Web Extra: The Conscience of a Compassionate Conservative

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This week on the show, Bill spoke with the president of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Arthur C. Brooks. Their conversation was so interesting that they kept talking, and we kept our cameras rolling after the broadcast interview ended. In this Web extra, the two talk about the failures of capitalism, who is to blame for the 2008 financial crash, food stamps and a whole lot more.


BILL MOYERS: You once wrote, that you shouldn't talk about the poor unless you've been out among them and listened to them before you listen to experts at Brookings or AEI. And I've done that as a journalist.

And capitalism is not getting down to them.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: That's true. It's absolutely right--

BILL MOYERS: Capitalism is not getting down--

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: It's absolutely right. And that's why we all need to be hawks for the free enterprise system.

And until we're warriors for opportunity, pushed all the way down to the bottom, until we understand that entrepreneurship exists as a moral force for poor people, for my grandparents and yours, unless we understand that then we've repudiated the promise of our founders.

BILL MOYERS: Did you read the book "Winner-Take-All Politics" by the political scientist Jacob Hacker and--


BILL MOYERS: Paul Pierson?


BILL MOYERS: They describe how Washington made the rich richer and turned its back on the middle class. They showed clearly to me how our political system, which once served the interest of the middle class, has been hijacked by the very rich.

That the great explosion of wealth inequality which preceded Barack Obama, of course, was politically engineered in Washington by decisions taken under both parties, in both parties, by the people who make policy, in response to the powerful interests. Have you seen that playing out since you got to Washington?

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Yes, sure. Absolutely. Look in the increasingly bureaucratized social democratic state that we're building. You have greater levels of intricacy and complication. You have an explosion of statist ideas in Washington, D.C.

And what this is effectively is, metaphorically that's a trough. And who comes to the trough? It's people who feed there. And people who feed there are the sophisticated, they're the wealthy, they're the people who are well connected. We have an explosion of cronyism because it's the illegitimate spouse of statism. If you want to get rid of cronyism that creates as winner-take-all politics, if you want a true democratic polity, you have to take away the pervasive statism that creates all of these incentives.

You know, the interesting thing is that the two populist movements that we saw over the past five years were the Tea Party and Occupy. They were both right. I mean the Tea Party talked about statism and Occupy talked about privilege and crony capitalism largely. I mean they-- all of their solutions were wrong. You know, the problem with, you know, excesses of capitalism isn't getting rid of capitalism. You need true free enterprise. That's actually the solution to it, which is a highly populist thing to do.

So what's happened effectively is-- not for any ill intention. No. We have public policymakers, we have a president who loves his country. We have a Congress that's gotten together and said, "What can we do to solve some of these terrible problems?" They've expanded the state. They've created greater complexity. And who has showed up to reap the rewards of that? It's the most well connected citizens and corporations. And it's left poor people, it's left small entrepreneurs, it's left ordinary citizens behind.

BILL MOYERS: Yes, it was the big banks that got bailed out and the CEOs of those very banks that helped drive us over the edge who got the big bonuses while the borrowers out there got very little help.

ARTHUR BROOKS It’s the same story again and again and again. American housing policy was largely executed through the entities; the GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They were implicitly going to be bailed out by government. And in fact they were.

They created the incentives to create more and more credit that blew up the American housing bubble. That’s what destroyed the financial markets in this country. And of course through these incentives a lot of private sector banks jumped on the bandwagon. And then a Republican president and a progressive Democratic president said, “We have to bail them out, because the whole financial system might go down. And who would be hurt the worst? Poor people. Because they always were.

BILL MOYERS: But they were hit the worst.

ARTHUR BROOKS: But remember it was big government and bad public policy that sparked this crisis.

BILL MOYERS: They were hurt the worst and they haven't recovered the way the --

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: I know and it's a scandal.

BILL MOYERS: --the bankers and the hangers-on and the lawyers--

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: It's a scandal.

BILL MOYERS: --and the lobbyists and all of those have benefited.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: I agree with you. And this is the reason that political progressives and conservatives should band together and say this plutocratic tour de force that we call Obamanomics, or whatever else you want to call it, has been a major mistake for this country.

It's time to be pro-poor for once, as opposed to this sham of a recovery that talks about free money and that makes sure that reform at the state and federal government level actually doesn't accrue to certainly to citizens. But even to anything that would lower the size of government. That you go down through the policies and you find that the system's rigged.

BILL MOYERS: But Arthur I'm no cheerleader for Barack Obama.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: I understand.

BILL MOYERS: Anybody who's watched this show has--

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Nor would I assume so.

BILL MOYERS: No. But the economy and the financial center came crashing down while Bush and Cheney were in office. The long period from 1980 when we began deregulation and began cutting taxes for the rich, from 1980 to 2006; 26 years. Eighteen years of those were under Republican presidents. I think it's a cheap shot to say Obama's policies since the crash have been responsible for the circumstances we're in—

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Oh no. No, the crash happened--

BILL MOYERS: That's what I--

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: --before Obama.

BILL MOYERS: Exactly. But I hear you--

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: --say that we haven't recovered because of Obama's policies. And I think that--he deserves some of the credit. The stimulus wasn't enough.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: No, no, no, no. I think we've gone in the wrong direction over the past five years. But let me take your point, because your point is important. The crash itself is not Obama's fault.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: The crash is a confluence of normal bubble behavior with a lot of bad public policy, especially bad housing policy that was utterly bipartisan. Look, it was the Bush administration and it was the Clinton administration largely that conspired to blow up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And a housing policy that utterly destabilized the entire financial system.

That led of course to all of the metastasis through the financial system that blew up the American economy in the first place. You can't place blame on a particular party, certainly not Bush and Cheney, any more than if you want to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of Clinton and Gore.

BILL MOYERS: But since Robert Reich and others have pointed out that before the crash we had the highest gap in inequality, wealth inequality, of any industrialized democratic nation. “The Economist” in 2006, wrote that if America's not careful, it's going to have a class-based system like Europe has had. All I'm saying is that we were on the path to gross inequality and injustice long before the crash.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Now, the truth is exactly that we have an inequality crisis, but it's not the inequality crisis that we're hearing about today. It's the opportunity inequality crisis in America. If you go back to 1980 to the present-- again, this is a bipartisan problem.

You'll find that economic inequality has been systematically falling in this country. Americans don't care about income differences. What they care about is the ability to get ahead. Nobody begrudges the fortune of Bill Gates to Bill Gates. What they begrudge is a system that says that your kid could never even remotely approximate even the success that would be that you would think of as something that a prosperous person could achieve.

Now, why is that? That is because, you know, there's a very important book by Thomas Piketty, a French economist. It's tremendously influential inside the Obama administration and inside progressive politics in America today. And it basically-- I mean they're-- people are haggling over whether the data are right, but forget all that. It makes one very important observation. We don't have an income inequality problem. We have a wealth--

BILL MOYERS: A wealth.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: --and income inequality problem.

BILL MOYERS: Which means what people own.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: But we really have a capital inequality problem. That's what's really going on. But no, capital is three things. Three kinds of important capital out there. There's financial capital, which is what they own, there's human capital, which is what they know and what they can do, and there's cultural capital, which is the institutions of success. And the truth of the matter is we've been marginalizing poor people across all three types of capital for decades.

BILL MOYERS: I saw a study just this morning, a vast majority of the people who are very rich in this country believe this inequality is wrong. And they would like to see it ameliorated. So what public policy would do that by your lights?

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Okay, again. Ask people if they care about economic-- if they're an income inequality or opportunity inequality. And you will find vast--

BILL MOYERS: Or wealth inequality.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: --of Americans.

BILL MOYERS: Or wealth inequality.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Ask 'em if it's about opportunity, that's what they really care about. Now--

BILL MOYERS: Everybody wants the opportunity. But our system--


BILL MOYERS: --is not delivering it to them.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: That's the problem. The minute people think the system is rigged, then they will put their hand in another man's pocket.

BILL MOYERS: It is rigged? You concede that?

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Well, the system is not working.

BILL MOYERS: You're right there in the middle of the rig—you’re not you're doing it, AEI'S not-- I'm just saying, you're right there to see it work.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: No, nor are our donors. We are morally committed at AEI to a system that benefits everybody. Where opportunity benefits-- we are warriors for education reform. We are warriors for true entrepreneurship, which is, you know, it doesn't matter if you don't speak English, it doesn't matter if you don't have an education. If you have a strong back and want to cut lawns, morally, the only thing you should have to own is a lawnmower.

We're committed to these ideals. We're committed to the idea that work is a good and an honorable and a blessed thing and it should pay. These are the ideals of pushing prosperity and pushing the American ideal, the dream all the way down to the bottom. Because when you don't, you get what we've got today. Which is--


ARTHUR C. BROOKS: --asymmetric recovery.

BILL MOYERS: An-- meaning most of it is going to the rich?

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Well, of course most of it's going to the rich.

BILL MOYERS Hacker and Pierson make it clear that there are no such thing as a pure market. That markets have--

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Of course.

BILL MOYERS: -- are shaped by law, rules and regulations. By the institutional arrangements themselves that are determined by the political process. Which is now controlled by the very wealthy and by big corporations.

But you've said that you don't know anyone who comes to town to service his cronies. Right? I mean--

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Absolutely.

What six-year-old child says, "Mommy, when I grow up I want to be a crony capitalist."

BILL MOYERS: But how is it they wind up consistently doing the bidding of big donors?

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: If we don't take away incentives, people will follow those incentives. Either it's to become dependent on welfare or it's to take crony capitalist benefits at the corporate level. This is a function of runaway government.

BILL MOYERS: But the other day when the House approved continuing the highway fund they took some of the funds to pay for it out of pension plans. Now that's where the pensioner had no influence and the powerful contractors and others had all of the influence, right?

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Look, this happens every day, Bill. This happens every day. And here's the interesting thing. Here's the reason that we shouldn't be too worried about the breakdown in our ability to understand each other in Washington, D.C. By the breakdown between the parties and the inner party tensions.

You know, you were in Washington in for a long time when you were working for President Johnson. Going forward, the one thing that you knew for sure, there was one thing that the right and left could get along on, and that was a way to split up the dough. That was a way to get the pork in a completely opaque way and to split it up among constituencies.

At least you and I are talking about it. At least there's outrage. At least Occupy and the Tea Party movement and conservatives and liberals-- I mean you have the fringiest right wing and left wing groups, what do they agree on? They agree on the fact that Washington is conspiring against the country.

BILL MOYERS: How can the Republican party adopt reform when it's got the really loud and angry-- right to its right?

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Reform doesn't necessarily mean making or trying to repudiate somebody who's loud and angry. On the contrary. Most of the interesting reforms in history come from social movements that magnetize around some level of anger. The key thing is basically that we need to remember that reform conservatism has to not be about fighting against things. It has to be about fighting for people. That's what reform conservatism really needs to be.

And it's plenty okay to be angry. I bet you've been very angry about injustices toward people. In fact I know because I've seen you over the years. You're angry about the injustices toward people who are powerless. You know, if we basically can say this, we believe that conservative policies, generally speaking, are the most consistent with economic facts and the best for creating poverty-- for creating prosperity, for alleviating poverty.

