Syndicated columnist, Clarence Page, moderates this debate between Jared Bernstein and Charles Murray on the future of inequality in America. September, 2012.
>> Good afternoon everybody. Good afternoon and welcome. I'm Susan Collins, the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. And on behalf of the Ford School Community, it is my great pleasure to welcome our speakers Jared Bernstein, Charles Murray, and our moderator Clarence Page. I'd also like to welcome all of you who are with us here in the auditorium physically as well as all of those who are watching our event today. We are delighted to have you join us this afternoon. The Ford School and the University of Michigan have very proud traditions in leadership in the field of social policy. For decades, our faculty have produced groundbreaking research that shapes public understanding of the causes and the consequences of poverty. And the students who train here in Public Policy and in Social Work are now designing innovative policy solutions to address income inequality. They're advocating on behalf of low income families and they're leading nonprofit and private sector efforts to reduce poverty throughout the United States. Our host for today has done a great deal to help the university earn its reputation as a top school for the study of social policy. And he is one of the nation's most distinguished poverty researchers, my colleague, Professor Sheldon Danziger. Sheldon has directed the National Poverty Center since its founding at the Ford School in 2003. He's a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation fellow as well. Sheldon is currently co-leading a major study on the effects of the great recession on workers and families in Southeast Michigan. Sheldon will set the stage for our debate in just a moment. But first, we'll hear from Cris Doby, project officer from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Today's event and debate was made possible by generous support by the Mott Foundation. And it is a great pleasure for me to invite Cris to the podium. Cris?
Good afternoon lovely people. On behalf of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, it's my privilege to join Dean Collins in welcoming all of you to today's debate and also to welcome those who are joining us via the live web streaming from across Michigan and the country. I'm asking you to indulge me for just a moment and allow me to express sincere thanks to the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and especially to the National Poverty Center. This afternoon's debate is the result of the excellent efforts, the outstanding academic reputation, and the professional relationships that characterize the center and its Director, Professor Sheldon Danziger. On both of professional and of personal level, I'd like to also express deep appreciation to the center's program manager, Shawn Pelak. It was her hard work, her orderly mind, her attention to detail, her excellent communications, and her good humor that brought all the pieces together for us to enjoy this afternoon. Allow me a moment also to point out to a special resource that's being made available. If you haven't already picked one up, please do. The American Prospect published just a special issue in July called "The Poverty Issue: An examination of poverty in America today." And we're pleased to make it available to all of you, our participants. The credit for the idea for today's debate goes to the members of the Pathways Out of Poverty team at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, a group of amazing, smart, dedicated, program and administrative staff with whom I am honored to work. Pathways Out of Poverty is one of four grant-making programs at the Mott Foundation. The others are Civil Society, Environment, and Place-based grant-making in our hometown of Flint, Michigan. The Mott Foundation was established in Flint in 1926 by automotive pioneer, Charles Stewart Mott and original partner and the General Motors Foundation--or General Motors Corporation, forgive me. The foundation of firms are founder's vision of a world in which each of us is in a partnership with all the rest of us, where each individual's quality of life is connected to the well-being of the community, at the local state, national, and global level. And it is in the spirit of that inspiring vision that the Mott Foundation is pleased to support today's debate. Thank you very much. Professor Danziger.
>> Thank you. In 1962, 50 years ago, Michael Harrington published "The Other America: Poverty in the Unites States". At that time, the American economy was in the midst of a golden age of economic prosperity in which a rising tide was lifting all boats. Since the end of World War II, the economy had grown rapidly and the wages of most workers had been growing faster than the rate of inflation. At that time there was no measure of poverty in part because almost no one, academics, journalist or policy makers talked about poverty. Harrington's book changed not only the political discourse but the public policy landscape. On the first page he wrote, "There is a familiar America. It has the highest mass standard of living the world has ever known." He then went on to say, "That does not change the fact that tens of millions of Americans are, at this very moment, maimed in body and spirit, existing at levels beneath those necessary for human decency." A short time later, a review article appeared in the New Yorker magazine called Our Invisible Poor. And the author ended a very long review concluding that thanks to Harrington quote, "The extent of our poverty has suddenly become visible". It is said that Walter Heller, chair of President Kennedy's Economic Advisors, gave Kennedy both the book and the New Yorker review, most people think he read only the review. But he did tell Harrington to begin to plan--to put together some proposals to reduce poverty. In the last chapter, Harrington wrote, "There is no point in attempting the blueprint or detail the mechanisms and institutions of a war on poverty. There is information enough for action. All that is lacking is the political will." On January 8, 1964, less than two years after the introduction of--the publication of The Other America, President Johnson responded demonstrating both the political will and the plan that Harrington had called for. Johnson declared, "Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope, some because of their poverty, and some because of their color, and all too many because of both. Our task is to help replace this despair with opportunity. This administration today here and now declares unconditional war on poverty in America." And he went on to say, "The richest nation on earth can afford to win it." Within a few years, many of the programs that we know today were implemented or expanded, Head Start, the Job Corps, what we now call Pell grants, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and increase social security benefits. And the official poverty rate which had been falling continued to fall and reached 11 percent in 1973. And at the time leading scholars predicted that poverty is officially measured would be eliminated by 1980. Obviously, that did not happen and the discussion and the debate today will focus on why that was the case. I think all of us agree that we live in an era in which economic growth has not been trickling down to the poor, an era of inequality in which the rich have gotten much richer, the middle class has struggled and the official poverty rate has increased. Today's debate is timely because tomorrow the Census Bureau announces the poverty rate for 2011. And most analysts, myself included, think the poverty rate will increase to something like 15 and half percent. If Harrington were alive today, I would sure--I'm sure he would remind us that "The Other America" is alive and well. And so, our goal today is to go back to Harrington's early goal and to make sure that poverty and inequality are visible. I'm honored to welcome Charles Murray, the W. H. Bradley Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Priorities. There are longer biographies of both of them. And Clarence Page, syndicated Columnist and Editorial Board Member at the Chicago Tribune, our moderator. I'm not going to read their many accomplishments because I want to turn the floor over to them. I'd simply close by saying this debate is timely not only because it's the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Other America, not only because tomorrow the census releases the official poverty rate, because we're in the midst of a presidential campaign which is likely to determine the future of public policies regarding poverty and inequality. Please join me in welcoming Charles, Jared, and Clarence to the Ford School and the University of Michigan.
>> Thank you Sheldon, thank you very much. It's my great honor and privilege to be your moderator here today. And, that's a lot to say because I am so familiar with these two gentlemen and they've been so enlightening for me in the past. I've never had the opportunity to put them together here and chew over these issues that we're dealing with. I'm reminded of my--the editor who gave me a newspaper column back in the '80s, Jim Squires who--good old Tennessee boy as they say, who told me what his editor had told him that column that's our sort of like a one-eyed javelin thrower, that I'll score many points if I keep the crowd alert.
