Let’s suppose, for a moment, there was a country where the people in charge charted a course that eliminated millions of good-paying jobs. Suppose they gave away several million more jobs to other nations. Finally, imagine that the people running this country implemented economic policies that enabled those at the very top to grow ever richer while most others grew poorer. You wouldn’t want to live in such a place, would you? Too bad. You already do.
Those are the words of this week’s guests, DON BARLETT and JIM STEELE.
These are some of the consequences of failed U.S. government policies that have been building over the last three decades – the same policies that people in Washington today are intent on keeping or expanding…Most significant of all, the American dream of the last half-century has been revoked for millions of people – a dream rooted in a secure job, a home in the suburbs, the option for families to live on one income rather than two, a better life than your parents had and a still better life for your children.
Barlett and Steele wrote these words in 1992. They are the first words of their Pulitzer Prize winning series of articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which led to the #1 best-selling book, America: What Went Wrong. They put their finger on things and connected dots that really established a lens through which to view the next 20 years. The point of view of the 99% movement is basically the one Barlett and Steele described and predicted at the birth of the Clinton era.
“If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead,” is the simple consistent message of a new book, SPREADABLE MEDIA: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture, that maps the changes taking place in our media environment. For all their consolidation, concentration, and money, corporations can no longer control media distribution. Millions are now directly involved in the creation and circulation of content.
“Stickiness” – focusing attention in centralized places — has been the measure of success in the broadcast era. No more. “Spreadability” – dispersing content through formal and informal networks, with and without permission – is the new goal.
What does this mean for media? For information? For culture? For the distribution of power? And how can you take advantage of the new realities to have greater impact and influence?
I’ll be talking about all of that this week with one of the book’s authors, HENRY JENKINS. He coined the term “participatory culture” and he’s been paying attention for decades to the crowd on the other side of the camera, the microphone, and the screen.
In the early 1960s, MARSHALL GANZ dropped out of Harvard to join the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. He then spent 16 years working with César Chávez and the United Farm Workers. He returned to Harvard in the 1990’s, graduated, earned his Ph.D., and now teaches organizing and the power of public narrative at the Kennedy School.
During Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, he was lead organizer of the grassroots for the former community organizer. GANZ offers a valuable perspective on the Occupy/99% movement.
JACOB HACKER the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University, is the author of The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream and The Divided Welfare State. PAUL PIERSON is Professor of Political Science and holder of the Avice Saint Chair of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of Politics in Time, Dismantling the Welfare State? Together they are authors of Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy as well as WINNER-TAKE-ALL POLITICS.
Q&A: RICHARD WILKINSON & KATE PICKETT, Authors – The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do BetterWritten on March 2nd, 2014
Originally Aired: 01/31/10
RICHARD WILKINSON & KATE PICKETT authors of an important new book: The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better
In the UK, the Guardian says The Spirit Level “might be the most important book of the year, and The New Statesman named it one of the top ten books of the past decade.
Based on thirty years’ research, The Spirit Level shows that unequal societies are bad for the well-off as well as the poor, when it comes to health and social problems, child well being, life expectancy, infant mortality, obesity, educational scores, drop out rates, illegal drug use, mental illness, homicide, incarceration, CO2 emissions, recycling, social mobility, innovation, and levels of trust.
The good news: If all these ills are related to one measure – income inequality, then, decreasing inequality should be the central goal of our politics because we can be confident that it works.
RICHARD WILKINSON has played a leading role in international research on inequality. He studied economic history at the London School of Economics before training in epidemiology, and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Nottingham Medical School and Honorary Professor at University College London.
KATE PICKETT is a senior lecturer at the University of York and a National Institute for Health Research Career Scientist. She studied physical anthropology at Cambridge, nutritional sciences at Cornell and epidemiology at Berkeley before spending four years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago.