Fran Lebowitz on turning consumers into citizens

No one seems happy with the government these days. Not the left, not the right, not the middle. Recent polls show 50 percent of the public disapproves of how President Obama is running the country, and Congress’s disapproval rating is hovering at a whopping 82 percent.

We thought it was time to revisit our Fixing America series. This time we invited big thinkers to our studio to ask, “What would you do to fix America’s government?”

We kick off this series with Fran Lebowitz, author, social commentator and contributing editor to Vanity Fair magazine.

Watch the rest of the segments from this episode.

 

Comments

  • Robert Abbott

    It is true, the Government is performing poorly right now, without a doubt. But I do not blame them. We as “citizens” have the power over our government with our vote. We should throw every single one of them out of office. And if the next batch does not respond, throw them out too. But, we also should take responsibility for the mess our country is in. We “consumers” have choosen to consume at alarming rates without regard of the consequences. Buying cheap imported goods from China killed an entire segmant of jobs available to many with high school educations or less. Importing all of our oil keeps us involved in war and conflicts overseas. We choose to be consumers not citizens and we keep re-electing the same ole fools to govern us, we have only ourselves to blame.

  • sg

    After spending the whole day listening to my co-workers obsess over securing the themselves a hot little iPhone 4S all day, I was especially appreciative of this reminder that we are more than the trinkets that we buy. 
    What would I add, to fix America?  1.  cut military spending  2.  cut military spending  3.  cut military spending.
    We are doing more harm than good out there in the world.  Take care of our wounded soldiers, first and foremost by bringing them home.

  • cookie_justice

    naive, naive, naive

  • Edward Hughes

    My name is Edward Hughes. My opinion is to cut political jobs to a military, or even educational salary. A capitalist government should not have a capitalist foundation. I understand that the financial success of this great nation is based on “surfs,” slaves, and debt. If the political positions were held accountable, the same as “war profiteers,” we would have less corruption. And why to

  • RosieT

    To resolve the problems we as Americans face:  The president and ALL other elected or appointed (including Supreme Court Justices and below) officials shoudl serve ONE six year term…no retirement, no benefits, no lobbyits, no corporate donations.  Let’s clean it up!!

  • Delrme

    Sure wish you’d post video that I could watch on my iPad, or at least post a transcript with it so I could read it it if I cant see it. Tired of clicking on your links and then not being able to see the content.

  • Richelle Witbrodt

    so you’re complaining because you have an ipad?  And that’s pbs’s fault?

  • Richelle Witbrodt

    Definitely agreed about mindless consuming.  But how can we vote when there is nothing worth voting for?  When the only ones we can vote for are  corrupt and will do the same thing as the ones they supposedly opposed in elections?  How do we get the ones who actually care about us in the public eye enough for a chance to win the vote?

  • Guest

    That’s not the fault of PBS. That’s Apple’s shortcoming. Talk to Steve Jobs. Oh wait…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=725743168 Katy Sharpe

    We seem to come to a place of large dissatisfaction with government and big business every 30 years or so. We need a contract with business (unbreakable) that says, “If we make you prosperous, you must share that prosperity with us.”   Henry Ford understood that.  

    We all need to serve more actively in our government, whether it is a 2 year service after high school, or a once a month requirement to attend to local matters.  We need to change our political campaigning style into one that is more European – 3 months of campaigning, and a ceiling on contributions.  

    We need to revamp our education system to teach the obligations of democracy and  how to actively serve our democracy, as well as to give equal education to all children – rich or poor.

    We need to learn how to make our government serve the people of this country.

  • Jakeandfatty

    social awareness, ethical consideration beyond ones self, and realization of consumer dollars.

  • Jakeandfatty

    how to legislate ethics?  I don’t think we can?  HOW do we stop corruption so ingrained in the system…Some of these people gotta go, you know what I’m saying… forget about them.

