I had the pleasure of attending this lecture given by former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich on the UC Berkeley campus on May 9, 2005.
Reich outlines the startling details of inequality of income, wealth and opportunity in the United States and asks, what will happen if these trends continue?
Eight years later, inequality has only gotten worse. One would imagine, or at least hope, that systemic inequality is unsustainable. But when will it become unbearable, unacceptable?
FRONTLINE investigates why Wall Street’s leaders have escaped prosecution for any fraud related to the sale of bad mortgages.
Glenn Greenwald ("The Real Story Of How 'Untouchable' Wall Street Execs Avoided Prosecution") writes for The Guardian UK:
PBS' Frontline program on Tuesday night broadcast a new one-hour report on one of the greatest and most shameful failings of the Obama administration: the lack of even a single arrest or prosecution of any senior Wall Street banker for the systemic fraud that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis — a crisis from which millions of people around the world are still suffering.
What this program particularly demonstrated was that the Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable.
What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of torture and warrantless eavesdropping: Namely, acted to protect the most powerful factions in the society in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious criminality. Indeed, financial elites were not only vested with impunity for their fraud, but thrived as a result of it, even as ordinary Americans continue to suffer the effects of that crisis.
ZAKARIA: Are you telling me that you believe you can get all, you can close that gap entirely by cutting spending, that is by taking something on the range of 7% or 8% of GDP out of government spending? That is cutting $800 billion out of government spending every year?
NORQUIST: You do two things. You reduce spending, and you have stronger economic growth. This is one of the weakest recoveries we’ve had –
ZAKARIA: You can as a practical matter, this is a wish, not a plan. I would like stronger economic growth, too….This is all rhetoric, Grover. You’ve got a plan as a practical matter. As I said, Clinton raised taxes, he got growth. Bush had the biggest tax cuts in a generation, and he got the weakest growth in 30 years. All I’m saying is as a matter of practical planning for the fiscal future of the United States your answer can’t be, well we’ll have stronger growth. Yeah, if we grow at 6%, we don’t need to do anything. Everything is solvent, right? But I can’t wish for that. We’ve got to plan realistically.