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Arianna Huffington and Third World America
Arianna flickr image by jdlasica
RK: My guest tonight is Arianna Huffington. Arianna was just featured on the cover of Forbes magazine as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World, Technorati ranks her website, Huffington Post, as the number one blog in the world, Mediarite ranks Arianna just second under the editor of the New York Times as the most influential editor. Welcome to the show Arianna.
AH: Thank you so much. It's really great to be with you and I love your focus on bottom up solutions.
RK: Well, thank you. You've just come out with a new book, Third World America, and I have to say it's a fabulous book. I read while I'm working out and it was really easy to kind of pump a little extra while I was reading this because it really gets you mad. There's a lot in here about how we are becoming a third world nation and moving where the middle class is in big trouble and things are not looking good. You've spent an awful lot of work on putting this together and I have to congratulate you on it.
AH: Thank you so much. I really wanted to do this book because as an immigrant to this country I really believe in the American dream. I experienced it, I've seen so many people, so many immigrants who came to find it, to experience it and here we are now seeing a real assault on the middle class. The dream is crumbling and what used to be at the heart of the American dream, upward mobility, has now become downward mobility.
RK: You have a quote in here that there's nobody advocating or lobbying for the American dream, or something along those lines, I love that line.
AH: Yes, well there are plenty of lobbyists undermining the American dream every day.
RK: Yes, now you write in the beginning of this book, "My goal for this book is to sound the alarm so that we never do become third world America" and you say that "if we don't correct our course we could become a third world nation. Think Mexico or Brazil where the wealthy live behind fortified gates, that we could become a place that failed to keep up with history, that we won't be taken down by a foreign enemy but by the avarice of our corporate elite and the neglect of our elected leaders."
That's some scary stuff. And what you do in this book is that you document it in so many different areas of our lives and our nation.
AH: Yeah, what I wanted to do was provide the data, but also to tell the stories because sometimes the data don't really bring the emotion that we need to create a sense of urgency. I can tell you that there is 26 million people unemployed or underemployed, that 3 million homes are going to be foreclosed this year. I can tell you all that, but in the end it's the stories that drive it home. It's writing about Dean Blackburn who grew up in Minnesota, brought up by a single mom who is a teacher, worked hard, got into Yale, had solid jobs in technology for 17 years and lost his job two years ago and can't get another job.
The reason that I started with this story in chapter one is because here is somebody who is educated, who has a job not in a collapsing manufacturing industry but in high-tech and he is in trouble too. So, we see that across the board and yet that sense of urgency that was very present in Washington when we wanted to save Wall Street is not at all present when it comes to saving the middle class.
RK: You've talked about Obama's loss of a sense of urgency particularly with foreclosures it seems.