What follows here is an abbreviated version of a very enlightening exchange between MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan and Roger Hickey, co-director for the Campaign For America's Future.
Dylan Ratigan: Today, some new protests in defense of unions and collective bargaining spreading across the Midwest. Workers and labor leaders gathering in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin to protest bills that would void union contracts or slash bargaining rights. Keep in mind, this is all about public workers continuing to be asked to pay for Wall Street's crime against their pensions. Filmmaker Michael Moore hit the nail on the head at a rally in Madison:
Interjected video clip of Michael Moore speaking at a rally: There has been a massive transfer of wealth to the rich from the rest of us. It has been the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers, to the banks and the portfolios of the uber rich. Those in charge have diverted that wealth into a deep well that sits on their well-guarded estates. They know. They know that they have committed crimes to make this happen.
Dylan: This has been the greatest robbery and cover-up in American history and it's been ongoing for years now. The question is, why is no one paying for this crime? And who should pay for it? The people who did it? The rich in general? Or maybe we should just take it out on the teachers and cops, and make them pay for it as the Republicans suggest? Which seems fair to you? Joining us now is Roger Hickey, co-director of the campaign for America's future, a group dedicated to finding long-term solutions to America's jobs crisis. Thursday, they're holding a summit in Washington on this very subject. So, Roger, what do you think is the best way to go about this?
Roger Hickey: Well, Michael Moore had it right; the conservatives are telling us that America is broke. But we're not broke: We just gave a massive tax cut to the richest people in America. So we need a jobs movement that will take back some of that money from the very wealthy and invest it in job creation. Washington, D.C. just hasn't got it yet: The number one priority of the American people, as you found on your tour around the country, is jobs. It's not cutting the deficit. It's not cutting education programs, which the Republicans are trying to do now. It's investing in short-term and long-term efforts to get our country fully employed.
Dylan: There are financially elite groups representing very special interests (whether it's in the banking industry, certain multinational corporations that invest heavily in China, the oil industry, or the military-industrial complex with its profits from our two wars), that are all making obscene sums of money, as trillions of dollars fly out of this country, to the Mideast, to China, etc. But you and I both know that you cannot have jobs in your country if you do not have sufficient investment in your country.
Roger: That's right. And of course you've talked a lot about the financial rip-offs and the huge Wall Street gambling casino that has turned Wall Street not into a way to finance jobs and productive investment, but rather into an opportunity for a small minority to get massively rich while screwing the rest of us. So, we've got to find a way to get compensatory revenue from those few who have benefitted so much from these rip-offs. But we've also got to develop ideas about turning this economy around, once we have access to that revenue. Right now, the Republicans (who are funded by those who have benefitted so much from the rip-offs) are cutting programs that are essential to our competitiveness and to job creation. I refer, of course, to educational programs and investments in infrastructure. Instead of funding such programs, the Republicans are, by way of massive tax breaks to corporations and the rich, channeling that money to their campaign-donor companies like Goldman Sachs. Problem is, this robbery from education and infrastructure is going to cut America's growth rate in half. So, one of the things we've got to do right now is stop the self-serving Republican policies that are only making our economy worse.
Dylan: I couldn't agree with you more. So where do you see us getting the most leverage to accomplish this? Do you see a next step for organization and maximum impact?
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