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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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What created democracy was Thomas Paine and the Shays Rebellion the suffragists and the abolitionists and on down through the populists, the labor movement. Including the Wobblies. Tough in their face people. The-- Mother Jones, Woody Guthrie, you know, the cultural aspect of it, as well. Of course, Martin Luther King and Caesar Chavez. And now it's down to us.

You know, the-- these are agitators. They extended democracy decade after decade. You know, sometimes we get in the midst of these fights. We think we're making no progress. But, you know, you look back. We've made a lot of progress. And you've seen it. And I have, as well. You know, that agitator after all is the center post in the washing machine that gets the dirt out. So, we need a lot more agitation. And that's the only thing that succeeds from a progressive side in changing politics in America.

BILL MOYERS: So, is that what you mean when you say the water won't clear up until we get the hogs out of the creek?

JIM HIGHTOWER: That's it. That's right. They are in the creek. And they're fouling our environmental, political and economic waters. And you don't get a hog out of the creek, Bill, by saying, here hog, here hog. You know? You got to put your shoulder to it and shove it out of the creek.

BILL MOYERS: You've no doubt figured out my bias by now. I've hardly kept it a secret. In this regard, I take my cue from the late Edward R. Murrow, the Moses of broadcast news.

Ed Murrow told his generation of journalists bias is okay as long as you don't try to hide it. So here, one more time, is mine: plutocracy and democracy don't mix. Plutocracy, the rule of the rich, political power controlled by the wealthy. Plutocracy is not an American word but it's become an American phenomenon. Back in the fall of 2005, the Wall Street giant Citigroup even coined a variation on it, plutonomy, an economic system where the privileged few make sure the rich get richer with government on their side.

By the next spring, Citigroup decided the time had come to publicly "bang the drum on plutonomy." And bang they did, with an "equity strategy" for their investors, entitled, "Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer." Here are some excerpts: "Asset booms, a rising profit share and favorable treatment by market-friendly governments have allowed the rich to prosper...[and] take an increasing share of income and wealth over the last 20 years..." "...the top 10%, particularly the top 1% of the US-- the plutonomists in our parlance-- have benefited disproportionately from the recent productivity surge in the US...[and] from globalization and the productivity boom, at the relative expense of labor." "...[and they] are likely to get even wealthier in the coming years. [Because] the dynamics of plutonomy are still intact." And so they were, before the great collapse of 2008. And so they are, today, after the fall.

While millions of people have lost their jobs, their homes, and their savings, the plutonomists are doing just fine. In some cases, even better, thanks to our bailout of the big banks which meant record profits and record bonuses for Wall Street. Now why is this? Because over the past 30 years the plutocrats, or plutonomists — choose your poison — have used their vastly increased wealth to capture the flag and assure the government does their bidding.

Remember that Citigroup reference to "market-friendly governments" on their side? It hasn't mattered which party has been in power — government has done Wall Street's bidding. Don't blame the lobbyists, by the way; they are simply the mules of politics, delivering the drug of choice to a political class addicted to cash — what polite circles call "campaign contributions" and Tony Soprano would call "protection."

 
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