tv PBS News Hour PBS October 28, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: there was some good news on the economic front this week. consumer spending is up, on the heels of a report of overall growth. and the stock market has had its best month in decades. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, are the gains enough to counter job losses? and can they ward off a double- dip recession? we talk with economics reporter neil irwin of the "washington post." >> woodruff: then, from alabama, paul solman reports on how the nation's toughest immigration law is affecting workers and employers. >> it's all about survival. that's just the bottom line, folks. without a viable labor source,
we cannot survive. >> i just refuse to believe americans will not or cannot do these jobs. >> brown: we talk to biographer walter isaacson about the life and work of technology giant steve jobs. >> woodruff: mark shields and david brooks analyze the week's news. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> okay, listen. somebody has got to get serious. >> i think... >> we need renewable energy. >> ...renewable energy is vital to our planet. >> you hear about alternatives, right? wind, solar, algae. >> i think it's got to work on a big scale. and i think it's got to be affordable. >> so, where are they? >> it has to work in the real world. at chevron, we're investing millions in solar and biofuel technology to make it work. >> we've got to get on this now. >> right now.
intel. sponsors of tomorrow. >> and by bnsf railway. >> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy productive life. >> 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. >> woodruff: world markets deflated some today as jubilation over europe's debt deal subsided some. on wall street, trading was generally subdued. the dow jones industrial average
gained 22 points to close at 12,231. the nasdaq fell a point to close at 2,737. but it was still the market's best month in a long time, and it came amid tentative indications of economic progress. the markets may not have moved much today, but throughout october, the closing bell brought good tidings more often than not. the dow rose nearly 12%, its best monthly showing since 1987. the nasdaq was up 13%, the most since 2002. and the s&p 500 also gained 13%, its best october since 1974. the figures were boosted by thursday's news of the european bailout deal. it's designed to keep greece from defaulting, while preventing the financial crisis from spreading across the eurozone. investors also took heart from hopeful signs that a double-dip
recession might not be in the offing after all. the u.s. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.5% in the third quarter, and consumer spending jumped six tenths of a percent in september. the numbers were better than expected, but there were also reminders that the recovery is still relatively weak. the world's biggest appliance maker, whirlpool, announced today it's cutting 5,000 jobs. that's about 10% of its workforce in north america and europe. it cited weak demand and higher costs for materials. meanwhile, there were also questions about just how the new european debt deal will work and who will pay for expanded bailout efforts. the head of europe's rescue fund visited beijing today, hoping to entice the chinese to invest in the multi-billion-dollar plan. he dismissed suggestions that
china might demand political concessions in return. >> there's no special deal. it's the normal conditions. we publish those conditions on our web site and there is nothing special. they find this an interesting investment. >> woodruff: in turn, the chinese vice foreign minister signaled her country's willingness to help. >> ( translated ): we do not think that europe will just collapse. we hope that, by fighting this crisis, the mutual understanding and trust between china and europe can be enhanced, and the cooperation between us can be deepened. we hope that this crisis can be an opportunity for all of us to make progress. >> woodruff: investors and political leaders around the world will be hoping the same, and they'll be waiting for next week's report on u.s. unemployment in october, plus the federal reserve's latest outlook. so what do these developments say about the health of the u.s. economic recovery?
for that, we turn to neil irwin, who covers business and economics for the "washington post." had should neil, it's good to have you back with us. >> thank you. >> woodruff: looking at all these numbers and all these indicator wharkz do you pay the most attention to this week? >> well, what we saw is a third-quarter growth number. the u.s. economy is not falling off a cliff. the u.s. economy is plugging along. we grew at a 2.5% rate. it's not great but we're not falling back into the the abyss and new recession. >> woodruff: does that mean there will not be a double dip? >> it could always happen but if it did happen it did not smart third quarter are it would appear. even as the job market is very rough, we're not seeing robust growth, but we're seeing a certain resilience. businesses keep vofsing, consumers keep spending money. it's very slow, it's very painful, it's very sluggish but it is growth and that's something. >> woodruff: what are businesses investing in do we
know? >> equipment and software spending has been rising. for two years running it rose at a 17% annual rate in the third quarter. back in '09, they weren't investing in new factories. therethere is a catch-up effectg on. so that's creating real driver for the economy. that's been one of the sources of strength in recovery. >> woodruff: one keeps hearing businesses are still-- there is still this air of uncertainty hanging over everything, that businesses are holding back. how do you square that with what some of the numbers show? >> what's happening, businesses, they're buying enough equipment and hiring enough employees to keep up with demand they already see. what they're not doing is investing in the future. they're not expanding their capacity. they're not building new factories and hiring 1,000 workers to staff it. they're only doing what they absolutely have to to fulfill demand from consumers. as long as that's the case we won't see rapid growth. we'll see the 2% to 3% growth that is really treading water.
