METROFOCUS: FEBRUARY 6, 2020

Encore: November 06, 2020

CHASING THE DREAM: THE FACE OF AMERICA’S GREAT SOCIAL DEPRESSION

Disappearing jobs, weak education and a lack of adequate health care have forced generations of working class families into a balancing act that many are failing to master. Journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn share their deeply personal stories in “Tightrope: Americans Reaching For Hope.”

Aired on February 6, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS.'

AMERICA'S GREAT SOCIAL DEPRESSION.

DISAPPEARING JOBS, WEAK EDUCATION AND A LACK OF HE HAD QUAT HEALTH CARE HAVE FORCED GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES INTO A HIGH STAKES BALANCING ACT THAT MANY ARE FAILING TO MASTER.

THOUGH THE STOCK MARKET IS BOOMING, TENS OF MILLIONS ARE STILL LIVING LIVES OF INCREASING DESPAIR AND OFTEN DYING FAR TOO YOUNG.

SO WHAT CAN BE DONE TO SAVE THE NEXT GENERATION OF WORKING CLASS AMERICANS?

WE SHINE A LIGHT ON THIS CRISIS THROUGH DEEPLY PERSONAL STORIES OF SOME OF NICK'S CLOSEST CHILDHOOD FRIENDS.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

THIS SEGMENT IS PART OF OUR CHASING THE GREEN INITIATIVE ON POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA.

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

NICHOLAS HAS TRAVELED WORLD TO EXPOSE INJUSTICE AND SHED THE LIGHT ON URGENT AND OFTEN NEGLECTED ISSUES OF OUR TIMES.

NOW THE FIRST HUSBAND AND WIFE TO SHARE A PRIZE FOR JOURNALISM ARE TURN AN EYE ON THE GREAT DEPRESSION AT HOME.

THEIR GREATEST WORK.

AMERICANS REACHING FOR HOPE LOOKS AT THE COLLAPSE OF THE COUNTRY'S WORKING CLASS.

LARGELY THROUGH STORIES OF SOME OF THE FOLKS WHO NICK GREW ONE OREGON.

AS IT TURNS OUT, THE COMMUNITY IS A TRAGIC MICROCOSM OF WHAT IS HAPPENING ACROSS THE NATION AS TENS OF MILLIONS ARE LIVING LIVES OF INCREASING DESPAIR AND OFTEN DYING FAR TOO YOUNG.

IN THE NEW BOOK, THEY EXPLORE THE POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROBLEMS BEHIND THIS DISTURBING TREND WHILE ALSO OFFERING SOLUTIONS.

THEIR SEARCH FOR ANSWERS IS ALSO THE SUBJECT OF A NEW DOCUMENTARY.

HERE'S A LOOK.

ONE OF MY MOST POWERFUL MEMORIES FROM CHILDHOOD IS THE NUMBER SIX SCHOOL BUS.

THIS MEMORY IS ALSO TINGED WITH SADNESS.

TODAY ABOUT A QUARTER OF THE KIDS WHO RODE THAT BUS WITH ME ARE NO LONGER ALIVE.

WE WANT TO UNDERSTAND HOW SO MANY PEOPLE FELL THROUGH THE CRACKS AND WHAT CAN BE DONE TO CHANGE THINGS.

I'M NOT RICH.

I HAVE TWO ROOMMATES.

I DON'T OWN MY HOUSE.

I BARELY OWN A RUNNING CAR.

THERE NEEDS TO BE PEOPLE WILLING TO SAY, HEY, LET ME HELP YOU.

I THINK IT TAKES VILLAGE.

IF IT WEREN'T FOR THE SUPPORT, I DON'T THINK I WOULD HAVE JUST DONE IT.

WHETHER OR NOT THERE WILL BE OPPORTUNITY FOR EVERYONE, THAT'S THE QUESTION WE'RE FACING AS A NATION.

SO IT'S TIME FOR A NEW VERSION OF THE AMERICAN DREAM.

ONE THAT INCLUDES EVERYBODY.

JOINING US NOW, MY GUESTS.

WELCOME, BOTH OF YOU.

A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU BACK ON THE PROGRAM.

GOOD TO BE HERE.

LET'S START WITH YOU, NICK.

YOUR BOOK IS ESSENTIALLY AS I EXPLAINED IT, A GROUND LEVEL ACCOUNT OF WHAT YOU'VE APTLY CALLED AMERICA'S GREAT SOCIAL DEPRESSION.

