Hedrick Smith is on a mission to: Reclaim the American Dream. The Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter, and multiple Emmy award-winning producer and correspondent for PBS and FRONTLINE is on a mission to expose: "Who Stole the American Dream" (his must-read book), and how we became a divided America that left the Middle Class behind with an educational and action-based initiative: "Reclaim the American Dream" at this website: reclaimtheamericandream.org/.
The story of how we lost the American Dream is not what most assume it to be. It crosses parties, and involves a 1970's memo by a future Supreme Court Justice to the Chamber of Commerce that details how to divide America in the way it has since become divided. (See: The Powell Memo).
Published on May 28, 2015 - Thom Hartmann talks with Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize winning NY Times Journalist / PBS Producer (Emmy) / Author of several books, latest Who Stole the American Dream, Website: http://reclaimtheamericandream.org
What you learn from Smith's mission is that it doesn't have to be this way. Grassroots involvement at the federal, state and local level can change it (and will have to because there's little incentive for politicians to change on their own). It will require Americans to learn about the forces that work (and play) against their interests. It will require Americans become informed citizens (see: The Case for Informed Citizenship).
We've already seen influence at the state and local level for both good and ill. The good includes: the raising of the minimum wage in cities around the country, environmental standards at the state level, blocking secret corporate funding in elections. The bad, facilitated by organizations like ALEC and independent financiers such as the Koch Brothers (who know all too well the power of working up from the local level), includes: 'Stand Your Ground' laws, interference with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, undermining of environmental oversight, and union busting.
ALEC and others (whose actions read like the point by point instructions in the Powell Memo) understood the power of bottom-up change before anyone realized what they were doing. They took over state legislatures, city councils, school boards and university boards, and, most tragically, regulatory agencies in examples of agency capture with consequences that included the BP oil spill:
We have watched with horror the unfolding disaster in the Gulf. We have seen precious lives lost; hard-earned livelihoods hammered; treasured ways of life imperiled.(For more on regulatory capture, see: Protection of the Public Interest: Senate Hearing on Industry Influence on Government Regulators and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's Historic Speech on Corporate Influence in Government (VIDEO) for the heroic and lonely effort by Senator Whitehouse to bring this to light).
We have seen the largest deployment of resources ever against an environmental disaster.
We have seen astonishing corporate negligence.
But we have seen something else too-something that ought to be a lasting lesson from this catastrophe: we have seen the revolting specter of an agency of government subservient to - captive to - the industry it is supposed to regulate.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
remarkable work on PBS's FRONTLINE and too many awards to list, now seeks to engage the public into creating a positive mirror image to the negative corporate influence on our government. If ALEC and others can infiltrate and influence our politics at a federal, state and local level why can't Americans, the voters, do the same?
But how would they do it?
To that end, Hedrick Smith has written the aforementioned powerful book, "Who Stole the American Dream?", and has launched a website: reclaimtheamericandream.org/.
The Environmentalist encourages our readers to visit both sites, to get informed, and get involved.
As Hedrick Smith says in the above TED talk: "We the People want change. [...] The problem is that fundamentally were a very divided country; we're two Americas. [...] And when you get to the power game in Washington, what Wall Street and corporate America want and need is very different from what Main Street America wants and needs."
The Middle Class must become part of the process. Until they do, a large percentage of our citizenry will be on the outside looking in.
For more information, see:
- "Who Stole the American Dream?"
- Hedrick Smith on PBS's FRONTLINE
- Protection of the Public Interest: Senate Hearing on Industry Influence on Government Regulators
- Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's Historic Speech on Corporate Influence in Government (VIDEO)
- The Case for Informed Citizenship
- Covert Operations