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Robert Reich
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Sunday 23 December 2012
Every year about now I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” again to remind myself what Frank Capra understood about America — its essential decency and common sense.

Bedford Falls or Pottersville?

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It’s easy to feel discouraged about the bullying by right-wing Republicans and their patrons over everything from gun control to taxes and social safety nets to trade unions and jobs.

Every year about now I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” again to remind myself what Frank Capra understood about America — its essential decency and common sense.

In many ways the nation is better than it was in 1946 when the movie first appeared. Women have gained economic power and reproductive rights; we enacted Civil Rights and Voting Rights and, through Medicare and Medicaid, dramatically reduced poverty among the elderly; we began to tackle environmental devastation; we stopped treating gays as criminals and have even started to recognize equal marriage rights. We elected and then re-elected the first black president of the United States. We have enacted the bare beginnings of universal healthcare.

But we are still in danger of the “Pottersville” Capra saw as the consequence of what happens when Americans fail to join together and forget the meaning of the public good.

If Lionel Barrymore’s “Mr. Potter” were alive today he’d call himself a “job creator” and condemn George Bailey as a socialist. He’d be financing a fleet of lobbyists to get lower taxes on multi-millionaires like himself, overturn environmental laws, trample on workers’ rights, and shred social safety nets. He’d fight any form of gun control. He’d want the citizens of Pottersville to be economically insecure – living paycheck to paycheck and worried about losing their jobs – so they’d be dependent on his good graces.

The Mr. Potters are still alive and well in America, threatening our democracy with their money and our common morality with their greed.

Call me naive or sentimental but I still believe the George Baileys will continue to win this contest. They know we’re all in it together, and that if we succumb to the bullying selfishness of the Potters we lose America and relinquish the future.

Happy holidays.

This article was originally posted on Robert Reich's blog.



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ABOUT Robert Reich

 

ROBERT B. REICH, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org. Robert Reich's new film, "Inequality for All" is available on DVD
and blu-ray, and on Netflix in February.

I agree with you on Lionel

I agree with you on Lionel Barrymore’s “Mr. Potter”. Trouble is that our current president, seems the evil twin of G. W. Bush. The illogical idea of of even considering engaging the republicans on Social Security/Medicare, brings out his far right desires. He has thus far trotted out two failed committees with which he loaded with Tea Party/Conservatives in hopes that they would do those evil deeds for him.

What is wrong with the man? His main occupations seem to be killing people in the middle East and Africa and attempting to sell the middle class down the river.

He has never even mentioned that the ONLY way to cure the economy is to end outsourcing or hobbling it by an EO placing excise taxes on all outsourced jobs and imports which bring their price to 5% above the price of domestic made goods.

I am a gun collector of old

I am a gun collector of old western firearms. I was a quick draw and shoot champion while a college student and beyond for 7 consecutive years.

One wingless guardian angel

One wingless guardian angel up against mr Pottie's horde of flying monkies? we're not in Kansas anymore Toto. Let's hope that truth, honor , innocence and unity can overcome corrution, greed , divisiveness and wickedness if a bucket of water won't put end to the WWW's reign of terror.

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