tv PBS News Hour PBS December 10, 2009 6:00pm-7:00pm EST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening, i'm jim lehrer. president obama accepted the nobel peace prize today. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, a report on the ceremony and speech where the president said, wars are sometimes necessary and justified. >> clear eyed, we can understand that there will be war and still strive for peace . we can do that, for that is the story of human progress.
>> lehrer: we'll get reaction and perspective from presidential historian michael beschloss, the reverend james forbes and editor joseph bottum. >> brown: then, the arrests of five american muslims in pakistan: we look at who they are and how they were captured. >> lehrer: the top u.s. military commander in afghanistan talked about security and fighting corruption, we have excerpts from his conversation with our pbs colleague, charlie rose. >> brown: new claims for unemployment benefits rose faster than expected after thanksgiving. tonight, economics correspondent paul solman talks to older americans looking for work. >> it doesn't matter if you're 50, it doesn't matter if you're 70 years old. you still have hopes and dreams and those hopes and dreams g.e.d. sidelines. >> lehrer: and, our patchwork nation series on the economy moves west, ray suarez reports on tough times in a community that had been going strong. >> lehrer: that's all coming, on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour is provided by:
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and by toyota. and monsanto. and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> lehrer: president obama's address about war and peace. as he formally received the nobel prize today in norway. judy woodruff begins our coverage.
♪ >> woodruff: the president walked into the city hall of oslo, a wartime leader, on hand to accept the most prestigious prize bestowed on peacemakers. it was a paradox not lost on him. >> perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that i am the commander-in-chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars. >> woodruff: just last week mr. obama ordered 30,000 more u.s. troops to afghanistan, on top of 21,000 he sent earlier this year. that tension, between his actions as commander in chief, and his advocacy of peace, animated much of the 36-minute address. >> we are at war, and i'm responsible for the deployment of thousands of young americans to battle in a distant land.
some will kill, and some will be killed. and so i come here with an acute sense of the costs of armed conflict, >> woodruff: the president acknowledged as he did when the prize was announced in october, that he does not claim to have earned the award based on his brief time in office. >> compared to some of the giants of history who've received this prize, schweitzer and king; marshall and mandela, my accomplishments are slight. >> woodruff: he also repeatedly cited dr. martin luther king who won the peace prize in 1964 and king's inspiration, mohandas gandhi. but he said at times, a head of state must depart from their non-violent creed. >> i cannot be guided by their examples alone. i face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of
threats to the american people. for make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. a non-violent movement could not have halted hitler's armies. negotiations cannot convince al qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. >> woodruff: developing his theme, mr. obama forcefully defended the notion of "just war" and the united states' role in the world. >> we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. there will be times when nations acting individually or in concert will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified. whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the united states of america has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. >> woodruff: the president cited numerous threats to that global
security in particular, the islamist extremism behind the attacks of september 11th. >> these extremists are not the first to kill in the name of god, the cruelties of the crusades are amply recorded. but they remind us that no holy war can ever be a just war. such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but i believe it's incompatible with the very purpose of faith, for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. >> woodruff: in the end, mr. obama said it is that faith and the faith that the human condition can be bettered that should be uppermost. >> for if we lose that faith if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues
of war and peace then we lose what's best about humanity. we lose our sense of possibility. we lose our moral compass. like generations have before us, we must reject that future. let us reach for the world that ought to be, that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. ( applause ) >> lehrer: we get three views of the president's speech from the reverend james forbes, senior minister emeritus at the riverside church in new york. he is a long-time pacifist. presidential historian and newshour regular michael beschloss. and joseph bottum, former literary editor at the conservative magazine, the "weekly standard" now editor of "first things" a magazine about religion and public life. reverend forbes, a peace prize a few days after escalating a war. how well did the president
explain himself ? >> i think the president explains himself very well. he shows, number one, that he understands the complexity and even the contradiction that would seem to be present when a war is going on and yet he's receiving the peace prize. i think he adequately explains why the two of these elements do not cancel out each other but they reflect two aspects which are essential in actually pursuing peace. so i see him in this speech during the delicate balance that i suspect we can get used to see throughout his tenure. that is, looking at this side, that side, but seeking to find the golden meaning. now, as a guy who has been so much for peace that i say that war defies every one of the ten commandments, yet i respect that his teaching us how a commander in chief has to work through those complexities to advance the very prospect of peace.
