Back in 2005, SteveAudio and I decided to have a party so bloggers in Southern California could meet face-to-face, so we threw the first Kobepallooza at his house in Granada Hills.  I emailed invitations to everyone I could think of in the area, and an eclectic group that included  TBogg, Kevin Drum, Skippy, R.J. Eskow, John Amato, Ezra Klein and David E. arrived for a poolside barbecue where many met for the first time.  On a lark, I sent an email to newbie blogger Arianna Huffington, who — to everyone’s surprise — showed up.

It may have been the first barbecue Arianna Huffington attended in Granada Hills, but it wasn’t the last local blogger event.  She came to Kobepallooza II, blogger brunch at the Farmer’s Market, and most other local blogger meetups that happened in the early days.  We were all impressed that she didn’t expect to enter the market at the top with a bunch of celebrity names and assume the blogosphere would just fall in line behind her.  She genuinely wanted to be part of a growing community, and really tried to understand how it all worked.

Since that time, Arianna has been a friend, adviser, mentor and collaborator.  She calls me and pries me for gossip, and vice versa.  She meets my dates and tells me if they pass muster.  She works tirelessly, travels constantly and for the past 5 years she has sat at the helm of one of the fastest growing and most innovative media enterprises in American history.

The HuffingtonPost now outstrips the Washington Post’s traffic, and is gaining on the New York Times.  It has put Ariana in both the limelight and the crosshairs of a rapidly changing media world at a time of tremendous social and political upheval.  More than anyone, Arianna is the one who gets called on the carpet and asked to explain this strange thing called a “blog” to elites who seem fundamentally unable to understand the internets.

As someone who has been reading Arianna’s books since the 1980s when she was still Arianna Stassinopoulos, I think that “Third World America” is her most compelling and important work to date — and it is an important work.    Her vantage point mediating between the insular political realm and a vast, interconnected online communications world has given her unique insights into the chasm between political groupthink and the way that ordinary Americans experience current events.  This book offers a clear, concise warning to those who think an uptick in the stock market for a few days means our economic worries are behind us.

“The middle class is teetering on the brink of collapse just as surely as AIG was in the fall of 2009,” she says.  But those stories aren’t making it into the media, and she rightly blames the economic bubble that insulates the storytellers.  In 2009, unemployment for those making $150,000 a year was only 3%.  The rate for those in the middle income range was 9%, and for those in the bottom 10% it’s a “staggering 31%.”

Does anyone believe that the sense of urgency coming out of Washington wouldn’t be wildly different if the unemployment rate for the top 10 percent of income earners was 31 percent?  If one-third of the television news producers, pundits, bankers and lobbyists were unemployed, would the measures proposed by the White House and Congress still be as anemic?  Of course not – the sense of national emergency would be so great you’d hear air-raid sirens howling.

Arianna has long been arguing that political parties are part of the systemic problem we face, and that retreat into the right/left pie throwing contest only furthers the social fault lines that are easily exploited by corporate robber barons to further erode the middle class.  I have to admit I didn’t hear what she was saying when we got into a friendly scrap over Newt Gingrich in 2006, after she said that the anti-war left should welcome his support when Newt seemed to be calling for and end to the war in Iraq.   I was focused on the fact that Newt probably wasn’t being an honest player here, and in the end, being Newt, he wasn’t.

But it was a long time before I grasped the larger point Arianna was struggling to articulate — namely that partisan politics has become a game politicians play to obscure the fact that they are unwilling to do what is right and necessary for the country, and by indulging in right/left broadsides while failing to hold those in power accountable, we enable them.  She finds her voice and communicates that message clearly and precisely in “Third World America.” It is a book that is largely free of right/left polemics, and instead looks for systemic solutions including campaign finance reform and greater government transparency that have the potential to transform the entire political system.

In an era of hyper-partisanship, it isn’t always a popular message, and Arianna opens up her book with an homage to another great Greek:  “It’s never fund being Cassandra,” she says. “But remember, Cassandra ended up being right. And the Trojans, who remained blissfully blind to her warnings, ended up being very wrong and very dead.”

Indeed, we are as she says traveling down a dangerous road.  “In the absence of manufacturing, the only way to compete with Third World nations is to become a Third World nation, which is exactly what will happen if we allow our middle class to disappear,” she says.

But there is hope, in that we are no longer exclusively reliant on the traditional media who “failed to serve the public interest by missing the two biggest stories of our time — the run up to the war and Iraq an the financial meltdown.”

“Third World America will not be televised…it wil be blogged, tweeted, and uploaded to YouTube,” she says.

Please welcome Arianna Huffington  in the comments.

138 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Arianna Huffington, author of “Third World America””

Jane Hamsher September 22nd, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Thanks for being here today on the book salon, Arianna. I think this is your third time? The first as I remember you did from a plane.

