#1523 Pocketbook Pain and Corporate Profits (Transcript)

Air Date 11/1/2022

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast, in which we shall take a look at the corporate price gouging and massive profits happening under the cover of widespread inflation, all in the runup to the midterm elections in which the GOP is running cover for corporations and blaming Democrats for price hikes.

Clips today are from the PBS NewsHour, More Perfect Union, The Intelligence, The Majority Report, The Damage Report, All In with Chris Hayes, Democracy Now! and Trae Crowder, with an additional members-only clip from No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen.

And don't forget, the midterms are just one week away, so be sure to take a minute to check out our midterms minute resources in the show notes. With one week to go, we've curated the easiest one-stop shop places to donate and have the biggest possible impact during this final week, as well as resources to persuade someone you know to use their vote as a tool in a theory of change.

Remember, voting is not enough, so get involved [00:01:00] and help get out the vote.

Why corporations are reaping record profits with inflation on the rise - PBS NewsHour - Air Date 4-12-22

ROBERT REICH: Inflation, inflation, everybody's talking about it.

PAUL SOLOMON: Longtime liberal activist Robert Reich.

ROBERT REICH: Corporations are raising prices, even as they rake in record profits.

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: Prices at the pump have gone up. Why? Well, let me give you a hint.

PAUL SOLOMON: Senator Elizabeth Warren.

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: This isn't about inflation. This is about price gouging.

PAUL SOLOMON: This is a charge that pops up in lots of places, even on my Twitter feed.

So, do the facts justify the outrage? Well, you have heard the standard causes of COVID inflation: government stimulus money, a tight labor market driving up wages, clogged supply chains, imports anchored offshore, and now, to top it off, Russia's invasion of Ukraine goosing oil, gas and wheat prices.

But if all this explains an inflation rate that's just reached 10 percent for businesses, the Producer Price Index, how come profits have risen even more.[00:02:00]

DION RABOUIN: Over the past year companies net margins have risen to record highs. And net margins are expected rise again over the next year.

PAUL SOLOMON: Wall Street Journal reporter Dion Rabouin.

DION RABOUIN: Nearly 100 of the biggest U.S. publicly traded companies booked 2021 profit margins that were at least 50 percent higher than their 2019 levels.

PAUL SOLOMON: And 2019 was pre-pandemic—the economy solid, inflation low. So, why the profit hike?

LINDSAY OWENS: The CEO of Kroger recently said:

RODNEY MCMULLEN: a little bit of inflation is always good in our business.

PAUL SOLOMON: Lindsay Owens runs a progressive economic think tank that scours the earnings calls corporations hold for stock analysts and investors, like this one from Constellation Brands, which sells beer, wine, and spirits.

GARTH HANKINSON: We're going to look at this on a market-by-market basis, brand-by-brand basis, and we will take as much pricing as we think the consumer can absorb.

LINDSAY OWENS: One of my favorite examples is Tyson Foods.

PAUL SOLOMON: Purveyor of one out of every five pounds of beef, chicken and pork sold in the [00:03:00] US. Here's Tyson's Chief Financial Officer on their latest quarterly results.

STEWART GLENDINNING: Our pricing actions led to approximately $2.1 billion in sales and price/mix benefits during the quarter, which offset the higher cost of goods sold of $1.6 billion.

PAUL SOLOMON: In other words, says Owens:

LINDSAY OWENS: our pricing is taking into account the cost of raw materials and the cost of labor, but more than offsetting it. And that more than offsetting it is that additional profit that they're able to bring in.

PAUL SOLOMON: But profits sank when COVID hit, say companies like Tyson. This is just making up for lost time, nothing but an extreme short-term business cycle.

NOAH SMITH: Capitalism requires greed to run.

PAUL SOLOMON: Economist Noah Smith.

NOAH SMITH: Corporations are always greedy. Their greed dial is always set to absolute maximum. And the idea that ameliorating greed would have any effect on inflation is wrong. And I made fun of it by making the following chart.

PAUL SOLOMON: Smith, a liberal, mocks the [00:04:00] idea that newfound greed explains the inflation surge with a tongue-in-cheek greed index chart.

NOAH SMITH: And I labeled the rises in inflation as rising greed and the drops in inflation as falling greed.

PAUL SOLOMON: Which would imply rising corporate generosity.

NOAH SMITH: The reason this is a joke is because the big drop in inflation in the '80s would have to be caused by surges in corporate altruism, the altruism of Gordon Gekko and the '80s people.

MICHAEL DOUGLAS: Greed is good.

PAUL SOLOMON: Yes, that Gordon Gekko.


PAUL SOLOMON: So, back to the original question: If corporate America is no greedier than ever, how come profits have soared?

LINDSAY OWENS: What we're seeing in this moment is really when that profit maximization and opportunity collides. And the opportunity is the cover of inflation.

PAUL SOLOMON: Aha, the opportunity caused by the pandemic. And when companies like Tyson blame higher costs, as their CEO [00:05:00] has?

DONNIE KING: Labor costs have gone up 20 percent, cattle costs are up 22 percent, and freight is up 32 percent. We're not asking customers or the consumer ultimately to pay for our inefficiencies. We're asking them to pay for inflation.

DION RABOUIN: Woe is me. We have no choice but to raise our prices. Our labor costs are going up, our inputs, our inputs. But, in reality, companies aren't being forced to raise prices because of inflation. They're raising prices because they can.

PAUL SOLOMON: And why can they now, with so little resistance, I asked Rabouin.

DION RABOUIN: Inflation sort of disguises these price increases. When prices for everything around you are rising, it's much easier for companies to raise their prices and not experience that consumer blowback.

PAUL SOLOMON: The point is, when consumers come to expect inflation, the process can begin to feed on itself.

LINDSAY OWENS: Companies know that consumers expect higher prices right now, and they're really seeing how far they can push that.

PAUL SOLOMON: And, says Robert Reich, Wall Street is egging them on, [00:06:00] saying:

ROBERT REICH: Look, this is a great time to raise your profit margins. And, of course, those Wall Streeters are saying the same thing to everybody else in the industry.

PAUL SOLOMON: But in a competitive market economy, won't newcomers emerge offering lower prices? That's a lot less likely these days, says Rabouin and Reich.

DION RABOUIN: Seventy-five percent of all American industries have become more concentrated in the last two decades.

ROBERT REICH: Most are now dominated by a handful of corporations that coordinate prices and production. This is true of banks, broadband, pharmaceutical companies, airlines, meat-packers.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: You got four basic meat-packing facilities. And you pay a hell of a lot more because there's only four.

PAUL SOLOMON: Now, it's not literally just 4, but four do dominate the market. And its not just meat.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: You see what's happening with ocean carriers. During the pandemic, about half-a-dozen foreign-owned companies raised prices by as much as 1000 percent and made record profits.[00:07:00]

PAUL SOLOMON: The traditional check on consolidation, of course, is antitrust enforcement. Reich worked at the Federal Trade Commission in the 1970s.