IT IS A DEVASTATING REALITY THAT AFFECTS MILLIONS AND THAT'S OF AMERICANS.

BUT IT IS STILL LARGELY UNCOVERED BY THE MEDIA.

ELABORATE.

TELL US WHY YOU DECIDED TO COVER THIS ISSUE.

WELL, SHERYL AND I WERE TRAVELING AROUND THE WORLD AND COVERING GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN CRISES, AND PERIODICALLY RETURNING TO MY BELOVED HOME TOWN WHERE MY MOM STILL LIVES ON THE FARM THAT I GREW UP ON.

AND WE WOULD SEE MY FRIENDS.

GRADUALLY WE REALIZED THERE WAS A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS RIGHT IN MY HOME TOWN.

I'M CLOSE TO THE KIDS WHO WERE ON MY OLD SCHOOL BUS.

THE NUMBER 6 SCHOOL BUS.

OF THOSE KIDS, ABOUT A QUARTER HAVE DIED OF DRUGS, ALCOHOL, RECKLESS ACCIDENTS, SUICIDE, AND SHERYL AND I REALIZED THIS WASN'T JUST ONE TOWN'S CRISIS.

HOWEVER NEAR AND DEAR THAT WAS TO US.

THIS WAS A PROBLEM ACROSS WORKING CLASS AMERICA AND THERE WAS SO MUCH COMMONALITY BETWEEN WHAT WAS HAPPENING WITH THE KIDS ON MY BUS AND WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN COAL COUNTRY IN KENTUCKY OR TIMBER COUNTRY IN NORTHERN MAINE OR CITIES IN ARKANSAS.

THAT THIS IS NOT GETTING ATTENTION.

AND IT WAS KIND OF FRUSTRATING FOR US TO SEE THE POLITICAL DEBATE, PRESIDENT TRUMP OBVIOUSLY, WE'RE A VERY POLARIZED COUNTRY.

THE DISCUSSION IS ABOUT PRESIDENT TRUMP.

IT IS ENORMOUSLY WHAT HAPPENS TO THIS PRESIDENCY.

BUT THESE ISSUES PREDATED PRESIDENT TRUMP.

THEY WILL BE AROUND WHEN HE IS GONE.

TO SOME DEGREE, THESE PROBLEMS HELPED ELECT HIM AND I DON'T KNOW THAT THE COUNTRY AS A WHOLE OR WE AS THE MEDIA ARE DOING AN ADEQUATE JOB HIGHLIGHTING THESE UNDERLYING PROBLEMS.

I'LL BE BOLD AND SAY WE'RE NOT.

VERY FEW PEOPLE ARE.

ELABORATE ON THAT WHY.

IS IT THAT WE'RE NOT?

I WAS TALKING TO NICK EARLIER.

I INTERVIEWED EDWARD, A HAITIAN AMERICAN WRITER, A GREAT HAITIAN AMERICAN WRITER.

AND I ASKED A FEW YEARS AGO, WHY IS IT THE STORY OF THE 250,000 HAITIANS THAT DIED IN THE EARTHQUAKE WAS ABSENT SO QUICKLY FROM THE HEADLINES?

AND SHE SAID, IT WAS BECAUSE PEOPLE EXPECT THAT THAT'S THE KINDS OF THING THAT HAPPENS TO THOSE PEOPLE OVER THERE.

I WONDER IF THAT'S PLAYING INTO THE NONCOVERAGE OF THIS DEVASTATION.

FIRST I THINK THE NEWS INDUSTRY ITSELF IS BUILT ON EVENTS.

SO WHAT MAKES NEWS IS BASICALLY EVENTS.

THINGS THAT EXPLODE, OUT OF THE ORDINARY.

THAT TENDS TO BE BAD NEWS.

WE COVER EVENT DRIVEN BAD NEWS.

THIS KIND OF UNDERPINNING THAT WE ARE SEEING THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY IS NOT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED JUST ONE DAY.

YOU DON'T JUST GET TO 72,000 DEATHS FROM OPIOIDS IN ONE DAY.

IT TAKES DECADES.

IT IS INCREMENTAL BUILDING AND THAT'S HARD FOR THE NEWS MEDIA TO COVER EXCEPT NEWS FEATURES AND LONGER FORM JOURNALISM.

THAT'S ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW, A GOOD SHOW CASE FOR IT.

