In 2014, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer warned his fellow plutocrats that our growing crisis of economic inequality would lead to an uprising or a dictatorship. Two years later, angry voters elected Donald Trump. In this inaugural episode of Pitchfork Economics, we explore why the pitchforks are coming, who they’re coming for, and how the stories we tell about the economy can change the economy itself.
Ganesh Sitaraman: Professor of Law at Vanderbilt Law School and Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Co-founder and Director of Policy for the Great Democracy Initiative. Policy Director to Elizabeth Warren, 2011-2013. Author of The Crisis of the Middle Class Constitution: Law in the Age of Small Wars, named one of the New York Times’ 100 notable books of 2017.
Walter Scheidel: Historian at Stanford. The most frequently cited active-duty Roman historian adjusted for age in the Western Hemisphere, Scheidel is the author or (co-)editor of 20 books, including The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality.
Crowd Chanting: 00:00 One, we are the people. Two, we are united. Three, it’s time to face [inaudible 00:00:04].
Nick Hanauer: 00:03 People are angry and they have a right to be angry because they have been taken advantage of for forty years.
Newscaster: 00:17 Italians took to the streets in Milan in a protest over the level of illegal immigration into Italy.
Nick Hanauer: 00:23 Now, what we do with that anger, how we express it, what change we enact to remedy it, that’s the question.
Newscaster: 00:30 The Great Ape-Snake War protests entered its third week today. What started as less than a dozen college students is now hundreds of protestors.
Nick Hanauer: 00:38 If you don’t get economics right, the pitchforks come out.
Tina Nole: 00:46 From the offices of civic ventures in downtown Seattle, this is Pitchfork Economics with Nick Hanauer, a pointed conversation about who gets what and why, with one of America’s most provocative capitalists.
Talking Head: 01:02 We think all the rich are quietly breathing this sigh of relief their taxes might not be going up next year after all. Meet one millionaire who is sighing because he wants them to go up.
Talking Head: 01:11 He has founded or financed or sold dozens of companies, making billions of dollars, and now, he says, only the wealthy can really cure the U.S. of its inequality and economic anxiety.
Talking Head: 01:23 Seattle-based entrepreneur and venture-capitalist, now he is known as the godfather of raising the minimum wage, Nick Hanauer. Nick, how you doing, sir?
Nick Hanauer: 01:34 I’m Nick Hanauer, founder of Civic Ventures.
David Goldstein: 01:37 I’m David Goldstein, senior fellow at Civic Ventures.
Nick Hanauer: 01:42 And Civic Ventures is a group of political troublemakers devoted to positive social change. Our mission is disruptive innovation in the civic sphere and building solutions at the scale of problems. We’ve been involved in all sorts of political and policy issues, from the $15 minimum wage to reducing gun violence to homelessness in cities and states.
Nick Hanauer: 02:07 We love to tackle hard problems that other people don’t want to mess with.
David Goldstein: 02:15 So, Nick, you’re known as the Pitchforks guy. Why is that and why are we calling this Pitchfork Economics?
Nick Hanauer: 02:22 If you don’t get economics right, the pitchforks come out. And I think that no serious examination of history can lead you to any other conclusion. That if you create a society which is sufficiently unequal, you end up with a police state or an uprising or both.
Nick Hanauer: 02:40 And so, we want to devote this podcast to understanding economics in a way that leads, not towards pitchforks but away from them and try to build an economy that works for every citizen.
David Goldstein: 02:57 Okay, so, why should anybody listen to you? I mean, this was actually, when I met you, well, four years ago-
Nick Hanauer: 03:04 Yeah.
David Goldstein: 03:04 -oh, rich guy thinks he knows everything.
Nick Hanauer: 03:06 Ah ha ha, still true.
David Goldstein: 03:07 But he’s gonna pay me so, okay, I’ll put up with that. Turns out you’re kind of a thoughtful, well-read guy. But why should somebody listen to you?
