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Barlett and Steele's book, Betrayal of the American Dream, rips into the people, groups and organizations who are behind the decimating onslaught on the middle class and the poor. We talk about the book and then about investigative journalism and how to do it as a blogger.
Donald L. Barlett (raspy voice) and James B. Steele are the nation's most honored investigative reporting team, and authors of the New York Times bestseller America: What Went Wrong? They have worked together for more than forty years, first at the Philadelphia Inquirer (1971--1997), then at Time magazine (1997--2006), and now at Vanity Fair since 2006. They have also written seven books. They are the only reporting team ever to have received two Pulitzer Prizes for newspaper reporting and two National Magazine Awards for magazine work. They live in Philadelphia.
My Rough interview notes-- mostly the questions I've asked
accused of being alarmists-- say that there could be 100 million casualties
definitions of middle class, wealth, etc.?
35-85K is heart of middle class, then to 110 -115K for extend middle class.
What percentage of population are middle class?
45 million heart of the middle class.
Pew foundation-- more people fell out of middle class in last ten years than
200% of poverty number.
48 million poor.
What makes up the rich in your narrative?
400 richest taxpayers-- paid 51% in federal taxes. That's down to 16%
During Dwight EIsenhower's presidency, there was a 92% tax rate.
What was your goal in writing this book? What did you want to accomplish?
to show that what is happening to middle class people is not some accident, some result of global forces-- that it was man made, intentional policies.
globalization and free trade and made in America roses
1975 was last year US had a trade surplus. We've had 37 consecutive years of trade deficits.
Let's not forget that government was long paid for by tariffs-- duties paid for importing goods. The multinational corporations are benefitting from globalization and the end of tariffs, not small businesses.
Can you talk about the Rose industry-- there, agencies in the federal government, even before the Global trade agreements went into effect, did severe damage to this US industry.
Your book details how the middle class is being sold out, having the american dream stolen out from under them. It's no accident.
It's not the deficit. Imagine it was a war--- these deficit hawks would give 50 ships instead of the 500 needed.
Top down/Bottom up perspective.
Can you talk about how the top down powers are using government and policy and legislation and deregulation and tax law changes to benefit those at the top to the cost of the poor?
What advice can you give writers and bloggers?
try to connect dots. Problem now is there's this blizzard of information"
Center for Public Integrity
Investigative reporting workshop
Who is doing great investigative reporting now?
NY Times has done more investigative reporting than any time in their history
WaPo as well,
Investigative Reporters and Editors journalism contest
Barlett and Steele Award
What are some of the criteria you look for in identifying excellence and winners in these Investigative Journalism contests?
As an investigative journalist, how would you advise addressing doing a story about something that you see and think should be investigated?
It seems that you weave statistics and facts from government and polls with anecdotal interviews with real people.
Occupy Wall street. Where do you see that figuring into the issues you raise in the book?
We talk about the bottom 90%
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