Free Forum Q&A – MICHAEL LEWIS MONEYBALL; THE BIG SHORT; THE BLIND SIDE BOOMERANG: Travels in the New Third World includes a profile of Greece post-global crashWritten on July 16th, 2015
Originally aired October 2011
As the two countries play a high stakes game of chicken, it’s a good time to see what Greece and Germany looked like in the aftermath of the global crash. Who better to be our tour guide than best-selling author MICHAEL LEWIS?
Lewis’s book, BOOMERANG: Travels in the New Third World is made up of articles originally published in Vanity Fair and picks up where 2010’s THE BIG SHORT left off. Governments are the focus of this book. Mostly because they have taken on the bad debts of the too-big-to-fail banks, so now they are themselves at risk. Now politics and culture become much more important as to how they will deal with that risk. The book also profiles Ireland, Iceland, and California.
Both Ira Glass and Malcolm Gladwell say today’s guest is their favorite storyteller. In his books and magazine articles, Lewis writes about sports, business, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, political campaigns, fatherhood. Stuff that matters to a lot of people. He’s smart and he has a sense of humor. Once a trader at Salomon Brothers, he wrote his first best-seller, LIAR’S POKER about the excesses of Wall Street during the 1980s. He continues to write about that world with his last two books, a column for Bloomberg, and articles in Vanity Fair. We also talk about the twisted path taken to get MONEYBALL into movie theatres.
When gas prices were at or near record highs a few months ago in the US, that got people’s attention. What about food prices? Have you noticed them rising? Are you making different choices in the supermarket? If not, it might be because of two things.
One, in America so much of our food is processed, packaged and marketed, that raw commodity prices make up only a fraction of the price of the food we buy. In other countries, especially the less developed ones, an increase in the price of rice or corn can have a major effect on how much a family can afford to eat. Two, Americans spend only 9% percent of their income on food, while millions around the world spend 50-70%. Millions of households now routinely schedule foodless days each week-days when they will not eat at all. A recent survey by Save the Children shows that 14% of families in Peru now have foodless days. India, 24%. Nigeria, 27%.
In his newest book, FULL PLANET, EMPTY PLATES, LESTER BROWN writes,
“The U.S. Great Drought of 2012 has raised corn prices to the highest level in history. The world price of food, which has already doubled over the last decade, is slated to climb higher, ushering in a new wave of food unrest. This year’s corn crop shortfall will accelerate the transition from the era of abundance and surpluses to an era of chronic scarcity. As food prices climb, the worldwide competition for control of land and water is intensifying. In this new world, access to food is replacing access to oil as an overriding concern of governments. Food is the new oil, land is the new gold. Welcome to the new geopolitics of food.”
In JEREMY SCAHILL’S new best-seller, DIRTY WARS, what begins as an investigation into a US night raid gone terribly wrong in a remote corner of Afghanistan quickly transforms into a high-stakes global investigation into the rise of Joint Special Operations Command, the most secret and elite fighting force in U.S. history. In military jargon, JSOC teams “find, fix and finish” their targets, who are selected through a secret process. No target is off limits for the “kill list,” including U.S. citizens.
It’s the unbounded, unending War on Terror: all bets are off, and almost anything goes. We have fundamentally changed the rules of the game and the rules of engagement. Today drone strikes, night raids, and U.S. government-condoned torture occur, generating unprecedented civilian casualties.
DIRTY WARS reveals covert operations unknown to the public and carried out across the globe by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress, raising questions about freedom and democracy, war and justice, morality and politics. No matter how little you know about these actions, they are being done in your name,
DIRTY WARS is also a documentary which opens in theaters June 7th.
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.
Free Forum Q&A – TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Civil disobedience (bidding) at public lands auction landed him 21 months in prisonWritten on May 25th, 2014
On December 19, 2008 TIM DeCHRISTOPHER disrupted a highly disputed BLM auction, effectively safeguarding thousands of acres of land. Not content to merely protest outside, Tim entered the auction hall and registered as bidder #70. He outbid industry giants on land parcels (which, starting at $2 an acre, were adjacent to national treasures like Canyonlands National Park), winning 22,000 acres of land worth $1.7 million Two months later, incoming Interior Secretary Ken Salazar invalidated the auction. Yet DeChristopher was indicted and tried on two federal felonies and spent 21 months in prison.
Released in April 2013, DeChristopher is the subject of documentary film, Bidder 70, which opened this weekend at the Music Hall in Beverly Hills and other theaters around the country. He joins me this week to tell his story. What led him to that auction? What went through his mind as he began bidding and winning? Why didn’t he take a plea deal? What was his experience in prison? What message does he have for others?
We’ll also talk about the state of the movements to deal with energy, environment, and climate change, in light of Obama’s recent speech and the eventual decision whether or not to build the KeystoneXL pipeline.
“At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like. In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like. With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow…
— From Tim DeChristopher’s statement to the court at his sentencing hearing