tv Born on Third Base CSPAN November 25, 2016 4:00am-5:01am EST
>> thank you, everyone for coming. on behalf of rick macarthur, harper's magazine and book culture, we are so pleased to be a to celebrate "born on third base: a one percenter makes the case for tackling inequality, bringing wealth home, and committing to the common good" so the author is chuck collins command can we're so happy to have been there for our talk. harper's magazine has such an interest in keeping important written word in circulation. one of those ways is here at book culture pics 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 macarthur, is one of the part owners of the space,
famously said that he was really terrified that wind is space became a double it would become a bank branch. we're really glad it's a bookstore, and we hope you will celebrate that. some of you may remember this space at endicott booksellers. that was 20 years ago a book culture spinner almost two years. so again we are happy to be here. and nortel's chuck collins. he's a researcher, campaign, storyteller, write a basic institute for policy studies where he co-edits inequality.org. is written extensively on wealth inequality in previous books like 99 to one, wealth and our commonwealth. and economic apartheid in america, as well as for the nation, the american prospect, and numerous other magazine and news outlets. he grew up in a 1% and has, as
the great grandson of meatpacker oscar mayer, he gave away his inheritance has been working to -- in the process he cofounded numerous initiatives including well for the common good, now much with patriotic millionaires, united for a fair economy, and the vast invest. so again thank everybody for coming and going to go in and turn 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. this is the first event i'm doing to the book is published tomorrow formally, so thank you for coming out to his unpublished book event. i want to also just recognize more the pearl who wrote the forward to this book. he's the chairman of the patriotic millionaires which we can say more about the network,
but it was the fourth managing director of black rock and gym is seen op-ed in the times today on transparency of corporate taxation. we are thrilled that, thrilled maurice was able to do the forward and he could audit of the book is well later. might be worth more than money. so as cody said, 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 were born on third base about they hit a triple. i am one of the people is born on third base. goes under great grandson of meatpacker oscar mayer. by father used as a bringing home the bacon has a different meaning in our family. i grew up in an affluent suburb of detroit. actually thought that i was middle-class. i had a couple by classmates and they will remember they were the
daughter of lee iacocca and, you know, the tottenham and people showed up to college, to high school in chauffeur driven cars whereas my dead took me to school in his own mercedes-benz sign you i was not in the top echelon. but high school i went to is also the school that mitt romney would do. 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, it's not something you would let your children do, right? but i've written a couple of books on issues of inequality. 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. i want to start with just a short story but it's my own story, which is what 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 by their parks as cooperatives. so i'm sitting in a double wide mobile home in massachusetts, and there are nine other resident leaders in this third unit park sitting there. i am actually the consultant that's helping them figure out how to buy it. they are at risk. the 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. i'm sitting there. one thing you should do is page
26 i had excruciating skin acne. i looked much other than actually wasn't. so these resident leaders are looking at me, somebody who looks like their 19 with bad skin, who supposedly is going to be the person who's going to help them buy this park. i am honestly in agony for two reasons. one, because i have actually done all of their financials. i 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 the financial secrets in a way, and i have figured 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, retirees with very modest amounts of savings, and select to break the news to them that they actually,
there's not enough money to give and get toward the down payment we need to raise the we are 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 can actually write a check for the $35,000 closed the gap. and i'm actually thinking that i might do that because of 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's not balancing out in my moral universe. so i'm sitting there and i break the news to the residents. i basic split we have this gap a little bit of a posner and one
of his guys says, well, i can pay my share of the down payment, and i can put $5000 more in to the purchase. and i'm probably the only person who knows that reggie, that's all the money he has. and then another woman, she's aside $6000 to i will put in and i realize, she's putting her whole savings and. and the to do so we're sitting in, they say we can afford, he had a good job, and he at some retirement savings. he's going to put in their $10,000 steak and they're going to buy another share on the condition that she should never know to protect their dignity. and around the room they go. at all nine of these people put every bit of the money that they have on the table. in about $4000 short go $5000
short of the daughter comes in she says all right to check for the other 5000 they've done. to close the gap. they cheered. they start writing out checks, and handing them to be to take to the bank to open up our account for the down payment. and i remember driving in the 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 survive. they succeed. about the park. on the day of the closing, the men showed up with like cigars like they were proud parents. harlin told the local paper that we have been wandering the land but we have just bought, we just bought the land from pharaoh. we are hostage no more. one woman came up to me, mary, harlan's wife and said you're a smart young man. you could get a job on wall
street. you don't have to hang out with a bunch of folks like us. i said i can think of anywhere i would rather be actually. and then she sort of leaned quietly to me and said, have you ever tried not seaman for your skin? i said i tried everything. so i left and that's when i decided, i'm 26, this money i don't actually need it. of the people need it more. i made this decision to give away the wealth that about my father and i said, this is my plan. and he said, he called the up and he said, you haven't given it away, have you? you? i saiyou? i said not yet the peace loving tomato talk to you. he came out from michigan to boston where i lived and he said you know, there's a lot, you're young, there's one thing second go wrong. there's lot of them having as many could be a cushion.