Nick Hanauer: 03:20 That’s a super fair question and the easy answer to that question is that I do know a lot about capitalism because I’ve had this very strange career in capitalism, which started when I was a wee boy, going to work for the family business when I was, I think, seven years old. I’m now fifty-eight.
Nick Hanauer: 03:40 And I had the entrepreneurial bug early and so, over the span of my career, I’ve either started myself, or helped other people start, I think it’s up to now thirty-seven companies across a really broad range of industries, spanning from the most technical industries like nano-technology or software to prosaic industries like manufacturing or retailing.
Nick Hanauer: 04:02 And that breadth of experience, I think, which is quite unusual even for capitalists, who tend to one thing and do it really, really well for their careers, gives me, I think, an unusual perspective on how capitalism works and why.
Nick Hanauer: 04:19 Here’s the less obvious reason is that, for whatever strange reason, I have an academic bent to me and have collaborated closely with some of the leading thinkers in the academic world on human social systems and the nature of how economies create prosperity in human societies and throughout this broadcast, we will bring in some of those voices, some of the leading heterodox economic thinkers in the world and that collaboration, that academic collaboration combined with real-world experience, I think, has created for you and I, in our collaboration, a reasonably unique perspective on both economics and how markets work.
Nick Hanauer: 05:06 And so, that perspective has been useful to other people. We have used that perspective very, very successfully in some of the social change initiatives that we have been part of leading, including the $15 minimum wage and other things.
Nick Hanauer: 05:19 And so, it may not be true but at a minimum, it has been powerful and effective and so, hopefully, it’ll be worth sharing and be interesting to other people.
David Goldstein: 05:28 Let’s be clear. You’re not new to this. You’ve been warning about pitchforks for years now.
Nick Hanauer: 05:34 Correct. So, I’ve been working on the issue of economic inequality for at least ten years, maybe twelve. I’ve been often asked why I care about this and in about 2006, -7, must have been 2007, I got a look at the IRS tax tables which you can find on the internet, that show the way in which income shares for Americans have changed over time.
Nick Hanauer: 06:07 And if you just look at those number, you’re, like, well, that’s not gonna work out of anybody or not very many people. And when I saw those numbers, it became clear that I was a product of this process. I didn’t create that process but I was a product of it and that there were economic forces at work, policies in place, that were concentrating wealth in this way. Right?
Nick Hanauer: 06:29 That the economic system and the way in which we distribute the value created by our society was changing every year radically and benefiting a few people and not benefiting most people and that, if it could change, you could stop the change and reverse the change.
Nick Hanauer: 06:43 And we felt like somebody needed to start to start to sound the alarm and as you know, I’ve been working on it for a super long time and in 2014, gotten to the point where I wrote this piece that went super-viral, called The Pitchforks Are Coming for Us Plutocrats, where I basically tried to warn people that in the absence of a correction to this trend, the pitchforks were gonna come out. And that we were gonna have some sort of populist uprising, revolt or something like that, and two years later, Donald Trump was elected.
John Oliver: 07:17 I’m John Oliver. Thank you so much for joining us and let us begin with our first and only story, the 2016 election, or, as you may know it, I thought I wanted it to be over but now that it’s over, I wish it was still going on because it turns out the ending is even worse, 20, fucking, 16.
John Oliver: 07:32 The results on Tuesday were a little different than what just over half the voters wanted.
CNN Commentator: 07:40 We can now project the winner of the presidential race. CNN projects Donald Trump wins …
Nick Hanauer: 07:44 In precisely the way that I think I predicted, which is that people were pissed and they were gonna lash out and they ended up electing the guy who was lashing out too. You couldn’t have forecast it being worse than it is.
Speaker 1: 07:58 But you did. Because, actually, what you wrote was, it’s either an uprising or a police state.
Nick Hanauer: 08:05 Yes and he’s doing everything he can to turn it into a police state. Yeah. And what’s happening here is being reflected in places like Hungary and Italy.