ROBERT REICH: Antitrust used to be a real thing, but since the early 1980s, antitrust has taken a backseat. In fact, some would say it's been thrown out of the car altogether. And big companies now routinely have the power to raise prices. Customers will note that there is almost an exact price matching among all major so-called competitors, because they're not really competing.

PAUL SOLOMON: So, what is to be done?

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Tonight, I'm announcing a crackdown on those companies overcharging American businesses and consumers.

PAUL SOLOMON: A crackdown on the shipping industry by regulators.

BRIAN DEESE: If they identify that there is market manipulation or price gouging going on.

PAUL SOLOMON: The president's national economic adviser, Brian Deese.

BRIAN DEESE: And the agencies have now committed to partnering where the Department of Justice has significantly more [00:08:00] enforcement resources and investigatory resources.

PAUL SOLOMON: And the administration says it's working to lessen concentration in the food sector too.

BRIAN DEESE: You need scale to be competitive, and it takes capital to get to scale. So the USDA is actually, right now, working with smaller processors in rural areas across the country to try to give them grants, give them low-cost capital, so that they can scale, they can get into the game more quickly and easily.

PAUL SOLOMON: As the meat industry points out, though, it's been concentrated for decades. Decades of low inflation, even in meat. In the end, this is any administration's challenge, to effect real change amidst economic forces bigger than all of us. Meanwhile, with company costs rising at about 10 percent, corporate profits are rising at 12.4 percent. That extra 2.5 percent or so seems to be at least part of the inflation we're all paying for right now.

Why Gas Prices Are So High Right Now | Ft. Jessica Burbank - More Perfect Union - Air Date 10-30-22

JESSICA BURBANK: Gas prices are going back [00:09:00] up and people want to know why. They were already high, they started to come back down, but now they're climbing again, and we hear a lot of different reasons as to why that is.

SENATOR TED CRUZ: Little bitty stickers that show up on gas pumps all over the country with a picture of Joe Biden pointing to the price, saying, I did that.

JESSICA BURBANK: So what's really going on? At the beginning of the pandemic, the price for a barrel of oil went to zero. People were staying home, they weren't driving, so demand for gas was really low. A bunch of people bought up oil when it was low so that they could sell when it was high in the future, when people started driving again.

But speculation in the oil market became a huge problem. The oil market went into backwardation. That means the spot price for a barrel of oil was higher than the future's price. In other words, if you bought a barrel of oil today, you would pay more for it than if you promise to buy one in the future.

We typically expect the price for goods and services to go up over time, so this was a really bad sign. Companies that produce oil were enjoying record profits when prices [00:10:00] started soaring, and despite supply constraints, American oil companies didn't want to increase production. That would mean building new rigs and drilling new wells, which is expensive. They were unwilling to make that investment and spend that initial money because it would cut into their profit margins. They also expected the price for a barrel of oil to go back down in the future for a few reasons. If another variant hit and people stopped driving again, the price for a barrel of oil would go back down when demand for gas went back down. They were also worried that the people hoarding the barrels of oil from the beginning of the pandemic would decide to sell. When those barrels of oil hit the market, that would increase supply and drive prices down. They also foresaw Biden tapping the emergency reserves, which would increase domestic supply of oil too.

But this is really a story about greed. With prices so high that they're enjoying record profits, despite not producing anymore oil while we're paying an arm and a leg to fill up our tanks, they could actually produce less oil and make more [00:11:00] profit than they usually make. And that's exactly what they did. Oil company executives promised their shareholders 2% growth, and no matter what, they promised to not increase their production they want the oil companies to prolong the extraction of oil from their reserve so that they can continue to profit year over.

The CEO of a major oil company, Pioneer Natural Resources, Scott Sheffield said whether it's $150, $200 or $100 for a barrel of oil, we're not going to change our growth plans. In August, Exxon alone reported a quarterly profit of $17.9 billion. That is the highest quarterly profit reported by any oil company in history. Chevron reported $11.6 billion, Shell reported $11.47 billion, and BP reported $8.45 billion in quarterly profits. If they were raising prices to just account for the economic hits they took during the [00:12:00] pandemic—constrained supply, supply chain issues—they would have consistent revenue and consistent profits, but instead, they raised prices for far more than necessary. That's why they're enjoying record profits. They were capitalizing on constrained supply at the beginning, but now they're keeping up with their price gouging to get even richer.

So what are they doing with all of this additional profit? Stock buybacks. They are treating the stock market like it's a casino that they're gambling in, but they also get to be the dealers. Stock buybacks are when a company buys up their own stock, leaving less shares on the market for other people to buy. This inflates the earnings per share metric. Higher earnings per share makes the stock look good on Wall Street. Existing shareholders benefit from this because it increases the value of the stock they already own.

ExxonMobil announced plans to buy up $30 billion of its own stock by the end of 2023. Chevron increased its top end buyback guidance by $15 billion per year. But what would [00:13:00] a responsible company do with all of this extra revenue, if not buy back their own stock? They could have spent it on research and development, invest it in new infrastructure and technologies. They could have lowered prices for consumers or, I don't know, is there anything wrong with the energy industry? Oil companies are literally destroying our planet. They should be investing in transforming our energy sector so we're not so reliant on carbon emitting fossil fuels that are bringing our planet closer to two degrees of warming, which would be a mass extinction event. We need our energy sector to make this shift so we can literally survive. Greedy oil companies are not only forcing us to pay prices we can hardly afford, they're jeopardizing our planet's future as well.

Variety in the price of life: inflation and the midterms - The Intelligence from The Economist - Air Date 10-19-22

KENNETH CUKIER - HOST, THE INTELLIGENCE: There are a couple of ways of looking at the economy right now. And increasingly the lens you pick depends on your party.

SIMON RABINOVITCH: On the economy, as in all matters, the partisan divide has been getting bigger over the years, and studies have shown there's now greater [00:14:00] polarization in perception about the economy than there used to be. So when a Republican is in the White House, Democrat voters are more pessimistic about the economy and vice versa. And so if you look at polls right now, you know, an overwhelming majority of Republicans, 90% plus, think the economy is in a bad state. For Democrats, it's closer to the 50-60% level.

KENNETH CUKIER - HOST, THE INTELLIGENCE: In every election, the two parties trade barbs over who would be best for the economy. Republicans currently have the lead. In a Gallup poll released this month, 50% of adults trust them more, compared with 40% for Democrats. That's the widest gap in 30 years. For those respondents to the Economist poll who said that the economy or inflation was their top concern and also predicted they were definitely, or probably, going to vote, about two thirds said they'd vote for a Republican for the House of [00:15:00] Representatives. But for people who put any other issue as the most concerning, Democrats led by 18 points. So it's clear why Democrats are keen to change the conversation to literally anything else, but the next month might not make that easy for them.