what if you, your single engine you have become what if someday you have a partner at the parker gets killed? wouldn't you want that money to sort of help buffer the -- partner -- make it is you? what if you have a child and the child has a special need? why don't you think about all the things that potentially could go wrong? wrongquick i said i have been thinking about those things and, well then, i would be in the single and 99% of the of the people i know. i would have to get some help. he said he would pop have to fall back on government. i said, well, yeah. he said that's not a good thing. i said well, maybe i would have a stake in making sure that it was better, the safety net was better. that's kind of idealistic but okay, i understand. you should do which you were called to do. sovereignty of national bank of detroit.
i signed the papers to transfer what was at the time to be an enormous amount of money, about half a million dollars in 1986, which the if i left it and let it go to would be seven or $8 million today, so not a mega- fortune but a substantial amount of money for me. and my trust office of the national make a guitar, african-american woman, grew up in poverty into took him sort of look at me and said, are you okay? i said yeah, i think the. she said are you going to be okay? i said i think so. it is even then i didn't really understand the incredible mountain of privilege that i had, but the money was just part of it, that it was this intergenerational transfer and preparation for social networks and white skin privilege. the money which is part of it but i didn't understand the debate of him and felt like a leap of faith. so i signed this wealth over to a number of foundation clean ine
some the called the funding exchange here in new york. went back to my life working with a mobile home tenants. and a couple of months later, something bad did happen. my house burned down. the house i was living in activity i owned was destroyed. no one was hurt so it wasn't horrible that way but it was disorienting. a day after i was sifting through and my frien the house d and i look up and here comes three or four cars pull up, and out of the cars climb the mobile home park tenants. they have trashbags 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 can which is in the connection and security and that those folks have taught me something very, very important, about solidarity, about being all in for each other, and that is part of the foundation. over 30 as i've been working on these issues of the growing wealth and the wealth gap. i have coordinated campaigns where i've tried to organize other people who are in the 1%, like bill gates, and we get a campaign, polly is here. she was part of that, to mobilize 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 stories that we tell ourselves
about inequality, and that more and more believe it's fundamentally a heart problem that we have a hard problem would come to understand the impact of these inequalities. enters the moment i think we are in. think about the trajectory that our current society is on. in terms of inequality, you may see news reports, there's good news the median income has popped up a little bit after many, many years. it's still not where it was in 2007. it's nowhere near was in 1999. but we are living in a time of extreme inequality over all. most of the income and wealth gains of the last, since the economic meltdown of 2009 have gone to the 1%. even within the top one-tenth of 1%. and assets, wealth, look at that, if become more extreme.