>> lehrer: joseph bottum, do you agree the president managed a delicate balance? >> well, he certainly got both elements there. it was a lovely speech, it was high-minded, it was well crafted. it was utterly incoherent, but i'm not sure that anything could have solved the problem that he faced. this is, after all, a man accepting a peace prize while he is at war and rhetoric won't really if i can what logic says is broken. >> lehrer: that's the incoherence. you think he just underlined rather than dealt with? >> he certainly strove rhetorically to reach some kind of resolution. the speech had elements of reinhold niebuhr's christian realism in it, we live in a fallen world. violence is sometimes necessary to oppose violence. and then at the same time, it had kind of standard old-fashioned liberal progressive elements in it. we're getting better, those barbarians used to go to war, people used to war in the name
of god, we see beyond that, we're getting better and better and better. those analyses and those justifications for talking about war are incoherent. they won't really go together. and the rhetorical flourish that president obama brought to it isn't really going to put them together in any coherent way. >> lehrer: michael, do you see it the same way? rhetoric can only solve a certain number of things thingst those didn't get solved today. >> that's always true in life i think. but my guess is that maybe a couple of people on the nobel committee wanted to take their prize back after hearing this speech because my guess is they expected to hear a lot about gandhi and king today not very much about a just war to which barack obama devoted a lot of space. and i think the fascinating thing as you watch this guy, he's coming to the presidency with probably less settled views on war and peace than certainly anyone in the last 50 years. >> couric: >> lehrer: you mean based on what he said before he became president? >> absolutely.
and also without a long history of national security. go back to 2002 when he gave his famous speech against the iraq war in chicago, said "i'm not opposed to all wars, just dumb wars." didn't mention afghanistan as a war he might be in favor of. the only two he mentioned were the civil war and world war ii. he's evolving all the time and i think in a way, he's becoming more more... at least not inclined to use force but at least open to that. one other thing, i think there's a political imperative. he knows at some level of his mind what happens to a president who in his first year sounds a little bit too peace loving and too trusting of perhaps the other side. jimmy carter in 1977 gave a famous speech at notre dame saying that america had been held back by our inordinate fear of communism. two years later, the soviet go into afghanistan and people said cater was naive. obama is determined that he's not going to be caught like that. >> lehrer: reverend forbes, picking up on that, your own views aside, do you think that what president obama said about
war and peace is an accurate reflection of what basically the majority of the american people feel about war and peace? >> it is difficult to assess the majority today but i do believe that president obama has listened to both perspectives and that he thinks that in what he said today he both honors and respects the perspectives on both sides but for the interest... best interest of this country, i think the road that he's taking is one that he's convinced represents the best combined interest of the united states at this time. and a guy on the left like me, i just think we have to work harder to make sure that president obama is listening to our more progressive and even pacifist i can perspectives as the right may be engaged in another side. i think he is president who listens and in the light of what he has listened to in terms of the science of the possible, he thinks he's struck it pretty
much as close to that tightrope as is possible given the complexity. >> lehrer: do you agree with michael, though, that president obama may not have had these views until he was confronted with the reality of war as president of the united states? >> i believe that is correct. i believe clearly that he is ... he understands moral ambiguity, he's always understood that. but you really don't know what the pressures that come from both sides, what they are like until you sit in that oval office. i've been in positions where i look from a distance. i do this, i do that. it is also wh-pbl you are sitting there that you have to wrestle with which is the better approach, not the perfect, kpwhu is the better approach at this time. i think that's the way he approaches it and i think he did a pretty good job of doing what could be done given the degree of difficulty of the dive, even
though there was a little splash, incoherent somebody else says. i think we give him a good grade. >> couric: give him a good grade, joseph bottum? >> yeah. this was a very american speech. >> lehrer: very american. >> there was much in this speech that john f. kennedy could have said. there was much in this speech that george bush could have said and, in fact, did say in his second inaugural address. >> lehrer: which george bush? >> we're not in favor of war yet war is here. this is a very american thing to do. in fact, the kind of peak moment for these american tropes appeared in that interesting passage where he said that he rejects the false choice between realism that only looks at self-interest and in idealism that would have us go abroad seeking to impose our values on others. he said no, what i believe in... and then he launched into a laundry list of what everybody in the world conceives of as american values. freedom of religion, freedom of speech, economic freedom for
