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tv   Book Discussion  CSPAN  January 18, 2015 2:00pm-3:05pm EST

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>> woo we are here to talk with bob herbert about this new book: "losing our way: an intimate portrait of a troubled america." we are on c-span as well so all of the questions are lived and taped. bob herbert was a long-time columnist for "the new york times." i am jay booker. a write for the atlantic constitution. >> we were just discussing the challenges. i miss your column. i miss that you reported and
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went out to talk to people and harder american voices and i think that is missing in a lot of american journalism. >> a lot of leg work. >> it shows in your book here. ordinary someone in my position is supposed to say how much i liked reading your book and frankly i did not enjoy reading your book. your book made me angry, frustrated frustrated, frightened but i kind of sensed that is okay by you. >> that is fine by me. that is the point. exactly >> maybe you can walk us through. >> guest: sure. i left the times in 2011 and a lot of people asked if i miss writing for them and the short answer is no.
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i tell people 41 years on deadline is enough. that is how long i was in the business. i was a columnist at the daily news and then at the new york city times. so i don't miss it. but one of the things i wanted to do was spend a little more time getting more in-depth on some of the issues i cared about and things i wrote about in the column and i was interested in those things that had to do with standard of living in the united states and how difficulty it was for many to make ends meet. that was one big issue with me. another as i looked at the issue of employment which as we all know has been difficult, was to look at the state of america's infrastructure which is abysmal
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in many cases. and i thought this would be a great way to put people to work; repairing our infrastructure. but i was thinking infrastructure is the least sexy word in the american language and thought if i talked about it no one would buy it. so i tried to tell stories to make it interesting to people and i hope i have succeeded in doing that. education was a big issue for me. and however anyone comes down on education, and i take a strong stand in this book but whatever your political leanings are i think people should understand that poverty is such a big issue when it comes to educational achievement in this country. so children who grow up in families that don't have much money, where there is difficulty putting food on the table -- i
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have talked to so many teachers where children come to school hungry in the morning. there are children with illnesss taken care of. and there are children with poor eye sight who haven't been diagnosed yet and can't see the board. there are children who have problems in the home. it might be domestic violence drug and alcohol abuse or something else. all of these things are brought with them into the classroom and it makes it difficult for them to learn. for those who have looked at the data, it has been clear the children from affluent families in the united states are doing just fine in school. if you compare their scores to young ones around the world they are at the very top. it is because a large percentage of
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our public school students who are poor or near poor with the struggles i am talking about who bring the scores down. so we need to address poverty. and the final issue i look at is the issue of the wars we keep fighting. i was in the army drafted in the buildup to vietnam. i wasn't sent to vietnam but sent to korea for 14 months which wasn't a walk in the park but wasn't vietnam. i am a realist. i understand we need to defend our country. when september 11 2011 happened my wife and i live on the upper side of manhattan so it was like an attack in our neighborhood. i was in favor in going into afghanistan and going after the folks who attacked america. i was not in favor of the war in iraq. that was in 2001. we are in 2014 almost 2015,
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still in afghanistan, we are reengaging in iraq airstrikes in syria and my argument in the book is we will never get our act together here at home if we keep fighting these continuous debilitating wars overseas. constant warfare can't be the answer. these are the issues i tried to cover in the book. >> host: you travelled the country to report the book as you did in your column. you can see it clearly in the book. you spent a good amount of time it appears in the atlanta-area. >> guest: in georgia. >> host: and you talk about the struggles of the middle class in
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that area. is there a reason why you chose that area? >> guest: i was reading "the wall street journal" and they had a front page story about conditions in roswell, georgia, an upscale community. this wasn't long after the recession. i thought it would be interesting to take a look at the impact of joblessness and housing foreclosure and that sort of thing on an affluent, upscale community. it wasn't just the poor who were having a hard time as a result of the great recession. so i wanted to come down spend a little time there, and in surrounding communities and wondered if the mayor would even talk to me like who is this guy calling from new york. it turned out he would, he was very kind and quoted extensively in the book. it was really helpful to spend
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some time there and see the challenges that middle-class and upper middle-class families were facing. one of the problems i think in this country is not that people don't get it. people certainly do get it. i think the media has fallen down on a lot of these stories. we have what i think of as knee-jerk coverage and everybody covers the same thing or angle or that sort of thing. you never get to the heart of a lot of the issues that are so important. so that is one of the reasons why i was in roswell and other suburbs of atlanta. >> host: atlanta plays a role in what you were talking about the role of education and the crux of your argument there is
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poverty, you mentioned the atlanta situation, with the school district and testing and the super intendant whose model was poverty is never an excuse for poor performance among the students staff or within the burrocracy. and your point is poverty is what drives it. >> guest: exactly. we can get hung up on the phases. a lot of the corporate formers, michele ray was another one, who would say we should not use poverty as an excuse. if you talk about the kids being poor they will say any child can learn. are you saying that these youngsters are incapable of learning and certainly not. i am saying the opposite. i am saying they are fully
