Exclusive - Robert Reich Extended Interview Pt. 2

  • Aired:  09/16/13
  •  | Views: 53,377

In this exclusive, unedited interview, economist Robert Reich discusses getting big money out of politics, interning for Robert Kennedy, and media mud wrestling. (8:29)

ALL RIGHT.

WE ALWAYS-- EVERYBODY ALWAYSSAYS LET'S GETS BIG MONEY

OUT OF POLITICS.

IN WHAT UNIVERSE HAS BIGMONEY EVER BEEN OUT OF

POLITICS FROM THE HISTORY OFMAN, THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE

THE MOST CONTROL THE LEVERSOF POWER.

THAT SEEMS LIKE A UTOPIANIDEAL THAT WILL NEVER OCCUR.

BUT CAN'T WE PUT SAFETY INTOTHE SYSTEM FOR THOSE THAT

DON'T HAVE IT?

>> WELL, IT'S A UTOPIANIDEAL IF YOU ASSUME THAT THE

IDEAL IS TO GET MONEY, BIGMONEY OUT OF POLITICS

FOREVER.

BUT IF YOU CONTINUE TOFIGHT, LOOK AT

McCAIN-FEINGOLD.

WE GOT A LOT OF BIG MONEYOUT FOR ABOUT SIX OR SEVEN

YEARS.

LOOK AT SOME OF THEPROGRESSIVE, EARLY

PROGRESSIVE REFORMS THAT GOTBIG MONEY OUT OF POLITICS

FOR 8, 9, TEN YEARS.

IT'S A CONSCIOUS FIGHT, ITIS A CONSTANT FIGHT AND YOU

HAVE TO KEEP FIGHTING.

>> Jon: I THINK PEOPLE NEEDTO VIEW IT IN THAT MANNER.

ONE OF THE DIFFICULT THINGSIS IF SOMETHING ISN'T GOING

TO ALLEVIATE THE PROBLEMCOMPLETELY, THEN IT FEELS

AS THOUGH IT'S NOT WORTHDOING.

AND THE SECOND PART OF THATQUESTION IS YOU HAVE A HUGE

CHUNK OF PEOPLE IN THEGOVERNMENT NOW, WHO HAVE A

VERY EASY JOB, WHICH IS THEYSAY GOVERNMENT DOESN'T WORK.

GOVERNMENT DOESN'T HELPPEOPLE.

AND JUST TO MAKE SURE OF IT,I'M GOING TO MAKE SURE THAT

ANY SUGGESTION OR PROGRAMTHAT THEY CREATE I CAN

SABOTAGE AND SUBVERT ANDTHEN POINT TO THAT PROGRAM'S

FAILURE AS MORE EVIDENCE OFMY PREVIOUS THEORY THAT

GOVERNMENT DOES NOT WORK.

>> THAT'S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.

>> Jon: SO IF YOU ARE ABLETO DO THAT, THEN OF COURSE

THERE WILL BE NO LEGISLATIVE -->> AND IF YOU CONVINCE

PEOPLE PARTICULARLY THEPEOPLE WHO WOULD OTHERWISE

BE ACTIVIST THAT THERE IS NOHOPE, THAT THEY, THEY OUGHT

TO BE CYNICAL BECAUSEEVERYTHING IS JUST CRAP.

>> Jon: UH-HUH.

>> WELL, THEN YOU ARECREATING SELF-FULFILLING

PROPHECY BECAUSE IF PEOPLEGIVE UP ON POLITICS,

FIGURING THEY ARE GIVING UPON DEMOCRACY WHICH IS THE

APPLIED FORM OF POLITICS ANDIF THEY GIVE UP ON

DEMOCRACY -- THEY ARE CEDING THE ENTIRE

GAME TO THE BIG VESTEDINTEREST, THE MONEYED

INTEREST, THE PEOPLE WHOREALLY ARE USING POLITICS

RIGHT NOW TO ENTRENCH THEIROWN SELF AND THEIR OWN

SELF-INTEREST.

>> Jon: I AM GOING TO THROWSOMETHING OUT HERE.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS.

THIS IS SOMEWHAT OF ARADICAL IDEA.

SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN USEDOR AT LEAST FLOATED IN

AFRICA.

IT'S A WAY AS A BULWARKAGAINST CORRUPTION.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING TO SOMEOF THE STRONGMEN IN AFRICA

IS RUN YOUR COUNTRY ANDREACH A CERTAIN METRIC IN

TERMS OF ECONOMICDEVELOPMENT AND THE MONEY

THAT IS GIVEN TO YOU, ORTHAT YOU RAISE IN YOUR

COUNTRY THAT GETS TO THEPEOPLE, AND DIMINISH

CORRUPTION.

