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5.03.02
Politics and Economy:
Bill Moyers on Class in America


The vast inequality of this new Gilded Age didn't just happen.

Nature didn't ordain it, the market didn't require it, and Adam Smith's invisible hand doesn't sustain it.

What happened is the rich declared class war and spent what it took to win.


View the Commentary
Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers
on Class in America

Not exactly a new story, of course, but the extraordinary new concentration of wealth and power created a juggernaut that makes it harder and harder for democracy to work for all.

The rich buy the laws and loopholes they want from Congress, and from the White House, they buy executive protection of their privileges.

So government winds up promoting the extremes instead of moderating them.

Look at the bill the House of Representatives recently passed to reform accounting and financial disclosure in the wake of Enron.

Despite everything we learned about the gang from Houston, the bill does not close the revolving door between accountants and their clients, nor will it prohibit accounting firms from making millions by selling consulting services to the same companies they audit.

Critics now call it the "Ken Lay Protection Act." And what happened the other day when the Senate voted on regulating energy derivatives, those mischievous devices Enron used to manipulate prices and gouge customers?

Why, Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, that old and faithful friend of Enron, managed to scuttle it.

Then there's the new farm bill that will give more than $50 billion in new subsidies to the richest and largest farms in America.

And the new energy bill that takes your tax dollars and transfers them to the richest energy companies in the country.

Remember our recent story about how Enron used stock options to avoid paying taxes in four out of the last five years?

Well, even as we talk, the White House and business lobbies, with Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman as their point man, are working to block reform of stock options.

Yes, the rich declared class war and won.

All that's left is for politics to divide up the spoils.

Tell us what you think.

The State of the American Economy

Income Disparity Around the World

Additional Essays:


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