On this week’s episode of Lever Time, David Sirota is joined by journalist and Citations Needed podcast co-host Adam H. Johnson to discuss the contradictions and hypocrisies of the multibillion-dollar self-help industry — an industry that has long convinced people that unhappiness is an attitude problem, and not a societal issue that needs to be addressed at a systemic level.

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A transcript of this episode is available here.

Adam’s recent story for The Lever exposed how one of the industry’s leading authors, Arthur Brooks, spent decades advocating for economic policies that have immiserated working Americans. As the former head of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), one of the country’s most prominent conservative think tanks, Brooks was paid nearly $3 million a year to help lead campaigns against Medicaid expansion, free college, rent control, and universal health care.

In today’s interview, David and Adam unpack how large parts of the self-help industry grifts its customers, the history of AEI and its toxic influence on American politics, and Brooks’ career transition from sower of despair to peddler of happiness.


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