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The wall in our hearts


Vox's Dara Lind joins Sarah and Matt to talk about James Comey's firing, the border wall, and whether incomes have really been as stagnant as they seem.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This episode of the weeds sponsored by texture textures, offering our listeners a fourteen day free trial when you got a texture, dot com, slash weeds. It's also sponsored by me, Andy's user, special url me Andy's, dot, com, slash weeds and get twenty percent off your first pair and by sea, so good it s e s, o dot com right now to sign up for one month, free with promo code, weeds at checkup result first class credibly close. welcome to another episode of the weeds. The policy show on the box media, podcast network, Matthew, glaziers joint as usual by Sarah Cliff, and also by darlin, who has been with us before it is filling in four as reclining ardently popular vocs, weeds guest list demand, Guess star, so really glad to have you here. Thanks to everyone who
so I M going to give to one of our listeners. Mary Clare, who mailed me the most amazing present cheat. You heard this graph. I talked about a lot my favorite Obamacare graph, showing the popularity ray. He's been stagnant over time- and she sent me a hand across this version of this graph, that is literally my most prized possession in my office right now. So thank you so much and if we want to see a picture of it, you can go in my twitter feed. It is amazing and us I'm so so thrilled to have other listeners have favorite policy charge that they would like to hand stitch, send the man we could maybe make a quilt some day could be. It could be lovelady where you now want to get more weren't crafts here, as well as a sort of that the policies up also wanted to say. I think some people have problem notice, there's been some movement around and that this sort of the back and technically or of the show we have a new, sound cloud page up. If you go to sound cloud, we're at vocs dash dash weeds annually
well to find us there, as well as the Itunes store and other places fine podcast available with the said still have cast. Yesterday in the late afternoon or early evening, Donald Trump decided in a gesture of bi partisanship. Ben magnanimity that he realized the democratic criticisms of James Commies handling of the Hillary Clinton. Emails were really on the mark and that he was going to dismiss call me in favour of an unspecified new director who would restore credibility to the office, and I guess nobody really believes that that is what's going on. Well, one of the crazy things happening in here and other reporting is every story we seen coming out of the White House has weight as AIDS Zheng. Actually, that's not. What's going on, I think there's a josh
these two politico others towards the New York Times. We have eight after eight giving an amusing. Actually, he was pretty agitated about Russia's stuff, that's been one of the most surprising things for me to watch about this coverage that it's not just outside observers. Creating this narrative of that, there is something else going on here and obviously like the timeliness, not super hard to piece together, but that you ve seen people from within the White House, even more so than from Congress. At this point, like you, ve seen a few republic and legislators to speak out on this, but not why you know just before he started. Taping Mcconnell was giving some remarks reporters where it where he was basically lining up with Trump a lot of that not even push back, but the like discussion of EC. Why? The reasons given in the letter might not be true are coming from the people who work for Donald Trump and the way I mean to start with. It comes from Donald Trump himself right in his cover letter to
call me he goes out of his way to say. While I appreciate you telling me on three separate occasions that I was not under investigation for Russia, like that's a not something that anyone expected haven't too, You know that he needed to say, and it's very easy to imagine a world in which that just goes through one other editor who strikes out that line and everything that is fatally presented is unified. Call me and in that world you can understand. Reporters might not put that line into their stories. They may not do up interviews Whitehouse AIDS might feel a little bit less free to go on background and say: yeah he's been yelling at the television every time they talk about Russia, its. I think what we are seeing is prompts absolute employ. Signals here, kind of getting in the way of what might otherwise have been a slightly more facial, illegitimate and probably harder to critique
fire, but but you also see the basement of a lot of congressional Republicans over the US that if the Trump White House had made a real effort to sell this lie, then when you have Chuck Grass Lee or Lindsey Gram or Mitch, Mcconnell coming out there and repeating it, you would say you know what I think, maybe These guys are engaged in a little wilful suspension of disbelief, but I understand you know we all sort of perceived the world or partisan filters. You would like to believe that you are parties president doesn't out. They are telling ridiculous lies, but the way I mean for one thing he he'd like lamp shaded it with that second paragraph in the in the email is as you're saying right. Where he's like, got this letter and then the second paragraph like this totally isn't a Russia cover up guys and you don't you don't do that. I mean that's on how you fire people from any kind of job
and the second is as sir we say, the whole Whitehouse senior staff like went immediately to their sort of go to report of France. That, while I go he's pissed about Russia, so then you have, I mean some more public and senators. Chef, flake and others have been have been critical of this move, but the ones who are supporting tromp are out there defending a line from the White House that even the White House is not genuinely pushing. I mean they ve got it out. Their needs like their trolling. You know, then, that they're trying to convince anyone in it. It reminds me of the stunt during the campaign where at trumps kind of low points amidst dead, so assault accusations and the the audio confession they brought out. The various bill, Clinton accusers, which didn't and
sir the charge in any way. It didn't like make any kind of logical sense, but he gave people who didn't want to defend Donald Trump conduct, but did want to play for Donald Trump Team, something to talk about that they could attack democratic accuracy, they could attack Hillary Clinton. Hypocrisy- and you see this now I mean I think you saw John Corn In- had a tweet which Lowery had a tweed. Were there like it's fun,
