tv Capital News Today CSPAN February 16, 2010 11:00pm-2:00am EST
because they would turn off a large segment of the electorate. and i think that's going to be the true measure and test of our transformation is a democracy, when again, what reid was saying his support of politics of realism about the electorate is shaped when somebody again who is not quite and, who is not perceived as speaking as if he were not a black person could win an election. >> host: did you believe that a woman would be a lack did before an african-american? >> guest: you know, it seemed as if senator clinton was definitely poised. and when we think about women and from the country, they are definitely ready for them. so in a way seemed as if that would happen before an african-american, especially because before barack obama arrived on the scene, if we
looked at the landscape of black elected leaders, the political leaders, it didn't seem as if anyone was imminent, had imminent possibility of becoming president. >> host: we're just about out of time. but i want to say i'm enjoying this a lot. we are talking with peniel joseph, professor of history at taft university and has a very deep, complex but, "dark days, bright nights: from black power to barack obama." congratulations and continued success. >> guest: thank you. i enjoyed this conversation. ..
earlier tonight on book tv, we held this discussion about the wealth of nations, a landmark 1776 book on economics philosophy and political science. this is one hour and ten minutes. >> host: on your screen is a university of a lie and chicago philosophy professor his name is samuel fleischacker and he's also president of the international adam smith society. professor fleischacker, who is adam smith? >> guest: well, actually that's not such an easy question to answer, but he was a moral philosopher in scotland in the 18th century who wrote a book on a moral philosophy and used to give a set of lectures that took you from moral philosophy through the law to economics and
eventually wrote a very long book on economics often considered the founding text in the field called the inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. and he's been extremely influential ever since, although as a philosopher, i wish people would look at him more as a philosopher than just an economist. >> host: we will get to that but professor russell roberts of george mason university, what has been the impact of "the wealth of nations"? >> guest: "the wealth of nations," besides teaching people economics since it was published in 76, really said a whole tone for social science. the combination of empirical work, observation, logic, philosophy, all melted together. it is an extraordinary work that has held in the enormous impact on scholars and the real world not just scholars but for people. >> host: professor fleischacker, when we talk about moral philosophy, what do we
mean by that? >> guest: well, what smith meant by it was something close to what we call social science in part. that is to say everything today we call psychology, sociology, economics, the would be part of moral philosophy as a part of natural philosophy. natural philosophy is what newton did, moral philosophy covers the social sciences. but it also meant for him as it does for us the study of what is right and wrong, good and bad, but human beings are aiming for, what they aspire to, and those things or part of his vision of social science i would say. >> host: how groundbreaking was his work? >> guest: it was enormously influential as mosul said. almost from the moment is was written by say the 17 nineties it was being friends all over. the pri minister of england as of the 70 nates, william pate had read it already in college,
the founders of the united states, especially thomas jefferson and james madison were very much influenced by it and were looking to it for guidance as they shaped this country. and then by the time of the french revolution and was extremely important in france and germany. so in a lot of ways, it was the go to book if you wanted to figure out what gernment should do about the economy, but also with the governments should do in general. >> host: professor russell roberts, do you use adam smith's theories when teaching economics of george mason university? >> guest: i do actually. his insights into the specialization, labor and trade are timely. we are the only university i know what at george mason that has a field in smithian political economy. i hope to teach, my colleagues so we take smith quite seriously as a role model for how social science should be conducted. >> host: what about you,
professor fleischacker, do you use adam smith in your class is? >> guest: i do but i should say as well as being a mortal and political philosopher i am expected to teach some of the classics of the field especially the field in the 18th century, so i regularly teach a course on the scottish moral philosophy in the 18th century. that includes figures like david hume as well as adam smith, and i like to suggest to the students smith provides a quite remarkable maltol philosophy and social science can be brought together and sometimes look at his moral philosophy in connection with wealth of nations and see how they interact. >> host: good evening and welcome to the special addition of book tv on c-span2 in prime time. we will be live for the next hour looking at adam smith's "the wealth of nations" and want to take your calls, e-mails and tweets. so if you'd like to call the two guests will tell more in the second but if you would like to
call in with the guests and talk about adam smith and "the wealth of nations," here is the numbers for you to call, 202-737-0001 if you live in the stand central time zones, 202-737-0002 for those in the mountain and pacific time zones and you can always send an e-mail at book tv@si stambaugh word or you can send a tweet, twitter.com/booktv is the address. the guests are samuel "the wealth of fleischacker from chicago and is a professor at the university of illinois in chicago and is also president of the international adam smith society. professor fleischacker, what is that society? >> guest: that was a society founded -- that is a society founded about 15 years ago to encourage more scholarly interests in smith. one of the mall's was the fumes society which did help ratchet up interest especially among
philosophers and david hume. smith is of interest to not just philosophers or economists to the intellectual historians, to the literary theorists often these days and we encourage the study of smith from all and no political perspective. that is to say we try to stay away from the political views of smith for ideological purposes and simply encourage the scholarly work on what he had to say in these various areas and we have conferences' at least once a year and also try to encourage scholarly work in various other forms. >> host: you mentioned david hume twice. who is he? >> guest: david hume is one of the most important philosophers most people would say of the modern period. that is about since about 1600. he was a radical in a realist, that is someone who tried to develop a theory of knowledge and of moral was entirely on the
basis of experience. that led him in certain ways to be something of a skeptic, raising doubts about the existence of causality, even at ourselves and serious doubt about religion. and he was also adam smith's best friend and he proceeded adam smith in the right thing interesting essays on economics and many of his insights in fact smith incorporates and then systematizes the inquiry into the wealth of nations. >> host: the other guest is russell roberts, economics professor of george mason university here in the washington, d.c. area. and a research fellow at the hoover institution. he has a weekly podcast called "econ talk." what is that? >> guest: an hour-long interview with economists, authors, anything i think it is interesting that is about the world around us and is related to economics including a six part series ended with daniel klein on the moral sentiments, adam smith's first book to read
a little intense but for those deeply interested a scholarly version did we usually do. >> host: would you consider yourself a fan of adam smith's fees'? >> guest: big time. >> host: why? >> guest: it's startling how something written so long ago with some charm is still educational and delegable. the thesis adviser chicago, gary becker won a nobel prize when asked to are the economies to the eckert economists who most influenced him and he said adam smith and alfred marshall, that was exaggerated but we can go back and read smith. there's so many insights and again, he's such a role model for how to use observation, fact, evidence to think about the world around us. >> host: before we go to calls there is one phrase adam smith is very well known for, the invisible hand. we are going to take that from "the wealth of nations" and we are going to read the quote to you where he uses the phrase "invisible hand" with a little text before and afterwards so it gets a little long but we felt
that he would want to see it in perspective and this is from adam smith's "the wealth of nations," but number four, chapter two. >> host: what does that mean? >> guest: it means it amounts to different things to different people. what it means to my understanding of smith and the world around us is she was
throwing out a tradition that was a little proceeding -- he's considered the first economist but adam ferguson who came before him was also a scott, talked about things that were the result of human action but not human design and you take that lineage, ferguson, adam smith, sir hayek, the great 20th century economist. they're interested in now comes the beneficial. sometimes harmful but usually beneficial but no one intended. the amended the consequences are often thought of as negative and often is, which smith and hayek and ferguson were talking about was human action that creates an emergency order will designed from the top down but from the bottom-up by individuals making decisions based on the knowledge that they have access to that no one else does. understanding that in my view of economics is the single deepest thing economists understand that is an office or common sense. it's profoundly deep. it is nuanced, it is subtle, it gets character a lot as if everything is going to turn out
okay. it's not with smith understood to mean and smith also had a divine aspect, "the invisible hand," as the hand of the divine. he uses the cement floor and sentiments and argues people for their internal conscience and their worries about what other people think of them are led to do things that make the entire society better off. it is a very deep and subtle idea. it is a beautiful lady. >> host: samuel fleischacker, sing question. >> guest: i will agree with most of what russell said. the extract meaning of the idea, "the invisible hand" is intelligible among smith's dollars these days. some say that it refers to the divine. smith uses exactly three times in his work, and in one case it does clearly refer to the decline. the wealth of nations, many people come and gone would be among them say there is no reference to the fine. it's a metaphor that he found it
useful elsewhere. whether there is any kind of religious background to his economic theory as i said is a very controversial one but i think russell's main point is the one to focus on here. whether there is or not, smith gives us a purely nationalistic secular account of how workers can arise without anybody intending them and for the most part have individual action can for the most part produce something good for society as a whole without people intending it. now, one thing that smith has in mind and this is the one thing i would want to add that russell said it is he is opposed to the idea one ought to think the society would be better in many cases if there were a visible hand. that is on the one hand he thinks the government's don't necessarily do a better job in fact they usually do a worse job in running economies and on the other hand, he dislikes as it
says in the last sentence you quote it dislikes it when merchants claim to be doing something for the good of society. interestingly there is a letter smith wrote about the same time about a year earlier in which he refers to jezreel, the famous founder of the pottery firm, and claiming that he wanted a certain law which was actually going to benefit his firm for the good of england. and smith says in the letter essentially he would much rather admit that he's doing it for himself. basically, it doesn't trust merchants when they claim they are doing something for the good of the public. he thinks it is better if the act for their private interest and if everyone does that on the whole, again as russell said and this is important, it doesn't think this is true in every case -- on the whole when people pursue their self-interest and a well organized society it will conduce the public good. >> guest: jack, i like that point about smith's worries about claiming to be serving the
public good. it brings to mind the ceo of goldman sachs recently quoted as saying he does god's work as an investment banker making sure flows to the highest values. that is a wonderful lady. unfortunately, the system now that is more crony capitalism he serves goldman sachs and masquerades to be serving the public interest and i think -- >> guest: he wouldn't even think it so lovely. he would consider it quite typical. [laughter] but yes. >> guest: but smith understood temptation on the part of the merchant or business person to quote himself interest in the public interest, and how dangerous it was. >> host: samuel fleischacker, give a brief biography of adam smith. where was he raised, where did he go to school, etc.? >> guest: okay. i hope your viewers don't fall asleep in this. he has one of those boring lives of any important human being. his father died before he was born. he was born in a small town in
scotland called kirkcaldy. he supposedly was kidnapped by gypsies when he is about 7-years-old and released a few days or weeks later. that's the most interesting thing in his lifetime and after that he went to a university in belasco, got a special scholarship to go on to oxford. came back and taught at oxford, he was a professor which was in that, and to some of the major intellectuals of the time. hume was never a professor. ferguson was largely not a professor. and he took over the course of his own teacher francis hutcheson. after that he was hired by a rich nobleman to tutor his kids and supported for the rest of his life on that money even though he only tutored the kids for a couple of years. then he retired to sit at home and write "the wealth of nations." and finally enough after writing "the wealth of nations," in which he argues against duties
of any kind, he became a commission of customs for about a decade and then died quietly at home in scotland. very rich from various sources, although apparently he gave most of his money away quietly without telling anyone said that he died without much wealth to his name. that's about it. >> host: russell roberts, did he ever visit the united states? >> guest: why don't know. but sam can verify that. >> guest: no, no, he visited a few places to be he went to paris and met major intellectuals and france, but aside from that one trip to the continent i don't think that he traveled very much outside of the british isles. >> host: let's get to the calls. 202-737-0001 if you live in the east and central time zones. 202-737-0002 for of pacific and mountain time zones. and firstname.lastname@example.org for e-mail
rochester new york. africom you are on with samuel fleischacker and russell rogers. >> caller: thank you, gentleman for coming on tonight. my question is did mr. smith has anything to say about a four texas? i heard there was a for tax general washington had a four -- vortex. what were his views on debt and things like that. >> host: professor fleischacker. >> guest: there is a long and complicated and very technical last section of "the wealth of nations" devoted to taxes. very much admired by politicians of the time in fact some of the first picked up the book and ransacked the back to see which taxes might be most useful. and in their he talks about the funding of the war quite explicitly. he talks about what was called the sinking fund which was a bit
system by which it financed its war. he complains about that we of financing the war for technical reasons i'm going to leave it to russell to explain. and he says that he would prefer if the war was funded by a tax payment every year they are fought. one reason he says that would be advantageous is that would make the war shorter. people would be irritated by paying the tax and that would make them call for the war to come to an end and i will leave it to russell to say anything else on this. >> guest: my only comment on smith and taxes which is extraordinary for his time is easily understood who really paid the taxes as opposed to who the tax was supposed to be paid by. and he also understood the incentives politicians and taxpayers dealt with and his example of the pain of the war being paid for in the contemporary times is a tremendous example of what smith was always aware of which was how incentives works in affecting both politics and
