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Leveling The Playing Field?

(Photo by Robin Holland)

Conversing with Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL this week, investigative reporter David Cay Johnston said:

"Get rich by working hard, working smarter, coming up with a better mouse-trap. Don’t get rich by getting the government to pass a law that sticks the government’s hand into my pocket, takes money out of it, and gives it to you. That’s not right. That’s not a fair playing field. Adam Smith warned again and again that it is the nature and tendency of business people to want to put their thumb on the scale and, even better, to get the government to put the thumb on the scale for their benefit... You need entrepreneurs to have a good society. I don’t have any problem with entrepreneurs. But we need to have a system that also fairly distributes... When we have people who make billon-dollar-a-year incomes and pay 15 percent taxes and janitors who pay the same tax rate and school teachers who pay a 25 percent tax rate, something’s amiss."

What do you think?

  • Is America’s present tax system unfair? If so, what do you suggest?

  • Does government have the responsibility to pursue redistribution of wealth? If so, what are reasonable expectations for such a policy?

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    Charles Woods (shoe lifts) seems to be really short... on integrity. He expects a free lunch on Channel 13's tab. I'd delete his commercial crassness were I a moderator. (Starting your ad with "great post" is anachronistic.)Do you also wear those sup-hose with garterbelt, Charles?

    Four other comments:
    1.The government is obviously "juking the stats" on job loss and unemployment. (Review Simon on "the Wire".)
    2.The Fed and the Treasury continue manipulating the Wall Street bubble. (Review Kevin Phillips and Michael Hudson.) Don't buy the gold bubble either.
    3.How is Dubai World being swept under the rug?
    4.The "death tax" deal still underwrires oligarchy despite concessions. Inheritance taxes are part of a healthy economy. Dead people never miss the money.

    For a good time join the Resistance.

    I just finished "Free Lunch".
    Good stuff! Should be on everyone's list but frustrating and as depressing as watching BushCo in action the last 7 years.
    Enlightening to learn how these rich boys got their money. Trump, Steinbrenner, Bloomberg and Bush are just big turds in the bowl of life. These guys have so much yet they seem to take so much for granted.
    We can't have universal health care until profit is taken from the equation. Don't think it makes sense to wait on Congress since they already have a good health care plan. Wouldn't be prudent.
    Thanks again to you Mr Moyers. I appreciate your work.

    My best pal is here in the office lying on the couch in depression. He declined to spend this afternoon with me driving a visually impaired friend to the doctor. It seems he was declined for another lowly, near minimum waged, part time job today for which he was well-suited, but over educated and over-experienced (over-aged too).
    It made me think just how much a little bit of money means when you are down. (I'm not doing so well either, but people like me and make allowances.) I think Americans should be able to designate the use of at least a portion of the taxes we pay. I would earmark as much as possible for food assistance (not stamps anymore, just a swipe card), unemployment benefits, and yes Makework jobs if necessary,to keep good people from vegetating. It's endless the things we could do for one another. I'm advocating a Time Dollar (earn credits per hour of helping others) Bureau here in Gaston County N.C. but people can't comprehend working without real currency involved. They have a point. How do you get the gas and communications to get such an organization up and running without a handout (which prejudices your allies and beholds you to something alien to your intent)? It just seems like no government officials or agency people are interested unless large outlays are involved. It mirrors the Congress-Military-Industrial Complex. Everything has become like that (courts and prison,hero-police-drug seizers,the medical establishment). It makes people so helpless, just like preemies in an incubator, and every innovation you attempt some busybody or bureaucrat is on your back trying to impose or invent some regulation top stop you. It seems like churches would support time dollars, since they are pretty much in line with Christ's teachings, but they usually have their little sadistic constituencies (nuts who give crazy advice while they dangle a bag of groceries in front of a desperate parent), or are devoting fundraising for a missionary trip to India or Harlan County, Kentucky. (They don't want to talk off-shoring or strip-mining because their illusions would be deflated.)
    What I'm saying about David Kay Johnston's piece is that the country is about rotten from top to bottom, and it will take a mortal shock to change it. People hate the Bushites, but they also admire their money grabbing talents. Poor folks tragically emulate their masters (the Bigmen).
    As for taxes: It's not how much you pay: It's what you get back for what you pay in; and going it on your own in this complex and crowded world won't work anymore.

    You want to talk about an unfair tax system???

    I have to pay 25% of my income to Uncle Sam!!! And I earn 60K a year!!!!!!