need to see all these Democrats leaping James Commies defence and like yeah, it's it's funny and it's just a kind of charm in the water. It's not up as a real explanation. I mean nobody is stupid enough to believe that Donald Trump is really steamed. That James call me violated prosecutor aerial guidelines by sending that letter back in October. Like it's, it's ridiculous, but it's like a talking point that people can latch onto if they don't give a fuck. I mean it. You think there were also reports last night that the White House expected, because they had picked on something that Democrats were also mad about. They didn't expect anyone to be super mad that coming got fired, that they were Jenny when we surprised when all this blow back happened, which, like a this, is another thing where, if they'd just done due diligence and had a couple high profile meetings with trucks, humor about like the direction of the FBI and wanting to make sure that everything that it had regained
public trust, it's very easy to see them doing as in a more competent way, but also this makes sense if you assume that Democrats problem isn't with Donald Trump it with the election Right Donald Trump handed out electoral maps for his first hundred days. Interviews. Writing every single time. He's criticized he goes back to the election goes back to prevent Hilary. The idea that the problem that you know Democrats or the hashtag resistance more generally has with Trump is that he's governing, not that you beat Hillary Clinton. Doesn't it might have occurred to them, but it doesn't appear to be the way they understand the political landscape. Rightly the idea, given the choice between Trumpet commie Democrats would pick, combing doesn't appear to have occurred to them, and I think that if they're gonna make fewer unforced errors, where even some people on their own team are calling for a special prosecutor and where you know everything every time they get any kind of
Dury on cable news. They ruin it by turning the story and into Russia. Again they are going to have to understand that their actual that even though Donald Trump thinks that the point is that he one there are other problems that other people have with his governance. So weird things I feel like is hard to cover as reporters about this and generally the more it speaking more broadly about the Trump administration is just like the frequency of lying. Matt wrote about this earlier today, and this kind of fits into a broader pattern of truck led by Trump, and now we see kind of going out to other people in Lisbon, situation of saying things that we just like now Not true. This is been ends It's been. A struggle on. My internet keeps coming up on health care where Tom Price will go on a Sunday show, and they absolutely nobody will lose
Kate, under our healthcare plan and is just like a straight up like you can cut eight hundred billion from Medicaid and if you will not lose covered, and it's become like in a weird way- something that's very routine in this illustration, like you know, when you see this latter laying out local hears. Why we're firing call me it's part of this large pattern ended, I think it's one, that it is hot to stay like alert and aggressive on and it has been very different from even covering the Obama's. which I found that certainly would exaggerate how their policies worker downplay the downsides of things, but it's really been taken: new level and feels very pervasive way that this administration does communication. Right, I mean it's not just trumpets, not just John Spacer Italian Conway, its people like price, who you know before he was in the executive branch. Had a reputation is being
sort of policy person who would know these things who would understand the trade excellent stands. Healthcare right right leg is that memo was written by ROD, Rosen's dean, who and he was appointed when he was named. Deputy e g. A lot of people who have been very concerned about the Trump administrations apparent contempt for the rule of law. When a few, like he's he's take This guy who's been a very widely respected. U S attorney in Maryland, who had a particular reputation for not believing that anyone is above the law. This is a very good pick for him to make to reassure people that he actually cares about going about things. The right way and without a speculating about the motives that rose unseen has its entirely possible that Rubinstein put together that member, because he firmly believes that James co me, you know, did something inexcusable with E Hilary Clim investigation that obviously not the reason
was asked to write the memo. All of these, these people, who have kind of being brought in one way or another, into the trap administration, either by being nominated or because they were already part of the federal government being kind of brought into this under this miasma of lies and a culture where lying is not only expected but demanded. If it serves the president's aims, I mean it's, it's eight, maybe maybe that's not what it's like from the inside, but it certainly the inability to trust people who were previously trustworthy because they have been used to serve these ends. Is what really throws me
And you know it is worth noting that certain media aspect to this- that I would never say that Barack Obama, our or Hillary Clinton, nor or Nancy Pelosi. You don't never sort. I have tried to stretch the truth or or put a whopper out there, but I think that when they did that people put people like me frankly hoard sympathetic to their political point of view when they would make a controversial claim that other people were saying like no. This is wrong, like no they're lying about this. I think liberal people would attempt to exploit Kate the issue. You know whether to say. No, actually, you know this is defensible or you know no, its not but too to acknowledge that, like there was a
controversy about this said that Barack Obama said I mean I, I think they should a clear example of this. Is Obama ran around the country, seeing as healthcare plan was gonna, lower people's premiums by Africa, but it was Sarah, but it was like tat Five hundred dollar thirty five hundred dollars and obviously premiums- did not go down. Many conservators brought this up and you know the White House was like well, you know we meant was premiums will be lower relative to baseline, and so they will I was slow and an enemy people I mean. I think I think Jonathan Change has been relatively kind to this claim by Obama can show you some charts and stuff, but put nobody is doing is trying to say that, like actually, yes, premiums are lower today than they were in two thousand eight, because it clearly not true. You know you can have different assessments of the policy
an assessment of the ethics of putting that claim forward, given assessments, if right, but what did Obama really say verses paraphrase, but I feel like you have in the fox and sword, Hannity Limbaugh zone of media people who have decided to either just like to now crazy things to get said from the administration or else in the way that you would expect. You know the the state run media in China, like does not scrutinize the public proclamations of the chinese government's like that's, not what they're, what they're there for their there to serve the state not to serve the audience, and you would have expected- would hope that conservative media is there to help
