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Poll: Whom do you blame for the country’s ills?

This week, anchor Jeff Greenfield explores the “Occupy Wall Street” and tea party movements in a report that examines the politics of resentment throughout American history. Several commentators have pointed out the similarities between these two disparate movements: Both have expressed outrage at the TARP bailouts that succeeded the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and frustration with persistently high rates of unemployment two years after the recession technically came to an end. But that’s where the similarities end: “Occupy” and the tea party hold vastly different groups accountable for the nation’s current economic challenges.


Whom do you blame for the country's ills?

View Results

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  • Kathy Kramer

    I chose “widespread apathy” because our apathy is why we have the people in charge in the first place.

  • Karen

    I chose “something else” meaning the tea party movement — if socialism means that the government is helping those who can’t help themself, protecting the economy against corporate greed, and offering citizens basic health care, then give me socialism (although what our government provides is not even close to socialism–it is just a Tea Party scare tactic. And btw, I believe Jesus would be totally against the tea party and republican ideology!

  • Anonymous

    I blame wall street and their tentacles into the political system including NOW the Supreme Court with their conflicts of interest…but why does NPR and other MSM continue to call the problem…’the Government’…..the problem is with the leaders that control Government in Congress who enacts legislation that should be in the best interest of US and NOT the 1% and Wall Street Crooks.  I think NPR and the rest of the media do the country a disservice when they use the word Government as though some innate object is the reason for our decline and woes in this country….NO….Government is our system of democracy and works when the levers of power are NOT bought and sold by the ruling class on wall street and Corporations.  What you and other media need to begin saying is that the problem is with the leaders of our government and STOP this bashing of ‘the government’ like it is some evil monster….the government is US and the leaders of our govt. should be fearful of US…the 99% who have been lied to by the bought politicians who also tout their deceptions of anti-government rhetoric but yet hold office in the very thing they rant against….people…WAKE the F@UCK UP before it is too late and get your butts into the streets since it is our ONLY chance.

  • Val5linx

    Actually its a combination of wallstreet and govt. wallstreet is able to spend enough money through lobbist to get legislation passed to their liking and the rest of us aren’t heard do to a lack to buy our way into govt. One of the founding fathers said ” if you ever let banks in charge of the money (wallstreet bankers) you will found yourself and your children broke and without a country” Paraphrased).

  • patsy thornton

    I voted wall street,yet washington and wall street share equally in lustful greed.

  • Ron Oetting

    Swindling mortgage lenders, wealthy elitists, lazy industrialists, unscrupulous bankers and greedy Wall Streeters ‘had their way’ with the American economy while a war-mongering, incompetent Bush administration slept at the switch. It will take Obama – or whomever else we elect – decades, perhaps generations, to clean up the mess Bush left behind (if, indeed, it can ever be completely cleaned up). However, ‘we the people’ must share some of the blame because our apathy allowed these miscreants to take over our country. Now that they are in total control of the media, Congress, industry, law enforcement and capital sources, it will be difficult to loosen the stranglehold they maintain over the United States’ economy, social structure, culture and business. ‘We the people’ have been brainwashed into believing there can only be two political parties in America; that our education system is flawless; that our government is efficient, and that our right to protest is limited. Whenever any organization, corporation or government gets too big, it becomes far less manageable, and the fewer people benefit from it. Until ‘we the people’ dismantle the theory that ‘big is better’, there will be little escape from the tentacles of big business and/or big government. Until ‘we the people’ finally return to a tribal system of government where local communities are served by local leaders, ‘we the people’ will never be free.

  • Anonymous

    I hope all of you who commented will get out tomorrow in your cities and march like I will be doing…the movement must continue~

  • John Erickson

    I chose “Wall Street” meaning the big banks not the stock exchanges.  They knew they were causing an economic bubble but thought they could make big bucks.  It was the government’s job to stop it, but they didn’t.

  • E148

    I said “something else”. It is the system.I believe that systems are designed to work one way. If you try to modify it, it will not work. We do not have a capitalist system nor socialist system. You cannot have it both ways. That is a contradiction.There are problems with both them however. Congress have tried compromise for decades now.  Congress has been compromising us into oblivion. It is just now starting to do it right. Congress needs to go back to the Constitution. The capitalists and socialists are the majority of this country. Voters are part of the problem– whether it is apathy or not.

    Congress has its problems as has the voters. Most vote for the person they think will win– the winner. It is a popularity contest.As if they are choosing the winner of the Super Bowl. How many promises can a candidate make that (s)he will never keep? They do not vote for people (President in particular) that represent their views.

    Corporate greed is also a problem. An immediate and high return on investment — ROI. Corporations do not exist to provide jobs. They exist to make the rich richer at the expense of the poor and middle class. So wall street is part of the problem as well.

    In the cases of Wall Street and Washington – this is the system we have. The rich people run this country and Washington.

    We could even say our schools made us so our schools are also to blame but then again they are being forced to do things besides just teach. This is Washington and the rich.

    It is the system.

  • S182548

    Wall street would not be the major problem if it weren’t for the politicians who allow them to do as they please with their bottom line. Let’s face it this country doesn’t make anything here anymore because overseas workers are more profitable for the corporations,investors,bankers,lobbyists
    and the politicians who allow this to destroy our economy. However they are our elected officials and we don’t get rid of these people we recognize that they don’t have the nations best interest at heart. Lastly the media only reports the stories they want to and control the direction they feel that the debate should go

  • Bart

    Wall street moved our jobs to China just to make themselves richer, Now there is know one in this country that has a good paying job so we can buy there China made junk,
    Thanks Wall street for craping on the good ole USA for profits!

