Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2013: Some People are More Equal than Others

14 Nov
November 14, 2013
46 replies
  1. Ian G says:

    Saw a rerun. Most informative. I have always enjoyed seeing an American who does not think Marx’s first name was Groucho.

    “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” “One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas I’ll never know.”

    I found your argument that Capitalism has defeated Labour well reasoned, and a good explanation of our times. I personally prefer 1984 and the big lie a better way to explain my reality. That is why I like to see new truths in the media.

    Reply
  2. katie says:

    Saw this made Moyers this week. Good on ya!

    Happy Holidays to you and your family. Thanks for creating and tending this space and for giving us the chance to raise our game. I hope your daughter is festooned in glittery splendor this season.

    Reply
  3. Anthony Daniele says:

    I saw the “re-run” of this in Melbourne. Thanks for coming out, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    There were questions I wanted to ask which really only came to me after mulling over it in the hours and days that followed. Any response you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

    1. If that brick is coming, in what name will it be thrown? Under what banner will people revolt? I think one crowning achievement of the oligopoly has been its ability to divide and conquer the rest of us. It amazes me is that groups like Occupy Wall Street and The Tea Party can have identical frustrations but see each other as diametrically opposed politically.

    2. You’ve described The Wire as cynical but not misanthropic. You lament the failure of institutions, but celebrate the character of the people within them. But to what extent do people have responsibility for the quality of those institutions, for not reforming them? People will still not vote for politicians that want to redistribute wealth or declare an end to the war on drugs or take climate change seriously. That leaves me pretty misanthropic.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      The solution can’t be no government, or minimal government. Life — and society — has become too complicated and specialized for such a solution. And absent the empowerment of a popular electorate, bad government and the growing alienation of the governed is inevitable. The only solution is as it ever was: good government.

      The beginning of good government is to get the money out of American politics. To make elections a marketplace of ideas and not the purchased domain of capital. Campaign financing has to be dramatically reformed and for that to happen, apparently, the lineup of the Supreme Court will need to change. But absent good government, bad things will happen. And absent government, nothing that needs happen for society to progress ever will.

      I believe in people, overall. I don’t believe that money is speech. And I believe that institutions must be held to account, which is why a strong, healthy institutional press is essential. We are living through a time when elections are purchased and the serious media is being marginalized. It will not be pretty.

      Reply
  4. patrick says:

    I’ve been struggling to pull together a lot of disparate ideas about art, its ability to engage one’s capacity for empathy, and the value of both in society. I have been watching this speech for a couple of days, revisiting parts of it that are especially powerful and incisive, and I think that there is much to discuss here. Matthew Yglesias’ piece in the Atlantic seems to have missed its mark wide to the left; the great service that ‘The Wire’ does to its audience is to put them in Omar’s place so that they can examine his options and choices in life and experience some of his emotional landscape. This is the great power of art. It’s like CrossFit for one’s emotional capacity. I really, really object to the idea that one should first have an ideology, then create art that conforms to it. Propagandists make terrible art.

    Also, in celebration of ‘The Wire,’ if I may praise the author in his own house: The danger of a society who’s art is shallow and poisoned by sentimentality is that its citizens’ capacity for complex emotion is stunted. I feel there’s a strong connection between Sarah Palin’s worldview and ‘Walker, Texas Ranger”s lack of emotional complexity. My suspicions are further reinforced by the authoritarian personality’s objections to art that is ambiguous.

    This also perhaps explains why ‘The Wire’ and ‘Treme’ seem to be slow to catch on, as Mr. Simon laments in his speech: I’m not watching television every night because so much of it is insulting and reinforcing of values I think are destructive. It takes quite a bit of clamor from people who’s opinions I trust to catch my attention. “You have to see this show. You really do.” It takes several of these sorts of recommendations before I put down my book or put aside whatever else I was going to do in the evening and really embrace a show. I think that’s probably pretty typical of the sort of viewer who finally gets to ‘The Wire’ and sees how complex and nuanced it is.

    Thanks for your patience and attention.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Here’s an essay for you:

      Why are zombie narratives back in vogue?

