tv Born on Third Base CSPAN November 5, 2016 11:00pm-12:01am EDT
>> host: yeah. i can certainly understand that. well, let me say that i feel like i have been very lucky to have had this opportunity to talk to you. [laughter] for the past hour. so thank you very much. and congratulations on what is a really terrific book. i don't agree with all of it, but i found absolutely all of it provocative and worth reading. thank you so much. >> guest: thank you. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979 c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> here's a look at some upcoming book fairs and festivals happening around the country. on wednesday, november 16th, we're in new york for the 2016 national book awards. then friday, november 18th, it's
the national press club's annual book fair and authors' night in washington d.c. and later this month we'll be live from the miami book fair on november 19th and 20th. our coverage includes author discussions and call-in programs featuring senator bernie sanders, fox news host dana perino and national book award finalist coulson whitehead. for more information about the book fairs and festivals booktv will be covering and to watch previous festival coverage, click the book fairs tab on our web site, booktv.org. [inaudible conversations]
>> well, thank you, everyone, for coming. we're so -- well, on behalf of rick mcarthur, harper's magazine and book culture, we're so pleased to be here to celebrate "born on third base: a 1%-er makes the case for tackling inequality, bringing wealth home and committing to the common good." that author is chuck collins and, again, we're so happy to have him here for our talk. harper's magazine has a vested interest in keeping important written word in circulationing, and one of those ways is here at book culture. so we do encourage you to pick up a copy or two or three of tonight's book in order to keep this a community space. i think rick mcarthur, who's one of the part owners of the space, famously has said that he was really terrified that when
this space became available, it would become a bank branch. and so we're really glad that it's a bookstore, and we hope that you'll celebrate that too. some of you may remember this space as the end cot booksellers. that was 20 years ago. and book culture has been here almost two years. so, again, we're so happy to be here in order to host chuck collins. he's a researcher, campaigner, storyteller and writer based at the institute for policy studies where he co-edits inequality.org. he has written extensively on wealth inequality in previous books like "99 to 1: wealth and our commonwealth," with bill gates sr.. and "economic apartheid in america," as well as for the nation, the american prospect and numerous other magazines and news outlets. collins grew up in the 1%, and as the great grandson of meatpacker oscar mayer, when he
was 26, he gave away his inheritance, and he's been working to erase inequality since 1982. and in the process he co-founded wealth for the common good now merged with patriotic millionaires, united for a fair economy and divest investment. so, again, thank you, everybody, for coming, and i'm going to go ahead and turn it over to chuck. [applause] >> you don't need me to use that, right? okay. thank you, cody. and thank you for coming out on this evening, and i want to -- this is the first event that i'm doing. the book actually is published tomorrow formally, so to thank you for coming out to an unpublished book event. and i want to also just recognize morris pearl who wrote the forward to this book. he's the chairman of the patriotic millionaires which we can tell you more about that network, but he was the former managing director of blackrock, and you may have seen his op-ed in "the new york
times" today on transparency in corporate taxation. so we're thrilled that -- i'm thrilled that morris was able to do the forward, and he could autograph the book as well later. it might be worth more than mine. so anyway -- [laughter] so as cody said, this is -- the book is called "born on third base" which actually comes from a quote from the coach of the dallas cowboys, barry switzer, who said some people are born on third base and thought they hit a triple. as cody said, i'm the great grandson of oscar mayer. my father used to say bringing home the bacon has a different mean anything our family. [laughter] and i grew up in an affluent suburb of detroit, actually thought that i was middle class. i have a couple of my classmates here, and they would remember that there were, you know, the daughter of lee iacocca and, you know, the toddman family and
people who showed up to college, to high school in chauffer-driven cars whereas my dad took me in his own mercedes benz. so i knew that i was not in that top echelon. [laughter] but the high school that i went to was also the school that mitt romney went to. and our school motto is aim high, which is depicted by an archer shooting an arrow straight up into the air which, if you think about it, is not something you would let your children do, right? [laughter] but i want to -- i've written a couple of books on issues of inequality. but what i've tried to do with "born on third base" is tell more stories, talk about how we think about inequality and the myths about why we have inequality and try to disrupt some of those myths and narratives that allow these inequalities to perpetuate.
