tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg November 12, 2017 11:00am-12:00pm EST
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: we begin this evening again with politics, republicans are reeling after election losses on gop growing tuesday. increasingly divided over president trump's leadership of the party. and many are concerned the white house is alienating voters. the risk comes as the gop works to overhaul the u.s. tax code. senate republicans unveiled their own tax plan on thursday. joining me now from washington for thet costa
"washington post," and the moderator of washington week on pbs. i am pleased to have him on this program. welcome. let me begin with tax reform and what the senate is proposing, the house bill, and how significant are they? robert: they are pretty significant. the key challenge for republicans is whether they want this tax cut legislation to be populist in nature or not. they know they want a corporate tax rate, bringing down the rate from around 35% to 20%. at the same time the debate , between the senate version and the house version for republicans is about the top rate. should top earners the tax cut or not. -- should top earners see a tax cut or not? that will perhaps hold up the bill and coming weeks. charlie: what about other issues? they may delay the corporate reduction until 2019? is that still under consideration?
robert: that is exactly right. that comes back to the point about populism. all these republicans were elected during the george bush and obama era and trump has disrupted their party. as they adjust to that and try to pursue the signature item, tax legislation, they are grappling with this idea that the base is not begging for it. at least that's what they tell me privately. because of that feeling that the base does not want this and a -- does not want this, but the corporate donors wanted they are , seeing about delaying the tax cut for a year. the white house is open about not giving a tax cut to top earners or delaying the corporate tax cut one to two years because heading into 2018 they don't want to be seen as the typical wall street republican party. charlie: is every conversation, especially after tuesday about what does this mean for 2018?
robert: everything, charlie. and tuesday with the defeat, in particular, in the virginia gubernatorial race, has a large republicans publicly and privately. they are saying every step they take politically and legislatively has to be about what does it mean if you are a moderate or conservative running in the suburbs? democrats did well not just in new jersey and virginia, but county races and local races, new york, the new york suburbs, philadelphia suburbs, northern virginia. that is why they are moving slowly on tax cuts. in part, because they don't have consensus. but they are wary of the wipe potential. but the president needs a victory badly, does he not? robert there is debate about : that in the white house. they want something more than the confirmation of judge gorsuch. at the same time, they don't
want to be painted with the brush that they are hurting the middle class, or helping the wealthy, so this is something they all have to navigate. charlie looking forward to 2018, : how much of the suburban vote that went to democrats was about the trump personality, and how much about trump's policy? robert that is something also : under intense debate in gop circles. they look at 2016, charlie and , say the reason they won the presidency and kept control of congress is because they won in the suburbs in milwaukee, philly suburbs, columbus, ohio where you had college educated , republicans and independents who voted for a change candidate in donald trump. charlie: and women as well. robert: and women as well. now they look at this canary in , the coal mine and are moving away. why is that? republican pollsters tell me because of the president's
unorthodox, incendiary behavior, but also the policy, and in particular, pay attention to the health care. the republican moves didn't pass, but their efforts against medicaid expansion have had an impact. charlie: impact meaning people who are receiving medicaid, don't want to give it up, and they believe the trump policies of the legislation that came out of a republican-controlled congress would eliminate some of the medicaid expansion they have come to need and appreciate? robert: and the view of obamacare is more nuanced than some republicans would like to admit. in the sense that criticism of the marketplace is in both parties, but you see a a lot of people, independents democrats, , and some trump voters, they like the aspects of the law that have provided expanded coverage, so republicans going for a corporate tax cut, trying to go
after medicaid expansion. the voters who were tempted by trumps change may still like trump because he is a disruptor, but don't like the republican party and its policies. charlie: if tax reform comes and tax cuts passed, it will only be with republican votes? robert: well, almost certainly, majority republican votes, but you can see the senator of west virginia and moderate republicans -- you look like at -- you look at a joe donnelly of indiana low-key, respected in , the u.s. senate. president trump won indiana. senator donnelly, i have spoken with senator casey from pennsylvania, a democrat, they still believe the republican party is separate from trump in the sense they can vote against the tax cut and still articulate trump-style positions on trade, a little bit more populous when
it comes to taxes, and they don't feel the pressure to go with the republican tax bill. charlie: what is the reaction to tuesday from people like steve bannon? robert: he is disappointed in gillespie. bannon offered to do a rally and the campaign said, no thanks. steve bannon was working with the grassroots in virginia, but it hurts steve bannon because he hoped the trump message would be resonant. even though gillespie didn't fully embrace trump, he certainly played to the cultural issues, confederate history, illegal immigration, crime, and gangs. gillespie touched on those issues, taking those issues and trying to use them to win. it did not work because the suburban voters said, that is not the kind of politics i like. charlie: roy moore was someone steve bannon supported. now he has been confronted by , sexual charges. is he likely to step down?