private life. postcode gentlemen, we have eight wheat from joe orlando. bookman show, he goes by, and he writes who cares. why should we care about adam smith? >> guest: i teach a class in microeconomics almost every year i talked about 30 years and i've often assumed as most economists do david ricardo insight into trader the right ones that diversity is a powerful generator trade. i've come to understand recently smith had perhaps the more important idea which is the world economies of scale have in specialization. even though we are all the same. he has a lot to teach still. it's not always easy reading to the first three or four chapters of the wealth of nations can be read by anyone to do with profit. he has understanding's the first all relevant. >> guest: the first seven chapters. >> guest: you're even more -- >> [inaudible] >> guest: the first book starts out very slowly and
difficult to read but if you get into the it's extremely modern and it's all about our self-esteem, self-worth, the tension between our self-interest and doing the right things, tremendously powerful book and still very much worth reading. and i would add again on trade his remarks on the trade policy, his shuttle and i ron understanding of self-interest of the merchants acting often by claiming to be in the public interest, the role of politicians still timely and worth reading. >> guest: i would add too quick thoughts to that. one as smith cited of course very widely by people for political purposes to this day. he cited as a morrill source as well as economic source of the importance of the free trade economy, of what is called the classical liberalism and then he also cited by people more on the left there's quite to the debate between the left and there might smithians and in many ways he has been the origin of ideas
very much alive and kicking in the political scene and if one wants to trace how we have come to these ideas, our own heritage, our own history called these ideas have come to kick around on the political landscape one really needs to read smith. the other thing i would say is as a founder of social science and this goes back to something russell said in the beginning of the program, he set a model for how the social science might be donner and he sets a model in which scientific observation is integrated with morrill fought in a way that isn't always true among the impleader social scientists and in that sense i think he's still very inspiring with reading and looking as a model. >> host: harrisburg pennsylvanian. bald, please go ahead with your question about adam smith's "the wealth of nations." >> caller: yes, good evening gentlemen. i would like to know if -- either of the professor to comment on any relationship between the adam smith and
marxism and where would someone from the 20th century, such as ayn rand, where would she fit in for guarding their philosophies? thanks. >> host: thank you. let's start in chicago with samuel fleischacker. >> guest: well, many people who study marx plan out that for all he identified smith in large part the system that he, marx, thought he should be overthrown or was due to the past he couldn't get away from at monitoring smith. he quotes smith as a very honest thinker and in fact incorporates some of the more horrible things smith says about the suffering and the oppression of the workers as people he himself could still hold and in fact there is a move now i should say even though i sympathize with the more left-wing use of smith i'm not a marxist and not so interested in this myself but there's a move among many people
very interested in marx and have a sort of marxist orientation toward political economy to recover smith. all over the academy especially. many people are interested in marx covering smith. i personally don't see any interesting relationship between smith and ayn rand. it is quite alien to smith. i think that he has a different view of how economies work and how societies work. >> guest: yes i want to emphasize that as well. i think poor adam smith gets character as the defender of agreed. he's not a defender of greed. he was someone who understood the power of self-interest but most put ourselves first, that is human nature. he took it as it was and urged in the first book of the moral sentiments to overcome that and talked about how sometimes we do and sometimes we don't treat the other part that is randian about smith is in the sentiments he
talks about the importance of happiness and he talks about how it appears to him the world was created for the happiness of humanity and that is an extraordinary idea. i think a lot of people learned from ayn rand atoka to follow your own happiness but smith wasn't a hedonist or libertine. he was a huge, huge emphasis on the part of moral values and conscience and doing the right thing that i think is often absent from ayn rand. >> host: so the first edition of "the wealth of nations" was finished in 1776. did it play any role in the u.s. revolution? >> guest: as san appointed earlier the founders red smith. he did realize it and samaha will know the dates i think 1782 quite a bit. the theory of moral sentiments cannot in the 50's and i don't know how influential the it was. >> guest: jefferson had read the fury of moral sentiments by
1771. the president of princeton at the time of the revolution and before was a man named john witherspoon and educated many of the founders and they have read what he has a scott fought work with reading. he was also a signer of the declaration of independence and so forth and he thought smith's theory of moral sentiments was worth reading. i wouldn't say however the wealth of nations played a role in the revolution. what it did play a role it clearly said is the debates over the constitution people were reading it many of the most important founders were reading it by the mid 17 80's they were looking at smith's discussion of national banks and his discussions of the militia and standing armies and many aspects of the wealth of nations were important to the founders and the fact smith gets cited in the debates over the constitution in 178788. >> host: the next call comes
from john in dallas, texas please go ahead. >> caller: yes light speed "the wealth of nations" and the theory of moral sentiments together when i was in college back in the 60's and my professor insisted you can't understand what without the other and i wonder -- i read the books again the last two years and was amazed how powerful it is particularly the moral sentiments she does a powerful job of explaining and reviewing all philosophy, a plateau and aristotle and later philosophers and inside the importance of that he goes on and talks about the importance of savings accumulation of capital and how money comes to be and he talks
about the in these and colonization in the point of all of this when you read you realize it is still relevant today and i wonder to what extent our legislators study this and really understand because it's relevant it seems to me to what is going on today and i guess my basic question is how do you think this still relates to today particularly with what we've done to the money and what is going on in the financial dealings. >> host: thank you, john. why did you pick it up and read it again? what was your curiosity? >> guest: >> caller: well, i was an investment banker most of my life and i've been around investment banking most of my life and i saw it being corrupted by wanted to begin
again to die naturally interested in philosophy and started reading aristotle and when i picked up "the theory of moral sentiments" adam smith is so clear and the explanation and he compares the philosophy and the consequences. >> guest: one thing we haven't talked about in "morrill sentiments" and it's important to avoid the character of smith. he says accumulation of wealth doesn't make you happy. and he warns against it and he also talks of a modern way about the gadgets and how rich men will fill their pockets with gadgets. they didn't have blackberrys and iphone. they have a toothpick colder and of the things he blocks as a source of happiness and prestige and the book is full of important moral instruction that as you point out the have to be read together and i think what smith saw that's so important is
the culture, the vote of confidence and trust in making the market system work although his market system was for a primitive compared to ours. the other thing i want to mention. you talked about how he is a role model for social science. there's a lot of deep insight into the real side of our lives and economy that are easily forgotten. common fallacies people subscribe to that smith understood centuries ago wrong. his attack on mercantilism and that exports create wealth and imports are bad. he understood in 1776 that was a full and fallacious idea and that the money and pieces of paper and gold and silver were not the real wealth. real wealth came from what we produce and he understood and the theory of moral sentiments is what gives us happiness and how we produce it and spend our time not to be spending all of our time at the office. he is a profoundly inspiring figure in both his insight and
his moral instruction. >> host: professor fleischacker pnac >> guest: i think it is wonderful that the caller studied both the theory of moral sentiments and "the wealth of nations" in college. that doesn't happen today and ebbers it could happen more often. i agree with pretty much everything that russell just said. i would just add smith says in "the theory of moral sentiments" what happens is having friends, sociability and having to beat to hanging out with them basically. he doesn't use that phrase of course but that conversation is the greatest source of happiness and why more know what the is essential to happiness because unless you have a certain level of decency you won't have any friends and in that understanding it's very clear, this is something so interesting, such an interesting irony about the founder of economics that material goods are not central to happiness. anyone who seeks material goods
of the cost of friendship and morality is making a huge mistake for smith. and in this i think that he provides something i think that we can look back to. here is a man who praises the free market and is not opposed to the accumulation of material goods. the main reason he wants countries to be wealthy and says it quite explicitly is he wants poor people to be having enough to eat and have to watch. the most important goods he often calls them this and says our food, clothing and lodging in his legislature is abbreviated as fcl by his student notes. he doesn't downplay the materials. he sees the role for them especially in helping people rise out of poverty. but they are not the goal. they are not the ultimate goal and when you read the two books together you can see that clearly. >> guest: smith says man wants to be loved and to be lawfully and we care deeply about how others perceive us and we want to affirm that respect honestly by being lovely and by giving
things that engender loved and i think what sanaa plans of which is extremely important is often people even economists forget what purpose of economics is. it's not about accumulating material. wealth is very important as smith understood to help people survive, to live long, extremely important but it's only part of the story. in economics people think the stock market, interest rates. it is about those things but as a student told me once as she learned from her teacher economics is the study of how to get the most out of life, it's about our choices and the fact that we don't have an infinite amount of time and money. we have to use our time which is so precious, so wisely and not merely a stimulating the goods. in that sense of the economics needs to come back to smith and not be as focused on the material and the debt is useful people understand that is an important role in economics. >> host: here is a quote from "the wealth of nations" books
recall chapter 3, part three. >> guest: that is able but misleading. i think it might tend to encourage you to think that making stuff is the road to prosperity. smith certainly didn't say that. what she believed was our schools should be used as wisely and successfully and productively as possible and the way that we do that is through the free choices of buying and selling and specialization and choosing what jobs to do etc. what if he is referring to in the passage and maybe sam knows this better than i do she's referring to the passage as comparing is a lie moderate society by our standards where there's some benefit to a more primitive gather even agricultural society and he's talking abut the national transition that he saw from one
a hunter gatherer to the artifice or the making dustin became the way for people to use the division of labor and the famous example in the opening of the book is the pen factory where an individual bias corporate and with the people and specializing and not trying to make the things all by oneself could produce an enormously larger number of pins per person. it's a deep understanding of productivity and help productivity is enhanced by exchange. another way -- >> guest: if i could pretend for a second. the book from -- quote from the book, mack three is misleading and radically so. it's part of his polemic against the mercantilist series that manufacturing is better than agriculture. smith -- one of the main points of "the wealth of nations" as a whole is to say manufacturing isn't better than agriculture and agriculture is and better than in the factory. a country should do whatever its
best suited for, or rather the individuals in the country. if you leave them alone to find a their unemployment and this fits with what russell was saying it will naturally seek the kind of work that is enumerated, which means basically that kind of work that is most needed by the societies of the government doesn't need to promote manufacturing at the cost of commerce -- sorry, and factor that cost of agriculture or agricultural the cost of manufacturing. and that may sound like a technical point, but in a the context of the day where there were many people who felt the job of the government was to promote the kind of industry that makes countries of the richest and some people that is infecting and some eckert culture, smith says leave the industry alone, let people find their own work and that will be the best way to promote wealth. >> guest: the id which was popular in his time and very much alive today were people
think we have to choose and pick the right activities ross perot said it's better to make computer chips than potato chips that is true if you are good at computer chips. if you're not you were going to get bored doing something or not good at. >> host: when you compare him to people like john maynard canes, milton friedman? >> guest: the stand out as shoulders of the giant. they are all by adam smith. hi yet and friedman more than came spline sure that he would see himself as in the same tradition to get >> host: go ahead, professor. >> guest: one week to the good difference is one never saw themselves as a moral philosopher as well as an economist. they sometimes interesting things to say about morality and philosophy in certain ways. but smith's views i think integrate the study of human
nature from a philosophical point of view of the study of human nature in a more empirical way more than the others do. let me just say a word about that if i might which also pertains to the question how you read the wealth of nations and the fury of moral sentiments together. there's one thing we haven't mentioned we might want to add and that is and the theory of moral sentiments smith makes clear that in order to understand the other human beings properly to supplies with them as he says we need to imagine ourselves into the situations and to that in great detail otherwise we would appreciate what they are experiencing and he uses that idea through all the wealth of nations and in particular imagines himself in the position of poor labor a great deal, which a considerable number of economists didn't bother to do. that i think is part of what i mean when i refer to smith as having this model of how to integrate philosophical thinking
about human nature with empirical study. and i don't think that that is so true for some of the bleacher figures also of course they are important in their own ways. >> guest: the irony of course is adam smith coming year earlier living in a poor time the milton friedman or iraq or canes coverage was less specialized and one of the aspects of economic growth is its role in specialization some of course those guys were narrow. they were not -- although they were pretty diverse for economists all three. >> host: je and florida. thank you for holding. you are wrong with samuel fleischacker and russell roberts and adam smith. >> caller: thanks for taking the call. it's a fascinating subject. i am interested in "the wealth of nations" as an exercise in social science and taking a casual interest in adam smith for years but haven't read the book so my question is who explains smith better than