and i want to start with just a short story, but it's my own story which is when i was 26, so 30 years ago, my first job out of college was i worked with tenants who lived in mobile home parks to help them buy their parks as cooperatives. and so i'm sitting in a double-wide mobile home in massachusetts, and there are nine of the resident leaders in this 30-unit park sitting there. and i am actually the consultant that's helping them to figure out how to buy it. and they are at risk. their park is up for sale. they need to see if they can pull the money together to be able to buy the park. so there's a lot at stake. and i'm sitting there, and one thing you should know is at age 26, i had excruciating skin acne. and i looked much younger than i actually was. so these resident leaders are
looking at me, somebody, you know, somebody who looks like they're 19 with bad skin who is supposedly going to be the person who's going to help them buy this park. and i am honestly in agony for two reasons. one, because i'm, i've actually done all of their financials. i've privately interviewed each of them about what they could afford to pay toward the new park and how much they could pay toward rent, and i know, like, more private information -- i know all their financial secrets in a way. and i have figureed out that they don't have enough money. like, a third of the people have, like, no savings, and a third of the people have over their, you know, are retirees are very modest amounts of savings. and so i have to break the news to them that they actually, there's not enough money to even get toward the down payment we need to raise.
we're about $35,000 short. the other reason i'm in agony is i was born on third base. i actually a few years before that had received some wealth from my family, and i knew that i could actually write a check for that $35,000 and close the gap. and i'm actually thinking that i might do that, because i've actually done this analysis where i realized i personally have five or six times more money than all the 30 people in this park combined. and somehow that did not balance out in my moral universe. so i'm sitting there, and i break the news to the residents. i basically explain we have this gap. and there's a little bit of a pall in the room. and then one of the men says -- this guy, reggie, he says, well, i have -- i can pay my share of the down payment, and i can put
$5,000 more into the purchase. and i'm probably the only person who knows that reg, that that's all the money he has. and then another woman says i have $6,000 that i'll put in, and i realize, like, she's putting her whole savings in. and harlan and mary whose home we're sitting in is, they say, well, we can afford, you know, he had a good job at greenfield tap and dye, and he had some retirement savings, and he's going to put in their $10,000 stake and they're going to buy mrs.vreeve's share on the condition that she should never know to protect her dignity. and around the room they go, and all nine of these people have put every bit of the money that they have on the table, and they are about $4,000 short, $5,000 short. and the daughter, harlan and mary's daughter comes in, and she says i'll write the check
for the other $5,000, and they've done it. they close the gap. they start writing out checks and handing them to me to take to the bank to open up our account for the down payment. and i remember driving in that car thinking, to the bank thinking i almost wrote a check, but i didn't have to because these people were all in. and they survived. they succeeded. they bought the park, they -- on the day of the closing, the men showed up with, like, cigars like they were proud parents. harlan told the local paper that we have been wandering the land, but we have just bought, we've just bought the land from pharoah are. we are hostage no more. and one woman came up to me, mary -- harlan's wife -- said, you know, you're a smart young man. you could get a job on wall street. you don't have to be hanging out with a bunch of fogies like us. i said, no, you know, i can't
think of anywhere i'd rather be actually. and then she sort of leaned quietly to me and said, have you ever tried noxema for your skin? [laughter] and i said, no, i -- i've tried everything. so i left there, and that's when i decided, you know what? i'm 26 years old. this money, i don't actually need it, and other people need it more. so i made in this decision to give away the wealth. and i wrote to my father, and i said this is my plan, and he said -- he called me up, and he said you haven't given it away yet, have you? i said, not yet. he said, let me come out and talk to you. he came out from michigan to boston where i live, and he said, you know, this is a lot -- you're young. there's a lot of things that can go wrong, you know? there's a lot of -- having this money could be a cushion. what if you, you know, you're single and you have no children, but what if someday you have a partner and that partner gets
ill? wouldn't you want that money to sort of help, help buffer that, make that easier? or what if you have a child and that child has a special need? wouldn't you like to have that money? why don't you not -- why don't you think about all the things that could potentially go wrong. i said, well, i have been thinking about those things, and well, then, i'd be in the same boat as 99% of the other people i know. i would have to get some help. and he said, well, you'd probably have to fall back on government. and i said, well, yeah. he said, well that's, that's not a good thing. i said, well, you know, maybe then i'd have a stake in making sure that it was better. the safety net was better. he said, well, that's kind of idealistic, but, okay, i understand. you should do what you were called to do. so i went to the national bank of detroit, i signed the papers to transfer what was at the time to me an enormous amount of money, about a half a million
dollars in 1986 which, if i just kind of left it and let it go, it'd be $7 or $8 million today. not a mega-fortune, but a substantial amount of money for me. and my trust officer at the national bank of detroit, african-american woman, grew up in poverty in detroit, sort of rooked at me and said -- looked at me and said, are you okay? i said, yeah, i think so. no, i mean, are are you going to be okay? i said, i think so. because even then i didn't really understand the incredible mountain of privilege that i had that the money was just part of it, that it was this intergenerational transfer of preparation and social networks and white-skinned privilege. i had -- the money was just part of it. i didn't understand that. to me, at that moment, it felt like a leap of faith. so i signed this wealth over to a number of foundations including something called the funding exchange here in new york. and went back to my life working with mobile home tenants.
