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Making Institutions Work

(Photo by Robin Holland)

This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with David Simon, a former journalist who created HBO’s award-winning television series “The Wire.” The series, which was informed by Simon’s 12 years as a crime reporter in Baltimore, was widely praised for its gritty, unflinching portrayal of the harsh realities of life in one American inner-city.

Simon attributed the stubborn persistence of many social problems to institutions’ practice of “juking the stats,” or manipulating numbers to make themselves look better:

“You show me anything that depicts institutional progress in America – school test scores, crime stats, arrest stats – anything that a politician can run on [or] anything that somebody can get a promotion on, and as soon as you invent that statistical category 50 people in that institution will be at work trying to figure out a way to make it look as if progress is actually occurring when actually no progress is... The same game is played everywhere – nobody’s actually in the business of doing what the institution is supposed to do... If there’s an institution that is supposed to serve you or that you are supposed to serve, and it’s supposed to care for you and be a societal positive, it will betray you.”

When Bill Moyers asked how he suggests addressing inner-city social problems, Simon said:

“I would put all the interdiction money, all the incarceration money, all the enforcement money, all of the pretrial, all of the prep, all of that cash – I would hurl it, as fast as I could, into drug treatment and job training and jobs programs.”

What do you think?

  • Do you agree with David Simon that institutions generally serve themselves rather than those they are supposed to help? If so, do you think his plan to address inner-city social problems is practical? Why or why not?

  • Can citizens force institutions to live up to their mission statements? If so, how?


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    Comments

    Nancy Schoenbeing wrote, in part, "A drug is only illegal because of the time we are in history and who is profiting from it. Our current drug problems are very similar to prohibition. Prohibition didn't work and neither is our war on drugs. Many illegal drugs are not any more harmful than legal ones. We could control them as well as tax them if they were legal...."

    It's not about "prohibition", legalities, money or taxes, Nancy!

    Since you are so steeped in the language of political correctness, I'm afraid that I can only get you to SEE what it is about in very blunt terms.

    I consider a FINANCIAL POWER CABAL that targets my lucid and biologically normal mind LIFE-THREATENING. Do you get that or not?

    What could possibly be my moral responsibility to la-de-da over such an incursion into my LIFE - on ALL levels - with the PCism of "let's make it legal and tax it"?

    Who would become the RULING CLASS of money-ed elites then?!

    A cabal that wants you to have a life that is delusional, full of sickness, and grateful for a "job" that throws you into the a "working poor" class that all of a sudden is okeedokee in USA PC-world.

    Ironic, though, that the highest level of civilization achieved in a narco state is 4th century where women have their fingers cut off for voting....but, hey, the 4th century was certainly "sustainable" as a "green" economy.

    No doubt about it, things are getting clearer about "war"...and before you get all breezy and "modern" Millie on us, WOMEN took on alcohol in the 1920s ("prohibition") because of how deeply damaging it was to the FAMILY. The fact that it "didn't work" is a HUMAN tragedy, Sistah, and not just a "failed" political strategy.

    May you enjoy the 4th century, Nancy, that is jsut around the corner fer ya...with no money for infrastructure, your electricity will be "spoardic" soon enough, but candles and a glass of Merlot and all is well, huh?

    Bill's interview with David Simon was wonderful. It is great to hear from someone who really sees the nation as it is not as the media/government etc. want us to see it. I agree with his statement about drugs. A drug is only illegal because of the time we are in history and who is profiting from it. Our current drug problems are very similar to prohibition. Prohibition didn't work and neither is our war on drugs. Many illegal drugs are not any more harmful than legal ones. We could control them as well as tax them if they were legal. David also has a handle on the class system in the USA although it is not politically correct to say that. The unions built American as we know it and the wealth, however most people do not seem to understand that. We are seeing the results of low wages now as the economy is not recovering due to lack of spending. Companies didn’t move factories overseas due to labor issues it was due to greed and it was easy to blame the unions. Great interview!

    i was struck by a comment mr. simon made about our system, that if at some level everyone doesn't benefit then it's really just a pyramid scheme.

    i'm employed by a couple who believe in just that: the pyramid scheme. i've approached them on the subject and found them to be unbending. i sit in amazement that (some) people whose formative years spanned the late 60's now hold the 'all for me, none for you' mindset.

    is there ANY way to bridge the gap between these two ideologies which seem to span a distance far greater than just one generation?

    Fact is, David Simon, anybody with any smarts knows what's going on. You'd haveta be an idiot not to know: that this system is rotten-to-the-core an' there's no way to fix it. Of course, sorry, to call all of everybody "idiots." They aren't dumb. They, this whole pop-culture, psuedo-democracy we're all living in, is in serious psychological denial. That's even scarier. But then, it doesn't matter because things will work out. As we're happy to remind folks on our website (see below): "In 1986 I said this species has 40 to 100 years left in its present form. Were you listening?" Yeah, whether, or not, we're spiritually and psychologically ready for it, change is coming.

    One question I have about the drug problem: My understanding of drug use is that it's way, way beyond the confines of lower class ghettos. That middle class use has increased substantially in recent years. I may be wrong about that but, if not, it suggests that lots of humans, besides disenfranchised browns and blacks need to escape reality these days. And that's where the real drug problem may lie.

    Ratheons directed energy weapon has now killed: John F. Kennedy JR - Jul 16 1999 Mel Carnahan - Oct 17 2000 Paul Wellstone - Oct 25 2002 Michael Connell - Dec 19 2008 Beverly Eckert - Feb 12 2009

    It's all the same story. Enemies of the Neo Con's. Ashcroft was the only person who could choose to investigate foul play. First they blame it on the weather. Then when that falls through they say you'll find out soon. A year passes. only one black box is found with no indication that pilot thought anything was wrong. Each plane was found between 2-10 miles off coarse. They all had new GPS systems installed. Their GPS was manipulated and they were flown directly into the kill zone. One powerful blast from can stall the and plane debilitate the pilot all in one shot. Wellstones plane had no forward thrust in the engins at the time of the crash. All of the reports appear as if the planes drop out of sky. Look at the "vertigo" from JFK jr. These people were all threats to the war mongers bush cheney ect...

    government rule is the only rule that can govern in a more stable way. But be sure that those in Government positions have audits. This will help the rules take effect.Britain has always done it. We don,t need Hollywood telling us what to do. That is why James Bond Acts in Moves made by Hollywood. Britain doesn't pay them the salaries that Hollywood pays. Why?.

    Again, I glanced through the comments. Although I find Marcia's name a lot compared to mine,I have to wonder why I have been warned that I post too many comments at a time.
    If posting comments is a problem with this site, what can all these intelligent people do about bigger problems, that they keep answering to.
    I said before and I say again, wishing all these writers and Producers that they have done a good job, is not going to help the situation.

    Please stop showing your intelligent comments, or how smart you are. What we need is people who would act on it.

    this guy gets it. bravo.

    Bribes, Blackmail and Bodily harm is what creates NeoCons and ConservaDems. Here’s a report about how Congresswoman Harmon accepted a bribe from an Israeli agent which is typical for a Congressperson, and then she was blackmailed by AG Gonzales which made her a ConservaDem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyT6HGtv4S4

    Bill Moyers has produced shows, but is it shows or will people act on the shows. In the meantime nothing changes Senators and Governors and everybody else in controlling positions, including the Journalists, TV news managers do not act on these shows. They wear 3-piece suits and with a smile they carry on as usual.
    Why is there a "Right to work" state, Why is there no age for retirement, why is there a Minimum wage rate, Why is there no basic health insurance. Does anybody in high places do anything to rectify these wrongs?

    I have seen every episode of the Wire several times. I lived in Baltimore during the careers of the creators and the making of Homicide, so I experienced many instances depicted in The Wire first hand.I worked in a number of city agencies.

    The Wire was so true and so well made, Simon's analysis so honest and the postings here so insightful
    (except for a few macoutes) that I have nothing important to add at this time.

    Captcha: Harvey whitish

    Lyle O. Ross,

    You wrote a lot, but didn’t say much. Could you please reference some of Simon’s statistics that you’re referring to? http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04172009/transcript1.html

    After you reference his statements, could you provide reputable links which will disprove them?

    Thx

    Mr. Simon, unintentionally, has fallen into a conservative trap, one that is of some concern. In his interview, he repeatedly states that the statistics are being juked, the numbers are being played. This is incorrect, and we need to be careful of how we state issues that concern numbers and statistics. If we get in the habit of thinking they have no value, then all we have to trust is our gut instinct, and as we well know, that can lead us far astray. Numbers are real, as are statistics, what is in play is our interpretation of those numbers, and how we analyze them.

    All numbers have value, even those that are being manipulated. Take the case Mr. Simon presents, that of police officers padding their arrests and court appearances to enhance their careers. Mr. Simon would have us believe that these numbers are meaningless? Quite the opposite, even Mr. Simon can look at these numbers and draw the correct conclusion that the system is being played. There is a wild swing from one type of crime to another, promotion demographics change, and a whole cascade of events follow. The statistics clearly tell a story, not even a difficult one.

    The problem comes in how that story is read, and by whom. Those who want to believe the drug war is affective will cite these numbers as an important indicator that we are succeeding, whereas those, with a little acumen, will look wider, ask what the numbers mean in a more insightful fashion, and reach the conclusion that the drug war is obviously failing. Again, it is all about what the user wants to believe. It is clear that a number of people played the numbers to their benefit, all the way from the guys on the beat, to our political leaders. But the message in those numbers was clear all along - no one held the people who played those numbers accountable - until Mr. Smith came along.

    Therein is the deeper question. If looking at the numbers is typically as insightful as looking at these was, how do we hold those people accountable who purposefully draw the wrong conclusion to their own advantage? We have often felt that the fourth estate had this job, and some are disappointed that they've recently been very bad at it. The reality is that they've never been that great at it, one simply has to... look at the evidence, the long term numbers on the issue. Nonetheless, they are what we have, and like Mr. Moyers, many are quite good at it. They educate, they inform, and they keep at it with patience and skill. While the last few years have been tragic, we are seeing a resurgence, not in the so called corporate media, but in the home grown news sources that radio and the internet have made possible.

    In conclusion, what Mr. Smith needs to remember is that such battles are rarely won by statistics and especially not by arguing. They are won in a much more arduous way, by education and patience. Yes, in the interim a great deal of damage can be done, and that is frustrating; the key is to keep that damage to a minimum, by paying attention, being proactive, and not assuming that things will come out the best without our intervention.

    Posted by: Judith Logue : "Legalize drugs asap. I hate drugs but most of them are less dangerous than booze. As in, nobody ever died of an overdose of marijuana or killed somebody under its influence alone. This report is a great dose of the truth. Put all the Ponzie Schemers in jail - and we'll get wonderful jails."

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Allenwrench:

    Legalize drugs?

    Make Gay marriage as normal as apple pie?

    50%+ of the marriages end in divorce?

    The rich ream out the little guy because, well you remember the famous line ..."ladies and gentleman, greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, ..."

    Institutions are nothing without humans to run them, just as guns are nothing without humans to pull the trigger.

    It is people that run the institutions. Until we start making better people, the direction will just get worse and worse. Our world will be run by greedy, drugged up people that will do anything for a buck no matter how many live they ruin.

    And the trend with our food supply just makes thing all the worse. For without proper fuel our engine will break down. We are overpopulated and fed a diet devoid of nutrition that is not based on health, but solely on greed and ROI.

    Billy Bob:
    Yes, we should know about the monies. In fact, Chile (South America) already has a site where you can see salaries and other information In Spanish.
    Electronic money should solve many problems, well done should work well.

    The pendulem swings to a height where the swish of magical thoughts create solutions without roads or rubber to meet it.

    Details.."all that cash", how much will that be? How much will be required for all that reform?

    No proverty, no drug problems, sounds good, but with a Congress that eliminates the Usury Law, gives billions to Wall Street without any idea how, where, or if it will be used for banking business, then innercity problems are the tip of the ice berg & of course must be avoided, but there is much more trouble lying below the surface than
    innercities.

    Bring all the monies collected as taxes out into the open; detail all outlays of monies for all to see; determint acceptable social standards & develop means to accomplish them, or same ole, same ole.

    But, just avoiding the tip of the iceberg may not provide the security you seek.

    There is an arm of the law charged with detailing where & how bailout money has been used & it is doing things Geithber said could not be done--wonder if Tim meant things that the light of day should not shine on.

    Allow 'them' to deny your vote, demand your money in small unmarked bills & 'they' are the only deciders of where & how & to whom it goes, & innercity problems have no heat on its back burner.

    Billy Bob, Florida

    I too agree with all the positive rewiews.

    Although I have been on the road traveling for the past four months, in and out of hotels, I make sure to watch your show every single week.

    I thank you for all the information and inspiration your show provides for millions of viewers each week.

    Kori

    Every week when I watch Bill Moyers I think "This was the best episode yet" and yet...it just keeps getting better and better. The Journal is beyond compare. There are many issues that are almost too horrendous to wrap one's mind around, let alone understand, but Bill's guests offer up outstanding insights into the depth of these issues which results in a better understanding of the ills that plague this country and the world. Next we need the doctors and research fellows to come up with a way to cure these ills. It appears that in almost every instance that the problems lie with the exact things that David Simon discussed and by exposing the causes and bringing them into the light of day is the beginning of change. Perhaps the term 'Too Big to Fail' will be the term that broke the camel's back. One can only hope. I recently watched a video about the mayor of Mississauga, Ontario who is 88 years old, has been elected 11 times, manages a debt free city with an enormous amount of cash in reserve. They call her Hazel the Hurricane and her story would certainly be a benefit for all of America's failing institutions. I hope to see Hazel on the Journal soon.

    Bill, many thanks, once again, for an excellent program.
    I, for one, would like to see you interview Dr. David R. Hawkins, the author of "Truth Vs Falsehood". His work seems to be an interesting sequel to that of Joseph Campbell.

    I thought the David Simon interview was the best edition of the Journal yet.

    In the hope that the U.S. Senate can be make to work for the public good, perhaps this site will help.

    Visualizing the Campaign Contributions to Senators in the 110th Congress - The TARP EDITION
    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mjbommar/senators110.html

    Byron Gordon:
    Aren't we saying about the same? I call it re-engineering democracy.


    What we need now is for writers like Simon to focus fictional elucidations more narrowly on individual institutions.

    A look at education could piece together the matrix of elementary, secondary, and tertiary education, and show how they ebb and flow in collusion with hegemonic forces. The same can be done with health care, politics, religion, and the family. It seems that _The Wire_ already did this with law enforcement.

    The New Naturalism.


    Thinkers like Chomsky, Foucault, Marx, Weber, Veblen, Lippmann, and others have all written about related ideas. But in the age of television, Simon has brought many of those ideas together in ways that provoke insight and understanding that have potential to reach a wider audience. He has brought those ideas together in ways that allow people to more clearly identify and articulate nagging tensions that had been difficult to make absolutely clear in the light of day.

    It is curious, indeed, that many people had not heard of Simon nor _The Wire_. I hadn't, not before Friday's _Journal_. Since then, I've been going through each season cataloging significant scenes that are pregnant with particular insight and pivot points for further questioning.

    I think _The Sopranos_ actually does a better job of looking at underlying issues of American society, but it accomplishes this largely in tone and subtle characterization, which don't as readily allow themselves communication to a larger audience. _Deadwood_ comes in third.

    I have found myself paraphrasing Simon all week.

    Bill/David-
    You have put together an excellent piece here that breaks down a number of the urban challenges found in education/social work/crime prevention. As a public school teacher-I was tremendously pleased to send this around-
    And am a big fan of the wire!
    How can we get this story to repeat itself with the plastic media?

    I completely disagree with David's assertion that capitalism creates wealth. Capitalism creates "concentrations of wealth" and nothing more. When you have the majority of Americans living in debt, how can you describe capitalism as having created wealth?? Capitalism is a major problem as practiced in the United States because it depends upon loans being made and these are loans that can take a lifetime to pay back. Banks prey upon consumers with usurious contempt as do credit card companies. Capitalism has no ethics.
    I agree with David that we don't live in a democracy. It is an oligarchy and has been that way for a long time. Democracy does exist at a state and local level but not at a national level. What is needed is an overhaul of our nation's government and instead of one senator per state or x number of representatives per state, we had citizen groups from each town, hamlet, city across the nation that consisted of citizen groups. And these citizen groups were responsible for voting in the national legislature. Given today's technologies, such as virtual technologies, where avatars can be created to represent each individual, there is no need to be present in Washington D.C. to vote. Votes can be made via virtual technology. Not only do businesses today use virtual-world technology, government could be run, "virtually."
    Every city and town would consist of citizen groups that would serve several years and then rotate responsibilities. Every citizen would be obligated to serve as a member of the citizen group. This would ensure greater democratic participation by all. And in no way could lobbyists influence these groups. Lobbyists would be banned outright.

    Concerning the question, "Do you agree...that institutions generally serve themselves rather than those they are supposed to help?", I think that institutions begin to become self-serving when they are allowed to grow beyond a certain optimum size.

    With regard to the question, "Can citizens force institutions to live up to their mission statements?", I would say that citizens should consider measures (e.g., new laws) that would prune institutions that have become so large that they have lost sight of their mission statement.

    The following recent article asks:

    - Aren't many of the economic problems of our times due to the fact that the stakes have never been higher because things have never been bigger?:

    http://hnn.us/roundup/comments/78471.html

    Edwin Weber, Simon is certainly going to touch upon that matter, at least if it turns some kind of profit for HBO. According to wikipedia, "Simon is collaborating with Eric Overmyer again on Treme, a project about musicians in post-Katrina New Orleans".

    The most corrupting forces on many institutions are the influence of capitalism, and the financial incentive for employees to misrepresent their performance.