  • Dorcas

    One cause is the Supreme Court decision that allows corporations or those who run these corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to candidates and causes, forcing those who feel they need this money to bend to the donor’s interests and desires. (Example: the Koch brothers and the Tea Party, but it happens across the board.) Another obstacle is that people, even leaders, have become very self-centered in this country, concentrating only on the issues that affect them, rather than on the issues that have helped make our country prosper in the past and have included concern for people and issues on the margins with actions taken to include them for the greater good of the country as a whole.  We have to get back to the basics of what can make the USA vibrant again!! Finally, the involvement in global conflicts that have little to do with who we are as the historic United States drains the country of funds needed  to build up our country.

  • Pennybauer

    Our government is the best that Money can buy! It is not simply Wall Street. We have a plutocracy and only the illusion of a democracy.

  • guest

    Unfair poll – there’s plenty of blame to go around.  Need an all of the above or allow us to check more than one item.  And I would substitute widespread ignorance for widespread apathy, although there is plenty of that too.  I voted for those that I believe have the tightest hold on the reins of power, are the most corrupt, and are the least accountable – Wall Street.

  • gudguy

    what ills?

  • Robert

       The financial industry (Wall St.) is the primary culprit and has been for decades, with the help of Washington (mostly republican leaders, but also democrats).  Most of the populists, both democrat and rebublican, gave up and left town years ago.  G. W. Bush knew what the money changers were doing and called off the regulatory dogs while they finished killing the goose that laid the golden egg.  Harry Truman confessed long ago where the buck stops (no pun intended).  History will someday reveal that the advent of IRA’s and 401K’s was the largest single tool to transfer wealth from the domestic economy to the global corporate socialist financial engine.    Finally, last year’s supreme court decision giving corporations unlimited monetary control of elections was possibly the final nail in the coffin of hope for a true democratic republic.  Real election reform actually diminishing the corrupting influence of big money on the electoral process might have been the only hope of restoring vitality to the country.  The country is now effectively an oligarchy, and the ongoing transfer of wealth from we the people to the corporate elite will go on until the country is reduced to a third rate economy.

  • Modu1us

    The problem is money in politics. None of our congress people have moved to begin the process of changing the constitution so that corporations won’t have the same rights as a person. The money influence is seminal to the problem of our dysfunctional congress and has to be stopped. They all talk about the problem of money but they don’t take step toward changing it — yet the average citizen wants this change to happen.

  • stbt annie

    gov’t is in bed with money . blame both. get rid of politicians every 8 yrs.

  • Hoyka

    Our government is in the pockets of corporate America: See where our elected officials get most of their money:
    How can a politician control/regulate an industry that pays his way? Impossible! We need a democratic, multi-party system. The two-party system is broken and not fair to the electorate.

  • Mttrooper

    As I watched this program, I couldn’t help but think how far off the mark Greenberg and his guest were about the Tea Party..its origins, and its current status in the GOP. The modern Tea Party movement began with Ron Paul in the last presidential election cycle. This has been well documented. The Tea Party organized itself by promoting the money bomb as a way to raise funds for Ron Paul’s `08 presidential bid. During the midterm election following the `08 presidential election, the Tea Party led the way in removing incumbents from Congress, mostly Democrats, but also some Republicans. As with the Ron Paul campaign, the hallmark of the Tea Party was the promotion of the money bomb to raise funds  for candidates it supported, The Tea Party has morphed into something far removed from what it was when Ron Paul tallied voters. As a movement, the Tea Party continues to capitalize on the money bomb to fund their candidates, but the candidates tend to be more main stream republicans. Though Ron Paul’s influence can be seen in these candidates, most of them still maintain the standard talking points of the mainstream neo-conservatives. The Tea Party has been co-opted. It is no longer the reflection of Ron Paul and the supporters who rallied around him. Instead, the Tea Party has been absorbed by mainstream GOP. Ron Paul supporters are still quite successful in using the money bomb to raise funds for his campaign. While other candidates try to emulate his success, none have succeeded to the same level as Ron Paul. Without Ron Paul as the candidate to rally around, the Tea Party has no future.

  • Hlouisnini

    None of the above and its the elephant in the living that no one wants to talk about, the cultural divide (see Ken Burns latest Prohibition) – my sainted mother was no intellectual giant and some times she tripped over her lingering Cajun accent – at one family gathering we were engaged in a rowdy discussion of current affairs and when there was lull in the conversation my mother said “Its the fault of them bums.).  Now momma was not a sports fan and since we had just come out of the great depression and she had fed “tramps” as we called them at her backdoor we were stymied – finally my sister said but mother what do vagrants have to do with any thing and she replied over her shoulder as she went into her inner-sanctum, her kitchen “Nutten, its dem atomic bums dey keep shooting off in the air.”  If my mother were alive today she would be a member of the tea party.  what has that got to do with culture?  In my opinion the tea party is culture driven – people with bumper sticker philosophy are driven into self contained groups where they feel safe expressing themselves among other of like mind – they feel alienated by contemporary culture or are driven with the zeal to correct all the wrongs that exist in contemporary culture – birds of a feather etc, – I believe if you scratch deep enough it all about culture – the Occupiers on the other hand feel that they are the recipients of the scarlet letter applied by “them” – just to mention two issues – it took a bloody civil war and another hundred years for us to get over slavery and many say we aren’t over it yet – and from the beginning of recorded history straight parents have produced gay children and we are not even close to accepting that – so I repeat – none of the above – its cultural.

