David Simon doesn't like to mince words.
The creative genius behind such acclaimed television shows as "The Wire" and "Treme" has never been one to keep his opinions to himself. But the former Baltimore Sun reporter and screenwriter may have outdone himself, however, when he delivered an epic address on American inequality.
"America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics," Simon said. "There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It's astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity."
While noting that he is not a Marxist in the traditional sense, Simon complained that capitalism has in some ways failed, as it has "achieved its dominance without regard to a social compact, without being connected to any other metric for human progress."
In order for societies to thrive, they must believe in the spirit of cooperation, Simon explained. But that doesn't mean everyone gets the same amount. Rather, each person must feel "if the society succeeds, I succeed, I don't get left behind."
And so in my country you're seeing a horror show. You're seeing a retrenchment in terms of family income, you're seeing the abandonment of basic services, such as public education, functional public education. You're seeing the underclass hunted through an alleged war on dangerous drugs that is in fact merely a war on the poor and has turned us into the most incarcerative state in the history of mankind, in terms of the sheer numbers of people we've put in American prisons and the percentage of Americans we put into prisons. No other country on the face of the Earth jails people at the number and rate that we are.
He later warned that "unless we reverse course, the average human being is worth less on planet Earth" and went on to add that this course could be reversed if societies address what he calls the "socialist impulse" and marry that impulse to the "engine that is capitalism."
Simon was joined by a variety of international thinkers at the festival, including web theorist Evgeny Morozov, journalist Hanna Rosin, environmentalist Vandana Shiva and reporter-writer Erwin James, according to The Guardian.
Of course, this is not the first time Simon has delivered an outspoken take on American politics. Following the verdict of not guilty in the trial of George Zimmerman, Simon wrote in a blog post that he was "ashamed to call himself an American."
"You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it," Simon wrote at the time. "But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.
(Hat tip, Raw Story)