An Afternoon with Bill Moyers

this program is a presentation of uctv for educational and non-commercial use only the same religion that’s capable of hideous acts of destruction can also be capable of moments of healing restoration and of hope but educate a girl and you educate her entire family there is a son within every person when that anger sets him write it write the letters but don’t send them you never want to leave concrete proof of insanity two days after the Tucson massacre I was sitting in a New York radiology lab waiting for an MRI on a torn left shoulder it was late evening and the only other patient in the lounge was a woman with short silver hair who was my senior and perhaps slightly senior to me oh that’s getting difficult to be these days we had been there for two hours just the two of us and the receptionist passing the time by making small talk and sharing a dog-eared copy of the day’s New York Times and three very worn copies of People magazine and now as time dragged on ten o’clock ten fifteen in the evening we were staring mindlessly at a muted television set high on a wall above the receptionist desk and tuned to a crime show on a cable channel I think it was a and E blood splashed across the screen as killers stocked their victims and in turn were dispatched by police in pursuit I lost count of the bodies and the guns weapons that could have come right off the racks of the convention of the National Rifle Association although there was no sound from the TV we couldn’t miss the reminder that violence cells in America and the people who profit from violence in real life and popular culture love it but did you know that between 1933 the year before I was born and today more than 1.4 million Americans have been casualties of gunfire did you know that between nineteen seventy-nine and nineteen ninety seven more Americans were killed by guns and have been killed in all of our wars since the revolution and yet in the days just after that massacre the sale of got nines the gun used by the killer doubled in Arizona and the gun lobby pushed for a bill to allow concealed weapons on college campuses I made Celeste to take hers off a moment ago before she introduced me this morning’s Washington Post which I read online a major story on the front page of the Washington Post says the number of guns with high-capacity magazines like the one used in Tucson seized by Virginia police dropped during the ten years when there was a federal law banning automatic weapons but when George Bush and the Republican Party and many Democrats pushed for the repeal of the end of that bill in 2004 since then the number of high-capacity magazine seized by Virginia police rebounded in other words the law was beginning to make a dent in the market by the time it ended President Obama’s Tucson memorial speech was eloquent and moving but I kept waiting for him to say that the great task remaining before us is redeeming America from the fantasy that the law can allow any inflamed lunatic easily to acquire murderous weapons

without the expectation of murderous murderous consequences alas no no such luck instead the headline on a recent front page of my one of my favorite websites Talking Points Memo calm read no signs Obama will shift on gun control after Giffords shooting it seems that nothing will sufficiently stiffen the backbone of our politicians including our president to take on the NRA which has been perpetrating one of the great frauds of American history namely that a Jared Lee Lauren armed with a Glock 9 and the 31 round clip qualifies as material for the well-regulated militia prescribed by the Constitution that is just not so and if if you wonder as I do how we’ve reached this stage of democracy where we cannot solve the problems we have created for ourselves look no further than the overbearing muscle and venal logic of the NRA and its stranglehold on politics so it is that even in a radiology lab in the heart of Manhattan ostensibly a neutral zone for healing at that you can’t escape the toxic emissions of a violent culture that has turned democracy into what my friend the media scholar Henry Jarreau calls a culture of cruelty a culture of cruelty so my waiting room companion and I were sitting there saying little when she suddenly turned to me and asked are you optimistic about our country what do you mean well she said sometimes I sense that it’s sinking around me like a great ocean liner and many of us are not going to make it off almost it instantly so help me almost instantly the metaphor took and my head was filled with images from james cameron’s epic Titanic I could see those lifeboats bobbing in the dark waters the doom passengers lining the railings of the ship and the small orchestra gathered on the forward deck playing nearer my God to be weird weird I thought to myself that the ladies fears call the cells in my brain to associate the sinking of the Titanic with the fate of democracy I said nothing to her about it she seemed forlorn enough but her question had jolted me like so many other Americans optimism is embedded deep in my psyche but as with so many other people it doesn’t surface as often these days as it used to but I didn’t say all this to her instead I responded superficially superficially tongue-in-cheek half Angie and I said well you remind me of the question I once put to a friend of mine on Wall Street I asked him what he thought about the future of the market he replied I’m optimistic then why do you look so worried I asked and he replied I’m not sure my optimism is justified she laughed lightly just to humor me I’m sure and then she persisted so are you optimistic and if you are how do you justify your optimism I was struggling for an honest answer when the door opened and a technician motion me to follow him and I breathed the sigh of relief said farewell to my melancholy companion and took my leave those of you who’ve had an MRI know it makes a terrible racket and it did as I lay in its tubular embrace for almost half an hour it knocked whined and rattled but I’m telling you the truth I hardly noticed instead I was focused on her question and my failure to give her more than at right answer let me tell you is that machine and whose bosom I was entombed begin to emit its terminal groans all i could hear from some distant place were the strains of