That said, imagine if on the conservative side we have an examination of conscience where every night before we go to sleep we say, "Did all of my work go for the benefit of people with less power than me?" Then that could be a profoundly moral movement. I bet it's one that even you could get behind.

I think that if you and I band together with all of our friends on the right and left, and we demand this collective examination of conscience, then we truly can have a better politics where we're fighting in the competition of ideas specifically to help those who are the least advantaged.

BILL MOYERS: There’s a new study coming out, by the scholars Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page.

They examine more than 1,700 policy outcomes in Washington over 20 years. And they found economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have a great deal of impact on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups, and you were talking about some of those, and average citizens have little or no independent influence. In a country founded on the idea of representative government, doesn't it curdle your soul to hear respectable evidence-driven scholars conclude that average citizens have little or no independent influence on public policy--?

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Drives me crazy. Wakes me up at night. But here's the deal. You got to ask yourself what happened. It's not that business influence was immaculately conceived. And it's not businesses per se. It's that power can run away when you have a power that's not answerable to the people.

And that's what's happened when the government in Washington has grown so much. So strongly. So virulently. I mean it's metastasized in our lifetimes in ways that would have been unrecognizable. Not just to the founders, but people 100 years ago. They would’ve said, "It's what percentage of GDP in the richest country in the world?"

Well, again, when you amass power, as an empirical proposition, as we understand through history, if you amass power in some particular place, all of the other power will be drawn to it. It's shocking to me that the center of economic activity in the United States is in Washington, D.C. And the reason is because the government dispenses the benefits. The government dispenses the favors. And as the government grows more through Republicans and Democrats, as the government grows, power will grow. As power grows, it will attract and you'll get just more and more and more of that.

BILL MOYERS: I've been pursuing you on this because you once wrote that the moral code of our free-enterprise system is neither profits nor efficiency. It is quote, "creating opportunity for individuals who need it most." And that's what's not happening today.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: This is an abdication of the moral promises of our founders to us. It's exactly not the reason that your grandparents or great-grandparents came to this country.

They were not steaming through New York harbor saying, "Thank God I can get a better system of forced income redistribution in America." They wanted to go to Texas and start a farm. I'm just going to guess. There was something in there. It was the reason for this country. It's morally impermissible when we lose that, number one. Number two, we have to redouble our efforts in public policy to the opportunity society with a preference for the poor themselves.

Opportunity does not mean food stamps. I believe in food stamps. I believe in them. I believe in the safety net. But it's not the same thing. Why do we forget that entrepreneurship is not earning a billion dollars, it's the dignity to live your life as an individual, to build your life up yourself. And why do we talk about dead-end jobs as opposed to making all jobs pay, and remembering that all work is dignified. If we did that, Bill, we could have a truly different country and it wouldn't matter if you're a conservative or a liberal. You'd be coming at it from different sides to achieve the same goals.

BILL MOYERS: If Robert Reich was sitting here, he would say, "All admirable aspirations, but in fact, unachievable at the moment because capitalism is failing us."

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: The problem that we have is that we're actually not practicing capitalism. The problem is that the free-enterprise system is not allowed to flourish. Furthermore, the problem is the runaway growth in government that Mr. Reich was involved in that's putting a break on the ability of people to participate in the free-enterprise story in the first place.

And most of all it's because we're forgetting the moral principles of our founding. The moral principles of the pursuit of happiness that brought people here. And when we forget all those things, we can find a culprit. "It's the markets." It's not the markets. It's the people who are making the markets fail.

BILL MOYERS: Who rigged the markets?

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: Who rigged it, allowed it to fail, and set up systems of public policy and any other systems that try to get around competition as opposed to trying to win competition. Individuals should be wired to use systems to find their unique capabilities and talents. To meet-- to make their passions and their skills meet.

And government should be helpful in helping people to find that nexus instead of, "What am I trying to do? I'm trying to find a way around competition. I'm trying to find a special source of benefits." That's what we've turned into. To blame capitalism is not just to get the solution wrong. It's to take us backwards.

BILL MOYERS: No, but it was a failure of corporate governance that helped spark the financial meltdown you were talking about that wiped out $2 trillion in retirement savings in 15 months, lost two million homes to foreclosure over two years, and saw the disappearance of 7.2 million jobs. That was rampant greed.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: I wouldn't call that rampant greed as much as I would call that bad public policy that set up incentives, incentives that were not tempered by a proper sense of morality.

BILL MOYERS: Bad public policy that removed the firewall between--

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: No, no, no, that's not right.

BILL MOYERS: I think so.

ARTHUR C. BROOKS: That's not right. It's bad public policy that blew up a housing market on the basis of the government-sponsored enterprises. On the GSE's, Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. And it was not Democrats or Republicans, it was politicians together that decided that cheap housing was the goal and it was using it as a means of social engineering.

That was a very dangerous thing. That's what blew up the housing market. That's what wrecked the financial markets. And I will not defend corporate governance. Because people-- it does not matter how bad the incentives are and how corrupt the government is and how big and corpulent and immune to good ideas and morality the government is. We still as individuals, no matter what we do, we have a responsibility to not do dangerous things and to be stewards of both a good culture and the resources at hand.

Producer: Gina Kim. Segment Producer: Lena Shemel. Editor: Sikay Tang.

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  • Anonymous

    Compassion isn’t necessarily the issue. There has been little evidence of compassion with this generation. However, there are important economic considerations. The longer we ignore poverty, the wider and deeper it grows. The more people in poverty, the more consumer spending shrinks, the fewer workers are needed, the more the overall economy stagnates or falls. Our own history shows how and why our former safety net programs were vital to economic growth. At the most basic level, you can’t get a job without a home address, phone, bus fare.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, DHFabian for your comment.

  • Anonymous

    So, what has Congress done except to say no?

  • Gary Jelaso

    Mr. Brooks makes assumptions that are not founded in real life data and then forms arguments around his falsehoods. For example: raising the minimum wage will increase unemployment. An analysis done by Nick Bunker and David Madland and T. William Lester of the impacts of raising the minimum wage on unemployment uncovered at least five studies showing “that increasing the minimum wage – even during periods of high unemployment – does not have a negative effect on job growth.” States that have raised the minimum wage have had better than average job growth.

    He also seem to justify the outrageous greed by the Walton Family by citing their philanthropy. In an article in the Huffington Post in June 2014, the Waltons reportedly donate just 0.04% of their wealth to charity. Much of their wealth is funneled through tax shelter foundations to avoid the inheritance tax when they pass their fortunes to future generations.

    He seems to refer to the “Market” as a deity and left to its own godlike corrections, justice will be served and the poor will have plenty. There has never been a market free of government intervention. He seems to quote Adam Smith as his guru but tends to forget that Adam Smith abhorred greed and believed in the betterment of society through commerce where the rich and powerful pay their fair share. “It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.” Adam Smith How does this square with Brook’s stand on less taxes for corporations and the wealthy?

    He says the left has no real answers. That is blatantly not true. The left has no real power to effect positive change, but there are real solutions posited by what’s left of the American left. He says America could not build the Interstate Highway System today as an example. It is his wrong thinking and the influence of the private sector on public spending that make that a self fulfilling prophecy. This country could create millions of good jobs, build our infrastructure so we can better compete in the global marketplace, lower tuition and higher more teachers, build a green economy that combats the negative effects of greenhouse gases and the environmental impacts of the extraction industries, and more, by simply collecting the Trillions from corporate tax dodgers or charging a small transactional tax on the speculation industry.

  • Guy Donno

    BM: “In a country founded on the idea of representative government, doesn’t
    it curdle your soul to hear respectable evidence-driven scholars
    conclude that average citizens have little or no independent influence
    on public policy–?”

    AB: “You got to ask yourself what happened. It’s not that business influence
    was immaculately conceived. And it’s not businesses per se. It’s that
    power can run away when you have a power that’s not answerable to the

    Wealth is power, and when concentrated in the hands of a few it is not answerable to the people. This guy can “Gee whiz” all he wants about the virtues of true free enterprise, but the wealthy will beat it back if it threatens their position. Brooks so desperately wants his dream to be true that he won’t wake to see it is fantasy.

  • Anonymous

    Best slight from Mr. Brooks: “Conservative policies generally speaking are the best for creating poverty, I mean prosperity.” I think you were correct the first time, Mr. Brooks!

  • Buck

    There is so much aversion and tactical moving the marker by Mr Brooks…it’s just basically endless double talk.

  • Buck

    So true! Awesome slip. Was what he knows inside is actually true.

  • chapul

    Brooks uses language none of us understand to rationalize his position and offers not one suggestion as to how the unprivileged/the poor can even become educated. Yes, Buck…… double talk. And yes, Exactly! DH Fabian.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t doubt what’s in the hearts of “Compassionate Conservatives.” They must really love the poor to recommend policies that create so many of them.

  • Anonymous

    He uses jargon that some of us understand very well but he uses them to suggest things completely different from the evidence that is the reason why experts use them.
    He also uses whistle words that signal to the like minded what “he really means.”

  • Anonymous

    “Compasionate conservatism” does not exist. It is a made-up political catchphrase used to assuage the guilt of the greedy and give hope to those screwed, that help is on the way.

    Of course, like “trickle down”, it’ll never come

    We KNOW what fairness looks like despite the right’s monumental efforts to rationalize it away.

  • Anonymous

    If “the masses” have barely enough to eat, their time will be spent simply surviving vs. paying attention to what’s going on around them. And education is on down the list of necessities at this point.

  • Sunflower1025

    I was cautiously hopeful and was I ever disappointed. A pompous ideologue full of twisty lies. Where did that being jealous of the Waltons come from? That is always the tactic of someone who’s got nothing—and philanthropy never makes up for doing bad stuff. He’s more dangerous than the openly greedy and non-caring. Did he offer any answers except to advocate for earned income tax credits?

    Just thoroughly disgusting and sad.

  • Jeannie

    My husband who has an MBA in Finance from Berkeley and I a retired physics teacher think he his a pompous buffoon. He and Ryan’s new compassionate capitalism is a new tactic for the same old. No regulations and we will act like brotherly lovers and the poor will come along….wasn’t that trickle down.

  • Jeannie

    me too

  • Jeannie

    Bill, ask the Dali Lama on an ask him what he thought of

  • Anonymous

    I find it amusing the reaction about the Walmart & the Waltons. The Waltons were big supporters of Obama as well as the folks at Costco. His points about Adam Smith’s economic views vs the current societal atmosphere is which is lacking on the part of both political parties.

  • http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ru

    I think it is important that you sometimes interview people like Arthur Brooks from time to time. He seems to seek a way to be compassionate. However I have a couple of problems with his placing the blame on big government instead of capitalism. (1) He does not seem to realize that many Walmart employees and fast food workers are stuck in the system. Those are not entry level jobs for many people. Therefore we need the minimum wage, etc. (2) As a student of Reinhold Niebuhr (Moral Man and Immoral Society) and of Walter Wink (The Powers trilogy) I do not think that institutions make moral decisions. That includes capitalist enterprises and government. Theoretically a democratic government should be able to express the will of all the people, but now money is buying the system. Private philanthropy helps some, but only the government can meet many of the needs of the social safety net.

  • Sunflower1025

    Yes, it is important for us to see the views of people like Brooks so we know what we’re up against. Frightening he was.

