MOYERS

BILL MOYERS: I heard you respond to someone who asked you at a public session the other evening–“What would you do about what you’ve just described?” And your first response was start debating societies in high schools all across the country.

HENRY GIROUX: That’s right. One of the things that I learned quickly as a result of the internet is I started getting a ton of letters from students who basically were involved in these debate societies. And they’re saying like things, “We use your work. We love this work.”

And I actually got involved with one that was working with– out of Brown University’s working with a high school in the inner cities right, and I got involved with some of the students. But then I began to learn as a result of that involvement that these were the most radical kids in the country.

I mean, these were kids who embodied what a critical public sphere meant. They were going all over the country, different high schools, working class kids no less, debating major issues and getting so excited about in many ways winning these debates but doing it on the side of– something they could believe in.

And I thought to myself, "Wow, here’s a space.” Here’s a space where you’re going to have a whole generation of kids who could be actually engaging in debate and dialogue. Every working class urban school in this country should put its resources as much as possible into a debate team.

—  Henry Giroux loves K Debate.  Source.

When I was a young man in Washington in the 1960s, most of the country’s economic growth actually accrued to the bottom 90% of households – in other words, to the majority of everyday people. From the end of World War II until the early 1970s, incomes grew at a slightly faster rate at the bottom and middle of the economic distribution. The economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez looked at tax data from 1950 through 1980 and found that the share of all income going to everyone BUT the rich increased to 65%. The average income for 9 out of 10 Americans was growing, too – from $17,719 to $30,941. That’s a 75% increase in income content in constant 2008 dollars, when their study was published.

Then something happened. Since 1980 the economy continued to grow impressively, but most of the benefits went to the top. Workers were more productive but shared less in the wealth they were helping to create. As the richest among us began to capture the rising share of economic growth the line flattens for the bottom 90%. In the late 1970s the richest one percent received nine percent of total income and held 18% of the nation’s wealth. By 2007, they had more than 23% of total income and 35% of the wealth. Now, more than 50% of all the income gains go to the richest one percent. The 400 wealthiest individuals on the Forbes 400 list own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans; those 400 possess more wealth than half the country combined. At no time in modern history has the top one hundredth of one percent owned more of our wealth or paid so low a tax rate.

This phenomenon has changed America, because inequality matters. Surveying its impact…

On economic growth, which it slows;On health, which it undermines;On social cohesion and solidarity, which it erodes;On education, affordable housing and other public services, which it starves;On government, which it hijacks.

The scholar Robert McChesney concludes, sadly: “This isn’t what democracy looks like.”

vimeo

Nick Turse talks to Bill Moyers about his book Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam and about the ghosts of people and issues not properly put to rest in the years following the Vietnam war. In Vietnam, says Turse, a person who dies outside his or her home dies “a bad death,” and it’s the responsibility of the deceased’s relatives to make peace with the person’s “wandering ghost.” The multi-decade war with Vietnam, Turse says, is America’s wandering ghost, a conflict with which America has never managed to make peace.

For more, click here.

vimeo

Hey, that’s veteran organizer Marshall Ganz talking to Bill Moyers about the power of social movements to effect meaningful social change. He’s had a great influence on a generation of activists and organizers. Good stuff.

youtube

[ Bill Moyers interviews Susan Jacoby ]

vimeo

If you missed my conversation with Bill Moyers about my new book, Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, you can watch it here or at Moyers & Company.

vimeo

“Every year there are 30,000 gun deaths and 300,000 gun-related assaults in the U.S.,” he said. “Firearm violence may cost our country as much as $100 billion a year. Toys are regulated with greater care and safety concerns than guns … we have become so gun loving, so blasé about home-grown violence that in my lifetime alone, far more Americans have been casualties of domestic gunfire than have died in all our wars combined.”

.@BillMoyers asks Sandra Steingraber tough question about poor farmers & #fracking income. She shifts to discussion of abolition from abomination. The question:

In preparing for this conversation, I read the story of one fellow who’s been working at odd jobs, taking welfare when he must, who’s now expecting a windfall of up to $300,000 a year for the next decade from a lease he signed for fracking with Chevron. Now do you really expect him to turn that down?

Her answer: 

Well, once they get to the level of – to the end of the process, where we’re asking a desperate farmer to turn away from looking at the bedrock under his feet as a bank account, you know, as a piñata that could be shattered to make money so he could retire, so he can send his children to college – we’ve failed, right? We’ve failed.

