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Ask the Reporters: EXPOSÉ on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL

This week, BILL MOYERS JOURNAL collaborated with EXPOSÉ AMERICA'S INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS to tell the story of a team of BUSINESSWEEK reporters as they track new corporate practices that some say exploit the working poor.

We thank reporters Brian Grow, Paul Barrett, Keith Epstein and Robert Berner for taking time to answer your questions about the story. We will post their responses next week.


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The single most important thing President Obama could do to help America just now is to reinstitute a national interest rate curbing usury as the means of waging class warfare.

Usury has always been, for 5000 years, the problem of credit markets and cash flows. Where high usury rates are permitted, credit crunches are common, and purchasing becomes impossible. All of the tax cuts in the world would not do as much as capping the rate of usury to force companies to live within their means through economic discipline, and thereby, forcing the public to the same.

A poll needs to be taken on what factors are used to determine usury rates, and how the rate can be capped or limited to provide returns sufficient to lend at the resource level of the public able to borrow and repay. That equilibrium for short term as well as long term rates will provide certain economic stimulus that if encouraged globally could transform the world in a heartbeat, and end the privilege of conducting class warfare using usury as the basis.

The single most important thing President Obama could do to help America just now is to reinstitute a national interest rate curbing usury as the means of waging class warfare.

Usury has always been, for 5000 years, the problem of credit markets and cash flows. Where high usury rates are permitted, credit crunches are common, and purchasing becomes impossible. All of the tax cuts in the world would not do as much as capping the rate of usury to force companies to live within their means through economic discipline, and thereby, forcing the public to the same.

A poll needs to be taken on what factors are used to determine usury rates, and how the rate can be capped or limited to provide returns sufficient to lend at the resource level of the public able to borrow and repay. That equilibrium for short term as well as long term rates will provide certain economic stimulus that if encouraged globally could transform the world in a heartbeat, and end the privilege of conducting class warfare using usury as the basis.

Isn't it ironic that the first blog following Bill Moyer's thoughtful piece tonight demonstrated the same rage that his journal addressed. It connected the anger generated by angry radio talk shop hosts, and their threatening books which appears to have generated the shooting of church members by a 'liberal hater.' Is it legal to talk about shooting someone in a public broadcast? I thought hate language was illegal.

Meanwhile, how do we counter this hate, how do we communicate the power of caring, supportive, nurturing and inclusive thinking?

Leftist Media crap, Bill Moyers is a lap-dog for the Democrat Party, you have to a complete Brainless Idiot to think his program is something that is helpful. He is a HATEMONGER FOR THE LEFT DRESSED UP WITH CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP, aka (Mutaul Of America) a Insurance group who RIPS OFF AMERICANS, even Katrina victims!
But, thats ok with Bill Moyers.

In speaking with Bill Moyers, Andrew Bacevich covered a lot of ground. Bacevich briefly spoke on the fundamental driving force that manifests itself politically and militarily. And that is what we call consumerism which simply put is materialism. In short, being focused on the material world, our view is that the ownership and control of mater is the path to happiness. Throw hedonism into the mix as well. Our obesity rate clearly points to that.

Solutions offered to date have all failed simply because all they offer is temperance and no one wants to temper his pursuit of happiness. Most will begrudgingly concede that wealth does not buy happiness but knowing no other path they pursue it anyway.

The difficulty in getting any attention at examining this failed world view is that “practical Americans” are absolutely convinced that material reality is the bottom line. It seems obvious that what is visible is real, especially considering a baseline of time relative to our own existences. But, what is really needed is the openness to look beyond our own failed philosophy.

To understand our materialistic view of reality, we can look at it from a historical and scientific perspective. At one time, reality was considered to be composed of earth, air, water and fire. Now it is mater, energy, space and time. The source of matter-energy-space-time therefore must be something else.

Human intellect evolved to relate to these elements and therefore is not a vehicle to “understand” the source of mater-space-time-energy. Eastern thought says that this source is Consciousness. This abstraction is totally at odds with the Western notion of a physical foundation to reality and its notion of deity. This is, BTW, illogical as any deity has definition but what has definition is a part of the creation so could not be the creator.

The path to happiness is the path to freedom from these delusions and the consequent development of identity in Consciousness. Such is practically attainable. When we start to progress in this direction, we will find that the compulsion to consume simply falls away. This, in turn, can be reflected in our national and worldly politics.

Class warfare has already begun as can be seen by the growing number of uninsured people and the growing poverty rates. The wealthy engage in medical tourism, self-indulgence justified by their perceived right to succeed and turn a profit on the backs of others.

Would removing the profit motive from healthcare succeed in limiting stories of people highlighted in the Expose story?


Isn't it amazing how the elite can (systematically)recruit the financially illiterate (Jason) to post self-sufficiency propaganda. Maybe he needs the money to pay his Byrider car loan? Now, who was it "taking advantage" again?
Only the poor are expected to play by the rules.

Knowing that people like you Bill Moyers and PBS team are able to speak the truth keeps my spirit up.Thank you. and "janson", what is your IQ?

The next administration needs to reverse the Robbing Hoods of economics and start taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Without the spending power of the poor and the middle class; the economy will collapse and the Greedy Rich's money will be worthless. It will be poetic justice. However,it will hurt millions of people.
I hope that the next administration will learn from this administrations errors but I will not be withholding my breathe or my comments.

I understood from Bill Moyer’s report that there are patient advocacy groups that can help renegotiate huge medical bills. Is it possible for you to share the names and contact info of those groups? I have a family member who was billed almost $10,000 for a two-hour visit to the emergency room. There is no way they can pay it so we need to find someone who can help us understand what to do. Thank you.