and a couple months later something bad did happen. my house burned down, the house i was living in. and everything i owned was destroyed. and no one was hurt, so it wasn't horrible in that way, but it was disorienting. and the day after i was sifting through, and my friend greg, we were looking for photos and momentos, anything we could find after the car -- the house had been sort of trashed with all this water. and i look up, and here comes three or four cars pull up. and out of the cars climb the mobile home park tenants. and they have trash bags and casseroles, and i think -- that was the first time i thought, yeah, i think i am going to be okay. and i share that story because, to me, that reminds me of, like, the real wealth which is in the relationships, which is in the
connections in the community and that those folks had taught me something very, very important about solidarity, about being all in for each other. and that is part of the foundation. so for 30 years i've been working on these issues of the growthing wealth gap. growing wealth gap. and i've coordinated campaigns where i've tried to organize other people who are in the 1% like bill gates. and we did a campaign, polly cleveland is here, she was part of that too. mobilized 1500 multimillionaires and billionaires to oppose the repeal of the estate tax. but my belief now is there's lots of things we need to do to sort of build coalitions and campaigns, but part of the work that we need to do is to change the story that we tell ourselves about inequality. and that i more and more believe
it's fundamentally a heart problem, that we have a heart problem when it comes to understanding the impact of these inequalities. and here's the moment i think we're in. think about the trajectory that our current society is on in terms of inequality, you know, you may have seen news reports there's good news that the census, the median income has pond up a bit after -- popped up a bit after many, many years. it's still not where it was in 2007. it's nowhere near where it was in 1999, but we're living in a time of extreme inequality overall. most of the income and wealth gains of the last 30 -- really since the economic meltdown of 2009 have gone to the top 1%, and even within that the top one-tenth of 1%. and assets, wealth, if we look at that, it's become more extreme. the institute for policy studies where i work, we do a number of studies every year, and we just
did a study that looked at, found that the "forbes" 400, the 400 wealthiest billionaires in the society have more wealth than the bottom 62% of the population combined. 100 of these millionaire/billionaires have more wealth than the entire african-american population. twenty richest people in the united states who could fit in one gulf stream 650 jet, luxury jet, 20 people have as much wealth as half the population. so we have now entered into a new warp speed of inequality. and if you look at the racial wealth divide -- and, again, i just did a study on sort of the trajectory. if we look, if we say that the racial wealth gap between whites and blacks and latinos continues into the same, in the same way, first it would take 200 -- if black wealth continued to grow at the same level it is today, it would take 228 years for blacks to catch up to the median
wealth of whites if white wealth stood still. and that 30 years from now the racial wealth divide will be twice as big. so as a the french economist thomas piketty pointed out, we're moving toward becoming a herd tear air stockingly -- aristocracy of wealth. so that's the trajectory that we're on. and i just want to read a very brief -- i'm not going to read much, but i want to just read a little bit from the introduction of "born on third base." there are many reasons we need to rethink our predicament, but for a moment let's consider this one which in many ways trumps them all. as a planet, we are experiencing an ecological crisis. climate change and ocean acidification along with breaches of other planetary boundaries will alter our food and energy systems and transform
our way of life. there have been recent news accounts about u.s. billionaires buying mountain fortresses in the rockies and davos billionaires buying getaway farms in new zealand with airplane landing strips. but these escape fantasies are delusional thinking. the island paradises will be swamped from rising sea levels, the mountains will be choked with the smoke of burning forests. it's in no one's interests to continue operating as if a few privileged people are going to escape on a spaceship or retreat to a mountaintop enclave. the point there is the ecological crisis, you know, there is no wealth without natural wealth. there is no wealth in a degraded earth. put that together, there is no true society in an extremely polarized economic apartheid society. so part of my point in this book
is an, is to my brothers and sisters who are in the 1%. be i want to go out and engage with people who have wealth. not just maybe the 1%, but think of ourselves in the united states as we're at the pinnacle of global wealth. and my message there is bring the wealth home. look at how these inequalities not only are bad for most people in the world, they're actually bad for wealthy people. there's this kind of curious alignment of interests here. of course wealthy people are not going to experience the full brunt of the ecological crisis and the inequality crisis at least in the immediate term. but it undermines the quality of life for everybody. and there's now like a mountain of research showing this. you know, you care about public health, you care about your own health, you care about your children's futures. these inequalities will undermine everything you care about.