    And don't forget STATE taxes, plus social security.

    You notice how the payroll tax is NEVER reduced. It's ALWAYS increased.

    The working class in this country are TOTALLY SCREWED!

    bill, you have the best program on tv. You cover more in 30 minutes than all other news shows do in 2 hrs. You don't have to yell, scream, & beat on the table to intelligently discuss issues and be heard. I never miss your program. thank you. thank you.

    oh what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to receive...

    and here's the beauty part of this whole story. right after your broadcast, the local news here featured an "entrepreneur" who wants to start a "water taxi" service near chi-chi waterfront shops in a nearby town. some of that land was "eminenent domained" by the town in question as "blighted".

    the town is actually considering an "incentive" of $300K or so for him to start this "business."

    i got all excited! and yet i was also disappointed that i don't live in that town.

    see, i always wanted a boat...those lucky folks are apparently going to buy one soon!

    to quote sonny and cher, "the beat goes on..."

    I wish to read Mr. Johnston's book, thank you Bill Moyers for bringing him to your table...and to us.

    Socialism progresses in our country, it seems to me!

    From the interview:

    "Now, imagine for a moment that the house you live in today, you bought it 24 years ago and you agreed to pay the price then. And now you've got to pay back with no interest half the price in the dollars you agreed to in 1924. You could be rich just from that alone?"

    What??? Is it me or does this make zero sense? How did he get by with this statement? Moyers goes on as if the statement were coherent.

    The government of corporations and the one corporate party system have corrupted the U.S. government.

    The majority of U.S. media is owned by a few corporations. Most of their income is from political ads financed by corporations.

    The book "Free Lunch" is precise and correct in the author's observations that corporations are getting unfair privilage and massive hand outs. Small U.S. business, farms, and industry is being destroyed by big corporations. We have lived under Clinton and Bush who have favored the rich and corporations over the people of the United States.

    Here in Buffalo, New York a native American casino corporation has been allowed to take U.S. territory in downtown Buffalo to create a system that drains the pockets of working and poor people and rewards people who do not reside here. This is corporate colonialism. How did we get to a place in our history where our sovereign territory can be taken away and handed to another nation?

    On top of that government is handing out over million dollars to Bass Pro to build in downtown Buffalo. The little fishing stores in this community do not get this type of free tax hand out. The people in this community pay the taxes and a corporation from outside Buffalo gets bribed to destroy small recreational fishing business here in this city. It's not free market policy but instead corporate welfare.

    D'Youville College in Buffalo is a Catholic institution of higher learning. D'Youville wants to place a suburban cul de sac in the middle of an urban street using tax dollars. The school wants to block off the street and the community with a buffer that in my opinion is no different than the Berlin Wall or Walls in Israel. The City of Buffalo is laid out on a grid system that fosters community, easy access, and protects the safety of this community. The City of Buffalo fire department has been down sized and the emergency fire and EMS response times have been substantially increased. This proposed use of tax money will increase further the fire and EMS response times in one of the most densely populated upstate New York State communities. More than a decade ago a subway system was built down the center of Main Street using federal dollars. That project promised development in the urban core. Instead it caused a destruction of downtown's thriving commercial district. It took an area that was urban and turned it into a suburban development devoid of human activity and interaction after five p.m. It is unthinkable the an institution of higher learning would act in a hostile manner towards the community that surrounds it. This wrongful grab of a public street and closing off of the community access to our streets has never been done by the University of Buffalo, Buffalo State College, or Canisius College inside the City of Buffalo. On top of that the people who use this urban street are going to have to pay to place this public street into the hands of a religious institution to the detriment of the community.

    The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority wants to construct a massive truck inspection facility on the West Side of Buffalo using tax dollars and toll funds. This shadow government tells the working and poor people in this densely populated area that diesel engines pollute less since new diesel engine legislation was enacted in 2007. The problem with diesel engines made before 2007 is they produce emissions that cause cancer, asthma, and other respiratory disease from particulate matter (PM) and from nitrous gas (NOx). The Bridge Authority says that more trucks being brought into this urban community will decrease diesel pollution. That the pollution from thousands of trucks a month with be less than running one gas lawn mower. This sounds like the same government speak that wanted to increase mercury discharges in water. Scientists say there is a problem with NOx diesel engine pollution. Is the Buffalo and Fort Erie Peace Bridge Authority an airborne Love Canal proposal paid for by tax dollars? I think it is.

