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Transcript: Anand Giridharadas – The Big Picture



The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Anand Giridharadas on Persuasion in a Free Societ, is below.

You can stream and download our full conversation, including any podcast extras, on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyYouTube, and Bloomberg. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.


00:00:02 [Speaker Changed] This is Masters in business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio.

00:00:09 [Barry Ritholtz] My extra special guest this week is Anand Giridharadas. He is the bestselling author of four separate books. Previously he was a foreign correspondent and columnist for the New York Times. He has published at the New Yorker, the Atlantic Time Magazine. He is an on-air political analyst for M-S-N-B-C and a publisher of the newsletter, the Inc. His previous book Winners Take All was a bestseller. His new book, the Persuaders at the Front Lines of the Fight for the Hearts and Minds of Democracy, is out now. Anand, welcome to Bloomberg.

00:00:46 [Anand Giridharadas] Thank you so much for having me.

00:00:48 [Barry Ritholtz] Well, I’ve been following your work for a while and I I’m really excited to talk to you about both the new book and some of the articles you’ve published recently. But let’s start out a little bit with your background. ’cause you’ve been in journalism for a few decades now, but you began as a business analyst for McKinsey. I mean, that’s about as establishment as it gets. What was the career plan?

00:01:09 [Anand Giridharadas] You know, I actually knew exactly what I wanted to do from a pretty young age, which is really what I’m doing now, which is writing and being a journalist. I figured it out first semester of my sophomore year of high school, that was when you could join the high school newspaper. And we had this newspaper at my high school called Horizon. And I applied and I got into the newspaper and from the first couple weeks of writing stupid little school newspaper articles. And I think I was assigned to cover sports and I didn’t really play sports. It was not that the content was so riveting to me, but the, the, the idea that you could go out, look at the world, see things, talk to people, see things with your eyes, interpret what they mean, go back, write it up, process it in your way, think about what you think it means.

00:01:57 And then on this very small scale, a few hundred people would, would get it printed and delivered and they would see it and, and it would go into their brains. It was such an insanely magical concept to me that I was very clear that first semester of sophomore year of high school, like, this is what I want to do. And, you know, fast forward 28 years later, if I have the math right, like that’s what I do. But there was this blip in the middle and the reason for the blip, the one year blip was that getting into journalism, getting into writing is harder than getting into, you know, the most exclusive nightclub in Berlin. You know, I think it’s gotten in some ways better because of more awareness around how these barriers keep lots of people out. In some ways it’s gotten harder just ’cause there’s fewer journalism jobs now, even than when I was 15 or 17 or 20.

00:02:43 But it was always this profession where, at least in my experience, like there weren’t job sites where where these jobs were listed. You kinda had to figure out your way in and, and maybe write some freelance articles for someone. And, and so as I was finishing college again, dead set on journalism, applied for jobs, couldn’t really find anything, couldn’t, you know, wanted to maybe go overseas, couldn’t find anything. And I got some advice from one of my mentors, Jill Abramson, who was an editor at the New York Times then and later became the editor of the paper. And she said, you know, go out into the world. Don’t try to be a journalist by hanging around in New York and Washington, like a thousand other people trying to vie for one job, one internship, go far away, see the world, come back with some knowledge of something other people don’t know, don’t have some expertise in something, just go collide with the world. Did

00:03:34 [Speaker Changed] Did you follow that advice?

00:03:35 [Speaker Changed] I did. And so I thought, where did you go? So I went to India and so I worked for McKinsey actually, because I basically decided I wanted to go to India and you were, and then I tried to get a journalism job. My, my family had come from India, my parents had immigrated.

00:03:46 [Speaker Changed] But you grew up in Ohio, you were like,

00:03:48 [Speaker Changed] Yeah, I had never lived in India. I mean I, you know, did you speak the language? Nope. I mean, everybody

00:03:52 [Speaker Changed] Speaks English, right?

00:03:53 [Speaker Changed] I mean, no, no, no, no. Like, oh really? The entire elite speaks English. One or 2% of people speak English and no one else does. And so I actually had this quite tortured relationship to India, which is the same as many, you know, second generation Sure. Kids where, you know, I always say like, the first thing I learned about India was that my parents chose to get out of it. It’s not, not, it’s not the best Yelp review, right? But part of me took this advice of colliding with the world, said, you know, I should go to a place that I have difficulty with, not a place that I have ease. I mean, I could go to London or whatever. I should go to India because it’ll be complicated and I’ll have to grapple with things and that’ll make me a writer. I had this kind of fantasy that the, that the forced grappling Hemingway be a writer hem esque.

00:04:34 Yeah. And so, and how was it? It was incredible. I mean, that job was terrible. I, I, I applied for journalism jobs, you know, no one was gonna send a 21-year-old University of Michigan graduate to go be a foreign correspondent in India, which I didn’t quite understand at the time. So I started looking for other things and I applied to the local office of McKinsey. I think making $14,000 a year on a local contract. I could barely pay for my, like, shared as like a room in someone else’s apartment. ’cause Bombay real estate prices are the same as New York, even though my salary was $14,000 a year. Wow. People live with their families or, you know, make, make do. So that job was not great. And I was not cut out for business. So I was quite miserable that year. But I was miserable in a way.

00:05:16 ’cause I’d come to this really interesting place and working in business, I had no engagement with the place. I was just doing some random job and I realized like, I need to either leave or I need to dig into this society in my way, which is writing, thinking, journalism. And so I luckily after that year, got a job at the New York Times. It was easier to get a job once I was there on the ground, set up new things, new people. And I got this job, talked my way into this job at the Times. And I’ve been a full-time writer ever since. And you

00:05:45 [Speaker Changed] Wrote a book about your

00:05:46 [Speaker Changed] Experiences at the end of that six years in India, I wrote a book about the transformation of modern India through the stories of five families. It was so remarkable once I had the right job, you know, and for someone else doing business in India in that time would’ve been a very exciting thing. It’s just not my thing in the world. But once my job was to observe what was around me and try to process it and make sense of it and turn it into writing and sometimes even art, it was just the most remarkable place to be. India’s a remarkable country to be a, a writer in, it’s a colleague of mine. Lydia Polgreen once said that there’s no shortage of public opinion. And it was a remarkable place to cut my teeth as a, as a journalist.

00:06:26 [Speaker Changed] So how did your six years of experience in India affect how you think about the job of seeing what’s happening in the world or in a local space, processing it and writing it, and secondly, that’s a really stratified class system. How did India affect how you see the world of, you know, the top 1%, the top 0.1%. And eventually winners take all

00:06:53 [Speaker Changed] Such a Good question. I’ll do the second one first. The kind of gruesome inequities of India that have just been baked into India for a very long time.

