tv After Words Dambisa Moyo Edge of Chaos CSPAN September 2, 2018 11:00am-12:01pm EDT
in 1979 c-span was critter as a public service by america's cable-television companies and today we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, in public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. .. "after words" is a weekly interview program with relevant guest hosts interviewed top nonfiction authors about their latest work. >> so, dambisa moyo, great to have you here today.
with our conversation about your interesting, provocative book. which i enjoyed reading. >> thank you. >> wanted to start out with what you wrote the book, you are an economist, he wrote the book which is a lot about politics and political science. what did you do that? >> guest: first of all, thank you. it is nice to see you and be here. the most important thing i think in terms of the book is born out of frustration.and i talk about this in the book. you know my interest in my academic background are in economics. but if you think about the global economy today, there is a host of very deeply structural long-term problems the economy has to contend with. and i imagine we will get to them in a moment. they like demographic shifts, the impact of technology for jobless underclass, concerns on productivity and debt.
income inequality. something that is a with a phd was never discussed now it is one of the top three big issues on the policy agenda. these are long-term structural programs. and yet, the people were charged with overseeing the regulatory and policy environment. essentially politicians.very short-term. and i thought this gives a mismatch between the long-term economic problems and short-term political frame is something that had not been fully explored and certainly i do not feel the potential solutions to this mismatch have been adequate given the democratic system. and given the groundswell of emotions in terms of people apathy to the process but also because the rise of populism. or whatever the motivations may be across the nations and arguably in the united states. it is something i want to
explore. >> host: you talk quite positively about people in the world with many successes and places that have very different models. like china. >> guest: yes. >> host: what is wrong with that model? >> guest: i think in many respects it is deliberately not wishing to write about china. because i feel we talked a lot about china, what works, what doesn't work there.and they do have a very fundamental system in the west we prioritize the individual. so the individual is -- utility function as an individual drives market capitalist systems but also in the political frame my right to choose as an individual. my rates are paramount. it's a very different model in the chinese system. for them the most important thing is really the social and community. and so, there frame and policies as we know are very different from the sort of frame and policy initiatives that we can adopt in the west.
after a lot has been written about china. i myself had written a book on china.i feel a look in many ways is becoming -- they have done a lot of things that still many respects at the early stage of development, is true, they've moved hundreds of millions of people the last several decades but in many rankings, they still rank near hundred in terms of per capita income. they have their issues, we know about the problems, etc. but i think what's really an important issue that needs to be addressed is that the western economies certainly no state is the largest economy in gdp terms by many estimates and is still look to as the vanguard of growth and living standard improvements. i think that we want to continue to support that. i certainly do. i certainly believe in that model. i think over time, china has already but will continue to adopt a lot of the western positive aspects. >> host: and to this book, you
diagnose what you see as our major economic problem. >> guest: yes. spell give us a brief version. >> guest: a number of forecasts of, over the last several years suggesting that there might be 800 million jobs lost to automation, there is a report that came out in 2013 i believe the author walked back a little bit from their estimates but the report from oxford estimated 47 percent of jobs in the united states would be gone because of or eliminated because of technology. really a big issue. how does policy respond to that risk? we can talk a little more in a moment about the fact that technology has essentially been a big catalyst to the evolution in the united states. where the workforce in the united states from aquaculture, where in the 1900s, early 1900s
it was 60 percent of the american workforce working in agriculture. but today less than three percent. people moved to manufacturing and technology is not all of that but clearly was concerned that they are expected to absorb the lowly skilled worker and potentially even higher skilled workers. demographic shift. enormous. challenge. this is in the past, many of these i should point out were actually capitalistic and really drove economic growth but now we are in a world where there is a real concern that the world population is growing at a pace that we simply cannot support. it took about 125 years to go from i believe was 2 to 3 billion people and taken about 50 to go from around 3 billion to trending towards 8 billion and the world population will continue to grow at this pace until 2100. what do we do with this fast
growing population? not just the quantity but also the quality of the workforce. it is a big issue and we can talk about we see the reports and some of the concerns around education. and what of the big reports, one that stuck out for me, this generation of americans for the first time in history of the country will be less educated than the preceding generation. that is a real issue that public policy has to address. do we care?does it matter? if it does matter, what are we going to do about that? and it talks about income equality, something as i mentioned during my phd at oxford, i never thought about as being a problem. lilies assume we can create growth that will be able to deliver improvement in wages and close the gap between the very rich and the very poor. but income inequality has widened, within the country, income inequality. it is true that globally, income inequality between countries has actually shrunk