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capable of learning but the obstacles to learning they are facing we as adults have an obligation to take the obstacles away so these young children are flourish. what happens when these testing regimes came in and it isn't i am opposed of testing, i had mid-term exams, final exams, test along the way and they would be graded and almost everyone who went to school public or otherwise is used to the idea of taking test. the problem is we have gone crazy with testing. we are testing three and four year olds before they come to pre-school. and with the obsession with testing there there is so much at stake and the teachers and
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principals feel their jobs or reputations or careers are at stake than the result of these test become the be all and end all. and then it drives everything so teachers teach to the test. all we want to do is get the test scores up when in fact what you should want to do is provide a broad, well-rounded education to the young kids in your charge. that is how you end up with the kind of scandal you had here in atlanta but it certainly was not limited to atlanta. in doing the research i found there were test score and cheating scandals all across the country, in big towns, in washington, d.c. where michele reed was, we had problems in new york, but suburban and rural
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areas as well. we have gone bizerk with the testing. >> host: you talk about the debates we are having and issues ewe are having. and very often is congress mentioned, democrats and republicans mentioned and the debate at that level doesn't interest you. i am guessing but you don't think it matters a lot. am i wrong? >> guest: no you are not wrong. i have covered politics and government at every level, so for long decades. i have become disenchanted with our political leadership and that includes the left and the
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right. we have employment problems whether it is democratic or republican. a storm comes off the east coast or the gulf and the result is devastation, no matter which party is in control of congress and it seems to me that we have been -- our political leadership has been unwilling to seriously engage the biggest challenges facing the country. there are some issues that were so big i didn't even get into them. the whole issue of climate change you could write an entire book about that. i talk about poverty in the book but that is just one part of the book. but you could -- you know there is so much you could say about poverty and the difficulties people have getting hit. so i have lost faith in the idea that some new policy change is going to come along in
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washington and turn things around for us. i just don't believe it is going to happen. there is going to be a congressional election soon and a presidential election in 2016 and i am not trying to say it doesn't matter who gets elected. and i think it is important for people to vote. but i think that who you elect is not going to make a major change in the circumstances of most people in this country. so that is the reason i didn't spend a lot of time talking about our political leaders. what i say in the book is that there is more of a burden that is falling on our own shoulders, ordinary men and women, voting is important, but voting is not enough. so i make a strong call in the book for more civic engagement. we need more ordinary men and women to become engaged with the
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important issues of our time so that if education is important to you you have to open the front door and go out there and volunteer your time and become engaged and maybe it will be your local school district or employment is the issue you care about or something else. but if you had more people engaged you would begin to get a kind of momentum from which new leadership emerges, from the bottom up, as opposed from the top down. what i would hope is we could get a movement going. i wish it could be centered on the issue of employment but it might be centered on anything. but i would like to see some movement going that addresses the challenges facing virginia virginia -- individuals -- and families in this country. a movement so strong our
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political leaders have no chance but to respond. >> host: the last two lines in the book say if our nation is to be change forked the better ordinary citizens have to intervene aggressively in their own fate. the power in the money hands would knelt be let go voluntarily. >> guest: i believe that is true. >> host: you talk about income in inequality. walk through the consciousequenceconsequences of it and the this historic rise of income inequality comes at a time to make it beneficial even. do you think there is a cause and effect there? >> guest: i would say. you know if you go back and
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again, you cannot blame this on one party or the other democrats like to say well you know, this terrible turn started when ronald reagan was president. i do think there was a lot that was unfortunate about the reagan administration, but if you are talking for example about the resending of important regulations that protected ordinary americans and working people and that sort of thing, well take a good hard look at the bill clinton administration. you know? if you look at our economic policies, the economic policies have favored under democratic and republican presidents the interest of the corporate sector and our financial leaders. and that has been the case going
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back at least to the 1970s and moving forward. so you have this alliance of the big money interest/corporations/banks and they are the folks who finance the campaigns and our political process has been flooded with money and the politicians are behold beholden to them. there is nothing surprising about that. when i was a young reporter in new jersey in the 1970s this went on but it was illegal and they got caught. they would pay bribes i will pay you this amount if you support this cause. they put them in jail. and they said we better figure out a way to do this but stay out of jail. sow they made it legal and figured out ways to get the money to the politicians and the politicians figured out a way to
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get the policies that the money interest were looking for on the books and that is where we are now. well the policies that the money interest are looking for are not the same as the best interest of ordinary working americans of american families. so some of the results that are so very clear about what has gone down over these decades is that we know no longer share in productivity gains. and the weirdest thing that happened is we stopped sharing productivity gains at the time of the great technology advances that caused astonishing amounts of productivity gains. companies are far more efficient and turned the efficiency into profits.