  • SEMN

    The TEA party has hoodwinked many since it’s a smokescreen to get many middle class people to vote for programs that only benefit the rich.  And the Occupy Wallstreet does not realize that most of our 401ks based at least somewhat on stock growth make a majority of Americans want growth on The Street – they should focus on more regulation to prevent another 2008 banking/mortgage mess.  What we need is to overcome apathy and one of the houses of congress, eg, keep the Senate and then get rid of the House of Representatives and go to a direct citizen vote in it’s place.  

  • tufduc

    I would suggest we have gone from a country that recognized the benefits of a moral and principled society to a country that has sucumbed to the immoral to the degree that we now legislate immorality.
    We see the results if this capitulation to the immoral everyday in our news media.   

  • Carolinakaren

    Something else:  Wall Street, big business, ALL POLITICIANS, and ALL the people who want something for nothing – from the executives with million-dollar salaries and billions in stock options to the man in the street who thinks he/she is ENTITLED to more.

  • Pgrice

    The only way to get the USA back to being a democracy is to eliminate any election funding other than publicly provided money.  People seeking election at any level: local; state or federal, would need to obtain some established percentage of signatures on a petition and then apply for the established funds from the local, state or federal election authority.  Anyone spending additional funds would be eliminated from the election or unseated if it were not discovered until post election.  Only in this way can anyone run for election after they have secured a meaningful level of support.

  • Jim Morton

    This poll needs another option…Republicans.  Their “free market” ideology and their marketing of it has totally messed up people’s minds AND our government AND secondarily our economy.

  • Marshall N Brown

    Wall Street reed led to the eregious acts leading to TARP et seq.  However, these never would have happened had Congress, bought and paid for by Wall Street, not altered laws from the 1930s — after the Great Depression — implemented to prevent such acts.

  • Anonymous

    The Supreme Court for making corporations “persons”  and all the subsequent rulings that increased the power of corporations at the expense of the people. As someone said, “I’ll agree that a corporation is a person when they receive the death penalty in Texas.”

  • Elle Traine

    What I blame The derivatives market  Who I blame The financial institutions whom know more than anyone that these derivative contracts are ficticious at best and should be felonious since nobody knows whose on the other end of the deal and its value is based on a formula that is made up out of thin air therefore does not exist in reality and thats just two of the many other factors that make it truly impossible to determine its value or its actual worth This hardly constitutes a legal contract Its hard to believe our country finds this to be an acceptable practice in OUR financial marketplace …Its Sad … so very very sad.

    How I would fix it: Require a 1% tax on every derivative transaction made in the United States and that alone would more than cover our national debt EASILY!! and even better IMMEDIATELY! 

  • Skater60_00

    Wealth and Politics do not mix well and so all elections should be STRICTLY PUBLICLY FUNDED.  One should not even be allowed to use any of one’s own money when running for office.  Any private funding of an election should be considered a felony. 

  • Crich520

    I agree congress both house and senate need to serve no longer then what a president is allowed to serve(two terms.. I also think the supreme court justices need to not be given life time employment. These long terms keeps them out of touch with the people. Also means they are all embedded with lobbyist and party politics. Also not good for the people’s best interest.

  • Crich520

    The bubble burst at the ending of the 8 years of Republicans in charge. They still insist no regulations should be enforced.  It is interesting the two protest groups differ.. the Tea Party followers believe that government is to blame but the Wall Street group say it is wall street and the banks to blame.
    It also seems strange to me that the Tea Party is threatening the GOP to get what they think is best for the rest of us. The recent debt crisis was a sign of how far they would go to put the country at risk.
    I think we need to let our voices be heard and we need to be aware of hidden agendas.
    We the people do think big corporations are running our lives and the answer is for us to get behind legislation to make congress serve no more then two terms like our elected Presidents.
    IN addition I think supreme court justices should never have life time employment. They are people not gods. Stand up americans and use your voice. Republicans are using theirs and they say only the rich deserves the best.

  • Anonymous


  • Dawnie Rotten

    Mttrooper is 100% correct. It’s too bad that Need To Know/Greenberg/his guest couldn’t get the FACTS straight! Shame on you, Need To Know!

  • Patriot

    Something else:  An uninformed, apathetic electorate, including all those with an entitlement mentality.  The government does not owe you a living and should not control your lives.  States experiencing lack of federal enforcement of US immigration laws are understandably frustrated.  Enforcement of E-Verify for all employers, and laws prohibiting rentals/real estate sales to illegal aliens will result in self-deportation.  Birthright citizenship for anchor babies (born of illegal alien parents) is a travesty, and does not exist in other countries.  This misinterpretatioin olf the 14th Amendment is bankrupting social services, hospitals, and school systems around the country, especially in border states.  Everyone should carry ID and produce it upon request of Law Enforcement.  We also need to pass the US English Amendment, and require “English-only” in government, industry, and commerce.  (Strong letter to follow.)

  • Westcoastbluff

    The repeal of the Glass/Stegall Act around 1998/99 let derivaties run wild. This action allowed Pure Speculators to control the Oil Futures Market at the expense of the Hedge Speculator and the end user of oil based products, us, the consumer. We still suffer today with Big Oil extracting huge sums of money from the economy in the sale of retail gas. Big Oil is gleefully chasing the quoted oil prices as produced by the Pure Speculators. 

  • Westcoastbluff

    The laws and rules were changed and laid down by Congress with the blessings of Wall Street and most others who make their living investing. Stock market, realestate, banking and so on. You are “spot on”. Just one litle observation. We are our own worst enemy.