PEOPLE NEED TO SAY, WAIT A SECOND.

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH AVERAGE AND ORDINARY AMERICANS?

STARTING WITH THE QUESTION, WHY DID THEY VOTE FOR TRUMP?

THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A SIGNAL.

LET'S DELVE MORE DEEPLY.

LET'S NOT JUST GO INTO THE DINER FOR AN HOUR AND TALK TO THEY WILL.

WHAT IS ABOUT IT THIS SOCIETY THAT WE HAVE LONGSTANDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH A LOT OF NICK'S OLD FRIENDS.

SO THEY WELCOMED US INTO THEIR HOMES AND WE WERE ABLE TO TALK TO THEM AND GET TO KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON.

WHAT IS SURPRISING, WE KNEW CLAYTON.

FROM THE FEATURE.

A FRIEND OF YOURS.

EXACTLY.

AND HE WORKS AT THE FARM WHERE NICK'S MOM LIVES.

WE WOULD SEE HIM ALL THE TIME.

WE WOULD CHAT.

WHEN WE STARTED TO TALK TO HIM AND HE BROUGHT US INTO HIS HOME, THAT'S WHEN WE LEARNED SO MUCH MORE THAT WE DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT.

THESE ARE AMERICANS WHO YOU WILL SEE ON A DAILY BASIS.

THEY PUT A SMILE ON THEIR FACE BUT YOU JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON AT HOME.

WE OWE SO MUCH TO THOSE PEOPLE WHO WERE WILLING TO TALK TO US, FRANKLY, FOR THE BOOK.

THERE IS A DEBATE IN THIS COUNTRY ABOUT THE DEGREE TO WHICH PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IS THE ISSUE.

THAT'S MY NEXT QUESTION.

I THINK PROBABLY MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE LEARNING ABOUT THIS WITHOUT HAVING EXPERIENCED IT WOULD SAY, HEY, IT'S A PROBLEM OF PERSONAL IRRESPONSIBILITY, RIGHT?

YEAH.

I THINK WE HAVE A NARRATIVE PROBLEM IN THIS COUNTRY.

THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT, I MEAN, PEOPLE LIKE FRANKLY CLAYTON EXHIBITED SOME IRRESPONSIBILITY IN MAKING SELF-DESTRUCTIVE CHOICES AND CLAYTON WOULD HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT.

BUT WE HAVE TO SEE THAT KIDS ARE OFTEN PROPELLED ON A TRAJECTORY THAT WILL LEAD THEM TOWARD IRRESPONSIBLE DECISIONS.

IF YOU ARE RAISED IN A DEEPLY TROUBLED HOUSEHOLD AND DON'T GET SUPPORT AND GO TO A SCHOOL, CLAYTON WAS KICKED OUT OF SCHOOL IN THE NINTH GRADE.

WHAT IS SOMEBODY KICKED OUT OF SCHOOL IN THE NINTH GRADE SUPPOSED TO DO?

CLAYTON WAS MENTALLY TALENTED AND HE NEVER STUDIED HAD A CHANCE TO, HE STUDIED CHEMISTRY.

HE ENDED UP COOKING METH.

THAT WAS A TERRIBLY DESTRUCTIVE THING TO DO.

IF THE SCHOOL SYSTEM HAD KEPT HIM IN, IF HE HAD BEEN A GRADUATE, IF HE HAD HAD BETTER JOBS AVAILABLE, THE WAY HIS DAD HAD, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH BETTER FOR CLAYTON AND THE COMMUNITY.

AND THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT EVEN MORE TRAGIC.

NOT ONLY CLAYTON AND HIS KIDS, BUT IT IS GENERATIONAL.

THEIR PARENTS ARE WORKING CLASS PEOPLE WHO HAD OPPORTUNITIES AND WERE MOVING UP.

THAT'S WHERE THE STRUCTURE OF SOCIETY COMES IN.

AT THAT TIME IN THEIR SMALL CIRCLE IN THEIR SOCIETY, THERE WERE JOBS AVAILABLE.

MANUFACTURING JOBS, WORKING CLASS JOBS, REALLY GOOD JOBS THAT PAID ENOUGH SO YOU COULD ACTUALLY SURVIVE AND GROW, RAISE A FAMILY ON IT.

WE DON'T HAVE THAT.

THAT SOCIAL STRUCTURE IS FALLING APART.