financial development, democracy. these are the things that he was insisting somehow transcend the division between idealism and realism. well, that's a pretty idealistic laundry list. but it's also very american. it's exactly what john f. kennedy said. it's exactly what george w. bush said. >> lehrer: do you agree with that, michael? >> well, he quoted john kennedy at american university in '63, a speech that was called a peace speech with an opening to the soviets, so i think that's right. but it also underscored for me this almost agonizing balancing act that barack obama is trying to carry off. because here he is on one side perhaps the dominant wing of his party always antiwar, they're rather unhappy about if fact that he's sending 30,000 more troops to afghanistan. and then on the other side perhaps led by dick cheney, a movement that is essentially saying barack obama is shutting down guantanamo and he's ending things that he calls torture,
all this is going to make us weaker. and they will say if god forbid there's ever any kind of an attack on american interests that obama encouraged this. so here he is trying to do all these things at once and i think all those things were in the speech. >> lehrer: joe bottum, do you agree there's some politics at work here as well as morality and all these other things we've been talking about? >> for the president of the united states, there is always politics at work, that's what it means to be the president. so of course you're right. and that only contributes to the kind of intellectual incoherence of the speech. the question, i think, which the reverend forbes brought out is are we actually going to see any practical result from this? for politics it's the science of the practical. this can be incoherent at some high level, if a high level at which this speech was pitched. is it actually going to issue in a practical threading of that needle of finding those two
sides and finding a way between them? i'm not sure. and i don't think so. i think the speech actually promised concrete action which is going to be incoherent as reflective of the principles, the incoherent principles expressed in the speech. >> lehrer: do you agree with that, reverend forbes? incoherent action is probably going to follow an incoherent speech? >> well, my thinking is that with respect to president obama, he's the guy who knows how to tack his way. so he's headed, i believe, towards a more just and democratic society, security around the world. how he gets there will probably not please either side most of the time. i think he'll go this way, that way. but i think his eyes are on the prize of a less bellicose, less warring world, a more peaceful approach when that's possible but keeping the powder dry if necessary. and i think that's... it will look incoherent.
i think there's a method to the madness even if it appears that way. >> lehrer: finally michael, briefly, as a matter of his i have this speech going to be remembered and does it deserve to be? >> i think it will be as a moment that shows what barack obama was thinking about war and peace in 2009 which may be very different from the way he thinks about it four years from now or eight years from now. but, you know, one thing that's arresting about obama is to a degree that is more than most other political figures, when he talks it really reflects what's in his brain and in this case i think if it seems ambiguous it's become he is. here's a guy sending 30,000 troops to afghanistan at the same time he's talking about drawing down. these decisions have not yet been made and this speech actually reflected that. >> lehrer: got it. gentlemen, all three, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> brown: and still to come on the newshour the american muslims being held in eastern pakistan. charlie rose's interview with
general stanley mcchrystal. paul solman's report on the country's older job-seekers. and the latest ray suarez "patchwork nation" story comes from one of america's boom towns. that's all ahead but now, for some of the day's other stories, over to hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: the president faced new questions today about leaving afghanistan. he told reporters in oslo he's sticking to his plan to start u.s. troop withdrawals in july of 2011. but he promised the pull-out will be gradual. >> i think it's very important to understand that we're not going to see some sharp cliff, some precipitous drawdown. our whole concept here is to train and partner with afghan forces and to transfer to them even as our troops are fighting alongside each other. >> sreenivasan: meanwhile, general mcchrsytal the u.s. commander in afghanistan, played down concerns about the timetable. he told a house hearing that insurgents will see the u.s. commitment and realize: "a date doesn't change anything". defense secretary gates has
arrived in iraq from afghanistan. he met today with iraqi president jalal talabani to offer u.s. help, after the baghdad bombings on tuesday. the attacks killed 127 people. today, the umbrella group for al qaeda in iraq claimed responsibility. and it warned: "the list of targets has no end." a week-long winter storm left much of the midwest and northeast in a deep freeze today. at least 17 deaths were blamed on the storm nationwide. newshour correspondent kwame holman has more. >> holman: after days of blizzard conditions in the midwest, temperatures plunged into single digits with wind chills down to 25 below zero. >> it's so freezing cold out here, it's unbelievable! >> holman: and the northeast prepared for more snow amid bone-chilling winds gusts in buffalo were clocked at 60 miles an hour. the massive storm system dropped more than a foot of snow on a dozen states this week. in northern arizona, it left some 30 elk hunters still
