tv Today in Washington CSPAN December 30, 2010 2:00am-6:00am EST
the studios of westminster lives just across the thames river from the houses of parliament. >> matthew parris, back in april 2010, you wrote to the truth is simple. we're living beyond our means. it says something we have been saying the early years. the had an impression of prosperity and growing which appeared to beyond the explanation predell. while recanting so much richer?
the july are we getting so much -- where we getting so much richer? i had never been convinced by this. i have had the impression that property values cannot fit the idea of wealth. we take out bank loans. and the basis of fact, buying more expensive properties. it could not last. it did not. i had the feeling that something was wrong.
>> i think it is about half past four america to think of 1899 .wboer war >> there was a column that was as much about the united states as about britain. i had a very strong sense that we reached the apparent pique of our imperial power quite a long time after the basis, in terms of economic strength and in terms of military strength, the basis of that had begun to fade. there was a sort of overhang in a way, putting britain on the map.
you could see by then that there was no way that we could maintain all this. we were becoming top-heavy. it was a period that we have the feeling that the same thing would be true about united states. >> open question, what do you do for a living? >> no one ever quite asks that. i am always stumped when people do. i tell people that i am a writer and broadcaster. i like to say journalist, because people know what the term means. a columnist is not a journalist. i think that a columnist is a reporter. those are the people that i admire. that is what i call journalism. anyone can sit back and pen a few thoughts on their opinions on the way the world is going. that is what i do.
i am paid to do what a lot of british people do on the top deck of a bus. that is not a real job, as my father used to remind me. >> how long have you lived in the united kingdom? >> i am really a colonial boy. i was born in south africa. my parents immigrated to south africa. they could not find a home in england. they did not like the apartheid or the racial stuff. they came back with me. they found england to cold after south africa and so they went to southern rhodesia where i was mostly raised. i went to school in swaziland and then my family was posted in jamaica and in spain.
at the age of 18, i came back to england as a young man to go to university, and talked with a very british accent, but does not really understand or know the united kingdom very well. i feel completely british because i belong to a generation of home serving was a british thing to do. i feel entirely british, but i did not know england very well. i have been learning ever since. >> winded to serve in parliament as a member of the house of commons? >> i was elected, the third youngest, at the age of 29 in 1979. i served for seven years before resigning my seat between elections to take a job in television and doing what you do now. my job bombed to >> why did it belong? >> in british television, you need to be a little bit of a
comic book character to succeed and all of those people who anybody have heard of it that description. i was articulate enough and bright and tough, but there is something memorable about them. i let my program to an early grave. >> larry king has been on our television screens for years and he is about to be replaced by pierce morgan. >> that is what appears is going to do. he absolutely answers the profile that i just described. he is a sensitive man, but he pretends to be a bit of a loudmouth. he says all kinds of things that sound wondering and careless. people love it. there has to be intelligence
behind the apparent stupidity and for a popular tv presenter, that is what you want. people feel they can relate to you, but underneath, you need intelligence. >> what do we expect to see when he comes on the former larry king show next year? >> it will be next year? he likes people talking about themselves and being a little emotional. i would not: oprah winfrey. he got prime minister to cry a while ago. he asked questions that you are not expecting. he is not afraid to go deeply personal. >> and when you were in the
house of commons, what did you learn about that institution? >> i never entirely found my feet. i failed in a lot of jobs in my life and i say that is one of them. one thing about the house of commons is that it is a team game. there is a place for maverick individuals, one or two, but only one or two. generally speaking, you get along personally and advance
your own career and also to achieve things politically and nationally as part of the team. if you do not have the idea of team work, if you do not have the idea of occasionally biting your lips turning a blind eye, then you do not prosper. the other thing that i learned, and i do not think that american politics are all that different, is that it is a mistake to think that politics is about principle an argument. principal is not entirely absent. argument is important. it will always cause to difficulties, but in the end, in politics in britain, you are representing an interest and there are a group of people whose interest you are representing. you may care because you are a compassionate person. you are representing the lower middle class and middle-class as much as the upper classes. never forget that. you can tweak them a little bit, but in the end, if they feel that you are not their man any
longer, then you are done for. that may sound like a cynical view, but there is actually a principled defense of this kind of politics. as long as the house of commons and the house of lords have representatives of all interest within it, then fine, let them clash. >> let the best argument win. europe-let the best argument win. leave it to other advocates to have the other argument. there is a principal argument for doing politics like that. >> this is a frivolous thing that i want to ask you about. maybe you do not think it is a frivolous. some time ago, you jump in the water out here and swam across. why did you do that?
>> i did that on the 28th of february, 1978. i would have been 27 or 28. it was just down there on the side of the river. there is a building that used to be the local government headquarters of london and i was working for margaret thatcher as her correspondence clark. it was about 10:00 p.m. and i walked towards the station to take a train home. i saw a girl standing there crying and i asked her what was wrong and they said they took their dog out for a walk before bed and it climbed onto the stone parapet and had fallen in the water and because it is high tide, he cannot find the steps underneath the water. it was dark. it was high tide.
it was windy. i saw the head of the dog going around in circles. this was not courage, it was stupidity. i did not have any idea that the river was so cold. i nearly drowned. just as my strength began to depart my body, after about three minutes in the water, i have gotten close enough to the steps for a hand to reach out and pull me out. margaret thatcher gave me an award for bravery a couple of months later. without that award and the publicity that surrounded it, i would never have been selected as a conservative candidate for ec. >> but then you swam the river. >> that was at the age of 61. i guess my career was founded
on the river. i have a flat on the river looking across, further down. ever since i moved in 15 years ago, i said that i was going to swim across that river. you cannot live by the river and a swim to the other side. i kept telling people that i would then it became a joke. thoughting, i suddenly that now was the night. i waited until what i thought was high tide. i did not realize that high tide is given in greenwich mean time. this was the british summer time. i got the time of the tide it wrong. swam an hour before the tide turned and a friend came with me. we did not have lifejackets or a
boat. there have to be a risk that you would die or it would not be real. we were swept a mile upstream by the kurds. we were in there for about half an hour before we came out shivering. >> you got some criticism for that. was that fair? >> completely fair. the harbor master had to read the newspaper and say that this was a dangerous and irresponsible thing to do and to not try it at home. that was his job. but i would do it again. >> if you are looking at great britain from the united states, and you cannot figure route what is going on with all the cuts, can you explain to was house of your the economic cutbacks are here?
