Donald Barlett: Absolutely!
Rob Kall: ..to get involved. aside: I just need to do a Station ID]
[If you're in the middle of the show, just coming in, I'm interviewing Donald Barlett and James Steele, the authors of an incredible book, "Betrayal of the American Dream']
I have to say gentlemen, that this book really does a superb job of going through, with evidence and explanations, just how the government and the elected officials in this country, have betrayed. It's not a matter of an accident. It's not a mistake. They have literally sold out the American middle class. Would you agree that that [inaudible 27:17]
Donald Barlett: That's a really good way of phasing it. Because that's exactly what has happened. They have sold out the middle class in this country.
Rob Kall: And now..
Donald Barlett: And where's it going to lead. Well, you can probably pretty well imagine that in fifteen, twenty years from now..
Rob Kall: Well last year I interviewed Arianna Huffington. She wrote a book called "Third World America." and described how we're well on our way there. And I think your book, perhaps without using that term, also describes all the different ways that American workers and the middle class are just having the American Dream stolen out from under them.
James Steele: Rob, you're so right on this. [Jim Steele here] In fact it's interesting you would say what you just did, because there's actually a quote in the book from a manager of a plant in a little town in Missouri. These are the kinds of towns where people are socially conservative, and you know they're not radical or rabble-rousers in any way. But I never forget the interview with her, because she was one and they had a little plant there that had a couple of hundred women in it. And the women did a lot of piece work for greeting cards, or Hallmark cards and they would like put ribbons on these things. And one day the jobs are shipped to China. Well, here was a woman who'd worked there fifteen plus years, and was kind of a mid level manager, and she was making around $34 thousand a year, a whopping salary. The women on the production line were like in the mid $20s (thousands), you know,another case of those great high paid American work force that's driving jobs offshore. I'm being facetious, of course! But anyway, at the end of the interview this woman, just as solid and good as she could be in every way. She said, "what"' and this quote is in the book. She said, "what is this country going to be like in a few years? I mean are we going to be living in huts, like they do in Africa or elsewhere?" You know, no running water, none of the facilities that you normally associate with a developed society. And we encountered variations of that story over and over again across the country. People know what's going on. They're very upset. They see the trajectory is down and they cannot understand why Washington, why the folks who run this country aren't paying attention to them because they can kind of see where we're going. If the folks in Washington can't or won't face them. Folks do know what's happening.
Rob Kall: Seems like there is.. you write in your last chapter, about the story of the American Dream, but it seems like it depends also heavily upon legislation. Does that? And getting laws to be enforced?
James Steele: Yes. And [Jim Steele Here] obviously it would require a shift in Congress, needless to say in fact. As an intro though, almost [inaudible 30:25]
Rob Kall: More of a volcanic explosion or a major earthquake?
Donald Barlett: Yes.
James Steele: Yes. [laughing] You'd have something on that calibre, that would perhaps wake people up just to what's going on. In fact we speculate, that maybe things are just going to have to get a lot worse before anything might be done, but there was some Senator recently, who is no longer in the Senate, who was asked if he missed Congress. And he said yes he did, but he didn't miss this Congress. Because of the [Rob laughing in background] kinds of problems that this much is foisting on the country. So, and there's a lot of people know, and we encountered around the country an awful lot of what we would call self-help groups. I spent some time with some veterans down in Florida who were very upset at what's going on at the national level. They're say the problem is that the deficit, the problem is we're not figuring out ways to get this country going again. And what they're trying to do, is within their limited means and within what's within their grasp, they're trying to figure out some small industries, some small non-profit enterprises that can provide some work and provide some opportunity. It's like they've given up on Washington for the simplest kinds of things that the government is to be able to do. So a lot of people know or are trying to do things like this. We think that's great, but we feel though that ultimately you've still got to have some things at a national level though, because we are a national country. It's a national economy. And unless we figure out some ways to stimulate that and to create jobs, all of these other efforts, while a help, are still going to fall short.
Rob Kall: Do you see that on the horizon with the current Congress and the candidates running in this election cycle, that they have any intention at all of doing anything for the middle class?
Donald Barlett: Oh.