conservative people be informed about what's going on in America, and they don't really act that way. You know when, when sort of trump scandals or in the news they cover something else or when Trump last his out and says M. O Obama was wiretapping, my phones, they like find some way to make that be true and its created a very sort of disturbing to me kind of environment. Where you know you can run all the fact tat columns that you want, but if people are at hearing from new sources that they trust, you know it's it's meaningless and trust is being
you know violated. I mean I don't think it's up this new tenet of conservative Eddie Ology. That says you can cut nearly a trillion dollars out of Medicaid without anybody losing coverage. I mean the conservative viewpoint. Is that, like you, sure that, like you, just you shouldn't, have giant expansive government programmes in which tens of millions of people are getting stuff and like two years ago that was open like this was a thing that people disagree about, and now you have Tom Price in this like fantasy, world and and Trump in this weird universe. Where he's trying to vindicate the you know, a Hillary Clinton is a male guidelines. It is completely crazy, but unless people who have credibility, as conservatives and an audience of conservatives want to tell people what's happening, it doesn't seem to me that it does much good.
This is why I think we're Congress like ultimately over the next week, plays a really crucial role and like where or do republican senators and republic in House members weird all the do they want to get behind Trump on this. Do they want to go seized him and I think that's going to be like that really cute deciding factor, because I think you're you're brightly go see the executive. It doesnt seem like a situation where someone else and the executive is going to stand up and say like now that this does not make sense. Like you know, this does not seem right, It really seems like missing. A few senator speak out. A few centimetres fall in line with the administration, but that seems like the kind of one release valve and check on this situation. Right now. was what Congress wants to do, and I think, like a few months ago, we would have set, will of course they're gonna like stand up like this, would be crazy, like you knew. I go along with this kind of parent, the arguments that are out there, but
It seems it seems less clear. That's that's what's going to happen and seems like the key thing to be watching over the next week, or so so I have recently been renovating house, and you know in doing that. I wanted to learn more about architecture and design, lots of other things and and thanks to texture up, I've been able to read magazines like dwell, the deal with this kind of thing and get some inspiration just get a little bit more context for that kind of thing, and it's not selling out I would ordinarily have been been able to do because those are necessarily magazines. I would have lying around the house, but with the texture ass, you know you get more than just you narrow social feed you get in depth, access to everything from the new Yorker time, the Atlantic Vanity fair anything in the world. all in one single act, but it's like. Basically, all the major magazine publishers have come together to create this. This great things that they deliver magazine
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Calm, slash weeds decrees and we d topic. I know Vizier get it given that will see that over the next year, You know when it is it's it's. You know we always wanted to be in a way. We want to be relevant to the news, but for all we know by the time MRS recorded I've been like twelve other developments by contrast, the: U Dot S, Mexico Border has been roughly where it is for what is it? When was the Gadsden purchase, one thousand eight hundred and fifty three Burgess. Thank you. Bird came in our ear and telling us that the Eu S makes it go. Border has been exactly where they essentially Gadsden purchase of eighteen, fifty three, which are now it added some land to America and good for us
so the trouble administration wanted to build a while, yet so Donald Donald Trump promised to build a big, beautiful, all and, of course, to have Mexico pay for it, and while that's because It's become something of a punch line. There was a when the when Congress agreed to fund the government through September a few weeks ago. Trump briefly attempted to make this a deal very currency over we need billions of dollars or I'm not gonna. Keep the government open. It quickly became apparent that neither democratic nor Republicans had any particular desire to find that, so it's kind of dimly, I think, assumed that this was just rhetoric. That was just a joke, but at the same time the government has put out a couple of requests for proposals for people to build prototypes for a wine it prototype for a concrete wall and one prototype for eight, a wall that is built of something that has not Congress and those are going
You know in SIRI those contracts are going to get handed out prototype we're going to get built somewhere around San Diego at some point in the coming months. It's clear that as policy the Trump administration really does want to move forward on something that they're going to call it wall. So I think we need to as much as everything that is happening. DC kind of sucks up a lot of energy, even when it doesn't necessarily get things done, legislatively it's important to think about the wall as something that doesn't necessarily need a big fighting Congress that is going to kind of move forward. Just as border security has been moving forward over the last twenty five years, really quietly without a whole lot of people noticing that there,
lots more border agents and million eight hundred. You fancy talk about that limit our cause. I think I want those people who expects a big fighting Congress over that's, because Congress typically has to appropriate money for anything right executive once. Do you like what is the path forward? We end up with some version of wall either one that is virtual or concrete or some other material that either we don't end up with a large fighting Congress about whether they want to fund it or not. I mean I think, that its and it's not that they can do it without Congress. They can do the prototypes without Congress that was in previous years. Money but like it is a standard assumption in Post nine eleven budgeting that you give customs and border protection, which is the agency that runs border patrol and also kind of the infrastructure along the border, the money that it asks for and that you continue to increase the money that gets spent on border security. So there's
likely going to be a fight if the Trump administration continues to insist on, like he's billions of dollars outlays for wall Construction without kind of specifying what they want, that wall to be used for, but at the same time Lake When the secure fence act was passed in twenty six, there was this big bipartisan consensus that we needed hundreds of miles offence. along the. U S, Mexico Border, and most of that has been built, at least as single fencing there is an argument about what kind of fencing counts as proper fencing bet. There wasn't. You know it wasn't like Democrats at the time and yes, the politics were different, but it's also really hard to take a stand against a world. We don't need anything in addition at the border. So there's there is definitely an incentive to find some thing point to it and say now we are doing what it takes to get border security done. So I mean you know one
