Rob Kall: Now, you talk a lot about Too Big To Fail companies (TBTF). I call my show the Bottom Up Radio Show because I believe that we're in a transition from a top down to a bottom up culture and world, and I really -- I've given talks on how we need to have bottom up economics, which means you don't give any big money to any big organizations anymore - and we've got to start looking at ways of getting money from the government to the people, not to the big corporations. Do you have any thoughts about that?
Bernie Sanders: Yeah, I do. First of all, I think one of the outrages that is currently going on in the Congress is the degree that we are not focusing on the economic needs of working families. You know, the papers tell you every day, "The economy is getting better." Well yeah, it is better than it was in the midst of the financial collapse, but real unemployment today, Rob, is not 7.6%; it's over 14%, counting those people who have given up looking for work, and are working part time when they want to work full time; immediate family income has gone down by some $5,000 dollars since 1999, millions of people working longer hours for lower wages, kids leaving school deeply, deeply in debt, youth unemployment off the charts. So we've got to start focusing on how we create an economy that works well for all of the people, not just for the top 1% at a time when we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth. Those are what we've got to focus on.
Getting back to your point: what I see just in my own State of Vermont is there is a lot of focus and attention to issues like buying local. How do we support local agriculture rather than agribusiness? Supporting worker-ownership or employee stock option concepts. So in Vermont you have a number of companies which are owned [by workers], or at least workers have a significant say in what the company does and the profits being made from the company.
You're talking about more community health centers (which are Democratically controlled, by the way) where local people sit on the boards of primary healthcare centers, thoroughly qualified community health care centers. You're seeing a lot of effort to keep money locally. You're seeing a lot of effort to have people getting involved in the Democratic process, and making decisions which impact their lives not only politically, but economically as well. So I agree with you. I think Vermont may be a leader in trying to decentralize the economy, and give people power over their economic and political life.
Rob Kall: Have you looked at public banking? That's a growing movement advocating for what North Dakota has already done, and what about 40% of the nations in the world have. What do you think about that?
Bernie Sanders: I'm strongly supportive of it. North Dakota did it I think in the 1920s, not quite a new concept there.
Rob Kall: Yes.
Bernie Sanders: Obviously you have this very Conservative State that is very proud of their State-owned bank, and by the way, it is something that citizens in Vermont are looking at, and is something that I strongly support. The issue here is the degree to which we take out savings, and we invest it in a public bank which then makes investments -- invests in our communities and earns a decent rate of return, rather than giving this money to some Wall Street bank that engages in whatever fraudulent activities they engage in - makes a lot more sense to me to invest in local financial institutions who are going to invest locally - in housing, in small business, in agriculture. To me, that makes a whole lot of sense.
Rob Kall: Are you doing anything on it in the Senate?
Bernie Sanders: It is an issue. Actually, it's is on my long list of things to do, to make it - what we are doing is that we have legislation in which would make it easier for companies to move toward worker-control. That legislation we have introduced, and we do it in a couple of ways; but in terms of State Banks, we are certainly looking at ways that States can go forward in a way that is easier than it currently is. But you're quite right on saying that all over this country, especially with the justified contempt that people have for Wall Street and major financial institutions who care nothing about anything else than their own short term profits. There is a growing interest in how we can do it differently, including State Banks.
And I can't resist adding this exchange:
Rob Kall: Awesome. I'm solidly behind you. One last question: can you make any comment about Opednews?
Bernie Sanders: Well I think you guys do a great job. One of the issues we didn't touch upon is a situation which is becoming worse, and that is Corporate control over the media: fewer and fewer large conglomerates controlling what we see here or read. So if ordinary people are going to get a different point of view, a point of view which reflects the needs of the Middle Class and working families, to an increasing degree that we are going to have to go the Progressive media. You guys do a great job, and I appreciate what you do.