the institute for policy studies were i work, we do a number of studies every a way just did a study that found that the forbes 400, the 400 wealthiest billionaires in society have more wealth than the bottom 62% of the population combined. 100 of these billionaires have more wealth than the entire african-american population. 20 richest people in the united states who could fit in a one gulfstream 650 jet, luxury jet, 20 people have as much wealth as half the population. we have now entered into a new warp speed of inequalities. and if you look at the racial wealth divide, again i just did a study on sort of the trajectory. if we say, if the racial wealth gap between whites and blacks and latinos continues into him in the same way, first it would take, if a black wealth continued to grow at the same
level it is today, would take 228 years for blacks to catchup to the median wealth of whites, if white wealth stood still. and that 30 or so now the racial wealth divide will be twice as big. so as a french economist pointed out, we're moving towards becoming a hereditary aristocracy of wealth but if you look at the racial dimension, it's a white aristocracy of wealth. and so that's the trajectory we are on. i just want to read a very, i'm not going to read much by want to just read a little bit from the introduction. of "born on third base." there are many reasons we need -- for a moment let's consider this one which in many ways come from all. as a planet where expensing an ecological crisis. climate change and ocean acidification along with breaches of other planetary
boundaries will alter our food energy systems and transfer our way of life your there have been recent news accounts about you is billionaires buying mountain fortresses in the rockies and billionaires buying getaway farms in new zealand with airplane landing strips. these escape fantasies are delusional thinking. the island paradise is will be swamped from rising sea levels. amount of adults will be choked with the smoke of burning forests. it's an interest 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, there is no wealth without natural wealth. there is a 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, my brothers and sisters who are in the 1%. 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 are at the pinnacle of global wealth. my message is bring the wealth home. look at how these inequalities, not only are bad for most people world. they're actually bad for wealthy people. there's this kind of curious alignment of interest. of course, wealthy people are not going to experience the full brunt of the ecological crisis in the in all -- at least in the immediate term. there'there is now a like amounf research showing this. 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 this? my point of view is there are campaigns, the patriotic millionaires and there's an our revolution, the offshoot of the bernie sanders camping and there's people that judaism. there's work that blacklist back in the movement for black lives, these movements that are building about engaging people and 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 messages
for both my brothers and sisters in the 1% who are affluent are wealthy. but also some thoughts for everyone else. my message to people who hold most of the wealth and power in this society is to come home, to bring the wealth out of the shadows, out of the speculative financial markets, out of the fossil fuel energy which is pushing us to the precipice psychologically come and bring them. reroute 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 your cell phone, which is to like put your full state in a place and make a commitment to make sure that everybody in that place thrives. and to use all of the social capital and wealth, investment
capital and philanthropic, chairman of giving to make that possible. to come home, it's also, it's to tell the true stories about the origins of wealth. and hear is what i think we have a very important role, which is there are these mythologies about wealth and success. and who better to kind of disrupt or debunk some of those people who actually have seen and had the experience of growing wealth? here's a narrative that are right about in the book, the makers and the takers. right? 2012 when mitt romney is running for office he did his own campaign donor event faux pas, just like hillary saying deplorable. he talked about the makers in the takers, you know, think how
powerful that is. you hear that everywhere. if you read the book strangers in their own land, but the tea party activist in louisiana, that makers and takers understand the world. there are the makers, the virtuous makers who create works for the engines of the train, and 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 comments we build together. one of the first people i met doing this work was a guy named martin, who i tell this to in his book which uses a software engineer, and i was involved in this effort to keep the estate tax from being repealed.
at the time bill clinton was the president, congress had voted to repeal the what and no attacks on an inherited wealth, and who's going to be to with. he needed a business person to stand. so the call 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. my parents never took a vacation to they worked all the time, but i would to a great public school and then went to her library that was open on the weekends, and there was a library and there and she said, martin, i the book for you. she knew he was interested in technology and education, and she said there is a biography of thomas edison. he said, you know, i grew up in a low-income family, but i great opportunities. somebody else paid for my school and for that library to be open
on the weekends. and then he got a completely free, you know, college education, and there's some amazing institutions in the city that make that possible for generations. and then he went to come into the field of technology, new technology, the internet which was built largely through taxpayer investment. he started a company. and this is martin now at the west wing of the white house telling his story. he says, mr. president, i sold my company a couple years ago for $30 million. are you telling me i don't have a responsibility to pay back the society that made it almost entirely possible for me to the opportunities i didn't? in fact i have an obligation. so that some o other child out there who was not born wealthy can have the same opportunities i had a. so martin's story, and a lot of
the stories that i tell him year, are what i would call people from the 1% of wealthy people who have come home. they figured out how to move wealth to local communities, how to rejoin and connect in that way. the other part of this message is to everyone else, and in this book i write about having been working on issues of inequality for many, many years, i guess i was part of i would say fomenting attitudes of class war. meaning might change, the third of change of united for a fair economy and other groups i part of, if we could get people as focused in their rage on the billionaires come on transnational corporations and focus that anger, that's how we would build a movement for social change. ..