I was wondering why there was no mention of GE? I heard that their biggest export is...financial s. Thats right! Some may think it is light bulbs! Ha! If people cared about where their money was going, they might not support the "evil doers". But that takes education, and without that, we need someone looking out for us consumers. Great report, even if it was in May 2007. Is there a follow up report? Thank you for all your work! Keep on!!

I salute you Bill Moyers and Herber and Baker for the truth. There is one glaring omission. The media is owned by the same giant corporations who benefit from the Republican protection from oversight. People don't see the truth on the major network news - and that is what they watch. The journal preaches to the choir. Reform the media. Protect the first amendment. Then watch the changes we make. Monica

Carolyn: get your family to put up the money for bankruptcy(Chapter 7) now! Any smart consumer can handle the paperwork without a parasite lawyer. There are forms online. You'll be better off with no credit for 10 years in the long run, although you will immediately receive a shower of credit card offers (don't bite).

I just have to thank the PBS team and Bill Moyers for another riveting journal on the threats we face everyday as Americans on our livelihood.

Fair, honest, intuitive, and in-depth. That's what Bill Moyers Journal is known for and I only hope that in the years to come, my children (none yet) will also have access to such quality reporting that is consistent and accessible. Thank you.

Did Brian et al investigate hospitals selling their Medicaid paper before the federal time limit of one year? I suspect they are double dipping by collecting from Medicaid and also selling the paper. Needs to be investigated.

Don't forget that the reason banking industry invented the sub-prime loan was due to liberal groups complaining that poor people could not get loans because of racism. Lesson for all never think you won the battle when your opponent has given you what you wanted. They have just shifted their attack to different location.

Also, Mr. Moyers your introductory speech about Iraq having a surplus. FYI, most of the US spending on Iraq goes to your army, contractors, permanent bases and embassy. I fail to see why you would just repeat right wing talking point that Iraq is not spending its surplus. As soon as you leave they will.
Sometimes your logic is really faulty as in this case. It is the obligation of US to pay for Iraq rebuilding whether they have surplus or not.

I am unsure of any advocacy groups. However, check with your state's consumer protection division. They may be able to help.

I think one thing we all can do as individuals is to petition our local politicians on city councils to consider passing ordinances to prevent the entry of predatory businesses from entering vulnerable zones.

These companies do not contribute to strengthening local economies. I would like to see examples if they do.


My niece went to payday loan companies about a year ago to get a "quick loan" to help pay for wedding expenses. When she and her husband-to-be brought the loan agreements to me for help in paying out the loans the interest rate on one was 549%. Not so many years ago anything over a 21% interest rate on a loan was consider usury and criminal. I want to find if there are any organizations or groups that advocate against these companies/practices that I can volunteer time to.

It is interesting to read two of the posts shifting responsibility to the individual and indirectly protecting current business practices. How can people pull themselves up by the bootstraps if the bootstraps are not even on the boot or the boots are in concrete?

I am uncertain, but do countries in Europe engage in similar practices? If so, is the scale a scope even close to the American way?

I say we pass a law preventing anyone who can't pass a financial literacy test from getting any type of loan. Wonder what Mr. Moyers and the Business Week writers would say about that?

The pharmaceutical industry prescription drug rebate programs should really be investigated. I will assert that these programs serve as hush money and a way from keeping employers and government programs like Medicare and Medicaid from pursuing broader price controls and universal healthcare.

For readers who don't know what a rebate program is. In essence, a prescription drug maker of a brand name drug pays an insurance company, a government program or a pharmacy benefit management company money to have their drug more accessible to patients then the drugs competitor. For example, a drug to treat a condition would cost a cash paying patient (aka first part payor) $100 per month using a pricing schedule called Average Wholesale Price (AWP). If you are one of the lucky Americans with prescription drug insurance, your copay may be $15 for this drug. The pharmacy who dispensed the drug is paid by the insurer or PBM the AWP price minus 15%. Now the drug costs the insurer $100-15 (pharmacy discount)- 15 (your copay) which equals $70.

This same drug costs $76 a month using a pricing schedule called Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC). A drug company will payback 14% of the WAC price to the insurance company, PBM or other entity in order to block its competitors from being in an equally desirable formulary position. Now, an additional $10 is paid by the drug company to the rebate administrator.

The nationwide infrastructure that now exists entirely to administer these programs is a hidden and powerful barrier to successful implementation of a universal health program for all Americans. These rebates are often a hidden revenue stream to insurers. Unfortunately, government programs are involved since they want to lower drug costs, too. Unfortunately, there is no free lunch and the rebates are ultimately passed on to the uninsured because they always pay the highest price for drugs.

So the woman in the piece "buys" a car, uses it for x number of days to get to work, defaults on her loan, the car goes back to the dealer and she's back at square one. All she's done is rent the car. It's not exactly exploitative. If she doesn't know she'll default on the loan, she should. If she goes into it knowing she'll default on the loan, signs on anyway, then the inevitable reposession comes, who loses. She can do this again and again and it becomes the dealers problem. Credit score? Is building credit even a goal for the woman in the piece. If you can't afford a car and someone is willing to give one to you for no money down and not expect to ever get paid for it, that seems like something a "borrower" can exploit.

I am troubled most by the overt abuse of the uninsured and underinsured. I recall reading and watching reports that only Americans can go bankrupt because of healthcare bills. America needs to change our way of thinking about healthcare and remove as much as possible the profit motive from healthcare.

I have a $3500 debt. Interest is now over $500. Collection agency fees are additional $900. How can I resolve this debt in a way that is fair to me. I have been unemployed for over a year, prospects arent good. I am in an alcohol rehab program and I have two kids 5 and 6 years old. Maybe my family will help if I could just get this reduced to a fair amount and we could pay it off so I can get on with my life without debts over my head. Is there an agency or person I can call for help and advice?

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