  • Cinad

    I vote and write to my representatives in Congress. I share my views on facebook even though some of my friends might not appreciate it. I feel like it’s an exercise in futility sometimes but I won’t stop because it is my right as a citizen. There is a lot of apathy in this country because most of us are comfortable enough. The corruption is growing and I think the Supreme Court ruling about corporations being people was the icing on the cake. I would love to see the whole court relpaced and wish they would not serve for life. How is it possible to change this system. It is insane that they are campaigning for president more than a year ahead of time. I love the Occupy Wall St. protest becaus e finally the young are getting involved and i agree with most of what they stand for.

  • Lisa

    One of our country’s biggest problems today is the political system itself.  It is archaic.  How we vote…how bills are passed….how politicians run for office and are elected – all of it needs to be streamlined and simplified. Have you watched C-SPAN?  I do. The processes today take so unbelievably long that the end result can rarely be seen by the voters.  The results are skewed or lost.  In a world where we have amazing technological wizards like Steve Jobs (RIP), Bill Gates and others, why can’t we enlist the right people to help our government improve the system we work within.  If we could improve the voting system, more people would actually vote because they would know their voice was heard.  It still boggles my mind that today with all the statistics and reports out there, that two politicians can stand there and have completely different realities. I know life today is complex.  We need a political /technological overhaul that can manage our needs better.  We need a better system to help us make the decisions that will benefit the majority of the people.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3RZEU2VWZ3EDJN4RDZ3GSUBMM4 Bob from Reno

    First – from signs I’ve prepared for tomorrow’s Occupy Wall Street – Reno -
    STOP: the Right Wing Love Affair with Drug Lords
    WE OPPOSE:  THE ‘GREENSPURN’ LEGACY OF – The Purpose of government is to make it easier for the rich to steal from everyone else.
    GETTING OFF YOUR KNEES IS NOT CLASS WARFARE
    THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE LEFT AND RIGHT IS THE TYPE OF DICTATORSHIP THEY WANT TO IMPOSE
    STOP: The financial Incentives to Drug Dealers
    SHEEP ARE FLEECED AND LEAD TO SLAUGHTER   WALL STREET BELIEVES THE AMERICAN PEOPLE  ARE SHEEP!

     Every Action has an equal and opposite reaction : Congress and the President sold lou the American people to curry favor with the Greed Mongers of Wall Street, a nd then put a kniofe in the backs of the American People.  Reactions are still forming

    Kiss the Butts of the Greedy Rich is NOT in the Constitution !

    BANK LOCALLY – SHOP LOCALLY - SUSTAINABLE GROWTH

    ONLY CORPORATIONS SHOULD PAY INCOME TAX !   Yes Corporations will pass the costs onto their customers – and that is O.K. !

    No Deductions for Lobbying Expenses !

    Beyond that – Serious problems exist in America which sound bites will not resolve.
    As Congress and the States, including Nevada, have passed
    many laws which benefit solely corporate or bureaucratic elites; and as Courts
    have upheld – and created law- which work against the interest of  99 % of The People – turning this country –
    and The State of Nevada -into a Bureaucratic Dictatorship where the interests
    of Corporations and Bureaucratic Elites continually trump the interest of the
    People – We the 99% of the People put our elected elites on notice that they
    must write better laws, repeal bad law and serve the interest of all.

    “Whenever the roles of individuals within a group
    become specialized, it becomes both possible and easy for the individual to
    pass the moral buck to some other part of the group.  In this way, not only does the individual
    forsake his conscience but the conscience of the group as a whole can become so
    fragmented and diluted as to be nonexistent… 
    The plain fact of the matter is that any group will remain inevitably
    potentially conscienceless and evil until such time as each and every
    individual holds himself or herself directly responsible for the behavior of
    the whole group –the organism-of which he or she is a part.”  [People of the
    Lie; The Hope for Healing Human Evil by M. Scott Peck, MD (pg. 218)]

     

    . … knowledge is considered an obstacle for understanding. 
    If we take something to be the truth, we may cling to it so much that even if
    the truth comes and knocks at the door, we won’t want to let it in.  We
    have to be able to transcend our previous knowledge the way we climb a ladder.”
    The Heart of Understanding, by Thich Nhat Hanh
    (pg.8)
    A primary purpose of the bureaucracies we all are forced to
    endure has become to cover up abuses by those in government.  The Health and Human Service Bureaucracies,
    which aside from the criminal justice system, are the primary bureaucracies the
    less well-off have contact with are dominated by the corporate interests which
    seek only profits regardless of harm imposed by bureaucratic arrogance.