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they didn't turn some into profits and some into wages and benefits. and that has been a pattern for decades. so our corporate and financial leaders get richer and richer. the former mayor of my city left office, he wasn't taking a salary and left office with $35 million. you know michael bloomberg. $35 million. that is insane. you have huge amounts of people in new york that are poverty stricken and homeless with homeless kids. so this wasn't an accident. policies policies were stabbed that benefited those wealthy and didn't benefit those working and struggling. and once the policy was in place we watched the divide get wider and wider. >> host: you talk about the important of a glass well of
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citizen action. but it was remarkable to me that when you had the great recession, and the wall street meltdown much of what was driven by the greed you are talking about -- the lack of regulations regulations. if there was going to be a moment at which that grassroots movement began that would seem to have been the inspiration for it. and we saw some with occupy and on the right we saw the tea party that was compromised. >> guest: if it is something like that it doesn't really change anything if that doesn't inspire that movement what will? i misread what happened because i thought it would result in the
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kind of changes we need in this country. changes that would benefit the people who were hurt the most by the great recession and by the housing housing housing housing foreclosure. i thought it was a great missed opportunities by president obama's administration. i hoped, i don't know if i expected or not, but i hoped the obama administration would pounce on the issue and you would get the regulations reimposed and you would begin to impose restraints on the banks. if you say a bank is too big to fail that says to me that bank is too big to exist. how can a bank be too big to fail? you break it up like you once broke up standard oil. so, you know at the time we were faced with the possibility of going into a new depression.
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i didn't want that to happen. so i thought the banks needed to be build out. i thought you provided this bailout which was taxpayer money i thought there was supposed to be strings attached and requirements placed on the banks for the fact we bailed them out. the big crisis with credit frozen at the time and they were supposed to make credit available to people who were qualified for loans but couldn't get them. that didn't happen. we were sending all of this taxpayer money over to shore up these failing banks but we didn't provide anything like that to the troubled homeowners in this country many people who have been paying mortgages for a long time but found they were
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underwater or people who were not underwater but couldn't find a suitable buyer for their home or who found a suitable buyer but that suitable buyer couldn't get a mortgage. there were all kind of problems where we could have intervened and helped ordinary people and we didn't do that. so i thought that was a missed opportunity. then you mentioned, for example, the occupy movement, that was another missed opportunity. and people like to say that the occupy movement sputtered out because they didn't have specific demands or specific policy goals that they wanted to achieve. they didn't have appointed or elected leaders of the movement. so people said how could you expect it to succeed.
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well, i think the occupy movement did succeed in getting the country focused on these important issues that we have been unwilling to face for the longest time. so people were talking about the unfairness of the economy. it was a genius idea of the one percent versus the 99 percent. i don't think it was up to the occupiers to provide the policy solutions. i thought the rest of us the elected politicians and i thought the public at large at that point, should have said you know what? this is true. this is not tolerable and these are things we need to do to change the direction we have been going on. don't leave it up to the occupiers. say we are talking about this now, what are we going to do about it.
