America is NOT broke

Michael Moore, speaking yesterday in Madison, Wisconsin:

Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

Right now, this afternoon, just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.

Let me say that again — and please, someone in the mainstream media, just repeat this fact once. We’re not greedy. We’ll be happy to just hear it once: 400 obscenely wealthy individuals — 400 little Mubaraks — most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer “bailout” of 2008, now have more cash, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined.

[Crowd chants: Shame! Shame! Shame!]

If you can’t bring yourself to call that a financial coup d’état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.

And I can see why. For us to admit that we have let a small group of men abscond with and hoard the bulk of the wealth that runs our economy, would mean that we’d have to accept the humiliating acknowledgment that we have indeed surrendered our precious Democracy to the moneyed elite. Wall Street, the banks and the Fortune 500 now run this Republic — and, until this past month here in Madison Wisconsin, the rest of us have felt completely helpless, unable to find a way to do anything about it.

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13 thoughts on “America is NOT broke

  1. Larry Van Goethem

    Moore is inspiring. But where does the nation go with this data? I expect little more than rot, and the rot starts at the top. For the rest of us, unless we can shake off the sedating effect of Mass Culture, where is any future other than miasma? The slow decline has been here a long time and who can see another “good emperor” in the current crop of losers, including Obama? Something about this society seems to incubate a form of sociopathy. Fortunately, we have our virtuous men, Moore, Moyers and too many others to mention, including the staff of this site. Thank you all.

  2. Paul Woodward

    On behalf of the War in Context staff, thank you Larry. The staff being: tea boy, copy editor, supervising editor, occasional writer and webmaster — many roles indeed, but this is actually just a one-man show. But of course if it wasn’t for the wonderful array of resources I can draw upon from the web, there would be nothing here.


  3. Christopher Hoare

    There are two ways out of the mess. Number one is to destroy the present dominant parties in American politics — Obama is well on in the process of destroying the Democrats and with a bit more brain power the Tea Party could do the same to the Republicans. Just imagine, the 2012 elections fought between a Progressive and a Tea Party leader.
    The second method is to steadily dismember the lies of neo-liberalism. Just one lie for you to mull over now – Free trade was the device the old British Empire used to cripple the development of competition in the 19th and early 20th centuries — today it’s is used as a device whereby corporate capitalism can free itself from any restraints in the nations where it operates.
    No to free trade … but yes to abundant fair trade.

  4. DE Teodoru

    Oh yes indeed, America is not broke, it is broken!!

    When I came here Americans strived to be the best– not in shopping malls, in SUVs, in drugs or in how much booze one can guzzle down. American education has gone from bad to horrible…But in the 60s it was the world’s best and got us to the moon with industrial spin-offs that made our nation the world’s greatest!!! Americans have gone from the best educated to morons by becoming hedons (pleasure seekers instead of getting pleasure from achievements). Many of us remember how demanding higher education was back when indeed it was “higher.” Yet today, college costs twice as much for our kids than for us and in most schools– including state schools– each student pays $785.00 per year to support the football team in the manner to which it is accustomed. After you’re done with booze, drugs and screwing, you study how to “make connections,” in college the way GW Bush did. For that he got a BA from Yale!

    Now grading is inflated—as was GW’s “gentleman’s C”– by the principle of consumerism: students who fail can’t pay. Profs pretend they teach and students pretend they learn and Uncle Sam pays the exorbitant tuition. It is only when college grads grow up that they realized that instead of college being where they make up for 12 years of non-education with four of cramming, they graduated to qualified to work at Taco Bell and are in hoc for at least a decade!

    Everywhere else on this planet, finishing 12 years of public education means that you acquired all the education you need to be a solid and productive citizen—the role of public education. From there on, some youths go on to professional or academic GRADUATE education. Here instead, they go to four years of learning “how to think” for the mere price of $250,000 in tuition, the cost of a nice home! Yet the highest paid faculty member in many universities is the football coach. The rest resent that and so the pedagogic motto of American universities has long been: IF YOU CAN’T GET IT ON YOUR OWN, YOU CAN’T GET IT! In China, they make sure you “get” calculus by 4th grade, while your brain is a sponge, not in college when your brain is slave to hormones.

    From grade inflation to salary inflation, Americans have lost any correlation between salary and value to the economy. So it’s not that we’re broke but that we’re broken, dispersing our monetary representation of wealth so that we can’t produce. As a result, we borrow the money Chinese workers save from their mislay salaries to shop until we drop buying Chinese manufacturing exports. But don’t say we’re broke because our corporation managed to take the few billions bail-out dollars Obama gave them and created almost 2 million new jobs. Unfortunately, the jobs are in China, India, Third World….where a technician gets paid what a doorman gets paid here. In Europe we lived on the principle that one very good one of something is better than lots of many bad ones. But here, where VARIETY is an obsession– people would have to be millipedes to wear all the shoes they buy—we wasted value of the dollar on trinkets as cheap as those with which the Dutch bought Manhattan Island. And then, we’re producing nothing with which to pay back the credit card debt at interest rates that, when I came here, only the Mafia charged!

