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tv   Book Discussion on 1995  CSPAN  January 11, 2015 11:00pm-11:46pm EST

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getting it wrong was a provocative book which won the society of professional journalists national award. . . to recognize 1995. first of all how do you define a watershed year and how did you
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come to realize it was indeed one of those years? >> it is a pivotal moment in history come a hinge moment if you will when you can see in retrospect some passage of time is critical distance how important that moment in particular time and gear if you will was and in many respects it has to have lasting consequences and reverberate through the years. i would argue that 1985 was both a watershed year hinge moment one could detect at the time as well as with the passage of 20 years. the verdict in the o.j. simpson trial in october of 95 was a flash bulb moment for many people. they remember where they were when they heard the verdict in october of 1995 and similarly with the bombing of the oklahoma city federal building in oklahoma city it was the worst deadliest act of domestic terrorism in history and people remember where they were when
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that happened. it happened. again another flash bulb moment. so people knew that this year was going to be a memorable year in many respects. >> host: >> when did it become clear that some of those years, were you doing research on another book? >> it was in the research project you're always thinking about the next project that you're going to be working on and in the back of my mind 1995 was a prospective project and topic to take on and investigate and book length of death and i remember "newsweek" magazine at the end of 1995, devoting its cover to what it called the year of the internet and it explained why 1995 was the year of the internet and it did something fairly hyperbolic terms but nonetheless, it stuck with me and it was one of those back to the burner kind of notions and ideas that i kept in mind and we
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were angling for the publishing. >> to bring out the book now. so it made sense in that regard but it was very much of a watershed year but only for the events i mentioned a moment or two ago but with the passage of time we can see how important the emergence of the mainstream consciousness was and really defined 1985 as the time when the internet took hold. it wasn't invented in 1995 so it was the year that people sort of became aware of it. mainstream america became aware. not everybody was online but everybody knew about it and heard about it and it was also the year that clinton met lewinski.
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the scandal took place or began to emerge a few years after 1995 so it had both effects. it was one of those moments in which you knew right away that it was going to be memorable but also in the passage of time it was a year in which it's the significance and importance of the time became more obvious. >> let's get into some of these events starting with chapter one the year of the internet. before i ask my question is play a sound that might be familiar to many of you but not all of you in the room. >> [dial up modem sounds] can you explain that sound?
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[laughter] >> the digital handshake. the connections of computers talking to the modem and making the connection to go online. that's how most americans made their way into the online world back into the mid-and late '90s and the 21st century. >> what were the key things in 1995 that really propelled the internet to the powerful medium that it is today? >> it was a discussion of a lot of media types and there was a great deal of media hype about the internet and what it could do and that helped propel the interest and it was also a time in which many of the mainstays of the digital world and outfits and companies that we recognize to this day as an important and significant had their start. started selling books in july. almost no one noticed or realized that there was a book somewhere out there but it has become of course this dominance
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in the online world and in the commercial world for sure. ebay had its start in 95. the predecessor to craigslist again in 1995 and there that was also the year got going so online dating and online relationships also began to take form. >> a great anecdote in the back of the founder of amazon literally on his knees stuffing books and packages to send people and then he wanted to buy special kneepads and someone said why don't you buy a packing desk and that made more sense. >> he thought it was a tremendous idea and one of the greatest he had heard that here i guess what but guess it suggests that sort of if you will do primitive nature of some of the early online entities that have become so dominant and so important. >> i want to ask you come and we have a headline from mercury news announcing are you ready for the internet and first, how
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did the mainstream media treats the emergence of the internet because obviously the internet hasn't been a good thing for the newspapers nationwide worldwide. >> that's right, there actually were two ways the internet was discussed in the mainstream traditional media including the headline you see here which fronts from the santa fe rotary news which invited people to experiment and get online and to see what the hype was about. on the other hand, media leaders were saying we don't think the internet is ever going to amount to much or ever going to supplant traditional media in any respect. >> so a lot of people were picking confidence, misplaced confidence in the mr. placed confidence in the turned up in the notion the internet was so small and audiences for online news were so small that it wasn't going to make a big difference. and this included eminent news men and women including the likes of gene roberts of "the
