Bill Moyers

  • Aired:  06/26/13
  •  | Views: 21,645

Bill Moyers discusses the decline of the middle class portrayed in his "Two American Families" documentary and recalls the history behind the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (7:02)

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,

EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT HAS A NEW FRONT

LINE DOCUMENTARY ABOUT TWO

MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES.

WOW, HE TALKED TO BOTH OF THEM.

PLEASE WELCOME BILL MOYERS.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

BILL, GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

THANKS FOR COMING BACK.

YOU HAVE BEEN A BROADCAST LEGEND

FOR MANY YEARS.

YOU HAVE 30 EMMYS.

YOU HAVE NINE PEABODIES.

YOUR CURRENT SHOW IS MOYERS AND

COMPANY ON AMERICAN PUBLIC

TELEVISION.

AND YOU ALSO HAVE A FRONT LINE

DOCUMENTARY.

THESE ARE PEOPLE YOU'VE BEEN

FOLLOWING SINCE THE 1990s,

CORRECT?

>> YES, MY PRODUCERS INSPIRED BY

MY WIFE, IT WAS HER IDEA, HAD

BEEN FOLLOWING THESE SAME TWO

FAMILIES EVER SINCE THE BREAD

WINNER IN EACH FAMILY, THE TOP

BREAD WINNER, LOST THEIR GOOD

FACTORY JOB.

THEY HAD BEEN STRUGGLING EVER

SINCE COURAGEOUSLY BUT AGAINST

GREAT ODDS TO TRY TO FIND THEIR

PLACE IN THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMY.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

IT'S CALLED TWO AMERICAN

FAMILIES.

IT AIRS JULY 9 AT 10:00 P.M. ON

FRONT LINE ON PBS, CORRECT?

>> CORRECT

Stephen: ALL RIGHT.

NOW WHY DO WE NEED A MIDDLE

CLASS?

DO WE NEED ONE?

>> IT'S WHERE MOST OF US CAN GO

Stephen: WE CAN GO TO THE

UPPER CLASS OR THE LOWER CLASS.

THERE ARE TWO OTHER CLASS

CATEGORIES OPEN TO AMERICANS.

>> AND THAT'S WHAT'S HAPPENING.

THE MIDDLE CLASS WHICH IS THE

STRENGTH OF A DEMOCRACY BECAUSE

THEY HAVE ECONOMIC SECURITY AND

A BELIEF IN THE FUTURE, THEY

BELIEVE IN DEMOCRACY, THEY'RE

FALLING THROUGH THE CRACKS.

>> Stephen: BUT THE LOWER CLASS

STAYS HUNGRY.

ISN'T THAT WHAT MAKES AMERICA

GREAT, PEOPLE WHO ARE STRIVING

TO HAVE BETTER LIVES?

AND THE MORE PEOPLE WE MAKE

STRIVE, THE STRONGER OUR COUNTRY

BECOMES.

>> YOU'D BE SURPRISED HOW MANY

MIDDLE CLASS PEOPLE ARE HUNGRY.

THERE ARE 49 MILLION PEOPLE IN

THIS COUNTRY USING FOOD STAMPS

NOT BECAUSE WE WANT TO BE ON

WELFARE BUT BECAUSE JOBS PAY SO

LOW THAT THEY CAN'T AFFORD A

DECENT MEAL.

THEY CAN'T AFFORD A DECENT

LIVELIHOOD.

THAT'S WHAT'S HAPPENING.

( APPLAUSE )

>> Stephen: I FOR ONE FIND IT

OFFENSIVE THAT YOU WOULD APPLAUD

FOR PEOPLE NOT HAVING ENOUGH

FOOD.

SORRY.

I APOLOGIZE.

OKAY.

BUT SO IS THIS THE FAULT OF THE

PEOPLE WHO CAN'T GET THE JOB?

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.

BILL.

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.

>> THAT'S WHAT THE NETWORK KEEPS

PROMOTING BUT IT'S NOT THE CASE.

IT IS NOT THE CASE.

YOU LOOK AT THESE TWO

DOCUMENTARIES ON THESE TWO

FAMILIES.

WHEN THEY LOST THEIR GOOD-PAYING

FACTORY JOBS THEY DID EVERYTHING

THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO DO.

THEY WORKED TWO SHIFTS AND THEY

FOUND THEMSELVESES MAKING HALF

OF WHAT THEY WERE MAKING WHEN

THEY WERE IN THE MANUFACTURING

BUSINESS.

THAT WASN'T THEIR FAULT

>> Stephen: THAT'S EVOLUTION.

THAT'S THE FREE MARKET.

THAT'S THE FREE MARKET.

I THINK THE MIDDLE CLASS DID IT

THEMSELVES.

THEY UNIONIZED, THEY DEMANDED

BETTER WORKING CONDITIONS.

THEY DEMANDED BETTER PAY.

AND WE HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO SHIP

THE JOBS OVERSEAS.

THAT'S BUSINESS THOUGH.

YOU UNDERSTAND BUSINESS.

YOU BELIEVE IN CAPITALISM.

>> I DO UNDERSTAND BUSINESS.

THAT'S WHAT'S WRONG TODAY.

YOU KNOW, THE FACT OF THE MATTER

IS THE CAPITALIST CLASS HAS...

IT'S LIKE...

>> Stephen: YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT

MY FRIENDS.

>> YOU KNOW, WHEN I WAS GROWING

UP IN TEXAS AND YOU WERE GROWING

UP IN SOUTH CAROLINA WE DIDN'T

PRAY, "GIVE ME THIS DAY MY DAILY

BREAD."

THAT'S THE LAW OF THE JUNGLE.

