Bruce Bartlett on Bill Moyers
Bruce Bartlett was a senior economic policy analyst in the Reagan White House and was a top official in the Treasury Department for the first Bush presidency. He's a well-known thoughtful conservative economist, so this is a very interesting interview.
Bartlett tells Moyers that makes him most pessimistic is the fact-free environment that surrounds our politics.
It's the lack of willingness to discuss issues in a reality-based way. We just seem to live in a zone in which people no longer really seem to care about facts or analysis. And we talk in sound bites.
And the media of course contribute to this. The decline of the major media. People don't want to read magazines. They don't even want to read a newspaper article if it's more than a couple of inches. And if it doesn't mention Lindsay Lohan, they move on.
Clearly people don't seem to know as much. And they don't seem to care that they don't know as much about public policy or just the basic facts of, you know, how much does the government tax, how much does the government spend? What does the government spend money on? I've seen more than one poll that shows people believe that 20 percent of government spending goes to foreign aid.
20 percent. It's actually one percent. But of course if you believe a huge percentage of government spending is going to just giveaways to foreigners then why not cut taxes and slash spending? It's not coming out of anything that matters to you. People have to be given the factual information they need to make decisions. And they're not getting it. And they may not even want it.
And he points out the true entitlement class is the hereditary heirs to the vast fortunes that are being accumulated by a few hundred people.
Well, I think it's wrong to have people with such extraordinary wealth that pass it down from one generation to another, with people not having to work for a living, being able to have control perhaps over government. Clearly wealth and power are interrelated at least to some extent.
This is indeed a timely discussion. I wish that PBS would put it on at a more prime time so more people would see it.