as developing countries convert to higher income level. but there are some estimates suggest in the united states we have seen essentially a collapse, 50 percent decline in social mobility and obviously excreting issues around income inequality. then the other really quickly our natural resources scarcity. something which i think with the backdrop of the environmental concerns and climate change issues, has become incredibly acute issue. for boards, corporate boards are also public policymakers. how do we marry this imbalance? potential imbalance between the rising world population and a more urbanization that will increase the demand for natural resources against these natural resources that are scarce and depleting. so potable water, energy, constant balance and oversee a massive difference between how developing country see the
issue versus richer countries. richer countries have perhaps a bit of a better platform as opposed other countries trying to get off the ground. finally, pretty much every class of debt in the united states, government debt, corporate debt, household debt, includes credit cards, student loans and auto loans is now each over $1 trillion by some of the estimates i've seen and i talked about in the book. real concern about what happens to the debt especially in the rising interest environment. longer-term, the conventional -- the budget office and what might happen in the next 30 years in the united states. not just in the us. of course europe has many of these issues. and finally, the question around productivity. productivity is explained at least 50 percent of why one country grows in another does
not. the other 50 is somewhere between labor and capital. and yet, productivity essentially, what is output per unit worker? how much gdp am i producing as an individual worker? you'd expect the technology are that it would increase but one of the perennial questions for public policy today is that we are seeing productivity decline in many countries. these are the economic headwinds as i mentioned earlier. many of these were big impetus for the growth we've seen over the last several decades. and now that they are heading to headwinds and their rail issues. >> host: we could talk for a whole hour about any one of those. let me just take two of them. debt, there's been a lot of warnings about debt. but interest rates are really low. and at least in large countries, the fiscal crises,
never come. does that give you any reassurance or make you any less worried? >> i believe, when i was a student at harvard, an economist, and she remember at mit, said something to the effect that the thing about crisis, there was come later than you expect. but when they show up they are much bigger than anyone could ever anticipate. and i think that it is the sort of looming sort of thing around debt. actually right, we've not seen this sort of shock and crises that many people have been questioning but at the same time, i do worry about this because of course, we are now in the interest rate rising environment. we don't see the levels of growth that i think over the long term, will sustain the concerns that i have. of course, participation rates and labor forces not really recovered. when we see the unpleasant looks better but their concerns
lead me to believe it is a problem will have to contend with. you're right that for reserve currencies and the united states some have been able to avoid a catastrophe but i think there is this question of actually was going to happen. can we continue to not worry about it? it is not just the nicest, china has similar structural issues. many countries in europe as well. i am less that it is sort of out of the woods that we can just roll on. i think there do need to be some important policy decisions made to avert that and what potentially could happen that we have seen many times in the past. in such a large blowup. >> host: you're so not the only economist that looks at that as a problem. the one that i was surprised to see on your list was national resource scarcity. i think of that as people who do not understand markets and
the early 1970s, production will run out of everything. and then it turns out that we discover a lot more of everything. we learn how to extract natural gas in ways a week we could never have imagined. and so the price of these natural resources if anything, has fallen, not risen. indicating the opposite of the other concerns. we understand all of that. >> guest: well, do talk about this, i did read the whole book on natural resources. and we get on some of these issues. you're right, there have been many calls in the past that the world is coming to an end. i mean in 1700s, they worried about this, it was driven more by population growth but definitely he raised the alarm about natural resource pressures, rome, the peak oil, 1970s, this real concern around what happened around natural resources. it has actually been in many ways discredited because of
what you just said. and also there have been some improvements i think in terms of policy intervention and how to maybe get around some of these things. i would say perhaps a less effect. i guess the reason i'm concerned really it emanates from conversation that i had with a group of 30 of us went to meet president xi jinping about a year and and a half or two years ago in beijing. and the president of the largest country in the world and the question that was posed, we spent an hour with him. >> host: we said we were going to talk about china much. >> but in this particular incident it is important. we ask what is the thing that sort of keeps you up at night? and he said natural resource scarcity. the point being that we have essentially promised the rest of the world, 90 percent of the world population and the emerging market, but china's big proportion of that we promised a lot of people that they can live at the stanza people in the united states.