    A good example of this is the mental health system.  Nearly everyone with a mental health
    diagnosis has been a trauma survivor, yet little to no trauma training or
    knowledge is required of those who work in the mental health system.  While improvements have been made during the
    last 15-20 years, most of the mental health system is still geared to pushing
    drugs and demanding subservience to those with government jobs.

    Sometimes things which seemed great actually work to subvert
    justice, liberty & freedom.  The
    Miranda U.S. Supreme Court decision is an example.  While best known for requiring police to read
    individuals their rights, this poorly worded decision actually works to impose
    injustice.

    The heart of the matter is that anyone facing six months or
    more imprisonment is entitled to an attorney, paid for by the county in which
    the crime occurred.  At first glance this
    is great.  Being poor won’t railroad a
    person into prison as so commonly occurred in the South – and elsewhere when
    this decision was made.   The reality is
    different.  Most states have a maximum
    penalty of 1 year imprisonment for misdemeanors; in Nevada it is six months (one
    year for gross misdemeanors).  However
    each county now decides how much representation a criminal defendant will
    receive.   The power of the purse has
    essentially eliminated any meaningful legal representation in many counties
    across the U.S. 

    A Nevada only solution
    is change
    the wording of NRS 193.150 from “Every person convicted of a
    misdemeanorshall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not more
    than six months” to “…not more than six months, less one day.”
    This would help avoid the costs associated with hiring so many attorneys. As
    defendants would then be required to speak their

    peace before a judge, it would
    foster respect for the system. While it is true that some defendants will lie
    to avoid responsibility and some will get away with it, it is better than the
    current system where the covering up of abuses is accepted practice. It is
    better to let a few criminals, especially petty criminals, to slip away than to
    promote crime and disrespect for the law. It would also allow the questioning
    of defendants by judges so past traumas can be revealed and appropriate
    treatments suggested, if not actually required. In short, have all misdemeanor
    courts run more like drug and mental health courts currently are.

     

  • http://twitter.com/thatdeb Debbie Hall

    Lobbying – I would outlaw professional lobbying.  If people want to meet with Congress to put forth an idea, then they can do so by making an appointment and meeting with him/her in his/her office or write a letter – period.  No more lunches, no more junkets, no more favors, no more money, no more quid pro quo.

    Campaign financing – individuals only should be able to donate to campaigns and with a limited dollar amount.  No foreign entities or individuals should be able to donate to our country’s political campaigns.  No corporations, unions, or special interests should be allowed to donate to campaigns and no personal money should be used to fund campaigns.  We have nothing but wealthy career politicians running for office and it’s time to change that.

    Term limits – Congress needs to have term limits.  Win two elections consecutively and then you cannot run again for another two terms.  

    Healthcare – I would make healthcare in this country private, non-profit and available to all citizens like the French model (which is the best in the world according to the World Health Organization).  I would not make it a government function because government has shown that it cannot manage its finances very well.  I would, however, provide that anyone who shows an aptitude for medicine to be given a free ride to medical school in exchange for community service upon graduation serving in rural and urban centers.  I would limit the number of specialists per state to a reasonable number based on the needs of the community.  I don’t think California needs a plastic surgeon for every 100 people (completely fabricated ratio – but used to illustrate my point).  Pharmaceutical companies, doctors, DME providers, Long Term Care facilities, hospitals, MRI companies, etc.. need to become private, non-profit.  There would be no pre-existing condition clauses.Energy and oil consumption – without Congressional pressure to meet the needs of big oil, then we might actually put forth some sort of Manhattan project to come up with solutions that do not include oil.  As it stands currently, the government has zero motivation to get us off oil.  It would also drastically affect our foreign policy since we would no longer need to fight wars to protect oil interests.  It’s also one of the most effective ways to fight terrorism.

