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Hi everybody, welcome to the Jimmy Dore Show.
We have a special guest with us:
the founder of The Zeitgeist Movement and author of this new book
'The New Human Rights Movement,' it's Peter Joseph is with us.
Say hello to Peter Joseph. Hi Peter! - Hey, how you doing there Jimmy.
- Now first of all, I read this book,
I'm not a good reader so I probably missed a lot of stuff.
It is a great book and, for me
what I took away from it, you really examined
capitalism and the effects of capitalism
on societies and people's psyches and
there was so many mind-blowing things in this book
I can't- I don't even know where to start so let me just ask you Peter
you could maybe tell people what this book is about and summarize it for us.
- Sure. So the New Human Rights movement -
the NEW human rights movement, how dare I?
What was the OLD human rights movement?
The focus being we have to take kind of a broader
sociological structural view of society,
to think about all the interplays that produce human behavior,
that produce our social systems, our institutions moreso.
Like what has fomented all of this, how have we gotten here?
And that is a public health debate.
That is an issue of what defines public health, what defines
actually, progress as we know it,
has to be defined in terms of actual health regards,
not necessarily what we're producing in society,
not how much productivity we have or
the extent of GDP or how many people are employed,
but how happy are we?
And this is the core of it as a public health treatment.
And I put it in the context of human rights
because I feel that when people realize that we have a structural problem,
and when I use that word "structural" I mean that there's larger order things
that are happening that influence our behavior,
just as there are biological things that influence our behavior.
So structuralism, sociology effectively,
it's an interdisciplinary kind of study, which means
you have to take a lot into account to figure out what the hell is going on in the world.
And that's really what this is about at it's very core is that approach.
And what I conclude in the text is that with
this old economy that we have, you can call it
market system, you can call it capitalism,
I think of it more broadly, I say it's an economy run by market forces;
that more gets to the point of it.
Market forces embodies all the motivations people have,
it generates the infrastructure so to speak, the procedural dynamics,
all the things we have to do to game in this reality to survive.
And then you have all these people, suddenly 7 billion of us,
pulling levers on a giant machine
and we're not paying attention to what this machine's actually doing.
We're getting our little treats and we're throwing it in our mouth
and our little stupid rewards, and we keep going on our short-term interest,
and yet this machine is a big train that's flying straight off of a cliff into oblivion.
And until we get our heads around that we're gonna have a serious public health crisis
in terms of socioeconomic inequality, one of the most destructive forces
on the face of the earth, shattering human trust,
'social capitalists' they call it, we don't trust each other anymore.
We have disparate groups that are going out of control,
we have a whole new level of insurgencies and terrorism.
The United States of course is the forbidden example of all of this,
the forbidden experiment I should say.
Sort of like when you lock a kid in the closet, and you don't look at them for 10 years,
and they come out and they're all deranged with this kind of primalness,
that's the way I see the United States experiment at this point because
look at the violence, look at everything that we're doing, look how weird
the culture has become, look at the political system.
It's become this amalgamation of so many things that in my mind
is indicative of the worst outcomes, the most predictably at worst
peak outcomes of the kind of social system we have:
the capitalist market-force-driven system.
So that in combination with the ecological crisis,
again those levers that we're pulling on the machine.
- So let me just stop you at the market forces. - Sure, yeah.
- So, your critique is talking about that this "free market system"
first of all isn't a free market system, that
it's really manipulated by the people
with the most money which means they're the most powerful
that manipulate a "free market" into their favor.
Correct? Would that be correct?
- As would be expected, so here's one differentiation that I want to make.
So a lot of people say this, they'll bring up this debate
"Well, if we could only have a more robust free market,
if we could stop the 'crony' capitalism,
if we could stop all the apparent things that are anomalous!"
But they're NOT anomalous.
They're part of the competitive gaming strategy
of group versus group.
And capitalism is the embodiment of that primitive behavior
coming from again, eons of evolution of our most core and base instincts
of keeping your tribalism together and not caring about the external,
and it's that very problem that in our high-tech society is again flying us off
of the cliff, so go back to your point -
What we have in terms of the free market,
everything you see around you, this is it: this is the free market.
It's the free market that buys politicians just like you buy pizza.
It's the free market that takes and
gouges people in the medical community to get as much as they possibly can,
to extract for the self-interest of one group or corporation.
It's the free market that lobbies, that does everything that you consider to be unethical
but within the game of competition there really aren't any lines anymore.
I mean it just depends on what corner you're backed into.
- And so, because,
so now why is it that some places
institute a form of free markets or capitalism, say like Denmark,
which they have a very strong social safety net
and they're now the happiest country in the world I'm pretty sure or one of the top.
- Finland and Denmark, yeah.
- Okay. And they have less income inequality than we have here.
So why does it seem that our version of capitalism in the United States
is so much more brutal than places like Denmark?
- First of all I'm glad you bring that up because that goes back to
democratic socialist policies and with Bernie Sanders and
the very simple public health issues that he's brought up in terms of comparing
our society and what we can do in terms of increasing public health
and say "yes it can be done, it's already been done in these countries."