>> woodruff: what about consumers? what are they buying? >> what they are not buying is a lot of big-ticket items. auto sales, appliance sales, the big-ticket durable goods have not risen the way they hoped. people have cut back and there is not the room to cut you might expect. >> woodruff: is it possible to say which one of these, or is it both, that that is the main driver for growth? is it mostly the investment, is it the consumers or what? >> consumers are weighed down by a lot of things. they have huge household debts, mortgages they're paying off. people are underwater on their mortgages. that's what is holding back consumers. consumer spending is rising very slowly. the corporate sector is in good financial shape. they have access to the debt markets. they can borrow money when they need to. so this growth out of the corporate sector, that's one of our best hopes going forward for the expansion to continue. >> woodruff: but how healthy, neil irwin, can this recovery be if businesses are still not hiring people in a big way?
>> ultimately, it will never feel like a recovery until that changes. what we saw this week is companies are expanding but only as much as they absolutely have to. they're so reluctant to bring on employees. unless that changes this will not feel like a recovery to a lot of americans. this will not feel like a place where we have a low unemployment rate and the conditions we all want to see. >> woodruff: what about the role of europe inule this? they did come up with a deal-- although there have been deals before that seemed to fall apart or at least not be as significant as they looked initially. what role is that playing? >> you know, it's amazing the linkages between the hues economy and europe over the last couple of years. it seems like every time things flare up over there and there's another wave of crisis or panic, the next couple of months you see weaker grob growth here and growth slow down over here. businesses are connected to it. it affects the stock market. it has a lot of linkages that are greater than you might expect. finding a long-term solution for europe's problems is really
important for the u.s. economy. what we saw this week was progress but not an absolute solution. there's a lot that has to be fixed there still. >> woodruff: as you look ahead what, are the most important things you're paying attention to? >> one big thing is whether the europeans can take this framework for an agreement and a deal and turn it into actually something that is executed, that really does stand as a big fund that is a wall of money preventing a debt crisis from causing a collapse in european nations. that's the key. >> woodruff: the federal reserve here? to what extent is that a factor in all this? >> they're meeting next week and decide what to do next. they've had interest rates near 0 for almost three years. they announced a couple of things at their last two meetings to try to push longer term interest interest rates do. they probably won't pull the trigger but they're certainly looking for more ways they can try and push money into the economy and get growth a little faster. >> woodruff: there's a lot to chew on and there will be even more in the days to come. neil irwin of the "washington post." thank you. >> thanks judy.
>> brown: still to come on the newshour: alabama's immigration law; the life of steve jobs; and shields and brooks. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: the people of bangkok, thailand, awaited their flooding fate today. soldiers, buddhist monks and others piled sandbags ahead of high tides expected to peak on saturday. the tidal surge is pushing the already swollen main river even higher. overflows filled streets of the capital city today. residents floated through the newly created waterways in whatever mode of transport they could find. the flooding, brought on by three months of monsoon rains, is the worst in nearly 60 years. another young survivor was found alive today in eastern turkey, five days after a devastating earthquake. state-run tv said he survived by drinking rain water seeping into the ruins of his apartment building. we have a report from tom barton of independent television news. >> reporter: keeping hope alive in the face of devastation. nearly 600 people have been
killed by the turkish earthquake, but still, rescuers pick through the rubble. and more than four and a half days after the 7.2 magnitude quake, their persistence pays off. pulled from the rubble, a 13- year-old boy, tired, weak. his rescuers cover his eyes to protect him from the bright searchlights. ferhat tokay had spent 108 hours trapped beneath his apartment block. according to the government, he becomes the 187th person to be rescued since sunday's disaster. his rescue came just hours after that of another teenager, a team from azerbaijan pulling the 18- year-old to safety and on to hospital. the search and clearance operation continues across the earthquake zone in eastern turkey. more than 2,000 homes have been
destroyed, replaced by tented villages for some of the 50,000 people affected. but in the cold of a turkish winter, conditions are difficult. "they're trying their best," says one evacuee. "but i don't know what it'll be like in the coming days as it keeps getting colder." and as those temperatures drop, this crisis threatens to deepen. >> holman: a dozen countries have sent aid to the turkish quake survivors. and today, crews delivered pre- fabricated homes, blankets and heaters. in syria, activists say security forces shot and killed at least 40 people in the deadliest day in weeks. amateur video showed thousands of demonstrators in the cities of homs and hama. they shouted slogans against president bashar al-assad and called for outside intervention against his regime. protest leaders said troops chased people after the rallies ended and hunted them house to
house. the moderate islamist party that won tunisia's elections appealed for calm today. supporters of a rival party rioted overnight in sidi bouzid, the town where the arab spring uprisings began. troops fired into the air to restore order. hours later, the leader of the winning ennahda party blamed trouble-makers loyal to ousted president ben ali. and in washington, state department spokeswoman victoria nuland condemned the violence. >> we call on the tunisian people to uphold their own society's long tradition of tolerance and moderation, and to demonstrate with the same peaceful dignity and restraint that earned them the admiration of the region and the world just a few months ago. >> holman: the ennahda party leader promised today to create a broad-based coalition, and to pursue a liberal economic policy. crowds in new york city and online marked a milestone today for the statue of liberty. the statue was dedicated on this
