tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN January 15, 2015 8:00pm-10:01pm EST
>> good morning, everyone. my name is nirra tanden president and ceo of the center for american progress, and i'm really honored to be joined by our esteemed commission members for the new report from the inclusive commission a commission convened over a year and a half ago. i'm very honored to be joined by our co-chairs, dr. larry summers, former treasury secretary, and ed ball shadow chancellor of the exchequer for the u.k. we convened this commission because we at cap are very focused on the challenges the middle class is facing in the united states, challenges of
stagnating wages rising costs. what we recognize these were not just trends that the american public is facing. it's really global trends are faking us and we can learn from other countries. so that is why we've undertaken this effort. i hope everyone has gotten our report, a very big report. and i'm going to now turn it over to larry and ed, and then i will ask questions of our commission members to get their thoughts, and then really want to have questions from the audience, answer any questions you have. we're very proud of this work, it is a truly collaborative effort and we very much look forward to a discussion. dr. summer. >> i want to just start by thanking you and nirra and cap for having the wisdom to convene
a commission of this kind, and providing me with an opportunity to co-chair it with ed. i have learn an enormous amount from my fellow commissioners in the course of this effort, and in particular i think we in the united states have a certain tendency of large countries to insularity, and i've learned an enormous amount about the international experience in what is a central challenge for all industrial democracies, creating increases in middle income families' income and standard of living and assuring a society in which parents can look forward to children living better lives than they had the opportunity to live. a crucial lesson of overwhelming
importance that came through in this report is that while there are large forces globalization technology and more, that are creating large challenges for many workers there is no excuse or basis for fatalism. there are countries, canada and australia stand out as two examples -- that live in the same world of globalization and technology that we in the united states do, and they have succeeded over the last 15 years in generating rising standards of living through these turbulent years for middle class families. we stress in the report that
rising incomes for the middle class require two things. they require economies that are growing strongly with a sound foundation for sustained growth, and what has become increasingly clear in recent years is that while strong growth is necessary, it is not sufficient unless the mechanisms are in place that assure that the fruits of that prosperity are widely shared, and we note in particular the divergence in many countries, including the united states between the fortunes of the bottom 90% of the population and the fortunes of the top 1%.
we begin by noting four important respects in which the world has changed over the last generation that have to frame responses. globalization, the growing ability of technology to substitute for many categories of labor the distressing trend towards the come modtywidation of worker and -- and the tendency of global competition to lead to a race for the bottom as competition takes place for mobile factors capital money, top entrepreneurs and leaves them to get better results too
often at the expense of middle class workers we target the putting people first strategy that was in place in the 1990s contains crucial elements that remain very valid today but has to be built on if we're to meet the challenge of exclusive prosperity going forward -- ininclusive possess spirit going forward, and i will high light two areas of policy, and in the discussion of my fellow commissioners will highlight many others. throughout the industrial world, on both sides of the atlantic there is a compelling case for a
very substantial increase in infrastructure investment. it must be that a moment when united states can borrow money at 1.8% for ten years, in a currency we print ourselves, and when the construction unemployment rate approaches double digits is a moment when kennedy airport should be fixed. it is a moment when tens of thousands of schools with chipping paint should be repaired. it is a moment when an air traffic control system that risks lives and wastes energy by being based on vacuum tubes should be put right. and yet, it is a moment when our net investment in infrastructure as a country has never been
lower relative to income, and is below one insure tenth of one percent of -- one-tenth of one percent of gdp. we call on growing demand in the short rein promoting reply and potential in the medium and lodge run, and on grounded of removing the burden of deferred maintenance from our children's generation for a substantial increase in infrastructure investment in the united states and in the industrial world. we also recognize and stress that the great financial crisis of last several years was the culmination of a series of events. the lattin american debt cried of the early 1980s, and stock contracts in 1987 the s & l
problems in 1980. the bursting of the japanese bubble. the real estate problems the mexican financial crisis the asian financial crisis, the russian crisis the internet bubble and enron. for more than a generation roughly every three years, a financial system whose function is to manage and disseminate risk has in fact been a source of risk that has had accidents that have resulted in the unemployment of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or millions of people. we hold as an absolute imperative the necessity of defending and maintaining the financial regulatory safeguards that have been put in place already, and resisting their erosion, and we suggest a number of areas for further action
including most crucially, the shadow banking system and provision for satisfactory mechanisms for assuring clawbacks in cases of misperformance of malfeasance or nonperformance. we are united in the conviction that stagnation in wages and middle incomes is a choice not a necessity. that a different choice is possible and we offer our report in the hope that some of the ideas within it along with many other ideas that should and will come from a broad debate can reverse this disturbing trent. thank you.
>> ed. >> thank you very much indeed. let me echo the other co-chair larry, thanks to cap, great honor to be asked to co-chair this. i'd also like to thank my fellow commissioners, we have a number of meetings over the last two years, and not everybody will sign up to every word but we're all on the same page here because of the intensity of the work we have done together so thank you to them. as larry says this is a -- the biggest challenge for this generation to show that we can deliver not only growth in our economies, growth in a sustainable way but also a growth which is fairly shared so that everybody shares in the rising prosperity, not just some. and as the report says this is not only about social justice and delivering a fairer world but is also about sustaining public support for an open global economy and also
sustain -- for sustaining trust in the democratic process to deliver rising living standards for all and not just some. we refer in the report to the international evidence that in many countries we have seen walt we refer to as a toxic combination of slow growth and rising inequality stagnating living standards in many developed countries. and we use those words advisedly because you only have to look across europe and look at small parties attacking the u.on union, attacking integration, and proposing an antitrade, isolationist agenda. we see that in to our country from the u.k. independence party and in france and germany and ireland and many countries across europe, to see there's important issues at stake. this is an argument we need to win but our report says it's not going to be done simply by
carrying on with a traditional right of center, trickle down less laissez-faire view and that it will be okay, and the evidence is that is not working and we need to have a change. these will be very big issues in our general election in four months times and all of our countries. when people hear politicians say, we're recovering from the global financial crisis and our economies are recovering and growing again the common refrain from left and right is for people to say to politicians who say, it's working, is to say, well, it may be working for somebody, but it's not working for me, for my family, for our community in our country in the unite kingdom, we have a record from the oxfordshire high lighting the celt sentiment that people feel left out and this is
not just an issue in the united kingdom. so that's why focusing on an inclusive prosperity which makes sure the wealth is widely shared, and it sets out two things. first of all -- of course, there's differences in different countries -- the kind of things that government's got to do to make sure that growth leads to an inclusive prosperity and larry mentioned a number of issues across raising minimum wages or investing in vow sayingsal skills and early years education, making sure there are public-private sector work in a long-term way making sure that our tax systems work in a fair way. the other thing which is very important in this report, it is not only about individual countries pursuing their own agenda and learning from each other. it's also about what we need to do together and therefore the report talks about not only
progressive policies, a race to the top in our own countries to deliver growth and rising wages and talks bat progressive agenda which countries need to work on together to make sure we do as world community to make sure that we strengthen growth in those parts of the world where growth is still too weak. to make sure that we work together, as larry says to make sure that our financial system and the global financial system is stronger and more secure for the future also, to make sure that as we make sure the rules of the game are fair, we continue to open up trade and involve developing countries, emerging markets and all of our countries in the international economy and sets another what we need to do there fourthly the international process we have to improve our global tax system and our individual country tax
systems so people see where profit is made taxes are paid and the global tax system is fair and there are important things working on, and so things we as countries need do individually and that's up to us individually as politicians. there's a progressive agenda for the global economy which we all want to see rising up the agenda in the next few months. the one thing which is clear, if we do nothing, if we are complacent, if we say it will be okay in the end, if we say what are you complaining about? our economies are starting to grow again. i we deny the fact there is actually a crisis of cost of living for working people out of inequality, undermining the strength and integrity of our societies, i'm afraid that the forces of reaction are going to grow and that is why as i said, this is such an important report. this is the challenge of our generation, and i think you can see from the report and everybody here today, we are