>> they have not yet been, but they are going to buy. people are beginning to see where they are going to bite. one has to get an impression of the bloatedness over the past 10 years. we have almost doubled our expenditure on our health care. nobody doubts that the service has gotten better, but it has not gotten twice as good. we have gotten to 8% of gdp. we have virtually doubled it. everywhere you go, schools, school buildings, welfare, the way the state help to when you are unemployed, they have soared.
the malingering claims have grown. things have increased. expenditures have increased by 40 percent, 50%, 60%. a majority of our wealth has climbed to around the 50%. we cannot carry on with this. >> on health care, if you live here, how much of your check do you pay to health care every month? >> i do not know because nobody tells you. it is part of the treasury's general coffers raced through taxation.
>> let me ask you about the taxes. as a taxpayer, where do you start? there is no national sales tax. explain the vat. >> we do not have a state system in the way that you do, so we do not really have smaller units of government within the overall state that is capable of organizing their own budgets. almost all of the expenditure is raised by the central state and spent by the central state. it is a mega-sales tax. it is value added so that each individual along the chain,
from the production of an item to the final sale of an item pays tax on the proportion of value that has been added while it was in their hands. from the point of view of the ordinary citizen, all you know is that the price, when quoted, you add 17.5%. everything except food, children's clothing, newspapers, magazines, charities, there are a few exempted items. >> to you have a property tax? >> not really. we have transfers of property, so whenever you transfer of property, you pay a portion. we have domestic rates. this is for your local authority, your town hall or whatever. you pay a tax according to the value of your property.
>> in the united states, you pay somewhere near $15,000 for something like that. what other types of tax? >> the other big ones are excise taxes on tobacco, alcohol and fuel. we pay a huge amount of tax on fuel. i think more than half the cost of a gallon or a teacher is tax. >> a leader is three or four liter to a gallon? how much is a liter of gas here? >> it is more than two pounds. nearly $4 a liter. >> just for a liter. >> the greatest part of a bottle of wine is the excise duty. those taxes are causing difficulty for the government. we are all in this together and people are getting onto the ferry and crossing the channel with trucks and coming back loaded with beer and cigarettes.
the exchequer is being deprived. equalizing of taxation is going on across the european union caused by the fact that if one country charges more tax, people will go to the other country to get it. >> in january, we will have a republican house of representatives and a democratic senate. and a democrat in the white house. david cameron is the prime minister and he has proposed
all of these cuts. will you automatically get these cuts? >> pretty automatically. people who follow british politics may think that they are broadly to terrible, the british of the united states. your president is like our prime minister in that you have your parliament and we have to of hours. our prime minister has more power. the house of lords has very limited power. it has no power over anything that raises money. it has no power in the revenue department. they only have the power to delay. they can keep sending bills back that it does not like until a year has passed. and then the thing will go through anyway.
the house of lords is not democratically elected, it is appointed. there are plans to reform that. whether that will come about, nobody knows. it has no democratic legitimacy. it has expertise. when the british look across your system, it looks like you have two arms of government to oppose each other. >> if our president selects the treasury secretary, she goes before congress and has to be approved. hear, who decided who would be the chancellor of the exchequer? it would not have mattered if the whole of the conservative party and the nation were against it, the prime minister appoints his cabinet. >> you have a coalition government for the first time since when?
>> there was a coalition government in the 1930's of a kind. then of course, during the second world war. during the 1970's, we had an arrangement between parties. they have been weak kneed things. no one has any real experience with a willing coalition between to quite strong parties, when joined together, when their forces are joined, they more or less agree with each other on policy. this is a healthy coalition. they can not only carry on for five years, but also the next election. >> i am a member of the
conservative party. i stand for what? can you delineate between the conservatives and liberals and the labor party? >> if you were to draw a continuous spectrum from what you might call the left to the right, the conservative party tends to occupy the right hand third of that spectrum although they are extremists. the liberal party is in the middle third -- that would be wrong. there are some level will mps. they are liberal in the old sense of the word. liberal means belief in individual freedom, a belief in
individual liberty. >> like a libertarian? >> you can be a libertarian, but there are low tax liberals as well. it is a belief in freedom and a belief in freedom. >> let's say that you have the correct or for the afghan war. if you're conservative, what is your position? >> if you are a conservative, it ranges from being against the war all along to being a really enthusiastic person in favor of it. you have the feeling that these are rather typical policy
adventures where we have the duty to support the united states even if we had doubts. liberals are almost all against both wars. >> we saw tony blair as the head of the labor party. what is the labor party position on the war? >> they got themselves in government supporting the americans. tony blair tended to support the americans because he was sure it was the right thing to do. the rest of the labor party was not persuaded of that. most of them took the view britain as an engine partner of
the united states, has to support united states. >> if you are a conservative member of parliament, where you stand on the vat tax. >> they are in favor of the vat. tories do not like capital gains taxes because they are a business minded party. they are not that keen on income tax because they represent a lot of people that pay income tax. >> what about the liberal party members? are they for the vat tax? >> they have been for and against it at different times. >> what about the labor party? >> anybody that is in government or wants to be in government has to have a sneaking regard for the vat tax because it is an easy way of raising money and is
a very difficult tax to avoid. >> if you live here, when will all of these new cuts come along and if they do come along, when will we see change if you live here? >> generally speaking, new money will not be allocated to people who were expecting it or think that they wanted. the cuts will bite with progressive ferocity. we are not going to see cancellation of a great many huge government projects. the government is trying to keep infrastructure reasonably preserved from the cuts. the coalition has said that there will be no cuts to health care. internal inflation within any health system is always higher than retail price inflation nationally. the health service is going to be there. waiting lists may get a little longer.
