tv House Speaker Paul Ryan Discusses Economic Mobility CSPAN December 16, 2016 4:01am-4:42am EST
i think you've got to again think about, i don't think you can bypass cities but i do think you can make it i for instance works give the mayors control of all the schools. i this i getting rid of school boards and detroit is a perfect example. the mayor of detroit ought to be in charge of the detroit schools, not symptom anonymous school board over here because you can't have a city that gets fixed without schools at work. but at the same time, i wouldn't let him have a monopoly and make sure there's a lot of competition and school choice and charter schools and everything flourish like betsy devos will take that view as secretary. on the kinds of programs that can come back, i mean, i think we've got to think about, those cities have terrific high unemployment problems for those youth. so i think we're going to have to have many more apprentice programs. you know, and probably the group we need to get to buy in are the coaches in the cities. we seem to run everything for the coaches. if we get the football, basketball coaches to agree with
us, maybe we can actually have academics come to the fore. >> bob putnam writes about sports teams being a place to. john: if that were leading to higher incomes more than a traction of a percentage, you would think. i love all that but the reality is that is we've been kidding ourselves about our performance. you have schools in detroit today, detroit's passage, i said the nation was 36%. detroit reading percentage is 5%. so one in 20. >> let's sum this up a little bit on evidence based policy making. the current president did a lot on that. and your advice would be to the new administration just because it was an obama initiative, don't jettison it. john: what was the initiative. >> evidence based policy making. john: yeah, but i'd put the evidence in. >> yeah, i wouldn't go overboard on this. i understand and i know the speaker embraced that this morning.
but you know, one of the things that civil society groups do is they speak symbolically. when there is a group that says don't use drugs, nancy reagan, you know, they're symbolic speech that maers, too. there are norms established in communities that may not get necessarily captured in short term metrics. you know, when the word goes out in cleveland that there's a restaurant that hires only ex-offenders and has a five star restaurant, maybe some guy who isn't in that program hears a message, i could do that, too. so i think that we should find -- measure if we're spending public money but let's not get hung up on everything has to be measured. >> peter, last word. peter: go ahead. john: i don't know because i -- i do know that thinking back among some of the mayors, they would agree with that.
why should i measure it. in fact, that would make it easy for my 10% to arrive at apply place. we just saw a number of principals go to jail in detroit because they didn't think they needed to be measured on the money they were handling in charge. so i do think there has to be accountability. i also think it's important for another reason. we do and i think education is the worst but i think there are other sectors where we have such a hard time replicating success in this country. and i mean, education if it's working across the street, their first instinct is hire a consultant to see if we can do it a different way and see if we can have better success rather than simply move everybody up. if we could get everybody doing the best we know how to do today we get a quantum leap in performance and whether that's in a public or a private or a combination program, i don't care. but let's really put a premium on doubling down on what is already working and see if we
can't make that better before we invest in new strategies that are unproven. >> i want to close. that was a point i was going to make. there's a line in philosophy, you can prove the possible by the actual. the reality is for all the problems that people think exist in america, the problems that do exist in america, there is a program and a group that is addressing them in some way. it's not as if we don't know how to do these. we're having a problem on scale. addressing them in some way. and we do have to focus on what works because in a lot of the cases we know it works. the thing is, governor ingler was one of the leaders of this but it's one of the things governors have taught us. i do think there is these days what i would say is a more sophisticated discussion of government from the simple or the big government, small government mode to this idea of what works. and the reality is even on a national scale, you've had enormous success in the last couple of decades in crime.
in welfare, teen pregnancy. drug use during the years late late 1980's, early 1990's. this charter school movement, this is one of the great educational success stories. so these things can be done. you know, you may be a theoretical pessimist but you ought to be an operational optimist. i think there's enough tangible reasons for optimism that really is linked to reality. >> we do have to be careful about scale. an ex-president of the ford foundation once told may a story. he had a little program in new haven and went to see lyndon johnson and said i'd like to do there in other cities. lyndon johnson told him add three zeros to that boy, this is the federal government. right? and that's the danger is that you're going to scale it up so much it becomes utterly attenuated and we want to be careful about that. >> with that, we'll stop now. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you.
