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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  February 23, 2011 2:00pm-2:30pm PST

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tavis: good evening from los angeles. i'm tavis smiley. a conversation with former world bank consultant, dam businessa moyo. how western nations are losing the battle. "how the west was lost" and unrest in libya and impact on oil prices around the globe. also tonight, forest whitaker is here. and he has a new prime-time series called qul criminal minds." and he is here about "brick city." coming upright now. >> he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. to everyone making a difference. >> thank you.
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>> you better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in removing literacy and empowering one step at a time. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: dam businessa moyo is a former consultant to the world bank and author of "dead aid" and "how the west was lost" nice
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to have you back. let me ask you about the news of the day with the ongoing crisis, the protests, unrest in libya, oil prices driven up slightly higher today. talk to me about what you make of that and what's in store because we know when the price of oil goes up. >> absolutely. i think my immediate concern is that i think people are sort of categorizing or characterizing what's going on in the middle east as an issue around democracy, which i think it partly is. it's the people's disappointment and outrage that many of these countries have not improved their living conditions in terms of economic growth and reductions in poverty. many of these countries in north africa, across africa also but in the middle east have significant pockets of young people who remain disaffected. what you are seeing here is outrage and disappointment with the economic situation, but more than that, the issue around
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politics and the specific question about the oil prices, there are issues here. i think at $100 a barrel, you are talking about $4 a gallon. we have to see if it goes to saudi arabia and u.a.e. tavis: you think we are going to see rising prices in gasoline? >> for now, the momentum of disfeaks is likely to continue. the market has not mr. pryced or not priced a dislocation between demand and supply as yet. and i think the varian government has talked about where any shortfall might occur from libya. we have to see what it means for economics and politics in the region. tavis: you mentioned economics and politics and i listened to your first answer, before i get
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into the text of how the west was lost, tell me what you see as the responsibility of the united states for all of these years given the relationships that we have had in many of these countries where we now see this unrest. in a whole lot of these countries, we had relationships and friendships and propped up all these countries. tell me the role the u.s. has played in this region of the role. >> as you know, certainly from my last book "dead aide," the whole culture of aide, military or economic aide has not done what we had hoped it would do, which is create economic growth and reduce poverty. the united states in its role as a beacon of freedom has disappointed on many occasions. there is a large expectation
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from people across africa, south america and across the world that the united states be the emblem or the representative for freedom, for democracy and we simply don't see that especially when the united states engages in relationships, not only proposing, but building relationships with some of the best known despots. tavis: "how the west was lost" and i'm going to put it up on the screen because i want to read two or three sentences here. "the oddsr however, the united states will be a bona fide socialist welfare state by the latter part of this century. if nothing else changes from its current path, it is almost certain that america will move from a capitalist society of entrepreneurs to a socialist nation in just a few decades." we see in the media all the time
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by certain parts in this country president obama being labeled a socialist. and you suggest that is where we are headed. and your argument is where we're headed. unpack those sentences for me. >> i think, first of all, i'm using the term social lift with a small s. the united states has not embarked on a deliberate policy of designing a socialist state. it's not going to look like what you see in germany where there is a very deliberate society which has been designed to be socialist, in other words where the government takes the primary role as an arbiter of labor and capital and often in terms of creating capital for the economy. what you will see in the united states, the socialists with a small s will emerge by accident and it is much more detrimental
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and risky. and we are seeing many of those in the united states. for example, if you look at public sector compensation in the united states, for -- since 1980, it has been much higher than the average private sector compensation. this is quite surprising to people like me who looks to the united states as sort of a home to entrepreneurs in the private sector. but beyond that, already 45% of americans don't pay federal taxes. a lot of the issues we are hearing around things like health care and entitlements, which has been a big issue, in wisconsin, pension reform and pension liabilities, i think all of that together, the united states is leaning on the public sector than traditionally we have known. tavis: your comment about public sector notwithstanding, i don't know how one can make the argument when you look at the numbers of the gap, the growing gap over these years between the pay of c.e.o.'s and the heads of
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companies and the workers in those companies. beating up on the public sector is the easy thing, but the private sector, the gap between those at the top and those who do the work in these companies every day has grown unbelievable and how wide this gap is now. >> it happens that way but that is a question for america to ask, is that really the society that the united states would like to be. you know, i was struck that the dinner that president obama had a few days ago in san francisco with the tech leaders, you know, they had a handful of them were worth $57 billion or something quite astronomical, much greater -- even some g.d.p.'s of some countries. and we are looking at the education in the united states which has deteriorated significantly. i have been in california, your roads and infrastructure is