AND THERE IS A PILE OF MONEYWAITING FOR YOU WHEN YOU'RE

DONE.

THERE'S A -->> YOU INCENTIVIZE-- .

>> Jon: CORRECT.

>> NONCORRUPTION.

>> Jon: CORRECT.

>> YOU CORRUPT PEOPLE WITHNONCORRUPTION.

>> Jon: CORRECT, YEAH, YOUCORRUPT THEM WITH

NON-- HERE'S THE THING.

YOU KNOW WHAT THEY WANT.

THEY WANT THAT CASH.

>> THEY WANT MONEY.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

SO SAY IF YOU DO THE RIGHTTHING FOR FIVE YEARS, HERE'S

SOME MONEY.

WHAT ABOUT THIS FOR CONGRESSPEOPLE.

>> WELL, THEY ALREADY HAVEIT.

>> Jon: NO, NO, NO, NO,.

BUT THEY HAVE IT ASLOBBYISTS TO GO BACK INTO

THE GOVERNMENT TO CORRODEIT FROM THE INSIDE OUT.

WHAT IF WE SAID INSTEAD OFHAVING TO TAKE WHATEVER

MILLIONS OF DOLLARS YOU'REGOING TO GET FROM WHATEVER

PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY,WHATEVER, IS GOING TO PAY TO

LOBBY, WE SET UP A FUND THATIF YOU SERVE FOR FIVE YEARS

OR TEN YEARS WITHDISTINCTION FOR THE PEOPLE,

THERE IS MONEY WAITING FORYOU THAT YOU DON'T HAVE TO

TAKE FROM SHITHEADS.

(APPLAUSE)WHAT ABOUT THAT?

>> IN OTHER WORDS,.

>> Jon: WE INCENTIVIZE THEM.

>> IT'S A BE RESPONSIBLE THEWAY YOU SHOULD BE FUND

AND-- .

>> Jon: IT'S PAY PEOPLE TOACT LIKE THEY SHOULD BE

ACTING ON OUR BEHALF RATHERTHAN USING THEIR

CONGRESSIONAL -->> BUT WHY SHOULDN'T PEOPLE

BE ACTING ON OUR BEHALF THEWAY THEY OUGHT TO BE DOING

IT ANYWAY.

WHY SHOULD WE HAVE TO PAYTHEM TO ACT ON OUR BEHALF.

>> Jon: BUT-- LISTEN, TINKERBELL, I'M GOING TO TELL YOU

SOMETHING, I'M GOING TO TELLYOU SOMETHING ABOUT THE REAL

WORLD.

BECAUSE THAT HASN'T WORKED.

LOOK IT, THERE'S TOO MUCHOUT THERE FOR THAT.

>> I UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARESAYING, JON, BUT I'LL TELL

YOU FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE,I WAS AN INTERN, YOU TALK

ABOUT INTERNSBEFORE ON THE SHOW, FOR

ROBERT KENNEDY IN 1967.

>> Jon: HOW AMAZING-- CAN IJUST STOP YOU RIGHT THERE.

HE'S MY IDOL, HE'S MYIDOL IN POLITICAL TIMES AND

MORAL TIMES, WHAT WAS THATLIKE?

>> IT WAS FABULOUS.

IT WAS EXTRAORDINARY.

IT WAS WHERE I GOT MYIDEALISM FROM.

I MEAN IF YOU-- WE HADGIANTS WALKING IN THIS

COUNTRY, MARTIN LUTHER KING,ROBERT KENNEDY.

WE HAD PEOPLE WHO NOT ONLYCARED ABOUT THE PUBLIC

INTEREST BUT WERE WILLING TOGIVE IT ALL, ULTIMATELY,

SADLY, TRAGICALLY THEY DIDGIVE IT ALL.

BUT WHY CAN'T WE HAVE THATNOW?

WHY CAN'T WE EXPECT OURPUBLIC SERVANTS TO BE TRULY

GREAT.

>> Jon: DO WE ALLOW THAT,UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT AND THE

GLARE THAT THEY FACE NOW,WOULD OUR GIANTS HAVE BEEN

GIANTS.

YOU KNOW, YOU GOT WEB SITESAND THINGS AND SHITHEADS

LIKE ME.

YOU GOT ALL THIS STUFF GOINGAT THEM AT ALL TIMES, WOULD

THEY BE THE GIANTS WEREMEMBER THEM AS?

>> WELL, IT'S INTERESTINGQUESTION.

I MEAN THE 24/7 NEWS CYCLEAND THE KIND OF GOTCHA

JOURNALISM DOES CUTEVERYBODY DOWN TO SIZE.

BUT I DO THINK THE PUBLICNOT ONLY HATES THE KIND OF

ANTAGONISM, VITRIOL,PARTISANSHIP

THE PUBLIC ISALSO DESPERATE FOR PEOPLE

WITH INTEGRITY.