education, which was supposed to be protected, already a new school building program has had to be canceled. the biggest one will be local governments that is to say all the town halls and the county council's all across the country. they rely on most of their income from central government. this is going to be considerably diminished. they will have to lose a lot of their staff, which they will do through natural wastage. >> this country of 60 million people, 500,000 public jobs will be eliminated? >> yes. it is important to point out that half a million people are going to be sacked tomorrow. it will be done by not hiring
new people and old people retire. the hope is that the private sector will take up the slack. it may be an optimist koop, who knows? >> here is a paragraph from a column that you wrote. you say that it was at miami airport on august 17, 2004, as i stood musing for two hours in the alien's queue for fingerprints. what does that mean? where were you? >> i was traveling from europe to south america. the common way to go is using one of the american airlines to miami and changing in miami. i understand that the situation has improved. every time i have tried to use that airport, it has been
extremely difficult. most airports across the world, if you are in transit, you never go through customs or immigration. you get onto the next plane. in miami, you have to go through the whole thing. you have to formally enter the united states and half an hour later, leave the united states. the queues used to be horrendous. people are quite severe and quite rude to the public and quite bossy. the consumer culture is held up to the world as good customer
service. >> can you give me an example of where you see the public officials being rude to the american people? >> a woman that i was travelling with waited in queue for about three-quarters of an hour. that was the waiting time. she jumped the gun and move forward across the line before it was her turn, thus standing in the prohibited zone between the line and the officer's desk. the officer, another woman, shouted at her to get back and
then told her to go to the back of the queue and start again as a punishment for having stepped over the line. you would never get that in britain. you do not get officials handing out summary justice and punishments to people in queue. >> what is happening with television here and the bbc? one of the things that seems to be under way is the bbc moving from london up to manchester. that is costing $1 billion and maybe more than $1 billion. then you hear about firings
coming along, cuts made to the bbc and changes to pay for the world service. >> there are trying to devolve the bbc from too heavy a concentration on london and that has been going on for about 40 years. this is one of the boldest moves, but it is part of the philosophy that the corporation has adopted from the start. it needs to be the british broadcasting corporation. it should not be the london broadcasting corporation. i present a program that is produced from bristol. >> where is crystal? >> it is about 150 kilometers to two hundred kilometers to the west of london. i never go to bristol. i interview them in london, but it is produced in bristol. unfortunately, and their arguments to be made for doing this, if you're going to have a state broadcasting corporation,
let it spread itself widely around the state. there are times when the bbc is under severe pressure. they will not be able to increase the license fee. >> how much does the average brit pay for a television license a year? >> i have forgotten, but it was about 150 pounds to 250 pounds. >> about two hundred $50? >> yes. if the bbc is under a lot of pressure financially, they are also under a lot of political pressure. the director general gets nearly 500,000 pounds which is approaching approaching $750 million a year. they sign contracts that appear to be absolutely lunar.
>> how about your on-air people? in the united states, one of our anchors makes $15 million a year. >> if you are a big name, jonathan ross is one of our big names. if you are a big name, you do really well. the others are not that that well-paid. this has unfortunately coincided with a squeeze on the corporation's revenue. it is an expensive plan to devolve the corporation. i would not like to be director general of the bbc.
>> i read that several people quit the bbc when they announced the move. i guess the move has been known for a couple of years, but they announced the move to manchester. a sports announcer and others just quit. some did not want to live in manchester. how extensive is that? >> it is quite extensive. some people will commute by train. >> how long does it take? >> it takes about 2 1/4 hours.
you have a larger country. you do not have one huge center of gravity. a lot of british people think this about america. they think that new york is the united states as london is to the united kingdom. not so. a lot of the tile that there is, culturally, socially, it gravitates to london. almost every big corporation would feel the need to have its headquarters in london. the civil service is in london. the legislature is in london. we are not a very big country and we are hugely centralized country. this has been the same, the labor of the government to try to devolve talent across the regions. >> for years, the bbc world service which can be heard all across the united states was headed by the office here in
great britain. i understand that it is supposed to be funded by the bbc itself. is that true? >> i remember when the world service was funded by the bbc and then it was decided that it would be funded by the foreign office instead. everyone thought this would be a disaster for the world service. it with his become an arm of british foreign policy and they would starve it of money and try to direct its operation. that did not happen. it has prospered under the wing of the foreign office. i do not see why it should not prosper under the wing of the bbc. the bbc has much bigger global reach, not in terms of the world service, but in terms of
other activities and its marketing and its books and its videos. i think that the bbc is a conscious of the world. >> out independent is bbc and the fact that it gets its money from the government. has that worked in your opinion? >> if i was arguing before an american audience, i would say that it is extraordinary how independent the bbc is. do not think that this is a state broadcasting corporation like the russian one. it is not. it is really independent. it does what it likes and often falls out of favor with government and it criticizes government all the time. if i am arguing with a british audience, we are a bit smug about the bbc. i would argue that it has got a pretty good degree of independence, but if you are the state broadcasting
corporation, you darn well are the state broadcasting corporation. there are things that you do not do. there are things that you do not say. there are programs that you do not make. this does not apply to the leaner rivals that the bbc competes with. >> you were a conservative member of parliament. are you still a conservative? what would you define your politics to be today? what you feel strongest about? >> i am still completely and deeply conservative. i was a conservative as a student, as an undergraduate. i have never wavered. i am a conservative partly because i hate socialism. i hate collectivism. i saw what a creeping
collectivism was beginning to do to the united kingdom and any party that is going to resist the collective approach to human culture and autonomy is gore to be my party. i have always been a liberal conservative. i have always believed in a degree of compassion for the poor. i have always believed in individual liberty, which some of the right are a bit chary about. i think it has a civilized influence on the conservative party and i think it has a growing up influence on liberal democrats. andink that the role strength and the potential schilling of the culture of the state depends on how much money
it has to spend and how much money it gets from the taxpayer. the battle to push back the frontiers of the state in the battles to push back the amount of money that the state is claiming from the individual i think is the absolutely central battle in the first half of the 20th century. i often say we when i should say they. >> have you ever talk about the percentage of your income that goes to tax? >> yes. i have not made a total calculation. i do not need to. it is something approaching 60% of my income -- it would be in
something more like 70% if you take the excise duties, the income tax, the capital gains tax and another one that we have not even mentioned called national insurance. i reckon that for every 100 pounds that i earn, i would be lucky if i get to spend more than 40 pounds and it may even be less than that. incomes are higher because they are not worth as much after tax. people that get benched for people near the bottom and near the top. the lower middle classes try to survive on a joint income of 40,000 pounds. they pay 30,000 pounds of that back.
