MP: We do a variety of things. We have published a short book (available online at our website, no charge). We have been working with journalists, like you, to get our story out. Fortunately, in the mainstream media apparently everyone believes that all wealthy people are greedy, and only care about their short term pecuniary interests, so it's newsworthy when we are a counterexample. We also do direct lobbying; we had a lobby day about three months ago in Washington DC during which we visited some of the staff of the United States Senate, and a few senators, and we did press events with some of the members of Congress.
JB: Good to know about your free book, Morris. I'd like to see it. Let's make sure to include the link so people can easily access it. Does your education strategy include any forms of advertising? If so, how does that work?
MP: Here's a link to the pdf file.
We do little or no actual paid advertising. Our strategy is to be provocative enough with our statements that people will see our statements in the press or on youtube. (Like we are doing now, working with you.)
JB: Thanks for the link. How does the upcoming election affect your message or strategy to get the word out? Does it make it easier to get a hearing?
MP: I don't know. There are some things the candidates say that are on the same page we are. In terms of strategy I would say:
- The presidential campaign is the focus of some people. There are also people who are very afraid of disagreeing with Senator Clinton on anything because they are hoping to someday be part of a Clinton administration.
- It's also creating more interest in politics in general. There are people listening to people like Donald Trump and thinking to themselves that we could be on the edge of a disaster (as a nation).
- All of the members of the House, and a bunch of the senators are running. They are, of course, focused on their own races and can tend to see everything through a lens of how it might affect their race.
The Patriotic Millionaires are generally talking about economic inequality and how that causes political inequality, but on the specifics, we are only focusing on a few things (the disclose act, ending the carried interest tax loophole, etc.). We are not endorsing candidates.
JB: Have you seen the 2013 Robert Reich documentary Inequality for All? If so, have you found it helpful in educating the public about income inequality and its causes?
MP: To tell you the truth ... I haven't actually seen the whole thing (although I have heard wonderful things about it, and I respect Secretary Reich very much) so I don't think I can comment on the movie.
JB: Your sources were right on target: the film was very well done, practical but not at all preachy. And one of your members, Nick Hanauer, featured in it. He was terrific. I was so impressed with him, I looked him up and later watched his TED talk, too. Anything you'd like to add before we wrap this up?
MP: I like Nick a lot. I believe he was on target with his famous talk about pitchforks a year or two ago.
The overriding point of the Patriotic Millionaires is that gross inequality -- gross unfairness -- does not work for the rich people. The rich need a robust middle class in order to be rich whether it is people to buy stuff from their businesses or people to cooperate in civil society. People don't become rich because God's countenance shines upon them. They become rich, sometimes by having the good judgement to be born from rich parents (about one fourth of the billionaires) or by being fund managers, etc. (another one fourth) or by building businesses. Sometimes, those are businesses that involve finding valuable oil or minerals in the wilderness (like the business that the Koch brothers inherited from their father) but usually it's a business that depends on millions or billions of people being able to buy their stuff.
As I am typing here, I am listening to Bernie Sanders speaking and the crowd in front of him screaming and cheering. People understand that so much of our system has been helping a small number of the rich, and I am afraid that they are not going to put up with it any more. If we want the United States to continue to be the country that it has been, we had better solve that from within the system, or, as Nick alluded to, people might rise up and solve it from without. I am afraid that the government might not address that issue, and therefore that our system of civil society might be threatened. People only cooperate with society if they think they have hope to do well. If people lose hope, they might start grabbing pitchforks, and if that happens, then one way or another, our nation will be very different.
JB: What you say is very true. Hope is the key. Thanks so much for talking with me tonight, Morris. It was a pleasure. I applaud your organization's goals and look forward to following your progress.
The Buffett/Reagan Rule: Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength 5.4.2012 [from the White House website]