On January 17, journalist, activist, and author William Greider spoke at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke. Currently a national correspondent for The Nation, Greider engaged the audience on the topic of “The Politics of Money: In Search of Democracy.”
Greider spoke of his first visit to Duke many years ago and of the lasting impact of his friendship with Larry Goodwyn, a Duke history professor from 1971-2003 who passed away last fall. Goodwyn taught him to “go to the root” of social problems, and to be an advocate for the public, who “long to learn and hear” about the causes of social injustice.
The main subject of the talk was the United States Federal Reserve and the lack of reforms to its system for much of the past 80 years. Greider pointed out that the conditions under which the Fed was created no longer exist, comparing it to a steam engine amidst today’s technology.
Among the problems attributed to the current banking system, Greider included the increasing concentration of wealth, the decline of a living wage, an “ominous mountain” of federal debt, and an unstable concentration of power in bank conglomerates.
Greider suggested that politicizing the Fed would bring it out of isolation and “align it to the normal course of political debate.” He also pointed out the tremendous increase of power to the financial sector as a result of deregulation. Greider warned that if problems with the system are allowed to continue, we will continue to be vulnerable to financial collapses and social issues.
Throughout his career, Greider has pushed for transparency from the government and financial sector, and he encouraged students to think critically about the divide between the elite and those who are excluded from power.
This event was co-sponsored by the Forum for Scholars and Publics, Marxism & Society at the Program in Literature, the Center for Documentary Studies, the Economic Center for Teaching, and the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy at the Sanford School of Public Policy.