>> if you get sick, you can go into any hospital and get treated? >> that is true. you will not pay for health care for your education. for everything else, you pay. >> you have been openly gay and a member of the conservative wing of politics in this country. unitedwere in the states, that might not be easy. why have you been so open about it? >> it might not be easy, but on the other hand, you could find a range of people on the right
in america to basically give exactly the same story that i am giving which is to believe in homosexual law reform and believe that gay people are equal citizens and that relationships between people of the same sex are not anti- social, dangerous, or personally damaging. they believe in a small state. the state should not travel over people's private lives. these are things that conservatives ought to be able to support. dr. andrew sullivan in the united states and you will get the same story from him that you will for me. millions of other conservatives. >> how long have you been with his partner? >> i have been with my partner -- we met and grew closer about 15 years ago. we got a civil partnership ceremony about four years ago when those things became available. >> you say that ageism has
settled in. >> a lot of older gentleman say that you are as old as you feel. i am not afraid of old age, but i do not like old age. i do not -- i am not afraid of the end of the summer holidays, but i do not like the end of the summer holidays. i do not want to die. i love life. i want to go on forever. i want to be mentally sharp forever. it happens to all of us at different ages. i know that i am not as sharp in my brain as i used to be. i find myself sometimes struggling to keep a with very quick fire conversations for the tiny things explained to me more carefully. i can see that we are all degenerating all through our lives, but it begins to
accelerate after 60 and i do not like it. >> and your partner is considerably younger. >> he is about 20 years younger than me. in civil partnerships and marriage, one has a responsibility to marry someone very much younger than one's self so that they can have another partner and another life later. >> does he write? >> he writes the occasional editorial. when he writes the editorial, he writes according to the papers policy. he writes a column in which he raises the standard for the coalition.
he is one of the few guardian columnist. >> why would he support the coalition? >> he is a little democrat. i do not think he belongs to any party, now. he is moving to the right of me in his own opinion. but that does not stop you working at "the guardian." in some ways, is more fun to be out of kilter with the majority view at your newspaper. you need voices that will explain the coalition. >> you mentioned education. he said that you do not pay for education here. i heard on the radio the other day that students were demonstrating on the government's increasing the cost of university. private education, here, is
public and public education is private? >> we have endless confusion over this. in the old days, on the whole, rich people would have their children educated by a tutor. quite a lot of rich people decided to set up schools where you pay. the recall public schools. the fact that they were paid did not make them not public schools. then, much later, in the 19th century, toward the end of the
19th century, free state education was set up. we ended up with schools call public schools which are actually private and state schools which are free. >> i heard a young lady on the radio talking to a liberal democrat who was a member of the coalition and she was so unhappy. she kept saying that you lied to me. i voted for you because you said you would not touch our cost of education and now you are upping the cost of education. explain why she was so upset. >> she was upset about tuition fees. you americans will not find anything remotely surprising in the idea that the university might charge students a fee. we have not had that in the past in britain. it has all been paid for by the government. the labor government, having promised that it would not
introduce tuition fees, did, but limited them to $4,500 a year. students could get a loan from the government if they did not have the money to pay those fees and the money would be payable back at a zero rate of interest. what this government is now doing is raising the ceiling to $25,000 or more. they are slightly changing the loan system so that after you have left the university, the more you get paid, the more you pay back. the liberal democrats, because they are a party that does very well in university terms have been against this and they were unwise enough and realized that it was a mistake and they were unwilling enough to get all of their candidates to sign a pledge saying that liberal democrats would never raise tuition fees. now, they are part of a coalition that has raised tuition fees.
>> there are 650 something members in parliament? >> the conservative party is the majority. that would be about 350 or 340 or something like that. in the liberal democrats, add another 80 to that and they get the overall majority. >> we are about over-out of time. if someone wants to read the body of information that you have written over the years, what is the easiest way to get it? >> i have started an archive of my work, but a lot of it is copyrighted. a great bit of my -- i think you have to pay.
there are better reasons for scaling the wall of news international. >> you can go in there and find most of your stuff. >> i write a weekly diary and a column every saturday. >> the last question or so, what do you think is in store for this country over the next five to 10 years. >> i slightly misinformed you when i gave you the number of conservatives which is closer to 319 or 320. they do not have a majority.
the first question is, can the conservatives and the liberal democratic coalition come together until the next general election which they say they will have an 2015. i think that it can. the arithmetic is all there. i do not think you will see a weak government. if the economy goes flat, the liberal democrats will still like they have been drawn into a much unfortunate experiment. if the economy crashes, whoever is the opposition will win the next election. if the economy goes well, people will think the coalition for making the cuts and making us leaner and healthier.