>> Jon: BUT THERE WAS AMORAL CLARITY TO THOSE TIMES

THAT I FEEL LIKE WE DON'THAVE.

AND I'M NOT A GLASSY EYEDNOSTALGIST. I

DON'T THINK BACK LIKE THE'60s MAN, THAT IS WHERE IT

WAS IT.

>> IT WAS A TERRIBLE TIME INTHIS COUNTRY.

>> Jon: AND THE DIVISION.

I GOT SOME CLARITY OVERSEASA LITTLE BIT.

AND I CAN'T PRETEND THATBEING IMMERSED IN THE

CULTURE OF THEMIDDLE EASTFOR TWO MONTHS IS A REAL

EDUCATION IN THAT.

BUT YOU KNOW, IN THE SENSEOF IN THIS COUNTRY WE PLAY

UP THE DIVIDE.

THERE'S AN INCREDIBLE DIVIDEIN THIS COUNTRY.

SOME PEOPLE WATCH DUCKDYNASTY BUT OTHER PEOPLE

WATCH JERSEY SHORE, YOUKNOW.

IN THOSE COUNTRIES THEY'REGRAPPLING WITH THINGS LIKE

SOME PEOPLE THINK WOMENSHOULD BE KILLED IF THEY

CHEAT ON THEIR HUSBANDS, YOUKNOW.

THAT'S A DIVIDE.

WE'VE ANSWERED IN THISCOUNTRY A LOT OF THE REALLY

BIG QUESTIONS.

AND MAYBE WE SHOULD ALSO GETSOME PERSPECTIVE.

>> BUT I THINK THAT'SEXACTLY RIGHT.

IN THE 1960s, THAT CIVILRIGHTS STRUGGLE, THAT WAS A

HUGE DIVIDE.

GO BACK TO THE 50s, JOEMcCARTHY AND HIS COMMUNIST

WITCH-HUNTS OR THE VIETNAMWAR, WHICH I REMEMBER

DISTINCTLY AND REMEMBERPEOPLE, FAMILIES SPLIT.

THOSE WERE ERAS WHEN WE HADBIG DIVIDES.

RIGHT NOW, COME ON.

I MEAN WE HAVE PARTISANSHIP,WE HAVE VITRIOL BUT THE

THINGS THAT DIVIDE US ARE SOMUCH SMALLER.

I THINK THE VITRIOL,HONESTLY, JON, COMES FROM SO

MANY PEOPLE TRYING TO GETAHEAD, WORKING SO HARD,

GETTING NOWHERE.

THEY ARE ANGRY, FRUSTRATED.

AND THEY ARE VERYSUSCEPTIBLE TO DEMAGOGUES.

>> Jon: DON'T YOU THINK SOMEOF THE VITRIOL ALSO

RELATES TO THE IDEA THATTHAT IS WHAT SELLS IN THIS

TIME?

THAT CONFLICT IS A WONDERFULMOTIVATOR FOR RATINGS AND

CABLE AND THOSE TYPES OFTHINGS.

AND THAT ENDS UP BEINGREFLECTED IN THE ATTITUDES

AND MENTALITY OF A LOT OFPEOPLE WHO THEN BELIEVE

WE'RE MAYBE A LITTLE MOREDIVIDED THAT THAN WE MIGHT

POSSIBLY BE.

>> A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO IWAS ON A NEWS SHOW,

REPORTEDLY A NEWS SHOWDEBATING AN ECONOMIST WHO

WAS A REPUBLICAN ECONOMIST.

AND WE ACTUALLY AGREED ON ALOT OF STUFF.

AND WE CAME TO THE STATIONBREAK AND IN MY EAR BUD, IN

MY EAR PIECE THE PRODUCERSAID BE ANGRIER.

I SAID I DON'T WANT TO BEANGRIER.

THIS IS ACTUALLY GOOD FORTHE PUBLIC TO SEE IT.

WHY SHOULD I BE ANGRIER.

BECAUSE YOU GOT MILLIONS OFPEOPLE SURFING THROUGH

HUNDREDS OF CHANNELS ANDWILL ONLY STOP WHEN THEY SEE

A GLADIATOR CONTEST.

MUD WRESTLING.

SO YOU HAVE TO BE ANGRIER.

WE HAVE 10 SECONDS.

I SAID I'M NOT GOING TO BEANGRY.

SHE SAID YOU HAVE TO BE.

AND THAT'S WHEN I LOST MYTEMPER.

(APPLAUSE)

>> Jon: INEQUALITY FOR ALL.

PLAYS IN SELECT CITIESBEGINNING SEPTEMBER 27th.

ROBERT REICH.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

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