    N.Y. Senator Hillery Clinton talks green while proposing an uncertain new technology for coal burning at the Huntley Power Plant in Tonawanda, N.Y. outside oF Buffalo. This coal generation power plant provides most of the electricity for Buffalo. Tax money is being invested into this so called cleaner burning coal plant. The old adage is that when we burn a pound of coal we get a pound of coal. The other questionable environmental part of this project is that a large amount of salt water is to be placed deep underground in close proximity to the fresh water Niagara River. This river is a major flyway for birds in upstate New York. This is because this section of the flowing Niagara River does not freeze in the winter and provides an environment for birds that have been coming here probably for millions of years. Why a subsidy for King Coal when there is ample wind and solar energy that is untapped? Why do most people in this area of the U.S. live in homes and work in buildings that leak energy like a sieve? I am posting this to show how Senator Clinton like former President Clinton makes decisions that are more favorable to corporate welfare than to the health of U.S. citizens. Mrs. Clinton is stuck on proping up old methods of wasteful energy production.

    There is money for Warren Buffet, Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, Larry Quinn, and for their corporations to get fat and rich while the majority of this country works two jobs if they are lucky and has no health care. We continue to find ways to make war for oil and protect the interests of King Coal while the planet goes into worse global warming which will cause more wars.

    This is how our taxes are wasted. These free lunches come unfairly from the pockets of working men and women. The poor suffer as well from less opportunity to climb into the rapidly shrinking Middle Class.

    In book "Tale For Two Cities" starts with these words. "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." These words ring more and more true today in America. The corporations have replaced the court of Louie and Marie Antoinette and imposed a government that no longer places importance on democratic fairness for workers.

    Bravo Bill Moyers for presenting more than the corporate news that we are flooded with everywhere else.

    The government has a responsibility to stay as far away from income redistribution as possible. Already somewhere north of 40 million American income tax filers pay absolutely zero dollars in federal income taxes. That number does not even include the number that are required to file no tax return at all.

    I can assure you that none of the aforementioned 55 million+ people are in the group that received those infamous "tax cuts for the wealthy". They are just given favors under the current federal tax code.

    Many low income Americans actually get back more form the federal income tax system than they pay in. That comes right out of the pockets of the rest of the taxpayers (personal and business) that do pay taxes. It seems that federal wealth distribution has a good start (too good) already.

    The tax system as it applies to business stifles economic growth, and that growth is necessary to create the good jobs that enrich Americans and provide even more taxpayers. Where do all these "Let's raise tax" types think more good jobs are going to come from? It takes investment to create jobs, and our government is definitely not the best enterprise to be doing the investing.

    Thank you, Bill

    Sometimes, it seems like its a

    Recipe for a Planned Recession

    I wonder if it's all part of the plan. It seems to be Here is the recipe:

    Create tax breaks for the rich. Make them as permanent as you can.
    Invest overseas; buy low; sell high.
    Devise an economic stimulus package to placate the poor and middle class at home. Then steal money from them. Do not provide funds of your own for the economic stimulus program. Steal federal dollars from surplus funds. Shove it into the business sector. Give the foolish people checks for 500 or 1000 dollars. It will seem like a lot of money to them; it will placate them; they’ll spend it, and your business interests will mop it all up.
    You will not need your own checks for any necessities. Put them in offshore banks. Hide the money. Invest in GM overseas. Why should you spend it? You already spend as much as you want to spend. You have so much money you can’t spend it all. But you want more, because that’s the American way. Winner take all, or as much as possible.
    Redefine slavery. Call it “the global economy.” Downplay similarities between forced labor of African Americans, who were given minimal shelter, clothing, housing, and food, with forced labor of Southeast Asians today, many of whom are paid just enough to provide themselves with minimal shelter, clothing, housing, and food.
    Grow your money as fast as you can. Invest in slavery. That’s where the money is today.