but what do we know to be true? we know that although 70 percent of the earth is water, 97 percent of the water we cannot consume it. it is not possible in a way we can use it to even clean the toilets. we could be much more inventive and much more innovation and investment in areas of desalination but also a host of things. give 1.3 billion people in china, and you have some estimates say around 10 or 11 percent of this land they need to feed the population. how do you do that? perhaps, it is one but i think the consequences of the risks that they are facing in china can cause many other places, we know africa will be about 40 percent of the worlds population around 2075. maybe close to half the worlds population in a continent that
has real issues on the environmental side. and with the sahara desert and many others expanding his concern about water scarcity. i think it is something that is going to be a much bigger deal. so i am worried about that. i think that companies are doing a lot to try and head off what the risks might be. you're absolutely right that technology has lowered the cost of not just food production but also transportation and this is a theme that people keep throwing at me. talk about in the book. don't worry about the world, it's all going to be fine because we were little work less fish over the cost of living will go down because of technological innovation. i hope they are right. i'm not worried about the endpoint more worried about the transition. how do we actually get to that place? and that's why think public policy has more challenges. >> host: in the last one i want
to talk about i think you listed it last in the book. and when you were just talking about he said about half of the issue.which is innovation. productivity. do you have a favorite theory of why that -- >> guest: you know, i have written about this and a number of newspaper articles about this. the sort of most protective or more view is that we are measuring, taking the view that there is a lot of work getting done particularly in the technological space that has not been calculated. and my favorite example is from the moment that benjamin franklin skype got struck by lightning and thomas edison came along and figured out how to make electricity available for commercial use? that took a long time. and so, maybe it will take a
long time for us to figure out how to tame the technological beast in a way that improves our reading of productivity. maybe we are making mistakes as economist and how we are calculating. that is one of you. there is a more cynical view which i've heard a lot about in china. which i think is very interesting. and a said i wasn't going to talk about china but -- the argument that the decline in productivity, and again, the idea of output. per worker. the decline of productivity in natural artifact of a system of democracy. individual citizens are not dumb. they figure out wait a minute, the politicians need to seduce me and give me sort of a treat in order for me to vote for them. and i realize because it's a case and not the work is hard as i want to or need to. it is quite a cynical view but
essentially, they are taking the view that particularly on how to work harder i'm still getting the subsidies or in other countries is much more aggressive. maybe a welfare package, food, healthcare etc. i didn't have to work and so we start to see these decline in productivity numbers. i think it is compelling on the surface to think about that as something that i've heard from more than one people, one person in china. but i think it is a very hard discussion to have in the united states where people just are ideological about the democratic system. it is a hard book to write in that respect because some of the proposals which i know we'll talk about on how to reform democracy are things that are in the face of what we believe about the political system. >> host: i mean that last piece or thesis is hard to test because countries that are rich are countries that are
democracies. and when you are rich those harder to innovate and push forward. it is much easier if your china to catch up to the united states in the united states pushing forward. maybe it even gets harder and harder as we invent all of the easy stuff and they have to do the hard stuff. >> i think the other point, we talk about democracy today and liberal democracies today, women were not born, minorities were voting, there are certain things that we had whether it's environmental etc. there was an environment in which economic success developed or grew which was not at all democratic. i think there's another angle of this that they would throw out. >> host: with these headwinds, how much is this thing that happened to us like birth rates
went down, i think that's a great thing in many respects but it's a challenge for growth. verses, a reflection of some policy problem or political problem? many of the things that you describe to the facts about the world, and some particular problem that we have got. >> actually take the view that it is a fundamental policy problem. andrew amber said they were six economic headwinds. a start of the second half of my book talking about what i consider to be the biggest headwind of them all. which is myopia. i think there's a whole chapter devoted to the challenges and companies grappling with today. but it's also about short-term and politics can affect specifically the sort of impetus for the book. and in that respect i do think this is not some exogenous thing happening to us. i think it is bad policies that are incredibly appealing in the moment and time but i think perhaps don't really capture
the long-term trade-offs in a way that policymakers are not dumb, politicians are not dumb. they recognize what matters most but there are a lot of hard choices that need to be made taking into consideration future generations per but the opportunity and future generations is something i think becoming much harder to balance and manage. particularly in a world of social media. where the policymakers or politicians certainly daily are trying to appeal to voters. i think that is really what the root of the problem is. >> host: you did have a line about that that was most important correcting justice, myopia would do much to adjust all the challenges to economic growth. that we confront today. >> guest: that is my belief. it's probably too strong a
sentence in many respects. >> host: on one hand but the other i don't know. >> guest: i guess the thing is because the problems are intergenerational and long-term, and again, keep saying will come to the solution. the solutions are trying to address two things. >> host: is the idea of legitimacy of the political system which i think in many respects is not, been hurt but it's also about this myopia problem. is there a way for us to actually reward politicians for thinking long-term? and actually encourage them to think long-term. as long as we don't do that i think is very easy to just let it, with the problems be kicked into the long grass or somewhere into the future. whatever that future politician might be. and that is what i'm really getting at here. i think this myopia problem is really at the heart of this.