determined to rise to that challenge. >> thank you so much ed. we have -- we are truly honored to have so many fantastic commissioners as part of this process. i'm going to briefly introduce them and then turn over questions to them. e.j. dion is a senior fellow at the brookings institution. wayne swan former deputy prime minister and former treasurer of australia. edward deen from george -- -- jennifer grandholm, former governor of michigan former minister of finance for sweden and mary k henry, president of the service employees international union. i start off my first question to you, mary kay. one of the issues highlighted in the report which analyzes the
structure of the work place across the globe -- there you are -- is -- one issue that becomes apparent is the lack of worker power or ability to bargain for higher wages and the disparity between the u.s. and other countries. most other countries have much higher unionization rates than the u.s. most developed countries do. what are your thoughts on the issue of worker power, worker voice, and its contribution to shared prosperity? >> thank you, nirra. i just want to address the question by saying we are delighted the number one policy recommendation in this report is raising wages, and before i speak to the question i just wanted to thank you for your leadership. i think if anybody could have been inside the rooms, this
woman has galvanized thinking from around the world into a report that that i think meets the challenge that larry talk and the determination that ed udescribed and for me, i thought that the discussion in this commission really helped illuminate that there's no reason for the inequality that exists and the specific thing about raising wages that matters so much here in the u.s. is if we recognize the service economy and -- fastes growing jobs service jobs all pay under $15 an hour. families that ed just talk about that we as a commission are trying to figure out what are the mechanisms that larry described as being required to
change this terrible gap and the stagnation of wages in this growing sector of our economy. and larry spoke to this about mechanism. i think about it in terms of the stories of workers all across this nation who have the determination and courage to join together and say enough is enough, i deserve better. my employer is prospering and this commission is bound and determined to figure out how everybody who is generating the wealth in this nation in sweeping floors securing buildings, cooking food, caring for people also shares in that wealth because of their determination to provide for themselves and help their employers survive. the person i think about is
laquatia la grand fastfood worker in brooklyn who has been trying to join together with fastfood workers across the nation and say i want to help my employer succeed but i also want to be able to make ends meet. i'd like to have schedule that is predictable and return to community college and provide for my daughter but earning 7.25 an hour in brooklyn, new york doesn't make that possible. in fact, we as taxpayers are subsidizing her employment through all the public assistance she needs in order to make ends meet. she is like the ortiz family in houston, texas, all four members of the family are working in fastfood and earning minimum wage and if as a nation we could make the tough choices that nirra, larry, anne, and all the other commissioners talked about, and think about the ways in which we can encourage workers being able to join together and have a voice with their employer and maybe imagine
a bargaining system that doesn't yet exist in the u.s. but could, if we made tough choices. we could create the situation that australia canada sweden -- we heard about in this commission -- where middle classes are growing and service work is work that people can provide for their families on and that is what wayne and christina have shared with us as a commission, where they found a way to give workers a voice in their economy and recognize that the job that is being done in new york city at 7.25 is paid $20 an hour in denmark and $18 an now australia. and that isn't the one thing that is the silver bullet. that what i thought larry and ed said. we know that raising wages is a very important lever in creating an inclusive economy but there are many other things other
commissioners are going to speak to. that why i think when -- the way larry concluded was so important, that this is about choices. this is not about we're trapped in a system where you can't turn it around, and i just want to honor the courage of workers who are making choices every day to take a stand and make this terrible situation of inequality public. i want to call on employers to recognize those and imagine how we can create a collective bargaining system in this country that is nonconflicting where we focus on innovation and growth and think about the ways in which work is changing. we can innovate in the u.s. and draw from the experience of people around the world, to create a difference life supported by the government policy solutions in this report. thank you very much. >> i just want to highlight one important point. one thing we learned from other
countries is that providing more worker voice allows companies themselves to innovate more get greater productivity and whatever mechanisms worker council, collective bargaining. it's not only about improving conditions for workers but improving the company's bottom lines over the long run. e.j., i want to town to you because i think -- turn to you because i think we try in the record -- ed comments the connection between an anxiety around declining prospects for the middle class and what is happening in politics. so could you make that case for us? >> sure. first of all i also want to thank nirra and cath christian and these extraordinary people. if larry summers learned a lot about economics in this group imagine how much i learned. [laughter] >> so i want to thank you all very, very much. and -- but it wasn't just an academic seminar. this had a very clear goal of putting forward practical ideas
based on the conviction that fatalism is not called for and gets us nowhere, and one over the titled of the report could be "against fatalism." fatalism can be fatal to democracy, and one of the points that we underscore particularly in the preamble is that the challenges our democracies face are not primarily military or philosophical. it's rather that for the first time since the great depression many of our industrial democracies are failing to deliver a rising living standards and opportunities to all our citizens. in the united states we have a particular challenge because we have on the one hand a stage in remarkable recovery from a disastrous economic circumstance but we have a last piece of the job to get done, which is to restore living standards. and i think this economic problem can become a political
problem for our political systems and for democracy itself. i think all of our citizens value their freedom, value the right of self-government, but count on the political systems to create circumstances in which they can use their talents and labor to provide decent standards of life for themselves and have their children have an opportunity to rise and when democracies and market systems nail to do this, they create political alienation, and the kind of distemper and disaffection and anger that ed referred. to i think it's worth remembering back in the 1930s there war lot of people who were sad, disturbing number of people who said that the democracies were no longer capable of dealing with their problems that they created a -- thank god all those predicts were wrong in the 1930s but we have to make sure they're wrong
again by ensureing shared prosperity. two other points. one is we now have a situation where both of our political parties seem prepared to talk about the problem of wage stagnation and declining social mobility in parts of our society. the challenge is to come up with concrete ideas, and one of the striking things about this report is that there are a lot of big, very practical ideas of how we can make things better. and for people who want to say some of these ideas don't work well, let them come up with an alternative set of ideas. and i think as was pointed out while everybody on the basketball broadly shares progressive views of the world, the idea of profit-sharing is
not an ideological idea. more worker ownership ought to be something that friends of the market support. and last thing -- this is a mortis sol cav point -- there has been a -- more philosophical point -- there has been a great debate in our country over whether government has a role in solving problems or whether we simply let the market do what it does and just promote more tax cuts and more deregulation. obviously the core commitment of this report is that government can act to make things better and again i think what matters is the specificity of the idea, because you can say over and over that government can make things better but you need to come up with ideas to do what john stewart mills said dish always loved this line. he said that our purpose really to -- ought to be to provide help toward doing without help.
the idea is that we can't just have a safety net. we also need a trampoline or a ladder for people to rise. the american idea has always embodied the notion that we can do better and we need to do better to create higher standards of living and enhanced opportunity for all of citizens and i really do believe that the future of democracy depends on our ability to do that. >> thank you so much e.j. wayne, we learned a lot from the australian experience. particularly policy ideas but also the macro numbers and ability to deliver on the promise of a shared prosperity. can you share with us some of the ideas and note able things. >> i'm very proud that countries
have done as good a job of matching growth with social equity as australia and that was particularly the case during the great recession as well but essentially we've done that over 100 years. good sometimes, better other times. the last 30 years a whole set of productivity enhancing reforms which were underpinned by three or four key policy areas that have justice and equity. first of all a really strong industrial relations system based on a decent minimum wage, decent minimum conditions and collective bargaining over and above that based on productivity. that's been critical in delivering strong income gains amongst low and middle income earners. and really very simple concept that's based on. the dignity of labor.