one issue here that the ito is is worth, I think dubbing into is that in a wall is a is a good word of the english language and in the context of say my house. I think we all understand the difference between the walls of my house and like the fence in backyard in the border security context that these are not like technical terms of art and and and a lot can hinge on, politics, like I remember quite a few years ago, I was in Israel when they were building. They are sort of border wall with Palestine and for whatever reason, the political imperative of at least more moderate members of of the government at that time, was to call it a fence, and then you know you would see it and it's like. Well, you got several freed of concrete, and then you have a kind of
Madame thing projecting up and then on top of the aluminum there's like all that's razor wire, and it's like it's not much of a fence. So do you make single borders law and there's a lot of different structures there, depending on where you're talking about right and so in urban areas? My understanding at least what what I saw near San Diego, my understanding of whatsoever, El Paso, is that though, but basically is ball, I mean there's, there's fencing that is thick enough, that it's not enough easily cut through of right. At the same time, border patrol agents themselves. Actually, when the first fencing was built, was actually made out of landing mats. They had his military surplus from Vietnam
and that would like it. It looked like a landing Matthew stood on its end, its very and there's, there's some of it that still there and border patrol agents went. We can't see through this. We can't see was coming out as we can see if their building anything on the other side to try to ramp up in over it, and we can't see if people are throwing rocks over it and that's not. That does not make us feel safe. That does not make America safe, so there's an imperative and like this is why you know hours before the contract was posed to open it at the chest they added this. Will it doesn't have to be made out of concrete option because the idea of a concrete wall across the? U S: Metzger Border, isn't something that the people who work pulling it want. So this is the thing you have to understand about Trump saying Wall is that no one was talking about a wall before he was, which is why I was so politically successful for him, but now they have to figure out how to translate that into policy reality without seeming like their flip flopping, and it turns out that we actually do know a fair bit about.
Where physical barriers are useful. Santiago in El Paso are both urban areas. It would be really easy for somebody to kind of just dive into a house once they ve crossed the border. Their economic agents and analysts have said that fencing actually does have some use when you're talking about wide open desert its arguably easier to catch people when it's an unfair section, and you know where people are coming through then, where people can just kind of cut through fancying ditty and no one is going to notice, because no one's patrol in that area is its abandoned desert. So the they're kind of coming, as you know, here fights into a fairly advanced conversation about what's needed. Where and that's where you get the occasional lake Trump saying that we don't the or in a cabinet official saying that we do necessarily need fencing along the Rio Grande. There are parts of the Rio grande where they are and where they do think that physical barriers would also be helpful after people swim
but like in general. The places on the border that don't currently have a physical barriers are places where you have a river. Instead, so as they kind of went their way through that you'll see more things like you know, insisting that a fence is a wall. If there is to know something on the top of it or if its anti climb on in some places on the San Diego sector, a kind of the war, the defence bins backwards, so that its partner to climb because the weight of the person will benefit more backwards. Then being than allowing them to climb over. There are definitely like technological advances that have been made, and you know that means that anything we could do to actually improve border security would be incremental, so it becomes a question of when does the Trump administration wants, declare victory, or are they just going to throw efficacy out the window and say gosh darn? It.
You know it. The president made his name in constructing things. Were going to build in eighteen foot, tall concrete thing will put the cameras on it so that border patrol feels okay and we're going to spend whatever it takes so that people feel safer because they have a wall because they didn't feel safe with effects. So what would happen if we did that? What would happen if we felt like the classic Trump eighteen fight wall? like what is research, tell us about what that does to immigration into other things we might care about. So the last so I mean the thing to remember here is that we already have a situation where people are not flowing across the border re I'd
NET unauthorized migration is at our near zero v. Real mover in people coming over the border without papers over the last few years have been families and children coming from Central America, most of whom were seeking asylum, which they can do at ports of entry. They do not have to cross the border illegally to to do that. So we're talking about such a small population that, on the one hand, you're not gonna, have a huge effect on whose coming into the country without papers. On the other hand, the bright side is the last time we beefed up borders. Security. What when we beat up border security from nothing in me, late eighties, early Ninetys? There was during a time when there really were a lot of people who were coming across the border back and forth for work. They'd be in the? U S for several months, then they go back, give that money to their families and Mexico put another in out at another room to their house. Come at the? U S when
who started making that more dangerous, because there were people on the border that were beginning to be fences on the border. Instead of people just sting in Mexico, they made the journey once settled in the. U S, you know, got permanent jobs here and then often brought their veto assent for their families to join them in the EU, ass, which is a lot of how you get the extremely settled unauthorized population. We have today, where most people have been here for more than a decade etc, because they are already settled if we added a what- now it's unlikely to settle the more, which is, I think, the best, and you can say about this- is that you know the massive unintended consequences that border security has had over the last twenty five years. Didn't did you know don't get talked about when we talk about the need to secure the border. Even though the at what we can say is that, in general, border security has led to there being more unauthorized immigrants in the country, not fewer, however, because there already.