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>> host: is it going to have to get worse before it happens? >> guest: that is what i worry about. in private conversations after i finished to bookpeople -- book people would say do you think a movement can get started or do you think all is lost? no, i don't think all is lost. but i worry it will take another economic disaster or catastophee and maybe worse than the great depression. i don't want that but it might take that to open eyes and make changes. >> host: the working share don't get productivity gain the income inequality and none of
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those trends seem to be tapering off. this is an ongoing process. >> guest: i could not agree more. "the wall street journal" isn't the only paper i read, but it is one of the papers i read and one of the recent stories which it may have been today but it was a front-page story about the concern that economist around the world have with the economic slowdown in europe especially but in other countries as well including those of the emerging economies that have been doing well for the longest time. the talk is the united states is doing somewhat better but we receive the employment numbers from month to month and i will tell you the united states economy is not in good shape
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which is why the feds continue to keep interest rates near 0. if the economy was strong and in good shape you would not see those low interest rates. i think the stock market has been overvalued for a long time. there is the danger of bubble there. and one of the reasons for that well there is a couple, but interest rates are so low so for people who have money to invest there is not a lot of good alternatives to it and ted wants to keep the interest rates low both to prop up the stock markets and to try to give a bit of boost or nudge to employment. but that is -- i think that is an unsustainable state of affairs. i don't think that is a sign of a healthy economy that can grow
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into a robust economy on its own. >> host: aren't those problems something another tax cut would solve? >> guest: don't get me started on tax cuts. ed talked about the long wars we have been fighting, one more point, we went to war in iraq and in afghanistan and at the same time we cut taxes twice, two enormous tax cuts. that had never been done in the united states under any administration, under republicans or democrats, and that is just an absolute no-no. we did it. so all of those obligations we have taken on as a result of these wars that we have been fighting including tragically the medical care that we have to give to the tens of thousands of wounded warriors who have come back with physical and psychic
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wounds which we will be paying for decades, we have not made provisions for meeting those enormous financial obligations. >> host: one of my favorite quotes in the book and i probably saw it back in 2003 was the quote from tom delay where he says nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes. >> guest: that is madness. >> host: it is madness. but these days we take madness as here is what is today's madness because tomorrow is going to be -- >> guest: madness is the norm now. that is frightening. >> host: you talked about impact of poverty on children the impact of trying to pay back college loans, and yesterday we
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reported and i had not seen numbers like this we had 91,000 more students in georgia and 7200 fewer teachers than we had three years earlier. >> guest: how does that compute? and what that means is we are just falling down on our obligation to educate these youngsters. one of the reasons why i spent a lot of time in the book talking about, not just children, but young people; kids coming from college, kids trying to get a foot hole on a decent standard of living. i look at my life. i have been so fortunate. i grew up in the period that i think is the best period. the early post-war years. i am a child of the 1950s-1960s. i tell you, it was a breeze.
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i had so much fun growing up. you know your parents would say go out and play. you get on the bicycle without a helmet and ride all over montclaire, new jersey. but the thing was jobs were plentiful. so when you came out of school or my case when i got out of the army, there were jobs all over the place. if you wanted to work you could work. when you came out of college you were not burdened with these astonishing loads of debt kids are facing now. if kids wanted to take a year or two off and travel the united states or make the grand tour they could go on and do it. you could afford to spend a couple years to decide what you want to do. even before the great recession
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i was at vanderbilt law school giving a lecture and i sat down before the lecture with a group of law students around a conference table, probably 15 of them, they were great kids. very smart kids. i said what kind of law do you want to practice and there were a number of youngsters who told me they wanted to practice public-interest law and they could not do. this was before the recession in those days so there were lots of good jobs available for lawyers. that changed. so they could go into a law firm and get started at a very strong salary. and they had to do that because they had all of this college debt to pay off so they had to meet that note. so they could not practice the kind of law they wanted to practice. so what i want is -- so kids nowdays are coming into a tough
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economy, jobs with good wages and benefits are hard to find and they have the burden of these loans to pay off. what that does is it makes it difficult to get a foothold on a real adult life. if you want to get married, if you want to start a family if you want to make a down payment on that first home it is just so much harder than it was for kids of my generation who were of that age. and i want to kids now and to come to have the same kinds of opportunities, if not better and more, than i had growing up and that is not the trend at work. >> host: and also that needs into your argument about the in in -- infrastructure and you are saying our parents invested
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millions into our future in affect and we are not doing the same for those coming after us. and you mentioned climate change, you add that on, and it is almost like a generational betrayal. we are not the greatest generation. >> guest: i do think it is be betrayal betrayal. we have turned the table on the young people and i think it is outrageous outrageous. you mention climate change. if we had a major infrastructure program. a rebuild america program. you mind put all kinds of people to work. i would say why don't we weatherize every private home corporate structure, every school weatherize it. you know it would help the climate
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climate, it would make things less expensive in terms of energy, and you could put people to work. you could have young people without a deal of training, you could teach them to do this. where i was in the army and if you told them we have to weatherize 10,000 buildings so get me troops together and you tell a general, colonel or major to get it done, they would train those troops to do and they would do a heck of a job doing it. we can do the same thing with civilian kids in the country. that is just one example of the kinds of things that need to be done. there are zillions of examples we just need to do it.