that we're all wealth generators. as mary kay said before, everybody out there who is working in any form is a wealth generator. we don't have a society that should be divided between the so-called lifters and leaners that ann rant talks about and on which so much policy is based. secondly a fundamental commitment to affordable and quality health and education, because that provides the human capital you need to lift your productivity, but also to have an optimistic and content society. i guess thirdly a progressive tax system that is very important to fund the quality services which deliver the productivity and the peace of mind for people wherever they are, and of course, highly targeted transfer of payments system which delivers for those that are left behind. so the other fundamentals of
the australian experience. >> thank you so much. ed montgomery we do spend fair amount of time talking about human capital and innovations in human capital policy. can you share your thoughts? >> yes, thank you. one, i want to thank the commission and the work that we have done for bringing out examples around the world that other countries have found a way to think about human capital in broader and often more successful ways than the united states clearly when you think about human capital you need to start from pre-k get kid early, need to invest in them to make them school raidy. you need to make schools they go to places that provide quality education. access to community college and higher education play a row. another key piece we the united states don't emphasizes a much but our successful countries in germany and australia and
austria and sweden have done is working on apresence tisships. that -- apprenticeship the large number of people who aren't going on to higher education. those countries opened up a broad set of jobs for people that pay off. when people have looked at apprenticeship systems they clearly raise earnings in the united states $300,000 increased lifetime earnings for participation. the return on every public dollar in terms of higher earning in some cases as high as $23 for every dollar invested in the apprenticeship programs. they play a vital role in increasing access to those with high school education or less than high school education to high good are paying jobs of the future. >> fantastic. thank you so much. also, i would like to ask jennifer grandhome, who provided a lot of information, and really looking at how -- can you share
your views. >> thanks so much and thank you to cap. i appreciate having been invite teed be part of this because as former governor of michigan representing a part of the country that has been the poster child of the loss of middle class jobs are and, so my obsession on this and i think the report adequately addresses, is how do you create jobs in america in a global economy and what can learn from our allies who are up here? what have they done well? one thing they have done and that we have done in some measure in this country but we need to do a lot more of, is to create economic clusters, to really focus on local strategies. governors do not have the ability, however to compete against china or singapore and so support for research, tax credits, from the federal government such an important aspect of creating a cluster.
a cluster is great because it doesn't lend itself to being picked up and moved. when you have a bunch of companies and a bunch of talent in one place, they feed off of one another. it's called an agglomeration economy. how can states foster that kind of innovation? well support for the universities to be able to do transfer of technology and ideas from laboratory to classroom is one way. having incubators that make sure that those companies can grow inside of a region is one way. having the ability for a state to create access to capital so that companies, when they're just starting can actually have access to moneys that would allow them to take their ideas to scale. those kinds of things are done in other countries with the support of the federal government and the state government. we ought to be doing more of that here. one of the great things i would just like to point out that the obama administration started to do are these competitions that allow regions to compete for
federal resources to be to go to place for a particular technology in ohio, youngstown ohio, hard hit area, comp peteed to become the center of 3-d printing technology and they're creating an ecosystem around that, including training. this is a holeisic approach, an approach that says we can compete with the likes of china and india, and countries who are very hands-on but laissez-faire, do nothing, hands off, just not going to work in a global economy when our economic comp pet temperatures are hands-on. so i show appreciate that's report bass it's chock-full of idea how federal and state governments can have a role in creating jobs in a global economy.
>> canada is another example of greater experience with shared prosperity. a lot of people pointed to the banking system the education system. can you share your thoughts on what we can learn from canada? >> well, thank you, nirra and i do want to start by echoing the thanks to nirra permanently. nirra was really ahead of the curve in pulling together this group in identifying specifically inclusive prosperity as the challenge of our time and i'm really grateful to you for doing that. as e.j. pointed out, imagine how much fun we had in rooms with larry and ed no holds barred, economic conversations. i can assure you there were no sacred cows and some of the people who gave presentations were a little surprised how free are ranging the debate was and thanks to my fellow commissioners. this is a wonderful group and really diverse.
rare to have such an international group and people from different disciplines. on canada, one of the things -- this may be particularly relevant to a debate happening in other parts of the world, particularly the u.s. right now about financial regulation. one of the lessons of the canadian experience is financial regulation is not just for bankers and it can sound esoteric and is very detailed and specific but if you get it right, you can have a very great protective impact on the lives and wealth of the middle class and that's one of the lessons of canada over the past 15 years. thanks so in really prescient decisions by paul martin we regulated our banking system and we didn't give in to that vogue of deregulation and the result was canada didn't have a banking crisis. canadian banks didn't fail didn't have to be bailed out.
that had a really specific impact which you see now measured in average canadian household wealth. they didn't experience that big loss. so financial regulation matters as larry pointed out. it's really important not to let that get eroded as the crisis immediately recedes. having said that for me the importance of this report is in identifying a collective challenge. i really agree with ed, this is the challenge of our generation, the western industrialized economies are in the midst of a really profound change, and there's lots that is great about it but there's a lot that is challenging. we seem to be suffering from secular stagnation. larry has talked about that a lot. and even when we manage to have our economies grow, we're really really struggling to have middle class incomes and jobs work and this is a huge problem.
please don't treat this like a regular report with the policy recommendations. i my former journalistic colleagues, we good to a million things like that. this is the challenge of our time and what for me is so important about this report is it says, hey this is a really big deal, and not only is it possible, it is essential to do something about it. if we don't, we're going to run into real trouble, really it's not an exaggeration to say democracy will be imperiled. of the specific recommendations we work on the things that really stand out for me and, like ed, i'm going to face on election this year, and things that we're going to be talking bat lot are infrastructure. now is a great time for infrastructure investment all of our infrastructure is decaying and infrastructure investment not only can fix it, it can be tremendously stimulating to the economy.
the imf has been saying this, too. and the second really key point i'd like to echo ed is the extent to which this is a global challenge. everyone has been really nice and all you americans talking about how you learned from our international experience. we learn from you guys, too, and we're in this together. we're living in a time when politics is mostly national capital is global. ed0s opinion about the work the oecd is doing is really important and we'll have to work on that together and it's going to be really important in this time when we are all struggling and as politicians, talking to people who are worried about jobs in their countries not to let that give way to a protectionist trend. one thing i was proud of in this report is the extent to which we continued to call for an open global economy. we're going to have to fiction this together. thanks for letting me be part of it. >> thank you so much. par, last but not least by any
stretch. we did learn a lot from your experience in sweden and from the experience of really investing in people particularly family policy education policy. could you touch briefly on that and then we'll go straight to questions. >> thank you very much. it's already been said that europe is experiencing very tough times right now. this toxic cocktail of low growing and growing inequality its very dangerous. however, there are some countries in the northern periphery that has been better off than average europe and that is the scandinavian countries in general and sweden in particular. there are a number of reasons for this but i'd like to highlight one. that is the fact that we have contrary to many other countries in europe and elsewhere, mobilized the whole work force not only the male part but also
women, so, the female participation labor ratio is higher than issue in necessary the scan navian countries, and -- scan navan countries and the reason goes back to the 19 1970s when we started a program to mobilize women in the work force. three components. first, generous child allowances of universal character. second free very high quality universal preschools and third, parental leave system that allows parents to combine work with work. we have the most generous parental leave in the world. you can stay home with your kids 13 months and we call it's parental leave system, not a marital system. and this is of course very costly. only the parental leave system
costs one percent of gdp paid over the tax bill. however it delivers one of the highest participation labor ratios the tax base is widened. so, in this sense, and to conclude in the scandinavian context, equality is not a cost for the economy. on the contrary, -- >> i'm excited. thank you so much. i am happy to turn it over to questions. i just say before i do that i would like to call up just a few people who worked on this report. there are millions of parents to this but it feels like -- i wanted to just acknowledge a few people who worked day and night editing this report.
