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"The only way real change happens in America is if large numbers of people outside of Washington are mobilized and organized and energized to make it happen. To demand it happen! And to keep on demanding it long after election day."

Robert Reich is on a roll, and he knows how to amplify the message of the 99% and build on the momentum of last fall's Occupy encampments and demonstrations. His latest call to arms is an e-book called Beyond Outrage: What has Gone Wrong with Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix IT. In addition to the e-book, he has a series of youtube videos delivering his message, he was on KQED (my local NPR station) this morning, he had a recent piece about his book at HuffPo, had an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun, a guest column at the Christian Science Monitor... like I said, he's on a roll.

Follow me below the Itzl to hear one, and read more about his crusade to get people out from behind keyboards and into collective action.

Essentially, Reich is calling for us to rediscover responsible citizenship, which goes well beyond voting for red or blue. We need to demand change in campaign finance, in the tax code, in the two-party system, and hold candidates and officeholders accountable for making change happen. We need to get beyond cynicism, dig in for the long-term battle that will be required to fix our democracy, and engage in effective collective action.

The introduction to the ebook pulls together seven major trends and shows how they are connected.

  1. For three decades almost all the gains from economic growth have gone to the top.
  2. The Great Recession was followed by an anemic recovery.
  3. Political power flows to the top.
  4. Corporations and the very rich get to pay lower taxes, receive more corporate welfare, and are bound by fewer regulations.
  5. Government budgets are squeezed.
  6. Average Americans are competing with one another for slices of a shrinking pie.
  7. A meaner and more cynical politics prevails.

In part 1 of the book, Reich explains how our economic and political systems have become rigged against average people, to benefit the extremely wealthy and the largest corporations. As he puts it, "score one for the Occupiers" because now we are talking about economic inequality and the concentration of political power in the hands of a few. We now know that wealth does not trickle down and that the super-rich are not investing in American jobs or economic growth. Those at the top have mastered the dark art of maximizing personal gains and minimizing personal risks. The medical insurance industry and the military industrial complex take up more and more of government's budget, and most people see no direct benefit from those expenses. Investment in the public good -- schools, libraries, public transportation, parks, universities, etc -- is being squeezed out. And the jobs that are being created during our anemic recovery are not paying enough to allow workers to consume the goods and services that a productive economy is intended to provide.
"Even if President Obama is reelected, and even if by some miracle he gets congressional support for another big stimulus while Ben Bernanke's Federal Reserve keeps interest rates near zero, these policies can't work without a middle class capable of spending. Pump priming only works when a well contains enough water."

In part 2 of the book, Reich frames our public dialogue in terms of the rise of the Regressive Right, and the falsehoods of the social Darwinism that they perpetuate. As he puts it, Regressives have been trying to convince Americans that we can no longer afford to do what we need to do as a nation. He takes apart their propaganda and provides good pointers on how to counter their lies.

In part 3, Reich calls for our action -- not just for this spring, not just for next fall, but for the long haul, because the changes needed in our political system, in the way we regulate our economy, and in how we engage with our representatives are huge. As he puts it in his video introduction to the book:

"The fight will take a long time to win. The most important thing is to understand what it's all about, why it's so important, and that you get involved in making it happen."

Robert Reich's April 18 visit to the Daily Show is both smart and funny -- don't miss it. (I really wish I could embed it, but the code that I'm clipping from the Daily Show is not working.)

The first clip is only about 5 minutes long, and it is also worth watching the extended interview: part 2 (another 5 minutes) and part 3 (8 minutes).

Both smart and funny -- definitely worth watching.

Now, I am not a flack for Mr. Reich or his publisher, and  I am sure that there is plenty in his book that we can disagree about, but I still think it is worth a read, and worthy of an in-depth discussion here at Daily Kos. So I invite you to buy the book, Beyond Outrage, at Powell's, or from Amazon, or the iBook store, or the Google e-Bookstore, or however you want to get it.... read it, and comment here.

Let's act together to FIX our democracy.

Originally posted to Ms Citizen on Mon Apr 23, 2012 at 01:22 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


Have you read the book?