And that is absolutely important information that everyone listening
should look into because it proves
when you look at the happiness indexes, when you look at
the way they go about their lives, their public health metrics,
they are doing so much better than we are.
And that is amazing information. Now why can't we just superimpose
that type of capitalism upon the United States? (- right), is a great question.
The difference is that we live in the global society
and the fleeting middle class of the United States is like
the fleeting middle class of Denmark and Finland,
and the Gini coefficients are still rising amongst all of these countries as well
as more stress on the planet,
the more social stress, the more tensions between nations increases.
So my point here is that you can't just look at the United States as some isolated bubble
and then look at Finland as an isolated bubble
and say that this policy should just be implanted here
without regard to the evolution of ALL the countries,
the colonization that has produced the landscapes that we see, the borders that we see,
without the globalization and the power of transnational corporations.
Sweden might be a very happy country.
One of its biggest exports are massive military war machines.
So there's a synergy to all of this that,
my analogy is you drive down the middle class [neighborhood] in Los Angeles.
"Oh, look at these people, there's a dentist there's a doctor.
These people are doing great, they like their jobs, they have their nice home,
they have their family, the ideal American dream."
But yet what's on the other side of that middle-class neighborhood?
Extreme slums, and extreme wealth.
And that's the way the world is.
So that's why Finland and Denmark exist in the class middle-ground that they do,
because of all the extremes around them.
- Okay. Oh I see what you're saying.
So you look at them,
they're like the middle class of the world (- exactly) in a sense
so you can't extract that ... So you look at it as one whole.
- Now that's not to discount the important information we learn from them.
We should be looking at these countries to see what's working in terms of
increasing public health and ecological stability because some of these countries and even
in areas of Germany and so on, they're doing robust things to create more sustainability.
But they still exist in pockets, and as long as the empires
maintain themselves as they do (China, the United States, Russia)
their gravity - what they actually do - will continue to affect the entire planet
and the extremes of their behavior
are gonna make a lot of the stuff that's happening in these other smaller countries kind of moot,
especially in terms of development of sustainability.
- Let's start with how- I don't think people realize, I think
people individually realize how tough they have it
and how hard it is to tread water and we can say things like
gofundme's number-one campaigns are for medical expenses.
You have a great statistic, you have many great statistics
that are great examples of how bad things have gotten with our system, our economic system.
And one of those things that I've been repeating ever since I read it was:
63% of people in the United States can't afford a $1,000 emergency.
And so this is the richest country in the world! right?
and the history in the world.
And yet 63% of its population is poor, it can't afford a thousand dollar
emergency, 50% of people are poor or low income,
50% of all wage earners are $30,000 or less.
So do you have any more of these great statistics to show how our system has failed?
- I should have made a statistic list, but look at the debt.
It's from a couple years ago but if I remember correctly 43%
of people live beyond their means every year.
- Here in the United States?
- Yeah, not because they're just greedy people that want their new TVs.
There's an element of social inclusion that's inherent to us as a species
where yeah- people want to be included in what the society as a whole is doing.
So that's what poor really, to be poor, really means: you're not included, right? (- Right.)
If we lived in Mexico (kind of an aside),
if we lived in a rural area of Mexico and everyone has great happiness indexes out there
and they have good public health but they're poor!
But they don't KNOW they're poor.
It's like the public health research in Cuba.
When they're isolated and they're not experiencing this massive wealth divide
and the feeling of kind of marginalization
because they don't have certain economic means or certain elements of inclusion
and they can't go out and do this-or-that that other rich people can do,
this creates sickness when people experience that and if you don't have that,
and this gets to the heart of what it means to have relative poverty
and why socioeconomic inequality is so destructive.
If you go through epidemiological research, any peer reviewed studies, just look at it.
I encourage anyone to do this, look at what economic inequality
correlates to in countries that have the most of it.
The United States: off-the-chart violence.
- So the correlation (- drug addiction...), you use the term precondition, that capitalism
is a precondition for violence, murder, could you explain it that way?
- Yeah. From a public health standpoint a precondition is something that comes before.
So a precondition to getting a certain disease
is to have exposure to certain things, so to speak.
You could also say a precondition to driving a car is to get the license and so on.
But the point being is if you have
a certain foundation in your society that you can correlate to
(which has been statistically done) to numerous outcomes then
that state becomes a precondition, predictably so.
(I didn't explain that very well.)
A precondition - here's a better example - to getting cancer would be to smoke cigarettes.
Not everybody who smoke cigarettes gets cancer I should say.
But there's a statistical probability
that people that are involved in that exposure are going to have that problem.
And that's where we are with say American economics, the American zeitgeist as it were.
So a good percentage of the population
is going to turn into really hideous materialists
or is gonna become more authoritarian since the rise of Trump,
or is going to condone really brute policies in the Middle East
and all of this, again, this exceptionalism in America.
So the idea of a precondition means something that comes before and if you want to
get rid of all those caustic outcomes you get rid of the precondition.
