Path Home Shows 2009 Show Archive August 2009 Show 0931 Interview with Bill Greider Continued

Interview with Bill Greider Continued

In our push for a more sustainable way of life, it seems that many people are looking not to the green of the environment but to the green in their wallets. We continue to visit with New York Times reporter Bill Greider about smarter spending in a sustainable world.
Interview with Bill Greider Continued

Bill Greider

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William Greider

Show Dates

Show 0931: Interview with Bill Greider Continued

Air date: August 2, 2009

 

Transcript

Rob:  Now Grieder has spent the last thirty years covering the capitol, and says that when it comes to our current financial meltdown and subsequent recession, there is enough blame to go around.  In fact, he says it’s not the fault of either political party.  It’s the fault of both political parties, thanks to years of collusion with big money backers.  And Grieder believes we are just at the beginning of a really long, hard passage in which Americans, like it or not, have to adjust to some new realities.

Greider:  Yeah, we can, and we will.  I don’t have any doubt of that.  The starting point to understand that is, we are a very, very wealthy country.  And we’re losing, we’ve lost a lot of wealth in this catastrophe, and I think we’ll lose some more.  I mean, financial wealth has just vanished in thin air… tear up the paper, it’s not worth anything.  And we’ve lost productive capacity; factories closed; start up somewhere else… industries like automobiles, and others, shaken to the core by their competitive position; all that’s absolutely true.  First of all this optimism in American creativity and innovation and ingenuity, hard work, all of the qualities, and technologies we have, and we’ll have new ones.  I think what’s not going to happen however, and this is the hard news; we’re not going to get back to the, quote, good times that were.  And that’s a function of a lot of things; but what I mean by that is, this sort of carefree and wasteful, mass consumption society that I’ve had all my life, and it literally started at the end of World War II in the great boom, then; and just, you know, everybody, not everybody, but nearly everybody, benefited from that.  It’s where the middle class of America acquired houses and cars and all of the things we now take for granted.  And those things need not go away, but we have to get smarter.  And I mean a lot smarter, about how we consume some things that are not just wasteful but dangerous; I mean they make people sick, or they poison the river or whatever will have to disappear, because they are not needed.  You can’t accept that damage.  But you can design new products which are, and new production systems which are absolutely committed not to repeating those crimes.  And that’s where the green movement and green jobs and all, there are many different expressions of this, but that’s where I put my hope.  I do think, because we’re not going to be this sort of number one guy who gets to have his way, whatever the situation as we have been for so many decades.  We’ve got to look at ourselves and ask, and I think people are doing this; what is our society like?  Is this it, or can we somehow change things in ways that make it possible not to get richer necessarily, but for everybody to live larger lives?  And I mean..

Rob:  Better lives.

Greider:  Better in their own terms, you know.  I mean if you go out and talk to working people, and not just on the factory floor, but in the front office; the thing you hear again and again is there’s stress and insecurity; while they’re making a good income, but they don’t have time to have dinner with their kids, or they’re working a second job.  You know that story, all of those, plus they’re worried about the environment or they’re worried about the moral values of the country, among other things.  And so, there’s a stress in Americans’ life now which doesn’t match the fact that we’re so rich.  Now we’re getting hammered by financial catastrophe and standards of living are going to fall for a lot of Americans, maybe most Americans.  In that circumstance, we need to step back, look at ourselves, and say, how can we develop a balanced society, where you’re not making, you’re not torturing people to get the economic process to work.  It doesn’t mean they aren’t still going to work hard; of course they are; but you’re sharing responsibilities so that it’s not just the guy at the top of the pyramid who tells everybody what to do.  But the workers, investors, communities, everybody gets a voice in that discussion, and can participate.  I mean, these are all reforms which people have talked about, and some have been achieved for years.  I think now, we’re going to have the moment in history where we have to kind of step up and say, all right this is not just a nice idea, we need it for the good of the society.

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