Inequality and Class Power

By Cliff DuRand

Economic inequality has always been a key feature of capitalism. But it is now becoming increasingly clear to many that today’s growing massive inequality threatens to destroy capitalism itself. Former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich presents a passionate argument on behalf of the middle class in his film Inequality for All. He demonstrates how the widening income gap has a devastating impact on the US economy, threatening the viability of the workforce and the foundation of democracy itself. In this inconvenient truth for the economy, Reich uses humor and a wide array of facts to explain why the US ranks a lowly 64th on the inequality scale among the world’s nations—only slightly better than the Ivory Coast and Cameroon. (A little gossip: Reich vacationed in San Miguel last month and said he loved our town.)

Film
The Center for Global Justice presents:
Inequality for All
Tue, Jan 19, 1–3pm
Teatro Santa Ana
La Biblioteca
Reloj 50A
60 pesos
Panel
Varieties of Socialism with Cliff DuRand, Arturo Yarish,
and Joan Roelofs
Wed, Jan 20, 11am–1pm
Sala Quetzal
La Biblioteca
Reloj 50A
60 pesos
Film
The American Ruling Class
Thu, Jan 21, 1–3pm
Teatro Santa Ana
La Biblioteca
Reloj 50A
60 pesos

Bernie Sanders has put the word “socialism” into our current political discourse. Other candidates and the media want to ignore his “democratic socialism.” However, his rallies are drawing huge numbers of young people (and others) who are not afraid of the “S” word. But what does it mean? A Global Justice panel will explore “Varieties of Socialism.” Is it the New Deal? Or public ownership of the means of production? Or just an activist government promoting the common welfare? Is it publicly owned facilities? Or is it cooperatives or even communal living? Whatever it is, the billionaire class is afraid of it.

Then we wrap up the week with a lighter yet serious film about what Occupy has dubbed the “one percent.” Former Harpers Magazine editor Lewis Lapham wrote The American Ruling Class, a film about the elite that makes the big decisions in the country. Whether there is a ruling class in the United States used to be a controversial question in a country that prides itself on being democratic. But since the financial crisis of 2008, the powers that be have become visible to all. Goldman Sachs, the Koch brothers, and their ilk can now be seen pulling the strings, both economically and politically. Directed by John Kirby, The American Ruling Class is a highly entertaining dramatic documentary musical (how’s that for a rare combination). It “explores our country’s most taboo topic: class, power, and privilege in our nominally democratic republic.” Serving as an oddly Vincent Price-like master of ceremonies, Lapham sends two fictional Yale grads on a series of interviews, some candid and some staged, with such power brokers as former secretary of State James Baker as well as progressive icons such as Howard Zinn, filmmaker Robert Altman, Barbara Ehrenreich, Kurt Vonnegut, and Pete Seeger. This is a morality tale about power, its responsibilities, and abuses.

 

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