>> hello, everyone. whoops. now it works. what a rich, thoughtful conversation. really, really surpassing expectations even. and expectations were high. so thank you so much to the last panel. so we're at the last plenary before we break for lunch. i appreciate all of you sticking with us so patiently and attentively. i apologize that we haven't had any questions. we'll have a few questions in this session. so please stay with us. if you're going to have private conversations, please go outside into the hall. so everybody knows who i am by now. i'm thrilled to be here with charles murray. so i'll frame our conversation very briefly but then it's going to be q and a with charles. so one of the most striking
things about any conversation about poverty and afford mobility in 2016 is how the topic has changed from just six months ago. the conversation -- what has happened is the conversation has expanded beyond the people that we traditionally think of as the poor, poor people in cities, multi generational poverty. we are now also talking about the working class. some of us were thinking about the working class for 20 years. some ways, thanks to donald trump for waking us up to the problems of the working class. so why they are in the conversation now, two reasons. one is because they made themselves heard in this election. but they're also on our minds because the way things of the way things are changing in their communities. and they're not changing for the better. i call it working class decline.
other people have other names for it. but the defining symptom is that the problems and patterns and behaviors that we used to associate with the poorest of the poor with multigenerational poverty in inner cities are now showing up in working class communities, as well. and devastating working class communities. not just poverty but family breakdown, men who don't work, drug abuse, family violence, the collapse of community institutions. inevitably because families are involved, spiraling generations of problems. and it's a deeply troubling story. and a relatively new deeply troubling story, right? how upsetting is that. so we're really lucky to have charles murray here to talk to us about it. charles really emphatically does not need any introduction. he's the brady, w.h. brady scholar at the american enterprise institute. he's the author of more
important books than most of us can keep track of, losing ground, the bell curve, and coming apart, milestones in anybody's intellectual development. and in many ways, in my mind, charles is the dean of center right-thinking about poverty and opportunity. i'm pleased to be here with you. you've studied both the poorest of the poor and working-class and you've been writing about working class decline in spending 90's. you saw it much earlier. i'm hoping you can help us understand what's going on in working-class communities today. help us understand what we're going to talk about as the similarities and differences between working-class poverty and poverty poverty, urban poverty, and help us think about
how we should approach policy. can we remedy this decline? i would like to start the way you often start your books, a picture of before, the status quo. let's look the fleet at the working class before the decline set in. you can pick your year. is what i'm trying to get at the working-class before the de -industrialization that has come with globalization and before the onset of the cultural changes that are plaguing so many working-class communities. what was life like in working-class communities before the decline and how were they different from urban enclaves, putting aside the question of race, of course? charles: that is question number one? [laughter] they are taking the mic away from me. i think they got the other one
working. let's go back to the 1960's. 1962,ake it november 21, 1963, that is being more partisan than i want to be this morning. let's say 1960. for those of you who don't remember 1960, this is going to sound incredibly nostalgic and i want to assure you it's not because there weren't a lot of bad things in 1960. it just is that some of the things that were true in 1960 are hard to believe. number one is that if you were male, working age, not physically disabled, you were in the labor force, working or looking for work. if you were a woman in your 20s, you were probably already married and had children but in any case the proportion of children that were born to married parents was over 90% and even among blacks, who were already considered at that time to have a problem with family
formation, more than 80% of black kids in 1960 were born to married parents. i think i guess i'd like to emphasize is in many ways that's an unnatural state of affairs that after puberty you have guys who really would like to sleep with their girl friends and you have young women who hit puberty who find babies adorable. your late teens is not the time you want to get up every day and go to work at the same time if you don't feel like it. if you are a guy, it's not the time when you naturally say i think i want to get married and yet you had a situation which these were not only norms they were almost universal. how did that happen? it happened the same way most societies have done it. first, there were economic exigency. if you were not in the labor market, were not working in those -- this is a bad thing in terms of trying to survive at a time in which the nation was not nearly as rich as it is now and
to have a baby without having a man to join you in taking care of it was extremely punishing economically, and in addition to that, of course, and partly because of that, you had enormous sticks and carrots socially associated. if you were not in the labor force, if you were a male, you were a bum. your parents told you you were a bum, your girlfriend told you you were a bum, your friends did, and this was also true, by the way, if you were a rich kid with a trust fund. you were kind of looked down on by society as being a feat and a slacker but it was certainly true in the working class in spades. and if you had a baby out of wedlock, social stigma there was incredible. nobody had any problem at all using the word illegitimate in those days. in fact only recently supplanted the word bastard and you were just sort of cast into outer darkness if you had a baby out