      Because we fear our growing and increasingly marginalized poor.

      Reply
      • patrick says:

        I don’t necessarily disagree with that assessment of why zombie narratives are back, though I had a fundamentally different initial though when the first of the new wave of zombie films surfaced after 9/11:
        I’ve heard cultural commentators say that the first “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” was a response to Cold War paranoia- that people who were once familiar and reliable could suddenly turn into automatons.

        After 9/11, people who I had previously thought were thoughtful, non-reactionary moderates swerved almost inexplicably to the right. Gay people, feminists, agnostics- the people I would traditionally expect to be the voice of reasoned discourse were VERY exercised about Sharia Law Coming to America and The Arab Threat. I had my body-snatchers moment at Thanksgiving dinner.

        I thought “We are in uncharted waters, now.”

        ’28 Days Later’ and ‘Resident Evil’ both came out in 2002.

        Fortunately, most of these folks have come back to their senses.
        Just offering that as my own observation. I don’t disagree that it’s quite possible that somewhere in there, the fear of the poor and of The Arab Menace are intertwined.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          Agree. And yes, the Cold War and fear of the red menace accounts for the subtext of a multitude of science fiction narratives in that era.

          Reply
      • katie says:

        YES on the zombies. Fear of the “other” and the irrational clinging to the idea of the bootstraps – individual is all-powerful and in control of his/her destiny. I also think those little single cup coffee makers are a sign of our selfishness and lack of community. Perhaps I’m thinking too much. Or about the wrong things.

        Reply
      • katie says:

        Saw this today, Mr. Simon. Thought you might find it interesting – an NPR code switch post about the history of zombies.

        http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/12/13/250844800/zoinks-tracing-the-history-of-zombie-from-haiti-to-the-cdc

        Reply
  5. Will Buttarazzi says:

    Thanks for raising awareness on this issue. The powerful drama of the human spirit is apparaent in your writing/art and I appreciate what is raised in the questions: Why two Americas and what can be done?

    As you allude to, diagnoses seem to come easier than solutions.Marxism is a great example.

    While pursuing solutions of the two Americas, principles will be important.

    I appreciate the quote from John Acton, who, as a contemporary of Marx, too, predicted that freedom without a moral direction would lead to a fractured society. He put forth that “freedom is not the ability to do what you want, but what you ought.” I believe this is a great starting point for discussion.

    Acton recognized the great power of freedom but warned that it should not be used for selfish means but for the responsibilities we each have….

    Current diagnoses of the predominant culture: a cult of self, making money God, the religion/common belief that achieving wealth is a somehow a cure to society, the detachment of time tested morals of giving of oneself in and to society (social contract), and the unending and misguided quest for self satisfaction solely through material goods, are as big a problem as any. Unfortunately, I think we might also add to these diagnoses another significant one, a general distrust in government.

    In the spirit of conversation, I invite you and your readers/watchers to visit http://www.acton.org. At the same time, I appreciate your prod to consider others….May we each do our part as countercultural examples of peace and joy from the spending/giving of ourselves.

    Reply
  6. Jason B says:

    Of course this is all too complex to fix, as you mentioned. And I think we are headed for more strife rather than less. Not only have we moved further apart in terms of wealth and earning, but the social compact is nearly destroyed. Part of the contract in our American history was a belief in American exceptionalism. Before you get all hot and bothered by that consider what brings so many disparate groups together. Religion…..race….ethnicity. how is a nation formed without shared experiences?
    I agree there is too much at the top and too little at the bottom. But I am lost for a means to correct that. I don’t trust the govt to do it. To compel resources from some and to redistribute to others. Who makes those decisions? Who gets to decide what is worthy?

    We aren’t all in it together anymore. You don’t really a dress that. The Law Firm for example. Certainly that firm would be compromised of different classes, genders, and ideologies, but as a smaller group they are pushing for a shared goal. The success of the law firm. Some make more and others less, there are power and influence dynamics for sure, but as the firm succeeds …..so do they all. I think with the break down of American society, little atteattention ok n has been paid to the good that religion did. It created a community and was a moral force outside of the govt. As it has been marginalised, like the poor themselves…..well you get the point.