stranded today. and nationwide, there were more school closures, airport delays, power outages, and traffic accidents some deadly. >> when it comes right down to it, people gotta understand that on a day like today, if you don't need to go out, stay home. >> holman: as the bulk of the storm pushed into canada, parts of northern new york braced for a total of three feet of snow by week's end. and southwest michigan was under a blizzard warning of its own. regions spared snowfall had their own struggles with wind and rain. in ohio, a trampoline was blown onto this man's roof. >> how did it even get through there? >> holman: and drivers in parts of the mid-atlantic and southeast faced flooded streets again. the storm also left a long trail of debris from downed trees to blown-down buildings to be cleaned up. >> sreenivasan: the u.s. house has approved a huge spending bill to fund 10 cabinet departments on a party-line vote. the bill ran 1100 pages and cost
$1.1 trillion. democrats said domestic programs were starved in the bush years and need help now. republicans said the spending means the era of big government has returned. the bill also needs senate approval. the wall street banking giant goldman sachs will not give cash bonuses to 30 top executives this year. the company paid back its federal rescue loans last summer, allowing it to escape curbs on compensation. just yesterday, britain announced a one-time tax of 50% on bonuses for high-paid bankers there. and today, the leaders of france and germany embraced the idea as well. treasury secretary geithner today defended his decision to extend the bank rescue program until october. the $700 billion tarp program had been set to end this month. but geithner told a federal oversight panel he needs more time to wind down the effort without doing economic damage. >> we will keep the government
out of the business decisions of these companies and we will exit from our investments as soon as is practical and return ownership to private hands. this strategy requires a limited temporary extense of the authority provided by by the congress under the emergency economic stabilization act. it would be irresponsible to do otherwise. questioned >> sreenivasan: the oversight group was created by congress. chairwoman elizabeth warren and others questioned the need to keep the tarp going. she said it prevented a financial collapse, but failed in a number of key missions. >> tarp has been far from an unmitigated success. credit for consumers and small businesses remains scarce, the foreclosure crisis continues unabated and treasury's mitigation programs have not achieve it had scope, the scale, or the permanence necessary to stabilize the housing market. >> sreenivasan: on wednesday, the treasury estimated it will lose about $60 billion on aid to insurance giant a.i.g., and to chrysler and general motors.
it will make a profit of nearly $20 billion on assistance to banks. on wall street today the dow jones industrial average gained more than 68 points to close at 10,405. the nasdaq rose seven points to close at 2190. those are some of the day's main stories. i'll be back at the end of the broadcast with a look at what you'll find tonight on our website. but for now, back to jeff. >> brown: and we turn to the story of a group of young americans who may have been preparing to join terrorist groups. the five americans were arrested wednesday at ts house in eastern pakistan. a laptop computer and extremist literature were also seized. >> they were u.s. nationals, one was from egypt, one was from algeria, one was from ethiopia, but they had u.s. passports, valid passports, with valid pakistani visas and two of them were pakistani-born americans, and they were here for jihad,
>> brown: police said the men told them they wanted to train with a militant group tied to al-qaeda, but were turned away. the arrests took place in the city of sargodha, 125 miles south of the capital, islamabad. >> ( translated ): there were four foreign people in the house, and we thought they were from america. the owner of the house also lives outside of the country. he came here recently and somebody called the police that foreigners were living here now. >> brown: u.s. officials believe the five men, aged 19 to 25, are the same individuals reported missing by their families more than a week ago in the washington, d.c. area. yesterday, the head of the council on american-islamic relations said the families contacted his organization and the fbi. they'd found a farewell video from the young men with scenes of war and demands that muslims be defended. >> i recall the video is about eleven minutes and it's like a farewell, and they did not
specify what they would be doing, but just hearing and seeing videos similar on the internet, it just made me uncomfortable. >> brown: in norway today, president obama declined to comment on the arrests. instead, he said "twisted ideologies" could affect young people in the united states, especially via the internet. and back in pakistan, police said they are still trying to learn more about the men and whether they'd established any firm contacts with terror groups. >> brown: and i'm joined now in our studio by nihad awad of the "council on american-islamic relations". also with us is josh meyer, who's covering this story for the "los angeles times." >> tell us a little bit more about what concerned you when you saw the video and when the parents came to talk to you. where there specific threats there? what did you see? >> well, two elements. the first concern is the disappearance of the young people to their families and to all of us.