of wedlock at that time. you also had carrots, and that is if you were a guy who was holding down a job and taking care of a wife and children, you had status in that community, real status. you were a real man, to be married and taking care of your family was a rite of passage to become a true man and the same was true of women becoming wives and mothers. we can talk about all the ways in which we're glad feminism occurred and a lot of other things occurred but what did occur throughout working class and society at large was that those status rewards were taken away, the stigma eroded as the behaviors became more common. it became a self-reinforcing cycle. it hit first and the most vulnerable communities, that's why you saw these problems arise with the african-american community first, but even by the late 1960s, early 1970s, one of my, one of the guys i met in
fishtown was talking about some of the friends had what they call the sunshine club and the sunshine club was guys who would work just long enough to get, qualify for unemployment benefits and then they spend the summer on the jersey shore and then they come back and work enough. that is the late 1960's, early 1970's. there was some erosion even then. tamar: you're seeing it as one disease that got, you know, one set of problems that the poorest of the poor caught first and gradually moved up the ladder, but there was a time when the two groups looked distinct, right, and even now there's still significant distinctions, right? people in the second income tier, still twice as likely to marry and three times more likely to have somebody working full time, so pull it apart a little bit, no pun intended. charles: they are starting to look more and more the same, i
think. i had -- any time you write a piece that turns out to have been pretty much true, you can be sure the author will remind you of that later. i had a piece in 1993 in the "wall street journal" called the economy white underclass, i looked at marriage, the out of wedlock birth ratio in the white community and i said we're going down exactly the same road that african-americans went down because there's no reason to think that the effects of family, the breakdown of the family are going to be any better for whites than they were for blacks. and so in a way, we are looking at, when you say they're still not the same, i think what we're saying is this is sort of what the poorest of the poor looked like in the mid 1960s, and upper middle class or middle class neighborhood, black neighborhood in washington where the signs of erosion had already set in.
so i live in rural working class america myself out in maryland, and i can tell you, i can give you a status report. yes, it still doesn't look like the inner city. well, only 150 people in the town, so no it doesn't look like the inner city, but friends of ours who are the most conservative, socially conservative kinds of people, have a daughter, couple of children, hasn't gotten married yet, other families where the son is still living in his home in his late 20s, can't seem to hold onto a job and further down the ladder you have people who are on drugs, and they are getting arrested, and they're in and out of jail, so i guess i'm saying it's a -- there is no stopping point at which the current working class problem is going to no longer be, not become the classic inner
city -- tamar: so you see the water rising. charles: the water is rising, yes. some people still have their heads above water. tamar: so let's dig into the causes. what's driving it? why did this happen? charles: well i wrote a book called "losing ground" and i'll recapitulate in 30 seconds that argument and then i want to add other things. what i said was that the reforms of the 1960's changed the rules of the game for poor people, and they especially changed the rules of the game for young poor people and most especially for black poor young people, and by rules of the game i mean this. by 1970, that's only ten years after my baseline, all right, it was much easier if you're a guy to commit crimes, get caught for them and not go to jail, huge change in incarceration rate in
the 1960's. it was much easier to slide through school even if you were a troublemaker end up with a diploma, having not learned anything and not having faced the pressures to learn something. if you were a young woman at the end of the 1960s, if you had a baby you were not the only girl in your classroom in high school. there were probably half a dozen others. you could afford to take your child without a husband. you had a bunch of otheryou cour child without a husband. you had a bunch of other benefits, could live with a boy friend, all of those rules were changed and i could go through similar kinds of changes and rules in just about every other aspect of life, and the common theme of all of these was here is something that you get as a short term reward and we're going to mask the long-term costs, and guess what? adolescents are not the most
far-sighted of individuals and it really helps if they have much stronger social forces on them. now i want to add the other ways in which this is a perfect storm. and the big thing was the sexual revolution. the pill was first put on sale in 1960, for the first time in human history women had a convenient, safe way to have sexual intercourse with guys even if the guys did not do anything themselves to take care of protecting against pregnancy and naturally there was a subsequent revolution in that. well that has a huge effect on family formation. in the 1950's, it was really hard if you were a single male to get easy, free sexual access to a woman, and by 1970, it was no problem whatsoever, and those
of you who think that i am relying on statistics or making it up, let me tell you something. i turned 13 in 1956, okay? i was in high school during the late 1950's and early 1960's. i was in college in the first half of the 1960's. it got way easier, okay? way, way easier over the course of those, the time that i, by 1970 i was in my late 20s. that's a big deal and it's especially a big deal in the working class where early marriage had been so common and so much for a way of doing things it turns out as marriage gets delayed it's one thing if the reason getting delayed is because you're getting established in your career and then the reason that the average age of marriage for upper middle class kids now is around 30, it's another thing if the reason it's getting delayed is because you're having a great time and you are also not getting into the labor force and staying there and establishing yourself.