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appalling. i have seen them -- tavis: tell me something i don't know. i blew out two tires. >> if you look at imbalance and the he can it has wideend and policy issuers have been grappling with and they are focused on the short-term issues, which are the things -- which are the things they can win votes on. >> i want to issue capital, labor and productivity. before i do that, when i first saw your book come across my desk, the first thought was "how the west was lost," is it over? it is not. the subtitle says 50 years of economic fawley and the stock choices that lie ahead, because there are choices that have to be made. i think the choices are going to be incredibly difficult and there will be sacrifices that have to be fade and the reality
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is one of my concerns is we aren't there yet. there is still a sense that the united states will somehow naturally come out of this. and in my reading of the situation is that a lot of where the united states is today is actually through deliberate policy. and the sooner that policy makers take up the mantle of speaking to people honestly about the situation in the united states the sooner they will get out of it. tavis: there is a sense that we are going to turn this around, that patriotism, that nationalism that many of us engage in makes us believe that we are going to turn this around. is that arrogance, is that denial, what is that? all of the above? >> when i have gone across the united states in the last few weeks and spoken to audiences, nobody is particularly surprised if you say education standards are declining in the united states or infrastructure is going down or pensions are a big
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issue. i think the problem in -- arises when you start to ask about what actually is going to be done in policy making to reverse this decline. and that's where i see there is a split. people do know there is a big issue, loaming pensions and so on. as a practicality, i fear that the highly po litization in the united states, every two years you have elections, the political environment is less focused on dealing with issues and much more focused on winning votes. >> tavis: let you talk to you about the three situations. first, capital. >> capital, you got to cut back on your borrowing for consumption. borrowing in and of itself is not a bad thing. you have to make the decisions on whether or not you should be
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borrowing. but if you are going to borrow, you should borrow for investment and not at consumption, not only at the public sector level. and way overleveraged and not for anything productive in terms of g.d.p. enhancement. tavis: labor. >> pensions is an immediate problem. you hear $3 trillion. serious issues there. health care related to that as well. massive loaming costs around the baby boomers going into retirement and the most obvious thing in the united states, education. lacking competitiveness. looking ahead in the united states is not going to be able to compete internationally against the other economies if you don't have the math, reading and science. tavis: pension debate is going to be a tough one. wisconsin, ohio. finally, productivity. >> productivity, the united
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states still has earned gains, but no where near the gains you see like in china. you will have to be much tougher on investment on innovation, technology, r&d and it could continue to increase the widening gap between tvs and have nots. in the areas where you have pro prite tear edge, things that world is willing to pay the united states, the government has to become much tougher that they don't create generics or misappropriate these assets. you immediate to make sure that people are going to pay for them. tavis: the new book is called "how the west was lost." thanks to have you on the program. up next, oscar-winning actor, forest whitaker. stay with us.
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tavis: pleased to have forest whitaker on this program, executive producer of "brick city," he stars in a new series called "criminal minds suspect behavior", wednesday nights at 10. here is part of the show. >> it feels powerful when you manipulate. got to take it away from them. >> sit down. sit! what do you think you're doing? >> over there. transferred back to myself. you know, how lonely prison is and no one to talk to, when
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there's nobody to write to? tavis: good to have you back on. when we first came on the air, i was trying to remember how many years it has been since you were last on network television. i knew it was "the shield." you ready for this? this series is a grind. >> it is a grind. hard to find a rhythm to get used to the day and home and get ready for the next day. i think i'm on a rhythm for it. tavis: tell me the back story. >> i play sam cooper. and i work with a behavior analyst with the f.b.i. and operating a red cell, which is outside of quantico and deal directly with the head of the f.b.i. and weapon annual idse behavior. analyze behavior, who and what
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type of person would do certain things. my character is unique, because he is -- he believes inside of everybody there is a light of good and that thing is what he is searching for. pulling all the layers of behavior, he finds that and goes out from there. i like my team. they are good actors. tavis: outside of the character you play, have you come to believe that? did you believe that prior to doing this story, there is some good, even in the worst of us? >> i think that was one of my philosophies in life. we come into this world inherently good and because of our experiences, different things, we start to cover ourselves. tiffed a lot of input how to develop the character and where we were going to go because the character is deeply spiritual and looks at things from all