SIMON RABINOVITCH: So the rate setting committee of the Federal Reserve will be meeting exactly a week before the midterm election. And so it's all but guaranteed that, you know, on November 2nd there will be another jumbo rate rise of three quarters of a percentage point, the fourth consecutive one. So that will obviously be, um, you know, big news and will have an impact on the market.

KENNETH CUKIER - HOST, THE INTELLIGENCE: And though the markets expect a rate rise, they'll be looking to what the Fed signals for the future and might react dramatically. But other signals may be more concerning to voters.

SIMON RABINOVITCH: I think the price in the economy that matters most of all to people is the price of gas. We know that the [00:16:00] OPEC production cut is gonna hit next month. If oil miraculously stabilizes and even declines a little bit that obviously will be good news for the Democrats. If it starts flirting with a hundred dollars a barrel again, and that would be very, very bad news for the Democrats. Very good news for the Republicans.

Katie Porter EXPOSES Corporate Greed Causing Inflation - The Majority Report w/ Sam Seder - Air Date 10-21-22

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: A couple days ago, Neel Kashkari, who's the president and the CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, sort of gave a little bit away of the game of what the Fed is doing. I mean, he generally like a so-called dove when it comes to inflation. Now he's become a little bit hawkish.

So much of this is really about our government refusing to take steps that could deal with inflation. I even think the Biden administration has some arrows in its quiver to deal with inflation, but they don't want to, because of the nature of our system in this country, [00:17:00] they don't want to hurt corporations, and wealthy people really control the way that the government reacts to these things. Here is Katie Porter arguing about what is contributing to inflation with a friend of show, I feel comfortable saying, Mike Konczal, who is testifying.

REP. KATIE PORTER: According to this chart, what is the biggest driver of inflation during the pandemic?

The blue is the -- the dark blue is the recent period.

MIKE KONCZAL: It would be corporate profits.

REP. KATIE PORTER: And what is that percentage?

MIKE KONCZAL: It is 54% and that number does stay that level of high if you update that number to more recent numbers as well.

REP. KATIE PORTER: So over half of the increased prices people are paying are coming from increases in corporate profits?

MIKE KONCZAL: Yes. The unit price index is reflected in corporate profits as opposed to other costs.

REP. KATIE PORTER: And how does that compare to, historically, to other periods of inflation or over other periods of economic time?

MIKE KONCZAL: As reflected there and [00:18:00] in other analysis, it is significantly higher in this recovery, 11.5%.

REP. KATIE PORTER: And what is it today?


REP. KATIE PORTER: So I wanna make sure everyone in America understands this chart. What is a unit labor cost?

MIKE KONCZAL: The cost of wages, and associated work cost, right?

REP. KATIE PORTER: But we could just wages. What is a non-labor input cost?

MIKE KONCZAL: A variety of things, including maintenance and investments.

REP. KATIE PORTER: Okay. So I have to buy the stuff to make the widget. I have to have a factory. I have to keep the lights on, I have to hire someone to make the widget, that's this stuff and this is what I add on, on top.

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Hold up that chart and you'll see unit labor costs incredibly low relative to where there has been in, on average, relatively speaking, in terms of what is contributing to the prices, corporate profits, [00:19:00] the biggest element of this.


SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Kashkari, even in this Bloomberg piece.

The inflation didn't come from the labor market. This inflation came from supply chains and energy and commodities. He won't say corporate profits. Do we actually have a tight labor market? One way I would define tight labor market is labor is in a relatively strong position and their share of the pie is growing.

Their share of the pie is shrinking. So I don't know. They don't want to point out what Katie Porter is pointing out here. We are looking at two different things that are happening: one is, we have a massive disruption in our supply chain that is still rippling through the system; and two is, corporations are taking this opportunity to price gouge.


SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Imagine [00:20:00] being in a town or a city that has just been hit by a hurricane. Cost of everything is gonna go up because maybe the bridge is out. They have to drive around the other way. Smaller trucks have to come. There's not as much stuff at the store. Maybe one of the stores, the electricity broke and the refrigerators spoiled all the food and whatnot.

And then on top of that, imagine that one of these shopkeepers is like, "This is a good opportunity for me. I've got a lot of water in the basement, to be honest with you, but this is a good opportunity for me to charge four times what I normally charge for a bottle of water.

That's what's going on here. That's what's going on.

EMMA VIGELAND - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: So what is the tool that the Fed could use in theory to discipline corporate America? Because all you hear Powell talking about is softening labor market conditions. And he has been raising interest rates, and that still hasn't made enough of a dent because [00:21:00] the corporations are still gouging and --

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: The way that they're doing this -- because the Fed has limited tools -- the way that the Fed is doing this is we are going to hurt workers enough that their consumer ability is so low that it convinces corporations that they can't now price gouge anymore. It's basically like saying we're gonna use the workers, not so much as a hammer, but as like a tool to pry corporate grip around these prices loose.

 The only other way that our government could address this -- and there's only so much that that can be done, period.


Well, we can't do that.

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Well you could tax corporate profits. That would be helpful because if they're not gonna see these profits and they're going to suffer in terms of [00:22:00] volume sales, but they're not gonna see the profits that are associated with it, right?

 The way that our government could do this -- Richard Nixon did it very reluctantly -- establish price controls. Wage controls too. But since wages are lagging behind about prices at this point, putting a wage and price control structure, imposing it 60 days, 90 days, 120 days, whatever it is, that should happen.


SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Nixon pioneered this. I heard an interesting podcast about where the idea came from. It was floating around, it wasn't his idea. In fact, he ran on arguing against it. It was coming out of World War II. This was into the Kennedy administration this idea was kicking around and he didn't want this to happen. But he ended up realizing this needs to happen.

You could do price controls, [00:23:00] and you could do taxation, you'd have to go through Congress, you could do some type of windfall profit taxation, which would basically get rid of the incentive for creating such massive profits.

Rather, they'll make their money through volume instead of huge price gouging markups. This is the dirty little secret.

And so the Fed does the only thing it can do, which is to use, basically, citizens, workers in their capacity as consumers, as basically a tool to slowly, gently convince corporate CEOs that they can't get away with price gouging.

Katie Porter TORCHES Corporate Oil Profits In Brilliant Lesson - The Damage Report - Air Date 10-21-22

JOHN IADAROLA - HOST, THE DAMAGE REPORT: Yes, there are pressures that are naturally driving up the price of various goods and services, but that is not why we're in the crisis that we're in right now. And it's critically important that we understand that because again, as I said, if you're gonna solve this, just trying to fix the supply chain or just trying to drive down wages is not gonna do anything about companies [00:24:00] willingly jacking up the price with no relationship to the actual increase in their costs or anything like that.