  • Westcoastbluff

    You are partly correct. The Liberals whch have controlled both parties, and most certainly, the Democrat Party for the past 75 years have all but destroyed the free market system. There were almost enough “conservative Tea Party type people elected to the House this last time to put a stop to this mess. Almost. Maybe next time.  Long live “9-9-9″

  • prodogs and peeps

    Patriot????? – What you write divluges a lack of intelligence and proper concern for others. Change your handle.  Do not call yourself a are anything but a patriot based on your stated commentary. My own family came to this country in 1778, and I could not care less if any person spoke in any language as long as they are not talking to me. In other words mind your own business. Learn to live in peace with your fellow man and pray that your kind are not a majority in this country. God Bless America!!!

  • Stan Brody

    While Wall Streets investment banks,,, “rating” agencies all enabled by the criminal and worthless CDO’s written by A.I.G. brought the world to its economic knees; it is the abject failure of congress, the administration, Chairman Bernanke and Secretary Geithner’ to property address the housing crisis that continues the crisis. Without an at least stabilized housing market, directly responsible for over 22% of every job in the US, there cannot be any recovery prior to 2022… at the earliest…  The lost real estate tax revenue caused by the free falling real estate values is the sole reason for the economic hole that the states find themselves

  • Westcoastbluff

    If 2 billion dollars spent by the candidates will only get 30% of the electorate out to vote; how much tax money would be spent to get out a respectable 75%. We do not have a democracy. We have a republic. I believe Russia had a democracy and all voted for Stalin. They appear to be headed that way again.  

  • prodogs and peeps

    Also known as the greed factor. It runs rampant in this country. I Believe this will end with a 2 class system. Super rich or super poor with no middle class. Pray that I am wrong.

  • Westcoastbluff

    Partly true. However some 1000 people meeting in Freeman Park, Bartlett, TN, this morning at 11:00am on a work day would disagree that the Tea Party lives or dies with a fine man, named Ron Paul. Another fine man Herman Cain had a rally there and discussed 999 and many other things. He ended by asking for our vote for him for Predident of the United States. I would guess that quite a few of the people present had never attended a T-Party meeting. A T-Party person is what you believe and not what you do. I suspect that you are also a T-Party type person based on your comments. Could be wrong.  

  • Jeff W

    Well there is a huge, biggest fattest elephant that sits in our government and works against the American public.  It the lobbyists.  They are the ones who put handguns on the street.  They are the one who deregulate buisness in the USA.  They are insurnace companies and the banking industries.  They are the cigerette supporters.  They influence the Senate and Congress to manipulate the government to always vote their way even when it kills Americans.  Destroys jobs.  Desroys our country.  That is the biggest reason that government get anything done.  The money they throw around to make these people vote whatever way they them to do.  Even if it kills people.  The money and the lobbyists will always rule.  That is what is really, really messed up about the government! 

  • TheTruth

    MOST of the above comments are correct (in where to point the finger).

    I chose “something else”. And although MOST of the above comments are correct. NO ONE wants to talk about the elephant in the room. The Rothschild’s (aka The FED; World & Central Banks). Before ANY of the above “fixes” can take place, we need to get rid of the Fed/World/Central Banks. THEY are our Masters! Does ANYONE know the TRUE History of our (and the rest of the World) banking system/The Rothschild’s?? They also control our “news” (US and Global); that’s why no one has the balls to tell the World’s citizens what’s really going on. Yes, people, ONE family (Rothchild’s aka The Fed/World/Central Banks) CONTROLS the WORLDS wealth; the Rothchild’s and their “agents”.

    Currently, there are only FIVE Countries that DO NOT have a Central/World Bank; they are Iran; North Korea; Syria; Cuba; and Libya. PRIOR TO 9/11 there WERE 7 Countries that were NOT controlled by The Rothchild’s. Does anyone want to take a guess as to what TWO Countries are missing from the list??? IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN!! And WHY are the US in Lybia right now?? It isn’t to help it’s citizens; it’s to oust it’s leader and put in a Rothchild controlled Central Bank.

    9/11 was a FALSE FLAG operation to go to war with Iraq and Afghanistan to put the Rothchild’s in business there. I don’t know WHY it is so hard for people to believe that our own Government (“Shadow” Government) can do something like that to it’s own Citizens!! Check your History, people; our Government has done A LOT of fkd-up sh!t to it’s citizens over the course of history!! WAKE UP!! 9/11 was not the first FALSE FLAG operation by the US Government, and you can bet your first-born child that it will NOT be the last.

    After Lybia settles down and a “Central Bank” moves in, there will be only FOUR countries left with NO Rothchild controlled Central Bank. Anyone want to make wagers on where the next invasion/war will be??? Pres Obama has JUST tipped “his” hat in recent days with the RIDICULOUS “Iran to assassinate Saudi diplomat” Bullsh!t!!!! There are SO MANY obvious HOLES in the US Governments “story” on this, it’s LAUGHABLE!!!! WAKE UP PEOPLE!!

    Once we, and the rest of the World, gets RID of The Fed/Central/World Banks…..our battle is all down hill from there. After that, we will be able to get rid of the CORRUPT politicians and Judges!! BUT WAIT….before we start electing people again, we need to GET RID of ALL those electronic voting machines!! You all DO know that your vote does NOT count, right??? Those machines are EASILY CORRUPTIBLE; they can be programmed to ANY outcome. Do the research; there are plenty of video/documentaries on YouTube. Just type in “DIEBOLD” for starters. Our President’s are now SELECTED by “the powers that be”. Who, again, would also like to wager that Pres Obama is a 2-term President?? Anyone?? BET ON IT! This circus we call “campaigning” is just for show and to keep YOU occupied.

    And lastly, I have a question for Need To Know/PBS (and Frontline). Why is it you do not expose and INFORM the US population on the factual History of The Fed/Central/World Banks/ROTHCHILDS???????????????????   Because, if the Citizens of the World do not get rid of the ROOT PROBLEM……NOTHING will EVER change and we are ALL doomed (literally)!