    (more at my blog)

    George Jones (Jan. 20- 9:25pm) has a mistaken view of "communism" as "a few people controlling the lives of many others" and he has posited a new hybrid: "corporate communism." I wonder where this old country singer studied economics. What we have is an OLIGARCHY of a few wealthy people. Sure it looks like the command economy under one party rule, but what it actually has become is FASCHISM. Faschism is when a few business (often corporate) interests control a terroristic government which manipulates law and force to extract tribute and service from the bulk of society. A good example would be the later (falling) Roman Empire. Germany, Italy and Japan attempted such dynamics before and during WWII. It may have been something in the American genome that made our government susceptible to that virus, but in any case we caught the "Nazi Bug" and now our government may be terminally ill.
    The symptoms of corporate welfare and fast lane corruption (as Johnston explains) have plagued us for some time. We see the Bushes and previously Clinton and Reagan (Daddio Bush) using perversion of law to trample human rights and serve the oligarchy.
    George Jones: I laughed on MLK Day when Dub described Dr. King's message as a child's version of the Golden Rule. Karl Marx (in the 1844 Manuscript) said pretty much the same thing.
    The screwy part came when Schrub-a-Dub described King as individualistic and implied he acted alone. We celebrated the movement more than the man at our folkschool yesterday, and we wish people had the fortitude to renew it. Communism (share and share alike) is just one baby step toward a better system. What can we do for you George Jones?

    Great topic and interview with David Cay Johnston.
    I think we all knew that the corporations control the government but to hear the details is truly sickening.
    I'm Canadian and we are in the same boat.Free trade has been championed by big business because it allows them to bust the unions and exploit the little guy.
    Whenever a concerned citizen talks about the redistribution of wealth he or she is branded a communist.
    So let's look at one of the definitions of communism.It's a very few people controlling many people's lives.
    Well that's exactly what the corporations are doing.I submit to you that we are now living in a communist state.Only it's a different kind of communism,what I like to call "Corporate Communism".It could also be called the "new slavery" as the corporation execs are obscenely rich while their workers are forced to take big cuts in pay.
    One day the pot is going to boil over and the masses will have their say.

    Incredible experience of watching Friday's[1/18/08]Journal, THEN seeing Washington Week immediately following, and hearing how well Bush was received in both Saudi Arabia and Israel. Great example of cognitve disonance.
    Stagnates the imagination.
    No mention of "The Money Party" from traditional media guests...I guess because they, and NPT to some extent belong to that party.
    NOW was redemptive with its coverage of "Open Left", donating to the primary campaigns of those challenging Democrats who support [and reqally are in] the "Money Party".
    So for those posters asking what can they do?...just Google OPEN LEFT, or ACT BLUE, and get to work. Let's make democrats out of Democrats!
    Very interesting Friday. Keep it up.
    Wib Smith

    Does government have the responsibility to pursue redistribution of wealth? If so, what are reasonable expectations for such a policy?
    Thanks again Bill for the show of Jan 18/08.
    The question above, should strike everyone as terribly ironic. Since the beginning of the century and probably going back to the American Revolution those in power (not government), the wealthy have waged a war against the redistribution of wealth. Their fear of Communism is what makes it ironic.
    This fear has led us through much bad legislation to where we are today.
    The question is can it be reversed or is the strangle hold too tight.
    Berne Mills Red Deer AB. Canada

    Mr. Moyers, I love your shows.

    America's present tax system is unfair. It gives the wealthiest people tax breaks, loop-holes, and allows them to manipulate the laws to their benefit. What we need is a level playing field, and the field includes more than taxes. We need reform to rid us of insurance companies, pharmacuetical lobbyists, lobbyists of all kinds, and we need election reform. We have corruption running rampant in our country, and I am embarrassed by our government.

    Should our government take responsiblity to redistrubute the wealth? Our government should take responsibility to protect the citizens from the carpetbaggers that are stripping us of what little comes our way. 'We' are the people mentioned in the constitution, and we formed a government that gave us rights, and freedoms, that are slowly being taken away under the pretense of protection. Most Americans are confused and misinformed by propaganda, and it takes constant vigilance to sift out the lies, to finally see the truth.

    Honestly though, if we don't get on the band wagon and start looking at the facts, earth will call the shots in the near future. I wish we would stop wasting lives in Iraq and start saving for the hardships knocking on our door.

    Where's the revolution, I want to sign up?

    The private equity firm KKR has stripped over 150 companies of their assets in buy-outs while the CEO Henry Kravis makes $51, 396 per hour! He borrows money at rock bottom rates to take over these companies and writes off this debt off on his taxes.