smith? is 31 volume analysis or interpretation of what he was communicating and if so what is the title? >> host: all right we will start with professor fleischacker. >> guest: i hate to sit you on that road because it is worthwhile reading smith. russell said before the first three or four chapters of "the wealth of nations" you could try reading that the media just say the first couple of chapters of part two, sorry, part four of "the wealth of nations," which include the famous invisible hand chapter and maybe the beginning of book five. that alone would be useful. i was introduced to smith first and high school by the look of a great economist and i found that a fairly good and clear summary what smith has to say. i think it's probably out of date buy now and some people would take it to be biased. there is a man named dee dee
rafael who has at least one book i think to books and titled adam smith, which will give you a pretty good summary, clearly put and it's a very short so i guess that's what i would recommend. >> guest: i would mention that the economics of lrary.org y can find the entire "the wealth of nations," laurel center of online and fielder with no charge and it's an expensive way to get access to the man and his ideas and you'll find the essay that samuel fleischacker deep inside of smith treating people in a very egalitarian way. smith, it's a great essay he points out smith on like most of his colleagues of the day actually felt poor people knew what was best for them. he was an antipaternalistic and recognized every human being had knowledge other people didn't have and as a result they were the best judge of what was best
for their own interest and it's a very radical idea surprisingly and it changed the world. >> host: who promotes adam smith more these days? republicans or democrats, professor fleischacker? >> guest: that's changed over the past 20 years. i confess it began exactly at the moment of the fall of the berlin wall. it began shortly before i should say but i think there were a great number of people in the rather left-wing academy who fought okay marks is dead what should we read now and quite a few found smith. in fact this is also happening in the political world. gordon brown, the press minister of britain even when he was chancellor of the exchequer has been a proud and enthusiastic reader of smith. i've been told that barack obama is also the leader of smith coming out of university of chicago i wouldn't be surprised. so i think at this point he will find people on both sides of the aisle quite enthusiastically
quoting smith the sometimes for different purposes which takes us back to smith's own time when people on many issues including the same issues we talk about today cited smith. >> guest: i think i agree with what he said republicans have laid claim to smith on fortunately because they use rhetoric they think is about markets and competition and they often don't live up to it which is a great tragedy. i would like to see politicians internalized those lessons rather than just use rhetoric for covering up self-interest. >> host: bill in fort lauderdale. good morning. >> caller: thank you for taking my question. i was interested in finding out some of the professor essentially how john maynard keynes might have been influenced in specific areas. i know today consumerism is the
result of dr. cannes i believe, and i was wondering if they had any comment on that. >> host: professor roberts. >> guest: keynesian or worry about people saving too much and not spending. i do think that is a mistake all the will of people would disagree. a lot of people think consumers and as you describe it is the foundation this certainly isn't a smith idea. i think the part that is smithan this is interest in animal spirit and what he meant was a few things that one of the things he meant was the emotional and psychological aspect of all entrepreneurs, the confidence or their worries and fears and smith had a lot to say about that. smith was very interested how people often are overconfident about the prospect for success were cautious or fearful about the future and perhaps cannes was influenced but i would say not so much. >> host: from book number four, chapter 8 consumption is
the end and purpose of all production and interest of the producer ought to be attended to only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the concern. >> guest: ahead, sorry. that is one of the tidbits as one of my pet peeves and gets quoted a lot out of context as if smith wanted to say consume as opposed to say help other people which smith didn't believe. in the context that is again part of smith's polemic against merchants who will the government to help them. in particular want to help them promote certain colonial policies by which for instance the colonies can only buy from british manufacturers. to that, smith is saying the consumers are what can happen, not you manufacturers. the government shouldn't be out to help you produce more and point of production is how it gets to the consumer and in that context he says the government should be looking to the consumer needs and not with the
producer claims he or she needs. >> host: daniel -- daniel, manhattan. >> caller: the current discourse, adam smith is always seized upon by the anti-government basis but was in the government around the time of adam smith? they were monarchies one day of like monopoly monarchies? they were more akin to mafia organizations. >> guest: you're on to something did. he did with a time and a lot of tierney, a lot of despotism and left plunder like monarchs and others and as a result he was concerned about the power of the state and certainly in the democracy he was living at the time the parliamentary democracy he was worried there as well but you are right. it's important to remember that context of the time he lived, that was part of the reason he
was anti-government. more important i think the reason he was and the government to the extent he was, he was an anarchist but we he certainly saw the government and defense in the court system and sometimes other areas but his worry was a worry that we should all have tall times which is the concentration of power and incentives of politicians to do the right thing to do that is always a genuine concern. >> host: samuel fleischacker, what did adam smith think about the east india company? >> guest: key to the east india company. he thought was a mistake. one of the worst things he thought could happen was merchants role or the rulers become merchants basically because merchants have an interest that is quite different from the interest of citizens so he wanted to disband and that's one of his major recommendations in the wealth of nations and it is actually quite a shame something of the trial of his legacy that even his friends
kept the company going after he died. let me just say in connection to what russell just said i agree with that and a bloody dramatic in that context of the king corrupting the democracy because he was capable of playing out the voters in many places. but on would say that here libertarians who used smith to cross the against big government do have a point. whether you are on the left or the right, one thing to learn from smith is government can't solve all our problems and some of the reasons for that don't have to deal with faults of malarkey. one thing smith says often and one thing about i confess i, having come from a more left-wing background, learned from smith is that the government's just don't know the right kind of things to run a large economy, to run many things in the small and local situations. you just can't trust a group of legislators and in a centralized
office in the middle of the country to know what is going on all throughout the country better than the people there know it themselves. as smith says, ordinary people can judge better in their own local situations than any legislator can do for them and i think that is a very important kind of message. it doesn't thrill of the will for the government. the government can do many important things but one has to ask one's self always should government do this? can this be better done by the private sector? that is something that smith always wanted to ask. >> host: massachusetts comedy thing. >> caller: good evening. i just finished reading the wealth of nations in a one volume paperback secure is a slightly technical question for either of the gentleman to read it is 1215 pages in that volume. what "the wealth of nations" suffer at all if the entire its position on silver or removed? thank you. [laughter] >> guest: there's a lot of passage is hard for the modern street. you should read the first
chapter assignment at eminem but i didn't mean to suggest that was the only part of a lot smith is difficult to read because he is dealing with economic issues or institutional details that or not relevant today or we are not familiar with so it can be difficult going to read to me what is striking is a book written in 1776 how much of it is still worth reading. but the y is reader who is in a scholar of smith as sam and it would include me when going back to the book would dip into where it is most judicious and profitable. >> guest: i think a good excerpt of addition could be put out to i have not seen 1i like because they often leave out some of the important things about workers and public schooling and religion and a book five. the disquisitions of the july crash on silver i agree is the first thing most people would want to cut out. on the other hand i gather and russell can correct me, it's one of the things modern economists think is most brilliantly done
and actually makes a very important and impressive point. this guy was tracing prices of silver over 400 years, quite a remarkable feat even with modern scholarship let alone what he had available at that time. in order to prove that the price of silver does not inevitably decline as the opposition said, and i think that he does a pretty good job of it though i can't really judge the technical details. >> guest: i would add it's important for any reader and any, is not just adam smith to skeptical of the conclusions drawn and many times they are not always right. smith wasn't right about everything. he wasn't always -- it doesn't come from mount sinai, the wealth of nations. it's not scripture. it's a profoundly provocative and intellectually impressive work. we should take many things in there with a grain of salt and learn from it. >> host: the addition we have on the table is the fifth edition published in 79. he made revisions to route five
additions. but this is in the public domain right now; correct? anybody could publish this book. >> host: that is why i said the library has a scholarly version. it's not some malkoff or earlier edition. >> host: anybody could take this and add it in any way they choose, is that correct? >> guest: that is true. yes. >> host: salles for sprigg maryland. >> caller: [inaudible] i wanted to ask a question. adam smith i read it but it was a simple time of a simple economy. now we are in a complex financial situation. [inaudible] >> guest: it is a common a critique of older offenders the worked -- it doesn't apply anymore, it's outdated. smith didn't anticipate derivatives for example or credit to be called swaps or world wide investment banking and that's true although he had
many things of his day that had some of the flavor but that's why you don't want to read smith for explicit understanding of things but what he did understand many things he understood were timeless. he understood the role of human nature and our false and highest aspirations of nature. he understood the role of incentives and the role of opportunity. he understood money isn't everything. he understood pieces of paper are not wealth and what we can acquire is the true measure of standard of living with scarce labor. he's got a lot to say. >> guest: three specific things i perhaps on usually we may agree on even on specifics, he has a criticism of the balance of trade, the doctrine of balance of trade which it seems to me he was dead on then and is dead on now. he understands the importance of education and the importance of education for everyone. and he understands the wastefulness of the war and he says things out the wastefulness
of war that could come out of the last decades debate. >> host: samuel fleischacker, the street came in. in your view would what smith think of the great society affirmative action and welfare. it's from blue capitalist. >> guest: that would take a long time to answer. i've written two books so the short answer is those are all issues that remotely at the table with the moment he died. some of them were at the table within ten years after he died. there's a huge debate about the port law with the government should do to aid the poor which he didn't get to participate in because he died a little too early. my own view is as smith were among the things smith sought government could do and should do if it could do it will was held that were reached the conditions which they could participate on the same level as
it reveals in the market and my view would be that he would support something like universal health care today for instance though there are many smithan who would disagree -- >> guest: door crazy chance -- >> guest: -- would go the other direction. [laughter] he can be read in both ways i think because he wasn't addressing those issues to reduce the health care? >> guest: i have no idea on his health care policy monoecious. he would be skeptical of a top-down single-payer solution but that is a long debate for another time. and i'm shocked by how much we agree on so far. >> host: both of the guests are also authors as well as provisions. samuel fleischacker, one of his books is on adam smith "the wealth of nations," and russell roberts most recent book is called "the price of everything." you can see it on your screen. who published it? >> guest: princeton university press and it's about a marchant
order, the idea of the invisible hand that hijacked focused on steering resources. it is written for a general audience and it's very smithan and its leader. >> host: monreal louisianan. paul, thanks for holding. >> caller: in my short career of studying economics at the university, the name of adam smith was very rarely spoken without thomas coming up and the contrast between the optimism and the malthusian pessimism and the fury of the different schools of positivism and norma tips economics, and we see this
today where we see central planning looked to for global warming, and maybe we are better off with individuals deciding what could have been better. with adam smith's approach to people looking after their own interest and taking care of things that way. >> host: professor roberts. >> guest: i'm not going to pretend he it be interested in a private solution of global warming treaty would be worried as i am about the centralization of power in the hands of bureaucrats and that is something to be concerned about in any solution of any social problem. but the more general point is smith wasn't so aware or didn't have to deal with with the moderate economists call externalities' and that is a case of pollution. it would be in a sample of that and private solutions although they often make progress, they may struggle and there may be of low for the government smith would recognize, maybe not be
regarded that he would be worried as again i am of the role of the central power and steering people's lives not because so much centralized power doesn't fully understand what is on the ground which was sam's earlier point with the power corrupt and i think smith understood that very clearly. >> host: cingular fleischacker, russell roberts, did smith have much to say about what rate policy? >> guest: that is the one i would throw back at russell actually. i think that he does have some things to say but some of it is much more technical and better handled by professional economists. think one reason why python i think one reason why python i can agree in principle and some of these issues is that smith basically has to broadview's about politics and economy. on one hand, the government should do everything that is important to be done in this
society and individuals can do for themselves. that's very broad and very vague, but he does say that should happen. he mentioned public schooling, especially for the poor is one thing that might fall into that category. on the other hand, he is definitely worried as russell is an im and as russell says about the centralization of power. and so the question is, how do you balance those things? how do you have government take care of problems that individuals can't handle on their own, if that the case and global warming might be such a case. health care may be such a case. without, on the other hand, contributing to the dangers of great centralization. one difference between smith and mouse system on these issues is a different capacity with historical events between the time smith wrote in the time office wrote there was a great famine and things look darker
than they had an smith's lifetime and there was also the french revolution and the dangers of government and governmental reform. >>host: we will get professor robert c2 addressed quickly much we to. >> he had a lot to say about monetary policy but what is interesting for a current situation is scotland between 1720 and 1870, over one century scotland had banks issuing their own money, a private currency in circulation and a colleague is a -- aware of that phenomenon. that is anixter nearly less than for us to learn as we look at the federal reserve and "the reader" would profit about reading and private banking is got wind.
