INSKEEP: Let me play a piece of tape here. This is from the State of the Union address, and I'm just interested what you think of the president's language as he talks about increasing the competitiveness of America.
President BARACK OBAMA: In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that proposal to Congress for a vote and we will push to get it passed.
INSKEEP: Got some applause there.
Mr. HEDGES: Well, he quite consciously uses the language of the business community to indicate that he is pro-business.
INSKEEP: You mean the word competitiveness, talking about a...
Mr. HEDGES: Competitiveness...
INSKEEP: ...competitive America.
Mr. HEDGES: Investments in education, that kind of stuff.
INSKEEP: What's wrong with that? Don't people want America to be more competitive in the world marketplace?
Mr. HEDGES: Because government's not a corporation. Government is not about competition. Government is about addressing the necessities of citizens: health, education, housing, security, jobs, living wages, protection so that people have clean and safe water and food. It's not about business programs. And that, of course, is the ideology of the right wing, to not only to make government serve corporations but essentially reduce government and cut citizens loose.
INSKEEP: Well, you know the argument that is made against that. People will say, look, we can't afford education, the social services, all those things you just mentioned, unless the economy is strong and businesses are strong and people are making money and paying taxes.
Mr. HEDGES: Well, and they're right. But who's responsible for the debt peonage. It's not those people working extra shifts in WalMart.
INSKEEP: You're talking about the fact that the United States has a huge public debt now, much of it...
Mr. HEDGES: Yeah...
INSKEEP: ...owed to overseas investors.
Mr. HEDGES: That's the fault of Wall Street. I mean, they're the people who ratcheted it up. They're the people we had to bail out. It's not the person working on a minimum wage job, but they're the ones who are going to be made to suffer.
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