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Jeffrey Sachs: “The American People Are Going to Reach a Breaking Point”

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New York Fed President William Dudley got an earful this week at town-hall style meeting in Queens earlier this week. When the former Goldman Sachs chief economist tried to explain why the Fed looks at "core" inflation, which excludes food and energy, he drew a hostile response, according to wire service reports.

"You have to look at the prices of all things," Dudley said. "Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful."

This "prompted guffaws and widespread murmuring from the audience," Reuters reports: "I can't eat an iPad," one attendee declared. Another asked: "When was the last time, sir, that you went grocery shopping?"

I mention this exchange in the context of my recent conversation with Columbia economics professor Jeffrey Sachs.

"The top 1% is cut off from the rest of society," he says in the accompanying video. "They don't know what's going on in America anymore. For them life couldn't be more booming [but] it's falling apart" for ordinary Americans.

"What we're seeing is the top [1%] is winning in international markets, winning in the bailouts, winning in government favors and winning in tax cuts," he says. "It's win-win-win."

I should note Sach is also Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, director of The Earth Institute, and president and co-founder of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty.

In other words, he "cares about the small people."

The Breaking Point

In part one of this interview, Sachs discussed his concerns about rising income inequality in the U.S. and the role of big money in politics, what he calls a "huge game filled with cynicism." (See: The New Robber Barons: All Politicians "In the Hands of the Super Wealthy," Sachs Says)

As the conversation continues here, Sachs says "the American people really are going to reach a breaking point" and rise up in protest.

"It's gonna happen," Sachs says. "For 30 years the rich have gotten their way in everything and the public is figuring all of this out."

The question I have is whether there's any common ground between the Tea Party movement and the pro-labor forces who protested so vigorously in Madison, Wisc. and other Midwestern capitols. If so, then there right really be an opportunity for a "mass" movement or viable third party.

What do you think?

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