NPR Announcer: 08:14 NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley is in Paris with the latest tale on our-
E. Beardsley: 08:18 Hi guys, how are you?
NPR Announcer: 08:19 Doing well. So, explain this. How have gas taxes turned into this major political crisis?
E. Beardsley: 08:24 Well, you know, Rachel, let me just play you a soundbite from a guy who was out at a roadblock this morning, Jean Jaldan, he’s one of the Gilets Jaunes, the yellow-vest protestors and here he is.
Jean: 08:39 (speaking French)
E. Beardsley: 08:41 And he says, we’re waiting for action. We’re sick of the government opposing the French people, worried about the end of the world and those of us who are worried about the end of the month. Those of us who live in debt and on credit, we can’t make ends meet.
E. Beardsley: 08:53 This protest movement is about the fact that there are two Frances. There is the France of the cities where people live well-off and they can afford to think about climate change and those in the countryside, the rural areas, the small towns, where this movement came from, they can’t make ends meet. They’re barely getting by and they’re the ones who need their cars to drive and they cannot pay higher taxes on gas, they say.
NPR Announcer: 09:15 So, how …
Nick Hanauer: 09:16 People are angry and they have a right to be angry because they have been taken advantage of for forty years. Now, what we do with that anger, how we express it, what change we enact to remedy it, that’s the question. Electing ‘strong’ men, like Donald Trump, is not a good way to channel that anger.
Nick Hanauer: 09:35 Changing the way in which we manage our economy so that it benefits everybody not just a few people is an option available to us, as a country, if we take it. But we have to inform people and what they have to understand what their options are and what the levers are and what constructive things there are that are available to do.
David Goldstein: 09:57 And it turns out that it’s not just our economy that’s at risk but our entire democracy and so to learn a little more about that I talked to Ganesh Sitaraman, an advisor to Elizabeth Warren and the author of The Crisis of the Middle Class Constitution.
G. Sitaraman: 10:16 I’m Ganesh Sitaraman. I’m a professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School and I’m also the co-founder and director for Policy at the Great Democracy Initiative.
David Goldstein: 10:27 Here in our office, we spend a lot of time thinking about the middle class and how crucial a thriving and growing middle class is to a market economy. But in your book, Ganesh, you make the argument that it’s actually crucial to the functioning of a democracy.
G. Sitaraman: 10:46 That’s exactly right. I think that a lot of the time when we talk about the collapse of the middle class or we talk about inequality, people are really worried about economic issues, as you said, and sometimes about moral issues. What do the poor deserve? What do we owe to the poor? What do we owe to the rich?
G. Sitaraman: 11:03 But there’s a separate question which is that democracy can’t really survive amidst severe economic inequality. And the reason is that when you have a deeply unequal society, the rich will try to control the government and that undermines democracy.
G. Sitaraman: 11:22 Or what happens is that the poor see that the rich are trying to control the government and they will revolt and their revolts aren’t usually anarchy. What they are is they try to find a demagogue and that demagogue takes over the government, only to eventually become a tyrant.
G. Sitaraman: 11:36 So, one way, you end up with some sort of oligarchy. The other way you end up in some sort of tyranny. Both of these are not democracy. And that’s why economic equality, a large middle class, is so important to democracy. It’s what makes a democracy stable.
David Goldstein: 11:51 And your thesis in the book is that this was actually front and center in the minds of the Founders when they wrote the U.S. Constitution, that that Constitution was actually revolutionary.
G. Sitaraman: 12:05 Yup. The American Founders knew this history from political theory of people being concerned about inequality and its effect on republics and they debated it and thought about it a lot and one of the most striking things about reading The Founding Generation, is how they understood that America was exceptional.
G. Sitaraman: 12:23 They understood America was exceptional because unlike Europe, unlike any other place they could think of in the world, America had relative economic equality among the political community of white men. There was no feudalism in America. There was no serfdom in America. There was no hereditary aristocracy in America.