00:07:01 [Speaker Changed] Do, do people, do people just assume it’s just never gonna change? They just take it for granted? Or, or is there foment under the surface? Well,

00:07:10 [Speaker Changed] Remember India never had a revolution the way China did. Right? India never had a revolution the way Russia did, right? So a lot of countries coming out of colonization or the 20th century had these kind of disruptions to the social order. What is remarkable about modern India is that it kind of built a liberal democracy coming out of colonization with this incredible group of communities and populations that are as or more diverse than the countries of the European Union, let’s say. Right? But all in one country. And it never really had a rupture with the past where it got rid of the old social order the way say the Chinese cracked down on Confucianism or something like that, right? So everything new that has been added in India is sort of layered on top of the old, but no old layer was ever eradicated. And so what that resulted in India is a lot of these very ancient hierarchies that have been pretty undisturbed.

00:08:02 You know, the caste system, but also just in some places, in some rural areas like the caste system, very much still functions. If you look at the distribution of who works in the IT industry, it still very much follows caste even if people are not conscious of it. Huh? Much like race here. But even more powerful than that is an idea of caste. The kind of residual idea of caste is the naturalness of human inequality. When the Declaration of independence starts with all men are created equal. It’s a radical statement. It was a radical statement.

00:08:30 [Speaker Changed] Footnote, that little three-fifths thing we’ll deal with later,

00:08:33 [Speaker Changed] Of course. But even the articulation of that idea, we don’t realize, ’cause we think that’s just a normal idea. In fact, they didn’t go far enough. They didn’t include women, they didn’t include black people. Right. But even articulating that in 1776 was quite a break. Pretty radical from how people thought. Yeah. And I think in India you just see very dramatically the naturalness in people’s minds of human inequality. People are naturally born at different levels. People deserve in many ways, in, in a lot of Hindu traditions, people believe that you deserve the station to which you’re born. If you were a a, a humble servant, it’s because you did something wrong in a past life. I know people in my own family who do heroic work taking care of the poor. But you’ve asked them why they think those people who they take care of are poor. They believe deep down it’s ’cause they did something wrong in a past life.

00:09:21 [Speaker Changed] That seems like a fantastic mechanism for controlling the poors to say, we’re gonna take this belief system and impose it on you. And yeah, this may be a horrible, miserable, low paying job, backbreaking job, but hey man, you earned it. You did something and now you gotta suffer the consequences. And it’s almost puritanical to draw the parallel to the us

00:09:44 [Speaker Changed] But, but there’s also an incentive structure built into it. Yeah. Which is, if you now spend this lowly poor existence doing good things,

00:09:51 [Speaker Changed] Well the next life

00:09:52 [Speaker Changed] Wait, waiting, waiting on your, waiting on your superiors with alacrity, you know, then you’ll be born into a higher station next time. And, and the reason I say all that to you is when you said how did it imprint my view of other things, I grew up with illusions in this country, in the United States that I think many of us grew up with. Sure. That in an immigrant, upwardly mobile immigrant family, my family had this notion of America, a country where you make your own destiny, you rise as you know, high, as as your merit can take you, et cetera. And I think we didn’t necessarily see the limits of that truth in our own experience. ’cause we were fortunate and going to India radicalized me not only about India, but it actually made me see America in a new way. Because what is true in India in the most dramatic form is actually true everywhere. Most people in the world do not in fact make their destiny. Most people in the world do not in fact rise as far as their merit can take them.

00:10:49 [Speaker Changed] So let me push back. I, and, and I’m loving this, this conversation, but when you look at futile England and the monarchy, like what still is hanging around of the monarch system and the Lords and the nobles and the Dukes and all that stuff, there are remnants of it. There’s some persistence in, in landed gentry. But by and large it seems from afar like the UK is a far more equitable country today than it was 500 years ago. What I’m hearing from you about the caste system is not only is this an overlay on modern India or an underlay with modern India built on top, but at a very first principles level, philosophically, not a lot of people are, are shrugging it off the way you see the monarchy sort of being shrugged off. In the uk

00:11:45 [Speaker Changed] The way I think about it is, I think there is a, an arc and a continuum, right? What Martin Luther King talked about is the arc of the moral universe from systems and structures of extreme hierarchy and extreme kind of discarding of most people on one end. And then on the other end systems of imagined perfect equality, which of course exists nowhere. I think there’s no question that most societies you and I can think of have moved along the arc. I think some places like the United States are much further along the arc in certain ways than a place like India, you know, largely ’cause of affluence. I mean, it’s, it’s easier to empower right people when you have an American level of per capita GDP than an Indian level of per capita GDP. But also there is a philosophical difference. But I think in this country, in the United States, we over believe our story that people can just invent themselves to their chosen level.

00:12:38 It’s not that it doesn’t happen for anyone, it happens for actually millions and millions of people. And that’s remarkable. That’s a new thing in the world. And the, in America actually in the mid 20th century built that. And it felt like a new thing in the world, the idea that, you know, average people could, you know, go to college, get a nice house in the suburbs, but of course it was mostly white people. But there was a new idea in this country that, you know, that the regular person could, could rise. But I think in, in more recent decades, we’ve also just become more aware of the limitations of that and all the people for whom that doesn’t feel like a true story. Huh.

00:13:13 [Speaker Changed] Really quite fascinating. How, how long, how long were you writing for the New York Times for,

00:13:18 [Speaker Changed] So I started then in India in 2005, and I continued for 11 years. So first, you know, four and a half years in India wrote my first book about India at the end of that time in India. And in the writing of that book, I decided that writing books is what I wanted to do. You know, I hadn’t, I hadn’t tried it yet. So I’d been writing, you know, newspaper articles for the Times about India and social transformation in India, human stories. And then I, there was something about going deep in a book, thinking about the same thing in the shower every day for three years that instead of a different thing in the shower every day for three years, that really appealed to me. So I decided that was kind of gonna be my focus. And so I continued after that time to write a column, a a once in two week, kind of easy, easy one day, you know, one day every two weeks of my time, a column just to kind of stay engaged, but, but kind of pivoted to books and have been, have been writing books as my kind of main thing ever since you, you

00:14:18 [Speaker Changed] Briefly taught narrative journalism at New York University. Looking at your background ba in history at, at University of Michigan and some doctoral studies at, at Harvard, you could have very easily become an academic, which is a fairly comfortable lifestyle. Did that ever hold any appeal or,

00:14:39 [Speaker Changed] You know, it, it’s interesting you ask in that, in-between period of leaving India, winding down my full-time job at the New York Times, finishing that first book in between then that was when I was, when I went to grad school. And I think at that, there was a moment when I was looking at all three right? Newspapers at the kind of highest level of immediacy, academia at the kind of lowest level of immediacy and reflection. And then, and then this kind of book public facing book writing as sort of in between the two. And I really held all three as options kind of around the time I was turning 30.