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different points of view. tavis: is that typical for you, typical for forest whitaker or get to a certain point in your career that you have to have involvement as opposed to reading what you are told to read? >> it's partly me, because in this case, i'm a director, i'm a producer, i'm a writer. they knew that and wanted my input and asked for my input until they figured out how to shape the show and my character. i like working with them. they seem to be trying to get into it. not just the symptoms but the cause of what things are. like, that point that we start from, you know? tavis: is network television these days a good place for a guy with a best actor, academy award on his shelf? is television all that these days? >> i made the choice to do it because it feels like the right
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thing to do. for me, it was a place where i thought i had more potential, because one, it would allow me to be home with my family and be a father. when i sit still, i can create more. i created two documentaries and i came back from africa to figure out the next movie, the show, working on that. it was a place for me to sit still. amongst all the other work -- i'm not trying to act -- maybe i can do other things that will allow me to be more creative. tavis: you ain't doing just one thing any way. since you are making these other projects, let me take two or three that i'm aware of and tell me about them. i love "brick city" i know the
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mayor of newark and i love the treatment you have given that will city. i love the exposure to the issues. but i love the exposure to the people and in those moments where you get a chance to showcase and embrace that humanity, getting a chance to embrace the humanity of these people and not writing it off as another urban center, i assume you love doing this. >> being partners, we start to do this piece and wanted to bring dignity -- not bring dignity, but show dignity of everybody's lives and we are on the street with the gang members, being in the chambers with the mayor, being with the police department and will allow people to understand the way things work clearly independence of the system. i want this school system, or i want my place to be more safe
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but here is the budget and you are watching the workings. corey, he is a pure person who has to make compromises and it's interesting to see people trying to better their lives and there is a dignity in that. tavis: what are the lessons to be learned by those who happen not to be african american, who happen not to be in an urban center, as a producer, you are trying to get folk who don't look like me and you to appreciate what? >> this, for me, this is a pilot for us to understand, because the cities is the rebuilders of our nation. and this can happen in any city. urban cities, but the issue of economic crises, the school system, how we can restrure it and rebuild it, charter schools, private schools, whatever it is,
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police forces that work, not just in the deep south as well, in new orleans. and -- i hate to throw that name out. tavis: it is a good example. >> and be able to watch a police officer and watch him try to implement process of bringing people into the community and making them not foreign to the community, tryinging to get them to engage in the system, you know what i mean? it's very powerful, and that's what i'm hoping it will do. different systems that will work. some systems will work for your city. tavis: beyond the cbs series, beyond "brick city," i have heard that you are working on a documentary on ms. oprah's network. >> yes, takes place in angola prison. it's a piece that deals with
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prisoners. 93% of the people that are in angola's prisons will die there. this is people who care for the people in prison and it is a statement on compassion. it's a question of redemption, can we truly be reteamed? and if it's not, can we move forward in our lives in a compassionate way and perhaps that thread is the redemption we can get, do you know what i mean? i can't wait for you to see it. i have never touched someone in compassion before or caring before. you see that someone say, look, i killed someone and i can never be redeemed. so i do what i'm doing here, caring for these people because i feel that's what's right. and the lesson is for us out in the world to look towards others
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with compassion as well. tavis: you are the same force as i have always known you to be and that is one who makes good decisions about the kind of roles that he plays and good decisions about the stuff he turns down for that matter. but the thing i revel in how is it that you find, but to your point, create these stories to wrestle with the every day humanity of people? where did that drive come from? where did this come from that this is the labbedr land you want to run in? >> this is how i originally thought about acting was a way for help to explore what i consider to be the connection of each individual to each other. when i go through a character, i'm searching for those things that connect me to him, me personally. and when i look at the world, i'm looking at those connections, connectivity of how
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we can exist together in a humane and positive way on this planet, you know, and how to uplift each other. my work, my choices reflect that. not all the time, but most of the time. tavis: i want to ask a question, but i have 30 seconds. i will ask, and go to our web site to hear his answer. forest is aware, courtesy of our friend whoopie, they got everybody up in arms talking about the black actors who are missing in action this year, not just actors, but anybody is black. unless you are presenting something on the stage you ain't going to be on the show. but i want to ask forest what he makes of this "new york times" story that suggested that a lot of folk in this story thought was going to open up a whole
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wave of new opportunity and see what mr. whittaker has to say. the show is on cbs, "criminal minds" with forest whitaker and check out "brick city." i do. that's our show for tonight. until next time, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs dorg. tavis: school superintendent michael bennet of colorado on the state of education in colorado. that's next time. we'll see you then. >> all i know is his name is james and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference. >> thank you.
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>> you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove object ta calls to empedments. >> and to contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioned by the national captioning institute captioned by the national captioning institute
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