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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 25, 2013 1:40pm-2:01pm EDT

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under this 1908 law unless you had $500 worth of assessed property in the city, unless you were naturalized or you were the son of a natural -- of course, no women voting at all in 1908, so it doesn't matter -- unless you're the son or descendant of a naturalized citizen, or unless your grandfather could have voted in january 1, 1868. well, in 1868 voting in annapolis is tied to the 1867 constitution of maryland which allowed voting only to males, white males. so if your grandfather wasn't a white male and couldn't vote, you couldn't vote. no matter the 15th amendment in 1870 in annapolis. if you couldn't vote in 1868, you couldn't vote in 1908. >> more about maryland's state
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capital as booktv and american history tv look at the history and literary life of annapolis, september 7th and 8th on c-span2 and 3. >> in "superwealth," max borders argues that americans should not be worried about income inequality and said government redistribution policies will lead to economic stagnation or worse. booktv talked to mr. borders during freedom fest 2013 for about 15 minutes. >> host: now on booktv we want to introduce you to max boarders who has written a new book called "super wealth." mr. borders, tell us about yourself before we get started. >> guest: sure. i'm the editor of a magazine called the treeman, one of -- freeman. the nation's oldest libertarian think tank. >> host: how'd you get started with that? >> guest: well, been doing it for about a year now, editing at
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the freeman, and i got mixed up with them by, basically, writing about these ideas in the movement. they saw someone they liked in me, and i've been doing it ever since, having a great time doing it. where'd you grow up? >> guest: charlotte, north carolina. >> host: where'd you go to school? >> guest: as an undergrad, appalachia state in north carolina and did any graduate work at university college in london. >> host: why are you a libertarian? >> guest: i am a libertarian, ultimately, i guess there are many facets to how one could answer that question, but for me i see liberty as the goal. i think that people flourish if human beings -- as human beings when they are free, and i think we're more virtuous people when we're free, and i think cooperative arrangements based not on fear and hierarchy, but on cooperation, collaboration are much healthier relationships and, certainly, i think history has borne that out.
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>> host: well, max borders, your book is called "super wealth," but the subtitle is "why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor." why should we stop worrying? >> guest: well, let me take a couple of examples. first of all, the gap between rich and poor is not in and of itself a bad thing. and let me, let me put it to you in the following sense. if i were to ask you -- i play a little game with my son, 6 years old, called would you rather. and it's usually would you rather have great big ears or great big nose? and it's funny for him. but in this version of the game i would like to ask any reader would you rather there be a state of affairs where the poorest people, the poorest people in society are lifted up and yet there be many, many more
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billionaires, would you rather live in a state of affairs where we're all equal, but the oarest people in society -- the poorest people in society are not as well off? and i think that is the dichotomy. that is the question we're confronted with when we think about wealth and want. we want the poorest people in society -- so it is in and of itself we ought not, i argue, be concerned about inequality per se. we should absolutely be concerned about the lot of the least advantaged. >> host: and you play that game in your book, "super wealth," on the subject of the rich power gap, i suggest engaged people in a simple thought experiment. if you were king or queen for a day and you could choose between two state of affairs, which would they be? a, permanently institute a policy that significantly reduces the gap and, b, permanently institute a policy that makes everyone better off including the poor. try it out, take your time.