robert: it is hard to say at this point, charlie. my colleagues here at "opposed" broke that story. spoke to the women on the record. one of whom was 14 when she had an encounter. almost every republican through the post and newspapers said if these charges, allegations, are true, he should step down immediately. there is a lot of pressure from leader mcconnell to get out of there. at the same time, in alabama, there is a lot of defense going on for judge moore. this is seen as a media attack even though it is solid reporting from "the washington post." it will be hard to see if judge moore is pressured to step down. ♪
♪ charlie: "three billboards outside ebbing, missouri" tells the story of a woman whose daughter was raped and murdered. after months with no developments, she rents three billboards to accuse the local police of neglect. david calls the film gripping, and called it a finely calibrated mixture of melancholy and quirk. here is the trailer. ♪ >> you aren't trying to make me believe in reincarnation are you? because you are pretty, but you
ain't her. she got killed. ♪ >> still no arrests. how come, i wonder? because there ain't no god. and the whole world is empty. does it matter what we do to each other? >> i hope not. i don't know what the police are doing. i will tell you this i have not , heard a word from them for month. ♪ i've heard an awful lot since i put those billboards up. ♪ >> we are keeping her in the public eye. >> you can start getting involved. >> they've got nothing to arrest you for. >> not yet you ain't. >> if i had some food, i would give it to you. all i have is some doritos. they might kill you. they are kind of pointy. charlie: this is so good. joining me now is the director and two of its stars.
i am pleased to have all of them at this table. welcome. this was a script that have been around? >> i wrote it eight years ago. i wasn't trying to flog it around. charlie: you let it rest and marinate? >> yeah. it was identical to the one we started from a year and a half ago. but i was doing a different project with sam actually. this one could have happened first. but because we set the ball rolling with that one, and that was five years ago, this was always going to be the next one. then after we finished that, i am kind of lazy, so i traveled around and did nothing for a few years. mildred, just in that trailer, looks like a fascinating woman. >> i think she is a fascinating woman. charlie: tell me more. >> you put martin's writing in a cocktail shaker, and put me in the cocktail shaker, and a bunch of other good folks from the
theater world, and you mix it up, and you are happy. charlie: you saw it in the script? >> oh yeah. well, martin, actually wrote it for me. he has seen not only my film but my theater work. so he knew what he was working with. i mean, i am 60, charlie. come on. i have a breath of work, and i have some stuff on my face to work with. charlie: you have some talent, too. >> i have worked hard. i was told in drama school i was not naturally talented, so i went at it. [laughter] charlie: you did? >> really? i'm going to change their minds. charlie: you went out to multiply that talent. >> i did not know how to do anything else. i'm a pretty good housewife, but besides that, i didn't have any other -- i wanted it. charlie: if it was not acting, you don't know what you would have done. >> housewife. >> i don't have a plan b either. pumping gas. [laughter] >> it is good not to have a plan b sometimes. charlie: i just lucked into what
i do. so, why did you think her? writing the character with her and my? >> great actress, but integrity on and off screen. but just reading about her, and we bumped into each other a few times. and i had seen her theater work. but just the knowledge that off-camera, offscreen, she doesn't take any crap. mildred a part of what was, too. so, i knew we could harness that as well as the brewing actress she is. charlie: i will ask you, who is she? >> she is a mother, someone who has lost her daughter to a horrible murder seven months before the story started. and that she has gotten through, , andrief and the sadness
