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tv   Book Discussion on Listen Liberal  CSPAN  April 23, 2016 4:45pm-5:51pm EDT

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within a couple of years, and canada's still trying to pirg out how to divide -- figure out how to divide their proposed experiment. so we don't really have data yet, or these things aren't really in place yet in any of these maces. we're still talking about it. but it will provide interesting data about whether or not this is good. it also looks at whether these are sort of add-on or just tossing more benefits into the pile or whether we're really talking about replacing the existing welfare system which seems to be what the dems are moving towards in their approach. the swiss we have no idea, actually, because they left it up to the federal council to develop. so that's one reason why it's going to probably lose. so let's finish it up. my colleague, david boies, with the last question of the afternoon. >> i actually have two questions. >> aha. >> which may or may not be related.
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number one, i was monitoring the twitter feed on the event, and somebody posted a question there canning was there any rigor or sampling to the interviews you did? and are you trying to present them as representative of them. my own question was if i'm a person who knows a fair amount about welfare, has read a book or two, a study or two, what's the most original or valuable thing i would get out of this book? >> they may be related. >> yeah. as far as rigor, no, there was not a scientific sampling done by state of who i talked to. this is what i would refer to as random sampling, because i randomly walked around and ran into people. as far as that, that would be my answer. i interviewed whoever would talk to me wherever i went. i walked into lots of different situations from indian reservations to tent cities in seattle where a lot of homeless
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lived to, you know, i think it was representative of the country which was really important to me. i argue pretty hard for going all over the different regions because i thought it was important. but, no, i didn't want take, you know, five women is and five men from each state and of different ages and, you know, do anything like that. and then i don't remember the second question. >> what the most different takeaway, why is this book different than the 250 other books on welfare that have been written in the last ten years? >> well, because we wrote it. no. [laughter] phil will start with that one. >> i, the most surprising thing to me, and i think it comes through in the book pretty strongly, is the importance, the central importance of work to a decent life. i, as a libertarian abhor
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patronizing other people. and if it weren't for the fact that our welfare system is incredibly patronizing right now, i wouldn't be suggesting things that also seem patronizing. but it does seem to me -- and i think this emerges from the book and it is very controversial, but it seems to me that human beings are happier when they work and even when they are forced to work. even if they don't feel like working. there are those of us who make our own mountains. sometimes i do and sometimes i don't. but a lot of the time what people react to and deal with successfully are challenges put in front of them. and it was an eye-opener for
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me -- and i think it comes new in the book -- that a satisfying life requires work even if it's unpleasant, even if you don't choose it. it still seems to be fundamental to a decent and happy life. >> well, as a reader of the book and not one of the authors and someone who's read a lot of those studies in those books, one of the interesting things i find, the big takeaway, is those interviews in the voice of the poor in here. because you read a lot of the books on the left, nickel and dime and some of the other famous books, and they talk -- they deal with people. you read a lot of books on our side of the debate, and they deal with numbers. and the fact that this does speak to people and the people that are hurt by the welfare system, i do find unique and important voice in this debate. and for those of you who want to read that, the book is the human cost of welfare.
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the authors are phil harvey and lisa conyers, and they will be upstairs signing some books. we are selling them so, please, join us for lunch and get your books signed. thank you all very much for coming. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> you're watching booktv on c-span2, television for serious readers. here's a look at what's on prime time tonight:
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>> thomas frank is next on booktv. he looks at the impact of liberalism on government policies in his book, "listen, liberal." >> welcome, everyone.