How are people responding to the book? I loved it. It’s very well-timed.

egregious September 22nd, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Welcome back to Firedoglake – so glad you could join us!

SanderO September 22nd, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Can our electoral 2 party pay to play system even actually represent the interests of the common typical American – work and the both the middle and the lower classes?

Gregg Levine September 22nd, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Thanks for joining us today–and thank you for writing this book. Glad to see, with your help, the ever-growing, always troubling wealth gap is getting some overdue attention.

BevW September 22nd, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Arianna, Welcome back to the Lake.

Jane, Thank you for Hosting this Special Book Salon.

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 1:07 pm

{{{Kobe}}}..Hi Arianna,welcome again

SouthernDragon September 22nd, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Welcome back to the Lake, Arianna.

BevW September 22nd, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Arianna is with us, responding to the first question.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 1:08 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 1

Hi, Jane! Thank you so much for having me. Yes, I remember well the first time we did this — I was on a plane! This is so much easier! Although the state of the country is much worse…traveling around the country, I’ve been seeing how much people are struggling, including recent college graduates who can’t get jobs, families having their homes foreclosed, etc., etc. But at the same time, I’ve been amazed by the demonstrations of resilience, creativity, and giving back that I have seen.

SanderO September 22nd, 2010 at 1:09 pm

If we have a top down decision process, there will never be any serious reform in this country’s economy – that’s the way private interests work isn’t it? Capitalism will always tend to huge class disparities… and there doesn’t appear to be any other outcome.

dakine01 September 22nd, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Good afternoon Arianna and Jane and welcome back to FDL Arianna.

Arianna, I have not had an opportunity to read your book so forgive me if you do address this in it. I’m one of those millions of long term un/under-employed. Even when someone in the TradMed (like a story earlier this week in the NY Times on folks over fifty and the problems encountered trying to find employment), they still have to use the hook of the person who had been a VP in an investment firm, as if they are the only ones worthy of the attention.

Then to read praise of how Larry Summers has done so much to create jobs(!?!) as he returns to a tenured position at Harvard.

How do we penetrate the cocoon these people have erected for themselves?

Jane Hamsher September 22nd, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Arianna, you say “we can turn things around, as long as we demand more from our political and business leaders — and more, much more, from ourselves.”

Can you explain what you mean by “more from ourselves?”

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 1:11 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 11

How do we penetrate the cocoon these people have erected for themselves

move to Mattttthas Vinyaaaaad

Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle September 22nd, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I haven’t seen the book so I don’t know if it is mentioned. Is the last 30 years or so of neo-liberal economic policy mentioned? And how global capitalism is killing this country from the inside out?

SanderO September 22nd, 2010 at 1:14 pm

We live in an age of propaganda and double speak. We were told the recession ended in June 2009. How can that be when unemployment is on the rise? Phrases like a jobless recovery are a perfect example of this which is extremely common in the media.

The fiction won’t last much longer regardless of what they call it and how they describe it.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 1:16 pm
In response to SanderO @ 3

Over the last thirty years, our political system has clearly betrayed the middle class with growing income disparities and two-income families having a harder and harder time making ends meet. Mortgage companies and credit card companies have bought loopholes in our legislation that have allowed them to get away with all the tricks and traps that they’ve been setting in the small print of contracts. So our political system definitely needs fixing, beginning with the mother of all reforms: the public financing of our elections.

Jane Hamsher September 22nd, 2010 at 1:17 pm

BTW, if you’re looking for a simple and concise book that explains the current breakdown between populist economic interests and an unresponsive government to someone who is still operating in a 1970′s political paradigm (and we all know them), “Third World America” is excellent. It’s a really easy, fast read that is well argued and simple to understand — something that is really, really hard to do.

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 1:18 pm

how about teaching elementary finance in public schools ,so young adults have a glimmer?

SanderO September 22nd, 2010 at 1:19 pm

here here to that. But seriously haven’t we gone so far that we don’t even have the mechanism to actually turn this around? I don’t want to seem pessimistic, but with the influence of money and the court’s affirming the power of money it seems that money rules and we’re trapped.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 1:19 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 11

Thank you, dakine01. I write in the book that Larry Summers and Tim Geithner have such a Wall Street-centric view of the world that they cannot bring a sense of urgency to the plight of their long-term unemployed.

marymccurnin September 22nd, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Hello Arianna! My husband Ron and I are in your book. We are the ones that got divorced so I could get my first hubby’s social security.

watertiger September 22nd, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Amen to that, Arianna, but how do you get legislation passed by the very people whose very existence depends on NOT passing that legislation?

And thank you for stopping by today!

marinara September 22nd, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Arianna, is your book better than Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickled and dimed in america?