And that's my whole argument in the book is
we have to do something different with our economy; it is the foundation of everything.
The Neolithic Revolution happened 12,000 years ago,
it set the stage for agriculture, settlement,
cities, trade, exchange, labor specialization.
Suddenly the entire architecture of what we know as our market economy was built
from that point on, and we've been in this
this disputed groupistic in-group out-group
warring machine ever since.
Now keep in mind, before that, 99% of human history:
no money or markets; we lived egalitarian.
So anyone that gives you that human-nature argument
"Humans are just mean!" you know, the whole Western philosophy,
from John Locke to Adam Smith, to any of those folks,
to Thomas Malthus of course, they all look at human society as this
this mean cruel thing, that we are just these beasts
and that this is the way it is but that is absolutely debunked
by the historical record.
- So another way of saying that is
people who advocate for selfishness (- yeah), right? correct?
and you make that point in the book that
that's not actually a good way to form an economic system
based on self-interest, right?
- I would say that because of the determinism that happened
when we created agriculture, we created this warring machine
that before that time didn't actually exist.
I'm trying to put this in terms that are very-...
- So there was a time when human beings were hunter-gatherers. (- Yes.)
And then they made the switch to agriculture.
- Yes, and that set the stage for all the, I call it geographical determinism,
which is, I hate to sound technical but ultimately what it means is that
you have all the characteristics that you define of our, so let me-...
We have property rights in our society.
Obviously if you do something you want to protect it,
or someone else might steal it that doesn't have the resource.
You have security issues, obviously, it's similar to property rights.
You have capital, which is that engine of creation
that's done mostly through money but also relates to labor and so on.
And all of that was codified at that period of time.
I want to make sure this point is very clear, I apologize if I didn't explain it very well.
We are on the trajectory we are because of the Agricultural Revolution,
and we have to get out of this trajectory and reorganize our economy
if we expect there to be any kind of harmony on this planet
and if we expect to maintain ecological stability or homeostasis with the habitat.
This is where we are at this point in time
and how we organize that is going to be the defining feature of the next century.
Because as of right now, not to jump to the end here
but I just want to make this point before I forget,
with the advent of the pollution crisis,
with everything that's happening in terms of resource overshoot, biodiversity loss,
about 30 years from now
the refugee crisis is gonna go from 65 million to probably about 200 million
as the climate change starts to dry out more regions in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia,
while the other lush regions start to flood because of the rise of the oceans.
So what is that going to mean?
All of our ponderances of democracy and so on become rather moot
when the Western society in Europe is gonna have an influx of people from these regions
that have nowhere else to go.
- And this is because of climate change
getting not only the encroachment of the sea
but the reduction in topsoil, correct?
- There's a whole litany of things and I want to point out
it's not because of those things,
it's because we have an economic system that [has] absolutely no regard
for any balance with the environment.
Here's the paradox of our market economy in the 21st century.
We have a system based on scarcity,
which justifies our political nonsense so it's politicized:
"Oh we can't have health care for the American public because we can't afford that!"
Then we can go bomb a country with trillions of dollars into infinity.
So the contradiction is immense, but that's the argument: scarcity.
But then what do we do? We promote infinite consumption.
"Go out and buy everything! Keep buying and consuming because that fuels jobs."
That fuels again GDP and everything that denotes survival.
So we have this backward system that is completely antithetical to sustainability
and in many ways antithetical to any kind of group harmony and social justice.
I firmly argue that, you look at the whole world, all these movements,
you look at all the people that want to see balance, they want to see fairness, right?
That's the whole drive of our progress as a species,
to see fairness: gender fairness, creed fairness, ethnicity fairness,
national fairness in the sense of immigration and so on.
But no one, very few stop to say
"Well, what about economic fairness or economic democracy?" Everyone stops short
because they know they're gonna get that label as a communist or Marxist. (- right)
They're gonna be a NATIONAL socialist and suddenly they're compared to Hitler!
I've had these comparisons made to myself. (- Really!)
Seriously it's unbelievable how the propaganda, as you know very well Jimmy,
the nonsensical polarization left-right,
Republican, Democrat, Marxist, communist, socialist.
Instead of thinking about it in terms of that let's think about what actually works.
Instead of looking at our system of economy as some,
some part of a dyad of "ooh is it socialism, is it capitalism?"
well how about we just ask the question "does the system even work?" (- does it work?)
That's it! It doesn't goddamn work!
- I mean you can look around it's not working, right? (- No!)
So all those statistics that we just gave,
it shows you and the question that I've been asking since I started reading this book
is what do you call a system that takes the richest country in the world
and renders half of its population poor or low income?
You call that a failed system! And no one talks about this so
let's just talk about the system a little bit more.
So automation, everyone's talking about automation:
we're gonna have driverless cars, driverless trucks,
no cashiers anymore.
Automation, you say in the book, it spurs inequality
and the fruits of... is that true? - Well keep going.
- And that the fruits of robots go to the upper class.