will straw one of our ippr one of our british colleagues who has worked on this. i want to thank them for literally their days and nights contributing to the ideas. and now let me ask questions. we're happy to have questions. if you can identify yourself and someone will come over to give you the microphone for the cameras. >> thank you. storm cunningham with citizen. we're about to publish a guide to resilient prosperity and our research for that certainly indicated that inclusiveness is a major element of that resilience. there's four economic changes within the last generation that you detail in your report but our research on the guide we're working on indicated another huge economic change is taking place in the last generation that doesn't seem to be really
represented in the report except for the infrastructure investment that dr. summers alluded to. and that is the -- for the last 5,000 years humans have been building our wealth based on extraction of virgin resources and building of new cities and the sprawling of existing cities, and within the last generation, major portion of the world economy, well over $2 trillion, is now focused on redeveloping and regenerating revitalizing the cities we already have as home sure governor granholm knows about. >> can you just get to the question. >> yes, on the restoration of natural resources like fisheries and watershed. so i'm wondering whether i -- i flipped through the report quickly. there is a reference than just infrastructure renewal to restore -- >> the issues of the requirement --
>> well, environment -- built and natural enenvironment cleaning up contaminated sites reuse of boats, all that regenerative work. >> the answer is yes, the term -- when we're talking and jennifer talk about the importance of clusters and those can be not only the coming together of firms but the particular way in which you can have strong global economies around accommodations and some of the work in the u.s. looking at what happened in cities and the way cities suck in opportunities and build upon them. that's in there. it's also the case that we talk about the importance of making sure that growth is sustainable from the point of view of the environment as well.
it would depend -- different countries are different in our country, we have a big need for more homes an important part is around the regeneration of existing sites and the use of land, and that is reflected in the report. so hopefully you'll fine it there. >> over here. >> thanks. rob sanchez from the daily telegraph. i had a question for ed balls. began the presentation saying now is the time when interest rates are low for substantial infrastructure investment. in your speech the lanear party conference the september you seemed to rule out any additional borrowing for capital investments. so i wanted to ask you, do you disagree with your co-chair it's now time to borrow and invest or are conditions different on the different side of the atlantic,
and dr. summers i wonder evidence you might urge your co-chair -- [laughter] >> even larry won't take that bait. >> i'm always happy to be -- responsible to an urging from them daily telegraph to spend more on the long-term infrastructure so your point is taken as intended. different countries with different points in the economic cycle. can go would two or three years ago when our growth had stagnated, absolutely at that time. there was a need for more action and that's something we strongly advocated. i think our issue in britain has moved from a lack of growth to a growth that goes alongside low productivity and what we have to do is focus on the long-term decisions we make which would. improve the economy and part of that is making sure we get the best money out to the capital infrastructure. i worries me that at the moment on the government's current plans they're seeking to reduce
capital investment next year but in future years they get the capital investment profile rising again and within that i've talked about wanting to make sure we do more on the housing side within the capital program. but you're right, for britain today, we are making any proposal for additional spending financed by borrowing for more infrastructure. what we're focusing on is the productivity of the infrastructure program in the next five years which has been set out. >> okay. questions here? >> bill cline, i'm a retired army physician. i was going to ask a question about inflation, a word i didn't hear. but in the conversation what have become more interested is the question of citizenship, and i'm wondering if any of you think that poor citizens make poor economics? the benchmark for the it's is our last major election, more than other 5% of eligible votes did -- more than 50% of eligible
voters did not vote and we elected a mayor with 15% of voters. how does that link with poor economies -- i suspect the classes you're talking about have the higher percentage of not voting. >> e.j. >> one reason we focused at the beginning on the problem for democracy of the lack of shared prosperity, is the effect it has on the morale of citizens, and i think when you look at what happened, say in at the last election i think there were a lot of voters who stayed home because they did not think that proposals were on the table that would substantially improve their lives. someone can take issue with that but i don't think politics particularly on the progressive side made a sufficient case to pull them in to voting. the other thing i want to sort of call attention to in the report because it doesn't jump odd but jump evidence out to me, is in talking about things that can be done that are
countercyclical, there's a lot of emphasis on national service and the opportunities for national service. i always thought that during -- at the depths of the recession, a vast expansion in national service opportunities would have been a very good idea both on economic grounds, it would get -- particularly for young people having trouble fining jobs, get them to work but would also do something very important in promoting devotion to country and having said that i just want to thank you for your service to our country. >> i think we have time for one last question. a question over here. >> so, i want to thank the report for talking a lot about the need for improving our labor relations because that is key to having wages go up with productivity. i want to ask a quick question on the democracy issue because i didn't hear i thought enough; so the challenge in the u.k. and the u.s. and in europe is increased social diversity.
the majority of american children are now children of color. there wasn't a lot of mention of that. this goes beyond just what you say for full employment. ten percent close to 11% of the americans who earn a degree in computer science are black and silicon valley two percent of the workers are black. here in washington and the dmv, there's 22% of the workers are black. so it's not just more education. it's not education in the right field. it's not education in the rising fields. it's a deeper problem. the problems we have in the u.s. with policing the problems that u.k. has in absorbing and being exclusive of social minorities. so i'd like to hear your thoughts about making growth inclusive and that, i think will help with the democracy question. so i wanted your thoughts on
that. >> i'll just say briefly -- i don't know if ed montgomery or anyone else -- larry would like to add. in the report we do make as a primary value economics ha has to be exclusive of divertty, racial and economic tie versety. it's a key point as progressives that we articulate that a vision of economic growth has to be exclusive for all parts of society, and this is a challenge not only in the u.s. but increasingly in europe. you're seeing a response that has progressives we need to stance against, and i think i can speak for the commission, a universal view. ed did you want to add to that? and then larry? >> i think you make a good point and part of what we were trying to do in writing the report is to think about exclusion --
think about inclusion. there is moore rom to go. so creating jobs is a necessary condition to help my minorities. improvideing education, work place where there's democracy and voice is a necessary condition there are other things on top of that we could envision and think about which are part of what the -- attacking the problems but thinking of trying to write a report that would spanned both the problems in the the united states which may be different for collusion than might be in sweden and australia. so we were again thinking about necessary conditions not the full list of policies if you wanted total inclusion. >> whatever any thoughtful america believed about the need to make further progress with respect to racial issues in the united states six months ago, i don't see how that thoughtful american could fail to see a much greater need today than
they did six months ago. and i would offer the judgment that education, economic empowerment, and a well-functioning middle class are crucial civil rights issues of our time. because precisely as you suggest, the victims of inequality are disproportionatly the members of minority groups. and so success in achieving the agenda laid out here will be as we say, an inclusive prosperity that will benefit many but i believe if you look issue by issue, whether it's early childhood education, or those who will be involved in constructing the infrastructure they will disproportionately be
members of the minority groups, and i appreciate your bringing that out. >> other questions? right over here. >> melissa carney with brook examination the university of maryland. i'll pose this to whoever wants to comment. i'm curious whether the commission explicitly did or did not consider the role of demographic changes that have accent waited nick inequality in particular in the u.s. and what have in mind in particular is the number of children in the u.s. in particular those who are born to lower educated parents, born outside of two-parent families. this has been a huge issue in the u.s. these trends have action sir baited income inequality and are distinctly american. our rates of kids growing up in single parents households are more than twice in australia and canada. so seems there's a lot to learn from those compare sons. i'm curious to hear how the
mission dealt with this. >> this is obviously a significant challenge in the u.s. it is one that is very distinct. the u.s. has a distinct challenge that other countries don't have in fact. all the other countries seem to do a better job of family stability. would just say -- because of the disproportionate issue of the challenge, we didn't spend significant resources discussing it because countries are so different. and the analysis. ...
