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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  August 23, 2016 12:31pm-2:32pm EDT

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we have clearly shifted sort of the baseline of what poverty is that if you look at poverty amongst single mothers, the chart looks very similar to that. charles talked about, this is the illegitimate ratio, and both charles murray and i believe this is actually a much less significant variable and one which we struggled very hard to get into welfare reform without a considerable amount of success. this was back in 1940. they don't like is the percentage of all births that are outside marriage. the beginning of the war on poverty, it's around 7%. by the mid 1990s it has risen to about 34%. one of the things i worked on very strongly in welfare reform was simply too great policies that would force a discussion of this issue. this is the underlying cause in my mind of welfare dependence, of child poverty, and of the
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underclass. they're very difficult to get members of congress to talk about this. we owe a great deal of gratitude to senator faircloth and then had been jim talent who worked for years to try to even put this in public discussion with a considerable amount of the republican party saying this topic is just an discussable. please go away. what i would say is i think there hasn't that been a substantial shift. this is the same illegitimacy ratio starting in 65. senator moynihan often described that blue line as something to look like it was a drama where there were going straight up at about one percentage point a year. i think that's right but about the time that this reform begins symbolically we talk about indian welfare of the lifetime entitlement, the line does move over. if we'd gone forward at the prior rate of increase, which is
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marked in the red dotted line, we would have over 1% of all children being born out of wedlock today. it's only 34% so isn't that a magnificent triumph? but it is i think about 1.5 million fewer children being born out of wedlock, and i think that's a notable thing. i think this is clearly not the result of any specific policy, because states, although they're supposed to address this issue, has steered away from it. because it is politically incorrect. i think the general symbolic effect of saying that welfare is time-limited, you're expected to support herself and so forth did cause an alteration in the speed as well. our challenge for the future to find a way to actually begin to move that blue line downward. so i believe that within. pros and cons. what are the pros of welfare reform? if you were a liberal favoring a massive expansion of the
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conventional welfare system, you have been put on the intellectual defense of my welfare reform. we haven't seen much expansion but it's not that spending hasn't gone up in terms of new programs, new initiatives for the poor are very much on initiative because the welfare reform is focus on the behavioral roots of poverty independence rather than simply throwing additional money at the problem. second as i said we demonstrated the effectiveness of core conservative ideas concerning reciprocal obligation. we have had these rather dramatic declines in one program and to emphasize one program. and we've had these declines in poverty. fourthly, we did have around the time of welfare reform a significant increase in the debate about out of wedlock childbearing. we've got that in reduction in out of wedlock childbearing, the principle of act that wasn't carried out but in the last six months we passed new provisions
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under the act that i think will begin to produce fairly interesting finding or programs to deal with that issue in the future. what are the limits or the cost of welfare reform? first evolved and, obviously, we've got over 15 means tested federal welfare programs. we have paid to families with dependent children the most vulnerable we've got food stands, but housing, earned income tax credit and on and on and on. we reformed only one of those programs. the others are sitting there completely untouched in their pristine war on poverty forms without any alterations the second related to that if you look at parallel programs such as food stamps and public housing, that actually serve exactly the same clientele as a defense with a bit chilly, no in those programs. it's much, much more limited anyone actually imagine. we did not reform the welfare state. we simply reformed the one most
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visible program. third, this has been alluded to, there's a great deal of energy about reforming welfare in the '90s. all that has passed, people aboard. we have lost sort of the momentum to do future reforms. this, that states did not act on the goal of reducing illegitimacy as they're supposed under the act. this, the issue, we need to get into. in the summer of 94 when the contract for america was passed, the republicans were about to assume the majority in the house back. i remember clearly meeting newt gingrich just been injured out in front of the capitol talking about the welfare provision in the contract for america and i said, the one thing you didn't get in that's the most important of all, work for welfare recipients, that's okay. that's all right but it's not
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going to cure the underclass. what you really need to get in there was a major school choice provision that would allow underclass children to go, to choose or the parents to choose to put their kids in religious schools if that's what the parents want. i said that will do far more for the underclass that office welfare stuff will. he studied at the time, i couldn't get that to the party. we will have to do that in the future. so 10 years later i think we are still waiting on those issues. still waiting for the sort of massive values transformation is going to be necessary to deal with the underclass issue. >> up next in a special presentation of the 1996 welfare law, sociology professor sharon hays. she discusses her book "flat broke with children: women in the age of welfare reform." this portion of an event from 2003 is about 30 minutes. >> so the cultural logic of welfare laws has always been
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connected to family and work life. when it was first established as part of the new deal, when his first established as part of the new deal legislation in 1935, the idea was that you would follow the model, the traditional model of family life. imagining a proper breadwinning husband and caregiving life. if the husband was absent, then the state would step in to take the place of father in caring for mother and children. that law basically remained in place in some sense until the 1996 personal responsibility act. the most widely recognized message of personal responsibility act is that women should work. doesn't matter if they are mothers, doesn't matter if they have kids to care for.
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like most working women in society today, they should be able to manage both work in the care of their children. these work requirements as you know are given real teeth by the federal time limits. after five years it is expected that all poor mothers will become self-sufficient, even if they are not, they will be left without any form of government support. in thinking about this is the law say that breadwinners are simply a thing of the past? we should think of women as perfectly capable of caring for not only themselves but their children without the help of a breadwinner? this is where i started and it seemed funny to me as it might to some of you. since this pronouncement occurs at the very same time the politicians, the public and scholars are still expressed a tremendous amount of ambivalence
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about mothers in the paid labor force, and the problems of child care women second shift at the time, and, of course, conservatives, particular concern about the decline of family values. how does the law field with these problems? in fact the message that mothers should work is not the only message that you fight in welfare reform. as it turns out, the personal responsibility act begins marriage is the foundation of a successful society. marriage is an essential institution of a successful society which promotes the interests of children, the promotion of responsible fatherhood and motherhood in integral to successful child-rearing and to the well being of children. the legislation then goes on to condemn single parenting, deadbeat dads, women who live on the dole.
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the preamble to the personal responsibility act is, in fact, a restatement of newt gingrich's contract with america. so, in fact, built into welfare reform, i argue, are actually two visions, and publicly i call these the work plan in the family plan privately and for you, i will call them as i do, bills plan in newt's plan. in bills plan what we knew is we give women childcare subsidies, help with transportation and then you can work their way up l independent womanhood. in newt's plan, on the other hand, we make sure that we jail all the deadbeat dads. we train people in abstinence education, and by forcing women to work out low-wage jobs and
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realizing that they cannot in fact afford to raise children on such jobs, they will ultimately learn, if not this generation, then by the next, that the proper choice for women is to get married and stay married. so what do these two visions look like? how to deploy out inside inside the world of welfare? what are the possibilities for realizing that? i have to say something about the group that is most directly targeted by this law. etiquette i know that many of you already know this stuff but i will just repeat myself. welfare clients are a very particular social group. there were 12 million of them at the inception of welfare reform. there are approximately 5 million today. these people are desperately poor.
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they live under half of the federal standards for poverty, and most have no income at all. the adults in this group are overwhelmingly women, 90%, and this is no accident. it is no mere historical footnote. they are for the most part single parents, and they are disproportionately nonwhite. these linkages are not coincidental. most single parent families today are headed by women, single parent families are disproportionately poor, and nonwhite families are at greater risk for both poverty and single parenthood. now, what we see been in welfare reform is what has otherwise been called the feminization of poverty, the ratio station of poverty, the juvenile decision of poverty.