    Trade and job exportation – I would rescind NAFTA and reconfigure the US participation in the World Trade Organization.  I would make rules that would severely penalize a company that wants to do business in the US but outsources all or portions of their workforce.

    Foreign policy – I would cease giving aid to other countries until the debt crisis has been fixed with the exception of natural disasters.  I would continue to support paying for things that we might get from other countries either via intelligence or resources but it would be direct pay and not cloaked as USAID.
    Education – I would provide free college to any US citizen that demonstrates a certain level of aptitude and free trade school for anyone who chooses it.  Education would include 4 years of mandatory high school courses that focused on finances, creating businesses, and life planning skills.

    Food – I would declare genetically modified foods and seeds illegal.  I would revamp the FDA to actually care about the food chain and what goes into it and not kowtow to corporations and the grocery lobby. Domestic security and border issues – I would limit immigration and I would provide a method for our government to monitor visas.  I would create a guest worker program so people from other countries could come and work so the slave labor force that consists of illegal immigrants would be eliminated and they would be paid a fair wage and pay taxes.  I would build the wall or fence or whatever it is and provide enough presence on our borders so it can be secured.  We are one of the only countries that loses track of people once they enter our country. 

    Drugs – I would decriminalize every recreational drug and provide, through the health care system, options for people who become addicted to substances.  This would also improve our border security.

    Currency – I would end the federal reserve and go back to a gold standard.

    There’s a lot more but I think you get the idea.

  • Mmzcsmith

    So you would be a consumer and not a citizen, thanks for the example.

  • Mmzcsmith

    Although I understand the frustration of many, but if you ask people how they feel about their local elected official they would tell you they serve their community well. Past polls support this. However, voters then follow up that sentiment with it is those other officials that are corrupt. 

    If my community finds someone who serves in a manner we feel is productive than why should we limit ourselves to one, two, three, or whatever limit you pick.  How about if we don’t like what an elected official is doing we vote them out.  It is not up to them whether they are elected it is up to us.  They are American citizens just like we are and CAN be voted out of office. 

    Limiting time served in office seems to defeat our ability to have the representation we want. 

    Just a little food for thought, taking responsibility for OUR electoral system, not blaming others for when it doesn’t work.
     

  • Mmzcsmith

    Thanks Robert, I thought I was alone in this thinking!  You really made my day and now I know there are more of us out there. 

    People talk about personal responsibility, the ultimate responsibility is to insure our rights are secured with our participation in our democratic system. 

  • Craig Dunkerley

    There are at least 4 things we need to do…in this order…to restore functionality and responsiveness  to our government. The first is a procedural prerequisite to enable the other 3, which will progressively neutralize the corruptive influence of private money in our political system, freeing our government to act in the public interest:

    1.  Amend the filibuster rules in the Senate to restore simple majority rule and end the current tyranny of the minority.
    2.  Pass the Federal DISCLOSE Act which will require major funders of all political ads to disclose their identity in the ads themselves so voters know who’s trying to influence their vote, and wealthy special interests are no longer able to manipulate our system while cloaked in anonymity.
    3.  Pass the Fair Elections Now Act which will establish full public financing of campaigns, allowing all our elected representatives to run for office without having to accept any corporate or other special interest money
    4.  Amend the Constitution to make clear that corporations are not persons entitled to free speech rights…and that money is not speech.

    Craig Dunkerley
    Progressive Activist

  • Clancyfox

    So when are you running? :) . Good ideas…….

  • jan

    1. End corporate personhood.  Its nothing more than solidification of power. 

    2. End private campaign financing.  Public financing with a set amount of money, not excessive, instead of the obscene amounts of money they spend now which they use to attack us in our homes every political season.  (If you want to find the truth of what they stand for, you shouldn’t waste time looking at their tv ads or picking up the phone for a robo call.)