  • Anonymous

    His point about the building of the Interstate Highway System today was made to point out the cost of running the govt today is so great that there is no money left over for such an undertaking even tho tax receipt last year were at a record high.. we still will have a big deficit this year. He was supporting Adam Smith view of greed & betterment of society by stating the federal govt needed to establish the rules.. FTC; SEC etc. The point of corporate profits being too high.. it does not make us competitive in the world market as corporate taxes are added to the “Cost of goods sold” It just passes them on to the buyer .i.e. the US public.

  • Sunflower1025

    Your point is . . . ?

  • Anonymous

    Your points are well taken however I have witnessed allot of compassion in my community i.e. Food Banks; Homeless shelters; Baterred Women support just to name a few.. The Charities by the Catholic; & other churches is large.. There is allot of compassion in this country.. Unfortunately greed seems to dominate the news… the good folks, my heroes of the world just go about doing what there heart tells them.. Thank God.

  • Alef YaYo

    Arthur Brooks is complacently discombobulated.

  • Judy

    Honestly, Mr. Moyers, I could sense your astonished disbelief during your interview. Where is the “compassion” in “Compassionate Conservatism”. Are we to believe that Mr. Brooks has had a religious experience since he has met with the Dalai Lama? It was the same old intellectualizations and double-speak that we’ve heard from the right since Mr. Reagan (who probably would have been run out of the party for not being conservative enough today). Deregulation of the market place, “trickle down” economics–even blaming the victims of this economy by saying that raising the minimum wage would be removing the incentive to rise to a higher economic status–all this has contributed to the creation of the so-called “income gap”. And it’s really not a gap at all as much as it is a gaping hole where the middle class used to be.

  • Alef YaYo

    I concur.

  • Allen Edmundson

    A worker will get a fair (free market) wage only if employers have to bid for him, that is, only with full employment. So long as there is a pool of the unemployed, at home and increasingly abroad, wages can be driven below a truly free market value. One public policy for fair wages would be a punitive tax on employers for overtime, hours beyond a full employment work week. For example, suppose the hours currently worked divided by the number of people who want to work, were 33 hours per week per worker, with a tax such that it costs an employer 8 wage hours or 10 wage hours per hour of overtime. This would first spread the work around and then force employers to bid for workers against other employers. The part time work many employers offer, to avoid paying benefits, would help to spread the work around, but the wages at the bottom are so low that until these part timers find a second part time job they remain half-unemployed…When conservatives like Mr. Brooks talk about job creation through economic growth, one should be wary and critical. Mitt Romney considered himself a job creator whereas the business model of Staples was to replace with understaffed warehouse stores many independent stationers, for net job loss. Precisely, what kind of economic growth? The Romney/Staples job killing capitalist kind? Or the other kind: infrastructure, education, health care, water, soil, and air conservation–the public works kind?

  • Pam Weir

    I felt like I joined Alice at a tea party with the Mad Hatter, he made no sense to me at all

  • James Gilbert

    Wow! Mr. Brooks actually recognizes some of the problems. He knows some statistics. His solutions, however, are: –>> We need more of what we’ve been doing for the last 30 or 40 years. We’ve been bleeding the patient for a while now — and he keeps getting worse. What we need to do is bleed him some more. Brooks seems to think – as most conservatives do – that the “market” is a form of natural law — a devine force? If it doesn’t seem to be working – it must be our lack of understanding. We need the government to be referee, but we certainly don’t need goverment regulations. I’ve heard all of the right wing blather many times. What was relatively new is that they are now saying “Yes, there is great inequality and it is a problem — and the solution is — less government and more “THE MARKET” — Or if that doesn’t seem to work –“Why don’t you lower 70 to 80 percent people stop focussing on money?” Also — I believe that all his claims about the problems of increasing the minimum wage are unsubstantiated – at least in the larger picture.

  • Creator Ley

    Exactly! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • Esther Webb

    There has been a lot said about Adam Smith’s policies, even some that made it sound as though he were a compassionate person. His trickle down policies were questioned by someone who asked if it might not take too long and people died waiting. He said, that will only leave more for the rest of us. Sound compassionate? During his period of influence as an economist in early England, women and children were dying of consumption working in the factories, powered by coal. Children were stolen to work in those factories and they bragged about the beds never being cold as they ran three shifts a day with these children, eating, working or sleeping–no other life. Those were Adam Smith’s policies. It was those policies that brought about communism to correct the inequality. Save us from Adam Smith’s ideas.

  • Esther Webb

    Has anyone ever thought about the divide between wages of the well-to-do and the lower level wage earners being created by the percentage points that seem to be the norm for raises? A 3% raise for an income of $800,000 is infinitely larger than 3% of a $2,000 income. Every year that this happens creates a wider and wider spread. Let us suggest that raises be flat, straight across the board. You will find the upper echelon fighting that idea.

  • Arizona Eagletarian

    Brooks sounded like a Wharton School educated Pollyanna to me.

  • Joe

    Brooks parrots all the right wing clap trap that if you increase the minimum wage employers will fire workers and reduce the workforce. Not true, in states that have increased the minimum wage, there has not been this effect of firing workers and reducing the workforce. It has stimulated the economy because the workers have more money to spend and buy goods.

  • Renelle West

    That interview was fingernails on a chalkboard for me. Mr. Brooks was on the wrong side of me right away when he insulted you by implying that you were envious of billionaires. And then he repeatedly stated the problem of inequality and injustice that we all know about, but he had no real solutions except some generalization that government was too big and the wealthy “should” have a better sense of morality without being reigned in by government controls. He could barely hide his disdain for the poor, who he believes are in “dead-end” jobs because they don’t value “entrepreneurship.” And if he thinks people are on food stamps who aren’t actually poor, he’s never tried to get on food stamps! His most telling betrayal of his deceitful double-talk was his slip of the tongue, the only statement he made that I could agree with, when he said, “You know, if we basically can say this, we believe that conservative policies, generally speaking, are the most consistent with economic facts and the best for creating poverty. . . .” As always, Mr. Moyers, you’re the voice for us, the people who have suffered the consequences of greed and inequality and have no influence in public policy–all of us, including the right wing extremists and tea partiers who don’t know they’re “us”–yet.

  • http://bonalibro.us/ Tim Chambers

    I don’t understand why you gave this a guy a platform. He’s talking the same old nonsense. What did he say about the minimum wage? It’s a mandated wage. Damn right. If there were no minimum wage, companies would pay a lot less. If they wanted to pay people more they could, but they won’t. The minimum wage is not just for teenagers anymore, Mr. Brooks. Lots of family breadwinners are bringing home the minimum wage because they have no bargaining power. Subsidized wages? We are already doing that by issuing food stamps and medicaid to Minimum wage workers. Who benefits? WALMART and McDonalds are the largest beneficiaries of food stamps and medicaid, not those they were intended to help. Read Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation. The British tried wage subsidies centuries ago, when people were pushed off the land during the enclosure movement. Their employers simply lowered their wages by the amount of the subsidy, and everyone was reduced to misery. Arthur Brooks is not a compassionate conservative, he is simply a conservative with a new pitch for the same ideas. The only way economic growth is going to reach the working class is for employers to pay people more because organized labor forces them to. I didn’t hear any of that in his talk, just more of the same old wine in new bottles.

  • Linda Larson

    Typical right-winger– just keep talking & talking until you talk down different viewpoints– not because you are accurate or true– but because you believe that if you keep repeating the same ol’ line over & over & over, it becomes the truth– or, that some people finally swallow it.
    When sports can be played without umpires & referees, we can trust the compassionate conservatives too. In other words, when pigs fly….

  • Theodore Kluznik

    How to run a scam. Find a founder ( Adam Smith). Give him sacred God
    like unquestioned powers. Create a theoretical complex dogma to support
    the founder. Hire a sycophant to mouth the dogma. Yuk!

  • Anonymous

    I make it. .. Thank you.

  • Sunflower1025

    It hit me this morning that, yes, these conservatives are compassionate. They have much sorrow and grief for those ever put upon people who have more money than they know what to do with and are being exploited by We, the People who feel we should be able to survive without government subsidies—and that they shouldn’t be subsidized by our taxes.

  • Anonymous

    Yes supply & demand for labor sets the wage level in a free market.. Maynard Keynes theory of full employment which the Democratic economist seem to favor, has a flaw.. As you near “full” employment you have spiralling wage inflation. Keynesian economic is popular among them as they want govt spending to prime the economy.. Big Govt.. Yeh! What liberal is not for that? Keynes wanted to encourage capital investment by the private sector, but Democrats say lets tax the system as they don’t know how to invest & create jobs.. we the govt does with crony capitalism ..Question…How much good did the 800 billion dollar stimulus do?? Not much. Your comment about Romney & Staples I found amusing.. Yes Staples were taken over by the investment co..Yes they cut cost & yes they cut employees..BUT they saved the company & when I go in their stores they have, guess what, folks working. How many jobs did he save?? Many…Edward Demming stated that change is not necessary, survival is not mandatory.. Should the system let Staples go out of business??? I am not familiar with Mr Brooks but I might recommend Bill have Tom Sowell on for a discussion.. This man was not example of conservation economics.. Milt Friedman would have presented the free market concept allot better had he not passed away. I find it interesting how the posters jumped all over this man’s view which only reenforces my point that Bill has liberal guests on.. Now he had an unknown on who did not do the subject justice.

  • Jerome Morley Larson Sr.

    Huge ERROR, Mr Brooks: Your statement that raising wages will lose jobs. Ever hear of a guy named Henry Ford? Your implication is that business owners routinely create unnecessary low wage jobs just so they can eliminate them if forced to pay a living wage is, well, STUPID! (sorry) As Henry Ford proved 100 years ago, raising wages increases customers, actually creating more jobs to satisfy their demand.

    Why business schools don’t teach that raising labor wages decreases marketing costs on the order of 2 to 1 is beyond me; If McDonald’s and Walmart were to double their wages across the board what would happen? — Each extra dollar would flow immediately into their community and move around six times before it leaves (our rule of thumb in the Urban Design Architect community) — and since this amount is beyond subsistence, it creates demand; which leads to profits for everyone in the entire community; thus more money for restaurant meals and stuff!

    You are treating money as if it were a substance — hardware — it is not, it is a concept — software — that only has value if it MOVES — if it is used (think of it as the opposite of a parking space, which is only valuable if it is not used).

    Dec 7 1941, we were still suffering the lingering effects of the ’29 depression (caused by killing immigration in’24) much the same as today’s economy from the depression of ’08 (caused by killing immigration in ’02) and suddenly we were at an all consuming war where for the next four years we slaved 24/7 in full employment where virtually everything we made we blew up or threw away — yet in the end, we were so wealthy that we gave every GI a free college education and a new house — we fed the rest of the world for ten years and completely rebuilt it — so well, they became our biggest competitors — we piled chrome and tail fins on our huge cars, built big new houses for white people in the suburbs and the Interstate Highway System to access them — just where did all THAT money come from?

  • Anonymous

    This double-talking jackass is so full of crap it’s insulting just listening to him. Wish Bill had spit in his disgusting, lying specious face!

  • JonThomas


  • JonThomas

    Give ’em enough rope…

  • JonThomas

    Thank you for this “Web Extra”!