00:15:17 And as I progressed and wrote the book, I realized a couple things. One, as I said that I think the, the newspaper writing felt, it felt very come and go. It, it just felt like you would really work on these things and then, and and, and then everybody would talk about them if you were very lucky for like an hour and then, and then it was just gone. Right? And some of the most beautiful things that I still feel I ever wrote when I was in my twenties in India at human stories India, like, it’s just not part of the culture anymore in a way that books really last. So, so I was drawn to books and I did try the academic thing by going to grad school. And to be honest, it without being rude, it, it, it kind of disgusted me in a way.

00:16:01 And what I mean by that is I was not in theoretical physics or something like that. I was in the government department at Harvard, which is what they call, you know, politics or political science. And I, I have never met, we now would understand that time in 2000 9, 10, 11, you know, this is a time when there was a big unraveling already going on after the financial crisis democracy. I think you could now trace back some of the democratic unraveling. We’ve since seen, you know, to trace it back to those years, big things were happening in the country, the Tea Party. And it was a group of people who often seemed completely removed from the actual experience of what was happening in the country. Like everything was turned into regression analysis of kind of trivial questions. And the people in that department, and there were several who really did engage in the society, were sort of made fun of behind their backs.

00:17:02 The not famous ones. And also some of the famous ones, like some of the ones who are, who, who you and I would know their names, but they actually did not have the respect of anybody in the building. Like they were the, they were the kind of runts of the litter in that world, right. To, to have, you know, I I don’t mind mentioning one of them who I deeply admire, Michael Sandel, you know, this is a guy who teaches this course on justice, biggest, one of the biggest courses at Harvard, 900 people or something. But he also started spreading this to China and he somehow, despite the Chinese government, he got like millions of people that take this course, I think online YouTube. Yeah, yeah. Because it was these kind of abstract concepts of justice and it didn’t get into, you know, democracy. Like he found a way, right, to sneak like, like a course on like western philosophy and political theory into ch like, I can’t think of something more admirable, right. That you should do if you’re like a fancy professor at Harvard. And I remember people talking about him as like not a serious academic really.

00:18:04 [Speaker Changed] And

00:18:04 [Speaker Changed] I was just like, thi this is the opposite of my moral compass. Like I and last example, I was in

00:18:10 [Speaker Changed] A, well, before you move on from that, you’re reminding me of, I’m gonna, I’m gonna mangle this quote, maybe it’ll, maybe it’ll resonate with you. Why is academic politics so vicious? And the answer is because it’s so meaningless, right? And, and that sort of pettiness seems like it’s along those lines, you know, people have this odd way of projecting their own failures and insecurities onto others. I’m a big student of behavioral finance and you look at the decision making process and it’s just full of cognitive errors. But I gotta ask one other question related to the academic side. It wasn’t the teaching and the students, it was everything around it that you found problematic.

00:19:00 [Speaker Changed] It was the lack of engagement in the world. American democracy has been coming apart and this was a political science slash government department and it

00:19:11 [Speaker Changed] Didn’t, so it’s much more than the admin headaches?

00:19:14 [Speaker Changed] No, it was the,

00:19:15 [Speaker Changed] They were in a, like a, even at Harvard, it’s a backwater that’s not connected to reality even

00:19:20 [Speaker Changed] At Harvard. I think Harvard is like off the charts connected to, to, to like the contemporary world. And of course there’s parts of Harvard that are very engaged in the world, right? Right. I was not at the Kennedy School, but it just seemed to me in a moment when American democracy was bursting at the seams, it didn’t feel to most people around me in that world. Like it was the project of thinkers and scholars and theorists and data scientists at Harvard’s political hub to think about how to save the country, to think about how to rescue the world from authoritarianism. It just felt like, it just felt like regression analysis of trivialities and, and the people, the exceptions, Michael Sandel theta, scotch pal, others who were doing the best work out there, they, the snide comments about them by others just made me realize

00:20:13 [Speaker Changed] Not for you, what I

00:20:14 [Speaker Changed] Value here is not what is valued.

00:20:16 [Speaker Changed] So let me get a little ahead of myself and, and bring a question from a latter section forward. It’s pretty obvious today with the benefit of hindsight that you could draw a straight line from the financial crisis and the rescue of the banks to the detriment of homeowners, mortgage holders, the average person in the street. There’s a straight line from that to the rise of popular authoritarianism. Let, let me cut to the chase. Why did we miss so much of that? Or why did so many of us miss that in real time as it was happening?

00:20:54 [Speaker Changed] Yeah. You know, at my newsletter, which you were kind enough to mention the ink we, we’ve been doing a lot on with 2024, trying to pull back and understand why this is happening to our democracy, right? Not, not just the day to day, not just who’s up and down in New Hampshire, but what is, what what has been happening to our democracy that we are in this kind of condition, right? Because, you know, when you have a, when you have a kind of cancer the way our body politic does now there’s the immediate question of what do you do tomorrow? But there’s also the question of what is the context in which this became possible? And I think the financial crisis story is so important because I think there, there, there are really two things to me that converged in this authoritarian moment in the weakening of our democratic order.

00:21:40 One is when there’s enormous social change as there has been, I would argue positive social change. The, the, the first side of the ledger is like positive stuff, change in progress, in gender progress, in racial inclusion, you know, shifting demographics and, and, and a kind of a bigger we in this country, those kind of changes discombobulated people and, and cause people to sometimes feel, you know, there’s that old frame when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression if you’re not used to it, right? You feel like, hey, hold on, why as a white guy, why am I, and it’s actually totally surmountable, right? As I’m sure you would attest, like a whole bunch of white guys, a whole bunch of white people, a whole bunch of men figure, figure it out, figure out that, you know what, I used to be able to pinch someone in the office and we don’t do that in this decade anymore.

00:22:34 And like millions of people this decade completely successfully adjust to that, right? Millions of people completely adjust to, you know what, I never thought about race, I never thought about who was talking in a meeting, but I’m aware of that now. But millions of people find it harder to sometimes make those adjustments. And so when you have enormous social progress and change and you don’t have a real plan for helping the people who are more discombobulated by it, unsettled by it, you don’t have a plan for helping them think through it, figure themselves out, that creates one enormous source of weakness for democracy. And second to the financial crisis point, when you have big events and people are hurt and democracy does not deliver for them, does not do the thing it is supposed to do, which is make their life better through their choosing, that really pisses people off.