    There is no common searching, no common reaching as there was under JFK when we determined to go to the moon in a decade. The economic spin-offs from that high tech effort were tremendous! Whether blue collar or white collar or white coat, we all stove for quality innovation and, looking back at commercials, we were selling products on the basis of how good they are, not how big the boobs of the girl in the ad. Now we’re selling things on the basis of how weird they are, just like our movies!

    Wall Street has created a monstrous aristocracy of shysters. They defrauded us and took commissions for doing so. And, just in case things go bad– AS THEY DID– they had given themselves in advance golden parachutes that now cost more than the money they lost.

    In the midst of today’s economic absurdities, politicians are not to be outdone, wasting public money to get corporate donations. Now we have Congressman King– who it seems was a collaborator with the IRA terrorists– wanting to investigate “the Muslims Community” as a terrorist group. It is not his Irish constituents that want that, it is the far away Middle East cash base he serves that wants him to do that. But thanks to the Conservatives on the Supreme Court, he can hide his backers; as shown by the New Yorker, some of the Zionist radicals buying Congress it seems are deducting it from their income taxes!!!!

    Broke means you have nothing….just as dumb means you have NO brain. But Americans are rich in talent and resources. The problem is that they’re all out accumulating “fool’s gold” thinking that they’re rich, not realizing that the Chinese are selling to us on credit for the same reason they used to support anti-American revolutionaries. Still, no one did it to us; our American eagle has become a falling bird too lazy to flap its wings to save its life, weighed down by our “stuff.”

  5. BillVZ

    My first encounter with Michael Moore was via his appearances on the real CNN Aaron Brown show, at that time,an excellent daily segment.He was much the same then as he is today- a vocal and resounding voice of the common people of America. His reception today, as voiced by the thousands who greeted him with ‘Thank you –thank you’, was a clear indication of our respect for him and his years of activism for the working people.
    As usual comments to his appearance and words that appeared around the blogs had little to do with what he actually had to say and more to do about him, his Obama leanings, personal wealth- quite often not in a favorable light by the many so called real elite intellectual adherents of the ‘progressive’ political class. No matter –nothing new there.

    Of of the many on target points he highlighted was that Corporate America made a fatal mistake by overplaying their hand by “wanting to have our soul- to strip us of our dignity.”

    Alluding to what has been said by others that- the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy must be destroyed.
    What Corporate America and the conservatives really want to change is the very the basis of American life, to make America run according to the conservative moral world view in all areas of life- to steal our souls! Michael you are so correct -, that is Corporate America’s fatal mistake.
    “Trying to destroy us they have given birth to a movement — a movement that is becoming a massive, nonviolent revolt across the country.” (They will pay!)
    Thanks Michael I want to join with all to do everything I personally can to participate in keeping the revolt going.

  6. delia ruhe

    Moore almost always hits the nail on the head. Actually it was through some of Moore’s more left-leaning critics that I really got some useful examples of why we have waited so long for the Left to rise up — why we are still waiting for it to reach critical mass. Many on the Left do not value diversity, i.e., value that there are many positions on the left, and that Moore occupies only one of them. He is a force for good and should be appreciated for that, not critiqued because he’s not pure enough, or because he’s driven by “outraged patriotism” (US patriotism being something which the purists on the Left profoundly question).

    I must throw in my thanks to Paul, too, as I would not have survived the latter GW Bush years without this site.

  7. scott

    You can tell that prima donna Michael Moore blows all his money on his wardrobe. In that vein, it’s a bit cavalier for you to take credit for all those people’s hard work, Paul.

    “The staff being: tea boy, copy editor, supervising editor, occasional writer and webmaster — many roles indeed,…”

  8. DE Tedooru

    Moore sought to empower the meek by making them aware of their entitlement through citizenship. But he assidiously evaded the consumerism through which Americans entrapped themselves as trolls of corporatism– members of the corp boards included. NEVER have I heard him say that education is a two way street: good teachers AND good learners. Credit card debt puts you in the status of surf. Obama has someone who will squeeze the banks, protecting the little people from usury, where’s the little people’s campaign to put her in office? There is this “Ooooo, I gotta get it” reaction to TV ads that can’t be fixed by her. Moore misses the fact– at least when he speaks– it seems, that the consumerist culture that made so few rich and so many in debt was an infection imposed by corporate advertisement, but it is now ingrained and Americans can only escape it by changing from the inside out. Moore wouldn’t dare walk up to SUB drivers and demand they buy a smaller car like those that, under Jimmy Carter, made us so oil independent. The scum bag on the corporate boards is no different from the “shop-till-you-drop” masses on which he depends for his wealth. WE all took trinkets in return for our souls– that we voluntarily sold. The Teabaggers are perfect examples of people who sold themselves for petty cash, reading from a sheet of paper handed to them at townhalls that they didn’t even think through. Moore will soon see that his idealism is being hit by locomotives coming in both directions; corporate and consumer. It takes two classes to do the corporate tango.

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