CHURCHES, INSTITUTIONS, COMMUNITY INSTITUTIONS THAT HELPED PEOPLE COME TOGETHER.

THAT'S ALL FALLING APART.

ONE MAN CAN'T SURVIVE AS AN ISLAND.

WE ARE PART OF A SOCIETY.

THAT'S WHERE THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY COMES IN AS WELL.

WHEN IT GETS TO THE POINT WHERE YOU CAN PREDICT IN MANY CASES WHAT THE FUTURE OF A CHILD WOULD BE BASED ON THE ZIP CODE THAT HE OR SHE WAS BORN IN, WE KNOW IT IS NOT JUST THAT INFANT'S FAULT.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

WHAT WERE THE MISTAKES OUR POLITICAL LEADERS MADE?

WHEN DID THEY START MAKING THEM?

SO IF YOU LOOK AT THE STATS, THEN ESSENTIALLY THINGS BEGAN TO GO DOWN HILL IN THE 1970s.

THAT'S WHEN HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES STAG MATE.

MASSAC MASS INCARCERATION, WAGES FOR THE WORKING CLASS STAGNATE AND DECLINE.

SO FOR EXAMPLE, THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE IN 1968, IF IT HAD KEPT UP WITH INFLATION AND WITH PRODUCTIVITY, IT WOULD NOW BE $22 AN HOUR.

FAMILIES WOULD BE IN MUCH BETTER SHAPE AND KIDS WOULD BE IF THAT WAS THE PREVAILING MINIMUM WAGE.

AND WE HAD THE COLLAPSE OF LABOR UNIONS WHICH I THINK IS AN ELEMENT OF THAT.

WITH THE CHANGE OF NARRATIVE.

WE BEGAN TO BE LESS LOOKING FOR WAYS TO SUPPORT PEOPLE AND MORE POINTING FINGERS, RATHER THAN OFFERING HELPING HANDS.

IN OREGON, I GREW VERY MUCH ONE THE IDEA OF THE PIONEER ETHOS.

OUR STATE WAS PEOPLED BY RISK TAKERS WHO CROSSED THE COUNTRY, WHO PULLED THEMSELVES UP BY THE BOOT STRAPS.

AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I THINK SHERYL AND I SAW IN WRITING TIGHT ROPE WAS, YES, THOSE WERE INCREDIBLY BRAVE, COURAGEOUS PEOPLE SHOWING TREMENDOUS INITIATIVE.

BUT THEY WERE RESPONDING TO A GOVERNMENT PROGRAM.

THEY WERE GOING BECAUSE OF THE CHANCE TO GET HOMESTEADS.

ONCE THEY GOT OUT TO OREGON, THEY WOULD GET 640 ACRES.

LATER, IT TRANSFORMED PEOPLE BY GIVING OPPORTUNITY TO THESE RISK TAKERS.

LATER, RURAL ELECTRICITYIFICATION, THE GI BILL OF RIGHTS, IT LET PEOPLE GET AN EDUCATION AND GET THEIR HOMES.

SO EVEN IN THESE PERIODS THAT WE ACCLAIM AS THE --

EVEN WHEN WE THINK WE DID IT ON OUR OWN.

WE DID NOT DO IT ON OUR OWN.

ONE THING THAT WORKING CLASS AMERICANS DID HAVE FOR A LONG TIME, AT LEAST WHEN YOU READ THE HISTORY BOOKS, THEY HAD A PARTY THAT TENDED TO SUPPORT THEIR INTEREST.

THEY HAD THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY THAT WAS A WORKING CLASS PARTY THAT SAW THEM AS CONSTITUENTS RATHER THAN IRREDEEMABLE DEPLORABLES.

IT IS NOT JUST SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED HERE AS WE SAW IN THE BRITISH ELECTIONS, THE LABOR PARTY ABANDON THE WORKING CLASS.

IT IS HAPPENING IN ITALY, IN SPAIN.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN HERE?

I THINK A LOT OF IT IS THAT THERE'S JUST BEEN A GRADUAL DISAPPEARANCE OF THE CHOICE.

THEY START TO LOSE THEIR JOBS.

WITH GLOBALIZATION, ALL AMERICANS BENEFITED BECAUSE WE HAD CHEAPER PRODUCTS.

AT THE SAME TIME, WE DID LOSE JOBS.

SO THERE WERE NO OTHER ALTERNATIVES.