- As in the current system, absolutely. I think in fact [since] the big
since the great crisis, the Great Recession whatever they call it 2007-2008,
and then you had the recovery, right? And it's been well acknowledged that
90, 95% of that recovery money went straight to the upper five... - Right! Went straight to them.
- So that money really, that wealth is actually
output by the process of automation and industrial efficiency.
(that's a slight aside) In other words
all the automation and technological progress we've seen in industry and business
has gone to the upper five/one percent.
That is unfortunately where the driving force of rapid inequality is coming from.
Why? Because we're not using automation in the way that we should as a species
and that is to replace monotonous and boring labor to free people to enable
people to actually have creativity and to do things that they want to do.
So that's because of the system that we have, the inequality.
Automation itself is the ultimate contradiction of the system at this point,
the 21st century because, how are you gonna keep people employed if
you're gonna be replaced by machines? what do you do at that point?
It means you have to find another way to compensate, hence
the dawn of universal basic income promoted by
Elon Musk and other people that are aware of this.
- Yeah and I was gonna say what people don't realize, when they say
"Oh well if those McDonald's workers want $15 an hour just replace them with a robot."
What those people don't realize when they say that is that
when a McDonald's worker gets paid
they take that money and put it right back into the economy.
When a robot at McDonald's gets paid it does not go back into the economy.
That money now gets actually extracted from the economy
and it goes into a bank account probably offshore somewhere
or it goes into the pocket of a millionaire or a billionaire
who already has all the stuff he needs to buy.
So that creates this emptiness inside of our economy,
and the way I heard someone else describe it, I think Mark Blyth said
"The problem with robots is robots don't buy stuff."
And our whole economy is based on us buying stuff.
That's why after 9/11 George Bush said go out, go out shopping,
and go to your destinations, right?
And so- because this is what our whole economy is based on.
If we're afraid to shop, our economy will constrict.
So automation is gonna mean constriction
and all that extra money being saved by robots is not gonna go back into our economy
but go back to the 1%, right? do I have it correct?
- You do absolutely and of course the pundits will say "Well,
if you give more money to the business class it will just trickle down as it always does," right?
- But that evidence is in, right?
We've tried this trickle-down economics now going on 40 years,
and by the way just the sound of that: "Please sir, may I have a trickle?
Is there a trickle of money for me please sir? a trickle!"
That's what that sounds- that's exactly what it is!
And we're living in the- it doesn't work!
One more thing I want to just-
I've heard someone talking this morning about
the reason why Trump may get reelected in 2020
is because we're very close to full employment
and that
just by sheer economic force people are going to start getting raises.
And the reason why Bill Clinton was so popular in the '90s
even while being impeached (which he was!)
was because that was the first time in a long time workers saw a raise in pay.
It hasn't happened since and it didn't happen before since 1980,
and so it might happen right now with Trump
because we're in very close to full employment.
And is that- what do you say about that, is that true?
- Since the end of the Obama administration and the Trump administration's beginning to now,
90% of those new jobs are gig economy jobs.
They're not real jobs with benefits, they don't have health insurance.
- What does that mean, gig economy?
- It means that they're just freelancers. (- yeah)
Freelancers that have no liability, they can be fired at a whim.
- Like an Uber driver or a Lyft driver.
- Absolutely, and I think it's really depressing that we hold up this statistic.
Well first of all as you know there's a whole,
there's a massive percentage, probably 12-13% of people that are off the grid so to speak
when it comes to unemployment.
They're just not even in the system anymore because they don't try.
And they live in the outskirts,
and they do complementary things in their neighborhood.
So unemployment's actually a lot higher than ...
- So the REAL unemployment, what would you say?
- I'd think like 14 percent. - Really!
- Yeah, there's people that track these metrics every year,
and I'd say, it may be a little less than that now but it's close to that
because they're not counting these folks; these people live on the outskirts,
they're off the grid literally, they're not metrically denoted.
So getting back to the gig economy, okay yeah so we've had,
we apparently have more people employed but they're employed in terrible jobs
that don't have any future.
- Just to speak to that, 44% of homeless people have a job.
So what does that tell you about the jobs in America?
- Exactly.
Obviously that's not, just like GDP, it's not a metric of progress.
You have to go deeper (- right!), you don't just throw this stuff out there.
And of course Trump being the-... whatever he is-
he'll give you the superficial everything (- yes)
as the Republican Party will to support him.
One thing I want to say about the unemployment thing, just to make a point,
a broad social point not to distract, is that:
what has been the greatest driver of oppression on this planet since human history?
and that is oppression of Labor.
So the automation thing, if we can allow it to have fruition,
will create an amiable society, if we can start to remove the need of labor for income,
we will remove that pressure that has been the most oppressive force
from abject human slavery, up into the 60-
what is it, the 64 million slaves in the world today based on UN standards?
I apologize if that metric's not current, I think it's like 50 million, yeah.
And they're being manipulated through
the sex trafficking or through domestic house trafficking.
Like I'm sure you heard about the people in Washington,
political leaders that basically got slaves doing their laundry.
So all of that could go away
if we start to reorganize our economy, just that simple notion of
generating a new social construct where we're not constantly at war with each other,
employees aren't at war with other employees,
companies aren't at war with other companies.