>> what is your guess about the future? are you optimistic? >> i am guardedly optimistic. unless the world economy crashes, in which we would all be dragged down, i think the economy is in good hands. i will see a low growth for the next three or four years but i expect to see the cuts not hurting quite as much as everybody thought. these are changes that have to be made and we need to approach the next decade in a more fighting condition. >> matthew parris, thank you very much. >> it has been a pleasure. >> for a dvd copy of this program call 1-877-662-7726. for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q&a.org.
there could be suicide bombers. there could be taliban snipers. there could be every other type of threat. the concert was live on our national television. i have heard the song so many times and i was truly crying for half an hour. trying to see how desperate people are for a normal life. 30,000 people came for a concert. that means that if you have an alternative and it is a meaningful and it is visible, acceptable, and accessible people will say note to the taliban. where are they?
as soon as mansour is brought to the palace for negotiations, then people get confused. the taliban are pashtun but the pashtuns are not taliban. >> on that note, we will end our discussion today. thank you. [applause] we are going to have a short break while the next panel comes up. stretch your legs for a second and come right back. >> today on washington journal, the co-founders of the new legal movement. david frum and william galston
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provided by cable as a public service. >> next, susan coleman, president of the national sustainable agriculture coalition. . host: this week "washington journal" examines food policy in america. today we talk about the sustainable food movement. tomorrow, we move onto childhood nutrition legislation, and friday, regulating organic food. the segments that already took place you can find on our website, c-span.org. our guest this morning, susan prolman, is the executive director of the national sustainable agriculture coalition. we have a special phone lines for you to call.
susan prolman, talk to us about what is sustainable agriculture. guest: there are many components of sustainable agriculture. first, it should provide a livable wage, care price for the work they produced. there is a problem where farmers and ranchers can barely break even. we are trying to make it economically sustainable and viable for them. sustainable agriculture also supports rural communities. money in local and regional food systems keeps circulating into the rural communities and the local area. it attacks the environment said that sustainable agriculture producers -- it sustains the environment sso that sustainable agriculture producers to protect wetlands
and things like that. finally, very importantly, it provides healthful food for consumers. we support fresh, helpful, local and regional foods. -- healthful, local and regional foods. host: what is the genesis of this movement? we think about farming in the old days, a lot of those would be part of what it meant to be a farmer. certainly, farmersould not have been farmers if it were not a sustainable life style. before we got into the big business of farming, living off the land had to be sustainable, because you had to care for your land to survive for future years. what is thisovement about? guest: over the past several decades, we have seen a lot of concentration in agriculture. we have seen a lack of competition, where a small
handful of companies controll many of the agricultural sectors. that has been problematic. we push for better living through chemistry and all this, and we have gone too far in the direction of bigger, better, chemical use, etc. we are trying to move our agricultural policy in a better direction. host: is sustainable agriculture and as are the organic farming? -- is sustainable agriculture necessarily organic farming? guest: it is part of it, but there are other things farmers can do it beyond organic. host: and if they have to use herbicides or pesticides to help their crops to grow? guest: there are many things that farmers can do to be sustainable, using the local or regional food system, an organic
definitely is part of it, but it goes beyd that as well. host: bob is calling us from minnesota. good morning. caller: thanks for taking my call. i read something once about genetically altered food, that they used genetics to change the makeup of the food and turn it into a drug. it seems to fight its way into the food -- seems to find its way into the food chain because of pollination and other things. guest: that raises a lot of issues. one is the pharmaceutical production of drugs, so that animals can be manipulated to be producing the pharmaceutical drugs in their milk. many people are deeply concerned about that. that is regulated by the fda, the food and drug
administration. many consumers are concerned about it. there is also the issue of genetic modification of food, such as roundup-ready grains, and what happens to neighboring farmers went wind drift carries these into other farms? what if they decided to use genetically modified seaeds? can they maintain organic purity? there are questions about that and at the u.s. department of agriculture, there is a program that takes a loo at a lot of these issues. genetic modification of food is a big topic, and a lot of organizations, including member organizations of the sustainable agriculture coalition, tries to advocate for consumers on those issues. host: good morning, jack. caller: hi.
i'm just calling concerning the issue of this woman with the sustainable food movement, if she believes in government intervention in these areas. if you take a look at our lives, you see more and more of this -- like, prior to 1913, the government was really not in the lives of the people of the united states to much. we got our greatest growth prior to that. we had a very robust and strong people that developed this untry. and really did not look for anything. wusses,"as "nation of the attorney general said, "a nation of cowards." we had evolved into both. unfortunately, i say this nation
in decline. i am in my fifties, and there is a very interesting book -- i'm quite sure the woman here knows about it -- "when china will rule the world." he makes salient points on this area. i think we are in decne and it is a sad story, because we're becoming a week people. guest: thank you for that comment. a couple of points come to my mind. one is the national sustainable agriculture coalition won a great victory, when our groups rallied together and advocated for reasonablend appropriate regulation in the food safety -- appropriate legislation in the food safety regulation. for processing would be treated the exact same way as a small
and mid-sized farm that was going to, for example, a farmers' market or selling direct to consumers. we were able to have size- appropriate and amend the bill through our advocacy to get size-appropriate legislation. we make sure we did not have the unintended consequence of providing regional and local food producers from selling directly to consumers. secondly, one of the things to think about is that our federal government does spend many billions of dollars on agriculture policy. what we are trying to do is shippft the direction of the money, the way that we spend it, in a better and more thoughtful strategy so that we ar spending it to support sustainable agriculture and not to enforce practices that people not like. host: is the place that would
be be done in the farm authorization bill? guest: that is coming up in 2012, the big legislative a vehicle through which most of the agriculture programs are authorized. most o the programs run by the u.s. department of agriculture are authorized through this farm bill. that is the main focus of the national sustainable of agriculture coalition and many of our allies around the nation. we will be working on that over the next two or three years. host: you mentioned the battle over the food safety bill and that your organization is pleased that smaller firms were exempted from regulation without additional inspections. have there been moments and the past with the sustainable agriculture movement has been part of those discussions, or is this something you where groups like yours have a seat at the table? guest: we have been around for decades, but the movement is definitely building. we have more farmers and ranchers that a beginning production, that care about
sustainable agriculture, d we have more and more consumers who care. at the constituenc of members of congress -- they call members of congress and let it them know that we want our food produced in a safe and healthy manner. host: tell us about what your group does. guest: we advocate directly on capitol hill and through the usda, but we ao agree grassroots all across the country, grass top and grass roots, and we are trying to move agriculture in a more sustainable direction by supporting programs that help rural communities and farmers and ranchers and consumers. for example, during the child nutrition office act reauthorization, we were able to get a program that would allow local farmers and ranchers to provide fresh products like food and vegetables directly to local
schools. it also contains an educational component so that children can go out to the farm and learn about how fruits and vegetables are raised. children can do their own farming and understand agriculture. host: david is calling us from wisconsin on our farmers' line. caller: i would like to talk about bgh, the drug state should into cows -- drug they shoot into cows to make them grow faster and why they need to use them. i think it causes people to get real overweight. earlier maturity in girls that should not be -- i don't know how to explain that, but i don't think they are any good at all for anybody and i don't understand why the fda does not do something about getting this -- host: before you go, what kind
of farming do you do? caller: dairy farming. host: do you consider yourself to be a sustainable farmers? caller: yep. it is survival, because milk prices go way up and then they go down again and you cannot make a living added. -- cannot make a living at it. host: we are still listening to you. caller: and the big farmers are just taking over the little farmers. every time prices go down, they start buying up the land and farmers go out of business. guest: thank you, david. i think you raise a lot of great points. one is the pressure to push out small farmers and for farmers to get ever bigger. that is not a healthy direction to go. we need to make it possible for small and mid-size producers, independent family farms, to stay in business.