The issue, Jessica, is that when, I don't know about you, but when I tweet about this, for instance, there are a ton of people who I've noticed their breath all similarly stinks of CEO boot leather, that say that this has nothing to do with corporations. Corporations have always wanted profits, so how could that be a new problem or anything like that? But I know that you obviously know a lot more about inflation, these sorts of things than me. So tell me what you think.

JESSICA BURBANK: That's a great chart. We actually, use that chart in a segment on the main show not too long ago. It's from the Economic Policy Institute, and the lighter blue bar at the bottom there shows what labor input costs used to be. So you can see how much that's changed. That bar, it used to make up a much greater percentage of the input cost of corporations to produce a good. So, wages are going down and they have been stagnant relative to inflation. Corporate profits are going up, That's largely because they're [00:25:00] raising prices for far more than necessary. Blaming things like supply chain issues, and that's why we have to raise prices. It would not be the case that corporate profits were skyrocketing if they were just accounting for additional costs because of instability, because of the pandemic or what have you.

And then you have Jerome Powell saying stuff like, Well, labor's a little bit too strong right now. The labor market's in balance. What he is really saying is, we don't like that you're unionizing to demand higher wages, because what's going on right now is people can't afford to live. And so for the solution to be to raise interest rates, to make more people unemployed, when corporations are experiencing record profits, it's so backwards. And it's good we have someone who's using these charts on the floor of Congress to make it really clear to people in power that that's precisely what's going on.

JOHN IADAROLA - HOST, THE DAMAGE REPORT: Jessica, let's say that you were in charge and you accepted what Katie Porter was saying. What would you do to actually solve the problem that we're currently experiencing with inflation?

JESSICA BURBANK: Specifically with gas prices and oil prices, a [00:26:00] lot of inflation is driven by high fuel costs because everywhere in the supply chain, you've gotta transport goods from where they're created to where they're sold. It leads to price increases everywhere else. So let's start there. You need a negative externality tax number one, because what they're selling is something that causes carbon emissions to go up, which is going to make our planet unlivable, and they're profiting off of it. A negative externality tax says, okay, you're selling a product that does damage to the environment and people around you. So guess what, you have to pay a part of those profits to address the damages done. But also, you can put a cap on prices. You can put price controls on the cost of fuel in the country.

You can also run a well paid government program to extract the domestic oil that people like Scott Sheffield, who's an oil CEO, says, you know what We promise study returns to shareholders so that they can continue extracting oil in this country at the same rate in profiting. What we could do instead is take back a lot of those oil reserves on the permits on federal [00:27:00] lands that we gave to oil companies and say, you know what, we're gonna pay people as well paid public employees. Employ the people who are unemployed in the country right now and extract that oil ourselves to bring prices back down and address supply chain issues. And then we wouldn't be so reliable on countries like Saudi Arabia.

There are so many things you can do, and taxing corporations is a big one.

JOHN IADAROLA - HOST, THE DAMAGE REPORT: Every step of that, by the way, is, at least if you believe conservatives when they say what their values are, what they should supposedly want, they would like the more jobs that that would produce. They would like the cheaper gasoline. They would love to stick a thumb in the eye, supposedly, of the Saudis.

 It's just so frustrating because this is a problem that we could actually fix. Biden is trying to do a little bit, like releasing gas from the National Reserve and stuff like that, but I don't see him talking about... he's wagged his finger at CEOs and told them to stop raising prices, but why would they listen to that? How could that possibly solve the problem?

JESSICA BURBANK: And all of the stock buybacks they're doing. You have so much extra profit that you're buying back your own stock to [00:28:00] inflate the price and increase returns to shareholders. And if you're a regular person in the United States who has to drive to work, what you said earlier, John, is huge. Why are these people listening to conservatives, listening to Fox News hosts, and even listening to people who aren't very clearly pointing out that corporate profits are the reason for inflation? It's like, would you trust a used car salesman who doesn't have your best interest in mind? No. So why are you trusting these people who are lining their pockets with lobbying money from fossil fuel companies?

They don't have your best interest in mind either, but you just believe what they say, like it's law. It's time for us to apply this thinking we have in our personal lives of, " I don't trust people who clearly don't have my best interest in mind," to our politics.

AOC And Raskin On Stakes Of Midterms: We Are 'Facing An Environment Of Fascism' - All In with Chris Hayes - Air Date 10-28-22

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: I've watched Democrats struggle, I think, to find this message, and some do it better than others, you know, this question of weaving together this coalition of sort of solidarity across these lines of difference, which is that like, it doesn't have to be zero sum, like, I get the piece of pie so you don't, right? I think that's particularly relevant it seems to me in the case of these [00:29:00] midterms, right? Because at one level it's like, it feels existential from the level of democracy, and I think it is in some ways, but it's also like I was just talking to someone who works on a political campaign who was talking about being in NYCHA houses, which is the public housing here, and it's like he's talking to people that can't feed their kids. That's what's front of mind for them. And I guess the question to you is like, how do you message around this stuff in an environment where people are focused on real, important material, immediate concern, and also those concerns are being used to kind of pry people in such a way that they tip the scales towards this political party that increasingly doesn't believe in democracy?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO CORTEZ: Well, I mean, I think what's really important, and the way that we message about this, is talking about the racial realities of our economic issues and the economic realities of racial issues. That these are things are not distinct or siloed. If you are a Black American, if you are Black or Latino in the last 20, 30, 40, 50 years, you were disproportionately targeted for unjust [00:30:00] incarceration. Then, once that happened - particularly centered on the War on Drugs - then once you have that on your record, you cannot access housing in the same way. You cannot get employed in the same way. You have all these structural barriers that really funnel you into being trapped in poverty. When it talks about inflation, when we talk about red line, when we talk about who can get a mortgage and who can't, how it's 10 times harder to be poor in America or to be working class in America and how that divide is growing. All of these things are very interconnected and they want us to think that they're very separate, that it's either/or. And even when we talk about issues like inflation, a lot of this has to do with the massive consolidation of our markets, and corporate greed. Our inflation is not going up due to government policies. Inflation is going up due to Wall Street decisions and the idea that they can just squeeze us for every penny that we're worth. And we can [00:31:00] also say that and acknowledge the fact that that's impacting some communities more than others. And that, I think, is how we can really emphasize this message. You know, I think it's just really important to, again, center this fact that this idea that it's either/or is very dangerous, and the idea that emphasizing social equity is somehow a detriment to our democracies playing into the hands of the folks that don't want us to talk about either.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Look, we need a functioning democracy in order to deliver the economic goods to the people. Um, I'm proud of the fact that it's our party...

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: I don't know if people believe that though.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Well, but it's true.

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: Like, I think that, I honestly think that people's belief in that as a first principal...