THE POWERFUL TAKE WHAT THEY WANT

AND EVERYBODY ELSE IS LEFT TO

GET WHAT THEY CAN.

WE PRAYED, "GIVE US OUR DAILY

BREAD."

>> Stephen: THE LORD'S PRAYER IS

AN US NOT AN I.

GIVE ME THIS DAY MY DAILY BREAD.

SCREW THE OTHER GUY.

>> YOU GOT IT.

Stephen: THERE'S ALWAYS TIME

FOR AMENDMENTS.

>> YOU KNOW, STEVE, THE BASIC

PREMISE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM IS

THAT IF YOU WORK HARD, YOU CAN

MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO HAVE A

BETTER LIFE, A GOOD LIFE, AND

YOU CAN MAKE A BETTER LIFE FOR

YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILDREN.

THAT DOESN'T EXIST ANYMORE.

MY FRIEND JIM HIGHTOWER, THE

POPULIST IN TEXAS SAYS THE REAL

QUESTION IS NOT WHY SO MANY

PEOPLE FALL THROUGH THE CRACKS.

THE REAL QUESTION IS WHY ARE

THERE ARE SO MANY CRACKS?

>> Stephen: CAN WE TALK ABOUT

ONE OTHER THING?

YOU WORK FOR L.B.J.

YOU WERE THERE WHEN THE VOTING

RIGHTS ACT WAS PASSED IN 1965.

>> IN THE ROOM.

Stephen: WHAT DO YOU THINK HE

WOULD SAY TO THE SUPREME COURT

FOR THEIR DECISION YESTERDAY AND

KEEP IN MIND THIS IS A FAMILY

SHOW.

>> YOU KNOW WHAT HE WOULD SAY?

HE DOESN'T UNDERSTAND WHY

CLARENCE THOMAS WHO WOULD NOT BE

ON THE SUPREME COURT IF IT HAD

NOT BEEN FOR THE VOTING RIGHTS

ACT PULLED THE LADDER UP AFTER

HIM

>> Stephen: CLARENCE THOMAS

BEING ON THE SUPREME COURT AND

BARACK OBAMA BEING IN THE WHITE

HOUSE PROVES WE DON'T NEED THE

VOTING RIGHTS ACT ANYMORE.

>> NO IT DOESN'T

Stephen: ONCE THE RIVER BED

IS DRY, ONCE THE RIVER BED IS

DRY, YOU CAN PULL DOWN THE DAM.

>> AND THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE

TRYING TO DO

>> Stephen: DO YOU THINK THAT

CONGRESS CAN PASS ANOTHER VOTING

RIGHTS ACT.

HOW HARD WAS IT THE FIRST TIME.

>> VERY DIFFICULT.

WHEN THAT DECISION CAME DOWN

YESTERDAY YOU KNOW WHO I WAS

THINKING OF, JOHN LEWIS WHO WAS

BEATEN ALMOST TO DEATH IN 1961

ON THE FREEDOM RIDE WHO WAS

ALMOST BEATEN TO DEATH ON THE

BRIDGE BETWEEN SELMA AND

MONTGOMERY WHEN THEY WERE

FIGHTING FOR VOTING RIGHTS.

I THOUGHT OF ALL THOSE NOW

FORGOTTEN MARTYRS, YOUNG BLACK

MEN AND WOMEN WHO DIED FIGHTING

FOR VOTING RIGHTS.

I THOUGHT OF A MAN BEATEN TWO OR

THREE TIMES.

I THOUGHT OF ALL OF THOSE GUYS

WHO STOOD UP SO THAT EVERYONE IN

THIS COUNTRY IRRESPECTIVE OF

RACE, RELIGION, CREED, INCOME,

WE'RE ALL EKE QUUL IN THAT

VOTING BOOTH I THOUGHT OF THEM.

IT WAS A BETRAYAL OF THEIR

MARTYRDOM THAT THIS COURT SAID

IT'S GOING TO BE OKAY FOR YOU TO

GO BACK AND TRY TO PUT

DISCRIMINATORY LAWS AGAINST

VOTING IN DIFFERENT PLACES.

THEY TRIED LAST YEAR.

YOU KNOW THAT.

YOU TAWGD ABOUT IT ON THE SHOW.

THE VOTER I.D., THE OTHER

EFFORTS TO DISQUALIFY VOTERS AT

THE POLLS.

THEY'RE NOW ENCOURAGED TO DO

THAT.

THE SUPREME COURT HAS SAID GO

AND DO LIKEWISE

>> Stephen: AGAIN IF IT DOESN'T

WORK OUT, IF THERE IS STILL

DISCRIMINATORY RACIAL

DISCRIMINATORY ACTION AT THE

POLLS TO TRY TO DISENFRANCHISE

BLACK PEOPLE OR LATINOS OR

ANYONE ELSE, WE'LL JUST BRING

L.B.J. BACK FROM THE GRAVE.

>> AND MARTIN LUTHER KING WHO

SAID THE LONG ARC OF HISTORY

TENDS TOWARDS JUSTICE.

IN TIME THE RACISTS IN THE

SOUTH -- AND THEY'RE STILL

THERE, IN YOUR STATE OF SOUTH

CAROLINA AND MY STATE OF

TEXAS -- THEY WILL BE OVERCOME

BY THE SHEER WEIGHT OF NUMBERS

OF PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT, BLACKS

AND HISPANICS AND OTHER PEOPLE

WHO WILL NOT PUT UP WITH BEING

TREATED AGAIN AS THEY HAD BEEN

FOR SO LONG.

THE NUMBERS WILL WIN IN THE LONG

RUN.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

>> Stephen: BILL, THANK YOU SO

MUCH FOR JOINING ME.

BILL MOYERS.

FRONT LINE.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

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