    So, as we have moved religion from the public arena. …what is to take its place? And that brings us back to the problem of centralised govt and redistribution. It is built on the morality of those with power, as power os concentrated more and more with capital. It is more fearful for me to have the moral authority also be the tax man.

    Reply
  7. Carlos Aguilar says:

    Mr. Simon, if you want to end the War on Drugs and depopulate prisons, you should consider making common cause with libertarians.

    As for “greed”, my experience is that it’s part of human nature. It’s as prevalent in government as it is in the private sector. You can’t explain Detroit without greed. Incidentally, Detroit shows us one way to reduce income inequality –chase away the wealthy. That didn’t help the poor though. Maybe we should focus on poverty instead of inequality. Anyway, blaming greed for our problems is like blaming gravity for airplane crashes. At some point you have to deal with things as they really are and not how Che Guevara thought they should be.

    Which reminds me, beware of people with blueprints for society. A lot of harm has been caused by people who see society in those terms.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      My opinions on the drug war coincide with libertarians. We get there for very different reasons.

      My opinions on citizenship and social responsibility and what made the American Century make libertarianism not only intellectually untenable but morally repugnant.

      Your understanding of what caused white flight and deindustrialization of American cities bears no relation to actual American history. This is a topic that I studied in great, great detail before endeavoring the report and write The Corner, so I am much more careful with the myriad forces that were arrayed against places such as Detroit or Baltimore than you are, apparently, in claiming that efforts to reduce income inequity were even a remote cause. That is embarrassing, I must tell you.

      Finally, no one brought up Che Guevara save for yourself. Simple and hyperbolic is no way to proceed. Indeed, you would be hard pressed to listen to what I actually said in Australia and claim that I have shown any particular fealty to Marxism or Capitalism or any ism other than the pragmatic one. You on the other hand seem to be believe that in having no plan other than a libertarian ideal, you are somehow free of ideology. Curious.

      Reply
      • Carlos Aguilar says:

        I wasn’t putting you in the Guevara camp. I was referencing his “New Man” ethos. He also saw greed as the problem yet he understood it’s sort of a universal attribute to man; thus the need to create a new one. He had a blueprint for that, sadly. My point is that greed (defined as self-interest) is a problem in the way that hunger and gravity are problems. Any workable system will take them into account —embrace them, even— and chug along as best it can.

        From your speech I infer that you believe in a gradual accomodation of idealism and reality. That’s very Burkean of you, even a tad Hayekian. (I hope you won’t take that as an insult, it’s meant as a compliment.) We libertarians would never deny our ideology. We are ostensibly fond of it, occasionally donning Adam Smith ties and adorning our offices with framed pictures of Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard. Ugh, those morally repugnant proponents of non-aggression! No, I’ve found that most people who disavow their intellectual forebears are on the Left. They claim the mantle of pragmatism. That’s kind of Obama’s shtick. “Not big government, not small government, but government that works.” Where are the Herbert Croly ties and John Dewey posters? Why this reticence on the left to claim its ideological roots? I suspect they don’t like to debate first principles. Or the eugenics movement, that was embarrasing.

        Detroit… well, my point was not to attribute its demise to progressives. I understand there is more to it than that. But greed in government is particularly evident when the tax base dissapears. That’s when foxes outnumber chickens in the hen house. What, if not greed, could explain the Detroit Water & Sewer Department paying its employees three times the median national salary, including a job for “horseshoer” in a city government with no horses? What, if not greed, explains that members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers collected “unused sick days” totalling $14.5 million per year? Meanwhile, Detroit residents paid the highest local taxes (per capita) in Michigan. I respect your knowledge of the city’s history but I doubt you can deny that greed in government and unions played a role. My point is simply that whatever motivates people in the private sector also motivates them in the public sector. Why is this even controversial? The alternative explanation —that all selfish individuals go into the private economy while only self-sacrificing altruists seek government jobs— is ludicrous on its face. Perhaps Detroit’s fate was not set by progressive politics but it certainly was not because the ratio of “greedy capitalists” to “public servants” was too high.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          More reality, less idealism.