nearer my god to be make of that what you will but on the subway home that night and many many times since I’ve thought of our conversation and her question if she were here today I don’t know her name I can’t track her down but if she were here today here is how I would answer her I am an optimist because human beings are capable of goodness I see it around me and my wife Judith and family in my friends and colleagues and of course in the world far beyond my own circle if you were following news of the recent floods that are ravaging huge swathes of Australia you may have heard about the two brothers one of them 13 the other 10 who were in the car with their mother when a wall of water crashed down on them rescue a struggle to reach them but only one got through he realized that the force of the flood was so fierce that he could only get one of them to safety at a time when the older boy recognized this too he insisted the rescuer take the younger brother first the man did managing to carry the boy to higher ground and start back to the car but before he could get there the older brother and their mother were washed away the tragedies of life would be unspeakable would they not except for something in the human being even in a 13 year old that will say if you can only save one of us save my brother and the heroes of the Tucson massacre the older man three years older than I am who threw himself across his wife the protector she lived he died the two bystanders one of them bleeding from his own head wounds who jumped the gunman as he tried to reload and the woman who grabbed the clip as he tried to reload and the student intern no older than you who was own representative Giffords staff whose first instinct was to run toward his fallen leader using his high school training in emergency medicine to slow her bleeding and probably save her life all around us look around I mean look to your left would you now to your right all around us are heroes with a thousand faces Joseph Campbell wrote a book with that title years ago many of you will remember Joe Campbell the scholar of comparative religion and litter two who became one of our foremost mythologists his archives are just a few miles from here and Carol are you here you were going to come yes back there who who manages those that wonderful place my conversations with him on the power of myth filmed at George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch here in california became the most popular of the many series I’ve done for PBS in one of them Joe was explaining the influence on his thinking of the philosopher Schopenhauer who in a famous essay had once asked himself how is it that a human being can so participate in the peril or pain of another human being that without thought spontaneously he or she sacrifices his own life to the other how can it happen schopenhauer ask that what we normally think of as the first law of nature and self-preservation is suddenly dissolved and we put another’s well-being ahead of our own Campbell then told me a story that it unfolded near his home in Hawaii at a place called the poly I think that’s the pronunciation of it where the trade winds from the north come rushing through a great ridge of mountains people go up there to have their hair blown in the winds if they have it and sometimes they go up there to commit suicide like jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge one day said Joe two policemen who are driving up the pali road when they saw just beyond the railing a young man about to jump one of the policemen leaped from the car and grabbed him but the momentum of the two of them going over at the same time almost carried them off the cliff together the

policemen wouldn’t let go and just in time his partner arrived and pull the two of them back when a newspaper reporter asked the first policeman why didn’t you let go you could have been killed he answered I couldn’t let go if I had I wouldn’t have lived another day of my life Campbell then asked me do you realize what had suddenly happened to that policeman who had given himself over to death to save a stranger everything else in his life had dropped off the wishes and hopes for a lifetime no longer mattered what mattered was saving that young man even at the cost of his own life how come because that Campbell interpreting Schopenhauer such a psychological crisis represents the breakthrough of a metaphysical reality which is that you and the other are two aspects of the one life and your apparent separate pneus is but an effect of the way we experience forms under the conditions of space and time our true reality he said are true reality is our identity and unity with all life perhaps that’s another way of saying we’re all in this together and perhaps that Hindus I think it is a sect had it right that when you give the traditional greeting you’re recognizing the divinity in the other of which you are part in mythology the hero gives us his or her life gives his or her life to some order of realization of this truth Campbell said this is also the truth of your life and he was saying it to me this is the truth of your life as I’m saying it to you this is the truth of your life and your life and your life it’s the reason each of us harbors within us and it’s why I asked you to look left and right it’s the reason each of us harvest within us a potential hero you’re sitting next to two potential heroes and one is sitting in your seat take the imperative that we love our neighbor one of the hardest of all religious concepts if I were a Catholic I would have to go to confession every day because I don’t love