    To see short videos on this, go to Robert Greenwald's WAR ON

    Having read everything blogged up to 10 pm Jan. 19th, I wish that the consensus expressed here were the audible will of the American public. Unfortunately, it is not. The etiquette taught to the public forbids the discussion of economic justice. It is also good manners to pretend you are economically comfortable even when your household is in jeopardy.
    Let me start here to publicly admit that I have no savings, no retirement, no prospects for income or inheritance and that I'm unemployable due to my age, health and total disillusionment with our country. I survive only on the good graces of those who care about me, and I can't be sure why.
    I am not afraid because I know love is real, that labor and topsoil bring us everything we have, and that money in the final analysis is imaginary. Money is just one minor aspect of the social contract we have with one another. I warn the obstinate wealthy and powerful, that while you may have gotten used to taking your football home when you can't have your way, that we poorer masses own and make the game.
    At some point etiquette becomes irrelevant and the social contract invalidated. Our first demand should be the human dignity of the safety net patriot-blogger
    Max Kaehn recommended at 7-22pm January 18th. Thomas Paine would expect no less, here or in France.

    America was going to be different than past civilizations, but the same rule is in effect,as always--"Those with the gold, RULE"

    Why is it that the Supreme Court okayed money (donations) to be equivalent as "free speech"? Does that not mean then that"more money=more(louder)speech"?How then can there ever be an even playing field when the platforms are by definition uneven? When by the virtue-less virtue of having more money one can truly buy access, and it is then considered to be one of the "inalienable rights"?I cannot imagine the authors of the Constitution ever having that intent - I wonder in shocked amazement at that Court ruling. Because of that those corporations have been given the rights of the People - and their "free speech" is given the megaphone blast of the millions poured into the ears of the Congress and other duly-elected representatives of We, the People. No wonder they are rendered deaf to us.

    Does government has responsibility....?
    The government responsibility should be in the hands of the people to express
    their “ WILL on ALL ISSUES”!
    The truth is the "Government is dysfunctional! There is no accountability today...”!
    "Specific economic stimulus package - plan" are based on a printing press economy!
    $150 billion dollars is not free! It only increases the national debt!
    The presidential candidates speak for change. They do not provide a
    The RIGHTS have been rationing one T-BONE at the time, such as, “FREE SLAVERY,
    A CHANGE is, STOP granting UNLIMITED - ABSOLUTE power
    to ANYBODY, now – today, rather than to relinquish “HOPES” to express
    In “The new beginning” the duties and responsibilities of the Congress
    Replace the current “ENGINE” with an NEW “UNIVERSAL ENGINE” - an engine
    that fits on ALL cars trucks, an engine of substance - the engine propel by the
    The political system is an engine, like an engine in a car or truck, that propels
    the economy, the war, the health care, the economy, the freedom, liberty, race, class etc.!
    “There's one party in Washington. It's the party of money”. “Through 30 years of
    deregulation” provided empty promises that lead to” loss of hope, the loss of aspiration”!
    It is the NEW “UNIVERSAL ENGINE STUPID” which will run the “Economy stupid”, and
    not the other way around!

    What is important about the people that Bill Moyers brings to his table? They raise important questions about how we got to this point in history. Of course, we may not all agree with niether the questions, nor the answers. But no one can deny these isssues are not REALLY being discussed anywhere else in the "mainstream" media. Here are a few examples.

    The war in Iraq has already cost the American taxpayer at least 7, yes SEVEN, times what the proposed stimulus package is touted to cost.

    The country is almost 10 TRILLION dollars in debt, not deficit, DEBT. Reducing the deficit still does not pay off the debt. That debt is a tax on our already weakened currency. Even when you make more, it is still worth less.

    When guests raise questions concerning wealth, they are talking about phony wealth. The kind that is made from shuffling paperwork such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and mortgage securities. All of those transactions generate dividends, interest, fees, and commissions that have nothing to do with producing real goods or services that should be delivered to consumers.

    I ask those of you who have taken the time to read this entry to think of money as water. Water is the lifeblood of our planet. Without it we die. When it does not flow it becomes stagnant and infectious, thus breeding disease. Of course no one entity OWNS the water. Now what is money. It is a method of exchange. When we work we trade our time for currency. Then we trade that currency for other peoples' time for the work they did to grow our food, make our clothes, build our cars and houses, etc. What does one do with 100 Million dollars a year? They buy power. That power is used bribe the government so that they can make 200 Million dollars next year, then 300, and so on. But that money has to come from somewhere. It comes from the fake equity in your home, the living wage that millions of people do not rightfully earn, the healthcare that you are denied, the college education that you can't afford for your children, etc.

    You can only drink so much water before it actually becomes toxic. Your can actually suffer brain damage. Money can work the same way. Your view of the world can get skewed. But there are real problems that can be tackled with real money. Schools can be built, clean water delivered on a global scale, medicines for the sick can be provided, infrastructures can be develeped or rebuilt. Life can prosper. Water brings life. Food grows for all living things, trees grows to help us breathe, etc.