the depression, and she has come out at the end of that with pure rage almost. at the beginning of the film, she is raging the police have not done enough to solve the crime. and it is certainly a character that i have never written before, woman who is that strong and outrageous almost. heart, butow, had a didn't have to wear that on her sleep. >> yeah, what i want to add to it is that i don't think the grief will ever be over. i think that is a part of mildred's tragedy and any parent , who loses a child because it is a biological imperative to keep them alive. but after that seven months, she takes radical action, and that breaks the paralysis of the grief. and knowing full well that there will be collateral damage. robbie, her son, people in town. charlie: yeah. but he said an interesting thing, and correct me if i am
createdut you have also the character. >> it became a collaboration. we had one major debate after i read the script, being so honored and so excited. [laughter] you do not get a gift like this. even from your family members. i'm waiting for my family members to give me a gift like this. [laughter] especially like this, you gave it to me three years ago. do the math. do the math. i was 57. [laughter] but i was concerned about the character's age because i am from a working-class background, and feel like a lot of women from that social economic world, as mildred would not wait until , they were 38 to have children, so i was concerned about playing the mother of younger children, 16 and 18. so i asked martin to make , mildred their grandmother, knowing grandmothers do raise their grandchildren. but he was, really, and i think
rightfully so, was really connected to the idea of her being a mother in the greek tradition of how mothers fight. charlie: revenge. >> justice. it's just is. we never talk about revenge because it almost makes it too -- justice is larger. justice is a larger goal. charlie: and who is dixon? >> dixon is a complicated guy. he's a lot of things. he's a racist cop. he's a mama's boy. he's a lot of stuff. he takes a journey and transforms into something different. charlie: yeah. you prepare hard, don't you? >> i try, you know? it comes out of a fear of sucking, i guess. [laughter] i had the luxury in time for this one. so, i was able to do a couple of things i would not normally be able to do. hang out with some cops and stuff like that. but it is just really -- well, martin writes this great
script and it is a roadmap of what to do. charlie: that is where you start? >> that is where you start, yeah. charlie what do you want your : actors to do? >> just bring the truth to the characters as they see it, or as we see it between us, i think. this in particular i would not , call it rehearsal so much, just talking it through before hand and trying to get on the same page about who we think these characters are. and going forward together, me trying to get out of the way as much as possible. charlie: get out of the way? >> yeah. get out of the way of their choices in their performances. so, stimulating give sense of what this is about, and then get out of the way and let them find it? >> pretty much. >> there's a point when it's a good production where we become the experts because we are
living the interior lives of the characters, as well as, you know, honoring the words on the page. that is not always the case. i would say we are presented three quarters of the time with blueprints. there are huge holes in the story, plot lines, character development, and we have to fill that in, but with martin's work, it is like play. you start inhabiting it from the minute you decide to do it, so you going to meetings with costume designers, hair, and makeup. and we can help martin because we start living the interior life. charlie: how long did it take you to want to do this? >> i immediately wanted to do it. the minute i would say, it took me a year and a half to really -- charlie: because of time factors or what? >> no. ustook us and -- it took over a year and a half to produce it. that is the timeline.
>> you how to play here it i had a play. the money fell through, then came back. >> in terms of the age question, my husband said, shut up and do it. [laughter] to himon't always listen when he says shut up, but in this case, i did. [laughter] charlie: this is a clip in which the two of them are together at the police station. here it is. [video clip] ♪ >> what? >> dixon when she comes in here calling you -- >> shut up. you get over here. >> no, you get over here. >> all right. what? >> that is what i am doing. i am taking care of it in my own way, actually. mrs. hayes, have a seat. what can i do for you today? >> where is denise watson? >> denise watson is in the slammer. >> on what charge? >> possession. >> two marijuana cigarettes. big ones.
