How did a country with foundational roots in due process, free speech and democracy end up with bitter polarization and government dysfunction among its citizens? Author Steven Brill addresses America’s ironies in his new book “Tailspin.” An excerpt appeared recently in Time Magazine. Brill spoke to Texas Standard Host David Brown.
In his book, Brill explains the connection between hot-topic issues like income inequality and failing infrastructure with core American values, including freedom of speech and democratic elections.
“The things that make America great, including the First Amendment, have been used to allow money to corrupt the political system,” Brill says. “These distinctly American ideas became the often unintended instruments for splitting the country into two class: the protected and unprotected.”
The book explains the impact of inflation on middle class wages and the differences in how rich and poor Americans recovered from the economic crash of 2008. He says that despite the fact that the U.S. remains the richest country in the world, it has the third-highest poverty rate among the 35 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, behind only Turkey and Israel.
Brill, who is a lecturer at Yale, a lawyer, and founder of Court TV, admits that despite the flaws, all hope is not lost for the United States.
“There are more opportunities available today for women, nonwhites and other minorities than ever,” he says. “This book is full of people who are high achievers that have developed programs that are reforming the political money system and finding bipartisan solutions for issues like crumbling infrastructure.”
The book is for those who are skeptical of America’s political, economic and social institutions, but also for those who believe that the next generation will not have the same issues. Because, as Brill notes, the present is hard enough.
“Lots of people are going to wake up,” he says “like how I woke up a few years ago and ask, what happen to us? How did this happen to us? How do we get back?”
Written by Haley Butler.