    ALWAYS connect the dots (follow the money) and you will find the truth!

  • Anonymous

    my uncle authored the 401k….I cant believe it myself sometimes our views on the world are so completely different from one another yet we come from the same family

  • Jeff W

    I completely agree with you Karen!

  • jan

    I blame both Washington and Wall Street.

  • Anonymous











  • Anonymous

    I blame the electorate for sending opportunists to plunder Washington on
    their behalf while expecting others to send statesmen.  

  • Judyrfrazer

    I agree they are in it together but also the media, as they do not provide indepth investigative reporting on the crookedness and behind the scenes backdoor games so the electorate is an informed one resulting in poor people being sent to Washington.  Each citizen should hold their elected representatives accountable for accepting money and then passing bills that favor donors by not reelecting them. JF in VT

  • Judyrfrazer

    Agree campaign contributions should not be to individual candidates.  All campaign contributions should go to national/state DNC and RNC and one established for non Democratic/Republican party candidates.  Then candidates put in a requisiton for the money for their individual campaigns.  This would not violate freedom of speech and would take the power of rich donors out of the legislation process in Congress.  Also, campaigns schedules should be much shorter now with 24/7 media coverage reducing the costs.  JF VT

  • SempreValente

    The top-two culprits: Career politicians and the l media, to which I at times include PBS. The media enjoy tremendous unfettered influence, completely absent of any fiduciary responsibility. Lying politicians could not survive If journalists would honor their profession. Need to Know is, so far, doing the honorable thing. Soon they will be close to the 99.5% accuracy Rush Limbaugh enjoys!

  • Judyrfrazer

    The love of money is the root of all evil not having money itself.  Big Corporations, Politicians, Big Banks, Jim Johnson Fannie Mae, all are out for themselves.  They take taxpayer dollars for salaries and benefits.  The American people are not serfs to these CZARS and we need to individually take action with our elected officials.  The best policy to change the system is to make the DNC, RNC and ONE for all other parties at national and state levels be the only source to receive campaign contributions from all sources and then the candidates requisition money from them for their campaigns.

  • WhatR_Udoing?

    9-9-9 means No, No, No in German. Very apropos for the Party of No!

  • Jeff W

    We have that already.  There are 2 America’s.  The Have’s and Have Not’s.  Here is proof of this.  If you or I or anyone gets elected to Congress, then here is what they get.  $178,000 a year.  They only have to serve in office 2 years.  They get the best healthcare from day 1 of being elected then to the end of their life.  Their salary also continues continues for life.  Alot of them just leave office and go down the street and become a Lobbyist and make millions all the while still getting the nice perk of being a 1 time Congress person.  Now if I lost my job or you lost yours, then how long does your salary or benefits go on?  I would say the pay stops immediately and usually benefits got till end of month.  Then Cobra slimes its way to you and tries to make you pay unbelieveable amounts for the benefits you just lost.  Then lets say you are  a Wall St investment banker and you just were part of team that lost billions on bets you and your buddies placed upon some 401K money.  What do you get?   A nice big bonus of a couple cool million and small tiny llittle slap on the hand.  Or you can be a CEO of a company.  You get paid millions to run the company.  When the Sh#t hits the fan – then no problem.  You are strapped with a nice golden parachute that will gently bring down for anther chance to land another CEO job.   Where is our parachute?  Well as I said before, we are Have Not’s!

  • Dan C.

    … and corporations are NOT people and should not be given the same treatment with respect to political contributions, regardless of the Citizens United finding by the Supreme Court.

  • Stan

    Jef, as much as I’d love to fully agree with your comments on the Cacophony of Conceited Condescending Clueless Clowns of Congress, I must point out that their pension plan is not that dissimilar to the corporates world… it is proportionate, and based on the number of years served and offices/ committees chaired… thus in order to attain an amount close to what the public conceives, a member must have served in the 20 year range… yes, they do retain franking privileges, and a few other minor perks…. but the package is no where what has been misperceived…

  • WonderWomyn

    I can’t believe how much we look for scapegoats when we find ourselves unhappy or in some less-than-desirable situation.  How about we citizens (rather than consumers only) take personal responsibility for getting ourselves into this mess???!!!  Greed. Keeping-up-with-the-Joneses. Manufactured desires and new products to make ourselves into someone we’re not. Buying things to make us feel better. Underwriting bad policy by supporting candidates for office who pander to our greed and divide us rather than find solutions to problems.  Here are a few suggestions to get us on a road back to who we want to be:  1. Give lots of land back to First Peoples – they take care of it better than Europeans. I’d rather rent from them than pollute my own. 2. Plant something in your yard that you can eat – that will decrease the herbicide/pesticide use that we don’t really need from further poisoning our waters and aquifers. 3. Enjoy what you have today and work towards what you desire.  4. Save 10% of whatever you make – no excuses, no mater what! 5. Be kind to one another.  There really is no good reason to be unkind to anyone. And if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. 5. Resolve problems. Don’t carry grudges…..wanna be right or be happy?  6. Consider what democracy is: the ability of each person to have a say, to express an opinion, to be regarded as valid an organism as you or I, and to reach decisions as close to unanimity as possible so as not to use our differences as weapons of hostility.  7. Learn to take responsibility for our own decisions, actions and behaviors. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best….no one can make you feel anything without your consent/permission (not a verbatim quote). 8. Laugh more.