all my neighbors but Campbell said in it it puts us in tune with this truth but whether you love your neighbors or not and I confess as I said that I’ve had neighbors I would just let drop off that bridge one of them cut down all the trees behind our house once after he bought his house hi when this truth claims you when it holds you when it rises from within you you may risk everything for someone else and not really know why you do so who can forget I can’t forget my wife and I were awake that morning we lived three hours from Ground Zero and our offices with three miles from Ground Zero in our office is one mile from Ground Zero we heard about the second plane on the way to our television station where we spent the next week helping to keep it on the air because I engineer been killed in the technical facilities above the World Trade Center the transmission the heroes of the hour as many of you remember were first responders who sprang into action when the terrorists struck the world trade center most were public employers wrong a modest middle-class income for extremely dangerous work all these years later here in Santa Barbara I can see in my mind’s eye those firemen who just kept climbing going up those darkened stairs through billowing smoke toward roaring flames in the midst of all that horror they held on to their humanity and did their duty at the cost of their own lives you will want to read the new book by Rebecca Solnit one of our finest nonfiction writers its title is a paradise built in hell and it’s a study of what people do in disasters and why it matters ultimately it’s about human goodness and why it matters solet set straight those Hollywood producers and directors who relish making films that show terrified mobs screaming in the streets after calamity and turning to looting murder and cannibalism not so she writes spurred by her own experience in California’s loma prieta earthquake she began to dig deeply into other disasters the 1917 explosion in halifax

nova scotia the 1985 Mexico City earthquake 911 in New York and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans she reports that in the aftermath of each calamity ordinary people become altruistic resourceful and brave striving to save other people’s lives or reaching out to strangers with random acts of kindness paradoxically they often find in the aftermath of disaster the sense of community and purpose that is otherwise absent from their lives that’s the message of the book the desires and possibilities are so powerful that they shine for wreckage carnage and ashes now of course it doesn’t take disasters to bring out goodness what Schopenhauer was saying in his celebrated essay is that in small ways we can see this happening every day all the time moving in the world people doing selfless things to and for each other Rebecca Solnit eloquently dwells on this and I couldn’t recommend this book to you more highly she says what sustains life is far closer to home and more essential than market forces and much more interesting than selfishness most of the real work on this planet she said is not done for profit it’s done at home for each other for affection out of idealism and it starts with the heroic effort of parents to sustain each helpless human being a child for all those years before fending for yourself becomes feasible and it’s not just confined to home what she called and I love this term a shadow system of kindness provides soup kitchens food pantries and giveaways takes in the unemployed evicted and foreclosed upon defends the idiot in digital immigrant tutors the poorly scoop comforts the neglected provides loans gives donations and a thousand other forms of practical solidarity as well as emotional support I saw it yesterday visiting my dear friends john and lillian loveless at their home in los angeles john has been in the hospital he’s struggling Lillian is totally devoted to him and we set by his bed for two hours talking and every now and then she would look up at him and he would look back at her and something passed between them for which not even a poet can articulate and so it goes on all the time others seek to reform or transform the system from the inside out and in this way inch by inch in roads have been made on many fronts over the past half-century grounds for optimism many years ago when Judith and I were kids a young couple traveling in England we came upon the ruins of an old church with an inscription so Ward by time and the elements that it was barely legible but when we made them out the words proved memorable in the year 16 53 when all things in the kingdom were either profaned or demolished this church was built by Sir Richard surely whose singular praise it was to do the best of things in the worst of times I am an optimist because there are people who do the best of things in the worst of times people who imagine a different future and get up every morning to try to do something to bring it about grounds for optimism let me assure you there’s nothing sentimental about this i was born in the Great Depression my father was not down and almost out by I lived through World War two the Korean War of the Cold War and the Vietnam War I grew up in the south where white supremacists ruled I lived through the civil rights movement as blacks took on the water hoses and dogs to fight back I live through the assassination of to Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King through the rage in our inner cities through 9 11 and 2 ensuing war is one of which continues to this Bay and through the great financial and economic collapse of 2008 as a journalist I pull back the rug on the dark corners and dirty floors of our political system and I’ve chronicled the rising plutocracy that now threatens our democracy and I’ve of course experienced losses of my own like all of you and through all of this I’ve come to