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my name's rick mcarthur, i'm the publisher of harper's magazine and the proud part owner of this beautiful independent bookstore on -- [applause] manhattan's beautiful upper west side. one reason i invested in this store was to help harper's magazine but also 'cuz i couldn't stand to see another cash machine open on columbus avenue. and -- i'm serious. and i am going to make an appeal to you before i introduce tom. because we're involved in a culture war here in this space that is worth fighting, the real culture war. and that is the fight against amazon's domination of the book market which is becoming worse and worse and worse. and this is fortuitous tonight
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because tom not only is the former easy chair columnist of harper's magazine and a longtime contributor, but he also in the book was kind enough to give me a laugh line about amazon which i'm going to use right now. did anybody know this, that jeff bezos likes to say that amazon is not happening to book selling, the future is happening to book selling? and to quote tom, and what the future wants just happens to be exactly what amazon wants. [laughter] what an amazing coincidence. [laughter] so, but we're not taking it lying down here. and i not only urge you to buy tom's terrific book which is interpreted in this month's issue of harper's magazine which is also on sail -- on sale and not go out and buy it online and
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tell your friends to buy it online to save a buck or two because if you do it, we can't keep doing these kinds of events, we can't afford it. it's a marginal business. and i really wanted to turn this place into a political and cultural center where we could is evenings like this on a regular basis. and as a member of the authors' guild council, i'm on the board of the authors' guild, i have to tell you that unless you take action, amazon is just going to continue taking more and more market share in e-books and in physical books. and i know that because i just went on a lobbying trip to washington with my colleagues on the authors' guild. and we met with senators, congressmen, all sorts of important people who are just asleep to the danger for the most part, asleep to the danger of amazon's domination of the to business. and one reason they're asleep is because barack obama's justice department, his some name buy
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lent justice department on antit law. >> you're going the hear about that. >>, and again, it's got to be a kind of people's revolt against amazon at some point. so i count on you to stay after the show and buy book. tom is going to be signing books. and also to, please, come back and patronize book culture as much as you can. it's -- we're making common cause against a real dangerous enemy, be we also -- and we also have, i'm happy to welcome sarah from metropolitan books, the publisher. she's also in this fight with us. we need your help. so let's -- [laughter] let's please welcome tom frank -- [laughter] who's going to talk about "listen liberal," which as you all know is taken from c. wright
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mills' famous book, "listen yankee," that nobody remembers. [laughter] some of you may remember it. but it's a terrific book, and i think i'll just leave it to tom to talk about it. i hope you're going to read a little bit of an interpret. >> it's going to be half an hour's worth. do you think you can hack it? >> towards the end i'll cut him off, and we'll have time for questions. to thank you very much for coming. [applause] >> thank you, rick. and i want to whole hearted by second what rick says about independent bookstores. by the way, this is day two of book tour for this day. today is the day it is officially published and all that stuff. and let's see if i can make this work, because this is how i do it, rick, sorry. i have to have a podium, and i've got to have a microphone stand. and, you know, a yellow, sort of yellowed with age linen jacket, otherwise it doesn't work for me. >> [inaudible] >> i don't think the microphone is even on, is it?
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can y'all hear me now? okay. so rick says the title comes from c. wright mills, and he's half right. the other source for the title is i was in wichita, which is a city in kansas, and it was a long time ago. anyhow, i was supposed to meet a guy for breakfast, and he came by the motel to pick me up and called my room from the lobby, and i answered the phone, and he said, "rise and shine, liberal." [laughter] i always loved that. i don't know if he meant that in a friendly way -- [laughter] but, look, there's something missing from the book's title, and i only figured this out after it was too late, after we'd already sent it out to be published. and that's an exclamation point, right? listen, liberal! the exclamation point is essential because what i'm talking about in the book is a sort of massive wave of public
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anger that's out there in this country. and it's been brought on by the, i mean, let's be blunt about it, by the failure of the democratic party. by the failure of these guys in a situation when the conditions for success were perfect. okay? this is not, the book is not, you know, another collection of your standard beltway gripes, complaints about gridlock in d.c. or how appalling it is that our country is so polarized. e failure that i'm referring to bigger than things like that. with the exception of global warming and nuclear war, it's basically the greatest public problem that we've faced in our lifetimes. president obama himself has said that inequality is the defining challenge of our time, and that's a pretty sweeping statement. but when you think about it, it's not anywhere sweeping enough, right? inequality, this word that we like to use, is a sort of shorthand for all the things
