Search for Dylan Ratigan online, and you’ll find numerous videos labeled with terms like “rant” and “rage” and “freak out.” The host of MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show is known for his angry tirades against the banking industry, the health-care system and both major political parties.
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He takes on all of those topics and more in Greedy Bastards, which details his ideas about how to reform American banking, trade, education, health care, energy and politics. One-on-one, Ratigan is just as impassioned and excitable as he is on TV. Here he talks about his goals for the book and for America.
Do you hope that people will be inspired to action by reading your book?
That is my singular goal, is to inspire people to be joyous in embracing the path to resolution. I have obsessed, myself, and in great depression and rage, for years at the abomination of decision-making that has become our government and our culture and the way that we function, and it has hurt me personally tremendously, because I’ve been a miserable, miserable human being, and it’s awful.
What I realized in the writing of this book is that the only way that I can valuably use my time as a man is to do it in such a way that is joyful and inspiring in collaborating with all the millions of people around me that want to do the same thing, that want to learn about how to create these cradles of innovation and these jobs ecosystems, so that we can reframe the debate away from the idiotic two-party debate that is bought on both sides.
Do you think people are apathetic about these issues because they don’t entirely understand them?
That’s the No. 1 barrier. [The charts in the book] are intended as treasure maps so that people know where to hot-spot their activities to restore those breaches. Those things are like a Chutes and Ladders treasure map, and those are being converted into a website that’s going to have source material underneath it, so that people can actually form communities. All these things go to help better inform more people.
We know the dysfunction—there’s no jobs, there’s student debt. It’s a shit show. You don’t need for me to write a book that explains to you a shit show. You already know about it. What I’m trying to do is offer insight as to why we’re getting such terrible decision-making, because of the misaligned interests, and offer a mechanism to focus on how we can realign our interests by using those connect-the-dots treasure maps and pointing to the beginning of the process.
In the world of cable-news commentating, is being the loudest sometimes the only way to reach people?
Remember, our economy’s in a total state of dysfunction, as an apparatus. So what do we monetize in our economy right now? We monetize basically one thing, which is not intellectual property, not value creation. Actually two things: We monetize debt speculation for bankers, hugely, and we monetize attention-seeking behavior. So right now, if you accumulate attention, you’re able to then deliver messages and make money.
The benefit to me of the explosive behavior—I’ve been going through a personal exploration/revelation/awakening/hell. That has been largely driven by a lot of frustration and anger about the dysfunction in the social and political apparatus. And part of that has spilled out into public because I work in public.
But what I’ve realized over the past year, and especially in writing this book, is that we are on the verge of a renaissance of creativity if we can simply do these things together. And that it is much more valuable for a man like myself to focus on a joyous pursuit of those things than a rageful resistance to the problem. But there’s no question that the awareness of my message has benefited by virtue of the aggressive indictment of the current system that I’ve offered up.
Was it difficult to take your popular TV style and translate it to print?
I actually delighted in translating it into print, because you have the opportunity to create a much more well thought-out and much more ambitious representation of your ideas. When you’re speaking, and when you’re overwhelmed with emotion, you tend to be less effective in really delivering the highest ideals that you might be aspiring to.
And the brilliance of the opportunity in writing the book is the book was the only opportunity to be able to set aside a lot of the short-term emotion and frustration and ego and focus on truly trying to use my assets as a listening device and as a teaching device to illustrate the things that make me so angry, and also illustrate the pathways that give us an opportunity to resolve those things.