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before jumping to any conclusions, think about these choices carefully. it's not a logic test. as i said, the thought experiment is designed to unpack our intuitions on the subject of rich and poor. what are our intuitions? >> guest: i think we have a lot of intuitions that come from our clannish caveman instincts. we tend to see someone with more, and maybe we want it. or we see someone with less, and we feel indignation. i think those insipts have -- instincts have to be overcome with the idea of, look, this is a virtuous to system. we would look around at a rain forest and say, wow, the trees bobble up all the resources. and yet that, in people's mind s rather a virtue rouse ecosystem. a rain forest is not a place of equal distribution of resources. the termites on the ground or
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the tapirs in the trees have a different share of those resources than the great mahogany trees in the canopy. so it's not -- it's really about the whole flourishing of the ecosystem. and ecosystems are not equal. economic ecosystems are also not equal, and people create and contribute varying degrees of value and receive remuneration for varying degrees of contribution to that value ecosystem. that is as natural as the rain forest. in my view. >> host: who are the makers and the takers that you talk about in "super wealth"? >> guest: that's a great question. interestingly, started out asking asking me why i'm a libertarian. another reason is because i'm bound and determined to make a distinction between makers and takers because the makers in the world are the ones who do create value and the takers are those who don't create value, but call
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themselves business people or entrepreneurs and, essentially, use the levers of our to divert resources to their own coffers. i think this is a terribly devastating state of affairs in our country. in fact, we're at a conference right now that is devoted to the theme are we rome? we know that the romans basically taxed the people and gave them bread and circuses. we know that there were favored cronies in the state in ancient rome, and we want to see, i want to see as libertarian, as someone who, i believe, understands value ecosystems that are economies that we disentangle those who are diverting resources and creating upward transfers from poor people to rich people -- like rich stadium owners, say, who, owners of sports teams. this is, to me, unconscionable. this is not entrepreneurship. it's basically gaming the system
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and putting money in your coffers. i find that socially destructive. however, there are people in the world who are creating tremendous value for people. good things. goods and services whether it be life-saving drugs or fresh, healthy foods at whole foods, say. these entrepreneurs, people who start these companies are creating, participating in the value ecosystem, and they're the makers. >> host: max borders, in "super wealth" you say that walmart has probably done more to reduce above bety than any organization -- poverty than any organization in the world. >> guest: i believe that, yes. >> host: how so? >> guest: if you consider the -- let's take a lot of facets of this remarkable juggernaut of a business over last 40 years or so. they have a tremendous reach not only across the united states, but they offer goods and services at very low prices to
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people who we might call the least well off in society. now, i admit, i'm a walmart and target shopper myself. but if you consider the extent of these organizations and the prices they're able to make goods and services available to people, that right there you're saving money relative to other companies, they're saving poor people money. second, consider the people who participate as workers in this system to whom walmart outsources. there are probably millions of chinese people on the order of over last few years alone millions of chinese people in one country alone who have been lifted out of poverty merely by virtue of the existence of walmart alone. because they outsourced some of their -- you get some of their products manufactured in china to which our citizens benefit.
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they are incredible job creators. there's a debate going on right now about whether they, whether the wages they offer are good enough by some arbitrary standard set by a politician or an activist, and yet we know people have these jobs, and this is preferable to nothing, for example, or to being perpetually on the dole. of course, if you're a politician, being perpetually on the dole is something you might like. but walmart despite some of their okays on -- their objections on net has created tremendous benefit for the least advantaged in society, and i think that's undeniable. >> host: and you write: by historical and international standards, the american four are in fine shape. >> guest: absolutely. i think one need only go -- there's a measure, this is a fancy term called the genie index. geneny index measures the gap between rich and poor, okay? we can go with a country like the united states, like hong
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kong or like singapore, and we will find that the genie indices in these countries are very great. that is, the distance between the richest purpose person there and the rest of us is very great. but would we rather be in these places than we would places with reduced genie indices such as venezuela or north korea or myanmar? i would submit to you we would not. i'd much rather live in singapore and hong kong or the united states while there is great inequality, because the ecosystem of values -- i put it earlier -- naturally exhibits aspects of inequality that we would all prefer to be in those wealthier places. and upward mobility opportunities, these places afford greatly outpace those of the more equal societies, as it were. >> host: finally, i want to read again from "super wealth." financial regulation is
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complicated, and there are vigorous debates about what sorts of regulations are good for preserving the system as a whole while not hampering growth t. we haven't the space to launch these debates in this book, but there is a whole class of regulations that is no good to anyone. what are some of those regulations, and what are some regulations that you think might be good? >> guest: um, i think primarily -- specifically in the financial sector? or in any sector? >> host: you talk about the financial sector. >> guest: financial sector. i think one of the -- the financial sector is extremely complex, but one of the things that happens with regulations that are no good to anyone are the ones that tend to increase the power of entrenched interests. so when you, when you introduce
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a complicated regulation on any industry but particularly in the financial industry, the main players in that industry tend to love it because it raises barriers to entry to competitors, and you essentially get a power-sharing arrangement, a cartel, based on those regulations. so to put it in simple terms, if i'm a little guy, i can't afford the army of lawyers to navigate all this stuff, okay? that's one aspect. now, of course, some of these regulations are purportedly designed for there not to be disaster cans. what they end up doing is shoring up these mayor -- major players and making it so that they end up colluding with the very people that were supposed to be regulating them, and they create a system whereby wealth gets traded from the poor to the rich. the regulation that happened in
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the wake of the financial crisis of 2007-2008 ended up creating as much moral hazard -- moral hazard is the idea that we're too big to fail -- it entrenched and built a hook around these financial industries to the point that too big to fail was permanent, so were the entrenched interests. that is not, that is a sclerotic system that ends up not benefiting the least well off in society, but ends up enriching the much-maligned 1%. now, that's not to say these financial institutions are all bad. they offer capital to markets and things that are good for building that value ecosystem we talked about. but the regulations attached to it get captured by those special interests, and regulations end up working against the goals, the social goals that we probably all share. >> host: on the other side -- >> guest: yes. >> host: what's a good one?