    Capitalism is more corruptive than most people realize. For example, consider the law regarding "fiduciary responsibility." Executives on a company's board of directors are legally obligated to make their decisions based upon what will yield the greatest profit for shareholders. If the board must decide between a less profitable course of action that results in public benefit, or a more profitable course that is contrary to the public interest, the board is legally obligated to choose the more profitable course.

    In contrast, public institutions are designed to make decisions based upon the greatest public good. A public entity may still choose financial gain over other factors, but that financial gain will be on the part of the public.

    Regarding the financial incentive to misrepresent one's accomplishments, even public entities do that. This is because employees of public schools, police departments, social services, and so forth can all expect raises and promotions if their performance is viewed as improvemed.

    Perhaps the best way to solve this problem is to rethink the concept of performance-based incentives.

    Can't we agree that the competent third grade teacher who nurtures the minds and characters of his students is just as valuable as the superintendant of schools? Aren't the services of garbagemen just as vital to our public health as those of physicians? Why should they be paid differently?

    All people deserve a decent, living wage. All public servants, therefore, ought to receive fair compensation, regardless of the work they do.

    C.E.O.'s do not work 30,000 times as hard as the typical worker. Why, then, should they receive tens of thousands of times the pay? In the same way, the work of police officers who patrol public highways is just as important as the work of the police commissioner. They should receive the same pay.

    It is in our power to give every person who serves the public good a decent salary. That would greatly diminish the tendency for public employees to misrepresent the real situation.

    Efrain:

    You say: "I don't get it, answering to people has nothing to do with abuse of any system."

    Who creates systems and who works in them, cave trolls? Muppets?

    I wish that Mr. Simon or SOMEONE would have the guts to expose the Crime of the Century,THE DESTRUCTION OF NEW ORLEANS.While PARTLY the fault of the Corps of "Engineers"(?),the flooding of the city west of the Industrial Canal was due to the corruption of the greatest terrorist, traitor and mass murderer of our times, former mayor "Slimy Sidney" Barthelemy,"The Man Who Murdered a City"Barthelemy got rid of the veteran enginers of the Sewage & Water Board who pointed out that the planned "floodwalls", which later collapsed, flooding the city, were disasters waiting to happen.The members of the city council from the time of Barthelemy to 2005 kept their corrupt mouths shut,certainly they knew what the true situation was.Even the Corps of "Engineers"(?), which knew from the beginning that those "floodwalls" were worthless frauds, eventually got nervous and wanted to build gates at the mouths of the drainage canals to be closed if the floodwalls collapsed.The Sewage & Water Board(ie. the City Hall Gang) REFUSED,giving the absurd "reason" that it would interfere with pumping out the city during a hurricane,as if their own personel wouldn't know when the gates should be open and closed! The truth is, the politicians WANTED the city to flood, and flood BAD.They couldn't arrange for a hurricane to hit the city, but they could be "ready" when the Golden Opportunaty arrived, which was inevitable sooner or later.And of course they called for a mandatory evacuation, KNOWING that their phoney "floodwalls" would collapsed,and wanted to "cover" themselves.They could blame the VICTIMS for their own deaths! The disaster brought misery, and suffering and loss to the people, but to the POLITICIANS it has brought a GOLDEN BONANZA!BILLIONS in so called "aid" money has poured in, not into the pockets of the victims, but into the pockets of the CRIMINALS, the City Hall Gang.Crime, on a big enough scale, does indeed pay, and pay hansomely.

    Just John:
    You say:
    "Efrain: Your examples are only arguments against being located to the north of Mexico. They really don't have anything to do with what form of government we have."
    I say: I don't understand you here.

    You say:
    "Europe has immigration from the south, too. And many European socialist states have higher standards of living than we do, better health care than we do and longer life spans than we do."
    I say:
    Just John, for how long will this standard of life last?

    You say:
    "You say "socialism is abused by people." Well, who ELSE is government supposed to answer to, if not people?"
    I say:
    I don't get it, answering to people has nothing to do with abuse of any system.

    You say:
    "And what name me a form of government that has existed and yet has never been abused."
    I say:
    That is the idea of reengineering democracy, a radical redesign of our democratic system.

    I say: I answered all of your questions, what about mine? Like what happens if welfare is terminated overnight? Two/three weeks ago China declared to be "nervous" about US bonds. How will we finance the party and abuse? Printing even more money?
    Wait for that and the consequences, hyperinflation in my opinion. Too high a price to pay for undeserved standard of life, even worse when the price is paid by everybody, not just by the people that enjoyed the benefits.

    Listening to this interview, I couldn't help but frame the broken economy as an an all-out, last assault on the Fourth Estate and labor.

    What interests me most is the fact that everyone I know -- from left to right -- admired "The Wire" as excellent. For its truth? Undoubtedly.

    That fact tells me that even in the throes of the best propaganda machines ever created, Truth and dissent will out. And that gives me a modicum of hope for the future.

    Have not been a watcher of THE WIRE, basically cause it comes on BET [my opinion, most of its programs are a disgrace], [I'm black] but I loved the interview and now will obtain the DVD set. David Simon, "THE WIRE is descent", I love it.

    http://educate-yourself.org/cn/lynnandpaulschmaltz02aug04.shtml

    OWNERS OF THE PRISON SYSTEM IN AMERICA

    Research and excerpts from LETTERS FROM JAIL
    From: Lynn Schmaltz

    I had many opportunities to educate women on the monetary system of jail. The moment an order is written, whether it’s a warrant or a traffic ticket, or whatever, the money machine is activated. Every prisoner has a monetary value to our government whether its local, county, state or federal. Bonds are written based on the person’s name and social security number and are sold through a brokerage firm such as AG Edwards or Merrill Lynch who has the contract to sell all the prison bonds for the city, county, state or federal prisons.

    Over 50% of the money market bonds right now are purchased in Japan or China. I’ve been told by researchers that Walmart and, used to be, Kmart also purchase these bonds, Walmart mostly doing so by emptying out bank accounts at night. Both companies are fronts for enormous money machines.

    The way the bond works is that a monetary value is placed on the alleged crime and then factored the way banks factor their money. In other words if a person is convicted of a felony the ‘value’ would be $4 million. The county/city/ state then multiplies it by ten, so the bond that goes out for sale with the prisoner’s name and social security number is a short-term ‘promissory’ note. It’s offered at $40 million. Perhaps an investor will offer 40% of the $40 million, or $16 million. Once this ‘promissory note’ of the face value of $40 million reaches the banks it is then multiplied again by 200 to 300% and sold as bank securities.

    For those of you who wonder why the US has more people in prison per capita than any other nation on earth, you’ll begin to understand how we can have a weakening economy and still fund wars overseas. It’s all based on prisoners....in other words, prison for profit.

    Knowing all this and knowing that a prisoner can have a ‘net worth’ of say, $10,000 per day in the money markets, helped me explain to many bewildered women why they were in jail. We were only merchandise in a warehouse. The storage was pretty cheap; one woman while in jail researched the cost of feeding prisoners per day which ranged from 74 cents to $2.72 per prisoner per day.

    Lynn and Paul have signed petitions to join a class action suit filed in the US Supreme Court against the anarchy of the States against the people, including Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona who have private prisons for profit..


    Prison for profit does not just mean baloney and white bread for lunch with lime jello. When a policeman/sheriff fills out a ticket or arrest warrant, he is filling out the initial paper work for a county/city bond that is sold through a brokerage firm such as AG EDWARDS or MERRILL LYNCH. Once a ticket is signed by a PERSON, CORPORATION, JANE or JOHN DOE, the money machine is activated. A prisoner has a daily value of approximately $1,000 assigned by the city/county prison. The city/county/state can fractionalize money like the banks do, and multiply the face value of the bond by 10. Now a prisoner is worth $10,000 per day. A 10-day stay in jail results in a $100,000 bond being sold in the international money markets with the PRISONER'S CORPORATION NAME and bar code (social security number). This money generated now funds the judges' retirement funds, new court buildings, new jails, public employee retirement funds, and are purchased by insurance companies and mutual funds, to name a couple.


    Right now the UNITED STATES has more prisoners per capita than any other country on the planet. That which is supplying the energy of money consists of men and women in prison, mortgages, bank loans, car loans, etc. It's common to see someone in prison for parole violation for several weeks to several months. The value of a person's prison time for several weeks or several months is $150,000 to $450,000. The judges, lawyers, public defenders, mayors, city councils, county commissions, and law enforcement personnel are feeding at a very rich trough.


    **********************************************************************************************************************************************************


    TIM CURRY - Tarrant County DA, since about 1973 - http://www.tarrantda.com/default.htm
    The Tarrant County Commissioners Court has increased the funding for this office. These actions have enabled this office to vigorously prosecute those who prey upon the law abiding citizens of our community. These groups of dedicated people, in association with all 332 staff members, have helped this office obtain a felony conviction rate averaging in excess of 90%. Managing a legal organization of this size has presented many challenges through the years. We feel that we have not only met these challenges but continued to improve the services rendered to the citizens of Tarrant County.

    This means he is effective N earning the county money from the BONDS that goes on the prisoner's head. ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY. OPPRESSION, RACISM, are social conditions that are by-products of GAIN by some group or individual with the power to do so. Somebody is benefiting from the social structure and the ignorant will think color, some physical difference basis, culture etc is the reason or some real surface level concept. However, these differences may be the commonalities that unites the beneficiaries to some extent but like our late great scholar Dr. John Henry Clarke, said "oppression is not color restricted, look at western Europe", white on white oppression. My opinion, think about it!


    And, Obama is not going to touch this, it will B intact on his departure! Stop looking for some damn body to change our/Ur condition for the better ... hell who has, steady decline for the pass 43 administrations soon to be 44? We all start out going through the ANIMALISTIC psychological phase where a parent teaches us like U train a dog [crouch pouch of scooby snacks], reward for doing good and punish for doing bad [with positive affirmations]! Some religions got us expecting ONE to bring a life/planet improvement program 4 some the animalistic phase never leaves entirely or the religion makes it dormant but not completely ... kinda like the treatment 4 herpes, a life of relapses. Santa Clause, he brings U all Ur wants and needs so does Ur personal god concept.

    (delete last "what" from that post)

    Efrain: Your examples are only arguments against being located to the north of Mexico. They really don't have anything to do with what form of government we have.

    Europe has immigration from the south, too. And many European socialist states have higher standards of living than we do, better health care than we do and longer life spans than we do.

    You say "socialism is abused by people." Well, who ELSE is government supposed to answer to, if not people?

    And what name me a form of government that has existed and yet has never been abused.

    Just John:
    I mean socialism is abused by people. I cannot understand how you can give Section 8, Food Stamps, WIC checks, SSI, etc for their entire life! Are we hiding a third-world status? What happens if all welfare is ended overnight?
    I agree that help can be given, but limited or even better based in our "savings" in a ledger we should have with the government. Exactly how, that has to be decided. I am against abuse. Don't you know that many people on welfare have better cars than honestly working people? And better TVs, and better many things? Do you know that TOO MANY "legal immigrants" come here to get welfare? The list is long, actually too long.
    If babies die it is because of some errors elsewhere, not because there is no more socialism. Again, help yes, abuse NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
    Do not expect government workers keeping an eye on our money, especially if their jobs depend on that.
    Socialism is too expensive, and not only in monetary terms.

    Great interview. I don't have anything to add except that I totally agree with what David Simon said - the American system is sick and must be fixed. Teachers, cops, clergy, parents, local govt, journalists, teenagers, all these areas are linked and the show does a great job showing that. I think 'The Wire' is one of the best shows of all time. It easily could have been set in Oakland, California where I grew up!

    For all those who think that socialism doesn't work, think again!. Britain and Europe have socialism and they are doing fine. Even Sweden and the Scandinavian countries are doing fine. They don't overspend like Americans do. Now, Million dollar houses in Phoenix are going for half the price. WHY?. They talked about giving jobs to the builders. Bull!!. They are just controlling the land and selling it to Building corporations, in turn the co-operations are screwing the citizens in this country with their exorbitant prices for houses built of Cardboard. Hardly any bricks are used and when the storms blow these stupid people haave to build again. There is also no 99 year lease. WHY?.

    Darn Marcia you make us sound like savages I guess it's easy to get to know everything of a race through a tv screen huh?

    Bill,
    Drugs are not good for you. They create addicts, make people sick, and ruin lives. Some drugs even kill people. But bullets are far worse for one's health and the "war on drugs" is killing more than the drugs. In every city in our nation young men are killing each other, to control turf. Thousands have died in Mexico and Columbia. Compare the body counts of those who die from drugs and those who are killed in the illegal drug industry. Decriminalizing drugs and taking control of sales and distribution would save thousands of lives. Use the money saved in enforcement and corrections for treatment programs and education.

    We HAVE a mixed political economy - a mixture of oligarchic capitalism and tax funded programs for all of us - what you call 'socialism'.

    --Do you want clean water?

    --An interstate freeway system?

    --Public education for ALL children?

    --Social Security for those capitalism 'left behind' during their working years?

    --Medical care for the poor?

    Johnny Rocket:
    You say:
    "Consider our own situation, though. Those programs that benefit us most are socialist in nature: Social Security retirement benefits; disability benefits; unemployment benefits; public schools; medicaid and medicare; free and reduced price school lunches; local fire, police and emergency services; public libraries; grants and low-rate loans for college students; the Food and Drug Administration; the Department of Public Works; the Labor Department; food stamps; home heating oil assistance; low-cost public housing; the Environmental Protection Agency; and countless others. These are all socialist in nature, and they benefit the citizens of the United States."

    I say:
    As long as China, Japan, etc finance that, we will enjoy them. The time to pay the party has come and boy, it seems people very much ignore what is coming.

    Let time settle this dispute.

    Who says that socialism has never worked anywhere? It is free-market capitalism that has consistently failed us.

    The citizens of European countries generally enjoy a much higher standard of living than we do, precisely because they embrace socialist ideas and policies to a greater degree. In those countries, billionaires are expected to pay something close to their fair share in taxes. This supports social services that in turn support the public in general.

    Consider our own situation, though. Those programs that benefit us most are socialist in nature: Social Security retirement benefits; disability benefits; unemployment benefits; public schools; medicaid and medicare; free and reduced price school lunches; local fire, police and emergency services; public libraries; grants and low-rate loans for college students; the Food and Drug Administration; the Department of Public Works; the Labor Department; food stamps; home heating oil assistance; low-cost public housing; the Environmental Protection Agency; and countless others. These are all socialist in nature, and they benefit the citizens of the United States.

    In contrast, consider the capitalistic, privatized industries: The automobile manufacturers; the financial services industry; the health insurance industry; the energy industry; and so on. What do these industries have in common? 1) They are privately owned, and run for profit, 2) They routinely sacrifice the public good for the short-term profits of a few, and 3) Most Americans are frustrated with them.

    The automobile industry, for example, has spent decades fighting against improved environmental standards that would protect the public health. They have fought to keep electric cars out of production, because gas guzzlers that break down often and require frequent maintenance and replacement parts make the auto industry a fortune. It is in the public interest to have clean running, reliable cars that are expense to own and operate. But it is in the interest of auto industry executives for the public to pay through the nose for dirty, inefficient, unreliable, expensive cars. Because the auto industry is entirely in the control of private companies, the public loses. Had the public owned even one small car company, we all would have been driving fully-electric vehicles decades ago.

    It is in the public interest for people to obtain the health care they need. But it is in the interest of a few rich insurance industry executives (and their stockholders) for people to be denied those services. The public health is sacrificed for the short-term profits of a few. The public loses because these companies are privatized. And for all the hollering about how inefficient and wasteful medicare is, those who look into it will discover that it is far more efficient than private plans.

    So long as Americans remain ignorant and paranoid about socialism, we shall continue to suffer a much lower standard of living than those of more enlightened countries.

    Efrain: What's the source of your claim that socialism hasn't worked? Is it that their infant mortality rates are too low for your tastes, or their life expectancies are too high? You'd rather they die as young as we do in the USA?

    Marcia:
    I forgot: Socialism has not worked anywhere in the world, why is it going to work in the United States of America?
    We all pay for that dearly, and part of that is the hyperinflation I see coming. Then you will miss these times, not that bad after all. Sorry.

    Marcia:
    So we agree on reengineering democracy.
    That is exactly what you are asking for, as far as I can understand.

    Efrain, where was I, I can tell you where I was. I was part of the left wing Dr. King type trying my hardest to END the war, worked for Gene McCarthy, was appalled at the way white America treated blacks.

    It is now over 40 years later, affirmative actions, money pumped in, blacks afforded GREAT GREAT advancement in every single area of American culture and life and now what do we have we have Simon's the Wire. What the hell went wrong I ask. WHY WHY WHY haven't black people been among the EXTRAORDINARILY successful. Why cannot they speak and write proper English, why are they at the bottom rung of every awful category from health to education statistics. Why do men with sideways baseball caps and clothing that is beyond their behind touted as role models. They look like IDIOTS, and they SPEAK often near that and I wonder why did I PUT MY LIFE ON THE line for THIS to be the drug, pimp, whore infested reality of a lot of their lives horrendous. If you do not think others out there look at The Wire and shake their head in disgust at the vulgarity and the dirt and the lack of hope. They are the ones who will suffer not anyone else. Those who free themselves of that putrid life will take the evolutionary advantage. Those who don't will die off and no one but no one will care.

    As for white collar crime I have been absoultely RELENTLESS in my loathing and writing and criticism of those who are like the George W. Bush til my voice cannot speak anymore and until my hands are tired so tired from writing.

    in case you think this is an example of my writing IT isn't. IT's stream of thought but it is the reality that i see and NO One but NO one can take responsbility for anyone but themselves. It is a cold hard difficult world out there and if you are young and strong and smart TAKE advantage of that NOT by a drug culture, NOT by a pimp culture but by reading, speaking well, learning and getting an education WELL BEYOND high shcool. Those are the golden keys but some are just do NOT get it.