day in 1886, a gift to the united states from france. for 125 years, the statue of liberty has stood as an iconic greeting to immigrants arriving in new york harbor. and officials chose to began today's anniversary events with a naturalization ceremony for 125 newly-sworn american citizens who came from 46 countries. one was a man from colombia who had served with the u.s. marines for two years. he took the citizenship oath this morning. >> it really shows the meaning of the statue of liberty-- the freedoms, the opportunities. back in the day, the grandfathers and ancestors that came to this country came for the same dream. they came through the same steps on ellis island. and now that we're taking the same steps, in a way, it really proves the truth of the statue of liberty. >> holman: "lady liberty" also got new high-tech equipment today-- webcams were installed in the torch. visitors to earthcam.com now can view live the new york city
skyline across the harbor and visitors down below. and for now, that will be the only way to see the view. starting tomorrow, the statue will be closed for a year, allowing the national park service to install new staircases and elevators inside. liberty island will remain open. roughly three and a half million people visit the statue each year. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: next, how workers, farmers and businesses in alabama are dealing with a new immigration law that's attracting national attention. newshour economics correspondent paul solman visited the state and filed this story, part of his ongoing reporting on "making sense of financial news." >> reporter: a recent rally of latinos in birmingham, alabama, protesting the country's newest and toughest immigration law. >> ( translated ): someone said that no one chooses where to be
born, but we can decide where to live! >> reporter: the law, known as h.b. 56, instructs police to detain any suspected illegal immigrants; employers to check a worker's immigration status with the government's e-verify system. >> we must fight together until h.b. 56 is repealed! >> reporter: latino alabamians even walked off their jobs for a day in protest. problem is, in rural alabama, most appear to be gone for good. >> our father in heaven, we pray that those fruit and vegetable producers might have that workforce in place that is required to harvest the crops that they produce. >> reporter: at a meeting in blount county, farmers were decrying a labor drought that's just gotten worse. >> for us, it's all about survival. that's just the bottom line, folks. without a viable labor source, we cannot survive. >> reporter: when the law went into effect last month, immigrant farm workers fled the
fields, hobbling the harvest. >> it's emotional when you've got a crop and you've got your livelihood and your home invested in that crop, and all of a sudden, it's rotting in the field. >> reporter: but illegal immigrants cost taxpayers millions in services and drive down wages in a state where nearly 10% are unemployed. so says state senator scott beason, the bill's co-sponsor, who aims to protect jobs. >> the jobs that alabama citizens can't hold because they're displaced by an illegal worker. what is lost is the effect on american workers who have been phased out of the market. >> reporter: and not just in the fields, says beason. he gets calls from construction contractors who say they can't compete with those hiring undocumented workers. their complaint: >> "i pay the insurance, i pay the workers' compensation, i pay my men well, and i'm going to go out of business," which means that he's at risk of losing everything he has, all his employees are at risk of losing everything they have, and that's part of the story that's never
told. >> reporter: on the street, beason's law seems to enjoy majority support. >> i think it's great and i hope it gets enforced 100% to the extreme, bar none. >> i'm all for it. i feel like what's taking place in america right now is a slow- moving invasion. our country is being taken advantage of and being exploited. >> reporter: but the not-so- silent minority feels the law is stereotyping alabama. >> it's xenophobic and it's embarrassing that i live in this state, and the whole country talks about how backwards we are. >> reporter: the farmers' lament is more down to earth-- that the law will kill a $5.5 billion industry. j&j farm is scrambling to pick the last of its tomatoes with just half the normal workforce. 80% of chad smith's crew vanished when the bill became law. >> we still had 30 acres to pick, and normally, those 30 acres, we could pick in two to three days.
well, it took us two weeks to pick it, so by the time we was getting to the end of the field, our fruit was too ripe. you had to throw it on the ground or leave it on the vine. >> reporter: smith may not farm next year, when the law will apply all season, not just at the end of the harvest. scott beason counters legal americans will work the fields instead, but employers who've long exploited immigrant labor will have to pay more to lure them. >> when you have a never-ending supply of laborers, cheap laborers, illegal laborers, it pushes down wages for everybody. it pushes it down for the illegal laborers themselves, and for the citizens and legal immigrants who are competing for those jobs. it pushes all those wages down. >> reporter: but keith smith says the global market sets prices, not farmers. >> if we pay more, it eventually puts us out of business is what's going to happen. and you're going to end up with food supplies, instead of coming from america, they're going to be coming from mexico, from chile, from honduras, where they're not really regulated like we are. >> reporter: moreover, the farmers insist, most americans
just can't or won't do farm work. when smith's immigrant workers fled, he hired locals to help harvest his sweet potatoes. >> i probably had three or four out of 50 that is really worth anything, as far as being a good worker. it's just a lot of it is they're not skilled and they don't know how to do what we're doing, and they ain't durable enough. >> reporter: they aren't durable enough?! >> they ain't durable enough, because they're not used to doing that kind of stuff. they come out and work two or three hours and they're like, "woof! i've had it! i cant take this anymore." >> reporter: in the fall, some 40 workers usually pick smith's sweet potatoes. he's down to 15. many of them live nearby. this was melinda martinez's fourth day on the job. >> i had to go home yesterday. i couldn't handle it. its back-breaking. >> reporter: martinez couldn't keep pace. at 40 cents per bucket, she made $30 for the day, compared to $75 or more for a practiced picker. >> it ain't really worth the gas im spending to get here.