00:23:28 So, so now if you think of the era we’ve lived in story number one, enormous social progress people dislocated, right? It’s been just this remarkable era of change in gender, in race, in LGBT rights in demographics, story number two, it’s been the era of, you know, Iraq, hurricane Katrina, the financial crisis, covid, 20 year wars, right? Against ragtag militaries that we can’t win. Covid for sure. Again, and again, people have seen their civics, class bravado not come true. This idea that we all learned in seventh grade that like if people choose their leaders in George Washington, blah, blah, blah, and it like hasn’t come true for people. Like was what if you were living in New Orleans in 2005, do you think your civics lesson about how democracy is the best system for giving people the world they want, do you think that rings true to you?

00:24:31 Like if you, if your son died in Iraq or you had multiple children die in Iraq, do you think the notion that democracy is this self-correcting force where people realize something’s going. If, you know, if you were in Covid and seeing just lots of people die who didn’t have to die because public health guidance wasn’t clear or the president was drinking bleach or whatever else, you haven’t really experienced democracy delivering. President Biden said this early in his term, we have to prove to people that democracy works. When I was growing up in this country, I dunno about you, no one felt

00:25:13 [Speaker Changed] That was an assumption, that was just a given, right?

00:25:15 [Speaker Changed] But he’s right. And the reason he said that is because it is no longer self-evident to people because of things like the financial crisis.

00:25:24 [Speaker Changed] So, so let me give you a little bit of pushback on that and, and here’s what some of the academics would say, democracy works when people vote. And we are recording this late in January where, where just after the Iowa primaries where something like 5% of the population cast a vote, alright? But that’s a caucus. When we look at the broad presidential elections, the US has amongst the worst voter participation. And I don’t wanna blame the victim and I don’t want to cast aspersions that way, but democracy works when people are involved in the democratic process. But when half of the eligible voters can’t be bothered, well then you’re just letting a, a small, you know, the tyranny of the minority tell you exactly what you should do instead of taking charge yourself.

00:26:23 [Speaker Changed] Look, I I, I think I I would love to, I think you’re right. I mean, first of all, it’s important to vote and the fact that about half of people do, even in a moment when everything feels like it’s at stake, and you could end up with a, a dictatorship if you kind of go the wrong way. Look, I, I am with you. However, I think for all the people who do vote and have voted and who’ve heard that lecture from, you know, it’s frustrating from Obama, don’t boo vote whatever, and who came out and did this and that, okay? I think a lot of them would say, I have, what did I get?

00:27:00 [Speaker Changed] Hmm.

00:27:01 [Speaker Changed] Look, I am, as my, my entire career from India onwards has been in and around the question of democracy. I read a lot about human beings and individual human stories, but it’s all, democracy is my great abiding subject. I believe in it. However, I think we have to reckon with the fact that if it is not a self-evident truth, but in fact an evidence-based truth that needs to prove to people, as the president said, that it works, that it’s superior to what the Chinese are doing or whatever. We have to make the case. And that case has to be felt deeply in people’s lives. And in, you know, your, in my lifetime, I think a great many Americans, including Americans who vote, can’t be faulted for feeling that when things got dire and they needed help, that was no government there. The government did not help. Democracy did not deliver.

00:28:01 [Speaker Changed] Huh? Really quite fascinating. I wanna start talking about winners. Take all thi this is really kind of a fascinating story and I have to start by asking, which are the winners you described this isn’t the top 10% or the top 1%. This is like the 0.01% that really rule the world.

00:28:26 [Speaker Changed] Absolutely. This is a book about people I would, you know, call plutocrats. And the word plutocrats is sort of, you know, the first part of the word is Pluto, money, rich wealth. And the second is ruling like Democrat A plutocrat is is someone who rules governs us through their wealth. And so this is a book about a class of very wealthy and powerful people, the billionaire class you could say. And it’s a story of how this billionaire class has amassed extraordinary wealth and power, which is something people know in part. And this is the, the twist. And what I tried to break some ground on in part by using the appearance of giving back, of doing good, of making a difference, of philanthropy, of impact investing, of all these things that we, we talk about these days, the argument of the book is that the richest, most powerful people use giving back and taking care of society as a kind of ruse and a distraction to continue and intensify their grabbing of wealth and power. And essentially have pulled off this brilliant trick of convincing lots of regular people that the billionaire class holds the answers to the problems they are still actively causing, that they are the solution to the problem that they represent. So let’s,

00:30:03 [Speaker Changed] Let’s break that down a bit. And, and some of this is a little controversial, so I’m gonna, I’m gonna put your feet to the fire. Hey, there’s always been ultra wealthy. The Rockefellers, the Gettys go back to, you know, the Norman Kings and, and what happened in France. The wealthy have always been here with us, whether it’s Henry Ford or Thomas Edison, they’ll always be here with us. What’s different about today?

00:30:30 [Speaker Changed] You’re absolutely right. And in fact, one of the, you know, I think there’s something old and constant in the book and something new. I think the old and constant thing is there’s always, as you say, a ruling elite financially. And what is also a constant throughout history is ruling elites always invent a story that by the way has to be believed, not just by them, because then it wouldn’t work. It has to be believed by everybody about why it is best to let them continue being the ruling elite, right? So southern planters, plantation owners and slave owners and enslavers of people in the 18th and 19th century couldn’t just run their businesses. It was very, very important to invent a story of racism about the naturalness of white superiority and the naturalness of black inferiority. If you didn’t invent that story, and by the way convince a certain number of people who were not white of the truth of that story, and a certain number of people who were not rich white people, but were poor, if you didn’t have lots of people believe the story about that ruling order being the best possible ruling order, it would fall apart, right?

00:31:45 Racism had to be invented to help prop up that kind of regime. Well, the Indian caste system has its story and the British futile time had its story. E every ruling system has its story. The argument of this book is that yes, that’s a constant, and I’m trying to unpack what that story is now. And I think it’s a different story. The past stories, it is not, this is natural, it’s not. Inequality is natural. You can’t say that, right? No rich person can go out and say, I deserve to be here. And you all deserve to be the poorest. Right? That story’s a old story wouldn’t work now. So a lot of the old stories have gone out the window. You can’t say them anymore. And so I was trying to explain what the new story is, and I think the news story is yes, I may have more than everybody else. Yes, these inequalities may be savage and and corrosive to the social order. However, I as a rich person have a unique ability to also heal this society by giving back. And if you cramp my style, if you tax my wealth, if you come after my business through regulation, if you do X, Y, z on the policy side, you are actually hurting the society. You are hurting regular people because you’re cramping my ability to eradicate diseases, to help democracy to go to the mo the moon or Mars or

00:33:10 [Speaker Changed] Whatever. So these are all governmental responsibilities that when the tax base was higher, we did more of. And what you’re implying in the book is primarily in the Reagan era and beyond. When we had both aggressive tax cuts and then under, under Bill Clinton where we had a cap on dollar compensation for executives, but lots of stock options. We ended up creating a class of, there’s always been wealthy, but the argument is we’ve now created a new class of super wealthy that the world has never seen before. Yes, fair, fair statement. Yep.