>> host: just one more moment the political side, myopia and economic issues, you have this in democracy too accountability, for a long time japan was super successful because our companies didn't mind losing money now they will make up for it later. it turns out maybe that wasn't quite as good as having to prove your worth every quarter. >> guest: well -- >> host: how do you view that? >> guest: as you know i serve on a number of corporate boards. i don't think anyone board in particular has this, i'm not picking on one company and not another. i think in general people in the business arena are recognizing that the quarterly reporting is also potentially problematic. the answer might not be less than 50 years and miss allocate capital because we don't care
about companies making quarters but it is clear to me that it's probably also not the focus on the short term or terms. we have a situation certainly last year where the dividends whether earning ratio was over 100 percent. companies are essentially saying you know what? we don't have a view that there's going to be longer-term growth or growth opportunities for us to invest in. we whether hand back to many in dividends. we are seeing much shorter 10 years, we are seeing holdings. for hedge funds and other asset managers shrink so some of the data that nela talked about in the 1970s company stock was held for seven years on average. now some estimates, this can be as short as weeks but it's not a good backdrop for making long-term decisions. we are at a time or companies, functions or expanding pit is
no longer just go make money and financially help the shareholders. there's much more pressure from companies to be good citizens to help support communities because the consumers and their employees in which they operate and so, to me they do have to take a longer-term view but to your point, i didn't anywhere in the book suggest the long-term view means that we don't care for 50 years but i think that is special to have in his course warren burford and jp morgan and others have been sort of leading the charge now about moving away from this short-term is in. i know there are a lot of skeptics around this whether or not myopia and short-term is reporting is an issue. for me i think it really is both for business and for corporations as well as -- >> host: i think there is no skepticism in the short-term problem in politics. >> guest: i hope so. [laughter]
>> host: is occasionally a little bit of a focus. do you think it has gotten worse? do you have any idea why it's got worse? >> it took a little bit about why things got worse in the book. to me the most obvious one is the media. it is constantly it surprises me how much politicians pander to the moment. and you know, sometimes without real recognition of policy choices that have to be made after statements have been made. but their real implications for where the markets, trade also in england, everyone there is focused on brexit. on november the last time has been in a conversation about education and healthcare and infrastructure. again, these long-term structural problems. it could take the viewer the most important thing is brexit and it is quitting this overhang.
