Political journalist and best-selling author William Greider will lecture on the effects of current U.S. economic policy in Campbell Hall tonight at 7:30.
Greider is presently a national affairs correspondent for The Nation, and has collaborated with the Washington Post and Rolling Stone as an editor and columnist. His lecture, “Come Home America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country,” will outline the recent economic downturn and encourage students to take their place as citizens and challenge government policy.
“I’m going to try to sketch my big picture and understanding about what is happening to us as a country,” Greider said. “I want to discuss the financial crisis and some of the big forces bearing down on us, and then try to convince people to step up and become citizens again.”
Although he does not identify the current economic climate as a depression, Greider said it is certainly a more extreme recession than what the country has seen since the 1920s.
“I think it’s a recession, but far different and much more serious than the ones we’ve experienced since World War II,” Greider said. “This one was not induced by the Federal Reserve, but is rather a result of the collapse of wealth, and it has an ominous ring to it because that is what happened during the Great Depression.”
Greider said he agrees with many of President Obama’s strategies of attacking this collapse of wealth, but feels that more government money must be spent in order to reverse the downturn.
“Like millions of people, I was excited to vote for Barack Obama, and I was very excited when he won,” Greider said. “Americans are lucky Obama came on at this time in history. So I am for him, but it’s not our role to support him passively. We can support him by letting him know when he’s not there. I happen to believe his solutions for bailing out the banks is moving in the wrong direction, but that doesn’t mean I don’t support him.”
Greider said the deregulation of U.S. banks has led to the explosive deterioration of our nation’s financial assets.
“The deregulation was actually sponsored by both political parties, Democrats and Republicans,” he said. “The heart of it is this: the country needs to create a new banking system that serves society and the economy, not the other way around.”
Greider also said citizens must demand regulation of large investment moguls to protect their assets.
“A straight forward reform is to apply anti-trust rules to the financial system to keep investing houses from being ‘too big to fail,'” he said. “If an institution is so influential that it is dangerous to the country, it should be illegal.”
Greider said that while the economic forecast for the next few years is bleak, he has faith in new government and the voice of U.S. citizens.
“I think this is a really rare moment in which it’s going to be very hard and ugly for a lot of people,” Greider said. “But out of that, I have more than hope — I have a sense that a lot of Americans will step up and reclaim what’s really their birthright. This is the way big changes happen in our country, from the bottom up.”
Greider also said he believed that the academic community across the country will be strongly influential in U.S. economic discourse.
“University students are very important in the phase of politics I’m describing,
because they’ll have the opportunity to explain new ideas,” he said. “The university … will enrich the national debate, and that’s why I love speaking to this audience.”