Transcript: Thom Hartmann: If you're Cold, Naked and Hungry - IPO's don't matter. 2 February '12
You know, if you were outdoors at night in the forest naked, cold and hungry, I think it would be reasonable to say that you're unhappy. We all know that. And if somebody came out and said, 'hey, come on inside. You know, we're going to bring you in, make you warm, give you some clothing, you can sit in front of a comfortable fire, have a meal', you'd be full and happier.
So we know that this much stuff, there's an actual change in the amount of stuff that you have can actually affect your happiness. And this has led to a sales pitch, basically - a cultural belief - that if this much stuff will make you that happy, then twice as much stuff must make you twice as happy. Ten times much stuff must make you ten times as happy. A hundred times, a thousand times as much stuff, and Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg must live in a state of perpetual bliss - total ecstasy.
Facebook announced today that they're going to do an IPO, and it's going to make a thousand new millionaires. Why are Americans so in to becoming millionaires? Why is it that the American Dream since Ronald Reagan's time - and before Reagan the American dream was 'let's get into the middle class'.
But since Reaganomics the American Dream has been recalibrated to 'I want to be a millionaire'. They don't do this in Europe. What is it that we have hear and they don't. The answer's really pretty straightforward.
Because to have real security, you have to have a strong social safety net. You have to have health care for everybody. You have to have a real retirement available to you. You have to know that if you lose your job through no fault of your won, there's real unemployment that's actually enough to live on. And that if something happens to you - God forbid you get disabled or you give birth to a child who's disabled, that it's not going to wipe you out - that you have disability assurance.
You know, in Europe and in some South American countries and Australia, they have it. We don't. So Americans obsess on getting so rich that we can provide our own security, because the state doesn't. And in an era where one illness can literally cost you a million bucks, wipe you out, being a millionaire is basically the only security available to people in the United States.
This is profoundly dysfunctional. The whole purpose of community is to produce security for the community. You look at traditional societies, and what they do is people all day long produce security and then they consume security and then they produce security and then the process - goods and services - gets spun off.
What we do in our society is we produce goods and services and out of that comes some money and then we use that money to try and buy some security. And if you don't have millions, you can't buy that kind of security in this country, which is really tragic when you think about it. I mean, it's profoundly tragic.
This whole sense of community, the community that we have here in this country at the largest sense is the United States. We should be organizing our economy to provide real security for all of us - not just for the rich.
Instead, what are we getting? We're getting Republicans running around going, 'oh, we need to have right to work for less laws in Indiana. Arizona declaring war on working people. Wisconsin and Michigan an ongoing war on working people. In Florida, a war on poor people with drug testing.
I mean, it's time to wake up to the fact that there are very real human values that are part of a successful experience of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
When Thomas Jefferson wrote those words into the Declaration of Independence,we were the first nation in the history of the world to have the word happiness in our founding document.
And consider it for a minute. You cannot have life if you don't have a social safety net, if you don't have a national healthcare program, if you don't have, if you don't know that whatever happens whether you have a job or whether you don't, whether you're born into a rich family or a poor family, no matter what, you can't have life if you don't have access to those things.
You can't have liberty if you don't have those things. As Franklin Roosevelt said so famously in 1936, in June of 1936, he said, "a necessitous man is not a free man". You're not free if you're homeless. You're not free if you're sick and you can't pay for it. You're not free if you're jobless.
And the pursuit of happiness? How can we pursue happiness when we're constantly concerned about survival. That is a pure disfunction. If we want to get back to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the United States, we need to be seriously looking at the way they've done it in other countries that actually works.
That's The Big Picture.