and the second part is the fact that a video was left behind raised the concerns more. and the content of the video that i watched also disturbed me, juxtaposing images of war and putting with them or next to them verses of the koran that sometimes people misunderstand and misuse. that made me and the families worry and that's why they moved to let us know. >> brown: and how much have you come to know about this group of young men ? how tight-knit were they? how did they come together? >> well, i personally do not know the families or the young people. but from my first impression when i met with the families, we asked them me questions, they seemed to be very typical families. they're proud of their kids, mainstream, no sign of
disturbance, anxiety or anger over things. >> brown: so they were completely surprised by it? >> they were completely surprised and they pieced it together after the weekend was over. they stayed all night just trying to understand where they could be. but when they found the video and watched it, they made the conclusion that they have to turn over to the government and talk to us and get advice. >> brown: josh meyer, what have you learned so far about what happened next when the f.b.i. got involved and then when these young men went to pakistan? >> well, there's sort of a before and after. they know where they went. they know they got off the airport... out the plane in karachi, they went to lahore after that and then onward from there. but i think from there the investigation is still unfolding and there's a lot that remains unknown about it, who they met with, what these people purported to be, whether they were connected to any pakistani militant groups so there's a lot of unknowns at this point. >> brown: it was reported that they were first rejected by a
group they tried to get in contact with. >> right there. 's been a lot of conflicting information. that's one of the things they said. there's also some reports out of pakistan that they were at a safe house or a house owned by a guy from skwraoeurb, ... jaish-i-muhammad, one of the many militant groups in pakistan. so the other groups are trying to figure out what happened and what didn't and they say they're still trying to run this to ground as they speak . >> brown: what's known about how seriously they take these guys. as serious would be terrorists or as wannabes in the jargon there? how are they being taken? >> well, that's a good question. i think any time somebody gets radicalized to the point where they want to leave their homes in the united states and go to pakistan to hook up with these people, that's of serious concern to the united states, especially because they can turn around and come back to the united states and launch attacks. but they might also be there to learn the ways of jihad. i think there was some speculation they might have gone to fight in
afghanistan, casey kotchman, kashmir. ... kevin chia. and some guys from long island, for instance. >> brown: there were also reports that they were using facebook, youtube, to get in touch with jihad i groups. >> that's true and i think this is not the first case where they've been reports of people from the united states going to pakistan and trying to hook up with these groups and being rejected. i think these groups, especially ones considered pipelines to al qaeda are very, very concerned right now that these people might be spies for the c.i.a. or informant for the f.b.i. or just wannabes that have no place there. so, you know, there's... they have their own operational security and they've rejected americans for not having the right references. >> brown: now how worried are you and your community about the potential for more cases like this? >> well, first of all, we have to make sure that this is a small problem, it's not widespread, but to us it is a serious problem. it is there.
it is not widespread, does not reflect on the muslim community or even young muslims nationwide because the overwhelming majority are integrated, they're american citizens, they're okay with their lives. but also we take it seriously that we have to prevent it from happening. the good thing is, i see this as a success story. the fact that the families came forward, trusted us and we worked with them to report it to the f.b.i. in the presence of lawyers shows an equation there that needs to continue to be balanced . going out, informing... giving the information to the government, intervening in the right time and also acknowledging that this problem is there. we're going to launch a major initiative. >> brown: is there a way to intervene at an earlier point? that would be the obvious question, to reach these people earlier. >> definitely. looking at minneapolis, young somalis going to spol ya and other incidents. i think we have done a good job
as a community and as a country that we intercepted this at a good time. neighbor the future we can prevent it even from happening by owning up to this problem, dealing with this issue, letting people talk about the issues that they're frustrated and give them the space and go to the point of ral calization and try to rebut, whether theologically, spiritually, socially and politically. make it difficult for them to think about these bad options. >> brown: just in our last minute, you're talking with law enforcement here. we had a colleague of yours on our show last night talking about the american implicated in the mumbai attacks. this is another case where they clearly must be worried about the potential here. >> absolutely. they're very worried about this and worried about the guy from somalia. they're worried about two people from the new york area. they've very, very worried that these guys are... why would they be moved to go to pakistan for this? why kind of pipeline is there perhaps even in the united states that sends people there and what they can do about stopping them either before they leave or once they get there.
but they don't feel like they have a good handle on all of the americans who are going back and forth to places like pakistan . >> brown: are they considering a success story as he puts in the this case? >> i don't think so at this point. they're very grate to feel the families for helping but i think they're glad they caught this at the stage they have but i don't think they would call a success story. >> brown: josh meyer, nihad awad, thank you very much. >> lehrer: next tonight, excerpts from charlie rose's conversation about going to the people, with u.s. army general stanley mcchrystal head of allied forces in afghanistan. >> the core of your philosophy is you have to convince the afghan people that they have a reason to believe that they can live in peace with some security and some manner of governance that protects them. >> absolutely. at the end of the day, the people who judge success or
failure will be the afghan people, who will make decisions on how they go forward, who they support. so it's critical that we convince them that their government can protect them and will protect them, and then meet their basic needs. >> what's the metric? how do you measure that? >> there are a number of ways, charlie. one, of course, is polling; you ask them. but there are a number of other ways, as well. people make decisions that reflect their outlook on the future, whether a farmer plants a crop, whether someone makes an investment, whether individuals will join the government, whether they will bet their future with the government, join the police, join the army. in fact, join the government, accept a government position. all of those are indicators of confidence, when they believe that things are going in that direction, they make very, very important life decisions, and we try to look at all of those.