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that have gone in recent years to make the lives of the rich so much more delicious year-over-year for the last three or four decades and also for the things that have made the lives of working people so, you know, wretched and so precarious in that same period. inequality is visible in the ever-rising cost of health care and college in the, you know, coronation of wall street and the slow buying of wherever it is that you happen to live. you catch a glimpse of inequality every time you hear about someone who had to declare bankruptcy when their kid got sick or when you read about the lobbying industry that dominates the city i live in, washington, d.c., or the, you know, weird new political requirement we have that all of our candidates either be, you know, chosen for us by billionaires or else be billionaires themselves, right? so inequality is this kind of euphemism that we like to use for the appalachiaification of
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the world we live in. yeah, that's right. it's harper's magazine, so i can say that. after -- so inequality is about the way speculators and each criminals get a helping hand from uncle sam while the vietnam vet down the street loses his house. inequality is the reason some people find such enormous significance in, you know, the ceiling height of an entrance foyer or the hop content of a beer while others will never believe in anything again. now, look, it's the republicans, of course, who have -- who bear the primary responsibility for our modern plutocracy. and i've written book after book after book about these guys. this is the party that launched us on this era of tax-cutting and wage-suppressing that we live in. and they're the ones that made a, you know, a religion of the market and fought so ferociously to open our politics to, you know, the up nuance of money
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at -- influence of money at every level down in washington. but i think that just blaming the republicans and getting back into the partisan war not good enough any longer, okay? i think it's time that we understood that the things that i've been describing are, they represent a failure of the democratic party as well. look, protecting the middle class society used to be the democrats' holy mission. and once upon a time they would have taken a look at the situation that we're in today and rolled up their sleeves and tackled this situation with a certain amount of relish, right? shared prosperity was once the party's highest aim, and defending the middle chat world that we lived in was a -- middle class world that we lived in was a kind of sacred task for them as they never tired of reminding us back in the days of truman and lbj. and to this day, to this day democrats are the ones who pledge to raisthe minimum wage and the taxes of the rich. but when it comes to tackling
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the defining challenge of our time, many of our modern democratic leaders falter, and they acknowledge, yes, they always acknowledge that inequality is rampant and it's an awful hinge. but they can never be seem to find the conviction or the imagination to do what's necessary to reverse it. and instead they offer -- it's always the same thing, these kind of high-minded policy platitudes straight out of the 1980s. they remind us that there's nothing anybody can do about technology or what they like to call globalization. nothing anybody can do. that's like the hand of god himself, right, doing that to you. that's not nafta, right? that's god doing that. that's the invisible hand. so they promise you, you know, charter schools to solve the problem and job training. you know, they'll shovel out the student loans and stuff like that. other than that they've got nothing. now, let's talk for a second about the wall street bailouts back in 2009 which was really the historical inflection point of our time. this is the moment what our
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country could -- when our country could easily have changed direction, changed course. of we didn't do it, right? you all remembered what it was like. we elected president obama in this massive wave of hope and enthusiasm. you remember those enormous crowds in grant park, the largest crowd they've ever seen in washington, d.c. when he was inaugust rated. and then he -- inaugurated. and then he proceeded to continue the policies of the bush administration essentially unchanged in regards to wall street for the first couple of years anyway. no big banks were put into receivership, no bailouts got unwound, none of the elite bankers ever got prosecuted. not even fired. obama and his democrat ares basically -- democrats basically refused to change course when every sign told them to turn, right? when it would have been good policy to turn, when it would have been overwhelmingly popular to turn, when the country fully expected them to turn and when
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it was completely within their power to take us in a different direction, okay? there was -- at that inflection point that i'm talking about in 2009, there was no conflict between pragmatism and idealism, you know? the eyed listic thing to do -- eyed listic thing would have been the helpful thing to do. all the signs were pointing in that direction, and i know it didn't happen. now, i know democrats are the good guys -- or, rather, the less bad guys -- [laughter] but it's not a coincidence that the economic gains of the recovery that we've had since then, you know, presided over by a democratic president have already basically gone to the wealthy, the top 10 percent, okay? look, talking about income be inequality just doesn't come naturally in the same way that talking about charter schools does. it's always on the tip of their
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tongue. they're always ready to tell you about charter schools. but income inequality poses problems to them. you look back over their record, and you start to suspect there's a chance that democrats would do manager like, you know, resolve to kick wyoming out of the union than actually do something meaningful about the country's economic breakdown. now, why is this, right? that's the question. it's not because sinister republicans are -- or not entirely because sinister republicans have thwarted the religious will. of course they have. what i'm talking about tonight is democratic failure. straight up, nothing else. the agent of change isn't interested in the job at hand. i mean, ine -- inequality doesn't spark their imagination. this is the point where their famous passion sort of peters out. what ails these guys? well, be you've read my writing in the past, you know that i love to talk about money in politics. and, of course, that's a huge part of the problem.