And so I’m far more interested in going upstream and looking at this as a design problem. To say, “All right, so we’ve had our run of fossil fuels. And we’ve become incredibly dependent on them to make stuff for us, right?” So the vinyl siding on your house is made out of natural gas, right.

[An]hydrous ammonia, which is used as synthetic fertilizer in our wheat fields and our corn fields, also made out of natural gas. So we have created an agricultural system that rides a tandem bicycle with the fossil fuel industry. We have created a materials economy and surrounds ourselves with material that are essentially fossils that were exhuming from the earth at a way that is not sustainable. They’re called nonrenewable for a reason.

And so it’s time to engage human ingenuity to do something entirely different.

And that’s where I’m interested in working. Because it seems to me when I look back at history, we have, in the United States, faced other times where our economy was ruinously dependent on some kind of abomination. And of course, slavery would be the one I would use as my example here. Where people had to rise up and say that even though millions of dollars of personal wealth is bound up in slave labor, even though slave labor offered us the lower prices of goods, offered us ability to be competitive in the world market, it’s wrong to do that.

And instead of trying to regulate slavery, control slavery emission rates, have state-of-the-art slavery, we decided to take an abolitionist approach to that.

Video and transcript.

BILL MOYERS speaks.....

I think this country is in a very precarious state at the moment. I think, as I say, the escalating, accumulating power of organized wealth is snuffing out everything public, whether it’s public broadcasting, public schools, public unions, public parks, public highways. Everything public has been under assault since the late 1970s, the early years of the Reagan administration, because there is a philosophy that’s been extant in America for a long time that anything public is less desirable than private.

And I think we’re at a very critical moment in the equilibrium. No society, no human being, can survive without balance, without equilibrium. Nothing in excess, the ancient Greeks said. And Madison, one of the great founders, one of the great framers of our Constitution, built equilibrium into our system. We don’t have equilibrium now. The power of money trumps the power of democracy today, and I’m very worried about it. I said to—and if we don’t address this, if we don’t get a handle on what we were talking about—money in politics—and find a way to thwart it, tame it, we’re in —democracy should be a break on unbridled greed and power, because capitalism, capital, like a fire, can turn from a servant, a good servant, into an evil master. And democracy is the brake on my passions and my appetites and your greed and your wealth. And we have to get that equilibrium back.


Why are the contents of a major US-led trade deal being deliberately kept from the American people?

If you haven’t heard about the TPP yet please educate yourself. If the TPP goes through life as we have known it will change. Immense power will be given to those in power and this deal will allow OTHER countries to challenge OUR laws.

The Trans Pacific Partnership has been kept secret because none of us would want this to happen. We need to spread the word.

vimeo

This weekend on Moyers & Company, journalist Nick Turse joins Bill to describe his unprecedented efforts to compile a complete and compelling account of the Vietnam War’s horror as experienced by all sides, including innocent civilians who were sucked into its violent vortex. Turse, who devoted 12 years to tracking down the true story of Vietnam, unlocked secret troves of documents, interviewed officials and veterans – including many accused of war atrocities – and traveled throughout the Vietnamese countryside talking with eyewitnesses to create his book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.

 "American culture has never fully come to grips with Vietnam,“ Turse tells Bill, referring to "hidden and forbidden histories that just haven’t been fully engaged.”

(For more, see: Preview: Who’s Widening America’s Digital Divide? | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com)

vimeo

PEN American Center appears on Bill Moyers on America’s Torture Program

“On this weekend’s Moyers & Company, Siems, director of the Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center, and Liman, whose credits include The Bourne IdentityMr. and Mrs. Smith, and Fair Game, join Bill Moyers to talk about what we should be learning from and doing about U.S. torture tactics.”

vimeo

The first episode of “Moyers & Company,” Bill Moyers’ latest return to television

We have a relatively narrow spectrum even in public broadcasting so that many of our shows that are usually establishment figures, experts, top of the business journalists who are on, people who have forums. You rarely get the radical voice, the dissenting voice, the voice of the populace, the voice of the progressive, the voice of the libertarian, the voice of the radical.

You rarely get those because, again, journalism in America is organized around opinion from Washington, around the debate in Washington, and that debate is narrowly defined as whether the truth lies between a Republican opinion and a Democratic opinion, not from outside of that consensus.

—  Bill Moyers, Interview with Tavis Smiley regarding the contemporary U.S. media