.
No, Tea party was mainly about opposition to the take over of the health insurance industry by government. I know in was at those rallies. It was not about inequality. Reich talking inequality all his career. His solution very high taxes 90% on the 1%. Yes he said that. Like OWS movement, wealth redistribution is their solution. How passed most of the bail outs? Democrats. Has any bail outs been passed since the tea party republicans took over congress?
I rarely agree with Mr Reich but I REALLY LIKE this video. I've been saying for years that both the tea party and Occupy wall street hated the bail outs and I always wondered why couldn't they do one joint protest? One blames govt, the other wall street when they are BOTH RIGHT.
...who is this fellow to speak as though I know not the reasons for my indignation with these politicos who play with citizen's lives as though they are some new-branded hierarchy gaming us for some unseen 'monarch's delight!?!
Radio Berlin was once bloated with such Socialist propaganda! ...some who spoke as fire-brands...while others whispered as a warm summer's breeze...though all drank then, conveyed the very same poison to those foolish enough to believe them..
We've yet to recover from it.
Oh dear! "wedded to fossil fuels"? Are you serious? Where's the disagreement on mitigation?
And still won't even talk about not talking about the thing you won't talk about. Wasting time here instead of learning from an expert. Your choice, of course.
I saw this today and thought of you. I don't expect to see you mention it, but anyway:
It seems to me that YOU are the one not open to new thinking. You still are wedded to fossil fuels, and apparently see everything as a zero sum game. And of course our best efforts now will likely only mitigate the problem - how is that not worth doing? If I apply pressure to a bullet wound, it will likely only mitigate the bleeding, and the wound will still be there, so what? I should just put another bullet in and get it over with?
Were you this conventional in your religious views way back when? We "have to do it" 50 years ago. It's now too late for anything but mitigation, as any number of ignored official reports make clear.
"helping maintain our place as the world economic leader" Really? That will be an issue?
I mistakenly thought you were open to new thinking. Let's wrap this up, ok?
But you could satisfy my curiosity on one thing. Why ARE you so determined to shield yourself from systems ecologist Hall's views?
michigan is still a net producing state tax wise
michigan is funding red-states at this moment-
republicans love to spend other peoples money when it comes to their entitlements but scream like hell when liberals want to spend their own money
no to the farm bill we are going to do the same obstruction to red-states as you've done to the affordable healthcare act
That's true, which is why we should be putting more effort into that than we put into wars to keep the oil flowing. Bottom line - we have to do it sometime. Whether it's 50 years from now or 100 years from now it is inevitable. With climate change a reality today, and knowing it will not be good (though not knowing for certain how bad) it seems that NOW is the time to be marshaling resources to solve this problem, and likely helping maintain our place as the world economic leader.
Yet.. The democratic cities as Detroit goes bankrupt.. yupp.. And Obama personally when he addressed the nation a year before the bankruptcy, that that ain't going to happen under his office..
Blame republicans for that too?
Yet he agrees on sending millions of US tax payers dollars to Egypt as aid..
Do your research kid.
Obama is no way better, and is kicking his own kind in the nuts while helping other countries..
"I never said infinite growth was possible,"
Apologies, I misread.
"...a tiny fraction of the energy they can provide". IF you can draw on it efficiently. Not that unlimited energy would be a good thing.
Changing from an energy-dense to an energy-diffuse source, with the appropriate infrastructure, is not like changing one's socks.
generalideas/charles-hall-energy-returns - it doesn't bite.
I never said infinite growth was possible, but I don't think we have exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet yet. And yes, I am certain that wind/solar CAN power a much larger civilization than we have now, it's obvious from the data - we need only a tiny fraction of the energy they can provide. I suspect that if some of the trillions we spend to keep oil prices down were spent on this, it might be a reality today or in the very near future.
Hes did that REALLY annoying thing where he tries to blame both sides. This is NAKEDLY bollocks. The CONSERVATIVES support Reaganomics, libertarians, free markets and neoliberalism. This has fucked over the middle and working classes, then when progressives point thus out the consevative FASCISTS go on tgeir bigoted fucking rampage. Its not progressives that have done ANYTHING wrong. The elite turned to southern white male racists to tip the political balance in their favour then ran with it.
I take no pleasure in saying that you are displaying the kind of stubborn reluctance to look at evidence I expect from an evangelical. Again, this is a complex issue, and I am no expert. Do you KNOW that solar/wind can in practice power industrial civilization, or do you take it on faith, along with the concept of infinite growth?
With respect, there is no point in further exchanges unless you at least watch the Hall video and, for openers, learn what is implied by the concept of EROEI.
Again, you reference the past. "have we seen" is a reference to what we were able to do in the past. You assert that a hydrogen economy will not provide enough energy, yet you do not give any evidence of this. Solar and wind give far more than enough energy for all our needs, and these can be used to produce hydrogen if we need a more portable form of energy. Those who claim that progress is impossible (as you are, in effect, doing) have almost always been wrong.
You haven't seriously examined energy issues. Only with FFs have we seen rapid growth. Wind/solar are diffuse; scalable yes, but not to the level of FFs. A hydrogen economy anything like what we have now is impracticable - we will not have enough energy.
You are open-minded in other areas. Rather than having a non-expert like me countering popular misconceptions, better to do a little research of your own. I hope to learn what you make of that Hall video - as part of any further response.
"Only fossil fuels have allowed"
The operative word is "have". Only the domestication of animals allowed civilization to flourish as it did for centuries before that. The notion that other energy sources are not scalable is just false. We simply need to work on better methods of harnessing other sources. Wind/solar carry more energy in a year than all the fossil fuels ever burned. These could be used directly, or to produce hydrogen in quantity. I suspect we are capable of more than you think.
