David Simon, journalist, author and creator of two very successful HBO series, “The Wire” and “Treme,” spoke with Bill Moyers this past week on Moyers and Company on PBS about the condition of our economy and the need to raise the minimum wage. He told him that, “We are Reagan’s children, we are Thatcher’s children, we bought this stuff hook, line, and sinker. We’re getting the America we paid for!”
Moyers asked him about the call by the President in his State of the Union Address for Congress to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour pointing out that had it been adjusted for inflation and increased productivity it would be over $20 an hour now.
Simon told him that it is all based on the false belief that supply side economics would benefit all of us, rich and poor alike.
“I think supply-side economics has been shown to be bankrupt as an intellectual concept,” he said. “It’s not only unproved, the opposite has occurred if you’re looking at the divergence in the economic health of middle class families or the working class, what’s left of the working class –certainly the underclass — and you’re looking at where the wealth of the country is going and how fast. We are becoming two Americas in every fundamental sense.”
As Simon pointed out, we have marginalized so many by showing them that as far as corporate America is concerned they have no value that we have already created two Americas, the America of the haves and the other of the have nots. This cannot continue if the nation is to remain strong and united.
He decries the notion that if we just let the marketplace have free reign to do as it pleases, in the words of an old Merle Haggard song, “We’ll all be drinkin’ free bubble-up, Eatin’ that rainbow stew.”
“I can’t get past just how juvenile the thought is that if you just let the markets be the markets,” he said, “they’ll solve everything.”
Perhaps his most cogent argument in the interview was when he said:
“Why can’t Congress look at this and say “You know what, we say we want these people working, we say we don’t want welfare cheats, we say we don’t want the welfare rolls to grow. Here are people who are willing to work full-time to be part of our service economy. Let’s give them some discretionary income, they’re probably going to spend it buying American products…”
Watch a short excerpt in the video below.
Or the entire interview here.