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children outnumber adults on the welfare rolls by a ratio of more than two to one. at the inception of welfare reform, one in eight children in the united states was supported by welfare checks. as sociologists, we know that this group of people are desperately poor not simply because of individual choices, but rather as a result of systematic structured inequality that makes the poor women children and disproportionately nonwhite. so when we think about structure of welfare, we can think about it as the result of four large historic factors. first of all, continuing discrimination and inequality with reference to raise, and then rising income inequality in
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the american society so that we know hold the point of being a among all internationalized nations that has the widest gap between rich and poor. and then significantly from my point of view, you can look at the population as the result of revolutionary changes in work and family life. what you see in work life is a dramatic decline in the number of people who are able to earn what was once called a breadwinning wage, a wage that is high enough to support a family. and in family life what you see, of course, is the number of women went out to work for pay. that means a number of families where you must seek outside help for caregiving, and this is also been, and for good reason,
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connected to a rising single parenting. so that's your background. how am i doing? okay. as noted the single parent households are the walking representatives of not just inequality that massive change in working family life. they are the poorest of all american citizens. when we think about the possibilities for these families, you should recognize that, of course, all women who are single parents have a hard time managing, but this particular group also tends to be poorly educated, poorly trained with background in employment background and only low skilled jobs. they are also much more likely than the rest of the population to suffer from physical and mental health disabilities. and has been as half of the
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victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse. all of these factors combined make it unlikely that these mothers with on average two children will be able to raise their families out of poverty. 40% do not have high school diplomas. in sun belt city, 60% do not test above the eighth grade level. the educational testing institute, something with which most of you familiar, the people do the sats, you don't think of him as a bleeding heart liberal organization, have reported that 70% of the people on the welfare rolls do not have the skill levels necessary to get the kinds of jobs that would support a family of three. so what happens inside the welfare office? the single, clearest message of the welfare office is the message of work.
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almost all the efforts of the welfare office at first glance other directed towards this. indeed, office, the first thing you see when you enter the waiting room is a large red banner. 12 feet long, three feet high reading how many months do you have left? underneath that is a listing of the jobs available in the area, receptions, night clerk, fast food server, waitress, childcare computation, forklift operator. in most cases the wage rates are not listed. the message is quite clear. you must get a job, get it soon and accept whatever wages you can get. this is not of course as you know just encouragement to work. it is backed up by a series of stringent requirements. it is also backed up by a series of supportive services what are
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called supportive services. all created by welfare reform. these include healthy childcare with transportation, clothing and supplies the work. sometimes the rent and utility payments. all of this designed to welfare mothers get head start against future hardship. all of the work rules, all of the work requirements of welfare reform also backed up by a set of rigid rules. all clients had to sign an oath of personal responsibility vowing to commit themselves to the goal of self-sufficiency. at the first employment, the first meeting with their employment worker, they're given an intelligent task and they are told to begin a job search that must commence immediately, they must also been attend a series of job readiness and flight
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skill the lights go classes were taught to address what they view, how to defer to the employers, how to handle stress, manage childcare, how to speak proper english rather than \street/{-|}street slang and, of course, what kind of job would be best for them. they must also continue to meet with their employment counselor continuously. i then depending upon what their kids choose for them they will go into a tree program or a work their placement. again many of you are aware of this. the training program in our prevail in sun belt city look like a gdp computer skills, nursing assistants child care and even a training course for aspiring guestroom attendance. otherwise known as hotel maids. if the tre training programs dit get mothers into work fast
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enough they were then placed into what their placement, sweeping streets, answering phones, sorting papers, picking up trash, work in school cafeterias, doing childcare work, bus drivers, telephone operators, kitchen help. you have a sense of the nature of these jobs. in all cases work their placement are unpaid. you're simply working in return for your welfare check. if he should fail in any of these tasks, you will receive the sanction. this is important. about 20-30% of welfare clients are sanctioned at any given time. this is the primary way of punishing poor mothers for their failure to live up to the rules of welfare reform. this sanction rate is twice as high as it was prior to reform, and being sanction is the harshest status of all.
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you lose your welfare benefits, yet at the same time you continue to lose -- torture lifetime benefit amount. most of the welfare mothers i met kinky fear being sanction, a very effective form thing of keeping them in line. over all the message of paid work is a very powerful message. so hasn't traded self-sufficiency for welfare mothers? here's where you raise your hand if i think many of you also know the answer to this, and you can guess that if you don't know. as -- so clearly demonstrates, the problems of low-wage work and the additional cost that come with low-wage work often mean that although you look like
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you have a higher level of income, in fact, you'd end up with more material hardship then went on welfare. this means inside the welfare office, but often those women that are considered a success stories of welfare reform, and that there are women who are not off of the roles, and i guess how many of you are readers of the "new york times" with how educated gdp to know that the primary way that welfare reform, success has been defined to pursue the decline of the welfare rolls. so in many cases the so-called success stories of welfare reform look very, look little different than what we might call failures. i'll give you just a few quick examples. no problem. andrea makes $5.75 an hour or
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she has three kids. she pays $450 a month for housing and utilities, 275 for food. this lead with $50 to cover close, transportation, medical, childcare, laundry, school cost, furniture and appliances, and cleaning supplies. this doesn't count cable television and cigarettes, right? she can't make it to her kids don't have the proper shoes. her oldest ones a new outfit for the school year. they turn offer phone last month. she knows she cannot pay her rent this month. andrea is one of the success stories of welfare reform. she has continued to ask for the so-called traditional support that is offered by the welfare office entrance of transportation and childcare, because she would otherwise need
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to leave her children at home alone. but that support is time-limited. she is already greatly in debt. she has used up two years toward her lifetime limit on welfare. then there's maria. maria had five jobs last year. she keeps changing them in hopes of finding something better. something that will, in fact, bracer above the poverty line. she's done housekeeping for a large corporation. she worked at burger king, taco bell, giant food as a clerk. she did housekeeping in a local hotel. housekeeping still pays the best. she's making $7 an hour but she hates it. it's hard and dirty work. it is hard on her back, she tells me. her coworkers slack off and she has to pick up the extra period she doesn't make enough to make ends meet, but she can't quit because none of the other jobs will pay as well.
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sandy, our last success story, have a good job. she was working at the salvation army. she was, i love the syndicate she was especially happy to wore working at the salvation army because it gave her a sense that she was hoping disadvantaged people like herself. she works the night shift. her neighbor was taking care of the kids. she wasn't making enough to make it without continued help from the welfare office but she thought maybe she'd get a raise, navy she could get a second job. and then one of her brothers shot and killed the other brother. that meant one brother was dead, the other was on his way to prison. she fell apart emotionally. she lost her job and disappeared. no one at the welfare office knows where she is, but she is off the welfare rolls. the problem been for most welfare mothers is not getting a job.
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it is finding a job that pays enough to bring them out of poverty and that it is flexible enough to manage the contingencies of raising kids. the odds of finding that job and keeping it, if you are woman with low skills and tickets to care for is not good. so if this doesn't work out so well, maybe you might begin to hope that welfare mothers could just by themselves a good man. he could help pay the bills, help with childcare. life could be better. it turns out that statistically speaking, find a good man and marrying him is a really good way to get off welfare. so what is the welfare off doing to promote this? at first glance you see very little in terms of family values within the welfare office, except for the fact that children are always there. children are a constant family
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presence within the welfare office, constant presence. caseworkers often play with them, tried to calm those were unhappy. the welfare office often looked to me like a big family reunion without the men. but where is the message the family in welfare reform? it is, i get 10 more minutes? it is -- and you guys are staying awake? okay. it is in the antiabortion bonus, and abstinence education programs, in the prosecution of statutory rapists, in the provision of child care funding. and above all, perhaps in the paternity and child support enforcement system that is meant to go after deadbeat dads. just briefly, the law offers a
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$10 million the legitimacy of antiabortion bonus to those states who can bring down the number of children born without raising the abortion rate. you know that. it turned out -- asked me about how it worked out for them to it didn't work out quite the way they hoped, but nowhere in the law is there the slightest hint of funding for birth control. there is, on the other hand, $50 million to which, of course, the present bush administration tends to add or come to add more across the nation to target those populations who are most at risk. it is meant, as the law states, to teach the social and psychological benefits of abstinence. additionally, the law offers funding for programs that enforce, that promote the
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enforcement of statutory rape laws. in fact, the law prefers to the problem of young women that need to be protected against predatory older men. didn't the law brings with it some good news and what looks like good news, a massive influx of childcare dollars. .. families nationwide actually get help and less than one seventh of the low income families who are technically eligible for child care subsidies are actually receiving this. this is because the federal
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government keeps running out of money. and, in fact, as it turns out this is not a big surprise because it is about twice as expensive to subsidize the welfare mothers hence give them the check. most welfare mothers don't actually get the subsidy. then i would love to tell you about the cap but we don't have time for that. the paternity requirements of child support system, here the one place on the surface at least that we see men in the law that is the personal responsibility act. it seems sensible on the surface at least that those fathers who are failing to pay child support
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for their children and their children end up desperately poor make some sense that they should be helping, right? perhaps you can all think, who those men actually are, they are largely poor men. many low-income men now owe, you know, 10, 20, 30, $40,000 in back child support and their annual incomes are $6,000 a year. their failure to pay that back child support means that they are now in prison under federal law. if you can find them, the child support enforcement system for many low-income people has meant that more and more men simply go into hiding to escape the child enforcement authorities.