That's what I talk about the end of the book, is you can do it.
- So yeah you do say, in fact I wrote it down:
"Everyone can enjoy a life of leisure
if the wealth created by machines is shared."
- That's actually what Stephen Hawking said, I quoted him.
He's absolutely right, even in his general intuitive brilliance when it came to social issues.
It makes perfect sense if you-...
Here's one thing that I think is worth bringing up before I forget,
is that we have this infinite wants culture.
We have people that think that we're insatiable, right?
"Humans are insatiable, they WANT the ten Lamborghinis,"
they want the room with the 700 rooms, the mansion, whatever.
- So it's all not true, right?
- It's preposterous on its head to say that that would be true.
I think it's a burden
to see that anyone would even want to have that kind of liability.
It's a value system problem that's been generated through our status,
market-driven status system, that says you are what you own
and you are how much money you have in your bank account.
But back to my core point though is that, that value system - if that's true -
then we might as well just slit all their throats right now!
This is what mainstream economists, political economists,
philosophers of economy have been saying forever.
And it's held up by all the libertarians like
"Oh you can't have any kind of balance or equal distribution.
You can't do that because people are irrational basically, and they have infinite wants!"
And that is absolutely preposterous that this idea, this myth-
- In fact there was a study done
(you could probably remember the name of it, I don't but)
the numbers that I remember being in the study was that
they tried to figure out your level of happiness as relates to your income.
- Oh right, the $75,000... - So talk about that.
- So that's a good metric, I think that's a little loose but
based on the polls that they did, once you reach a threshold of $75,000 a year.
I'm not sure what region they're accounting for,
assuming they're compensating and averaging it out.
- Like real estate would be a bigger factor in Los Angeles and New York and San Francisco
than it would be in Des Moines. - Exactly.
- So roughly there's a number
and they said it was 75,000, I'd say if you live in LA it would be probably $100,000.
- You're right. Or New York. - But after that point-
- After that point it doesn't influence their happiness. (- you don't get happier!)
They become probably more confused. (- yes!) You might like in my book how
I denoted all that what happens to rich people as they go up the economic ladder ...
where it talks about all the studies that have been done,
a lot of them (- oh yeah) from UC Berkeley,
how people when they get more and more wealth (- yes, less empathy)
they get less empathy, they can't recognize empathy!
- They can't even-... they don't talk about...
- They don't donate to anything but like museums (- yes!) and churches
or colleges, universities for like higher education.
They never contribute to poverty-... (- that's the greatest part of the book)
The poorest people of our world
(especially the United States but statistically denoted across the world)
are so much more kind!
because they have an actual identification to common folk.
But the more you get wealthy, the more you separate yourself,
the more you become like Trump!
the more it becomes some kind of weakness to care.
And these people, as denoted in the book,
a whole litany of things that would just make you cringe.
It seems counterintuitive, like you think you get more and more,
the more relaxed you become.
It's not what happens to these folks (- no!), they become much more ...
I'd say socially Darwinistic (- yes!), Malthusian, in the sense that they feel so entitled
and they relay that, and then what happens not to disrupt you,
what happens? where do those people go?
They go into politics, and they go into lobbies. (- yes!)
So then we wonder "Oh well, how did we get here?"
Well because the sickness of elitism driven by money and wealth
is what runs the government and most governments of the world
and that's why we are in this paralyzed state that we're in.
- Yes, so in a sense, being wealthy
starts to impact you in a mental health position in a negative way. (- It does.)
You start to lose empathy for other people to the point where you can't even-
They did- those studies are awesome where they
they couldn't pick up on social cues. (- right.) The richer you got
you lost your ability to pick up on the people's social cues from their face! (- Right.)
They've done other studies where they've even played games with Monopoly.
And so they would give one person way more money at the start
and then when that person won at the end they would say
"What did you think, it was fair? and they go "Yeah I think I played better than everybody."
So people who end up winning,
even when the game is rigged in their favor and they KNOW it,
still think they deserve what they got.
- Now relate that back to the sickness of the billionaire class.
Here's what I look for whenever I think of a billionaire,
may be positive ones, there's always something
philanthropic that has its role that we should commend, some nuance,
commend some element of their behavior but, here's the clincher.
If you're a billionaire, and you don't admit
that there's something very wrong with a system that allows you to be a billionaire
then you're kind of off the moral radar as far as I'm concerned.
You can go out and promote all the things that you think are positive,
you can be the Elon Musk humanist,
or the Richard Branson or the Bill Gates or whatever.
But if you're not acknowledging the fact that it's wrong for that to even exist,
just like it's wrong for there to be a homeless person on the street,
those extremes should not exist in human society and they do nothing positive.
Anyone that justifies this in terms of the innovation and so on (- right!),
that's another conversation we can have.
No single person innovates things.
Everyone builds upon everything else
laterally in terms of our communication actively,
and through generational time.
So this whole idea that "you get what you work for," well if that's the case
then every single person should be born into a blank space (- right)
with no streets or infrastructure;
they'd have to build everything themselves to get what they work for.