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 1:21 pm

how can extremely wealthy individuals ever understand the have nots?one has to live it,at least some time in their life experience…imo

SanderO September 22nd, 2010 at 1:22 pm
In response to watertiger @ 22

You nailed it!

dakine01 September 22nd, 2010 at 1:24 pm

They really do seem to be part of the group described epitomized by I believe it was Reagan when he described Ed Meese as “struggling middle class making only $100K per annum” as if that was nearly poverty level wages.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 1:25 pm
In response to sadlyyes @ 13

What I mean by demanding more from ourselves is what section 5 in the book is all about. And, frankly, I consider it the most important, because while we’re obviously never going to let government off the hook, democracy is not a spectator sport. And there is a lot we can do, starting with building our own financial literacy, moving our money away from the big banks, and finding ways to help others — as Seth Reams did after he lost his job and set up We’ve Got Time to Help. For more, check out our Third World America section on The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thirdworldamerica.

cassiodorus September 22nd, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Arianna, what’s the main difference between Republicans and Democrats these days?

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 1:27 pm

factoid

America is the richest country in the world, yet, ironically, we have the highest percentage of people living paycheck to paycheck. A recent study from ACNielsen revealed that about one in every four Americans say they don’t have any spare cash. ["Escape the Credit Card Trap," Kiplinger, 2005-10-06.]

this is old %….now its close to half…sad that

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Sorry, sadlyyes, that was meant to be a response to Jane! It always takes longer to penetrate the cocoon than we think it should — just ask people who fought for civil rights or women’s right to vote or gay marriage.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Neoliberal economic policy is definitely mentioned. After all, Larry Summers and his role in dismantling Glass-Steagall were part of this neoliberal economic policy.

Scarecrow September 22nd, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Welcome Ms HuffPo! Your message seems so totally at odds with how politics is reported, so what kind of reaction are you getting from your MSM hosts? Or rather, how do you translate the message to something they understand?

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 1:32 pm

a real problem is the tea bagger mentality written about in WHATS THE MATTER WITH KANSAS
people are voting AGAINST their best intrests

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 1:33 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 17

Jane, thank you so much, and thank you for what you wrote in your post today. It was good to go down memory lane!

SanderO September 22nd, 2010 at 1:35 pm
In response to sadlyyes @ 29

We are so propagandized about how great America is we fail to recognize that the fact is we are less literate, don’t live a long, don’t have the longest vacations (when you do have a job with benefits), do not have the,lowest infant mortality and are down the scale in so many metrics except weapons production – that we lead the world in.

We are worse than a third world country. We are living in a confused fog about this country.

Jim White September 22nd, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Thanks so much for being here today, Arianna.

My copy of the book just arrived a couple of hours ago, so I haven’t gotten much further than the dust jacket. But I have to say I’m impressed; the first quote praising the book comes from Elizabeth Warren and the list also includes Joseph Stiglitz and Simon Johnson, among others.

I do want to have a little fun with one of the quotes though, and ask folks in the chat if they can identify who said this:

Restoring the values that have made America strong–a thriving middle class and sense of basic fair play–are of crucial importance to all Americans, left and right. Third World America is a powerful plea for our country to wake up so that we can change course–before it’s too late.

I’ll come back a bit later with the answer.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 1:35 pm
In response to sadlyyes @ 18

Absolutely, that’s part of the seven steps I’m recommending in section 5 and on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/third-world-america/, right after Step #2, which is to tap into our own resilience and never give up.

Jane Hamsher September 22nd, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Interestingly John Cohn over at The New Republic today is claiming that Summers was one of the more “liberal” people on the economic team, arguing for more stimulus & jobs legislation.

Scarecrow September 22nd, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Do you find it strange that discussions about replacements for the man who gave us a baseless campaign strategy and the man who engineered a jobless not recovery center on everything except picking people who would reverse and fix these policy mistakes and messes! How does that diversion mesh with the theory of your book?

SanderO September 22nd, 2010 at 1:37 pm

The memory lane is a place we need to go in order to have some accountability – yet another myth about the American “system of justice”. That’s only to control the under classes. The elite don’t have to play by the rules.

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 1:37 pm

i will definitely read your book

Rayne September 22nd, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Thanks for being here today, Arianna.

I wish I had a question to ask; it sounds like your book could have been extracted from a lot of my own thoughts. Looking forward to reading it to see how many times I nod my head in agreement.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 1:38 pm
In response to marymccurnin @ 21

So great to hear from you, marymccurnin! We’d love to have an update from you to post on our Third World America section.

marymccurnin September 22nd, 2010 at 1:39 pm

I would be glad to give you one. The best update is that we are happy! Thanks.

BooRadley September 22nd, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Arianna, always a great honor to have you here at FDL. Thanks for all your work for America.

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 1:41 pm
In response to marymccurnin @ 44

{{{{marymccurnin}}}}

good on ya!

Scarecrow September 22nd, 2010 at 1:41 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 38

That would mean he was a failure.

As many have noted, Summers did not want a full stimulus to fill in the GDP gap. He wanted an insurance policy but the one he recommended did not cover the losses. Some insurance.