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this is not because they are bad men, it is because they can make no income if they are jailed. so for many, many low-income women recognized this and they are reluctant to follow through on child support enforcement, but according to the personal responsibility act, if they do not they will be sanctioned off the welfare rolls. this is not to mention those women who are afraid to comply which would leave aside, in any case the attempt to create a sustainable life, family life through the rules and regulations of the welfare office so far have not been highly successful. actually just a couple of days ago i did a debate on mpr in dallas with a conservative from
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the family relations council who believed that the real solution was the continued marriage promotion efforts that are now working their way through the u.s. senate. the idea that marriage would be more systemically promoted within the welfare office is a solution that you can think about some yourself. overall, the results of welfare reform thus far have been discouraging for those of us who were hoping that it might actually help low-income families. what we have seen with the decline of the welfare rolls is that two-thirds of mothers who are now no longer on welfare are nonetheless still living in poverty with their children. large numbers of former welfare recipients have simply
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disappeared off the radar screen, off to places unknown, no one can track their fate so they rarely end up in those national statist call -- statistical renderings although they do show up in the mayor's studies on cities and states across the nation that are now going to the federal government begging for more money because their homeless populations and their hungry populations continue to grow at an alarming rate. so if you look at the reality of welfare reform, over time i suggest, i suggest, i'm blunt, that although it will creep up on us slowly, what we will see in the long run is increasing rates of homelessness, poverty, hunger and every strain on the
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working poor, thousands of additional children will end up in foster care, living with grandparents rather than mothers on the streets or at least in sub standard child care situations. we will see higher crime rates, more prosecution. case workers already noted the rise of children in the foster care system, poor mothers who are not able to support their children than give them to foster children.
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what does this tell us about the possibilities about creating real solutions to problems in working family life today? to the extent that well-thought reform pretends to offer a vision, a full gender equality through the promise of women's independence from both men and employers, it has been abysmal failure. to me i think of the promise of women independence and women's citizenship that, jeez, my mother lived that i grew up with that middle-class women have seen that young college women now expect. the real possibilities of
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women's independence for middle class women have in some ways some with the cost of the difficulties in women's independence for the poor. in thinking about what real solutions and this is close to the ending, i'm almost finished if you're tired. in thinking about real solutions, if you stop to think about welfare mothers themselves told me on the one hand the welfare recipients i met long to be members in the public, they want to achieve in these terms what th marshall called social citizenship. and in this light, they regularly interpret the cultural
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message of welfare reform as the possibility that women could be independent and self-sufficient and it is a message that includes, however, women's independence not just from a welfare check but also women's independence from men. now, at the same time, though, in thinking about the welfare mothers that i talked to, most of them also offer a second side to their dream of future. they long to be two-parent, middle-class, leave-it-to-beaver family. the notion of being independent is not being separated, it simply that they want to survive on their own term.
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but the kind of struggle, the kind of real tug of war that is embedded in those two visions, is a struggle i would argue that is faced by many americans today. >> now, the final portion of our program marking the 20th anniversary of the 1996 welfare law. the speaker is ron haksins, brookings institution senior law fellow who worked on the law as congressional staffer, he discussed at a senate finance committee in 2012, a reminder if you missed any portion of this program you can watch it in its entirety at our website c-span.org. >> i included a figure in my testimony that to me has two big surprises, one is we made virtually no progress against poverty since 1975 despite the fact that we are spending a ton
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more money and poverty among elderly is lower than for children in our society. so those are two exceptionally important facts. we need to buckle down and figure out what to do about poverty and we specially need to concentrate on children. between the state and federal government we spend about a trillion dollars on means tested programs and this number has increased almost every year since 1965. so the idea that we are not spending enough money is probably incorrect. we are spending it poorly, might not focused on the poor, some programs unsuccessful but we are spending about $13,000 for poor person. a lot is on health care, 45% of it but congress decided that's where they wanted to spend the money, unless you want to change that, 45% on the poor. but the nation has made a great commitment to helping the poor and it increases every year. third issue, the causes, i think
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four are specially important. the first is work rates, we are in a long-term decline in work among males in the united states. the work rate among young males specially young black males and i'm referring to before the recession, i don't want to confuse this with the recession, these are before the recession, so we have a real problem with male employment in the united states for reasons that i don't think are very clear. females the opposite is true, females work more, women have joined the labor force, but never married mothers, the most disadvantage, the poorest group of mothers have had a spectacular increase of employment and even today after two recessions the likelihood that they have a job is greater about 20% than it was before welfare reform. so that group is working a lot, still we need to boost work rates. second wages, these are astounding at the bottom of the distribution. our rates in 10 percentile are
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below. we are always going to have 10% of the people below 10%. as long as we don't change, no matter what we do about the minimum wage, it's a real problem to help people get out of poverty. if they work full-time at the minimum wage they still won't be out of poverty. family composition is the fifth horseman of the apocalypse. poverty rates are four to five times, for married couple families and most disadvantaged are never married, 70%, 45% of white children and 42% of all american children are born outside marriage and so their probability of being in poverty is very high. family composition is a huge issue and finally education is a very big issue. i would say that our educational system both at the preschool
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level, k-12 and post secondary needs a lot of work. i wouldn't say it's a failure. the most promising is preschool. i will talk about that in a minute. let me talk about a few strategies to fight poverty. and i want to preface my remarks that responsibility is a key here. if people don't make better choices no matter what you do when we are in congress, we are still going to have a big problem with poverty. we have to do something about people's decisions to drop out of school, decisions to work, decisions to get married before people have -- before they have children. so the first strategy and doesn't mean it's not hard to understand is give them money. that's what we do to the elderly. we have elderly poverty rate by marely as a result of social security which is something that congress did. that strategy will not work with
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young able-bodied american. the second strategy to encourage people to work and subsidize income. i will point out to the committee this is a bipartisan solution. on the one hand tough requirements, on the other hand generous work support. i would say we pass at least 40 pieces of legislation over the period starting roughly in early 1980's to make our system more friendly to working families. that's no longer the case. the two other strategies -- we need to emphasize work and we need to maintain the work support system. child tax credit and so support. two other things that i mentioned in passing, education, we should pro cus on preschool, high-quality of precool can make a difference. it's not controversial for the federal congress to be involved in preschool because it has been
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for so long. the child care that we spend a lot of federal dollars on is a hard of the problem because it's of average quality or worse and that's where we can make progress, child care. we have lots of strategies, we can reduce teen pregnancy, we have reduced teen pregnancy every year since '91 excerpt for two years. even in the 20-somethings, more comprehensive family service and mass advertising campaigns and teen pregnancy programs i mentioned. if we spent more money on the three programs we would reduce nonmarital birthrates. >> as we wrap up the 1996 welfare law 20 years later we are joined again by max of the washington post. it was reported that hillary clinton support for the '96 welfare law hurt her friendship
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with children's defense founder marian at the time. why is that and what might we expect to see from a president hillary clinton on the welfare issue? >> well, of course, the bill was very controversial at the time president clinton signed and, in fact, marian's husband pete resigned from his position in the clinton administration in protest and so there was acr, -- acrimony and it's difficult to say because clinton said that he would like to increase federal minimum wage which could improve wages for people who are working but not making much money and clinton has always said that she would like to limit expenses on child care to about 10% of any
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family's income and as a result of that if that policy were enacted, people with very little in the wave income would have substantial subsidies from the federal government in order to make sure their kids are taken care of while they are working and that sort of policy will help them make ends meet. >> if donald trump wins election in november, what can we see out of trump administration welfare weapon wise? >> that is is a very good question, of course, donald trump's positions on these issues have changed throughout the course of the campaign and so it is difficult to predict what source of policies he might enact if he's elected. however, trump and paul ryan the speaker of the house have indicated some willingness to cooperate on these issues and paul ryan has a number of very detailed ideas on how the country's public assist ains system should be reformed. if paul ryan is able to convince
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donald trump to take an interest in his ideas you can imagine that trump might endorse paul ryan's proposal to turn over administration such as food stamps to state governments and paul ryan argues that giving the states control over how the programs were administered would allow the state to solve the kinds of problems that people in poverty experience on a daily basis because state governments, ryan, believes, have a better understanding of unique challenge that is people in those areas confront in terms of getting ahead in life. of course, on the other side, democrats tend to oppose paul ryan's idea of creating a block grant as it's called and turning that money over to the states because they don't entirely trust state officials to administer the money in a way that's fair and that puts the interest of america's poor first.
