Video: Rushkoff on Colbert

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Douglas Rushkoff
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

Our pal Douglas Rushkoff was on the Colbert Report on Wednesday night, talking about his new book Life Inc. It's a very intense 6 minutes and I think Doug does a masterful job of getting his points across, and his passion for the subject matter is palpable. Congrats, Doug! We're proud of you!


  1. Yes we are proud! Doug did an amazing job. He’s a true thought leader and it’s inspirational to see his work get the recognition it deserves.

  2. Do you mean his passion for the subject matter is palpable?

    I agree that Doug did a fine job, and I may have to pick up his book soon.

  3. Yes, palpable, of course. Weirdly, I made the distinction in my head as I was writing but still managed to type the wrong word. Thanks!

  4. So glad I saw it live on the Tee Vee cuz the embedded video sez it ain’t available in Canada. Some day Viacom, Comedy Central and the rest of the knuckled heads down there will realize is the interwebs and there are no borders.

    Lame + Fail.

  5. Fascinating!

    You get to describe your book while being grilled on the hot stove called Colbert, and you better not slip up, or booksales go down the drain.

    And it’s a critique on corporate attitude.

    Absolutely priceless!

  6. That was good, although people who are constantly harping about how great the gold standard was just end up reminding me of Ayn Rand. That said, I’ll be looking for Life Inc. on the bookshelves.

  7. Well done! (And oh, is that how you pronounce Rushkoff? Rhymes with “roosh…”) I think you’d need to be a quick thinker to keep up with the amazing humor of Stephen Colbert.

  8. … and they wonder why we Canadians get blamed for pirating.

    We won’t let you watch it for free because you guys are all pirates.

    Makes sense to me.

  9. I once met Rushkoff when I brought him in to speak about his Frontline documentary (Merchants of Cool) for our freshman composition program (they also had to read Gladwell’s The Tipping Point”). I remember really liking Rushkoff so much more than Gladwell, who we also brought in, but felt badly because students were pretty hostile to him for some completely unfathomable reason. Yet today, I felt a little hostile to him when I read this take-down on Gawker ( and also hearing him completely misrepresent some monolithic “The Renaissance” to suit his rhetorical purpose on Colbert. Don’t get me wrong–he’s usually doing something cool with his talents. But really, isn’t this new thing a little too much “Bowling Alone”? I mean, I have a regular weekly card game, and uh, do the other stuff he mentions. Surely not everybody is defining success in the way he insists all of America does…

  10. Can someone explain one of Rushkoff’s arguments to me? He argues against interest-bearing centralized currencies, and uses bank loans as an example: when a business borrows $1000, where does the interest it has to pay come from? Its revenue may come from customers, but they get paid by other businesses, who eventually borrowed their money from the bank, too. But without interest, how would loans ever be made? Money DOES have a time-value, irregardless of whether it is a centralized or local currency. $1000 today is surely worth more to me to have today than it is for me to wait a year to get it. So it sounds to me like he is arguing against loans entirely, which would make it very hard for some types of businesses to ever get started.

  11. If an “economic stimulus” is defined as something that incentivizes–or forces–individuals to shorten their time preference, i.e. to demand more goods and services sooner rather than later, then one can easily come up with straw man examples like “getting cancer.” Rushkoff speaks about some “obligation” to consume… Says who? If you don’t want to consume, grow a spine and say no.

    He continually confuses monopoly with simple lending at interest, which he disparages as “making money from nothing,” and refuses to use the word monopoly becuase he wants to paint all of “corporate” commerece with the same brush, and of course, because monopolies are now and have been for a long time extremely rare.

    The words “In God We Trust” appeared on coins in the 1860s and became the national motto of the US in 1956. It was added to all paper money between 1964 and 1966. Nixon did not become President until 1969 and we didn’t go off the gold standard until 1971.

    Over and over the man gets simple facts wrong, misunderstands history and economics, and confuses simple terms. I realize he’s a friend to Boing Boing, but come on. You have to think critically even when you’re hearing exactly what you want to hear.

  12. @CITRYPHUS #13 I don’t think he meant “In God We Trust” was literally placed on US currency when we went off the gold standard. It seemed obvious (to me, at least) that it was a joke, a play on words. He was referring to the transition from gold to a more abstract and tenuous measure of value.

  13. #14, I think you should watch the video again and listen to what he said. It’s quite clear. Are you claiming poetic license? I thought the book was an argument. Sarah Palin says a lot of stupid shit that ain’t true on TV as well. Should we be equally generous? He’s making the standard gold bug argument that’s been refuted time and again, without even employing a single true fact. It’s also not true that gold is a less “tenuous” store of value. Take a look at a historical chart of world gold production and you’ll see why the gold standard had to end.

  14. Colbert let Rushkoff say alot! I’m amazed. The few times I’ve seen the show he seems to cut off his guests so badly that they can barely manage a few words. Here it seemed like Rushkoff got the chance to lay out the case, succinctly, yet completely.

    I totally agree that the whole invest-in-Walstreet thing is bogus. For the most part we’re not investing in companies that actually make our little local lives any better.

    “Invest” in local businesses, by shopping there, so they will be around and make your city more viable. Coffeeshops, vintage, record, book, and toy stores… I do feel like we have an obligation to support the economy and keep places like that alive.

  15. Great interview,,,though I must object to talking about wasting water when it must have taken 10K gallons of water to produce only ONE of his books. E publication would have been better.

  16. Sorry Citryphus we went off the Gold standard in 1929 we stopped using the Silver standard in 1964.

  17. #20 Demidan, incorrect. The Gold standard was interrupted several times, during WW1 for example. FDR ended the gold standard in 1933, but the Bretton Woods gold standard was introduced in 1946. This is what Nixon ended in 1971 and what Rushkoff was referring to. Some Treasury silver certificates circulated in the 1930s but were mostly out of circulation by the 1950s.

  18. I think when a post is assigned a number it should be immutable. The #14 I referred to at 2:31 is now #16. The new #14 (Who is #1? You are #6…) raises a good question. I think yes, Ruskoff is basically arguing against credit. While he was guest-posting here he test-polled the bumper-sticker slogan “Debt is not a product.” He says kings wanted to “make money by doing nothing.” Ignoring for the moment that evaluating the risk of making a loan involves work, chartered monopoly is not required to make that happen (although it helps), but that’s the villain he sticks with. And a chartered monopoly need not even be a corporation. Ah yes, but it’s “corporatism.” What a convenient term!

    It’s not only money that has a time value. A slice of pizza today is worth more than a slice of pizza next week.

  19. There is a church down the street from me, in Delaware County PA, that has a HUGE banner hanging from it reading:


    Plausible, methinks, but i can’t find anything about it on the interwebz. i may have to pay them a visit.

  20. Citryphus- “I think when a post is assigned a number it should be immutable.

    The post number problem comes up a lot. Threaded comments would fix it, I think. Alternatively we could all either respond using names, or quote the post to make it obvious. Maybe a button or two could be installed to facilitate this process?

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