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that's a big part of the answer, the way that money down in d.c. is forever adjusting their incentives and distorting people's priorities. but what i want to tell you tonight is that the democrats' problems go a lot deeper than this. and to diagnose their particular malady, we have to understand that there -- and this is the main point of "listen liberal," -- that there are different hierarchies of power in america, okay? while we're very comfortable talking about one of them, the hierarchy of money, many democrats' failings arise from their positions within this other hierarchy, a hierarchy of merit, of learning, of knowledge, okay? we love to make fun of the hierarchy of money with the phrase, "the 1%." right? we love to make fun of the koch brothers. but if we want to understand what's wrecked the democratic party as a populist they were, what we have to scrutinize is this other hierarchy, the 10%,
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let's say, the people at the apex of our hierarchy of professional achievement. okay? this is the top 10% of this country, you know, you look around at this problem of inequality, and everybody is outraged about it. but there's some people who have done very well by it, okay? and this is a lot of those people. and what i want to point out to you tonight is there is a mass constituency for inequality in this country. it's the top 10% of the income distribution, not just the 1% or the .1 or whatever. it's the top ten. and here's the, here's the part about it that'll blow your mind: a lot of those people are democrats, okay? why is that? because these days the democratic party is the party of the professional class. okay? they have other constituencies, to be sure. they talk about it all the time down in d.c., and they list, you know, their constituencies. we know who they are; minorities, women and the young. they have a name for this, they call it the coalition of the avenn adapt. but professionals are the ones
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whose technocratic outlook always tends to from evil when -- to prevail when you put all these groups together. okay? it's their tastes that are celebrated by liberal newspapers, and it's their very particular way of regarding the world that's taken for granted by liberals as being objectively true and correct. professionals dominate liberalism and the democratic party in the same way that ivy leaguers dominate the obama cabinet. so what i'm saying is that modern day liberalism is the philosophy of the knowledge economy and specifically of -- and this is important -- of the knowledge economy's winners. we all work in the knowledge economy these days, there's almost no way to avoid it. but this is a philosophy of the silicon valley chieftains, the university administrators and the wall street titans who gave so much money to barack obama's campaign back in 2008. and the democrats have all of
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these wonderfully flattering phrases for their favorite demographic. they call these people the wired workers who are going to inherit the future. they call them the learning class, right? the learning class. i love that. people who truly understand the power of education. they call them the creative class that sort of naturally rebels against fakeness and conformity, an innovation class that just can't stop coming up with awesome new stuff, right? so what does it look like? is there any water around -- why, yes, so there is. [laughter] it's hot here in book culture. [laughter] yeah, but i can't. then i would cease to be mark twain, right? [laughter] it would take away my powers if i took jacket off. i'm just kidding about that. so what does a party of the professional class look like, okay?
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this is the fun part. what does it advocate, what does it believe in? be let's start with education which, as we all know, education is absolutely essential, you know, and critical for professionals. in fact, the profession are defined by educational accomplishment, advanced degrees and that kind of thing. so it's not a coincidence that the two most successful democratic politicians of recent years, barack obama and bill clinton, both of these men were -- if you look at their life story, they were plucked from obscurity by prestigious institutions, by prestigious universities, right? bill clinton was a kid in hot sprungs, arkansas -- hot springs, arkansas, went to georgetown, then became a rhodes scholar, and the sort of the doors of the world opened up for him. and it's not surprising that both of these guys at the end of the day signed on to a social theory in which higher ed is both the route to individual success as well as national salvation.
