intro’d to him here, via Gabor‘s post on fb, where he writes:
The always brilliant David Simon (creator of HBO’s “The Wire”) on the so-called ‘war on drugs’ — which is to say, the war on poor people.
3:35 – capital and profits are not metrics for a healthy society
4:19 – at this point, human beings are worth less every day, our market-based economy is making sure of that
5:29 – the tension between the two
10:25 – we are the jail-ing-est country on the planet
12:15 – the idea of pure capitalism –
13:50 – elections are about how much money you can throw on the pile
15 – you can’t have a great society without both – liberty and responsibility
re-intro’d to David here:
Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2013: Some People are More equal than others
Published on Nov 6, 2013
There are two Americas. In one, bankers get golden parachutes, insider traders return to society as well-paid consultants, and influence is for sale. In the other, opportunity is scarce and forgiveness scarcer, jail awaits those caught possessing recreational drugs, and cries for help are ignored. Society preaches forgiveness for the rich and retribution for the poor. Entrenched inequality and its companion, poverty, are the dark side of the American dream for a citizenry united by name, but not by rules.
Is the divide fair, the result of natural winners and losers, or is it built into the system? We know that inequality is bad for the rich as well as the poor, and that more equal countries are healthier and happier, but this knowledge won’t bring change by itself. What can be done when those with the power to change the divide are those that benefit most from it? As long as the more equal won’t let go, the less equal will suffer.
From his journalist days on the crime beat through to his work on shows like The Wire and Treme, David Simon has brought the divide between these two America’s to life like no other. Simon looks at the oppressed, the victims of manmade disasters such as the war on drugs through to natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina, and forces us to ask whether the fictional stories he shows us on screen are any less real than the theatre of compassion we see on the news from the very same people who have the power to treat all citizens equally but choose not to.
the notion that capital is our measure is one of our worst mistakes.. misunderstandings..
i’m astonished at how comfortable we are absolving ourselves with what is basically a moral choice.. are we all in this together or are we not…
it’s too much to contemplate that the whole country might be connected…
in 1932 it got better because they dealt the cards again… we’re either going to do that in some practical way.. or we’re going to keep going the way we’re going.. and there are going to be so many people outside.. that someone is going to pick up the brick…
29 – we either figure out the city.. or we die
new orleans, skilled labor, that manufacture moments..
our greatest export – african american music – happened in 8 sq blocks in the world
42 – who matters more in death really speaks to the two cities living side by side
52 – getting to where the argument has to be..
1:01 – if i could fix one thing.. get the money out of politics – if you didn’t have to purchase elections..i can’t criticize anyone like Brand who says.. i’m not playing…
1:06 – just give me the money you’re wasting on trying to avoid 1/3 of the country
That may be the ultimate tragedy of capitalism in our time, that it has achieved its dominance without regard to a social compact, without being connected to any other metric for human progress.We understand profit. In my country we measure things by profit. We listen to the Wall Street analysts. They tell us what we’re supposed to do every quarter. The quarterly report is God. Turn to face God. Turn to face Mecca, you know. Did you make your number? Did you not make your number? Do you want your bonus? Do you not want your bonus?And that notion that capital is the metric, that profit is the metric by which we’re going to measure the health of our society is one of the fundamental mistakes of the last 30 years. I would date it in my country to about 1980 exactly, and it has triumphed.the great irony of it is that the only thing that actually works is not ideological, it is impure, has elements of both arguments and never actually achieves any kind of partisan or philosophical perfection.It’s pragmatic, it includes the best aspects of socialistic thought and of free-market capitalism and it works because we don’t let it work entirely. And that’s a hard idea to think – that there isn’t one single silver bullet that gets us out of the mess we’ve dug for ourselves.Their eyes glaze. You know they don’t want to hear it. It’s too much. Too much to contemplate the idea that the whole country might be actually connected.So how does it get better? In 1932, it got better because they dealt the cards again and there was a communal logic that said nobody’s going to get left behind.So I don’t know what we do if we can’t actually control the representative government that we claim will manifest the popular will. Even if we all start having the same sentiments that I’m arguing for now, I’m not sure we can effect them any more in the same way that we could at the rise of the Great Depression
David Simon (born 1960) is an American author, journalist, and a writer/producer of television series. He worked for theBaltimore Sun City Desk for twelve years (1982–95) and wrote Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets (1991) and co-wroteThe Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood (1997) with Ed Burns. The former book was the basis for theNBC series Homicide: Life on the Street (1993–99), on which Simon served as a writer and producer. Simon adapted the latter book into the HBO mini-series The Corner (2000).