So, that's my job here today, keep the crowd alert, keep things moving along. I'm not--I'm worried about getting these gentlemen to speak up and maybe keeping them to the time schedule maybe a challenge. So, we are well familiar with that and I just want to say that our format will be such that we will have opening remarks first by Charles Murray then by Jared Bernstein. He's going to give us about seven minutes to talk over our topic here on the future of inequality and how big the economic, social, cultural divide is today and how it differs from the divide that Michael Harrington described a half century ago. And then, they will be subjected to about a half hour of questions from me. And then we will go to questions from the audience by--given to me via index cards, some of which are being twitted in, I understand, through the great courtesies of modern electronics which I'm doing my best to understand in this century since my 23-year-old son isn't here with me to explain it, I will do the best I can. But, this is a very timely topic as has been said. By the time Harrington's book came out I was in high school. And I remember asking my factory worker dad, "Dad, what class are we?" And without hesitation, my father said "Son, we is po'."
What's significant here is he said--he didn't say poor, he said we were "po'," meaning we cannot even afford the O and the R.
Well, the significant is my parents were both dedicated to me not being po' no mo'. This means I had to get an education, had the opportunities to move on up. This is why I love this country because it gave me that opportunity. I was able to work in the steel mills during the summer. I grew up in John Boehner's district, did I tell you about that Jared?
>> That's a story for another show but that--
>> I turned out pretty well.
>> Yeah, yeah, it turned out okay, you know, 'cause it was a good working class district there at Middletown, Ohio there in Southern Ohio near Cincinnati. People work in the steel mills during the summer, earn enough to pay your tuition at a good state university, Ohio University, go Bobcats. And, thank you for your indulgence Michigan.
And, that was a great opportunity. So I was able to move up and become the journalist you see today. Unfortunately, today, there aren't summer jobs at the steel mill like it used to be. Steel mills have become casually a post-industrial America as are many other factories around the area where I grew up. And tuition at good old Ohio U is ten times what it was when I was a student there. So, things have changed. Upward mobility isn't what it used to be in this country even in my lifetime and that's what we're going to talk about today among other divides. I--Charles Murray is going to lead our discussion today. I've known Charles since what? The Losing Ground back in 1984?
>> Yeah, a long time.
>> A book that lead to--many people will tell you to the Welfare Reform Bill in the 1990's. And Charles has a way of writing books that either enrage me or delight me, nothing in between. We have talked many times over the years, we have sometimes argued and yet, you know, even when we argue it's fascinating. I learn so much just in dialogue with him. So, I'm delighted to have him here today and we'll have here Jared Bernstein to also contribute to this dialogue. Jared is involved in so many things besides being a White House economic adviser over the Center of Budget and Policy priorities while those think tanks that we journalist turn to so often for statistics, et cetera for real expert opinion. So, you got the cream of the crop here today ladies and gentlemen and we look forward to your questions as well. Without further ado, I'm going to pull out my little iPhone that my son has taught me how to work it. And I will be doing the timing here as well. Charles, you have seven minutes to respond to our question. Please have that.
>> Okay. Well, I'm not sure what the topic of the debate is because the way that Sheldon just explained to us about poverty and then I'd heard it was about inequality on the poster and so I'm going to ignore both of those in my opening remarks.
>> It doesn't surprise me a bit. Go ahead.
>> Because I tell you, a lot of the things I'm going to say won't make any sense unless you get a larger sense of the context within which I'm saying. This is I think a problem for the people on the right in general and I'm on sort of a weird part of the right. As far as I know, there are very few people who are on the right who say you're in it on your own. There are very few who are against the Advanced Welfare State because it costs too much and we're paying too much money to all of these free loaders. There are other reasons for my opposition to the Advanced Welfare State and to a lot of the measures that went onto the war on poverty. So, real quickly here is the CliffsNotes version of where I'm coming from and then subsequently marks in the debate. In my view, a human life is not a matter of passing the time as pleasantly as possible from birth until death. A human life can be a life well-lived which has transcendental meaning, whether that transcendental meaning is defined in terms of religion or whether it's defined in Aristotelean terms or other ways in which life can take on significance. But to take on significance, life must be spent doing important things. Things in which you can take deep satisfaction as you reach my age. My proposition, and I'll be interested if anybody in the audience wants to argue with it and add another domain, my argument is that the deep satisfactions in a human life basically comes from just four domains. And those are vocation, family, community, and faith. I will say that vocation, I'm willing to include avocations and causes in that definition. But basically, those four are all there are. There are other ways of having pleasures in life. But those are the things that give us deep satisfaction. The reason they give us deep satisfaction is because, if we are lucky, we spend our life doing something which we can legitimately say to ourself made a difference and something which was important to do. Raising a child is important. Making a living, finding a vocation, something you love is important. Being a member of a community in which you are engaged in the lives of people around you and are a good neighbor in ways more important than having backyard barbecues. That could be important. And the gravel amount of my charge against the welfare state is that it ineluctably, inherently for reasons that cannot be escaped drains the vitality from each of those four domains of life. It cannot be overcome by clever program designers. And the reason is this, the Advanced Welfare State in effect says, "Life is tough and there are some things that we're going to help take some of the trouble out off." Taking some of the trouble out of loosing a job, unemployment insurance. It can be a good thing. All right, I'm not--that is not a statement necessarily against unemployment insurance. I am saying it drains to some degree the satisfaction that you get from getting a job, holding a job and the rest of it. The same is true of a variety of other programs, helping children in poverty. It is not necessary to say those are bad, but it is necessary to say that in so far as the government takes some of the trouble out of raising a child, it also drains some of the satisfaction you're taking out of doing it. That is true not only of poor people, that's true of people at the top. If you are, as in my case, a husband who likes to think he's been a good husband and a good father that has not spent nearly as much time and energy as my wife did in raising the children, she gets more satisfaction out of being a parent than I do because of the nature of her activities.
^M00:20:09 In saying all of this, I leave open all sorts of things that we can debate. I leave open all sorts of ways in which we can talk about how our government might help or might not help. But ultimately, what I object to in a great many of the programs that will be defended by Jared and probably defended by most of the people in this audience. I am saying a problem with this is that they take too much of the life out of life. Now, in these remarks, I have not attempted to persuade any of you that I'm right, I do hope as I talk further in the debate it will give you a context for explaining what I mean.
>> Thank you very much Charles, and Jared--Charles is very prompt and succinct. A good role model--
>> Do I get his extra time?
>> I knew you would ask that, no. You can go ahead, please.
>> Actually before you count, if you don't mind, let me just say what an honor it is to share this stage with Charles Murray and with Clarence. Charles is a giant of social policy and one of the most influential people in that field while I profoundly disagree with much of what he has written and believes to be true as you'll hear in our discussion. I've been reading him for years and I've always heard a voice of passion. It's always about trying to figure out ways to help and not hurt people as they try to achieve their goals and dreams. And, I only can hope that I have that same level of passion and commitment in my own work and writing, so I'm a true admirer of the tone. I disagree with a lot of the ideas, so let's talk about that.
>> I'll just start your clock now.
>> Please [laughs]. If you must.
>> Keep your remaining time.
>> Yeah, that's okay.
>> He can talk like that all he wanted.