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>> host: we have reached the point where we will open it up to the office. when the microphone gets to you you can ask the question. please, make it a question not a statement. right there? >> yeah i am wondering whether the human brain -- a lot of human brains have a disease. montization. they cannot take their money with them when they die but if it results in other people's lives being shortened who gives a damn. i say that because as a physician, i have seen at universities and hospitals, where the people at the top are making 300 times the salery of the people at the bottom and what they do with the people at the bottom is outsource the jobs
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so they don't have to pay health insurance. you have a 23-year-old girl dying in a cafeteria with an institution that owns hospitals such as a non-profit and she can not get health care and someone else is making three times her sal salary. i made a book into a movie and saw the extremes of this. i got a call from the can festival and he is around the common being and has asked if there is anything to do this. is there any way you can see this as a disease? >> guest: you might be in a
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better condition to see if this is a disease, or a treatable disease. if it can't be treated we are in serious trouble. we are in serious trouble already. one of the society cures is a change in policy and that can come from the people themselves if the people demand a change in policy. we should not have the people at the top, whether it is hospitals or other corporations making 300 times the ordinary workers in the wards or corporate offices or in the plants or wherever. and the way to change that is to make policy changes that stick. i also think we need to change our tax policies. there is a term you are never supposed to use and that is redistribution of wealth. you are not going to get rid,
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excuse me of the extremes of wealth inequality if you don't redistribady redistribute wealth and the weird thing about the term is you are never supposed to use it which means you are not supposed to do it unless you redistribute from the bottom up which is what we have been doing. >> host: there are values that underlie that. when i was growing up there was a, looking up to the little guy, the little guy was a person of respect. and today the little guy is somebody, well if he is a little guy, he is not worth much. if the values don't change the policies will not. >> guest: that is right. we have turned the table so the person of respect is at the top.
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and that is backwards in the kind of society we claim the united states is or is supposed to be. fdr used to talk about the forgotten man and in this case it is those people who have been cast aside by the economy. who we have said they are of now value. even if they are working pay them a minimal salary and there is no need for benefits and that sort of thing. we do need a change of values but that change of values has to come from the bottom up. values will change if ordinary people become more engaged. the more engaged you become the more you see what is going on and see the things that are unfair. one of the reasons, you know a lot of the media types have
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said, well you know when you talk to people they are not real concerned about inequality or income inequality and the politicians are saying doesn't resinate as appear sou. well it is another term -- an issue -- it is like infrastructure. it isn't sexy. but i will tell you something that does resinate and that is the term fairness or unfairness. when order nerinary people see things that are not fair they say i cannot belief she did that. people react that way. we should be looking at what is fair and not fair in our society in terms of the economy and the other issues that we have been talking about. >> host: right here. >> good evening. you gave me a great segue about values. my question is in this day and time where we have so many young
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people desiring toome be athletes famous people and the little people who do the infrastructure work or become doctors or police men or teachers how do you feel we can affect the young people's mindset to show it is necessary to continue to have these things to grow. the values are gone. we are paying people hundreds of millions to play with a ball when people trying to save lives are fighting to get paid. >> guest: that is a great question. you are right. it knows to the heart of the values issue we are talking about here. the first thing i would say is those value's issues need to start in the home. i think we have seen -- we have
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seen family structures that are just in many cases no longer as strong as they were when i was growing up. now, you know, we saw a lot of trouble with black families over several decades looking back now. we talk about guys not taking care of their kids. but what i have been seeing as i was travelling the country is that a lot of these family issues and the problems that are associated with them, that we have tended to associate with inner-city african-americans for example, are not limited to the inner-city african-americans. they needed to be dealt with
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there butt you go into the troubled suburban communities or the rural communities that have been hit with joblessness and you see the same thing. out of wedlock births. you cy young and middle age men who are unemployed. you see drug abuse. you see guys getting in trouble. because i tell you it is a fact of life if you have guys who are not working they will get in trouble and some go to jail. i know that from being a guy growing up. period. so this is a wider problem then a lot of people have acknowledged. and a lot of the values issues started in the family right there. beyond that as a society we need to take a look at the values we are promoting.