    This piece helped me gain insight into the mindset of those who follow along similar ideological lines of thinking as Mr. brooks.

    His biggest fallacy? The ‘glitch’ that sets his entire conceptual argument off-course?…

    He, and those who come from the same points off ‘reasoning’, fail to correct the ethnocentrism inherent in their ideology.

    He repeatedly referred to ‘entrepreneurial’ virtues as if it were some universal desire. What an arrogant, false assumption!

    His entire belief system emanates from that one false precept! Take away that kingpin and his world view collapses! Rationality comprehends that there is more to the world than what is inside one’s own mind and opinion. This is a basic logical failure of those mindsets similar to Mr. Brooks’.

    Thank you once again Bill, and Company, for the good work!

  • Joe

    Brooks is a “thinker” who takes the think out of thinking.

  • Ken

    It’s sad when the only idea Brooks could present is more redistribution via the income tax credit. Even he admits that our economy does not create enough jobs, especially for lower skilled workers but also for all skills. Clearly the manufacturing jobs that were off-shored used to provide living wages and job training. Bring those back and provide a minimum protection from foreign sweatshops via tariffs – then you would be doing something of substance. Also restoring the progressive tax structure and removing the favors for capital would make labor more rewarding. If he were suggesting things like this, I would believe the reform label.

  • Anonymous

    To infer that only conservatives are the elite 1% is not taking into account all the liberals in Congress who are millionaires. More of them than conservatives at present day. Herb Kohl & John Perry were the 2 wealthiest senators for along time.. Are these folks more compassionate than rich conservatives.. One of the sponsors of the show is the Carnegie Corporation, a huge capitalist, Would you call him & his estate less compassionate. Mr Brooks did not make good defense for capitalism ( free markets) but its the best economic system I have seen on earth even with all its flaws. The problem is big govt & big money are joined at the hips with their pay to play activity.. This goes for BOTH parties. Corruption will continue till we start putting the violators in prison.. Who has the justice dept brought to trial?? Jon Corzine??? He bundled 800,000 for the campaign in 2012 for Obama.. You suppose he might have received a “Get out of Jail” card.

  • preciousbwallace

    Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail

    ✒✒✒✒✒✒ Jobs7000.Com


  • Griff Jim Griffith

    Beyond his support for expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit – a very easy concession to make since it takes zero from the 1% – he said nothing of substance, he offered no new solutions, only the same old Adam Smith/trickledown snake oil which in the last four decades, has done more serious damage to the economic health of the middle class than any other single economic factor. Never forget: wrapping purely untrue statements of cause and blame solutions in a veneer of phony gravitas and sincerity does not make those statements true, nor does it give credibility to already-disproven solutions like those proffered year after year by the right wing. Do not be seduced by the delivery: all that matters is the words and Mr. Brooks’ words, as sincere and pretty as they sound, simply do not parse.

  • Anonymous

    Failed govt policy had allot to do with the financial housing bubble.. Politicians seem to have conflicted interests & thus vote bad policy in. Setting up Fanny & Freddie was a flawed policy that asked for trouble in the long run as it ended up being a political money source for allot of political reelections.. Mr Johnson & Raines cooked the books for bonus etc. I worked for a major corporation which competed in the market & made investment in plant, equipment & people. We were profitable due to technology & good people. Thus those of us who were employed received (the common good) a fair wage so both things: Profits & living wage go on each day in a well run company.thru the country. I see more excesses in govt than in the private sector. How many reports have we seen lately where some govt agency is wasting our tax dollars etc. They surely are not looking out for a bottom line.

  • JOhnR

    I wonder how many of those 16,000,000 foreclosed on houses were owned by people believing they were being entrepreneurial… oh wait… most of those houses had 2 occupants in them so I wonder just how many of those 32,000,000 people thought they were being entrepreneurial… being entrepreneurial should be a choice, not a mandate.

  • Joe

    Walmart is rabidly anti-union and is a union busting outfit. Anybody who persistently talks about unions at Walmart will be fired at some point on trumped up charges. Unions are needed, more than ever.

  • Marsh_Owl

    If you know that the donkey you’ve harnessed to pull your cart would rather be rewarded with a carrot than threatened with a stick, but you keep on hitting it with a stick, refusing to even consider the offer of a carrot, you might just be a “conservative!” –And (in your clear determination to make everyone pull some richer person’s cart or starve) yet another pathetic example of angry, right wing “misery, loving company!” –But, please, Mr. Brooks, stop short of the offensive hypocrisy exhibited in your book’s title! The lie that you are “compassionate” is disgusting.

  • roboat

    Lee is totally correct. The man speaks with fork tongue. He says the troubles of the poor need to be cleaned up by the moral heart of those who have put money as their guide to moral duty. Bill Moyer ,saying one way was to raising the minimum wage as a way of sharing in the great profits of the company made by their employees. Of course this would have to be implemented by the government because those in charge at company level have already shown their moral heart is for the bottom line and not for those who made it for those much higher up the corporate ladder. Mr. Brooks speaking out of the side of his mouth says that would make big government and we don’t want big government. What he doesn’t say in his doubletalk is that the lack of government direction is what created the problem in the first place. And repeats again and again the problem needs to be solved by the hearts, the moral hearts of big business and those politicians supported by them.

  • Jill Springer Forrest

    Bulls*it! A “Compassionate Conservative “who’s ideas where only the wealthy get rewarded. Please Bill, no more of right-wing dribble, they’re everywhere already and blame Obama for everything. If this guy is so influential w/ Repubs, why is nothing being offered to the people they represent? Sheesh…nice try though.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Brooks just keeps banging on that old conservative saw, “Runaway growth and over regulation in government”. The growth in government over recent years has been in defense and welfare spending. I am sure that Mr. Brooks’ supporters would balk at any specific decrease in defense spending. An aging population and crippling recession have resulted in unavoidable increases in welfare spending. What’s left, Mr. Brooks blames over regulation of business and suggests that unbridled capitalism can solve all of the problems. What a thoughtless, merit-less argument.

  • Anonymous

    My LOL moment watching this clown was when he insisted that minimum wage jobs at Wal-Mart or Target are NOT dead-end jobs. I also took offense at his generalization that the unemployed who are applying for these miserable jobs are all “unskilled workers.”

    I am a 46 year old woman, two degrees and 27 years of work experience, who has been rendered “permanently unemployable” in the new economy. Since I was technically still employed in a contract gig while looking for a permanent job, I can say for sure that I never received interest in my application due to my age. Now I am automatically rejected from jobs because I am unemployed (this makes no sense in a sane world). I have met and conversed with many other professionals in the same situation, from engineers to nurses; the common theme amongst us all is that we are all “too old,” i.e., over 40. Out of desperation I sunk low enough to apply for shelf-stocker at Target (I was rejected). Had I gotten that “awesome opportunity,” does anyone here really believe I’d advance to something beyond shelf stocker, when they have so many young kids already vying for that promotion (like the 20 year old girl who interviewed me)? I have learned these past two years that American corporations do want experience or skills. They want young and cheap.

    I am now working towards a TEFL certificate, and once completed I will be heading overseas to teach English (most likely Asia). As more people wise up and leave the US, what will be left? The response I get from those on the right like Mr. Brooks is “good riddance, you pinko communist.” But let me tell you something, you’re going to miss me, because it was my success as a member of the middle class that helped keep this economy rolling, not so-called “job creators” or wealth “trickling down” from the Waltons. Had I been able to land a decent job in my field, I’d be finishing the renovations in my bathroom, purchasing awnings for my deck, fixing my painful cracked tooth, and buying a new car, just to name a few things. Instead, I have lost my home and will be living in my mom’s basement until I land that first overseas
    teaching gig. And you can bet if/when i do leave, I won’t be coming back (I certainly won’t be coming back for minimum wage at Wal-Mart). Enjoy your trickle-down, Mr. Brooks.

    BTW, speaking of infrastructure, did anyone see The Daily Show a few weeks ago about how we plan to pay for our current infrastructure bill? Not by raising the gas tax or closing corporate tax loopholes — ’cause that’s against the law! — but by raiding the common man’s pension…

  • O.G.G.921

    Yes, it was a great conversation that exposed fundamental flaws in Mr. Brooks plans. The solutions to problems he blames on a government too large to function properly are public policies – to be made by the same government.
    Oh, evidently all we need are new & improved public policies and of course a bit of “moral suasion”. The banks and corporations that found and took advantage of all those bad public policies and drove the country to the edge of financial collapse with NO thought of morality, only profit, just need what? A good talking to?
    He failed to address the big problem, corporations (according to the Supreme Court) have personhood – however these “persons” exist without a soul. How can you persuade an entity to behave morally when they exist solely to produce maximum profits for their shareholders

  • Melwoolf

    This man has a pleasant, quiet demeanour which, of course, is meant to “sell” his ideas. Sadly, as an American living in “poor” Europe I know which country(ies) I prefer. It’s wonderful “over here” to feel that my fellow human beings who may or may not be poor, middle class or wealthy that their country cares about their positions enough to regard them all as “human” and therefore pay enough and help provide healthcare for ALL. Yes, taxes are higher for most but it is shocking to think that this “rational” Mr Brooks thinks government is not the answer (yet believes oddly that oversight – SEC, EPA – all govt agencies by the way!) are not essential to keep our lovely, happy, wonderful American economy moving in the unregulated capitalist way.

    He speaks hogwash really. I think he is well-intentioned but he is so off the reality: how long is his persuasive “moral” change going to take? He is a dreamer who lacks substance that can help the poor, I’m afraid.

  • Melwoolf

    I’m so sure you know your employer – yet they are considered a poor employer. I guess this is fiction that the rest of America put forth (along with McDonalds and Target)? Yet there have been protests to try and improve pay and conditions? What do you mean by “Unsung and private charity comes forth from their stores everyday”? Also, are employees given full medical cover?

  • Shirley0401

    This guy just states debunked theories as accepted truth and then uses them to justify his “free enterprise is the solution” recommendations that were so very effective the last 30 years. His rhetoric might seems less combative, but he’s just as sociopathic as any other market-worshipper starting with a pre-determined policy prescription and then searching for BS evidence to support it.

  • Shirley0401

    I suspect if Adam Smith were around to respond, Brooks would have to stop invoking him.

  • Shirley0401

    Why, if the markets were just more free, all those corporations would finally be “free” enough to act in the best interests of society, instead of investing so much energy into circumventing regulations!

  • Daniel Becker

    Mr. Brooks sure likes that word “fiat”. Seems to be his favorite threat for his current presentation. Odd word for a man who’s entire identity is one of selfishness.

    How else can you explain what is implied in his use of the following to support his entire presentation: ” He said, but I do not believe in forced sharing by government. I believe in voluntary sharing as the basis of human morality.”

    A non selfish person would have immediately recognized the basis of such a statement coming from a person with a life history such as the originator of the statement, the Dalai Lama.
    A non selfish person would have not used the Dalai Lama as has Brooks. In such use of the Dalai Lama is the harm and disrespect to him.
    Brooks’ meditated?

  • Anonymous

    “Mr. Brooks’ philosophy is mute”

    His philosophy is exactly the same as every other greedy right winger. He is just another, smoother, salesman.

    He said if McDonalds and Walmart paid a living wage jobs would be lost. Ty[pical right wing lie.