>> Yeah, I mean, I figured you'd give me--
>> I'm not going to account that time.
>> I figured Charles will give me a few minutes on that one. There are two--In my opening remarks, I wanted to do--do two things. One, a very brief pushback on one of the key pieces of Charles's opening, because I think we're going to have more time to get into that because it's so key to where he and I differ and that's the impact of what he calls the welfare state on the lives of people and their achievements of the various aspirations Charles enumerated. I'm not even sure that there is a welfare state anymore, I'm not quite sure what that means, I'm sure we can discuss that. What I do know is that the--we now have literally decades of research trying to look at the extent to which measures like an earned income tax credit, measures like temporary assistance to needy families, Medicaid, nutritional, education programs. What I think Charles is referring to and he'll--tell me if I'm right, when he says welfare state and their impact on people's lives and far from sucking the life out of them or whatever was the phrase he used, I would argue that not only do these programs critically offset market failures and I have very good evidence of that deep market failures that are effectively offset by some of these programs. They provide people with the opportunities they need to achieve the vocation, the family, the community and even the faith that absent this kind of support they would have a much harder time achieving. Okay, that's part one. Part two of my opening comment is I want to reflect on Michael Harrington and this question of how big is the current economic divide and does it differ now versus when Harrington wrote The Other America 50 years ago. In fact, the economic divide is much wider now than it was then. The most recent peak year for the macro economy was 2007 and back then, 23 percent of income, of national income accrued to the top one percent. Back in the early '60s when Harrington was writing, that was 10 percent. So, he was writing about an economic and a social and cultural divide, but an economic divide where ten percent of national wealth accrued to the top one percent and most recently--at the most recent economic peak that was 23 percent, I think it's down to about 20 now. The growth of inequality is a major factor in understanding the challenge of poverty today. So that's one of the connections I think that's intended to be made there. And this is not a static story, it's adynamic one and has great varying in an area that actually maybe an area of agreement between Charles and myself. One that's very consistent with Harrington and that's the following and I believe Charles would agree with me here is I think he's written this. Public policy should not concern itself with equality of outcomes but with equality of opportunity. And in Losing Ground, Charles Murray writes regarding government expenditures, "Billions for equal opportunity not one cent for equal outcome." So, we may actually find ourselves more in agreement on public investments that level the opportunity playing field, I think Sheldon was mentioning Pell grants before but there are expenditures targeted at preschool, there's--I mentioned some of the ones earlier. But here's the thing. There's--On the one side is this issue of inequality and outcomes and Charles wrote, you know, not a penny for equality of outcomes. There is a growing and very compelling body of research that links higher inequality. The economic divide that Harrington was writing about to diminish opportunity and thus, to diminish mobility. That is there is a causal linkage between the economic divide, the high levels of inequality and diminished opportunity for folks in the bottom half of the income scale. In our economy with significant growth without all these inequality, growth has broadly shared and leads to the kind of income growth and poverty reduction that Sheldon talked about that prevailed in the '60s and lead the poverty warriors to believe that just on the basis of growth alone we could reduce poverty so significantly. But once you introduce high levels of inequality into this model, a couple of things go wrong. GDP and productivity growth are now diverted from lower income families, middle income families stagnate, and poverty increases even in a business cycle expansion as it did in the business cycle expansion of the 2000's. Poverty went up as the economy expanded instead of going down. This blocks opportunities and reduces generational mobility. Now, if you think of this as kind of an economic model that generates a set of predictions, it predicts that income concentration plays out in the political realm. And I feel very strongly about this and it worries me a lot by protecting the beneficiary of inequality's growth and blocking the policies, blocking the policies that would push back against it. Politics reinforces the rising inequality that blocks those policies that would promote more broadly shared growth and thus, you're stuck in a vicious cycle. I'll have time to go through this more but I have two minutes. I'll have time to go through more examples of this as we go but I think to bring it back to the debate that Charles and I hope to--at least that I hope to engage Charles in, is that the problem is that if you look at when I think I've tried to paint here is a pretty rich economic tapestry, I think Charles crops the picture, I think he's looking at too small a piece of it. There are multi-causal phenomenon going in there and I think it was in Hamlet Act 1, Scene 5 that Hamlet says, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." And I would argue the same thing about Charles's books. Where are globalization and its impact on manufacturers? Where is the housing and the finance and the bubble and bus cycles that have characterized the recessions of the last few decades? Where's the laws of retirement wealth and 401K plans as a result of financial bus having nothing to do with individual morality? Where's the Federal Reserve and monetary policy? Where is the Kennedy and demand-side policies? Where is one of the most important missing factor in all of Charles work, the persistence--the persistent absence of full employment in areas where the problems he documents are most persistent? So, I firmly believe that in a corner of the realm of economic reality where poverty interacts with the rest of the economy and society, Charles is on to important points. But by looking at such a narrow piece of it, I'm afraid he misses the bigger picture and I'm sure we'll have more time to elaborate that as we go along.
>> We'll do our best. Did--Charles have--Jared opened up with an area of committee and agreement and then got it. Well, it's linear in the end there that indicates a sharp division.
>> Well, this is supposed to be a debate.
>> Well, that's right and we're going to do our best here because it will [inaudible] the end there about the causes of this poverty you spoke earlier in terms of character, attitudes, behavior, culture. He brings in the idea of geopolitical changes we've had, structural changes in the economy, job disappearance, the new globalism. I'm going to give you an opportunity to respond to that. Where does that play a role in your analysis?
>> Well, if you're going to say such things as for example, that there has been a fundamental change in working class culture in the United States by males with regard for labor force, you are obliged to say, "Well, is this because the economy went bad or is it because of other factors?" And I guess that there are a couple of ways of looking at that. As in any debate, you know, we're going to be picking out individual indicators as much broader context in which this can be understood. But let me use the example of labor force participation rate among males. And I'm specifically talking about white males getting rid of all the complicated issues associated with race. And I'm talking about males age is 30 to 49 which is the prime working years. As of 1960, you had virtually--not a hundred percent but it was in the high 90 percent of labor force participation among that group, because if you--if you two aren't working or looking for a job and you are a man in your 30s or 40s, you are a bum. That drop out from the labor force, starting to rise not after the economy went south in the 1970's in terms of some dimensions. It started to rise during full employment 1960's, all right? And that continued to rise, and if you plot it, I have the plot incoming apart. It sort of has a continuing secular rise all the way to the present. Now, if we had a rotten economy all this time, if globalization have taken away the jobs and you just couldn't got a job, I can understand that. But we have had periods in the 1980's and specially the last half of 1990's, but also some goods years in early 2000's, where basically there were jobs for anybody who wanted to work, and nobody seriously disputes that. I mean, there were Help Wanted signs everywhere. So when you talk about causes, to the extent that there're just aren't jobs out there and so these guys would like to go out and work. But they just can't find jobs. We should have seen a plunge in the drop out from the labor force in the last half of the '90s among white males, we did not. The only thing that happened was it stabilized. It didn't continue to go up and then it continued to go up after that. Everything I'm saying by the way, predates the great recession, none of my arguments depend on what happened since then. You then supplement those data with observational data on the ground. And what you'll find is in talking to people who lived in working class communities, there are a bunch of guys out there who are looking for work. That's true. There are a bunch of guys out there who aren't. They're leaving off their girlfriends, they're leaving off their parents, they're engaged in the gray economy or the black economy. They don't want jobs. And that's reflected in the increasing drop out from the labor force. It is a triangulation of evidence both sociological, anthropological, and economic, all of which point to a fundamental shift in the attitude toward work, it might label for a growing proportion of men in the working class is feckless. And unless we recognize that this is going to exist no matter what happens to the economy, as I think was proven in the last half of the '90s, we're missing a very important part of the puzzle.
