The Teach-In Page

The American Dream once meant that if you worked hard, played by the rules, invested or saved for tomorrow you could be reasonable assured of a comfortable retirement, an income to provide an education for your kids, a measure of the peace of mind that a strong, stable middle class would allow folks to not fear for their status in society. All of those things have been eroded in the great Betrayal of the American Dream that has followed 40 years of economic policies that have left the middle class struggling, one medical or employment crisis away from falling into poverty and out of social status. Flat wages, changes to tax policy that have gut the ability of our Local, State and Federal governments to provide a strong social safety net, and the systemic redistribution of wealth upwards that have followed 40 years of these policies have left the middle class in America on the edge of an abyss. Learning how this happened is key to learning what must be done to regain and occupy the ground that has been lost to greed and speculation in our current corporatist plutocracy.

With the fall-out from the economic crisis that began in 2008 still a daily burden on millions of Americans, described by prominent economists as the Great Recession or the Lesser Depression, learning about the basic drivers and causes in the complicated world of macroeconomics helps one understand how this happened and what policies are necessary to bring us out of it.

Below I’ve posted a few videos that are suitable as Teach-In materials to help understand the forces that brought the country to its knees. These forces will again bring pain and hurt to us all if sensible, democratic policies are not enacted to guard against another financial melt-down; such things as a return to the separation of commercial and investment banking, progressive taxation of corporations and the wealthiest among us to increase revenues to government, regulation of high risk derivatives and shadow banking practices, a reversal of the war economy and security-state mindset that takes its toll on domestic necessities and human lives worldwide. There are some in our world economy that benefited greatly from this crisis. If they are allowed to continue to benefit, you can be sure more crises are in store…

Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary in the Clinton cabinet, with The Truth About the Economy:

The problem with Austerity measures in the midst of a debt and de-leveraging crisis by Mark Blyth, Professor of International Political Economy, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University:

Elizabeth Warren’s 2007 Berkeley Jefferson Memorial Lecture series talk on The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class: Higher Risks, Lower Rewards, and a Shrinking Safety Net. Note that this talk preceded the 2008 crash and gives an excellent historical context for how this crisis affects the middle class. Run-time is about 58 minutes.

Donald Barlett and James Steele are investigative journalists who in 1992 began writing about the collusion of “rulemakers in Washington and dealmakers on Wall St.” causing millions of Americans to fall victim to the excesses and biases implicit in this collusion. This short video is a great preface for the many testimonials documenting the betrayal of the American Dream this collusion represents and its destructive result borne out in the financial crisis and its aftermath. The What Went Wrong website is an invaluable teaching tool full of resources to understand what went wrong in our economy and in our politics that has led us to where we are today.

Segment 1: Why Now? from America What Went Wrong on Vimeo.

Robert Reich on the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex. The term Military-Industrial Complex was coined from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell speech when he warned about the dangers such a marriage would produce. What isn’t widely known is that his draft contained the term military-industrial-congressional complex… a much more descriptive and appropriate formulation of the problem. Here is former Labor Secretary Reich asking why we taxpayers must help fund the lobbying efforts that go toward feeding this behemoth when the resulting behemoth, in its current manifestation, is bleeding the treasure out of our country to everyone’s detriment in its pursuit of Empire.

The following video presents some excellent graphics on the effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka, the stimulus bill. Much has been said pro and con about this legislation and you may not agree with all that this legislation accomplished, but this clip makes a pretty good argument in favor of the Keynesian economic principles of stimulus spending by government, the spender of last resort, when aggregate demand is low, unemployment high, and why maintaining a strong social safety net is in the interest of maintaining a strong middle class. Democrats will use this to support the campaign to re-elect Barak Obama for a second term. Many Republicans continue to maintain that the stimulus failed even in light of this data. I present this here as an object lesson countering the argument that government is (always) the problem. Responsible government of, by, and for the people ought to be ready to provide for the nation’s citizens when the economy staggers. Responsible government ought to create the conditions to preempt financial crises such as what just occurred with sound policy — a fair tax code, a return to a separation of commercial and investment banking, sound regulation and the enforcement powers strong enough to back up the rules — and by doing so provide the conditions that rebuilds and strengthens the middle class. The data, by the way, comes by way of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The Campaign for America’s Future in coalition with Rebuild the Dream, and Free Speech TV present a panel discussion with Robert Reich, Heather McGhee, Leo Hindery, Natalie Foster, and Robert Borosage on Thom Hartman’s The Big Picture. The title of this broadcast is: National Teach In to Take Back the American Dream. The run-time is about 58 minutes:

The Story of Stuff website provides the Story of Citizens United v FEC, an excellent primer on what has caused our elections and campaigns to fall out of the hands of the people and into the hands of corporations and the very wealthy.


Growth, Inequality, Policy, and Power

Jared Bernstein provides a slideshow discussion entitled: Growth, Inequality, Policy, and Power: A Theory of (Almost) Everything. An excellent, thoroughly documented resource showing the failure of supply side, trickle down economics to promote growth, reduce inequality, and the effects on wages, poverty, and the poor, especially poor children. This is an excellent expose on the bankrupt economic policies that are destroying America’s middle class and creating in its stead a huge underclass.

I am open to suggestions for more videos here, and will continue to update this page as appropriate.


3 Responses to The Teach-In Page

  1. Thank you. I see some great information which I explore to learn more detailed facts which begin with the logical foundation of truth! take care, Margaret Erin Silsby

  2. Michael Shaughnessy says:

    this great! thanks so much for doing this. this is difficult stuff particulally for those of us with no attention spans. You hit it just right!!

  3. Thank you for this valuable contribution to the Occupy community.

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