    3. End all the wars, close the bases, and bring the soldiers home.  If you claim we can’t afford to keep the elderly and disabled housed, fed, and with access to healthcare, then we can’t afford the wars.  Put another way, third world countries can’t afford to police the world so if you insist on turning us into the equivalent of a third world country then its time to cut the military to third world levels. 

    4. Either end or substantially change NAFTA and all the other trade agreements.  They’re little more than a vehicle for exporting jobs; pictorially speaking, sucking the marrow from our bones.   

    5. Congress is currently composed of millionaires.  If the financial makeup doesn’t change I suggest they don’t need a salary or benefits.  They have other sources of income.

    6. Healthcare should become universal care.  Education should be adequately funded.  Student loans should return to their former low interest, non-accumulating status.  Our future depends on the health of our citizens and the amount of education that people can achieve.  Making it harder for them to achieve either one of those things is counterproductive and silly.

  • Cca

    Campaign contribution and lobby reform is essential to making our elected officials accountable to the people, rather than to corporate America.  I believe that the current wars and occupations are about profiteering and a wish to control the natural resources of other nations, and an awful lot of people agree with me.  I don’t know of any way to stop it, other than for millions to take to the streets, as was necessary to stopping the war in Vietnam.  One of the reasons that people are joining the OWS movement is because Wall St is one of the chief beneficiaries of the wars.  We also need strict ethical oversight.  There presently exists conflicts of interest on every level of government and in every branch of government. A perfect example is that a former CEO of Monsanto is reportedly the head of the FDA. I think it’s outrageous that people attached to major corporations are appointed to watchdog agencies. This is like having a fox mind the hen house, especially since these folks frequently move back and forth between the corporations that they monitor and the oversight agencies. I agree with Lisa [a few notes above] that the political system [and the voting procedures] need to be streamlined.  I also believe that it’s time to eliminate the Electoral College. Finally, we have to find a way to stop the outsourcing of jobs.  The government has made it profitable for U.S. companies to move their operations overseas at enormous profit and to the detriment of our own people and economy.  Entire industries have been outsourced. I don’t understand why the leadership of our country has not imposed import tariffs and penalties to curtail the hemorrhaging of jobs.

  • http://about.me/roxanne.weber Roxanne

    Fundamentally Americans like to believe that we can “fix” what is wrong with this country. The fact of the matter is, however, that human beings are, and always have been, led toward selfishness. If it were not human instinct to first consider the benefit and survival of ones self the human race would not exist today. For those who are weak enough to consider others before themselves, they are the ones who lose the battle and get eaten alive for the survival of others.

    I am not saying that America cannot make things better. Certainly things could be far better than they are. But realistically we cannot simply point to one rule, one law, or one “way of doing things” as the end-all-fix-it-up scenario. It requires a different way of thinking. It requires believing and trusting in one another. Today, we don’t trust anyone outside our own friends and family. When we do trust it is typically because we think we’re going to get some reward (more money, better lifestyle, improved happiness…) and not because we fundamentally “trust” others.

    Ultimately we are on a slow but ever growing path of destructive behavior, and it has less to do with how we run our countries as it has to do with how we are as human beings. Selfishness and greed breed selfishness and greed and while millions have adopted this thinking hoping it would benefit them, what we have now realized is that in the end the “fittest” (the richest, most powerful) in the jungle will always win. As soon as we stack the decks against them, they will find another path and catch you from behind.

    For me, I have only one life. I intend to live it to the best of my ability given the circumstances I have been given today. IF a movement progresses that makes things more comfortable for me I’ll be right there encouraging and coaxing and hoping for the best. But I’m not holding my breath that this movement, or any other, with change things in my lifetime.