00:33:50 [Speaker Changed] And, and I think, you know, going back a hundred years when you really have the birth of modern philanthropy, as I talk about it in the book, people have always given money. I mean, in the Islamic religion, Christian religion, there’s been these commandments to give back, tithe, whatever, right? Giving is an old concept. But when I’m talking about philanthropy in the way that you and I would think about gates as philanthropy, that’s a relatively new thing about a hundred years old. And the way political scientists define it is kind of the birth with the Rockefellers and Carnegies of others of fortunes that were so big that they were kind of, it was kinda like nation state level money, right? First

00:34:26 [Speaker Changed] Of all, right? Ford Foundation, right? Is is immense still.

00:34:29 [Speaker Changed] So like if you, if you have, you know, you’re a successful guy, if you have a few hundred thousand dollars you wanna give to some, cause you’re not affecting right governance in New York City by doing that, you may help some people, you may not, right? But if you had like $50 billion to give away,

00:34:45 [Speaker Changed] You can move the needle. But,

00:34:47 [Speaker Changed] But you, but you might, but you could also like break the needle. You could also just like lose the needle in your coat pocket. Like you, like you, you could make the needle go backwards. Like if you had $50 billion and you, you know, and this is obviously a real example of people like Bill Gates and you had, you know, Barry’s thoughts about education. There’s the possibility that you could make education better, and there’s the possibility that you could become our unelected, unchosen, illegitimate czar of education, creating new standards that are actually a mistake, you know, that, that have all these unintended consequences. It could work or it could not work. But the question is like, who the heck is you? Right? And, and the issue with modern billionaire philanthropy, even when it’s well executed like Bill Gates is, and certainly when it’s not like, you know, others like Bill Gates really does wanna get rid of polio,

00:35:42 [Speaker Changed] Right?

00:35:43 [Speaker Changed] He’s devoted the second half of his life to thinking about these problems as

00:35:48 [Speaker Changed] Hard as malaria go down the list.

00:35:50 [Speaker Changed] I I do not doubt his sincerity, right? Where something like GS gives was literally invented during the financial crisis when it’s marketing, when there was like New York Times investigations of, right, how Goldman had like, had

00:36:02 [Speaker Changed] Your client. So let ask you a, a, a more challenging question. If, if if the very wealthy want to give money to fight disease or they want to give to the symphony, or they want put public works, I, I don’t really care about that. Where I start to get concerned is where through the guise of tax exempt deductions, they begin to get very political. So you have these think tanks that certainly don’t have the common man’s best interest at heart affecting legislation affecting who gets appointed as judges affecting tax policy. And all this comes under the guise of philanthropy when really it’s a very, and again, some of this is specifically mentioned in your book, very, very specific tax exempt impact on maintaining the status quo for the carried interest exemption and the, the exemption on long-term capital gains or the shorter tax. Like there’s a lot of things that are described as philanthropy, but it’s really lobbying.

00:37:10 [Speaker Changed] Yeah. Look, I think you have to look at the whole arc of this money. So I think the American business model kind of social business model we’ve ended up with is telling business people that in phase one of your life, you have to make as much money as possible in as ruthless and corner cutting away as possible. That’s just the norm, right? And a lot of the old kind of what is now thought of as inefficiencies that were in corporate America in the fifties, sixties and seventies, really got edged out by shareholder pressure, shareholder activism, the McKinsey kind of revolution, et cetera, where all slack was eliminated, right? And that your janitor, who might have been an employee of your company in the fifties and sixties was now a contractor of a contractor of a contractor, no health insurance, no healthcare,

00:38:10 [Speaker Changed] No four oh k,

00:38:11 [Speaker Changed] Nothing, you know, can, and just imagine that writ large for the whole economy, every piece optimized, right? So that happened, and the lesson I think for business people, the, the, the message of the, you know, post Reagan era was cut every corner you can, you legally or illegally in some cases pay as little as taxes in taxes as you can possibly do if you, you have to do double Dutch with an Irish sandwich or this and that, do that, right? Pay people as little as possible. Take on as little as risk. There’s a book called the Great Risk Shift Shift as much risk onto workers and consumers as you can. So the corporation is not bearing the risk and then you’ll make, you know more money than, than you would make if you didn’t do all those things. Okay? That’s phase one. Phase two is now the phase two starts with workers being paid less than they would otherwise have been paid.

00:39:05 The, the commons in many ways being kind of starved, but companies having more money. And then phase two is like, okay, now give back, now that you’ve made all this money, maybe more money than you would’ve otherwise made, give back and give to, you know, afterschool programs for boys and girls here. Here’s the problem, right? Phase one of your life in that model has, has kind of created these social problems, right? Phase one is why those kids don’t have a good education five days a week. And then phase two you might give them a boys and girls club to go to on Thursday afternoons, right? In phase one you are creating a world in which, you know, there’s not enough money for universal pre-K or there’s not enough world, world for community college classes for people to reinvent themselves when they get laid off. And then in phase two you’re creating like a little program for like a hundred people in Appalachia to, you know, right transition out of coal mining.

00:40:05 [Speaker Changed] There’s no symmetry there.

00:40:06 [Speaker Changed] There’s no symmetry. But the, the reality is what is what is done by operational daylight is just on a vaster scale, infinitely vaster scale than what can be cleaned up by a philanthropic moonlight. However, hmm, the philanthropic moonlighting is marketed much more heavily than what is done in operational daylight, right? So we don’t really know except when we get occasional glimpses.

00:40:36 [Speaker Changed] So, so let’s, let’s talk about something that I’m intrigued about. In the book you discuss the concept of the rise of thought leaders displacing academic experts and public intellectuals, primarily driven through non expertise selection that we have this group of, I don’t even want to call them experts, almost self-determined experts that very much are influencing policy in a way that true experts might not explain.

00:41:11 [Speaker Changed] Yeah, I, I, I write, I have a chapter on the rise of the, the, the, the critics called the critic and the thought leader and the rise of the thought leader as in the way that I define it in the book, A kind of thinker who is safe, who is deemed safe for the kind of plutocratic establishment. And so it goes back to that notion of ruling. Elites have to invent and nurture a story that justifies their rule. And part of that is that there are certain thinkers out there who are threatening to the official story of the time, and there’s other people out there who are kind of willing to play ball and spread ideas that are helpful to the ruling story of the time, right? So if you think about pick one realm that I write about in the book telling the story of Amy Cuddy.