>> Before I give you a chance to respond Jared, I want to clarify one thing. You're referring to your latest book Coming Apart.
>> Which I like by the way, I think--
>> Right, yeah. That was one of the good ones.
>> Yeah, that was of the good ones, I think very well maybe most important book of the year as far as I'm concerned because it does, as you mentioned, focus just on white Americans so we don't have the whole racial discussion. Because starting back about in the late '60s, poverty got colorized on our national conversation as you know. When you say poverty, people think black folks or Hispanics. But as you point out, there's this similar kind of problem going on among whites. So, I was just wondering, your book starts really--you see the problem around 1960 which reminds me of my friend Pat Buchanan who thinks that Western civilization began to decline as soon as Elvis appeared on The Ed Sullivan [inaudible].
And you know and I know that he's not alone. There are many folks who believe that all of decline started with the end of the '50s, the mad men era, for you young people out there. And I was just wondering, am I reading you correctly here and do you see causes for--
>> I'm not happy to answer that. You're going to have to give Jared some extra time because I'm fine.
>> I'd give--okay.
>> But I definitely will.
>> But I do want to respond in a couple of ways to that. First, I explicitly did not talk about causes for the new lower class in Coming Apart. I did talk about causes of the new upper class. But the middle or lower classic, I didn't talk about them and the reason Clarence was because I didn't want you to get mad at me.
>> I wanted to have a book that a person like you could read and not throw against the wall. And as soon as I started to talk about causes, I know you would, because, look, I'm on record. Losing Ground is a prolonged indictment of the 1960's, which has a lot to answer for. I'm going to stop there and be willing to go back and talk about it more with numbers. But, I want to add a very important point. It doesn't make any difference whether I was right or not. What about the original causes? And frankly, it doesn't make any difference in my view if Jared is right about the role of globalization and the rest of it. We are where we are and what has happened is a variety of cultural changes that have transcended whatever the original causes were. It's the classic case of--I can think--I can describe exactly how the toothpaste got squeezed out of the tube. Jared can think he can describe precisely how it got squeezed out of the tube, it is out of the tube. And there is no rewinding that we can do. And if we're going to deal with the problems that we're talking about, there is going to have to be fresh thinking about where we can go from here because going back to the past is not possible, either for Jared or for me.
>> So, I mean--
>> Okay, Jared your turn.
>> First of all, just where Charles ended, I mean, I guess I feel very strongly that your diagnosis leads to your prescription. And if your diagnosis is very individually focused, as I believe Charles is, your prescriptions are going to emphasize as does Coming Apart, you know, cultural issues, industriousness, religiosity, things like that as opposed to a policy set that I believe is more responsive to more structural economic problems including a robust earned income tax credit. A robust unemployment insurance program and, you know, so we--I assume we differ on that and perhaps we'll have time to explore this solution set and how they differ. But now I'd like to utterly confuse you all by disagreeing about the data. And that's always I think somewhat discomforting when you're an audience and someone says, "Well, things move this way," and the other person says, "Things move that way." Charles, I know you're quite the data nerd as am I and--that's a complement. And I--
>> I'm not by the way, so the [inaudible].
>> Okay. Well, you and I--
>> If I knew anything about math, I wouldn't be a journalist.
>> So you won't be able to play in our club here. But I suggest whatever data differences we have, we tried to work out maybe in some public forum and, you know, plot our graphs against each others. Here's a couple of facts that I think go in quite a different direction than Charles. Charles was asserting I think just then that in fact it really can't be a story of the demand side of the labor market of the lack of ample employment opportunities for feckless guys because if you look at periods where the job market was strong, you don't see much response from them. So when I read Coming Apart, I sort of was puzzling over this and I looked at the sample that Charles was looking at, white men aged 30 to 49, high school degree or less and a few other things--a few other ingredients thrown in there that Charles can you tell about. But I--so, here's what I did. And I'm going to talk about--I was going to say regression analysis, it's really a correlation. I took--thanks to my colleague Arloc Sherman at the Center on Budget. I got a time series of annual hours of work of white guys aged 30 to 49, high school degree or less, basically Charles's sample, and I looked at the relationship between their annual hours work including zeros. So, including people who are out of the labor market. And I correlated it with unemployment and I just run over the direction of the percent change on those hours on the change in prime-age men's unemployment rate. That one variable explains 76 percent of the variation in that series of hours worked. So keep that in your mind, that's point one. So now, that is not an economic model of the economy, that's a one variable correlation. But by Occam's Razor and just by dint of a very simple and plausible relationship, movements in unemployment explained three quarters of the annual hours of labor supply of work in the pay job market of this group. And when the unemployment rate goes up, their hours go down and vice versa, it's a very tight fit. Part two, and this has to do not with that sample but with single moms. In part because of the work of Charles in Losing Ground, we shifted from a cash-based welfare system, AFDC, to temporary systems for needy families in welfare reform that was passed in the Clinton years.
^M00:40:11 Folks here, I'm sure that the Sheldon et al and Sandra [phonetic] have done tons of work on this issue. If you look at the employment rates of single mothers and you compare them to the employment rates of say married moms, again controlling for education, so you're not getting that into the mix, you will find--LaDonna Pavetti and some other folks at the Center on Budget had done this work. You will find that the employment rates of single moms grow precipitously, grow steeply in the 1990's. Now, part of that is a Murray effect and it has to do with requirements within the welfare program. Researchers tried to tease out what shares which. We also had a full employment job market for the first time in decades, and I don't think we've had one before or since. We had a full employment job, we had a large increase in the earned income tax credit which incentivizes work, Ronald Reagan's favorite anti-welfare program. We had an increase in the minimum wage, lot of moving parts, all sending these employment rates up. The analysis suggests that maybe 15 or 20 percent of it was welfare reform, the rest was the economy, and the measure is like the earned income credit and so on. Those--So you have the married moms who aren't affected by the policy, so they're their control here. Their employment rates truck along as they did. The single moms go right up, they match the married moms, and then starting in 2000 they all sort of slide down. Once employment growth became quite weak, I told you poverty increased in the business cycle of the 2000's and then it fell off the cliff in the recession, you see a very good controlled experiment of Charles's hypothesis. The idea was that if the job market was creating employment demand to give these single moms the opportunities they had to seek by dint of the policy change and wanted to seek once especially the wages had an ample subsidy attached to them, you see very large employment effects quite different than Charles's argument that you didn't see these effects at all. Once the job market weakens and then falls off the cliff, you see the opposite happening. So, I very strongly feel that Charles absolutely has a point in that corner of the picture that he's looking at, but I very strongly caution an interpretation that leaves out the role of labor demand, of job availability and of social policy that incentivizes work.