SouthernDragon September 22nd, 2010 at 1:42 pm

never give up

Now where have I heard that before? *g*

KarenM September 22nd, 2010 at 1:42 pm

It’s wonderful to see you here, Arianna. Your blog site and Firedoglake are where I get most of my news and analysis.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 1:42 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 32

You are right that the MSM have a knee-jerk tendency to try to present everything as a right-left issue. Let’s take Afghanistan: no matter how many conservatives and libertarians are skeptical of our policies there — from George WIll to Joe Scarborough and the Cato Institute — opposition to Afghanistan is presented as a leftwing position — an easy way to marginalize it.

Broadstreetbuddy September 22nd, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Arianna, Im a big fan of yours when you appear on TV, keep up the great work!!

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 1:44 pm
In response to Jim White @ 36

If anyone guesses correctly, I’ll send them a free copy of the book!

hopeful September 22nd, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Arianna, I am curious as to the books reception by the the main stream media. They seem to be the ones that have been pushing the Republican and Democrat divide for years.

marymccurnin September 22nd, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Much of the economy is centered around wars and defense spending but this doesn’t seem to be acknowledged. How do we scale back on defense spending and still work on the recovery? (Of course, we should do this no matter what.)

KarenM September 22nd, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I just have to guess… was it Barack Obama?

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Robert Reich?

hopeful September 22nd, 2010 at 1:47 pm

George Bush?

marymccurnin September 22nd, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Obama?

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 1:48 pm
In response to hopeful @ 57

Karl Rove,Dick Armey….just kiddin

Jim White September 22nd, 2010 at 1:48 pm
In response to KarenM @ 55

No. Good guess, though.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 1:48 pm
In response to marymccurnin @ 54

There’s an entire section in the book on our perverse priorities. It’s a trademark of empires in decline to be spending resources we don’t have on wars we don’t need instead of rebuilding lives and communities back at home.

dakine01 September 22nd, 2010 at 1:48 pm
In response to Jim White @ 60

Rove?

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 1:48 pm

okay my last guess is Krugman

Scarecrow September 22nd, 2010 at 1:49 pm
In response to Jim White @ 36

Hillary?

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 1:50 pm

You have read War is a Racket?

marymccurnin September 22nd, 2010 at 1:50 pm

K.O.?

Jim White September 22nd, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Not Bush, Rove or Hillary. All fascinating choices, though.

SouthernDragon September 22nd, 2010 at 1:52 pm
In response to Jim White @ 36

Al Franken?

Shoto September 22nd, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Thank you for taking time to drop by today, Arianna. Quoting Jane as follows:

the larger point Arianna was struggling to articulate — namely that partisan politics has become a game politicians play to obscure the fact that they are unwilling to do what is right and necessary for the country, and by indulging in right/left broadsides while failing to hold those in power accountable, we enable them.

In your view, to what extent is the main stream media (read: primarily television) complicit in the charade, and what, if anything, can be done about it? In the main, what we’re seeing right now is a lot of “horse race” yammering, and precious little about actual real policy.

Thank you again for your time.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 1:54 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 38

Summers has been operating throughout on the basis of an outdated cosmology that places banks at the center of the economic universe.

Jane Hamsher September 22nd, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Arianna, you call for greater government transparency in the book. But just as the internet should be facilitating greater transparency, things seem to be going in the other direction. As David Barstow (NYT reporter who did the fabulous Pentagon Generals series) says, when journalists try and FOIA anything, more and more they come up against the wall of “private contractor,” and it’s being used to shield government activity from public inquiry.

Is that anything you guys have had to address at the HuffPo? And do you have a solution?

fuckno September 22nd, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Arianna, who, in your opinion, are the current leaders in the public sphere that progressives should coalesce around?

also, where do you see Greece in 2012?

SouthernDragon September 22nd, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Oh, so true.

Broadstreetbuddy September 22nd, 2010 at 1:56 pm
In response to fuckno @ 72

Great question cause besides Grayson i dont see anybody who inspires confidence . . .

marymccurnin September 22nd, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Jared Diamond says that empires fail in the end because the elite have more interest in themselves than in their countries. They sure do seem to be driving us over a steep cliff. The BP disaster in the gulf is the most extreme example of this. How can it be stopped quickly?

Scarecrow September 22nd, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Arianna — your comment on the country ignoring real problems and focusing on the goals of decaying empires rings true here. but out view is that recognizing these real issues and proposing actual solutions have been the tasks of the increasingly maginalized left, the very people ridiculed by the Adminstration, never mind the media. What lesson do you take from that wrt to how sane people should respond to the midterms?

cbl September 22nd, 2010 at 1:57 pm

you’re being diplomatic and frankly, too kind

thanks for spending time with us today – looking forward to reading the book

Rayne September 22nd, 2010 at 1:59 pm
In response to Jim White @ 60

Agh. Joe Scarborough said it.

