Democracy Now has produced a powerful tribute to the lyricist Yip Harburg. Harburg honestly captured the spirit of the Great Depression in “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime.” He went on to write lyrics for stage shows/films that included “The Wizard of Oz” and “Finian’s Rainbow.” After WWII, Harburg was an early victim of Senator Joe McCarthy’s witch hunt. Blacklisted, he could not work on a film project until the 1960s.
Harburg believed in telling the truth, especially about the struggles of working people. What I like most about this film tribute to Harburg was its display of his courage and strength, his faith in a better world – somewhere over the rainbow.
One of my favorite jazz singers Kurt Elling recorded Harburg’s “April in Paris.” Check out this video to see how Harburg’s words sing on.
As we celebrate a day that honors our political birth as a nation, it is useful to think about the promise of the American Dream. Can any child grow up to be President? Is this a country (or a world) of true opportunity?
Common Dreams offers a speech by Canadian activist Maud Barlow, who considers the impact of social and economic inequality in a speech rebroadcast by Democracy Now. Too often American want to ignore this subject. We boil it down to an individual level and talk about what people deserve. Barlow casts the debate in a different light. Working people in America need to consider this message even if they are going to disagree with it.
Postscript: Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, writing in the Nation, considers how inequality is affecting the economy in the U.S. He compares our current situation to similar dynamics that caused the great Depression.