our revenge and very doesn't appear to be this huge labour flow. A wall wouldn't make there be more, so we just be spending billions upon billions of dollars, extremely small, marginal policy benefit. And, of course you know it's the the people who their ostensibly trying to get these smugglers, the human trafficking networks, drug trafficking, networks, of drugs already come through ports of entry in general cover what that means. You say you, drugs come through. Ports of entry means it's not like. You have a truck full of cocaine and your like sneaky it through some academic strolling zone in the desert, I've emulate happens, you're like a hot sneak, grimace reasons in the desert, but
presented a typical drug smuggling effort will be like you drive the truck up to the legitimate border check they pop up in the truck is full of something great Teddy Bears, but and the drugs are hidden right and the ideas that you not sneaking like the vehicle pass. The whole surveillance apparatus you're actually sneaking that drugs re through the existing inspections regime and the difficulty basically is that we want to have legal cross border trade with Mexico. It's important part of the american economy, the various fruits and vegetables and car parts and other things flow through, and so you have a trade off. You could subject everything to incredibly exacting searches, but that would just one
You know really surprised him even isn't on the margin in the idea. The weights at ports are extremely late. There are many members of Congress relate. This is not that we are going to end up losing trucking business because people are waiting hours to get through the decision that customs and border protection agent faces one inspecting a truck is: do I keep the rest of this line, a waiting and their tomatoes? putting in the heat, or do I consider the possible de that there is actually cocaine in that struck that I'm not finding its. It is it's a legitimately difficult policy quest It also is not going to be fixed if you build a physical barriers leads fans and Thailand, or if the host of I think your interesting weekly podcast, where I someone from the world of arts and entertainment could be a really big name. Could be somebody you ve ever heard of, but should have heard of, could be somebody who is just about to break through many from behind the scenes who is working, and we haven't thought about before
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This pattern seek and tell you you're on these two, your personal style. It's it's kind of fine. You know, nobody necessarily need see it, but it still nice to know you ve got a great desire down there and What you can save time and money each month with a monthly subscription if you're not ready for subscription. That's ok can still save me. Andy's, offering twenty percent off refers Air issues are special. You are out me, Andy's dot, com, slash weeds and get twenty percent off your first pair, so go ahead. Revamp your underwear, George! You deserve it. Europe Pants deserve it. So, once again, that's me Andy's dot com, such weeds me and you stay calm, slash weeds. You said there's a small popular, a small inflow right now like what are the actual like numbers border apprehended, is annoying. Are our plea I mean they're down something like forty percent. Just since the beginning of the year, it's been a while it's one of the things you others
and a lot of that. Again, though, is a central american children and families like that's where the real change has been so. The extent to which the Trump administrations border strategy has been effective has been that people who would be coming here to seek asylum may in its it's possible. It's a plausible explanation at that very successfully gotten the message that they cannot successfully seek asylum in the Eu S anymore. That might be a violation of international law by its an effective way to keep people from coming. So if that is the mechanism, then the case for the war gets even weaker, because that's not in those policies have absolutely nothing to do with what's physically at the border, but we're talking about in
and before that, a flow that is like a half to a third of what it was in. Two thousand, or or even in two thousand sex, it's it's something that is, and I'm going to have to to look this up to get a sense of the absolute scale that it really is. in it? It's a nominal number of people who are coming especially coming for work, and you see that in the fact that people who actually live within three hundred fifty miles of the border are the Republicans eleven three hundred fifty miles of what are the ones least likely to think that a wall as necessary, bright blue, actually live there. I understand that there are security concerns with cartels that you want to avoid the use of the board of organised crime, but that there isn't a widespread problem with waves of people coming over, which is kind of them. Mental image that gets
spired by politicians like Donald Trump and that kind of gets instilled in the minds of people who live in like Iowa yeah. I mean, I think too, to connect the search or we're talking to earlier. Read that it and just a huge element of this is trumps habit of constructing you know Potan narratives that are not tethered to reality in any kind of way that if you had started your presidential campaign by saying I wanna really put border security on the table as like a first rate issue in american politics. I want to consult with experts on this subject with real immigration. Huh
ox. You would have come up with a policy agenda, but like the centrepiece of the agenda, wouldn't be a multi billion dollar construction project in inaccessible desert regions to produce an output. Did the border patrol doesn't really favour because they want lines of site, you would say some stuff: the Trump is actually done. Lake. You know be much meaner about asylum seekers coming from Central America, but but what Trump did was it? He really took advantage of not being involved in the whole. Policy well to just be like what is it that like spokespeople? And it's like this notion of a lack of control at the border- that it seems, like a border, should be a thing, but that in reality