>> when is the bail hearing? >> i asked to not give her bail because of her previous marijuana violations, and the judge said, sure. >> you are not calling an officer of law a -- in his own station house? or anywhere actually. >> what is with the new attitude, dixon question mark attitude, dixon?achin your mama been coaching you? >> no, my mama doesn't do that. [end video clip] >> take him down. charlie: i want mildred on my side. [laughter] >> both of them, actually. you don't want either of them on the other side. charlie: do we see redemption for dixon? >> absolutely. i think so. i think there is definitely some redemption. p really takes quite a journey -- he really takes quite a
journey. yeah, yeah. in that scene he has an achilles heel, which is his mother. anytime i try to stand up to mildred, that is his kryptonite. she uses that. maybe he can out for, but maybe he cannot. when she brings up mama, it is over. charlie: and she knows it? >> she knows it. >> it is a small town. and i think that mama dixon is played by an extraordinary actors, sandy morrison. and what is wonderful about the the chemistry between sam and sandy in the film is they are really like spores from the same tunnel. right? [laughter] but mildred and mama dixon are cut from the same cloth. they are women, missouri women cut from the same cloth. so, there is not that -- charlie: what kind of cloth? >> bar cloth, floral pattern perhaps. yeah. [laughter]
right? so, kind of a -- charlie: working class. >> yeah. you got it. but i think also there is something about, mildred is allowing her much he smelled to come forward. that kind of -- she is allowing her much easel to come forward. it is rushing out of her. >> that is part of the radical action she takes. charlie: you thought of john wayne as a model here? >> i did. you know, i have to say in retrospect, i worked really hard for just such an occasion, to come up with a female, iconic cinematic character, and the only one i could think of, yes, sure. though, you know what is interesting? i did not cast that far back. would have the same balls, shall
we say. though, really felt like a cowboy to me, and i have always wanted to play a cowboy. so, yeah. it is interesting. i had just read a biography about john wayne cover to cover and i don't usually read , biographies cover to cover, but it was well written. cannot member the author's name. charlie: what do you do? stop halfway -- >> well, i'm not usually that interested in actors' lives after a certain point, but there was something about the breadth of his life it was fascinating. charlie: stuntman, right? >> right, and had to work in b movies for so long before he did "stagecoach." it was fascinating. charlie: a casting home run? >> dreamland. >> i would say not one person said no. charlie: is that right? how many people did you have in mind when you wrote the piece? >> these two and woody. yeah. charlie: there were three of
them in mind? because and i go back he is a theater guy, too. like, woody and me, we met at my place. he read all my stuff. we met in dublin at a bar and chatted for a few days, but we always wanted to work together for ages. first on the play and that didn't quite work out, and now this. he is almost the moral center to a degree of the whole film. and woody is that in life, you know? there was something so lovable indecent about woody as a man that as soon as he is on screen or onset, he just goes -- >> you feel relaxed around him. he has a relaxation that makes you feel -- charlie: you are comfortable because you know he knows what he is doing. but i feel like i'm related to woody. there is something about him. i don't know. >> so, if you know you will be in a situation where you are
laying it bare, he will take care of it. right? that comes from the top. same with martin. we were all going out on various limbs and dangling over the edge , and felt like we were, you know, not safe because it is never fun to be safe, but we had a good harness. charlie: mildred's relationship with her son changes. >> yeah, i think the month of paralysis, you know, i am not one for a big backstory, but lucas and i talked about it. we had a lot of time in that car , and we talked about acting because he is a young actor and i'm an older one, so we had fun with that. but i think what i offered him was the idea that for seven months she was playing around on the couch, comatose, not eating or drinking or speaking, so though her actions are not great
for him, or his life, and a completely understandable, at least she seemed like herself again. charlie: you prefer actors who have had some experience on the stage? in theater? >> i wouldn't say i go out and seek it, but i think it naturally happens. charlie: what is that? guess it is a lack of love of movie stardom and a love of acting. you know? [laughter] there are probably more mean-spirited ways of saying it. it's that. . it's that. they are all proper actors, and proper actors know they will have to do theater as well as movies. >> you have always said you have to go back-and-forth between the if you want the good parts. >> yeah, go back to the training ground. but i also think, none of us, yet, and if i get to doing it -- we don't sell perfume, or
watches, or cars. you know, our faces are -- >> you haven't done that yet? >> we will have to ask him. >> christopher walken. >> it is kind of hard -- >> it started in japan. >> it started in japan. yeah, the ad started. i think people thought we were not so global, that it was not there. but it is really difficult, i think. so you know, if we wanted to play a heroin addict living on the street, it would be really hard if somebody had just seen this in a magazine, you know, with diamonds dripping off our ears. it's really hard to go past, for me, even with people who whiten their teeth too much. [laughter] then you go, i don't know. so i think it really, it behooves an actor who wants to play a wide variety of characters -- charlie: stay real. >> get closer.