    Disgusted at what I see.

    Michael Connell Cancelled Two Flights on Suspicion his Plane may be SABOTAGED !!!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7gHdo6ac38&feature=response_watch

    Mike Connell Killed. Karl Rove Thrilled?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxtm5RF_6Ow

    Marcia:

    we are living the unrenaissance, going back to the caves. Superpowers of the 21st century will be those countries with the most brains, not the most manufacturing necessarily. I very much agree with you, and when I said some Americans 20 years ago to do something to stop the destruction of the USA, a lady told me: "If you don't like it here, why don't you go back to your country?"
    You know what? I think she was right, who am I -from South America- to tell the American people not to destroy THEIR country? It is yours, do whatever you want with it.
    You are 60, Marcia. I am 57. What were you doing while the destruction of this country? Perhaps you did something, indeed, but most of the people didn't, and here and now you have the consequences. The government is taking care of the "financial crisis" when this is just a part of the decline, where lack of responsibility, lack of respect, lack of morality, etc are the real problems to attack.
    But then, I realized that what we have to do is to reengineer democracy, a radical change to our governments, where we prepare the young people to take over the different areas and so they can take greater responsibilities as they learn more and get experienced. We then vote for issues, policies they have to accomplish. Everywhere else that is the way it works, but with our governments. Mid-term solution, but how can we end up with something worse?

    Empi empi, it is the filth of what goes on every day in the corner in every city USA that is what makes this country diseased. Add to it the horrific Wall Street crime and one has a brew that is rancid and poison to any culture on planet earth.

    The the drug dealers, pimps, whores, and thieves that are in abundance will not usually live a long healthy and rewarding life. They will die on average much earlier than most. Perhaps, suicide is the real agenda as it will surely, as I am writing this, lead to not much else.

    An adult needs to be responsible for himself and an adult needs to be responsible for the children they bring into this world. Age gets us all in the end and it comes much too quickly and even more quickly if one's life is filled with the swill and danger of drugs, unbridled sex and easy access to guns. Sure, I am absolutely for helping anyone who wants help. There is plenty out there the taxpayers have provided. Take advantage of it absolutely as there are not many miles at all to go before we all must sleep!!

    Noel Fernandez,

    All the smart people are fighting a losing battle. As long as the lobbyists and thugs have influence over our elected officials --by using money, blackmail or threats-- intelligence and/or doing the right thing will always take a backseat. I have distrusted Repos for many years now, and have been relying on the Dems to save us. But when Pelosi folded a couple years ago and now with Obama just wanting to move forward without pursuing and punishing the perpetrators of 9/11, the economy, torture, wiretapping, etc…, I have little hope for the America that I grew up in.

    Eckert meets with Obama and a week later she dies in none other than a plane crash (JFK, Jr., Carnahan, Wellstone, Mike Connell a loose end). I think this was Cheney’s Shadow Government’s way of warning Obama with a shot across his bow. Obama should step down if he doesn’t have the balls to step up to Abdullah Al-Geo-Khan and his Saudi oil cartel.

    The one aspect of "The Wire" where I think Simon romanticizes the issue is in depicting so many people inside an institution who are aware of exactly how the dysfunction works and are ready to enforce change. Most people inside an institution are more full of fear and less aware of how to bring about change.


    What bugged me most about "The Wire"'s depiction of an inner-city school is how faculty and staff are shown to be acutely aware of the systematized problem from the top down and are ready to support and encourage subversive tactics in the classroom.
    If only such support were true.

    It took a long time before someone like David Simon came on the show. But if intellignet people just don't do anything to change the situation, what can others do, until some disaster comes along like the Bailout. In the meantime the underclass suffers.

    MARCIA, MARCIA MARCIA. How telling your post is. You are exactly one of the problems with this country. Disgusted in Los Angeles

    Everyone looking for answers, solutions. I realize this may be an over- simplication but, working from within,as The character Cutty is trying to do, may be the only realistic approach. Painfully slow, fraught with disappointments and failures, but, in the obvious absence of any other alternative, "slow and steady (may) win the race". Human nature being what it has become, I see no other way.

    PS: (after posting my two point seven cents and going to read the other comments)


    Marcia, Marcia, Marcia .... what can I say?

    For one of your points -- I won't reveal which -- I say "Watch Season Four."

    (Hey, the captcha graphic has the words "allergic officers.")

    This comes so close to the first question I've always wanted to ask Mr. Simon!

    For me, the best part of "The Wire" is how it looks at how institutions work, be they drug operations, the docks, the schools, etc. I'm sorry they never got around to looking at the Catholic church and its school system, or at the company with that big "Domino" sign.

    So MY question to David Simon would be, "You've chronicled how many institutions function badly, but on the other hand, you've run one that has worked superbly: the company that produced 'The Wire.' What worked for you?"

    But back to the way you (BMJ's blog) phrased it. "Can citizens force institutions to live up to their mission statements?" Mission statements? What mission statements? Who would have the nerve to write down what each institution is really for? I mean, is there anything in BPD's general orders that explicitly says, "Keep the drug violence away from the downtown tourist areas."?

    Seriously, if drug gangs started holding their shootouts in the fancier hotels, things would change in a jiffy, no?

    So institutions are largely doing their jobs; it's just that nobody's being honest about what their jobs actually are.

    As far as making individual institutions work, Simon gives a few tips in this series. For one, an institution depends on its people communicating among themselves freely, but when it comes to dealing with the outside world, those same people can't be undercutting each other. For the first half of that, we're shown that the backbone of a shop is a place for its people to gossip, as in the Sun's back dock and the Western's parking lot (next to the roof with the beer can mountains.) For the second part, we have Carver as an example in the first season and Prop Joe's nephew in the third.

    Another lesson is that, believe it or not, institutions can oversee themselves when things get bad enough. Best example of that is the very satisfying demise of Cheese.

    And finally, institutions require stories to act as their memories -- stats aren't enough. Weirdly enough, the series "The Wire" may serve a bit in that capacity. I figure that after seeing that, no self-respecting Ballmore drug crew will make those same mistakes again. And I bet the show's mentioned in every election campaign that city has, these days.


    (Now for me to find Simon's contact info or personal blog so's I can bug him with my showbiz notions.)

    Marcia: One thing peculiar about this "street" style is the contradictory nature of the manner and fashion in which baseball caps are worn.

    If much of the clothing is meant to provoke discomfort (wittingly or not)in those in the mainstream, the manner and fashion in which the baseball caps are worn contradict that confrontational agenda.

    At one time, baseball caps were worn dirty, bent, sun-dyed, and with saline sweat marks, all testimonies that the cap was used in intense, active pursuits, sports, play, work, whatever.

    The "street" style makes every effort to preserve the cap's appearance as it once sat brand new on the store shelf, unbent with tags and stickers. The style is not interested in putting its own mark on the commercial transaction but holds in awe the perceived perfection of market values, values which directly keep the hood the hood.

    Wall Street couldn't be happier.

    Being educated does not guarantee you a job, let alone a good paying job.

    Every ethnic group in America has gone through the ethnic cleansing, except the English, I think they are exempt. Every ethnic group has its own cultural existence that has been mainstreamed into society, eventually, except the Indian and the slaves. Slaves have a lot in common with the American Indian, they have been merged together as one culture and identified by their looks, when in actuality they come from different tribes with their own culture has different has the Christians are to the Muslim, Hindus, Confucius, Buddhist, etc.

    Maybe more people should read about American History for it took a long time for the ghetto to come into existence. And when the look of the people who live in the ghetto became more identifiable it became easier to keep them there. Then the ghetto that use to be made up of many ethnic groups became one, Black.

    The ghetto, is now the inner city, like a reservation with its meaningful institutions to help one to survive, not to improve. And so, the story goes like a tapestry of woven quandaries.

    David Simon is still right

    How does one bring about positive change to such a huge problem that has grown to effect all of society? I mean, really, to be honest, that is why we are even looking at the problem? It used to be the problem on the other side of the tracks.

    Well, Ed if that type of clothing is meant to provoke discomfort then it SUCCEEDS and succeeds well. I watched more of the wire and each minute I am nauseated and disgusted even more. Guys in an ally with a woman giving them oral sex at night. NO problem this is business as usual. The profane language is equally as disgusting. It is never ending. This is what children hear.

    Truly, I am depressed this a.m. as I see crime of a different sort being played out by whites on Wall Street. Sixty Minutes did a GREAT piece on how the sham, scam and pyrimid scheme of 401Ks did nothing but hurt the little guy. Which is worse ghetto bestial conduct or Wall Street unethical, immoral and its form of bestial conduct. I do not know. The country I did know (I am 60) once upon a time does not exist anymore. That is for sure. What does exist? The law of the jungle and it's getting worse by the second.

    Who tells us the truth? GM? AIG? Citibank, the local drug dealer? The Obama administration as it says one thing on the campaign trail and does quite another while in office.

    At least I never expected team Bush to be anything else but hugely corrupt, brutal and secretive. I expected the EXACT opposite from this administration but it seems we are getting more of the same.

    I am sad, I am pessimistic and I am very very afraid of the future. Now that 401ks worked so very hard to maintain by those of us who were SO hard working mean nothing. How does the Wall Street culture differ from the corner culture of our inner cities. The answer: It doesn't. I am sad very very very sad!

    Marcia: Would you also expect a woman who is in a dysfunctional marital relationship where she suffers physical, verbal, and emotional abuse daily to easily extricate herself from her situation? Some women do, many don't. There are many avenues of support available.

    Many people do find ways out of such situatuations, but the whole dysfunctional system still needs to be understood, as we all suffer to varying degrees from the same malaise.

    The wearing of clothing in non-standard ways is meant to provoke discomfort in those outside the group as well as to make a defiant statement against what is considered proper. Style is a language that has an agenda to communicate.

    Meant to say I watched one episode of The Wire...I watch EVERY episode of Moyers. He is wonderful!!!

    So I watched one episode, and I must say I came away thinking this series is SO utterly alien to me...the culture, the people, the language the WHOLE enchilada is completely outside of any realm I have ever seen or to which I ever could relate. Okay, black people are visually different from the dominant culture that means that people have preconceived ideas which have been formulated for centuries. Then I think of Asians and how WELL they do. They look visusally differnt and have had a hard time initially when they came to this country. Granted not the same history here but still they suffered and excel everywhere. If you go to MIT or Harvard or any excellent ivy league schools they are there en masse and NOT on affirmative action. Could you imagine a literacy project for Jews in this country? It's funny.

    My point blacks have been here for 300 years, horrible things were done to them NO doubt about it, but much has been done to bend over backwards to ameliorate the situation and STILL you get a culture like you see on the Wire or on the streets of Roxbury or Bedford Stuyvesant. I know NOT liberal type sentiments. But i don't like to be pigeonholed and I like to tell it like it is and observe and see what I see and I STILL cannot understand the black reality. I STILL can't understand why in ghettos they speak Ebonics and, why the ghetto look is SO sloven. Why baseball caps are worn so they look like someone who has something wrong with them or that their pants fall almost below their rear ends. It looks AWFUL .. and when you go to get a job THAT is not the way to do it but it is the look to sell drugs. I KNOW all the other explanations of their dire situation. They are the underclass and as Dave Simon says they are expendable.

    SO if I were in a situation like that and young I would do ANYTHING it took to extricate myself. I would plunk myself down in a LIBRARY and read, read read read and read some more. I would familiarize myself with all the classics with ideas and hone my thinking abilities and emphasize my talents. I came from a family that did NOT emphasize learning but it was in me anyway. I ingested knowledge like it was food. I still cannot get enough.

    Why do some people some cultures NOT care about that, not love it .... the black ghetto culture I CANNOT identify with it is like they are on planet Pluto to me...another world, another people. We are all the same in that we all are members of homo sapiens with the same amount of DNA. Truly though we do not use it in the same ways.

    ENGLISH, ENGLISH, ENGLISH ... LEARN to speak it well, learn to write well, and learn to read. I cannot think of any better way out of the quagmire of drugs, hookers, gangs, violence and death. I can't think of any better way to turn what the white man has done on its head. They can win...the lottery ticket is at the public library. Get thee to a transit system, go to a library grab a book and read and then grab another and THINK about ALL the interesting things it has to say within it. Go and STAY in school ANY school, take advantage of GOOD teachers..there are some there I know....use the system and and what it can offer you. THAT's MY prescription but yes, I know it's all too simplistic...BUT I THINK it really is not. I am trying to think of the QUICKEST, EASIEST way out of certain jail, death or both at a much too young an age!

    I am glad to see there is some thinking being done out there, all be it late Sunday night broadcast. It's evident there is a hope not yet lost to a system broken and decaying in the face of all this economic woe. Well, to tell you the truth, I can be nothing but a survivor since being gainfully unemployed for the better part of ten years. This program hit a nerve as I am faced in my very own community that smacks with the tired wornout complacency spoken here on this program. You see, my daughter was murdered ten years ago by her drug dealing boyfriend and he's been out of prison for a few years. He, at first, was able to find and keep a job since this community allowed the drug activity to continue. I, on the other hand wasn't handed such a gracious gift, because I'm the angry mother. A week before Easter Sunday I learn that this individual is currently a drug dealer in this town and has bought a house of his own. I have tried to acquire a job at the local gas station but then find the assistant manager is a drug user who freely gives a ride to this murderer. So I guess that's out.
    Enough of the highly personal cringing rhetoric.
    There is a story that was never told about so many across the country and the ever so silent sufferings endured. I am inspired not to give up, but to try and find a gentler approach toward those who would be overwhelmed with such truth.

    Bill,
    Thanks for a really great interview with David Simon. It's one of the best I've seen since I started watching the show.

    I think Simon accurately described what we are – an ogliarchy. Congress sold out the American people to big business, industry and lobbiests a long time ago.

    We have no real power – "we" being "We the People." Our voices have been lost in the orgy of money that flows from industry and big business to Congress, state legislatures and even city councils across this land.

    We aren't in the present economic crisis because business was "over-regulated." We are here because business influenced Congress to change financial laws, coaxed regulators to look the other direction and because greed won out the day.

    Even in our desperate gasps and cries for help as we drown in debt, the loudest voices being heard are those to "Save the banks," "Save the auto industry" and "save the mortgage companies." The individual, for whom this country was built by and for is lost.

    Making Institutions Work...
    The first thing you have to do is define the word "work".
    Our institutions work and our people work to make them work. The problem is that our institutions are corrupted by incompetent and malicious intent. The institutions are only as good as the people who run them.
    We have too many contradictory concepts on how our institutions should work and what constitutes a good institution. It is obvious that what works best is what provides the best possible life experiences for the people. What we put into social systems is what we get out of social systems. This is basic cause and effect It is also garbage in garbage out or good things in and good things out. In a capitalist system; It takes money to make things work.
    There is no free lunch. The capital has to provide the funds or the institutions fail.
    Everyone suffers from an anemic and corrupted system.

    Having viewed your program for many years, I have been most impressed with two exceptional pieces. David Simon and John Lithgow/author (both March 2009). I believe the reason is, simply, that they both speak the truth - which, incidently, end up with an ART product. True talent is based in honesty. These two individuals not only speak voraciously but with conviction and experience defining the meaningful presence of the 'soul 'which seems to have languished in the media in preference to political correctness. The poetry of the streets from Mr. Simon. The poetry reflected by Mr. Lithgow all have relevance to the human condition that forces each of us to face our fears, our truths, our existence and meaning to life. Thank you. Yes, thank you. S. Federico, CA

    "Democracy begins, and can end at the ballot box."
    Taras Vizzi April 19, 2009 9:33 PM
    I agree Taras, the ballot box filled with PAPER BALLOTS, marked with pen/pencil ONLY and counted in an open transparent way.
    Eliminate ALL electronic voting and counting machines as Brad Friedman has been screaming for over four years!

    Democracy begins, and can end at the ballot box. Unless and until we demand more of our politicians, then we the people will continued to be "gamed" by the oligarchies. But to demand more of the people we elect, implicitly means that we must demand more of ourselves and that is perhaps the hardest task we face. It means looking beyond the bromides and empty smiles of politicians who have honed their rhetorical skills, and who are well funded by the industries and groups who seek to benefit by their election. It means taking citizenship to a new level; not just voting, but turning off the tv set when the political ad comes on; mailing back the door hanger to the campaign headquarters; demanding that hard questions be asked about policies and financial backing. Once it is known that there exists a voice that makes such demands, then the level of leadership will rise, and the degree of chicanery will fall. Mr. Simon is correct that America is on a decline, but it is a decline that has its underpinnings in a certain moral corruption that takes people away from their roles as responsible citizens. Change on the outside must come from change within.

    Bill Moyer's, thank you for inviting "truth seekers" like David Simon, William Black and others on your show. It's become all too clear that those "in power" are operating from an agenda that is counter to what's in the best interest of the American people. Thomas Jefferson said, "That to pass debt onto your children is immoral." The amount of debt that has been approved by our government ( $ 12.7 T) is nothing short of financial child abuse.

    Our forefathers created this amazing country to give everyone an equal opportunity to CREATE a better life. Decisions that have been, and continue to be made by our government are designed to enslave, not free us.

    Deep in my heart, I hold a vision of America the strong, the proud and the capable. Unfortunately, what is more real is the America David Simon describes: America held hostage, beaten and tortured by those in power (who are corrupt).

    We face very difficult times ahead. United, we can survive the economic tsunami that is building momentum. Divided, the corrupt and "all powerful" will debase our Constitution, strip us of our liberties, our economic independence and ultimately, try to make us slaves of the state.