so addressing these economic challenges as we do would provide in our view or i should say cap's view, it would strengthen the structure but we have other ideas beyond economics that we outlined as part of our cap work and we do that this monday. >> alyssa i would like to try to tell you about family structure because you are one of the nations leading experts. i would say, i would say this. i think there's a fair amount of evidence that is related to economic issues. something we underappreciating united states. we in the united states tend to be proud and to celebrate our flexible labor markets.
if you use a very simple comparison what fraction of 25 to 54-year-old man work? the united states does dismally on that standard. howard -- who are working is lower than france. it's lower than most of europe and i can't help but wonder whether that isn't related to our difficulty in formation of families and persistence of families. >> the american debate and the u.k. debate on these issues and it's different although we believe european countries have a much higher rate of pregnancies amongst very young parents but when you look in our
country you are asked the question what is the average age of the single-parent? i have been on television and radio at the last 50 years and have asked that question the average age of the single-parent single-parent. and he said i think 21. actually the answer is 35. that is the average age of the single-parent. most children end up in a period of their lives with the single-parent didn't have the single-parent when they were born and what actually happens is in our societies the longevity of relationships is diminished and there's a negativity to that but there's also some positivity as well because there are many women decades ago who were stuck in relationships which were not
good relationships to be in. i think you need to understand all the causes but i think you have to make sure that your policy gets to the heart of the issue. the heart of the issue is that children do best when they are supported by caring and loving parents rather than, because you have incentivized longevity of a particular family type in their bear many children who do extremely well because unmarried parent may be single-parent and gets together with another single parent informs a family. in our country sometimes the debate is is there any one type of family which is acceptable which is a man and women who have lived together for the whole of the lifetime with the child and actually that's not how most people live anymore. it doesn't mean -- they're still good things to support families and child childcare. saying that that's going to be
conditional in a particular family structure is a bit outdated and sometimes parents will abdicate. i'm sure it's not what you're advocating here but it's an interesting point. >> e.j.? >> i just want to thank you for raising the question. it does seem to me and identify very much with what barry said. this is one conversation that i wish we could wall off from the other partisanship in the country although i'm absolutely certain we won't unfortunately but i'd still like to put a bid in for that because it does seem to be that progressives need to take very seriously the cost of family breakdown whatever phrase you want to use for it on the life chances of children but it also seems to me our conservative friends have to take very seriously what declining economic opportunity does for family formation. if we really care about this problem we have to think about both causal arrows if you will and i would love to see a
genuine national conversation as opposed to simply and eye gouging debate where we might actually try to help some of these kids and some of the students. >> that's excellent. we are up for that. any final questions? i want to thank our commission members, our chairs the cap staff and the ed balls team as well as larry's staff for all a fantastic work and we will be available to answer any questions on this. contact cap or any member of the commission and we appreciate you all being here. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
william bro adams the tenth chair of the national endowment for the humanities announce a new initiative to fund research and scholarship that address national problems. initiatives is part of the institution's 50th anniversary celebration. from a national press club, this is an hour. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon and welcome. before we begin i would like to
ask you all to stand and observe a minute silence in memory of the terrorist attack on charlie hebdo the french satirical publication whose editor and forward leading cartoonists were among the 12 killed at the newspaper last wednesday. we honor their memories and their contributions to our profession and to the freedom of the press. and as a mark of special work respect for those who died with the national press club are observing a minute of silence in their memory at the start of every event at the club this week with our annual membership meeting tomorrow.
>> thank you very much. please be seated. welcome again. my name is myron belkind i'm an adjunct professor at the george washington university school of media and public affairs former international bureau chief with the "associated press" and the 107th president the national press club. the national press club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists committed to aarp professions feature there are programming with events such as this while fostering a free press worldwide worldwide. for more information about the national press club please visit our web site at press.org. on behalf of our members worldwide i would like to welcome our speaker and those of you attending today's event.
our head table includes guest of our speaker as well as working journalists who are club members and silky hear applause in our audience i note the members of the general public are attending so it's not necessarily evidence of the lack of journalistic objectivity. i would also like to welcome our c-span and public radio audiences. you can follow the action on twitter using the hashtag and pc lunch. after our guest speech concludes we'll have a question-and-answer period. i will ask as many questions as time permits. now it's time to introduce our head table guests. i would like you to view the head table to stand as your name is announced. from the audiences right a hubert humphrey fellow in the fulbright scholars program. jamil freelance journalist. sarah wyer washington
correspondent for the arkansas democrat gazette. carol schneider president of the association of american colleges and universities and guests of our speaker. nick deputy c. io of the capital capital that is authentic -- visitor center ann organizer of this luncheon. betsy berlin director of the smithsonian american art museum and guest of our speaker. jerry zremski washington bureau chief for the buffalo news chair of the speakers committee and former national press club president. skipping of our guests of honor for a moment amy anderson historian america at the national portrait gallery ann organizer of this luncheon. thank you amy and thank you again nick.
philip lewis, vice president of the andrew w. mellon foundation and guest of our speaker. torsten, director for information at the austrian embassy. george thompson, president of thompson and associates. [applause] this year marks the 50th birthday of the national endowment for the humanities independent federal agency that is funded by taxpayers. our speaker is chair of the organization since mid-2014 and we hope to hear bro adams plans for marking that opportunity -- organization.
it's politically eclipsed in recent years 146 million-dollar budget grants generally go to state humanities councils museums, research and educational institutions. than native of michigan adams has degrees from colorado college and the university of california and santa cruz. his formal education was interrupted by three years of service in the army including one year in vietnam. it was partly that experience he says that motivated him to study and teach the humanities. he has said quote it made me serious in a certain way and as a 20-year-old combat infantry
adviser i came face to face acutely with questions of writers artists philosophers and musicians are examining in our work starting with what does it mean to be human unquote. later he coordinated the great works in western culture program at stanford university and served as vice president and secretary of wesleyan university. he became president of lucknow university in 1995 and president of kolbe college in 2000. last spring president obama nominated adams to serve as a tenth chairman of the national endowment for the humanities. ladies and gentlemen please get that warm national press club welcome to bro adams. [applause]
>> thank you myron for those nice words and good afternoon everyone. welcome and thank you so much for coming. it's great to be here at the national press club and i want to thank its organizers for inviting me and giving me this chance to talk about any age and the wonderful work we are doing. i'm also very grateful for the inspiration of the cupcakes. [laughter] we have been talking a lot about the 50th neh and we haven't talked yet about cupcakes but i know now that's what we are going to do. that's all i have to say on the 50th but there will be cupcakes. some additional expressions of thanks to those of you here today i want to thank my colleagues from neh including members of our national council and our national trust for being with us today and i want to especially thank judy have her man for making these arrangements. my guess at the table you have been heard them announced our great colleagues passionate
advocates for the humanities and i'm honored by their presence. i'm also very grateful to the friends and colleagues from other humanities organizations around the region and many friends here today from kolbe college where he had the honor to serve as president for 14 years. thank you all for coming. i have come today particularly to announce an important new initiative at neh one that i think will bring humanities scholars and organizations to the forefront of discussions of american life but first and by way of important context to that i want to talk a little bit about neh come its history and its role in our cultural life in the united states. as myron said on september 29 1965 nearly 50 years ago president lyndon johnson signed the national foundation of the arts and humanities act. the act created both the national endowment for the arts and the national endowment for the humanities and it was part of it truly remarkable
legislative agenda. consider this and every four years year span that congress passed in addition to this act the civil rights act of 1964 the voting rights act of 1964, the wilderness act of 1964, the so-so security amendments of 1965 which of course were medicare and medicaid. the national historic preservation trust act of 1966 in the civil rights act of 1968 also known as the fair housing act. wow, that's really an amazing legacy. and the legacy of these pieces of legislation are of course still being debated here in washington and elsewhere around the country and maybe around the world but there's no question that they have changed this country profoundly and they have changed it forever. in the intervening 50 years neh has been leveraging an
additional $2.4 billion in private philanthropy. these grants have supported scholars and teachers colleges and universities, museums libraries historical association and historical sites in every territory. they founded documentary filmmakers museum creators librarians and they have helped many small and large organizations preserve artifacts documents and collections that serve as the building blocks of cultural memory and history. it also enables humanities scholars and organizations to exploit digital technology increasingly with time to research presentation and the dissemination of humanities materials and resources. the most significant result of this work i think and there have been many important ones but the most significant one i think has been the steady growth, what i want to call cultural capital of the united states.