>> why are you confident that president karzai, with all the allegations of fraud, with all the allegations of members of his family, is going to be up to the task that you have given him? that the afghan people are expecting from him? >> i think your last point is key. i think president karzai absolutely understands what the afghan people desire from him and expect of him, and i think he has deeply-held sense of responsibility to deliver for them. and i don't believe that the government is one man. no government is. i think that the government of afghanistan has a tremendous number of leaders who come together as a team just like the i.c.a.f. command is certainly not me. it's a team of people. and i think that that government increasingly is focused on providing for the afghan people, and so im confident that they
will move forward in a good partnership. >> but this is the same people who everybody accuses of being in a massive, fraudulent election. so all of a sudden, even though they did that, you now believe that they can take confidence- building measures with the afghan people. >> there are clearly steps that have got to be taken, and that's what it >> absolutely. there have got to be steps taken to reduce corruption, particularly high-profile corruption. there is a perception in many in the population that there is a sense of protection of many corrupt officials by the government, and that's got to be wiped away. i mean, that's got to be directly addressed, although i know that its difficult to do that. they're going to have to take that on to regain their credibility with the people. >> lehrer: mcchrystal said the next 18 months will be decisive in reversing the taliban's momentum in afghanistan. >> brown: now finding a job when you're over 50.
the number of workers seeking jobless benefits rose by 17,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 474,000 that was more than expected. as the nation's unemployment rate stands near its highest level in more than 25 years newshour economics correspondent paul solman looks at the unique problems facing older workers. it's part of his ongoing reporting on making sense of financial news. >> reporter: how many of you are going to retire later than you otherwise would have? >> retire from what? ( laughs ) >> reporter: a recent meeting of a 50-plus job search group at jewish vocational services j.v.s. in san francisco. no one looking to retire. no one with a job to retire from. for law firm billing specialist patricia wilson, age is the roadblock. >> i was told during the interview: as you can see were a very young group, and our main concern is that you are overly qualified for this job and we
would be concerned that you wouldn't stay. >> reporter: did you believe them? >> no! of course i didn't believe them. i just felt that they didn't think that i would fit in with the younger group. >> reporter: the jobless rate for workers over 45 has more than doubled since the start of the recession hitting a record 7.5% last month, the highest since 1948 when data were first collected. many are losing out to younger, cheaper counterparts. >> i actually had the experience of losing a job to an unpaid younger worker because of the prevalence of internships. >> reporter: ike mcguire is a journalist. >> at no time since slavery have so many people worked for free in america and i've even heard they've started some people have actually started to pay people to go work for them! >> reporter: in 1986 the late congressman claude pepper, then 85, sponsored a bill that outlaws most mandatory retirement. yet an a.a.r.p. survey released
last year found that 60% of workers aged 45-74 had either seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace. abby snay of j.v.s. >> people cannot be discriminated against because of their age, that doesn't mean that older workers aren't losing jobs in large numbers and competing for jobs with people half their age and knowing that their skills may not be as competitive. >> reporter: workers 45+ are more likely to be among the long-term unemployed, those unemployed at least six months. in november over 50% of the older unemployed were out of work for at least 27 weeks, after having worked for decades. like photo stylist sandy gasser. >> we're very good at many other things, excellent as a matter of fact but we're not skilled at looking for work. we've, we've been doing our careers all this long time. >> reporter: moreover, says abby
snay. >> the last time they looked for work the whole way of looking for work, all the methodology of job search was completely different. now somebody is telling you, you have to use linkedin and you don't know what it is, maybe your kids, your grandkids use facebook. but you have to learn linkedin and then figure out who your network is. >> reporter: linkedin is a computer networking website. but some older workers need more basic training. >> you want to move it from this location and put it into the job search folder. >> i click over here to bring that copy or just copy or paste, rather? >> reporter: j.v.s. teaches the older unemployed to navigate the job market via computer. but what job market? ask workers like accountant melanie einbund, looking since january. >> looking for a job is a job that not necessarily you want to have. i want to be doing my numbers. i want to be working with my team. i want to be adding value to my company. >> reporter: but you don't want the job of looking for a job? >> you've got it! i don't want the job of looking for a job.