>> I will not get in too deep in the weeds of those numbers there and good job of going from regression analysis to Occam's Razor in 45 seconds. I think, well--
>> I saw a certain contradiction there [inaudible].
>> You saw it? Where about that? Well, how do you respond to that--
>> Okay quickly, 'cause we don't want to get too deep in the weeds.
>> Actually, you know, this is another case where there is kind of a subversive agreement between the two of us because you have two very different populations among--let's just talk about white males [inaudible]. Those that are in the labor force, they're working pretty hard and including in the white working class, the hours of work have not gone down, you have another set of guys who aren't in the labor force at all and I would point out there's something really simple about the statistic I gave you, percentage of men not in the labor force. And there's a real simple relationship to policy. Because if you want to cure the economic problems of guys not in the labor force, you're saying to yourself if only we could create a full employment economy again. We've been there, done that in the last half of the 1990's and it did not change it. So you can have--with women something else altogether going on. Women have flocked into the labor force. Can I give you a quick synthesis of what I think went on?
>> Very quick?
>> A real quick synthesis. In 1960, if you were a guy holding down a low income job with a life and family, you had an authentic place in that community of respect. It was respect both within that community, you are one of the good guys, you were looked up to, and you also had respect from the broader community. You then had a whole bunch of the things that I deplore from the reforms of the 1960's, but multi-causal, you also had the revolution in women's participation in the labor force, and a low income guy today does not have a position of respect from the community if he is a father and husband. That is gone. That is a statement of fact. Those communities no longer value that the way they did. And on the contrary, you're going to have people start telling you, "You are a chump working for chump change." Am I sorry that women went into the labor force? Do I want to turn back the clock on that? No, I don't. There are things that happened as the result of good things which are bad things. And one of the things that have happened is that the role of the male changed dramatically and that is reflected in a growing population, not a majority, a growing population of feckless men. And, I guess the only statement I'd had Jared onto that is, I am not trying for a global explanation that absolves the market of everything and blames everything on government. I am trying to force an awareness of cultural shifts that have occurred in this county that are very deep and very important and are most damaging of all to the people on the bottom of society.
>> Well, Jared, a word about the role of culture.
>> Look, if you go back and read Michael Harrington or Pat Moynihan, even William Julius Wilson who I know you sparred with in the '80s. There's been a cultural piece for all of their analysis. They might--pathology of poverty, culture of poverty, this was not unfamiliar language to Michael Harrington. But I don't like it [laughs]. I don't like it and I don't know really what Charles means and I've read his books carefully when he talks about this cultural shift. I don't mean to imply by the statistics I'm inciting that there are no feckless guys, I myself feel feckless part of the time, or that the share of the sample that you've picked out. The white working class males with no labor participation has increased. I will say by the way they're a shrinking share of the total very much though. In fact, your own number showed that they shrink by about half of the total population. But I do think it's very much overdone and I have two objections to it. First, and this is not the position of Charles Murray or any of the researchers I just mentioned. In the real world, Clarence, you maybe could speak to this just from your journalistic approach later, I'll be interested in your take. I think in the real world, the cultural emphasis becomes damagingly divisive. Again, not Charles--this is the--culture becomes a synonym and I think that's kind of that play right now in our national debate for behaviors that are acceptable in a subgroup that the rest of us agree are bad. But, culture is a much richer phenomenon other than that, and cultural differences remain a beautiful attribute of America. Again, I'm sure Charles would agree. And I think many of the cultural critics, and I would include many of those I named above, actually get this wrong. Where people like Charles when he talks about this cultural shift which I think you do critically are identifying as a social dysfunction within a culture are actually viewed us apparent even within that culture. So, what you're viewing is a cultural shift. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me because I don't see cultures embracing, you know, these bad behaviors that subgroups agree are okay. If you look at that--if you look at gang culture, gang culture is a good example. The parents of kids in gangs hate the fact that their kids in gangs. If you look at out-of-wedlock births, parents of kids, teens who have out-of-wedlock children are often aghast at their kids. So, it's a complicated dynamic and I caution against going there because A, I think it feeds right into a very damaging divisiveness that our society and economy is right for right now. I think it invokes discrimination. And I don't think it means the same thing to any two people you say it to. I think it's way to a fuzzy concept.
>> Well, let me just ask you about in terms of--it looked fuzzy concept o talk about culture. We talked about shared values within a community. Is that too fuzzy for us to deal with because we all agree it's there, but is that something that--we all agree there has an impact.
>> I think it has an impact.
>> Is there anything useful that we can do as far as the--
>> Yeah, I mean there's--a lot of it I am arguing we must--we should embrace. If there are cultural values that are inconsistent with the broader community, that's a much more complex question that I would give to Charles Murray.
^M00:50:00 I don't think that there is an obvious role for government in addressing that kind of a thing. I do think there's a very obvious role for government in promoting the economic well-being success, the opportunity, the ability of kids to realize their potential things like that. And I'm afraid that the cultural debate is a distraction from what's really important which is making sure people have the opportunities that they need to realize their potential. I think the culture of debate has [inaudible] that.
>> One more quick follow up to Jared. I'm going to--I'm going to give you a chance Charles.
>> Welfare reform just for example. There are those who argued that welfare reform, as you mentioned, put welfare recipient, mothers to work and change a culture that before had disincentivized work and the one that incentivized work. And that this helped to reinforce the kind of values that you're shaking your head.
>> No, I don't go there. I mean, I wouldn't go there, Clarence. No, I mean the--as I said, I mean, there's research I could cite, you know, chapter and verse that argues that as--somewhere between 15, maybe 30 percent tops, Sheldon probably did a lot of it. And, he could talk about this more authoritatively of the increase in the employment rates, how to deal with the policy change. And I think that's a perfectly legitimate thing. I don't think a society can support a cash welfare program that takes money from one group of tax payer and gives it to another group that's not conditioned on work, that's neither fair nor sustainable. Charles had those insights decades ago and he was right. But the--to--I started life as a social worker. And I can tell you that the culture of work has been, you know, is embedded in poor families, middle class families and wealthy families. They want their kids to get ahead just like we do. And all of this cultural stuff I'm afraid becomes way too close to discrimination. And, you know, they're the bad guys and we're the good guys in ways that Charles doesn't mean but that's how it plays out in the real world.
>> Well, Charles, let me ask you, you had in the past expressed something of a pessimistic view of the ability of government to do much good in these areas, is there a way--
>> Let's put it very mildly.
>> Put it mildly, yes [laughs]. Is there something useful the government can do in order to change the culture in the productive way?
>> No, you may [inaudible] right, I'm sure.