    Does he really believe those companies keep extra people on board if they can get rid of them?

    Every company reduces labor costs, whether or not they starve their workers.
    Arthur Brooks knows that but will never admit it out loud – just like all the other right wing hypocrites.

  • Steve Irwin

    If you are all that altruistic … I have a bridge I want to sell you … If 25% of major corporations don’t pay taxes now … if banks pay Billions of dollars in fines and don’t care … Cut more regulations and see what happens … Look at the state situation in Kansas as an example where they cut virtually everything in favor of corporations … really …

  • Anonymous

    “Unsung and private charity comes forth from their stores every day”

    Does that include contributions that were given by customers prompted by the signs begging Walmart customers to contribute to their workers, because the workers need government assistance just to survive?
    My suggestion: screw the charity – hire more full time employees and pay a living wage.

    “Do you really think that Americans would stick around on such a job?”

    Of course they would stick around, when it is the only job available. I’m glad you are not in that situation.

  • Anonymous

    “Something about his arguments smells, and I don’t know if it’s his knowledge or something else.”

    It’s something else, and it’s not pretty.

  • Anonymous

    “there is a class war and the middle class and below are losing.”

    It’s been going on for generations and the middle and lower economic classes lost a long time ago.

    We should never stop trying though. It has to be out in the open and ongoing – a hard thing to do for people who have to work and have no spare money for the effort.

  • Anonymous

    “I see more excesses in govt than in the private sector. ”

    You and I don’t get to see the “excesses” in private companies because they are private.

    Private companies good – government bad. What nonsense.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, Brooks is not a big thinker, and won’t solve our current or future problems.

    He just rehashes the same old republican snake oil, though he is good with the compassion BS.

    There’s an old saying: It’s all about sincerity, once you can fake that you have it made.

    Brooks has that down to an art form. The Dalai Lama – nice move you @$$.

  • Anonymous

    Great remarks.

  • Anonymous

    Put a wig on this guy and poof – you’ve got Ann Coulter. Same old talking points. The topic always changes to taxes, when it’s wages that will help the middle class, and jobs. Brooks suggest that philanthropy rather than wages is just fine. Wages , not charity is what is needed. Taxes are based on wages,- low wage earners don’t pay much tax and that’s impending trouble

  • Anonymous

    A public company has the stockholders to answer to & they must file an annual report with it financial data. A private company must file taxes & provide financial data as well. Their survival is based on them being profitable.. The GAO has stated several times that the govt wastes 10% of the budget..How do you hold them accountable.. Getting data from the waste & fraud from the VA & IRS come to mind.. They stone wall investigations; destroy documents as well as punish the whistle blowers.. How do you terminate a federal employee?? If you think we have good govt you have very low expectations of our govt.. That to me is nonsensical

  • Anonymous

    I’m pretty sure I heard Brooks refer to the poor as “teen-agers” not knowing how to spend money properly. So, it’s not morally imperative to ensure they have a livable wage, it is incumbent on the rich to provide charity when and where they feel obligated, without anyone telling them how to spend their millions. For Brooks, it’s “noblesse oblige” that should motivate the rich, not feelings of basic morality or justice. It’s the “trickle down” theory with a thin coating of false piety inspired by something Brooks heard from the Dalai Lama and decided to use for his own purposes. We respectfully say “no thanks.” You do not have a clue about our true needs, but your theoretical knowledge of Adam Smith is, I’m sure, admired by some. When the revolution comes, you, Mr. Brooks, will still be clueless!

  • Anonymous

    More puffery from Mr. Brooks. Just face it Mr. Brooks, Walmart is a failure because the rest of us have to subsidize their workers. Admit it, be honest for once. Oh, I forgot, libertarians don’t have to be honest, caveat emptor.

  • Anonymous

    “envious of billionaires”

    A dead giveaway every time.

  • Anonymous

    “One that EVEN YOU can get behind.” What a crock. Capitalist “opportunity” is vastly overrated. Why? Because there aren’t enough seats at the table. Even if everyone truly had the equal opportunity to become Bill Gates, AND the knowledge/expertise, it would be a crap shoot, a lottery where the odds you would make it are astronomical. There just isn’t enough room for millions of Bill Gates. So 99.9% of those with the “opportunity” will strike out, because the demand for such a rareified and priviledged spot far exceeds the supply. Do people really still believe the unmitigated BS Brooks is spewing here? I guess so, just look how popular the lottery and Las Vegas casinos are. Hope springs eternal, but hope that the “free market” will fix the inequality problem rings hollow– but hope is popular and it sells, which for the faithful capitalists is all that matters. It’s morally repugnant, and Brooks here exemplifies it.

  • J P

    Arthur C. Brooks is right on! Wal-Mart is successful because my fellow UAW and Teamster Union members shop there, THE PRICE IS RIGHT. When government artificially increases the cost of the factors of production, prices will increase and our standard of living decreases. We vote to keep democrat politicians in power to have government contribute to the cost of maintaining our high standard of living. As we become a more socialist economy, the rich will get richer, the middle class will shrink and the government dependent classes will increase, just like Western Europe. I lived in Europe for six years and now work in Canada and Mexico. The factories being built in Mexico by multi-national Corporations will continue to cause job loss from the US, as the cost of the factors of production increase. Bill, your philosophy will continue to kill the Golden Goose of capitalism for the middle class.

  • Anonymous

    “Food Banks; Homeless shelters; The Charities by the Catholic; & other churches”

    Wouldn’t it be better not to need so much of them in the first place?

  • Monica Gordon Crocker

    Wow. What weird alternate reality is this man living in? I have to wonder whether he truly believes the garbage he is spouting, or is this just the next set of talking points from the radical right? I am offended both by what Mr. Brooks said, and by the fact that these “conservatives” think I am stupid enough to buy it! I wonder how badly Bill needed a shower after conducting this interview. After listening to it, I surely do.

  • Christine

    No, you don’t have to lay workers off, owners can tale LESS PROFIT AND STILL LIVE COMFORTABLY!

  • Larry Theobald

    I was tempted to degrease my TV screen after this American Enterprise Institute slimeball was on it! The problem with these folks is they somehow think providing cheap DVD players or fast food burgers is an essential service to our nation – therefore the employees they exploit to make their obscene profits deserve subsidies from the rest of us. Next is the old “if we have to pay more we’ll employ less” line of crap. What will they do, have robots handing the fries out the window? The implication is they now have more employees than they really need because they’re so cheap, but if the costs go up, those extras will have to go. I must congratulate Moyers for resisting the impulse to call this guy a slimeball during the taping….but why give people like this a forum on your show?

  • Anonymous

    “If you think we have good govt you have very low expectations of our govt.. That to me is nonsensical”

    It is even more nonsensical to believe that corporations are all honest and moral, and have the interests of the entire country at heart.

    I never said that our government is perfect. I just do not hate my own government. I would like to see it improved – not eliminated or emasculated, as the right wing corporatists wish to do – for their own profit – not yours.

  • Christine

    No, prices do not HAVE TO INCREASE with an increase in the min. wage. Owners/shareholders/CEO’s can take home less of a profit and still be BILLIONAIRES!

  • Jayamaa

    Mr. Brooks has some ideas that would prove helpful for the poor, like if everyone asked him/herself if that day’s work benefited everyone with less than themselves. Trouble is that huge corporations are NOT asking themselves that, and then taxpayers have to subsidize their underpaid workers. Congratulations to our hero Bill Moyers for keeping his cool in the face of the verging-on-rude Mr. Brooks.

  • Sam

    Corporate is giving & kind & Gov’t keeps people poor. REALLY?!!! What a bunch of Corporate blather!!!

  • Anonymous

    I think Moyers handled it perfectly– gave him enough rope to hang himself…

  • Jed Grover

    George W. Bush touted compassionate conservatism? I obviously must have been in some sort of comatose state of mind. I observed the eye contact of Mr. Brooks and I am not convinced that he even believes what he is preaching. He appears to be a nice
    guy but I do not believe him. I’m tired of the rhetorical talking point deception from such a pretentious, opportunistic group catering to corporate America as they park there huge profits offshore. Corporate America has absolutely no role in governing nor monopolizing in this country. They certainly had their opportunity but failed miserably. When the president recently recommended closing tax loopholes and stated that Corporations denounce their citizenship by locating the Headquarters offshore for tax advantages, Congressman Daines of Montana commented that would be a direct threat and wage war against the middle class. The political conservatives are way out of touch and we are way out of balance in how capitalism functions in this country and how boards of directors often collude to remain in the so-called status quo club especially when it relates to salaries. Reflect back over the past 15-20 years and analyze executive salaries and compare that to other sectors and the results are startling. Mr. Brooks refers to an open and free market. There is no such thing. We have a manipulated market through lobbying (should be outlawed with stiff penalties)
    and corrupt politicians creating and passing laws that benefit corporate America,
    executive salaries, personal wealth and profit. The environment is saturated with imposters opposing as CEOs (i.e.Sallie Mea, ITT Tech, Fannie and Freddie) and many of them are have popped into the education market thanks to Jeb Bush’s crew. I do believe in capitalism so long as it is true and free and the majority of many CEOs are indeed legitimate just overpaid. Often the justification for such high CEO pay is well we operate in a global more complex market. Is not life more complex for all of us? I do not believe that we are anywhere close of witnessing compassionate conservatism in politics and it has gotten worse since 2008. I’m a conservative but far from being represented by any current day republicans other than Mike DeWine of Ohio and a true compassionate conservative. He is an awesome state attorney general. WE experienced 9/11 and many of the very companies housed in those buildings were the same culprits caught in the creating the mortgage crisis. Corporate America caught
    terrorizing their own! Corporate America we expect much more from you in patriotism and you are not people. We average people paid for that and not the one percent! Where were the fiscal conservative policies that led to that catastrophe? There was hardly a peep from the conservative side other than we cannot strap our business with more regulation. We continue to hear the rhetoric. Self-regulation is not possible and it has been demonstrated and proven by Corporate America? The conservatives now are leaning toward preaching that the poor can rely on state and community support and reducing the size of government. Many of the poorest areas are from so-called compassionate conservative states. If you are truly not compassionate now you
    will not be tomorrow. I reside in a conservative county and witnessed several neighbors lose jobs accepting dramatic pay cuts with no support ever entertained from county officials other than a continued elevation of property tax. They’ve gone as far as raise the tax rate to a maximum level in addition to elevating assessed property values well above the market value in order to maintain their livelihoods. I do believe that compassionate conservatism is possible but not in the near future (many years). Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged was a novel but seems often to be the Conservative handbook to establish economic policy. It would serve America far more if conservative politicians get back to serving the America people as opposed to serving primarily corporate citizens “The Corporation” and stay off of the golf course during working hours!

  • Anonymous

    Brooks just keeps trying to slap more lipstick on the pig until now it looks like the most tarted up whore ever. In a way the interview is priceless, Brooks going on apparently oblivious to how transparent he is, a shady snake oil salesman in a cheap suit convinced he can sell ice cubes to Eskimos.

  • Anonymous

    The P. T. Barnum of free market economics. There’s a sucker born every minute. “Right this way, step right up.”

  • Anonymous

    Dalai Lama? I would have guessed Ayn Rand. It’s certainly consistent with her choice of terminology.