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i think we are promoting incorrect and often self-destructive values. and again, i keep coming back to the same things in terms of the changes for society, i think if you become more engaged with the issues of our time your values almost like automatically change. if you get more involved in your school system and you are trying to look out for the best interest of the children your israel -- value system is focused on the children and what is best them. you are out there in the real world. when people are engaged in the real world i will trust them to come up with are right set of values. >> hello.
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you mention the occupy movement but do you get any -- do you have any optimism based on the fact there are movements like the moral monday movement in georgia and many other states are struggling to catch up with north carolina and confront right wing legislatures which is really a problem, and the movement for low wage worker equity, the rebellion against the police violence and mass incarceration we are seeing led by the youth as far as i can tell, the climate change fight backs we saw in new york and other places a little while ago. it seems to me that people the media will report on these sporadically but there seems too a downplaying of the tendency for people trying to fight back.
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i am not saying there are not a lot going in the other direction, of course. but do you think this is a sign of rising fightback among average people? >> guest: that is another great question. i talk about some of that in the book. there are a lot of issues where people are engaged. i want heightened civic engagement but i talk about the low wage worker's movement in the book and you rattled off a a lot of them. my wife marched or walked in the climate change walk a few weeks go in new york. so there are a lot of people hard at work on these important issues. but we have not had a critical mass come together with powerful leadership emerge almost in an
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umbrella sense. that is why i was saying i would like to see sort of a movement around a specific issue that could bring in these disparate elements and have them all working together. i think employment would be a great issue. but the more people that work even if we don't get that sort of focus movement i am talking about, the more people that become involved in these varede movements we are talking about the greater the chance some kind of leadership will emerge and begin to reach a critical mass and bring more people in to the point where those voices from the bottom can't help but be heard and inthe way i talk about it in the book is by talking
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about the great movements of the past. if you take the civil rights movements, those kids at the lunch counter at first no one paid attention to them. and who thought they would manage to succeed even when the martin luther king wasn't a big-time civil rights movement when the montgomery bus movement got underway he was recruited. they were ordinary men and women. and certainly not men and women of means. they said we are not going to take it anymore. and they had meetings to establish a strategy on how to make it work.
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it was out of that a figure as powerful as king emerged. if you talk about the women's movement which was huge when i was growing up. the women were ridiculed if they got any coverage. most people were not taking them seriously in the beginning. same thing if you go back to the early days of the labor movement. what is really important is that when you get engaged in these issues and start fighting for something you believe in it is important to be organized. so get as organized as you can be and bring in as many people as possible. and beyond that it is important to make sure the movement is sustained. you will not have as much success in the beginning but if you believe it in it you will
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say we are not having much year but we have a little and let's build on that. if you stay with it and are organized, i am telling you ordinary people can do remarkable things. >> host: yes, sir. >> hi one of my concerns that i hear is i think interrelated is with all of these different movements and paths that are going on currently there is a lack of, i would say, media cohesiveness as far as in its coverage. so then once it is getting out to us normal people whether it is through cnn or fox news or msnbc or even some of the more traditional media, it becomes a glut of noise and no one can really form an opinion on how
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they feel about occupy wall street, or even the tea party, even though i have my own opinions about that. so i guess my question is what can we do as citizens to change our relationship with media to where it is no longer a corporate thing, but we own the airways and allow the corporations to use, so how do we change that relationship and how can we get back to more discussing the truth as opposed to the loudest voices into the room being met. >> guest: thank you for that question. that relationship is not going to change any time soon. media are corpatized and we
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might as well accept that fact. the kind of movements we are talking about, they will not get a great deal of coverage on the networks you are talking about. the low rage workers who have a series of strikes and it is difficult industry to organize but they are trying to organize and get the word out on that and that hasn't gotten anything like the coverage it should have gotten. i think there were more than 300,000 people who marched in the climate change march in new york and that didn't get a lot of national coverage either. that is nuts. after a while, just like you look at the politicians and say they are not really bringing about the kinds of policies that are going to result in the changes that we need i think that you have to acknowledge that the mainstream media are not going to give you the kind
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of coverage you want either. and therefore you just have to keep doing your thing until you begin to get notice. so worry less about a relationship with fox news or msnbc or cbs or whatever and worry more about what the heck is going on down the block in terms of police misconduct or up the block in terms of public schools. or what can we do to make it easier for people to find jobs. or if we find there is discrimination going on in terms of housing or employment or something like that what can i do that could begin to change a little bit of that. the more we have of that the more you begin to build towards the critical mass that i am talking about.