    Perhaps we should look, listen, and help those who wish to take back control of the faucets that we drink from.

    First, I don’t mind paying taxes, as a self-employed entrepreneur I pay close to 30% of the net income generated off my business. What ticks me off is the wealthy 1% DON’T pay the same 30% on ALL of their net income.

    Does government have a responsibility to even the playing field, YOU BET IT DOES. If the wealthy had a since of responsibility to the people on who’s back they made all their money, that would be different, but they don’t and never will.

    This nation was not intended to be one; of the corporation, by the corporation, for the corporation. The trickle down theory of economics is inherently elitist. Where the rich control the economic spill way and the rest of us get to fight over the dribble they let spill through the dam.

    Abraham Lincoln said at Gettysburg “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

    All government and economic systems including Democracy and Capitalism have to be managed in order to be equitable. This is why we live in a REPUBLIC run on democratic principles.

    We do not need a new tax system; we just need the government to apply it equally to the richest 5% of our citizens.

    As far as the point of “taking from the poor and giving to the rich” my metaphor is of a big vacuum cleaner sucking more and more money out of my pocket.

    Everything in our lives will soon have a monthly fee attached to it from TV to driving around on private-investor built toll roads. All conveniently deducted electronically out of my bank account. We never stop to calculate the total cost to benefit ratio to our lives. It all amounts to taxation without representation. We all follow along so as not to be behind the times, lured by the convenience/cool factor and meaningless superficial benefits.

    I believe in the power of the people! We have the voting rights! We must vote in new leaders – Ones that want to even the playing field.

    One personal observation on the election is this, we need to break the multiple decade dynasty of two ruling families. If we elect Hillary, then the same two families will have governed this country for over 30 years. Hum, maybe there in lies part of the problem.

    The politicians have picked up the mood for change. They have all changed their rhetorical language – repackaged their elitist agendas under new sheep’s clothing. What we all need to ask our selves is what kind of change do we really want? Go to the candidates Web sites read their positions on issues. Engage in the process before the night before the election. Do your homework. And, then go vote.

    Dear Mr. Moyers,
    Each week, I watch the Journal. When you interview a David Cay, who uncovers more greed by our public "servants", I am made a little sadder for our country. David Cay knows what is going on, and doubtless his book will sell... but probably only to those who agree with him and already know some of what he reports.
    But what will be done? I can almost hear the laughter of criminals he exposes.
    What is the point of the Journal's bringing his expose to our attention if there is no follow-up on the effect of his book and investigation.
    When will I see students in the streets of New York like those in the streets of Paris?

    Thanks for a wonderful show.

    Sandra Kuck

    I have yet to listen to the podcast of the interview with Johnston, but I wanted to see what the comments were. I heard him on Air and have read a couple of news articles, so I imagine what he had to say on the show was pretty much what he had to say in other places. I think what he has to say is important, but it doesn't seem to get through to the majority of people. There have been other books similar to what Johnston has written about. James Steele and Dick Bartlett wrote a book called Who Really Pays the Taxes. Once again it is not the rich. Their book was mainly about all the tax loopholes that the rich are able to take advantage of.

    While all these examples of who pays taxes and who gets rich through subsidies are maddening, no one can seem to find a solution to fixing the problem. On the a national level our congress people are all getting money from businesses and on a local lever where the subsidies are really a problem, the local politicians are afraid that businesses like Walton or what ever will go some where else.

    And as for Derrick's snarky comment about Bill being taken off the air, maybe he can add some context to explaining where either Bill or Johnston was wrong.

    If you combine Frontline and the program about slavery last night, what we need is a David Walker like emancipation proclamation for those in economic bondage. Evil, though, does have its own reward, consider the bankruptcy law change adding to the mortgage crisis. Because it bacame difficult and in some cases impossible for a person to declare backruptcy for tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt, they lost their homes and the banks and other financial institutions lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The problem of social justice is an age old problem. When we had the "robber barrons" we had an executive branch that delt with it, now with a priviledged executive branch there is not even a basic understanding of or concern about the problems. My mother used to call them the "fair haired boys", they have never known need or want and they only feel concern for the poor when their rich friends aren't getting all of their payments from the poor.

    Resonse to lee jankowski Post:

    Lee, this is the promise of the Right Wing's Ownership Society; a version of divide and conquer.