BUT IT MOVED TO MEXICO, TO CHINA, BECAUSE OF POLICY SUPPORTED 20 DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

YOU CAN SEE THAT THEY'RE STILL THERE.

IT IS A MATTER OF JOBS VERSUS GENERAL WELFARE.

EVERYBODY PAID LESS FOR THE CHEAPER PRODUCTS OVERSEAS.

SO THERE WAS CONSUMER WELFARE.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME, THE SPECIFIC JOBS FOR THAT LOCATION WERE LOST.

SO THERE HAS BEEN ALIENATION.

BOTH PARTIES LOST TOUCH WITH THE AVERAGE AMERICANS.

NOW THE REPUBLICANS SEEMED TO HAVE GARNERED FROM WORKING CLASS AMERICANS WHAT HAS BEEN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

I THINK BOTH PARTIES HAVE JUST FORGOTTEN THESE PEOPLE.

AND ALSO, THESE PEOPLE, IF YOU'RE STRUGGLING WITH A DRUG ADDICTION OR AN ALCOHOLIC, YOU KNOW, PROBLEM, YOU'RE LESS LIKELY TO VOTE, LESS LIKELY TO HAVE A VOICE OR GIVE VOICE.

SO YOU ARE EASILY FORGOTTEN.

I WOULD ADD THAT THERE IS ALSO HISTORICALLY IN THE U.S., ATTENTION BETWEEN WHITE WORKING CLASS AND THE BLACK WORKING CLASS.

AND YOU HAD PEOPLE LIKE BOBBY KENNEDY WHO TRIED VERY, VERY HARD TO BRIDGE THAT.

AND TO GET THE WORKING CLASS OF EVERY RACE TO COOPERATE FOR POLICIES THAT WOULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

BUT THAT DIDN'T REALLY HAPPEN.

AND RICHARD NIXON REALLY MADE A, PURSUED A STRATEGY OF PITTING AGAINST EACH OTHER AND AIMING FOR THE SOUTH AND FOR THE --

THAT NEW STRATEGY.

AND USING AFRICAN-AMERICANS AS SCAPE GOAT AND AS A WAY TO SOLICIT VOTES FROM THOSE WHITES WHO FELT THREATENED.

AND I THINK THAT THAT WORKED REASONABLY WELL.

IT MEANT THAT A LOT OF WORKING CLASS WHITES THEN JOINED, BECAME REPUBLICANS NOT BECAUSE OF ECONOMIC ISSUES BUT BECAUSE OF ISSUES RELATED TO RACE, GAY MARRIAGE, RELIGION, GUNS.

ALL THESE DIVIDED PEOPLE.

IN THE PROGRESSIVE LEFT, THEY'RE EXACERBATING THAT WITH THE SO-CALLED IDENTITY POLITICS DIVIDING PEOPLE.

I REMEMBER SPEAKING TO AN AUTHOR OF A BOOK THAT WAS TALKING ABOUT THE RESURGENCE OF THE LABOR MOVEMENT.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE, ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT THE WHITE WORKING CLASS AND THE RUST BELT MAY HAVE ABANDONED THIS STRATEGY?

NO, NO.

OF COURSE NOT.

BUT IT DID.

AND CERTAINLY IN THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN, YOU HEAR A LOT OF TALK ABOUT MIDDLE CLASS ISSUES.

A LOT OF TALK ABOUT COLLEGE ACCESS.

NOBODY IS REALLY TALKING ABOUT ONE IN SEVEN AMERICAN KIDS DOESN'T GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL.

THE WORKING CLASS IS NOT MENTIONED.

WHAT WOULD HAVE MADE THE DIFFERENCE?

IT WOULD HAVE BEEN, YOU KNOW, EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT.

LET'S BREAK IT DOWN.

YOU DEDICATE A WHOLE CHAPTER TO THE POLICY STEPS.

YES.

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT WE BELIEVE IN IS EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION.

? THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT.

AS I MENTIONED WITH THE ZIP CODES, WHAT CAN THEY DO?

IT'S NOT THEIR FAULT THEY'RE BORN IN A CERTAIN ZIP CODE.

IF THEY'RE BORN WITH DRUGS IN THEIR SYSTEM, THEY NEED A HOSPITAL THAT WILL TRY TO GET THE DRUGS OUT OF INFANT'S SYSTEM.

AND THEN HAVE CERTAIN KIND OF CARE SYSTEM THAT TRIES TO GET THEM OUT OF THAT STATE.