00:42:03 If you think about the area of the empowerment of women feminism issues with the workplace and the way workplaces treat women, institutions, treat women, there is a non plutocratic friendly way of talking about that issue and advocating on that issue. And there is a plutocratic friendly version, right? So the non plutocratic friendly one is like real structural change, whether policy things like, you know, paid, paid family leave and medical leave, which so many women in the political sphere of advocated for, or universal pre-K and childcare and things like that, that would make it easier for many, many women to juggle all their roles and obligations and aspirations, kinds of ideas that would, that would really empower women have been shown in other societies to have those effect, but are expensive, right? The the examples I just gave you are all things that would cost companies money, cost rich people money, right? Think about the Elizabeth Warren campaign, 2 cent wealth tax to fund precisely those kinds of things. Well that’s a, that’s a kind of way of empowering women that is not, does not thrill the plutocrats. Okay, here’s another, here’s something they like more lean in, right? I mean, one of them, a plutocrat herself wrote

00:43:27 [Speaker Changed] Literally that book, that’s the title

00:43:29 [Speaker Changed] Sheryl Sandberg’s book, right? And what was the argument that actually very much within this system we have, if women just leaned in, raised their hand more, tried to be more assertive at the meeting, Hey,

00:43:40 [Speaker Changed] I did it, why can’t you? Correct?

00:43:42 [Speaker Changed] Right. I helped,

00:43:44 [Speaker Changed] That’s kind of an arrogant statement,

00:43:46 [Speaker Changed] Isn’t it? I helped, I I helped ri rise, I rose to the top and helped destroy American democracy. Any, any sister can do it too. You can also, yeah. And so you look at this kind of Sheryl Sandberg’s lean in idea, right? As like, wow, that is costless empowerment of women. True. That is a way of empowering women that literally would cost the wealth establishment nothing as

00:44:10 [Speaker Changed] Opposed to an equal rights amendment that mandates the same salary for the same job, correct? Like no more 80, 70 cents

00:44:17 [Speaker Changed] On the dollar. So what you thinks gonna be on the main stage of Ted, what, which, which talks do you think are gonna be given you think at the Clinton Global Initiative? There’s gonna be a talk about how the kinds of wealthy donors that donate to the Clinton Foundation.

00:44:32 [Speaker Changed] So I’m so glad you brought that up ’cause that’s what I, I’ve been thinking about. Once you start accepting donations from outside parties, does that mean you lose your academic freedom and now you’re beholden to whatever belief system they want push? Is there, is there a way around that or it’s just, I

00:44:52 [Speaker Changed] Think there is actually, and I think this is not as hard a problem as it as it seems like. I mean, we have lots of institutions that do take money from wealthy people and somehow have some norms around protecting the integrity of the work, right? So I mean, the New York Times has advertising, you know, I think you could make some comments at the margins that, you know, the housing section has more about fancy life than it does about Right, right. But in general, I think most people who advertise the New York Times, who work in the New York Times, who read the New York Times would generally understand that. Like Gucci, just because it buys an ad is not placing a call to an editor and saying, I want this story. Like, that’s not how the New York Times works. People are gonna listen to this thinking I’m crazy. Like it’s really not.

00:45:41 [Speaker Changed] No, there’s a, there’s a firewall. There’s

00:45:42 [Speaker Changed] A firewall. It’s a pretty well well established

00:45:44 [Speaker Changed] And advertising,

00:45:45 [Speaker Changed] Like even these universities, right? Even the best universities, I mean they, you know, this whole issues with donors and these centers, but like the average professor

00:45:55 At these, we’ve built a pretty good system of the average professor being relatively insulated from what donors want. And part of what is so bizarre right now with the Bill Ackmans of the world is like they’re trying to, they’re trying to maybe show, in other words, we have institutions that have a pretty good record of being able to take money, whether you, whatever you think about that and building some culture and norms. I I never met an advertiser once or spoke to an advertiser once or spoke to anybody in the advertising department of the New York Times once when I worked there for 11 years. Like those are just not conversations that happen.

00:46:28 [Speaker Changed] But in the modern world, and, and we haven’t talked about the Koch brothers yet, but you look at the Merta school, you look at a lot of donations specifically to institutions and academia that come with absolutely very,

00:46:44 [Speaker Changed] And that’s becoming more and more the norm. My only point is some places have solved this problem, and we should look at it, right? I think you could have, you know, conferences of ideas that, that fine take money from rich people and you could create some kind of firewall norms, whatever, and learn from the New York Times. I, I don’t think people have figured out how to do that. But the answer is there. This is, I I I’m just suggesting, look, I I I would prefer to live in a world in which these fortunes were not so gigantic to begin with, didn’t have this influence. But even in the world we live in, there are thoughtful ways to, to say you can take the money, but you don’t get to decide what’s on stage. You don’t get to decide what opera we do. And so,

00:47:26 [Speaker Changed] So I want to connect the two books Yeah. On that exact point from orders take all to the persuaders. And it just happens that within the persuaders, one of the discussions you have is on the decline of institutions and how they’ve fallen, which is not a coincidence. There are forces out there that have been trying to do this. It just happened in this week’s business week. There was a whole analysis of all the drops in institutional approval level at just about every level of society. It’s really quite astonishing. And it raises the question, how can a democracy persist if the institutional aspects, and it’s everything, it’s the church and it’s the Supreme Court and it’s the military and it’s the police and it’s congress and as well as the media. If every one of these entities is falling in the belief system of the average individual, what are the ramifications of that for democracy?

00:48:31 [Speaker Changed] I think we are in this very complicated moment and situation in which we have to kinda, there’s a circular problem of, we have to show people prove to people that democracy can make their lives better, as you and I were talking about before, but we need them to trust us to even have the authority to make people’s lives better, right? In other words, with the kind of senate that President Biden has these kind of razor thin margins, a hostile house, he can’t do a lot of things that would make people’s lives better. And so then people’s lives don’t get better and then people don’t vote for you to have more authority, give you a bigger house margin, give you a bigger Senate margin, so, and

00:49:21 [Speaker Changed] Then complain

00:49:22 [Speaker Changed] About it and then complain about it. And, and, and again, like I think people, I, I think voters are often wrong about when they kind of try to diagnose what the actual issue is or what the best policy solution would be. But I think voters are very intelligent about, do they feel like the people who are in charge care about them and are, and are kind of making their life better in a material way? And part of the puzzle of, of the Republican party in recent decades has been its ability to win sometimes, although not often, while not materially delivering for people. And the way it has done that is by kind of weaponizing the social changes we were talking about.

00:50:17 [Speaker Changed] So let me stop you there, ’cause I wanna roll this back to the persuaders and the prologue of the book, which is fascinating, right? So you tell the story of these two women who turn out to be Russian agents, they go on a cross country trip across America, sort of a little bit of find out who we Americans are in order to report back to, to the motherland. Tell us about these two women and what did they find and how was it weaponized?

