Huffington Post reports that inequality in the U.S. is at a wider point than it has been since the Great Depression. Does this mean that we’re on the way to a new crash? I hope not. HuffPo points to the popularity of Thomas Piketty as a reason for hope. The problem I see is that too many Americans have been trained to think all taxes are bad. The super-rich and large corporations have used their lawyers and lobbyists to game the tax system. I don’t see any way that will change any time soon. Americans are too easily distracted by “crisis” stories like Ebola and ISIS. Income inequality affects all of us, especially those under 35. Maybe a crash is the only thing that will wake up Americans.
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.