we have had a lot of partners in this work including humanities councils state and local governments private foundations represented by mellon here today generous individuals but without the endowment leadership and without a symbolic authority and without its singular commitment to the entire nations cultural legacies and capacity our cultural foundation which will benefit from today would be far less impressive than far less widely appreciated by the american people and by many others around the world. the importance of cultural capital measured in a number of ways beginning with the breadth and depth of public engagement that it creates and sustains. two programs i want to mention our exemplary. in early 1970s under the leadership of chairman ronald berman neh made the fateful decision to invest in christ -- aggressively in museums in documentary filmmaking and
television production. the results were felt almost immediately. on the museum's side an important part of what we still do the neh grant supported a number of large and hugely successful art exhibits and major museums around the country including the pathbreaking exhibit in 1976 which was seen by nearly 8 million people here in washington new york los angeles new orleans san francisco seattle and chicago. in new york alone nearly 30% of the visitors were first-time museum goers. this exhibit and several others like it and i'm sure bet she knows a great deal about this change forever the way museums think about the public in the way the public thinks about museums. it also led wonderfully to a steve martin satirical song which you can still access on youtube. i did it the other day and i urge you to do it as well.
neh investment in documentary filmmaking also has had an extraordinary impact and ken burns worked on all of the films we have done and there are many more. the brooklyn bridge came out in 1982 followed by the life and times of huey long in 1986 in the civil war which first started in 1990 and had in its first 12 million viewers. ken's most recent film which i'm sure many people in this room have seen the roosevelt, was seen by 33 million people in the first week of airing on public television stations across the country. now these productions are very impressive and very important to us. but they represent only the tip of the iceberg of neh' iceberg. many more moore hasn't been touched in some way by the humanities council by neh supported libraries and exams are the work of neh funded scholars which included 18 pulitzer prizewinners and 20
bancroft prizewinners. by zimon arsonist is used for educators and by the courses these educators offered in the wake of their neh experience and there is also our web site excitement which offers humanities resources to primary and secondary schoolteachers around the country and more than 3 million visitors every year. public engagement really matters. it's very important to us the cultural capital matters in other ways. to that i want to mention briefly, the cultural economy is hugely important to the economic health of thousands of communities around the country. i came from one recently waterville main and matters more as the economy shifts from being a manufacturing economy to one based on financial services health care retail human services education and support. more important still our democracy relies on the
knowledge that citizens have of our political history and the principles and values that history was built upon and ensuring that this story is told broadly and powerfully is among neh's most important accomplishments. the legislation creating neh as was inspired by the report of the national commission on the humanities which was formed in 1963 through the combined energies of the american council of societies. the council of graduate schools of united chapter of phi beta kappa. i'm pleased to note this was not planned but it's true that the leaders of these organizations pauline u and suzanne ortega and john churchill are here today. the commission was chaired by barbour kinney president of brown university and later annie h.'s first german included them marketable array of university scholars liberians -- librarians
and included tom watson junior the second present an ambassador to the soviet union who presumably knew a thing or two about cultural imagination and technological innovation. the commission had several arguments for the establishment of these agencies devoted to arts and humanities that were later used in the founding legislation. i want to mention them briefly. here they are. the manatees embraced the great enduring values of justice freedom and equality virtue beauty and truth. without the deliberate cultivation of these virtues in the public sphere we risk losing sight of them. american democracy demand citizens understand its history and its fundamental principles and values. the manatees promote the kind of cross-cultural and multicultural understanding that is required in an increasingly
interconnected world. given its economic and military power in the world the united states must be a leader in the realm of the spirit and ideas and therefore has a compelling state interest in developing humanistic knowledge and institutions. shaping all of these arguments with the conviction that neh would have to be focused on two related but slightly different spheres of activity. on the one hand the agency would have to invest in fundamental research in the various skills composing the humanities philosophy art history archaeology anthropology language linguistics political theory and so forth. at the same time the founders articulated early supporters in congress were also determined that humanities research at public meaning influence and impact.
the legislation declared unequivocally quote in the humanities belong to all the people of the united states and accordingly nah had to be committed not just to the cultivation of the best of what has been fought and known and the often repeated words of matthew arnold's to the public and where the public actually lives. end quote the current condition of national life. that's also from the legislation. john watson who was an early member of our national council and was an official atlantic public school system expressed this populist impulse in a wonderful way which i love. when he called for the neh quote to broaden the general area of the humanities as the equipment as the equipment of all the citizens. and so for nearly 50 years neh is carried on its work with these twin purposes in mind to ensure leadership in the realm of ideas in the spirit engaging the humanities with the public
and with the circumstances of contemporary life. this marriage of what we think of or our might think of as the classical and the pragmatic or the scholarly and popular is not always been easy quite frankly. like many marriages my wife discouraged me from saying most marriages -- [laughter] like many marriages there is experience misunderstanding and even jealousy but it has also been enormous the creative and vital to neh's success in building the cultural capital of the country. it is with that achievement in mind and with an eye to the celebration of our 50th anniversary that the agency is officially announcing today that a new initiative called the common good, the humanities and the public square. as the title suggest the purpose of this initiative is to engage humanities scholars and
organizations with complex issues playing out in our public lives and to demonstrate the relevance and the power of the humanities and addressing those issues. the notion of the common good should be familiar to us and central to democratic political theory and practice and it expresses both the right and obligation of citizens to debate the general welfare. it is the aspirational goal the guiding ambition that anchors citizenship and participation in democratic politics and eight i found this passage recently been franklin said it well. benefits of the common good is defined. so our hope that neh is to encourage humanities scholars and organizations to turn their attention toward public life and more specifically the initiative in humans to engage in eliminating the grand challenge is that we now face as a nation.
no list of such challenges as definitive but here are a few about which i think humanists have a lot to say. how can the humanities illuminate both the positive and where some ways in which the remarkable advances in information technology are affecting individuals and communities in contemporary american life? how can humanities enrich the debate over the appropriate balance of security and privacy with security and liberty the technological advances placed before us. i dare say that in the wake of the events in france this question will become even more powerful and urgent. how can humanities deepen understanding of the meaning of democratic citizenship in the 21st century? how can they manatees to contribute to the understanding of the relationship gene humans and the national world another of urgent mad dash urgent matters.