>>host: from cedar springs michigan, a go-ahead. >> caller: my question has to do with david hume and how much influence is the relationship from his philosophy? >> professor? >> that is a great question on it and a nervous subject much debated. you can find almost anticipation of every idea of smith somewhere in hugh i also think he tends to disagree with him in a small blaze with every seven jets. they have a slightly different view about sympathy for the role of self-interest in people's lives. they agree largely about the nature of government and the danger of large government and also the way they can
help society in the need to administer justice. they disagree on some small ones. it is very hard to tease them apart. one difference is that smith but all of his thoughts about economics and governments into one systematic discussion and that is thought something hume did. >> caller: i have a question concerning spending and savings. what does he have to say about government spending today? how much of total gdp is all government spending? and if we cut out most of that spending, just except for the necessary as of the war, any water, or defense, that is what we will call it, what would
employment be like? and with large amounts of spending in national, state, local level? how would capital keep enough employment going? that the present moment, businesses are not spending and individuals barely are. where does it come from? >>guest: i think smith would reject that some now we have to keep spending of to keep the economy afloat. that is a common view and keynesian view and mainstream with economics but people think that is the wrong approach to take. but he was not a macro economist. it would be the example of bailing out general motors or aig or all of the money into the investment bakes
who made those decisions prepare think he would recognize biennial spent, not for the good of society at large and i think he would be very skeptical about the value. that is the most important lesson although the size of government is a concern but what do they spend it on? smith was an advocate for doing things what the government could not do for themselves. they will not buy lousy cars for themselves the government has to do that. >>host: we have five minutes left with our two guests. samuel fleischacker add to a professor at university of illinois chicago and russell roberts an economics professor at george mason university discussing adam smith and the wealth of nations. kansas city. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. are those books tv and watch it all weekend. i tried to read adam smith a couple times.
i don't want to say comprehend but it appears some of the underlying doctrines in the book is that the consumer is almost a consumer driven market, the merchant should tailor the products so the consumer can buy them which would actually help the academy. with the government daily al the banks not consumer driven, i am curious how the underlying doctrine in smith's book would actually see the results of that? >> smith talks about talks about the natural tendency of producers to gather to exploit consumers and saw competition as a great way to prevent that and also saw the world of commerce to enhance our virtues that as you said by making sure you provided the part that
people liked, you had to put yourself and issues of the consumer. that force is extremely important and missing from policy the last two or three years. we have made some disastrous mistakes and the consequences gutter bad, whether or not a better choice, but if you thought we have to do with the future that is was smith had to say. >>host: i want to start with you professor fleischacker in sa tweet what would smith say about the american economic system if he were alive now? has government intervention replaced the invisible hand? >> we live in a very different circumstance. this is an issue that's come of very difficult and search is important for good nobody
knows what smith would say today. i do think that is quite dangerous. my book is called learning from smith today that i suggest there are ways to use him for both the right and left-wing approaches to contemporary policy. i don't think government in the united states is activist enough in some areas as i included a four come on the other hand, by a agreed entirely we should not have bailed out the banks and i would agree that something smith would have said. it is important that businesses fail when they made that decision. that is a kind of government intervention he opposes. coming to prop up industries because you think that is necessary for the economy. i think smith would have been worried from our large
establishment and worries about government expenditure on war there can be too much of that. i don't think he would have been is worried about spending on welfare policy. i don't think it is quite clear he would oppose the specific industry. >>host: before you answer professor roberts, we're almost out of time. >> businesses are to make profit, but consumers are to a ford and i do not believe it is as is complicated as it sounds but i think it is a matter of physics to look at the consumer and the business. >> you get the last word. >> there is some help been capitalist society properly organize businesses that
want to thrive in a profit and loss system pratt as smith would remind us and milton friedman reminded us, the businesses that don't do well or make bad investments have to take losses. if we don't let the businesses take losses we don't get real capitalism but crony capitalism and that is the road to a very unhealthy world. >>host: that is the last word. we're out of time. one of his many websites is econtalk also the adam smith society.net. thank you very much for being on a booktv. >> my pleasure. >> thank you very much. >>host: we have two more hours of programming coming up tonight and every night in this week we will have a live hour between 8 p.m. and
9:00 p.m. eastern. on friday night we look at silent spring. and we will have her biographer and another 10 tillman on to talk about silent spring and friday night. tomorrow night to current economic authors to talk about the current economic situation. between eight and 9:00 p.m. to take your calls and tweet. thursday we will talk about the afghanistan war with two afghanistan authors. we will be here to take your calls. two more hours of booktv in prime-time this congressional recess week. coming up next is henry paulson and conversation with warren buffett on his new book on the brink then after that is the afterwards
that we taped new joseph's being interviewed on the book a dark-- bright nights but first here is henry paulson and warren buffett. >> first of all, i want to thank you for coming. i should declare write-off backed i am a friend of thanks and have been so for some years. i did meyer him before he took the job and i admire him all lot more after the job he has done as secretary of treasury. the name of the book is called on the brink and that is where we were september october 2008 but at that time, our e economy, our
financial world went into cardiac arrest. we had four people in the operating room we were very fortunate as a country to have in place, hank, ben bernanke kumbaya tim geithner and sheila bair the head of the fdic. i know a lot of people and finance and business and government. i cannot think of for that would have done a better job. but to look back of our country's financial system throes of during that period. some of you were in a party i was that in 2008 when the talk, when you have 3.5 four more trillion held by
30 million people on a sunday night are worried about whether they can get their money, that money was half of all deposits held in the banks at that time. you have a panic. you have commercial paper frees up entirely and some of the biggest companies described in the book worried if they would be payable in a short period of time. the sixth largest bank in the country with the maastricht staged domestic deposits and the third largest bank, wachovia, i needed a shotgun marriage on a monday morning and it just arrived this. interestingly the bookstores early september when fannie mae and freddie mac worry essentially bart -- broke. the two institutions guaranteed 40 percent of all residential mortgages in the united states whose debt was
who follow the worldcom been that significant amounts especially foreign governments that would not have taken into default. but then the mortgages themselves, early september, they went for broke. it is worth noting for those who take shots at some of the people operating during september and october those two institutions were chartered by congress and ruled by congress. for those who avert them them, criticize the leverage, in the banking system, it should be noted bailout fannie and freddie to operate with a beverage ratio and let them guarantee over 100 times the amount of capital they had in mortgage guarantees.
these two institutions were vital to the integrity of the united states. and which had received, and a very short period before september, the watchdog agency that congress establish had given a clean bill of health. that might go -- be fun to go back and read that now. let's get on to his book. [laughter] i got this book a little early. i expected to learn a lot about the financial crisis, and i did. but i did not realize about how to attract women. [laughter] it is a little late. i realize. [laughter] but thinkpad a sure-fire approach which when he took
when the out on there first day to. describe it. even if you want to laugh a little i would like to hear about it. >> let me say before i do that first of all, i am delighted to be here in omaha. with this note is just like washington parker hannifin a longtime fan and admirer of warrants and he is just a pillar of strength for me during the credit crisis. warren is referring to something in the book. when i was a senior at dartmouth college, the first date with when day -- wendy weir at the boston pops and she was not impressed when i made by program into a paper plane and the sale did. >> host: did you hit him? [laughter] >> no. she gave me another chance.