see the world without rose-colored glasses and I’ve come to see civilization as a thin veneer of civility stretched across the passions of the human heart so fragile it can come apart at any moment and this is what I wish I had said to the stranger in the waiting room this is why I’m not sure my optimism is justified the Catholic social worker who I once interviewed in a marvelous early documentary Dorothy Day said we should build a world that helps bring out our goodness but we haven’t while human beings have an instinct even a talent for empathy and collaboration our politics doesn’t enlist and nurture that instinct instead of helping us to live constructively and cooperatively in the spirit of We the People which is based upon a moral compact politics has become a winner-take-all juggernaut powered by malignant narcissism and life in America today is becoming a war of all against all putting the weak and the vulnerable working people and the middle class at the mercy of money power and privilege here here glenn beck the fabulous of fox news when he spoke about a year ago at the annual gathering in Washington a conservative activist he sounded as if he were voicing the social Darwinism of the late 19th century when the survival of the fittest dogma of the Industrial Revolution produced astonishing wealth and devastating misery adopting the French notion of lazy no fair leave us be the strong pursued the self-interest with the vast discrepancies between them tearing America apart in his feet Beck exalted in the vision of carnage as the spoils of victory he mocked the very notion of extending a helping hand to someone in me we believe in the right of the individual he said you can disagree with me you can make your own path but I’m not going to pay for your mistakes and I don’t expect you to pay for my mistakes we’re all going to make them but we all have the right to move down that road what we don’t have the right to is healthcare housing or handouts handouts now his audience of ideologues knew what he meant and they laughed and applauded when he brought them to applause by saying if you don’t think it’s all about competition go watch the lions eat the weakest the law of the jungle Glenn Beck’s world the world our politics is creating as we speak much of financial capitalism today thrives on the same animal spirit consider it ray dalio he’s the billionaire hedge fund operator who reportedly made 780 million dollars in 2008 the year of the great collapse he’s embodied his philosophy in a collection of Maxim’s under the title principles like Beck he’s a carnivorous predator his advice and I’m not making this up I couldn’t make this up his advice be a hyena attack the wildebeest wildebeest as I’m sure you know or antelope native to South Africa they’re no match for the dog like flesh-eating spotted hyena that gorges on them some hyenas have a how that has been compared to a fiendish laugh a sound commonly heard at Goldman Sachs especially when the bonuses are handed out so here here here is what I’m just I’m just kidding Lloyd you know that so here is what the billionaire hedge fund manager says about thriving in a roof of this world where the weak are at the mercy of the strong and this is a direct quote when a pack of hyenas takes down a young wildebeest is that good or evil at face value that might not be good because it seems cruel and the poor wildebeest suffers and dies some people might even say that the hyenas are evil

yet this type of apparently cruel behavior exists throughout the animal kingdom like death itself it is integral to the enormously complex and efficient system that has worked for a long as long as there’s been life it is good for the both of them both the hyena who are operating in their self-interest and the interest of the greater system including those of the wildebeest because killing and eating the wildebeest Foster’s evolution the natural process of improvement in fact if you changed anything about the way that dynamic works the overall outcome would be worse and here’s the kicker here’s how the world looks from the top of the food chain if you see yourself as a hyena and the rest of us at wildebeest you agree with Ray when he says like the hyena attacking the wildebeest successful people might not even know if or how their pursuit of self-interest helps society but it typically does not this round ray not this round we allegedly have civilization which is taken a long time to overcome the primal instincts of the jungle but this time the hyenas have left a wasteland the single-minded pursuit of wealth for its own sake with no regard for the fate of others has thrown millions out of work and homes stolen their hope and dignity and once again as in the first Gilded era torn America apart and the end is not in sight the rider Larry Bernard said it the other day he wrote the wag the dog as you know the class war launched by America’s wealthiest is getting more savage here’s Timothy Noah writing in the online journal slate about America being the United States of inequality using information compiled by the CIA no Marxist organization by the way he says that income distribution in the US has become more unequal than in Guyana Nicaragua and Venezuela and roughly on par with Uruguay Argentina and Ecuador and yet another study predicts that if present trends continue by 2040 three just 32 years from now the US will have the same income inequality as Mexico as it is the richest one percent of america’s households now has a higher net worth than the bottom 24 million households we have gone from an economy where most of the nation’s income in my generation accrued to the bottom ninety percent of households this was right after the war the one in which more than half goes to the richest 1% meanwhile nearly forty four million people were living in poverty in 2009 an increase of 4 million in just one year and even as we sit here some 17 million of them are living in extreme poverty for families of four with an annual income of eleven thousand dollars or less now I know these numbers can cause the eye to glaze