Barbara Ehrenreich: America's Tragic Decline -- Resistance Bursts Out All Over the World, While We Do Nothing to Fight Corporate Takeover
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AMY GOODMAN: —you know, are flying off the shelves, if yachts can fit on shelves.
BARBARA EHRENREICH: Yes, yes, the rich are back. The rich are back. And that’s one reason why, when you read some of our major national newspapers, there’s not much mention anymore of the recession or economic hard times, because the people at the top are doing great. There was an article recently in the New York Times about tree houses that the very wealthy will build for their children, you know, in their backyard, if they even call them "backyards," on their property—tree houses that can cost as much as $350,000 and include flat-screen TVs and air conditioning. That’s for the kid to go out in a backyard and play in. Three hundred fifty thousand dollars. You know, I think that’s flaunting it a little too much.
AMY GOODMAN: Last week, Congress agreed to raise the federal debt ceiling following protracted negotiations. The deal includes no new tax revenue from wealthy Americans, no additional stimulus for the economy. Speaking on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized Republicans for blocking the tax hike on the wealthy.
SEN. HARRY REID: The vast majority of Democrats, Independents and Republicans think this arrangement we’ve just done is unfair, because the richest of the rich have contributed nothing to this. The burden of what has taken place is on the middle class and the poor. My friend talks about no new taxes. Mr. President, if their theory was right, these huge taxes [cuts] that took place during the Bush eight years, the economy should be thriving. These tax cuts have not helped the economy.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Barbara Ehrenreich, as we begin to wrap up, your comment?
BARBARA EHRENREICH: Well, it’s a way—it’s not new. This has been going on for a while, certainly since the Reagan administration. And that is an upward redistribution of wealth by cutting taxes for the wealthiest, and in subtle ways, raising them for the poorest and for the middle class. That’s what we’ve got. It’s a grab. It’s—I’m waiting for people to get really, really angry about it. I think one thing that has held back Americans is the idea that you’re going to get rich, too, you know? That magically, "Hey, I might be one of those multimillionaires next," so that I don’t want to tax rich people. I think we’ve broken through that. I think, you know, that has begun to look like a more and more crazy expectation, that we have to fight for, you know, those people who represent the great majority, the 90 percent of Americans who are not rich.
AMY GOODMAN: Barbara Ehrenreich, I want to thank you very much for being with us, author of—
BARBARA EHRENREICH: Oh, thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: —the bestselling book, Nickel and Dimed. It’s its 10th anniversary and has just been republished, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.
Amy Goodman is the host of the nationally syndicated radio news program, Democracy Now! .
Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of thirteen books, including the New York Times bestseller Nickel and Dimed. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, Harpers, and the Progressive, she is a contributing writer to Time magazine. She lives in Florida.