  • Jolinda Sumrall

    Wow, did this guy really imply that the solution to low pay, poverty, the working poor, is to deregulate and turn all of our future economic security over to the people who originally manipulated the market place for their own gain. These folks really do believe that the vast majority of the population is stupid. I just don’t buy the concept he puts forward as it has never worked! Does anyone remember Henry Ford’s idea (as imperfect as he was) that if I pay my employees a decent wage they will be able to buy my product? What a novel idea! When people make more money the economy improves.

    The rich are not going to give up a dime of wealth because they have convinced themselves that they truly are smarter, better, luckier. To the Walton Family I would ask: How much is enough? How many billions do you need? How many people do you need to use up in order to sustain your life style?

    We all look back at early American slave holders and realize there was something wrong with treating human beings in such a degrading manner. Well what’s the difference? Keeping people in perpetual poverty is equally immoral.

  • Anonymous

    Meet Arthur Brooks, Kool-Aid salesman extraordinaire.

  • Sam

    Assuming you have done “your research”; does Wal-Mart still take out “Peasant policies” unknowingly (by most) on their employees? Are they now installing cameras in their parking lots for safety concerns for their customers? Are they willing now to contribute to safety issues, i.e., fire preventions in overseas factories? And now; how did Wal-Mart manage to acquire a (is it 17)% of the gov’t program of SNAP (food stamps)?

  • Anonymous

    Despite Brooks’ repetition of creating opportunity for the poor as part of a free enterprise system, I think the only actual example he proposed involved a single person having a lawn mower, but perhaps I was wrong. His solution: some mishmash of positive thinking about “did what I do help poorer folks today?” is a bone thrown to religious interests without any of the teeth of justice. Polished to the point of slick, it is no surprise he has slithered to the top of a heap of vipers

  • Ron Johnson

    Thanks for your reply. You are right of course, the plight of the disadvantaged is timeless and the struggle endless. Perhaps pointing out to this audience adds little to the discourse, but it is so frustrating to listen to a well educated, published, seemingly passionate person say things so contrary to observable facts. Would I the intelligence of our moderator who appears such a lonely voice of reason. Watching Brooks gave me the same feeling as watching Dick Cheney with his assured demeanor, authoritarian presentation, calm certainty lie us into war, torture, debt, injury and death, with no apparent personal consequence.

  • Kim Anderson

    “I’m curious about Arthur Brook’s comment about the lawnmower. “If you have a strong back and want to cut lawns, morally, the only thin you should have to own is a lawnmower.” Is it a push-mower? Or gas? Does the government supply the lawnmower, is that what he’s saying? and the obligation to support the poor ends there, because now they are an entrepreneur and can make their own way? What about a place to store the lawnmower? (I’m thinking about homeless entrepreneurs now.) Food for the strong- backed person to eat? Does the lawn-mowing person also provide weed management and hedge trimming? Where does he get the equipment for that. What happens in the winter, does this person migrate to warmer climes where lawn mowing is in demand or does he acquire a shovel and clear driveways? and how does he compete with the guy with a snowblower down the road. I wonder what his opinions are about, say, prostitution or drug dealing. Entrepreneurial? It seems that people are trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps by doing things like working for Walmart or leaving their kids in the car while they go to a job interview but someone is right behind them pulling the rug out from under them by paying them poverty wages, cutting their access to food security or leaving them with no option for child care. It seems that if we’re going to talk about morality we should be talking about mega billion dollar corporations having a responsibility to pay their workers a decent living wage, especially huge corporations like Walmart that undermined so many entrepreneurs by undercutting their prices until those small businesses failed.

  • Anonymous

    In an ideal world I agree with you but to quote the Lord of my church “You will always have the poor among you” Its a question of degree & we each need to do our share to help rather than always looking for the big govt to cover us.. Gov only means taxpayer money.

  • Anonymous

    Question… Who owns these “corrupt” corporations? Stockholders, pension funds, IRAs; 401c, Insurance policies.. for the most part.. allot of the American people. They have Federal & state laws they must follow. They have the interest of their shareholders, & employees first & foremost.. If they do that the govt will obtain large sums of taxes from this activity not to mention all the taxes they get from corporate profits … thus the country’s well being is enhenced. Damn those bad corporations is like damning the American cititzens in a way . I know of no conservative who wants to eliminate our govt…we just want it to be more efficient & transparent.

  • Anonymous

    Price will readjust to taxes. Let other countries pay some.too. higher tax less consumption sounds sustainable to me. Theres not right to grow.

  • Anonymous

    Is it compassion that offers the CEO 300 times more money than his average worker? Is compassion the reason why the young adult is paid for working as a parking attendant? Compassion or Charity as a reason to pay someone is failed or faulty Justice. Work is time spent doing something on behalf of something that is outside one’s self-interest, even if one is interested in what is being made or offered. No matter what that work is (as long as it’s legal) it deserves a living wage because of the value of what is offered, yes. Because of the value also of one’s time spent in labour.

  • Anonymous

    Its difficult to grow as nation in a very competitive economic world which we are one of many players today.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks. Good to read. I think that it is now urgent that both right and left – all partners in the “marketplace” – need to focus outside their own self-interest and face the health of the planet as their first obligation in all things and in all exchanges. Left and right might contribute to doing this in different ways as governments come and go. But if both agree to “first do no harm”, self-interest and life interest will come together to formulate policies and programs in everyone’s interest as it cannot now do. It will finally build a shared human purpose into all national activity that can be shared globally. Only then will the market turn around a moral still point to which everyone can agree. I call this “environmental democracy”.

  • ACPhantom

    There are many people in this country with ideas for small start up business, ranches and farms sitting idle. Why? Well for several reasons but the three most important reasons are
    A)The lack of capital. If it takes money to make money then those with money will make more money. The other side of the coin is that those without money can only make money for those who loaned them the start up money. But what if we could change that. What if we created small town stock exchanges so that the towns people could put up the start up funds needed to create business that could compete with larger companies like McDonalds or even Wal-Mart. This would later help them gain the funds needed for retirement.
    Problem B) Expendable income. Small family owned companies live or die based on the expendable incomes of their customers. Since the crash most working people saw their expendable income disappear. This is great for bulk buy and sell monopolies like Wal-Mart or Dollar General but local stores have no way to compete. Raising the minimum wage as well as overall wages and starting new locally owned businesses at the same time would solve this problem. It would put more money into hands of local workers and would keep profits from leaving the town on their way to New York.
    Problem C) National and international companies competing with local and regional business without limitations. Anti-trust laws and tariffs were there to level the playing field so that more people could compete thus spreading the wealth. Without those safe guards mega corporations are able to crush family owned farms and business and consolidate power and money elsewhere, The result is what we are seeing now. 40 years of bad policy have lead us to this lop sided economy. But we can take it back one small town at a time.

  • ElisianTime

    I watched in horror as Arthur C. Brooks expounded upon the need for more corporate welfare in the form of earned income offsets.

    SNAP and Welfare should be charged to the corporations that force workers into applying for aid to survive as working poor. This should include universities who regularly use adjuncts (over 70% of all university educators are now adjuncts without benefits). Externalization costs should also be charged to corporations, including costs of cleanup for toxic trespass and healthcare for communities.

    Corporations don’t have any moral responsibility because they are NOT people, in spite of what the Supreme Court says, and obviously in spite of what Brooks believes about business. Clearly HE needs to update his thinking and education. It is clear that he cannot hear the literacy of inequality he so proudly promotes without conscience.

    And Mr. Brooks explanation that Americans are not educated for the modern world is flat wrong. We have plenty of educated workers, and NO JOBS. We have longstanding systems of privilege that oppresses opportunity for women, people of color and the poor. His assertion that males (presumably white) need aid was flabbergasting. They need jobs that pay better wages. I am convinced this will not happen with Mr. Brooks utilitarian ethics. He has no ideas-just empty rhetoric which included photo ops with the Dali Lama. How horrific!

    Along with minimum wage, we need a maximum wage for all CEOs and OWNERS, and the excess needs to be put into a public permanent fund similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund for infrastructure projects, free higher education, low or NO interest loans to worker coops, and cleaning up the toxic trespass left behind by corporatocracy.

    Corporatocracy has almost destroyed our working democracy. CORPORATOCRACY, the ideal of Mr. Brooks, is government of, by and for the corporation. How incredibly posthuman!

  • ElisianTime

    Lol~ Toxic Kool-Aid at that!

  • ElisianTime

    I nearly choked at that too! Brooks is clearly a corporatist who likes his position in CORPORATOCRACY!~

  • ElisianTime

    I am horrified he used the Dalai Lama to promote his inequality!

  • ElisianTime

    OMG! Go watch “The Corporation” by Joel Bakan. Corporations got where they are on the backs of freed slaves through the 14th amendment. Google it and educate yourself!

  • ElisianTime

    “too big to fail” was the euphemism for predatory lending 😉

  • ElisianTime

    I nearly fell out of my chair when Brooks said the implementation of minimum wage would only help our teenagers. Then he got into that awkwardly telling moment when he spoke about Black youth and bringing unemployment down for them to 43%. I still cannot believe it! What an incredible ignoramus!

  • ElisianTime

    You sound like me, except I am 58 and teaching one university class as an adjunct. My university decided to cut adjuncts so they did not have to pay benefits (the Wal Martization of the university!). I was nomadically homeless last year, having to haul a 10 foot trailer from campground to campground in the area to survive.

    I am also looking for a job overseas. It is either that or apply to the Peace Corps.

    The United States has become the land of 1% opportunists!

  • Michelle Tsiebos

    If Walmart and the fast food industries are paying their workers “market” prices why are corporations such as Starbucks and Costco paying almost the double? Are they Non Profit Organizations or just setting themselves for failure? This lack of social consciousness is mind boggling!

  • Bill Gibson

    One glaring inaccuracy in Brooks’ comments was that today thetax rate is the highest it’s ever been.
    After WW II, the tax rates for corporations and the richest were as high as 90%. The rates were not decreased substantially until Reagan. But during this high tax rate time, our country enjoyed a fantastically great prosperity. Lots of jobs. Lots of spending.

  • Jed Grover

    My apology for the miss spelling but the optimistic nature is to put to good use. R unintended as the result of ten fingers with dead batteries slipped so …. let R inspire let’s say … RALLY … the next opportunity? GREAT JOB Richard.

  • Tino

    Does this Brooks consider himself a compassionate conservative? Really? Maybe compassionate to billionaires and millionaires like Walmart whom he believes is right in not paying a living wage. Well, I guess sometimes we need to hear the other side even on your show Bill. But I must say this guy is at least a millionaire and talks and acts like one, totally unaware of financial situation of anyone who’s not a millionaire/billionaire.

  • Tino

    That’s right, that passed me by. It proves he’s just talking like the very rich guy he is who wants to keep the wealth he has. And why shouldn’t he but he doesn’t seem to want anybody else to share in the wealth.

  • Anonymous

    And just who is it that pushes for bad policy so they can swoop in and take advantage, each and every time? Financial shysters! And they get away with the money with the middle class holding the bag. Nothing new here, no matter how Brooks tries to spin it. He can ‘attempt’ to create opportunities, but meanwhile, it would be much simpler if employers that have moral backbones would paying living wages. The REAL opportunity that should be created is access to quality K-12 education for everyone.