00:50:49 [Speaker Changed] This is a kind of Russian thema and Luis or these two intelligence analysts arrive, they traveled around the country, we don’t know exactly, you know, who they met with, but they, they kind of went around, went to probably, you know, rallies or they kind of took in the political scene, maybe met with people all around the country. And we do know that what they were doing was gathering not intel in the, in the like cloak and dagger sense, not

00:51:14 [Speaker Changed] Covert

00:51:15 [Speaker Changed] Stuff. Just like what’s going on in this society out, out

00:51:18 [Speaker Changed] In the world.

00:51:18 [Speaker Changed] Because what they were actually feeding back home was this giant Russian online campaign to, you know, toxify, the American discourse,

00:51:32 [Speaker Changed] The internet research agency Yes. Cranks out millions of tweets, millions of Facebook posts, the people who run that have not done a good job clearing this out. And it has a huge impact on our discourse.

00:51:48 [Speaker Changed] And you know, I Barry like I, whenever I can’t figure something out, I I, I try to go to the text, go to the original source material, go talk to people with this Russian thing. There was so much stuff in the, they were trying to get Trump elected. They were, I was like, let me read this stuff myself, right? So I downloaded, I picked two of the most prominent accounts in the Russian effort and I downloaded thousands of each of their tweets. And I just read through them almost like a book, like read them, like a story, started classifying them. I had this, you know, crazy spreadsheet where I was analyzing them and what I realized, I mean, one of them was trying to get Trump elected. The other one was like a pro-Black Lives Matter left

00:52:26 [Speaker Changed] It, it’s left about, it’s le it’s less about getting something done and more about just creating, they,

00:52:32 [Speaker Changed] I I realize as I read these tweets, first of all, I read them with this kind of weird hate, hate admiration, right? They, I don’t know, it, it’s, it’s like when you’re in a breakup with someone and they, they say something so mean to you, but it’s so insightful, right? You know, and it’s like, wow, you really get me and I never wanna be with you ever again. I feel like they saw the truth of us, this, this mission and they, they, they, their ability to poke at certain trigger points, it was just a really astute, well-informed effort and a certain, so what are they getting at? It’s if, if one’s trying to get Trump elected, the other’s not, what is the project? And I think the project, as I started to interpret it, was less about a particular outcome and less even just about fomenting division, which is the other thing people said. I think it was about promoting a fatalism in Americans about other kinds of Americans

00:53:33 [Speaker Changed] And that that leads to not only distrusting institutions, but us distrusting each other.

00:53:38 [Speaker Changed] Yes. And for anyone who’s, you know, ever been in a relationship where relationship counseling, you know, like fights are not actually dangerous in a relationship. It’s actually couples who don’t fight, right? That you gotta worry about contempt is fatal in a relationship, can’t come back from contempt, very hard to come back from contempt. That kind of writing off, ugh, you are just always that way. You’ve always been that way. Ugh, I couldn’t, why do I even bother That is when couples don’t really have much of a chance, that’s when it’s dead. Right? And I realized the specific attitude they were trying to cultivate in us was not division, which is you and I believing in a different tax rate. You and I believing in a tax rate 80% apart from each other. Right? It’s not, it’s, it’s,

00:54:21 [Speaker Changed] But it’s the tax system we’re, we’re both clients signing

00:54:24 [Speaker Changed] Into, but thinking me thinking you’re just some money guy,

00:54:27 [Speaker Changed] Right?

00:54:29 [Speaker Changed] And you’ll never listen to reason you don’t care about. Right. That is really different than you and I having a different number in mind for a top tax rate. And what I realized looking at the Russian thing is that they’re, you know, big but in some ways modest in terms of the scope of the American conversation. Their effort was to turn us fatalistic about each other, pessimistic about the possibility that we are can evolve, change, grow, learn. And we have been playing so brilliantly into their plan, right? And the book, the Persuaders is an attempt to say, we gotta get off this track. We have to stop being useful idiots for the Russian intelligence services and actually reclaim this notion that people can change, people’s minds can change. It’s the only thing that has ever changed societies. It happens all the time. It happens every day. It still is happening right now. And we have to kind of, you know, pull up our britches and get back to the work of persuasion if we’re gonna save this country. Huh.

00:55:25 [Speaker Changed] Real, really amazing. You had a really interesting column recently about the upcoming 2024 election. The real battleground of 2024 is emotion. Fascinating stuff. Explain why.

00:55:38 [Speaker Changed] Look, EE emotion is the new Michigan, Pennsylvania or, or Wisconsin. It’s the swing state. It’s the swing state. And and what I mean by that is, I think when we talk about politics, we’re often talking about the wrong thing. We talk about policies, right? Or we talk about crises like the border, or we talk about issues like critical race theory, the agenda up issue like that or, or you know, issues like climate change and what do we do about that? But what is actually motivating voters, not motivating voters, riling people up, not riling people up leading to certain kinds of candidates versus others being attractive to people is often deeper stuff. Right? And I think those of us who talk and think about politics for a living are often quite blind to that because we are quite interested in policy. We think Medicare for All is an interesting idea to talk about.

00:56:30 But I think what I’ve learned spending most of my life writing about regular people dealing with the big forces of the world is that for most people, the things that really animate them, the questions that really animate them are much more in the kind of emotional terrain. So take an issue like CRT, critical race theory, honest history in schools, all this stuff, right? I don’t think any of that is about the stuff that it’s formally about. I think that is about the universal dread that every parent has. That your kid will drift away from you, which by the way, they will. That’s the meaning of right life of parents. Your kid will drift away from you once they come out. No. Going back in, right? It’s awful for us parents. You hug your kids close one day, they stop wanting as many hugs, right? One day they don’t come into bed and cuddle anymore.

00:57:22 Too old for that one day. They, you know, mom, I’m fine. Right? The whole process of parenting is like losing your kids slowly into their own life. And what is the CRT stuff, but weaponizing that fear. Your kids are gonna learn stuff that will make them think differently from you. Your kids are gonna know a different story about the country than the one, you know, your kids maybe will be turned a gender according to this fantasy that is not the gender you knew them to be. It is all weaponizing this completely human thing of my kids are gonna grow up and leave me, right? My kids are gonna become out of my control. And I think when we, I’m just taking that one issue when we actually start to, you could do that analysis, any issue across the board on any issue, right? You think this border things about, you think anyone in the country understands the actual nuances, immigration of immigration policy in the border. It’s people feel invaded psychologically by the era we live in. People feel like, ah, I, there’s not enough for me. I, I don’t know if I can get ahead. Like the whole world’s coming in, right? That’s just like a deep emotional experience that then shows up in a, oh yeah. The border. That sounds like what may be responsible for the way I’m feeling, right?

