In a newly published interview, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) blasts the "unfettered capitalism" that has collapsed the middle class, and the corporate power fueling climate change, which poses a "far more serious problem than Al Qaeda."
Speaking with economics writer Jonathan Tasini for the interview with Playboy, the 72-year-old Independent senator said that "one of the untold stories of our time is the collapse of the American middle class." It's due, in part, to "the decline of trade unions," which means that workers "have less power to negotiate contracts and less political clout."
It's a system that has brought immense inequality, he says.
"We are in the midst of intense class warfare, where the wealthiest people and the largest corporations are at war with the middle class and working families of this country, and it is obvious the big-money interests are winning that war."
It's a "hypercapitalist society," where there are even efforts to "privatize water, for God’s sake," and the function of the current health care system is "to make as much money out of it as possible," he told Tasini.
When Tasini told Sanders, "You make the U.S. sound like a banana republic in which a handful of families control all the economic and political power," Sanders responded simply, "Yes, it is. In more technical economic terms I would call it an oligarchy."
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It's a system that has put corporate interests above people—and the planet.
"You have the entire scientific community saying we have to be very aggressive in cutting greenhouse gas emissions," Sanders told Playboy. "Yet you’re seeing the heads of coal companies and oil companies willing to sacrifice the well-being of the entire planet for their short-term profits. And these folks are funding phony organizations to try to create doubt about the reality of global warming."
It's "incomprehensible," he said, that "[b]ig business is willing to destroy the planet for short-term profits."
"And because of their power over the political process, you hear a deafening silence in the U.S. Congress and in other bodies around the world about the severity of the problem. Global warming is a far more serious problem than Al Qaeda."
As for any hopes Sanders supporters have that the senator will make a bid for the White House, he told Tasini, "I am at least 99 percent sure I won’t."