Johann Hari On Bill Clinton’s Presidency And Its Lasting Financial Effects

November 19, 2018

Johann Hari is a Swiss-British journalist and writer who was recently on the Waking Up Podcast (episode 142) talking to Sam Harris. The title of the episode is Addiction, Depression, and a Meaningful Life. The two go into depth about the state of mental health in society and the root causes for the uptick in addiction mental illness.

Towards the end of the podcast, they discussed Trump and politics. Johann Hari states that Trump is actually a symptom of a much wider issue in society. Earlier in the episode, Sam Harris mentioned that while he originally liked Bill Clinton as a president and did vote for him, he now has great disdain for the former president as he finds out more about him. Hari then goes onto to say this about Bill Clinton.

Let’s think about Bill Clinton right…many of the crises that are playing out now were instigated by Bill Clinton. It was Bill Clinton that [changed and repealed] the Glass Steagall which is the financial regulation that permits the growth of the shadow banking industry that leads to the 2008 crash. That wasn’t done by Ronald Reagan. That wasn’t done by George W Bush. That was done by Bill Clinton. It was done in order to get campaign donations from extremely rich individuals and financial institutions right. Bob Woodward’s book The Agenda, which is about the first six months of the Clinton administration which is quite a good guide to this. It was Bill Clinton that did the welfare reform that absolutely destroyed and gutted the welfare net in this country…which is [really the reason why] huge numbers of people are even more financially insecure and poor than they otherwise would have been right. And the effects were, there was a time lag because it sets a time limits for how long you can be on welfare in your life. So we didn’t actually feel the effects for quite a long time but now the effects are absolutely devastating and President Obama’s attempts to repair the safety net were relatively limited…they did not repair all the damage that Bill Clinton did right.


The Glass Steagall Act of 1932 was a legislation that separated commercial and investment banking. It was repealed by Bill Clinton in 1999. Although the repeal was signed in 1999, the administration took a lackluster attitude towards regulating the financial banking industry. For instance, although warned of its dangers, the administration did not choose to enact regulations regarding over-the-counter derivatives, which were becoming increasingly prevalent.

Although Hari blamed Clinton for many of America’s current financial predicament, he also said that he would vote for Bill Clinton over the choices that were presented at the time )if he was an American citizen at the time).

You can listen to this part of the podcast from 1:40 to 1:42 of the episode 142. You can pick up a copy of Hari’s new book Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression on Amazon.

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