  • http://about.me/roxanne.weber Roxanne

    While it seems to make sense that politics should be run like a 140 character Twitter campaign, the idea behind the process is to curb corruption by ensuring that not one or a few folks can ram something through without others having a chance to digest it. The actual problem is that most Congressmen/women don’t actually READ these bills anyway. THey have staff read them and then give them the highlights. They don’t write them either – they have lobbyist do that. Seems to me that perhaps we’re paying politicians to run for office and create sound clips on TV instead of actually running our country. I think THAT is the problem.

  • Thblanton

    Will offering financial incentives similar to enlisted military members or teachers help? And creating term limits? And financing campaigns with limited public funds? Isn’t politics more the establishment of power (which requires longevity) than true public service?

  • Anewnest4u

    I’m sorry but I can’t agree with your analogy of the fox minding the hen house,  The fox is minding the fox den.  Who else knows more about what happening in a given industry than those that have spent enough time in it to reach the high positions?  There is the fear of corruption in all areas of power / government.  Would we be better off with the hen watching over the fox?

    My two cents (could be overpaid) about the Occupy Wall Street movement is simple.  I believe that those that are joining, while well meaning, have a general discomfort with capitalism.  They seem to be focusing on bringing down those that have benefited from that economic system, not just those on Wall Street, but in general.  Wall Street is a highly regulated industry whose shareholders are largely pension funds, maybe yours, but sadly because of my own financial position, not mine.   My issue with that is simply that you don’t raise the poor by attacking the rich; capitalism has done far more for the those born without than any other economic system in the history of the world.  For me I’d rather bring up the standard of the “lower class”, so again, its a matter of focus and intention,

    Finally, outsourcing.  Sadly, our lack of parental interest in our children’s educations contributes heavily to this injustice. What company wouldn’t want to pay less for a more highly trained and principled worker and thus charge less to it customers, keeping its products competitive and its investors interested.  Too bad as a people we aren’t competitive with other countries in that manner.  You can’t just throw more money at education, you must have better parent involvement, the government has zero to do with that.  How do you legislate good parenting?    Good parents lead to good citizens, good citizens make decisions in each others best interest.

  • Lynnb

    I have more than a general discomfort with capitalism.  It is evil and I don’t see how anybody can defend it.  So is competition evil.  I have no urge to compete with anybody for any reason because I do the best I am able .and have no desire to be richer, smarter, or better than anybody else.  I care about the welfare of all other people.  Sharing, caring, and cooperation makes contributing a joy rather than a stressful burden.  Surely we can find a better system than capitalism which clearly has failed.  You believers and defenders of capitalism are greatly deceived in my opinion and have corrupted and faulty values.

  • jan

    Ahhh.   The Big Lie:  They’re smarter, more principled, and better than us. 

    Surprise!  They are not.  They are much cheaper, more docile, and their country is willing to allow major parts of the countryside to become polluted without regard to the effect that the pollution would have on the people living there.  

    You’re missing the fact that the jobs are elsewhere.  Cutting taxes isn’t going to do it.  Tax rebates and tax credits tend to ignore the reality (lack of income) that so many live with.  We can’t compete with their salaries unless we become a third world country just like them.  …You might want to think about that one for a while.
     
    Opening the oil reserves?  Why?  The last I knew they were still selling and shipping some of our oil and gas supplies overseas.    

    As regards to your fox watching the fox house:  I’d rather have a guard dog watching the fox.  So far the only human equivalents to guard dogs we’ve found were quickly disposed of by Wall Street.  I’m of the opinion that Wall Street/gambling without the glitz isn’t good for much of anything except losing hard earned money and you’re a fool if you put your money there.     

  • Anewnest4u

    Economic history doesn’t agree with you about capitalism, that’s not my opinion, that is history. I contribute in all the ways you mentioned personally because of my values.  I’m so sorry you see my opinion as evil, corrupted and faulty, I don’t think we have to degrade others because they think differently than we do, smart people often disagree, and it seems so do we.