by the late 20's, your life is kind of a mess. i'm talking about guys now. i think the sexual revolution has to be factorred into that, plus, well i don't want -- we have other questions. tamar: let me play devil's advocate. maybe this is where you're going. it's clearly not an either/or but a lot of people on the left and right who say economics has as much to do with culture, and to put some of the numbers on the table, u.s. has lost 5.6 million manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2010, and that's 30% of manufacturing employment and for the typical worker you were making $25 an hour in a fabricating plant and now you have to work at wendy's for minimum wage. obviously this in turn drives cultural decline, if you can't find jobs that pay what you're used to, maybe you drop out of the labor force and then women don't want to marry you, the
women are raising kids only their own, etc. but in this theory, the economics and the culture intertwine and drive each other, and i guess my question for you is, don't economics play some role in addition to the cultural stuff you're talking about and how do you think they go together? charles: first place i'm not denying that these things have occurred. i'm not denying they interacted as you rightly put it. i wish people would take a closer look at the timing who say, the jobs went away. william julius wilson said it was the disappearance of the jobs in the city that precipitated the problems in the black community. the problem is, the timing of when the jobs went away and when labor force participation started to decline, went out of wedlock births started to rise, when crime rose, all of those things were happening inspect last half of the 1960's when the jobs hadn't yet left and when
the economy was red hot. the same thing is even more true for the white decline, that it does not -- it does not get started when the economic problems set in, nor i think this is really important, nor does it get better when the economy gets better. when people say that a job, what we need is more jobs, i say well, okay, we had a natural experiment. not back in the 1960's. we had a natural experiment in the last three or four years of the 1990's. there were help wanted signs everywhere, and these were not just for minimum wage jobs. they were for jobs paying well over the minimum wage, and you could work as many hours a week as you wanted to work, even if you had low skills, and low education. in addition, even at that time there were a lot of these highly skilled jobs where employers were begging for the welders and the electricians and the cabinetmakers and the stone
masons and things for which they were willing to pay not minimum wage but willing to pay the $25, $30 an hour. during that period of time the good news such as it was is that white male labor force participation stopped declining for a couple years. didn't go back up. you did not have people flocking back into the labor force. you did not have a turnaround. there is no jobs program we can conceive of that would have nearly the kind of job availability we had during the 1990's. tamar: some of it goes back to the skills problem people have been talking about all day and maybe also partly where the jobs were, but i think it's partly about the intertwining, right? once you're out of the labor force and a drug addict you're not interested in training. charles: even if you're not a drug addict, one of the most depressing statistics has to do with chronic unemployment, even among people who aren't on drugs.
