Abolishing the FBI and Why Some Men Don't Work?
Speakers: Harvey Silverglate and Nicholas Eberstadt
Welcome to What Happens Next. My name is Larry Bernstein.
What Happens Next is a podcast which covers economics, finance, history, politics, the arts and current events.
Today’s session will be Abolish the FBI and Why Don’t Some Men Work?
Our first speaker will be Harvey Silverglate who is one of America’s top defense lawyers. Harvey has represented criminal defendants in some of the most famous cases. He has taught at Harvard Law School and has been the Chairman of the Board of the ACLU’s Massachusetts Affiliate. Harvey is an expert on the FBI and he feels that the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover haunts the FBI, and as a result, the FBI needs to be shut down, the staff fired, and a new national police force needs to be created to handle national crimes. This will be a provocative discussion.
Our second speaker is Nick Eberstadt who is the American Enterprise Institute Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy. Nick is the author of the book Men Without Work, and the second edition of the book will be released tomorrow.
Nick is going to discuss the steady increase in the number of men who are 25 to 54 who do not work and are not looking for work. We are going to find out who these men are, what they do all day, and whether they are happy. And finally, we are going to hear about what public policies may have exacerbated this problem and what we can do about it.
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Let’s begin with Harvey Silverglate’s opening remarks.
Topic: Abolishing the FBI
Bio: Attorney, journalist, writer, and co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
I've been a lawyer since 1967. I have done criminal and civil liberties law and students’ rights law. I've had a tremendous amount of experience with the FBI. And my conclusion is that J. Edgar Hoover may be dead, but his ghost hovers over the Bureau. In this age when confederate statutes are being torn down, names taken off buildings in Washington, DC, we still have the John Edgar Hoover Federal FBI building. And that's because in a very real sense, he is still the director.
I've been a long time member of the ACLU, although it's more progressive now than civil libertarian. I was on the Board of the Massachusetts affiliate. I was President of the Board. I advise people, do not under any circumstances talk to the FBI. Why? Because they will not allow a lawyer for an interviewee or to record the interview. Believe it or not. They have two agents at every interview. One of them asks the questions and the other one takes notes. The one who takes notes goes back to the office afterwards and types up a summary of the interview. It's called a form 302.
I have never seen a 302 form that was accurate. It was what the agent hoped to hear from the interviewee rather than what the interview actually said.
I was meeting with a group of FBI agents and Mueller. Mueller walks in with two agents. I just want to start by telling you that criticism of the Bureau is a non-starter. I said, Bob, the whole purpose of the meeting was to complain about the phony forensics and the phony interview techniques used by the Bureau. And he got up and walked out. That is how irrational the Bureau's approach toward any criticism is.
Any lawyer worth his or her soul will never ever accept the reports of FBI forensic agents, you have to hire a specialist. The agents tell the forensic people what result they want, that's what they get.
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Topic: Why Men Don’t Work
Bio: Author and American Enterprise Institute Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy
Reading: Men Without Work is here
The latest monthly job numbers underscore a troubling paradox about the state of work in our country. Employment levels are finally back above pre-pandemic highs and unemployment rates continue to skirt 50-year lows, but that's only part of the picture. An extraordinary flight from work is also underway. Inadvertently exacerbated by the largesse of the COVID 19 emergency measures, we now face an unprecedented peacetime labor shortage with employers, practically begging for workers while vast numbers of grown men and women are stubbornly sitting on the sidelines of the economy, even though job applicants have more bargaining power today in the current great recession than at any time in recent memory. Never before has work been so readily available in modern America. Never before have so many been uninterested in taking it. Unfilled non-farm positions have averaged over 11 million a month. For every unemployed man and woman in the US today, there are nearly two open jobs.
Major sectors of the economy are now wide open to applicants without any great skills, apart from the skills of showing up to work regularly and on-time, drug free. Why the bizarre imbalance between the demand for work and the supply of it? One critical piece of the puzzle was the policy response to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. Washington pulled out all the monetary-fiscal stops to avoid an economic collapse. Those heroic and extraordinary interventions may indeed have avoided a worldwide depression, but they also disincentivized work in America as never before, padded by transfer payments, disposable income in America spiked in 2020 and 2021 reaching previously unattained heights despite the economic crisis. And after the initial temporary plunge in consumer spending from the COVID shock, the stimulus funded rebound pushed consumer demand well above its pre-COVID trend line.
Savings rates doubled in 2020 and 2021, a windfall of over two and a half trillion dollars in extra savings was bestowed by Washington on private households through borrowed public funds. As my study Men Without Work details, work rates for men of prime working age 25 to 54 had already collapsed to late depression levels driven mainly by a half century long flight from work. For each jobless prime age man looking for work, another four were neither working nor looking by 2019. The current manpower shortage highlights the new face of the flight from work in modern America with pre COVID rates of workforce participation, almost 3 million more men and women would be in our labor force today. Half of the gap is due to men and women 55 and older, no longer working. Strangely, workforce participation rates for the 55 plus group remain lower now than in the summer of 2020 before the advent of the COVID mRNA vaccines.
