Q&A: MICHAEL LIND, Co-founder of the New America Foundation; Author of LAND OF PROMISE: An Economic History of the United StatesWritten on March 17th, 2013
This week’s guest, MICHAEL LIND, has written an economic history of the United States. In his new book, LAND OF PROMISE, he lays out a pattern in which the US has reinvented itself economically and politically a number of times based on the emergence of new technologies. From wind and water, to steam, to electricity and internal combustion, and finally the computer.
Each new dominant technology overwhelms the existing political and regulatory system and American government lags a generation or two behind technology-induced economic change. It takes a crisis or a war or both to overthrow the old regime and usher in the new.
When the U.S. economy has flourished, Lind argues, government, business, labor and universities have worked together as partners in a project of economic nation building. Today, as the United States struggles to emerge from the Great Recession, Land of Promise says that Americans, since the earliest days of the republic, have repeatedly reinvented the American economy-and have the power to do so again.
This week’s guest is DAVE ZIRIN. Dave is the first sports editor for The Nation magazine. He has for years in books, columns, and commentaries examined both the politics of sports as well as the intersection of the two.
Howard Cosell said “rule number one of the jockocracy” was that sports and politics don’t mix. In his newest book, Game Over, Zirin asserts that modern professional athletes are breaking that rule like never before. From the NFL lockout and the role of soccer in the Arab Spring to the Penn State sexual abuse scandals and Tim Tebow’s on-field genuflections, Dave reveals how our most important debates about class, race, religion, sex, and political power are being played out both on and off the field.
I’ve left my overzealous interest in sports out of the studio for years, but this week — a couple of weeks after the Super Bowl, not long after Lance Armstrong finally admits to doping, and a few hours before the NBA All Star game – I break that barrier. Dave Zirin and I will talk about specific events and athletes, but we’ll also examine the role sports plays in our individual lives and in society.
The Academy Awards will be given out in two weeks and we are lucky to have the co-directors of one of the nominated films with us today. 5 BROKEN CAMERAS, one of five nominees for best documentary, tells the story of a Palestinian farmer who lives with his wife and four small children in the village of Bil’in, in the central West Bank.
EMAD BURNAT got his first camera in 2005, when his youngest son, Gibreel, was born. Almost simultaneously, the Israeli army began building a separation wall between Bil’in and a nearby Israeli settlement, separating residents from the olive tree groves that are their livelihood. Burnat turned his camera on his fellow villagers as they responded with nonviolent protests, including marches to the wall every Friday. I am joined in the studio today by Burnat and his Israeli co-director, GUY DAVIDI.
Structured in chapters around the destruction of each one of Burnat’s cameras, we witness Gibreel grow from a newborn baby into a young boy, as from behind the lens Burnat watches as olive trees are bulldozed and protests intensify in this cinematic diary of life in the West Bank.
Upon hearing of the Oscar nomination for their film, EMAD BURNAT stated, “The truth is powerful, it can heal. I hope this film can help heal misunderstanding about us. A filmmaker’s dream is winning an Oscars® however my dream is freedom for Palestine, we all have lots of work to do.”
And the words of Co-director GUY DAVIDI, “I am hopeful this will be a milestone on the road to ending the occupation and securing a brighter and more just future for Palestinians and Israelis.”
HOWARD BLOOM has been called “next in a lineage of seminal thinkers that includes Newton, Darwin, Einstein,[and] Freud,” by Britain’s Channel4 TV , and “the next Stephen Hawking” by Gear Magazine. His books include The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History; Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century; The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism; and his latest, THE GOD PROBLEM: How a Godless Cosmos Creates.
Heavy stuff, sure, but his biography is a lot quirkier than that list might suggest. From 1968 to 1988, Bloom made his mark in the music business, founding and running its biggest PR firm, working with Michael Jackson, Prince, Bob Marley, Bette Midler, Queen, Simon & Garfunkel, Peter Gabriel, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, among many others. He helped launch Farm Aid and Amnesty International’s American presence, and put together the first public service radio campaign for solar power.
Bloom launched a successful kickstarter campaign to raise money for PR for THE GOD PROBLEM because changing a paradigm doesn’t just happen. A lot of people have given glowing blurbs to this book, but let me quote one by Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, “If Howard Bloom is only 10 percent right, we’ll have to drastically revise our notions of the universe. There’s no mysticism in The God Problem—no God, no religion, no incommunicable spiritual insights – just the contagious joy of a great mind set loose on the biggest intellectual puzzles humans have ever faced. Whether you’re a scientist or a hyper-curious layperson, Bloom’s argument will rock your world.”
In her 18th book, ECOMIND: CHANGING THE WAY WE THINK, TO CREATE THE WORLD WE WANT, Frances Moore Lappé argues that much of what is wrong with the world, from eroding soil to eroding democracies, results from ways of thinking that are out of sync with human nature and nature’s rhythms. Humans are doers, she says. But our capacity for doing is undermined by seven “thought traps” that leave us mired in fear, guilt, and despair — none of which are motivators to action.
Drawing on the latest research in climate studies, anthropology, and neuroscience, she weaves her analysis together with stories of real people the world over, who, having shifted some basic thought patterns, now shift the balance of power in our world. Chapter-by-chapter, Lappé takes us from “thought trap” to “thought leap,” and with each shift, challenges become opportunities.