          I believe that liberty alone is a prerequisite for a great society, but alone it builds nothing resembling a great society. It is by no means sufficient to the task. I believe that communal responsibility is a prerequisite for a great society, but alone it is tyranny. It is by no means sufficient to the task.

          As I believe that it is in the unresolved tension between empowered labor and empowered capital that a tempered and sustainable economic model can endure, I also believe that it is in the unresolved tension between personal liberty and communal responsibility, that citizenship can thrive and a great society can be built.

          Ergo, my low regard for libertarianism. Or tyranny, for that matter.

          Isn’t that a simple way to say that what happened in the rare window of the middle part of the 20th Century was what made us the great economic engine we were, and that globally now, because capital has fled to cheapened and degraded labor markets, it is precisely where I think the economic battles of the 21st century must be fought? Why yes, it is. This is what I believe. I affirm for capitalism as an effective tool for generating wealth; I affirm for socialism as an essential component for any part of the blueprint for a just and viable society.

          I abhor any argument in which pure ideology brings its usual griefs.

          Reply
          • Carlos Aguilar says:

            Fair enough. But beware the easy caricature of libertarianism. It’s not the cult of Ayn Rand. No less than Friedrich Hayek was for a social safety net and even wrote in The Road to Serfdom that state support of health care was not incompatible with individual freedom.

            Lastly I would add that some of the traditional categories no longer apply. The decline of the labor movement —often attributed to corporate interests taking over government— is really the blurring of the labor/capital dichotomy. That framework explained post Industrial Revolution society well, but it’s overly simplistic for today, when roughly half of all American adults own stocks either individually or through funds. In ’08, before the crash, the percentage was 66%. About 3 out of 4 Americans own their home, which is a capital asset. What this means is that capital and labor are increasingly one and the same. And what about knowledge? We are in the knowledge economy but I can’t tell if knowledge is capital or labor.

            Reply
            • David Simon says:

              I take Hayek seriously, though I am a Keynesian.

              I don’t take Ayn Rand seriously. And I can’t take seriously the notion that liberty alone, or economic gain alone, builds a great and inclusive society. The American Century was a function of many attributes and values, an accomplishment greater than the sum of its parts.

              If it gives you any pleasure, know that the doctrinaire Marxists are as cranky with me as the doctrinaire libertarians.

              I don’t agree with your assessment of why the labor movement has been undercut, however. Globalization — and the unwillingness of our government to make collective bargaining a pathway and prerequisite for our most favored international trading partners — is where I see the breaking of the compact. The battles of the 20th Century, which led to the American middle class and consumerist engine, will have to be fought worldwide and all over again. At great cost, and with massed capital ever less beholden to popular will. I am not hopeful.

              I have been white-collar, intellectual-property based my whole career. I have also been in functional unions my whole life and I have benefited from such, as have my union brother and sisters. The blurring of what constitutes capital and what constitutes labor is overstated, I would argue. I can end the blurring right here and now: If you work for somebody doing anything with fellow workers, you need to be in a guild or union. Or it’s a race to bottom.

              I can see the bottom coming for workers. Plain as day.

              Reply
    • Nick Masesso Jr. says:

      Ironic that those who fear their version of communism/socialism, Ala let’s say east Berlin back in the day, living behind barb-wire with machine guns (for protection of that system), now, if they can afford it, will choose to live thus to protect themselves from the aroused great unwashed masses, created as a result of income inequality. You can pay now by distributing wealth fairly or surrender your wallet on the night one of those aforementioned masses, having lost all hope, holds a knife to your throat and compels wealth be shared. Will it matter whose Safe Room you are forced to live in? Smarten up; he who holds a man down in a ditch must stay there with him.

      Reply
  8. Ante says:

    Peter Hitchens the author of “the war we never fought” a book that argues that the war on drugs is not implemented hard enough was at the same festival promoting his book, why was there no debate or at least a panel about a subject you both feel so strongly about?