if you're out of the labor force for a while, getting back in is for a while, getting back in is really hard. when you talk to employers they'll say the same thing. they will hire people who have not been unemployed far more quickly than guys that have been unemployed for a long time just because the track record is so bad. tamar: let me try another devil's advocate question. that didn't work that well. only kidding. charles: pushback is what we need. tamar: culture is the overwhelming driver. why is it having such an outsize effect in working class communities? why is this erosion of cultural norms hit the working class so hard but it hasn't really done much damage to upper middle class elites? coming apart paints this vivid picture of these two communities -- working class fish town and upper-middle-class belmont -- why is one devastated and the other largely immune or is the
water rising and going to get to the rest of us soon? charles: now we get into some of the slightly inflammatory issues. let's start with a couple of forces that happened not in the 1960's, but started in the 1950's. two things went on actually. one was that colleges became much better at identifying academic talent, pulling it in especially the elite colleges. i document that in some detail but i just assure you that schools like harvard, princeton and yale were transformed over the 1950's from places where a lot of rich kids went, some of whom are smart to places where really smart kids went, some of whom were rich. it was the beginning of this process whereby academic talent was brought together, formed critical masses. those eventually became entire
enclaves so you take a place like cambridge, massachusetts, where harvard is, 1961 harvard stuck in the middle of a middle class/working class boston neighborhood. you go up to harvard today, well, within walking distance of harvard square there is not one but two whole food stores and the rest of the town is like that and it formed, this was part of forming a culture. the other part of forming a culture was that brains became much more valuable in the marketplace. the ways could you make money just by being smart, whether it's working for apple or whether it is making lots more as an attorney, if you were cognitively able to negotiate complex regulations and laws, it just became a lot more valuable to the smart. so you had this class which i call the new upper class, which
coalesced in the decades after the 1950's, and of course they did well. now, they don't get married, so if we're talking about the sexual revolution they participated in that fully for their 20's. tamar: eventually they do, though, when it gets around to raising kids. charles: but then it's time to settle down and have a family, and they -- look, one of the aspects of having academic talent is there are a whole bunch of correlated things that go with that. one of those is, and by the way, i will go into a rant about how stupid smart people can be at the drop of a hat, but i'm speaking statistically. things like thinking ahead, calculating the long-term consequences of doing a or doing b, all sorts of things are kind of prophylactics against doing stupid things. plus there's one other advantage.
if somebody who is in the upper middle class does something really stupid in their early 20's, they not only have time to recover from it, they also probably have parents who will help them recover from it either financially or with support and if you are from the working class, you are much less likely to be able to bounce back from dumb decisions you make. so for a variety of reasons, the upper middle class has behaved themselves pretty well in terms of marriage, in terms of working long hours, and being engaged in their communities. the only thing is, what they won't do is say this would be a good idea for other people as well. we're very nonjudgmental. tamar: this brings us to policy. what we can do about this. i mean one of the things that troubles me so much and one of the reasons i kind of cling to the economic causality at least as much of the cultural causality, culture is so hard to change.
economic trends are hard to change, too, but i mean culture is so intractable. charles: well see this is why i wondered whether i should be invited today. my usual line is i'm a libertarian and libertarians don't do solutions. [laughter] charles: the other thing is, my dear friend pete was on the previous panel and pete i heard at the end say well we know what things work, we just have to do them. well, maybe for some things we do. i think we could have much better k-12 schools than we have. i propose to you we do not have, we do not know how. have. i can give you a limitless budget, and then i can give you 100 guys who have dropped out of the labor force and been unemployed for two to three years, or i can give you 100 16-year-old, 17-year-old kids,
poor kids, low income kids, i don't care whether they're white, black, latino or whatever who have grown up without fathers and you could spend all the money you want, and i also get to give test to these kids at the beginning of the program about some of their own personal characteristics they already have, and what i say is that you will have turned around very few of those kids, whether you use mentoring programs, whether you put them into apprenticeships, whether you take all of these different strategies. we do not know how. tamar: and is this what, is this what the history of the last 20, 30 years shows we tried these things and they don't work? charles: yes and occasionally you get a small pilot program run by a charismatic person that works pretty well but the previous panel was talking about scaling up. yeah. you can't scale up charisma. you can't scale up the specific circumstances to make a program work.
we have 30 years of "cbs evening news" announcing the exit results on some jobs program or some educational program in which by golly we've made this huge progress, and what you never hear on the "cbs evening news," sorry if you're in the room, everybody else does it, too, you never hear a year later, all of those kids that went off drugs, they're on drugs again. all those kids that got jobs, they're unemployed now. they never go back and look at the -- i know this sounds extremely cynical and pessimistic. i am saying it as a social scientist who can back this up, fade out in programs to intervene in the lives of disadvantaged kids is universal. even for those programs that get exit results that look pretty good. tamar: boy, that's a pessimistic vision.