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new york times." he was saying that from a print standpoint online audiences would remain very small into the foreseeable future. he was right about 1995.4% of americans went online with any kind of regularity to get their news but within a few years the number shot up and as you say devastating effects were traditional mainstream media. but the dominant reaction to the threat or challenge was typically one of confusion and also an inclination to dismiss the threat. on the other hand there were some outlets including the san jose mercury news that said this is how we do it. this is how we get online and this is the way to the internet. >> the second major events with you, cold in the book is of course the tragic oklahoma city bombing in april of 19895 -- 1995. tell us where terrorism ranked
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in the national consciousness before the oklahoma city bombing. number one issue for many people now of course where do you think it rained and? >> it was perhaps not the most dominant issue. the o.j. simpson trial for examples of alliterative everything in terms of the attention of the media landscape in 1995. but terrorism was low-level but it wasn't a nagging concern. just a couple of years before the oklahoma city bombing and less than that actually the first attack of the world trade center happened and that really put terrorism in on the front burner for many americans. also at that time, though you know bonner was still at large and in 1995 his manifesto was released. he issued a manifesto and demanded "the new york times" and "washington post" published a manifesto and they did. they went ahead and published it in its entirety in a special section in the "washington
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post." so, terrorism was on the table, and domestic terrorism was perhaps less so is the reaction to the oklahoma city bombing was such that most people immediately initially thought that it was the work of international terrorism, middle east terrorism in the first hours and in the first days after the attack. but it really was a devastating attack. not only the deadliest attack of domestic terrorism in united states history, 168 people killed including children in a day care center in the federal building that was the target of the bummer, but it struck deep into the american heartland in a very surprising way. >> what was the biggest revolt or change of that attack? >> one of the changes is that it began to initiate restrictions in american life, preemptive
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restrictions if you will design to keep the terrorist attacks from happening again. less than two months after the attack on oklahoma city about six weeks later, the section in front of pennsylvania avenue was closed to take your traffic and that was a direct and dramatic response to the perspective threat of domestic terrorism. they didn't want the white house to become a target for domestic terrorism so that walked of pennsylvania avenue was shut off and remains close to this day and there is no chance it is ever going to be re- opened. the "washington post" and the washington political figures were vehemently opposed to closing that section of pennsylvania avenue to say it never was closed during world war ii or during the war of 1812 or the british invaded and burned washington and now we are going to close it because of a
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prospective threat of terrorism and yet it was and the chance of ever being reopened are slim to none. a cynic but that was an example of a broad mentality that began to take hold and take shape in the aftermath of the bombing. those those restructurings those limitations became ever more pronounced in ever more apparent than the aftermath of 9/11 of course. but we can trace those restructurings to the bombing pretty clearly. >> another major events you mentioned that we can take more of it and that is the famous mug shot of o.j. simpson and the trial of course the murder happened in 1994 of his ex-wife and ron goldman to the trial of course the fall of 1995 and again in october millions of americans gathered in front of their tvs to watch the verdict in a thicket productivity in the
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united states plummeted for that half hour. tell us why this ordeal fascinated us so much. >> it had a celebrity, it had mystery, it had a severe crime. it had high-powered lawyers. you think professional football player. the team allowed him and his case to go toe to toe with what they could muster and they were so effective in neutralizing some of the best evidence of the prosecution that the equable debate cokie old became inevitable and you are quite
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right when the verdict was announced in early october 1995 the country essentially shut down people refused to get on flights until they knew the verdict was. press conferences on capitol hill were closed and joe lieberman said not only would you not be here i wouldn't be here either for the news conference as he pointed out that they said for the reading of the verdict. >> they announced the night before that made it even more of a flashback moment. >> had he requested that it be announced right away when he was reached i'm sure the reactions and the attention would have been far less than what it was.