the other point you made about the bovine growth hormone, our country has a problem of overproducing up to where milk prices are dropping, so why are using artificial methods to increase milk production? some questions and naturally raises is if we're spending billions of dollars from the u.s. government on agriculture, why don't we support good practices like not using chemicals where possible, like avoiding the use of antibiotics, like pasteurized dairy production, grassfed, and also conservation practices. as a sustainable agriculture producer, i am sure you do things to protect the land and the natural resources. why are to be paying for those types of good practices -- why aren't we paying for those types of good practices instead of just bigger production? we are trying to keep small and midsize independent family
farmers in business and flourishing. host: the phone number for farmers to call -- let's go to idaho, where sam joins us. good morning, sam. caller good morning. susan, thank you for speaking about sustainable agriculture today. my question is, what is your position on the use of petroleum-based pesticides and herbicides, especially when you consider the impact on the land and the soil and our watersheds, and in connection with sheik oil, -- as, -- with peak oil, as we get past peke oil? guest: 1 is the petroleum-based input, and as an efficiency
issue, and the second is the impact it has on the than om a pollution-based issue but we do at the national sustainable agriculture coalition is support usda programs through the farm bill, including conservation programs, that reward farmers for being good stewards of their land and using more sustainable purchase. energy conservation, producing inputs -- reducing inputs from petroleum-sed products, reducing runoff, things like that. we are trying to help on all those issues. host: the sustainable agriculture movement represents roughly 10% of total u.s. agriculture, and it is a growing number but 5% of the u.s. research budget is dedicated to sustainable agriculture research. looking at a piece that was recently in the huffington post, it was written by the senior vice president of sustainability for wal-mart.
she talks about this issue, "y sustainable agriculture is important to everyone." she writes that "3% to 40% of food is wasted as it moves from farms to tables." talk about that number of food waste, 30% to 40% ways as it moves across the country. guest: that is an efficiency issue and there are things along the food chain that dividend to be more efficient. one of the things she talks abt in the article is building up the local and regional food system. when you don't have your food come from halfway around the world, you have less waste and energy -- less waste in energy. one of the things she talks about wal-mart doing is buying more from local and regional farmers in the u.s. and also wal-mart stores and other countries. we at the natial sustainable our culture coalition very strongly -- national sustainable
agriculture coalition strongly support building local and regional food systems. host: she talks about "increasing the amount of fresh fruit available around the world by 10% witho growersaving to use any more land, water, energy or fertilizer. farming practices have unintended side effects onhe environment, from greenhouse gas issions to deforestation." is a typical for companies on the mega-sce of wal-mart to have someone employed as vice- president of sustainability? guest: many companies to do. wal-mart has put an effort to that, and that was in reaction to criticism they have received. wal-mart has been criticized for driving down prices. one of the concerns is paying farmers and ranchers a livable wage so that they don't get pushed out of his despera to the -- so they don't get pushed
out of business. important. -- to the degree that wal-mart is doing that, it is important. i would like to see all companies doing that. host: alabama. good morning. caller: good morning. i know he was talking about the fda, but the fda -- i know he was talking about the fd -- you was talking about the fda, but the fda supports some of the worst practices. they support one size fits all. when you look at what they are letting happen here, one size fits all vaccination, and the side effects, it causes autism and a lot of stuff. even right here, what i see in the state of alabama, they are
essed mining designed -- bst mining besides our water supply. it is terrible. they just don't seem to care about the people. my grandfather -- they ran him out of business, and when they ran him out of business, the government took his supplies and to not leave the kids anything. guest: 90 for this very good points. it brings to mind -- thank you for those veryood points. it brings to my mind the need for advocacy organizations. a coalition of 80 organizations around the country -- what we do is fly in a small and midsize independent farmers and ranchers to washington, d.c., and we arrange meetings with officials at the regulatory agencies and in congress, members of congress, so that they can speak directly. it is important for people like you, farmers and ranchers around the country, to have a voice.