so my message to everyone else is, don't give up entirely. there is a segment of the reachable wealthy. the richable reach i call it. there are people who think of the koch brothers to get more wealth and power. that's a small segment. on the other hand we have patriotic millionaire that is are together to put forward a vision. there's a whole another segment of people who are unengaged but if they became engaged could leverage tremendous resource for change. they feel powerless to fix the outcome and future u but my pep talk to them, if you feel powerless. think of what everybody else needs. you need to bring wealth to the table and home. in this book, i actually do coaching or strategy, to
understand the different wealthy of the wealthy. i sort of update today say there's affluent and upper and billionair. very much interested in that. i say -- i have a punch of chapters about the role of charity and we can talk about this in discussion. my point point of view, charity is not the sector is not the answer to the issues.
inequality of wealth and decline of loaner giving. we are basically 20 years down the road, decrees and more government and local austerity. that's where we are heading. in some cases compounding the inequality. it's not the answer. it's certainly part of it but i take that on. let me stop and i think i want to have an open discussion which is what informs my hope or sense of possibility that we actually
can transform the situation situation. i was talking about inequality issues in a suburban los angeles church. there were probably a hundred people there and had gone off and global corporation that is benefited enormously from the infrastructure that we paid -- built together but don't pay a lot of taxes. there's a nice gentleman and people were talking to me and a gentleman was standing there waiting for everyone else to me. my name is hank and i have a question to you. i want to give you a background. first, i'm the retired number three executive number three at boeing.
you know, i'm not ashamed about how our company behaved and why we don't, can pay more for the infrastructures so i'm a little embarrassed by that but that's not why i want to talk to you. my question s the context is i'm retired. about three years ago i went to kenya on a project that i was using engineering skills treating water facilities in kenya. every day we showed up there there were children hanging out watching out and beautifulically colorfully dressed and we were the best entertainment. infrastructure project. show me where you live and led him down a path and crossed a creek and they came to a big white tired billing with balcony
and said orphanage and this guy, hank, said, you know, so this is where your live. out came one of the adults, i sat in the van going back to my first world hotel that night and i was awake all night thinking about these children. then i got back the next day and children were there and i just started thinking about them. as i left i went back to the orphanage, i asked the director, is there anything i can do. he said, well, we could use more buildings, this is about the third of the building that need our help. we went back to suburban los angeles and he started organizing everybody he knew. all new business colleagues and they are going back and forth to kenya and he said, you know, i
worked for boeing, we didn't have a lot of discussions, we were focused on one project. we actually never talked about poverty, we didn't talk about children in the global south. these are not bad people. it's just -- that was the framework that i was in. now i'm in an entirely different framework. those kids completely broke crack open my heart and now this is my life passion and she said, you know, my wife to me recently, hank, you remind me of the sweet guy that i fell in love with 45 years ago and my children have noticed that something has changed in me. at this point tears are coming down my eyes and his eyes, and i said, question, he had a question. my question is, is it too late
for me to make a difference? and i'm kind of like, no, absolutely not. i mean, you're making a huge difference and getting all these other people involved. he said, yes, i see the connections now. i now understand poverty in los angeles. it took me going there to make connections all all of these people i'm pulling in and said that seemed cracking hearts open is the key. i take the guys, mostly guys to kenya, they are completely ambushed, they have no idea. they can't for the life of them make, this doesn't make sense that these are realities.
and i have to say that i have conversations like that every other day with people. what that tells me is that people are waiting for something bigger and they are waiting to have hearts cracked open and wait to go act on what they know to be true. and so that to me and one of the things i realized, we as humans can rewire ourselves quite quickly. if you think about climate change, growing inequality, we are talking generations, absolutely not. first of all, we don't have generations to fix this. we are capable of changing it and those are the stories that i feel are key for me to tell. so let me stop there and i would
just -- and i think cody has a microphone, welcome any comments questions or provocations, disagreements. [laughter] >> i thought i knew anything, i never heard of the patriotic millionaires, what do they do? >> there are have been a couple of networks of i will call them high net worth business leaders or people with inherited wealth who have been engaged in public policy. responsible wealth, wealth for the common good and recently merged to what's called patriotics millionaires, 250 individuals who are willing to go out there and talk about fair taxes, raising the minimum wage and reducing the influence of money in politics. >> based all -- >> all over the united states.