>> I wasn't actually being flippant. Let me see if Jared we can take this--the fuse thing called culture and take what to me is the paradigmatic indicator. Because the thesis of Coming Apart is that we have cultural diversions. There is no social institution that is more central to the culture and especially American culture, but all cultures, the marriage, right? You go to the 1960 and you have a definition of the working class that Jared gave you pretty much, people working in working class occupations, blue collar, with no more than a high school education, that's the operational definition. Upper middle class, people with college degrees, working in managerial or professional jobs, okay those are the two, upper middle class working class. In 1960, I had 94 percent of all whites 30 to 49 who are married and you had about 84 percent of all in the white working class who are married. So, there was a difference but it was a real small difference and marriage was the overwhelming norm. As of 2010, you still had 84 percent of whites ages 30 to 49 in the upper middle class who are married. And in fact that number had been pretty stable since the mid 1980's and not only that, divorce has been declining so a lot of those marriages are first marriages, more marriages than there were in the past. Marriage is alive and well in the upper middle class. In the white working class, same age group, 48 percent married. Now, there are real few examples of such a shift in a central cultural institution in 50 years as the one I just gave you from 84 percent to 48 percent. Why is this important? I'm not speaking as a right winger who's attaching in moral value to marriage since I--I'm saying, look, marriage is the building block of communities. Single fathers don't coach little league teens very often. Single mothers very seldom have the time even if they have the inclination to go to PTA meetings. All of the things that go into social capital, those kinds of things that Robert Putnam documented so thoroughly in Bowling Alone. A social capital which makes communities work just goes off the edge of a cliff when you lose marriage, all right? In addition, you have an increasing agreement among social scientists who follow this data, left as well as well as right. Sara McLanahan being a very good example who is known to many of you in this room which says, "You know, single parenthood is bad for kids. It's not that some women can't be wonderful mothers and raise wonderful kids, of course they can. But are there real deficits in what happens to the flourishing of children in single parent families?" And the answer to that is yes. So in that one indicator I've given you, which is a very cultural indicator, no matter what the causes of the change were, you have had a divergence between working class America and upper middle class America, which so transcends in importance anything having to do with sheer income inequalities and dwarfs it. And unless we come to grips with that change, and the disintegration that that has produced in the functioning of working class communities, we're going to be stuck on dead center in trying to come up with solutions.
>> Well, Jared, in that paradigmatic example of marriage, is there something that government can do or we as a society can do to restore marriages and institution or do we need to? Can we deal with these problems without even addressing marriage?
>> I think to understand the phenomenon that you and Charles are talking about and it's a very important one and I fully agree with the work of Sarah McLanahan for example that was cited a second ago. You have to understand the related cultural--and I think, I mean this is cultural phenomenon of feminism. You'd have to appreciate women's educational, occupational upgrading and accomplishments in the recent decades. And the earnings advances which have gone in a completely different direction than then. Men's wages from middle and particularly low income have stagnated and fallen while women's have consistently gone up. And I'm not just talking about at the very top of the wage scale but at the middle as well, less so at the bottom but there has been progress there, too. Again, educational upgrading, occupational upgrading, earnings advances, I'm not saying that there aren't lots of women facing tough problems in the job market and gender wage discrimination is alive and--well, it's the wrong word but it remains a problem, no question about it. But if you just look at the relative growth rates women--and that has given women a lot more say in when they get married and when they bear children, this is not a bad thing. This is not a bad thing. But at the same time, you've also had--and this is a bad thing, of course, you've had the jobs and the earnings opportunities of non-college educated men falling quiet sharply. And I would say the sharpest and most pointed arguments and arguments that resonated with me and many others against Losing Ground was by a sociologist named William Julius Wilson who wrote a book that came out, I think a few years after Losing Ground that observed a very strong correlation between the decline in--he had something called the "Marriageable Male Index" and he was looking at the--he was looking at the economic conditions of particularly young black men who would otherwise have been partners of women who's--you know, who's non-marriage rates were rising at the time. And he very clearly identified the lack of earning decline in job opportunities. So, I'm not saying that I don't want to be an economic reductionist here and say that if men's economic conditions began to improve, the marriage problems that Charles documents would go away. I'm saying two--but I am saying two related points that push in the other direction. One, the fact that women have more economic and spiritual independence to decide when they get married and bear children is obviously a good thing. I'm sure Charles would agree. And second, if the economic conditions of their marriage partners were improved and there is public policy, an important public policy that could help there, I think that would make a positive difference as well. But Charles, in your book you talked about--and this is in your latest book Coming Apart, you talked about how many people at lab based the educated class, especially out of this--coming out of the '60s, the cultural revolutionaries if you will, for attacking marriage and traditional institutions, but the irony is that today it's the upper educated class that has the lowest out-of-wedlock birthrate and the highest church attendance as I recall and the farther down you go the more you see this disillusion of the past institutions. But arguably, after the book came out, we'll email chat back and forth and you were reluctant to want to analyze why this is happening.
>> 'Cause I didn't want to make you mad again.
>> That's quite all right. I'm very--I've learned that new patience in anger management and I'm eager to know if you have any new insights of the--why does this happen that we have this class divide that matches a cultural divide between [inaudible].
>> Yeah, I was smiling because I get really irritated at the upper middle class. And I don't remember about who better do it, be irritated at them. Look, in the '60s, my generation, marriage, "No, we don't need that," sexual revolution, "Great," this, and that, and the other thing. And then as we got older, we had the resources and the where with all to recover from our silliness. And we did. So we said, "Okay," when we got our lives in order. And now I'm no longer smiling. Here is the thing that angers me the most about the 1960's. We changed the rules of the game, not for everybody, we changed them for poor people and we especially changed them for poor young people and we most especially changed them for poor young black people. And it happened in everything you can talk about. It's not just the welfare system and the increase in benefits for single women. Just put that aside for a minute. The changes in education that went on in the 1960's whereby it became a whole lot easier to go to school and not learn anything, a whole lot easier to drop out, a whole lot easier to get away with stuff that in fact kept you from getting an education. In crime, we had--During the 1960's, crime took off after being plateaued throughout the 1950's. Well, you know what? There was a conventional wisdom then which said, "If you put people in prison, it only made them into smarter criminals." As we had a rising crime rate, you had reductions in clearance of crimes, you had reductions in people in prison for crimes. We had an actual raw reduction in the number of people in prison in the 1960's, a raw reduction. Not just a reduction in terms of the ratio of crimes to people in jail. It became a whole lot safer if you were a teenage kid to engage in crime. I--When I did an analysis of Cook County delinquents, more delinquent than which there are none. In the 1970's, the average number of arrest for one of those kids before they run to custodial presumably for the first time is 13.6. So it became a lot easier to engage in crime. It became a whole lot easier to survive if you were a guy without having a job. Though, you go through any--any of the day-to-day ground level ways at looking at the world that a poor person and a poor young person and a poor young black person especially had, and the 1960's changed those rules in ways which made it profitable to behave in the short term in ways that were disastrous in the long term. And they did not have the resources to recover from that. They couldn't be like the upper middle class and say, "Well, the LSD was planned, the serial sex was planned and I'm going to get a job and have kids and a family and so forth." So, the baby boomers have a lot to answer for in my view. And in that sense, we did something in my view during the 1960's that was incredibly destructive to poor people.