  • Stan

    “news” media, in fear of being denied the next interview, rarely asks hardball questions…

  • Stan

    even worse.. while I am no fan of Secretary Reich… his PBS article dovetails with what I have been writing about for overv3 years… in particulare read the section on Morgan Stanley having “covered” it’s exposure to the European debt crisis… seems that we are about get an instant replay…

  • anticapitalist

    I agree with you,but I would change ’follow the money’ to follow the numbers because what we are brainwashed to call ‘money’ is nothing but numbers which have no substance or form.  Think about it.  I have also read that Rockefeller and Morgan numbers/money financed The Federal Reserve in 1917.  END THE FED. 

  • Anonymous

    Looks like we have more than enough ideas listed to get started.
    I’ll add the amendment that Congress can’t give itself anything that it doesn’t give everyone, and must abide by any regulations placed on citizens. Simple, we pay, we want our fair share.

  • Scott

    Hard to choose between Washington and Wall Street since in reality, they’re one and the same. But ultimately, we must blame ourselves for not acknowledging this and doing something about it.

  • Scooter

    Washington is to blame, both for letting Wall Street run Washington, and for letting Wall Street run the middle class into the ground while they all got fat

  • Guest

    I chose “something else,” because if you’re asking about the poor state of the economy, I would blame it on the lack of enforcement of regulations that were in place for a reason, corporate conglomerates, and plain corporate greed.  For general problems, I’d cast at least some of the blame on the short-sightedness of the Republican party back in the 1960s.  All media is now owned by a handful of companies.  Ditto the food industry, the clothing industry, car manufacturing–pretty much any industry you can name.  Technically, the anti-trust laws should have protected us from this and didn’t.  Whether it was small television stations, small newspapers, small stores–choose your industry–they have mostly been gobbled up by large corporate conglomerates with deep advertising pockets.  Small businesses failed, and the people who maybe could have earned a decent living owning a small business get to go to work for a non-livable wage while companies buy up more and more in order to increase the market share because their employees are making less and less and can buy less and less, and no one seems to notice the cause & effect link.  Greedy corporate boards that are supposed to provide oversight have time and again sold out companies’ long-term survival for short term bonuses, and no matter how loud the Reaganites have shouted it, Trickle-Down economics doesn’t work.  A CEO with $5 million average salary stimulates the economy a great deal less than 100,000 earning $50,000.  But in the 1960s when the Republican party welcomed the angry racists leaving the Democratic party because of civil rights laws, a rich white majority gained a foolish angry mob-mentality voting block that could be easily convinced to vote for things that were self-destructive by shouting “socialism,” “communism,” “welfare moms” and tying it all up by telling them that the government was evil and out to take their guns from them.  Now, as has happened all through history when someone tried to manipulate mobs with hateful propaganda, the old Republican party has lost control of the mob, and now we have an incredibly foolish and short-sighted group that is screaming so loud that politicians and corporations have mistaken them for some sort of majority.   

  • JohnnyMars

    Money rules.  The people drool.  It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and the people with the money call the shots.

  • JohnnyMars

    Let me take this concept further in that all political contributions should be illegal and all political campaigning should be by publicly-funded and government sponsored websites.  This would also help to end the stranglehold of two parties and make elections more democratic.  

    Live webcams, microphones, and phone taps should be installed in the offices of all publicly-elected officials except those in law enforcement and security and available for the public to view 24/7.  We put these clowns in office and pay their bills.  Why shouldn’t their actions be part of public records?

  • Donna Kat

    The CUT TAXES! mentality is what has diminished this country.  Add to that unfunded wars.  A civilized country must have revenue to protect its envirionment, the safety and welfare of its people, and educate its young.  In addition the attempted destruction of the progressive tax rate has put a terrible burden on the poor and the middle class.  Someone who has mutiple mansions should not be paying less of their wealth than someone that does not even own their own home.  I would agree to a flat tax rate ONLY if they taxed wealth and not income.  You could do so fairly with a tax rate of only 1%. 

  • Bill J Merc

    In this great country where
    many of us who are out of work are fortunate to collect any unemployment
    and/or government assistance at all, there is obviously still much more
    that the citizens can do to bring relief to the suffering, unfairness
    and divisiveness in the system.

    I see some of the suggestions
    in Obama’s Jobs Bill for spending to create work, but so that there is
    some relief for more of us, I’d like to see more divvying up of spending
    by creating more jobs at lesser individual expense. Don’t just dole out
    those wads of money to construction companies and their unions for
    “shovel-ready” projects to rebuild our infra-structure.

    Its not just on
    Wall St, if you look at all the perks and advantages that people have
    claimed as their cut for their labor, there is much excess to reduce
    that can be used to make us more fit. (Unfortunately, as more people are
    negatively impacted, it will seem more and more reasonable to make
    these changes. Its easier if we could recognize it at once and find
    agreement on across the board sacrifices.) There ought to be serious
    accommodation of the sacrifices being asked of “the haves”. Somewhat
    like the auto unions getting older workers to accept retirement packages
    and hiring a new “army” to do more for less. But currently, I see their
    union’s entry-level getting at least twice the prevailing minimum wage.

    There are similar vast inequities that have become embedded for a
    variety of professional specialties, sometimes credited to
    entrepreneurialism, unionism, and cronyism. Many talk about cuts to
    medicare/medicaid for the elderly being a scandalous shame, but I find
    current level of care provided at great expense to be even a more
    scandalous reality.