i want my job. >> it's very frustrating. it's also very demeaning for older people to be in a supplicant position with people who could be half their age. >> reporter: so maybe older workers should just give up and retire. no, just the opposite, argues stanford economist john shoven considering older people are actually much younger than they've ever been. >> today's 65 year olds have less than half the chance of dying within a year as 65 year olds did in 1950. they are not the same age; they are healthier; they are much further from death; they're younger. a year of life today is not the same unit as it was in 1950, just like a dollar today is not the same unit as a dollar was in 1950. so, i'm "65" now. how old am i? >> so you are about the same age as a 56 year old was in 1950. a 9 year adjustment. that's a pretty serious adjustment. >> reporter: thus according to
shoven, since people live longer, they should retire later. in 1900, the average length of retirement for men was 2 years. 2 years! men worked until they couldn't work, they were real sick and they died within 2 years. by 2000, retirement length was 20 years. >> reporter: now not every economist thinks people should work longer. teresa ghilarducci, author of when im 64, says the data show that retirement is actually good for people. >> when women retire their mental well-being and their physical well-being increases. they're improved. their health improves. you mean they actually live longer? >> reporter: you mean they actually live longer? >> it adds to their longevity. and for men, their deterioration just slows down. so if men kept on working th'll die sooner, if they retire they have longer lives. so oddly this idea that we should be working longer because supposedly were living longer could actually be reversed. if we made people work longer, longevity would decline. all of our improvements would be wiped out.
>> i'd feel more comfortable in a larger company >> reporter: but even if the traditional retirement age were beneficial, given their low and in the last year dwindling savings, those we spoke with didn't feel they had much choice. they can't afford to retire, especially if laid off in their 50s or 60s like our friends in san francisco. >> i have been dipping into my retirement fund and that is an added stress for me and the clock is kind of ticking on that which means i can only take that so far and then i can't keep going because what i have built up over the years is going away. >> reporter: and on top of the financial stress, says teacher laura grossmann, unemployment takes an emotional toll too. both she and her husband are looking for full-time work. >> we are who we are because of our work and our experience and not having that is the most demoralizing and it feels, i
felt bereft. >> when you do lose your job and it doesn't matter if you're 50, it doesn't matter if you're 70, you still have hopes and dreams and those hopes and dreams get side-lined. >> reporter: the hopes and dreams of older workers these days, however: just finding a job. >> lehrer: and finally tonight we continue on the economy with part four of our "patchwork nation" series. it's an on-air and online collaboration with the christian science monitor that explores how different communities across the country are performing during the recession. tonight, ray suarez looks at the country's boom towns with this report from eagle, colorado. >> suarez: adam's rib ranch stretches over 1600-acres of spectacular rolling terrain, ringed by snow-capped mountains. there's an 18-hole golf course. a 40,000 square foot luxurious club house, surrounded by 99
homesites, each costing $1 million to $2 million just for the land. the only thing missing? buyers. >> we've definitely seen a downturn from the spiraling years of the 2006-2007 growth. >> suarez: like most boom towns all across america this development was planned in a euphoric era when the mantra was "build it and they will come." now salespeople like john helmerling are struggling to make a sale. so far just one house has been purchased, and only 11 of the 300 available golf course memberships sold. still, helmering remains cautiously optimistic. >> i think it's going to take a shorter time for this valley to recover than some of the others, but i would still put it on a 3- 5 year time frame. >> suarez: walk down broadway eagle's main commercial street and you can't really see that anything is wrong. there aren't rows of empty shops
or going-out-of-business signs. but what a tv camera can't show you is all the things that aren't happening. the buildings that aren't being redeveloped. the condos that aren't being built. all on the boards and with business plans before the crisis hit. >> inventory is high on the market now. >> suarez: real estate agent doug seabury took me through the neighorhood of eagle ranch a middle class housing development started in 1998. the plan was for 1,300 housing units. about 800 have been built, but many are now sitting empty. >> if you look at what eagle's population does for a living, a large percentage of them are builders. moves in, they build another house tkaopd that cycle. the people that have been really hurt were the ones that were in that cycle, next thing you know they own two homes, a couple lots, can't afford the payments,
can't sell the homes. >> suarez: so that was one of those situations where you needed that kind of economy to keep on going. >> absolutely. they just built too many homes too quick and too many people got stuck holding more than one home for themselves. >> suarez: the crisis is also taking a huge toll on businesses and people in related fields. ray perez is a mechanic who fixes engines on construction equipment. his work virtually disappeared this summer. we met him at a dinner the methodist church holds every monday, to help people in need. >> it's been a struggle. i've resorted to mowing lawns. do tree trimming. today i was painting. >> suarez: so i guess coming here helps? >> absolutely. being able to come here was a great help.