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>> guest: good, it's really tough for me to talk about a good regulation because most regulations end up having negative unintended con scwexes, perverse effects of some kind. regulation of the financial industry, i think, i think certain degrees of transparency with respect to trading practices and so on are probably good regulations. but most of them i'd toss out the window. >> host: max borders, senator rand paul has blurbed your book, and it's on the front. max borders has written the answer to occupy and the politics of class warfare. i will need at least 100 copies of this book, one for each of my colleagues in the senate. what do you think of the occupy movement? >> guest: belief it or not, i am not -- believe it or not, i am not -- the occupy movement, to me, is a mixed movement.
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so i think they have some very good things to say. i think they're the reflexive fetishism that the occupy to movement embraced that muddied their message. but when they point to financial institutions that are colluding with people that have power and saying there's something wrong there, they have a point. it's amazing how much overlap there is between what the tea party had to say on the one happened and what the occupy movement had to say on the other. and it's in that overlap, i believe, that real, good reforms can happen. we, you know, people like me and people in occupy wall street both object to the kind of cronyism that runs rampant in washington and now, by default, in new york. and that cronyism, that collusion between the people with the power and the people with the money is where really bad stuff happens. and we want to just -- my belief
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is that a flourishing society will disentangle that. >> host: we've been talking here on booktv on c-span2 with max borders, author of "super wealth: why we should stop worrying about the gap between the rich and the poor." booktv is on location at freedom fest in las vegas. >> you're watching booktv, nonfiction authors and books every weekend on c-span2. >> host: now on booktv we want to introduce you to the director of the yale university press, john donatich. mr. donatich, we're doing a preview of some of the books coming up this fall. what are some that yale has coming out? >> guest: big fall for us, the one i would start off with is the app generation by howard gardener and katie davis. howard gardener is probably one of the country's top educational psychiatrists, psychologicallists around. he came up with a theory called mutt billion intelligences which
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has really transformed the way we think about education and the way kids fare in school and college which is to say there isn't just one aptitude or kind of intelligence that tests well or, you know, answers -- in conversation in the classroom. but there's a lot ofnite intelligences, emotional intelligences, and he's the first person to kind of codify and cohere those multiple intelligences into a single understanding of the human mind. he's now, for the first time in his career, turning his attention to the digital generation, the app generation and how these kids coming up, you know, born with an ipad in their hands, reading on an ipad for the first time in their life, seeing how things are truly interactive and dynamic in the kind of digital interface, how that changes the cognitive development of a child, the social ability to engage out there. and i think this is going to be sort of a very ground breaking book by a true master of how we operate in the world and how
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we're adapting. so it's very exciting. >> host: well, another book you have coming up this fall is "if mayors ruled the world." >> guest: benjamin barber wrote a book that was a bestseller a few years ago called "jihad versus the world." and this book, it's really interesting. when you take a look at some of the most dynamic people in our political currency right now whether it's mayor bloomberg in new york or cory booker in newark and these mayors getting things done on a micro and macro level and why can't the same thing happen on a national or international level? why are our national politics so paralyzed? unable to move the ball or open the envelope even. so he takes a look at the sort of ways in which mayors operation within the police call steer -- sphere. he looks at mayors all over the
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world; bangkok, london, hong kong. fascinating stuff. >> host: and david bentley hart has a new book. >> guest: he wrote a book ca ca ca -- a couple years ago where he looked at what he called the angry atheists, people like christopher hitchens, daniel dennett and richard dawkins and wondered why in this particular moment there was such hostility to religion by some of our public intellectuals. in this book he really wants to get aside from the politics of it all and look across most of the denominations to the experience of god. how people across different can faiths understand god as an emotional and spiritual presence in chair lives. -- in their lives. and it's a gorgeous book. he's an amazing writer, i think one of the great stylists. and this is a real opportunity to sit with a major theologian and wonder about how god is

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