>> I'm going to ask you to do a little cultural analysis here again, Jared.
>> Oh, no.
>> Forgive me but as far as white, do the baby boomers have something to answer for here in terms of setting themselves as role models for a free and licentious behavior and influence others to pick up these habits [inaudible].
>> Well, look, there is this kind of cottage industry now among the punditry to scold baby boomers. I was opening the paper the other day and it was Bill Heller or Keller, the guy who writes for The New York Times--
>> Bill Keller, yeah.
>> Bill Keller had an article about how, you know, the baby boomers are greedily eating up the entitlements and--
>> Those boomers love to attack each other.
>> Yeah, yeah so there's--you know, I don't--I got to say once again. It doesn't resonate with me and it was a part of Coming Apart that I had trouble figuring out. There's--At the end of the book, Charles suggests that people like us preach what we practice. And I was described that is that the elites I think try to impart some of their industriousness and religiosity and non-fecklessness to everybody else. You know, or to the bottom third who aren't doing that stuff and I was describing it to a conservative friend of mine the other day and he said, "Well, even if I wanted to do that, like what would I do?"
Boy, that was a good question. You go--go to a neighborhood and stand on the street corner and say, "Let me tell you about how industrious I am." So, part of this is pragmatically I don't get it. Look, I really--The problems that you described in the '60s, you know, sounded in no small part are correct. However, I disagree with where that has lead us today and in fact, I think--and this goes directly against I think a lot of some, you know, your deeply held principles here so I want to come and get to this core point. I think we had done considerable correction to many of the problems that you've identified particularly in the provision of anti-poverty programs and social supports. For example, a recent--a very authoritative study by academics without a Republican or Liberal, a thumb on the scale looked at the impact, the anti-poverty effectiveness of our whole panoply of social program. This was a paper, the lead author I think was Bob Moffitt who is just a very good reputation as a kind of a stone cold-eyed, a kind of [inaudible] on this. And they did an interesting thing. They said, "Let's look at the anti-poverty effectiveness of all of the programs that Charles says, you know, kind of started in the '60s and bled us of our initiative since. And let's not just look at whether they produce poverty or not because guess what, if he give some income to somebody, their poverty can go down. But let's look--let's account for any work disincentives. We now have enough years of research so we can actually estimate the extent to which there are work disincentives or incentives to have babies out of wedlock or the kinds of destructive incentives that Charles was talking about as being planted in the 1960's. And what they found was that those we're miniscule. And in fact, I think I have--I quote there, there are findings here--I don't have it. Yeah, okay, "The combination of the means-tested and social insurance transfers in the system have had a major impact on poverty, reducing deep poverty, poverty, and near-poverty by about 14 percentage point, so 29 points down to 15 percent in the US. And importantly, this impact is only negligibly affected by work incentives which in the aggregate have almost no effect on pre-transfer poverty rates in the population as a whole." So, I would argue that we've come a long way and have a built in system that is quite effective. And I'll give you one more point and then I'll stop. The great recession, if you look at the official poverty rates over the great recession, 2007 to 2010, you will find that they went up from something like 12.5 percent to 15.1. I think I'm right about those numbers. They went up significantly from 12.5 percent to official poverty. The official poverty rate doesn't count any of those benefits that I've argued are so important here. It doesn't account for nutritional programs that act just like cash. It doesn't account for medicaid. It doesn't account for the earned income credit. It doesn't account for the child tax credit or house--or various subsidies like that. Put those into the mix and poverty barely moved over the great recession. It went from I think 15.3 to 15.5. So, if you include the benefits that were supposed to dampen the impact of poverty over a huge market failure where Charles and others can't say, "Well, they should have gotten jobs, there were no jobs," you see an extremely effective safety net at work. So, I would argue that he identifies problems that were real, but that social policy has done a much better job than it's commonly realized at dealing with.
>> We have several questions from the audience that then passed on to me by index card. I don't know if these were twitted in or passed in but they are good questions. Charles, the first one is for you. You don't say much about nonprofit organizations in communities. Can't they play a role in shaping the lives of Fishtown residents? This sounds like one of your readers here. I don't think we talked much about how it is.
>> I don't know if somebody has read [inaudible].
>> Yeah, you divide the--our new class structure between Fishtown and the what, non-college educated working class if possible.
>> Yeah, that's where Fishtown is--it's a working class neighborhood of Philadelphia and I just use that as a generic way, but.
>> Nonprofits, can they play a role?
>> Yeah, the role of nonprofits.
>> By the way, I've got to interject something. I have had so many debates with people who haven't the least idea what I've said, who has never read anything I've done. They've only read the reviews of what I've done. Jared, I can't tell you how it warms my heart that you actually read my stuff, you know.
I don't care if you agree. You read it. You know what I said. Yeah, nonprofits--
>> I've even got you on my candle, so there. [Laughter] That's a commitment.
>> It doesn't mean you read it.
>> That's right.
>> Nonprofits can play an important part, but the community as it historically has worked in the United States has been--I don't--I won't try to attach percentage to it, an awful a lot of it has been informal.
^M01:10:07 A lot of the social capital that binds communities together doesn't have any organizational basis. Fishtown is a good example, white working class community. It was a hard drinking, hard fighting community, but boy, was it safe. There was no crime in Fishtown because if you try to come into Fishtown and commit a crime, they didn't bother calling the police, they took care of it themselves. It was also a place where your kids could play outside safely. And the reason they could play outside safely was because people kept an eye on. And you can go to a place like Fishtown and using anthropological data, you can document as the author Patricia Smallcomb [phonetic] who I quote extensively in the book did document the ways in which all of that has been ravaged for whatever reasons. So, I am--let me put it this way. If you have 48 percent marriage among prime major adults in the community, you got in the community. I mean, it's just a contradiction in terms. Community depends too much on all the things that adults do because they have kids that they're raising together. And when that goes away, the good goes away too.
>> No comment in there, Jared, no?
>> No, I mean, again--and I like Charles personally so much and I am so appreciative of his passion and his commitment here that I'm feel--I really feel bad that I so disagree with almost everything he's saying here.
But I just--I think--
>> There's not angry enough.
>> Yeah. So, the problem is with the way Charles use the world compared to the way I think the world works, is that it's not that if married--unmarried people got married, everything would be okay for--while you're not in here, say--
>> I don't think [inaudible].
