Annie Leonard: America Isn’t Broke, the System is Broken

So, is the U.S. really broke? We are the richest nation in the world, right?

But those riches aren’t exactly creating healthy, equitable wealth.  The money is going to the 1% for bailouts and to subsidize the “dinosaur economy.”  Our wealth is continuing to prop up a “throw away economy,” says Annie Leonard, host of the popular internet film “The Story of Stuff.”

Leonard is back with a new piece, “The Story of Broke.” The film looks at the amount of subsidies used to prop up a dirty, inefficient economy and energy system — creating the appearance of the country being “broke.”

According to Leonard, it’s not that we’re broke. It’s that the system is broken.

11 Responses to Annie Leonard: America Isn’t Broke, the System is Broken

  1. Raul M. says:

    Yeah, someone speaks out.

  2. BBHY says:

    America has 11 Super Aircraft Carriers. These are not only very expensive to build, they are very, very expensive to operate. Each one needs a huge crew of thousands, all kinds of supplies, a fleet of very expensive aircraft, a host of surface support ships, and tons of fuel (for the aircraft, the ships are nuclear powered, which is also very costly).

    Most of the other countries in the world have no carriers at all, our biggest rival has one. We have 11, and number 12 is under construction. This is costing us enormously. If our military leaders can’t protect America with 8, or even 6 then they should all be fired.

    That is just one of our many, many needless military expenses.

  3. Gail Zawacki says:

    a terrific video on the same topic of concentrated wealth:

  4. Ken Barrows says:

    If you spend more than you take in and your infrastructure is decaying, you are broke.

  5. Bill Goedecke says:

    I agree. We are definitely giving our tax money to the wrong people, but all the money in our financial system is highly leveraged.

  6. Tim says:

    No, we’re not broke. In 2011, the Federal government will take in 14.8% of GDP in revenue, the lowest percentage since 1950. If over 20% of all income and nearly half of all disposable income goes to the top 1% of households, you’re not broke. Your country is being run by plutocrats.

  7. Mark Shapiro says:

    That’s correct.

    Correct, and very sad. So kudos to Annie Leonard.

  8. Ken Barrows says:

    I agree that the wealthiest should pay more, but I think it’s fantasy to think that our financial position will magically turn around with a few tax increases. As this site has mentioned, it’s a “Ponzi scheme,” which is a sure path to insolvency. We also need to think about a baby boom generation set to retire and collect Social Security/Medicare.

  9. Yes, but she it talking about using the money for investments that change our economy from a Ponzi scheme into something more sustainable — for example, investments in clean energy.

  10. Tim says:

    If you think about the consequences on the budgetary numbers that arise from the current gross inequality in income, your objections are mostly answered. Social Security is not in serious trouble – all the screaming about it by the plutocrats notwithstanding. The program does have a moderate longer term problem, but surpluses the program have been piling up ever since the system was “fixed” in the mid-eighties by large FICA tax increases (they were transferred to the rest of the budget). Those transfers were always supposed to be paid back by transfers in the other direction. Not until the 2030s do the Social Security surpluses actually disappear. Of course, now the plutocrats are going to pretend that wasn’t planned for in the 1980s. Furthermore, FICA surpluses would have been even larger if the income distribution had stayed the same as it was when the FICA tax increases were put into effect. Economic growth was expected to handle the part of the demographic problem not taken care of by the FICA tax increase. But since households at the top took all the benefits of the the economic growth as much higher wages, those earners below the Social Security cap (about $113,000 in 2011) are paid less than was anticipated – hence lower revenue for Social Security than anticipated. Ergo, the part of the Social Security “problem” that isn’t a pack of lies being peddled by the Cato institute can be traced to the huge increase in income inequality.

    Medicare constitutes the least of our exploding health care cost problem, since Medicare costs have increased more slowly than other health care costs. When we get serious about going after our grossly inefficient, grossly expensive, crony-capitalist health care system, we’ll also get Medicare’s budgetary problems under control.

  11. Ken Barrows says:

    Social Security projections are based on an economy growing at 3% per year or so. How is that good for global warming?

    I’m all for shifting to different investments, but advocating growth runs counter to seriousness on climate change.