My Resoc Interview
By Ben Bagdikian at Nov 12, 2009
1. At a public talk someone asks you, "okay, I understand what you reject, but I wonder what are you for? What institutions do you favor that will be better than what we have for the economy, polity, gender, race, ecology, or whatever you have vision for?
I favor expansion of the community and national organizations of influence to include more women who have already shown their skill in expression of personal values. I favor a less-than-one-percent tax imposed on all tax returns showing $30,000 or higher to create a fund to expand the clean water, natural habitats, and other areas available to slow down damaging private construction. I would use the above small tax for projects to begin at primary school efforts for all ethnic groups whose families have no members with a college degree and include volunteer tutors from the community schools in the more affluent areas.
2. Next, someone at the same event asks, "Why do you do what you do? That is, you are speaking to us, and I know you write, and maybe you organize, but why do you do it? What do you think it accomplishes? What is your goal for your coming year, or for your next ten years?
I'm egotistical enough to hope that my values and knowledge of media after a lifetime reporting and writing that I can speak more convincingly about lifetime loss to the nation from children who do not get a full, participatory education and pay them where it makes up for their leaving low-level jobs that precent family homelessness and poor nutrition. I also speak because I have a a long experience with the social inequalities that come from failure to adequately tax high incomes. I would increase the income tax brackets covering incomes up to 70 percent as it used to be 60 years ago. I want to see the last ghetto and proper housing for all and full health care for everyone before I die.
3. You are at home and you get an email that says a new organization is trying to form, internationally, federating national chapters, etc. It asks you to join the effort. Can you imagine plausible conditions under which you would say, "yes, I will give my energies to making it happen along with the rest of you who are already involved?" If so, what are those conditions? Or - do you think instead that regardless of the content of the agenda and make up of the participants, the idea can't be worthy, now, or perhaps ever. If so, why?
I am not a "joiner" though I have led efforts in the past that have specific social goals. My books and articles for 70 years have dealt with poverty, inadequate or false mass media, and greatly enlarges government subsidized public broadcasting. I have done most of this through writing books and articles and speaking only to groups who are capable of being energized to better our society.
4. Do you think efforts to organize movements, projects, and our own organizations should embody the seeds of the future in the present? If not, why not? If yes, can you say what,very roughly, you think some of the implications would be for an organization you would favor?
Groups working for the public good with few exceptions are starved for money and this is bettered by the small universal income tax mentioned above. We all contribute what we can but there needs to be a large expansion of public education on public needs through alll media, including commercial stations. Up to 1965, the FCC asked every applicant for a broadcast license whart they planned to do to meet the needs of their broadcast area and granted license on the basis of promising replies, with renewal time requiring proof that they followed their promise. License fees were nominal.
5. Why did you answer this interview? Why do you think others did not answer it?
I respect your organization and if others do not answer there are many reasons from hostility, apathy to exhaustion from having to work at two jobs or 10 hours a day at minimum wage. It is unfair to expect them to respond to non-family needs when they are too exhausted and they can do more good buttressing family unity and love.