it is still a movie after all. we got people fixing our hair all day. it's not like we are really living it. it is not a documentary, but on the other hand, the storytelling is so much easier. >> completely. for mildred, especially when it is a working-class character, it is very hard to find actors who can play that convincingly without patronizing it. charlie: you guys practice this dynamic. we just saw that scene. did you rehearse that a lot? >> no. we knew what we had to do. i think we came in knowing what we had to do and loaded for bear. charlie: you are shaking your head. that is what a real actor does. comes ready. >> well i think there are a lot , of real actors who love for her so, but in this case, we were all cast properly, so you put those dynamics in the same
space. we knew who we were playing. >> we are theater actors and there is the consistency to being a theater actor, but now we don't have the time, the luxury to do a million takes. and we have to come in ready to go. you know, you have to know your stuff. charlie: um, you are a man from london, an irishman. missouri? >> making up a name. [laughter] yeah. it isn't real. charlie: you had in mind, a sense of a town? >> yes. probably from much as movies as traveling. i do like traveling around small-town america quite a lot. charlie: do you do that? >> ever since the beauty queen had enough money to get on a train, or bus and have , time to explore america.
charlie: do you write while you are doing that? >> this was written in trains and in little towns across the country. charlie: you check into a little motel in a small town? >> yes, and in the daytime, go to a field or a riverbank. yeah. i was once on a mountain and nadir came along and made it into the scene -- i was once -- i wasntain and aeer once on a mountain and a deer came along and made it into the scene. charlie: everything is fodder? >> yeah, and when you do that, everything becomes part of the script. as you are walking down the street, you would not notice it, but even a song becomes integral. charlie: what cost you two write this film? >> i saw something similar to what we see on the billboards at the start of the movie on a bus trip across the states about 17 years ago. charlie: you made a note? >> it was just a mental note. the rate of it in the pain behind it, and the bravery i realized because it was calling
the cops out for inactivity and that signage stayed with me and bothered me for 10 years. and it felt almost too dark to tell a story about, but then when i imagined that person who put the signage up was a mother and a strong woman, everything kind of fell into place. and i did not have to even plot the film after that. mildred popped up, and it was about following her through her adventures almost. charlie: some people see parallels with flannery. >> i love flannery and we have a nod of the head to one of her books in the film. yeah, i mean she's, you know, we have catholic backgrounds. we liked to ask for the darker side of life. charlie: congratulations. fantastic film. >> thank you very much. charlie: it opens in limited release, i think. november 10 in select cities.