So these preposterous philosophical notions, they need to be shut down.
- You make points about the charity-giving from billionaires
and it's really interesting about
they don't want their tax dollars to go to the government
so like there's these billionaires; I met one of them.
And they have this,
I forget the name of the project but they're gonna give away half of their wealth
or something like- do you know about this?
- Supposedly, right? Are you referring to the old billionaire pact?
- Yes! Talk about that.
- So Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, a bunch of billionaires got together,
and it was a response to Occupy Wall Street by the way, it's just a big PR move. (- Yes!)
They say "Oh we're gonna set up this fund
and everyone's gonna make an agreement to give half if not more of their wealth
to charity when they die."
And this is their poetry, and that's all it is, because no one's really done it.
And if they do they do it to their own private foundations! (- That's it.)
So Bill Gates is like "I gave away all my money!" No he didn't!
He started a foundation and dumped his money inside of it
with numerous tax loopholes to benefit off of.
Not to say that he doesn't mean well,
but it's part of an elitist narcissism that these people actually think
they're more important in their views: they can influence countries,
they can change the health care like the Gates Foundation in some country
without any democratic presence at all! (- Right!)
That is totalitarian philanthropy and that's just wrong.
- That's it. So, these billionaires,
they don't want democracy in their philanthropy...
- And that's why they keep money out of the government, they keep it offshore.
They do everything to keep it in the pocket of their little crew
because they're always libertarian, like people like (- yes)
Peter Thiel, have you heard of this guy? - Yeah. - The founder of, oh my god!
He is the poster child of just everything ideologically wrong with the way-
He's the one that started the idea of 'seasteading,' have you heard of this thing? (- No.)
Well this is great. He wanted to, (he talked about this years ago)
he wants to build artificial islands off the coast in international waters because there's no law.
And he wants to create basically an "Ayn Rand utopia"
where you can have your libertarian values, there's no government,
everyone's just gonna be trading and it's gonna be a utopian market system!
Absolutely unbelievable what I read about that,
I couldn't believe how delusional you could possibly become.
Only if you're a billionaire could you do that obviously. (- Right.)
Like if it's a whole island of billionaires that's great!
But if you set in motion, I'll say this, if you set in motion on an island
the mechanics of this system in and of itself with no regulation, no government,
it would self-destruct in a matter of moments
because you can't have a warfare system without regulation.
There's got to be something without it self-destructing, in other words warfare meaning-...
The market externalities of this, not to change the subject,
I just wanted to just bring this up.
What this system does is create externalities in the form of poverty,
in the form of war, in the form of insurgencies, in the form of terrorism,
of course in the form of pollution and climate change.
All of these things are things that the system can't account for,
so it just dismisses them into the ether as things that aren't related.
And when people argue for the system (you know, the pro-libertarian folks),
they always think that those things are anomalous.
"Oh! it's the state government that messed up the free market and now we have poverty.
It's the state government that's not doing their job right,
and so now we have pollution." No!
The government exists in a middle ground between
trying to organize and stop the anarchy of this system of self-interest and competition,
and it's also a tool of differential advantage for the most privileged of the business class.
Point being the Koch brothers.
Koch brothers are right there influencing government as you would expect them to be
while at the same time there are people like Bernie Sanders
that are trying their best to stop this kind of behavior.
And that's the dynamic. And who's gonna win?
Who's gonna win in that circumstance? - The money's gonna win. - Yeah!
So I always joke, I say "Well if you have a whole society based on money,
self-interest, profit,
you know what? The Koch brothers SHOULD own and run America!
That would be consistent with our policy as a philosophy
in general in this country, and the world.
So why do we object? It's just hypocrisy in my mind when people don't see that.
- I want to stay one more, just one more moment on this charity idea.
There's a real, that to me seems like
a real nefarious reason why these billionaires like Bill Gates
want to have control over their own charity functions
with their money, right? Instead of having to pay
a reasonable amount in taxes and then have democracy
distribute that money where it's needed in society,
they don't want that; they don't want a democracy to decide where their money goes.
They want - just like they do in their own corporations -
(you know Richard Wolff talks about this, Professor Wolff, 'Democracy at Work')
there is no democracy at work where you spend most of your life, (- good point)
you're in a totalitarian system which is what a corporation is, right?
It's a top-down, totalitarian system.
There's no democracy, you're not voting to who's gonna be on the board.
The people with the money do, so ...
Instead of- they don't take their money and do charity like
"hey we're gonna go solve homelessness" which Jeff Bezos could do like that. (- yeah!)
Jeff Bezos is worth around $120 billion.
It would cost $20 billion to end homelessness in the United States yet he doesn't do it!
- It would cost $30 billion (- to end world hunger!) and extreme poverty, yeah.
- He could end world hunger and homelessness in the United States
and still have about $70 billion left over
which would still make him one of the richest guys in the world, yet he doesn't do it! (- nope)
And to me that's because people like Jeff Bezos are megalomaniacs
and that's a real thing.
