Al Jazeera: The Top 1% in America

Al Jazeera forced many Westerns viewers to take their reporting seriously during the Egyptian uprising this spring, and now the Qatar-based news network has released a timely reportage (Aug. 2) on the fault lines in America -- on the gap between rich and poor that only grew wider this week. Alexis de Tocqueville they're not. There's no subtle sociology here. But, at the same time, I suspect that this foreign perspective on the U.S. won't appear unfamiliar to many Americans. The program runs 24 minutes, and other shows in the Fault Lines series can be viewed on YouTube here. H/T @courosa


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  • Dimitri says:

    Hi Dan,

    Just want to say, based on my non-American perspective, and as a casual viewer of Al-Jazeera myself, that Americans have to be proud of the country they have and don’t assume a priori that the view depicted by TV channels, which follows undisclosed agendas, represents the opinion of the majority.

    I am not referring obviously to the newest mess triggered by big government and big politics. I am saying: be proud of the legacy left by the founding fathers, which was the basis for a great country.

    Individual liberty, freedom of expression, free competition, legal egalitarianism… where do they exist to be found in the Arab world? Less talk about social gaps in the Middle East?

    What motivates me to write these lines is the fact that your assumption is correct: “this foreign perspective on the U.S. won’t appear unfamiliar to many Americans”. Indeed, the effects of years of war propaganda are visible. This is pure Sun-Tzu, win without fighting.

    Again, I am not belittling the economic challenges, only reminding that any house can be remodeled as long it has solid and strong foundations.

  • Robin öberg says:

    Individual liberty –> egocentrism
    Freedom of expression is void in the US
    Free competition –> Monopolisation for the rich
    Legal egalitarianism is an illllusion indoctrinated into the working class hero

    Now, stop watching Fox News :)

  • Dimitri says:

    Robin,

    In the next life if you happen to be born in a Arab country…
    1) change religion; or try to have a very good meal in public during the Ramadan, just because you feel like
    2) express your dissatisfaction with the local government and start asking for free elections
    3) pray you belong to a ruling tribe/family and that you have very good connections
    4) fight for your rights if you were born a woman… even worse, do it if you are a labor woman that was hired in a distant an impoverished country…

    I don’t see Fox, but I do see Al-Jazeera and CNN, sometimes;
    I have lived both in the Middle East and in the US (actually longer in America);
    I don’t believe in gnomes, in flying sauces or in perfectly idealized forms of government;
    But, all imperfections and defects considered, I still prefer the social gaps of a free society

    A matter of values and principles, strong reasons to be proud of, don’t you agree?

  • Ivo says:

    How does the accusation that certain countries and cultures in the middle east treat their people unfairly justify the actions of politicians and rich in the US? You are ridiculously suggesting that because we aren’t at the bottom of your imagined social ladder that we shouldn’t even dare to look at our own problems and improve them.

    As a US citizen I can’t change the middle east but I should be able to influence change in my own nation.

  • Dimitri says:

    Hi Ivo,

    I have to say that you did not read my msgs attentively. Quoting myself:
    “Americans have (reasons) to be proud” in spite of “newest mess triggered by big government and big politics”. “I am not belittling the economic challenges”. “What motivates me to write these lines is the fact (the underlying) assumption is correct”, Americans in the last decades are more and more ashamed of being Americans, at least outside of American borders. That it is what I perceive from my various American friends living in many different countries. Maybe at home this symptom is not part of the reality.

    In my modest view this fact reflects some form of cultural war – therefore my references to TV channel agendas and the internal situation of some countries from where the negative image of America is broadcasted daily.

    Other than that, I repeat what I said before: blame it to the politicians (many times working according to undisclosed plans, often intertwined with foreign interests, not uncommonly rooted in the very Middle East), but keep believing in the country.

  • Dimitri says:

    Sorry, I should have said not only believing in the country but obviously working to make it better.

  • Leishalynn says:

    Great documentary — concise and truthful. I hope they win an award for it.

  • Feel Free to Comment says:

    “majority of Americans?” might I point out that in the past five elections that the “majority” are divided nearly straight down the middle in the popular vote between the two major parties. The reason such a view would be produced is that most democratic states have vast metropolitan areas whereas conservatives typically live in more rural settings, which most surveys have trouble reaching.
    You might also take notice of the fact that most key areas of financial exchange where I would assume the majority of the top 1% live or spend most of their time(Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, D.C., etc) where the majority of the financial disparity is felt due to higher living costs are already supporting such measures for workers by having minimum wages far beyond the federal limit along with many other necessities. To raise the federal minimum wage to some of the proposed targets nearing $9.00 and other benefits would destroy rural area’s means of competing with the cities.
    On the other hand, the idea that the rich will invest in the producer side of the economy to boost growth before consumer products doesn’t make sense to me. If we ever do cut taxes on the wealthy, I’m hoping it’s later on after the economy has stabilized. Overall, this isn’t just about the poor masses vs. the rich (which are very difficult to define based on various areas’ cost of living to income ratio). It’s also about the rural areas vs the cities; inland America vs. the coasts. While we talk of the collapse of the economy, the areas that were and to a point, still are, suppressed by the cities’ rapacious growth are now blooming with the slow balancing occurring over time between the economies within the U.S.. I like Al Jazeera. The stuff they have reported on in war zones is gold for people wanting to see the unsaid cons of the U.S. military’s grip in foreign nations. However, this is not their best documentary/newscast. They need to do a little more digging into U.S. regionalism and economic development in the past decade before summing our problems in the plight of the metropolitan cities’ worker population. Not all Americans live like the rich and poor in L.A. and N.Y.C.

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