i want people to know about the patriotic millionaires. there's a lot of news about greed and selfishness and people breaking through the other side. check out the the patriotic millionaires. >> is there any way of reaching out to the millionaires who are on the other side? >> if you're looking to buy another book tonight, sociologist has interesting book called strangers in their own homeland. tea-party activists in the south and her usual style did a lot of deep listening and interviewing
and trying to understand that framework and i won't go over the whole thing but what i think is that there are -- there is a base of people there again where we have a heart problem, empathy problem and what our league tries to say, if you want to dismiss everything who is in the tea party and supports donald trump because they are deplorables or racists and company -- xenob -- xenophobic, it's a climb over the empathy wall. it's harder with the millionaires and billionaire who is support that kind of
neliberal antitax agenda because their life experiences are different. i think the opportunities to ebb gainl a lot of other people are there. i mean, actually patriotic millionaires would be been inviting and engaging with other big spenders on political rights . >> who are they supporting for president. probably working from getting donald trump from getting elected and whatever what way. >> you're saying very similar things. he would be a good person to -- for you to connect if you haven't already. >> that's a great idea. what's interesting is that a hundred years ago during the
last time we had extreme inequalities of wealth, there were defectors if you will. we need to tax inherited wealth and huge wealth building up. that's antidemocratic. the movements that got out us of the first gilded anal understood the concentration of power and wealth that we were living is fundamentally undemocratic and there's a lot of wealthy people who understand you want to have a self-governing society, real democracy, you want to have real quality of opportunity and one of the chapters in my book is what's happening to young people in the inequalities and how intergenerational are helping kids in the top 10% take off,
flourish, they have no student debt, they get to do unpaid internships in the field of study, they are prepared of college and advantages whereas all the other young adults are stalled out in the current economy. one of my messages, where are we going here? wealthy families, people want to help wealthy kids but we want to deescalate the transmission arms race where some of the kids are getting so much advantage and we need to, you know, e eliminate college debt. the big project that i built with bill gates is tax wealth through inherited taxation and invest it in debt-free education. you know, in washington state we were able to get the state wealth tax be directed to the education trust fund.
we want to replicate in other states and create opportunities for everyone else. that's the way forward. there's a number of dwarvele family member who is are a part of the family movement. >> you have a dvd called thrive, it's two hours and it blew my mind. he has a whole -- anyway -- >> it's totally awesome. >> i have a couple of questions and that's concerned to ceo pays, that's relate today campaign contribution, wall street gives a lot of money to people who are running for elections and as a result of that, you know, they get huge sums of money as ceo.
they feel that they are entitled to that and that applies for not just banks but also insurance companies. , you know, like they get 245 million, 30 million a year and anyway, that contributes to income inequality. so how do we overturn practices of banks and insurance companies donating significant sums of money towards the election process, political process and that that way they get -- lags regulation and that works in their favor. >> yeah, i got it. so that's actually the issue of removing the influence of money and politics and there's a whole bunch of work in that area. millionaires tomorrow are going to the moderator of the first democratic debate with petition, 35,000 signatures, would you
please talk about the state of democracy and the corruption that's coming about because of the influence of big money capturing our democratic system. that's one thing we can do to say it's unacceptable. we have to break that nexus. 158 families gave half of the money to the presidential race. where are we going here? i think it's completely unacceptable. on the issue of compensation, there's a lot of shareholders and this is, again, where wealthy people who owned assets and shares of stocks can introduce resolutions, ratios in a company, raise the floor and lower the gap. those are more productive companies where you don't have these large compensation spreads. they actually are more
productive and efficient intrer -- enterprises. compensation is a tax deductible business break and we can -- we can eliminate ceo pay tax break. there's things that all of us can do to push back on that system, yeah. >> thanks. i want to go back to breaking open people's hearts because i think that's -- i believe that is how policy works. i read a biography of michael jordan, baivet ball -- basketball, basically talked