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and then there comes a time when the media can't ignore it anymore. but you cannot expect that media coverage in the beginning. if you are too disappointed by the absence of coverage or favorable coverage you are likely to get discouraged and that is not helpful to anybody. >> host: a question over here. >> i have been in the struggle for 30 years and i am discouraged. there was a time i could call bob herbert and say this is what is going on we need to shed light on it. those days are gone. it is hard to keep up the fight. what advice do you have to do that? you talked about what happened in montgomery and now they on the front page of the new york times and i am not sure that
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would happen now. there are great things happening in the city today. we are hearing about the kids bringing guns to school but not hearing about the kids overcoming incredible obstacles to succeed. how do we get those stories possible? >> guest: it is good question. in the early days the bus boys were not on the front page of the new york times and not getting media coverage. i don't think they expected to get a great deal of media coverage. they were tired of riding in the back of the bus and said we are not going to do it anymore and that is the attitude people have to take. i understand why people are discouraged. believe me. you have been engaged in these issues for decades and i have been covering them for decades and not a lot of good has happened. the worst part is we seem to be
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moving backwards and in the wrong direction. it would be different if we felt a little progress here, let's speed it up. but it seems to be going backwards. i tell ketoacidsids in colleges i talk to around the country this accept -- isn't the great depression. ...
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i hope that it could be resuscitated. but i do think that you were one of the leaders, obviously we know each other -- you were one of the leaders in these important criminal justice initiatives in this country over a long period of time. but we can't just leave it to leaders. i want to get more support for the leaders. i want to get the ordinary men and women in this country to decide that they themselves have to begin grappling with these issues. i think that a change will occur. i guess i have to believe that. but i have seen through my readings of history and otherwise that there were far darker times, and we have
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managed to emerge from them, and i think we'll emerge from this. >> we have time for one more question. this gentleman has been waiting. >> -- [inaudible] -- lived in the struggle for all of these years as well. and i want to pose a question but i want to make sure i have a premise. that is that the least of us, the poor, are not represented. the voices are not there fox and msnbc or anywhere else. but with the public policy being presented by the president prek, every kid ought to be able to read by the time they start kindergarten. increasing minimum wages or affordable care or gun control or what you started out we, we need jobs that build the infrastructure roads, buildings. and the yes voices aren't being heard. i'm from st. louis, so what is
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going on in ferguson we have these fergusons in every municipality in this country. the despair and poverty it's not heard. so when we say does it have to get worse, we adopt even realize how bad it -- we don't even realize how bad it is. i want to just share as a question, when you say that public policy -- i do think if we don't address campaign finance reform term limits because we are paying these politicians to represent moneyed interests, and i'll go so far to say even with the supreme court. it's not representing what i think this country was founded on. so i will just pose that as a contemporary. >> guest: i don't disagree. except that i don't think you can make our elected officials deal with those very serious problems. the should but i don't think they'll deal with campaign finance reform. i don't think they're going to
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deal with climate change. i don't think they're going to give us a policy that are going create the millions of additional new decent jobs that we need for this country. so the question becomes, if that is true then what is the alternative? what do we do about that? i tossed the question out there to you, and i say sit down and talk to your families and talk to your neighbors and talk to your colleagues and the folks you know at work, and say what is it that we're going to do about some of these issues? and by that i don't mean look at television, or try to pick and choose between the candidates where there's maybe not a little more than a dime's worth of difference between the two. it means what can you do? don't make he mistake of the missed opportunity we made with the "occupy wall street" movement. we waited for them to do something and we didn't do
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anything. you have to do it yourself. >> that's a good note to close on. thank you for comping of it's been a good conversation. >> thank you so much. [applause] >> next from the first bill of rights day book five, yuval levin discusses this book "the great


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