The State of the Union’s Wealth Divide
Last week, in his State of the Union Speech, President Obama said, “Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by; let alone to get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.” Obama was forced to mention wealth inequality because the real disparity that has caused rising poverty and hunger, but his overall message was still one of “if you work hard enough, you can get ahead,” rather than an honest focus on the structural causes of the wealth divide and how to reduce it. To have this conversation, we’ve invited Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report and labor economist Jack Rasmus. We look at the state of the wealth divide, its causes and its remedies.
Relevant articles and websites:
American State of the Union: A Festival of Lies by Glen Ford
Free Rider: State of the Union: Awful by Margaret Kimberley
Obama and Friends Discover Inequality by Jack Rasmus
Bernanke’s Biggest Beneficiaries by Jack Rasmus
State of Power: Exposing the Davos Class by Nick Buxton
The son of famed disc jockey Rudy “The Deuce” Rutherford, the first Black man to host a non-gospel television show in the Deep South – Columbus, Georgia, 1958 – Glen was reading newswire copy on-the-air at age eleven. Glen’s first full-time broadcast news job was at James Brown’s Augusta, Georgia radio station WRDW, in 1970 – where ‘The Godfather of Soul” shortened Glen’s surname to “Ford.”
Glen Ford worked as a newsperson at four more local stations: in Columbus, Georgia, Atlanta, Baltimore – where he created his first radio syndication, a half-hour weekly news magazine called “Black World Report” – and Washington, DC. In 1974, Ford joined the Mutual Black Network (88 stations), where he served as Capitol Hill, State Department and White House correspondent, and Washington Bureau Chief, while also producing a daily radio commentary. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted “America’s Black Forum” (ABF), the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television.
ABF made Black broadcast history. For the next four years, the program generated national and international headlines nearly every week. Never before – and never since – had a Black news entity commanded the weekly attention of the news services (AP, UPI, Reuters, Agence France-Presse – even Tass, the Soviet news agency) and the broadcast networks.
While still host and co-owner of ABF, Ford in 1979 created “Black Agenda Reports,” which provided five programs each day on Black Women, History, Business, Sports and Entertainment to 66 radio stations. The syndication produced more short-form programming than the two existing Black radio networks, combined.
Ford also produced the McDonald’s-sponsored radio series “Black History Through Music,” aired on 50 stations, nationwide.
In 1987, Ford launched “Rap It Up,” the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations. During its six years of operations, “Rap It Up” allowed Ford to play an important role in the maturation of a new African American musical genre. He organized three national rap music conventions, and wrote the Hip Hop column for Jack The Rapper’s Black radio trade magazine.
Ford co-founded BlackCommentator.com (BC) in 2002. The weekly journal quickly became the most influential Black political site on the Net. In October, 2006, Ford and the entire writing team left BC to launch BlackAgendaReport.com (BAR).
In addition to his broadcast and Internet experience, Glen Ford was national political columnist for Encore American & Worldwide News magazine; founded The Black Commentator and Africana Policies magazines; authored The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion (IOJ, 1985); voiced over 1000 radio commercials (half of which he also produced) and scores of television commercials; and served as reporter and editor for three newspapers (two daily, one weekly).
Ford was a founding member of the Washington chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ); executive board member of the National Alliance of Third World Journalists (NATWJ); media specialist for the National Minority Purchasing Council; and has spoken at scores of colleges and universities.
Dr. Jack Rasmus, Ph.D Political Economy, teaches economics and politics at St. Mary’s College in California. He is the author and producer of the various nonfiction and fictional workers, including the books ‘Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few‘, Pluto Press, 2012, ‘Epic Recession: Prelude to Global Depression‘, Pluto Press, 2010, and ‘The War at Home: The Corporate Offensive from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush‘, Kyklosproductions, 2006. He has written and produced several stage plays, including ‘Fire on Pier 32‘ and ‘1934‘. Jack is the host of the weekly radio show, Alternative Visions, on the Progressive Radio Network, and a journalist writing on economic, political and labor issues for various magazines, including ‘Z‘ magazine, ‘Against the Current‘, ‘In These Times‘ and others. Before his current roles as author, journalist and radio host, Jack was an economist and market analyst for several global companies 18 years and, for more than a decade, a local union president, vice-president, contract negotiator, and organizer for several labor unions, including the UAW, CWA, SEIU, and HERE. Jack’s website is www.kyklosproductions.com where his published articles, radio-tv interviews, plays and book reviews are available for download. He blogs at jackrasmus.com, where weekly commentaries on US and global economic matters are available. His twitter handle is @drjackrasmus.
Jack is the owner and principal of Kyklos Productions LLC, which produces stage plays, videos, music CDs and books. Kyklos Productions also provides consulting and production services for video and music CD creation.
Jack is also available for keynote and other speaking events on various economic, political, and environmental topics. Jack may be contacted at email@example.com or by calling the Kyklos Productions business line at 925-999-9789.