    Mr. Simon, thank you for stating your truths. With a very heavy heart, I agree with you.

    This program has revitalized an issue of institutional power that raised its head for me from time to time, each time becoming more illuminated.

    A bit culled from Wiki on Simon:


    In an interview in Reason in 2004, Simon said that since leaving the newspaper business he has become more cynical about the power of journalism.[7] "One of the sad things about contemporary journalism is that it actually matters very little. The world now is almost inured to the power of journalism. The best journalism would manage to outrage people. And people are less and less inclined to outrage," said Simon.[7] "I've become increasingly cynical about the ability of daily journalism to affect any kind of meaningful change. I was pretty dubious about it when I was a journalist, but now I think it's remarkably ineffectual."[7]


    Very nicely put and just as applicable to education.

    While I agree with him about the drug war and some of his other comments, he gets the economics stuff mostly WRONG. He tries to define "capitalism" as what we have now...it isn't (we have a mixed economy). Most of the problems in the economy (including high youth unemployment)are caused by government interference in the market. The big difference between rich and poor income levels is also caused mostly by bad government policies. Then, of course, he had to take the mandatory shot at republicans...give me a break. Obama is bankrupting us.

    What a wonderful program you produce. Thank you so much. I agree with most of David Simon's conclusions, particularly his comment: “I would put all the interdiction money, all the incarceration money, all the enforcement money, all of the pretrial, all of the prep, all of that cash – I would hurl it, as fast as I could, into drug treatment and job training and jobs programs.” Most people are driven by self-interest and seek power to further their self-interest. Virtually every spiritual tradition argues against self-interest as a way to promote peace, but it's not a value that is widely examined, taught, reinforced, or practiced in mainstream society (beginning with schools). Because our self-interest trumps our concern for others, we accept, tolerate, and perpetuate the suffering of others. In the end, of course, such selfishness poisons our own peace of mind as well as the world in which we must live.

    To hear that we are ruled by an oligarchy brings back our memories of Plato's "Republic" and Thucydides "Peloponesian War." Both speak of this eternal recurrence of the disintegration of an aristocracy, into a democracy, then an oligarchy, and finally into tyranny.

    Some when asked why there is no revolutionary fervor for change in this country, it is suggested that our young students do not and cannot read Thucydides. And that silent contributor to the constitutional convention, Thomas Hobbes, translated it as a very young man. And why don't we consider, as did our founding fathers, the warnings in the "Leviathan?"

    Thucydides' diagnostics and symptoms of a disintegrating republic are worth once more ruminating upon, as did Jefferson and others. I saw a copy of that book in Jefferson's library.

    For example, one of the most interesting developments during the disintegration of the Athenian republic is the abuse of language such as when we speak of "peace offensives." We saw a shift of high moral language, to a language that the ends justify the means, and then this is now spoke of as the "high moral course!" Someone should prepare a devil's dictionary of those words designed not to move us to considered judgement, but rather fill our utterances with blind and thoughless passion.

    We would like to hear more of the music of questions rather than deformative speeches. Much is said, but alas mostly empty abstractions applauded into existence by an army of clacks.

    And so it was in Athens before the quick and decisive disintegration of its empire.

    We should all speak more often about these things, but if the very meaning of our words are too drastically reshaped maybe even into their opposites, who will understand what we are saying to each other?

    Perhaps too many of us have left the scene to serve other more inner masters. It becomes discouraging to speak of such important things when the work of language becomes acts of blatant manipulation.

    As Plato suggested, perhaps now the only members of the Republic are those that read the "Republic."

    "In the mouth of Society are many diseased teeth, decayed to the bones of the jaws. But Society makes no effort to have them extracted and be rid of the affliction. It contents itself with gold fillings."
    --- Kahlil Gibran, Thoughts and Meditations

    Anyone know these words from this clip below?

    d&eaccent;nouement,

    I don't think-- since we basically have become a market-based culture and it's what we know, and it's what's led us to this sad d&eaccent;nouement, I think we're going to follow market-based logic, right to the bitter end.

    Great show!

    “You show me anything that depicts institutional progress in America… anything that somebody can get a promotion on. And as soon as you invent that statistical category, 50 people in that institution will be at work trying to figure out a way to make it look as if progress is actually occurring when actually no progress is… the same game is played everywhere. That nobody's actually in the business of doing what the institution's supposed to do.”

    “You juke the stats.”

    “Wherever you go, there you are.”

    Like Barb, I am also a nurse, and employed by a large for-profit hospital corporation, where ill patients requiring complex care are reduced to standardizable, predictable units of production with one-size-fits-all solutions. Business concepts of efficiencies and productivity determine health care priorities. “Templates that make the hospital look great and in complete compliance for regulatory agencies and (CYA) meaningless forms and paperwork” do take priority.

    The midnight census (number of patients at midnight, which is the lowest volume, determines daily staffing), patient acuity systems, clinical pathways, and benchmarking (no matter how many warnings about how deeply flawed these theories - managing costs rather than managing care - are when it comes to dealing with the complex care of ill patients; deteriorating working conditions; and poor patient care) trump compassion and quality of care. Nurses are told to work harder and smarter, to do more with less, and to ignore the totality of their patients’ needs.

    Ill patients and their families do not make perfect customers. When patient satisfaction surveys plummeted, staff was asked to identify dissatisfied patients, so that they could be excluded from post hospital surveys, and to identify extremely satisfied patients, so they would be targeted for the surveys. Making dissatisfied patients and families disappear. “You juke the stats.” Improved patient satisfaction scores are now being heralded. Managers become assistant vice presidents, assistant vice presidents become executive vice presidents, taking what is not progress and what is not valid, and glossing it up and to say, "We're doing a great job."

    In a word, "Yes."
    "I would put all the interdiction money, all the incarceration money, all the enforcement money, all of the pretrial, all of the prep, all of that cash – I would hurl it, as fast as I could, into drug treatment and job training and jobs programs."
    ...ditto, and the pols know exactly what that means. It's not utopian; it's entirely pragmatic and utilitarian - a results-based program that puts the politicians on notice. We're not going to take it anymore! When citizens rise, it is all too easy to lash out at obstruction - witness Watergate - see the problems for what they are, effect the right and righteous solutions, or be damned.

    Note:

    All institutions are designed to serve the individuals who staff them, not for those they serve.

    The Wire scene in which a policeman responds to a woman's complaint about neighborhood drug dealers left me wondering, "Is this what urban dwellers can expect of police? The miscreants win; you're on your own?" Such fatalistic resignation doesn't have to be. When gang members shot at the police in a northeast Los Angeles neighborhood recently, in short order over 500 officers from various agencies raided the neighborhood where that occurred, cleaning out entrenched gang members. It can be done, if police want it done.

    Those Democrats and Republicans whose only wish is to maintain the status quo still hold much of the power. Our prisons are just a symptom of a bigger problem. Our people too easily forget who brought our nation and other nations down. Here we are left with no jobs, no job security, low wages, no safety nets in what I call economic terrorism. And there is a quiet war taking place and the victims are in our private prisons that we pay for. It is a big Ponzi scheme but there are many Americans who can't see the trees through the woods. We elect them and they take our tax dollars and give it to special interests and get paid with our tax dollars. Its a one way street and its not about main street. They are willing to let ten's of millions across the world go broke and have broken lives. To them there is nothing worth saving and they are still fighting to hold on to their fortunes while we lose ours. Like Chaney's assination team, they will go for our economic throats to keep the gravey train flowing. They will imprison as many as they can making profits while millions go homeless, now one in fifty here in our land of plenty. The people of Mexico are poor and now so are we but still no revolution. I don't know how low it can go but it seems like people can endure an awful lot of suffering before they fight for change. Our world is in peril, global warming is baring down at a rapid pace and big corporations are privatizing water like oil. Pesticides the size of pollen are killing our bees and there is now more plastic in our oceans then Plankton. The very source of oxygen on Earth. The confluence of events are unfolding like Easter Island, but this time the Island is Planet Earth. More and more will be held captive while they use their power to destroy. They don't think they live here too. And while the right wing fanatics are blinded by hate, the world around them is crumbling. If we are not going to take to the streets, we better fight to elect only those value us the most and not the status quo.

    This is the third time I've tried to post this. What gives? Emergency Rooms are natural treatment centers for drug addicts since that is where drug addicts present when they have problems. There was a Harvard psychologist - whose name I forget - who developed a negative reinforcement schedule for addicts who presented at ERs. Basically you give away drugs at ERs. This gets rid of street crime, and with an effective negative reinforcement, gets rid of users too and those who supply them. The system was tried in the 80s in Boston and worked. It ran into opposition from Charlie Rangle when they tried to expand it to Harlem. There was a big controversy on McNeil Lehrer News Hour - and then it disappeared, and I can't find any reference to it online (otherwise I'd tell you the guy's name) It makes sense to me - and well - I don't see why we can't try it. People give drugs away to get folks hooked on drugs - here we have a psychologist telling us he's developed a reinforcement schedule with drugs to get addicts off the stuff. ERs are given training - determine need - and then give away drugs according to the schedule over a 90 day period. Like I said, when it was tried in Boston, according to the MLNH, street crime disappeared and pushers moved away from the hospital and there was gang fighting as territories reshuffled to the erasure of the territory around the hospital. Had the hospital had more drugs and wider availability - drug sales in Boston would have ended - and folks would have self identified to save money from all walks of life. In today's economic hard times this sort of program would be very beneficial at many many levels.

    haha - alright if this disappears into the bit bucket I give up! - haha.

    Thank you Bill Moyers for the wonderful shows you manage to have for us each week. I look forward to watching you each week. I don't know what I will do if you ever leave us again. You are the best out there. I am so thankful for your program! I have been watching for a long time and this is my first time blogging anything and I hope to start a new thing. This program with David Simon was great! Thank you Bill for all of your wonderful guest that you continue to have on your program. I am reassured when I see that there are really some good people out there that care and know what is going on. I want to sign up to help!
    Thank you. Thank you.

    I could not believe what I was hearing. We teachers in NYC go in front of Klein and his Panel and accuse him of academic fraud but the Department of Ed in NYC is run like the KGB- total secrecy. The meetings are not recorded or transcripted. NOW we have a voice getting heard on national television saying what we know to be true. The question is how do we get David Simon to go on the road with his message- to make the non-PBS watchers privy to the truth, and to be stated over and over, about our institutions. (Not that many of them do not know and/or live the truth). In my opinion Bill Moyers is a national treasure and I thank him for being one of the few members of the fourth estate that remember what their duty is.

    Bill Moyers Journal shone again with the David Simon interview. Bill's ability to bring us thoughtful, experienced and credible people never fails. Every week he brings us someone who reminds us that there really are intelligent, insightful people in the US in spite of the fact that the media megaphone has been turned over to those who reject any kind of thoughtfulness or intellect.

    David Simon was very compelling. He was educated and grounded in the streets and yet confirmed the bigger picture that we are truly an oligarchy and the underclass has no value and therefore no reason to be saved by a Capitalist society. These were truths that will stay with me.

    Every Friday night with Bill Moyers is like a balm on the burn of a week of cable media. He's a national treasure. An interview in which the host allows the guest to speak...imagine that!

    David Simon has framed out the essential dilemma of humanity. The development of a structure that only supports who's on top and promotes the continuation of societal pressure and "education" to make sure that those on top stay there.
    And the rest must ask; How can we share what we have without losing our position? How can we maintain our advantage, no matter how meager?
    The addiction problems that have the most devastating efects are not drugs or alcohol, which are real problems, it is power and control. These elements have much to do with what causes the other addictions.
    The politics of greed and the dispensing of fear satisfies the addiction to control and assures that no means will be spared to maintain it.

    I have to agree with the guest. I work as a nurse so I see several big institutions at work to proctect themselves; drug companies, hospital corporations, insurance companys, Government agencies(medicare, medicade),lawyers,etc. We complete tons of charts, graphs,surveys, time management, staffing levels(what is the minimun the hospital can legally get by with),and templates that make the hospital look great and in complete compliance for regulatory agencies such as Joint Commission(fox guarding the henhouse) compliance inspections, lawsuits, and other self protection vehicles. If anyone has actually been in the hospital lately you probably know those stats ring pretty hollow with reality these days. If you get to see or visit with a nurse, you know she must of had a couple of seconds free from all of the cover your ass(CYA)meaningless forms and paperwork, and charting. I shake my head everytime I see the template that we must complete, even if the patient is comatose, that we have offered him stop smoking classes, so that we can be in compliance with something or other. We are becoming the advocates for big medicine business instead of the patient and I do not even think we are truly really aware of it.

    My Moyers it was pleasure watching your show today with David Simon. Not often do I see someone with working knowledge of people speak honestly about jobs, education & greed. The reality of, “as long as people get a few scraps there will be no change – Simon”.
    Sad!

    Dear Mr. Moyers, Your reaction to David Wilson shows that the issue of truth resonates with you. I'm sad to say that you appear to me to be one of the players he talks about who are avoiding the hard truths so they can win "the game". If you really wanted to maximize your influence for good you would be putting a lot of energy in your program for media reform and campaign finance reform. These are the 2 areas that most of the evils of our society come from. The shaping of public opinion by media conglomerates and lobbyists like AIPAC draws a straight line to the bombing and blockade of hundreds of thousands of children in Gaza. Please embrace the torch of truth. You are one of the few people who has the power and the vehicle to change things. I appreciate you having Amy Goodman on your program. She is one of my few heroes because she has the courage to speak truth to power. Unfortunately I now see you as truth light. Still good, but I crave more substance. Please be all you can be. The country needs that desperately.

    There is all the difference in the world between recognizing institutional dysfunction and calling American life a ponzi scheme. Simon is anthropomorphizing what he admits are systemic problems. To say that some oligarchy 'designed' the war on drugs, inner-city schools, the war, etc. basically everything bad, detracts from the sociological analysis. If Mr. Simon is interested in institutional failure, he might do well to compare the levels of corruption in American institutions with those worldwide. The correct understanding is sociological - this is not purely a matter of will. To conceive of the problem as essentially interpersonal is misleading. That Simon seems unaware that he repeatedly contradicts himself on this point demonstrates what a sin it was to have him on to discuss anything but The Wire as a TV show. It was the best show in television history. Simon is not a profound commentator on American institutions. Why should we expect these roles would be filled by the same man? As for the series, the more I hear from Simon, the more impressed I am by the show's actors and directors. It is NOT the social commentary that makes the show. Let us appreciate it for what it is.

    That shows like Mr. Moyers and The Wire are seen by so few and even less by the policy makers and those served so well by capitalism is sad. Or perhaps these programs are watched in large numbers by these groups, but they rationalize their existence and the institutions they serve, denying the truth Mr. Simon speaks and depicts in his art.

    What is to be done? America, I feel has to slip further still before meaningful change can begin. I take no pleasure is believing that, but instead consider how I might contribute to a different future.

    The journal is a great program. This interview was terrific. I have never watched the Wire but I have heard from friends that it is a good show. I am an intercity school teacher in Chicago. The motto at CPS is children first, but what a joke. I am a special education teacher. After the school year begins each year, there is a policy at CPS called the 21st day. At that time CPS reviews the student teacher ratio. If a teacher has "too few" students, the teacher with the least senority is dismissed and the children are dispearsed to other teacher's classrooms. Sometimes they give a teacher a spilt classroom for example a 2nd and 3rd grade class. For special education teachers, it depends on the number of service minutes the students have. If the number of minutes is less than CPS has allotted, the teacher is dismissed. The remaining special educatoin teachers split up the students. This all happens in mid-October, after routines and rapports are getting set. The BOE could care less about the students and even less about teachers. Arne Duncan is now the leader of education in the U.S. He is a numbers cruncher looking out for himself. Just as Mr. Simon described.

    Lucia, you are so right. You speak to what are the attitudes which are causal in our cultural decline and death. We blame all sorts of "others" when the trouble is actually within ourselves. When the time comes that people live according to the law of karma, there will be right relationships, and there will be sharing and peace because folks will know that it is in their best interest to be harmless. Thanks for speaking up.

    I was very saddened by this interview because it crystallized the disappointments my family has suffered... and we are not members of an underclass. I DON'T think the schools want to teach our kids to be better citizens, but more compliant ones. I told my kids to fight for their education, that THEY were responsible for learning, throughout their entire lives.Now they are grown, serving the Public, and try so hard to work with Honesty, & against the matrix of our "democracy." You can do the right thing and you get harassed out of your job, and are in fear of being without one. I want to make the point also about the "accepted" view of poor people being a less worthy, even infective subgroup of human-- this harkens back to our nation's founding, the Puritan perspective. When you are of a religion, as many of our forefathers were, that believes that people are chosen by God to succeed in life, and those who are poor, are so because they deserve it, then it is easy to go the next level and see they must be accursed by Almighty God. Early preachers also taught that helping unfortunates would work at cross purposes to the Divine Plan. This perversion of the Golden Rule runs deep in our society....at least in many of the Neo Con Tribe. The result of branding the subclasses as "Others" makes it easy to discard them with impunity. But, didn't Jesus' story about the Good Samaritan teach Christians about thinking outside the tribal box?
    One would think that after Newton, modern people would remember that their actions create reactions. The law of Karma tells us that, as well. Thus, when we help others, we eventually help ourselves. We need to return to this particular view of the world-- it's our only hope in the long run.

    I have to complement Mr. David Simon for his sharp mind. He was articulate and right to the point.

    However, it seems we are forgetting that we are in recession and we need jobs. “War on Drugs” brings us a lot of jobs. And they are here to stay! And we do not need to worry that these jobs may be shipped somewhere else! Folks, we should not under-estimate the grand wisdom of the people who are running our government, they know the best!