REP. JAMIE RASKIN: I'll give you a great example of it. I'll give you two great examples of it. Okay. One. We just dramatically lowered prescription drug costs, out of pocket prescription drug costs for millions of Americans in the Medicare program by saying that you're limited to $2,000 to what you're gonna have to pay in a year, and if you're a diabetic on insulin shots, to $35 a [00:32:00] month. That's gonna save a lot of my constituents thousands and thousands of dollars a year, and we were able to save billions of dollars while we did it. How did we do that? Well, we repealed a GOP special interest provision that Billy Tauzin as Chair of the Energy and Commerce had slipped in, which said the government in the Medicare program cannot negotiate with big pharma for lower drug prices. In other words, it was corporate socialism. Where they got to dictate to the government and to the people what the prices would be. We just finally, after 10 years of struggle, overturned that, and we got Republicans campaigning all over America to repeal what we just did in order to save billions of dollars and to lower everybody's prescription drug costs. It's the same thing with infrastructure. You know, I sat there for four years under Donald Trump. They had an infrastructure day. They had infrastructure week. They had an infrastructure month. They just didn't have an infrastructure bill, you know? We got the bill done and then President Biden's first year [00:33:00] in office.

So that's a 1.2 trillion dollar investment in the roads and the highways and the bridges and the ports and the airports and expanding broadband access in rural areas. We did that. We didn't just talk about it. We delivered. And so, look, does anybody think that it's the autocrats of the world like Vladimir Putin or the Kleptocrats like Donald Trump who are gonna deliver to the middle class? They get in and what they do immediately is they cut taxes for the wealthiest people in society, that's their agenda. And they do it every single time. And you can look at it historically. The middle class in America prospers when Democrats are in control. Not Republicans.

CHRIS HAYES - HOST, ALL IN: It's pretty wild. They have, I mean, they definitely have been, they haven't sort of led with this, but increasing the last few weeks you've heard Republicans starting to talk about if they win the House, what they'll do. And it's like, hold the debt ceiling hostage, cut social spending, maybe cut Medicare and Social Security if we can, and make the tax cuts permanent is like the guiding North [00:34:00] Star. Like when everything is wiped away in the end, that's, you know, in a dollars and cents, um, sense that's what they're gonna do.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO CORTEZ: Yeah. And they want to criminalize abortion at 15 weeks nationally. Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader who wants to become Speaker, has come out in favor of criminalizing abortion at 15 weeks.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Are they gonna pay for all those babies?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO CORTEZ: Exactly. Yeah. And they, No, they won't. No, they won't. And they want to ensure that... and not only did they say that they want to cut programs like Medicare and Social Security, but that they want to hold the entire United States economy hostage by threatening to not raise the debt limit in order to force President Biden to cut Medicare. And so we wanna talk about class issues. This will be so destructive for all our older adults in this country.

Ralph Nader Throws Support to Democrats Ahead of Midterms But Warns the Party's Message is Failing - Democracy Now! - Air Date 10-25-22

RALPH NADER: What they’ve got to do is authenticate their message and their rhetoric where people live, [00:35:00] work, and raise their families—often called kitchen table issues. They have got to compare and contrast life under the authoritarian, bigoted, corporate indentured GOP with life under the Democrats. For example, 20-25 million people will get a raise to $15 minimum wage under the Democrats. The GOP is against that. The assault on children by the GOP is absolutely stunning. From not using available Medicaid funds to insure them, to exposing them to hazardous pesticides and denying paid family leave and sick leave. The GOP is against that. The $300 a month child tax credit to 58 million children in our country, cutting child poverty by a third, was suspended because of GOP opposition in January.[00:36:00]

And it continues. Voters will be more repressed under the GOP. Precinct workers will be more intimidated under the GOP. They are trying to steal the election while they accuse the Democrats of stealing the 2020 election. In area after area, the Democrats are not rebutting and taking the offensive, which is what politics is all about in an electoral campaign. The GOP is the party of anxiety, fear and dread—you can document that from A-Z—and they are not being adequately rebutted.

Midnight campaigning. Over 25 million workers work the midnight shift; they are ignored by candidates. What the candidates now in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Texas have got to do is campaign all night for all the workers who keep the country going while we are asleep and recognize [00:37:00] them, respect them. They are hospital workers, nursing home, police, fire, emergency people, people working the midnight shift in factories.

This report—at WinningAmerica.net, you can get the whole report—is full of the best presentations by 24 civic leaders and advocates who know how to talk to people. They don’t stratify people left/right, conservative/liberal when they advance their causes. All of this is presented to the Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party free. The question is whether they will break through their political media consultant force-field which keeps them from having input from civic groups and find all the ways, that are very poll-tested by the way, that will grab the attention of liberal and conservative voters alike.

A lot of the issues are boiled down in this report under a two-page [00:38:00] card, in effect. Your choice in 2022, compare the Democrats and GOP, and the GOP is against every one of these, whether it’s minimum wage, strengthening gun safety laws, taxing the wealthiest firms and the super-rich, guaranteeing freedom and equality for women, ending the dark money in campaigns, providing Medicare for all, raising frozen Social Security benefits, restoring voter rights, funding childcare and sick leave, fighting climate violence with renewable energy, reducing skyrocketing drug prices and increasing funding to prosecute corporate crooks. All of those are opposed by the GOP.

Politics is a practice in contrast, and the Democrats have got to get with it and learn how to communicate, especially with millions of blue-collar workers who have deserted the Democratic Party and broken the FDR coalition that won so many [00:39:00] elections. WinningAmerica.net; that’s the key.

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: It seems, Ralph, that Democrats are, in some cases, more afraid of being called socialist than they are afraid of Republicans. Can you respond to that?

RALPH NADER: That’s why they have got to learn how to rebut, and it’s not too late in the next two weeks to do that. When they are accused of being socialist, there are three rebuttals. One: Oh, you Republicans are against socialism? I know why you’re saying that—because you hate Medicare. You hate the Post Office. You hate Medicaid. You hate public drinking water departments. You hate public schools. You hate Social Security. That’s why you’re talking socialism. But you are really corporate socialists. You want to bail out every corporation of any size. You want to subsidize, hand out all kinds of stuff to corporations [00:40:00] in a mockery of your so-called free market philosophy.

The same with defunding the police. The Republicans are defunding the corporate crime police. And let me tell you, when you’re talking about death, injury and disease, corporate crime towers over street crime. Just think of the opiates and the almost one million Americans who have died from the criminal promotion of the opiates throughout the country and these corporate crooks got away with it. You get a 90% poll on prosecuting corporate crooks and increasing the corporate crime enforcement budget. And the same at the street level. The Democrats are for community policing. They want safer guns. They don’t want that many guns on the street. The Republicans are on the other side on that.