you do have one thing that you have been advancing in recent years, well more than recent years, long time, universal basic income. charles: yes. you asked a minute ago how do you change a culture? and let me say that one of the components of that i think has to go into it is that the new upper class has to stop being awol in the culture wars. right now the new upper class is doing quite well but as i said they're very nonjudgmental and as i've also said they don't preach what they practice. it's time that it's in the air, it's commonly voiced by senators and representatives but people who write sitcom plots, by people who make movies, people who are engaged and infecting the culture -- if they say gts areally a good thing for
kids if people are married, it's really important the guys get in the labor force to stay there. when i wrote "coming apart" they should preach what they practice, i did not mean they should get bull horns and get on boxes in working class communities and yell. i said that things in the 1960's or 1950's about these norms i'm talking about, it wasn't because people were on bull horns, it was in the air. these were values that were promulgated by the people on top of society just as a matter of course. tamar: people did stop smoking in america, one of the interesting examples. charles: who stopped smoking? tamar: yes, fair enough, fair enough. there was a norm that became a new norm. and i think people, the people i know on the upper west side would be uncomfortable telling working class people or urban
poor or anyone else you must get married but they weren't uncomfortable tell them you must stop smoking. charles: they weren't uncomfortable passing laws forcing them to stop smoking. tamar: pafrt of me was about to say it's so unrealistic to think the leads will start asserting norms but i remembered this one example. charles: but essentially i'm not going to argue with you. so let's go back to the universal basic income, which i had proposed first in the book in 2006, then i redid it new edition that just came out last year in which i proposed that everybody over the age of 21 get a monthly check deposited electronically to a known bank account and i'm not going to go into the details here but i want to tell you why i want to do it, partly because, a, it's affordable, we can to that whereas we're running out of control now and b, it really would get rid of involuntary poverty. everybody would be able to put together a decent life for
themselves with a minimal effort, but the real reason i want to do it is it's the only way i can think of to resuscitate civil society, and i'll give you some examples of how that's the case. by the way, my version of the universal basic income gets rid of the entire current system. tamar: i think that's the hard part. just guessing. charles: even when i come up with solutions they aren't practical solutions. i will say this would work, okay, and i want to you think seriously about and i'll tell you what i think would work about civil society. would you have people who would drink up their monthly allowance ten days before the end of the month? yeah, you would. they would not be able to go to governmental social service agency. they would have to go to friends, relatives, the salvation army, someone, but the
entire dynamic would have been changed so that before -- it's very easy right now if you're at the bottom of society, to present yourself as a helpless victim, and also to be treated as a helpless victim. we don't expect anything from this person. if you know that that person has let's say 1,000 bucks coming into his account in ten days, all at once those friends, or girlfriend or relatives can say okay, joe, we are not going to let you starve in the streets. it's time you got your act together and don't give us this nonsense that you're helpless. you aren't. you have resources. imagine that conversation repeated millions of times every day in all sorts of human needs and human problems of which the human needs are being dealt with by the people who know the people best and best able to adapt the response because some people need a kick in the pants and some people need a pat on the mac.
and in addition to that kind of revitalization of civil society, think of all the ways in which social capital, that thing which makes communities work, the thing that bob putnam talked about in "bowling alone" as the thing that has been going like this. well, universal basic income would also make it much easier for example, women who want to stay home with their children, want to stay home with their children rather than be in the workplace. it makes it a lot easier for them to do that and that's a good thing form a community, that you are pumping social capital into communities that right now don't have enough. that's a very short statement of a more complex problem. tamar: so i'm not sure how, i mean i don't think it's that plausible in the short term we'll get a ubi with your conditions but i am going to accuse you there of a little optimism. you almost think that cultural norms can be changed by
something that the government would do that would allow the energy of society to regenerate itself. charles: okay i'm going to pick that up and run with it. you're going to get all the optimism out of me in the next two minutes. tamar: and then one question from the audience. charles: that is that we have had a history in this country of revivals, of reawakening's, they were called. they were religious. we had three or four of them over the course of history and each one of them had huge effects on all of the culture. the civil rights movement was a kind of great awakening and that happened basically in the blink of an eye in about ten years with the core of the movement from 1954 to 1964. there is then also i think a lot less resistance in 2016 to these things we've been tag