Panel Discussion – Democracy v. Plutocracy

Since the founding of the U.S., a core battle has raged between two irreconcilable forces—democracy and plutocracy. Wealth in the U.S. today is over “two times as concentrated as in imperial Rome, which was a slave-and-farmer society.” If billionaires were a nation, they’d be the world’s 3rd largest economy. Today, mammoth monopolies have once again captured the government and rewritten the law to amass the greatest concentrations of wealth and power in American history, but strong anti-trust movements are rising to break up monopolies, change the law, democratize the economy, and institute democratic governance. Along with efforts afoot in Congress, some of the most important and successful initiatives are now happening at local and state levels. Learn about the deeper history of this clash that has led us to today’s plutocracy and about the movements and political strategies now gaining momentum to reclaim democracy and distribute power and wealth building.

With: Thom Hartmann, author, broadcaster and scholar; Stacy Mitchell, Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, author, and formidable campaigner to break up Amazon; Maurice BP-Weeks, Co-Executive Director of ACRE (Action Center for Race and the Economy) who works with community organizations and labor unions to create equitable communities by dismantling systems of wealth extraction that target Black and Brown communities. Hosted by Kenny Ausubel, Bioneers CEO and co-founder.


Thom Hartmann, the top progressive talk show host in America for over a decade and a four-time Project Censored Award-winning journalist, is the author of some 30 books, including the international bestseller, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight (about the end of the age of oil), used as a textbook in many schools and colleges. Thom, a former psychotherapist and entrepreneur, has also co-written and been featured in 6 documentaries with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Kenny Ausubel, CEO and founder (in 1990) of Bioneers, is an award-winning social entrepreneur, journalist, author and filmmaker. Co-founder and first CEO of the organic seed company, Seeds of Change, his film (and companion book) Hoxsey: When Healing Becomes a Crime helped influence national alternative medicine policy. He has edited several books and written four, including, most recently, Dreaming the Future: Reimagining Civilization in the Age of Nature.

Maurice BP-Weeks, based in Detroit, has many years’ community organizing experience in such areas as housing, policing, incarceration, corporate accountability and education justice. Co-Executive Director of ACRE (Action Center on Race and the Economy) where he works with community organizations and labor unions on campaigns to create equitable communities by dismantling systems of wealth extraction in Black and Brown communities, he also serves on many boards, including those of: Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity, National Institute for Money in Politics, Investors Advocates for Social Justice and the National Black Workers Center.

Stacy Mitchell, the Portland, Maine-based Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which produces research and develops policy to counter corporate control and build thriving, equitable communities, has written extensively about the dangers of monopoly power, including for The Atlantic, Bloomberg, The Nation, and The New York Times. She’s the author of a book, Big-Box Swindle, and several influential reports, including “Amazon’s Stranglehold” and “Monopoly Power and the Decline of Small Business.”

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