♪ charlie: michael lewis is here. he has many best-selling books. liar's poker, moneyball, the big short, and flash boys. his latest book, "the undoing project," was just released in paperback. he also has a new investigative story about the department of agriculture that appears in "vanity fair." i am pleased to have michael
lewis back at this table. welcome. how did you end up at the department of agriculture? >> very good question. [laughter] this is the idea. it is part of a series. charlie: the me interrupt you. as you said, it should be called the department of food. michael maybe even the : department of helping the little guy, because it is such an important part of the social safety net. people think it has to do with farming, but now less than 10% of the budget has to do with farming. there is a $200 billion bank inside that does nothing but subsidize rural america, and so on and so forth. the me tell you how i got there. -- let me tell you how i got there. i couldn't help but notice after trump was elected, that there were these sporadic reports about how the transition was not going well, the trump administration was either thin on the ground, are not there at
various agencies. in the obama administration, partly because there was a law passed during the obama administration, requiring the president to prepare for the transition, but also because the bush administration had prepared so well for the obama administration that obama was eternally grateful to bush. they had people to prepare briefings, briefing books, so for the day after the election, whoever won, it was assumed people would roll in from the new administration and take over the department of energy, agriculture, and they would be here with a nonideological briefing about what goes on inside this place. it is a very odd system of government we have. we have 2000 employees overseen by 4000 political people. sometimes a know what they are doing, and sometimes they have to learn very quickly. the trump people did not show. there was this exquisite course
on how the federal government works and the student did not show up. and i thought, this is interesting. interesting on the number of levels, but interesting because there are these briefings that didn't happen that i can go get and that is what i have been , doing. i have been getting the briefings that the trump administration did not get at all. charlie: you go to the department of agricultural and say my name is michael lewis and i am here for the briefing. michael: i'd say find out who prepared these briefings. they're usually not there, at their home in the woods in maine , or something, but they say oh , my god, i spent six months and would love to give it to somebody. but it is trying to understand how these enterprises work, but with a particular angle. and that is, what is vulnerable to an administration that is either ignorant, misinformed, or outright hostile. charlie: it didn't take the
transition seriously. >> it certainly didn't take the transition seriously. and to this day, hasn't really staffed up the place. the department of agricultural , i think, has 13 senate-confirmed positions you are supposed to fill. charlie: how many? charlie: when i finished the piece, only one had been filled. one other guy had been nominated, but this is an example of the problem, one of the senate confirmed jobs is to be in charge of all the sites in the department of agriculture, like $3 billion that gets doled out to tech schools and ag prepare to essentially for climate change, and to figure out how to grow crops and raise livestock. , research thaty has private industry is not going to do. and the woman who occupy that job, a woman named
kathy had spent 50 years , preparing for it. i mean, she was an agricultural scientist, had done original work connecting the american diet to american health. she had run interesting parts of the government and was exquisitely prepared to oversee this thing. this is the one nominee made other than the secretary, a guy named sam clovis, a right-wing radio talk show host who was cochairman of his campaign and had no background in science, much less agricultural science, at all. so, there is a sense that either trump himself for people in his orbit, actually think the government runs itself. , maybe iteglect it cam would all fall apart, like the want it to. it feels more like ineptitude rather than a plan. i hate to scare people away from what i have written, but this is
an interesting way to deliver a civics lesson. i don't know what goes on in the department of agriculture. no idea. that it was in charge of policing all conflict between people and animals in the country, or ran the four service. it is vast. it is 100,000 people. it is 100,000 people that is 200 million acres of land. when you see the federal government fighting wildfires, that is the department of agriculture. so, i went in with a -- the angle lens, where are we vulnerable? like what should we be worried , about? truth is, not all of it. the farm program, the from subsidy programs are watched by the senate like a hawk. there are senators in farm states that aren't going to let them screw with the farm
subsidies, whether you like them or not. but there are parts of the government, where people pay no attention at all. very little. charlie: how many departments? michael: five, maybe. i think i will do a few more of these. charlie: like what? michael: i am open. charlie: i would suggest justice. michael: well, maybe, right? the broader question is where is the light not shine? energy and agricultural seemed two of skier places. agricultural seem like two obscure places. where is it most useful for me to wander in and start asking questions, and it may be the justice department. justice, it is so reported on and watched that that may not be the point of vulnerability. charlie: knowing the relationship you had with barack
obama, those really interesting seminole pieces you wrote about him for "vanity fair," do you have no interest in trump himself? michael: i may get to that. charlie: ah. michael: you mean that maybe down the road. [laughter] michael: i'm kind of making it up as i go along. so, if you ask me, with obama, when i went to note obama and write about obama, there were a whole bunch of things i wanted to do to get to know him that seemed obvious, like play basketball with him, and take me to the place in the white house where he writes at night when he is alone. there were things, with trump if i compile that list i want to see, the only thing is i want to be there late at night when he tweets. what is your mode? -- what is your mode?