but it worries me that it is sort of the politicians in a way our right. that the voters on this point of issue today and now, which is brexit, but at the same time i do worry about what policies are being debated or the innovation being tested. in a world where politicians are focused on the media. and the world of social media. there are 4 million people on social media and it is a beast that needs to be fed regularly. and you know i think for me, i think it is evermore important answer the question is, can we protect the political system from being vulnerable to that and there is some discussion about that as well. >> host: you do not talk about reforming any aspect of the media or you know, the first
amendment, we have a free country so there are 3 million followers, wherever they want. do you think there's anything to be done there? >> guest: you know, i think there are things to be done there and you know, i think that without myself working in those areas, just speaking as a citizen, looking at that, i feel that there are some aspects of potential reform that may occur. we talk about social media but also traditional media. that you know, we see those type of reforms in other sectors. i will give a specific example. you could have a separation of media, sort of separate what is true from what is verifiably true from what is opinion. and traditional media in large, to a large extent already has this type of system. in banking there is this real separation between commercial
in the long term >> your book has a number of things that we should be doing. for expanded trade, warns about the dangers of protectionism.but you didn't want to stop there and just make a set of economic recommendations. >> guest: because it would kind of be irrelevant, it always gets usurped by the politicians kind of thing. >> host: given youreconomic agenda, how big a difference would it be for the problems you describe ? >> i think it would be highly impactful but i recognize that, and i'll give a specific example in a moment but i recognize that there are, there's realpolitik meaning we can agree, and i think i can make a good case that globalization is the right system for the world and actually all countries
can benefit and the probable all boats will be lifted but i now am more skeptical about whether we actually can get to a place, particularly with democracies, to a place where globalization can be implemented to its fullest. in the manner in which it's described in textbooks, i don't think that's possible and that's where i think we have to think about sort of a realpolitik of economics instead of doing what i'm vulnerable to and many economists are vulnerable to witches reaching for a suite of policy suggestions that are great in books actually in practice because of politics and because of the realities of things make it impossible to implement so to me, globalization is now in the frame as a target for that but other policies are victimto that as well . >> why don't you tell us with
two sets of recommendations, ones for the political system and one for voters. why don't we cover the political system first? >> guest: temper is also in the book, trying to target two things. one is the myopia issue, the schism or mismatch between long term problems and short-term liberal democracies. the second thing we want to address is this point about legitimacy and that is something that i think has become more problematic. there have been concerns about the brexit vote, didn't know what they were voting for, etc. and again, the united states has lots of issues around the veracity and sanctity of the election of president trump so we want to get through the issue of legitimacy and the issues of myopia.
10 proposals, six of them targeting the politicians, four of them targeting the voter. what is important to me is that these 10 proposals have precedent somewhere in the world so it's not me cooking them up in my kitchen. it's looking around more developed democracies and saying what did they do that might be different in one country versus another country and is it something that we could actually replicate and how might that help solve one of these problems i outlined? so you're right, i'll just give a couple of them to get some discussion going.one of the proposals is we think about paying politicians more, but essentially forcing them to justify their compensation. this is an idea that comes from singapore and in singapore the head of state gets paid somewhere between 1.4 and $1.7 million a year.
ministers were charged with different sectors, so education, healthcare, etc. are paid 30 to 40 percent bonuses every year based on how the economy is performing and i think many people will notbe surprised by that kind of a model in the private sector, but here in singapore and other countries , countries are implementing it in the public policy space. there are also clawback's so years later if it turns out the officials were inflating the numbers or they were getting to certain outcomes like life expectancy, etc. in dubious ways, then we are able as citizens to get some of the money back and i thought why not? we've seen enormous evolution and innovation in
compensation in the private sector, why should that not be on the table and essentially forced politicians to think about the long term? another proposal is to increase the minimum standards of politicians. in the 1960s in britain, the average age was older, around 62-year-old and those parliamentarians had varied experiences. they were teachers and lawyers and doctors, there's been a lot of studies and i cite some of them in the book where they suggest the average age has plummeted, and many people who are parliamentarians don't have other work experience. they become professional politicians and that to me is problematic as we think about those long-term problems, we do need knowledge of how to address and what the consequences of certain policies may be on the ground so that is another proposal. >> host: do one more. >> guest: one more is extending terms. extending the political terms. as i mentioned, we tried to bridge this mismatch between