>> reporter: jerry spencer has been ferrying unemployed workers from birmingham, an hour away. most last a day or two. >> city workers are unprepared physically, mentally, and in training. and i'm seeing some good, hard- working people coming out of the cities that may stick with it, but... but you can bet, as the economy gets better, they find a job in the city, that's where they're going. >> i just refuse to believe that americans will not or cannot do these jobs. >> reporter: "give it time," says scott beason. >> no one can walk out there the first day and pick tomatoes or squash or whatever the vegetable of the day is. i understand that there's going to be a short hiccup as people, you know, reset how they're doing business. but in the long run, alabama will be better off. >> reporter: we told that to pastor haskell adamson, also a farmer. >> by the time we get them in shape to work, the farmers are all going to be broke. >> reporter: and what about the pickers? says chad smith. >> "hiccup" ain't a way to call it, "a bump in the road" ain't a way to call it.
you're talking about people's lives. >> reporter: felipe chacon, who won't say if he's legal or not, moved here from mexico almost 30 years ago, has been picking tomatoes ever since. >> it's not just go to the vine and get a tomato, you know. you've got to know what you're doing. and it takes years, it takes years to learn how to do it. >> reporter: chacon is staying put, despite a law that is spooking legals and illegals alike. >> i suffer for my people being scared away. it's something that really hurts. i consider this my home. >> reporter: in the morning fog, kim haynes, driving his immigrants to work. half his crew stayed. but, he says... >> i have to go pick them up and bring them to work, and at the end of the day, i have to carry them back home because even the ones that are here legally are afraid to be on the highway. they're afraid to drive because they're afraid they'll get pulled over.
you know, its racial profiling. they know exactly who to pull over because they can tell by looking at them. >> reporter: the worker on the right came here from mexico 14 years ago. he's scared he'll be deported and cut off from his daughter, american-born and, thus, legal. >> it's one of those things i was thinking every day, you know? >> reporter: at a hispanic rights center, we talked to an undocumented worker who asked we conceal his identity. he quit his job at a birmingham restaurant and is afraid to go outdoors. >> i don't want to risk being separated from my family over a traffic stop. you don't feel safe anymore just going anywhere. >> reporter: like many immigrant workers, he feels he's being driven from his home. >> i think everybody feel like were just being discriminated against, completely, like not even being given a chance to speak or say anything. basically, like, "we don't want you here. i want you out of here." i think people feel betrayed by
the way this happened. >> reporter: on farms and at restaurants, undocumented workers may suffer, scott beason admits. but the law is the law. >> i understand the situation that there are people who have come here illegally, and they've had children, knowing they were here illegally. unfortunately, we can't set a state policy based on the situation that we didn't cause. >> reporter: "look," he says, "the law was not intended to discriminate against anyone." >> any time you do something and you're from alabama, when somebody disagrees with an issue, they're going to automatically cry racism. >> its time for us, as brothers and sisters, to stand up for justice and stand up for equality! ( cheers and applause ) >> reporter: at the birmingham rally, latino and black civil rights leaders united in their opposition to the law. meanwhile, in farm country, small businesses pled their case to local politicians. >> please, please don't forget us.