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not only were they in front of tv sets but radios and even word-of-mouth. it didn't really figure and i remember i was at the "washington post" at the time when we put out what we call a bulldog edition that is very rare to do that but it's such a big story. >> you write another lasting conservation of the trial was the use of dna evidence and correctly handling the dna evidence. >> it's the first time a prominent trial in american history in which dna evidence figured prominently. is that the first time that it had been introduced into the criminal trial by any means, but it was the first time a
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prominent high-profile much followed widely reported on trial had this and it's interesting some of the most tedious moments of the trial came during the presentation, discussion and examination of the dna evidence. it just went on and on and on. nonetheless it became one of the most lasting consequences of the trial because it was entered in wasn't heard in the mainstream consciousness again. here is this wonderful textile achieve that can be used to define or describe how and whether a person is criminally guilty or not and you're right, the collection, the processing of the analysis of the dna evidence was very sloppy, very sloppily done during the investigation of the crimes in 1994 and the prosecution presented this evidence in the
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defense since they were just able to tear it apart because it was so sloppily handled and and gathered and prepared and analyzed and after the trial there were improvements made in the processing in the collection of dna evidence. it also had the effect of introducing the notion of the power of dna in a very popular kind of way. it anticipated and even stimulated interest in the programming and i think even television would be quite different today if it were not for dna as an element and it's not the trial of the direct consequence of the cult accelerate and stimulate the interest. >> because about one or two spinoffs. >> we do have a microphone right in the middle and that's because we have c-span here today they
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are going to be filming this today and airing it later but i do invite you to line up and ask some questions. >> you can also get a signed copy and if you are on are today i hope you were using the hash tag handle. >> in chapter four you revisit the peace talks that brought an end to the vicious war in bosnia and certainly it was a complicated and multifaceted conflict is really a majority of americans were not even familiar with. >> but tell us why that is another pivotal event for you. >> first of all the u.s. brokered peace negotiations and first it went on for nearly two and a half years. it was vicious since the time of
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the nokia since the end of world war ii and united states policy was to be divert the europeans in trying to resolve this conflict to bring it to some sort of conclusion and that approach quite clearly failed. and with the massacre in bosnia in the summer in july of 1995 when 8,000 muslim boys and men were executed by the bosnian paramilitary forces, when that happened the worst atrocity in the war it became very clear to the u.s. commentators analysts, foreign policy experts and eventually the clinton administration that something had to be done and that was a primary consideration and raised in the united states moved ahead and eventually brokered a deal
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and proper presidents of bosnia, serbia and croatia to dayton ohio to the wright-patterson air force base just outside of dayton and equipped than their pre- essentially three weeks until they hammered out a deal until they hammered out an agreement that only ended the war but preserved the bosnian state as an entity within which there were two fairly rigid entities when a federation of the muslim federation and the other day based republic and those lines remain today a very rigid somewhat ineffective solution but it was effective at ending that war. it also led to a sense of if you will hubris in american foreign policy in the years after he had and it was clearly the first major foreign-policy success of the clinton administration and in the aftermath of foreign
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policy became more muscular if you will and even more aggressive willing to take on hot spots and hotspots and in 1988 clinton ordered the bombing of iraq in the chemical weapons was pb to have had. in 1999 they ordered the bombing of syria in the kosovo war to force them to give up the rebellious province and that kind of approach to foreign policy continued after 9/11 with the u.s. incursion and invasion in afghanistan and then the us-led invasion of iraq in 2003 so this approach to foreign policy took on great dimensions in the aftermath. >> and use of the phrase american exceptionalism and -- >> you don't hear it so much
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these days but you did in the aftermath of the peace accord. clinton was the voting american exceptionalism as a justification for the united states to not only reach a conclusion and negotiate the settlement of the war but also to defend the 20,000 troops to help to police the agreement in bosnia and that was a very unpopular move by the way and most americans thought there would be all kinds of hell to pay for this, that there would be u.s. forces drawn into the conflict and it didn't happen that way. there were no u.s. casualties to the hostile engagement in that peacekeeping function after the peace accord. >> last question on that, why dayton ohio come away with the peace talks held their? spinnaker great question. >> it was an unlikely setting. >> and it was inspired because it was a reminder to the participants that the u.s. military is pretty pronounced.
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about dayton was allowed to negotiators and separate teams to get together in a very confined area and very safe area beyond the reach of the press. the press were kept beyond the gates of the wright-patterson air force base and also dayton was close enough to washington d.c. that is the ranking officials needed to get there such as the secretary of state who did drop in from time to time, if he needed to get there he could in an hour. so it was close enough yet it was far enough away and it was -- if that's the test so it inspired then you quite unconditional. >> if anyone wants to line up just get behind the microphone there and the questions are being were being taped for c-span so it will be heard. i should end though with the
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fair last certainly not least that the affair but the affair began in 1995 actually during the government shutdown when the white house was understaffed and the interns are doing a lot more administrative work. how did that and i hear a fair shift to the course of american politics ask >> it led to the astonishing spectacle of the impeachment of the sitting u.s. president and that was the first time an elected president had been in peach. the only other time this happened was in the 1860s when andrew johnson was impeached but he was abraham lincoln's vice president. looking back it's hard to think that this is the outcome of the
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scandal. they were accused of obstruction of justice, lying under oath commit perjury, and those charges were pretty severe and the way the case was presented to congress and then tried in the senate separated republicans and democrats. they voted for impeaching the president in almost all democrats voted against it and that kind of disparity showed up again in the senate to convict clinton and both of those on the obstruction of justice charge and perjury charge me there of the majority is was like 50 35 45. those partisan divisions if you will continue to american life and have continued to be