od? what turns you on? charlie: what is your mood? >> what were you watching when you were pounding this thing in your phone. charlie: does he do it or talk to somebody who does it? michael: who knows. whoever is doing it, grammatical errors and spelling errors, you have to assume he is doing it himself. i would love to know what is going through his mind and what in that moment he thinks he is achieving? it is his mode of communication with the american people really. roosevelt's radio, kennedy was television, and he basically says social media is my medium. michael: right. i'm not arguing with that. i just want to understand what he thinks. what he thinks he achieves when he does whatever he is doing at the moment? it would be fun to take one tweet and pull it apart. charlie: for dizzy except the argument that it takes him so far off message that what he
helps to accomplish legislatively is delayed or impacted? michael: or does he think that what i might doing is an act of constantly distracting everybody from the fact i am not running federal government? [laughter] michael: but, it would be also fun to know, these are literary events. he has to write a sentence, or something like a sentence. i would like to ask him why did , you put it that way rather than this way? charlie: how interesting is he to you? michael: well, obama was really interesting to me. trump has never been that interesting to me. he is interesting just because of the position he is in. if you have said to me when he was a real estate developer to write a profile on some of i would say no thank you. he himself does not strike me as that interesting of a person. charlie: someone who has not run for public office will become president of the united states, are you more interested now?
michael: i would've been terrified then. [laughter] michael: i am interested. because of the situation, sure, i am interested. charlie: obama said after the election, that it is no mean trick to win the presidency, so whatever he did, ladies and gentlemen, we need to know. michael: yeah. i'm not neglecting him intentionally. it is just that i may get to him later. and i will continue with the series. and it is funny. the department of energy, i did not know what it did. i found out what it did and went, oh my god. and everybody said, a lot of people were very interested. then i wondered, how robust this conceit is. if i pick it because it seems like the most boring neglected department and went in, would it be interesting? and i was riveted by the
department of agriculture, in particular, the caliber of the person i was dealing with here you know, kathy. and they basically dispensed a trillion dollars worth of hunger aid over the course of eight years. but nobody knows his name, and nobody knows exactly why he was good at that job, or why he cared so much about it. but he did. was youer point for me know, it sounds simple, but the motives of a person in a job really matter. what you are doing what you are ofng, why you are president the united states, or why you want to be the deputy secretary for the science program in the department of agriculture, it dictates how you do your job. and if your motive is, i was just the trump supporter and this is where they stuffed me you get a completely different , outcome. charlie: i got the impression that most people who have been
really successful outside of government, who because of whatever reason, go into government, they come away with more admiration of, i'm asking. this is my impression. more admiration for many of the people they work with than they imagined before hand? michael: yes. this is what i am finding. it is incredible. the person at the center of the piece i wrote at the department of energy made his fortune as an investor in the energy sector, and he thought he knew what the energy department was because he had invested in mainly alternative energies, but he thought, not that he could condescend to government employees, but he did not expect to think highly of the people working there when he came to work at the department of energy. and he was blown away, absolutely blown away. first rate scientists wandering the halls. people who worked really hard.
