The gap between rich and poor is huge and growing…legislative stalemate paralyzes the country…corporations fight federal regulations…the influence of money in politics is greater than ever…new inventions speed the pace of daily life.
Sound familiar? Those headlines from the early 1900s set the scene for Doris Kearns Goodwin’s new book The Bully Pulpit-a history of the first decade of the Progressive era – a time when courageous journalists and an ambitious president took on the Robber Barons – the 1% of their day – and won.
Goodwin tells the tale through the long friendship of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft – a relationship that serves both until it ruptures in 1912, when they engage in a brutal fight for the presidential nomination that cripples the progressive wing of the Republican Party and helps elect Woodrow Wilson.
Getting equal billing in her account is the golden age of journalism led by the muckraking press at McClure’s magazine. Together a bold and progressive press and a strong and progressive president served the people of the US rather than the super wealthy and the corporations. What lessons can we learn to help us turn this country around a century later?
Q&A: TOM FRANK – What’s the Matter with Kansas? / EDGAR CAHN – founder of Legal Services & Time DollarsWritten on January 10th, 2012
This will be a conversation about the state of things as we embark on 2012. I will be joined by TOM FRANK (What’s the Matter with Kansas?) and EDGAR CAHN (founder of Legal Services and Time Dollars). We will talk about their passions and projects.
In his new book, PITY THE BILLIONAIRE, Frank examines how the crash that has hurt so many millions of Americans has delivered wildly perverse political results. He gives us a diagnosis of the cultural malady that has transformed collapse into profit, reconceived the Founding Fathers as heroes from an Ayn Rand novel, and enlisted the powerless in a fan club for the prosperous.
Edgar Cahn was a serial social entrepreneur before the term was invented. In 1974, he and his wife co-founded the Legal Services Program to deliver legal services to the poor, then co-founded Antioch School of Law, where students learned through providing legal services to the poor. Two decades later Cahn created TIme Dollars, a system to bank and exchange services rather than currency.
In the larger conversation, I want to take a fairly big picture, historical, and forward-looking perspective. While I assume we will talk about global economics and international conflicts, the emphasis would be on the US. Though I assume we will talk about the fall election, I want to look more broadly.
Questions like: Where are we as a society – socially, culturally, economically, and politically? What’s working and why is it working? What are your fears and hopes for the year ahead? What stories and narratives will you be paying attention to in the next year?
Maybe something about the battle over the narrative of America’s founding and the American dream. Is there a story in which humanity turns things around?
THOMAS FRANK, a former opinion columnist for The Wall Street Journal, is the founding editor of The Baffler and a monthly columnist for Harper’s. He is the author of The Conquest of Cool; What’s the Matter with Kansas? One Market Under God; and his newest, PITY THE BILLIONAIRE.
EDGAR CAHN teaches Law and Justice, and directs the Community Service Program at the University of the District of Columbia School of Law. A co-founder with his late wife Jean Camper Cahn of the Antioch School of Law, UDC-DCSL’s predecessor; the first law school in the United States to educate law students primarily through clinical training in legal services to the poor. In the late 1980s, Professor Cahn began the Time Dollars project, a service credit program that now has more than 70 communities in the US, UK and Japan with registered programs (www.timebanks.org). He’s the author of several books, including Hunger USA, Time Dollars and No More Throw-Away People.
Live from USC - The Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
ERWIN CHEMERINSKY, founding dean of the UC Irvine Law School, has also taught at DePaul and Duek. An expert on constitutional law, he has frequently argued cases before the US Court of Appeals and occasionally before Suprem Court. His latest book is THE CONSERVATIVE ASSAULT ON THE CONSTITUTION.
BILL BOYARSKY is a columnist for LA Observed and the online magazine Truthdig. He is the author of six books, including Calfornia's Big Daddy, and his most recent, Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times. Boyarsky lectures in journalism at the USC Annenberg School for Communications.
HENRY WEINSTEIN, a reporter for the LA Times for 30 years, covering law, labor and politics, now teaches law and journalism at UC Irvine's School of Law.
KIRK BOYD teaches international human rights, civil rights, free speech and constitutional law at UC Berkeley and is Executive Director of the 2048 Project. He is the author of a new book, 2048: Humanity's Agreement to Live Together -- The International Movement for Enforceable Human Rights.
JOHN WEST has been the managing partner and owner of two law firms, practiced civil rights and employment law, and worked as a public defender. John is currently in the process of preparing an intense lobbying effort in various state legislatures where issues of patients' rights, especially Death With Dignity, are being debated and decided. The Last Goodnights Organization is the support arm for his efforts in this regard. The Last Goodnights is his first book.
In the memoir, The Last Goodnights, John West revealed for the first time a secret, which he'd kept from everyone, including his two sisters, for ten years. West helped each of his terminally ill parents commit suicide, a crime in the state of California, where the deaths took place.