  • Anewnest4u

    You’ve read something into my response that I didn’t say.   I said we can and should do better, not that they are better.  I work in an office with 13 other women, the majority of whom are angry if they are forced to participate in their children’s education in any way.  When my kids left elementary school, their old teachers would call me to see if I might accompany their current classes on field trips because they couldn’t get enough parental participation.  Again, I think we can do better than this, lots of parents do, but too many don’t.  When I listen to kids in public places, I wonder who’s going to hire them and for what.  When I speak to the technical support guy on the phone, I might have a hard time with his accent but he’s speaking proper English and knows how to fix my problem. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_32T55RQMEHY3INNH3MBMRYLS2Q kam

    This is a deeply foolish statement. You obviously know nothing about history. Read about what happened after the Russian revolution.
    Without competion we would not have had the products that Apple produced. Steve Jobs was VERY competitive. Just because you are not competitive does not mean that people who are producing accual products are not driven by that urge.

  • jan

    I tried the foreign technical guy a couple of times but it was obvious that he was working his way through a step-by-step fix-it manual that didn’t require that much education or intelligence.  Eventually I got frustrated enough to give up my independence in this area.  I now call one of my computer programming kids who, unlike the foreign technical guy, don’t require manuals to do what is mostly basic stuff on my computer. 

  • Anewnest4u

    I’m glad you have kids who are so savvy, sounds like you are one of the parents that cared, that’s great and tends to make my point.  Thank you.

  • JohnnyMars

    Let’s end the inherently corrupt policy of campaign funding.  All campaigns should be run on publicly-funded government-sponsored websites.  This practice would require research by the citizenry as to who are running, what their records have been, and what their platforms are.  It would level the playing field for underfunded candidates and eliminate the duopoly of the two party system.  Public libraries could provide the access to those citizens who don’t own computers or don’t know how to operate them.  There would be no more irritating political advertisements via the mass media.

  • Fiorini08

    Who can disagree with some of her comments. So much of the infrastructure that we pay taxes for are necessary to ensure that we have a justice system, our rights are proteceted, we have clean food and water, etc. I think that we have called ourselves “consumers” and given that title to our activities for over a generation and that, maybe by economics, will change.  Yet, to claim we live in a democracy (1/2 of her talk) is not correct.  We don’t want to be a democracy. We always wand to be established on “principles” of democracy but our form od government, though tedious at times, is a representative government.  Democracy might sound alluring but it hinges upon the what is most popular.  The worry about democracy is that those feeling decriminated upon in one era might be supported and respected then loose those same rights when the popularity of the issue changes.” Democracy is necessary before Socialism”, said Marx. My favorite saying, however, is: “Democracy is 3 wolves and 1 chicken voting over whats for dinner!” Just look at Egypt, right now.

  • Fiorini08

    So true, Robert.  About voting, most of the people I hear complaining about things don’t even vote.  Or, vote with the herd mentality without any research into what they are voting for. 

  • http://growthisnotsustainable.blogspot.com/ Growth is not sustainable

    Right on!
    Here’s her facebook page
    http://www.facebook.com/franlebowitz?sk=wall

  • Lynnb

    It was not my intention to degrade you or anyone, I was just posting my thoughts on something I feel strongly about.  I sincerely apologize.  I am aware that economoc history does not agree with me about capitalism.  At the present time, many in this country feel we are headed in the wrong direction.  Perhaps we have been headed in the wrong direction for a very long time.

  • Anonymous

    Ms. Lebowitz started her discussion by stating that there is a societal problem in distinguishing the private from the public sector.  She really doesn’t like people regulating ‘salt’. SALT! Unfortunately, it is a tricky business to determine what is public and what is private in everything we do unless you live in a desert or a community of one.  Should we have a law forcing people to wear helmets?  Isn’t that a private issue?  It can be until there is some cost to the rest of us for people not wearing helmets.  We may or may not have a dog in any specific fightbut the community at large does on most everything.  Should we regulate SALT or tell our friends that we think it is harmful?  Isn’t it their private right to disregard health warnings (given that we assume they haven’t been living in a cave for the last 20 years).  My friends complain to me if I sleepily my shirt inside out and that behavior has no health or public policy concern, at all.  At least as far as I can tell.