over but as some very wise fellow once remarked it is the mark of a truly educated person to be deeply moved by statistics and I know this is a deeply educated audience remember to the Council of the great humanitarian Albert Schweitzer to think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the site so if I despite the setting of this beautiful campus and the city here on the rim of the Pacific Ocean I have to tell you as a journalist who travels the country regularly that much of America is not a pretty sight today the economist Robert rice room I greatly respect former secretary of labor under Bill Clinton says our economic problem stemmed from this enormous concentration of income and wealth at the top the biggest since 1928 the year before the first Great Depression while the rich have been getting better and many of my friends are in that circle incomes have stagnated for almost everyone else and

even the moderate increase that has been registered in middle and slightly lower level incomes has come because there’s more than one job now in a family there are two and sometimes three jobs being held by one person or two people are three people the result is that Americans no longer have the purchasing power says right to keep the economy going at full capacity now conservatives say we have to accept this situation in the name of freedom the freedom of people to make as much money as they can or want and to keep it I understand that but the economist Marcellus Andrew answers that let me quote you you can’t be free in the United States if you can’t read write and count if you can’t get a job because you don’t have useful skills if you aren’t treated fairly by the courts and police if you are harassed beaten or killed because of your race or gender or sexual preference if free markets stick it to you by making everything cost more than it should especially things you need like healthcare housing and schools you cannot be free if you have the bad luck to be born to incompetent parents if you live in a city with lousy schools if your neighborhood is full of angry and depressed people who reach react to life’s troubles by hurting and killing each other and maybe you too there is another definition of freedom and there’s another definition here too before I retired my PBS series last May I interviewed the distinguished British epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett who had just published a book I also highly recommend to you hope you brought your tote bags today titled spirit level y greater equality makes societies stronger they found in studying countries all over the world Europe Asia Latin America that gross inequality like we’re experiencing in America today they say leads to high rates of violent crime high narcotics views hi teenage birthrates obesity and even high heart attacks furthermore when people’s experiences and this gets to the spiritual and political compact we’re supposed to have because of that preamble to the Constitution the most powerful part of that document when people’s experiences have virtually nothing in common because of the economic chasm that separates their lives their experience they experience little sympathy for one another and this produces a social class financial political and media elites with all the characteristics of sociopaths that is radically deprived of empathy Shakespeare has Lear asked glouster on the heath how do you see the world and Buster who is blind blind glouster replies I see it feelingly I see it feelingly I fear many of the people at the top today with eyes fully open never see the world feelingly they even hold in contempt as we saw with day back that green bag extending a helping hand instead they take their inspiration from the protagonists in tom wolfe’s 1987 novel bonfire of the vanities who told his investment banker insulate insulate insulate insulate and that’s what they’ve been doing the truth is and let me tell you this hurts to say the truth is our political and economic system today is deeply corrupted it’s what the historian Eric alderman calls kabuki democracy the title of his new book from a distance it resembles a democratic process but in substance it mocks the very intentions of democracy one of our wisest public philosopher Sheldon Wolin who used to teach at the University of California then at Princeton now retired at 92 taught us in his books that democracy is about the conditions that

make it possible for ordinary people to better their lives by becoming political beings and by making power responsive to their hopes and needs that’s what democracy is but that’s not the case today our political system now is geared to supporting the accumulation of vast wealth at the top and instead of trying to tackle our massive and costless inequality which will take this country right out from under us by the time some of your children are trying to get into the University of side of California Santa Barbara instead of trying to tackle our massive and costly inequality the movers and shakers in both parties are asking ordinary people to embrace austerity and cut public services even as they are giving the richest Americans more tax cuts and windfalls we we have reached this moment by design 30 years ago Lydia logs and many in our corporate class especially at the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce by the way the Chamber of Commerce you know they oppose the reason first responders bill the bill that Congress had trouble passing that would pay for the medical costs of those men who went up there and and and survived but came down with terrific internal diseases they opposed it because the bill provided that it be paid for by returning some of the profits from overseas and taxing them and the Chamber of Commerce opposed that bill because of that but anyway 30 years ago many of these people set out to divide and conquer to fund electoral conflict for the purpose of forging a political class that would govern in its interests