00:58:35 [Speaker Changed] So I find that fascinating that, that you managed to take a broad spectrum of high resonance policy issues and just boiled it down to, hey, they’re pushing an emotional hot button. And if you don’t figure out how to play that same game, if you’re on the other side, you’re gonna lose.

00:58:54 [Speaker Changed] Think about the kids who are so incredibly articulate and visionary on climate, right? The Gen Z climate people, first of all, they’re absolutely right on the policy and they’re the only people who might save us. But I think when I even talk to them, the, there’s even a deeper thing there. Like their parents, if you’re 25, your parents are telling you how much they love you every day. If you’re lucky, your parents are leaving you a dying world while telling you they love you. That’s com that’s really confusing, right? So if you are a pro-democracy leader who’s trying to build coalitions around climate, around honest history or whatever else, I just think the essay was a, was a plea to understand those depths. It doesn’t mean the policy issues are not important. It means that if you are not speaking to people at the level at which they’re actually living these things and understanding those dynamics, you’re leaving them open to authoritarians who are always good at speaking to emotion.

00:59:56 [Speaker Changed] And that’s what I found so persuasive about that essay. I, I strongly suggest everybody go read the real battleground of 2024 as a motion. I only have you for another four or five minutes. Let’s jump to our speed round. Our favorite questions we ask all of our guests, starting with what have you been listening to or, or watching? What, what’s been keeping you intellectually challenged these days?

01:00:23 [Speaker Changed] Watching, you know, like you have joint bank accounts and individual bank accounts. I have shows for myself and shows for everyone in my family. So my son and I are watching Seinfeld. He’s, he’s almost nine. We’re starting from episode one, season one, and trying to go all the way through.

01:00:37 [Speaker Changed] Is is nine the right age for

01:00:38 [Speaker Changed] That? I, I think he’s just getting like a year, literally like maybe a year short, but I was the it, right? Yeah. My daughter and I are watching, is It Cake when I watch with something with the two of them together. Great British Baking Show. I watch Atlanta by myself. That’s my solo show. And I’m watching Veep right now with, with my wife. We

01:00:57 [Speaker Changed] Kind switched. That first season is very tough to get through. Yeah, it’s very cringey. The first, first couple episodes, as

01:01:03 [Speaker Changed] Is Politics. Okay, go ahead.

01:01:06 [Speaker Changed] Mentors who helped shape your career.

01:01:08 [Speaker Changed] I talked about her a little bit. Jill Abramson, she got me into journalism, gave me a chance, advocated for me, and I don’t think I’d be a journalist if it wasn’t for her.

01:01:15 [Speaker Changed] Let’s talk about books. What are some of your favorites? What are you reading currently?

01:01:19 [Speaker Changed] I’m reading this book that everybody was talking about a couple years ago called The Little Life Novel. It’s the most wrenching, searing, awfully painful, but brilliant novel by Hana Hania Yanagihara. So, so good. And then, you know, in terms of the books that have been most important to me historically, I would say my genre of narrative nonfiction, some of the most important books behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, random Family. You know, I’m, I’m really interested in these books that, that kind of do this deep immersive work following, following people through their lives. And that’s the kind of work that I’ve dedicated myself to doing.

01:01:54 [Speaker Changed] And our final two questions. What sort of advice would you give a recent college grad interested in a career in journalism?

01:02:04 [Speaker Changed] It’s tough. The business model in many ways is gone. But I go to parties every month and meet people, do all kinds of things. And 95% of people I meet don’t believe in what they do. Huh? Don’t think it’s socially important. It wasn’t the thing that they promised themselves they’d be doing when they were 20. And if you become a journalist and stick with it and find a way through all the ups and downs, you will not be one of those people. Like

01:02:35 [Speaker Changed] Really interesting.

01:02:36 [Speaker Changed] You, you will, you will love what you do and believe in what you do and know that you’re doing something that is good for the world.

01:02:42 [Speaker Changed] And our final question, what do you know about the world today you wish you knew 20 plus years ago when you were first getting started?

01:02:54 [Speaker Changed] I wish that I knew how fragile the American system is. I grew up on a myth of how utterly durable it is. And it turned out not to be. And I wish I had seen that earlier and been able to, to see those cracks earlier. There were always people all along telling us about those things. Sometimes we don’t listen to those people early enough. And I’ve tried to become a better listener to the, the people telling us things before everybody else,

01:03:30 [Speaker Changed] That that’s a really insightful response. And hindsight’s always 2020. But knowing what you know now, and you go back and look throughout American history, like the red flags were there, starting with the communist witch hunts in the fifties. How we treated the Japanese during World War ii, how long it took to give women the vote. Like you could just keep going back Jim Crow and just work your way back decade by decade. There were lots and lots of warnings out

01:04:05 [Speaker Changed] There and lots of people waving those red flags who we didn’t listen to. And,

01:04:08 [Speaker Changed] And, no, no, no, the system is fine. Which kind of raises a question, is the system really sturdier than we realize it survived all this? Or does the cumulative damage of all these little cracks eventually lead to some breakage?

01:04:23 [Speaker Changed] I think the system has been sturdy in that it’s held, but under the system, awful things have been able to happen in this country. You know, slavery was a legal constitutional part of this system until it wasn’t. Internment was a legal part of this country and part of the system until it wasn’t. Segregation was a part of this country until it wasn’t. You know, criminalization of homosexuality was part of the system. So the system has held, but the system can tolerate a great deal of barbarism. And I think we’ve, what we’re learning now is that we, we just have to, we have to make sure that our definition of the system holding is not, you know, having some kind of formal familiarity of the New Hampshire primary and this and that and all these kind of rights and rituals that we recognize while in fact what’s going on under the hood is, is barbarism. And I think that’s a, that’s gonna be a a, a decisive choice. Hmm. The country faces later this year. Really,

01:05:29 [Speaker Changed] Really fascinating. Anand, thank you for being so generous with your time. We have been speaking with Anand Gidi. He is the author of Winners Take All and More Recently, the Persuaders. If you enjoy this conversation, be sure and check out any of the previous 500 we’ve done over the past 10 years. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Sign up for my daily reading Follow me on Twitter at ritholtz. Follow all of the Bloomberg Fine family of podcasts on Twitter at podcast, and check out our latest entry to the world of podcasts at the Money. Each week we do a short 10 minute discussion of an important topic to investors. I would be remiss if I did not thank our crack staff that helps put these conversations together each week. Meredith Frank is my audio engineer. Atika BR is my project manager. Anna Luke is my producer. Sean Russo is my researcher. I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.






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