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Interview Transcript: Glenn Greenwald-- Liberty and Justice for Some

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Glenn Greenwald: Well, I mean, there is no reason why it could not continue get worse.  I mean, we've seen nations of the world that have severe amounts of income inequality and wealth inquality and that is one of the problems-- the more the rich are able to consolidate their wealth and then use that wealth to exert influence over the political process, the more they're going to continue to try and entrench their power, to increase it, to expand it. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle with the rich-poor gap just creates its own momentum to continue to grow. And we're already at the point.  We've seen riots and unrest and disruptions in other societies that have less problem with economic anxiety and suffering and inequality than the United States has. And  it just stands to reason that we're going to have a lot of that unrest and disruption and potentially even rioting as well if things continue on their current path. 

Rob Kall: Wow.  You talk about outcome inequality.  What is that about? 

Glenn Greenwald: Well, the way I look at outcome and equality and then a sort of analogize the issue to say a running race where in a fair and legitimate running race, everyone starts at the same point-- the starting line--and can only run when the starting gun is shot and has to abide by the same rules.  You can't invade the lanes of the other runners. You can't knock them down with your elbows.  Everyone has to maintain an arms-length relationship with the Judge.  You can't pay the Judge to decide on your favor.  

As long as those basic rules are abided by to assure a fair playing field then we accept inequality and outcome as legitimate.  So, someone is going to cross the finish line first and be declared the winner and the fastest runner.  They're going to get some cash prize for having won.  There is going to be a second place finisher and then a last place finisher.  And that is all I mean by all come in equality.  Somebody wins and gets more.  

That's what I mean by outcome inequality. Somebody wins and gets more and somebody loses and gets less.  And we generally accept that in the United States if we believe that it is legitimate.  So, for example, Steve Jobs died with eight billion dollars. Nobody really begrudged him having eight billion dollars, even though there was mass joblessness and homelessness and mortgage foreclosures and massive inequality because there was a perception that he had earned that money and earned those winnings.  The problem comes when the outcome inequality seems illegitimate because it is the byproduct not of merit and achievement but of cheating, of rule breaking on an uneven playing field and I think that is clearly the position we are in. 

Rob Kall: Yeah.  Now, I was reading in the Wall Street Journal today there was an article about prisons.  So, there are more and more private prisons and private prisons are trying to prevent prisoners from being able to have the same access to lawsuits that they have in Federal Prisons.  Where does that fit into this picture.

Glenn Greenwald: Well, the existence of the Private Prison Industry is definitely one of the main problems. Private prison incorporations profit by having more and more prisoners in their system.  They are basically customers and so it is in their interest to do things like work against the loosening of sentencing requirements or reforming of the drug laws or things 

that would enable people to get out of prison more quickly and they lobbied against these changes. 

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And the other part of it is that the State has a responsibility to ensure basic conditions within the prison but these prison industries have an interest to minimize cost in order to maximize profit and so, conditions within the prisons worsen and the liberties and freedoms that prisoners have continue to constrict and so we already have one of the most merciless and harshest prison systems in the world and the way we're privatizing the present system has only made that worse on many levels.

Rob Kall: So, you've got this book.  You are going around promoting these ideas and so hopefully people will wake up.  Are there any legislators that have sample legislation?  Is there sample legislation on how to fix this? "

Glenn Greenwald: Well, I think the problem, you know, I think - I think, the problem is more cultural and systemic in legislative.  I mean, you can pass some good bills that if you put into the same corrupted system; it is not going to make much of a difference.  

Having said that, there are a couple of senators and members who have spoken out on this  The problem is that there is not really a benefit to doing it. There is not a huge constituency demanding a liberalization  of our punishment schemes. But people like Jim Ladd have talked about how the United States imprisons more citizens and many country in the world and how we put people in prison for things that are trivial and minor and even for drug possession that are really matters of health and how the impact is racist and discriminatory and we need fundamental reform in the justice system, it is really no political gain to be had by pursuing those things 'cause there few politicians who do.  

Rob Kall: Last question-- You're going to talk to Occupy people living in the tents.  What are you going to tell them?

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Glenn Greenwald: I want to tell them that since I began running about politics, the main question that I've had presented to me is what can we do about all this, and what makes them so inspiring and compelling is that they basically, have found the answer.  I mean, there are people who are sacrificing their own interest in order to create this space of dissent and to signal to the elites that  this is no longer acceptable and they've inspired huge numbers of people to do the same and to support them and I hope that they will continue doing  because it is really doing all the good.

Rob Kall: All right.  Thank you so much.  Glenn Greenwald, great to have you on the show.  Great success with your book.

Glenn Greenwald: I appreciate it.  Bye-

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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 Opednews.com-- 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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Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also (more...)
 

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