and i could go on about that, but i won't. so the question is, how do we change that? and my point of view is there are campaigns, you know, the patriotic millionaires and, you know, the hour revolution, the kind of offshoot of the bernie sanders campaign, and there's people's action. there's work that black lives matter, the movement for black lives, these movements that are engaging that are really the engines of social change. but my point of view is actually people in the 1%, we need you, we need us to step up to fundamentally change this trajectory which is in no one's interest. and so in this book what i do is i, first of all, i have a message for my brothers and sisters in the 1% who are
affluent or wealthy, but also some thoughts for everyone else. my message to people in the, who hold most of the wealth and power in the society is to come home, to bring the wealth out of the shadows, out of the speculative financial markets, out of the fossil fuel industry which is pushing us to the precipice ec lodge chi and bring it home -- ecologically and bring it home. reroot it in local community investing, impact investing. go off the wall street grid, come back into the real economy of goods and services and livelihoods. so bring the wealth home, bring yourself home which is to, like, put your full stake in a place and make a commitment to make sure that everybody in that place thrives. and to use your -- all of the social capital and wealth and investment capital,
philanthropic, you know, charitable giving to make that possible. to come home is also to, is to tell the true stories about the origins of wealth. and here is where i think we have a very important role which is there are these mythologies about wealth and success. and who were the better to kind of disrupt or debunk some of those than people who actually have seen and had the experience of growing wealth? you think about there's a narrative that i write about in the book, the makers and the takers. right? 2012 when mitt romney was running for office, he did his own, you know, campaign donor event faux pas just like hillary saying deplorables. he talked about the makers and the takers. you know, narrative. think how powerful that is. you hear that everywhere. if you read arleigh hoping
child's new book, strangers in their own land, that makers and takers understanding of world, there are the makers, virtuous makers who create wealth, who are the engines of the train, and there are the takers, the people who take from society. and how insidious that is. and how destructive it is. and how it renders people who need help, but also everybody, everybody in our society benefits from the things that we do together whether it's public investments or the commons that we build together. one of the first people i met doing this work was a guy named martin who i tell his story in this book. he's a software engineer, and i was involved in this effort to keep the estate tax from being repealed, and at the time bill clinton was the president.
congress had voted to repeal the one and only tax on inherited wealth, and he was going to veto it. and he needed a business person to stand with him. so they called our office, and martin stood up, and here's what he said. he got up and he said i grew up in a family with no wealth. in queens. and i, my parents never took a vacation. they worked all the time. but i went to a great public school, and i went to a library that was open on the weekends, and there was a librarian there, and she said, marchen, i have a -- martin, i have a book for you. she knew he was interested in technology and education, and she said here's biography of thomas edison. he said, you know, i grew up in a low income family, but i had great opportunities. somebody else paid for my school and for my, for that library to be open on the weekends.