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Comment Preferences

  •  apologies (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCalSal, means are the ends

    for the post-and-run, but I need to go hand in some petition signatures... will be back around 3 Pacific time to respond to comments.

  •  I've been waiting for this to come out (5+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the head's up and a great overview. Off to get a copy now ....

  •  The only way out (6+ / 0-)

    is to build our own, independent bases of social, economic and political power, which are entirely ours, and in no way beholden to any power structure, party or politician.  Only then will we have the counterweight necessary for something other than hegemony as usual to emerge.   We must also be awake and aware that every effort that shows promise  of creating that counter-hegemonic force will be traduced by the current apparatus.  Those who make inroads will be scorned, marginalized, denounced, rejected, vilified, demonized and criminalized in order to preclude the active elements involved in building the alternative from finding a responsive social base.  And remember that the truth of our time is the truth of all Gilded Ages, as the Robber Baron Jay Gould put it, "I can always hire half the working class to kill the other half."  Solidarity is the only way to strike that weapon from their hands.  The cult of American hyper-individualism keeps us trapped in, keeps us trapping ourselves in, a system where "no force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one."  Solidarity.  Forever.

    The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges. ~ Anatole France

    by ActivistGuy on Mon Apr 23, 2012 at 05:27:30 PM PDT

  •  what we see is that the American Democracy (5+ / 0-)

    is changing into an Empire - ruled by the super rich. Thing is that Empires fail. The moment the super-rich won, America lost.

    The erosion of democratic institution by ALEC, the "corporations are people my friend" political concept is destroying this country. Only wide participation in a functional democracy guarantees continued economic success. This is worth fighting for!

    Failing democracies often fall with the rise of fascism or communism. There is not good alternative to a regulated capitalism that is based on a strong middle class and inclusive political, economic and educational institutions. Any smart kid, no matter from what family, background needs to be given a chance to be successful again.

    The impact of money in politics has to be reduced. Not unlike before the deep depression, top CEOs earn 400x what average Americans earn - a complete disaster. One CEO basically purchases the equivalent of at least 400 votes. In practice Americans are so strained that the rich can buy millions of votes with their cash. What we have basically is a democracy not unlike in early Virginia where only landowners could vote. We no longer have a functional democracy in America and it is a long way to regain it.

  •  Its a great read but. ... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueair, Jim P, Ms Citizen, shypuffadder

    it ignores the role that the corporatizing of the news media has played.  Until that gets fixed the rest is all a pipe dream.  

    There is a time to think and a time to act and this gentlemen, is no time to think! Bud Boomer

    by celtic pride on Mon Apr 23, 2012 at 06:41:56 PM PDT

    •  well, we talked and talked (0+ / 0-)

      about the dieing or struggling of the older media, and the democratizing potential of the internet and "new" media.
      That provides a way around the old corporatized media, potentially.

    •  Precisely. The lynchpin to the whole 1%'s act (4+ / 0-)

      is that the entire populace can be feed the identical impression within a day or two by mass-reach media.

      We've been hearing for 15-20 years that "the internet will change everything" and it does change some things, but it simply is not near the league which Media Central works in. Not even vaguely. If tomorrow, every mass-reach outlet pushes "Wearing Plaid causes Communist Thinking" tomorrow night there will be four front-pagers here mocking and/or disproving that; someone will start up a "Centrist Plaidwearer" group; and there will be five diaries about well-known Capitalists wearing plaid. Replace "Wearing Plaid" in my example with any old bullshit at all, and the results are identical.

      All this while, things get worse every year, and that's because our entire political life is falsified by Corporate Media. They decide who can run for office through their admission fees to advertise and through how they treat of politicians; what subjects get treated and which ignored; and offer a large selection of minor distractions. Not to mention treating lies as one side of a (imaginary) debate.

      They turned a leading presidential candidate Howard Dean into a last place Howard Dean just by playing the "Dean Scream" 24/7 for 3 days. This the week after he went on Meet the Press or somesuch and indicated breaking up Media concentration was on his mind.

