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The Selling Out of the Middle Class is No Accident: Interview transcript part 1, with Donald Bartlett and James Steele

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James Steele:   Excellent!

Rob Kall: And so I have a thousand"

Donald Barlett: That's pretty impressive.   

Rob Kall: It blows my mind! [James laughing in background] But I have thousands of writers who care a lot. So what I'm trying to get from you as well, is advice to them... Let's say they care about an issue. Let's say they see that there's something that just doesn't look right. We publish a lot by whistleblowers, for example. As an investigative journalist, what advice would you give them on how to address attacking this story from the beginning?   

James Steele:   Well it'd would be a couple of different things, but I suppose the first one, try and put yourself in that story. Now I don't mean person, but try to imagine if you were reading this story what you would want to know, and what you would want to find. And the basic model Don and I have from Day One, is just tell the reader or viewer, whatever it happened to be, something they don't know. I mean there's such widespread dodge on so many things done now. What can you tell them that's new? And keep concentrating on that. Sometimes it's just a matter of your view of it, it may be slightly different based on your analysis of the facts. But that's the heart of it. We also, in our case we've been very interested in issues of economic fairness. I mean how does this play out to the average person? And what can you can do" what we do to shed a little light on something that up to that point has been in some kind of darkness.

Rob Kall: It seems to me"

Donald Barlett: [interjecting] And what are corporations' executives saying! What are public officials saying! What are those people telling the population at large, and how does that square with what's really taking place? You can never go wrong doing that. We seem to be in a period of unprecedented hypocrisy. Elections have always been" had their critical moment. But anymore, it's like, candidates are just outdoing each other to see how hypocritical they can become. 

Rob Kall: It seems like one of the things that you do routinely in your writing, in your book, is you weave together statistics and the kind of facts that you get from government reporting agencies and polls, and then tie that in with anecdotal interviews with real people.

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Donald Barlett: Exactly.

James Steele:   We've always tried to do this. I mean some stories haven't leant themselves to that, but most of them about the economy always do, because this is the life people are leading and what's happening to them just goes to the heart of all of these broad topics. And it also makes the story real in the way that nothing in our own language can make so real. So we always strive for that, and a big part of the work and everything we've done, is finding the people. For every name you see in a book, there's probably about ten others that have been interviewed, and for various reasons weren't in there. But that's also"

Rob Kall: How do you find them?   

James Steele:   Random ways.

Donald Barlett: There's no single way.   

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James Steele:   No. We found some peoples' names, we found some names in bankruptcy court claims. People whose health care had been taken away. And a lot of the people, the names for this book, showed up in Labor Department filings. They'd lost their jobs because of imports or various trade issues. It's a very cumbersome process to get those petitions, and they're called "trade adjustment assistance petition'. And we've gotten many of those over the years. That's when other litigation, here and there, shows up beyond. And then one thing helped us this time, because of the collaboration with American University, the workshop down there. When we posted these things online, we urged people to contact us, and we heard from a lot of people that way. People who turned out to be very good interviews in some cases. So it's just like Don said, it's a range of things and it's quite often very hard to find folks. But they're the heart of every one of these stories.

Rob Kall: Right last question, and then we've got to wrap up. 'Occupy Wall Street'. Where do you see that figuring into the picture that you've painted?

James Steele:   Well, their issues are really a lot of the issues of the book. I mean in terms of the one percent, and you know Don and I actually wrote about the one-percenters back in the mid "90s, before this thing got really popular. So we understand who those folks are. We tend not to go along with the bottom 99, we don't do the one percent versus the 99 percent. We've always talked about the bottom 90 percent. And it's the only reason for that is the folks between 90 percent and 99 percent are still, they're not doing too badly. It's really the bottom 90 percent at this point that we're most worried about. So, I mean it's a slight distinction, that's the reason we make it so. You know, a lot of the issues they've highlighted have been very, very real issues, and it's hard to tell what it has done for the consciousness of the country other than just make people aware of them. And where that we go from here we don't know, but certainly on the concentration of wealth, and what's happening to just average people, we're very, very sympathetic to what they've talked about.   

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.

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