and they did it which brings me to some homework I want to ask you when you finish reading Rebecca Solnit book and Eric Alderman’s book I want to ask you to read this book new book winner take all politics it’s written by two of our best known political scientists Jacob hacker who teaches at Yale and Paul Pierson who teaches at your sister institution in Berkeley the title winner take all politics based on solid documented research and written in clear plain language like thomas paine’s common sense they tell a powerful story that every American should know the story is the subtitle of the book how Washington made the rich richer and turned its back on the middle class if you’re a Republican you’re not going to like it they pull no punches in reporting how the GOP the Grand Old Party has come to stand for guardians of privilege with one strategy lock into place the privileges and powers of the rich / public spending to reduce the budget but don’t touch those at the top if you’re a Democrat you’re not going to like this because they spare no detail in describing how your party’s movers and shakers sold its soul to financial elites and abandon working people in the middle class but but partisan loyalties aside if you have been puzzled as to why after prosperity was so effectively distributed up and down the income ladder in the generation following World War two the rewards of economic growth then started going mostly to those at the top if you have wondered why we have gone from an economy in which most as I said of the nation’s income accrue to the bottom ninety percent to one in which more than half now goes to the richest 1% why to put it another way the average income of the top 1% more than tripled in just over a quarter of a century and if you’re perplexed as to why politicians continue to slash taxes on the rich even as their wealth has exploded in other words increasing the deficit for the benefit of the wealthy you’ll find the answers in here delivered as skillfully as if the detective were Agatha Christie Miss Marple John Grisham or inspector Morris and this is no novel or masterpiece theatre you’re likely to be surprised those of you like Paul you’ll like to be surprised that the author’s mostly observe the usual suspects about what’s happened to our economy foreign trade financial globalization technology

better education at the top they don’t think those have been that influential the guilty party in their indictment and I think with the evidence conviction is politics winner-take-all politics they say has become the defining feature of American life in a sense a sentence the habit all’s have managed to shift the risks of their reckless behavior downward saddling Americans with greater debt tearing gaping holes in the safety net and imposing broad for ential costs on workers investors ordinary investors and taxpayers they lay out how it was done and while Alan will spoil your fun in reading a well-told whodunit well received and well reviewed by the way here’s the synopsis 30 years ago they say these elite set out on a long march to take over the political system they were determined to reverse the progressive tax policies and regulations that it helps spread prosperity broadly through the population pooling huge sums of money they went after unions in order to weaken the one nationwide organization that mobilized and fought for middle-class jobs and wages they created think tanks and corporate and propaganda organs to announce a pro corporate agenda and they poured money into Republican campaigns until just about every Republican official was on board to give organized business what it wanted tax breaks loopholes subsidies handcuffs on unions and silence on corporate crimes silence and complicity Democrats looked on in all and finally said in the mid-1980s led by Tony Coelho one of your Democrats from California hey why not us if unions no longer have the money we need we’ll go where the money is we’ll go to Wall Street and the corporations and give them what they will pay for and now both parties were supplicants of deep pockets and large well funded organizations were fighting for them leaving working people and the middle class with no comparable force on their side fighting back as for poor people forget it they were on their own in that rapacious wilderness where Glenn Beck giant banks and multinational corporations responsible to no one our kings of the jungle and they won they won that explains most of what has happened in the flat last few years in politics and explains the tension own Obama has he went to a city where the opposition party had only one word as its platform no empathy power do they see the world feeding me you must also read you’re going to be busy you must also read the lead article in this month’s issue of the Atlantic which is one of the best magazines still publishing it’s called the rise of the new global elite and it’s written by a remarkable woman who herself is no Marcus but a great financial reporter Chrystia Freeland as you should have read you three short paragraphs the us-based CEO of one of the world’s largest hedge funds told me that his firm’s investment committee often discusses the question of who wins and who loses in today’s economy in a recent internal debate he said one of his senior colleagues had argued that the hollowing out of the American middle class didn’t really matter his point was that if the transformation of the world economy lifts for people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class and meanwhile means one American drops out of the middle class that’s not such a bad trade I can understand that but they don’t answer the question of what happens to the middle class in America when it has dropped out I heard a similar sentiment from the Taiwanese Taiwanese born 30-something CFO of a US Internet company a gentle unpretentious man who went from public school of Harvard he’s nonetheless not terribly sympathetic to the complaints of the modern of the American middle class we demand a higher paycheck than the rest of the world he told me so if you’re going to demand 10 times the paycheck you need to deliver 10 times the value it sounds harsh but maybe people in the middle class need to take a pay cut at last summer’s Aspen ideas festival the CEO of a Silicon Valley firm said that if he was starting from scratch only twenty percent of his work force would be domestic this year almost ninety percent of our sales will be outside the US the pool to be close to the customers most of them in Asia is enormous speaking at the same