Go figure.

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 2:01 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 76

what a great question…is there an answer

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 2:01 pm
In response to ShotoJamf @ 69

The media are complicit whenever they take non-stories like the balloon boy or Rev Jones and blow them up into major events, distracting attention away from the crises we need to deal with. And all of us in the media need to do a better job putting flesh and blood on the economic data. That’s why I’ve included tons of first-person stories in the book — stories both of struggle and success.

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 2:02 pm
In response to Rayne @ 78

i never ,but NEVER watch him or meek Mika,so i would never guess him

sadlyyes September 22nd, 2010 at 2:04 pm

frankly Cable media is unwatchable

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 2:07 pm
In response to fuckno @ 72

I say in the book that we all need to stop waiting for a leader to save us and look in the mirror and tap into the leadership potential in ourselves.

As for Greece, hard to predict, as so much will depend on the choices Greece and the European Union make, as well of course as the choices the Greek people make.

fuckno September 22nd, 2010 at 2:10 pm

thanks for this New Ageish advice.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 2:11 pm
In response to marymccurnin @ 75

That’s exactly what Arnold Toynbee was talking about when he said that empires die more often from suicide than by murder. But it’s not too late if we all keep sounding the alarm. There is still time to turn things around.

Margaret September 22nd, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Welcome Ms Huffington. I used to spend a great deal of time at The Huffington Post but stopped going there because of the ridiculous moderation policy which allows a few right wing trolls to dominate the conversation by abusing the the system by speciously flagging comments that they don’t like. It makes it impossible to make any kind of point and by the time the comments get through moderation, they are no longer relevant to the conversation. Is it possible that your website will ever move to a more reasonable moderation policy so as to prevent a few trolls from being able to stifle conversation? I’d love to go back to HuffPo but I won’t even give the site traffic until the policy is made less open to abuse. I never use profanity or launch personal attacks but that doesn’t stop people who want to shut me up from abusing the flagging system. Thank you.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 2:15 pm
In response to Rayne @ 78

Book on its way! Please email me your snail mail address at arianna -AT- huffingtonpost -DOT-com.

silversiren September 22nd, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Arianna, have you had a chance to read Michael Lewis’s”Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds” in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair? Just finished it today and thought it was fascinating.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 2:17 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 76

The country’s 26 million unemployed, underemployed, and those too discouraged to look for work could become a big force in the midterms.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 2:18 pm
In response to silversiren @ 88

Yes, loved it! His work has been such a major contribution to exposing what’s been happening.

Mary September 22nd, 2010 at 2:19 pm

she rightly blames the economic bubble that insulates the storytellers

I still remember Charlie Gibson, who I kind of like as long as I don’t have to rely on him for news, with this gem from the debates:

GIBSON: If you take a family of two professors here at St. Anselm, they’re going to be in the $200,000 category that you’re talking about lifting the taxes on. And –

[laughter]

He was so concerned that lots of “regular guys” were in the 200,000 income range and going to be so terribly hurt by returning to the Clinton rates.

Actually – when people get wound up around me about the “tax increases” and I point at that what they are really talking about is returning to the tax rates we had under Clinton, it deflates them. No one can really look back at the Clinton rates and feel that the wealthy were suffering then.

Rayne September 22nd, 2010 at 2:19 pm
In response to fuckno @ 84

It’s not New Age-ish — Arianna’s absolutely right. We all of us are going to have to become leaders instead of followers. We are going to have to find the thing we can lead and do it, because there is no rescue coming.

Already said multiple times in the last week in posts I’ve written virtually the same thing, that our democracy and democratic (little d) processes are suffering for lack of engagement and participation. So many people complain and whine about the political parties, but they don’t actually participate in any way to change them, nor do they even make a credible attempt to set something better in motion. Until this dynamic changes, we are stuck and probably worse.

New Age nothing. Think of our democracy as a hijacked plane: are you going to storm the hijackers or are you going to sit in your seat and hope for the best?

Jim White September 22nd, 2010 at 2:21 pm
In response to Rayne @ 78

But that’s what is so remarkable. If the message of how unfair our economy has become is actually getting through to Scarborough, that tells me that we might just have a point that we can pursue in the greater conversation. If at least some on the right won’t see this message as “just another attempt at redistribution of wealth” (in their eyes), then we should push this message very hard.

Margaret September 22nd, 2010 at 2:21 pm

The country’s 26 million unemployed, underemployed, and those too discouraged to look for work could become a big force in the midterms

I’m about a month away from being a 99er. I’m seriously considering sitting this election out, (with the exception of voting for Bill White), unless some jobs and financial help comes for the long term unemployed before then. It seems like Wall Street’s recession is over while mine just goes on and on.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 2:26 pm
In response to Margaret @ 94

I completely sympathize with your anger and frustration. I just did a post today about the fact that it’s not just the Tea Partiers who are angry. We are all angry. We just need to decide how to direct this anger so that we can rebuild the country rather than destroy it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/dear-angry-american-joini_b_734664.html

SouthernDragon September 22nd, 2010 at 2:26 pm
In response to Rayne @ 92

Well said.

