Thomas Friedman

  • Aired:  10/03/11
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New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman discusses America's role as an innovator in the global market and its dwindling blue-collar sector. (5:57)

WELCOME BACK.

MY NEXT TONIGHT PULITZER PRIZE WINNING JOURNALIST HIS NEW BOOK WHICH HE CO-AUTHORED IS

CALLED "THAT USED TO BE US: HOW AMERICAN FELL BEHIND IN A WORLD IT INVENTED AND HOW WE

CAN COME BACK." PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM THOMAS FRIEDMAN.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ) "THAT USED TO BE US."

THERE IS A WISTFUL QUALITY TO THAT TITLE.

YOU SENSE A MID-LIFE CRISIS.

YOU SENSE PEOPLE OF GIRTH SITTING ON A STOOP WATCHING YOUNG PEOPLE DANCE.

>> JON, IT DOES... IT'S A FORWARD LOOKING BOOK WITH A BACKWARD LOOKING TITLE FOR A REASON.

THE ARGUMENT OF THE BOOK IS WE ACTUALLY HAVE A FORMULA FOR SUCCESS.

IT GOES BACK TO HAMILTON AND LINCOLN.

IT WAS BASICS BASICALLY BUILT ON EDUCATING OUR PEOPLE UP TO AND BEYOND WHATEVER THE

TECHNOLOGY WAS, HAVING THE BEST INFRASTRUCTURE, HAVING THE BEST IMMIGRATION POLICY

THAT ATTRACTED ENERGETIC AND INTELLIGENT IMMIGRANTS, HAVING THE BEST RULES FOR CAPITAL

INVESTING AND PREVENTING RECKLESSNESS AND HAVING THE MOST GOVERNMENT-FUNDED RESEARCH.

AS YOU LOOK AT OUR HISTORY THAT'S WHAT ACTUALLY GOT US HERE THAT FORMULA FOR SUCCESS.

THE MAIN ARGUMENT IS IS WE'VE GOTTEN AWAY FROM THAT FORMULA.

>> Jon: DO YOU THINK THOUGH THAT WE ALSO AT THAT TIME HAD A FRONTIER.

WHICH INCREASES OPPORTUNITY.

WE HAD NOT NECESSARILY COLONIES BUT WE HAD A DIFFERENT RELATIONSHIP WITH NATURAL RESOURCES.

THAN WE HAVE NOW.

ARE WE A VICTIM TO SOME EXTENT TOO OF NO FRONTIER AND THE FACT THAT OTHER COUNTRIES ARE

NOT AS BEAUTIFULLY EXPLOITABLE AS WE USED TO FIND THEM?

>> YOU KNOW, THAT'S PART OF IT.

OF IF YOU LOOK AT WHAT'S HAPPENED IN THE WORLD SINCE THE END OF THE COLD WAR THERE

WOULD ALWAYS BE RELATIVE DECLINE.

CHINA AND INDIA ROSE.

WE'LL BE RELATIVE TO THE WORLD.

THE CONCERN IS IS WE DON'T HAVE ABSOLUTE DECLINE.

I MEAN, I THINK, YOU KNOW,

WHAT IS THE FRONTIER GOING FORWARD?

WHAT IS OUR VISION FOR THE COUNTRY?

WE WOULD LIKE AMERICA TO BE TO THE WORLD WHAT CAPE CANAVERAL TO AMERICANS IN THE '60s.

THAT'S WHERE WE DID OUR ONE MOON SHOT.

I THINK AMERICA'S FUTURE IS BEING THE LAUNCHING PAD WHERE EVERYONE IN THE WORLD WOULD

WOULD WANT TO COME TO START SOMETHING.

THAT'S OUR NEW PLACE IN THE WORLD.

>> Jon: ARE YOU SUGGESTING THAT WE COLONIZE MARS BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT I'M HEARING?

>> IF THEY'LL COME AND START SOMETHING.

>> Jon: WHEN YOU SAIL IT SHOULD BE THE PLACE WHERE EVERYBODY COMES TO START

SOMETHING, WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL THOUGH BECAUSE HOW DO YOU ENTICE, FORGET ABOUT STARTING SOMETHING.

WE JUST WANT TO BE THE COUNTRY THAT WE CAN MAKE STUFF WITH.

I THINK WE STILL INNOVATE TO A LARGE EXTENT.

WHEN WE INNOVATE THOSE PRODUCTS ARE MADE ELSEWHERE BECAUSE OUR WORKERS LIKE TO HAVE FOOD AND....

>> FOOD AND PENSION.

IT'S INTERESTING, JON.

ONLY LAST YEAR DID CHINA ACTUALLY OVERTAKE AMERICA AS THE WORLD'S BIGGEST

MANUFACTURER IN TERMS OF VALUE OF GOODS PRODUCED SO WE ARE TRYING TO ACTUALLY MANUFACTURE

IN TERMS OF VALUE THE SAME AMOUNT.