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>> you mentioned house speaker paul ryan. who else is driving the conversation either in house or senate on welfare reform or ideas regarding welfare? >> that is a very good question. obviously, i think one has to mention senator bernie sanders who ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the democratic nomination and i think in addition to that, one might mention some other liberal members of congress such as rosa delora and others, but it does remain to be seen because, of course, the composition of congress next year will be different and so who will be a leader in that group and -- and who will remain in their seats, i think those are all open questions still. >> max ehrenfreund, thank you
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for joining us. >> thank you. >> president obama is in baton rouge, louisiana touring flooded areas to help those from the recent storms. he's scheduled to make a statement in about half an hour. c-span will have coverage at about 1:00 p.m. eastern time. >> a panel discussion with authors and educators about race relations examining relationship between police and the african-american community, urban radio networks washington bureau april ryan and author of the presidency in black and white moderates the discussion. other panelists include princeton eddy, author of democracy in black and julie,
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bennett college for women and author are we better up, race, obama and policy. victoria christopher murray, author of stand your ground, ending racism in post racial america. watch live tonight at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> throughout this month we are showing book tv programs during the week in prime time in case you're not familiar with features book tv take public affairs programming and focuses on the latest nonfiction books. live three-hour look at one author's book. in-depth air it is first sunday of every noon -- month at noon
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eastern. an often with opposing viewpoint. after words airs saturdays. book tv is the only national network devoted exclusively to nonfiction books. book tv on c-span2. television for serious readers. >> the hill reporting a short time ago that the house oversight committee is increasing pressure on the fbi to hand over additional details related to hillary clinton's use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state. in a letter on monday committee chairman jason chaffetz asked fbi director james comey for additional information about the presence of classified information on the system of personal machines clinton used.
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what we are asking the fbi in a letter today to do is create unclassified version and release that to the public. chaffetz said on fox news monday. let's go ahead and get that out there sooner rather than later. >> up next entrepreneurs and experts from the tech industry talk about trends and new products. in this portion the founders of four square plus discussion of one of the stars of the nbc tv show the office who helped create the list app. this is part of the tech crunch technology and innovation conference held in new york city in may. >> you go first. >> thank you. >> hi, i'm katie with tech crunch and denise here, his wife
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is about to have a baby any moment. >> i put my phone right here where i can see it just in case. >> okay. >> all right. i understand. that's kind of a big deal. so we have jeff the incoming -- the new ceo. so what's the chance over the years, and you are also data company now and we will get to all that but i wanted to talk to you about your new rolls so as executive chairman i wanted to find out are you still involved with the day-to-day, how are things different than before. >> yes, i'm day-to-day at the company. tons of things going on in the consumer side and business side and enterprise side and i'm still there trying to make sure that we get to focus on the things that represent the reasons that we start it had
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company and so a big reason for the role switch as it turns into the amazing business that we know it would be come, jeff is an extremely talented leader and he's running the day-to-day operations and making sure we are true and our achieving our objectives. >> how would foursquare differ under your leadership? >> i joined a little more than 18 months ago and we started taking these amazing consumer apps and trying to make them better and bring back the magic but we have also set a goal to be a hundred million dollar profitable business in the next couple of years and we see the direct path to that. part of it is earning our way in the world by figuring out how we create a sustainable business so we can keep investing in great consumer products and innovating. we have built in the last two years, we have built enterprise and media products that last year grew 160% in revenue and
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they're the majority of revenue to the company. we all come to work every day thinking about how to guide people to the next great, the burrito places or incredible ice cream place. that's what gets us up every morning we also know that we have investorsed and we raised 45 million with morgan stanley, square ventures and others. so that's the balance that dennis and i have have been cooperating onto build a successful business and keep inventing the future of how mobile change it is real world and your ability to discuss the real word or play a game in the real world. >> you found interesting use cases for data, it turns out that people tell you where they are going and everywhere -- you
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know a lot about them, so you accurately predict it had decline in sales because of e. coli scare, what are you using the data for exactly? >> we have a whole sweet of analytics products. when we predicted how many iphones apple would sell based on foot traffic to apple stores, we predicted that mcdonalds would have an enormous profits, so we are helping all kinds of people understand what's happening in the real world. it's easy because all of us work in tech to forget that 93% of all consumer spending happens in the real world. e-commerce is about 7%.
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there isn't a cookie in the real world. we have this chance but also be the nielsen of the real world and understand and base products on that. we are able to see how traffic changes where a bunch of academics in the uk were using foursquare data to predict which neighborhood would gentrify and how neighborhoods change. all the cultural trends from the real world we are able to capture. you can't paying your how to build profitable business in 120 countries, then you should go home. >> sit from the backgrounds -- i'm sure some people are wondering how is there added venue?