>> host: didn't she go home early? >> she went home early. >> fortunately he got a second chance. >> he says in the book i am a tough guy but also it is i the and it was tackled. when he was asked to become treasury and he decided to do it. his one big worry? >> warren is talking about my mom. i am quite close to my mother, a strong woman and varying gauged and interested in politics, policy, she was not an admirer of george bush and very unhappy with the four is very interested
in women's issues. there is a paramount of speculation in the press i might go to washington and i turned down the opportunity a couple of times and i assured her i would not go because i had no intent. but when i amherst myself and decided it was the right thing to do not to tell although to my country. i was 10 elah nine -- the president would make the announcement tuesday after rio day sligh was going to see my mom. unfortunately at church i had a longtime friend asked me about what i was doing next and i told her. she went up to my mom and said isn't this great? she did not think it was great. so when night arrived to
tell my mom she already knew about it and she was very angry and crying and said i started with nixon i would end up with bush and i deserve everything i got. [laughter] and i was jumping on a sinking ship. but i will say this coming in the and i say that by the time i finish my mother had a different opinion of georgia view bush. but it is not a good way to start off. brandi was not much happier. >> one of the interesting things i have heard is your account of how the top russian officials had gone with the suggestion essentially they start
dumping the bonds of fannie or freddie. i thought that was a bear raid flom that evoke rise on wall street. >> it never happened. but for being very concerned about stabilizing fannie and freddie, it was 5.4 trillion dollars of securities that were ever ensure directly by the institutions, highly leveraged. the securities were howled at 1.7 trillion the biggest is inside. i have been tried to get the reform legislation from congress beginning 2006 and trying to get the reforms that we needed that we were unable to get action.
we were told they were just on the edge. we were able to go to congress to get the authorities. do we need to spend time poring over their books? in the book by recount i was trying out for the olympics and it was given to and understand that official ideas were approached by the russians that perhaps they could sell the securities together, . >> why do you think? lire probably, i don't know. but we have had this all many conversations with the russians and chinese and everyone knows, i just knew
any kind of subtle and selling low have spooked the market is. i will say it never happened but today sure barry thinkpad did. but. >> talk about the sudden decline in the dollar or other things that never happened. one of the biggest concerns i had was getting fannie and freddie stabilize. in a sense read tell the story howled barry seven they we put them into conservatorship of which essentially guarantees their debt. it was then acids the implicit obligation like the
banks and the conduit's off balance sheet and implicit guarantees and we were racing against time to stabilize those because the new bad earnings coming year on the banking sector and particularly on the lehman brothers losses. that was a race against time. we were fortunate we could get it done without the markets becoming it and spooked or unsettled. fact got my full attention. >> host: there is a story this morning in the "journal" about fannie and freddie and it is worth reading. how many billion flooded by the federal government that it is expected much more will. in effect, it presently looks like the federal government will lose more money in her fannie and
freddie ban aig by some margin. >> looking at the programs rock, we will get every penny we put into the banks back with a profit. i think when you look at all of the other programs we may be surprised but we get back. even with fannie and freddie i think the fed will make money to buy and hold the securities but you are right in terms of losses. but the one thing about fannie and freddie, the u.s. needs them playing the role they're playing. but one of the things that got us into this problem is not just fannie and freddie but the way two of all programs and it is just gone too far. fannie and freddie cannot stay in their present form
form, the mission needs to be struck, in fundamental ways come a we need them where they are. how we unwind this situation will be very important. >> host: when you were getting grilled by congress talking about two much leverage in the banking system did say it-- did you say they have the most leverage of all? [laughter] >> i wanted to say a lot of things. [laughter] one of the things i am pleased about is i was able to build enough of a relationship on both sides of the ideal that congress did act before this system collapse.
we could easily have 25 percent unemployment and a terrible situation. the book is a large extent of political forces. >> gatt many times it is the worst time. so what i needed to do is to get to accent which was of limited authority is. i say unspecified. [laughter] >> host: but we needed those. >> guest: i had to keep reminding people i did not design this or create it. >> host: you have relations with the chinese long before this and reduce that to good effect during the crisis. you said maybe china is number 79? what is the american
public's great misconception? >> there is a lot of misconceptions americans have even about our own system. but i think the thing we all need to keep in mind is we're operating in a global economy. so when other important economies don't do well, if we don't do well, it hurts others then there were saying that could have happened is to have the economy falter and stop growing. and, looking ahead, we have tried to keep doing well and it is in our best interest.
>> they have differences in the economic area and other areas. but the most important thing for americans to understand that there is a relationship where to a large extent are dependent upon the other. we of course, in the u.s., excuse me. can you hear me okay? and the u.s., we don't save enough, we have a tendency to save to the toll as a people and as a nation that had borrowed too much. the chinese savings and capital are very important to our markets. the chinese say to much and need to continue to open their economy and open to
competition with the reform process to a market driven currency. all of those things. that is very important differences but we just need to remember this is a relationship we need to get right and work very hard to get it right. >> host: and you say that and more gentle terms than what sort of response did you get to? >> guest: i would simply say that one of the things we started under george a bush was the strategic economic dialogue which is being carried on. and what i generally said, we agree on principles of they agreed they needed to open up their economy to competition with the
currency to a greater extent determined by the market. but we agreed in principle but it is a matter of speed and we were thinking they need to read this far but they think this far with this period of time. but we talk barry directly about it. the thing you need to remember, when dealing with the chinese or any other sovereign nation, to put an end of terms three times of their people and i was totally convinced to the extent they spread up the process of reform, it would only benefit them and help them get where they want to
get over the long term. i told him i believe in free trade and open markets but it is easier to keep the markets open if you speed up the process of opening up your markets. but if you look at the history of the currency with the dialogue with the chinese, i think the record will show that it moved and i was very proud because again, we will not sell the issues of climate and the two biggest -- the emitters of carbon to work together. there is a lot we can do
between the two countries. , again, i am a big believer in that engagement. there is very little you can do in this world that is important globally on a unilateral basis. i am a little bit like your mother. i want now. [laughter] >> remember she has changed her mind. >> maybe when i get through with her, maybe she will change back. [laughter] but for the book i got more appreciation poor what he did in that situation, but for ricardo or caves are all of that but i never heard of
aa economic growth then george bush made september 2008 when he said in that memorable 10 words, if money doesn't loosen up, this sucker can go down. [laughter] that really that is just like short and to the point*. [laughter] as i read the book, i gave the appreciation for what was going on a the store did -- stated what need to be done. is there a time you wanted proposals the shot you down? >> no. here was always surprised when i was surprised. i was surprised more than once. [laughter] >> host: what is the biggest surprise? >> guest: i spoke to him. one of the things that i've
learned from my previous careerists is no matter what you negotiate, i can say if all of those that we have but if we do not have the right relationship with the president it was my fault, not his. i had one year before the crisis to get to know the president and work with him her remember he went to business school and has a good fundamental and the markets and end cared about them. of the conflict he dealt with is the same as anyone, we believe the united states of america that risk taker should bear the responsibility for their own losses. so that big interventions were not something i did not go to washington to do that plant from day one he
understood said jobs were about the economy. i would not have to sell him this is not always going to look good. this will be politically unpopular, but we will not let our economy go down and do what it takes to save jobs and the economy and that is his point* of view. talk about my mother, sometimes he was like my mother and tell made to get more sleep four to make out. >> 10 terms of the other people going up to the election and come you probably fell barack obama was more interested in the
financial crisis than john mccain? is that fair? >> guest: it is no doubt there the conversations that i had with john mccain, as frequent as they were but they are more difficult and he certainly gave me more anxiety about all of that. president obama. but i felt comfortable he would support what we needed to do. but i am quite grateful to john mccain and have real respect for him because let me tell you, with an election there is no way we
could have gotten the t.a.r.p biv john mccain came out against it. if he played the populist card we would have been left defenseless. as i look back with the way he handled himself. during the time, i lost a few hours of sleep. >> host: you describe where you issued a veiled threat to. it did not sound very you fail to me. [laughter] >> guest: that is when he came back. when he interrupted his campaign to come back. i remember i was testifying at the time. and michelle davis was sitting behind me and handed me a note.
they said is somebody asks you about john mccain coming back, simply say i welcome the involvement of everyone and so on because i think she was afraid what might come out of my mouth. >> host: before we came up here. [laughter] >> guest: and talk to me on the way down. [laughter] but as it turns out, again, it was a couple days of anxiety but john mccain, when he was back spent time with the house republicans rallying them.
so he did his part. even after got the t.a.r.p he did not jump on or criticize what we had done. i am proud of the fact on one level none of us like a bailout. looking at a poll once after the election with some of the things we had done, this head may be been slightly exaggerated but i recall something of 93% of the american people oppose bailouts and 60% oppose torture. [laughter] seventy% were worried we would go into something much worse and a bad recession. we have never been able to explain this is not for wall street but for them.
>> host: you have these consultations with the obama although i understand that ended with a share after the election. the both the president and members of the administration have repeatedly said that they really did not anticipate how tough things would be in the economy. but from the message you're giving them, you expected? 4m i wrong? >> i would ask what you expected because i did not expect them this stuff. i expected, i knew when we went up there is a scene in the book talking bernanke and chris cox and said we
will meet these authorities. the difficulty we had has warned said much better, the arteries in the financial system more for using up. so i knew with a certainty business would turn down. when you have companies it is uncertain if they can raise short-term funding, most cfo's will say boss, i'm not be able to handle the funding you like for the next 30 day said they start cutting back. but congress had not seen this yet. not in their districts. so i knew with a certainty it would get worse. i am not sure i knew it would be 10% unemployment but i knew it would be bad.
minute if they didn't do something, and it collapsed, then the business is could not find themselves are paid for inventories and pay suppliers and let employees go and that would ripple through and we would have armageddon. so when the economy did turn down, we have a terrible situation as congress sought bids because they saw it as the american people but we said give us the use of 30's and if you don't, we will be in deep trouble. it will be bad. they gave us the authorities and we were in deep trouble and barney frank said it is hard to get credit for preventing a disaster that the people never saw or could see. >> host: did you really get on your knees to plead
with nancy pelosi? >> guest: i did. but understand i was in a cabinet room witnessing when both senator mccain and senators obama were there in the middle of the campaign were the congressional leaders are not only did not come together, it was chaos although it was verbal blows. but then could democrats assembled in the roosevelt room. i went in and uninvited and i did it just to try to break the tension and tried to get us smile or laugh tour. it did it not really having
its desired effect. [laughter] because i remember as i recounted in the book, i said please don't go out and blow this thing up. and the speaker said we're not blowing it up. she was right. >> host: you have a great investment background, seeing government here and abroad, there may be a perch which to view the economy and make judgments about the economy going forward. azide understand it, you have your money in a blind trust now all the 51 to you are free to do it, but give us the terms of the competition -- compensation
of the bonds or stocks of you have had to put together it. >> first of all, you are a great investor. you do very good and careful work. one of the things i learned during my career is i am not a great investor so i need to find great investors. i believe the system, the financial system is stable. the banking system is in better shape. clearly the recovery process has begun. you and i have a common worry about the fiscal crisis in this country.
but in any event, you need to understand also that what wendy and i are looking to do we will balance our careers to conservation and the environment. so i am not looking to make more, i would like to keep what i have. and not really on a long-term horizon and i continue to believe that the best way is to invest in high-quality companies. that is what i believe and if i was a young person i would be looking at companies that have good strong market positions for the long term. i have a lot of what i have this the fixed-income markets and money markets. because but the others are in growth equities because i still believe that the
economy can do down. but well-managed companies that know how to operate globally will prosper over a long period of time and that is the way to look bad investments, over a period of time. i don't put too much steak and quarterly economic data, what happened for a younger person is with a longer period of time. >> host: you said fixed-income, does that mean you don't worry about the decline of value of currency? >> guest: user and they are not going to get a former treasury secretary. [laughter] >> host: i could try. >> guest: because i really do believe fact and i worked very hard, there are a
strong dollars and it is very much in our interest to the success and pre-eminence of the united states of america. i believe the best way to have a strong dollar is looking over a long-term view, have a strong economy and to have fiscal discipline. i will not give you the obvious what will happen to the dollar but what i am focused on down to give a lot of money in a relatively short period of time it. >> host: if i may do the trustee for my eight children would you prefer the straight bonds? >> guest: i would go to you. [laughter] >> host: i give up.
[laughter] >> guest: but i would ask myself the question that gets back to where you were going to go, which is, again, which gets to currency a little bit. i have spent a lot of time in this country and out of this country and the major economies. believe me. and every other major economy, china included has many more significant challenges and problems than we do. really. we year the richest strongest economy and the world but have to deal with a relatively few, very important challenges. the biggest one is the fiscal crisis.
if you'd should not come it is a challenge immediately but not a crisis. i write that it is very difficult to get government to iraq and to get congress to act for something that is big and difficult and controversial unless day mediatek crisis. and we still haven't got the regulatory reform that we need. fed is something that is critical. i have no doubt we will deal with the fiscal challenge that some point* in time. but to the earlier we do with it the less costly of the great then nation and the stronger and the last bird and the younger generation has to bear.