that is where abbott is the organizations can play a role so that agents -- that is where advocacy organizations can play a role. host: susan prolman of the national sustainable agriculture collision is our guest. "washington journal" isngngngnga week-long series on food policy. a question on twitr. guest: 1 is competition. the obama administration is doing some work on making sure that small and mid-size producers are able to compete. you have a problem where in many sectors of agriculture, a small handful of two or three or four companies dominate the sector and make it difficult for small and independent, small and
midsized independent producers, to compete. in animal agriculture. it -- in animal agriculture, if you are a small or midsize producer but there is no competition in who would buy your product or which it slaughterhouses would be able to process your animals,ou have an animal and you cannot sell it, you are completely under control of the corporations that dominate your region. that is why regulations a needed, antitrust regulations, and the usda and the u.s. department of justice played a very important role in that. host: david, a far out in oregon. good morning. -- a farmer out in oregon. good morning. caller: you talk about seed drift. the biggest threat is pollen
drift, because it interacts with the other crops, organic crops are just conventional crops -- or just conventional crops. seeds don't draft that far, but the pollen is the issue. the fellow from rhode island talked about the glory days of the sellers, an i did not hear about the slaves. we have a tendency on the part of that -- of big ag to attack, just like in our medalists --ike environmentalists, as if it is just man versus the environment. i'm also a water operator, and we have seen what has happened to the water from gross use of
chemicals. i want to thank you for what you're doing and i want to thank c-span, but this issue -- it seems as if we know the answers, but we continue -- there continue to be corporate and trust that will not permit the to to see -- corporate interests that will not permit the truth to see the light of day. thank you for what you're doing. guest: thank you, david. all good points, and it is true that there are lobbyists representinggribusiness companies in d.c., that is why having a countervailing weight by having farmers and ranchers speaking directly and getting consumers to care about these issues by speaking directly is so important. host: john, good morning. caller: what they've done with
big ag is what they've done with it seats, dna profiles all the crop seeds and like that. he saved them from the previous harvest and you -- if you'd save them from the previous harvest and try to grow crops, they get you on patent infringement. guest: that is a real problem and is incredibly unfair to farmers to have saved seeds for years. it can pushed small and mid-size producers out of business. it is a real problem. host: coming from twitter, talking about food co-ops -- he also asks how to find more about local growers and where to sell their goods. guest: there is community-
supported agriculture, where you pay money up front for a local farmer and you get a share of the produce from the farm. i do that, and it is terrific, agree wait to get -- a great way to get fruits and vegetables. also, farmers markets are terrific in a growing number of restaurants and supermarkets, they are aware of these issues and they are buying local in- season fruits. it is good to support this restaurants -- >those restaurants as well. there are resources like the farmers market coalition, a great resource. host: john joins us from santa ana, texas, and he is a farmer. ller: the allotments that are allotted to each foarm, they are set with -- like, my farm -- i
have come over the years -- my dad lost all of his a lot and down to two or something -- all of his allotments down to two or something acres, and i have ighbors that have 150% allotment on their acres. this is unfair to the farmers, the small farmers, or larger farmers -- where larger farmers are drawing 1.5 times per acre and i am drawing on, like, 100 acres of wheat and i get 2.5 acres left, all i have, as i use my complete -- unless i lose my
complete wheat crop is unfair to small farmers. guest: thank you, john. farming is a risky and difficult business. there are institutional barriers that are there to make it difficult for small and midsized independent producers to try and survive. you raised one of them. please contact usda and express your concerns may be going to continue our work as well. -- please contact usda and express your concerns. we are going to continue our work as well. guest: well, there are user fees at the fda, and it raises an interesting issue. it is a user-fee driven system, and to the corporations that pay the user fee exert undue influence, as opposed to if it is taxpayer funded?
i throw that out there as a matter that is debated without taking a stance whatsoever. but what i want to see is the consumers and agriculture producers fairly represented before these agencies. host: "foreign policy" had a piece, "attention wholefoods shoprs. or kinect farming is not arrested -- organic farming is not a recipe for saving consumers. it is the wrong recipe for helping those who need it most. the food problem is driven to much by the single issue of crisis." is sustainable agriculture and answer for the starving poor?
guest: it provides lots of low- cost grains and fruits and other countries -- and foods in other countries, including where hunger is an issue. if you provided at too low a cost, where farmers and ranchers cannot compete, you have people leaving, people on able to sustain their farms, leaving the or will communities and going into the city for factory work and that type of thing. we don't want to do that. that is not sustainable. we want to grow local and regional food system so people can feed themselves in the u.s. and other countries as well. host next call. caller: what is your group doing to subsidize organization of
over production? guest: -- of food production? guest: we want to reward agriculture producers using good practices. we wanted to put things like not use antibiotics and animals -- to do good things like not using antibiotics in animal. another thing we want to do is to keep the organic label in meaningful label. the national organic program has done a good job of that, but i think that improvements can be made. if we spend the money that we are spending in agriculture to reward good behavior, as opposed to just subsidizing crops, for example, we can move our country in a bter direction. missouri,awry --
mike on the farmers line. caller: 94 the forum. as always, you have good -- thank you for the foreign trip as always, you have good stories and topics. we are part of a wealth and neighborhood alliance, ex- representatives from missouri. they have fought off a zoning ordinance in springfield, missouri, where they were trying to zone a garden and it was one of those midnight, pass it through the council things. they stopped it. my question to you, is it a lobbyist thing where they are warning every piece of the bite? -- wanting any piece of the
pie? add water rights. they keep changing the laws on water, like pond water, giving the corps of engineers on water collection -- they have laws that keep faltering in. as for mcdonald's, we raise hogs, but because the is no middle man, we can get more money for our pig and it is less than it is at the grocery store. that is what the young lady was talking about with the costs down by the way we raise it. we get a little more than you
would but it goes directly to the consumer c. guest: direct marketing is an important piece of the puzzle in terms of how to make economic -- how to make farms economically viable. national organizations can do a lot, but the local and regional organizations are incredibly important. many of those are members of the national sustainable agriculture coalition, but there are many be on that -- beyond that. it is incredibly important to build sustainable farmers and help them stay in business. watching those issues and watching water right issues is incredibly important. it lies on citizens -- it relies
on citizens and farmers like yourself. we are trying to assist you as much as we can from washington, d.c. host: a piece by a farmer from missouri -- "the omnivore's against the-- agri-intellectuals." "the parts of farming better than most industrial are the most likely to be owned by the kind of family farmers that elicit such a positive response om the consumer. corn farmers salivate at the thought of one more biotech break through, use the vast amounts of energy to increase production, and raise large quantities of indistinguishable commodities to sell to huge