economics and politics. countries like mexico have a six-year term for the president, brazil has nine-year terms for senators. the idea is those parliaments may better match business cycles. we don't have elections every two years like they do in the united states. one of the points that i anticipate would be an issue is to say well, do we want to be mexico? and there are real issues around what we are hoping to achieve in society, but it would seem to me that if we do recognize that having elections every two years is not an ideal situation, we do need politicians to focus on these issues, goaway and solve the problem. it would seem to me that's something that should be considered . >> there's a bit of literature in political science that if you're not a democracy, you have enlightened leaders, you can
do incredibly well and if you have corrupt, despotic leaders, they can drive the country to the ground with nobody to stop them. love your proposals feel like they are pushing in that direction. people can choose to vote for someone who's unqualified. they can choose to fight vote for someone a second or third time. they can't choose toremove them after two or three years because taking a lot of toys and decisions away from people . do you worry that might be a higher variance outcome? >> i think where i would think about this is not a real risk. i think on balance, my sense is that if you have an informed electorate which is as you mentioned earlier this idea of education and the real hook of all this which i talk about in the book is civics which is not taught on a standard basis around the united states but around the
world as well, if you don't have an engaged electoral system, you end up with bad policies anyway and i feel right now if you couple lack of understanding of the political system, so there's a pew survey where they said something like less than 29 percent of american adults know that there are three arms of government, legislative, executive and judiciary. those statistics are bothersome but also the fact that there'slow voter participation rates . for low income households, around 30 percent. those statistics don't give me a lot of encouragement that the policies that we are achieving our long-term good policies and what i'm trying to get is to imbue some form of innovation into the system that will force politicians to think long term but it is a fair point and i touch on it and a little bit in the book but i'm very familiar with with that quick and the direction science used to be
going is in a lot of different countries is a reaction against the elite, against people that think they know better than others. a lot of your proposals seem to run against that, the minimum requirement and these other type of rules. is there some mismatch between what people seem to say they want and what your solution for that is? >> that's a great question. i think in many respects the term, i don't really like the term elite because maybe it's being conflated with people who are experts and people who have knowledge. it would seem to me that the frustration is not necessarily with experts per se, it has to do with, maybe i'm talking in my book but the short term that has
emanated from the political process so i'll give a specific example. i consider myself pretty well well read and engaged but i actually don't know as i sit here, i live and debris of what the best use of the marginal dollar is in the healthcare sector. i don't know whether they should pay more versus more or buy more beds or more medicine. but i have to believe that the people who work in that sector will have more information and more opinions, setting aside conflict of interest, about what the big issues are there. it's the same with education. we may need more blackboards, you can tell my age because i'm talking about were teachers need more? i don't know. as a general citizen i'm taking a flyer but we get better outcomes if we have more information about what the best of that marginal dollar is, i think we could and i think referendums in general provide a platform for us to explore whether those types of wages, but
some kind of voting that encourages or allocates higher wages for people with that type of knowledge, how that might behoove society more generally because right now, i think that we are going to talk about at some point what happens if none of these policies are adopted. we are skewing to a situation where there's more populism, so people are sort of storming politics, we're seeing that across europe or where ending up in more of a plutocracy where it's narrower and smaller numbers of people are influencing public policy. as you know, just 158 families in this country were responsible for 50 percent of the political contributions in the presidential election in 2016. that is astonishing to me. it's a small number being so influential and how money
seeps into the system so i worry about ending up in those places. for what it's worth, the us is trending more toward the plutocracy road and i do think that that will be, people don't really acknowledge that there is a broader base of knowledge that we should support and think it's valuable for helping us reach those policy decisions. we will have more of a risk that there will be a small group of people being reflected in public policy . >> let's get to the most controversial recommendations in your book, not just making recommendations for the political system, you are telling voters, you are giving them new responsibilities and new abilities as well. >> let me pick up on a couple ideas. first of all, i am an immigrant to the united
states. as an immigrant i had to take tests, i don't just show up here, i have to take a test and frankly it's a pretty basic test but it's a test all the same and i think that coming from africa where testing civics is mandatory and an importantaspect of education, i'm quite astonished at how many places i've been where civics is not even on the curriculum . >> there's a number of states that have civics on the curriculum. starting to get students the test that you had to take exactly. i was just in seattle where a teacher showed up with his students and said exactly, we are talking about this point so that's a move in the right direction but it's not federal law. i know how americans don't like to be told what to do but some of the proposals on the coding side, mandatory voting so there are 27 countries around the world that have mandatory voting, australia being one of them,