and then he went into, he got a completely free, you know, college education, and there are some amazing institutions in this city that have made that possible for generations. and then he went to, into the field of technology, new technology, the internet, which was built largely through taxpayer investment. and he started a company. and this is martin now at the west wing of the white house telling his story. he says, mr. president, you know, i sold my company a couple years ago for $30 million. and are you telling me i don't have a responsibility to pay back the society that made it almost entirely possible for me to have the opportunities i did? he said, no, in fact, i have an obligation so that some other child out there who's not born wealthy can have the same opportunities i had. so martin's story and a lot of the stories that i tell in here
are of what i would call people from the 1% or wealthy people who have come home. they have figured out how to move wealth to local communities, how to rejoin and connect in that way. the other part of this message though is to everyone else, and in this book i write about having been working on issues of inequality for many, many years. i have to say i was part of, i would say, fomenting attitudes of class war. meaning my theory of change, the theory of change of united for a fair economy and the other groups i was part of was, you know, if we could get people as focused in their rage on the billionaires, on transnational corporations and focus that anger there, that's how we would build a movement for social change. and i think there are reasons to, obviously, be angry, enraged, you know? every day we can open up the newspaper and read about
somebody who, you know, buys a prescription drug and increases the price 5,000%, you know? so there's some good reasons to think about bringing out the pitchforks. but my -- what i had to ask myself was how is this transformation really going to happen? and, you know, is that class rage and shame working? am i, you know, so my new perspective is it's understandable that where people feel angry and rage, but there are allies in the room. what my life experience now is there are people in the 1% who are behind the scenes. they're here in this room tonight, they're doing things behind the scenes, they're working for economic justice. and there are many, many more who are waiting to be invited to something bigger and greater and grander. so my message to everyone else is don't give up entirely.
there are -- there is a segment of the reachable wealthy, the reachable rich, i call it. you know, there are people who, you know, think of the koch brothers who use their wealth and power to get more wealth and power. but that's a small segment. and on the other side, we have the patriotic millionaires and groups like that that are sort of out there organizing to put forward a different vision. but there's this whole other segment of people who are unengaged. but if they became engaged, could leverage tremendous resources for change. .. strategizing for all of us were
working for social movement. i have a roadmap which is to understand the different segments of the wealthy, the journalist wrote a book and i updated it to say there is affluence in billionaire. the appeal to each of those individuals, because they are individuals might be different. let's understand who they are and what they can do and how we can build alliances with them. it's very much interested in that. i have a bunch of chapters about the role of charity. we can talk talk more of this in discussion. my main point of view is that right now charity is not the philanthropic sector is not the answer to these issues. in fact, philanthropy is becoming more and more top-heavy. were seeing. were seeing the creations of these mega foundations that mere the growing inequality of wealth
and a decline in donor giving for most low and middle income people. if you think about where that's going were basically heading toward 20 years down the road, the creation of mega philanthropic corporations subsidized by the taxpayer because they reduce taxable -- and more government than local austerity. in the same, that's where we are heading. my point of view is that philanthropy is not a substitute for taxation. adequate and fully funded public services, in some cases philanthropy is compounding the existing inequalities. it's not the answer, it is part of it but i take that on. >> let me stop, i think we want to have a more open discussion but i want to close with one other story which is what informs my hope, the sense of possibility that we actually
could transform this current situation. i was talking about the inequality issues in a suburban, los angeles church. there are probably 100 people there, affluent suburban church. i had gone off a little bit and talked about apple and boeing, general electric and some global corporations that benefited enormously from the infrastructure that we built together but don't pay a lot of taxes. there is a nice gentleman at the end of the talk people were talking to me, a gentleman was waiting for everyone to leap and they came up and said, my name is hank, i have a question for you but i wanted to tell you and give you background. he said first i'm a retired number three executive at boeing. and i thought, oh. but he said i'm ashamed about
how our company behaved and why we don't pay more for infrastructure and roads and i'm a little embarrassed by that. that's not why want to talk to. he said my question, the context is that i'm retired. about three years ago i went to kenya on a project where i was using my engineering skills that have not used in a long time to help build water treatment facilities in rural kenya. every day we showed up there there were children who were hanging out watching us, they were beautifully, colorfully dressed and well taken care of, we were like the best entertainment, our infrastructure project. i got to know the children and one day says show me where you live. they let him him down a path across the creek and came to a big white tired wooden building with a balcony and it said orphanage.