IN OTHER WORDS, EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION.

IT IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.

IT IS SOMETHING THAT CAN BE TURNED AROUND WEST NEED THE POLITICAL WILL TO DEVOTE THE RESOURCES TO HAVE THEM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.

WE WENT TO VISIT THIS CIRCLE PRESCHOOL THEY SPECIALIZE IN TROUBLED INFANTS.

KIDS WHO HAVE, YOU KNOW, DRUGS IN THEIR SYSTEM.

I WENT THERE AND VISITED A FAMILY.

THE LITTLE BOY HAD BEEN BORN IN THAT SITUATION.

THE TWO PARENTS WERE TOO ADDICTED ON DRUGS AND COULDN'T CARE FOR THE INFANLTS SO THE UNCLE ACTUALLY DID.

THE UNCLE AND THE AUNT.

GET IT OUT OF THEIR SYSTEM WITHIN SEVEN TO EIGHT MONTHS.

THIS KID WAS ALMOST NORMAL KID.

HE STILL HAD A TEMPER.

HE WAS ABLE TO LAUGH AND PLAY.

THIS WAS A MODEL THAT COULD SERVE.

WE NEED THESE EVERYBODY WHERE.

SHE WAS SAYING, YES, WE'RE TRYING TO BUILD A MODEL THAT WE CAN, A TEMPLATE THAT WE CAN SEND AROUND THE COUNTRY.

WHAT ELSE?

WHAT ARE THE THINGS NEED TO BE DONE?

WELL, DRUG REHABILITATION.

WE INKARS RATE A LOT OF SMALL TIME DRUG USERS.

SOME OF THIS IS CHANGING.

SINCE 1986, WE HAD THE WAR ON DRUGS AND THE TWO LAWS THAT ACTUALLY SAID, OKAY, NOW WE HAVE TO THROW EVEN SMALL TIME, YOU BREAK UP FAMILIES BUT YOU'RE PUTTING PEOPLE THIS JAIL WHO DON'T BELONG THERE.

THEY REALLY BELONG IN REHAB IF THEY HAVE A DRUG ADDICTION.

WE VISIT AD NAM OKLAHOMA.

YES, THEY'VE COMMITTED CRIMES.

THEY'RE ADDICTED TO DRUGS AND THEY NEED MONEY TO PAY FOR THEIR ADDICTION.

INSTEAD OF SENDING THEM TO PRISON, WHAT THEY SAY IS, OKAY, THIS PERSON QUALIFIES, LET'S SEND THEM ON DRUG REHABILITATION.

OF COURSE, IT IS PAID BY PRIVATE PHILANTHROPY BUT IT IS A MIRACULOUS PROGRAM.

WITHIN TWO YEARS THEY GRADUATE AND THEY ARE THAT GIVEN BUSINESS SKILLS.

THEY CAN GET A JOB.

THEY'RE GIVEN INTERNSHIPS AND ALL KINDS OF RETRAINING, RETOOLING.

THEY'RE TAUGHT THINGS LIKE MORALITY.

WHAT ARE GOOD MORALS?

INSTEAD OF STEALING THAT $100, YOU HAVE TO WORK FOUR HOURS FOR IT BUT IT IS BETTER THAN STEALING.

IT NEEDS TO BE WIDESPREAD AND NOT JUST PAID FOR BY PRIVATE PHILANTHROPY.

HOW ABOUT EDUCATION?

HOW ABOUT UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE?

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS CAN BE REALISTICALLY ACCOMPLISHED?

THE U.S. IS JUST ABOUT THE ONLY ADVANCED COUNTRY THAT DOES NOT HAVE UNIVERSAL HEALTH INSURANCE OF SOME KIND.

THIS HAS TO INCLUDE NOT JUST HEALTH CARE BUT DENTAL CARE.

WE WATCHED.

SOMEBODY HAD 18 TEETH PULLED.

18 TEETH.

HE HADN'T SEEN A DENTIST IN 20 YEARS.

AMERICANS.

THAT STORY THAT YOU TELL IS, DOCTORS HAVE TO GO FAST THEY WERE, LET'S FACE IT, IN SOME THIRD WORLD COUNTRY.

AND AMERICANS LINE UP TO GET THEIR TEETH TAKEN CARE OF, AND SOME OF THEM HAVE TO LOSE ALL THEIR TEETH BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T.

AND MEDICAIDS VISION.

OUR SYSTEM REALLY CHAOTIC.