of course, in every place, there are people who are, yes. charlie: private sector too, by the way. michael: but it is, in a way, shocking for people who come from the outside the caliber of the people inside. on the other hand, if you think this it, it is almost at point, and if you act of bravery -- an act of bravery to go to work for the federal government. we have been dumping on it for 40 years in this country. we don't pay them that well. if you are there for a real purpose, it takes courage to be there. charlie: if you talk to people like bill gates, who has a healthy respect for government and believes some of the money is to show government direction. because only governments can do things like conquer disease and other things. michael: there are things that only governments can do. charlie: and if you can in some
way, be part of the direction and the smartest possible , of thaton of those power and those resources, and that is a very good thing. michael: i totally agree. we have this dysfunctional relationship with our own government in the society. it is regarded as this hostile other force, this deep state and all that. i find it bizarre because, i mean, i think of our government fails, our society fails. charlie: let me talk about this book, "the undoing project." i love the story and the friendship or romance that existed between the two of them, one now dead. you came to this because after writing "moneyball," you had mentioned the work they had done. michael: correct. this is the oddest book i have ever written in this way because it has a 13 year history. in normally, i am in and out very quickly. "moneyball" was a story about
the way this baseball team figured out the market for baseball players is screwed up, and baseball players were not being valued. when the book came out, richard thaler and his writing partner wrote a nice review, but it was a very damming review that said "michael does not seem to understand the point of his own book," that this is all very interesting. yes, all of this is very interesting, and a very interesting case study. charlie: and he doesn't mention them. michael: and he never mentions them. i never got to the place in "moneyball" where i was asking why are these baseball scouts making these mistakes? why are the best looking baseball players overvalued and the worst looking ones undervalued? why are the bes why is a young r who reminds a scout of a player they saw 20 years ago overvalued? in a geithner looks like no one has ever seen -- and a guy who
looks like no one has ever seen, undervalued? they did all the studies showing the way the mind makes decisions. charlie: what did they do? michael: broadly what they did is set out to study the way the mind works scientifically. and they did it by giving people paper and pencil tests, essentially statistics tests, to see where they got things wrong. having a hunch of where they might get things wrong. so over the course of 10-12 , years of working closely together, they are exploring human nature and the things the mind does. and they turn up lots of startling insights. they turn up the fact that, generally, when people are deciding between things, their deciding between descriptions of things. and if you change a description of little bit, you can get them to completely reverse their choice. they discovered that when people are making judgments, like that
decisions, they are way too influenced by what just happened or heard, or something vivid in their head. so when you are driving down the road, and your deciding how fast you are going to go, you know, you are essentially making a probability judgment about how likely you will be in an accident. you may not be thinking you think that way, but you are. and the needle on the speedometer is measuring that. then you see an accident and all of a sudden you slow down to 55 along with everybody else. well, it is a weird thing to do because at that moment, whatever it is, you are responding, your sense of a probability of an accident went up at the moment you are less likely to have an accident. so, they show the way, how when we move through the world, we as people are always making these implicitly, these probabilistic calculations, and how we are wrong.
instead of actually doing statistics, even when we can do statistics, we are answering by telling ourselves a story. re-think and stereotypes when you can think in statistics instead. so we think the big players are better than the small players because we think the players are better than smaller players. they are on a journey. i mean, after the fact, one of them got the nobel prize for something called "prospect theory." it is a complicated theory that has in bedded in it some startling insights. charlie: quickly before we go tell me about the personalities. , they were dramatically different. michael: they were oscar and felix. they were so different that nobody who knew them could imagine why they would work together. one is dark, brooding, constantly doubting. and in fact, his doubt becomes the engine of their
corrupt collaboration. he doubts everything around, existing theories, everything, but basically an artistic temperament. he turned the dial a little bit on his personality, and you get a novel. startling insights come out of him constantly. , the other is this totally self-assured, smartest man in the room wherever he goes, wearing it lightly almost all of the time. everybody who meets him says that is the most brilliant mind , i have ever met. but it is the mind of a logician. it is not really a fertile, creative mind exactly. it is a mind of someone, if you give him a very startling, hetile, interesting idea, can figure out how to carve it up and present it to an audience, where you can argue -- or you cannot argue with it anymore. withere you cannot argue anymore. one was the life of the party, the of one was not at the party. charlie: great to have you here. michael lewis. "the undoing project" is now in paperback, a fascinating story about science, friendship, and
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jonathan: from new york city, i am jonathan ferro with 30 minutes dedicated to fixed income. this is "bloomberg real yield." ♪ jonathan: coming up, republicans take another step towards cutting taxes. corporations may have to wait until 2019 for 20%. cracks appear in credit. investors get indigestion. bonds fall the most since august. is there a message in the treasury market? the yield curve is in the -- near the flattest level in a decade. we begin with the big issue, junk-bond pain.