>> It's not that they would get on some much better economic trajectory. I don't believe they would. And a good example is some very--I think compelling recent research that was done on teens who had children out of wedlock. Something that every poverty research agrees--every poverty researcher agrees is a serious problem and something Charles has written about critically for years. Well, there's a recent study that I thought convincingly argued. I won't go into the weeds out of respect for the timing here. But it argues convincingly by looking at things like kids who got pregnant but miscarried or kids who are trying to isolate a kind of factual of someone who looked a lot like the teen who had--the teen who became a mom and the one who didn't. And it looks like the teens who became moms and had this very poor economic trajectory, the researchers will look at them and say, "Well, that's because you became a teen mom." If you actually try to do the best you can to do a counterfactual and look at someone who is just like them who didn't have the child, it turns out that their economic trajectory was awfully similar just about the same. Now, I'm not saying that means teens should become moms, they shouldn't. It's bad for the kids. It's certainly not good for their opportunities. But whether we're talking about marriage or we're taking about out-of-wedlock birth, it's that Shakespeare quote about there's more to this than you're seeing. There is--If the economy and the opportunities, especially the opportunities, the educational opportunities, the ability to access and finish school are not there for you whether you're married, whether you have a kid out of wedlock, it's just extremely tough. And public policy that doesn't realize that and try to do something about it both for the out-of-wedlock mom and for the one who didn't is I think a bereft. But if you focus too much on the culture and the behavior and the marriage and the mom herself, you'll miss that point.
>> Okay, I'd want to jump in real quickly here 'cause I'm a hedgehog on this issue as opposed to a fox for those of you who read your--I say a Berlin. I made the assertion, nothing about teenage birth, nothing--I said without families, communities don't exist. That families with children are what provide the social capital that makes communities work. And I think that's an important hedgehog truth that can unite people across a wide variety of ideology that you can say, "Boy, it's the fault of the economy that we don't have families," but the simple truth, communities don't work without a norm of families or children. That's just--That's the way the world really works.
>> Forgive me, Charles, I've got a question for Jared here. I'll let you respond as well if you like. Jared, why do the Obama Administration do more for--I'm sorry, why did--why didn't the Obama Administration do more for poor communities given his work as a community organizer? Perhaps you can give us some insight coming from your White House position?
>> You know, if you look--again, I'm going to quote one of my colleagues from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the guy named Arloc Sherman. You can go on the website of our institution, cbpp.org. You will find a number of papers that look at the impact on poverty of the stimulus, the Recovery Act. The Recovery Act lifted millions of people out of poverty. The Recovery Act expanded the earned income tax credit. Now, if you weren't working, it didn't help you but it was--but, you know, obviously, a lot of people kept their jobs. The child tax credit was made refundable down to lower income levels. It lifted a lot of people out of poverty. The making work pay tax credit help low income workers. Later, the payroll tax credit helps loan--or the expansions of unemployment insurance critical to the safety net. By the way, you heard Sheldon say that when we learn to--we will probably learn tomorrow the poverty went up in 2011. Unquestionably if that's true, one of the reasons is because we pulled back some of the safety net particularly in terms of extended unemployment insurance programs running our for people in labor market that was still well, much too unwelcoming. All of those majors and more--there was a subsidized job programs under TANF, that was very effective, big bang for the buck program and helping low income people. So, I don't argue that particularly in the Recovery Act, the president did quite a bit.
>> Charles, do you want to respond to that?
>> No, of course.
>> No? Okay, you probably--well--
>> I don't follow current politics. I don't know what's going on in 2008
>> Current events.
>> I'm serious.
>> You didn't try to do anything here, that's all right. But let me ask you the--let's see. I had a question for you. So Charles mentioned the need for fresh thinking about where we can go from here. Are there any fresh thoughts around which the left and the right might be able to generate some galvanizing political will?
>> Yes, yes there is. I wrote a book in 2004 I guess advocating a basic guaranteed income. And there were--the pride of people on the left who said, "Wow, you know, what's he doing that for?" Well, our is ours--
>> That was one of your good ones, by the way
>> You liked that one though?
>> It was short.
>> He was also short. No regression equations at all.
>> Right, right.
>> Look, I think that's the way to go and I have my reasons for wanting to go that way. I think that it is--and so, we aren't going to go back to a libertarian pre 1930's state. That's not going to happen. And so, there's going to be a lot of expenditures and income transfers and I want to strike a grand bargain between limited government people like me and social democrats. I'm going to say, "Okay, we'll give you guys huge expenditures. You give us unlimited control over the way that government can screw around the people's lives." And the best way to do that is to my way of thinking taking all the income redistribution we have now, transfers of all kinds including, by the way, corporate transfers, all kinds of transfer and use that to provide everybody with a good, basic guaranteed income. And I go through the book to describe to my fellow libertarians, well, I think this would work. But there is a potential there for discussion across ideological lives.
>> Indeed, and I would--a column on that the same thing. Since then, Dave Chappelle had an interesting beat on his show.
>> Great social scientist, yes.
>> No question about it, one of the great social critics of our times. And not exactly the same idea that you are working with, but Chappelle's beat, his skit was a what-if, sort of a proposition. What if black Americans were really paid reparations in cash? And the bottom line is they would have it spent by sun down mostly on lottery tickets.
It was so hilarious but you had to be there.
And knowing Comedy Central, you would probably go rewind it tonight, the way it's going that we want him forever. But, with that little nugget out there and you can address this and I'm sure people say this. You know, well, if you just hand people a guaranteed income, how do you keep them by wasting it?
>> You know, that's a longer conversation where we can't afford right now. I will simply say that I spend a lot of the book trying to work through those questions 'cause they're legitimate questions.
>> In other words, get the book, right?
>> But there--yeah.
>> Yeah, it was like--but, it is an interesting book though, I thought [inaudible].
>> I think it may be available in [inaudible].
>> So, can I take this talk--
>> Yes, you may. Go right ahead, go for [inaudible].
>> So, I think it's very helpful to have big thinkers like Charles put out big interesting ideas like that.
^M01:20:03 But it is absolutely so far away from anything like politically realistic that I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. So, I'm going to say something that could easily be accused as being equally, politically unrealistic but I don't think so. It is--I mean, I don't know that anything is--these days, Clarence knows. He writes about this, so. These days, it's politically unrealistic to count on Congress to keeping, you know, the lights on. But, you know, in more normal times what I'm going to talk about I think is important and potentially realistic. And I actually think maybe Charles would agree. We now have a program. Charles and I agree that there is--well, I shouldn't say that. I have very much hammered on this point that there is not enough work out there for the--
>> One minute by the way.
>> Sorry, one minute?
>> One minute.
>> Yeah, great. There's not enough work out there for--to meet the supply of under utilized workers, particularly non-college educated men. We have a work-based welfare system now, and part coming out of some of Charles's work. And I think that's a perfectly legitimate social policy. But not if work does not exist, work-based welfare without work is a cruel hoax. Work-based welfare with work actually can work and can help enrich the lives of low income people and their kids. We saw this as I mentioned in the '90s during welfare reform. So, I would propose that if the economy isn't creating enough jobs for low income people, then it's the role of the public sector to create them. And so, we should have direct public service employment for folks who need to work, who want to work, who we want to work when there aren't enough jobs which actually make--instead of giving them money, create work, create jobs for them. And believe me, there's enough work to be done in this economy in our infrastructure that we could find good things for people to do.
>> Thank you very much. [Applause] I'm going to call Sheldon Danziger back to the stand here. We have--thank you very much. Our time has run out. I hope we had made productive use of it. Well, isn't he?
>> On behalf of the Ford School, the University of Michigan and the Mott Foundation, please give another round of applause.
>> Thank you, Sheldon.
>> Good job.
>> Thank you, thanks really.