  • Anewnest4u

    On that we can agree!  Wonderful!  Its a very tricky business, living is a large society, and everything we do has so many unintended consciences. We all can only hope that we choose wisely.

  • http://twitter.com/thatdeb Debbie Hall

    when the skeletons in my closet don’t matter ;)  lol

  • Rocky H

    My name is Rocky Holmes I feel we need a pied piper to remove all the rats from Washington. I may be a good idea to have regular people run the country we surely can not do any worst. There is a cancer in this country and we are being eaten alive. we should stand together and take back our rights before we reach the point of no return (civil unrest).

  • Celestez

    Term Limits.  Without congressional term limits, nothing else can happen.  Power, greed and corruption is compounded with “career” politicians.  We need to return to the forefather’s meaning of “service” to this country.  Term limits are necessary.

  • Judyhayes2009

    I would like to see all of our senators and congressmen stand up and make 4 statements 1. I’m SORRY 2. Forgive me 3. Thank you 4.  I  LOVE you 

  • ap

    Term limits won’t work. Look at the lousy batch of newly elected Tea Partiers, willing to hold the country hostage time and time again to keep tax breaks for millionaires, and to ensure Obama loses. They are as beholding to their secret campaign contributors as their seniors. They should care more about the country. The only solution is getting the money out of politics. The Corporate SCOTUS majority was wrong. It is certainly not the first time the SCOTUS has made a horrific decision.

    Corporation = Person and Money = Speech must be overturned and we need Public Campaign Financing. Free Media Channels TV, Radio, etc. dedicated to elections with strict fairness rules and simultaneous fact-checking. There need to be strict and immediate transparency laws – not transparency six months after an election or policy vote. Same must go for the SCOTUS. In the UK they don’t allow campaign commercials.

    We also need to break up too big to fail and media consolidation. All monopolies are bad for competition, they must be broken up. We need Teddy!

  • bearcat

    While my experience doesn’t  necessarily match your survival of the fittest viewpoint, I enjoyed the rest of your piece.   I have been saying for years, “WHAT WE REALLY NEED IS A MORAL SHIFT IN THIS COUNTRY!”   From my perspective that means all of us, no matter what levels we reside on.  Be it individual, group, business, or government.  

    As a whole, we seem to have lost most of our integrity, honesty, empathy, and consequently we are losing wisdom.  I believe we have a disease of entitlement that is not far off from overpowering us and until we can obtain some genuine humility, some genuine care and concern for our fellows, (which, by the way, does not necessarily mean coddling them) we do not stand a chance. 

    Additionally, I have faith that the universe will correct itself, eventually.   My concern is the longer it takes us to become adult-like in our actions, the more pain we will cause ourselves.  One of my most painful lessons was learning to take one for the team, I cried like a baby because I deserved more, after all I had worked harder than the other guy.  

    Isn’t that what being an American is all about – One for all and all for one?  One of the guests on NTK described democracy as the sum of ALL it’s parts.  Therefore if some of us are suffering, all of us are suffering.  I like the saying giving a hand up, not a hand out.  It is our responsibility as citizens (or any guests in this great country) to pull up our boot straps and do our duty.  If that means starting at the bottom, then guess what, that’s what we do.  I realize most can not survive on minimum wage, but what happens when you or I have to?  Some of us will make it happen and others will wait for their handout.  It’s time to grow up America, put your big boy and big girl panties on, give help where you can, but don’t overdo it.  And when you overdo it, back up and correct your course. 

    WE CAN DO THIS!

  • Bqueen

    In order to fix America, I would remind our country of its heritage. America was founded upon the Judeo-Christian Values, hence the statement in both our constitution and money “In God We Trust.” God was the foundation of America, and He was put first in all situations. This is the only reason America has existed for so long and progressed to point of becoming the “wealthiest country.” Over the years, however, our country has slowly fallen away from its foundation, and the means of its success causing it to ‘crumble.’ Without a foundation, it is impossible for a building to stand.