Left Out Program Notes for February 13, 2007

Welcome to Left Out, reality-based independent radio broadcasting on WRCT 88.3FM and podcasting on the worldwide web at leftout.info. Left Out discusses the news from a perspective left out of the mainstream media. Left Out is co-hosted by Bob Harper and Danny Sleator. Today's program is produced by Producer Hank. Listeners are invited to call the program at (412) 268-WRCT (9728), or to send email to bob@leftout.info.


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Guest: John Ehrenberg, Political Scientist

John Ehrenberg is a professor of political science at Long Island University. He's recently written Servants of Wealth. From the publisher's blurb:

For 25 years now, the Right has been successfully using the rhetoric of freedom and democracy to build support for the politics of wealth and privilege. It has traveled a long way from earlier appearances as the marginalized defender of an idle and backward-looking upper crust and the patriotic champion of an aggrieved and ignored minority. The Right has dominated national politics because it has taken advantage of opportunity with patient organizing and close attention to a distinct set of core ideas. As the Right rose to power, it constructed a formidable mass base, built an impressive set of institutions, and developed a coherent ideology that was not afraid to address American politics. Everything that the Right has to say about world affairs, authority, race, morality, the state, and the economy, though, has served a single core project. Above all else, the Right has sought to eliminate social equality as a legitimate aim of public policy. Its success in doing so has facilitated one of the most dramatic, undemocratic, and dangerous transfers of wealth and power in recent American history.

In this bold new book, political scientist John Ehrenberg critically analyzes the rise of an ideologically coherent Right. He dissects their themes of military weakness, moral decay, racial anxiety, and hostility to social welfare to reveal their central organizing objective of protecting wealth and assaulting equality.

In our discussion with Professor Ehrenberg, we'll delve into a few of the topics addressed by his book. We'll look at the arguments the right has used so successfully, why they appeal to people, and what's wrong with them. We'll also explore the resources that the right has developed (media outlets, think tanks) to promote these arguments. We'll contrast Ehrenberg's analysis to George Lakoff's "framing".

During the discussion the question arose: why do so many Americans seem to support the cutting of the estate tax, when it only stands to benefit an infinitesimal percentage of them. Professor Ehrenbert suggested that the answer is contained in Homer Gets a Tax Cut by Larry Bartels of Princeton University.

Guest: Robert Firth

Robert Firth is president and founder of Informing Design, Inc, which designs maps and traffic sign systems. He and his co-workers are map experts and transit afficanados. He has proposed a alternative design for Pittsburghs bus system. It's described in this op-ed "cartoon" that appeared in the Post-Gazete on January 28. He writes:

I propose that there is considerable waste and inefficiency in the current bus route system, and that it could be replaced by a "faux" subway system that's made out of buses, with suburb and local in-city routes feeding into a core system that is simple, fast, frequent (and fun to use) and that would maintain service to all neighborhoods within the proposed budget. (It would, by the way, eliminate overcrowding on the Forbes Ave corridor, among other things, and also provide for fast direct service from Oakland and CMU to "cross town" neighborhoods like Bloomfield, Shadyside and "Eastside" etc etc).

We'll talk to Mr Firth about the propsed design of the system. How it improves over the current system, and what we can do to make it happen.


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Last modified: Tue Feb 27 16:00:42 2007