Thom Hartmann Rebooting Series

Rebooting the American Dream — Chapter Twelve: Conclusion: Tag, You’re It!


From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout

This final chapter offers time-tested strategies for rebuilding a true middle class and restoring American prosperity – without peremptorily squelching the dream for future generations. It asks the question, “Will our republic survive as a democracy?” The answer comes in the form of what Hartmann calls history’s most important lesson: “Presidents can lead on behalf of the people, but only when the people demand that they do so.”

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there’s a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. – William O. Douglas

Rebooting the American Dream — Chapter Eleven: In the Shadow of the Dragon


From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout

The motivating force of the theory of a democratic way of life is still a belief that as individuals we live cooperatively, and, to the best of our ability, serve the community in which we live, and that our own success, to be real, must contribute. – Eleanor Roosevelt

There was a dragon here hundreds of years ago, here in the Basque country in northern Spain, a place steeped in tradition, a hilly expanse between the mountains and the sea. Local lore has it that the Basque language, the only European one with no known root language, is a remnant from the time of Atlantis, which may have vanished into the Atlantic Ocean not far from here eons ago.

Standing on a hillside overlooking an early autumn valley, Louise and I were amazed by the simple beauty of the mountain of the dragon, its gray and balding peak towering above the town like an ancient ziggurat. This is Mondragon,

Rebooting the American Dream — Chapter Ten: Wal-Mart Is Not A Person


From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout
Article with footnotes here

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. —John Stuart Mill

In 2003, after my book Unequal Protection was first published, I gave a talk at one of the larger law schools in Vermont. Around 300 people showed up, mostly students, with a few dozen faculty and some local lawyers.

Rebooting the American Dream — Chapter Nine: Put Lou Dobbs Out to Pasture


From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout
Article with footnotes here

Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice. — Dwight D. Eisenhower

Back in the late 1980s, when I ran an advertising agency in Atlanta, a multinational corporation approached us about producing its internal newsletter, a monthly eight-pager about the company’s goings-on in the United States, Mexico, and Japan. Not surprisingly, they wanted the newsletter produced in English, Spanish, and Japanese.

For our small agency trolling for clients, this corporation was a big fish—it could provide a good shot of cash for what was then a startup business with a half dozen employees—so I put a help-wanted ad in the local daily newspaper, the Atlanta Constitution Journal, for a graphic designer who was also fluent enough in those three languages to know how to set type and where to hyphenate words (the company was providing us with the text in the three languages). It was clearly a search for a needle

Rebooting the American Dream — Chapter Eight: They Will Steal It!


From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout
Article with footnotes here

War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today. – John F. Kennedy

In 1981, in the midst of a wide-ranging conversation during a night flight across the Atlantic, I got one of the biggest foreign policy insights of my life. Ever since I heard it, it’s filtered my observations of the behavior of virtually every country in the world, particularly ours.

I’d gone to Uganda in 1980 to help start a program to feed the tens of thousands of people starving as a result of the 1978–1979 war, started when Uganda’s neighbor to the south, Tanzania, finally said “Enough!” to the atrocities perpetuated by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and invaded the country. They drove Amin out (he went to Libya first, then to Saudi Arabia, where he lived to a ripe old age in a palace, courtesy of the king and our oil dollars), but the Uganda-Tanzania War produced a disaster for the people of Uganda.

Our relief program was up and running, at least in infant form (it’s still there and operating), and African-American comedian and activist Dick Gregory agreed to go to Uganda with me to see it and to help publicize the starvation so we could raise funds in the United States to expand the program. As the two of us crossed the Atlantic, his first trip to the African continent and my third or fourth, we sat in the plane and drank red wine and talked of all sorts of things, including our common opposition to the Vietnam War back in the day.

In the middle of our discussion about the United States and its unfortunate military adventures abroad, Dick dropped on me the most profound comment

Rebooting the American Dream — Chapter Seven: Cool Our Fever


From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout
Article with footnotes here

We live in a democracy and policies represent our collective will. We cannot blame others. If we allow the planet to pass tipping points…it will be hard to explain our role to our children. We cannot claim…that “we didn’t know.”

- Jim Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

I have taken the four-hour train ride from the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, to the Bavarian town of Stadtsteinach in the Frankenwald often enough to know it by heart. I look out the window and see the familiar sights – the towns, the rivers, the houses.

I have visited Stadtsteinach many times over the past 30 years, working with Salem International, a relief organization headquartered in that town. The community for abused kids that Louise and I founded in New Hampshire is based on its family-oriented model, and we have helped start Salem programs in Australia, Colombia, India, Israel, Peru, Russia, and Uganda, among others. So at least once a year I’ve made it back to Germany, and we lived there for a year in the mid-1980s.