    You and the team have put together another excellent informative program Mr. Moyers. Thank you. I do not have cable connection or dish so I do not receive some of the more profound stories/programs that are delicately selected for HBO? I wonder, if the audience should be more broadly selected so as to be given the opportunity to view these kind of programs, such as The Wire. Thank you PBS for being available for someone like me. I contribute what I can to keep you active and I hope our government will continue to contribute as they did before the last regime.
    I agree with you David Simon but so what. We as a human race like to think how advance we are in our progression along the evolutionary ladder and the poor, well they are disposable like garbage. The institutions that were established to help have changed to control the miserable lot of the poor to keep them in their proper places, out of sight and mind of the normal law abiding, working class citizen.
    There are laws being established in our smaller cities to outlaw homelessness. A homeless person is being stigmatized to be ignorant, alcoholic, mentally ill, addicted to drugs, or just plain lazy. They are slowly being mainstreamed out of normal society. Pushed into designated areas and transformed into institutionally run systems. Our inner cities are growing and once you find yourself within the population of this kind of invirement the rules change and it is hard to get out.
    I do believe that systems were created with good intentions and they did work, but I think that was the problem in itself they were working. I think corruption could have been stopped before it became overwhelming in any system, unless there are threats to ones own survival. An assassin murdered Lincoln and the direction of this country was changed. John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy killed by the hands of assassins and the future’s history is dislocated.
    I do not believe corruption just happens it is thought out. I think there are too many prisons and I do not want to see prisons privatized. I do not like low paying wages either, it is all too much like slavery.
    Maybe we should asses the systems rather than the people who find themselves needing them and work towards the goal of no longer needing the system rather than to sustain their existence. Maybe the people for whom the system serves should be the ones to assess its progress and it’s shortcomings rather than allowing the politicians who really do not know what is going on. People need to be involved. Well maybe it would make a difference to a police officer knowing that people truly care that he is there and the firemen who sacrifices his well being to care for others will find it worthy when the local people acknowledge them rather than take it for granted. Educators put forth an effort to involve all of the community in the process of education and do not stop education opportunities with just their children, but with all the community for education is not a privilege it is a right. I believe it is possible to change things toward the good for all to co-exist happily, but defiantly not easy.
    Thank you for listening and for caring.

    David Simon’s question of how our democracy will fare in the near future given our gaming ways was provocative.

    Today, I was presenting to an acquaintance the benefits of our saving (bailout) the financial system, and at the same time investing billions in our future. Recognizing and even reveling in the fact that in times of trauma there are opportunities for real change. Would we be better off letting the whole system go under? Would the resulting change from an even more perilous place, that might include social upheaval in all corners of the globe and here at home, have a more desirable outcome?

    How much pain am I willing to endure? Ignorance is bliss; check out the last 10 years.

    Think of it like this: 44% of our Congressmen are ex-attorney, 20 are ex-medical and Pharma employees and 15 % are ex-law officials. With 78% of Congress taking contributions from industries supporting the "War on Drugs", it no wonder they want to continue this oppression on the American taxpayer. It's in their best interest, not the American Publics!

    I have to say I was very impressed with what David had to say and I do agree with most of it. It was one of the few times that I have seen an interview with a film producer and can say that I have felt that way.

    However, I have to take exception to his blanket statement:

    "The same game is played everywhere – nobody’s actually in the business of doing what the institution is supposed to do... If there’s an institution that is supposed to serve you or that you are supposed to serve, and it’s supposed to care for you and be a societal positive, it will betray you.”

    I am a professional firefighter (Captain actually) in NJ serving an urban city and I don't feel I have compromised myself for the job at all, or ever 'betrayed' the public.

    The state administers the test for our promotions, so I do not have to worry about playing any games to get a promotion. We also have little if any overtime, so I can't play any games to try and get it.

    While I do admit at times I do see some waste and problems do exist, but overall I think the present system works quite well. The public calls and we come right away and professionally take care of whatever problem was called in.

    I truly believe I always respond promptly and give the best possible care and assistance, and I think I can say that the overwhelming majority of people I work with do the same.

    I have to address this issue again. Most people who reply above are just showing their intelligence. But are they doing anything to change this kind of behaviour. Will they get off their butts and do something. When I heard of the Mission Statement, I could'nt believe that in America, that silly statement means that is all they have to say to completely disregard any complaints they wish to erradicate. What is wrong with this kind of government. Is this a dictatorship?

    Mr. Simon, I am a rural Missouri attorney with 36 years of practice behind me. What you see happening in the city is happeing to poor rural people of all races. We seem to have plenty of money for law enforcement officers and their power suits, prisons and parol officers but we don't have enough for social workers, teachers and medical care. Yet, at least out here, the old time law enforcement people and judges and lawyers will admit that the war on drugs isn't working. More importantly the corruption of police work you mentioned is the reason so many murderers and violent criminals go free here too. The public is not being told this truth and so we go on in this downward spiral. Perhaps if more writers and researchers like you would come forward we could engineer a change. I hope so.

    I couldn't agree more with David Simon. The fact that Bill Moyers' program,arguably the most intelligent on TV is aired at 2.00 AM proves beyond a reasonable doubt much of Mr Simon's thesis about the forces at play in our system.
    The so called "War on Drugs"is nothing less than a War on Reason and is a War on our own people.

    I am happy and surprised that there is someone like David Simon to be exposed. I wish to express a lot more but I have to be brief. I am making a complaint in the District Court in Phoenix and am waiting for a reply to my summons for this kind of attitude by employers.

    This interview was amazing, not atypical for Bill Moyers whose "Journal" adds the most of any television program to intelligent, informed, important discussion on major issues.

    Thank you, Bill!

    Mr. Simon's description of the real situation in America as concerns the people who are not wealthy was simply astounding to me. He says it straight and I agree with him. It's called truth. Yes, TRUTH. Something we are not used to hearing on our media.

    The forgotten poor of whom I now must count myself, whether educated or not, advantaged or not, are of no use to politicians. I think Mr. Simon got that correct. Unless someone can use the poor in some way, or the poor become a danger or liability, we will only be exploited and tolerated and thrown crumbs. For an older person like myself it hardly matters now, but for children, for the young person it is very very sad.

    Please keep telling America the truth, Bill Moyers. You are a true national treasure!

    This was an eye opener of a program.
    Much thanks to Bill Moyers and David Simon.
    The numbers game reminded me of the body count during the Vietnam War. The numbers were doing nothing to win the war or to support the war effort. Numbers are necessary for accountability but they must be accurate and used affectively to support meaningful results.
    People are our most important resource and they need to be treated with respect. They need meaningful work that is legal and pays life support wages.

    Simon speaks of the "corner", the "surplus people". Mainstream America does not see it; institutions either ignore it or manipulate it to their advantage. Without tongue-in-cheek, Government should report and publish the number and percentage of SI (Surplus People)just as it does Unemployment, CPI, and GDP but,hopefully, without juking the statistics as it does with the latter three. Mainstream deserves to know the extent of its failure to its own citizens.

    Making drugs legal and taxed by the Gov. to me, would develope a worse mess then we have now. Probably 5 out of 10 people who use drugs, become addicted. Addiction leads to poor job performance, breaking up of families and numerous other problems affecting society. Where are these folks going to get the money to buy drugs legally? It may be legal to stand on the corner and smoke weed but, most will end up in jail anyway because of robbing, killing,or assulting others to get money to buy their "legal drugs". It makes no sense. Sure, the Gov. would make a killing on taxing drugs and then they could turn around and spend all this taxed drug money on bailouts, free money for people who are to lazy to work,politicians high salaries and pensions,pay for their trips around the world bad-mouthing American's and most important, getting rid of the pig smell.

    david simon does nail it. i didn't sleep too well last night due to listening to this truth. i think a cold turkey remedy is called for, but won't happen. it's clear to me conditioning, fear, denial, greed and selfishness are the issues we need to relinquish to solve these woes. i've never seen 'the wire' but i love bill moyers and feel grateful for seeing this show last night.
    i want to work with/for david simon, i'd get on that bandwagon. power in numbers.....we need to wake the hell up and drop our sense of importance.
    peace, scott white

    haha - I wonder where my comment about using ERs to end drug use in 90 days went? ah well.

    First, if you made it this far in the comments, thanks for reading.

    One other point concerning "juking" the stats: Why the heck would anyone who's job it is to arrest drug dealers ever be interested in eliminating drugs? Why would anyone who's job is to eliminate poor people ever want to see an end to poverty? Oh, they say they are helping people, but not enough to actually change their lives.

    I have read Mr. Simon's books and watched all of his television series because I could relate to them. The stories he told were eerily familiar. At one point my city pretty much abandoned an entire section of town as one huge open air drug market and, like Colvin's hell, no services were afforded for any of the residents (those in the drug culture and those hardworking, law abiding citizens too poor to escape the madness). Every night was filled with automatic weapons fire. When we called for police assistance they documented the call but delayed in responding; one snowy night that delay resulted in the death of one of their own. For over 30 years our public schools have perpetuated the underclass, and continue to do so, while gleaming condos and office buildings rise displacing their homes and affording little chance for them to remain and share in any prosperity. At one time we were the murder capital of the nation. My city - Washington, DC, our nation's capital. Mr. Simon writes of the spider web that is engulfing our nation. We lack the political and social pesticide to destroy it and, ultimately, our nation will be trapped there waiting for the deterioration to complete our destruction from within.

    David Simon used the word "systemic" repeatedly in this interview, and pointed out that Baltimore is just a microcosm the US. He felt these problems have become institutionalized and can't be solved.

    Our legal and political institutions can still work, but we need to do some serious work. I wonder if we are up to the challenge.

    In 1976 Dr. Milton Friedman got Nobel Prize for his Free Market economy and he was a champion of deregulation. For decades Dr. Friedman was celebrated enormously for his flawed theses. Dr. Friedman conveniently died on Nov. 2006 just before witnessing the mess that his economy theory had created! However, Dr. Friedman had only one good idea! He was arguing to legalize the illicit drugs. That would take away the profit from dealing the drugs. This idea was totally dismissed by the politicians and the law enforcements.

    I am glad to hear Mr. David Simon brilliantly exposed the devastation and very costly problems of our dispossessed. He also had the real solution to solve those problems. Interestingly this is the same solution that Dr. Friedman had suggested. I wonder how our government selectively praises certain flawed ideas and at the same time totally ignores the ideas which totally solve many diseases of our society!?

    David Simon ruined my life. Well, not completely. But prior to HLOTS I did not watch TV and now I do--though mostly on DVDs...which is where I saw "The Wire", in one long unrelenting marathon. I'm afraid that Simon is correct about human institutions. Some humans will always game the system, while many others are playing by the rules. This dynamic is undoubtedly built into our species, and under proper controls must have served some purpose. The problem is that we live in a very different environment from the one in which we evolved. Originally, we knew who the cheaters were, and even the ones who were really good cons knew that they risked banishment if they got caught. Now, however, we have no such controls because we no longer live in small well-connected communities. We've tried to ameliorate our lack of personal knowledge of our "counterparties" with laws and regulations, but those have been largely destroyed in the US in recent years. Many Americans fell for the cons who said "Trust us, we'll regulate ourselves!" We're idiots who get what we deserve.

    Thank You!! I didn't know there was someone else out there who felt the same way I do. Mr. Simon, thank you!! After marrying an African American woman I was introduced to the world Mr. Simon has viewed through the keyhole. I myself was raised in a white upper middle class home. I soon moved in with my wife and her family although she was only 16. I became a DJ which is a highly regarded position in the African American community (this is 1982) and soon found myself interested in the gangsta culture. I began selling drugs, not because I had to, but because it was an accepted means of making a living within the community. When your choice is working at Burger King or becoming a basketball star there isn't a lot in between. School offers nothing to this lifestyle. Some activists I have met after my experience in the community are in the conspiracy theory mode and maybe there is some backwards truth to it. But this turns out just another method to complain about the immediate administration. Which quite frankly seems to be their only purpose in many activist’s lives But, given a choice between minimum wage or a talent that only a few can possess I think most anyone would be slinging drugs out on the street, including the activists (who many times are the ones using the drugs) I once shared the opinion with Mr. Simon about legalizing it all and throwing all that big money into drug addiction programs and education to uplift the people on the bottom But like he, I believe this to be a dream world. The street culture is to addicted to its own methods and no one above them wants to even recognize the problem. For any politician or activist, it takes a lot of guts to walk into a community that just might not welcome you and on top of that have a completely different view than you. Maybe some journalist ought to have a commercial TV show with overpaid actors. Oh and throw in a real thug in there for legitimacy. Sorry, just couldn’t resist the stab. More power to you, Mr. Simon.
    So I now believe this. Keep drugs illegal, it’s the only way the street people can make a living. If you legalize it the price goes down and the government and that upper rich 1% start to dip their greedy little hands into it. Try and start to relax the laws on non violent crimes. I believe this is possible.
    Overall……..???
    No real change is coming. We just missed our chance. We should of let the banks and financial institutions fail, then all the middle class would have been leveled and that would start a majority of action, just like David stated happened in the Vietnam war when the middle class had to register for the draft. Isn’t if funny how all the anti war protests in the sixties were at colleges for the privileged. Still the poor went to war and the blacks went and etc. etc. Now we expect Obama to bail us all out and get back to business as usual and that is exactly what he is doing. There is no new deal. There is only business as usual or business by any means necessary.

    I love David Simon's work. I use The Wire and The Corner to teach my English students. One person cannot change a system, we know this. It will be the work of many hands, many kind words that change the direction and heart of our nation. These words are too broad, I know, but they are all I can offer right now.

    Thank you, Bill Moyers for an insightful interview with David Simon, who I met for the first time tonight. I haven't seen The Wire, either, but wish I could. Mr. Simon "tells it like it is", with great intelligence and humor.
    I am grateful for the Bill Moyers Journal.

    I believe it was the PBS show Independent Lens had a film, "Standing Silent Nation," about a Sioux tribe in I'm not sure, North Dakota. Climate was cold, land was rocky with poor soil, burned out quickly when they tried to grow traditional crops. They had 82% unemployment, then they discovered that hemp would grow there, easily and there were a lot of products, all kinds, could be made from hemp. They had a good cash crop. So they tried growing some. As soon as there crop was ready to sell, BAM out of the sky drops, Drug Enforcement, helicopters buzzing all around the patch, yellow police tape wrapped around the whole lot. They flew right over tribal authority and took charge. I don't believe they arrested anyone but if anyone picked a lief of hemp they would be arrested. Turns out the hemp plant is the cannabis plant. The catch is that the marijuana cannabis has 20% THC while the hemp cannabis has something like .002%, (if my memory serves me,) THC. In other words I'm thinking you would have to smoke something like 200 rope joints in rapid succession, to get as high as you would smoking 1 marijuana joint.
    Millions of people in the 1970's of all ages and occupations (including hippies) smoked marijuana and for whatever reason, like when the 80's came and they got too busy working or decided to stop, for whatever reason. It wasn't necessary to go to a rehab clinic, they just stopped, all you had to do was stop smoking; it was easier than quitting cigarettes.
    The assumptions that the Drug Enforcement people have about Marijuana are based on some claims about marijuana that are a bit shaky. Claims that were made by supporters of Regain, early in his office, to make the Carter administration look unreliable. Now after years of having their assumptions almost unchallenged in any serious way, the Drug Enforcement people have become a little silly in their claims.
    For years we've been allowed to believe that possessing marijuana was illegal because it would get you high, the THC. Now it seems that they aren't concerned with that at all.
    I don't know if Drug Enforcement realizes that arresting people for selling hemp with no THC, blurs their case against criminalizing marijuana possession. If its not the THC, why is marijuana illegal. Its evil must lie in its name, cannabis. Its the speaking of the name cannabis that brings down evil upon anyone near it. Its prohibition has moved from THC to the wolds of dark religion and superstition.
    It was our parents and grandparents who came out with the theories of the Regain administration: marijuana is addictive, marijuana will rot your brain, marijuana is a crossover drug, it make you addicted to heroin. We used to laugh at this and hind sight, we were right; in high school, we read American History and we read about Prohibition and we learned the lesson of Prohibition. Our parents and grandparents who lived through Prohibition, forgot its lessons. Prohibition lasted about what, 5 years; our Prohibition has lasted 30 years, more or less. If you hire someone to do a job for you and he can't get it done in 30 years would you fire him?
    Prohibition was the time when separate criminal gangs made enough money to organize into syndicates. Now, after 30 years, organized crime has made enough money to organize and work together, globally. We have gangs in Columbia rebuilding and governing cities. We now have shadow gang governments in Guatemala, Mexico and El Salvador. Who brings more money into this country for investment, Silicon Valley or the drug business? I don't know, but either way you answer that, you might not be too far from wrong. If the Republicans could actually stop all that drug money from entering the united states, how happy would they be about that? By outlawing the drug trade we have changed it to a conservative business man's dream job. It pays no taxes, has no government oversight, no Office of Health and Safety, no, no product safety commission, no EPA, looking over their shoulder and they are not required to have insurance or a retirement plan for their employees everything they make is pure profit and they can price their product so high that they can make a profit if they only sell 10% of it after the rest is confiscated. So, are we loosing the war on drugs......you decide.
    By the way, very good interview. Mr. Simon had an extensive diagram of this new country, I've found myself a part of and watched slowly developing since Ronald Regain. It seems strange to say but many people in that world before Regain were sensitive to the causes of a lot of the problems we are having now and working to create solutions for them. All that was eventually blocked after Regain was elected and buried, alive and forgotten. reaming

    Thank God for Bill Moyers and the forum his show provides for heroes like David Simon to speak plainly about the ills of our nation and the impotent remedies that we've mistakenly embraced in an attempt to solve these problems.

