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How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy

Interview with Lisa Dodson, author of The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy

Dave Carew, Underground Nashville

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell

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Lisa Dodson is professor of sociology at Boston College.  Her new book, The Moral Underground, focuses on ways in which ordinary citizens try to right wrongs they believe are being perpetrated on their fellow human beings by what Ms. Dodson calls “an unfair economy.” After seeing Ms. Dodson’s book advertised in The Nation, Underground Nashville requested an interview with her, which she graciously granted. Here’s how our conversation went:

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Underground Nashville: The topic of your book is very distinctive and inspired. What was the “spark” that compelled you to write this book?

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Lisa Dodson: All my work deals with economic inequality and what that does to people, families, and society. I was going about doing my kind of research… asking regular people about their lives and what they think is going on in terms of the nation’s economy. I try to ask different kinds of people to get an array of perspectives . . . . I expected to get certain kinds of responses, and did; but I also got unexpected ones, too.

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For more information about The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy, visit New Press.

Section(s): 

Summary | America's Financial Crisis: Week of November 28

4 New Items including:

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  • New Afghan War Plans Could Cost US Taxpayers an Extra $125 Billion
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  • The rich get richer, with government help
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

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Bill Schorr

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New Afghan War Plans Could Cost US Taxpayers an Extra $125 Billion, Ben Arnoldy, Christian Science Monitor

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  • US war planners have been signaling that troop withdrawals set to begin in 2011 will be mostly symbolic and that the handover to Afghan forces in 2014 is “aspirational.”
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  • A Shift in US Deadlines
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  • Higher war costs could hurt the base defense budget [and] the rest of the discretionary budget.
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Corporations Post Record Profits As Republicans Call For Eliminating The ‘Insidious’ Corporate Income Tax, Think Progress

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  • Business buys itself a new government
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  • Last week (Nov 14-20), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) – a man ThinkProgress readers are familiar with – took to the House floor to bemoan the “insidious” tax on corporations. “We can compete with anybody,” Gohmert declared, “if you take off that insidious tax” on business. Watch it.
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Fail and Grow Rich on Wall Street, Robert Scheer, TruthDig/Reader Supported News

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  • The financial benefits are not trickling down. Throwing money at the banks has been as effective as pushing on a string, and the result has been what former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker has excoriated as a “liquidity trap.” No serious government pressure has been brought to bear on the banks to help homeowners stay in their homes through mortgage payment adjustments.
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  • Wall Street's Stranglehold on Our Democracy Must Be Broken
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The rich get richer, with government help, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, Bloomberg News/Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

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  • Under Republicans and Democrats alike -- enthusiastically in the former case, more ambivalently in the latter -- Wall Street received a sympathetic ear, even though its practices were enriching a tiny slice of Americans and posed real risks to the economy as a whole.
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  • Fast Track to Inequality
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  • Washington at Work--for the Wealthy
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Section(s): 

The rich get richer, with government help

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  • Under Republicans and Democrats alike -- enthusiastically in the former case, more ambivalently in the latter -- Wall Street received a sympathetic ear, even though its practices were enriching a tiny slice of Americans and posed real risks to the economy as a whole.
  • \r\n

  • Fast Track to Inequality
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  • Washington at Work--for the Wealthy
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Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, Bloomberg News/Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

Four years ago, then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson took a moment from his economic cheerleading to acknowledge that, yes, economic inequality had risen. Over the previous three decades, the share of pretax national income raked in by the richest 0.1 percent of Americans had more than quadrupled. By the time Paulson spoke, this tiny upper crust of American households (average 2007 income: $7 million) brought home about $1 of every $8 earned in the country.

Paulson expressed concern about the trend. Yet his basic message was that Americans should get used to it. Growing inequality, he declared, "is simply an economic reality, and it is neither fair nor useful to blame any political party."

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Related:

Fast Track to Inequality, Bob Herbert, New York Times | NY

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  • Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.
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  • “Over the last generation more and more of the rewards of growth have gone to the rich and superrich. The rest of America, from the poor through the upper middle class, has fallen further and further behind.” -- Political scientists Jacob Hacker of Yale and Paul Pierson of the University of California, Berkeley.
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  • Think Again: Inequality and America’s Antiquated Politics
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Washington at Work--for the Wealthy, Sam Pizzigati, Other Words

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  • "We cannot avoid the sad irony," as one new report <> has just concluded, "that government policy aimed at building wealth is largely helping the rich get richer."
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  • Uncle Sam is concentrating America's wealth, not sharing it.
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  • Think Again: Inequality and America’s Antiquated Politics
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  • Americans Vastly Underestimate Wealth Inequality, Support 'More Equal Distribution Of Wealth'
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Section(s): 