Eddie. A lot of the border is just kind of a river or some dust, and we know there are people who are here without permission, so it just be that there are flowing out of control and like a wall will will contain, it will make us safe it. It sounds safe, it feel safe and he he ran on it and he ran with so was a little regard for anything. That was no moment during the campaign where he was like, ok, we're gonna get serious about that sea. Just kept talking about big beautiful wall and the interest. It has nothing to do with like what people who live in border areas want or even border patrol people were pretty enthusiastic about Donald Trump. It's not isn't really with
they want, and it's a very it's unusual. I mean it's me it's again, it's it's not unheard of for a politician to have some rhetorical flights of fancy, but, like he put his whole immigration pitch into this bucket has like nothing to do with that. Another super similar. It's like the Obama here. Do you think it was always like over appeal and replace it? However, everyone that there is never like actually a concrete with concrete there is, actually a concrete plan to get there, and it felt like this again like us, rhetorical thing we're going to appeal employees Obamacare, that's great when hates Mama care, but never alike in here is like a smart way to do it. There is never that moment doesn't like it, I'm going to consult with experts and I'm kind of up with like a great healthcare plan. Thank you end up. Instead of this planned it like literally, the Healthcare organization opposes end in a weird way, like I hadn't thought about it till you framed it that way mad, but it feels like
a very similar way of like make big statement and like worry about the actual policy implications and fermentation months later I mean this is in fairness. This is not the first time in modern american political history that staff has been tasked with well. The politician has this talking point it's doing really well, we need to come up with policy, that's going to correspond to it like this is a fairly well established thing. I think that what distinguishes tromp is a the absolute policy, ignorance that he started with so that a somewhat more canny politician might have avoided, saying things like we don't have a border now that would make it harder for him to them
say. Oh, we already have the beginnings of a wall or too you know glum on the work that has already been done, and the potency of the fears that he's tapped into. I think the real question here is. It is possible that Donald Trump could build a thirty foot section of wall point to the wall and say: look we built a wall, that's unlikely to happen, but it certainly possible that Trump card you know, get on board the idea, this virtual wall and spend a ton of money on surveillance and say we have. You know we have a wall, it's just high tech, their ways the trump can declare victory here. Vit are short of this massively impractical and also, let's be real unlikely to get built in the time that Trump would be President, given that they there still air like a hundred cases about
which border landowners trying to prevent the government from seizing their land under a law from a decade ago. In that did, he could find a way to declare victory short of what he originally promised, but because he tapped into this extremely potent and real desire to see something and say that's our border right there. It's not clear whether if you clears victory. The kind of conservative intellectual evaluators who were so proud of him for saying Wall would go along with him. You know it's We are that the rush Limbaugh and Lord Ingram said the world would go along with him and if not, it's not clear who his base the people who were so excited when he talked about building a wall who felt that he really was speaking truth to power that no one else was going to protect them like that that he wouldn't lose them by saying. Oh, we have a well. You just can't see it, but I mean that the true wall it in a lot away,
I do think like it is in our hearts and something that you saw on the economy soon after trot took over. Is that people sell for port it, but Leafs about the economic situation changed along, and some of that is is naked partisanship, but some of that is like there was a desire on the part of Donald Trump to begin painting the ambiguous portrait of the american economy in a positive light, and he has really made an effort on that I mean since taking office. You hear way less about African Americans living in Hell or about you know how our factories at rotted away and we're not a wealthy country anymore. We hear positive spin on the jobs, will ports, and we hear you know tat
ding of factories, opening and sort of ignoring of of bad news stories in that's fairly normal politics. You know you become president, you take it away. There is a universe in which trumped as something similar on immigration. That. In addition to you look, you will spend some amount of money and border security. Something will be put in place that wasn't there before, but there's also you no net migration from Mexico had dropped enormously during the Obama presidency. The central american family is, he seems, to have maybe spoke them off and you could imagine Trump trying to claim credit, not just for you know whatever barriers he puts up but but to say I have fixed this I mean you can imagine. I remember that Donald Trump, not the only republican or conservative, who has an incentive to continue to tap into this fear right.
before he noted the the kind of modern immigration politics that we have started with people attacking George W Bush from the right. If there's a lot a year's tradition of republican governors, in Arizona and Texas, making border security a big deal as they try to consolidate their political fortune. So it's not just a matter of what makes sense for President Trump, but what makes sense for these other people who have aid fear of people coming over the border into a powerful political weapon for them. We ve talked about Caesar before the meeting on line services get like all the comedy. You want in all different kinds of ways: Jonah raise hosting a new travel shell aids. Pretty much! You know it's it's what you would expect from a travel show host my general spent with cameos from for Hake our seas that nickel brown answering for Dane hidden Amerika would Jonah raise a comedic journey through America. That places are real.