this guy hank said no so this is where you live and out came one of the adults, he met them and he said i sat in the van going back to my first world hotel that night and i was awake all night thinking about these children. and then i get back the next day and the children were there and i started thinking about them. as i left i went back to the orphanage and i said so is there anything i can do and he said well, we could use more buildings. this is about one third of the children who need our help. so we went back to suburban los angeles. he started organizing everybody who knew, old business colleagues and going back and forth to kenya and he said i
work for boeing, i work in the corporation, we did not have a lot of discussions. we're discussions. we're focused on a certain project. we never ever talks about poverty, we did talk about children, it wasn't these aren't bad people, it's just these were the framework that i was was in. now i'm in a different framework. both kids completely broke and cracked open my heart. now this is my life passion. said my wife said to me recently, hank, you remind me of this week i that i fell in love with 45 years ago. and my children has noticed that something has changed in me, at this point he said tears were coming down his eyes and my eyes. and he says so my question is, and i'm like oh yeah he had a question. my question is, is it too late for me? to make a difference.
>> and i'm like no absolutely not. you're making a huge difference in getting all of these other people involved, and he says yes i see the connections now. i understand poverty in los angeles, took me going there for my heart to be cracked open to understand the systemic causes of poverty in the food system in making these connections and all of these people that i'm pulling in. and i said it looks like cracking hearts open is the key. i said that's the keys, i take mostly these guys to kenya and their completely ambushed. i take them out of their environment where they live inside the mythologies that justify property and equality and they can't for the life of them it doesn't make sense to them that they are these reality. >> so, i have conversations like
that now every other day. with people what that tells me is that people are waiting for something bigger and that they're waiting to have their hearts cracked open and are waiting to act on what they know to be true. so that is to me what the moment holds for us. one of the things i realizes that people, we as humans cannot rewire ourselves quite quickly. think about climate change, growing inequality, generations, absolutely not. first of all we don't have generations to fix this. secondly, we are incredibly capable. and i'm watching it happen all of the time. those are the stories that i feel are key for me to tell. let me stop there. i think that he has microphone.
i welcome any comments or questions or provocations, disagreements. >> i thought i knew everything, but i never heard of a patriotic millionaires, what did they do? >> over the last couple of years there have been a couple of networks of business leaders, or people with inherited well who have been in public policy. polly and i were part of started something called the responsible wealth. we started wealth of the common good, patriotic millionaires are 250 individuals who are willing to go out there and talk about their taxes, raising the minimum wage and wages and reducing the influence of money in politics. >> there based all over the united states. i had reduce the chairman, and are leader is here.
i want people to know about the patriotic millionaires, think it's good news. there's a lot of news about greed and selfishness, but there's a lot of very positive news of people breaking through to either side. check out the patriotic millionaires and some of that work that's going on. >> i was wondering after we talked about -- was there any way of reaching out to the millionaires who are on the other side? >> that's an interesting question, you're referring if you're looking to buy another book tonight other than born on third base, the sociologist has a really interesting book called strangers in their own land. she basically spent the last six years embedded with tea party activists in the south and in her usual style to listening and interviewing and trying to understand the framework.
i will go over the whole thing. but when i think is that there is a base of people there, again where we have a hard problem we have a empathy problem and what they tried to say is if you want to dismiss everybody who's in the tea party or supports donald trump because they're deplorable's, or racist and xena phobic, which is true there are people who have that. but if you want to dismiss them all and we are missing an opportunity to understand where these folks are coming from. i recommend her book because it is a climb over the empathy wall to understand where people are coming from. it's harder with the millions are and billionaires who support the neoliberal antitax government agenda because their
life experiences different. the opportunities to engage a lot of other people are there. the patriotic millionaires we have been inviting or engaging with other big spenders on the political right. >> there very involved politically, just like the koch brothers on the other side. >> so who are they supporting for president? >> will probably working from keeping donald trump from being elected in any way. >> with the procter & gamble family, you say very similar things, he be a good person for you to connect with if you have and are ready. >> that's a great idea. >> what's interesting is that
