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Question: What are we missing?

Arianna Huffington: What keeps me up is that we are missing a lot of warning signs. I was in Italy recently and went to Pompeii. It was fascinating to see a city that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption and that had missed a lot of signs. There were a lot of signs that something was wrong: there had been an earlier earthquake, dogs were running away, birds were not singing, water was not flowing, and yet somehow people went on about their business.

I have that sense of foreboding and I’m really, by nature, an optimist so I don’t like feeling that way.

There are tremendous warning signs about what’s happened in this country to millions of Americans. What has happened to the middle class? It’s not just that we have over 35 million people in poverty. It’s that 10 million people are going to be added to the poverty ranks from the middle class. Now that’s an amazing development. It means that families with children are going to have to leave homes—they are leaving homes now, moving into motels or moving into homeless shelters.

What are we doing by not moving that to the forefront of our agenda and our preoccupations?

Of course, healthcare is a big part of it, because half of the bankruptcies in this country are because of healthcare costs.

Not looking and not listening to warning signs that are there is what keeps me up at night.

I don’t want to sound like a Cassandra—because it’s not fun being Cassandra—but we all need to remember that Cassandra was right, and the cheerleading Trojans were wrong—and very dead—at the end.

Recorded on: June 28, 2009.  Interviewed by Paul Hoffman.


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