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>> you're talking about programs? >> sure, one of the things that we are proud about that we have built in the last four or five years is a technology called pilgrim, a piece of code that you can put on a device and depending on where the device we can figure out where it is and where it's been. that piece of technology is how do we learn about the place that is you've been to so we can make smarter recommendations, that piece of technology makes it whenever you go check in on swarm, with know e exactly the place where you've been. we are able to give them this ability to basically snap the place all of the time and running the services in the background is really what's powering this tremendous source of data which jeff is talking about is feeding our analytic tools. a big part of value proposition to partners and advertisers and developers that we work with is that we built this technology that allows people to understand this in the background. >> and i would just add for those who are trying to
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understand how big foursquare is and our ambition, you don't have to be a foursquare user to understand, we have hundreds of thousands of apps now and because of our understanding of the shape of 105 million places around the world, you know, if an advertiser like nike wants to find 18 million americans who work out three times a week or go running every morning and reach to them, you know, we can enable that foursquare users and nonfour hsquare users. and if burger king wants to figure out who is addicted to mcdonalds, we can enable that and we can measure whether the ads work. thanks to pilgrim and crowd source shapes the world, the media business is growing like crazy, third of the fortune 500
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consumer brands advertising on digital and online through foursquare. >> with all this new revenue are you profitable yet? >> when we raised 45 million in january, we set a goal to be 100 million-dollar business in the next few years. years. >> we understand that it was significantly lower evaluation than in previous rounds in the past, why is that? >> the foursquare app would grow up and be a facebook, a twitter, snapchat, what we started realizing a couple of years ago that doesn't the destiny to the apps. the destiny to make these things for people to love. and so when we went back and
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started talking to investors about what is this business, what is the business, how is it evolving, what jeff and i have been talking about with the rest of the foursquare team is how can we build amazing apps, interesting insights of what's going on in the real world and how can we monetize the data through relationships with developers, enterprises and advertisers. that's been working out fantastically well for us. as far as profits we had to do reset on expectation of evaluation but i feel like we are in a really good spot. >> yeah, we were able to think about the business the way you think about a public company, you know. real revenue, real business now growing fast. before it was valued on the early hyperand so we feel comfortable. smart investors like morgan stanley and others putting -- even square ventures and others, they weren't going to invest unless they can triple their
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money. it's a testament to the success of the last 20 months of the business growing and the heart of this environment -- i know start-ups out there unless you're showing real traction and you have potential you're not able to raise big round in these terms so we are really proud of the team and how far we have come. >> what are you planning to do with the new funding, i understand you might expand to asia, you have some announcements? >> yeah. something to note is we -- thanks to the funding, we have actually hired 35 people both here in new york and san francisco, so for the representative of the city, we continue to be a made in new york company and we headquartered in soho. we've added top people in companies like apple and others and we are opening offices in asia. we have a ton of customers in
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asia, folks that have built up, samsung is a customer, grab taxi is a customer. generally we are going back and forth between singapore and shanghai. the 45 million is letting us staff up in engineering and enterprise sales so we can get the word out and growing at the pace we are growing. >> worth noting that we are continuing to hire and so if you have interesting foursquare.com and check it out. >> you're expanding to asia, does foursquare do well in asia from a consumer perspectsnif what regions are people using swarm in? >> we have seen growth all over the world. we have been doing this what seven years now. latin america, brazil, russia, eastern europe, southeast asia
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have all been extremely great, very big, very quickly growing for us. and so it's funny because a lot of companies just focus on the u.s. and a big chunk that's happening is happening outside of the u.s. >> yeah, like a twitter or facebook or lots of other companies, the internet is global, mobile phones are the internet outside of the u.s. for the most part in many parts of the world and so, you know, we have users in over 110 countries, like dennis mentioned like turkey, méxico and russia and japan and korea and others but a lot of what we are aiming to do is find those passionate explorers who love mapping the world and discovering new places or playing the swarm game and we can get a few percent of every society to participate, then, you know, a samsung or a, you
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know, or a wii-chat or others are using the mapping technology that we provide the way twitter does. twitter in scores of countries, you tweet and you tag that tweet and that's power by foursquare. you tag a pin on pinterest you are using foursquare data and technology, to identify where that photo was taken and snap it. we are doing all those services for a bunch of asian developers like samsung and ten cents and others and that's what jeremy is going to be focused on, the enterprise usage of technology footprint. >> when it comes to consumers, what do you think users are using foursquare for these days? are you emphasizing the games again? >> each app has its own personality, right, what we have realized is that when you make swarm the fastest and easiest way to check in, just something fun to do during the day,
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earning coins as well as the life-blogging tool. people love that. a corky personality and we are at 9 billion check-ins overall and 8 million check-ins every day and that's tre tremendous amount of data that the company can put to work. it's the same story since the beginning. how do we lead people to amazing experiences and how do we do that whether they are actively searching for something and we can ping them and says i'm supposed to go to this place across the street because foursquare told me to do that. really we're at best building a lot of those types of services and foursquare and swarm continue to do that. >> you mentioned that there will be 9 billion check-ins on sworn and 50 million active userrers both foursquare apps combined; is that correct?
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>> and the website. >> you may have heard that a lot of people say that after you split the apps that some people didn't switch over to the new app, was that the right decision in hindsight? would you have done anything differently or was that the right direction? >> i think the splitting the apps is definitely the right decision. the app was getting complicated and we have two stories and now we have two stories for two apps and works really well. the only thing we would do differently i think we did a lousy job explaining our thinking and this app is for this and this app is for this. if i had to do over maybe a little better job on the messaging. you know what, that was 18 months ago or maybe longer than that, if you look at the numbers, how satisfy it had users seem to be all those rebounded. >> i would just add last year we really focused on bringing the magic back to swarm. some of the magic that made the foursquare game so compelling
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and in the u.s. we tripled the check-ins per user last year and some of it was bringing back the coins but the team had fun dialing the nature of it and triple x stickers and if you visit enough coffee shops or cocktail bars, there's all kinds of little games that you'll see this year but we are all-time high global daily check-ins so we are thrilled but definitely a dip during the split. i arrived as the split was being implemented so i can't say i was there for it, but i understand now deeply as we talk to consumers the value of a city guy that gets to know you when you're in a new neighborhood or a new restaurant, it doesn't have to be a game, a great guide to explorers versus for people who want to have the social game experience out in the real world and be inspired to try new places and share locations that
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swarm is. they each have deepened their experience either as a game or as a city guide and so it's ultimately both are growing but it did take a hit for a while. >> there was initial decline but you're increasing engagement these days. i saw you had cool partnerships, you can deliver, delivery.com, you can get food and also alcohol, but there's so many different delivery businesses already why would people go to foursquare beyond the others out there? >> i think we have a bunch of partnerships like uber, open table. i think it was lauren -- it was less than people would use it and make it more convenient for them. i don't think that's a huge growth for us, we constantly think how to make the apps more useful. open table is a great partner but it's very hard to search for
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a restaurant on open table personally, i find and so if you have all of the recommendations from foursquare which knows the places you love to go, you know, knows my wife like organic farm to table, learns that my in-laws love love steak and potatoes and tailors where they go, when they go pick a restaurant that's all more convenient book it through open table. >> so much more i want to ask but just one last question, future foursquare get to be acquired some day, possible, possible? >> well, a big part of what we do with the financing is to get the company on this road to be a strong independent company and that's starting to happen specially with all of the leadership, we found a business that works really well and consumer apps are doing really well. if we are back up here in a couple of months there was always opportunities for people to say, well, would you actually
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go and work for other companies, we have conversations from time to time but a big part of raising financing is let's go and make this business work. >> good luck in your new role and congrats on being an almost father. >> thanks, katie. [applause] >> i will check in with you guys later. yeah. thank you. thank you. four of you, i will be signing babies later. our next is somebody who i am really excited about because everybody has tv show -- i'm okay. everybody has tv shows that are comfort food for them like the one you have playing in the background all of time. for me that's the office and we have bj novak in the house.