and contribute to the achievement of a deeper and broader public understanding of the experience of work wrecks how can humanities contribute to the corporation of veterans and civilians life and help all of us appreciate their unique perspective? how can a they humanities assist the country and addressing the challenges and opportunities created by the changing demographics in many american communities? how can they humanities illuminate the enormous promise of new biomedical technologies and procedures and deepen our understanding of the complex ethical questions that they raise? beginning this month of neh will welcome proposals in all of our appropriate grant programs for projects that draw on the resources and methods of the humanities to engage public understanding in public understood the standing of these and other important dimensions of our lives. several specific areas are worth
mentioning. a few weeks ago in anticipation of today's announcement and age launched the public scholars program which will provide support for well researched books in the humanities intended to reach a broad public audience. the program aims to encourage scholarship that will be of interest broadly to the public and it will have lasting impact. over -- under the rubric of the comic of the endowment intends to expand its standing together initiative which supports projects in grant connecting the humanities to the experiences of veterans am war. this is initiative is supported work in 50 states and all the territories through a special grant we made last spring and we hope that it will be able to provide even more support in the next budget year. as part of the common good initiative we are very pleased to announce today the new collaboration with andrew w. mellon foundation and i'm so pleased that phil lewis is here. the obama project is designed to give second life to outstanding
out-of-print books in the humanities by making them freely accessible to the public as e-books. i will say that again. freely accessible as e-books. this is their first collaboration of this kind with mel and which of course in its own right has been a leading funder since 1969 and finally the museum and cultural organizations program at any age to encourage for public humanities programs to reach new underserved or underrepresented audiences. in this regard we have announced a major partnership with the american library association supporting community programs nationwide on the theme of latino american 500 years of history. we believe that the common good is important and timely for several reasons. first we are convinced that the common good will be good for the
humanities and for humanity scholarships. we are all aware of recent criticisms that humanists have become too inwardly and too professionally focused. this initiative will provide encouragement and support the scholars who wish to demonstrate the relevance of their professional abilities and interests through american life. my experience in talking about this with people suggest this encouragement will be welcomed both in and outside the academy. within the academy there is growing concern about the confines it places on what is and is not regarded as legitimate scholarship and beyond the academy i think there is a hunger for the particular angle and vision that humanists can bring to public concerns. nicholas kristof of "the new york times" in case many of you might have seen spoke last summer when he said quote to me the humanities are not only relevant but also gives us a toolbox to think seriously about ourselves and about the world.
the prospect of thinking seriously about ourselves and the world is what drew me and most humanists i know into the profession. we were convinced that ideas matter in the everyday world. we believe that the humanities are valuable because they are -- their study deepens our capacity to sort out the meaning of our experience. as my rent said i know this in a particular way. returning from the vietnam war and the turbulence of the 1960s the humanities offered me a way of thinking about what i had witnessed. i found in them perspective and meaning and since coming to neh by the way i've been very pleased to note that other more recent combat veterans have been affected in a similar way by some of the programs that we have offered to veterans. a more engaged in public humanities profession will be
good for the country as well for most of the great challenges, most of the great challenges we face as a nation challenges that defined us and will increasingly determine our future are not essentially problems of a technical or scientific nature. they are almost exclusively about our values but are fundamental beliefs and ideas and assumptions, better histories and about our cultures. these are the proper domain to the humanities and it's learning and its thinking. the public can help us understand where we have been, what we value and believe and where we are headed. by way of example and at the risk of being a little provocative and may be too topical consider a scorching experience we have been through in the last few months in this country regarding the issue of race. this is hardly a new topic in american history and life. but it's one that appeared to
some for brief period of time to have become less pressing. it's hard to believe now but remember in the wake of the election of 2008 some people even spoke of a post-racial society and then came ferguson and statin island and bedford stuyvesant. it's not clear how this difficult passage where it now and the broader conditions for which it comes will be resolved in what resolution means but i think most people would agree that there can be no adequate understanding of our current situation without a better appreciation of the history of race relations in the united states, our cultural assumptions and divisions and of the ways in which we actually lived in and receive the world. plenty of work there for historians and social philosophers among others plenty of ground for reflection and questioning for all of us.
i could use other examples but i think you see my point. we need to form understanding and knowledge embodied in the humanities historical emotional and psychological knowledge because they illuminate the conditions of our lives and they answered us more deeply into her own experience. the result is not the sudden disappearance by the way of the things that affects us but a deeper understanding of who we are, how we got here and how we might lead better lives. i know words like insight and understanding in illumination makes some people short-tempered short-tempered. that's exactly what's wrong with the humanists. i can hear the grumpy anti-humanists say. they never get to the bottom of things and of course that's true true. if by the bottom of things we mean that and has been a cure for disease but if we are honest
with ourselves about how we live in our personal lives and in our lives with others we know that we never get to the bottom of things in this particular sense. but sometimes we get wiser. i do not mean by this to undervalue other forms of knowledge. stem the progress of science and technology is hugely important to the country and all of us do we have recently invested time energy and resources in the advancement of stem in the government education the private sector but as we do we must keep other important investments in mind especially our investments in the humanities not just because they are the source of great beauty and pleasure which of course they are but because we depend upon these forms of knowledge just as surely as we depend on scientific knowledge. the national endowment for the humanities will certainly
continue its investments in research and education and public programs of all kinds in the preservation of historical material in the digital humanities institution building in the state and local humanities organizations and the cultural capital of this country will continue to expand as a result. and major cultural institutions and cities libraries and museums and historical sites and colleges and universities and high schools and in the work of humanities scholars and by way of the common good will make a difference bank urging humanities scholars and organizations to think and speak about things that matter in the public world. we all can make a difference. if i'm right that humanities are central to the preservation of our cultural legacy in her history and for capacity to address the challenges we face as a nation than they are everyone's business everyone's responsibility. we need to defend them and we
need to promote them and we need to support institutions in which they live. neh will celebrate its centenary in 2055. most of us won't be around. i'm sure i won't be around to learn how the next 50 years have gone and how an additional $5 billion maybe more hope it is, will have conjured it to our country's cultural resources. some future chair will be baby here speaking to the humanities community and his friends about the impact of 50 more years of leadership in grant-making and i'm certain that the report will be worth hearing. in the meantime thank you for coming today for your interest and support of the national endowment of the humanities. thank you very much. [applause] [applause]
>> thank you chairman adams were very insightful speech and as a journalist thank you for making news with the announcement of the common good initiative. the first question it at the neh you have championed a new public scholar program to win your words, inspire humanities scholars to do a different kind of work, to make sure it enters into the public realm where it can matter and have impact. what kind of impact do you feel public scholarship can and should have in our society today today? >> thank you for the question. as i was just saying i think that kind of work can enter into this broad round of public discussion of these matters that are so important to us and that they will end out way provide greater insight into where we go
with those issues. we all live and we are always engaged in our history, our culture our ideas and our values and to the degree that humanists can contribute to that sphere or those fears it will do a lot of public good. humanists don't agree about these things by the way so there will be discussion and debate as there should be but i think it's by attaching themselves to those problems and to those challenges that humanities scholars can make a great difference in our public discourse. >> your new neh initiative is called the common good. the humanities in the public square. what is the 21st century's public square? >> it's complicated.
