Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What I Said on "Larry King Live"

Ever since Generation Debt came out in 2006 I have been very lucky to be able to occasionally comment on TV and radio on generational and economic issues--three or four times a month, these days. I respect what broadcasters do. Broadcast communication requires special skills of confidence, improvisation, and wit--it's a tough job.

Yet it has to be said that TV is generally a low-information medium. There's nothing like it when there's true breaking news--election results are coming in or there's a big natural disaster. But if you watch for an hour on a slow news day you might learn that a bus crashed somewhere in Venezuela, and that bacon is bad for you. I haven't owned a television for three years, and I get most of my information from print, sometimes radio. So I'm ambivalent about appearing on TV, and I hardly ever watch my clips, as the pros do. I hate the feeling that I'm essentially a spokesmodel for the various businesses with which I'm professionally associated.

I was the youngest guest that night by about 10 years. Somebody in the green room asked me if I was Arianna Huffington's assistant (she was there to talk about politics).

Our brief was simply to talk about stocks vs. real estate. But as readers of my blog and book know, I'm extremely worried about what's going on with the economy. I think the recession may be very grave and destabilizing. Americans have to change their behavior, especially around debt. But average Americans have been spending beyond their means simply to afford middle-class basics like housing, health care, and education. If they can't borrow any more, our quality of life is truly going to suffer.

Meanwhile, rising energy costs and climate change demand that the energy industry, which is the largest single concentration of capital in our economy, must move away from the importation of fossil fuels. This is going to cause huge economic upheaval all by itself.

One important part of the solution is democratic government action. We, the people, must rewrite the rules of the market, to limit environmental degradation, the unregulated speculation that has brought our financial system to the brink of ruin, and the concentration of wealth. The market and the corporation are not people--they are not born free. They are instruments that serve at the pleasure of the people, by the rules we set, for the benefit of everyone.
We also need to strengthen the social safety net and transform our infrastructure. Historically, these are tasks that only government can accomplish, whether on the local or national levels.

I didn't get to say all of this on TV, of course. But the wonderfully kind Wolf Blitzer did give me an opening to say a piece of it.
After devoting most of the segment to the three other panelists, he tossed me the last question. "Are you optimistic, Anya?"
I took a deep breath. "I think I'm going to optimistic when I vote in November, that there's going to be a different set of policies out there that change what happens to the economy for ordinary people.

BLITZER: You think whoever's elected can make a difference?

KAMENETZ: I think we're at the end of market fundamentalism and that we're in the beginning of people who believe in government solutions to some of these problems.

BLITZER: You don't trust the private sector, the markets?

KAMENETZ: Did you see the news today?

BLITZER: You obviously don't.

KAMENETZ: I think that there's a much larger role that the federal government can take on behalf of ordinary people's incomes.

Thanks, Wolf! I had a great time. I hope you didn't regret it.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I think I'm going to optimistic when I vote in November"?

Anya, you aren't qualified to be Arianna Huffington's assistant, let alone make sweeping pronouncements about the health of a very complex economy. Your writing follows the same formula over and over; select a few pieces of data that support your opinion that things are going to hell in a hand basket, and then hyperventilate over them in 500 words or less. I honestly used to be a fan, but you've lost me.

Trey Reeme said...

Love that you asked Wolf, "Have you seen the news today?" :)

Anonymous said...

The "wonderfully kind" Mr. Blitzer was also one of the most exuberant cheerleaders in the run-up to the Iraq war... fuck him.

Anonymous said...

you are sure hot as hell, come over to prague and meet me on the charles bridge next week at noon. I dont give a shit about the economy nor do I watch tv, but I would listen to you, at least for two or three minutes

Anonymous said...

Talk of changing the law is interesting, but as things stand is pointless. However, much of what is happening isn't because laws and regulations are to lax, but rather the laws and regulations on the books are not being enforced. For example the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is supposed to ensure that banks practice sound lending practices. However, despite data showing that minimum credit card payments were being set to negatively amortize, which is already illegal. Finally, in 2007, the Comptroller acted, effectively doubling minimum payments on many cards. Had this been done in 2000 or 2001, it would have solved the problem. However, since people were allowed to build up mountains of debt for 6 or 7 years without having to make real payments on it, rather than protect people from dangerous practices, it caused many to miss payments, leading them to get hit with even more fees, and sometimes pushing people to bankruptcy. As a 29 year old, I had many friends who got into trouble with this. I personally avoided it thanks to my inability to even get a credit card until two years out of college, when I had already seen some of the dangers and so was more careful (I am still mystified by the fact that I couldn't get one - my credit bureau reports were blank, and I got a pre-approved offer that was addressed to Smokey, my cat, but for some lucky reason, I couldn't get one). My point is that until we get our government to enforce existing laws regulations, there isn't much point in pushing for new ones - these things mean nothing if they are simply going to be ignored (or if we wait so long to act on them that they are too little, too late).

Anonymous said...

You sound like another rich mindless liberal chick who couldn't do the math for an economics degree... but sure understands how to get herself on TV.

The only difference between you and Ann Coulter is you're younger and better looking, and suck up to Democrats.

Anonymous said...

"I respect what broadcasters do."

You would since you ar e a kike and the media is infested with kikes.