Free Forum Q&A – MICHAEL LEWIS MONEYBALL; THE BIG SHORT; THE BLIND SIDE BOOMERANG: Travels in the New Third World includes a profile of Greece post-global crashWritten on July 16th, 2015
Originally aired October 2011
As the two countries play a high stakes game of chicken, it’s a good time to see what Greece and Germany looked like in the aftermath of the global crash. Who better to be our tour guide than best-selling author MICHAEL LEWIS?
Lewis’s book, BOOMERANG: Travels in the New Third World is made up of articles originally published in Vanity Fair and picks up where 2010’s THE BIG SHORT left off. Governments are the focus of this book. Mostly because they have taken on the bad debts of the too-big-to-fail banks, so now they are themselves at risk. Now politics and culture become much more important as to how they will deal with that risk. The book also profiles Ireland, Iceland, and California.
Both Ira Glass and Malcolm Gladwell say today’s guest is their favorite storyteller. In his books and magazine articles, Lewis writes about sports, business, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, political campaigns, fatherhood. Stuff that matters to a lot of people. He’s smart and he has a sense of humor. Once a trader at Salomon Brothers, he wrote his first best-seller, LIAR’S POKER about the excesses of Wall Street during the 1980s. He continues to write about that world with his last two books, a column for Bloomberg, and articles in Vanity Fair. We also talk about the twisted path taken to get MONEYBALL into movie theatres.
Free Forum Q&A – LESTER BROWN, Founder of Worldwatch and Earth Policy Institute author of PLAN B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save CivilizationWritten on July 9th, 2015
Originally Aired October 2009
We are in a race between tipping points in natural and political systems.
Which will come first? Can we mobilize the political will to phase out coal-fired power plants before the melting of the Greenland ice sheet becomes irreversible? Can we halt deforestation in the Amazon basin before the forest becomes vulnerable to fire and is destroyed? Can we cut carbon emissions fast enough to save the Himalayan glaciers that feed the major rivers of Asia? Can we win this race?
LESTER BROWN thinks we can…
In his book, PLAN B 4.0: MOBILIZING TO SAVE CIVILIZATION, BROWN lays out the symptoms, the diagnosis, and the cure. He estimates that we could solve all the world’s greatest problems for $200B a year – less than half the US defense budget.
PLAN B 4.0 is a comprehensive plan for reversing the trends that are undermining our future. Its four overriding goals are to stabilize climate, stabilize population, eradicate poverty, and restore the earth’s damaged ecosystems. Failure to reach any one of these goals will likely mean failure to reach the others as well.It’s time for Plan B: an all-out response at wartime speed proportionate to the magnitude of the threats facing civilization.
Let’s suppose, for a moment, there was a country where the people in charge charted a course that eliminated millions of good-paying jobs. Suppose they gave away several million more jobs to other nations. Finally, imagine that the people running this country implemented economic policies that enabled those at the very top to grow ever richer while most others grew poorer. You wouldn’t want to live in such a place, would you? Too bad. You already do.
Those are the words of this week’s guests, DON BARLETT and JIM STEELE.
These are some of the consequences of failed U.S. government policies that have been building over the last three decades – the same policies that people in Washington today are intent on keeping or expanding…Most significant of all, the American dream of the last half-century has been revoked for millions of people – a dream rooted in a secure job, a home in the suburbs, the option for families to live on one income rather than two, a better life than your parents had and a still better life for your children.
Barlett and Steele wrote these words in 1992. They are the first words of their Pulitzer Prize winning series of articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which led to the #1 best-selling book, America: What Went Wrong. They put their finger on things and connected dots that really established a lens through which to view the next 20 years. The point of view of the 99% movement is basically the one Barlett and Steele described and predicted at the birth of the Clinton era.
When gas prices were at or near record highs a few months ago in the US, that got people’s attention. What about food prices? Have you noticed them rising? Are you making different choices in the supermarket? If not, it might be because of two things.
One, in America so much of our food is processed, packaged and marketed, that raw commodity prices make up only a fraction of the price of the food we buy. In other countries, especially the less developed ones, an increase in the price of rice or corn can have a major effect on how much a family can afford to eat. Two, Americans spend only 9% percent of their income on food, while millions around the world spend 50-70%. Millions of households now routinely schedule foodless days each week-days when they will not eat at all. A recent survey by Save the Children shows that 14% of families in Peru now have foodless days. India, 24%. Nigeria, 27%.
In his newest book, FULL PLANET, EMPTY PLATES, LESTER BROWN writes,
“The U.S. Great Drought of 2012 has raised corn prices to the highest level in history. The world price of food, which has already doubled over the last decade, is slated to climb higher, ushering in a new wave of food unrest. This year’s corn crop shortfall will accelerate the transition from the era of abundance and surpluses to an era of chronic scarcity. As food prices climb, the worldwide competition for control of land and water is intensifying. In this new world, access to food is replacing access to oil as an overriding concern of governments. Food is the new oil, land is the new gold. Welcome to the new geopolitics of food.”
JACOB HACKER the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University, is the author of The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream and The Divided Welfare State. PAUL PIERSON is Professor of Political Science and holder of the Avice Saint Chair of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of Politics in Time, Dismantling the Welfare State? Together they are authors of Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy as well as WINNER-TAKE-ALL POLITICS.