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pronounced and continued to define the political landscape. it would be a mistake to say that it was because of the scandal and the impeachment but the political landscape in the country is what it is today that but it was certainly a contributing factor but it continues to be a contributing factor. and monica is in her early 40s and she has been pretty clear she isn't going to completely go away. and back in may she had a lengthy article in "vanity fair" and gave a speech on in her first public speech so i don't think she's an actor on the political stage but she is out there in her case remains a point of interest is the fascination in the american political scene. >> will this become an issue in that race? if she throws her hat in the
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ring? >> there are analysts on the political scene that have far more insight than i have but it's if they come up chandos code tends gingerly i cannot see it coming up aggressively in the debate but then again we are assuming she is going to be running and that there is a school of thinking out there including bill clinton's press secretary who has doubts as to whether she will run for president. she's going to be 68. i am here on the weekends to ask questions. an observation to support your book and then a question. we remember these things at the time of the verdict i was
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teaching in new jersey predominantly african-american school about 75 25 in my classroom reflected that and of course we were watching it and you talk -- i wish i had a picture of the option of the two different groups. one student ran out in the hallway just screaming for joy and came back and apologized and i wonder if there won't be a trace back to that moment when the society was revealed their. that's my observation. all books have to end. you chose five. what would have been the sixth if you have one? the >> did you have one that wasn't as an trickle or important? of >> the original proposal for the book that i presented to the
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acquisition editor of the california press had a sixth chapter and that would take a look at the first confirmed discovery of the planet. it's an extrasolar planet revolving around a sun like star beyond earth's solar system and i had that in there as a potential sixth chapter because during 1995 for the first confirmed discovery of the planet in the constellation was confirmed and i thought it was a small but important stepping stone in the search for extraterrestrial life. and since then hundreds if not a couple thousand have been discovered and many of them by
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the telescope but nonetheless identified many other planets revolving around the stars and some of them revolve around stars that are kind of like the sun or kind of at a distance so there are these planets that have confounded and they might be candidates for finding life outside of earth. of the thinking is that it was maybe not all needing a full chapter to discuss so i can tackle the discussion and it's found in the introduction of the book rather than the sixth chapter. >> talking about the reaction to
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the verdict, it was pretty striking and it didn't seem to reflect the racial division in america and a lot of people were remarking about that, a lot of newspaper commentaries at the time said the shows that we live in a society's and so forth but at the same time it's very interesting and often overlooked at the same time in late summer and early fall colin powell was identified and seen as a prospective presidential candidate on the republican ticket and clinton was really preoccupied by the prospective candidacy, and he was on the book tour circuit out with a memoir and an autobiography that was well received and attracting huge crowds and lots of people were lining up to get the book autographed and so forth and
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this is exactly the same time as the o.j. simpson trial was reaching its culmination in los angeles. so i think it is over often overlooked how how to square the population with the reaction of the verdict. they are both out of their looking for attention at the same time but most people do focus on the reaction. >> we are nearly out of time but i'm happy to take any questions. >> the book points out how the media got it wrong [inaudible] what is your view lacks >> you still have a few of the media as it is today? spinnaker that is an interesting
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question. in some respects that is the case. some of what we saw in the media in the performance remained flawed in the media performance not on the same exact issues of course but one point of comparison and commonality i think is the reaction to the oklahoma city bombing and the quick response of the u.s. news media to identify the middle east terrorists to plan and they identify this act as one of middle east terrorism and it was a knee-jerk reaction by the media to the oklahoma city bombing and we see this kind of quick reaction and accurate in other events. the shootings a couple years ago for an example how the early
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hours after this event can get that wrong. so i think some of the subtexts sql about the media the book is not about the media but nonetheless it is a sub theme and we see some recurrence and issues and problems in the media than now. >> i also want to applaud you on choosing this particular year as the watershed year. my question was that as the year i first came to dc with the washington center for politics and journalism and i remember some of my colleagues have asserted that the trial actually distracted several people from
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covering the policy and other important things that were happening at that moment. do you feel that is true? >> i don't think that it was a zero-sum game although the media attention was and unrelenting and it was you know, inescapable and so i could see how the news budgets as they were i could see how some of that was diverted to covering the trial and in the preliminaries, to six months before and the six months after and then the start of the trial were very intense times in which the national enquirer in late 1994 was breaking all kinds of developments related to the case and "the new york times" was actually following and giving credit for some of the breaking
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stories in the case. and there was a lot of controversy about the times and giving credit for the national enquirer, so the case sort of ticked the hierarchy if you will of american journalism over on its head and i'm sure that was one of many effects. there was a newspaper in georgia i believe that said we are going to ban all news of o.j. simpson. we've had enough of the case. it announced on the front page it was going to stop covering and stop reporting the case so that was another sort of more dramatic extreme reaction to the case but one of many. and the resources that were deployed to los angeles to cover the trial in the run-up's were
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enormous. so it's possible but i did not detect any kind of shift in coverage that led to a distortion and how the news media were covering things. they covered other big events. the oklahoma city bombing. for the ones if not oj off the front pages if you will if not oj off the front pages if you will. >> use the debug of time researching that but i'm wondering 20 years from now you look back and think that was a watershed moment. >> i think it's still kind of reasoned. [laughter] >> more recently. >> that is a good question. and obviously as john mentioned in the outset it is going to continue to be rendered as a remanded as a watershed year in many ways.