>> host: going back to the fall of 2008 that fateful weekend of december 12 and 15, at that point*, the friday knowing the extent of aig's problems they would cascade in a few days, but you had a big problem with lehman brothers and called together a group of people and you thought you had barclay's signed up and they wanted to be but ran into problems with the british government subsequently. but it seems forgetting about lehman brothers upn but if you had merrill lynch , that followed a lehman bankruptcy, we would agree merrill would have gone almost instantly away. if the if they had not made the deal that sunday night, .
>> host. >> guest: no. they would not have lasted in my judgment, one week. what people missed and i think it is easy to miss, was this was a doozy. that access had been building up for a long time. i knew we were overdue for a credit crisis and told the president that when they came to washington but did not expect this magnitude but it was building them up in the united states and europe. and it is still working its way through the european system. but building up for a long time and the institutions were sitting on losses and we were pressing them to raise capital. simultaneously, on the same
weekend, obery learn about the extent of the aig problems on saturday. merrill lynch would be right there. you have those three institutions. as warren said, washington mutual, shortly thereafter, wachovia, then zero her the next week comment nations had to step been. it came at us pretty quickly >> it is ironic but having an appetite, if he did not make this deal offering a 70% premium above the next day its my 10 been a o. could he say the system for
us? >> he was a confident and decisive ceo. there is no doubt he was very much of a stabilizing action. >> host: would we have gotten to to stay on aig if no action on merrill lynch on monday? >> i don't know what would have happen. i don't think we could have taken one other institution. do you? >> host: no. >> guest: the system, what is hard for people to understand, we have 10 institutions. they have 50 or 60% of financial assets in this country and are so interconnected. i think in many ways as bad
as it was and what could have happened, we are very fortunate. >> host: the british had given a news that warning about the situation a couple of days earlier. but it's in effect say barked the acquisition of lehman brothers. did they understand the consequences? >> guest: i don't know everything they understood, but there was a shareholder vote too. >> host: but we overcame a lot of things in this country. >> guest: that is right. but then, what we needed
needed, was a buyer that could do what jpmorgan did for bear stearns which is guaranteed negative shareholder but also what people have a hard time understanding, because we are the united states of america and i had a hard time until i turned over every stone to see what authorities we had, there was no authority to guarantee liabilities or plucked capital into institutions. act any event, i am not sure what the british were, i said in the book, i used some language went i was disappointed. but as i said in the book and reflected, they
obviously had their own issues they were looking at. and the regulator, a for them it was very difficult decision to let one of their banks go-ahead and in the middle of a run become of the brothers, a step 10 and make the acquisition. and i don't know if they have the wherewithal to do that. >> bowing down on sunday, barclays have bought a limited part and a much smaller transaction. tuesday or wednesday wednesday, british authorities said you have an account with lehman brothers are keeping your securities there, you could not take it
out. they froze the accounts basically. that was a big surprise to me. . . market. my recollection is that was tuesday. because i recall learning about it tuesday, and that was actually the day that -- of the aig rescue but what happened was a collateral third-party customer in the collateral accounts, the broker-dealer and others were frozen for a while and investors needed to know that their accounts were safe. and of course when they were not with lehman brothers in the u.k. than there was a big erosion of confidence in the investment
banking model. >> that wouldn't have happened in the united states. you would have access to your securities. as i remember that didn't get publicized much but it was a shock. did they consult? >> they did it wasn't with me. remember the sec was the regulator said the sec was a regulator for lehman brothers and was the one that had the lead in preparing for the bankruptcy because we knew that was going to be a possibility we hope to avoid and they were the ones that would have been talking to the various authorities during that period of time, british war came to a surprise as a lot of the investors and a surprise to me. >> hank, you and i don't entirely a huge investment
banking trading firm and its own verdone asset, we can't sell it. and we've got all these t making lots of money will. you are the head of the compensation committee. what sort of arrangement you have with them? did anybody make 25 or 50 million a year? how are you going to treat these people so that they keep making money for us but don't leave and go someplace else? >> i would say we have to talk about when it is we are doing this and making this decision. >> let's say we are doing it today. >> well, today you have to know you and i as i say and as i write in the book and i would have these conversations with wendy all the time during the the benign period that the compensation levels on wall street, you know, are on the back so i believe that in general during the benign times
dividing ki wood, too. in general in terms of how you -- number 13 and number two, today in light of everything that's gone on, and the fact the tax payer came in, and granted the reason the tax payer did was to prevent calamity that came and helped the whole financial system. so not just the big banks and investment banks but hedge funds everywhere. i think that today restraint is very much in order by the top people and the anchor is coming from if you have losses you are supposed to bear responsibility for those losses so the way i've talked about it is i've talked about it and said i would like to see this anger channeled and
congress feel pressure and they are working on it very hard to get the regulatory reform we need so that you don't need to ever have taxpayers come in and prop out bailouts in the present form and failing financial institutions. we need resolution authority so any financial institution, any type of financial institution if it is going to fail can be liquidated outside the bankruptcy process and a way which it doesn't take the financial system down and the economy down with it. so i would like to see congress get that done and get the systemic risk regulator back and look at every institution no matter what the size and type in the face the risks that are prudent restrain them so i would like to see that. now in terms of longer-term
compensation, clearly you need compensation. it should be in equity for the high paid people and it should be something their rewards long-term performance. that's the only thing that counts, longer-term performance that alliance incentives of the individuals with the company that's yours. >> are we getting dahuk? >> gentlemen, we are done. [applause] >> book tv
book, "dark days, bright nights." from black power to barack obama. mr. joseph contends the 1965 voting rights act played a significant role in the ascendancy of black radical politics and assisted in paving the way for future african-american political leadership. peniel joseph profiles several of the key figures including stokely carmichael, malcolm x and paul robeson. he discusses his book with kevin merida, national editor of the washington post. >> host: welcome to booktv's "after words." we are talking to toss university history professor peniel joseph, who has a very compelling new book out, "dark days, bright nights from black power to barack obama." welcome, professor joseph. >> guest: thank you.
>> host: tell me what the title means. that is a very intriguing title. >> guest: it talks about where black people have come from in this country really from the dark days of slavery, segregation and jim crow all the way to the first african-american president. >> host: there was kind of a little ditty during the campaign that went viral and you mentioned it early on in the book and ago was rosa sat so martin could walk so that barack obama could run so your children could fly and that became a kind of catchphrase toward the end particularly among african-americans. you cite this and say that elsie emotionally powerful as these words may be, they make for poor history. explain that. >> guest: the notion of rosa parks has become this iconic
trope in the story of the civil-rights movement and it is a period with a dialect called the heroic period of the civil rights movement and what i mean by that is may 17th, 1954 to august 6, 1965 and that encompasses the period from the brown desegregation court decision all the way to the signing of the voting rights act by lyndon johnson and in between what we are told both as students and a nation in terms of popular imagination is there's all kinds of settings and marches and demonstrations that occurred but are done by the famous iconic people basically is rosa parks so tired she refused to give up from the bus in montgomery alabama and sparked the boycott and basically a young preacher who even the president referred to during the the election as a young preacher from georgia which is dr. martin luther king, jr. who sort of leads the masses of african-americans from racial oppression so this notion that
rows of sat and martin could do this stuff and jesse could run and barack obama could fly, they sound good but they simplify and much more complicated history and that complicated history involves so many african-americans, women and men who proactively dismantled racial segregation including rosa parks. she was an activist. she didn't just refused to give up her seat by accident. there was a concerted strategic effort to try to transform space institutions so the lesson we have to impart to our kids and the nation is this isn't just something that happens by accident by these iconic figures like the dr. martin luther king jr. will come down from on high and help the rest of us. that was a debate during the election because remember hillary clinton said during the election even though martin luther king, jr. was important
to get president to sign the voting rights act because that is out there when than senator obama kept invoking dr. king because he kept invoking dr. king in the urgency of now and hillary clinton, then senator clinton said hold up a minute. it took a president to sign the bill so she was invoking this notion that look our politics are still run in a top-down we even though king was a seminal figure her point was used all need a president to transform this institution, transform this nation and really i think the most transformative parts of history especially when we think about the civil-rights movement and black power movement and social movements of the 1960's and 70's and the post war period it's really ordinary people will transform this period, it's sharecroppers and seamstresses and people in a present, it is regular people within converge with these figures to become
laconic. >> host: one of the things i love about your book which is the complexity of it and how you have taken the history of african-americans and have drawn a complex portrait particularly of the iconic figures the new site. martin luther king jr. for instance also was a critic of racism and protest against the vietnam war and called attention to the urban and rural poverty and headed different actual life than often is described and remembered as kind of this figure who somehow gave this great i have a dream speech but there was some hard image parts of dr. king's portfolio. >> guest: that's an important point and one worth mentioning we are about to celebrate
dr. king's birthday january 18th. dr. king has been shorn of this complexity and his radical image. king is one of the most sufferers critics of american democracy. he described as america's the biggest purveyor of violence in the world by 1967 and we have to take notice riverside speech april 4th 1967 new york city when he comes out against the vietnam war in a robust and publicly is even one year to date before he is assassinated in memphis so when we think that king especially between 1965 and 68 even two years before riverside by the time that king is going to chicago and he's in chicago to try to transfer on the slums. he talks about the slum clearance campaign and desegregate housing in chicago he's talking about poverty and economic marginalization of poor people, leaders. king makes a very famous speech where he talks about all labor his dignity which is one of the
last speeches of 1960. king's poor people's campaign is something we shunt aside as well. we keep dr. king frozen on august 28th 1963 with the i have a dream speech right here in washington, d.c. and we don't think about the king who was much more combative even though he was on fire let because kaine believed you could use of violence as a moral and political force, really a battering ram to transform democracy so it wasn't that he wasn't combative. he was the difference between king and even his african-american critics was that he didn't believe that violence was acceptable politically or morally. >> host: and also was true that everybody embraces him now but backed in the time even among african-americans a lot of people didn't want him coming into their towns and neighborhoods because when he left he made life more difficult for many of those who had to stay behind.