    Mr. Simon was an inspiration this evening as he so clearly spoke of the many problems that endanger the very existence of our dear republic: our failed drug laws/policies and the appalling waste of money and human capital that are regularly squandered in this march of folly; the systematic "genocide" of this nation's tradition of vigilant journalism due to 30 years of misguided management of our nation's newspapers - the result of which will most certainly be a free-for-all of corruption from all the usual institutional suspects; the painful downward trajectory of our nation as we relinquish our status as a global leader to that of a dying empire...fat, corrupt and irrelevant.

    As one of the characters in Mr. Simon'a "The Wire" so profoundly put it, the solution to any problem will never surface if we allow ourselves to submit to whatever "lie" that others would have us placated with.

    The road-map to real solutions will always be found when truth-tellers and truth-seekers are allowed to engage...a rarity in any medium. Bravo and viva to Mr. Moyers and Mr. Simon and PBS for their participation in this increasingly rare process.

    I believe it was the PBS show Independent Lens had a film, "Standing Silent Nation," about a Sioux tribe in I'm not sure, North Dakota. Climate was cold, land was rocky with poor soil, burned out quickly when they tried to grow traditional crops. They had 82% unemployment, then they discovered that hemp would grow there, easily and there were a lot of products, all kinds, could be made from hemp. They had a good cash crop. So they tried growing some. As soon as there crop was ready to sell, BAM out of the sky drops, Drug Enforcement, helicopters buzzing all around the patch, yellow police tape wrapped around the whole lot. They flew right over tribal authority and took charge. I don't believe they arrested anyone but if anyone picked a lief of hemp they would be arrested. Turns out the hemp plant is the cannabis plant. The catch is that the marijuana cannabis has 20% THC while the hemp cannabis has something like .002%, (if my memory serves me,) THC. In other words I'm thinking you would have to smoke something like 200 rope joints in rapid succession, to get as high as you would smoking 1 marijuana joint.
    Millions of people in the 1970's of all ages and occupations (including hippies) smoked marijuana and for whatever reason, like when the 80's came and they got too busy working or decided to stop, for whatever reason. It wasn't necessary to go to a rehab clinic, they just stopped, all you had to do was stop smoking; it was easier than quitting cigarettes.
    The assumptions that the Drug Enforcement people have about Marijuana are based on some claims about marijuana that are a bit shaky. Claims that were made by supporters of Regain, early in his office, to make the Carter administration look unreliable. Now after years of having their assumptions almost unchallenged in any serious way, the Drug Enforcement people have become a little silly in their claims.
    For years we've been allowed to believe that possessing marijuana was illegal because it would get you high, the THC. Now it seems that they aren't concerned with that at all.
    I don't know if Drug Enforcement realizes that arresting people for selling hemp with no THC, blurs their case against criminalizing marijuana possession. If its not the THC, why is marijuana illegal. Its evil must lie in its name, cannabis. Its the speaking of the name cannabis that brings down evil upon anyone near it. Its prohibition has moved from THC to the wolds of dark religion and superstition.
    It was our parents and grandparents who came out with the theories of the Regain administration: marijuana is addictive, marijuana will rot your brain, marijuana is a crossover drug, it make you addicted to heroin. We used to laugh at this and hind sight, we were right; in high school, we read American History and we read about Prohibition and we learned the lesson of Prohibition. Our parents and grandparents who lived through Prohibition, forgot its lessons. Prohibition lasted about what, 5 years; our Prohibition has lasted 30 years, more or less. If you hire someone to do a job for you and he can't get it done in 30 years would you fire him?
    Prohibition was the time when separate criminal gangs made enough money to organize into syndicates. Now, after 30 years, organized crime has made enough money to organize and work together, globally. We have gangs in Columbia rebuilding and governing cities. We now have shadow gang governments in Guatemala, Mexico and El Salvador. Who brings more money into this country for investment, Silicon Valley or the drug business? I don't know, but either way you answer that, you might not be too far from wrong. If the Republicans could actually stop all that drug money from entering the united states, how happy would they be about that? By outlawing the drug trade we have changed it to a conservative business man's dream job. It pays no taxes, has no government oversight, no Office of Health and Safety, no, no product safety commission, no EPA, looking over their shoulder and they are not required to have insurance or a retirement plan for their employees everything they make is pure profit and they can price their product so high that they can make a profit if they only sell 10% of it after the rest is confiscated. So, are we loosing the war on drugs......you decide.
    By the way, very good interview. Mr. Simon had an extensive diagram of this new country, I've found myself a part of and watched slowly developing since Ronald Regain. It seems strange to say but many people in that world before Regain were sensitive to the causes of a lot of the problems we are having now and working to create solutions for them. All that was eventually blocked after Regain was elected and buried, alive and forgotten. reaming

    It is a relief to listen to someone like David Simon. I work full time and work is not a place for honesty. A newspaper is a compelling vehicle. It may be able to carry a little truth, but it isn't going to be able to carry a lot of truth for long.

    Janet,
    Shame on you for being so simple. Yes, the American family must get it's "act" together. But different families and individuals face different challenges. Some far more difficult than often understood. What do we do for or with the families that are living in the midst of turmoil right NOW? Mother/Father on drugs/alcoholic, or in jail, high school drop out, criminal record, can't get a job, etc. What help does the conservative offer this family?
    Hell, what does the Liberal politician truly offer them. It's time to quit the name calling and get down to the business of saving the next generation of Americans.

    This was a great program tonight. Kudos to the great Bill Moyers and David Simon. The Wire was one of the best shows EVER!

    Thanks Bill and David for the enlightening show.

    Here is an idea on how to win the drug war game:

    Millions of Americans are hurt or killed by the legal drugs of alcohol and tobacco every year. The main regulator governing not only the supply of these deadly substances, but more so controlling the manufacture, distribution, and sales of alcohol and tobacco is the United States Government through its own Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Fire Arms or ATF. The United States Government governs these drugs not as they should for the health or good of its citizens, but rather only for profit and greed. You see the Department of ATF is a subsidiary of you guessed it, the Internal Revenue Service. It’s all about greed. That said, wouldn’t the ultimate governing regulating controlling body of harmful deadly substances, the US government, be liable for damages? Would a class action law suit involving anyone and everyone who has suffered damages from alcohol and tobacco VS the United States of America change the outcome of the drug war game? Would it not change the very institution that governs us for the good of us all?
    Can we sue our own government to get them to change?

    =
    MJA

    PS: Alcohol cost me a lot David, and I am not black, brown, poor or from the inner city of Baltimore; I’m simply and equally an American and it’s happening to us all.

    I agree with Jane who has tried to help addicts! The institution that needs to get it's act together is called family. YOU LIBERALS need to realize the value of responsibility. Who really didn't need these drug dealers? They needed parents who invested time and moral values in their up bringing. I would wager that their early childhood was spent infront of a TV. And I wager if Obama had been doing that insted of getting up at 4am to do study he might be selling dope today. Think about that last wire scene you showed. That points to the old addage "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world" no other institution can do it. And this problem of omission is out side the inner city or the drug dealers couldn't make money. If culture is to succeed the family must instill virtue and honesty or has mr. Simon points out all people use information to get ahead regardless of the truth. either people invest in their family obligations or don't have children.

    Having been born into poverty, working hard to achieve the 'American Dream', only to watch it crumble at a later stage in my life, I too, am a confirmed cynic, Mr. Simon. My choices were to either work, starve, or turn to some type of crime, like many of my peers. I chose the first option, educating myself by reading every thing I could, and I spent half my life pursuing those 'things' that society says are important. I know that there must be more people out there like me, completely disillusioned with the lies we were sold. I fully agree with you, Mr. Simon, only I would take it to more radical lengths, we not only need to legalize drugs, but we need to completely eliminate standing armies, an abomination which drains our coffers, makes the rich richer, and further victimizes poor kids who have no other practical options to better their futures. The money saved could easily feed and clothe every poor child in this country, and in quite a few other countries as well. We could operate along the lines of Switzerland, everyone required to train at some point, in case a real need, like an actual attack, should occur. I have little hope that these things will change however, because the 'powers that be' keep this country controlled by needless fear of what 'might happen'. What I have learned, is that the only thing people in this country really need to be afraid of is their government. We have been lied to by that same government, for almost 100 years. Jackson was the last president we had that wasn't controlled by special interests. The same people that print the money make the rules, and put people in place at every level to enforce them. They continue to create wars, and get obscenely rich by profiting from both sides in every conflict. Please don't take my word for any of this, find out how the Federal Reserve, and fractional reserve banking works, and it's easy enough to see how inflation and recessions are created. It's not some great mystery, as economists would have you believe, if I can understand it, so can most everyone. If people learn the truth, then they can change things, there is power in numbers. We need to unite and fight this system, not each other.


    Decriminalizing drugs is a good first step to end the problem with drugs. Also there was a psychologist at Harvard back in the 1980s that developed a program that was very workable. I forget his name but his program entailed giving drugs away at ERs. ER staff know users when they present there. It would be simplicity itself to offer drugs on demand. This would kill the market for drugs and end petty crime. For those who use, the drugs themselves become rewards in a behavior modification program designed to end user's reliance on those drugs. That is, the ERs become ANTI-dealers. They use drug demand to end drug use. This system actually has been shown to work, it has just not been used. It needs to be revisted.

    Perhaps twenty years ago that might have worked and made our civilization more humane. But do you really prefer to have all those who derive their income and status in mantaining the corner, unemployed?

    My comment is more general but is connected to the comments about how the money is spent.

    In all cases money is the trail to follow. Unfortunately it is a simple problem that money = power = corruption. Where corruption is governed by greed but greed can only flourish when there is demand based on human need. Human NEED is a base element of human nature; it can be good, bad, or indifferent.

    There is age old philosophy which covers these ideas, the simple truth is that if we acknowledge the Money/Power INCENTIVE, society (Government, “We the People”) can than channel it to benefit and protect the majority.

    Pleasure vs. Pain is an easy test, again age old philosophy. If COMMERCE is our means to manage NEED than Drugs and Prostitution should be right there with Food and Clothing.

    Denial of human Need, vast or small – good or bad, is always a path to, and often over the Cliff.


    The Simon program was very exciting because he is brilliant and honest. I hope he's wrong about change not really being possible. I've joined the Democratic Central Committee in a rural county to support Obama in creating change and to create a two-party system in what has long been a one-party county. If I'm doing it, hopefully other people around the country are doing it also. I hear what he is saying and agree, but still think that individuals, millions of them, willing to speak up, can make things happen. As to the drug war, Doonsbury nailed it years ago in his column and nothing has changed except for the worse. The drug war was originally started by W.R. Hearst in order to outlaw industrial hemp so that he could profit from his vast timber interests in making paper that was greatly inferior to hemp paper. He got rid of the competition and saddled our country, especially the underclass and the police as Simon would say, with an expensive, debilitating problem. Legalizing drugs, and receiving the tax revenue as with cigarettes and liquor, could pay for health care and education in this country. We need to throw out the oligarchs. Anyone with me on that?
    Ginger Bennett Griffin
    Calaveras County, California

    Thanks to both parties for the fantastically insightful interview.

    Isn't it curious that so much detailed truth-telling about the failure of thc capitalist corporatocracy leads to quick assertions that "socialism" (whatever that is) isn't an alternative. Why not? Would we not benefit from as careful an assessment of alternative economic institutions, as the careful assessment of the failure of the phony "War on Drugs"? Capitalism is just another passing phase of human cultural evolution. The fear in Mr. Simon's eyes--fear of even mentioning the dreaded word "socialism" is itself a tribute to the system that brought us to where we are now. If "now" isn't okay. If "now" reflects profound injustice, then isn't "now" the time to closely inspect our economic and political institutions? Alternatives to our current economic system are easy to come by. Why are we afraid to look closely? Is it because the top one percent don't want us to look too closely. Like ending slavery, we are running out of band-aids for the corporatocracy. Anything that smacks of substantive change is dangerous to power. Anything dangerous to power is by definition "un-American." The power of the corporate media is to limit debate--asserting as Mr. Simon does that there is no alternative. Mr. Simon, many, many alternatives are available to us. Won't you join us in exploring the future?

    If all we do is focus on what's broken in our society we may never get around to what should be or could be fixed.

    A MAJOR REASON WHY CANNABIS WILL NOT EVER BE TAXED AND COMMIDIFIED!

    www.nature.com/reviews/cancer BY MANUEL GUZMAN

    The antiproliferative
    properties of cannabis compounds were first reported
    almost 30 years ago by Munson et al.29, who showed
    that THC inhibits lung-adenocarcinoma cell growth
    in vitro and after oral administration in mice.Although
    these observations were promising, further studies in
    this area were not carried out until the late 1990s.
    Several plant-derived (for example, THC and
    cannabidiol), synthetic (for example, WIN-55, 212-2
    and HU-210) and endogenous cannabinoids (for
    example, anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol) are
    now known to exert antiproliferative actions on a wide
    spectrum of tumour cells in culture30 (TABLE 2).More
    importantly, cannabinoid administration to nude mice
    slows the growth of various tumour xenografts, including
    lung carcinomas, gliomas, thyroid epitheliomas,
    skin carcinomas and lymphomas

    Table 3 | Possible mechanisms of cannabinoid antitumour action
    Process Possible mechanisms References
    Induction of apoptosis Ceramide accumulation by de novo synthesis; 42,50,53
    sustained ERK activation and AKT inhibition
    Cell-cycle arrest Adenylyl cyclase inhibition and sustained ERK 57–59
    activation? Inhibition of growth-factor-receptor
    signalling
    Inhibition of angiogenesis Decreased expression of pro-angiogenic factors 61,63,64
    and metastasis and matrix metalloproteinases; inhibition of
    vascular-endothelial-cell migration and survival?

    Table 2 | Tumours that are sensitive to cannabinoid-induced growth inhibition
    Tumour type Experimental system Effect Receptor References
    Lung carcinoma In vivo (mouse); Decreased tumour size; N.D. 29
    in vitro cell-growth inhibition
    Glioma In vivo (mouse, rat); Decreased tumour size; CB1, CB2 50,51,53,85
    in vitro apoptosis
    Thyroid epithelioma In vivo (mouse); Decreased tumour size; CB1 60
    in vitro cell-cycle arrest
    Lymphoma/leukaemia In vivo (mouse); Decreased tumour size; CB2 96
    in vitro apoptosis
    Skin carcinoma In vivo (mouse); Decreased tumour size; CB1, CB2 61
    in vitro apoptosis
    Uterus carcinoma In vitro Cell-growth inhibition N.D. 97,98
    Breast carcinoma In vitro Cell-cycle arrest CB1 57–59
    Prostate carcinoma In vitro Apoptosis CB1? 54,59,99
    Neuroblastoma In vitro Apoptosis VR1 51,73

    A pilot clinical trial. Glioblastoma multiforme, or grade
    IV astrocytoma, is the most frequent class of malignant
    primary brain tumour and is one of the most malignant
    forms of cancer. As a consequence, survival after
    diagnosis is normally just 6–8 months94,95. Present
    therapeutic strategies for the treatment of glioblastoma
    multiforme and other malignant brain tumours are
    usually inefficient and in most cases just palliative, and
    include surgery and radiotherapy. Some chemotherapeutic
    agents, such as temozolomide, carmustin, carboplatin
    and thalidomide have been tested and the most
    recent strategies for glioblastoma multiforme treatment
    are focused on gene therapy, but no trial carried out so
    far has been successful94,95. It is therefore essential to
    develop new therapeutic strategies for the management
    of glioblastoma multiforme, which will probably
    require a combination of therapies to obtain significant
    clinical results.
    The Spanish Ministry ofHealth has recently approved
    a Phase I/II clinical trial, carried out in collaboration with
    the Tenerife University Hospital and my
    laboratory, aimed at investigating the effect of local
    administration of THC — as a single agent — on the
    growth of recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. This will
    be the first human study in which THC is administered
    intracranially through an infusion cannula connected to a
    subcutaneous reservoir. The clinical trial has just started,
    and it will be some time before the results can be determined

    Wonderful show Bill Moyers, we can't expect the government to solve the problems they created. I think we all need to be involved in creating true changes in our lives, communities, and country. Starting with reevaluating our relationship to the corporations that are sucking the life out of our lives, environment, and democracy. The banks are one of them, personally I am looking for nonprofit bank to do business with, and say goodbye to bank of America after 24 years, as a first step.

    This was one of the best interveiws I have seen in recent years. David Simon is very smart and to the point. He seems to have a grasp of all the problems that face the inner city and offers insight on fixing the problems but yet admits that there is no one solution.