But during the past decade, as the train rolls along eastward from Frankfurt, I’ve seen a dramatic change in the scenery and the landscape. First there were just a few: purplish-blue reflections, almost like deep, still water, covering large parts of the south-facing roofs as I looked north out the window of the train. Solar panels.

Then, over the next few years, the purplish-blue chunks began to spread all over, so now when I travel that route it seems like about a third—and in many towns even more—of all the roofs

Rebooting the American Dream — Chapter Six: Make Members of Congress Wear NASCAR Patches



From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout
Article with footnotes here

The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group.
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

I started my first business at the age of 17 with $25. I paid that amount to rent a shelf in a head shop (which sold mostly pipes, bongs, and cigarette papers) across the street from Michigan State University in East Lansing. The shelf had a sign: “The Electronics Joint—leave your stereo or TV here for repair, and we’ll return it fixed within a week. Free estimate of charges before work is done.” The guy who ran the head shop managed the shelf for 10 percent of our revenues plus the $25-per-month shelf rental; within two years the venture had grown to include five employees, and we moved into our own storefront down the street.

As the business grew, however, I didn’t manage it wisely and ended up about $3,000 in debt, which was a lot of money in 1968 for a part-time student and part-time DJ. Ultimately, I had to shut the company down and go to work full-time as a radio DJ.

That didn’t turn out so well either. I got fired when I played two black female artists back-to-back, a violation of station policy at the time, and then refused to promise to never do it again. With my unemployment check, I bought some herbs at a local General Nutrition Center store and started an herbal tea company—Woodley Herber—that grew over the next six years to having 19 employees. One of our products that contained ginseng (which was then hot as an aphrodisiac) was picked up by Larry Flynt to market through his brand-new magazine,

Rebooting the American Dream – Chapter Five: Medicare “Part E” for Everybody


From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout
Article with footnotes here

The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.”
- Lyndon Baines Johnson

There are two important reasons for having a strong social safety net, one based in sound economic policy and the other in our common humanity. So it’s no surprise that the countries that have strong social safety nets tend to have resilient economies and a higher quality of life.

Ultimately, social safety nets are about managing risk and unforeseen contingencies. On the one hand, there are the risks that we want people to take, such as starting a new business. On the other hand, there are unforeseen events that are so severe – like becoming paralyzed in an accident – that no one person (unless incredibly wealthy) could handle the expenses associated with them. In both cases, by setting up a social safety net that distributes the costs of responding to them across the wide spectrum of society, we minimize both the societal cost and the individual suffering.

I’ve started seven businesses in my life, five of them successful enough that my wife, Louise, and I could sell them off, take about a year of retirement (better to retire when you’re young was our philosophy), and have enough left over to start the next company. In most cases, when we started the business we had no health insurance, even though in every case we had children.

Rebooting the American Dream – Chapter Four: An Informed and Educated Electorate


From THOM HARTMANN
Article with footnotes: TruthOut

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.…Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right. —Thomas Jefferson

Talk Radio News Service, based in Washington, D.C., is owned and run by my dear friend Ellen Ratner. Ellen is an experienced and accomplished journalist, and a large number of interns and young journalism school graduates get their feet wet in reporting by working for and with her.

In March 2010 I was in Washington for a meeting with a group of senators, and I needed a studio from which to do my radio and TV show. Ellen was gracious enough to offer me hers. I arrived as three of her interns were producing a panel-discussion type of TV show for Web distribution at http://www.talkradionews.com, in which they were discussing for their viewing audience their recent experiences on Capitol Hill.

One intern panelist related that a White House correspondent for one of the Big Three TV networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) had told her that the network registered a huge amount of interest 66 Rebooting the American Dream in the “hot story” that week of a congressman’s sexual indiscretions. Far less popular were stories about the debates on health care, the conflicts in the Middle East, and even the Americans who had died recently in Iraq or Afghanistan.

“So that’s the story they have to run with on the news,” the intern said, relating the substance of the network correspondent’s thoughts, “because that’s what the American people want to see. If the network doesn’t give people what they want to see,

Rebooting the American Dream – Chapter Three: Stop Them From Eating My Town


From THOM HARTMANN
Article with footnotes: TruthOut

Unless you become more watchful in your states and check the spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that…the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations. – Andrew Jackson

There is a huge difference between a mall full of chain stores or a big-box retailer, and a downtown area full of small, locally owned businesses. The transition from the latter to the former is what’s destroying local communities on the one hand and creating mind-boggling wealth for a very few very large corporations and multimillionaire CEOs on the other. Here’s how it works.