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please welcome to the stage bjnovak and dez with our moderator greg. [applause] >> all right. >> hey, everybody. so i think jordan kind of covered it but just to recap jeff and bj novak cofounders of the list app. bj is a stand-up comedian and author and you probably know him best as a writer, executive producer and costar on the office. so thank you, guys, thanks for coming out here. >> thanks. >> so elevator pitch dial, one or two sentences what is the list app? >> first of all, as we are announcing today we are now list. we decide today drop the, the
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and app. the idea is that people can communicate in this extremely elemental form of communications. we all have lists in our head and our phone and we have our whole life in this easy to communicate format that for some reason people haven't had a easy way to share. so this is a smart creative friendly substantive social way to communicate through the list. >> okay, what makes it special, what makes it something that nobody else can do? >> well, other people here could do it, i think what makes it special is the people and i think a very simple form that dev can take a lot of credit for and therefore invited a lot of people that are really making up this incredible community of very diverse not only diverse people but diverse areas of humor and of personality and, you know, people that you do
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know saying i'm expecting things. i think we give a form of it, i think, you know, i won't take a bow on behalf of deb and the team but the community is what makes it special. >> when we first started we weren't sure who -- it wasn't driving you too hard down one specific vertical like places, tv, books, thoughts, opinions whatever it might be. it's a basic simple template and just kind of key what happens. we had some ideas of whether it would be a mix toward more practical or self-expression but we didn't know but i think what's really cool is something interesting when you don't have to think about some facts and
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just asking the very simple question, greg, how was your day today, tell me what happened, and asking to list in paragraph structure and makes it so much easier and you kind of -- it lets you write and gets your thoughts out. >> just to get people a little more context, what are some of your favorite lists, what are are some of the things that people are actually making in it that you actually enjoy? >> sure, one that happened, one of our friend's, jack made a list, exact title, i'm going paraphrase it but reasons i miss my mother. his mother died and it was a very thoughtful, heart felt list about why mother's day was hard for him and how it was all centered around not having someone to talk to while he was driving. it's the thing in la. we need something to do while you drive. it ranges from personal
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emotional lists on that spectrum towards, you know, very kind of fun but still personal but practical lists like my wife hallie makes of all her favorite hikes and photograph various places along the hikes, here is are some cool spots to check out. so whether it's practical or not, there's this very intrinsic personal vibe to most. >> you can imagine the different directions they goo when you have people trying. aza who many will pretend not to have heard of she made a list how to prepare for work. it was extremely interested the physical stuff and emotional stuff that you go through before that. if you ask anyone in the room can you write me a quick essay often what was it was on the way
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to disrupt, are you serious? if you can just list your thoughts it comes out very easy. i think that's why we expect it to be more practical but, in fact, it's more personal. you're actually saying a lot about you and that is what comes out in the margins even of a recommendation list. >> so i know that you guys have some news. you mentioned the rebranding with the dot in the middle there. what else was there? >> today we are live on android. today we just launched a fully functional android application so tell all -- >> is that live now? >> live now on the play store. >> very cool. how did you two meet? >> blind date. [laughter] >> i guess the tech version of a blind date, i had the basic idea, you know, as we kind of opened with, we love lists, every time you talk to someone
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and say i'm working on a list, i love list, why is there not a place for our lists. i thought i was pretty much done and i asked around hey, is there someone that you know that -- i asked every friend in tech, do you know anyone that could build this with me and i realized very quickly it's like finding a spouse or a show runner in tv. it's the hardest task in the world to cofounder. i met people who introduced me to people who introduced me to people and i found this person that i knew like a spouse or show runner, okay, this is the guy, how do i convince him? so we met in new york. >> what was that like, dev? it was pretty much out of the blue and i will be totally honest i'm not a huge tv person and i asked my wife who bj novak
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was and she told me. [laughter] >> and i had never seen the office and so, yeah, we met up and we just -- i don't know, we immediately kind of bonded just like personally, like we were both wearing the same watch and ordered the same scotch and i don't know, we kind of gel there and the thought the idea. the thing that struck me and excited me was the idea that, you know, the list has totally redefined publishings but i don't think there's been anything that's taken enough that's really explored. exploring the ugc and creating a platform in a community where people can take that form and kind of be a version of their own for themselves with the same sort of cierk that will you surround with on twitter or on instagram and i don't know, i just had that basic concept in my head by the end of the dinner
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and i was like, it sounds great. >> i would also say as a celebrity, you tend to be treated as an idiot or genius. here was somebody who treated me like a guy with a pretty good idea who wasn't great yet. >> do you think in your case as being a celebrity helped or hurt you? >> i think it's helped in terms of it opens doors and people will pick up the phone but it doesn't get you that far. i think it opens the door and there's a whole array of bouncers at the door and then you have to actually have something to door but it definitely opens doors. >> do you have many people weary because you're a celebrity? okay, cool. i will slap my face on that or my name on that. >> i was extremely self-conscious about that reputation and i wanted to this
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-- i wanted to do my homework and be ready to be the least smart person in the room. i think if you follow those two principles when you enter a new field that's a good as you can start out. so i was very conscious of not being that and of really building it and trying it before we even talked about it, really getting some where first. so i -- if anything was oversensitive to that because i do see people think that things will be easy and i'm from the background to assume it will be hard. >> okay. so the app launched at the end of last year so almost six months. how long were you working on it before launch? >> we started talking about in the beginning -- late 2000 -- >> 2015. >> we were in private data for a while. about seven or eight months and we grew out the community quite slowly over the course of that
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time and people, you know, in stages invited their friends and expanded that way and just like inviting, inviting, inviting. and that translate intoed something really cool because it left this community kind of build its strength and positivity and what's been really exciting and awesome to see is it hasn't missed a step since going live, that personality and positivivity really has held through public launch and growth. >> and creativity too. >> yeah. >> right before you launched, you had a pretty substantial user base of celebrities just right out of the gate they were there. how was that coordinated? >> i asked the people that i knew that, you know, if eight or ten celebrities on, they tend to get recognized. it wasn't a disproportionate number but it was fun to have private data with a bunch of
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celebrities walking around. it was like a party where you recognize some of the people there and i think it really helped set the tone looking back of a really equal community where i didn't feel like people were unauthentic, there was no one publicist making a list, there was no fear that lena dunham is going to get harassed or anything. at that point it was a very small group and then eventually when it got bigger the attitude still maintained. >> has having the celebrity helped in the launch run, did they stick around? >> it's the same as before, it's great to open the door, it's exciting to hear that anthony bourdain posting, once you get there he's making a list of famous spy novels and not famous restaurants. it's great, i'm proud of all these people. it's not like i went through and just picked everyone out of a magazine.
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andy kohen is a smart, funny guy. it's not like there was any other thing behind that but i think that that spirit -- yeah, it's exciting of people you recognize that at the end of the day it's like anything else, it will not take you the distance at all. >> i think it also while the celebrity has been a huge part of it, i think it's really representative of what's crazy cool about the platform is that these people you have some understanding from and largely on a surface level and you see the list they're making, way more in-depth of who they really are and speaks to the type of expression that the platform brings out in everybody. i think when you can pose it with an idea that you have previously of someone it makes it all the most stark. >> i think it set the tone of
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who is on that i already know. a lot of the celebrities were writer and creative people and funny people and that helped set a tone of that being the community. >> sure. >> i think these folks have a tendency to -- their big penalties and so it can seem that they're a large e part of the communities than they are. they are really at the end of the day, i don't know maybe 200, maybe 250, 300 people of note that are actually on the platform and even in data was like 6,000 folks so a pretty small part of that pie. >> so you guyed mentioned a couple of number of how many people on the platform and lists, can you repeat those? >> upwards of 250,000 counting lists made, about 150,000 users and, yeah. >> okay. >> it's early days. >> so you're already on iowa, now you're on android, what's next? >> that's another thing we want
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to mention, my goal is launch a web product. >> web-creation product? >> whole suit of capabilities. >> we hear that web is the new mobile. that's also the name change to list and we didn't want it to be an app anymore. >> got it. >> it made so much sense, tells us what could be done when you can actually be at work and you can actually have some time or search, et cetera. we're excited about it. >> and also just timeshare. there's times when it makes more sense to be on your laptop. >> sure. >> how has the product changed for your users? what have you learned from them? what product changes have you made as a result of what they're telling you? >> we talked about it earlier, but the biggest thing has just been how much self-expression is
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like the core use of this product. people expressing something that is in some way emotional and that can be raw, that can be very positive, but there's just like very often if you read a list, there's a very solid chance it's going to have some thing to do with me expressing like emotion, expressing how i'm feeling, my thoughts are in a positionate way and we tried to embrace the strength of the community, i guess and we are always trying to come up with new ways that people can get expose today new people that they might like, get exposed to lists that they might like because we see that the digital connections are very strong that they're making with each other.