    WOW, finally a person who I agree with fully, someone like Mr. Simon who can perfectly speak my exact thoughts. In fact this is the first time I learned who Mr. Simon is (sorry). Guess that is what I get for growing up lower income. LOL. Anyhow what is so Inspiring is David Simon's interview tonight with Mr. Moyers solidifies I am not crazy, or Mr. Simon is not the only "angriest" person in America, and I am not overlooking what America has and is becoming. I am now learning putting my self through college, reading and etc. In fact last year I took an Information and Literature course, my final paper titled. "Racism Still Exists Today Through Institutional Racism." The paper brainstormed up after I had just finished a sociology course full of history, it’s like my mind starting mapping and putting the information into today’s time and stories, and how we as America or Americans have come so far, but in my mind I questioned that. My reasoning for questioning this was because of my life and what I saw my family & friends go through as we grew up, and the walls I have come across. I know institutions are set up to hide racism, “keep the rich-richer, and the poor-poorer". The very people whom set up institutes rules, regulations usually point directly to our politicians we pay to help our society rise above (again why all politics, govt. needs totally re-vamping). As Mr. Simon said, "Selling crap as if it were gold" BRAVO! Now with our housing market - for the loans the banks have given on the assessed values are the very SAME banks that won't refinance because today’s value is way below the very loan they approved on a FMV about 2 years ago (re-vamp that law). Now I am not behind on our payments (always one ahead). But for my sister who is experiencing hardship times with her husband lay-off and has a letter from his mill he is on the top 5 to get hired back, the Bank whom her loans are though say they don't qualify for the stability Home Mod Plans? So she works full time and part time job while her husband picks up odd jobs and has filled out applications through-out his home-town. I am angry-because they built an amazing Pine Structured home by-hand, and was gifted the acre by his mom for a wedding present. Now what -kind of honest America is that, a 2nd loan with a predatory lender who had state-wide civil court settlements in 2002-05 (HFC, Beneficial), and is still working in 2007-09, what to take advantage of low-income, un-schooled honest working class people-My sister, someones family, and still the so called govt. help is a lie - or wash? I see this institutional misrepresentation through the very own states, federal lending laws, court systems, school systems, the universities, from our Hospitals, to the Cell Phone Industry to our very own Voted for Politicians, and so much more. They Lie for a Profit, and create rules and regulations not for the BEST of Americans, student, or patient but for DUKING THE NUMBERS! So as I stand tall and work with-in my very own community Standing Tall Calling Truth be Told by our Local Govt. well as Mr. Simon said, "Change Only Happens when Enough People are threatened, will change Happen, and the People Won't Take it Anymore” Well there are only a handful of us in our beach community, but we are keeping tall and gaining ground neighbor, by neighbor, local stores, by local stores. With the crash of the newspapers – these big american institutions are smiling with glee hearing these reports. So they can now Re-Shape their failures to Americas Economics, so they can restructure these institutions even worse then they were, and the newspaper crash will only aid them to hide the new Pyramid Schemes – So I must say Goodnight Moon, Goodnight America! This topic can go on forever for me if more would listen to my anger. LOL. Thank you Mr. Moyers, and Thank you Mr. Simon you are my inspiration to peruse my Literature and Writing Degree, emphasis in Writing. Holly H –

    For the record, David Simon is not alone in his anger. Most of US have felt this for the past 10 years, at least.
    The program was outstanding! Perhaps, working on "Public Financing of Elections", would stop much of the corruption. It would be a start. Time for US all to get busy !

    After having watched the Moyers show tonight and having read many of the blog comments, I am stricken once again by the thoughts I often have on the subject of mankind. All our societal problems stem from a few psychological issues that seem to be prevalent among most individuals that then turn into systemic/institutional issues: fear and need for approval/acceptance/belonging. If you look at all decisions regarding resources, power, money, people, etc., they can all be traced to those two psychological elements. Fundamentally, we as a world human species don't trust that there is enough to go around, we don't trust that we can all share and that there is plenty to go around, we believe that Ruler X will get to it first and then..., we fear that if we don't do X,Y or Z, we will remain out on a limb, we say X,Y or Z b/c we bow to peer pressure,etc. To me, this nation needs to spend more time educating, researching, understanding and coping with these human issues. Then, our societies would change as a result.

    I have been in the field of social work (certified vocational rehabilitation counselor) for a number of years. Many of my disabled clients have substance abuse issues.

    Recreational drug users should not be arrested and charged with a crime. The only person hurt is the drug user. The drug user needs medical and mental treatment to lower the demand for drugs. Some drugs can lead to dysfunctional behavior as the user moves further and further from the mainstream society. They can’t hold a job and communicate with the non-drugged population. I have found that when a drug user can’t continue to pay for their drugs or their basic needs they will look for help. That is when we have to be there for them, not to jail them, but to assist them out of something that they realize could lead to their early death.

    I have always considered myself as a realistic, non romantic engineer but the show with David Simon was a dose of reality that has sent me reeling. I have come to the conclusion that much of our politics and economics is still rooted in racism but to see how the bottom 15% of our society is unwanted was too realistic. This system cannot be sustained.

    David Simon is right on all counts. It is easier for CEOs to focus on enhancing their own bonuses than to making their company stronger. It is easier for politicians to play the game than to work on improving living conditions for the weakest among us. It is easier for teachers to teach to tests than to transfer wisdom.
    And it is easier to play the game than to get kicked out. A few like Micheal Moore and David Simon can find ways to prosper but only a very few.

    So why should any of us stick our necks out?

    Dearest Mr. Bill Moyers:

    I loved this program with David Simon!!! It was excellent!! I want more of these open, honest, question-authority type programs. Why not look at financial institutions, mortgage companies and government (democrats definitely included-like Mr. H.Reid) with a Mr. Simons type??? I love your show and watch it every week!! Please, keep up this incredible work!!! We NEED to hear this kind of real journalistic work!!!!! Thank you very much for your work and I hope you continue on pushing the envelope in your wonderful sweet mannered way!!! Best wishes to you!!

    Yes, David Simon is telling the truth. And yes, his plan to redirect all those funds would be an improvement.

    Juking the stats resonates strongly with me, although I rarely work with the underclass. I spent mot of my life teaching in a suburban high school, and I saw how pressures mounted over the years to juke the stats and cover one's own vulnerabilities.

    It starts with fear; administrators and pols fearing they'll lose their jobs to revolting taxpayers. The bonfire is fed by the lawyers - parents and local government power-seekers have learned to lawyer up.

    The hotter the flames, the more juking of stats it takes a Principal or Superintendent to keep feeding at the public trough.

    But why the arm twisting in the first place?

    Competition - just too many people and too few opportunities, same as in the city. It's the fear that "my children" won't have a job when they grow up, because the world has changed and if you want a well-paying job you've got to go to college, be good at math, write brilliant essays, be computer literate, and a host of abilities that weren't required to support a family and have a decent life fifty years ago.

    Parents aren't stupid, even in the suburbs. They know their children and they know the score. The deck is stacked against any child who isn't ranked "above average." The ranking is more significant than the reality. So the parents demand that the stats improve.

    Stats are a yardstick on which the pecking order can be seen.

    If you want your offspring to have an edge, to peck and not be pecked, you gotta juke the stats. Oh, you will fool yourself, as a parent, into believing in the stats, even as you put pressure on the schools to juke them. It's much easier to juke the stats than the kid - easier than turning your mechanic son or factory worker daughter into a competent web page designer.

    You yell and make waves, you scream and go political, and you lawyer up. You become the squeaky wheel that gets the grease for your offspring. You put the fear that's in your heart into the heart of the people who now stand in your way - the educators who divide those who pass from those who pass with honors.

    Thus, institutions go from being mythic avenues to economic and personal freedom, to being obstacles to success, i.e. the enemy.

    It's a weird, obsessive process, this focus on one big idea - that the stats mean something; that a bump in the stats relates to some corollary bump in quality.

    Nuf said.

    for completeness I should also say, things don't end with tensors - there are spinors and twistors - spinors are lists of tensors, tables of vectors or atlases of scalars - twistors are lists of spinors. These all form algebras according to Klien's rules for advanced algebras. I should also note that this is just numbers the things you work with. What you do with numbers can be easily organized as well. There is arithmetic. 1+1=2 is an arithmetic statement. And why most people think math is boring. Beyond arithmetic is algebra - the relationship between numbers - a+b=b+a is a statement about how things are related regardless of what the numbers are. Beyond that - The Calculus - this just deals with change. You have two things you worry about. What changes and what those changes add up to. Change is called the differential. What the change adds up to is the inegral. The differential is represented by an italic 'd' and the integral is represented by a bold faced stretched out 'S'for summa - or sum. So x = integral dx just says x is equal to the sum of all the changes in x. then there is differential equations - diffeq for short. Here we talk about the relationship between changes. What happens to the pressure of a gas when the temperature rises? This is easily expressed as a diffeq. When you can write a differential equation using tensors - that means you can relate two things that are changing as two moving pictures - the orbit of a satellite in the gravity field of a spinning Earth - and include the rising and falling of the tides in the ocean from the gravity effects - very powerful and exciting stuff. finally, we have Klein's observation that algebra is to arithmetic as diffeq is to calculus - and this is the entry to advanced algebra - and we move into George Boole's algebra of a well structured argument - boolean algebra, or Bill Hamilton's analysis of Joe Legrange's mechanics as an algebra, and a whole host of other cool stuff. Including a clear and concise description of what a fair transaction is between two parties in a social or economic contract.

    From my own perspective, everything I heard from David Simon tonight was right on the money!!! Even without having been a journalist, or without having been working in the field of politics, finance, police, etc., I have seen, felt, witnessed deduced and observed the exact system oligarchy that Simon described tonight. I agreed with everything he said!!! I have been telling everyone I know for quite some time that the only way real change can come about is through serious revolution, demonstration, protest, etc. This is no secret! This has been how many societies form, change, morph, regain strength, etc. The only thing I would say differently is the following: since the beginning of the formation of societies, there has always been an underclass of one form or another. They serve in some form the rest of the classes. Unfortunately I don't know of any society that has ever eradicated this entirely. This is a sad situation that seems to exist, from what I have read anyway, no matter what time period, country or type of government or who is in charge-women or men. Of course, the smaller the country and the more socialist or egalitarian, the smaller the underclass and the less sick it is. However, historically in many countries today, it is the arrival of the new ones, the immigrants, that face the brunt of the grunt work or the no-work. Within a few generations it seems that those groups do assimilate and rise. However, what is so disturbing in this country, is that many of the descendants of slaves who with bare hands, while being chained and whipped, built our greatest landmarks, railways and created our entire agricultural base with toil, terror, sweat, and blood, but who still after 200 years, find themselves at the bottom and left for naught. This makes me cry, holler, rage and feel that this country in many ways has failed in its very promise of democracy. It is our history of slavery, our (the dominant classes) fundamental denial of its impact that continues to haunt us. Because drugs and the underclass exist in every country where someone sells and others buy it-white, yellow, blue, red, people etc., the question of how societies can eradicate drugs and the underclass is a separate question. What I believe is so distressing is the question of why it is that it is many African Americans who still, after all these years, make up this underclass. I believe that in part, it is because they have never felt part of or included in the European culture and therefore have never wanted to assimilate into it. They have perhaps, on a subconscious, deep level, rebelled against the very culture that enslaved them. I don't blame them one bit!!! The dominant class can't seem to see or admit all the horrors it has created so they do all they can to stuff the problem away-Prisons. It is a cyclical dilemma, a self-feeding one in which each side can point the finger at the other's actions. In reality, the whites need to get down on their knees, feel the remorse, the pain and invest in this group with heart, soul, love, and ask for forgiveness; then help with time, energy and money. Maybe then, more African Americans will start to have some faith and trust in the very people, that in a real sense, still enslave them. But, we humans have not yet reached this level of consciousness yet. Hopefully, human evolution does entail reaching that level of universal one-ness!!!!!!

    Dollars and voting don't work. Ken Arrow showed this over 50 years ago. He recieved a nobel prize in economics for this work. Dollars and voting don't work because they involve counting. Counting means you can organize things uniquely. 3 is always bigger than 2 and 2 bigger than 1 so 3 is always biggest of the three. This sort of logic does not apply to human values. I can like berries (B) better than apples (A) and Cherries (C) better than berries (B) - but it frequently happens - and is true in my case, I like apples (A) better than cherries (C) - haha - creating a PREFERENCE LOOP. So, any system that tries to uniquely order my preferences is only cutting my preference loop - and where the loop gets cut decides which of the three ends up on top. So, if I start with apples and berries I choose cherries. If I start with berries and cherries, I choose apples. If I start with cherries and apples, I choose berries. This often occurs randomly by the ordering of events - determining the outcome of political and economic events - and explaining economic and political cycles. But since Arrow detailed how the process works more frequently this knowledge has been used to guide political and economic processes to the ends decided by a ruling oligarchy. The order of questions in the closing room when you buy a car, are carefully analyzed - as are the order of discussion in a political campaign for this very reason. No one has seriously looked at ending this shortcoming of political and economic systems with an idea of fixing it. Especially since over the past 50 years we've created a whole class of people who benefit from the shortcoming. But solutions are possible. Waslily Leontief received a nobel prize in economics as well - for his input output method of econometric analysis. Here he uses a form of counting that cannot be uniquely ordered. He uses TENSORS. Tensors preserve the nature of preference loops and allow us to make decisions about what people truly want given the context of the decision without artificially throwing away needed information or worse, supressing needed information to guide political discourse. The question has always been - how to turn tensors into something people can relate to naturally? Enter the internet and personal digital assistance aka iphone. I envision a valuenet and an electronic wallet where people create their own money and exchange it electronically - and that money has more than just size - or scale - it has a depth and a character - reflected in its tensor values. Gerard Medioni at Stanford has worked out a method to use feature tensors in a way that allow robots to make decisions in complex environments. This system is immediately applicable to Arrow's paradox resolving it - using Leontieff matrices for the tensors. In non-technical terms what happens is you get an iphone with special software that lets you print your own money. You also answer questions. Sort of like voting - sort of like blogging - but your responses are encoded in a preference table - and when your money is printed and used and redeemed, these preferences are enforced - and advanced cryptography techniques secure everything. So, if you wanted to support cancer research, or your local school, do something about that drug house on the corner, or help that smart kid down the block get into a good college - you would put those things in your wish list and when you spent your money, when your money is traded in the value net, when you redeem your money with useful work, those values are automatically taken care of. Can people really print their own money? Well nations do so today, and they are traded. There is no reason every person couldn't print their own money and redeem it just as nations do - and in doing so, encode that currency with values that naturally organize the non-economic aspects of society. * * * * Technical Discussion * * * * There are many kinds of numbers. There are numbers we count with. These are called scalars because only their size or scale matters. Five is a scalar, pi, e, 1/3 - all are scalars. They're pretty boring and why most people don't understand the fascination others have with numbers. Then there are ordered lists of numbers. These are called vectors. (1,2,3) is a vector - a three dimensional vector - and these allow people to draw pictures with numbers. In its simplest form vectors are directed line segments. Put them together and you get a picture. Vectors are used to draw the characters and images on your computer screen, or store a map of the entire Earth on google Earth inlcuding the picture of your house from orbit. Vectors are cool. Tensors are ordered lists of vectors - or tables of scalars. These have a geometric representation too - two directed line segments pointing out of a common point at their base. This allows us to draw two pictures simultaneously. We can draw a picture of a gravity field, and of how things move through that field. ditto with an electric field and how things move through it. We can also show how two parties in a transaction are related in every detail - which is what got Leontief his nobel prize. Medioni worked out an algorithm that allows a robot to make decisions in real time knowing these relationships - this is what I am saying can be adapted to our iphones to displace the antiquated and unworkable ancient systems of voting and buying and selling. Systems we know and have known for decades don't work the way we think they do. Here is an alternative solution - I wish I could do more to bring it about. Here's hoping someone somewhere will read this and be inspired to do something important.

    Cynicism for institutions but not for individuals. But institutions are made up of individuals. How about a book to explain this.

    David Simon's got it right, particularly about the drug war. It is refreshing to hear the hypocrisy of America exposed. And it is clear, as Simon suggested, that conditions must get worse before they get better, or no changes will be made on any front. Perceptions are a hard thing to change. Regarding the failed war on drugs, the insanity of not legalizing all drugs is hard to fathom for many of us. But since the war on drugs is greed-driven and fear driven, it will take even more horrific events to change the general consensus. However, I believe we are coming closer to it, thanks in part to people like Simon speaking out. Congratulations to the Journal and Bill Moyers for once again providing a platform where these views can be heard.

    I refuse be lied to anymore, even by any POTUS ever again.

    If one person can do this, then another, many will join over time. We must be the change we want to see...

    It is darkest before the dawn.

    This was an excellent piece of journalism...I have to say that it validated my sanity because myself having had an up close experience with the origins of the " Crack Wars" (Phila.) of the 80's, rather than focus on the actual personal events happening before my eyes, moments I could actually reach out and touch, my focus shifted towards the reason why this was happening and who was allowing it to happen and what purpose did it serve to those who had the power to shut it down ASAP, but chose not to. It turned my attention towards the institutions, the powers that be, and I started to realize them as self-serving entities extolling riches for the few at the expense of the masses. The impending "CLASS WAR" was on the horizons. You need situations as "THE WIRE" portrayed as a means of financial resources and a diversion for an all out blitz on the American public,the decoupling of the "American Dreams" from any viable honest way to achieve it. To rape it's most valuable resource, it's own citizens, as a means of fiendish profit...trickle down, or unwavering merciless vacuuming up. To here someone speak of this. This was one of your best reports since I have been a viewer and I have to thank you because it saved my sanity. Whenever I dared speak in the fashion as your guest Mr. Simon spoke, I was immediately labeled a conspiracy theorist...so once again thank you, excellent reporting.

    Dear Mr. Moyers:

    Talk about dumbing down! The superficial naiveté of the program with Mr. Simon was truly spellbinding in an Orwellian Animal Farm milieu.

    Oligarchy, with no mention of Max Weber, Roberto Michels, or any other cogent points of reference, oh how the souls you are sworn to save must be spinning in the grave, at the level of the pigs who are now at the table.

    Further, has everyone forgotten that speaking truth to power has always been a dangerous endeavor? Do you recall the myths (or facts?) of those who had their students suggest a dram of hemlock, or a scourging might be the tonic for a tortured spirit?

    Aren’t you the man who once did incisive profiles of people who were "Oligarchs", e.g. David Rockefeller?

    Perhaps you are soon to sit on the porch, and from your progenitor’s store of righteousness, shell peas and pecans, as was the habit of your Marshall (double entendre intended) patrimony.

