The American Dream in Reverse? (Bill Moyers Journal)

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the JOURNAL.

Bernie Sanders, the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont, took to the floor of the Senate recently to talk about what's happened to everyday Americans over the last eight years.

BERNIE SANDERS: I think it is terribly important that the Senate hears from ordinary people to get a sense of what is really going on in America; the struggles that people are having,

BILL MOYERS: So, the Senator used his e-mail list to ask the people of Vermont to tell him about their lives today. Instead of a few dozen replies, he received more than 600 responses from all around the state. He has published them in a booklet that is available on his web site.

As Sanders told the Senate, they are not easy to read.

"…some nights we eat cereal and toast for dinner because that's all I have."

"…we have at times had to choose between baby food, diapers and heating fuel."

"I don't go to church many Sundays, because the gasoline is too expensive to drive there."

"…the pennies have all but dried up…I am sad, broken, and very discouraged."

"…my mortgage is behind, we are at risk for foreclosure, and I can't keep up with my car payments."

And this:

"does anybody in Washington care?"

Well, some people in Washington do care, some of the time. But most of the time our elected officials are on the side of the organized rich. That's where they get the money to campaign, and money is the golden rule of politics; those who have it, rule.

Listen to this excerpt from the AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE about our growing inequality.

The holders of great wealth, especially if they are organized into a political lobby of similar holders of great wealth, can buy not only more goods, more capital, and more people. They can also buy (through the vehicle of campaign contributions) more important people: politicians and other public officials and therefore public policies.

The result of great wealth buying public policies is a positive feedback loop, or perhaps a vicious cycle, which transfers ever greater wealth and power to the very rich and away from everyone else.

There's only one way to break this cycle and bring fairness back to America and that's to break the stranglehold of private money over politics. There are many ways we can do it. Check them out on pbs.org.

I'm Bill Moyers. We'll be back next week with another edition of THE JOURNAL.

You can read the entire transcript from this broadcast here.