a number of latin american countries and the idea is you are a citizen and you have responsibility to the country and if you do not vote, you will be punished. so punishment can take the form of monetary or the form of not having access to public goods where you can't get a public job for example. i can see people hackles rising because some people think this flies in the face of the first amendment. am i allowed to do whatever i want? but in the last six weeks the supreme court sided with the state of ohio in the elections and there's six states where that occurred so i think that is something we should think about. i mentioned some of the low participation numbers and particularly for low income households. i'm sure there are a whole
host of other things we could do. i think that that's just one of the things that is much more wide based, mandatory voting is more widely based and i thought we should put it on the agenda . the second point in the voting is the issue of minimum standards for voters and i've touched on this a little bit.this idea of having people pass a standard test. again, it's something that raises a lot of alarms because america has a very bad reputation in the past around -- >> host: more than just a reputation . >> guest: historically in the united states, these have been used for a whole host of things, gender against gender against race, maybe for people of a certain iq, certain wealth, land owners,
etc. so that's not what the intent of this proposal is. it's to basically try to figure out are there ways to encourage and allocate voters , provide higher allocation for voters for more engagement, especially in the backdrop of this voter education. it's bound to be understood misunderstood but that's not what the impetus is. obviously, in the packaging i do, a black woman from africa, and immigrants, the last thing i would be as a proponent of testing that's going to be discriminatory for any aspect of my own background, let alone people in this country who have been disadvantaged so it is a little bit hard to swallow on the surface but i think there are some proposals around the world that i think we can probably live with and think would be value added for addressing more structured problems.
>> we're going to your last document on the individual side that talks about the country . >> in ontario which is a state in canada we have this discussion or already have implemented voting and its, tran. >> host: >> guest: that's probably the most controversial proposal on the books. and i should probably mention i do talk about gerrymandering, i talk about money but those are things that we all already know and have been beaten to death and nothings happened so the way voting is , the way i think about it is allocating a higher vote for people are more engaged and as i mentioned, it's trying to move away from that whole list of adjectives, not about gender or money or any of that stuff . in canada they have waited
voting which is ascribed to essentially the number of people who support you so it's done in a way, in a clever way and interestingly enough it gives bigger weight to people who are in smaller communities so one of the big concerns in many places is that people who in big cities essentially have a de facto your ways to influence politics. they actually do to a smaller communities. and in their curriculum, they talk about age so this idea of getting a higher wage to older people. or younger and we will come back in a second based on age. so this is something that was debated a little bit with the british brexit election, the idea that being on the one hand you might want to give a higher weight to old people because they have more knowledge, more understanding of how economics interplay , the interplay of those two areas the other argument is that you want to give a bigger weight to young people
because young people have a longer sort of future to endure based on what the policy outcome of the referendum would be. so those are often debates which have had a number of discussions and a number of votes on it. one of the things i've been thinking about is, i should say i can see why it may not be appealing to talk about wages and voting in the context of a general election but i've been thinking whether or not we could have a credible way to have a voting system with referenda so think about california, they always have referendums on the ballot. could you think about if it's something on a sugar tax, would it be valuable for society to maybe give a bigger weight to people who are in the healthcare sector, maybe understand what the implications might be or not.
and it doesn't mean that other people get zero or that you can't prove that you have enough knowledge to take that test, it's not designed to be discriminatory but it is in college, people have broader knowledge rather than to vote with their guts or based on what superficial reasoning. >> voting systems everywhere aren't just designed by political scientists. they're designed by people in power and designed to perpetuate that power. does this give a huge opportunity for people who have the most power to create a set of rules that would help perpetuate that power? >> guest: i thought a lot about that and i thought that probably would have been true free social media. i do think a lot about things that today are being practiced influence, de facto because young people are going up and saying we're not going to tolerate this and actually having an impact and influencing public policy or certainly how corporations
behave. i'm not as worried as i might have been about the power of symmetry so let's take the guns out of the gun lobby or the issues around gun violence. it's a small and perhaps in some ways anecdotal point but i think that the consequence of what happened in florida and this groundswell which essentially influenced not just companies to change how they were selling guns but also to change how they came out specifically to talk about what they were doing doing to change funding, that is something that didn't come from on high, that came from the groundswell and there's more of that occurring in a society that where social media and more individual participation systems aremuch more accessible . >> nowhere in your book does
