Q&A w/ Author, GEORGE PACKER – THE UNWINDING: Inner History of New AmericaWritten on February 5th, 2015
NYTimes review: “This book hums – with sorrow, outrage and compassion.”- #8 Best-seller
Q&A: DAVID GOLDHILL, AUTHOR- CATASTROPHIC CARE: How American Health Care Killed My Father And How We Can Fix ItWritten on October 31st, 2014
This week, my guest is DAVID GOLDHILL. After the death of his father, Goldhill, a business executive, began a personal exploration of a health-care industry that for years has delivered poor service and irregular quality at astonishingly high cost.
His September 2009 Atlantic cover story rocked the health-care world, and Goldhill has written a book expanding on the topic, Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father-And How We Can Fix It. It is a system, he argues, that is not worth preserving in anything like its current form. He asserts Obamacare will not fix it, and offers his own radical solution.
* As a nation, we now spend almost 18% of our GDP on health care.
* In 1966, Medicare and Medicaid made up 1% of total government spending; now that figure is 20%.
* The federal government spends
– 8 times as much on health care as it does on education
— 12 times what it spends on food aid to children and families
— 30 times what it spends on law enforcement
— 78 times what it spends on land management and conservation
— 87 times the spending on water supply
— 830 times the spending on energy conservation.
* For every two doctors in the U.S., there is now one health-insurance employee-more than 470,000 in total. In 2006, it cost almost $500 per person just to administer health insurance.
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
Free Forum Q&A: REZA ASLAN, Author of ZEALOT – Life and Times of Jesus of NazarethWritten on March 11th, 2014
Last summer author and scholar of religions REZA ASLAN came out with a book that utilized a great deal of historical research to give readers a sense of the man, Jesus of Nazareth. ASLAN had taken on a similar task seven years earlier with his first book NO GOD BUT GOD, in which he tells the story of Mohammed. But the problem for some folks this time around is that Reza Aslan is a Muslim. In an interview that has been viewed at least a million and a half times on YouTube, Lauren Green of Fox News demanded to know, “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” – and that interview sent Aslan’s book, ZEALOT: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, to the top of best-seller lists for weeks.
REZA ASLAN has been a guest on Free Forum a number of times in the past, and I’m happy to welcome him back again, to talk a bit about the reaction, but much more about the content and meaning of his book. He examines Jesus through the lens of the time and place in which he lived, first-century Palestine, and labels him in the book’s title, a zealot – a radical political opponent of the Roman occupation. Because Jesus was crucified without overthrowing Roman rule, he is one of many failed messiahs. But why did this particular failed messiah become the starting point of one of the world’s great religions, wielding enormous influence over two thousand years later among more people than even existed during his lifetime?
Q&A w/ DOUG FINE, Author of TOO HIGH TO FAIL: Cannabis and the New Green Economic RevolutionWritten on June 25th, 2013
This week, in the second of a two-part series (Part One with CARL HART, author of HIGH PRICE: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery that Challenges Everything You Know about Drugs and Society) I’m joined by DOUG FINE to talk about the accelerating movement to change the rules on marijuana. According to Fine, as the economy continues to limp along for most Americans and California cities declare bankruptcy, one action — the legalization of marijuana — would save government billions per year while raising huge sums in taxes. According to TIME, the legal medicinal cannabis economy already generates $200 million annually in taxable proceeds from a mere five hundred thousand registered medical users in just sixteen states. 51% of Americans support full legalization (cannabis regulated for adults like alcohol), and 80% support medicinal cannabis legalization.
Fine’s book, TOO HIGH TO FAIL: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution, is just out in paperback. In a postscript added to the new edition, Fine writes,” On November 6, 2012, Colorado and Washington voters ended the Drug War. That is to say, voters in both states overwhelmingly legalized adult social use of cannabis (Colorado’s new law, vitally, also allows industrial cannabis cultivation). It is no stretch to say that the Berlin Wall of the Drug War fell.” We’ll talk about how quickly the landscape is changing and look ahead to the era of legal marijuana.