This report WinningAmerica.net is full of the best thoughts of these civic leaders who have helped change America but have been excluded by the political media consultants [00:41:00] surrounding these Democratic candidates because they want the 15% commission on TV ads and they don’t know a ground game from anything. They’re not interested in a ground game to get the vote out and to get more voter registration, because they don’t get a commission on that.

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: Mark Green, you have run for office. You are a keen observer of all these races around the country right now as one after another is now being called a tossup. What do you think the Democrats are failing to do? And particularly talk about the focus on Donald Trump.

MARK GREEN: Thank you, Amy, and thank you, Ralph. Ralph just, as he has throughout his entire public life, been comprehensive about how the Republicans are blocking Democrats from delivering on their wallets and their rights. That would be a [00:42:00] great starting point at the beginning of the midterm election that ultimately is about democracy versus fascism. But now in the last two weeks, you have to know how to be rhetorically muscular against the party, the Republicans, who don’t hesitate to call Democrats not only socialists but communists and murderers. So, at this point, Democrats can’t flinch at being blunt and reducing their campaigns to one, two, or three major phrases and concepts.

Because like it or not, five-second voters, regrettably, have responded to these loaded phrases—”woke,” “cancel,” “grooming.” Democrats have better policies. How the hell are they losing to a party with apparently better messages?

So Biden, [00:43:00] who has been a very good president and wanted to be and has been a uniter, has to rise to the occasion. Not only the civic and public interest groups that Ralph is talking about in our report, but the public hears, because the White House has a big decibel count. When the president says it, then others follow.

There are three topic sentences basically. The overall is that the GOP are dangerous extremists who are stealing our freedoms and our wallets. What does that mean? One, Social Security. The public understands that. You don’t have to spend a lot of money and time. They want to have annual budgets rather than mandatory funding for Social Security which means they’re going to cut Social Security to you, who have been paying in for your entire work life.

Second, they are the [00:44:00] party of violence and corruption. It is not just January 6th, which they explain away, but their refusal to have adequate gun laws, so we have far more gun murders leading to higher crime. And their assaults, the MAGA mobs hounding local officials. So they deploy violence. And while they talk about the language of liberty, they want to ban books and abortion and many voters and trans and marriage equality. So it’s Social Security, and they talk liberty but they really are for violence and lawlessness.

And third, democracy. Democracy Now—I think that’s a good phrase. Amy, you have been doing this your whole life. Ralph and I as well. The issue is not merely they want to [00:45:00] reduce voting, because that is the only way they can win, being a minority party with bad ideas. Connect democracy and economy. Bob Kuttner, an economic writer, in his American Prospect and now in our volume, explains if you reduce the number of minority voters, then and only then can the majority win when it comes to, gee, why don’t we have secure Social Security? Why don’t we have a higher minimum wage? Why don’t we have more child tax credits, which halves poverty among children?

So if you focus voters on three issues where the Republicans are blocking progress and are engaged in violent acts and are undermining democracy, well, extremism is not patriotism. They have to [00:46:00] mobilize all of these issues that Ralph listed in ways that the public—the swing public, those who pay little attention to campaigns until now—to get them to turn out and vote.

Liberal Redneck - Inflation and the GOP - Trae Crowder - Air Date 10-27-22

TRAE CROWDER: Hey, y'all, let's talk about inflation. I feel like most of us Americans look at inflation the way a dog looks at fireworks, like no idea how or why that's happening, but it sure is scary and confusing and we wish it would stop, so much so that apparently a bunch of us are gonna vote Republican over it, something I don't understand. It's hard for me to imagine somebody in Georgia saying with a straight face, You know, I just feel like I ain't got no choice but to vote for the brain damaged abusive Christo-fascist running back. I mean, have you seen the price of eggs? It's wild to me, but people blame the Democrats for it because they're in power. But my question is, what are the Republicans gonna do to fix inflation? Like, what is their plan? And I feel like if they're being honest, they would say, Yeah, we don't really do the whole plan thing. We're more into like, uh, rage fueled [00:47:00] obfuscation, you know, stuff like that. Like they don't plan much. They mostly just froth and agitate. But if you look very hard, you can find their proposed approach to inflation. It's three-pronged. They would repeal Biden's minimum tax on corporations, extend the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy, and curb federal spending, particularly on safety net programs.

All right, one by one. All right. Repeal the minimum tax on corporations. Did y'all know that while inflation is rising, corporate profits are soaring to record heights? So you might think, Okay, well maybe those corporations can use some of those record profits to offset the rising cost to consumers, to which the corporations would surely respond with a chorus of cartoonishly, evil laughter and puff of cigar smoke, right? Like they could be helping right now, and they're not. What is giving them a break gonna do?

All right, related: tax cuts for the wealthy, they're the people least impacted by this problem. Is the GOP really looking at the fact that the cost of everyday goods is out of control and their solution is to give more [00:48:00] money to the people who couldn't tell you the price of a gallon of milk if their life depended on it? They want to help the people least impacted and hurt the people most impacted. They want curb spending on safety net programs. I picture them in GOP think tank somewhere, like, You guys know how the poor and seniors are complaining they can only afford one meal a day because of inflation? Well, I was thinking, what if we just let them all die? Right? Like, who's complaining then? Problem solved.

It's simple stuff, guys. Like, how's this gonna, any of this gonna help? It makes me wonder what their proposed solutions would be to other problems if they took power, like, based on this I feel like if you asked them, What are y'all gonna do about the opioid epidemic?, they'd go, Oh, glad you asked. Yeah. First we're gonna deregulate big pharma, we're gonna send a shit load of cocaine to the cartels, and we're gonna close all the rehab clinics in this country. Huh? How about that? That's too stupid not to work. Am I right? Oh, also, I almost forgot. It's illegal to be gay again. Happy holidays. Hope you don't get shot.

Right? You know what I mean? Like, I know we're all tired of [00:49:00] dealing with inflation, but if the Republicans win, we're just gonna be dealing with inflation and an authoritarian hellscape. So I'm begging you'uns, don't fall for it. Love y'all.

Republicans embrace last-ditch dangerous tactic ahead of midterms - No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen - Air Date 10-30-22

BRIAN TYLER COHEN - HOST, NO LIE: The Democrats had introduced a bill to stop price gouging at the pump. Your legislation was a part of that. Just this past week we learned that Shell had quarterly profits of nine and a half billion dollars. And that was just this quarter alone.

This is a two-fold question, but what's your response to oil companies like Shell -- and I'm sure the whole raft of other companies along with them when we have their profits reported as well -- and what would you say to Republicans who have pretended that the only reason that we're contending with these high prices is because of inflation, or Joe Biden, when very clearly there's a lot of corporate greed happening right now.

REP. MIKE LEVIN: Brian, I have said for many months that we have three P's to blame: the pandemic, Putin, and price gouging. And ultimately, what these oil companies are doing, making record profits with huge executive compensation [00:50:00] packages, stock buybacks, and dividends at a time when the average American is struggling to make ends meet, when they're paying exorbitantly high prices. It is unconscionable. These oil companies have to be held to account. And I'm open to any and all creative ideas to do that.