>> reporter: a u.s. appeals judge delayed parts of the law, but mostly, it stands. driving away undocumented workers, but perhaps opening up jobs for the unemploye if they can't or won't do the job, though, agriculture in alabama could be headed the way of its immigrant workforce. >> brown: when steve jobs died earlier this month of pancreatic cancer, he was lionized as one of the era's greatest innovators, a man of enormous influence who co-founded apple in his 20s, and whose products and designs revolutionized personal computing, cell phones, the music business, film animation, tablet computing, digital publishing and more. the story of the man himself is now told in a new biography titled simply "steve jobs". its author is walter isaacson, longtime journalist and author of previous biographies on
albert einstein and benjamin franklin. he joins me now. welcome to you. >> good to be here again. >> brown: i'm going to start at the end of the book-- >> most people never get there. >> brown: you say, "was he smart? no, not exceptionally. instead he was a genius." now what does that mean? >> that means he could connect creativity to problems. he wasn't just an analytic thinker. he told me when he came back from india where he went as a crop-out from college, he learned the power of intuition. and i think genius comes not just from having great mental processing power, it comes from being able to, as steve jobs' ad said, think different. that was his particular strength, was tying that artistry to engineering. >> brown: when you go back to the story to see where all this came from, he was adopted, right? and there's the number of people tell you about how that somehow shaped his character, a sense of
abandonment. he said to you, he insisted no. >> he said no. he said his parents, the people who adopted him, his real parents said you were chosen. you were special. and he looked at himself that way. but he also looked at his lifeaise journey and the journey was to seek enlightenment, find out how he fit in. and i think he felt he didn't fit in, in the normal way because he was put in a place where he wasn't born and he felt, okay, i have to cart of be part of that journey. he always loved to use the maxim that buddhist raise, the journey is the reward. i think the notion of being a seeker, someone who never felt totally fulfilled but was always passionate about the search, that comes in the background, probably. >> brown: but he studied zen but did not have zen calm, right? >> right. >> brown: he saut, but he-- and he had had this feeling of
being special but it had a negative side, too-- i don't have to play by the rules. i can get around people and. and he was mean to people. >> not playing by the rules, that's the heart of who he is, and he does it in small ways of everyday rebellion almost to assert who he is, like not putting a license plate on his car. but he also does it in other ways, which is to say, no. we're going to do the impossible. and he makes people do that. yes, the arc of the narrative of the book is a guy who can be pretty rough and mean on people, but by the end, by the end of his career, he has proven that they can do the impossible and he has gathered probably the most loyal team of eight players of any business in america? >> brown: what explains that. >> he's ipspire. >> brown: he's inspiring. >> yeah. >> brown: and there's a charisma. >> not only a charisma, but if you are tough on people and you say brutal honesty is the price of admission to this room, and
then you push them through your magical thinking to do things they thought were impossible, that creates a team loyalty. and i think if you just look at, oh, he used to occasionally snap at people. that-- this is the narrative of the book. >> brown: yeah. we talk so much about the enormous success and impact. but maybe take us to a moment that we're-- where that was not apparent, right? there was failure. when he was pushed out of his own company and things did not look verdict for him. >> that's certainly part of the narrative which is he creates an insanely great machine, as he calls it, the macintosh. it doesn't do all that well by 1985 in the marketplace. and his personality, and that of the much-smoother john sculley, who is a very polite, gentle soul, clashed, and in the end, he gets ousted from the company he creates. it's almost like a shakespearean drama. but the real failure and success comes inlet period people don't
know much about, when he's running next computers, and he's indulging all of his artistry. he wants the angle to be exactly 90 degrees even though it's hard tore mold the machine like that. he wanted it to be the perfect cube. he want the the greatest logo. he indulges every artistic instinct and hasn't learned how to tie art to engineering and common sense to make a product to work in the main mass. turnpike. it's kind of a glorious market failure. >> brown: that word "failure." was there a moment where he sensed he might fail, where he feared failure? >> i think that he was upset because he was running pixar and next, and both were hemorrhaging money. what he ends up doing is creating a great operating system at next that 'en has to buy. once he left apple, the people running the firm after a while can't even create a new operating system. so they end up having to buy next for the unix-based kernel
of the operating system and they get steve back. likewise, pixar, the rendering computers, and there was a guy there making beautiful animated shortsz to show how the machines worked. steve loved that artistry, and eventually pixar comes an animated digital movie company. >> brown: the commitment, the maniacal sense of design. >> right? >> absolutely. >> brown: and yet what you describe here-- you sort of see it on the cover, this sense of almost designing himself, i mean, studying his own stare, for example. did you come to think of him that way? >> yeah. he loved to be the maestro at product presentations. he invented many, many things, but one of the things he invented was this amazing unveiling of products where the heavens part and the lights shine down and the choir sings "hallelujah" and suddenly there's an ipod in his pocket or a macintosh speaking on stage. and that was part of his
showmanship. but the showmanship was able to connect products to us emotionally, just as the design of the product was. so i think it was all part and parcel of his success. >> brown: do you think there is a sense-- i mean, after all, we're talking about products, right? is there a sense of a danger, in a sense of over-galorifying the man? i mean i was thinking, you wrote a biography of einstein. theory of relativity. >> right. >> brown: now the ipod is not the theor of relativity. >> right. right, and steve is a genius knrut butt not in the same orbit as einstein. yes, if we're so much making fetishes of our little ipods and iphones it's probably not the best thing. but it's a lot better than making heroes out of people creating complex financial instruments that are caution the housing market to collapse or greece to default. at least he's creating products that combined art and technology to make something that we really want and are useful.
