The Common Good

Program 251 • 29 mins


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Chuck Collins was born wealthy, the great-grandson of Oscar Mayer, the Chicago meatpacker, popularized by famous advertising jingles. But Chuck decided at a young age to give away most of his money to causes he believed in. He’s spent the bulk of his life advocating for those left behind by income inequality. Today, these concerns are roiling our political and economic arrangements. In this provocative discussion, he reaches for solutions to the “racial wealth divide”, which Chuck believes may lead us into a kind of American apartheid—undermining quality of life for all. Part of the answer, he says, is to cultivate sustainable local economies, affecting many aspects of daily life—from our food systems to the way we bank. This is based on the reality of our true reliance on each other. And that will require getting better at understanding one another’s life story.

A polarized politics is a reflection of a polarized economy. And actually, we’ve been here before. During times of great inequality and insecurity, the United States has gone both progressive populist…but also goes regressive populist: anti-immigrant, anti-newcomers, the rise of the KKK. One of the huge challenges is we are living in this ecologically constrained world. So if we want to reduce inequality, we can’t really use the same playbook that we used after World War II. We just can’t extract and burn without any consequences anymore.”

—Chuck Collins, author of ‘Born on Third Base’


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