As I noted in my book Unequal Protection, when I shop in downtown Montpelier, Vermont, and buy a pair of pants, for example, at the Stevens Clothing Store on Main Street, at the end of the day the store’s owner, Jack Callahan, takes his proceeds down to the Northfield Savings Bank and deposits them. From Stevens, I walk next door to Bear Pond Books and buy today’s newspaper, a magazine, and a copy of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man, a book that is as fascinating today as when it was first written in 1791.

At the end of the day, Bear Pond’s manager, Linda Leehman, will take my money down to the Chittenden Bank and deposit it.

From Bear Pond I go to one of the dozen or so local restaurants and exchange some of my cash for a good meal. At day’s end that cash, too, will end up in one of Montpelier’s local banks.

The next day Montpelier’s banks are richer by my purchases, as are Stevens, Bear Pond, and the restaurant. If my daughter, a Web designer, wanted to start her own design firm

Rebooting the American Dream – Chapter Two: Roll Back the Reagan Tax Cuts


From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout (article with footnotes here)

[Thom Hartmann now available locally on KMEC. Hartmann offers us full sets of actual facts to refute and rebut the repugnant Republicans... -DS]

You must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessings. ~ Andrew Jackson

When I was in Denmark in 2008 doing my radio show for a week from the Danish Radio studios and interviewing many of that nation’s leading politicians, economists, energy experts, and newspaper publishers, one of my guests made a comment that dropped the scales from my eyes.

We’d been discussing taxes on the air and the fact that Denmark has an average 52 percent income-tax rate. I asked him why people didn’t revolt at such high taxes, and he smiled and pointed out to me that the average Dane is very well paid, with a minimum wage that equals roughly $18 per hour. Moreover, what Danes get for their taxes (that we don’t) is a free college education and free health care, not to mention four weeks of paid vacation each year and notoriety as the happiest nation on earth, according to a major study done by the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.

But it was once we were off the air that he made the comment that I found so enlightening.

“You Americans are such suckers,” he said. “You think that the rules for taxes that apply to rich people also apply to working people, but they don’t. When working peoples’ taxes go up, their pay goes up. When their taxes go down, their pay goes down. It may take a year or two or three to all even out, but it always works this way—look at any country in Europe. And that rule on taxes is the opposite of how it works for rich people!”

My Danish guest was right. So before we get into the larger consequences of tax increases or tax cuts for the nation’s economic health, let’s parse this business about what tax increases or cuts mean for the rich and for the not-so-rich.

Unequal Taxation and the Conservative Spin

If a wealthy person earns so much money that he doesn’t or can’t spend it all each year, when his taxes go down his income after taxes goes up.

Rebooting the American Dream – Chapter One: Bring My Job Home!


From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout

Also See: Rebooting the American Dream: Introduction

By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he [the entrepreneur] intends only his own security, and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.
—Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, 1776

The White House called me.

About a year after President Barack Obama took office, on the first anniversary of his major economic recovery legislation, his administration was struggling to get the word out that the legislation was, in fact, quite a success story. I found myself invited to the White House as part of a small group of well-known authors and bloggers to meet with a top administration economist as part of this promotion effort.

It was an odd problem they were facing, given that this president was masterful during the 2008 election campaign in communicating his ideas and his vision to the American public. So what happened? Why didn’t America know that the $787 billion legislation represented one of the largest middle-class tax cuts in American history, that it had demonstrably created or preserved between 1.5 million and 3 million jobs, and that it had, in all probability, prevented the severe recession Obama inherited from George W. Bush from turning into a second Republican Great Depression, at least in the short term?

Thom Hartmann: Rebooting the American Dream – 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country


From THOM HARTMANN

Truthout is proud to bring you an exclusive series from America’s No. 1 progressive radio host, Thom Hartmann. Starting today, we’ll be publishing weekly installments of Hartmann’s acclaimed new book, “Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country.” We invite Truthout readers to join us over the next 12 weeks as, chapter by chapter, we explore these groundbreaking ideas for national transformation. We begin today with the book’s introduction.
~

I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power. ~ Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Charles Jarvis, September 28, 1820

On April 14, 1789, George Washington was out walking through the fields at Mount Vernon, his home in Virginia, when Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, showed up on horseback. Thomson had a letter for Washington from the president pro tempore of the new, constitutionally created United States Senate, telling Washington that he’d just been elected president and the inauguration was set for April 30 in the nation’s capital, New York City.

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