and having... >> brown: i want to ask you about your experiences as a biographer on this case. i mentioned einstein. you've written books about people-- several of them, at least. here you're-- upper working with a man who was in the process of dying before your eyes. did that change how you worked, what you wrote? >> well, yes. actually, because i was caught up in his magical thinking and his optimism, i thought he was going to stay a step ahead of the cancer. i mean, he always had new drugs every time the cancer sort of mutated around a particular drug he was using, they would find a new targeted therapy, and our last long meeting together, he said, "i won't read the book right away because i know there will be parts i won't like and i don't want to get mad at you, but i'll read it in a year." so i was actually writing a book, not only of somebody who was wrestling with the possible
death, but also somebody i thought might be reading the book a year from now. so it was emotionally draining, yes. >> brown: and finally, the intersection of the humanities and the sciences. you mention that earlier, one that grabbedded me-- >> edwin land when he was starting out, the guy who started polaroid, said the place to stand is the intersection of the humanities, and technology. >> brown: which tend to have a binary-- >> and we do there this day and age. that's why i liked writing about ben franklin and einstein. these are people who combined the love of science and the love of humanity. this is what you get in steve jobs as well. that sort of explanation to me a whole lot of it-- the part of his mind that was artistic and poetic and that part of his mind that was a businessman and an engineer. and many people that doesn't come together, especially in a lot of great technologists. they don't have the feel for art, but steve does d. >> brown: all right, walter isaacson's new book is called "steve jobs."
thanks. >> thanks for having me. >> woodruff: today's announcement by whirlpool that it's closing an arkansas plant and eliminating 5,000 jobs was eerily familiar news for the people of evansville, indiana. two years ago, the company shuttered its factory there and transferred production to mexico. it was one of many manufacturers who moved south of the border after the implementation of nafta, the north american free trade agreement signed in 1993. what's happened in evansville since then is the subject of tonight's edition of "need to know." here's an excerpt, narrated by correspondent rick karr. >> reporter: after nearly 80 at an appliance store near evansville, we met up with economist mohammed khayum.
he says its consumers whove been the big winners under nafta. >> we benefit because of range of things that happen including more products, great quality, lower prices. this suit, for instance, is a product of mexico. >> reporter: khayum is dean of the business school at evansville's university of southern indiana. he says the fridges and other appliances in this store are better than they would have been without free trade-- smarter, more durable, more energy efficient, and cheaper. >> when we buy tvs, we may buy two instead of one. >> reporter: khayum says one reason why nafta has a bad reputation is because it's easy to put a face on the workers who lost jobs to lower-paid labor in mexico. but the winners of the trade pact, he says, are everywhere. >> it's very difficult to organize us and to express to people here are the gains from trade. >> reporter: there's no... >> ...or they happen... >> reporter: there's no national union of consumers. saying, "we win. we win?" >> because we-- we know that and we don't need to express it. the individuals who are impacted negatively have reason to organize. and they have reason to get us
who are benefiting to want to do something to address their circumstance. >> reporter: khayum says the theory is that consumers gains should offset the pain felt by laid-off workers. >> the practice is that that has not happened, in a realistic way. >> reporter: evansville workers have been feeling the effects of foreign trade since even before back in the late '80s, zenith electronics laid off a thousand employees. more recently, a packaging manufacturer cut a hundred jobs. and the whirlpool plant closure erased nearly 200 positions at a firm that made refrigerator shelves. former whirlpool employee natalie ford's experience has been typical of workers displaced by foreign trade. since the plant closed, her family's finances have taken a big hit. her husband used to work at whirlpool, too.
now, he earns about 20% less at an automotive plant. she's bringing home about half as much, between unemployment benefits and what she earns working part time at a but she says that's not as bad as the uncertainty that's gripped her and her husband since the day management announced that the plant was closing. rick karr what was what was the conversation like in the car on the way home? >> i cried a lot. first thing i did was-- when they said mexico, i mean, everybody was saying few choice words, you know and first thing i did was get on my phone and call my dad and tell me dad. and then we was, like, "how we going to make it?" you know, "are we going to lose everything we worked for all of our lives?" because it was gone. they just took all that away. i had no idea. i had no idea. i still don't-- (laugh) to this day.
>> brown: "need to know" airs on most pbs stations this evening. please check your local listings for the time. >> woodruff: and to the analysis of shields and brooks-- that's syndicated columnist mark shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks. is you good to have you back with us, gentlemen. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: so we just heard that report about jobs in indiana. let's talk about what the president has been out there saying this week, beating the drums. he's already given up on talking about the jobs bill as a whole but, mark, he's out there talking about pieces of what he wants to do. hepg people with underwater mortgages, student loans. is this a productive line for him to pursue? >> i think it's-- i don't think there are many alternatives at this point, judy. it's obviously not going to make any headway in congress, and so i think the this administration you could divide really into three sort of separate, distinct chapters. the first two years were the big
initiatives it's health care, tarp, the auto bailout, the stimulus package. and then the defeat in 2010, followed by a year where the republicans dominated the entire debate on terms of deficits and debt and the president overestimated his own power to negotiate bipartisan solutions. and found himself plummeting in popular support. i think now we're in that final chapter of the first term, and he's about trawg differences and doing what he can with executive orders and simply without the involvement or consent of the congress. somebody said to me the other day that the executive orders are like the drones of domestic policy. that a president can launch them himself without consulting congress and get a specific task done. >> woodruff: are these things, david, that can make a difference? >> not substantively. they're drones but they drop little, caps, i guess you call them.