Standard of the IWW – we are all leaders.

fuckno September 22nd, 2010 at 2:27 pm
In response to Rayne @ 92

Rayne, can you sketch out the process,- how does this transformation exhibit itself in action?

Rayne September 22nd, 2010 at 2:27 pm
In response to Jim White @ 93

But we know that Joe S. is going to claim that lower taxes are what created a vibrant middle class even if he argues for the middle class. There’s no getting through to some people, their belief in the so-called “free market” is so absolute that they can’t be shaken of it.

Never mind that effective regulation and enforcement made our banking system safe and secure to support the conduct of business — they won’t believe it.

Never mind that paying workers here a living wage made for more consumption and increased U.S. innovation — they won’t believe that either.

I could go on…There’s simply a point where the bully pulpit and power of majority should have been exercised to get past this, to prevent the impending replay of 1937.

/preaching to choir

ThingsComeUndone September 22nd, 2010 at 2:29 pm

The Russians used to say they pretend to pay us we pretend to work. Working on a farm this summer the no extra pay farm workers get for overtime 40 hours a week was justified by padding of hours despite the Government paying these Fucks!
Is there a link between low pay and a declining wage.
Certainly the bosses trust leads to more corruption the less he is involved with running the place.
Will America if it continues down this path be Russia?

Margaret September 22nd, 2010 at 2:30 pm

If I decide to sit it out, it will be the first time that I didn’t vote since I was 18, (1978). I just don’t feel like they’ve done anything for me. Democrats say they NEED me in November? Well I’ve needed a job since January of 2009. Where have they been?

KrisAinTX September 22nd, 2010 at 2:30 pm
In response to Jim White @ 36

That would be Joe Scarborough. :)

Rayne September 22nd, 2010 at 2:31 pm
In response to fuckno @ 97

I don’t want to poach on Arianna’s turf. You can find my most recent stuff in The Seminal, start there.

I can tell you from living it that Arianna’s absolutely correct, based on my own naive assumptions and the steep lessons learned when my personal worldview met reality.

You — all of you — are the leaders we’ve been waiting for. And I’ll bet dollars to donuts Arianna makes that case in her book.

BevW September 22nd, 2010 at 2:31 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon,

Arianna, Thank you very much for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us.

Jane, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Thanks all.

marymccurnin September 22nd, 2010 at 2:32 pm

And thank you BevW!

fuckno September 22nd, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Yes it will, if all of us find leadership inside of ourselves, or when the economy crashes, – whichever comes first; Russia circa October 1917.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 2:34 pm
In response to Jim White @ 93

You’re absolutely right. It’s very important that we don’t allow these issues to be seen as left-right issues. The only way to bring about the changes we need is to see them as truly in the public interest. Even the super rich cannot possibly want to live in a country where there is no middle class, where they have to live behind gates with armed guards protecting their children from kidnapping. And yet without a middle class, that’s what Third World America would look like.

marymccurnin September 22nd, 2010 at 2:36 pm
In response to fuckno @ 105

Naa, we are in the phase where the crooks have taken over after the fall of the Soviet Union. It is a long phase.

fuckno September 22nd, 2010 at 2:36 pm
In response to Rayne @ 102

I’ve been poo-pooed for advocating bodies in the streets, – lead your body into the streets. Watch Europe.

ThingsComeUndone September 22nd, 2010 at 2:36 pm
In response to fuckno @ 105

A society where low pay is justified by workers stealing is corrupt those closest to the boss can steal the most the honest workers get demoralized efficency suffers.

Arianna Huffington September 22nd, 2010 at 2:38 pm
In response to BevW @ 103

Jane, Bev, and everyone, thank you so much. Please come visit us and share your stories on the Third World America section on HuffPost!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/third-world-america/

Let’s make sure we do everything in our power — and that’s a lot! — never to become Third World America.

Scarecrow September 22nd, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I suspect that 26 million are already a factor, in that they’re less likely to vote,because they don’t see hope or relief on the ballot. No one is representing them. We cant get more than 55 Dems to sign on to not cutting SS! The question is, what do the rest of us do this election ?

fuckno September 22nd, 2010 at 2:38 pm

ehm, they are buying up Islands in the Aegean, they don’t plan to be living here, Arianna.

Jim White September 22nd, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Thanks, Arianna, Jane and Bev for arranging such a terrific discussion.

fuckno September 22nd, 2010 at 2:41 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 111

Me too, I feel invigorated and rallied by this Book Club event. Now what?

Margaret September 22nd, 2010 at 2:41 pm

I don’t know. The rich in Brazil don’t seem to be much inclined to change their system which is just as you describe.