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a bunch of people are going to read their lives. the idea it's a very expressive form. that's kind of our resources have been headed more. i think at the beginning if you ask us to predict what would be six months out there may be more of an emphasis on if you type in the movie it should auto fill which a lot of places do and we may have someday but it's much more i than an expressive community everything we've been listening to that. >> with regards to making transitions, could this be a new platform, people writing copy list and bringing them on stage, is this -- >> my favorite reform is at the last list live show in l.a., this guy, dennis flynn, i never heard of him before, met him when he came out to do this. if you look them up on the platform, all he does is, it's
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an internal monologue, fox of a children's birthday party, magician she realizes me trick the rabbit in his that has died. it's like -- the crowd loved it. that's a great piece of talent. there's really some incredible people. we will bring that out on monday. >> sounds good. you guys on a podcast. i'm going to read this right off the card because i don't want to misquote you. you said the way people -- agency like this glamorous cool thing. isn't as glamorous as you thought? >> it is to me because to me ideas are front and center.
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i think being starstruck by someone who's actually inventing the future, so from sidewalk labs, like that to me so much were interesting and sometimes slightly different take on a horror movie, you know? it's really in a way that is being trimmed in real-time. i think it's way more glamorous. >> i can totally see that. i was like i have nothing to say to this man. i am so, like shocked and unable to think of anything to say. >> what's the in game? what is success with this project? is it making a profitable big thing? is a building every tool community. what point did go all right what does a really good job? >> when the website crashes. >> i think for me if this was a place where everyone thought a
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list come in a list this is something about themselves or show something they want to share of 11 on a product level, the best place to put any lives. we got great advice. i asked if we come in and talk and get advice because we had mark pincus. his advice was think about independent of the product, what is the list that, ma it continues you can recognize a product about what would it be. we all thought it would be structured of self-expression to whatever that means to people, if the destruction of self-expression easier, to us i think the best place in the world for that and that means assonance has, a list. i think if this were the best place for everyone to put their thoughts, feelings, ideas, advice, whether it's best to do order at this restaurant or
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thoughts on being a widow. if it's all here, i think it would be a wonderful place to explore. >> is it a business eventually? do you care about the? >> we are talking about creating something very valuable so there will be a way to figure how to make that very valid with the right now i think we're focusing on creating something we know in our hearts is valuable. >> obviously that's something we think about the right now trying to stay focused on just building a product that people really love in keeping this community as strong as it can be as it grows. >> i looked around a little bit. i couldn't find it. have you raised any money for this? >> we raised a seed round last may. >> can you disclose how much? >> yeah, we raised $2 million. >> cool. >> so ample. >> what sort of lives tend to be the most popular? visit the western celebrities?
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is a really good stuff from users? >> i would break it out by nearly that way. whether some celebrity or not, and more often than not it is not, it has to be personal i find. like it has to be personal and revealing the it has to be a little bit like putting yourself out there, being vulnerable. i think what people are really excited about is the response they get from that. i call social media trade and currency. some form of currency. what i think is great and refreshing here is that that currency is authenticity, is being truthful, being more expressive, putting yourself out there and can helping people look at you i suppose. that's what people are being rewarded for and i think that's what they really are doing about it. >> so one less question. we will end with a fun one. so is michael scott ends up being the boss on the office, everybody who doesn't know, if
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michael scott made a list, what would be on it? >> he would probably tag 99 different people and ask if they would like to be his friend. >> that sounds right. >> like reasons i'm the best boss. >> i never stopped having ideas for the office and i've made a couple lists for office ideas that i wish we could have done post-2012. beats by dwight, like the headphones that i wish we could've done that. i wish we could've done a snowden inspite episode where ryan releases and joint information. i'm glad you asked because once you write, i think characters always live inside you. >> thanks so much. >> thank you. [applause]
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♪ ♪ >> and now a live look at river basin management with officials who oversee mekong river basin in southeast asia and experts consume a similar issues here in the u.s. this event at the stimson center just about to start a couple of reminders coming up later today, today on q&a it's a journalist amy goodman, host and executive producer, a daily news program democracy now! for the last 20 years. she has co-authored a book looking back at some of the stories and people per show is covered over that time. we have that for you tonight at 6:00 eastern. at 7 p.m. a live discussion on race in the news, politics and american culture including the rights of racial incidents,
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their origins and possible solutions. authors and commentators offer the thoughts from politics & prose bookstore here in washington. that's at 7 p.m. eastern. this event getting started shortly. live coverage this afternoon you on c-span2. right now on c-span president obama in louisiana talking about the floods there. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon and welcome everyone to the stimson center. i see a lot of new faces as well
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as old faces a. it's a great pleasure not only that you but to have such a distinguished panel with us today. we are especially pleased to have dr. phan, the new ceo from the mekong river commission to the side of their commission, the corps of engineers, district of columbia and other parts of our establishment are also well represented. and aaron salzberg who i'm going to turn this over to briefly from the state department. he's senior water advisor at the state. he has worked for years and years on me can't issues and other major river systems. we are delighted to have him back as well.
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so my job in a way is to welcome you and to try to get out of the way as soon as possible because we have a large panel, and we have about an hour and a half to work with. but i just want to make just a couple comments. one about the stimson. we are non-government nonprofit and nonpartisan definitely. we can't many on foundation. all of our work or who ever finds it is put up a website and nothing would produce a ghost to anyone in any way other than being posted openly on our website, and for that reason a recent survey has been done, probably read some of them in the post or the times, that stimson came out, we were awarded a score of five out of
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five for transparency. the other thing about stimson is we are kind of a moderately sized think tank. our previous president and ceo used to talk about us as a kind of boutique think tank. i'm not sure that's the word i was used these days but we do focus, we pride ourselves on much, more on how we do it then exactly what we do. but in terms of the what we do, we have been around for 27 years now, but start more as a center focused on security, foreign policy issues. these days, i say these days, in the last decade or so we have moved much more into the area of transboundary issues as we're going to be discussing today. and also so-called nontraditional security issues which are also relevant including human security, food security, water security, all
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those other things that are important to security of countries and their people. so just a couple contacts i wanted to mention. first is, this is the first time we've ever had a program -- [inaudible] both of which are mrc, and in addition the first time we've had a ceo of the mekong river commission year, and some other distinguished visitors and participants. that's very important. the rivers are both some of the world's most important rivers, everybody knows i think. so for instance, on annual discharge, and i hope wikipedia was right on this, but basically the mississippi river we're talking about 16,000 plus cubic
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meters annually. and mekong 14,600 they are fairly proper insights in terms of the discharge. the other thing is that they are both a muddy river to the mississippi river has always been called big muddy. we could call a mekong big muddy as a because they both have high volumes of sediment that they carry from their beginnings to their delta's. the other thing is related to that, both delta's are very under great stress, partly of course climate change and sealevel rise but also an even more important in the short term infrastructure that has been constructed upstream with the dams, locks and dams, garages and other things.
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mekong is still not as developed as some countries would like it to be, plan for it to be, so there's only, there are six dams now in china that operational. large, megasized dams, hydropower dams, and that's primarily, to dams are now under construction in laos. and both of those dams, the mekong dams are high dams. they should be by and large lower dams better organize, designed more for flood control or river traffic to support river traffic, whereas mekong we have not very much river traffic except in northern part in southern china, but, and in the delta area in cambodia.