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he says you know we should look at this talk that there has been no wage growth in the bottom half of the income distribution since nineteen. Seventy five- that that is a good thing that you see in the statistics. It is their loud and clear. It's a little puzzling to actually see the sort of physical evidence of this stagnation. He writes that the average household more cars than it used to live in a larger house than it used to, and then on top of that you have, I mean famous, We all know we have more computers and smartphones phones, cable channels and stuff than we did in eighteen. Seventy five, Can it really be that you know there's been no increase in in living standards since this time and then he words about how you know. If you do quantitative measures of household consumption, it appears to have gone up.
Since since nineteen seventy five and that there are actually a lot questions about how you should calculate inflation and if you use some of the other indices, they give you a more optimistic portrait of. Maybe it's more like one percent growth over the past, rather than in wages in Asia. In the end in incomes can talk about our and disease, we get to earth like. So what went on in these different? Well, so you know the indices are our technical differences, but that the biggest difference is that the mean index that we use for these governments statistics. The consumer price index is not chained, it's called. So what that means is that you look at what everybody by in nineteen seventy five and then you look at what all that stuff would cost in eighteen. Seventy six and you sort of apply the number
more modern up to date. Inflation indices, user practice called chain, and it takes into account the fact that over time, what it is, people buy changes, and that's not just substitution amidst like qualities of a particular things right, but that, like if the price of a white I want to say if the if the price of cars falls, alot people start buying more car right there, not just gonna, save money, because they like woe cars, a really useful and now they're affordable. I so it comes in or, alternatively, you could have something cheap right like you could have them. Like crappy like parmesan cheese. That comes a thing and it gets a little bit. It gets a lot more expensive and then the fan. see more expensive. Cheese only goes up a tiny bit in price
gonna, start sheeting your consumption more toward the fancy cheese has cause. You saving us money, so chained index is like incredibly boring, but it's important in a chain index. You take what people bought in the one year and then you take what people bought and later year, an average it together, rather than than just projecting forward so with ashamed index. You get that inflation is low, with inflation lower you no longer get to see or wage growth result and some extent. It's not a big difference. If we were talking about what has it been? Four percent growth there has been found, percent growth. I think we would all say this: a boring questioners statistical methods. but zero. I think, feels really special to people right if you were to say: ok, the bottom half of american households, as he literally no growth in income over forty years
That's like a mine blowing, oh my god. The entire american economic model is completely failing, whereas if it's like growth has been slower since one thousand nine hundred and seventy five than it was before, but people are still better off than they were a generation ago, and that's where, like the bedrooms and the cars command right, like the idea that people are actually consuming more we will have more stuff here. This is this. Is my basic, not an economist question, but especially in this kind of post, mid twentieth, century in a post, Eisenhower model where most of white people consider most of what affluent people are going after is not more stuff right and most of the conversations about what makes some wine
You know emotionally stabler, emotionally secure, aren't about basic consumer goods. What's the actual normative argument for measuring income based in consumption, and especially a conservative, these, like relatively basic consumer goods, other than in something like you know, ability to withstand a sudden economic shock or, in you note, total savings or in educational attainment. Over times on the link that yeah, I mean, I think, that's a good question. To ask. I mean I think you do see. Educational attainment has risen, life expectancy has risen, so that's all sort of positives. It's also true, though, that savings rates have fallen. A law that was my question about this paper is, like maybe Hoover, does buying worship, but there also assuming a lot of money which gives them a lot of things. I d and unease ray and which I think is a real question and I think there's not you don't. He obviously mentions that inequality has risen
history to take away is well. Inequalities rhythm of people on the lower half are better off anyway. Being too, I think you have to think about the psychological mechanism of this right. If you feel you solve. If, if you want to say that, like most people do what you have like sightly aspirational view of the world- and you would like to be above average, but you are in fact a little bit below average. gap between being slightly below average, and your aspirational ideal keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger each year, like you're gonna, feel like you're falling behind whether or not in some sense the number
I threw me in your dwelling- has increased what area we weigh more information to compare yourself. Other, that's the thing. Those I brought a very quickly in this paper was turn understand that this disconnect between people in the lower half the income distribution, getting more cars, more bedrooms, but like feeling worse off in when things that's also going on. There is just like an ability to like look at a lot of other people's lives and much more dead than you would have been able to lick twenty or thirty years ago and see like oh, I, like four bedrooms but like like this guy as like twenty had terms are, however, many. You know Mc Mansion bedroom someone might have, is another thing. You know that you're not just comparing you're, comparing yourself again a lot more information about what other people's lives might look like elsewhere, and then I M civitas to kind of both sides in there, and you know what is basically the growth versus inequality debate. Thieves are talking about right. They like
you're going to have unless you are doing forcible, levelling you're going to have an equality, even if everyone's lives are improving over time and so to say. Well the people at the bottom- and you know there are still people at the bottom- is kind of tautological, but I think that there is also a kind of a lake wealth. Verses. Well thing going on that. If you ask people, why does he know What would it take for you to be happy here? They are not necessarily going to say. Well, I don't have as much as that. Other guy, but like there's been so much research that I think all of us are familiar with on the kind of psychological and public health effects of feeling unable to unsure about whether you're gonna make an extra check unsure about what would happen if you got sick that that kind of lack of cushion even