    About a year ago I heard a Progressive speaker state the obvious, all the statistics continue to indicate that the most successful way of obtaining wealth in America is being born into it !


    I sometimes write letters to the editor to be printed in local papers. I usually get some applause when I do so concerning war, government corruption or corporate greed. When I write letters that deal with capitalism and class I get complete silence.

    people I know feel they are rich people living, by chance, in poor peoples' lives.
    their goals in life are money based and so their family and friends are often taken for granted with the thought that when they are rich, then they can devote the needed time to their loved ones.

    They feel unable to be the person they feel they are but have to deny until the blessings of wealth free them. they can't hope for anything better than what money can make of them.

    they don't have dreams only wants that they obesess over.
    They have put their best selves on hold until wealth allows them a voice.

    some allow themselves to escape now and then through the use of legal and illegal chemicals, doing themselves great harm when all they wanted to do was to allow the buried parts of themselves a moment to seem real and invincible.

    so many bad things would become so much better if I only had money. This is the mantra I hear all the time. The mantra of a world that has come to depend almost soley on a system that exchanges real labor and goods for the promise of necessities and desires. We now value this cloth promise over what is in our hearts and hands right now.
    wealth is illusive but always close, not consistant but always possible, something beyond us in its' promise but never out of our life' focus and energy.

    to deny it would be to deny all we want for ourselves and our loved ones and our world.

    each individual and each desire played against one another keeping all of us distracted and farther from the closest and easiest wealth we could achieve together. A wealth that has nothing to do with how much money each individual can accumulate but is all about how much we can share.

    My interest in the present presidential primaries includes trying to have an open mind about all the candidates of both parties. I found an NPR interview with Mike Huckabee disturbing when he was asked would he let the gov't intervene in the current mortgage crisis and he said absolutely not. His reason was that these buyers were greedy and wanted something beyond their means. That is not my impression: first time buyers used to be protected by lenders who presented them with a balanced analysis of their purchasing ability and whether they could carry the monthly mortgage payments. But what we have here is that the loan sharks have become mainstream and these buyers were completely taken over--unprotected and abandoned. I think that the role of gov't is to keep checks and balances in place and protect citizens when integrity and fairness can no longer be counted on. Mike Huckabee may project an empathetic demeanor but for me it is only skin-deep.

    David Johnston provided a thoughtful and accurate description of American politics today. Questions of the fairness of taxes and whether government has a responsibility to redistribute wealth are truly irrelevant when politicians are awash in money from special interest groups. Politicians of all stripes are being paid with the same money, how can we expect them to act differently (regardless of political party). This situation can only be changed by an informed, motivated, and active electorate. Fortunately, I believe we are beginning to see some movement in this direction by bloggers and others who have begun to speak out. Now is the time!!! Vote out the politicians who perpetuate the status quo and vote in those who are fair minded and principled.

    Please take Bill Moyers off the air. He is as bad as Hannity is on Fox. Let's find some people who have common sense. Somewhere remotely in the middle.

    shows like this are why i watch the journal as it re-inforces in me as to why i should be surprised that the rich always want to get richer. you see iam not a very good capitalist as i would rather live in poverty honestly than in riches dishonestly.
    good show bill,

    Not all of us who get dividends are wealthy. I am a retired electrician and two thirds of my retirement income comes from investments. I might be considered wealthy by some of you, but my yearly income probably is not a much as one month of Bill Moyers income.
    Adding another 10% tax to my income would put me in financial straights, even though I have no debt, by the time I pay my medical costs, and I am healthy, insurances on car and house, property taxes, state taxes, my wife and I are just barely in the middle class.

    So How does Mr. Johnston reconcile that? Most working people today will not have a retirement program like I had. They will have to invest to get enough to live on, and if Mr. Johnston has his way, we will be broke, but it will still not hurt the really wealthy, they will find ways to keep the income coming in, they always have and always will. Years ago when in High School, I caddied at a country club that was started by wealthy people during the depression. I recall one player telling me one day, "even if the government took it al away from us, we would have it back in ten years, because we know how make money."

    In fact, Mr. Johnston will probably make more from his book, than I have income from several years. Once in awhile you need someone for a rebuttal to people like him.