G. Sitaraman: 12:42 What there was instead was relative equality and vast lands which meant that people could become landowners and that was the major form of property ownership or wealth at the time. And so, when the founding generation looked around, the people writing our Constitution, they thought this was the most equal society in the of the world and that is the premise on which they built our Constitutional system and so as a result, our Constitution does not have any checks and balances to create a system that can balance the influence of the rich or the poor.
G. Sitaraman: 13:17 And this is very different from other systems. In England, you have a House of Lords for the wealthy, a House of Commons for everybody else. In ancient Rome, there was a patrician Senate for the wealthy and a Tribune of the Plebs, the plebeians, for the poor.
G. Sitaraman: 13:31 We don’t have anything like that because the founding generation thought those things were unnecessary because there was no rich and poor in America.
David Goldstein: 13:39 So, having created a Constitution that is predicated on a fair amount of equality, does growing inequality present a unique threat to American democracy?
G. Sitaraman: 13:53 So I think inequality presents a huge threat to American democracy because our Constitutional system is predicated on having this big middle class and on having relative economic equality. And what we’ve seen in the last thirty or forty years is economic inequality increasing, becoming more, wider and wider, and as a result, our politics getting more and more difficult and problematic. And I think that’s part of what’s happened to our country.
David Goldstein: 14:22 Has our Constitutional structure actually contributed to the problem by not having these checks and balances built in?
G. Sitaraman: 14:30 Well, I think you could think about it in two ways. One is, you could say that the Founders made a huge mistake. They should have put something about regulating economic inequality into the Constitution and they didn’t. Another thing you could say is that our political leaders made a huge mistake. They should have understood how important it was for us to have a big middle class and they should have pursued policies throughout our history and especially, let’s say, in the last thirty or forty years, that would have ensured the continuation and persistence and growth and strength of our middle class.
G. Sitaraman: 15:04 In either case, there was a failure. The question is where do we want to put that blame. And I think we could put it rightly on both but we all could, right now, do things at a policy level that would help solve this problem, without changing the Constitution and yet, we don’t see politicians doing that.
G. Sitaraman: 15:21 We could also do things that would help change the Constitution, that would hopefully help solve this problem too. But that is a heavier lift.
David Goldstein: 15:29 So, from a policy perspective then, what solutions … Is there an easy road? Is it a complex thing? Will it take a lot of time? What do we need to do?
G. Sitaraman: 15:39 So, I think there are a lot of things that we can do. Some of them are pretty simple and slogans or policies that a lot of people have spent time talking about. Raising wages, supporting unions, anti-trust and competition policy, tax policy, thinking about a more progressive tax code.
G. Sitaraman: 15:57 Those are all things that we could do right now that are doable policies that would make a huge difference. Some of the things are harder and require Constitutional change, really getting at the influence of money in politics is one of those, but because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens’ United, and a variety of other cases, would actually require either a different composition on the Supreme Court or a Constitutional amendment.
G. Sitaraman: 16:19 But we should be trying to do things in both of these areas, things that address economic inequality, things that restructure our economies so that we have a better distribution wealth in the first place and we should also be doing things that try to restrict the amount of influence that money can have on our politics.
David Goldstein: 16:37 How worried are you?
G. Sitaraman: 16:39 I think we have a really important opportunity in the next couple of years to set the direction of where the country is gonna be. We really lived for almost a generation in an era that was defined by deregulation, privatization, austerity, liberalization of trade and I think that era is coming to an end.
G. Sitaraman: 17:04 I think we’re in a place now where a lot is up for grabs in a way that is far more than it has been in decades. And the question is what’s gonna come next? So, I’m optimistic in that I think that there’s a real opportunity for defining a new era in which we have a revival of our democracy but I think I’m also measured in that I think that there’s a real likelihood that we don’t take this opportunity and that we end up in a far worse place then even we’ve been so far.
David Goldstein: 17:33 Is this a unique crisis in American history or have we been here before?