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and what i mean by this is not merely that they think everybody, you know, ought to go to school. that's -- everyone thinks that nowadays. but it's more like a philosophical conviction that your performance in school is what should determine how you do in life. okay? now, nearly all democrats offer some version of this theory nowadays, but the one who has most closely identified with it was bill clinton. and you'll recall back in 1992, if you're as old as me, you'll remember that he ran for president as a kind of economic populist. do you remember in this? inequality was a big issue back then as well as today, and bill clinton talked about it all the time out on the campaign trail. as soon as the election was over, however, he changed his tune. and a month after the election, they had this what they called an economic summit down in little rock, and bill clinton -- this is how he addressed that summit and proposed to deal with the various problems that he had been talking about on the
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campaign trail, and this is what he said: our new direction must rest on an understanding of the new realities of global competition. the world we face today is the world where what you earn depends on what you can learn. there's a direct relationship between high skills and high wages and, therefore, we have to educate our people better to compete. is so the line that i want you to remember, to take away from that is that thing about what you earn depends on -- sorry. yeah, what you earn depends on what you can learn. and this is critical for understanding how the democratic party operates and how they have really failed to confront the economic breakdown of our time. and this was one of clinton's favorite phrases by the way, and he repeated it many times throughout course of his presidency, what you earn depends on what you can learn. and the reason he did is because here in a single sentence you find the essence of the theory that has, you know are, governed the politics of wages and
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compensation from that day to this. and it's just this: you get what you deserve, and what you deserve is defined by how well you did in school. okay? now, look, in one sense this is just a platitude. this is something that everybody says, right? none of us, you know, we all know that we couldn't get very far in life if we didn't know how to read or do math. and it's obviously true that r&d is important. and you obviously have to have the right skills if you want to build big machinery. but what's frightening about all this education talk is you realize this is less a strategy for mitigating inequality than it is a strategy for rationalizing inequality, okay? to attribute economic results to school years finished and s.a.t. scores achieved is to basically remove economic matters from the realm of economics and to transplant them to the products
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of individual intelligence. so from this perspective that i'm trying to describe, wages aren't the way they are because one party -- let's call it management -- has power over another party, let's say labor. no, wages are the way they are because the god of the market being sures passingly fair rewards those who show talent and gumption. so good people are the ones who get a gold star from their elementary school teacher and a big fat acceptance letter from a good school, right? when they get out of high school. and then a good life when they graduate. and those who don't pay attention in school wind up spending their days picking up discarded cans by side of the road. but the important thing is both outcomes are our own doing, okay? that's the critical factor here. so to our liberal leaders, every big economic problem is really just an education problem. you know, a failure by the losers to get the right skills and get the credentials that
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everybody knows you're going to need in a society of the future. so for the democrats that i'm tribe describing -- that i'm describing, this is basically a fixed idea. this is as open to evidence-based reputation -- and i should pause here and say there's a lot of evidence that you can use to refute these theories, okay? there's tons and tons of it and i've included a lot of it in "listen liberal." but they are about as open to some kind of representation of intelligent design. it's just not going to happen. they know the answer. they know the truth. and the truth is they think if poor people want to stop being poor, poor people must go to school. okay. now, another reason that democrats are so convinced that education determines everything from personal prosperity to national competitiveness is news it's true for them personally, right? going to fancy colleges is what allowed liberals of bill clinton's era to succeed, it's
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what defined them as a generation, remember? i mean, the new left was largely a phenomenon on college campuses as we all remember. it's what going to school is what kept them out of trouble in vietnam. and so it's natural for them to think that it could do the same thing for all people at all times in all situations. okay? consider for a second bill clinton's close confidants. there were all of these successful professionals whose worth was established by their eye chee.s in college -- achievements in college and grad school, a lot of them at oxford. there was a biography of clinton in 1996 called "the president we deserve." they might have a copy of it here at the store. but it starts with the author marveling as bill clinton's different circle of higher ed friends, right? the ones from his college days at georgetown, the ones from his days as a rhodes scholar, from his days at yale law school, and the author speculates about the
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kind of awesome, high-powered synergies that might happen when bill brought one of these groups of friends into contact with another which is, in fact, exactly what happened with his cabinet which was like this, you know, yuppie woodstock, right? this gathering of the highly credentialed tribes, right? [laughter] and then barack obama becomes president in 2009, and exactly the same thing happens, repeats itself, you know? and obama, remember his high story, the same thing. he's plucked from obscurity by columbia university, harvard law school, becomes editor of the harvard law review. and when his turn comes to choose his cabinet, he did exactly the same thing as clinton, filling his administration with graduates of the most prestigious universities and professional schools. why is that? well, because for obama as well as for chipton belief in -- clinton belief in meritocracy is a conviction of the most basic, essential kind. obama's biographer is a guy called jonathan alter, and he wrote this about obama choosing
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his cabinet in his first term. at some level, obama bought into the idea that top drawer professionals had gone through a fair sorting process, the same process that had propelled him and michelle to the ivy league and were therefore, in some way, deserving of their elevated status. so the word we use to describe the idea, meritocracy. meritocracy is the philosophy that makes all this stuff fit together, the conviction that the successful deserve their rewards and that the people on top are there on top because, you know, they're the best, right? [laughter] that's what it's all about. and this is the first commandment of the professional managerial class. this is what it's all about. now, what does meritocracy, what does this doctrine say to us about the problem of income inequality? well, you know the answer, it's this sort of very profound complacency. there simply is no solidarity in a meritocracy. it just isn't there.