    … world without end. Amen Ephesians 3:21

    Great program. Simon has found truths and is presenting them well.

    this was a very good show. i have never seen the wire but it sounds like a good show. the truth is everyone in the United States has the power to change things if we get off our asses and work together.
    there are alot of progressive and intelligent people who can make a difference. I am a member of the green party and i think the democrat and repug are a big reason why this country is where it is now. They are both in the pocket of corporate interests and really don't represent people. we need better alternatives and people to be involved. Dems and Repugs continue the war on drugs because it keeps people afraid. They can run for office by being tough on crime and building more prisons and making a career on the backs of poor people.

    Mr Simon, Mr Moyers:
    What we are lookig at is the same:
    the reengineering of democracy.
    Think about it and please do not fall for the "power" stigma. For instance, military people are in charge of powerful armaments, and we don't elect them by vote. Everything else works by merits, experience but governments, and in every case there is a power factor. Any wonder why we are living like this?

    I've spoken out for legalizing both drugs and prostitution here and there, now & then, but not in an effective manner or to the people who theoretically could make a difference. Is there some individual or oganization that is taking on legalizing drugs and providing effective rehabilitative programs et al. in an outspoken manner such as happened with MADD? Nothing will change until enough of us become loud enough long enough to bring about changes. Maybe you, Mr. Moyers, could spotlight such a person or organization on your program.

    Great Show Bill Moyers , I had to drop my HBO , The Wire is a real life story . The fact that this Country has had Politicians for 30 years only represent the wealth . We need a new form of Government , What happened to " WE the PEOPLE "

    The Wire was utterly brilliant, without parallel. The last episode, when he brought all the story lines together, was breathtaking. The scene that should have won an emmy, however, was when Snoop went to Home Depot to buy the nail gun. We cried real tears when she got whacked ("Deserve? deserve got nothin' to do with it"). Also, the black politician's testimony at trial was over-the-top incredible. Where were the Emmys for this stuff??? How about the classic line of one of the young dealers when they were going to move the dealers to one quasi-legal area: "I ain't goin' to no Hamsterdam"

    I have been a devotee of David Simon since the publication of Homicide - Life on the Killing Streets. I wish I could be as optimistic about drug counseling and job training as he is. A lot of the Corner boys and their bosses (i.e. Marlow, Barksdale) appear to be way beyond counseling: intelligent, but pathological killers. Given the drama and the trajectory of their lives on the street, counseling and job training come across as hopeful on a reformist, do-gooder scale but inappropriate for the badass boys this deep into the Life.

    Speaking of Emmy's, someone should mention Fran, the main junkie character in The Corner. Once again an unsung, absolutely brilliant performance.

    End the "War on Drugs" which cost us some $44B. I agree with Simon that we could better use this money to provide jobs to inner city youth or a $88,000 job for each of five million kids! Ex Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke favored decriminalization- in fact he appeared on a couple episodes of The Wire. And Congressman (and recent Presidential candidate Ron Paul has called for legalization.

    Would reversal of the FCC's relaxing of media ownership rules help save the flow of factual information, and is there any push in that direction?

    I learned a great deal from the dialogue tonight. Mr. Simon cares about what's really important to the ordinary American. I'd like to point out one thing about the segment from The Wire regarding standardized testing. In the segment the superintendent informs the faculty of an inner city school that language arts questions must be appear on tests in every subject. Actually. this is not a bad idea. As an English teacher, I support my school's efforts to promote writing across the curriculum. Math, science, and social studies teachers who include essay questions or "constructed response" questions are promoting writing skills, which are sorely needed. Multiple-choice tests have their place, but do not elicit good communication of ideas. On the other hand, I realize that some schools force teachers to teach to the test, and this is anti-educational.

    Legalize drugs asap. I hate drugs but most of them are less dangerous than booze. As in, nobody ever died of an overdose of marijuana or killed somebody under its influence alone.
    This report is a great dose of the truth. Put all the Ponzie Schemers in jail - and we'll get wonderful jails.

    Mr. Simon gave a good report tonight but a few things were missed. He stated he would like treatment and schooling for addicts. For 27 years I worked in a Treatment Center which offered these possibilities of a better life. Would say, maybe 1 in 60 chose a lifestyle of no drugs after they left. They also had oppurtunities to get a GED and were given job training. Thirty days were spent in the center with a 3--6 month follow up in a sober house. All this help was absolutly free and paid by tax-payers. Simon appeared to degrade a person who is a Capitalist in this day in age. People who work for a living and pay taxes are the people who keep the economy going and make these centers possible. Most all the folks who came through the center were brought up on Welfare with parents who refused to work and these kids were following in their parents footsteps. Dealing drugs is a lot easier then punching a time-clock is what they were taught. Kids as young as 10 were selling drugs for their parents. The welfare system this country has is the worst possible program ever. Jail is also a help in a way. It keeps the kid from getting killed out on the street and maybe would help them make better decisions. Using drugs is a choice. The Gov. paying people to sit home, have kids, and giving them no responsibility is by far the biggest crime this country ever committed. Politcians appear not to care. Their only answer is to pay people, to get their votes. Bush messed up with Katrina and apoligised. Obama has hired crook after crook to his cabinet but, those were just "over-looked" mistakes. All this Gov. wants is to please people to keep them in office. Treatment Centers worked very hard in the 70's 80's and 90's to help people but, the bottom line is, they need to want the help........

    It is not that some ppl are supernumerary, uneeded, but that some others have robbed them and scrammed, leaving them flat on the pavement. It's the fault of an economic system that creates money out of thin air. It would be physically (and fiscally) almost impossible, if ppl were all required to work for what they earn, and credit was extended only from the proceeds. This is not socialism; it is fair market economics. It is what we preach, but do not do. Capitalism's demise is no fairy tale, nor the result of any conspiracy, but the plain greed that is re-feudalising this first world. Maryland is a good illustration alright, it has one of the country's richest counties side-by-side with one of the poorest and most crime-ridden, while its major city sports a revitalized downtown, flanked by miles of Harlem-like brownstones.

    I do tho have a bone to pick about teaching to the test. It would IMHO be a great thing if schools examined students exactly on what they taught them, instead of feeling that they have to "assess" them. Selection is not their business; education is.

    But it is indeed an amazing thing that newspapers, which for so many years realized much higher than normal returns off advertising, did not have the intelligence to foresee a day when they might not enjoy that monopoly anymore.

    There weren’t any countries anymore.

    Well, not really. Some folks still thought there were and with no hope of any other kind of a future would allow their young folks to trade in their jeans for khakis and go off to fight a war that made them feel alive and important.

    It was surely profitable for the flag makers and for those believing there really were
    still countries. But the rich knew countries, and religions, and race were all for the poor
    who needed something to believe in, other than money. As if, there was ever anything
    else. There had long ago become only two countries really, one for the rich and the other
    for the rest of us.

    War was still the most profitable industry, but somewhat inefficient – or at least the soldiering aspect of it – robots were now much better at killing, and there wasn’t all that aftercare and hospitalization to provide. Nationalism was the way the poor families of men and women who died appeased their grief and calmed the voices within that the death of their beloveds had not really been in vain.

    Both the new and the old rich who once had kingdoms now acquired land masses that spanned the globe. This was the new global economy, that we were supposed to compete in. And in order to compete, we had to put ourselves in debt getting what used to be a fairly reasonably priced education for a small fortune, so that we could get a job that paid half of what it had paid our parents, so we could work twice as hard, and not expect to have health benefits, or any kind of pension for an old age that we once looked forward to retiring into, and now, feared, because we all knew we would probably never afford to stop working anymore.

    The rich were getting poorer, they told the rest of us, and because of that the rest of us had to sacrifice more than ever. And somehow we really all believed, it was our fault, or that it was something that we had done to make this happen. Too much borrowing (weren’t we encouraged to borrow?), too much buying, (wasn’t that what our economy had been built on?).

    Now, no one had money to buy those things that they had always wanted us to buy.
    But it didn’t matter anymore because that was an outdated business paradigm, similar to the weekly outdoor market. The notion that goods and services were to be exchanged for money was fast becoming a quaint little idea from the past.

    The rich now decided that it was no longer an efficient way to generate profit. Much better just to start wreaking havoc with the economies of countries they had basically bought and or financed for themselves, and having the people work to subsidize them directly.

    Even racism had proved to be a very inefficient way of dividing and conquering, especially since the current generation, appeared to be more enamored than ever of mixing races, and didn’t give a hoot about culture, unless it had something to do with tasting new foods, learning new dances or adding to their music collections.

    Women had finally gotten used to working inside and outside the homes, and many men had become almost eunuch-like having only a few places in which to demonstrate their manliness. Places like bars, or cars, in beds or on or near a sporting event. Biological fathers became less interested in actually being fathers than exchanging sperm. (That is, unless of course, they were older men married to young women who required children as part of the deal.) Many men were agreeable to contributing money and willing to babysit every other weekend, while mothers went out looking for potential new fathers.

    In addition to the media propaganda industry that attempted to convince the masses that government was on your side, there was the new spiritual movement that seduced the intellectuals (who were all secretly still suffering from their childhood traumas), into believing that you should merely ‘surrender, accept the moment and live in the now.’ No reason to hold impassioned opinions about the way things should or could be, or about what was right or just. Resistance, they claimed, was futile, simply ‘go with the flow.’

    This was the new Promised Land, the land of ‘enlightenment.’

    And so, even the artistic, intellectual classes were falling asleep and didn’t really have much to paint or write about anymore. And even when they did, frankly, it wasn’t very moving.

    Alcohol and drugs were plentiful, and cheaper than ever, and there was enough virtual sex, that provided a disease free outlet for many an unhappy citizenry to ease his pain. Doctors became legimate drug dealers since many of the previous century’s drugs had become legalized and the world at large was a human laboratory for the newer forms of mind control called ‘brain imaging.’ The new ‘supervitamins’ were supposed to help you prolong your life.

    For what reason, many people were beginning to wonder.

    Simon obviously developed a great deal of insight during his years in journalism. I work for a city government, and I see some of the results of the present neglect of the so-called underclass and the neighborhoods where they live. I agree wholeheartedly with Simon's solution of legalizing drugs and plowing the money thus saved into drug treatment and job creation. I think we as a society would have to do that first, before we drastically improved the schools. After all, the parents of the kids have to be less strung out and more hopeful and able to help their kids first.

    Simon is right on.
    Two years ago, I resigned from daily newspaper work after a 30-year career. Because of trends in that institution, I was no longer part of the solution of society's ills, but part of the problem. Funny thing was that I sold my newspaper stock when I quit at $37 a share; it's now worth 37 cents. So it didn't do the stockholders much good either...

    Excellent - a truth seeker and speaker - a breath of fresh air in a money system which thrives on delusion, illusion, deception.

    Apathy is the realization that nothing really meaningful is happening or going to happen and nothing in one's power can change that perceived fact. Everyone has experienced the ugly truth which is pertinent in their individual lives. Granted some are more unscathed than others.

    Institutions, private and public, have never been able to provide all the answers as is sorely apparent in the current situation we find ourselves, as a nation and a world. Though we have been told in one way or another that we must trust the very same people we have seen disregard any humanistic approach to the problems we have all caused by action or inaction. How can this happen? Do we, as individuals keep going to the trough, ie, voting booths (when the electoral college has the final say) or invest in a system that values nothing under a billion? Who can we trust?

    Even when one believes and hopes and prays that the dream, American or otherwise, is attainable, how can we fight an ingrained system that continues to pummel us with mixed messages of a status quo that is cracking slowly enough to still patch itself before too many people notice.

    Apathy, sure...anger, you bet. It's hard to raise your hand when it is tied. It's hard to raise your head when your face is slapped every time. The government, the business community and the media treat the non-intelligentsia like we are ignorant. Maybe we are but, how can we cure our ignorance when the information we get is opinion as fact, shoddy journalism and plain thievery and deception?

    I don't expect a handout or even a hand up. I would however, like to see some honesty out there....anywhere.

    Change is never easy.

    Mr. Simon, I thank you for telling the truth about what really goes on in inner-cities like Baltimore, in the streets and in city hall. It's no different than what I've seen in New Orleans and Harlem and it's nothing nice. Just know that many people who do not have Nielson boxes in their homes watched and loved the Wire.

    Please have David Simon back for more in-depth commentaries and truths.

    He is the kind of journalist the world needs now.


    Wonderful program. How can we say that we live in the best country in the world when a big part of our society is invisible? How can we live in our gated communities and pretend that other world does not exist? How can we say that we are people of faith when our brothers and sisters barely exist? How can we keep consuming when young children are suffering daily through no fault of their own? What will it take for the people and institutions of this country to wake up? Is there any hope? What will it take for this cruel world we live in to stop being so shelfish? What will it take to raise peoples's consience? Words seem so empty without action and so powerless.

    Thank-you for calling attention to David Simon's "The Wire."

    I viewed every episode of that truly magnificent body of work and, like a drug addict, have been in withdrawals ever since the series ended.

    I'm glad to know that Simon is working on a new series and trust that it will be as thought provoking and conscience probing as his other work.

    REVOLUTION IS IN THE AIR

    David Simon Interview - We do not get HBO so cannot see all of David's Wire series. Everything he says is true. How can we get his insight out to the masses? We are so so sick over what has happened to this great Country over the past twenty-five years. How do we set this ship on a moral, ethical course?

    I agree with alot of with what Mr. Simon says, but its all to negative. I don't see any real value in his perspective. No solving the issues he rails about. He just happens to be a talented person that gets a stage.
    None of the graft and abuse of the union system was mentioned. How many people have lost the dues they paid either by simple theft, or through the mishandling of they're retirement funds. All are losses. Solving these issues are where we need to be thinking. I heard non of that.

    legalize it

    One of the more insightful discussions I have seen that is so "on the mark". I could use more of David Simon. It bothers me that we must "hit the wall" for change to occur and that we have not done that yet, even with all the financial crisis' we have encountered. What does it take to put us on a more true track?

    Just another reminder that the struggle for real advancement is not over. I am not a long-winded person, so i will get right to it..Never stop fighting for the betterment of all peoples..oppression anywhere is oppression everywhere..

    Wow! I've never seen "The Wire" or heard of David Simon until tonight. But I am so encouraged that someone sees it as it is and that you have now given such a broad audience to that vision.

    David Simon is the smartest person I've ever heard speak on the situation in America. And Bill Moyers is pretty smart for bringing us this great hour of television. If I had the authority to give out Pulitzers, Bill, your show would get one for the last month of broadcasts and the service they have provided for America and the World.

    God bless you,
    Charles Michael Couch

    Thanks for this truly insightful program. I am constantly in pain with the way we treat our children, especially the Black on Black crime in the inner cities. Mr. Simon helped me to understand why we continue to let it happen. Our politicians are not serving the people. It is a very sad commentary.

    This was a fantastic show tonight. I can't afford HBO to watch the Wire so it was a delight to be able to watch what is being filmed right next door to Virginia in Baltimore. Who determines what is the right power, however? If those in power make that decision for the rest of us, then there will be no change. I believe that David Simon is absolutely correct. Change must be a groundswell of indignation against institutions who are using statistics to steal our lives, our health and our wealth. It is obscene to realize that the rich get richer. While this has always been a part of the American Experience, it has gotten so much worse in the last 30 years. To change means the citizens who have a little will become willing to risk a lot to take on the establishment. I don't know when we will reach that point. I don't know whether we will be able to tell since we no longer have the Press watching what is going on. I am pretty pessimistic about the future. I don't believe the people will be willing to risk what little they have to force change. The conservatives are too quick to say change to include the people is communism/socialism. And until we, as a nation, can agree that our country is on the wrong path institutionally, politically, financially and morally we will be mired in what we have now. I just pray it won't get worse.

    Excellent. We're finally calling it as it is. I'd like to see this dialogue go up against the cant of Bloomberg, Klein, and Gates when they discuss education.

    Why do we put up with the disparity of wealth and opportunity in this country? We do it because we are conditioned through media and American mythology to believe that success is up to an individual's desire and effort, not social and economic policies.

    Furthermore, to have wealth in this country does not mean one is not running twice as fast to stay in the same place.

    American economic policies, especially in the past thirty years, really benefit a very small group of individuals who operate financial levers. We have families in this country making $200,000 a year that still feel that they are being squeezed. Once these people realize that their fate is linked with the underclass, there will be real change in this country. The real trick that the establishment must pull off is to socialize the middle class and wealthier into believing that they are above it all.

    Simon nails it.

    Charlie Rose, pay attention.

    Institutions have become empires, and many are corrupt empires, completely ignoring their missions if they conflict with personal plans and ambitions.

    In the long term there will need to be a reassessment of our society's goals. Do we want to continue to throw money at our problems, as we have for many years now, or are we ready to look at the causes of those problems: the failure of the family unit, unemployment and low wages resulting in chronic family debt, spiritual alienation and the resulting devolution into drugs and the accompanying crimes, the ever escalating cost of living, cost of food, shelter, heath care and education.

    Of course citizens can turn these institutions around - they, we, pay the bills! An educated citizenry with the will to transform an institution is a guaranteed winner when citizens get involved, keep their eyes on the prize, stand on their principles and be ready to "do or die" for them. Part of our problem is that people do not agree
    on how to approach the problems, and many would just as soon not be bothered with such a messy and contentions business as good and honest citizenship.

    Transforming the Powers
    Put in stark simplicity:
    The Powers are good.
    The Powers are fallen.
    The Powers must be redeemed.
    These three statements must be held together, for each bt itself is not only untrue but downright mischievous. We cannot affirm governments or universities or businesses as good unless at the same time we recognize that they are fallen. We cannot face oppressiveness unless we remember that they are also a part of God's good creation. And reflection on their creation and fall will seem to legitimate these Powers and blast any hope for change unless we assert, at the same time, that these Powers can and must be redeemed. But focus on their redemption will lead to Utopian disillusionment unless we recognize that their transformation takes place within the limits of the fall.

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