>> guest: absolutely. when we think about king and the southern christian leadership conference they are the premier moralizers of the civil rights movement. they are not a grass-roots organizers in contrast to the student nonviolent coordinating committee or sncc, kinkos to places like birmingham, albany georgia, like chicago, like memphis tennessee and stirs things up and that is what is so interesting about dr. king very combative and demanding things from a year daley in chicago in 1965, 66 of the slum clearance an early version of affirmative action for the city and he really precipitates fear and loathing among the the white population but also among certain black power brokers who have their own relationship with city hall and mayor daley and a look at him as the outsider who
is upsetting the delicate balance of power in their own city. >> host: at mick paulson this conversation just a bit to ask you what compelled to write this book? >> guest: i was transformed donner and impacted by the 2008 election and in a way what i wanted to do was come back to the election results with my own work on the post war african-american history especially the civil rights black power movement. i think one of the least reporters race of the election was the impact of black power radicalism had on the nation in terms of transforming the nation enough to elect the first black president and when we talked about obama during the 2008 election most people talked about civil rights including the dennett center obama. in fact what is most famous speeches was in 2007 commemorating selma and the demonstrations that occurred in
march, 1965 that culminated in the passage of the voting rights act several months later and famously king and others are turned away from the edmund pettis bridge. there's going to be a lot of racial violence against the demonstrators. john lewis, head of the student nonviolent coordinating committee is going to be brutally beaten to the competing. it's one of the images of the civil rights era and what obama said, senator obama said at that speech was the new generation of civil rights activists were the joshua generation. he called dr. king's generation the moses generation and it was the joshua which immigration. people like him who were going to see the promised land said he put himself directly as an air and beneficiary of the civil rights movement. now in contrast we never really talked as a nation about a black power during the election and when we did was only a negative context connected to reverend wright and racial controversies. one of the things i wanted to
show and argue in this book was the black power movement even though it was a very combative movement and even though it was very forceful in its criticism of racial segregation of racism and american democracy it really delayed the foundations along side of that civil rights movement while transforming this nation to have the first black president. >> host: you write that the black power movement remains the most misunderstood social movement of the post war era. >> guest: absolutely. when we think about black power in the imagination still we usually think of black power as a movement of violent gun toting black panthers and others, a movement that was antiwhite, a movement that really tracked down more successful counterparts mainly civil rights for social justice so basically a movement that practiced politics without portfolio and the civil rights movement evil twin the trek to dr. king's
treen of the beloved community when in fact when we think about the black power movement and a look at what occurred in the replete, black power really grows out of the same historical context that produces civil rights. it's going out of the year with 20th century activism, people like marcus garvey, hubert harrison on the harlem renaissance and in the post war context it's going out of activism of malcolm x and nation of islam but also the secular radicals committed lynndie to reflect the reverend albert clegg and james baldwin and plaine hands. so when we think of black power it's got a very secular side and it's a side people don't discuss. one of the most interesting aspects studying the black power movement is the way there's an intellectual social political cultural component so on one
score black power activists try to transform curriculums and in high schools and colleges on another day trip to transform african-american consciousness through cultural centers, poetry. on another score, they try to push for anti-poverty welfare so when we think of black power in our popular conception we don't think of black women being at the forefront of the movement but black women really were some of the key activists in that movement and not just the iconic figures like angela davis and cathleen cleaver who were very important but also poor black women who work wealthy tenants activists in places like durham north carolina and places like baltimore, maryland and places like philadelphia. certainly black women participated in that movement and organizations like sncc and like the black panther but for the most part black women and black people or a grassroots organizations with on university
campuses and especially of campuses in the 1960's and 70's. >> host: you mentioned a number of people kind of in the shadows. i'm going to take a kind of personal note to site one, william were the, who turns out was a adviser to the black student newspaper boston university when i was a student there and we found it and bill word the was there. you mentioned him in a number of instances where he was one of those people kind of in the forefront among the african american radicals and got to know malcolm x and played a role as an african-american journalist. i believe the first one to go to china when you couldn't go to china. >> guest: william worthy is a great example of these unsung heroes of the period. bill were the fourth 1921, he is one of the key radical black journalists of the 1950's and
60's. he goes into the soviet union in the late 1940's. he goes into china in the 1950's. he is one of the key black journalists in cuba during the cuban revolution. he is a friend ally of malcolm x. his key domestic idea is something called the freedom now party and it's going to be one of three black independent political parties in the 1960's. one is the freedom now party and the other is the mississippi freedom democratic party led by guerini lou hamer the sharecropper from louise phill mississippi who was not allowed to be seated at the 1964 democratic national convention in atlantic city new jersey. and the other is going to be lowndes county freedom organization which is nicknamed the black panther party, which is in lowndes county alabama, and that started with grassroots locals of towns county with the help of sncc activists, especially stokely carmichael. and when we think about william
worthy piece interesting because he's a black power activist who's also a pacifist, who actually went to jail in world war ii for refusing to fight in the war. but he wants a foreign policy that is based on human rights. we before president jimmy carter talks about a foreign policy based on human rights william worthy was talking about this and he is one of the people we as part of the ropes in generation and i call it the robeson generation the group of activists who come of age during the prime political time when paul robeson was the key african-american political and cultural figure of the 1930's and 40's and 50's who was going to be marginalized by the cold war between 1951 and 1958 paul robeson's passport is revoked and he is not going to be able to run a living outside of the country because of his left-wing believes. robeson never joined the communist party of the united states of america but certainly is very sympathetic to the
marxism and communism and he's going to suffer because of that. but were the's is extraordinary and provides a different genealogy of black power. people like william worthy, gloria richardson, the activist from cambridge maryland who was called the leedy general of the civil rights movement who waged an unprecedented struggle in cambridge maryland in 1963 at 64 to help desegregate the city and met with attorney general robert f. kennedy to sign a peace accord in the early 1960's but also goes to malcolm x's nov grassroots leadership conference in detroit where malcolm delivers his famous message to the grassroots where he lays out a secular vision of a domestic national also international global political revolution. >> host: you're right malcolm x was nothing less of the civil rights era invisible man.
>> guest: well, absolutely. and the terms of the way which historians viewed malcolm x, malcolm isn't part of that heroic period of the civil rights movement. usually only pops up around 1963, '64 and freely only serves as a foil to dr. king. he's more characterized or characterized as a profit of rage who is not a brilliant political strategist who is not a local or national political organizer and is not really one of the most important figures of the post war period. >> host: as you note back in the 50's he was probably the most important political grassroots political organizer in harlem. >> guest: absolutely. he's released from prison in 1952 after serving really six years in prison for burglary. he transforms himself from malcolm little to malcolm xy all in charles on prisoner of massachusetts. he comes out of prison and works
a number of different all the jobs will also working as a muslim minister. in 1954 he is opening up the mosque in philadelphia but he also becomes the head of the muslim mosques number seven on west 116th streets of harlem, and right away he becomes the key muslim black muslim figure of the entire group. the group goes from several hundred and he joins in the early -- late 1940's and early 50's to having over 25,000 by the time he leaves the group. but what is really important about him is between 1954 to 1964 when he is his most active in the group he leads the nation of islam by january, 1964, he transforms the group from the secretary in group to a secular group. he transforms a group that isn't on anyone's radar to a group that is considered by the fbi to be one of the leading subversive groups in the country and by
1959 there is a mike wallace documentary news beat five parts in the summer of 1959 that hate produced that makes malcolm international figures. >> host: who is lomax? >> guest: the key reporters of the 50's and 60's before his untimely death is one of the key black journalists who interviews malcolm also becomes an expert on the nation of islam. >> host: one of the things about malcolm and all of those things are true that you said that there was a kind of rall language that was a searing piercing she would say these things. here's something, quote during a press conference and he was obviously somebody that of american democracy was just not equipped to protect black americans and that was not made
for african-americans at the time. in a press conference in washington, d.c. he said if anyone sits a doll on a black will of whether a four legged dog or two legged dog. that is hard to say in public. i'm sure at that time just maybe you could kind of put that in perspective when. even today we don't get the leaders standing up saying things like that. >> guest: absolutely. one of malcolm's most important characteristics was the ability to speak truth to power if he's going to be probably the most eloquent radical critic of american democracy during the post war period. wellcome also is bold enough to criticize president kennedy for not acting collectively enough in birmingham, alabama. what's interesting we study malcolm x and look at him and
malcolm serves as a counterpart to king but in a way people don't usually think of. they usually think of him as a counterpart to king as the good black man and malcolm is the bad and nasty and tight black man. malcolm is a counterpart. saying things king can't say very boldly in a confrontational manner that actually gives king room to negotiate and not just king roy wilkins of the naacp and whitney young of the urban league to negotiate because people are looking at malcolm has been so extreme because of his robust criticism of american democracy and american politicians but also against the politics of white supremacy that gives the other civil rights leaders room to maneuver. but the whole notion -- but quote that you take from malcolm had a great gift of speaking to ordinary people. jenny baldwin, the great african-american writer, the genius writer of the 1960's and
70's has often said malcolm had such a love for african-american people he spoke to them in the language they understood and one of the reasons he was able to so effectively communicate with african americans is that he was from the black working class and as malcolm had been hanging help with hustlers he was in roxbury, he was in detroit, he was in harlem. before he becomes a muslim mosque minister in harlem he was selling people illegal substances in harlem. and so malcolm knew how ordinary, everyday people in harlem felt, how black people felt. he knew how african-american culture and a barber shops and beauty shops, she understood the african-american church on just the nation of islam but the black church as well so we think about malcolm x. he becomes a very singularly important figure but not just as some kind of profit of rage or icon.
he's actually an important grass-roots local organizer and not just in new york but in detroit and chicago and other places as well. >> host: and long after his death becomes a enough of an american figure to get a postage stamp. >> guest: certainly there's a rehabilitation of malcolm x that has occurred over the last 20 years. we start with spike lee's film malcolm x in 1992 the issue of the autobiography of malcolm x and also the stamp. but even barack obama, and barack obama's autobiography, dreams for my father, he expresses admiration for malcolm x and says he admired malcolm x.'s self-determination and ability to recreate himself. so when we think about malcolm x, malcolm x is the quintessential self-made african-american man of the post war period. >> host: and embraced regardless where you live on the ideological spectrum i am
reminded that justice clarence thomas also increased malcolm x and haditha collected recordings of malcolm x and on something important in now the mix series himself. >> guest: absolutely. conservatives admire malcolm x.'s notion of bootstrap pulling. pull yourself up by your bootstraps, self-determination and the notion that malcolm x was also say black people have to do for themselves. malcolm and the nation of islam and their opponents refused handouts from the white man in their parties. so conservatives were definitely finding that something the was a great attribute. >> host: another important figure in your book and you devote considerable chapters to stokely carmichael. >> guest: stokely carmichael i believe is one of the most important african-american political activists of the post war period and civil rights and black power period.