Rayne September 22nd, 2010 at 2:42 pm
In response to fuckno @ 108

There’s no need for violence – none. There is a crying need for Americans to spend less time voting for an American Idol, and more time actually getting competent, sane people elected to office.

SouthernDragon September 22nd, 2010 at 2:42 pm
In response to fuckno @ 108

It takes more than getting a couple thousand people to attend a demonstration or protest. It takes coming up with ideas and pushing for them where you live first. The elites don’t pay attention to protesters. They pay attention when the communities they live in enact ordinances and laws to improve the lot of the average citizen due to participation of the citizens of that community. Small communities have stopped Wal-Mart from building box stores not because people marched in the street but because local groups were formed that pressured the local pols, and courts, to prevent it.

fuckno September 22nd, 2010 at 2:45 pm
In response to Rayne @ 116

you’re putting words into my mouth, – don’t appreciate it.

Margaret September 22nd, 2010 at 2:52 pm
In response to fuckno @ 118

I’m sure Rayne simply misinterpreted your comment. I can see how one would assign a sinister meaning to the phrase “bodies in the street” particularly coming from someone who calls him/Herself “fuckno”. That interpretation is not out of line at all.

fuckno September 22nd, 2010 at 2:57 pm
In response to Margaret @ 119

heh,…

Rayne September 22nd, 2010 at 2:58 pm

I think that’s an excellent example, the model of local citizens getting engaged in determining what their community will look like by protesting corporate expansion — they showed personal leadership. Thanks for that.

SouthernDragon September 22nd, 2010 at 3:03 pm
In response to Rayne @ 121

Took us 5+ years but we stopped ‘em from building close to the Anclote River. Wal-Mart finally walked away from the project. Not the only example of stuff folks here have been able to accomplish.

Some folks want change to start at the top and happen overnight. Not. Gonna. Happen. Takes a lot of work by people who are dedicated to doing the right thing. Change comes from the bottom and takes years, if not decades.

Never. Give. Up.

KarenM September 22nd, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I actually live in a community like that. It’s pretty small, but there are a lot of people actively engaged in planning exactly how improvements should go.

fuckno September 22nd, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I suggest strolling over to Zerohedge and finding out what’s happening at the ownership level of the ownership society.

You guys are living in some pre post modern, while the reality has moved on into the post post modern world. Check it out, it’s out there.

SouthernDragon September 22nd, 2010 at 3:12 pm
In response to fuckno @ 124

You couldn’t even provide a link? Had to go find it myself?

And that “you guys” shit doesn’t cut it with me.

bigbrother September 22nd, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Hi Arriana from “BigBrother” don’t take any SOMA from the Oligarchy and keep on hitting those opinions out of the park.

fuckno September 22nd, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Sorry about the “you guys”, I meant you and Rayne,

http://www.zerohedge.com/

SouthernDragon September 22nd, 2010 at 3:16 pm
In response to fuckno @ 127

You don’t know what world I live in.

onitgoes September 22nd, 2010 at 3:17 pm
In response to Margaret @ 115

I agree about the rich in third world countries not really caring at all about living with guards in gated communities. I’ve lived in places like India & Indonesia, and I didn’t particularly notice that the wealthy were bothered in the slightest by the lack of a middle class. In fact, they liked it that way because it made workers – whether domestics or in their businesses – very cheap.

So I’m not at all sure that the 3% here are fussed in the slightest about a dwindling middle class. IMO, that’s exactly what they want.

blenkinsop September 22nd, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Arianna, thanks for stopping by and for the work you do on Huffington Post. It has replaced the New York Times as my general source for news. Did you read Glenn Greenwald’s take on the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert event for October 30th and did you agree or disagree?

KarenM September 22nd, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Oh, shucks! I was wrong, so very wrong.

attilathehen September 22nd, 2010 at 3:19 pm
In response to Jim White @ 36

Joe Scarborough said it. If he said it you know it has to be true.

reddflagg September 22nd, 2010 at 3:38 pm

I am late, I had to buy spokes for my bike and then walk home with them. One thing I have noticed when AH is interviewed the person doing the interview (e.g. Gwen Ifill) will say “How do you define Third World status, how can you say we’re Third World when we have so much nice stuff?” What I wish AH would do is respond with the definition of Third World according to the Gini Index of Income Equality. The Gini Index measures income inequality from 0 to 1, in which if everyone owned an equal amount of a country’s wealth the index would be 0, and if one person owned all of the country’s wealth and everyone else nothing the index would be 1. The accepted standard is that if you have a Gini index above .4 you are Third World, and as you can note in two databases, the UN and CIA compiled Gini Indexes of Income Inequality, most of what we consider to be Third World Countries have a Gini Index above .4, most of those we consider First World have a Gini Index below .4, with one glaring exception: the USA is the world’s richest Third World country. Using the Gini index as a definition would stop short all of the “how do you define it” questions.

