Margaret Atwood on Debt

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Margaret Atwood, author of Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, and Jennifer Baichwal, director of the documentary "Payback," discusses the new documentary film adaptation of Atwood's 2008 book of essays on debt, opening at the Film Forum in New York on Apr. 25th. 


Margaret Atwood and Jennifer Baichwal

Comments [9]

Phyllis from Brooklyn, NY

This discussion was riveting, but I let out a special "Wow!" when the Immokalee farm workers were mentioned. NPR readers might be interested in knowing that it was due to the efforts of the Prometheus Radio Project in setting up a low power community radio station that helped the workers to organize in a more effective way and mobilize to get justice for their community. NPR fought low power radio for many years...a mystifying fact. Luckily, one of the last accomplishments of the 111th Congress was to pass, in December of 2010, the Local Community Radio Act. The Immokalee workers prevailed in large measure by being able to communicate with each other over their low power radio station.

Apr. 24 2012 03:20 PM

I have found that being "nice" to people in daily transactions -- that is to say respectful and treating people as equals -- simply makes life easier and more pleasant. Many of us seem to think that pulling rank -- I'm the customer you're serving me or may I speak to your supervisor -- results in better service. But it really doesn't. It just makes every day encounters more stressful and unpleasant for everyone. In fact, I have found the opposite -- being nice to people usually results in better service even above and beyond the usual. That said, if someone is rude or dishonest with me, then of course, I speak up. But really, life is hard enough. Why make it worse by being unpleasant when dealing with others.

Apr. 24 2012 11:07 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

I think Ms. Atwood's basic premise that debt provides benefits to human society - especially in terms of human kindness and generosity - is a good one. In recent years, as this strain of libertarianism and "free market fundamentalism" has captured much of the U.S. thought, as well as other parts of the world, that seeks to demonize anyone who "depends" on another, her's is a good corrective.

The fact is that EVERYONE owes a DEBT to someone else, particularly their parents and family for even raising them, as Atwood notes.

Apr. 24 2012 11:07 AM
John A.

People are more cooperative than competitive -
She means Canadians, right?
This segment made me notice the wiki page for "The Handmaid's Tale".
A lot going on on that page, will spend time.

Apr. 24 2012 11:00 AM
James Herlan from St. John, USVI

What does Ms. Atwood think about the Golden Rule? Specifically, the view that it takes away from the individuality of a person. My neighbor might not necessarily want me to treat them the way I want to be treated.

Apr. 24 2012 10:58 AM
Kate Perry from Boerum Hill

Brian - Love this discussion and your show generally

I owe you :)

Apr. 24 2012 10:57 AM
bernard from bronx

What is the debt owed to African Americans because of slavery?

Apr. 24 2012 10:53 AM
Ed from Larchmont

How much of the debt would Ms. Atwood atribute to demographics - the lack of enough young people?

Apr. 24 2012 10:22 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

In these days of the GOP's "War on Women," a day doesn't go by that I don't think of "The Handmaid's Tale." She warned us what was coming but we thought it far-fetched (but wonderful) fiction. She was right and we were very wrong.

Apr. 24 2012 10:14 AM

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