Nov 062011

Peabody Award-winning journalist Bill Moyers’ keynote remarks for Public Citizen’s 40th Anniversary Gala are found below

This is a long speech, but worth reading, here are excerpts:

Let’s name this for what it is:  Democratic deviancy defined further downward. Our politicians are little more than money launderers in the trafficking of power and policy – fewer than six degrees of separation from the spirit and tactics of Tony Soprano…

I was quoting – to repeat – one of the business world’s most respected  journals.  It is the editors of  the The Economist who are  warning us that  “ The United States is on its way to becoming a European-style class-based society.”…

Nobel Laureate Kenneth Arrow has written, “Vast inequalities of income weakens a society’s sense of mutual concern…The sense that we are all members of the social order is vital to the meaning of civilization.” …

he was pointing America toward plutocracy, where political power is derived from the wealthy and controlled by the wealthy to protect their wealth.  As the only countervailing power to private greed and power, democracy could no longer be tolerated…

…William Simon.  His polemic entitled A Time for Truth argued that “funds generated by business” must “rush by multimillions” into conservative causes to uproot the institutions and “the heretical strategy” [his term] of the New Deal.  He called on “men of action in the capitalist world” to mount “a veritable crusade” against progressive America.

Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson wanted to find out  “how our economy stopped working to provide prosperity and security for the broad middle class.”  They wanted to know: “Who dunnit?”

They found the culprit: “It’s the politics, stupid!” Tracing the clues back to that “unseen revolution” of the 1970s – the revolt triggered by Lewis Powell, fired up by William Simon, and fueled by rich corporations and wealthy individuals – they found that ‘Step by step and debate by debate America’s public officials have rewritten the rules of American politics and the American economy in ways that have benefitted the few at the expense of the many.”

There you have it: they bought off the gatekeepers, got inside, and gamed the system.  And when the fix was in, they let loose the animal spirits. turning our economy into a feast for predators.  And  they  won – as the rich and powerful got richer and more powerful – they not only bought  the government, they “saddled Americans with greater debt, tore new holes in the safety net, and imposed broad financial risks on workers, investors, and taxpayers.” Until  – write Hacker and Pierson –  “The United States is looking more and more like the capitalist oligarchies of Brazil, Mexico, and Russia where most of the wealth is concentrated at the top while the bottom grows later and larger with everyone in between just barely getting by.”…

So once again: Take heart from the past and don’t ever count the people out.  During the last quarter of the 19th century, the industrial revolution created extraordinary wealth at the top and excruciating misery at the bottom.  Embattled citizens rose up.  Into their hearts, wrote the progressive Kansas journalist William Allen White, “had come a sense that their civilization needed recasting, that their government had fallen into the hands of self-seekers, that a new relation should be established between the haves and have-nots.”  Not content to wring their hands and cry “Woe is us” everyday citizens researched the issues, organized to educate their neighbors, held rallies, made speeches, petitioned and canvassed, marched and marched again.

Read the entire speech at –> Bill Moyers remarks for Public Citizen’s 40th Anniversary Gala « CitizenVox.

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