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but the fisheries are extremely important. so food security is a huge issue with regard to mainstream dance and other kinds of infrastructure. one irony or one interesting difference though is the transport on mississippi river is very much about food security, the transport of food, come out of the grain belt, the breadbasket of the u.s. in midwest. and getting it to the international as well as national ports. whereas the mekong, food security is much more involved with tens of millions of people directly dependent on the river for their own security, their livelihoods, and for the economies of the countries. mekong is the second most biologically rich river after
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the amazon, which is a much, much bigger river. so enough of that from me, and again, welcome to all of you, and our panel. i'm going to turn it over to aaron salzberg first who is actually known all the people on the panel for a long time, and he will take it on. thanks, aaron. >> again, my name is aaron salzberg, special credit for want of the u.s. department of state and it really is my great pleasure to be able to do this panel today. for two reasons. one, this is a critically important issue. i think all of you came to because you know that already. sorry, i pushed it away. but the fact that so many lives depend on this river system and the importance of this river system to supporting economic development, local livelihoods, peace is good at the region is jusused critically important and could afford to all of us.
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a great issue. also because this past week, which alluded to this, partnership that exists between the mekong river commission and the mississippi river commission. we had with support from the army corps of engineers, the is department of state were able to bring some of the mekong river commission folks out to actually see some of the projects and programs going on in the mississippi so they could experience firsthand what some of our challenges are and how we work to involve local communities in our decision-making. we are grateful to the corps of engineers who helped put that work off but we are able to capitalize on their being here to bring dinner today. i think it is everybody in a minute. of course, the second reason, this is a great panel. fortunately, i just had lunch with these two and you will be incredibly pleased with the type of conversation you can have with these two gentlemen. i think it's remarkable. and second, you've got my mentor over here on the right, one of
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my former bosses on the left and you've got actually i don't think gar jerry remembers when e first started engaging each other, 15 years ago. it's a real pleasure for me. but what i would is all introduced the panelists very quickly. i will turn it over to her two colleagues from the region first to get some opening remarks if they would like to, and then turn it over to her of the panelists at the open it up to conversation. but it really is an opportunity for you and we really hope to have a nice open and fund dialogue. so without further -- you have the bios i think. i am seeing god's. i won't go through it all. -- nods. to my left is dr. phan, chief executive officer of the mekong river commission and he is the first ceo of the mrc that is from the region. this is something we've all been advocating for for decades and maybe.
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so it's wonderful to see him. we are very pleased revenue today. to my right also doctor, deputy director general of the history of natural resources and a private from laos but also the represented on the mrc for laos. i think both of them will have a lot to contribute. to my far right is eugene stakhiv, a water reserves a system engineer for over four years at the army corps of engineers, now i guess river basin planner, and generic and international joint commission, works with kim and i with johns hopkins. and to my near left is willem brakel, commissioner of the district of columbia on the interstate commission on the potomac river basin and he is in a barbato scientist, teacher, career diplomat.
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i'm very excited to see as he's leaving the state department we talked about doing careers on water and lo and behold he's got next career in one of which is wonderful to see. and jerry at the foreign, jerry bisson, he holds the rank of minister counselor and the senior foreign service and as a director of technical services and usaid is asia bureau. is responsible for delivering technical assistance, in a tie range of issues, everything from and private, governance, trade, education, trade, health for usaid and over 21 countries. so a great set of experience at the table. i hope you can all take advantage of that. if you don't i will. made i will turn over to you, first come if you like to make any opening comments. >> i'm really, how to say, surprised and kind of ambushed by this. i wasn't prepared for this. i think i have a colleague here,
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right? if i'm not mistaken. i have your support. i'm first president and ceo and thai binh, my job only seven months so i hope i can entertain all the questions you have for me, but i'm a little bit nervous today, if i can answer them all. however, i will try to do my best. so with that, i just want to turn over to doctor. >> before i turn it over made i will start with a conclusion because -- >> please do. >> why did you take this job? [laughter] >> this is the question that many people ask me, and i difficulty to answer. actually i was working in private industry in 2010, and i
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saw the job announcement and then i said, well, i was not very happy with my company owner so i said, well, i'm looking for something else. so it started from that. but then when i got an offer i said, well, i was looking in new york before, working and also just yesterday i passed by my office 23 years ago on connecticut avenue. i didn't feel very much that i wanted to take the job, but however, actually i think it is good for the region. and i am -- i think that's the main how does a driver that's what i take this job. >> if you haven't seen his bio you should really read through it. as someone who is also at a very disparate set of career
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experiences, working on water issues i've always said is harder than putting a man on the moon. i firmly believe that the active rocket scientist i can get away with that. but you should see his backroom. if anybody has a backup to tackle some of these challenges the mrc is facing, i think dr. phan is that person. >> thank you. >> doctor, did you want to start with any comments? >> just introduce myself. actually i was working with the department before under agriculture and forestry, so that i served as mekong river commission for six years. so i turned back to the ministry
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of natural resources and department. now i can -- now acting as secretary-general of laos ministry so that in the time i just knew for this position but mekong river commission is not new to me because i was there for six years, so i'm quite comfortable -- [inaudible] regarding mekong river commission. thank you very much for inviting me here. >> thank you. you been with the mrc now for six years. from your perspective, the perspective of laos in particular, what do you see as the strongest benefit that the mrc brings to laos? >> okay. and spent sorry, i will give you
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guys time, too, but i am kind of curious. >> first of all, i'm glad to share with you that mekong river commission is what they call international organization, on behalf of all countries working together. because in each country we have national mekong committees sectors so we're working closely with their embassies, embassy is here. so it's a very good that we have some kind of thing that knowledge, what you call that? planning on playing up basically urban planning. developed by the mekong river commission, good thing that the nation can share and cooperation in working together based on what we have planned in each five years. for example, now we have completed --
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[inaudible] we are implementing the plan for each country to implement. so that's the good thing that local community, local, each country they can learn from them. not only support the finding, capitol building on the mekong river commission. >> great. >> but i just please -- something i neglected to say in the introduction which is very important, and that is the mekong river commission is involved, sorry, for countries of the lower mekong, laos, cambodia, vietnam and thailand. it was created in 1995 after many years of a previous organization which is namely run by under in a national auspices.
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in fact, at one point under u.s. auspices way back in the cold war days. and this agreement, mekong the court of 1995, was the countries coming together and agree to cooperate on development and protections of the river, and in sharing of the water. over the years it had its struggle to do this because you've got one huge issue, and that is each country is sovereign. there is no veto on what can be built on the river by any other country. and each country has a different plans and needs, requirements of the river. and in addition you've got china up in the north, and tibet where the river rises. just going its own way, china
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has built now i mentioned six really large megasized in some of the world's largest dams in the world that have affected the flow of the river, and particularly said about flow. myanmar, burma, is also a riparian on the river and it has several hundred kilometers stretch of river but it's, the most important rivers in myanmar flow elsewhere, that is come into tributaries flow to the bay of bengal. the main point i wanted to mention about this is that you have, you know, you have the delta, vietnam, and so vietnam is affected by everything that happens upstream. vietnam also has some major dams
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on tributaries that also affect the delta as well as cambodia. cambodia has the highest fish consumption in the world, with over almost any other country, and it is one of the poorest countries in the world. and inherently depend on the river for fish and has aspirations as all the countries to come in so cambodia is not only building one major dam right now on the river, tributary river system, but also to mainstream advanced itself but for cambodia problem is that they can't have fish and they can electricity at the same time in equal amounts. so there's trade-offs. thailand is the biggest, the most biggest consumer of electricity. and mainly are largely from other neighboring countries. and, finally, vietnam, i'm
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sorry, in laos, has the largest hydropower attentional river except for myanmar, which is on another river. south of china, laos has the highest potential hydroelectric power development. and laos also is small in population and one of the poorest countries in the region, in the world, and a splash to develop its hydropower potential -- aspires -- mainly for export electricity for residents. each country that has a different objective in different interest. and it falls to the ceo of the mekong river commission, in this case dr. phan, and to try to lead an organization that has to
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somehow reconcile all of these different rivers. we have to -- we will hear from our american counterparts right now but the main thing about the u.s. is it's a transboundary river as well. i think is going in and out on me, sorry. but nontheless, the states are involved, numerous states. .. ..

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