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but other possible years whether they be? >> 2012, that might be seen as a watt or should moment. it takes a fair amount of critical distance to begin to appraise and analyze and assess the significance of a particular twelve-month period which i grant is somewhat arbitrary to begin with. we need the passage of time for us to really be able to say that was a decisive moment, but there are moments as you mentioned in which we know right away that that is to be memorable and 2008 is probably another.
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>> leadtime for one last question and i do want to remind folks that joe will be signing copies of his pickup site of the studio and if you have any follow-up questions i'm sure he would be able to answer them. >> you talked about critical distance changing the way that we look at history and you also mentioned that monica lewinsky had written about therapy in the last year or two. do you think that it changes the narrative of the affair? >> it might. that is an interesting question. i am not sure if that piece you are referring to is going to do that but i think a lot of readers came away thinking she is a fairly bright person and she was really marked as somebody that wasn't very bright during the scandal of the late 1990s and i think that some will come away thinking that this is a perspective of a thoughtful and informed young
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woman and the article -- while she's in her early 40s now. [laughter] >> anyway it is pretty clear that she wrote the article very well without a ghost writer. >> any major lessons to be learned from any lasting lessons? >> there are many and the importance of understanding how dynamic history is and how important recent history can be a lot of people who engage in historical research tend to think it's one that we should avoid because we have that amount of critical distance that we don't have enough archival information or enough insight
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and i think that's probably not the case. if anything people working in recent history almost overwhelmed with the amount of information that's available. and also i think it's time to make this call if you will towards the close of the book that it's time for a reappraisal of the 1990s. some people think of it as a holiday from history. charles krauthammer of the post has used the term many times usually took clinton and his presidency but it wasn't a holiday from history. it really is far more significant than that so i think the time has come to take a look at the 1990s and another school of thinking is this is a great time of prosperity and peace and we have things really clicking back then and it's a little bit distorted as well because i think a more critical
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appraisal is certainly in order and 1995 might be the spur for that assessment. >> 1995 the year the future began. [applause] >> [inaudible] please join us for a book signing and we will see you next time. is
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>> host: joining us now on the dawks the sc c-span bus is maybe not a face is that you're familiar with but an appe voice thatti you are familiar within ja little a senior economics correspondent with marketplace and npr minnesota public radio as well as a columnist for bloomberg. with. he's written this book onlace retirement how baby boomers are changing the way we think about work community and the good life. first of all when did the magic baby ers number is 65 of 65-years-oldab come toou be? >> a lot of it has to do with you come up with this notion and thmagi look at the evolution of social insurance in europe and adjustcome intplay? the came 65 and when franklin roosevelt signed the averageok at th life expectancy was 62 so 65 was a reflection of that and now it's about 79 if you round uplt signed so the numbers.
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>> host: can we still retireur bets. and become comfortable? >> what is going on is a rethinking because you still have this incredibly powerful image of retirement. you stop working and increased leisure. we have this other image you think said you're going to keep working, great i'm just going to work until i drop dead. well the thing is the bb boomers are educated, one of the most educated in history and a lot of the work and careers and jobs are a big part of who we are. and if you actually look at the jobshe numbers many people are working during these traditional retirement years but how did you describe this? wa away i go by the expression the british have this notion of the third age but it's all about du continuing to work part-timerement.
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contract, maybe it's a full-time job, starting your own business, it is an enormous experimentation going on. is it because we have to? that's part of it. not people going to them to the it's mall and they lose their credit >> i cards, however it is expensive to educate your kids.o sa as it's been difficult for a lot of people to save so yes it doesosing co make a difference but i also think there is a search for meaning and engagement and work diffult for is also a social institution. it's a place where someone has a baby, you celebrate that. and a divorce, we help them through that process. this work in a social institution but it's also because we have all of this skill and knowledge and people don't just want to walk away from that and it's because we have this gift and opportunity and also of longevity that we are living


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