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Bill Moyers TV Farewell with Hightower -- The Fight of Our Lives: The Populist Battle with Corporate Power

"We need a lot more agitation. [T]hat's the only thing that succeeds from a progressive side in changing politics in America."

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BILL MOYERS: You quote a Wall Street honcho who says quote, "American business is about maximizing shareholder value...You basically don't want workers."

JIM HIGHTOWER: Exactly. And that's what's happening. And so, they've changed the whole dynamic in the way our-- in where power is in our economy. It is now concentrated in these corporate-- suites. They have the lobbying power. And the financial contributions to our members of Congress. That enormous power. Already corporations have amassed almost half a billion dollars for the 2010 elections.

And that doesn't count the-- what's going to come with the Supreme Court decision. When all that, the money from the corporate treasuries themselves can be unleashed on candidates. Already the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending more money than either the Democratic National Party or the Republican National Party in our politics.

Now, it'll become a major front group for these kind of-- and all sorts of other front groups exist for this. And rather than, let's pass an amendment that says, no, a corporation cannot contribute its money to politics. And in fact, originally most of the state charters in the country prohibited any corporate involvement in politics whatsoever.

They not only regulated corporations the founders, Jefferson and Madison, they feared corporate power. Because they knew it could amass unlimited amounts of money that would overwhelm the government.

They put strict standards for performance, because this was a selfish entity that had really no public responsibility. And so, it was a dangerous threat and it has to be, not only strictly regulated but structured in such a way that serves us rather than vice versa.

BILL MOYERS: And yet, isn't part of the problem the fact that so many people in high places are afraid of populism? I mean, they see it--as a menace to their position. Let me show a little montage we have here.

SENATOR JUDD GREGG: Well the problem we have is that there's populist fervor, sort of this Huey Long attitude out there that says that all banks are bad and that the financial system is evil and that as a result we must do things which will basically end up reducing our competitiveness as a nation...

MAYOR MIKE BLOOMBERG: And the real danger here is that we write a bill based on populist reaction, "I'm going to get those S.O.B.'s," because of a financial crisis which incidentally they may or, they had something to do with but were not the only ones responsible for.

SENATOR BOB CORKER: Look, we, this is important stuff. This isn't about populist ideas and this isn't about a political issue. We're going to have to live with this. It's going to affect our competitiveness around the world in big ways.

BILL MOYERS: They're afraid of you.

JIM HIGHTOWER: Absolutely. I mean, if ignorance is bliss, these people must be ecstatic, because they don't have a clue about what's going on in the countryside. It is not just populist anger. It's information. It's education. People are informed, they do know what's going on. And in fact, despite Senator Judd's comments there, people do not hate all banks.

They know the difference between Goldman Sachs and the local community bank. They know the difference between JPMorgan Chase and their credit union. They know who's serving the community and who is not. And who's offering financial products that actually serve our society and those that are just gimmicks to further enrich the rich.

BILL MOYERS: You were very influenced, I know, in this, by your father. What was it he said? Everyone--

 
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