Bill Moyers’ current show focuses on how formerly disparate grass roots groups are starting to work together to shift cultural values away from greed and towards social and economic justice.
To Naked Capitalism readers, this notion may seem a bit quixotic. But Jim Hightower, who has been working with populist movements for over 30 years, sees these groups starting to collaborate on broad-based issues. From the interview:
JIM HIGHTOWER: Well, the robber barons are certainly atop. And they, but I believe is this populist fervor that is challenging that robber barony that we have dominating pretty much every aspect of our lives. You know, politics, the economy, whether you get a job or not and whether that job comes with any pay, much less health care. And, you know, the media, you know, right on down the line.
Yet in every one of those segments there is a growing rebellion and an increasing awareness among different groups fighting different battles that they are connected to the other groups. It’s not a movement, yet. But it’s beginning to connect up. There’s now this group called the United Workers Congress. And these are ten different very low income employee sectors; they’re farm workers; they’re nannies; they’re taxicab drivers; they’re day laborers; and they’re adjunct professors.
BILL MOYERS: Adjunct professors?
JIM HIGHTOWER: Professors.
BILL MOYERS: That’s an unusual participant in a coalition like that.
JIM HIGHTOWER: They’re paid a poverty wage, no health benefits, no security, job security you know, just like fast-food workers, in fact.
BILL MOYERS: What does that suggest to you?
JIM HIGHTOWER: It suggests that people are beginning to get together and see their common interests. So here are some of the, here are the highest educated poverty workers in America with the lowest educated poverty workers and seeing that they’re in the same boat now. And that realization is a powerful political potential.
To put it perhaps another way, some groups who would otherwise self-identify as middle class are now so downtrodden that they are joining forces with other badly-paid workers. And as more and more types of jobs see their compensation and other employment conditions erode, the more the ranks at the bottom will grow.
While Hightower is optimistic about the potential, he still called this new anti- greed/pro common good effort nascent. The segment also calls out Cory Booker’s fauxgressive branding.