David Simon gave an informal speech in Sydney, Australia.
The Guardian has an edited text here/
Remember, Simon is the brilliant creator of both "Homicide" and of "The Wire,"
It begins like this:
America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It's astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.And there is this:
That may be the ultimate tragedy of capitalism in our time, that it has achieved its dominance without regard to a social compact, without being connected to any other metric for human progress.There is so much more in this piece.
We understand profit. In my country we measure things by profit. We listen to the Wall Street analysts. They tell us what we're supposed to do every quarter. The quarterly report is God. Turn to face God. Turn to face Mecca, you know. Did you make your number? Did you not make your number? Do you want your bonus? Do you not want your bonus?
Simon understands the functioning and necessity of unions:
The unions actually mattered. The unions were part of the equation. It didn't matter that they won all the time, it didn't matter that they lost all the time, it just mattered that they had to win some of the time and they had to put up a fight and they had to argue for the demand and the equation and for the idea that workers were not worth less, they were worth more.Allow me to offer only two more paragraphs from this interesting speech.
And so in my country you're seeing a horror show. You're seeing a retrenchment in terms of family income, you're seeing the abandonment of basic services, such as public education, functional public education. You're seeing the underclass hunted through an alleged war on dangerous drugs that is in fact merely a war on the poor and has turned us into the most incarcerative state in the history of mankind, in terms of the sheer numbers of people we've put in American prisons and the percentage of Americans we put into prisons. No other country on the face of the Earth jails people at the number and rate that we are.Those are facts of which many here are aware. Rarely are they all put together as directly as Simon does, but they should be, they should be hammered home.
And then finally, allow me to offer this:
The idea that the market will solve such things as environmental concerns, as our racial divides, as our class distinctions, our problems with educating and incorporating one generation of workers into the economy after the other when that economy is changing; the idea that the market is going to heed all of the human concerns and still maximise profit is juvenile. It's a juvenile notion and it's still being argued in my country passionately and we're going down the tubes. And it terrifies me because I'm astonished at how comfortable we are in absolving ourselves of what is basically a moral choice. Are we all in this together or are we all not?Perhaps I am too much interested in moral issues: after all, quite often I focus on the moral dimension of the issues that confront us. Perhaps that is why the words of Simon seem so potent to me.
Simon has demonstrated in his professional work an incredible ability to realistically present the world that too many ignore, that is the reality for too many Americans.
The insight he brings to that is what infuses the words he offered in this speech.
I hope he keeps speaking out like this. We need to be reminded, as he does so effectively in this set of words.