  • David Knight

    Interesting Freudian slip starting at 11:58 — “You know, if we basically can say this, we believe that conservative policies, generally speaking, are the most consistent with economic facts and the best for creating poverty …” — the only moment of astonishing moral honesty in the entirety of his comments in over 40 minutes of espousing his belief that things go better with Coke (Koch.)

  • Anonymous

    But an additional goal needs to be job creation/retention, which isn’t always compatible with capitalism. Some companies used to be benevolent – no more. Hence the need for tax incentives for job creation/retention. Necessary social engineering!

  • Alida Westman

    I agree with your points, Bill. I especially expect to see more technology to replace workers, and this means even fewer jobs.
    I wished that Mr. Brooks could experience the work environment today as an employee in a store, such as Walmart, Target, or other store where workers are very limited in power. The environment is much harsher than it was in many places two, three or four decades ago.
    I also was surprised to hear him say that we may disagree about means, but we have to agree that his intent is good, that he wants to help workers. However, intent does not provide food, shelter, or medical care. His failure to realize this is very telling.
    I do admire his willingness to come on the program. He must have known that this was not a setting where people would agree with him. I appreciate Bill’s willingness to ask questions, and his willingness to answer them from his perspective. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    The title of this show is misleading, because Mr. Brooks does not seem compassionate, and I’m not sure he has a conscience. If he was actually confronted by members of the working poor, he would stick his fingers in his ears and loudly sing “la la la la la.”

  • Anonymous

    Zero compassion audible or visible. A little smirking as Brooks delivered the same totally discredited excuses for the rich to get richer that we’ve been hearing since 1890 or so. All of those “principled truths” and “economic facts” have proven over and over to be lies.

  • KC

    People who understand the world with only one idea or an handful of ideas are the most frightening sort for they can never be wrong, at least in their mind with their beautiful abstractions, and therefore can never grow. I would suggest to Mr. Brook to try living on minimum wage working for say Walmart and McDonald for a year and experience what it means to work 60+ hours a week and still can’t make ends meet before he tries to spout again.

  • Anonymous

    As we may have noticed recently, recessions are very good for some people. Among other things, a recession disciplines labor. Sort of like detention for unruly kids – but this discipline does feature the occasionally fatal result. And as we may have noticed during the recovery, business has discovered it can do without a significant chunk of that newly disciplined labor, so it looks like the situation will be ongoing.

  • Bob McBride

    I did not see anything compassionate from Arther C. Brooks

  • Ima Peasmaeker

    Mr. Brooks sounds like a fast talking salesperson who is hoping most will not be able to read between the lines. Feels like he is substituting one concept for another to get his agenda across.

  • Kim Anderson

    I love the idea of a small town stock exchange. It seems like the original idea behind our welfare system was to support each other until people got on their feet, then we would all benefit. Do you know how to start a small town stock exchange? Are you interested in running for office in your community? These are just such clear headed ideas, I wish you’d run for mayor in my town, where there are people begging on all the exits and on-ramps. I know people have great ideas for businesses but they are snuffed out by huge corporations like walmart, and it leaves very little to choose from in the way of good paying jobs. Your assessment of the problems we face makes me wonder what would be your step by step plan for small communities to recover their financial security. I’d love to know what your vision is for that.

  • Anonymous

    I just don’t get why the “market will only bear” wages that leave workers in poverty and let the owners scarf away obscene profits. Why can’t the market bear a living wage, and the corporatists make a decent profit, not obscene.

  • C Boyle

    I never ever get the impression this guy even believes what he’s saying. Rhetoric is shallow. This guy speaks with the same superficiality that all “Free Market” types do. Just like Evangelicals who are Certain YOU are going to hell. Guys like Brooks are all the same. They just HATE paying taxes. That’s all it is. That’s ALL IT IS.

  • Anonymous

    This is wilfull adherence to lies. This is pro-Oligarchy pap/crap. The greedy caused the crash. period.

  • Anonymous

    How dare he speak of morals! Did he ever hear of Dives and Lazarus? Did he hear of the rich young man who went away saddened at the prospect of giving up his riches.

  • Anonymous

    I certainly hope all hear are speaking, writing, and encouraging others to vote. We have to rebuke these blind greedy vultures at the ballot box.

  • C Boyle

    Last thought. If you only water 1% of a garden, what happens? The 1% survives! Go ahead. Try that economic model. And when the Jesus you love returns to harvest the crop, well let me know how that goes.

  • Anonymous

    Of course I meant all “here” And I also meant “reject” as well as rebuke.

  • Michael Stillie

    Arthur Brooks seems like quite the smug little a**hole. I loved it when Bill corrected him when he tried to lay the blame for economic problems in this country on Obama.

    It didn’t look to me like Bill was buying any of this guy’s BS.

  • Michael Stillie

    You got to forgive the guy, he’s a CONservative. They’re not real big on facts.

  • Zhivko

    7:15 sums up the whole video. Forget about the data — let me read you my script and add dramatic gestures for greater impact.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly! They love to get from the system but don’t want to contribute anything to keep the system working. They know REDISTRIBUTION is the best way to do that but treat it like the devil created the word. They’ll try all kinds of elaborate diversions to circumvent REDISTRIBUTION(code for fair share of taxes) and claim it’s a better way of solving the problem when it’s hokey at best! More than likely, a setup to allow more loopholes. It’s just another attempt to convince us that we should trust them because they know best. A lot of good that has gotten us. He’s just another rat bastard ripping the system off and betraying the American people. They can call it anything else in their greedy bastard delusion but if it walk’s like a duck and quack like a duck, it’s a duck. Treason by any other name is still TREASON!!! I couldn’t be more sick of them.

    This can all be solved by letting the popular vote decide laws every 3 months. Congress can do the day to day management of government and argue the issues. The people can have a say on it 4 times a year with a popular vote to decide it conclusively. That will give us the government and economy we deserve. WE NEED TO CUT THE CRAP AND LET THE POPULAR VOTE DECIDE THE DIRECTION OUR COUNTRY SHOULD GO!!! I’M TALKING REAL DEMOCRACY!!!

  • Zedrick Brown

    Love Bill Moyers but today guest Arthur C. Brooks is such disingenuous Liar he wasn’t worth the air time. Unlike David Gregory Bill Moyers asks follow up questions and challenges the lies. There just too many of them to keep up!

  • Anonymous

    If you can own the politicians and the people don’t demand a better system to deal with corruption, you can get away with anything you want. This is living proof!!!

  • Anonymous

    Creating poverty is how they get rich! Create a sophisticated slave system that works you for less than a living wage and you’ll have to go in debt at some point. Capitalist get the cheap labor and the rewards of putting people in deep debt. Two birds, one stone!

    It’s not an accident this is happening. It’s why Bush changed bankruptcy laws to give the rich even more access to debt profits. It allows them to send jobs away and still make money selling imported products America use to make to America at prices like they were made in America. It’s all about bigger profits in flagrant disregard of how it affects the country! IF THAT’S NOT TREASON, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS! IF IT WALK’S LIKE A DUCK AND QUACK LIKE A DUCK, IT’S A DUCK!

    Democrats didn’t change it because they are part and parcel of the same problem. THEY ARE SERVANTS OF THE SAME CORRUPTION AND FEED AT THE SAME TROUGH!!!


    This can all be solved by letting the popular vote decide laws every 3 months. Congress can do the day to day management of government and argue the issues. The people can have a say on it 4 times a year with a popular vote to decide it conclusively! That will give us the government and economy we deserve. WE NEED TO CUT THROUGH THE CRAP AND LET THE POPULAR VOTE DECIDE THE DIRECTION OUR COUNTRY SHOULD GO!!! I’M TALKING REAL DEMOCRACY!!!

  • Anonymous

    If you carry a B average 10-12 I’m in favor of free college education as long as you carry a B average. Time to stop wasting our brain trust because corruption is destroying opportunities.

  • Anonymous

    This creep says we’re not practicing Capitalism and on the other hand he deplores REDISTRIBUTION which is essential to make Capitalism work! He’s suggesting more of the same crap that has been proven not to work but wants even less regulation. HE’S MAD!!! That happens to be how we got in trouble! We unleashed Glass–Steagall and made bankruptcy harder to get. These are the things that protected us that got deregulated and reduced in effect. THEY LET THE CAPITALIST PIT BULL OFF THE LEASH!!! Just a load of bull he’s talking and so is the idea of free markets and competition saving us!!! There is no such thing!

    You can’t compete with monopolies and free markets work to build poor countries and tear down developed countries as you see right before your very eyes!!! It’s because capitalism will always seek the cheapest labor in order to make the biggest profits. You need to be able to exploit a poor country to do that or reduce a developed country to exploit the labor! That’s what’s really at play with free markets and all this double talk spin to justify it!

    America needs to wake up and build a system that works in the midst of ever decreasing jobs due to technology and cheap labor overseas that is reducing our job opportunities because that’s where the investments are flowing. Unless we adopt policies that tax wealth fairly to compensate for huge technological advances and cheap labor overseas killing American jobs we’re going to continue to get worse!!! Products entering our markets from other countries without proper fees, and free market economics will turn us into a third world nation to a great degree! You don’t have to be very bright to see that! It’s right in front of your face!!! Our streets are less safe due to increased crime, poverty is increasing, and fewer people are getting a college education. EVERYTHING SAYS WE’RE HEADED INTO AN ABYSS!!!


    This can all be solved by letting the popular vote decide laws every 3 months. Congress can do the day to day management of government and argue the issues. The people can have a say on it 4 times a year with a popular vote to decide it conclusively! That will give us the government and economy we deserve. WE NEED TO CUT THROUGH THE CRAP AND LET THE POPULAR VOTE DECIDE THE DIRECTION OUR COUNTRY SHOULD GO!!! I’M TALKING REAL DEMOCRACY!!!

  • MarieIsenburg

    2nd Comment: This was more a polite confrontation than an exploration of solutions. Mr. Brooks sounds like a politician who can talk ad infinitum without offering any specifics. Apparently, his solution is to dismantle government and ask “capitalists” to ask themselves questions before they go to bed. The people who tell the rest of us if we accept responsibility to improve our lives constantly have ohers to blame for their behavior. The rich can blame government and the market for their excesses. Meanwhile, the rest of us are told we are better off going it alone. I st

  • Jeannie

    love it

  • Larry Pool

    Here is the battle joined again. The policies of Keynesian theory that require government to intervene when necessary and be a fair arbiter always, or the free-market theories of F.A. Hayek –and later Walter Friedman — are at play again. Can we find a balance? The market only works if there is a rule book that assures the middle class will benefit also.

  • MarieIsenburg

    Entrepreneurs in the process of growing a business hire and reward good people. Investor types who are in cashing out mode will cut costs and squeeze employees often relying on brand reputation for as long as it lasts to create revenues, if that is in fact their goal. Unfortunately, that is only the beginning of the story.

  • MarieIsenburg


  • Philip Fregeau

    The most appalling aspect of this interview was that Mr Brooks (and many others) actually believe his nonsense.