Now, one of the things that is specifically happening for your audience in California, where we pay almost two bucks higher per gallon on average, is that we have air quality challenges here in California, we have for many years. And so we require a special blend of gasoline, which means less refinery capacity. We have 17 refineries in California. In the month of September, six of them went offline all at once. Really unprecedented to see a dollar 54 increase in the price per gallon of gasoline in California, just related to the costs and the profits of the California oil refineries. They offered no reasonable explanation, no transparency, no accountability. They just pointed fingers rather than accept any responsibility. And that's why I've demanded [00:51:00] that the Federal Trade Commission launch a federal investigation into the lack of transparency of our California oil refineries. And specifically look at whether there was any market manipulation, any anti-consumer or anti-competitive behavior. And if so, they need to be fined and punished appropriately. By the way, this is why these oil companies are spending millions to defeat me.

BRIAN TYLER COHEN - HOST, NO LIE: And the second half of that question, what do you say to the Republicans who've spent so much time blaming Joe Biden, allowing Republicans to point to inflation as the culprit for all of this, when it's not those things? I mean, we have the numbers right in front of us in black and white. These oil companies are raking in almost tens of billions of dollars in quarterly profits.

REP. MIKE LEVIN: Well, I'd say two things, Brian. First is they're unwilling to go after the oil companies because of the massive sums of money that these companies are pumping into their campaigns. And in many cases, like my opponent, my Trump Republican opponent in our race, he actually has hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal investments in these oil and gas and fossil fuel stocks, [00:52:00] himself. There's no way he's gonna stand up to them. The second thing, ultimately, at the end of the day, if Kevin McCarthy takes the gavel, God forbid, you will see them doubling and tripling down on the dirty energy policies of the past, rather than what we really need to be doing, which is building a bridge towards a sustainable energy future. That's what I've been fighting my entire professional career to do. And what I always say is that we all want energy independence. The difference is that many of us who advocate for clean energy, we want clean energy independence. We don't wanna be beholden to Vladimir Putin or Saudi Arabia or Venezuela or any of these countries with the very troubling geopolitics and human rights abuses going on.

We need to stand up and have our own supply of domestic clean energy, that means more renewables. It also means more electric vehicles, and the grid needs to be modernized to handle all of the above. And unfortunately, if the Republicans are elected, they will take us many steps back. Denying the basic science and [00:53:00] denying the sort of investment that will be needed, not only to protect our environment, but to grow our economy, Brian. This is all about creating the clean energy jobs of the future. And I know we can do it. And I know that people want it. It's just the Republican politicians are in the back pocket of big oil.

BRIAN TYLER COHEN - HOST, NO LIE: Those same politicians, by the way, who are falling over themselves to congratulate themselves for all of this investment and money coming into their states because of the CHIPS Act, because of the Inflation Reduction Act, so when Micron, when all of these companies are announcing tens of billions of dollars of investments and tens of thousands of jobs coming into these different states in Wisconsin and Ohio, they're the first ones taking the applause and shaking everybody's hands on the receiving lines, but at the same time, they're all voting against this stuff.

But this stuff wouldn't exist if we didn't start investing in renewables and chips and stuff for the future, as opposed to just entrenching our reliance on a dying industry of oil and gas and fossil fuels. So I think that's --

REP. MIKE LEVIN: Well, they like to vote no and take the dough, right?

The other thing is they have no plan. [00:54:00] That's the other huge challenge here is that they're attacking us nonstop in race after race, all across the country for the House and the Senate on what we have done on the affirmative steps we have taken, and I'm proud of the Inflation Reduction Act among other measures, on ocean shipping reform, on baby formula, on price gouging for big oil, on transparency for these refineries.

But the Republican plan is basically tax cuts for rich people. And it's a bunch of bull. They really don't have any substance. They just like to point fingers at us without offering any suggestions that will actually alleviate the problem -- might actually make things worse.

BRIAN TYLER COHEN - HOST, NO LIE: Well, I wanna be fair, their plan also includes banning abortion and banning books. So can't forget those things.

As you've spoken about, you are one of the climate champions in the Congress. What will the climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act mean as far as climate is concerned? I think people see the Inflation Reduction Act as like people who don't pay attention to this stuff every single day as like this nebulous piece of legislation. But [00:55:00] what specifically will that bill mean for climate?

REP. MIKE LEVIN: Well, it's the biggest investment in climate in the history of the United States, the history of any nation, and the provisions in there, which are a combination of tax incentives and grants and other types of provisions will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, that the estimates across the board are somewhere around 40% in greenhouse gas reduction from 2005 levels by 2030. And what that means is it'll impact every part of the greenhouse gas puzzle. So how we build buildings, how we grow food, how we drive people around, how we generate electricity to do all the above, all those things will be dramatically impacted. And businesses and individuals will have an easier decision to make when putting solar on their roof or batteries in their business, or an electric vehicle in their garage actually makes a lot more economic sense than it did before. So it will help us get from where we are to where we need to be, by [00:56:00] 2030.

But it's really important where we go after that. And what I like about the Inflation Reduction Act also is that it focuses on a shift in industrial manufacturing policy, where we're not just using technologies to reduce our emissions in 20, 30, 40 years, but we're ensuring as much as we can that those technologies are assembled, manufactured, and invented in the United States of America. So we're capturing all that economic opportunity that that presents, not just using technologies invented, manufactured, assembled elsewhere.

BRIAN TYLER COHEN - HOST, NO LIE: I think that's especially important too because we have the Republicans who spend so much time complaining about China and then at the same time sacrificing all of our renewable manufacturing right to that country.

I mean, look what happened with solar panel production. We basically ceded any leadership in that realm all the way to China. And we have no ownership over any solar panel companies here in the US because of what we've allowed to happen by virtue of just, again, protecting an, a dying industry in oil and gas.

REP. MIKE LEVIN: My great hope is we've gotten it right this time with domestic [00:57:00] manufacturing, building it in America. We have to keep at it though. This bill is not going to change everything the way that it's needed for the long term, but it's a great start.

BRIAN TYLER COHEN - HOST, NO LIE: And I would caution too on that same note, that it's probably on the chopping block if Republicans do take control.

So yeah, if people were happy about giving the government the ability to negotiate lower drug prices and some tax fairness on the corporate profits front, and of course this climate spending, so it's only as strong as we allow our majority to remain in Congress to protect that legislation is.

If Democrats hold the House, what do you wanna see next on the climate front?

REP. MIKE LEVIN: Well, we have that other 60%. As I mentioned, we reduce emissions 40% by 2030. We've got a long way to go. And we're gonna have to make a lot of investments in the electric grid specifically making sure that, as we advance more electric vehicles, as we advance more solar and renewables, offshore wind, we've gotta have the grid of the future that will support all of that.