There have been regional powers for millennia. Only fossil fuels have allowed the economic and population growth of the last 150 years. Other energy sources are not scalable substitutes; e.g. a billion liquid-fueled vehicles. Food output now also depends on FFs; impact of climate change has just started. Hard to exaggerate oil's importance.
I know you're smart, but it's like I'm talking to myself 6 years ago. :) Think you might like that Charles Hall video. But hope you don't mind rabbit holes.
Except that Japan was a major regional power before oil became the basis of energy economies. And oil is far from the only energy source. Most other resources are either renewable, or recyclable such as metals, plastics, wood, etc. That we don't do this efficiently enough now is irrelevant - we could, and I suspect will - but not until forced to (we're a bit stupid that way). We still produce more food than we need - we just don't distribute it well.
This quickly gets complex. "Advanced" economies like Japan took advantage of plentiful cheap oil to grow their economies even without their own resources. If you don't think economic growth is limited there is no more to be said. We already exceed the carrying capacity of Earth, which is why a reduction of net energy from fossil fuels will mean a reduced population. But it's not worth talking past one another. Suggest google generalideas/charles-hall-energy-returns for an expert view.
One huge difference however between the Tea Party and OWS is that the Tea Party people are fools being led along by the very people who are involved in collusion with the government. But they were easy to string along due to their deep seated racism that made them all of a sudden feel the country is destroyed once a black man took office.
I am not speaking about this exact moment. Japan has NEVER had many resources, yet it still was a world power. If resources are the key, how did they do this? They did it by being better educated and more forward thinking than their neighbors - people. The greatest resource we have is the human mind, and we are neglecting that. And, so far, there is no evidence that economic growth is limited. Until the point when the human race exceeds the carrying capacity of Earth, growth remains possible.
The US still has resources, but they are depleting. It's living beyond its means and is heavily dependent on imported oil. Britain and Japan also depend on imported energy. Where is the economic recovery in those countries, and Europe generally?
Some of the African economies are still growing, albeit from a low base.
An educated population is beneficial, but people are essentially a resource sink.
There are limits to growth, something Reich and his ilk fail to recognize.
Actually we are still one of the richest nations in the world in terms of natural resources, but that is not that important, as Britain and Japan prove. They are two of the most resource poor nations in the world, yet two of the top 10 economies. A nation's #1 and by far most important resource is it's people. And we have ceased to invest in them in favor of lower taxes. Africa has HUGE resources, and uneducated, impoverished people - how's that working out?
That may be. The fact remains that the US was still rich in oil and other resources back then, which underlay its military triumphs and its subsequent economic dominance. That situation no longer obtains, and with international corporations sucking dry what's left of the economy, the future is not bright.
There is a much simpler explanation. After WW II, Japan, Germany, China and to a lesser extent England, France, and the USSR were all in ruins. Today's developing countries were backward and undeveloped. For nearly 30 years, the USA was the ONLY major economy that was fully functional, and as the world rebuilt they began to need massive amounts of products & services that only we could provide in quantity. That's a sweet deal that could not last. We also invested in our people back then.
You are really fearful heh ? Trying to find conspiracy everywhere, It cannot be you own fault, you must have been the subject of enemy ops, not you own billionaire rigging the game, can't be ! pathetic
Growth until 1970, then it all starts going wrong. US oil production reached a peak in 1970. The economy and growth depend on oil. Could there be a connection? Don't ask Reich; energy doesn't figure in his pseudoscience of economics.
I feel it modernly change when George W Bush did what he did after 9/11. At first we were all together as a nation in the aftermath of 9/11. We were ALL for getting Al Qaeda as a nation. Even most other countries were on our side. Then Bush did a 180 on that and became very hate filled and enacted the "Patriot" Act, then started making fun of other countries and his fellow Americans when they were horrified at what he did. That's what started it all.
Civil wars normally end up with the same people in control, except usually the more violent ones.Tell me, which civil wars or revolutions have NOT ended up with either the status quo ante, OR something far far worse than they began with? The only one I can think of was the American war of independence, but no, that simply took away the crown and replaced it with a federal government.
Until we figure out that there are no racial problems, no government problems, no finance problems, we are fucked. There are only human problems, food, water, shelter, education, health.
It's funny how Robs anecdote is in relation to a game. Cause that is all this bullshit is.
...it is an odd commentary on the state of US politics when the last truly liberal/progressive President was Republican Richard Nixon, look at his record, he spent more on social programs than defense during the height of Vietnam, the USSR, and a real Communist China...and look at the healthcare plan he wanted for the US that was introduced by Caspar Weinbergar...Ted Kennedy said it was the biggest mistake of his political career when he blocked it...google "liberal richard nixon"...
Ted Cruz doesn't say anything "best".......yes he wants to defund a law that was passed by both houses, signed into law, challenged and upheld by SCOTUS......so he's decided he'll help the country default on it's obligations....
another joke of a politician from the clown car that is texas republican politics.
This is correct as far as it goes. You need to go back a bit more to get at another cause, the 1860s. There is a distinct tinge of anti Yankee, anti Federal Government, anti Black Southern revanchism in the current situation.
It's because both parties no longer stand for what they used to, and are all about publicity these days. The republicans stand for funding the military until the country is flat broke, hurting the poor, being irrational, bigoted, and intolerant, while the democrats stand for being afraid to make decisions, and letting the republicans step all over them. Neither end of the spectrum know how to manage money very well, and neither end works for the people anymore.
The Far Right have been going more extreme since the 60s, and finally hit a brick wall, where they can't go any further rightwing. And now they are frustrated, they are angry that they can't embezzle any more of the economy.
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