100 years ago during the last time that we had these extreme inequalities of wealth there were defectors if you will, there's an interesting history there and even andrew carnegie came around and say we need to tax inherited wealth. we should not be allowing huge pieces of wealth to build up and that's fundamentally antidemocratic. the movements that got us out of the first gilded age understood the concentration of wealth and power that were living in is fundamentally undemocratic. there's a lot of wealthy people who understand that you want to have a self-governing self-governing society in a real democracy not an oligarchy. you won't have equality of opportunity. one of the chapters of my book is about what's happening to young people in these inequalities. how the intergenerational transmission of advantage is helping kids in the top 10% take
off in florida should. they have no student debt, they get to do internships. their purpose. for college and working all of the advantages. the other young adults are stalled out in the current economy. one of my message is where we going? wealthy families comments may be biological, people want to help their kids, but we need to de-escalation the advantage transmission arms race that is happening where some of the kids are getting so much advantage we need to eliminate college debt. the big project i work with bill gates' dad on his tax wealth through inherited taxation and invested in debt-free education. and in washington state we are able to get the state wealth tax to be directed, we want to
replicate that another states. tax concentrations of wealth invest in things that create real opportunities. that's the way forward. there is a number of gamble family members who are part of this movement. >> it's two hours long and complicated but it blew my mind of what you're saying anyway,. >> is awesome, not quite there. >> one concerns the ceo pay that's relating to campaign contributions. as you know wall street gives a lot of money to people who are running as a result of that they get huge sums of money and they feel like they're entitled to
that. it them applies to not just banks but also insurance companies. they get like 25 million, 30 million per year so that contributes to income equality. so how do we overturn these practices and insurance companies donating significant sums of money to the election process -- and then they get lax regulations that work in their favor. >> that is actually this issue of removing the influence of money in politics. there's a bunch of work that is
going on in that area. actually morris and a couple of the patriotic millionaires tomorrow are going to the moderator of the first democratic debate with a petition of 35,000 signatures thing would signatures same would you please talk about the state of democracy and the corruption that is coming about because of the influence of big money capturing our democratic system? i think that's one thing we can do. since on acceptable. we have to break that nexus between money and democracy. even former president carter said were becoming an oligarchy. 150 families gave half the money to the presidential race in the first half of the cycle. where we going here? it's completely unacceptable. on the issue of compensation, there's a lot of shareholders. this is where wealthy people who own assets and shares of stock can introduce resolutions to reduce compensation ratios and accompany, company, raise the floor and lower the gap. people know that those are more productive companies where you don't have large compensation spreads.
there are actually more productive and efficient enterprises. as tax payers we should not have to subsidize which right now it's a tax-deductible break. we as, and this is part of -- as part of a campaign to reform wall street and one is to eliminate the ceo pay tax break. i think there are things that all of us can do to sort of pushback from that system. >> i want to go back to breaking open people's hearts because i think i think that's important as the policy work. i was remembering a biography i read read of michael jordan, the star basketball player. in it he talked about how his life went smaller as he became
wealthy, that he no longer trusted people to come up to him he cannot make new friends. he thought thought people were coming after his wealth. he cannot trust his old friends because he thought they were just hanging on because they would get some financial benefit. he could not go shopping anymore because he was a celebrity. his life got smaller and more isolated. he was able to reflect on that to his biographer. so i just wonder in your work as you interact with, whether as a patriotic millionaires of the millionaires were not so patriotic, how much are you able to connect with them not just on what's happening with young people in kenya were los angeles, but a how the heartbreak in their own lives
and what they are missing because of that isolation. >> thank you for that question. part of what i try to tell, part of the case and make to my brothers and swiss sisters of the 1% is that this is not just about helping other people. this is about your own liberation or transformation. the current bubble people get put in, the boxes boxes that people get put it i think your description of michael jordan in the light becoming smaller, this is untrue for everybody. there are people are people i know through this patriotic millionaires network who were raised working-class, who are still connected to working-class communities and friends. who navigate, on a daily basis the class to divide. as we become more equal and pull apart people spend more and more of their lives in containers,
get most people don't live in new york city and is somewhat unique. even in new york live in containers and relationships. more and more more disconnected from communities, from place, from each other, from others. one of the things i write about is genuine community becomes about through vulnerability. it's through people needing each other. if you have got to a point in your life for you no longer need anyone as you have monetized all of your needs, you're actually impoverished when it comes to real connections. some of us who are raised in wealthy families, a friend of mine says if i were to write my family history it would be called orphans with parents.