Why premature retirement? Thanks in part to pandemic policy wealth effects. COVID era interventions transformed the financial profile of America, nearly doubling the net worth of the bottom half of American households. 64 million homes reaped an average of about $25,000 from this COVID policy lottery. Before COVID, 9 million homes headed by men and women, 55 to 69 years of age, over one in five, had less than $25,000 in life savings. COVID era windfalls generated by the pandemic policies have played a role in the withdrawal of many older men and women from the workforce. The question is, will we witness a gradual return to earlier patterns of work or have longer term work norms and attitudes been affected by the pandemic too?
Self-reported time-use surveys paints a grim portrait of nonworking prime age men checked out from civil society, largely disengaged from family care and housework, sitting before screens, increasing the risk of death and despair. Men aged 55 to 64 who are neither working nor looking for work were kings of the screen, clocking in 2,400 hours during 2020, possibly a new record in the inactivity Olympics. The signs that growing numbers of citizens are ambivalent about working should not be ignored. Success through work, no matter one’s station, is key to self-esteem, independence and belonging. A can-do work ethos has served our nation well. America's future will depend in no small part, on how, and whether people choose to work.
Last Week’s Episode: Internships
Parents and kids spend a lot of time worrying about getting into college. But as soon as they enroll, their next concern is landing a big internship, because it may help in landing a job after graduation.
On today’s program, I want to focus on three issues. How do kids get an internship? What would be an ideal internship for a particular individual? And what skill building should the intern focus on?
I want to discuss the topic of internships from both the young adult as well as the employer’s perspective. Having a corporate internship program is very valuable because it can attract great young talent for future employment.
I had 10 interns this summer for this podcast. They were engaged in all aspects of production from content creation to social media marketing.
You will hear from 8 interns today about how they seek internships, developing skills, and how they plan to use this experience in their future work.
Internships are a critical part of a young person’s development. I thought it would be entertaining to hear about this podcast’s internship as a case study.
Each week, we have a zoom intern meeting. The first order of business is to review the last podcast to provide constructive criticism, good and bad. Each week an intern is required to read a book and then make a case as to whether the author should be on the podcast. Every few weeks, I invite an adult in the room. This is a friend of mine who actively listens to the podcast and then participates in the intern call. It is very helpful for the interns to engage with the adult world, and the feedback from my friends is very valuable.
I work directly with each intern to improve their editing skills, critical thinking, and oral communication. And the interns teach me stuff as well, particularly all things technology. As you might suspect, everything comes far easier for them.
Interns need constant feedback and direction. They don’t know what to do or what is wanted. But they also love freedom of action, so I tried to give the interns choices. What books to read, podcasts to create, and which projects to focus on like website design or marketing.
Many of you have teachable skills that would be valuable for young people, and I encourage you to reach out and find interns. It is very satisfying to interact with intellectually curious and hungry college and high school students, and they will learn a lot from you.
Let’s start with our first speaker Ross Perlin who is the author of the book Intern Nation.
Topic: Ethics and Internships
Bio: Linguist and author
Reading: Intern Nation is here
Every year, millions of young people do internships across the world, a gateway into the world of white collar work
In Intern Nation, my book, I set out to understand internships. Internships fit into a whole pattern of seasonal part-time, independent contractor, freelance work arrangements that bury the old notion of a stable career and work trajectory where you have a single employer.
People have been very slow to recognize the importance of internships. They're very different from apprenticeships. Apprenticeships have thousands of years of history. They are largely concentrated in the trades. And there is regulation around them as well, ensuring that real training is happening, that people are being paid. These are often arranged between employers and unions with an office of apprenticeship as part of the Department of Labor, helping to broker those arrangements, whereas internships have no one paying attention to them. There's a legal limbo that interns have fallen into around things like sexual harassment. Are they actually employees? Are they working?
Attention needs to be paid to those who cannot do internships. Those who cannot afford the pay to play system. In fields like media and politics, especially unpaid internships, internships that often turn on connections as well, what does it mean for those fields that many people simply can't do them in the first place? Internships have played a role in the widening equality of the last several decades.
Since the work I did with Intern Nation, there has been a real reaction. The Fair Labor Standards Act, which was a cornerstone of New Deal legislation that ended child labor and helped establish the minimum wage and overtime. Many unpaid internships, especially at for-profit employers, were actually illegal.
This led to lawsuits, most famously around the film, Black Swan, to reestablish the principle of a fair wage for a hard day's labor. Some employers have always seen internships as an investment, a key way to source talent. Others have been less scrupulous about it. I don't think what we have is working.
Topic: Inequality in Internship Programs
Bio: Senior Research Fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, and the Former Department Chair for Education Reform at the University of Arkansas
Parents should be helpful in getting internship opportunities for their own children in the same way that they should be helpful in all respects for their children. A decent society is built on families where parents develop the full potential of their own children.
We've tried collective child raising by the state. And we have found that those are not the ideal way to help develop the full potential of young people into being decent and productive adults. An internship is just one of the many things that parents could do to help develop the potential of their children.
After all, if parents don't advocate for the wellbeing of their own children, no one else will to the same extent and therefore a good society is one where all parents are trying their best to advocate in this way. But barring engaging in immoral or bad behavior, simply helping your own children is not immoral.
Now, there is something puzzling about why it is that this is an even a matter for your listeners.
What Happens Next Interns
Justin Benjamin, Thomas Triedman, Carly Brail, Nick Ragde, Dylan Partner, Ryan Claffey, Griffith Pool, Dora Wedner (former intern, currently working at 818 Tequila in marketing and sales), and Ross Armon