SO FOR THIS ONE DAY, THIS EXCELLENT REMOTE AREA, THEY HAVE THIS PROGRAM WHERE THEY GO ON LOTS OF CITIES.

THEY'RE UP TO 70, 80 CITIES IN AMERICA FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED TO HAVE FREE ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE.

AND THESE PEOPLE LINING UP OVERNIGHT BECAUSE THEY WANT TO GET A SPOT AND MAKE SURE THEY CAN GET THEIR TEETH TREATED.

IN THE U.S., THERE ARE AT LEAST THREE XOINLTS HAVE A SHORTER LIFE EXPECTANCY IN THE U.S.

IN THE RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD THAN EITHER CAMBODIA OR BANGLADESH.

THAT'S SCANDALOUS.

WE KNOW HOW TO ADDRESS THAT.

AND OFTEN WITHIN THE SAME CITY.

IN PHILADELPHIA, IF YOU TAKE ON DISTRICT, THE LIFE EXPECTANCY DIFFERENCE IS 20 YEARS.

AND OF COURSE YOU TALK, YOU MENTIONED THIS.

WE'VE HEARD THIS BEFORE.

THE COST OF NOT DOING THESE THINGS, THE COST OF LETTING THE STATUS QUO CONTINUE IS MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE THAN THE INVESTMENT THAT'S WOULD STOP THESE THINGS.

YOU CAN HEAR IT IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

THE REAL POP LIST REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS ARE BEGINNING TO TALK ABOUT THIS.

CAN THEY COME TOGETHER TO DEAL WITH THIS?

I THINK THERE'S ONE AREA THAT THEY ACTUALLY CAN AT LEAST BEGIN.

THAT'S EARLY CHILDHOOD.

BECAUSE, ACTUALLY, THE RED STATES ARE DOING A REALLY GOOD JOB OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION.

IN SOME CASES, THOSE ARE A ROLE MODEL FOR OTHER CITIES AND OTHER STATES IN AMERICA.

WHOEVER HAS THE BEST PROBLEM, LET'S USE IT AS A MODEL AND REPLICATE IT AS A COUNTRY.

I WOULD SAY WE'RE GETTING MORE HUMANE DRUG POLICIES NOW THAT THIS IS BECOMING MUCH MORE OF A WHITE ISSUE.

THERE'S AN ISSUE OF DOUBLE STANDARDS THERE.

IF BELATEDLY NOW BECAUSE THE A LOT OF WHITES IN OHIO ARE SUFFERING FROM ADDICTION, IF THAT CAN LEAD TO BETTER POLICIES AND TO TREATMENT INSTEAD OF INCARCERATION, THEN YOU KNOW, WE AS A COUNTRY WOULD BE BETTER OFF.

YOU HAVE COVEREDER DEVASTATING STORIES, TERRIBLE STORIES, GOING BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF THE CONVERSATION.

THESE ARE IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD.

HOW MUCH MORE DIFFICULT WAS IT TO COVER THIS STORY?

WHEN IT IS SO PERSONAL?

I SPENT A LOT OF TIME, I HAVE THIS PROTECTION.

THERE WAS A GIRL I HAD A CRUSH ON IN THE SEVENTH GRADE.

SHE WAS VERY BRAVE TELLING US HER STORY.

AND SHE'S SMART.

SHE'S TALENTED.

AND SHE ENDED UP WITH ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE AND ENDED UP HOMELESS FOR SEVEN YEARS.

SHE WAS DEEPLY EMBARRASSED ABOUT THIS SHE WANTED TO SHARE HER STORY SO PEOPLE WOULD UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS LIKE TO GO THROUGH THIS.

WE'RE SO GRATEFUL TO PEOPLE LIKE MARY.

BUT IT IS A LOT TOUGHER EMOTIONALLY TO WRITE THAT YOUR BELOVED HOME TOWN.

AND WE HOPE IN TURN THIS WILL CAST A SPOTLIGHT ON SOME OF THESE ISSUES AND LEAD TO BETTER POLICIES.

WE CAN ALL HOPE THAT.

AND I KNOW YOU GUYS ARE ALWAYS HOPEFUL IN EVERYTHING THAT YOU WRITE.

IN FACT, THE SUB TITLE IS AMERICANS REACHING FOR HOPE.

IF PEOPLE READ THIS BOOK, MAYBE WE'LL MAKE SOME STRIDES.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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