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professional class leaders show nor mouse respect -- enormous respect, one for another. the people at the top of this profession respect the people at the top of that profession. but they show very little sympathy for the sort of more -- less fortunate members of their own disciplines. think about it, the adjuncts at universities, the adjuncts who are frozen out of the act dem you can market for tenure, for professional colleagues that get fired, even for kids who don't happen to get into good colleges, good schools, that life doesn't shower its blessings on people who can't make the grade is not a shock, it's not an injustice to them, it's the way things are supposed to be. so there's no solidarity, but there is a deep sense of deference to your fellow professionals. consider one more time the vexing problem of wall street. you know, why was it that the obama team failed to do what needed to be done with wall street?
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why did they declare -- sorry. pages are sticking together. [laughter] why did they declare that wall street executives were basically going to be held to a different legal standard than ordinary criminals? why did they, you know, choose wall street over average people again and again and again and again? and there's many illustrations of how they did this in the book, you know? whenever the interests of average homeowners were up against the interests of the wall street banks, they would always choose in the direction of wall street. there's even a famous incident where tim geithner, secretary of the treasury, was talking to some other officials about program that hay had to -- they had to do something about foreclosures. and geithner said it would, you know, that the program was okay because it would foam the runways for the banks. it would foam the runways for the banks. so stopping individuals from being foreclosed upon p wasn't the issue. it was helping out the banks by a sort of back door method, right? so why did they do this? why did they choose wall street
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over average americans again and again? and the answer that i arrived at after researching "listen liberal" is because investment banking signifies professional status like almost nothing else in this country. and for the kind of achievement-conscious people that fill the obama administration, investment bankers were more than friends. these guys were their classmates. they were people of subtle minds, sophisticated jargon, extraordinary innovation, right? they were the -- i mean, this is the creative class in the flesh. these are the people that the democratic party in their official doctrine are supposed to revere. they are exactly the type of creative individuals that democratic party theory tells us we have to honor and respect. and you could say the same thing for big pharma, right? and their relationship, so innovative, right? of course mega dittos when it comes to silicon valley. this is an industry that can do
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no wrong in democratic eyes up until the other day when you had the kerfuffle with the fbi and apple. these people are so lovable, so professional, so creative that just for them our country's antitrust laws were essentially suspended during the obama administration. there's a famous story about google, and there's a story that rick mentioned about amazon. and think about secretary of state hillary clinton who traveled the world and basically informing anybody that would listen to her that access to certain silicon valley servers was, essentially, a human right. okay? a human right. look, there's no solidarity -- [laughter] we'll get to that in a minute. there's no solidarity in a meritocracy, but you at least have the right to to expect good results, right? excellent results. you put all the very best expect brightest in charge, you know, and they may not have a lot of sympathy for you, but you can at least expect they're going to do
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the job right. how do we explain that we have at the same time this sort of religion of the beth and the brightest -- best and the brightest with these guys and at the same time so many thudding disasters, one after the other, with basically the country outside of the big cities in the united states basically falling apart, which is what's going on out there. i mean, it's like we're living in a sort of member protock rah city of -- her tock procity of failure. my explanation for this is that for our modern democrats merit is always synonymous with orthodoxy, okay? with some of the orthodoxy of some academic discipline or professional discipline or something like that. so the best and the brightest in their minds are always the guys that went to harvard. that's always who it is. that's always the guy whose book is featured on npr. this is -- and these people are by definition or by my definition anyways people who lack original ideas.