he is going to be a key civil-rights activist who becomes a black power icon and well i mean by that is that stokely is one of the only black power figures who had also been a civil rights organizer and the deep south. he's from the caribbean born in port-of-spain trinidad 1941, immigrants to the united states before his 11th birthday 1952. he lives in the bronx and is one of the only african-american students who test into the science high school in 1956 and that is one of the most prestigious high schools of new york city even has a high school student he is an activist. by 1960 he enrolled at harvard university and joins them on violent action group that howard which is a friend of sncc, an affiliate of the student nonviolent coordinating committee. and really, at 14-years-old stokely carmichael becomes a
free the writer, kosoff and is arrested in mississippi and spends 49 days in mississippi's worst prison farm and he celebrates his 20th birthday in prison for civil rights activity and i will be the first of 27 arrests between 1961 and 1966. what's really important about stokely carmichael and that i tried to convey in this book is carmichael is one of the few americans domestically during the 1960's who pleads for democracy. what i mean by that is a undergoes physical terror and violence at the hands of hate groups and domestic terrorists in places like the mississippi delta in lowndes county alabama, in cambridge maryland, in washington, d.c. to promote voting rights and citizenship rights for all african-americans. >> host: i want to get into -- we are getting close to the breaktime and i want to get into some contemporary thoughts and
>> host: welcome back to booktv's "after words." we are talking with professor peniel josette, tough university history professor. and as a very interesting book, which i recommend. "dark days, bright nights from black power to barack obama." it is a great piece of work and congratulations to you again. >> let's talk a little bit about you mentioned in your book some of the media coverage to make reference to the media coverage of president barack obama and some of his views and speeches about race then use that have
not been as sharp coverage, not as sharp and precise as it should be tell me how you think obama has the first african-american president has been covered. >> guest: i think that he's been covered in unique and interesting ways. i think in terms of the politics of race race is always shuddering and, during the presidency. specifically what i talked about in the book and i try to write about is the way which the poet -- president christa tuck about race in the united states top of media has really read the speeches differently than i would have. for instance there's an naacp speech the president gave last year in 2000 by submitting the 100th anniversary of that civil rights organization and in that speech he really does a couple of things. one, he critiques african-americans who are not
doing the right thing, people who are not taking care of their kids and are not promoting education for their kids but also acknowledges that racism is still in the united states so he really does a lastname poll called civil rights activists but he talks about criminal justice systems and the racial disparities and it's a well balanced speech. what was interesting is the report and afterwards says obama tells black people to get their act together. so it is interesting is that the media when the president is talking about race the most interesting aspect they find is if he's chastising african-americans and that's what happened the during the campaign as well and i think it produced some tension between jesse jackson and then a senator obama. another example in terms of race was the skeets incident in cambridge where the president said the cambridge police
department and acted stupidly and immediately the media came down on him as sort of siding with african-americans or quote on quote even showing his true colors meaning he was definitely partisan and undecided black votes because remember then a senator obama runs as somebody above the fray who can be an honest arbitrer even though he happens to be black and probably the critics and local lawmen as umpire is the famous race speech in march of 2008 and i was the speech the president made while he was still the center and his association with the trendy church and his 20 year association with the trinity church in chicago and its pastor, jeremiah wright threatened to derail the candidacy because bloggers had gotten videotape of jeremiah wright basically criticizing the u.s. domestic and foreign policy and they said if this is obama's
preacher, then obama must share the same beliefs. so what obama did is the very good speech on race that was perceived as being extraordinary and he basically said, he parsed very well. he said that on one level he disagreed with reverend wright but on another level he could understand where he was coming from so on some levels he criticized whites and blacks equally. >> host: the ultimate had to cut his pastor louis and apologize for his choice of words during the gates episode. how do you think he has handled these controversy will moments then you just site? >> guest: i think that he's handled it as best he can in the sense the first black president he is forced out of necessity to tread lightly on racial matters and he did this as a candidate,
too. he would sit on the one hand yes america had a history of racial slavery. this awful history of segregation. but on the other he was a prime example of the progress that had been made. another great example is the three times he mentions race during his inaugural speech. he talked about those of us who felt the lash of the with the during the inaugural speech so there was a reference to slavery. he talked about segregation at one point and then he finally talked about his father and said his father might not have been able to sit at a restaurant in washington, d.c. decades ago because of his race and he was right about that so on certain levels sometimes obama please history professor and chief and not just commander in chief and he imparts a real lesson on to the body politics but for the most part he tried to stay away
from racial matters which is very impact will on the african-american community especially in terms of public policy. >> host: there was a recent flap disclosed in a new book by the two journalists call the game change, the book which revealed the private conversation henry reed had, senate democratic leader. essentially backing obama saying this was an attribute calling him the fact he's a light skinned african-american and denied -- did not use negro dialect of less he wanted to cry and there was a lot of back-and-forth on that over the weekend, what do you make of
that of the comments and the controversy that spurred? >> guest: i think it shows the complexity of the african-american faces when they are trying to judge the sincerity of even their supporters in terms of harry reid politically isn't a right-wing politician, he's a democrat and one of the people pushing health care. he was natural eshoo leader in the campaign that when obama became the nominee he was a dni supporter and now we know through this book behind the scenes he was a supporter who wanted obama to run. so on on one level we can think of reid who's a great admirer of obama but had a racial issue in terms of the way which he perceives black people and he's coming out of a baby boomer generation. the notion obama is light
skinned and not speaking in a negro dialect even the term negro is an antiquated term and certainly creek black power movement term. so i think this is when we talk about our politics race still matters even people who publicly would proclaim that it doesn't privately their words shows something different. >> host: the suggestion i guess was that it him being a light skinned, his skin color and how he spoke would accrue to his benefit and make him more palatable to a mainstream voting audience and make him more successful. what are people saying when you say someone does not speak in a black dialect or you focus on the skin color, what kind of person are they saying he is?
>> guest: they are saying that he's closer to what mainstream white america would find acceptable and that he's not a typical black person to i think that is what they are saying and it's interesting reid's comments because they were set within the context of support and the actively contrast with something that former president bill clinton got into hot water for saying during the 2008 campaign when he said jesse jackson ran a good campaign in south carolina and barack obama has run a good campaign in south carolina's of the inference there or at least the inference taken by many was the notion obama was another jesse jackson and that clinton was trying to sort of smear the obama campaign as the black campaign because everybody knows in the united states and american history the black candidate never wins. you have to be a candidate who happens to the -- happens to be black to win and he really flipped the script.
>> host: is he the only african-american elected president, was he the only person on the scene who could have gotten elected president? >> guest: i think so. certainly in a certain context we could say that he leapfrogged over certain people, somebody like harold ford, jr.. >> host: considering running for senate? >> guest: what's interesting about the democratic race is that in 2000 and in 2004 back to that, they gave these up and coming african-american men the keynote address. the first black person to do a keynote address was barbara jordan in 1976 but then back-to-back in 2000 in los angeles and this was a convention by the way barack obama could not attend. he couldn't get in or even get credentials by 2004. his fortunes have changed and he gave an extraordinary speech. >> host: catapulted. >> guest: it catapulted to the
senate because he wasn't a senator and then to the white house to a i would say yes he was the only person in that context who could have won. >> host: colin powell who declined to run in 1996 was someone who polled really well. was he someone who could have been elected president of this country? >> guest: i think colin powell would have had a tough time getting the party nomination and he knew that come to back because colin powell is a republican who is much more in a moderate gain of the kind of republicanism that is now a lost art and i think if people like nelson rockefeller. there is a republican party of the rockefeller wing of the republican party which were moderates compared to contemporary republicans so i think colin powell is somebody republicans love to look at and uphold and say you know what, this is such a great figure.
he was secretary of state, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. he's this role model but i think that he would have had a tough time getting his own party's nomination. >> host: after barack obama was elected president there was a sense that all of things were possible, a lot of people felt it was great euphoria. they said it said a lot about the country and how it had changed in the fall to. one year into his presidency what do you see has happened in the country and has the country changed? >> guest: i think it is a mixed response by the country in the sense that the euphoria after november 4th has certainly reseeded in light of the political challenges that obama has faced. but i also think there was a notion which was an erroneous
but the nation has become a post racial nation in the age of obama and this notion of post race was the notion that obama's election approved that active racism was over and race didn't matter anymore. and when we think about some of the pressure that the president has even faced now and not just responses to the president but things like unemployment, the unemployment rate in the country right now is very high, 10% put the unemployment rate for african-americans is double in places like new york city for black men in this troubled. there were great recent news stories about how even african-americans who are college educated are disproportionately more unemployed than their counterparts so we still see that even with the euphoria of the obama factory and how else significant as that is and it's a watershed in american history and world history it's still not necessarily translating
immediately in to ending racial disparity. >> host: some have criticized president will, particularly some of the african-american communities for not focusing enough on some of those disparities particularly the record unemployment among african-americans in some places, give it concentrated attention. what do you make of those critiques? >> guest: i think they exemplify the dilemma of black americans face having the first black president because his starkly we've never had african-american leaders within the black community, someone like a dr. king who also had an elected office let alone the highest office in the country so when we think about obama for rauf the 2008 elections he said -- season he became one of the most powerful black leaders in
the country as the obama phenomenon he golfed. he went from pulling behind hillary clinton to dominating in south carolina and received over 90% of the black vote in the election in november and now blacks are faced with the fact that he's not just a black leader he's also president of the united states so black leadership and this is everything from the congressional black caucus to the activists actually need to exert pressure on this black president meaning that he really can't wear both hats at the same time. when he is thinking about employment and unemployment he's trying to think of universal solutions, whereas black leaders want him to focus rightfully so on racial disparities and they are finding it pretty hard in its unique situation in terms of how do you criticize the first african-american president who has enormous reserves of good will within the black community? obama can go into any
barbershop, black church, anyplace across the country and he's going to be increased get at the same time some of the same people in praising him are suffering so the quandary that is faced and i don't think there is so far that black leaders have shown the right balance on the house to criticize the president in a way that has traction with a larger black community. >> host: he grew up in large part in hawaii and embraced the notion this is a multicultural nation and the possibilities of multiculturalism. you write in your book he sees a black power as a racial anachronism. >> guest: absolutely. the president's vision of black power subscribes to the popular vision. in his memoir he describes an older gentleman who serves as a mentor in hawaii who will always
be talking about the black power stuff as obama puts at. he describes meeting black nationalists in chicago and that he listens to them very carefully at the same time he feels that their view of the world is too merkel and static and its income on changing view of racial discrimination and segregation and one point he describes listening to a speech by the former stokely carmichael by the early 80's at columbia university and he says that he's speaking and a woman asks a question and he says the way in which he response, his eyes glow, the eyes of the mad man or a saint. so obama's view of black power is something that is anachronistic suitable for the politics of 1960's and 70's but is not flexible enough to take
into account the changing racial and political demographics of our multicultural present. >> host: and yet he has opened the white house and made it available to people of different ideological and wide range of activist spectrum. al sharpton who was somebody who of least in the popular imagination to be considered a fiery black activist and yet he is someone who has access to the white house and has been done to see the president. what do you make of how obama has handled, been accessible and how he has reached out to african-americans? >> guest: i think again this is complicated because on both one level tease the first black president who hasn't necessarily have to do the same kind of
outreach as his predecessors because he's so popular in the african-american community. i think one of the things we'll see whether it is jesse jackson or al sharpton of the congressional black caucus, they are all wondering how can say provide some kind of accountability for this president who is so popular within the black community. so on one level his accessibility has been fined but does access equals public policy? does access equal power? right now when we think about black issues that hasn't translated. there's been no discernible transformation in terms of the white house on trying to specifically address african issues even though there's urban policy outreach but not the kind of dramatic public policy initiatives that i think some black leaders especially people in the cbc were hoping for. >> host: where do you think we are in this nation with race
relations? >> guest: i think we are at a unique crossroads because on one level, obama's victory can be attributed to millions of young girl voters like white, black, latino, multiracial spectrum, voters under 25, under 30 who participated in the process for the first time in 2008 and who looked at obama as just another candidate who even though they might have their own individual racial hangups they didn't solely view that campaign and that candidate through the prism of race. at the same time, we have an older generation and we can get back to the harry reid, and an older generation who still is coming to curbs with the multi-cultural nature of this democracy. obama's victory is very important. the symbolism is important but it's also been exaggerated and
it's been exaggerated in the sense of obama's victory equals the end of racism. obama's victory in post racial united states so there's one aspect of the wallace b. five victory that encourages a kind of mythology and myth making that the united states is completely turned a corner and if you want me get in this country it's based on your sole individual behavior and not any kind of racial and institutional racism or any kind of racial discrimination barriers. the positives to the factory are the way in which obama, as president, really delivers a different image of blackness not only to the rest of the country and globally, but also blacks themselves especially young black people. i think one of the best things about obama being president, and we go back to that homily you start with with so barack obama
could fly, could win so your kids could fly, the resonance this is going to have on african-american children and children of color but white children, too is right now we can calculate. we have to see. so that's going to be very important. you hope that presidents is connected also with public policy because obama has a sociological cultural impact, an anthropological impact but is it going to be a public policy and that meaning is it mean to be an impact we can quantify in ten or 15 years because i think one of the interesting measures of a post obama united states whether he serves one or two terms is what is the quantifiable transformation if any that his presidency has on black people. >> host: one of the things as you mentioned is the nightly news to see a black family in
places with her it is coming out of the south lawn, whether it is playing with a doll that were getting ice-cream with the girls you see a portrait of a black family in the highest levels of power as a nightly experience as opposed to i don't know how might the news is in your town but it's nothing but crime in most towns. and so that is certainly has an impact image wise i would think. >> guest: obviously one of the big things obama's election did in transforming the is the debt of american democracy is projecting that consistent image of this intact whole black family, the president of the first lady, michelle obama, the children, sasha and malia, the bald, boe but also the grandmother, mashaal's paternal -- her mother is in the white house for t f