      If anyone wants change toward democratization, to fight the 1%, but doesn't see that breaking the five or six member Media Cartel into thousands of locally responsive outlets is THE pre-requisite, they simply aren't paying attention to how things work in our political system.

      Nothing, nothing, nothing changes until the de facto monopoly control over the public square, what a mass audience can hear and see,  changes.


      The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

      by Jim P on Mon Apr 23, 2012 at 07:39:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, I agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ms Citizen

        the reversal of consolidation of media corporations over the last several decades is an important part of getting democracy back.
        OTOH, the variety of viewpoints and depth of information available today, certainly on TV anyway, is so much greater than say the 50s and 60s.
        What if we had the thousands of local responsible stations and most people paid little attention ? I guess that's one thing that concerns me. Do we say the American public has little understanding of things because of the falsification of political realities by central media, or do we say that in part the American public does not care  or lacks the capacity to figure things out. After 4 years of a blatantly incompetent Bush administration that nonetheless got re-elected, do I "blame" the central media, or the American public for what appears to me as paying no attention whatsoever ? (or blame a lackluster Kerry campaign).
        There are many reasons for the fix we are in. I happen to think one important cause is the dominance of short-term rewards built into our economic and political system. I'll be gone you'll be gone through a revolving door.This could be changed some by a tax system that tilted economic behavior toward longer term goals. But then, to get such tax changes politicians might have to forego short-term rewards, or be unaware of how the changed tax code would impact them.

      •  isn't that why it's so important (0+ / 0-)

        to get people out of their living rooms, and into the real public square?

        Honestly, I learn more from Daily Kos about political issues than from any media outlet.

  •  your point #7 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueair, VClib, Larsstephens

    I would argue that the politics isn't just meaner and more cynical...

    It's also more self centered and narcissistic.

    The problem with "The 99%" is that it is comprised of 30% of these, 15% of those, another 22% of something else, not to mention the other 30% that sort of sympathizers with those other guys, but will talk your head off until 3:00AM trying to convince you that their prioriorities are really the most urgent ones.

    "We are the 99%* is a great slogan, but it assumes a unanimity of goals that simply doesn't exist on the Left.  DailyKos would like to think that we are all on the same page, but we're not.  People mostly have a hierarchy of concerns, and the person who believes all "Lefty Causes" are of equal importance and urgency is like Bigfoot...reputed to exist, but no solid evidence supports that belief.

    So...when it comes to demanding action, what we get is a cacaphony of voices crying out for different things, all with the same sense of urgency and at the same volume...but hardly a unified chant that a political party can clearly discern and act upon.

    The Right is so much more singing from the same choir book it's not even funny.

    "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

    by Keith930 on Mon Apr 23, 2012 at 06:47:49 PM PDT

    •  Yep. (0+ / 0-)

      It's the problem of collective action. How does a group of people come together in some half-way unified fashion to effect change. I was hopeful perhaps dailykos could help in that, but apparently not.
      There is some guy at dailykos who puts out action bulletins which I see as mostly distractions.
      There are a million viewpoints and yet I think it might be possible to prioritize goals , if people can focus and set aside their own special priority.

    •  I think you make a good point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      although I want to clarify that the 7 points are Robert Reich's, not mine.

      While there are plenty of people who don't consider themselves part of the 99%, part of the effort to build a movement is always about uniting against a common enemy. The appeal of "beyond outrage" to me is that it defines what needs to change, without calling for violence against greedy CEOs.

      The best parts of the Reich book for me is that he reframes the debate away from right vs. left. To what extent his reframing will grab hold as a meme, we cannot yet be sure.

    •  (A challnege of being the "big tent party") n/t (0+ / 0-)

      The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question. For there are few things as useless–if not dangerous–as the right answer to the wrong question. -- P. Drucker

      by The Angry Architect on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 03:05:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When 50% of the electorate simply can't be (0+ / 0-)

    bothered to participate, bad things are bound to happen to our democracy.  And that rate was steady before the recent spate of voter suppression efforts.

