Howard Zinn on Democracy in America

Question: What is the state of democracy in America?

Howard Zinn: We don’t have a lot of democracy in America today. We have these formal institutions. We have representative government and we have a Bill of Rights.

But the fact is that the representative government doesn’t work very well. The electoral system is dominated by wealth. For instance, in the upcoming [2008] presidential election, most people I speak to cannot find a candidate that they like. They have no choice. The candidates have been selected for them and they have Republican or Democrat, and third party candidates don’t have a chance. The political system, therefore, is very limited.

Even freedom of speech and press, which are supposedly guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, they are very severely constricted by the control of the press and the control of all the arenas of free speech by huge corporations that control the major television channels and control the major newspapers.

Sure, we are more democratic than an absolutist and totalitarian state, but we in the United States are still quite a long way from democracy and certainly a long way from economic democracy. Because of the control of the economy by corporations and the tax structure, which is set up by an unrepresentative Congress and approved by a president, a tax structure which has so far channeled the wealth of the country towards the richest one percent of the population.

 

Date Recorded: July 5, 2008

 

 

 

 

What we have is not democracy, Zinn says. We just have formal institutions.

In developed nations, satisfaction with democracy is at a 25-year low

Dissatisfaction is often linked to scandals and economic shocks.

John Keeble/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs

Dissatisfaction with democracy in developed nations is at a record high.

Keep reading

Masturbation boosts your immune system, helping you fight off infection and illness

Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?

Photo by Marko Aliaksandr on Shutterstock
Sex & Relationships
  • Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
  • The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
  • Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
Keep reading

America’s 'Great Wealth Transfer': How to pass on values and purpose

It's estimated that $68 trillion will pass down from Boomers to millennials. Here's how ultra-rich families can do the most amount of good with what they inherit.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Approximately $68 trillion will pass from boomers to millennials over the next few decades in what's known as the Great Wealth Transfer.
  • 90% of family wealth is gone by the time the third generation comes around, primarily due to familial conflict.
  • Social capital advisor Richard Tafel suggests 4 steps families should follow so they transfer wealth in a way that does the most amount of social good.
Keep reading