Fail and Grow Rich on Wall Street

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  • The financial benefits are not trickling down. Throwing money at the banks has been as effective as pushing on a string, and the result has been what former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker has excoriated as a “liquidity trap.” No serious government pressure has been brought to bear on the banks to help homeowners stay in their homes through mortgage payment adjustments.
  • \r\n

  • Wall Street's Stranglehold on Our Democracy Must Be Broken
  • \r\n

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Robert Scheer, TruthDig/Reader Supported News

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At a time when corporations are buying up elections – not to mention the 24-hour-news cycle – help ensure that a source for truly independent journalism lives on. Support Evergreene Digest  today by using the donation button in the above right-hand corner.

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A banner displaying the name of General Motors covers the front of the New York Stock Exchange recently on the first day of trading in its new shares. AP / Seth Wenig

Welcome to the brave new world of post-bailout capitalism. The Commerce Department announced Tuesday that corporate profits are at their highest level in U.S. history, and the Fed released minutes of an early November meeting in which officials predicted a stagnant economy and continued high unemployment.

The lead on the New York Times story read like a line from a Dickens novel: “The nation’s workers may be struggling, but American companies just had their best quarter ever.” What the Times story neglected to mention is that the bulk of the increase in corporate profits was nabbed by the financial industry rather than manufacturing and other productive sectors. A whopping $33.3 billion out of the total corporate profits increase of $44.4 billion went to the banks and investment houses that those same workers had bailed out with their tax dollars.

More...

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Related:

Wall Street's Stranglehold on Our Democracy Must Be Broken, Zach Carter and Simon JohnsonAlterNet

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  • Progressive economist Simon Johnson talks about the fight to reform Wall Street, what Robert Rubin should do with his money, and why Jamie Dimon is the most dangerous man in America.
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  • Business buys itself a new government
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Section(s): 

Summary | America's Financial Crisis: Week of November 21

7 New Items including:

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  • Business buys itself a new government
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  • It's Jobs or Wars, Not Both
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

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Mike Thompson

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Wall Street's Stranglehold on Our Democracy Must Be Broken, Zach Carter and Simon JohnsonAlterNet
Progressive economist Simon Johnson talks about the fight to reform Wall Street, what Robert Rubin should do with his money, and why Jamie Dimon is the most dangerous man in America.

Business buys itself a new government, Nick Coleman, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

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  • Corporate donors, newly emboldened by a court ruling, played dirty and won.
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  • So that's what a $$ billion campaign looks like!
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Fast Track to Inequality, Bob Herbert, New York Times | NY

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    \r\n
  • Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.
  • \r\n

  • “Over the last generation more and more of the rewards of growth have gone to the rich and superrich. The rest of America, from the poor through the upper middle class, has fallen further and further behind.” -- Political scientists Jacob Hacker of Yale and Paul Pierson of the University of California, Berkeley.
  • \r\n

  • Think Again: Inequality and America’s Antiquated Politics
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It's Jobs or Wars, Not Both, David Swanson, Global Research

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  • Every military job, every weapons industry job, every war-reconstruction job, every mercenary or torture consultant job appears to be a job, but it is not a job. It is the absence of more and better jobs. It is public money wasted on something worse for job creation than nothing at all and much worse than other available options.
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  • Spending money on the military, even in the United States, hurts the U.S. economy. Spending money on foreign wars is even worse, but all military spending is economically destructive.
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  • The goal? Corporate domination of resources and markets with expanding militarism
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Dollar Stores: Top Link in the Sweatshop Chain, Kent Paterson, Corporate Watch
Family Dollar is one of a growing group of chain-store corporations that cater to America's poor by selling cheap goods, many imported from sweatshops in low-wage countries including China and Mexico.

Wal-Mart Could Hike Pay and Keep Prices Low, Emily Kaiser, Reuters/Corporate Watch
"The more important question for the future isn't whether Wal-Mart is a force for good or evil in the American economy, but whether the economic benefits provided by Wal-Mart can be preserved even if their labor compensation is dramatically improved," economists Jared Bernstein and Josh Bivens wrote.

Capping the Oil Spill in American Politics, Dan La Botz, Socialist Webzine
Oil and the petroleum industry’s profits stand at the center of the American economy, society and polity. We need to push the oil industry aside and put working people and their needs—for jobs, health care, education, and social well being at the center.

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