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Truthdig Radio: Dennis Kucinich Battles Libya Bombing
Posted on Mar 24, 2011
Peter Scheer: Is Washington’s government as [broke] as it’s popular to say?
Dennis Kucinich: Depends whose accounting books you’re using. You know, on one level, we have unlimited money for war. On another level, we’re broke when it comes to home-heating oil for people in our Northeast regions; we don’t have sufficient money for Social Security, we’re told; we’re told that funds have to be cut to our states, who then in turn cut funds to education and health care. So, you know, it all depends who has the books. And does that … does it follow that we can’t be more fiscally prudent? No, we can be. But it’s very easy … a trillion dollars and more lost in tax cuts to the rich; Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes’ book about the Iraq war projected a $3 trillion cost, minimum. The cost for Afghanistan, once they get through with that, is going to go into the trillions. And it’s not just that, it is the U.S.’s far-flung military presence, globally, which is another, maybe $10 billion minimum every year, just to keep that going. And so we have to … we are at a moment in our experience as a nation where we have to decide who we are, what is the purpose of our nationhood. And we can still have a country which provides opportunities for all. And that means jobs for all, education for all, health care for all, retirement and security for all. But we cannot do it unless we stand for peace. And if we don’t, if we don’t get that, then we’ll go the way of other empires, which eventually collapse of their own wake. And that’s … and so we have to make decisions about who we are, what we stand for.
Robert Scheer: You know, I’ll ask one last question, Congressman. But when I was growing up, and I’m considerably older than you are, Detroit was a symbol of American progress. That’s where the good jobs were; that’s where we got the new middle class, you know; unionized workers with good benefits doing, making great cars. Cleveland was the center of the American optimism. Now I just saw a report that the population of Detroit declined, what, 25 percent in the last 10 years. I mean, it’s becoming a ghost city. You’ve lost ... you may lose your seat because the population in Ohio has gone down. And what is happening to this heartland of America? You’re not some guy who comes out of Greenwich Village, you know, or Santa Monica, Calif., or something. You come out of the heartland, and you’ve tried to represent these people. Why are there these attacks on unions now, and what is—what’s going on out there?
Dennis Kucinich: Well, the deindustrialization of America began with—well, was accelerated with the passage of NAFTA, and then the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and then China trade. And let me explain how. The fact that those trade agreements were passed without workers’ rights, without human rights, without environmental quality principles, enabled corporations to move jobs out of America to where workers could be paid a pittance working in conditions that were otherwise intolerable, in conditions where the air and the water was being ruined, and sometimes using slave, prison, or child labor. The … you can look right now at where we are with a trade deficit in excess of, or in the neighborhood of $450 billion, a good part of that to China. And you look at the communities that have been hurt—and I’ve seen this; I mean, I’ve seen communities in my campaigns for president. I’ve seen communities which were once prosperous falling apart because the jobs left. And the deindustrialization of America, the loss of our strategic industrial base—steel, automotive, aerospace, shipping—has caused a hollowing out in those communities which were the flagships of the, of 20th century American industrial might. And that includes Detroit, and Cleveland, and Youngstown, and Pittsburgh, to an extent. And it has had ... you know, it has a devastating demographic impact; a financial impact on those communities, cities and states; and it really helps, on the other side of it it’s created … you know, we’ve exported our jobs and we’ve imported poverty.
Peter Scheer: Congressman, thank you so much for your time.
Dennis Kucinich: Thank you.
Peter Scheer: That was Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who is working to defund the military action in Libya, which he calls unconstitutional.
Kasia Anderson: This is Truthdig Radio. I’m Kasia Anderson, associate editor at Truthdig. And I’m happy to be here with athlete and author Ryan Quinn. Welcome, Ryan.
Ryan Quinn: Thank you.
Kasia Anderson: We’re going to be talking about Ryan’s first book. But I also wanted to get a little bit into your background first, starting with the place of your birth, which is very interesting to our audience.
Ryan Quinn: Oh, yeah.
Kasia Anderson: Yeah.
Ryan Quinn: I’m from a little town called Wasilla, Alaska; perhaps you’ve heard of it.
Kasia Anderson: The second most famous person from Wasilla.
Ryan Quinn: I know. [Laughter] So disappointed about that.
Kasia Anderson: Always in her shadow, right?
Ryan Quinn: Yeah.
Kasia Anderson: And you grew up in Wasilla, or how long were you in Alaska?
Ryan Quinn: Until I graduated high school. So, born and raised. And then I got a ski scholarship at the University of Utah, so I found myself in Salt Lake City.
Kasia Anderson: Incidentally, I am from Salt Lake City, the place of my birth. So, how did you find the …were you, you know, was there some kind of culture shock when you moved to Utah? Were you prepared for what you found there?
Ryan Quinn: I was. At the time, it was a step up in terms of moving to a bigger city. So I guess, looking back, it looks different from this angle than it did then. Although I have to say, you know, the day-to-day life for someone who’s not a Mormon there is really … it’s, it’s not remarkable in any sort of way, I guess. You know, all of my friends were on the ski team, in the athletics department, and most of them had been recruited from other states; a lot of my teammates on the ski team actually were from Scandinavia and [elsewhere in] Europe. So it was very much a normal sort of place for me to go to college.
Kasia Anderson: Right. There was a subculture in Salt Lake, too, as I recall, that was the, sort of the non-Mormon crowd.
Ryan Quinn: That’s right. Yeah, it’s a very, very … and it’s a sort of self-segregating … if you find yourself in a bar, you’re probably not surrounded by very many Mormons, so.
Kasia Anderson: Exactly. [Laughter] So, and you came out in your sophomore year, is that correct?
Ryan Quinn: That’s right, yep.
Kasia Anderson: And what was that experience like?
Ryan Quinn: It was great, actually. Before I came out, obviously, it was isolating and nervous, I guess. And then I had a great group of gay friends who were not in the athletics department, and …
Kasia Anderson: At the university.
Ryan Quinn: At the University of Utah, yeah. And sort of got tired of having two separate lives, and I would hang out with my gay friends, you know, and then I would …
Kasia Anderson: Were you out to your gay friends?
Ryan Quinn: Yes, yeah.
Kasia Anderson: OK.
Ryan Quinn: But not to my teammates. And then … so finally I just, you know, decided, I need to come out and be who I am, and these guys are my friends, and hopefully it’ll go well. And it did. They were … not only were they accepting, but incredibly supportive.
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