conference the CEO of Allstate lamented this global reality I can get workers anywhere in the world it is a problem for America but it is not necessarily a problem for American business good economics smart economics but leaves unanswered the moral obligation that we have to each other now I’m back to the beginning of this talk to create a society that is fair and just we will never have economic income equality that’s just not the way the world works i’ll always be people who make a lot more money than people who don’t but there are ways to build a moral economy that we have yet to explore the present system quite frankly as we learned in 2008 now is back in place the present system won’t work much longer we need imagination we need daring we need innovation and above all we need cooperation to figure out how America moves into this 21st century further honoring that promise inherit in our declaration life liberty and the pursuit of happiness honoring that and taking as our ethical bond those opening words of the Constitution its preamble We the People not you the people and me up here not them the people and not those over there we the people we’ve done it before I said this is the second guilded age the first one was a time of these enormous disparities between the top and the bottom and the oppression of millions of people the 1920s another time in which we had this enormous inequality as well each time we found a way sometimes by sheer luck but also by fortitude and confidence and leadership to come out of that and get back on the right Road I believe we can do it now but let me tell you something put your faith not in Princes and not in parties put yourself put your faith in yourself and kindred spirits like you that’s the place to begin it’s never easy to take own organized power the money trust and it takes a long time but remember people with money and I have good friends who have it people with money have the right to buy more cars than anyone else more homes more vacations or gadgets and more gizmos but they don’t have the right to buy more democracy that’s ours if we claim it thank when I interview someone what how do I know what makes a good question well I’m never sure every interview every question is a is a leap of faith and often in to a bottomless pit but it comes out differently because I edit and I have the power of editing so by the way I you know I’m not like the fighter pilot who if he loses his engine has to parachute I know that I’m going to bail myself out a little later but by the way I’ve done thousands of interviews over the years and not one person of every interviewed who knew that I was editing him or her has ever said we failed to get the essence of the importance of what he was saying the Joseph Campbell interviews were originally i interviewed 26 hours they’ve aired as six hours but what aired was as authentic as I think it would have been if if he’d been standing here with you you were talking to him but I prepare I prepare a lot my staff soon as I prepare too much rare is the person whose book I haven’t read and whose whose life I haven’t explored I mean I have spent weeks I spent months getting ready for Campbell but on a weekly show you don’t have that much time so you you know you learn to skim and also to realize by skimming what’s the or that you need to pursue further dig a little deeper and then I let it

fly I mean I have a usually have a well-constructed outline that is at least by the time I do it in my head and so I can go but then there are some times when I just leave the the map that that can just go off but Paul and I had breakfast this morning and he gave me about four ideas for questions that I’m not going to forget he said you know the start the next interview what’s going on here you know a great way to begin he’s a master conversations by the way time I’m not flattering him i’m just not recognizing the truth of the matter and and he goes where his mind goes and our best I don’t do that at my best I’m Perry prepared and I know where we’re going but some people have that capacity for instinctual spontaneous conversation that I don’t so I have to overcome that deficiency by preparation but I’ve asked some stupid questions in mind and in my life and submit uninformed questions but the truth of the matter is the other question the other reason that I’ve had a long run at it is because i only talk to people who want to talk there’s nothing more frustrating then then interviewing a politician whose whole reason for being there is to conceal not to reveal and so over the years I’ve mostly avoided conversation with politicians the the most successful politician interview I did with Jimmy Carter the 1976 campaign in which we both wound up singing Amazing Grace at the end of that our the most unsuccessful interview I have ever done was an hour with Henry Kissinger when he was secretary of state I mean I didn’t it didn’t matter where I took the ball he refused to take it and no matter what I asked he refused to answer straight for it I think that was the time I decided that’s enough that was back in Hades so it’s but it’s easy to interview people who want to talk and who want to reveal their minds not hide their minds and the secret of my long run is because I really do finally mostly select only people who have something to say and want to say it and are glad to be asked even a stupid question you