it say pro-democratic or republican if you look at the last election in the united states, people with more education voted overwhelmingly democratic and people withless education voted more republican . what a lot of these voting schemes push more towards the democratic progressive side? >> in some respects perhaps. i thought a lot about mandatory voting. >> that would definitely bring in a lot of minorities, a lot of low income people who are not represented or underrepresented in the political system so that one would probably area i'm not entirely sure about, i thought a little bit about some of the other ones but it's not entirely clear that there is a one-to-one correlation between who it would affect. i myself for what it's worth, a lot of the questions or the things that i'm driven by and i think you would call me a
new york republican in the sense that for a lot of the issues around immigration, women's rights, abortion etc., i'm definitely on the left but i'm also maybe in my economic background and much more conservative fiscally. i am concerned about the debt, you talk about in terms of depth that we discussed earlier and frankly i think most citizens are concerned about these issues so perhaps this sortof , i guess the catharsis of the distribution i would think i'm not as extreme as people might assume . i think my sense is most people are probably more in the center anyway. so it's not obvious to me that any of these would be against one group or another. >> so i wanted to step back now and give the big picture. you talk about the policy of a global economic death spiral. i'm frankly a little bit worried of your
recommendations, even if i was persuaded to amend the constitution to get them all done. do you really think if 20 years from now we were talking again and we haven't been able to do a lot of these, do youthink we are doomed ? and ifso ? >> guest: it was more emblematic of what the doomed consists of. the reason i spoke is i'm pretty optimistic. it's really targeted towards -- >> host: the book is called edge of chaos b5 but the subtitle does say how to fix it. i'm trying to find solutions, i'm not just saying build yourself abunker, it's not that. we can do something to avert crisis but my point is , i am eternally optimistic about this country.
this country does have a history of resetting, refocusing, re-shifting its direction when things don't seem to be showing economically or politically. i've heard this question, this sort of concern that we might not be able to make changes but 100 years ago, somebody somewhere, i imagine it was a bunch of white guys cigars smoking expensive wine had one of them or handful of them say why don't we think about having women vote? that must have been considered crazy at that time and somebody who was not black decided why don't we think about having blacks vote for minorities vote in this country, as cockamamie as that moment as the idea may have seemed, this idea is about a flexible system. it's about systems that do have amendments,systems that are constantly kicking the tires and devolving so i am fundamentally optimistic . having said that, what does
chaos look like? >> host: [inaudible] >> guest: there's some things of course it will be hard to convince americans about mandatory voting. i'm not so sure people wouldn't be like, why not? we are already subject to that. i talk alot about how that might happen but also the implementation issue . it's the classic, i'm not going to vote for christmas kind of thing. who's going to build a cat for these proposals but there's a whole section on that but i am optimistic that the system does get to a place where it's intolerable and unacceptable.i've learned to visit over 80 countries and this country to me really is about saying this is enough, we're not going to do this anymore, we want to try something else so i am optimistic and sometimes it might be considered crazy but just look at this announcement from the current administration to merge the education and the labor
department. idon't know whether that's possible . i've heard a lot of arguments back and forth but that is a massive undertaking. it maywork, it may not but i thought to myself it's on the table. there are not many other countries where i think that would even be mentioned . so that's as a backdrop behind my thinking on this. what does doom look like? for me, it's really important as we think about these economic challenges to have the united states at the forefront in addressing them, whether we the innovation, for water, for climate change issues, the whole list of challenges that i mentioned already. and right now i think the united states is not nowhere near at the forefront as needs to be and i wanted to be. and i do worry that other countries, china in particular are gaining foot
around the world and i think that doom would be essentially, chaos would be a situation where if you went to your country , looked at the united states as a beacon of freedom and liberty and progress and improvement and living standards and human progress and prosperity. >> thank you for presenting an optimistic vision of what could happen and a few things to help make it happen. >> absolutely, thank you. >> if you'd like to view other "after words" programs online, go to our website at booktv.org. all previous "after words" episodes will be available. >>. >> c-span: where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television
companies today we continue to bring youunfiltered coverage of congress, the white house , the supreme court and public policy events in washington dc and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider . and now, live on tv, our year-long fiction addition of indexcontinues . >> .. >> host: jacqueline woodson, from your most recent book "harbor me," described haley. >> guest: haley is a young girl. i would call a kind of a tween. she is biracial, redheaded. being raised h