the public square has a resonance of different times when we can all gather around the town square and debate the public good. of course we are very far-flung country now. we are big in numbers. we are big and territory and we have this entirely new and revolutionary thing called information technology and the internet to deal with. so the public square looks and feels quite different from what it used to be and indeed i think there are issues and questions about exactly what information technology has done to the public square and how it has changed it. that means we are going to have to speak in many different kinds of ways to these things including ways that are more congenial to that sphere the internet information technology and all associated things. who knows, we might be supporting the scholarships in
that is no longer expressed in a scholarly or academic monograph beyond the book. we may be going beyond the book with that kind of humanities were. indeed i think we didn't go beyond the book we would probably be losing ground so that is part of the meditation on the public scholar program is how those thoughts and contributions will be expressed. >> when you became any -- any age cherokees spoke about the two strains of public humanities the legacy of mark matthew arnold's ideas about how humanities enrich us because they are quote the best of what has been thought and said unquote and also william james idea that humanities have a pragmatic purpose to shape quote the conduct of life unquote. in today's diverse and global universe are there still
timeless questions? >> i think there are such questions. and for example in some of the veterans programs we have done we have supported a unique entity in new york at nyu called the tukwila theatre project and they have been using great tragedy and end with the production support provided by and for veterans and it's been interesting for me to see how timeless those texts are with respect to the issues that veterans are facing. i attended a meeting group in maine funded by neh there are state humanities council in which veterans of three wars vietnam iraq and afghanistan were reading the odyssey was a
scholar from the university of southern main maine map. the odyssey is a book about coming home from war if there ever was one. that's the book and i was again quite struck and pleased by how passionate these participants were about that text and how revealing they felt it was. so there are some dimensions of these timeless attributes of the humanities but we also need to be very attentive to the ways in which our current cultural circumstances has shaped all of these questions and i think combining the best of what lawton said the timeless with their current dilemmas challenges opportunities. i think that's where the real power of this material comes out. >> thank you. is there such a thing as quote cultural literacy unquote today underlies civic engagement and ideas about the public good?
>> absolutely the reason i mentioned more than once in my talk this tradition american political tradition historical and philosophical political theoretical is that literacy in a democratic context involves a deeper point is with those things. we are all worried, i know you are and i certainly am about the level and intensity of political participation. a lot of people are worrying about this. it's not going to get better certainly without a real national commitment to those cultural and historical legacies and to the revisiting of what the original material means in the contemporary political and social context. so re-engaging civic engagement in that sense is a big thing for any age and about to be a big thing for anyone who cares about democratic politics in the united states. >> a follow-on question is
political partisanship eroding the common good and if so what could be done about that? [laughter] >> while that's an easy question. is it eroding it? absolutely and the sense of national community that is necessary to democratic democratic politics has i thank been badly affected by that kind of oppositional politics. i suggested in my remarks when i mention the challenges we face that this challenge, the intensity of these political and almost always cultural divisions as being important material for humanists to take up so without having an answer i would say as a field for discussion and humanistic research and writing communication and expression is a hugely important question and
we have to be letting ourselves loose as humanists on that question and trying to understand those divisions better, what drives them and how we might find our way to other forms of community. so i don't have an answer. i do have some medicine. [laughter] >> how can that humanities illuminate the debate between security and privacy in our digital world? >> well, as i said this is a very urgent question and it has become urgent because of our own recent history what some people regard to be overly invasive forms of technological intrusion so it's been a big issue here read this note in controversy of course raised it in another way and now it's been raised in still another way in france. how we balance these things how
we provide a room for both sides of this value proposition in our lives in the work of our government and official and unofficial organizations i think is hugely important. i think again here this is an area where people a lot smarter than i am and with a lot more specific knowledge have a lot to say. i was talking with one of our grantees jeff rosen at the national constitution center recently and we hope to have some kind of discussion there back to center on the constitutional issues that are present here. but to get beyond the white-hot material into a more deliberate and well paced reflection for example in the context of our constitutional passed a guarantees of liberty and so
forth would be very helpful. we are going to be tested seriously on this. france a place i know something about is going to be really tested on this in the next few weeks and months and years i dare say. so it's going to become a more important conversation and i think whether it's from a constitutional point of view or other kinds of philosophical points of view i think again is something that humanists can ventilate and help us think through. >> speaking of the digital world it seems that the internet is designed to shorten the attention spans. that being the case do you have any concerns for young people who live through their phones and communicate primarily through tax will never develop an appreciation for the humanities? >> yes, i do.
it suggests two things to me. we have got to be more creatively engaged, all of us but neh and other organizations that support it and the implications of that technology and school settings for the way in which a humanities curriculum is advanced and talk about them presented and taught. we haven't done much in that area and i think we have to approach it. i think we also have to find it we are doing this much more at neh bennett first is we need to find ways of making humanities material what's the right way to put this? presentable understandable and engagingly available in all types of technological settings. we have actually started working and i won't surprise people in this room. we have worked on things like
games and apps and other things that make this technology connect to some of the humanities work that people are doing. we need to do much more of that too but i think all of us in the ways we are involved with secondary education have to also be involved with school curricula decisions school planning. i'm not a secondary schoolteacher. i have a daughter who is graduating from high school and i know what her attention span is like. and i don't think it's just that she doesn't like talking to me. i think there's a lot of work to be done there. >> today's headlines illuminate the polarizing political and cultural issues that permeate american life. how can the humanities enrich public understanding about the
meaning and opportunities of democratic citizenship today click scan the humanities enable people to connect to our founding political principles and values in 21st century terms? >> yes absolutely. i was reading an interesting piece the other day by robert ballard a talk about and he is a social philosopher than american setting and he was talking about important moments of civic humanism, a term i like and he said in that context that the most important moment of civic humanism and american history was of course the founding of for the constitutional founding. here we have a bunch of very smart people madison, jefferson and hamilton and others writing pieces. i guess the contemporary analogue would be blogs, writing pieces in newspapers now collected in the federalist
papers and arguing about the constitution. of course there was another side to this which we don't often resurrect and remember, the anti-federalist. they were very smart people too. they lost the argument but it was an argument and it was one that took place in a very public space the space of newspapers as they were then understood. these authors, brilliant and amazing people who by the way were deeply versed. we shouldn't forget this, deeply versed in the humanities tradition going all the way back to the roman and greek republics democracies. they were making these arguments in this very public way to the people who are going to decide this. there are other moments of great civic humanism and american history but we need to jen up another one now. we need to connect it to the past but we also need to connect
it to the contemporary state of the political institutions organizations and all of that. it's very important. we don't do it very well. we talk and worship always about the constitution and the declaration. we don't often read it and talk about it. we also don't bring it forward and played out in contemporary circumstances and we need to do much more of that. >> in 1965 as you pointed out president lyndon johnson signed legislation establishing the national endowment for the arts and the national endowment for the humanities and in 1996 the institute of museum and library services was created. these three federal grant-making organizations constitute our country's arts and culture policymakers. is the time to consolidate these functions and create a cabinet level secretary of the arts?
>> and humanities i hope. [laughter] >> i'm sure the white house would like this question. >> that question has been asked of me quite a bit and most ferociously by my wife who has been pestering me about this. it's a very fair and interesting question. i've been reading a lot in the history of our agency and just next door to it nea's history and we have had 50 years now of the separation not in spirit of course but in working back. for a lot of reasons i think personally it would be very hard to consolidate these organizations and include imls which is another very important resource in the building of cultural capital in the united states. i think it would be difficult. now it's not inconceivable so i
as i have visited with members of our appropriations committees i have been impressed with how well the members are able to grab on to and connect to what we do in ways that are important to them. this question about democracy, history political fundamentals resonates with virtually everybody. there are many who are interested in what we do. we're talking a lot about what we do.