>> suarez: cynthia sibley helps co-ordinate the dinners which serves about 50-60 people a week. >> it's surprising a lot of us. and all of us here are feeling it in one way or another. we know people who have lost their homes. lost their jobs. it's shaking us to the core. >> suarez: eagle, like other boom towns across the country -- had been a comfortable place to live. the tony vail resort is just 30 miles away, and in 2000, the median household income in eagle county was $20,000 higher than the national average. >> did you get it from grandpa? and grandma? >> suarez: but that's changing as more and more people have lost their jobs. 28-year old travis barton had a promising career as the operations manager at a local lumberyard. a father of two young children, he and his wife were planning to buy a house when the bottom fell out.
in march, the lumberyard announced it was going to shut down. barton was out of a job. >> it's been a tough time. we're all just trying to get through it. and the thing is, it's not like you can get up and move because the whole country i think is this way right now. >> suarez: barton worked diligently to find another job, and got one with orkin pest control services. he says he loves the work, and is happy to be out of the boom- bust-cycle of construction. >> actually, i had a job offer the same day i got the job offer from orkin for a job with similar pay, about the same benefits. but that one was in construction here for a material supply company. and i was thinking, there are always going to be bugs. i think i'm going to be smart and take this job instead. >> how are you? >> suarez: even businesses far removed from construction have been affected. erin seabury, real estate agent
doug seabury's wife, owns a women's clothing store. she says she has had to make changes to her business since people have less money to spend. i started looking for things that people could still pick something up but in the 20-30 range, so people could still pick something up but not have to spend $100 let's say. >> suarez: seabury says her family has made some changes as well, which has helped them weather the economic crisis. >> we simplified our life over the last two years. we moved into a smaller house. that change was pre-recession and we got lucky. but we'll never go back to a different way of living where we wanted a bigger house. >> suarez: it's likely that many people in boom towns will be making similar changes, says dante chinni, director of the patchwork nation project.
>> eagle and the boom towns in general are kind of a symbol of the exuberance of the economy for the first half of this decade. everything was going great guns it seems and it seemed there would be no down. >> suarez: were they built too much on the idea that there were enough buyers for high end homes with expensive finishes and appliances and all that? >> right. for every home a granite counter top. i think that was thinking. look, i think it's too early to say where we are going to end up when everything shakes out and the recession is done and we've moved forward. but it does seem like that concept of american life is going to change somewhat. >> suarez: cynthia sibley says one silver lining out of all this is strengthened sense of community is emerging, one that was missing when the town was expanding at such a fast rate. >> our church is growing and i think that we are providing a little bit of that expanded family atmosphere.
>> suarez: it was built on recession sensitive businesses, housing and the resort industry. it's unclear whether eagle and the towns like it have learnd from this downturn and the k grow other industries to avoid the boom/bust psych until the future. >> brown: tomorrow night, ray wraps up the "patchwork nation" series with a report from lincoln city, oregon. >> lehrer: again, the major developments of the day: president obama accepted the nobel peace prize, in oslo, norway. he defended the concept of just war but urged the world to strive for peace. and the winter storm that's plagued the u.s. this week left much of the midwest and northeast in a deep freeze. the newshour continues now online. for what's there this evening on our new website back to hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. hari. >> sreenivasan: on our web site
tonight you can watch all of president obama's speech in oslo. and on our education page, newshour extra, there's an interview with this year's winner of the international children's peace prize. on paul solman's making sense page a web exclusive video on retirement. is it good or bad for your health? and on jeff's art beat blog, the first in a series about the future of reading it's on writing short stories for twitter and other new media formats. speaking of new media, you can now follow us on twitter. friend us on facebook. find us on flickr. and watch us on youtube where there's a special welcome message from jim lehrer. you'll find all those links at newshour.pbs.org. jeff. >> brown: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm jeffrey brown. >> lehrer: we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. i'm jim lehrer. thank you and good night.
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