G. Sitaraman: 17:39 So, I don’t think it’s a unique crisis. A little more than a hundred years ago, we lived through what people called the Guilded Age and I think there’s no surprise that people today call this the Second Guilded Age. It’s a very similar time period where we see massive concentrations of wealth, concentrations of power and consolidation in industries. You have a small number of companies that really have a lot of control over our economy.
G. Sitaraman: 18:03 So, we have seen this kind of thing before and I think part of what’s exciting is that we know that we can confront that because, in our history, a hundred years ago, the progressives did confront that and they were pretty creative in coming up with lots of different solutions.
G. Sitaraman: 18:19 You know, you go back a hundred and some years ago and you see the first moves for minimum wages and maximum hours. You see the push in the first anti-trust laws. You see the first campaign finance regulations as well. So this was a very creative and generative period where people were thinking about exactly the problems that we’re facing today and where they came up with a lot of solutions that address them and I think those are some of the same solutions we need to be talking about now.
David Goldstein: 18:51 So, Ganesh ended on a hopeful note, that we can dodge the pitchforks through a democratic revival. But not everybody is as optimistic. Fellow troublemaker, Stephanie Ervin and I spoke with Professor Water Scheidel about his new book, The Great Leveler.
W. Scheidel: 19:16 Hi, I’m Walter Scheidel. I’m a historian at Stanford University. I study social economic history and last year, I published a book, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality From the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, in which I argue that every single time you observe a major reduction in economic inequality, in world history going back hundreds and thousands of years, it was caused by the massive violent shock, like the World Wars, Communist Revolution, state collapse, all very severe pandemics.
David Goldstein: 19:48 So, I have to admit the thesis of your book … I found the whole book a little depressing. I mean, it is-
W. Scheidel: 19:56 It was meant to be. Meant to be depressing.
David Goldstein: 19:59 And it is pickity-like in its thoroughness, going through all of human history and you do not find a single compelling evidence of leveling outside of violent events.
W. Scheidel: 20:14 That is unfortunately true and I should say, think if it only covered two hundred years. Of course, in the economy, two hundred years is a lot of time. But I’m a [inaudible 00:20:22] historian so I cover thousands of years to be extra thorough and I couldn’t really find any major exception to the rule that I’ve formulated earlier that there is no major compression of inequality historically attached that is not associated from one or more of these violent shocks.
W. Scheidel: 20:39 So, that, in a way, is a depressing picture. That’s certainly a fair statement.
David Goldstein: 20:43 But it’s not fate. I mean, you did mention in Ancient Greece in the post-dark-age period, that there had been an egalitarian tradition that may have influenced the egalitarian institutions that evolved. Do you think that perhaps the United States, at least with its mythology of egalitarianism, might be a place where we can reverse these trends through the political arena rather than through violence or calamity?
W. Scheidel: 21:19 Well, you put your finger on an important point because if you look at the Greek case, there was a prior disastrous collapse of [inaudible 00:21:25] civilization. So you had the violent shock but, in addition, institution evolved that were good at preserving the high degree of equality and egalitarianism that had come out of that violent shock.
W. Scheidel: 21:39 And you could argue after World War I, World War II, countries have differed in terms of how well their institutions managed preserve those gains in equalization. So, Scandinavian countries, for instance, did a very good job and the U.S., it turns out, hasn’t done a very good job.
W. Scheidel: 21:59 So, institutions are really critical in that respect. If you ask me specifically if the U.S. stands a good chance of mitigating this process, of this problem via political measures, the political process, the answer is probably not because any number of features in the American institutional and political systems that make that harder rather than easier.
W. Scheidel: 22:23 The two-party system, the heterogeneity of American society, any number of features that tend to increase, exacerbate inequality rather than reduce it and make it more difficult to implement effective policy measures to drive it back down.
S. Ervin: 22:40 So, surely the goal in writing this book wasn’t to depress Goldie and me and the rest of your readers. What were you after? Why did you write this?