- You know the statistic regarding people of high business power
are almost - not always but a very high percentage of them - are psychopaths (- yes)
by the very definition of how, what it takes for them to get to where they are,
the type of gaming mentality and indifference.
They actually have medical psychopathology. (- yes!)
And that's a well-established statistic ...
Just go back to the values of the president and the corporate concept.
He approaches his work as a president like he's the CEO of a country! (- yes!)
And that shouldn't be a surprise. But one thing I will say, remember
Thomas Piketty, he wrote the great book 'Capital in the 21st Century'
and he criticizes the wealth inequality.
And Bill Gates made a big article in rebuttal to it.
And what does he say? He goes
"You shouldn't want me in with those people that just buy a bunch of yachts.
I want to use my money for good."
And he implies that it's his right to make the decisions for the world effectively
in an undemocratic way (-that's right) to do that!
And that is definitely a sick state of mind.
- So what people like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos end up doing
is they don't go end homelessness or give money directly to help,
they'll go "I'm gonna fund a law school for women"
and "I'm gonna ..." you know, that's the kind of stuff they do,
and we don't get to decide how we need the money used so
that's really an interesting ...
People don't realize that; they go "Oh well they're rich, they deserve it,
they should be able to do what they want with their money."
Just like you said, they weren't born into a blank space,
they were born, they're standing on the shoulders of giants. (- exactly)
And because of our system, the way it's been so rigged
in the powerful people's favor, meaning the people with money,
the way it's been so rigged is that someone like Jeff Bezos can now
be the richest person in the history of the world including Pharaohs. (- yeah)
And at the same time the people generating that income for him are on food stamps. (- yep)
And what kind of person does that? a megalomaniac psychopath. (- yep)
And people don't realize that Jeff Bezos is a psychopath.
Yet, he owns the Washington Post,
he's into bed with the CIA to the tune of $600 million,
and he also sits on the board of the Pentagon!
So the richest man in the world who literally looks like Dr. Evil
owns the newspaper of note, is in bed with the deep state intelligence community,
has all your information stored because we live in a surveillance state,
that's why the CIA contracted him to store your information,
and then he sits on a Pentagon board and we're living in an endless war!
We are living in an Orwellian nightmare of perpetual war right now.
Right now we're spending 40% more on our military
than we were at the HEIGHT of the Afghanistan and Iraq war!
40% more! And we never had a meeting about that,
there was never a town hall, there were no op eds.
They just spent that money, and you make the point in the book
that it's because rich countries
can spend as much as they want. Why is that?
- If you're an empire, which the US is the cliché Empire,
but China's an empire and Russia's an empire,
you have so much dominance in the way that things unfold that
when you take loans from other countries like the United States does as a debtor nation,
it's not expected that they're ever gonna pay this stuff back
as long as the US dollar is strong.
Now you saw Iran recently ...
... applied the euro as opposed to the dollar for petrol trade and other things.
That's a good sign in terms of deflating the power of the US dollar,
not necessarily for us because it's all systemically related
but in terms of the broader kind of moral view.
So the United States, it's been estimated across the world that by 2040
60 to 70% of all nations will be bankrupt by their own metrics.
The United States isn't susceptible to that because it just makes its own money. (- yeah)
It has this arrangement with the central bank which is just a fraudulent show,
a sleight of hand! (- yes)
It's a sleight of hand between this big banking cartel that makes money out of nothing
in exchange for bonds that we make out of nothing in the Treasury,
and so suddenly all this fake debt is made between literally just,
it's just one big group of people that don't really care.
The Federal Reserve doesn't care if the United States pays its money back.
It just needs its cartel to be respected
and the power of the financial class and the financial system
to be as strong as it ever has been which is why you see Goldman Sachs
sitting next to the president, across every administration.
- So, please let me stop for a second. - Yeah, sure.
- So let me explain what you're saying.
So a poor nation goes to the IMF, gets a loan.
Now, they're immediately in debt.
Now they can't pay that debt back.
The IMF goes back to that country and says
"Now you have to sell off some of your public space to our corporations
so you can pay your debt, because you're in debt!"
Now the United States is in debt to the tune of $19 trillion right now,
we're never gonna pay that back.
And it doesn't matter because as you say in the book,
money is made out of thin air and
they only care about regulations and the public perception. (- yeah)
And that any dominant country meaning the United States
can extend debt to infinity
moving the goalposts as they go along,
and by 2050 you say 60% of the world's countries will be bankrupt,
but we'll never be bankrupt (- yeah)
because we print our own money.
- Well other countries do that too mind you,
but the difference is those countries aren't empires, they don't have the strength-...
80% of all the major transnational corporations are US-based.
So, all these huge companies- they don't really care about nations anymore
as you can imagine, the trade agreements, the TTP.
- There are no nations! There's only corporations.
- But there's still some grounding to US policy and US favoritism
and of course US political power,
because US political power is really global political power.
So the "nest" of the US Empire is alive and well when it comes to the merger of
politics, geopolitics and of course business, trade agreements and all that stuff;
that's why the US is so untouchable.