corporations." guest: he is responding to omnivore'slan's "the dilemma." we are supportive of the independent producers staying in business, but not necessarily in a bigger is better model. when -- one example of what he's talking about is that in agriculture, generation after generation they were pushed to raise animals and a completely different light and spending millions of dollars to build sheds and confinement systems. it is not a sustainable system. there is a lot of push back agnst the system and a lot of producers want to get out of it, but they are trapped and are in a difficult position because they have no bargaining power
because of the small number, one or two, they consult on the market -- they can sell in the market and they don't get a fair price on the product. we are advocating for fairness so that it is not a one-way street. host: is there a danger in americans romanticizing farming, seeing it as harkening back to a more hands-on moment? ookalkedpollan's b a lot about sustainable agriculture and what the root is. guest: let me de-romanticize agriculture. it is veryard work and you can barely break even in it right now. that is white younger generations are not wanting into -- that is why young generations are not wanting to get into
agriculture. those who are committed to farming have an outside job to support their farm. secretary vilsack of the u.s. department of agriculture has vowed to get 100 new farmers and ranchers involved in farming could we support farmer and rancher programs and we want to make it so that new people can come in and practice sustainable methods of agriculture and make a living at it. host: florida, john and joins us. good morning. caller: i wanted to address a couple of issues. the first one is in regard to a comment made the other morning in the series but a lawyer -- i believed she was from the center for science and the public interest, and the issue of pasteurization came up, and she said it had no effect on foods, did not destroyed
nutrients and such, which i think it's a lie. thether issue that yourest and address -- your guest can address is theevolving door between the fda and monsanto. guest: on the food safety act, we were quite happy that there were a lot of very good amendments placed in there. they do things like provide funding to train small and midsize independent producers to work on food safety. they emphasize-appropriate regulations so that it is not a one-size the -- they have size- up proper regulations so that it is not one-size-fits -- size- appropriate regulations so that it is not one-size-fits-all. revolving door is definitely a concern. you get people who represent big ag and understand the interests of big ag and go in only with
that mind set, and don't understand the struggles of a small and midsize independent producers. that is an issue. i know that there have been some, and in terms of congressional people, sometimes they have to take off before lobbying -- some time they have to take off before lobbying. you also raised pasteurized milk. thats an issue where a lot of consumer advocates and food safety advocates are concerned. they think milk should be pasteurized because of the potential contaminants in it. there is a large movement and the country -
most of the speeches i had given to send a political message of one kind or another, that also has made this place a more difficult place. >> when you first came here you were a big proponent of opening account committee meetings to cameras. >> is one thing to say something is right or wrong. it is another to say it has an unbearable of fact. -- in terrible effect. i think it is important did it is ludicrous to have public hearings behind closed doors as a of -- as they often were in the appropriations committee when i first came here. it has certain consequences.
he also have all of these single issue groups who want to get their role calls on the house floor. they use them to bludgeon members who cast the votes. they also use the roll calls and to generate the ability to get money from organizations by generating mass mailings. they use these roll calls as a fund-raising tool. all of these things have created a much more political institution. i also think the direction of the problem is different today that it was when i came. when i came, the people who were the most angry, most willing to rip somebody else were on the left. i would say about one-third of those who were opposed to the vietnam war were so angry about
that war that even if you agreed with them, you were against the war. if not, somehow you're morally deceptive. it became very personal. today, that kind of nastiness has largely gone on the left, but instead it has risen on the right. you get the same kind of nastiness coming through the right that you're getting from the left when i came here over 40 years ago. >> when you came you were the youngest member, is that right? if somebody came up to you today and said they love politics and would love a career in the house of representatives, would you encourage it? >> sure. i think public service is a calling. it is a -- it is a calling like being a minister, a priest, or a rabbi. you can't have some profound
effects on the lives of -- you can have a profound effects on the lives of the people around you. i would by all means encourage these people to run if they have the right set of values. if they are here to be somebody rather than do something, they do not belong here. we do not need egos here. we need people to see problems and are willing to risk their careers in order to get important things done. for example, health care. i do not think this last election was decided on the basis of health care, but if it had it been, its members lost the season because state budget for health care. that is an issue to lose your seat for because it will improve the lives of 30 or more million americans who no longer be in this situation.
there is a woman dying of cancer who wanted to die by friday because that is when her insurance would be cut off. >> appropriators today seem to be particularly the target of public frustration. why do you think that is? what has happened? >> many have been demagogued by the right wing in this institution of people who do not understand how government functions. people say, "oh my god, where did all of the spending come from?" the spending came from increased funding for homeland security after 9/11. that is largely with the domestic discretionary spending increases have come from. what we are supposed to do here in the congress on economic
terms is to try to recognize that it is a capitalist economy. that system produces certain rough edges beckons you people up if they are living life on the underside. it is our job to try to moderate the negative impact of some of those developments in the economy. that is why we provide funding for education. that is why we provide funding for child care and things like that. but it is easily demagogued. we have had the biggest transfer of and come up the income scale in the history of the universe to the point that the growth of
the country went to the top 2% of the american people. i think we have an obligation to do something around here to soften the edges of capitalism so that it is not a charles darwin survival of the fittest operation. >> right now they are talking about your marks. -- earmarks. what do you think should be done about them? >> they are inconsequential if you are going to try to solve the major problems in this country. first of all, the way the process works is that each committee is assign a dollar amount ceiling on spending. if any of those bills exceed that spending, a single person
can knock that bill all before. all it does is a state within the previously agreed amounts. so much is going to be spent in community and a rather than community be. that is all earmarks name. the -- congress looks set it and says that they do not think this is ready for public money said late move it to another project is more ready to proceed. tell me what is wrong with committees who are supposed to be knowledgeable using their judgment about these projects to alter what the administration does. as long as i have been here, no congress has ever changed any president's budget by more than 3%. that difference is the
difference between having a president and having a king. >> social security -- we are talking as the president of the deficit commission is working on at this -- what do you see as the appropriate way to address the whole access of the budget cuts? >> people are concerned about the deficit. there are a lot of deficits we need to be concerned about. we need to be concerned about the budget deficit. we need to be concerned about the investment deficit. we need to be concerned about the education deficit, the science knowledge deficit -- all of those impact the future of prosperity in this country. the fact that -- we got in this situation today because when bill in