Jane Hamsher September 22nd, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Arianna thank you so much for being here today. We really appreciate it. It’s a great book and I really encourage everyone to read it.

Rayne September 22nd, 2010 at 3:50 pm
In response to reddflagg @ 133

Most excellent point, thanks for sharing that about Gini Index. I’m going to squirrel that info away for use in the near future.

jaango September 22nd, 2010 at 4:07 pm

A more precise view of the “gini index” would be to focus on Native Americans.

Take, for example, Arizona’s recent legislation, SB 1070, and of which everyone now is familiar with, precludes any knowledge relative to it’s companion piece, and known as HB 2281. To wit, HB 2281 stipped my language, culture and history, from our public school systems here in Arizona.

Consequently, the Navajo Nation or the Dineh Society’s Tribal Council passed two resolutions in their opposition to SB 1070 and HB 2281, and thereby, gave the proverbial “one finger salute” to the white Democrats in Arizona, and to all white Democrats across America for their support of this egregious legislation. And there is more to come in next year’s fiesta of criminal stupidity. Moreover, birthright citizenship will be challenged in the courts and a Homeland Security Command Force will be established in which the Minutemen Volunteers will be given legal standing in which they can pursue Brown People throughout our Sonoran Desert. And of course, white America will sit on its hands and do nothing of consequence. And which will be in keeping with America’s pre-1936 immigraiton policy in which Mexican Americans and Native Americans (citizens all) were deported and which led to the a depleted population of an approximate 50% among these subected segments of our Society writ large. So, if the Arch-conservatives on both the left and the right, want to re-constitute this behavior, they need to save themselves all this political labor and simply designate me as an “enemy combatant” and open up that damned Alcatraz, and thereby deny me the enjoyment for having voted in our cyclic elections for these many years.

Consequent, Huffington, as per the usual, in unable or unwilling to “look” at the what America will become in a few short years, and it won’t be a “Third World America” but an “Indigenous America” and thusly, she falls short of what white America needs to know and for its utilimate decision-making. And in keeping with this decision-making, yesterday’s Senate vote on the Defense Authorization Act, is emblematic of this failure to keep the “future” in mind. Sadly, Reproductive Rights was not included but DADT and the DREAM Act was to be considered. Moreover, the latest television ad challenging Congressman Harry Mitchell from ARizona, closed with these three fateful words:

“Liberal”
“Negative”
“Wrong”

Of course, white America has yet to come to realize that the Arch-Conservative on the Right carries the Label of “Neo-Con” and the Arch-Conservative on the Left carries the label of “Neo-Lib”. And of course, failing to understand, leads to the continuing polemic in which the Latino and the Native American, both are easily dismissed and cavalierly rejected, since we have yet to reaching our ‘tipping point’ for impacing 45 Senate seats. And which the end-result will be to the chagrin of white America.

Now, need I have to say more, on Huffington’s shortsightedness?

Jaango

masslib September 22nd, 2010 at 4:23 pm

That’s a guess. You are guessing that the wealthy don’t want to lose the middle class, but the evidence is decidedly against that guess, as we are increasingly losing the middle class based entirely on policies promoted by the wealthiest Americans. Further, the wealthy are already moving themselves into more and more isolated communities of their economic counterparts. Indeed, the country is looking more and more like Chile everyday.

Also, the differences in how the Left and the Right view policies is not simply a pie fight. It’s a real difference of opinion on the role of government. I will say these differences are becoming less about Democrat/Republican and more about economic status. Look at what happened in the DC mayoral race. DC whites(predominately upper middle class) voted 4 to 1 for Fenty. Dc blacks(predominately poor)voted 4 to 1 for Gray. In large part, the ousting of Fenty was a referendum of the Obama education policy, an approach to education you praise:

“ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Well, first of all, I think that what the Obama administration and Arne Duncan are doing with education is the best thing they’re doing. They’re acknowledging the crisis. They’re acknowledging that what we’ve done has not worked. And it’s sort of coinciding with the release of this amazing documentary that I write about in the book called Waiting for Superman, that profiles Geoffrey Canada and the work he’s doing here in Harlem, and again, the amazing work of saying we’re going to put children first, we are not going to allow anything, including the tenure of bad teachers, or anything at all, to stand in the way.”

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/9/10/arianna_huffington_on__third_world

I mean, here you are railing again noeliberal policy making while completely embracing the neoliberal appraoch to education. So, I think it inaccurate to simply dismiss Left/Right leaning policies. It may be more class based, but that is the traditional root of the difference between Left and Right policy. Same as it ever was.

freeman September 22nd, 2010 at 4:34 pm

That I believe is the most astute observation regarding our present situation and naturally dove tails with , what someone above called ,your new ageish advice about looking in the mirror and tapping the leadership potential in ourselves .

Our so called leaders and indeed our sown up two party winner takes all system have failed us entirely .

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