that there so little touching connection and that family that, all families are different but there is something that happens with the social isolation. being told to be afraid of the world that people are going to rip you off, you can't talk to strangers you don't want to talk to the person who is an immediately recognizable to you. my argument is that if part of coming home is like actually read joining physical community with people who are not from your own class and race background. build community, break bread. form relationships, show up with your vulnerability. show up with your needs. there is no real community without vulnerability. otherwise what will we consume together? food, trips, travel, culture? it's only when someone has to go to the hospital that the real
connection breaks open. that's not how were supposed to be. we're supposed to be, the motto is the person with the most toys at the end of life wins, is the person who lives and dies surrounded in the community and with connection to humans and to nature. that's why were here. wealth is disconnectedness. in creating these divisions. my argument, part of coming home is, i live in an urban neighborhood, innes small 1000 square-foot apartment, with a two a two family house, i know my neighbors, in a way this is not the life that i was raised to have. some of my high school friends are here and they can remember the house i grew up in.
we had classmates who are from detroit. i remember bringing shelley home to my -- she's amazing dancer and we are in a dance group. she came to my house and was like, holy -- do you know how much you have? i was so embarrassed and so ashamed. now, i have chosen not to go that way. and life is better. >> more questions. >> i agree with everything you said. i think you're being a very good person in trying to do good things. when you think of the whole state of the world, what could you in vintage as the ideal outcome if everyone's heart was
good? >> i think, i talk about the church trajectory were on. i think like that arrow at the school, if we aim, even if we change it a little big changes can happen. between 1945 and 1955 we as a nation made a commitment, we invested in building infrastructure and expanding the middle class primarily for white people. but we went from a home ownership rate in the u.s. of 44% to 65% in one generation. we actually completely can change the trajectory of society. we left people of color behind. there is a racially discriminatory element of that.
but we spent $600 billion a year on housing subsidies and subsidies to help people build wealth and savings. also it goes to the multimillionaires. we redirect the existing subsidies and invest in creating wealth and opportunity. we shift that. that's just one just one tiny example of 30 or 40 other areas. it's the wealth tax. tax billionaires over a certain percent. invest in a debt free college education fun for every young person. we actually did it after world war ii. we actually reduced inequality dramatically. so take those pieces and here's the other good news, we have a political system that is captured by big money right now but the base of the u.s. public is not there. the base wants much less in equality, opportunity opportunity for all, taxing the
wealthy, investing in all these things that -- so there's going to be a realignment. i think 1% and everybody else organizing together can lead to a realignment that in ten or 20 years this country could look different in that planet could look different. so thank you for the question and thank you all of you for coming out. [applause] >> thank you to chuck for this great talk i will pull him to the front so we can send books. on monday night we have a speaker here, part 22 of the talk will continue monday night. thank you chuck, this is great. >> come back and hear the next speaker if you can.
[inaudible] [inaudible] >> book tvs on twitter and facebook. we want to hear from you. tweet us, twitter.com/book tv, or poster,/book tv, or poster, tell our facebook page, facebook.com/book tv. here's a look at some authors recently featured on book tvs afterwards. our weekly author interview program. columbia university law professor tim explained the way society has been affected by advertising. former goldman sachs vice president described her experience as an undocumented immigrant. temple university professor
explained the possible solutions to rising college tuition costs. in the coming weeks on afterwards, harvard university economist will talk about his research on the impact of immigration on the u.s. economy. gary young, editor at large for the guardian will discuss his investigation of gun violence in america. also coming up, washington post columnist will talk about the career of former federal reserve chairman, alan greenspan. this weekend, edward conard argues that income inequality contributes to economic growth. >> those synergies were created over time and they bubbled up from a much larger pool of failed risk of taking. we have the option of we can tax and
distribute more the short run but we slow down the growth and in the long run look at the difference between the growth rate of the united states and europe. look at the difference of the income levels of the united states and japan. they get bigger and bigger and the difference get bigger. the ability for those countries to catch up now that they fall behind it's unlikely they will catch up unless we have a major shift in technology or something else besides what i think were heading towards with computers and the internet. we have a a big advantage that maybe we can't sustain forever about we have a competitive advantage today. >> afterwards airs every saturday at 10:00 p.m. and sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern. you can watch previous afterwards programs on our website, booktv.org. >> today, book tv is live from the 21st annual texas book festival. founded by laura bush when she was the first lady of texas, the festivals held in downtown austin.