  • Jed Grover

    I think that I discovered one example that may convince everyone that they may have accomplished one compassionate conservative thing but it was a while back in time. On December 19, 2002 the White House’s Office of Management and Budget instructs EPA to value the lives of senior citizens at 63 percent that of younger Americans when calculating the costs and benefits of air pollution regulations. A figure of $3.7 million was used for those under 70, and $2.3 million for those over 70.

  • Kelly Cassidy DeLoriea

    Thank you, Bill for insightful follow up questions as Brooks talks around in circles. Also, it is beneficial to listen to different viewpoints, but the interview didn’t really illuminate any real solutions to the problem of inequality and unemployment. What I heard him keep saying was that the government should subsidize wages via the earned income tax credit instead of via food stamps, Medicaid, and the social safety net. Over and over he asserted that the government and tax payers should subsidize wages as he just refused to concede that corporations need to pay workers more. I wish Bill would have asked him point blank if these workers were being exploited after Brooks dealt with Adam Smith’s philosophy and the danger of exploitation. How are minimum wage workers not victims of exploitation? Brooks isn’t serious about solving these problems in our country. All he did was regurgitate the same vague conservative talking points which just equate to road blocks in the way of actual progress. Keep up the great work, Bill!!

  • Anonymous

    Arthur Brooks hybridized moralizing from a position of amorality defines a philosophy of belief more Randian than anything our Founding Fathers (which the Rt. is so often willing to extoll the virtues of) envisioned. As another commenter has said ‘the worst about this is that there are people who actually believe Brooks’…

    Brooks is trying to rewrite conservative history while also dismissing the mountains of data we now have regarding what works and does not work in the economy; to such a degree that I find it difficult to dismiss the notion he’s advocating a belief system as to how we should guide the direction of the country because his views are clearly not guided by facts.

    And, in that sense, he is advocating for a Theocracy which is little different than those who advocate Sharia Law or the dissolution of the separation of church and state; only for Brooks you can substitute ‘church’ with ‘free markets’ and the belief that capitalism can be perfect if only perfectly implemented. It is a joke with tragic consequences.

  • Jerome Morley Larson Sr.

    I usually don’t pay attention to nicknames but compliments are always from the most erudite, thoughtful and handsome people. Thanks.

  • Daniel Becker

    yes, Brooks thinks just as Rand did. Everything is judged against their life experiences and resultant ideology to determine another’s intent.

  • Thenryb

    I was actually hoping for some specifics instead of the drivel I heard.

  • louis salazar

    Well, Mr. brooks did say that the republicans could “come roaring back” if they adopt his “policies”. Yeah, when pigs fly. What the hell was this guy smoking when he met the dali lama?

  • GregoryC

    The current president has bailed out Wall Street, Big Pharma, Big Health Insurance, the Military Industrial Intelligence Complex, Big Agriculture, Fossil Fuel industry (increasing subsidies, even to Haliburton, doesn’t that make your head explode?!). Trillions of dollars have gone to Wall Street and corporate welfare, while millions of homeowners are still struggling with underwater mortgages.

    As long as you believe only the Republicans are working against us, the system will NEVER change for the better. You MUST hold Democrats equally accountable for their failures.

  • GregoryC

    Obama who bailed out Wall Street not the people? Obama who negotiates more “free trade” deals giving corporations more power, more wealth and fewer regulations and supervision? Obama whose austerity and social spending cuts increased income inequality? Obama who extended the Bush tax cuts (starving the beast) for all but the smallest number of wealthy Americans? Obama who sold out the public option, raising minimum wage, bailouts of homeowners, not hiring lobbyists representing corporate interests to work in his administration? Obama who ignored and covered up the fraud of Wall Street (while prosecuting whistle-blowers, leakers, journalists)?

  • GregoryC

    We had strong unions that worked on behalf of working class Americans. Now the management of the unions seem to be too invested in the Wall Street Democratic Party hierarchy and serve corporations, not their membership. Something has gone terribly wrong.

  • GregoryC

    I agree. Corporations shouldn’t be permitted to dodge taxes, especially when their business model requires subsidies for social programs their workers rely upon. They should have to repay that to the government.

  • GregoryC

    You give FOX too much credit. I don’t think any of the corporate media giants give two cents about the working poor or middle class.

  • GregoryC

    Neo-liberalism not neo-republican. The masters of neo-liberal policies have been Bill Clinton (Hillary will be worse) and Obama.

    Neo-liberalism is privatization, deregulation, desupervision and to quote Bill Black, de facto decriminalization.

  • GregoryC

    Our work force has already declined to levels last seen in the late 1970s related to globalization, trade deals, offshoring jobs to lowest wage nations, deregulation, privatization, importing foreign labor through H-1B visa programs as American workers remain unemployed.

  • GregoryC

    What Obama says and does are vastly different.

  • GregoryC

    Welcome to “friendly” fascism — I want one of those flags that replaces the stars with corporate logos. It is more representative of the U.S. government.

  • Jed Grover

    Forgive me if I mislead you but my response is about every politician in DC! I’m confident that you and I would have much in common but I remind you that we no longer can afford a war among ourselves and as Americans. I’m am far from party support since it has become the enemy. The past three presidents in my opinion not such great performers. It’s time to move beyond and either solve problems or ……. Think about all the outside influence …. think think think. I’ll buy you a beer if I we ever meet.

  • Mark


  • Mark

    everytime he was about to need to deal in real facts, he jumped to another subject or example.

  • Jed Grover

    I totally agree with you Greg! I was not happy that the current president followed through with the Wall Street bailout. I do not hold just Republicans accountable since both are to blame! I responded earlier stating that every Politician in DC is responsible. I also commented about the “outside influence” namely K Street! We must remove and eliminate that outside influence or NOTHING is ever going to change. I remind that I am not happy with either party over the past 15-20 years and it has just gotten worse. Lobbying cannot possibly be legal and must be outlawed with stiff penalties. In addition if the elected officials are caught with conflicting interest they should be tried and if guilty given a lengthy jail term. We expect a much higher moral standard from them all and Corporate American we expect you to respect this. Show your true patriotism besides worship of profits.

  • Jed Grover

    I do not believe that Republicans are working against us. I do believe that Republican and Democratic Politics have become so dysfunctional that it is incapable of governing. The reason for the dysfunction is tied directly to Corporate and special interest lobbying. We eliminate that from the equation I think we all will witness different results from DC. Imagine where both parties go to work respect, share ideas and get back to compromising in their decision making without that BIG outside influence. The outside influence is packed with a very intelligent, educated group playing both parties against each other creating the distraction they need. It is then that their interest are served and not the American people. The thought that “the corporation” is considered a person is a grossly absurd. The past three presidents played a role in the bail out Wall Street, Big Pharma, Big Health Insurance, the Military Industrial Intelligence Complex, Big Agriculture, Fossil Fuel industry. The reason … that OUTSIDE INFLUENCE and they have loads of CASH! If they remain in business then expect the status quo and ultimately they will be pitting our own people against each other. We’re on the brink of that today.

  • Brian Schwartz

    – “Why do we talk about dead-end jobs as opposed to making all jobs pay, and remembering that all work is dignified.”
    + Because people like you, Mr. Brooks, consistently reject and fight against public policies which would require that work to pay more (minimum wage) or present a better degree of dignity in life (universal health care, occupational health & safety standards, welfare programs that ease the desperation of low-end workers, etc.).

    – “We are warriors for true entrepreneurship, which is, you know, it doesn’t matter if you don’t speak English, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have an education. If you have a strong back and want to cut lawns, morally, the only thing you should have to own is a lawnmower”
    + …..and enough desperation that you will mow those lawns for less money than you would need to live without government the government assistance conservatives rail against, to say nothing of actually earning enough extra to afford to feed/clothe/house/medicate your family or better educate yourself to find a higher paying career, or even make enough money to afford to spend any quality time with that family.
    – “We’re committed to the idea that work is a good and an honorable and a blessed thing and it should pay”
    + …….we’re just opposed to the idea that there should be any legal requirement for such work should to pay enough or treat workers well enough for them to actually live.

    – “That said, imagine if on the conservative side we have an examination of conscience where every night before we go to sleep we say, “Did all of my work go for the benefit of people with less power than me?”
    + To which many wealthy businessmen would take a look around their lavish mansion, calculate that paying their workers a living wage and/or adequate health care funding might require them to sacrifice use of the company’s private jet for golf weekends in Hawaii, and then answer themselves with, “Yep, I’ve done all I could.”

    Because, on the conservative side, it should be purely up to the moral code of the wealthy profiteer (rather than a regulatory agency) to determine whether or not he has gone too far in exploiting the desperation of people with far less power; in much the same way that we allow hurried drivers to decide for themselves which red lights they should stop at regardless of who else that behavior endangers, or how we allow pedophiles to decide for themselves what age of child is too young to exploit for their own personal benefit.

  • Eon G. Cooper


  • Mark Vander Vinne

    Thank you, Bill. I’ve watched you for more years than I care to admit. And while I often agree with your politics, I am even more impressed that you continually try to show both sides. That you have people on who may not agree with you and ask them questions to try to understand their viewpoint. Also, that when you have people on who do agree with you, you do your best to try to play devil’s advocate to them. This is what journalism should be, but sadly is very difficult to find in today’s media environment.

  • Anonymous

    Brooks is saying by raising the wages of MacDonald workers is not what the market is calling for, in effect; they are already getting what their worth and, that is nothing but BS. Ask a capitalist these days ” how much is enough”? and, the answer is there is no such thing as too much. They have a captive workforce and they take full advantage of the fact. They twist, fowl, tinker with and lie when it comes to the books and, on top of that they nestle their bathroom size head quarters in place like Ireland to get out of paying rightful taxes, not to mention sitting on their trillions and starving the Market to death. Evil, that’s all they are. Evil.

  • http://jdcareersoutthere.com/ Marc Luber

    Bill, great job as always. I commend you for continuing to bring guests on who don’t share your perspective, allowing them to speak and then responding to them in your typically respectful tone. I liked Mr. Brooks’ demeanor and, as a registered independent, was excited to hear a conservative openly share his point of view on these topics in a calm, respectful manner. No shouting blowhards here.

    I particularly liked Mr. Brooks’ talk about working together and sharing ideas to get to mutually shared goals. I was eager to hear him say something that I could latch on to to understand how conservatives would achieve these goals so I could envision this working together he spoke of…and in turn envision the great end results.

    However, after watching the TV and web versions TWICE (because I thought I must have missed something), I heard zero solutions. The EITC already exists, so that doesn’t count. What were his solutions? Grow the economy so that more people could work for status quo wages at Wal Mart? And what about the government assistance that these workers are currently having to rely on?

    The fact that he 100% blamed public policy for the 2008 meltdown and would attribute nothing to corporate greed or moral responsibility spoke volumes for me. The fact that he tried to pin so much on Obama without adequately acknowledging history also spoke volumes.

    I’m walking away with the conclusion that he’s great at being a friendly, down-to-earth speaker who has mastered the art of talking a lot without actually saying anything. I’m also walking away with the conclusion that he must speak solely on behalf of the massive corporate clients and contributors to his think tank. It’s a bummer, because this interview seemed promising.

    Keep up the great work.

  • Rosanne J.

    I heard that loud and clear! And I thought, “exactly what you must really think.” He also said several times that we should not be envious of those ultra rich folks – he doth protest too much.