    Too many people are simply too lazy to even vote.  Doesn't stop them from griping, though.  

    "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

    by Keith930 on Mon Apr 23, 2012 at 06:59:12 PM PDT

    •  Perhaps that could mean (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ms Citizen

      that things for many of them aren't all that bad

      or maybe that they don't think it will make much difference, particularly when they have , or think they have, higher priorities in their life than voting. Like working 2 jobs, taking care of the kid, getting the car repaired, etc etc.

      There seem to be many forces lessening civic engagement by people, but the level of voting has stayed fairly constant over the years in national elections -I think so anyway.

      •  agreed (0+ / 0-)

        Many people don't think that voting will make a difference.

        Civil engagement has to mean more than just voting... and I suspect that attendance at town meetings, open forums with elected representatives, etc., has declined significantly.

        Not sure where to look for data about that, though.

    •  "simply can't be bothered" is a wrong reading, imo (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ActivistGuy, Ms Citizen

      They don't see any advantage to participating as the main issues Economy and War are entirely out of the discussion. Somebody else decides those things in this country.

      We're allowed influence on social issues, and nothing else.

      "Don't vote, it just encourages them" accounts for a large percentage of that 50%. There were polls last year that had both Republicans and Democrats, about half of each, wishing they had another choice. So if three of four people find the parties inadequate to the need, if Congress has a 9% approval rating, ... is the problem with the people, or the fact there's no reasonable expectation of actually being represented by our political class?

      The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

      by Jim P on Mon Apr 23, 2012 at 07:45:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  too lazy to vote (0+ / 0-)

      makes an assumption. What if we considered instead that some people don't vote because they don't believe that red vs blue makes enough of a difference?

      To the extent that Dems and Repubs have both made deals with corporations in order to secure funds for reelection.... there may be some merit in the claim that we are being asked to make distinctions without any meaningful differences.

  •  TheAmerican form of government, formerly known as (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P, Ms Citizen

    "democracy", has been overtaken by events.

    The trappings of democracy remain, but when the mechanisms of democracy only function with lots of money, and the vast majority of people have increasingly less and less of it, then "plutocracy" becomes the better term. What we have is the body of a democracy, which has had the blood drained out of it.
    So the first act is too start calling our form of government by its proper name. - "plutocracy".
    The second act is to support a constitutional amendment for campaign finance reform, no matter how difficult that may be. And I agree with activist guy. Only when there is broad protest will there be change.

    •  Amend 2012 (0+ / 0-)

      have you been tracking that effort at all?

      I need to read up on the definition of plutocracy.

      •  status---- a bourgeois update (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ms Citizen

        19 April   A big victory today in Vermont. The state House of Representatives voted 92-40 in support of a resolution calling on Congress to pass a Constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United and permitting controls on corporate political spending. This makes Vermont the third state, after Hawaii and New Mexico, to formally back an amendment.

  •  it's been bad before (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ms Citizen

    we've had the robber barons and huge inequality before. we've had consolidation and control of the media before (the newspaper men).

    yes, it looks very bad now, but we've come back from it before.

    be concerned and motivated, but try not to be panicked, people. motivated helps, panicked doesn't.

    •  I'm not panicked... (0+ / 0-)

      ... but I am beyond "sitting in front of the tv, concerned".

      I like Reich's language: what we need is energized, organized, and mobilized!

    •  Sure, we had a plutocracy before (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ms Citizen

      and historical perspective can temper pessimism.I try and remind myself of that. I probably should know more about how we did "come back" before.  The growth of a middle class after the 2 world wars. Cheap energy.Little international competition for quite a while after WWII  I wouldn't describe myself as panicked, just discouraged.

      The state of our government and economy and debt and all that jazz concern me less that climate change.

      In any event I'll have to get Reich's latest. I enjoy reading what he has to say, although one of his earlier books was pretty thin on the way out of this mess, despite its recommendations.

  •  Good man (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ms Citizen

    and I like him even more now that he talks slowly.

    First, Serve the People - Second, Defend the Community - Always, Organize to Take Power

    by mpjh on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:44:38 PM PDT

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