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now, i'm not saying that i'm against the idea of government by experts. i actually think that's an excellent idea. and there was a time when that even worked. i'm talking about the roosevelt administration. this once worked. the famous brain trust. but there's a funny thing. if you go back and look at the day when it actually worked, if you go back and look at the personnel of the roosevelt administration, you're going to notice something very astonishing. unlike our current administration's roster of well-graduated mug wamps, the talented people that franklin roosevelt appointed to his cabinet and his inner circle were from way outside the era's main academic currents. these were north orthodox -- not orthodox thinkers, okay? think about this. harry hopkins, this is roosevelt's right-hand man during world war ii. do you know what he did before he joined the administration? he was a social worker from iowa, okay? robert jackson was roosevelt's attorney general, later became a supreme court justice and was the prosecutor at nuremberg.
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he was a lawyer with no law degree. jesse jones ran roosevelt's bailout program. you probably don't remember roosevelt's bailout program, but it didn't exactly bail out the big banks, it put them out of business. he went around the country doing all sorts of thing that is the obama people never dared to do. he was a businessman from texas. he had no sympathy for wall street at all. he was this kind of, you know, old school populists regarded them as enemy. mariner eccles was the man that roosevelt put in charge of the federal reserve board. he was a small town banker from utah with no graduate degrees. henry wallace who was probably the greatest agriculture secretary that this country's ever had. went to iowa state, and before he was promoted to agriculture secretary, he edited a magazine for farmers. harry truman, roosevelt's last vice president, had no college degree at all. even -- roosevelt did have a
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contingent of ivy leaguers, very famous, you know, a lot of the students of felix frankfurter and people like that, but even these guys were not, they were not, like, out of the orthodox mold. john kenneth galbraith, right? who helped to run the office of price administration during world war ii. this guy spent his entire career attacking neoclassical economics, or thur monday arnold was a professor at yale law school, but he was also kind of troublemaker from wyoming who wrote a derisive book called "the folklore of capitalism." i mean, seriously, just try getting a job in d.c. today if you're writing something like that. [laughter] it's just not going to happen. now, the last problem that i want to mention about what happens to a party that's organized around the needs of high status professionals is the way that it blinds democrats to the most outrageous kinds of professional misbehavior elsewhere in the economy.
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here i'm going to go back one more time to wall street because we all know this story. this is an industry that appeared to have committed fraud on a kind of epic scale in the last, in the last decade. and yet which democratic administrations still insist on treating with this kind of extreme deference, you know what i'm talking about? now, why is this? of course, part of it is the money, right? this is who you have to go to if you want to run for office. but we also, if you want to understand why the democrats treated the people the way they did, you have to take into account the widely-shared view among democrats that wall street is a place of enormous meritocratic prestige. it's on a level e equivalent toa really high-end graduate school. they think of it as a place of consummate professionalism complete with this really fancy technical jargon that outsiders can't understand and that the financial industry uses to protect itself from the scrutiny of the outside world.
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there's a friend of mine who is a bank regulator from the old days. he was instrumental in the s&l days, okay? in prosecuting a lot of the s&l, the people that ran the criminal s&ls back in the 1980s. and he told me he was, you know, helping me think through a lot of these issues, and he said when he was, you know, when he was a bank regulator, they thought of complexity as an indicator of fraud, okay? all of this complexity that you see on wall street, the jargon, that was an indicator of fraud. that was something that made them come swooping down, okay? for our modern liberals, no. this is something admiral. complexity is manager that they, you know, they -- something that they bow down before. this is what makes wall street so very awesome. they call it financial rocket science as one of obama's deputy u.s. attorney generals said in 2014. so look, the story that i tell in "listen liberal," if you want
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to think about it in a benign and happy way, this is, this is a great story -- this is a momentous story, right? this is the coming together of money and merit at the very top. this is the coming together of righteousness and success. this is the marriage of finance with political virtue. and we know that virtue and righteousness is, you know, what being a liberal is all about, right? am i right? am i right in. .. but our party here in america has chosen instead to basically turn his back on this people's concerns and instead, make itself into the tribune of enlightened professionals.
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also, innovative things like derivative security smartphones. and the working people of the democratic party, they used to care about, well, they got nowhere else to go. in a famous expression of the clinton era. i tell you what, folks, they found somewhere else to go. look, 1st of all, by abandoning them, abandoning them, the democrats made inevitable the economic desolation we now see throughout the countryside of this nation as well as dismounting populist backlash against liberalism that has been building slowly. it has arrived. the de- industrialized areas
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, bizarre frightening slogans. so that leaves us with the choices november, assuming that everything goes to plan. intolerance versus inequality forever. folks, there has got to be a different
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