W. Scheidel: 22:50 I was after two things. I was after the truth, so to speak, to establish empirically what the historical record shows and the other goal was to be, not prescriptive, obviously, I don’t advocate causing major disasters to reduce inequality.
W. Scheidel: 23:06 But to provide a context for the debate that we are currently having, that your podcast is part of, of what should we do about it? Because it’s very easy to come up with policy recipes, and there are lots of very famous economists who have done that, long lists of reforms that if they were implemented, they would reduce inequality.
W. Scheidel: 23:28 And that’s technically true on paper but we also have to think about viability and implementation and what I try to show is that those policy changes are most likely to occur, most likely to work on a grand scale, in the context of major disruptions. And those disruptions, unfortunately, historically, have tended to be more or less violent in nature.
W. Scheidel: 23:52 So that’s certainly a goal of my project, to inject some realism into that debate to make sure it doesn’t become coolly detached from historical context.
David Goldstein: 24:04 Well, who knows, maybe we’ll be lucking it and climate change will cause a civilization-wide collapse and you’ll have a fifth horseman that can help close the income and wage gap.
W. Scheidel: 24:16 I’ve heard this many times. It’s not really a fifth horseman. It would operate through one or more of the existing four horsemen, right? It can trigger war. It can trigger revolution if you think of the Syrian Civil War as a good example throughout played a major role and this situation in Yemen right now. It can certainly trigger diseases and it can also cause state collapse.
W. Scheidel: 24:37 So, these things could return through the back door, driven by a worsening of climatic conditions. That’s certainly a possibility over the course of the 21st century. So, in that sense, it was maybe a little optimistic in terms of what I said earlier, the horsemen aren’t on the horizon but they could in principal come back because of climate change. That’s the most promising driving in reviving these causes of violent shocks.
David Goldstein: 25:05 Okay, so, here’s my goal now after reading your book which, by the way, I thoroughly enjoyed because I’m that kind of a guy, and after talking to you is, I want to prove you wrong.
S. Ervin: 25:22 There you go.
W. Scheidel: 25:22 That’s a good idea. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.
David Goldstein: 25:22 That is our mission in this office to try to change the economic narrative, change the way people think and talk about the economy because we believe if you change the way you think about the economy, you can change the economy.
W. Scheidel: 25:38 Yup.
David Goldstein: 25:38 And we’re hoping that the egalitarian institutions in the United States are strong enough to survive this era and you know, you study ancient history, the last forty years, that’s just a blip. That’s nothing. In the course of-
W. Scheidel: 26:00 That’s true and everything is accelerated so you could expect change to occur faster than it used to, in either direction.
S. Ervin: 26:02 Thank you so much.
W. Scheidel: 26:03 Thank you.
David Goldstein: 26:03 Bye bye.
S. Ervin: 26:10 So I don’t know what to do with that.
David Goldstein: 26:13 Cry?
S. Ervin: 26:14 Yeah, maybe. Crawl up into a ball?
David Goldstein: 26:17 Yeah, welcome to my world, Stephanie. As bleak as Professor Scheidel’s thesis is … I think the thing we need to take from this is why what we’re doing in this podcast and in our office is so important because the challenge is really huge, that what we’re trying to do, in his assessment, is something a-historic and that is to create an economy that is broadly prosperous, in which there is … Close that income and wealth gap outside of mass violent events and-
S. Ervin: 26:56 Correct. And it requires persuading people, motivating people, changing hearts and minds.
David Goldstein: 27:02 Right, it requires creative thinking and changing our narrative, changing the way we think and talk and to ourselves and to each other about how the economy works. It’s not an easy thing. We never thought it would be. But we have to understand that that moment, those thirty, forty years after the two World Wars where we built the greatest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, what a precious moment that was and to just give up because, oh, well, now that we’ve got a stable world again, the rich people are gonna take over and concentrate all the wealth and power to themselves. I’m not satisfied with that.