there's the student loan thing which will make some minimal difference, a couple of bucks a month for. there's the infrastructure thing, mach a minimal difference, mortgage things, all very small, more symbolic to show he's proposing things. the biggest one happened a couple of weeks ago which was a series of waivers issued by the department of education for no child left behind to give states some more freedom. a lot of people thought they were not constitutional, he overstepped his bounds, but mostly this is a way as mark said of showing differences, showing i'm doing some little things but substantively not important. >> woodruff: is it helping him preliminary plilly, mark? we are seeing creeping up of his had numbers in approval. >> it reversed a threatening trend for the president. his numbers had gone down, especially at the time of the august debt reduction fiasco. and i think-- i think it is judy. i think he's drawing the differences between the two parties. he has to if he's going to--
into 2012. and it's quite frank, obvious that he has not thus far in his administration defined who he is and what he stands for. he's trying to do that now. >> i don't want to say to draw the distinction correctly. if it's going to be a straight liberal very conservative race he will lose that race. the country has moved to the right. he can show he is for activism but he can't run the al gore-john kerry campaign because the electorate, even from those days, is much more conservative. >> woodruff: you think that's what he's doing? >> i think they overestimate two things, the degree of his political skill, that he can just win this thing out by sheer charisma. i think his staff overestimates that. and second, i think they overestimate their ability to distinguish themselves from the straight liberal. they think, oh, we've tackled medicare. we've tackled a lot of things that made the base unhappy.
the country, a lot of independent voters do not see this. his approval rating among independents, even true independents, is 38%. that's a terrible problem for him. >> i disagree with david. i think this is not a liberal-conservative. i think it's basically a case of where you stand, on whose side are you. and there's no question right now, we've just seen the unveiling of the tax plans on the republican side. all of which show a tilt to basic-- basically to those already well off. and the president, only place where there's consensus in the public is on increasing taxes on the very wealthy, and that-- recognition that income inequality that has seized the nation the last 30 years, where we've seen the top 1% share of the income double, and there is a sense that the rules have been rigged in favor of those who are well off, and against the middle
class. and the question is can the-- is the president convincing, and can he stay the course? i think that's been the problem in the past. he has not stayed the course on that course that he has struck out on. >> woodruff: you're saying he's trying to make that argument now? >> yes, i think that has to be his division going into 2012. i disagree with david. i think the-- the problem barack obama has, having seen it most recently in a focus group in cincinnati on monday night, is people do not see him as a strong leader. they conot see him as a tough negotiator. and time again they feel that he has caved and, so he can't afford politically to start one policy and then change again in september or next january. i mean, he just can't do that. >> i guess i would just say we've seen this before. we had al gore and john kerry and george mcgovern and michael dukakis running against the people of the powerful. widening unequality, true.
but they run on the grounds the game is rigged. the republicans have run on the grounds, we're one economy, we all have to grow. let's get back to the growing economy where effort leads to reward. and historically, the republicans tend to win that fight. >> just, david, we have never had circumstances like we have now. i mean, it's tough to make powerful versus the powerless at a time of widespread prosperity as there certainly was in 2000 when by a margin of two to one people thought the country was headed in the right direction. we now have 15% of americans who think the country is headed in the right direction. this is an entirely different political environment. >> woodruff: i want to ask about the republicanes, too, but before i do, the so-called super committee, their deadline is getting closer. we are not hearing anything particularly promising out of there. what do you think? >> i've asked a number of people involved in the white house and in congress, "do you see much
hope?" and the short answer is no. one leader on capitol hill told me the opposition is behaving like nine-year-olds which doesn't suggest they're getting very far. my supposition is we won't have any big deal. we guilty through the next year where there will be no agreement and people in the pentagon and other government agencies are going to have to try to budget for 2013 with no knowledge of how much money is going to be there, and that's going to be very hard. i think it's going to be an economic shock to the system. >> woodruff: glued are you hearing the same thing? >> i am. the only thing that could stand in the way of no deal are two things, one, congress has a job rating of 9% in the latest "new york times"/cbs poll. if there's a question of survival if we don't come up with something, we could all lose our jobs. secondly, there's the real problem of the credit rating of the united states. we've anyone beyond just standard & poors. >> woodruff: the reaction if they don't reach an agreement. >> yes. >> woodruff: let's double back to the candidates. rick perry rolled out his flat
tax plan this week. he also got some attention for the comments he made on the birther, whether the president was born in the united states. david, is perry's flat tax plan now helping him being taken more seriously? >> i hope not. i mean, it's a joke. i mean, if you're going to have a plan, everybody fudges their numbers. but you have to be within the universe of reality. and so in his flat tax, he's going to reduce revenue over a decade by trlz of dollars-- trillions of dollars. he says he's going to balance the budget. he's not going to touch defense, and it just doesn't make sense. it's like he's not even putting together a plan. he's got some wild idea he throws together that seems popular. he's had a lot of bad weeks. i regard this as his worst week with this plan, which is not serious, and then stepping all over it with these comments about obama being born abroad and all that stuff. >> i agree totally with david. >> woodruff: you just
identified with his remarks. >> i simply say the person i felt most sorry for were the people in rick perry's campaign this week as they're rolling out this plan which i think is-- >> woodruff: which they've been talking about. >> which they've been saying will be the holy grail and restore him to his pristine position of prominence. he talks about the donald trump, landlord reality show host, his authority on birth certificates. i mean, it was just-- it was absolutely-- >> woodruff: he later said he thought the conversation with governor perry was private. >> that's what they're talking about in private, boy, there's one you're glad you're not involved in. >> woodruff: mark you said you were in ohio this week. it hammond to be the scene of governor mitt romney taking a position on collective bargaining for public workers. he seemed to be in a position that republicans were surprised at, and then changing his mind? >> you put your finger on it, judy. the first question is why was mitt romney in ohio?