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      You got me.

      Reply
      • Ante says:

        Jesus that was fast,
        but i didnt mean it as a jab, i just want to see Peter Hitchens debate someone thougher than Russell Brand

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          Didn’t take it as a jab. I don’t know why they scheduled me as they did. It was their call.

          I was on a panel about being “softer” on crime with two other gentlemen.

          Reply
          • Ross says:

            Shame, could have made for an interesting discussion. While Hitchen’s position on the War on Drugs is one I disagree with I feel his political stances are often mischaracterised unfairly.
            As a pretty strident critic of Reaganism/ Thatcherism himself, although from a more conservative perspective, I would have been curious to see if the two of you could have reached some common ground (albeit probably not on the War on Drugs).

            Reply
  9. Lakshman says:

    Got around to watching this finally. You mention that the reaction to “The Wire” was that ‘this is Baltimore, its not my city’. How insulated do you have to be to come around to that conclusion?

    Reply
  10. Peter Kaufman says:

    David,

    You would make an excellent king. But I wouldn’t wish that “job” on anyone. So I’ll happily settle for being glad to pull on the same end of the rope with you.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  11. kt says:

    Also, just watched the preview for the new season of TREME. Thrilled to see the new episodes. I’m sad this show won’t be running for longer, but I’ve loved it, and I feel strongly that it will stand the test of time.

    Like the interviewer here, I’ve always felt it was somehow a more optimistic show than THE WIRE, but (beyond the obvious uplifting nature of the music) I could never quite put my finger on why. I appreciated that question and your comments on it.

    Reply
  12. kt says:

    I’ve finally gotten around to watching all of this and I thank you for sharing — I didn’t know about this festival, and I’m looking forward to watching some of the other talks/Q&As from other speakers as well.

    You touched on the Pitcairn murder, and I’ve got a question for anyone with more long-term insight into Baltimore than I’ve got (I had just moved here a year or so beforehand, and though my grandparents have lived in Mt. Washington for 60+ years, that doesn’t help much in understanding the inner-city dynamic). I never got the “how can it happen here?” attitude of some of the news coverage of the murder. I mean, nearly every article on the case mentioned that the victim was only four blocks from his apartment, and that the murderers had been “hunting” for a victim to rob, presumably to emphasize the horror of brutal killers roaming into (relatively) safe white Hopkins-suburb enclaves looking for crack money.

    Almost none of the articles ever mentioned that the murderers were also four or so blocks from their own residence, and I think only the MurderInk column in the City Paper mentioned that it was the fourth murder in the neighborhood that year, second that month.

    So the shocking aspect to me was, how come someone didn’t tell this poor kid that you shouldn’t walk from Penn Station to Charles Village near midnight, carrying a (then) $400 phone in the open?

    Does Hopkins not do ANY kind of safety seminar for new, incoming students, particularly those from other states or countries, who are entirely unfamiliar with the city? I know this sounds woefully naïve in some sense, as of course no institution wants to highlight dangers that are bad publicity. But this is the university with the largest endowment in the country, smack dab in one of the poorest cities in America. Haven’t they got some kind of obligation to their students to educate and inform them about the city they’re living in?

    It just seemed like this was a lost opportunity for Baltimore residents in what are considered “good” neighborhoods to wake up and consider how this vast economic disparity and delusion of safety within certain bubbles is endangering everyone. It’s certainly a tragedy that a young man with a promising future was murdered, but I was hoping it would open up a larger dialogue, and it didn’t.

    Reply
  13. Linda says:

    Excellent discussion…..and I liked your interviewer very much…very quick!

    How was the air quality in Australia?

    The climate guys had to come up with a new color for the maps because of the heat there last summer, and this year is projected to be even warmer. And the prime minister just dumped their carbon emission goals.

    Pretty soon, all of the things you and I and other sort of awake individuals care about won’t matter much anymore.

    The brick is coming, I think, but it will probably be too late. We are living in a horror show, for sure.

    Reply
  14. katie says:

    Great video – thanks for posting.

