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Bill Moyers Interview with Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson

January 14, 2012

If you like Bill Moyers and were sad to see him leave PBS you will be pleased to know that he is back doing the excellent digging and journalistic work that the networks and cable won’t do. Here is his site: Bill Moyers

In this clip (below) Bill interviews Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson and they explain what has been evident to me for years – basically that wealth has been transferred, or legislated to the top in our country.  If you watch this clip it is rock solid and indisputable as to why the middle class has been devastated.  It has been by design, this is not a tin-foil hat conspiracy theory, this IS what has been allowed to happen in our corrupt political system where money buys influence and the revolving door between Wall Street and Congress swings freely.


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  1. Anonymous permalink

    two cars, a mortgage you cant afford. You should have been living lower than your means, rather than trying to keep up with someone else’s. Granted prices are hire, energy is hire, but we all have been living beyond our means for a very long time.

    • Dan permalink

      Unfortunately for a large number of Americans “living below your means” means not eating or living in a box under a bridge.

  2. I am not sure who you are addressing when you state: “You should have been living lower than your means, rather than trying to keep up with someone else’s.”

    Fact is: I don’t have any mortgage debt, I have no car payments, I don’t live paycheck to paycheck and I don’t care about keeping up with the Joneses. You have obviously missed the entire argument laid out by these gentlemen. Maybe you should view the video again and this time notice that what they are espousing is that the middle class has been devastated in this country by design, not by some freak accident.

    P.S. I think the word you meant to use is “higher” – not “hire” when you are describing prices going up.

    • Anonymous permalink

      yes you are right, I was quick to comment on the video and my spelling was wrong. But I do feel that a certain amount of entitlement comes with this generation. After all, growing up in the sixties when there was still a middle class, we did without until my Father could afford more, that was my point.

  3. Well, I think many people have histories like yours. I grew up with nothing, my father was disabled and my mother worked as a teacher, we just made ends meet and I always worked for anything I wanted, and that goes for paying my way all the way through my Masters degree.

    The people who feel entitled from my perspective are the wealthy individuals in this nation who are now paying the lowest proportion of their income in taxes in 50 years. They are also utilizing off-shore tax havens and loopholes, and they are using their tremendous influence to buy political favors such as the Bush tax-cuts which were so lop-sided towards the wealthy that it has thrown the gap between the rich and the poor to proportions not seen since before the Great Depression in 1929. Wealth has been transferred in this nation, it has been stripped via tax legislation and union-busting from the middle class to the 1% who control most of the assets in this country.

  4. CantFoolMe permalink

    I watched the Hacker/Pierson segment. All I can say is that they must not have any exposure to California politics where candidates backed by free spending public unions win virtually 100% of the time. There is no way that wealthy businesses or people control California. Most recent elections saw two very high profile wealthy candidates from the business sector (Governor and U.S. Senator) both lose big and both were savaged by adds paid for by public unions.

  5. Hi, what you are missing is that Hacker/Pierson are talking about federal tax policy, and political influence being used to shift or transfer wealth from one group of people to another. You are conflating two separate issues. Unions are at this particular time working to protect what is left of the middle class in America.

  6. CantFoolMe permalink

    @educationclearinghouse… No, I am not missing anything. If I am not mistaken, California does still send two Senators and over fifty Representatives to D.C. where Federal tax policy is made. My Rep district just elected a pro-public union candidate over a wealthy businessman. (Wealthy business people went 0 for 3 in elections that directly affected me… Governor, US Senator, and US Representative. In all three races, my vote went to the third place Libertarian candidate. The public unions strongly supported the three eventual winners). I am retired and neither pro nor anti union, just stating facts. Here in California, the public unions are the dominate force (read that as $) at all levels of government. The Hacker/Pierson interview never once mentioned the influence of unions, only the “voice of businesses and the wealthy”. The part I did agree with is that the majority of our Federal representation on both sides of the aisle are bought and paid for by one special interest or another. A debate on pros/cons of unions is outside the scope of a discussion on the merits of the Hacker/Pierson premise.

    • Well, we do agree that both sides of our Federal representation are bought and paid for. Where we differ is; by your logic we have these mighty and powerful unions whose influence sways political policy. But, if you look at what has happened over the 30 years since Reagan was elected you will find that the influence of public unions has been greatly diminished and there are far fewer dues paying members than there were in the not too distant past. Now, has the influence of unions been able to stop the greatest transfer of wealth in history, from the middle class to the wealthy? No, it hasn’t and I think the reason is stated eloquently in your previous response: both dems and reps are bought and paid for, and wealthy corporate interests have done the majority of the buying, thus, a majority of the tax laws written heavily favor that group. Why do you think Scott Walker in Wisconsin wanted to break unions? He wanted to stop their ability to donate to candidates, this would effectively give a full-speed ahead green light under Citizens United for corporations that they would now be utterly unopposed in pushing their agenda.

  7. CantFoolMe permalink

    @educationclearinghouse… Now it is you that is missing the point and on top of that, you are putting words in my mouth. I never said anything related to relative impact, only that the Hacker/Pierson perspective was myopic. In California, which has 13% of the US GDP, the public unions are extremely powerful and they definitely do have strong influence on elections and hence policy. You seem to be ok with unions buying politicians because you support their agenda. My position is that any discussion on the ills of a system where any special interest buying politicians exists and not mentioning a significant player is an incomplete analysis of the problem. Stealing food from the grocery store to feed the homeless is still wrong no matter how noble the intent. Anyhow, there are so many variables to consider that I am not sure the validity the premise that the tax laws are responsible for the wealth transfer has been demonstrated. Middle class consumer habits are drastically different today than a generation ago. The middle class is sometimes an eager participant in the wealth transfer. Many over consume and enough seem fine paying ticket prices to cover Albert Pujols quarter billion dollar ten year contract to hit a ball with a stick.

    My understanding is that the argument against public employee unions is essentially that the public union money in-debts politicians to the public union. When the politicians sit across from the public union reps at the bargaining table to negotiate contracts, there is nobody there representing the average citizen. The politicians are dependent on continued public union support to stay in office and are inclined to be more generous. There is some truth to that. Just Google “California public unions”.

  8. I do support public, and all unions because they are the last entities helping to provide a middle class living wage to people in this country. Your comment: “I am not sure the validity the premise that the tax laws are responsible for the wealth transfer has been demonstrated” is incorrect. It has been demonstrated in many articles that I can’t unfortunately search up right now because I am writing before work. But, it should be known to you that as the prevalence of unions has declined, so has the middle class in this country. Where has that wealth shifted? To the top, that is indisputable and most will recognize it as a fact. It is the system we are living under, what I said previously I meant. If you take unions fully out of the picture than there will be no one left to combat the spending by large wealthy corporate interests, who have profits not people in mind when they contribute to politicians.

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