ohio does not have a primary until june? why does he go to cincinnati and a phone bank bankmaking calls for governor john kasich's doomed legislation to-- >> woodruff: phone bank being different from a phone booth. >> that's right, that's right. where calls are being made to drum up support for the governor's program on the day that romney arrived, the public poll saw 21 points behind and thinking the governor's position, which would curtail the rights of collective bargaining for public workers. the firefighters are thumping the republicans is what it turns out. so mitt romney comes in, goes to the phone bank, and says i'm not going to take a position on what you're fong about. and then he gets beaten around the heads and shoulders by all sorts of conservatives for whom this is a very important issue, so the next day in virginia, he endorses the ohio plan. this is mitt romney's achilles' heel. this is what he can't afford to do, back off, pander, to hesitate and tow and fro, and flip and flop. it was just a bad week.
the only thing that saved him was rick perry was having a worse week. >> woodruff: do you think there's a deeper explanation for what romney did. >> two things. one, every hesitancy, mistake, now looks like a character flaw because it looks like flip-flopping because of the history. and the second thing i would saylet deeper intellectual problem is that republicans all agree we have to cut spending, but they have not yet set a level of principles by which we should cut and by which we should not cut. therefore, they have a no enemies on the right strategy where it's hard for them to say no to anybody, and he sort of muddled because of that. >> woodruff: the last candidate i want to talk about is herman cain who got a lot of buzz this week over an internet ad. we're going to show the viewers this little spot and just a portion of it. and then we'll talk about it. here it is. >> we need you to get involved because together we can do this. we can take this country back. ♪ i am america
one voice, united we stand ♪ i am america... ♪. >> woodruff: it's different. >> my heart melts for that smile. i just eye like it. everybody is going crazy-- oh, it's terrible. first offalli went into journalo hang around byes like that. >> woodruff: we should say he's a strategist for cain. >> and, you know, i don't mind the smoking. i like humphrey bogart, lauren bacall smoked a lot. i think it's fine but people are going crazy about it. >> i couldn't agree more. i'm so tired of the formula political ad, the candidate with the jacket over the shoulder, the two beautiful kids, and the dog, walking into the sunset, you know-- >> woodruff: this is the opposite of that. >> this is the opposite. thisthis is totally-- it's authentic. it's natural, it's none formulaic and it's completely consistent with herman cain's
absolutely eccentric campaign. and authentic and eccentric i would say. >> woodruff: the cigarette smoking-- -- you don't see that very often. >> people smoke cigarettes. they do. we can deny it, i guess, in public buildings but people do. >> woodruff: and you mentioned mitt romney in ohio. herman cane is campaigning all over the country. >> he is leading in the latest ohio poll, too. >> woodruff: so maybe it's good to stay away from iowa and new hampshire. >> i wouldn't advise that as a strategy. >> woodruff: well, we don't want the two of you to stay away. mark shields, david brooks, thank you both. >> brown: again, the major developments of the day: world stock markets deflated some as jubilation over europe's debt deal subsided. but overall, wall street had its best month in decades. soldiers and buddhist monks piled sandbags in bangkok, thailand, trying to keep a
weekend flood tide from inundating the city. and activists in syria said security forces killed at least 30 people after friday protests against president assad. online, there's political analysis and more. kwame holman has a preview. kwame. >> holman: you can sign up for shields and brooks and a daily dose of politics in your inbox with the "morning line," a dispatch from political editor david chalian and his team. and there's more from paul on his alabama story. he talks to scott beason about some remarks that have landed the state senator in hot water. that's on our "making sense" page. plus on "art beat," jeff talks with the conductor of the san francisco symphony, michael tilsen-thomas, as the organization marks 100 years of music. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. judy. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on monday, we'll talk with republican presidential candidate and former godfather's pizza c.e.o. herman cain. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown.
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