    I don’t think government needs to be small
    so much as it needs to operate much more efficiently, and with the power
    of computers and technology that should be our expectation. Rather than
    abandon all regulations we need to insist on sensible ones that can be

    Don’t use the need for jobs and maintaining our
    current standard of living as an excuse to further exhaust our resources
    and endanger our environment, which we will leave for our children.
    Continue to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

    A lot more can be done
    on a grass-roots business level, such as using micro-loans to encourage
    shuttle businesses to connect people to bus-stops while funding vastly
    improved bus service and lower people’s transportation costs. Are there
    high enough standards, and is oversight adequate for our refuse
    management infrastructure? Is it possible, say, to provide further
    incentives to have people separate their trash items, and have an army
    of collecters feed waste-sites that are dedicated to handle particular
    types of waste. … Perhaps a fleet of boatsmen to nab all the trash
    circulating in the great Pacific, etc.. Let us brainstorm for ways to
    improve life on this planet, while providing a means to get people to work.

  • Anonymous

    Washington is like a dictatorship,especially Obama. And apathy is a problem. People need to
    wake up. Big problem is all the foreign aid, America needs to stop it and realize money cannot
    buy friends. Stop giving billions of our tax money to Libiya, Pakistan, China and all the other
    countries. Take care of Americans first and pay off our debt. Save America—Stop Foreign Aid

  • Anonymous

    If I was President and could I would immediately stop foreign aid, keep tax money here and help
    our starving children, look at the poverty with the Indians in S. Dakota, Appelacians in Tenn and
    all around our country.  Stop foreign aid and save America. Fine companies that send jobs
    out of the country, Downsize congress and house . Quit using Soc. Security funds for everything
    but Soc. Sec. America wouldn’t be broke if tax money wasn’t given away to foreign countries.

  • Anonymous

    We are not winning the wars we are in and is such a terrible loss of lives, and when we do pull
    out, the taliban will just take over just like the north took over in Vietnam, and we lost that war too.
    Need to protect our borders . The leader in Iran scares me more than Hussein ever did and we
    know they have nuclear weapons.

  • Growth is not sustainable

    Read Paul Krugman

    The meltdown was global. We can’t blame just Washington and Wall Street for that.  It has to be something global.

    The root cause of our failure to recover is we stopped madly consuming as if there was no tomorrow. We all stopped spending money we didn’t have.

     Growth is not sustainable… we’re running out of everything. We may not have hit the wall yet… but we’re close.

  • Stebowpas

    This is where the OWS crowd doesn’t get it. They want more regulation that would make getting loans or mortgages even more difficult than the restraining regulations that we have now. More regulation will not get us out of the housing crisis. Congress is the problem. They need to get out of the way and let democracy work.

  • Tom Johnson

     I understand that the subjects are complicated and shows such as “Need To Know”, along many others, are under time constraints, but I really wish that that such serious issues aren’t broken down into A vs. B.

    Most of the time there is a middle ground of crossover. In this case it is probably more likely that the “Elites”(as you called them on your broadcast) along with what I am going to label as influencial forces(to borrow similar terminology to what you used) worked together with “Washington”.

    I’m using a seperate label because the term “Elite” is charged with meaning “intelectuals” by many people, yet the word itself can be used to describe “priviliged” and “influencial” classes.

    Your poll does a huge disservice to our society by contributing to the cultural and political divide. You do not give an opition to include both “Washington” and “Wall Street.”

    In fact, your entire program focused on making a distinction. Even when a few of the people you interviewed agreed there were commonalities, you kept pointing out the “divide”.

    This poll is an example of such simple minded pandering to the lowest common denominator of public opinion.

    The issue is far more complex. There was years of “lobbying” and market place manipulation by insider political appointees on both sides of the “political spectrum.”

    The average person’s time is spent taking care of his household and making ends meet. They rely on the media to present information. Since time is limited, most gravitate towards the outlets that most closely share their views. Please stop dumbing down the dialogue to A vs. B!

    You have done a decent job in the past to make distinctions and to show both sides, please contiue that and stop insulting those of us who enjoy balanced views which give us the oppurtunity to make up our own minds!

    Shows like yours, and PBS in general, are frequented by a class of people who have a desire to learn and think independantly. I was disappointed by this episode and this poll, where an intelligent, aware person has to choose “other”, and have the reality of the situation, along with the opportunity of ALL SIDES, to admit that blame is to be had by EVERYONE, including the media!!!!


  • B L C 123 321

    It has to be wall street because the for profit company that opperates in a monitary system that has a limited worth will aventully gain all the wealth that there is . It is simpel math if you think about it . It is likke a moster that is eatting itself it always dies.

  • Anonymous

    The entanglement of media, government, and Wall Street has led to our pacified, consumer state. Not one single branch can be blamed because they are no longer separate entities. 

  • ewcollins

    1. Lack of individual financial responsibility.
    2. Universities selling students degrees in subjects for which there are no jobs.

  • Charlene

    Foreign aid?   It’s the military and the various wars that are eating up our economy.  Last night on 60 minutes I heard the Afghan war is costing 2 billion a week and has cost, to date, about a half a trillion dollars.  Foreign aid?  It’s the military industrial complex.

  • Cozycove

    I think it is about time that our government looks at what made this country great prior to the last two administrations.  It was not cheap interest rates, government thinking that they can control the ecomony, uncontrolled spending,  invading other countries, & the list can go on & on!   Oh by the way when one looks at what created the mess we are in, one can point to all of the items.  So why are we continuing down a path that created this mess to begin with.  It is the people of this great country that controls the ecomony by working together and having faith in our government.  We still have the great people, but no longer have any faith in the way the government is being run.  Wake up Washington and start working for the people that voted you in and not for yourself.    

  • Patwanzeck

    It seems to me this poll was missing an all of the above option. As we must all share the blame on this mess. That being said I do believe that those with the most power (money) have the most responsibility.

  • Doubleagentmango

    This poll is poorly designed.  I blame not just Wall Street for our country’s ills, but also a Washington bought & paid for by Wall Street.  Our elected officials are supposed to protect the people, yet they protect corporations & the super wealthy that don’t have the interests of the majority of American people in mind.