The joke you know, every couple years,
"Ooh! We're gonna shut down the government because we have to increase the debt limit!"
It's a complete comic routine - what are they gonna do, not do it?!
So that's the point there, but other countries, just like the poor of the world that suffer with debt,
they DO get screwed. So they're the ones that get their resources taken through austerity
and through different trade agreements-
remember the IMF in the World Bank are basically Western institutions.
They are an extension of Western hegemony.
Their interest IS the neoliberal interest,
which goes back again to a think tank years ago in the '70s
that was trying to counter communism
that said "We need something to counter communism to start to
end any kind of socialist ideology across the world,
so neoliberalism is our new philosophy
and we're gonna put it out there like a religion,"
and that's what all these institutions do.
Which is why you can't have any country such as
almost all the Latin American countries that have been overthrown
as they tried to do something different throughout the '50s, '60s and '70s.
One thing I recently did a talk of, was a man named Salvador Allende, from Chile.
Salvador Allende was democratically elected,
he was a stern - not a Marxist in the traditional sense,
he didn't like the bureaucracy of the Soviet Union,
he wasn't supported by the Soviet Union -
but in Chile he said "Okay, I'm gonna turn this around."
He was so sick of the US transnational corporations taking all the resources,
owning all the land, US-based, as they did.
(I'm sure you know people like John Perkins, he talked about a lot of this stuff.)
And so he said "I'm gonna nationalize these industries and I'm gonna set up
a new system of economic organization."
Now this is an important tidbit of history
in terms of the kind of solutions I talk about at the end of this book.
In the 1970s a man named Stafford Beer -
he was really famous in systems engineering,
all about how to make systems work, be viable as he would call it.
What does it mean to have a working engine, that's self-contained?
What does it mean to have a working economy?
What does it mean to have a working social system?
How do we approach that subject scientifically, and this is what
the work of cybernetics, Stanford Beer,
Ross Ashby, all these guys that no one's ever heard of,
but actually very important in history. - Is this called Systems Theory?
You can call it that but, they call it cybernetics, for many years.
Basically it's an interdisciplinary view
of how things work in both science and humanities.
It's very deep. (-yes)
And it also relates to sociology and social constructs as we would imagine.
These are systems, they have properties.
Systems have properties that are shared throughout the universe, in fact.
No metaphysics needed there; there's certain things that
that are inherent to your body that can be emulated
in the way we organize society: biomimicry. But I won't go too far down that road.
But anyway in the 1970s he was called up by Allende,
he said "I want you to develop a new system for my country
to figure out how we can organize and optimize our economic flows
with my new nationalized industries."
Because the companies just bailed
and Allende was considered the enemy of the world at this point.
Because you don't do that in a capitalist society.
You don't knock out your corporations and start nationalizing.
- Because then they're gonna call the Marines!
- Exactly, which is what they did; he was overthrown and he died in the overthrow.
But before he died for 2 years he had this amazing project called 'Project Cybersyn.'
Cyber-Syn. So cyber and then "syn," people can look this up.
It's a tidbit of history, it's been propagandized, they put a big
thing in the New York Times: 'Chile now run by socialist computer.' No!
What they did is they tried to figure out how to take into account
all the dynamics and variability of a robust, national economy
and figure out how to organize it as a unit,
not in the bureaucracy of the Soviet Union; these guys hated that.
Allende hated it, Stafford Beer the organizer of this, hated it
because it was just this big horrible bureaucracy, it was extremely inefficient,
and didn't have real time information; it didn't work, as we've come to find out,
in the way that it needed to work. - You mean the communist system.
- Yeah. So this was the only attempt in history
where the actual scientific approach - things I advocate in this book - was applied.
And it almost, almost got into fruition
if Allende wasn't overthrown by the CIA.
It's one of those moments in history-
there's actually a guy that wrote a whole book about it, it's in Spanish.
He wrote a book, sci-fi book, to describe what happened
if it actually would have worked; I want to read it.
- So you're saying that in Chile he was
trying to institute what you are prescribing as the fix
to our current system.
- An interdisciplinary approach to economic management that's democratized,
and we have the technology to do that.
Back then they used telex machines, they had one computer,
they had to engage very crudely
with all the people that were organized in different areas of industry.
It's a big thing, I won't go in the details of it.
But what I advocate is that we have all this amazing technology,
we have the ability to communicate instantly.
We have the ability to track what we're doing to say be sustainable; imagine that!
Imagine if the industries of our world actually cared about tracking say
rain forest depletion or biodiversity loss,
and then they stopped their behavior based upon those limits when they're reached.
We don't do that. We don't have any contingency plan,
which is why we're again flying off that cliff on this train.
And we could talk about the five things,
remember I talked about five different transitions at the end of the book.
The application of automation,
the move from property to access
which we've already seen trends of that occur with say Uber and so on.
People don't need to own one of everything, they need access to what they need,
create a more communal environment.
- So you're talking about like, that's like when you see zip cars, things like that?
- Exactly, but more specific, like
I envision in the deep future where people don't really own anything!