absent the idea that somebody else might have more is really coming coming into focus as an important part of what it means to be on wealthy in America and failing to pay attention to that. I think in terms of oh, you know if they have been. If they ve been able to buy a nice television, then they must be doing ok kind of eight it take. It begs the question on what it means to experience being low income in a way that you know maybe there's a better answer to that. Even if we don't, even if we do assume that yes, people will always feel worse off than their neighbours, I mean I do think it all suggests. You know that there should be more research and more thought into what are we doing policy why's? That is impacting how people make
personal financial decisions, because in a week we know that the savings rate has fallen fairly steadily over decades. We know that people say subjectively that they are. You know living on answered the edge financially, and we also do know, though, that consumption, particularly of a lot of durable goods has risen, and it seems. it seems like. It is not like making people happy in life that actually people would, rather particularly if, if you could keep up with the joneses by getting everyone to have smaller houses and fewer cars, but more savings that we would be a collectively like happier and more psychologically healthy. So a group of people that nobody would need to lose relative position and that with consumption goods, I think relative position matters a lot, but what sort of basic security and exposure to risk it doesn't matter nearly as much
we really could, like all feel, more secure and our finances, but instead we ve put a lot of effort into sort of democratization of consumer credit. You know you have served credit card, everywhere. There's been a lot of emphasis on making mortgages available to more and more people, and there has been very little emphasis on making sir attractive prudence savings vehicles available to people, particularly for things outside the the retirement context, is obviously important to safer your retirement, but people also just worry. You know you could be thirty. Three and select bad could happen to you and you don't want to be in a restrictive of everything that you have an and things like for. One caissons have don't don't help me with any of that, but just sort of providing yourself a buffers. I want a circle back to the indices for about where it goes actually lake. It is a
we'll reminder reading this paper, what different conclusions one can come to depending on what index you're you're using- and I think this is a part of academic. The point is that I, and probably other listeners, may be guilty of lake skipping over what they say. We use this inaction is read that need, say: ok, they're, academics, they're just you know do the thing that they do, but a lot of our understanding of big cultural and economic things that are here running a really influenced by decisions. Researchers are making about these kind of really similar small changes, but the one thing they go through in this paper here is a triumph for different, the seas, and they all led to a different kind of assumptions about how well this group of people is doing, and I took that is like an important I never reading academic research. I think that the tour, the things you talk about our kind of two sides of the same coin. right that there are so many things that are
measured as part of the health of an economy or the means the progress or stability of individual people in an economy that defining people as consumers. Right. Where be the fact that all of these are based on what goods are people buying as a measure of their income? Yet the idea of economic activity in terms of transactions as the way that we define the hell of nations economy. It's all. None of that is going to lead to metrics that are going to lead in the policy directions that mats talking about right. All of those are going to lead to a world in which, as long as people are buying stuff there. Ok, I, like my house, is actually better when we don't buy a lot of stuff because it means or saving warmer in for the house here. I'd like to buy levels more stable when we are not buying new car. but that's not gonna, show them the indices, do they get you know, but I also do think that the psychological power of zero is like always worth paying attention to
here, because when you, when you know you were dealing with subjects that are amenable to serve measurement dispute, the it's worth ask yourself: you're, just describing the situation. How much are you hanging on the zero nests of it right that one of my favorites from that from a campaign trail was at both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump had a line they like to use about? How American families haven't gotten a raise. It's one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine, by which they meant that median household income, as adjusted by the consumer price index, was below the nineteen. Ninety nine level, So that's data that was being reported with an eighteen month lag its data that was being done with a particular price index. Weather
one it's out of the dose. It is an account for demographic effects as many more retirees in twenty fifteen than there were a ninety ninety nine, but at any rate, be with appropriate qualifications. It's true median household income was lower than was an idea, and when next year's data comes out, it is almost certainly going to show the media rose slightly, which I mean that it's not just higher than it was in nineteen. Ninety nine, but it's higher than it has ever been in the history of the United States. We're going to go from you haven't had a raise since one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine to Americans are wealthier than they have ever been in olive recorded history and you're. Talking about almost no actual change trade like you can dispute the number one way or another, but everybody knows that between twenty fifteen and twenty sixteen it was like things may be changed a little You flip pass a certain zero point and it's like the store
that can pass a fact. Checking column, you know, suddenly becomes radically different. Why should we use these other indices? We were better off than ever before, back in twenty fifty in two so we just like this a real this autumn mischief they can be made around these kind of arbitrary cut off indices matter of tension indices, love it. That's how I was that. Thank you. Thank you for listening thanks, To our producers, Outboard Pinkerton and Peter Leonard Ticket, our Facebook Group- yes, absolutely the weeds will have more exciting discussions there I tell us what what would you think about terms about favoured and about your favorite inflation indices? I, like the harmonised index of consumer prices that they use in Europe, although its treatment of housing is making big me a quota of it.
continue the conversation on Facebook. I ever see you guys next week next week.
Transcript generated on 2021-09-13.