    You gave a similar talk in Cincinnati in 2010 at the Mercantile Library for the Harriet Beecher Stowe lecture series. I’m embarrassed to admit now, but I was pretty unfamiliar with your work, but hungry to think about something other than my own mortality. David Singleton gave you a rousing introduction, you came out, also wearing fancy shoes, and said that you were going to try to live up to the legacy of such a cultural icon by taking on capitalism. You went on to say that we went wrong by conflating a good system of wealth distribution with a system of morality. And you just kept going.

    Thanks to a dear friend being instrumental in making this lecture happen, my husband and I were sitting in the front row. Both our jaws dropped a little and we were hooked.

    I tell you this not because I am trying to add to your centipede crypto fascist democrat narcissistic Hollywood megalomania. I think it’s important to let complete strangers know when their hard work resonates and inspires, even if those complete strangers are kind of celebrities.

    And, OMG, a Pogues Musical? YES PLEASE. Now, that is in my DNA.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      It’s funny, but I felt like while there were obviously some like-minded folk in Cincinnati that day, I felt like it was too strident a speech and that I didn’t convince anyone of anything. Preaching to the choir for some, and pissing off others. Just a vibe.

      Columbus speech a year later wasn’t tops either. Something about Ohio.

      Reply
      • katie says:

        Huh. Maybe you’re right and I was just in the choir. Still, it was sold out and I don’t believe I was the only one blown away.

        We’re a weird city, for sure, in a a weird state. Could be all those years of being the battleground of battleground states makes us go catatonic at the mention of anything vaguely political.

        Reply
        • katie says:

          And I’ve wished many many times that speech had been recorded so I could refer back to it. For whatever that’s worth.

          Reply
  15. Nick Masesso jr. says:

    Commune-a- logic; if we lose the city surely we are lost,; money out of politics and so forth. I’d love to make an argument but I happen to agree with all the astute and prescient points. I have often opined the Reagan era brought us our current greed spiral into oblivion. These are existential dilemma with no clear view of a viable exit strategy. One can only hope we won’t all be stacking brinks anytime soon; yet I make it six to five and pick em.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      A healthy society has a balance between individual liberty and communal responsibility, two essential components of national greatness that are naturally in opposition to each other. This society, since 1980, has no such balance.

      It will not be an American Century to come, regrettably.

      Reply
      • ed of NYC says:

        OK, OK, 1980? So, are you saying that the final year of Carter’s administration started this intransigence between liberty and responsibility? Or as more people pulled the lever for Reagan in Nov. their hearts hardened, and greed grew, tipping the scales forever out of whack against collegial humanity? OK, sorry, flippant switch turned off.

        I know we need to have demarkation lines in history to identify societal shifts, and though the Industrial Revolution, Elegant Eighties, Gay Nineties, Progressive Era all have overlapping years, months, and days, it does serve as a general compartmentalization of how history progressed (or, regressed). I just find the year 1980, or the Reagan Era, a rather dubious time to affix American greed over good. What really launches me into dyspnea is when I hear people point to Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” as some starting pistol where the American consciousness went from Tom Joad as hero to Ivan Boesky as hero. That’s just silly, simplistic, and false. Also, my problem with stamping the 80′s as the birth of evil is puzzling — I just don’t see how deregulation of the airlines resulted in less charity to the poor?

        In the end, I am merely jumping into this argument admittedly listening to half of this video, but I take exception to this arbitrary mark on Reagan as some weight that upset the scales of liberty versus responsibility. I guess my point of view comes from daily charity, and daily humanity on epic scales. I’ll dispense with the charitable CV, but suffice to say I have seen, personally, thousands of people donating millions to a myriad of charities, and just as many volunteering, and actively participating in charitable work with the poorest of the poor. From the Bronx to Far Rockaway I can say I’ve seen a flood of charitable works on a consistent basis from every station, every economic status, and every political persuasion in the humane endeavor for the poor. Throw in the millions upon millions of dollars I have seen donated to a myriad of charities, and other endeavors for the public good, and it makes me greatly optimistic, and proud, and happy for the future of America.