Some of that funding was put into the bipartisan [00:58:00] infrastructure law to modernize the grid, but not nearly enough. And we're gonna have to go a lot further in that regard.

Just the same, there's a lot more we can do, I think, on agriculture policy in this country. We have to remember, the greenhouse gas emissions related to agriculture. So across the board, we're gonna have to do more. We're gonna have to be faster.

And I wanna say one other thing, which is that you often hear a lot about the cost of these plans, right? You hear that the Inflation Reduction Act included $370 billion for climate. But think of it as an investment, and also consider what it would cost if we did nothing at all.


REP. MIKE LEVIN: I have a good friend, an economist up at Stanford, Marshall Burke, and he's done a lot of work on this, and he has estimated that if we don't take any action on climate, we just keep the status quo, that it would cost us $25 trillion in the coming decades. So the next time you think about the investment that we just made, think of it in the terms of the opportunity cost and think not only for the planet, again, but for the economy and ultimately what it would cost to do nothing.

Summary 11-1-22

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've [00:59:00] just heard clips today starting with the PBS NewsHour explaining inflation in the context of corporate price gouging. More Perfect Union looked specifically at the cost of gas, both economically and environmentally. The Intelligence explored the way political polarization casts a political lens on the economy. The Majority Report highlighted representative Katie Porter's explanation of profiteering being the major driver of inflation. The Damage Report discussed some possible solutions to inflation. All in with Chris Hayes spoke with representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamie Raskin about the economic elements of Democrat's policy platform. Democracy Now! interviewed Ralph Nader, who is campaigning for Democrats for the first time in his life. And Trae Crowder, the liberal redneck, gave his take on the GOP plan to fight inflation.

That's what everybody heard, but members also heard a bonus clip from No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen diving deep on oil prices and national energy [01:00:00] policy. To hear that and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at BestoftheLeft.com/support or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information.

And now we'll hear from you.

UK could well go fascist - Anonymous

VOICEMAILER ANONYMOUS: Regarding the episode on the UK and neoliberalism there was this Martin Wolf of Financial Times saying something about the fever of anger captured by Brexiters that could now break, and that the UK doesn't have any obvious fascist or anti-democratic party. The basic social stability will remain and UK will get back to something more normal.

I'd say, careful what you wish for. Normal in England is increasing inequality, the eroding of the social structure, increasing [01:01:00] focus on individualism and liberalism as opposed to solutions built on community and cooperation to a degree maybe worse than any other European country, more like that former colony across the pond.

The social stability is that of a very rigid class-based society. Norwegian internationally-renowned author Dag Solstad gave a famous interview 32 years ago about football - that would be soccer to you in the U.S. He broke out in rant about England and said, among many other things, "the working class's England is oppressed, mistreated, pissed upon, and the only reason you haven't had a socialist revolution is because they have pubs and football". The fact that there is currently no openly ultra-right authoritarian is very full security, especially if you return to [01:02:00] normal and have no justice and community-oriented social democratic answer that can answer to the rightful bitterness and resentment of the downtrodden.

I think England has a higher risk of turning fascist than other countries in northern and western Europe that have a pluralistic form of parties. The authoritarian impulses are kept down and out of view, yes, but it may be a demagogue taking over the Tories, like in the U.S., or a demagogue rising outside of the two party system, and it could happen quite fast. Take a few years of Keir Starmer as a Blair-Clinton type neoliberal shell, and a striking or rhetorical strong figure can take over. It wouldn't surprise me at all.

Final comments on the quickness with which anger can turn to fascism

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Thanks to all those who called into the voicemail line or wrote in their messages to be played as VoicedMails. If you'd like to leave a comment or [01:03:00] question of your own to be played on the show, you can record a message at 202-999-3991 or write me a message to [email protected].

And thanks to our anonymous, possibly Norwegian caller for that message. Just a couple of quick thoughts on that topic. I think the clip being referred to in the voicemail was at the end of the show, the UK neoliberalism episode, and to me it definitely cut in at least two ways. I found it darkly amusing that the commentator from a UK perspective was looking for a silver lining and found one by comparing the UK to the US and saying, Well, at least we're not in that bad of a situation. So playing that clip on this show, mostly a US-based show, put a slightly different context on that one.

And then secondly, I think I may have even made a sly comment about that clip that was promising that there was no far right racist authoritarian movement in the UK, to which [01:04:00] I added "yet." Because that's the real lesson of the era of neoliberalism that we're trying to get across in that episode: Disregard the needs of people at your peril, because it is not so much a question of if, but when a society crushed by inequality and gaslighting by neoliberalism will break down and people will turn to authoritarianism to fix all their problems in one fell swoop. And a interesting side note, a few minutes ago I was jotting down some notes for the things that I was gonna say today, and I wondered to myself, what is one fell swoop? So I looked it up, and it turns out it comes from Shakespeare, just like every other interesting phrase in our language. It comes from Macbeth Act 4, scene 3, where Macduff learns his wife and entire family have been murdered. So here's the line: "All my pretty ones? Did you say all? Oh hellkite -- all? What? All my pretty chickens and their dame at one fell [01:05:00] swoop?" And Wiktionary goes on to explain that the imagery is of a bird of prey. A hellkite ransacking a whole nest at one blow. And the word "fell" at the time meant terrible, cruel or savage. And so then I thought, wow, that really is a particularly good phrase to describe the destructive force of a fascist regime put into place out of frustration with the status quo and the hope that someone empowered to make swift and terrible change could come in and clean up the whole mess we have going on here.

So, 20 neoliberals out there thinking that the status quo system can be maintained with only a few minor tweaks here and there, perhaps. I say to remember how quickly that slowly boiling anger can be converted into a hellkite with its sights set on your nest. One fell swoop.

And to be clear, that's a [01:06:00] warning, not a threat. I'm on the side of avoiding having a fascist hellkite swoop down on all of us.

I understand that you could take that out of context and make it sound equally plausible coming from either side of the political spectrum. I mean, the left is nearly as frustrated as the right. However, if the far left takes over, they'll just impose healthcare on everybody and make us all learn real facts about history. If the right gets back into power with their current authoritarian tendencies on full display, it'll be a bird of an entirely different feather.

As always, keep the comments coming in at 202-999-3991 or by emailing me to [email protected]. That is going to be it for today. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show, and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the Monosyllabic Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken and Brian for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for [01:07:00] all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at BestoftheLeft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple Podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content and no ads in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player.

So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from BestoftheLeft.com.

Showing 2 reactions

  • k.a.birer
    commented 2022-11-08 07:39:18 -0500
    Good news
    thanks for everything
  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2022-11-01 19:02:07 -0400
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