THEY DO IT WITH LIKE 100 MILLION PEOPLE AND WE DO IT WITH 11 MILLION PEOPLE BECAUSE

WE STILL FOCUS ONED ADVANCED MANUFACTURING.

THAT'S WHERE THE BEST JOBS ULTIMATELY ARE GOING TO BE.

YOU TOUCHED ON WHAT IS IS A CHALLENGE.

I DON'T THINK ANYONE HAS THE ANSWER YET WHICH IS YES WE DO LAUNCH INNOVATION HERE.

HOW DO WE MAKE MORE OF IT HERE?

WITHOUT A BLUE COLLAR SECTOR YOU CAN'T HAVE A MIDDLE CLASS.

THAT'S THE BIG TRANSITION WE'RE STRUGGLING WITH.

HOW DO MORE OF THESE PEOPLE ENTER A SERVICE ECONOMY AND STILL HAVE MIDDLE CLASS JOBS

AND MIDDLE CLASS WAGES?

WE HAVE A CHAPTER IN THE BOOK CALLED AVERAGE IS OVER WHICH IS REALLY ABOUT THAT STRUGGLE.

I LIVE IN D.C. NEXT TO BALTIMORE.

50 YEARS AGO THE BIGGEST COMPANY IN BALTIMORE WAS BETHLEHEM STEEL.

YOU COULD GET A JOB THERE,

JOIN THE UNION, BUY A HOUSE,

GET A MORTGAGE, RAISE TWO KIDS AND RETIRE AND LEAD A VERY GOOD MIDDLE CLASS LIFE.

THE BIGGEST EMPLOYER IN BALTIMORE TODAY IS JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER.

THEY DON'T LET YOU CUT THE GRASS THERE WITHOUT A B.A..

>> Jon: REALLY?

>> THAT HAS MOVED UP EVERYWHERE.

THAT'S I THINK THE CHALLENGE FOR US.

>> Jon: HOW NICE IS THEIR GRASS BECAUSE IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, I MEAN, WITH A B.A.,.

>> WHAT YOU COULD DO.

>> Jon: EACH BLADE INDIVIDUALLY.

>> THE SMARTEST GRASS.

>> Jon: YOU KNOW, ANY COUNTRY OF THIS SIZE IS NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO ADAPT THAT QUICKLY.

WE'RE IN A DIFFICULT PLACE BECAUSE WE'RE PLURALISTIC.

WE'RE THE ONLY EXPERIMENT WHERE YOU DON'T HAVE THAT NATIONAL IDENTITY OTHER THAN

LIKE YOU SAY AN ASPIRATIONAL ONE.

>> THAT'S A HUGE ADVANTAGE.

BECAUSE IN THIS WORLD WE CAN...

SO MANY THINGS ARE MADE NOW,

JON.

IT'S NOT MADE IN AMERICA, MADE IN CHINA.

THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION,

IT'S MADE IN THE WORLD SO PART OF IT IS DONE HERE.

PART OF IT IS DONE THERE.

AS LONG AS WE ARE PART OF THAT CHAIN AND HOPEFULLY AT THE HIGHER END, THE MORE

INNOVATIVE END, THEN THERE WILL BE WORK FOR THE BUTCHER,

THE BAKER AND THE CANDLESTICK MAKER.

IF WE'RE NOT PART OF THAT INNOVATIVE SIDE OF THE EQUATION WE'RE GOING TO LOSE.

THAT'S THE BIG CHALLENGE.

>> Jon: AT THE RISK OF THAT STRATIFICATION YOU GET A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF SUPER RICH AND

THEN JUST A LARGER UNWASHED STRUGGLING GROUP.

>> THAT'S REALLY WHAT YOU'RE SEEING.

THE LABOR MARKET GETS TOTALLY STRATIFIED.

WHAT DIGITIZATION, AUTOMATION,

OUTSOURCING DO IS IT COLLAPSES ALL THOSE MIDDLE JOBS.

THERE ARE SO MANY SERVICE JOBS THAT HAVE COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED.

AND THE QUESTION REALLY IS,

HOW DO YOU GET EVERYONE TO BE STARTING SOMETHING, SOMETHING THAT MAKES PEOPLE'S LIVES MORE

HEALTHY, SECURE, COMFORTABLE,

MORE PRODUCTIVE OR MORE ENTERTAINING.

BUT WE ALL HAVE TO DO SOMETHING.

EVERYONE IS ABOVE AVERAGE AT SOMETHING.

>> Jon: YOU MORPHED INTO SHARI LEWIS THERE.

I QUESTION THE... I GUESS THE QUESTION IS WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE?

I'M (BEEP) OLD.

THAT USED TO BE US IS ON THE BOOK SHELVES NOW.

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