        Reply
        • Linda says:

          Ed of NYC, one of Reagan’s first moves was to remove the solar panels from the slave built White House and basically encourage everybody to get crazy on fossil fuels. Which we did.

          The second thing he did, practically, was to amp up the War on Drugs. But only on the people of the wrong color or class or on the wrong side of whatever war we had cooking in another country.

          The third thing he did was to get rid of regulations that hold greed back (and it decimated our “news” media) and encouraged everybody to try to make as much money as possible. Hence, the Oliver Stone “Wall Street” pronouncements. At the same time, social safety nets started to be hacked away at.

          My poor little brain accepts 1980 as a real date of when America made a very wrong turn.

          I’m happy for you, Ed of NYC, that you are optimistic and proud and happy for the future of America. You must have enough money and good health care. Kudos to you. There are more people making less and more people permanently unemployed now than ever before. Pardon me if I don’t share your optimism. Maybe you need to really listen to that discussion.

          Reply
          • Ed of NYC says:

            Well, I certainly respect you voicing your opinion and interpretations in response to my posting.

            This was a discussion about communal responsibility and I felt rather bullish on the large communion of people I know making enormous advancements for those in need. I see some of the wealthiest individuals donating millions to worthy causes – hospitals, schools, charities, etc. I see loads of unemployed actors, writers, and salesman volunteering endlessly for the less fortunate. So, I am very optimistic in their American citizen and their ability, desire, and motivation to help their fellow man. I mentioned that things are bad in this country, real bad, but in my personal experience I see a very level scale between personal freedom to make what you want of yourself, and the responsibility to work communally to give back.

            Communal responsibility cannot stoke businesses to create more jobs, but it can help those who are suffering. I see it personally in all corners of my little fiefdom called the Tri-State Area, seemingly everyone I know is engaged in giving back & helping their brothers and sisters, and I am optimistic about our future as a nation. I know one person who is personally responsible for 284 poor children getting a private education in a catholic school. 284 children! I think that is remarkable, especially since 90% of these poor students at parochial schools in NYC go on to college!

            I just happen to see a vista of humanity, especially after Sandy from Far Rockaway to Belle Harbor. I see humanity with weekly soup kitchen volunteering, and taking free groceries to the poor and shut it. I see it daily with different mentoring, and tutoring of the poorest of children.

            I’m just optimistic.

            Reply
        • SRV says:

          Ed,

          Anecdotal examples are, well… anecdotal examples, and can be found to further most any slant on a given subject. Mr Simon is talking about systemic, destructive greed… my take anyway. And yes, Reagan was the starting gun for the corporate takeover of America.

          Lewis Powell (within a year appointed to the Supreme Court by Nixon) prepared what is seen by many as the blueprint for that takeover… his memo to the Chamber of Commerce from 1971 is linked below.

          Reagan (like Bush) was elected as a front man (nice start to work with enemy to hold off the hostage release until after the election… and release them hours after his inauguration, in return for weapons and unfreezing certain Iranian bank assets) and you can basically “tick off” the rest of the corporate agenda as you read through the memo.

          http://www.thwink.org/sustain/articles/017_PowellMemo/PowellMemoReproduction.pdf

          And if interested, this is the Powell Memo with commentary…

          http://www.thwink.org/sustain/articles/017_PowellMemo/index.htm

          Reply
  16. Krempel says:

    David,

    I so wish you could have been in my Creative Writing class today. I teach English at Frederick Douglass in Baltimore. My Creative Writing class is beginning a project to research an issue they care about (in Bmore) and write a letter to the city council about the matter.

    I’m too tired right now to go into detail, but the discussion we had today — which happened organically when all of my students got really engaged and passionate — about the line between cynicism and the duty to act on behalf of the community was really, really beautiful and challenging.

    You would have been proud of those West (and East) Baltimore kids.

    Reply
  17. Max H. says:

    And by the way (sorry to double post), but what’s the progress on that Pogues musical?

    Reply
  18. Max H. says:

    Great speech and discussion. Thank you, sir.

    Reply

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