He is the creator of the HBO television series The Wire (2002-2008), for which he served as executive producer, head writer, and show runner for all five seasons. He adapted the non-fiction book Generation Kill into an HBO mini-series and served as the show runner for the project. He was selected as one of the 2010 MacArthur Fellows and named an Utne Readervisionary in 2011. Simon also co-created the HBO series Treme with Eric Overmyer, which began its third season in 2012.
America as a Horror Show
hmmm – work is meaning – by what we’re paid to do?
government is broken – and it doesn’t matter who it is.. ie: obama or not…
we’re all a part of the same society – and it’s either going to be a mediocre society that abuses people or it’s not
we put more people in jail than any other place in the world.. and we’ve managed to let people get a profit off that..
drove the world in consumer ism?
give the money to the rich and they’ll see that you’re not poor
if you want your economy to grow – you need to have money to buy stuff..
if money is our measure – that’s a brutal society
i don’t think it’s obama – i think it’s that he encountered a rigged game
the drug war is a war on the poor (we could pay them to be useless – we’re too selfish for that, or get them skills to be useful – that costs too much, or hunt them down – that’s the drug war)
sept 2014 new show:
If, on the other hand, “You’re starting to believe that even the vernacular we’re using to argue about solutions to problems is dysfunctional, watch this show because I think it’s a perfect metaphor for what the American government is no longer capable of doing – addressing problems in a utilitarian fashion for the good of most people. American politics has left the room when it comes to finding solutions for our problems.”
Show Me a Hero, which will appear on screens late next year or in spring 2016, is based on a non-fiction book of the same name by former New York Times writer Lisa Belkin. It marks the time, says Simon, when American politics left the room.
We’re only as good a society as how we treat those who are most vulnerable and nobody’s more vulnerable than our poor. To be poor is not a crime, except in America.”
The city to me is the only possible vehicle we have to measure human achievement….We’re either going to figure out how to live together in these increasingly crowded, increasingly multi-cultural population centers or we’re not. We’re either going to get great at this or we’re going to fail as a species.
april 2015 – on baltimore:
The guys who would really kick your ass without thinking twice were black officers. If I had to guess and put a name on it, I’d say that at some point, the drug war was as much a function of class and social control as it was of racism.
The situation you described has been around for a while. Do you have a sense of why the Freddie Gray death has been such a catalyst for the response we’ve seen in the last 48 hours?
Because the documented litany of police violence is now out in the open. There’s an actual theme here that’s being made evident by the digital revolution. It used to be our word against yours. It used to be said — correctly — that the patrolman on the beat on any American police force was the last perfect tyranny.
So do you see how this ends or how it begins to turn around?
We end the drug war. I know I sound like a broken record, but we end the fucking drug war. The drug war gives everybody permission to do anything. It gives cops permission to stop anybody, to go in anyone’s pockets, to manufacture any lie when they get to district court.
Medicalize the problem, decriminalize — I don’t need drugs to be declared legal, but if a Baltimore State’s Attorney told all his assistant state’s attorneys today, from this moment on, we are not signing overtime slips for court pay for possession, for simple loitering in a drug-free zone, for loitering, for failure to obey, we’re not signing slips for that: Nobody gets paid for that bullshit, go out and do real police work.