    I really liked the interview, but I feel like you missed a huge part of the story: the military industrial complex. I wish you would have discussed Duke "the Dukester" Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, and those like them and linked that to the "Free Lunch" in addition to the sports stuff. I work in that complex, and we get a tiny piece of this gigantic pie ($600 billion this year alone). Do you really think all that money goes to the contractor with the most merit?! This is where the jobs are for people with science degrees: as of a few years ago, Lockheed Martin employed more software engineers than Microsoft, so there are a lot of well paid people who want to keep it going. Now the benefit is you can say that all this money is what drives technology, but at what cost? And, what about all the corruption? I love your show and keep up the good work!

    Dear Mr. Johnston, Sir

    I watched your interview with great interest and remembered an old proverb, “one crane doesn’t bring the spring season".

    As a person who grew up behind “the curtain”, I saw how politics and economy could be used in abusing citizens, in the name of those same citizens. Your interview just confirms my worries that the patterns present are those same I have seen already ones many years ago in a different light.

    I wish to believe that some responsibility would be taken and things will change for good. Yet I have lived long and have seen enough, to believe in that. No one who possesses the power will give it up voluntarily without fight.

    You are a brave bird, yet the spring is too far. The winter just began.

    PS. Sorry for my negativism, not many good things happen lately. Thank you for the book.

    thanks to bill moyers. i just wrote a blistering response to the nytimes about the lack of anyone to tell the truth about anything in the media or in politics until you begin to believe you are losing your mind. which i guess is the whole point. then bill moyers. does the show he had on tonight. with the author of free lunch david johnson, the author of thomas paine the promise of america, and craig unger in a nutshell there was the truth. it's being written about. at least. a long time ago back in the early 60's i had my first job as a teenager, in a shoe outlet in the most depressing part of town with shoes that looked like the were made from old tires. i had just grown my hair to a length that was considered to be almost against the law. the manager took me aside. he liked me. he gave me an option cut my hair or i would lose my job. he told me he saw big things for me he could make me a manger etc. his hair was slicked back and he smelled of old spice. nice guy though. at one point to make his pitch clear and friendly as he could cause as he said he liked me... he told me he knew that the hair thing the hippy thing was a just that a fad. one day it would be bought up by someone and someone will turn the whole thing into a business, everything is business, so he says cut the hair and come with me i will show you how business works, i make you a manger of shows. needless to say i turned him down and walked out feeling so proud and hearing the crosby stills nash and young song playing as i headed up the hill on my way outa there... " i almost cut my hair... the thing is 40 yrs later... everything that was sacred to the cause then has been co-opted from jeans to the music it sells everything from cars to guns etc. you name it. very little is left. it is time for the people to have a voice and say what has to be said. how dare these people that we elect take our hard earned money and sell us down the river. the politicians that are running for president,on both sides have to look real hard in that mirror. you have to server somebody, ya know... my voice is going to be shaped by the passion i feel for the pain i feel that folks are going through and a lot of the pain that they go through is avoidable... recession.... these folks running for president look so serious when they talk about the economy. hey what about the 1 billion a day on this war get it back from the crooks who are stealing it everyday, cause it ain't going to our men and women in uniform... if i hear one more time we are fighting to bring democracy to these folks i am going to scream... they are going to laugh all the way to the gallons of oil they will hold over our shameful heads as we stick them in the sands of the middle east... thomas paine were are you????

    The only way that ppl benefit economically is if products become available more cheaply or are techonogically superior. I doubt any form of financial incentive has anything to do with making this happen, unless it is through the temporary exploitation of ppl and resources, and that if America has gained in the past 50 years it has been through the safety our military superiority has accorded capitalists who do the latter, and through the construction of a global market with ourselves at the top. If this is democracy, I want no part of it.

    I find it sadly ironic that the now-in-power Republican party prides itself on being "Godly" people and yet America relies on a capitalist system. What would be the big deal if someone who made $1million/yr paid half of that in taxes? They would still have half of that to spend, which is still 5 times more than millions of Americans have to spend on getting by day-to-day. I get that companies need money to spend on R&D and put back to make their businesses survive, but does that mean the individuals who run the company need millions to put back into their pockets? Most of us think a $3-4 hundred thousand would be nice for retirement (I won't even have that) so why does the top 10% of our country need hundreds of millions?

    There are unfair aspects to the tax system, particular in some of the tax breaks given to already-profitable businesses and shelters available to the wealthy. I think the right thing to do is not a direct goal of redistributing wealth so much as (a) providing a common safety net that ensures that no citizen suffers from malnutrition, exposure, or lack of basic medical care and (b) helping people to help themselves by providing stability when a world in flux leaves them with no job and a need for training to get a new one.

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