S. Ervin: 27:48 We shouldn’t just wait around for the next violent event to level inequality. We should do what we can now to make every kind of change we can to level the playing field with political decisions and-
David Goldstein: 28:02 Right. We should neither accept extreme inequality or wait for violence to fix it.
S. Ervin: 28:09 Right.
David Goldstein: 28:10 And if that’s tilting at windmills, you know-
S. Ervin: 28:13 So be it.
David Goldstein: 28:14 Bring on the windmills …
Nick Hanauer: 28:21 You know, what’s important for people to understand is that the stories they’re being told about economics do not necessarily reflect objective reality, are not anchored in empirical fact, are often simply constructions made by and for economic elites that justify the current arrangements.
Nick Hanauer: 28:48 And that the only way you can change the current arrangements is by changing those stories and narratives. And so what’s important for people to recognize is that they gain power by understanding the origins of these stories and gain power by learning a new story and themselves asserting a new story about how the economy works, where prosperity comes from and what our individual places are and relationships to it.
David Goldstein: 29:26 Right, so across the 20 episodes of this first season, you’re gonna hear a lot about storytelling-
Nick Hanauer: 29:33 Yes.
David Goldstein: 29:33 And narrative. And the good news is that it turns out that if you change the story, if you change the way we talk about the economy, you can actually change the economy.
Nick Hanauer: 29:45 Yes.
David Goldstein: 29:46 That’s what happened forty years ago when we made that shift from the old Keynesian consensus to the neoliberal consensus.
Nick Hanauer: 29:54 And by a Keynesian consensus, you mean a set of economic policies and ideas that worked for the middle class, not against it.
David Goldstein: 30:02 Right, as opposed to the neoliberal consensus which basically just cuts taxes for people like you.
Nick Hanauer: 30:07 Yes.
David Goldstein: 30:08 And that is what is, we believe, is in the process of actually happening right now.
Nick Hanauer: 30:11 It is. And people need to recognize that whether you’re a policymaker or not, whether you’re a political leader or not, whether you’re an economist or not, the perspectives that people hold, the collective common sense we, as a nation, have about how the economy works and how we explain where prosperity comes from, defines the terms of the debate and creates the context within which economic policy is created.
Nick Hanauer: 30:42 So, individuals have a crucial role in creating economic policy by advancing the right narratives about it and that’s the point of this podcast and that’s why we hope people will listen and take from it those ideas, these facts and these new stories.
David Goldstein: 31:02 Right, when you say that the pitchforks are coming, Nick, that if we continue to have this rising level of inequality, we either get a revolution or a police state, what’s really important there is the ‘if’. If we continue to have these rising levels-
Nick Hanauer: 31:18 Right.
David Goldstein: 31:19 -of inequality and at our core, we’re both optimists. We believe that we can turn this around and make it better.
Nick Hanauer: 31:26 Yeah. And you know, often, it does take a revolution to turn things around but we, I think you and I, share an optimism that our country will come together around a more rational course and we can build ane economy that works for everybody.
David Goldstein: 31:40 Right, hopefully, it will be an ideological revolution instead of the bloody kind.
Nick Hanauer: 31:43 Yeah. Absolutely.
David Goldstein: 31:49 In the next episode, we will do deep on neoclassical economics and the so-called laws of economics and try to untangle why economists are always wrong about everything.
Speaker 17: 32:14 Pitchfork Economics is produced by Civic Ventures. The magic happens in Seattle in partnership with Larj Media, that’s a L-a-r-j Media and the Young Turks network. Find us on Twitter and Facebook @CivicAction and follow our writing on medium @CivicSkunkWorks and you should also follow Nick Hanauer on Twitter @NickHanauer.
Speaker 17: 32:32 As always a big thank you to our guests and thank you to our team at Civic Ventures, Nick Hanauer, Zach Silk, Jasmine Weaver, Jessyn Farrel, Stephanie Ervin, David Goldstein, Paul Constant, Nick Cassella, and Annie Fadely.
Speaker 17: 32:43 Thanks for listening.