about how his wife went smaller as he became wealthy. he no longer trusted people to come up to him and trusted his friends and old friends because he thought they were hanging on because they would get some financial benefit. he couldn't go out shopping anymore because he was a celebrity and his wife -- life just got smaller and isolated an able to reflect on that to his biographer so i just wonder in your work, chuck, as you interact with whether it's the patriotic millionaires or the millionaires who aren't so patriotic, how much you're able to, you know, connect with people not just on what's happening with young people in kenya or in los angeles, but
around how the heart-break in their own lives and what they're missing because -- because of that isolation. >> yeah, thank you for that question. you know, part of what -- part of the case that i make to my brothers and sisters in the 1% isn't about helping other people but liberation, if you will, transformation that the current bubble that poem get put in, the boxes that people get put in, i think you're decryption of mike real jordan. there are people that i know through patriotic millionaires network who were raised working class and still connected to working class communities and friends, who somehow sort of navigate on a daily basis. as we become more unequal and pull apart, people spend more
and more of their lives in containers, again, most people don't live in new york city, new york is somewhat unique. even within new york, living containers of relationships and more and more are disconnected from communities, from place, from each other, from others and one of the things that i write about is that genuine community becomes through vulnerability. it's through people needing each other. if you have gotten to a point where you no longer need anyone because you have monetized all of your needs, you are actually impoverished when it comes to real connections and some of us who were raised in wealthy families can -- a friend of mine says if i were to write my family history it would be called orphans with parents.
so little touch and connection in that family that -- all families are different. but there is something that happens with the social isolation, the being told to be afraid of the world, people are going to rip you off, you can't talk to strangers, you don't want to talk to that person that's not immediately recognizable to you. part of coming home is like actually rejoining community, build community, form relationships, show up with your vulnerability. there's no real community without vulnerability otherwise wealthy people live in community of coconsumption, what would we consume together, food, travel,
culture, it's only where somebody has to two to a hospital where the real connection breaks open. that's not how we are supposed to be. we are supposed to be -- the motto isn't the person with the most toys at the end of life wins, it's the person who lives and dies with surrounded in a community and with connection to nature. that's why we are here. wealth is disconnecting us and creating those divisions. my -- my argument coming home, i live in a urban neighborhood in a two-family house, i know my neighbors, i'm in a way, this wasn't the life i was raised to have. some of my high school friends are here. they can remember the house i grew up with in michigan.
we had classmates from detroit. amazing danker, she and i were in this dance group together and she came to my house and she was like holy bleep. do you know how much you have and i'm so embarrassed and ashamed? now, i've chosen not to go that way and life is better. wasn't more question. yeah. >> i agree with everything you said and i think you're being a very good person in trying to do good things, but when you think of the whole state of the world, what could you envision as the ideal outcome if everyone's heart was good.
[laughter] >> well, i think, you know, i talk about the trajectory we are on, where we are heading and how that's not in anyone's interest. i think we -- like that arrow at school straight up in there. if we change it very little, big changes can happen, between 1945 and 1955, we as a nation made a commitment, invested in building infrastructure and expanding the middle class primarily for white people, most entirely from white people and we went from home ownership rate to 44% to 65% in one generation. we actually completely changed the trajectory of society. we left people of color behind so there was a sort of racially discriminatory element of that.
we spent $600 billion a year to help people build savings, most of those go to multimillionaires, we redirect the existing subsidies and invest that in creating opportunity and switch that trajectory. that's one tinny example of 30 other areas. tax billionaires over a certain percent. invest in debt-free college education for every young person. you can put a price tag and you can do it and we did it after world war ii. we decreased inequality dramatically. take those pieces and here is the other good news, we have a political system that's captured by big money right now but the base of the u.s. public is not there. the base is much less inequality. opportunity for all.
taxing the wealthy, raising the minimum wage and invest in all the things, so there's going to be a realignment and i think the 1% and everyone working together can lead to a fundamental realignment that in 10 to 20 years the country could look different and the planet could start to look different. anyway, thank you for that question and thank all of you for coming out. [applause] >> thanks, everybody. thanks to chuck for the great talk. real quick, i'm going to pull him to the front so we can make up a cue up for signing books. one small point on monday night we have harley and part two will be monday night. >> come back in here early if you can.