  • Lyman D.

    1. Prior to, 2007 and 2008, everyone was making their payments on their homes just fine. We all know it was about sovern laquity.
    2. There use to be an ”OLD” saying, by the bussiness man, if I could make a million dollars, I would be a rich man. The buissiness man has made 100 times this figure. There’s only one problem with this equasion, ”HE FORGOT ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO HELPED HIM MAKE THAT FIGURE!”.                                                                                                          

  • Lyman D.

    3. When will ever learn, that all people “May” be possible creators, of something. Never I guess. They wonder what is wrong with our economy?.

  • Ed_Paquette

    People need a chance to vote on individual issues instead of having politicians making decisions we disapprove of.

  • Gijoe210

    banks how can you give loans to people with no jobs .How is this possible??? its possible this has caused homes going into forclosure nowadays….now we must bailout these money hungry/greedy        people…throughout history this lack of attention to abuse has let things grow out of  control accountability.whose to blame!!!

  • Dcruz99801

    Bottom line:  If you appoint someone to do your dirty work, you have to watch to see what he does.  Do it yourself, be prepared to get dirty. 

  • Dcruz99801

    This is the best response so far, close to my own listing of “Other”.  The people of this country have been too fat, dumb and happy for years and either ignored what their chosen representatives were doing, or agreed to it because they were promised ‘pie in the sky’ and the Good Old Days, for free of course.
    It’s time to take care of yourself, then see what you can do for the rest of the world rather than to it. 

  • Herst

    The problem is human nature.  People always want MORE than they currently have. Western countries have/are living a lifestyle that this planet is unlikely to be able to sustain long-term. Less developed countries naturally want their share & this combination of ever increasing billions fighting over ever decreasing resources won’t end well. In the mean time since manufacturing is drawn to other markets AND cheaper labor how are developed economies to sustain themselves? I don’t know.

    Of course the decades long diminution of wages, declining manufacturing, etc for non-professional jobs leaves all but the wealthiest Americans unable to continue their over-consumption/spending so there is less demand.  Wall Street malfeasance, political inaction/collusion, wasteful government spending, wars, over zealous anti-terrorism hysteria, worsening income inequality all contribute to people’s disaffection & search for easy scapegoats.

    Eights years of Clinton & the US reaches a budget surplus AFTER the Perot and other “deficit hawks”  (Tea Party progenitors) made the same  claims as today’s Tea Party. Eight years of Bush squanders that AND creates largest budget deficit and now we are to believe that it is Obama’s and/or Democrats fault?  How could ANYONE undo eight years of budgetary ineptitude not to mention all the other systematic economic realities that have been building over several decades in two years??

    The American people are ill-informed and worse, unrealistic.

  • R.E. Clawson

    How many of your representatves have you heard, talking about making jobs, say that we should be helping those small entrepreneurs. The ones who have good new products to make but don’t have the capital to expand to bring them to market. This would have people making money instead of having the government foot the bill. The government would gain interest on their money, the new workers would have money to spend, they would pay taxes. If the big corporations like the auto industry, pharmaceuticals, railroads, and etc.can get help why can’t the little guy get help? If an industry in USA goes a broad to manufacture its products and brings it back home to sell they should be taxed just as if they made it here. It has always been the small business people that has made this country strong as an econiomical force. I can’t understand where the congress is coming from on their thinking. There are all kind of ways to make this country a viable force again. Forget getting elected again, put a cap on spending to get elected, stop paying back favors for money recieved, and get to the business of helping this country get rid of its debt.     

  • Mark Gabrish Conlan

    Actually, Wall Street, Washington and widespread apathy are equally to blame. Giant corporations control not only our economy but our political system and our media. Our politicians are, for the most part, bought and paid-for services of the corporate agenda. And we allow them to remain in office rather than voting them out. The Tea Party wants to shred government’s largely unused potential to restrain corporate power and give big business even MORE power and a greater share of the U.S. wealth and income (Rick Perry has said it’s unfair that the poor don’t pay more in federal income taxes and Herman Cain’s “9-9-9″ tax plan would cut taxes for the rich and raise them for everyone else). Occupy Wall Street is challenging not only the corporate power but the politicians who are its handmaidens, and therefore it is against BOTH Wall Street and Washington.

  • one of the twonoogs

    Who do I blame for the TeaParty and Occupy Wall Street, Egyption and Euoprean Civil Protestations?  The wars in Iraq and Afganistan?-are they included in the question?  Myself, of course, I was under the obvious delusion that I could be anybody I wanted to be in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  As long as i behaved and did what i was told.  Not exactly what my eyes were seeing and my heart was feeling. kindergarten. 1962-63 America.  Kind of scary being taught to duck and cover at the same time you are learning to read and write, a little confusing too.  just call me stupid.

  • George Demarse

    It’s neither Wall Street nor government that is to blame for the economy’s troubles. Government deficits (at least in the U.S.) are due to the unfunded wars, the bailouts of the financial sector, stimulus spending and decreased tax revenues. It is not “overspending” on domestic programs as the Tea Partyers assume. It’s also not the fault primarily of the ”crooks” on Wall Street as the OWS crowd assumes.

    The fault with the economy is failing global capitalism for the middle class. Since Reaganomics in the 80s took hold, the institutions of countervailing power to naked wealth speculation have been dismantled: unions, financial regulations, tax receipts, labor law, etc.

    For the right, these events were just a matter of the “natural adjustment” of a global economy. Nonsense, economies don’t arise from a vacuum, they are created and abetted by deliberate government policies; unfortunately bad ones for the U.S.

    George DeMarse