Raw footage for the award-winning series THE 90's. Eddie Tape #88. In this tape, Eddie Becker interviews Steve Entin of Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation and Peter Bahouth of Greenpeace.
00:00Copy video clip URL Footage continues from Tape 10938. Videographer Eddie Becker interviews Steve Entin at the Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation in Washington, DC. Entin is saying that most people in the previous generation have saved and the next generation is reaping the reward, but the Baby Boom generation is not doing enough saving for their future and the next generation’s future Social Security needs. Entin notes that it’s not their fault. We as a country haven’t given them a reason to save. The population is encouraged to spend, not save. When we go to save we run into restrictions.
03:38Copy video clip URL Entin proposes the example to Becker that if I trade my car for your car no money has been exchanged. Nothing really happened, nothing was produced. Nothing got used up. Exchanges and income are different. Society produces goods and services and people get paid for doing that. The amount of saving and investing is a measurement of how much of that goes to produce goods and services that are capital rather than consumption. If a new apartment building is produced it contributes to the GNP a long time because it continues to produce additional output because it’s a means of production rather than a consumption good. How much of the GNP we use for this as opposed to consumption goods, such as food and hair cuts, is partly a function of the tax code.
07:19Copy video clip URL Entin notes that as we earn, we save and savings go to produce new assets. When two people swap assets they are simply trading. They are not investing in something new.
08:45Copy video clip URL Becker and Entin recognize that they are getting off the issue of the interview and refocus their attention.
09:09Copy video clip URL Entin notes that there was a shock to the stock market in 1987, but there was a recovery and the market is on the upswing. But this is not a major crisis in the economy. He explains the inflation of the 1970s and how it was fixed in 1981. He explains the history of how the economy got to where it is today.
13:44Copy video clip URL When asked how we find the resources to support the education of children of Baby Boomers, Entin responds that this is not his area of expertise. His personal belief is that money is not the issue. He believes there’s a monopoly in education in the public school system. If the problem is that you have a kid in a public school where there’s too much bloodshed or poor faculty, and you don’t have the money to send your child to private school, the answer is the freedom of choice movements that allow a parent send their kid to a school of their choice.
15:05Copy video clip URL Entin believes the country will have another 1981-type tax cut at some point and increase the incentives on savings. He predicts when the deficits in Social Security begin it will be very big. “Three-hundred billion dollar deficits in terms of today’s money.” Medicare will be running deficits that are even larger. People won’t want to see payroll tax go from 15 per cent to 26 per cent. He believes benefits will be trimmed, savings and investment will come back. Some of this will be shifted to private responsibility. And when this happens the individual will be saving for his/her own retirement. This will lead to a healthier economy.
16:25Copy video clip URL Entin notes that with lower tax burdens a great many people would be able to save. He notes the elderly today, per capita, are better off than families raising children because in part Social Security benefits were boosted dramatically in the 1970s. Working age families who do not have higher paying jobs haven’t seen significant wage growth. The conversation moves in a different direction from here about comparisons of retirees and working families in the past and in the present.
23:15Copy video clip URL Entin notes it’s not right to say the Baby Boomers are selfish. The world in a sense is against them. Washington is taxing the economy to death. It’s spending on public works that don’t bring a return, funneling money to research that no one in their right mind would support. A lot of our Government-funded R&D is basic scientific research with no immediate application. We don’t give our companies enough in terms of tax write offs to cover the costs of developmental spending to produce new products. They continue talking about related tax credits. The interviewer and interviewee conflict on the issue.
32:00Copy video clip URL The discussion leads to the roles Russia, Germany and Japan play in global economy. The interviewer tries to steer the conversation towards bashing Japan.
33:29Copy video clip URL Entin notes that in the early 1980s when the US had a big military build up there was also a big boom in the civilian research and development sector and a big boom in investment. A large number of jobs in the civilian economy were created. The things needed to grow the civilian economy should be done whether we have a military problem or not. Tax laws, Entin says, need to promote saving and investing. We need to keep a tight grip on inflation. We need to devote more of the economy to things that make the economy grow. A lot of the answers are terribly obvious, but we are like stubborn children and we don’t want to do them. In the early 80s we had a good example. We had a falling economy growing, and made a big shift from consumption to investment. And it worked. It was an anti-government tax change. It meant smaller government, lower tax rates. Entin’s words are passionate and heated.
36:46Copy video clip URL The conversation shifts to talk about the current deficit, where it came from, and how Congress forced President Reagan to spend more.
40:58Copy video clip URL Change of location. Interview with Peter Bahouth, Executive Director of Greenpeace. He explains that Greenpeace is an environmental organization that challenges decisions that lead to the destruction of the environment. They believe in taking non-violent action to stop abuses to the planet or the life that lives on it.
42:10Copy video clip URL He notes that decision making now, to the organization’s way of thinking, is made in an undemocratic way. He says that decisions that have adverse effects on the environment are being made in corporate board rooms or in Congress that are influenced by money or other short-term gains. An example is the production of chemicals that eat away the ozone layer.
43:38Copy video clip URL Bahouth restates his answer for the camera noting that the agenda is based on corporate concerns and they impact the life support systems of this planet. He adds that what’s missing now is real leadership and technology that’s safe.
49:31Copy video clip URL Bahouth notes that if society keeps going the way it is, we won’t be able to sustain the environmental damage. He believes the leadership for this issue will come from the grass roots.
51:01Copy video clip URL He says that he grew up on the shores of the most polluted lake in the US. He couldn’t swim in it or drink from it. His interest in helping the environment came from this upbringing. As a kid he sensed there was something wrong with it. He says that the generation in power today grew up in a different way. What is seen as an environmental catastrophe today was not seen as one back then. Their ethic was “what’s good for GM is good for America.” It was a business effort of unbridled growth. The US has six percent of the world’s population yet we use forty per cent of its resources. Not until the 1970s did we start to develop an environmental ethic. He repeats that if things go on as they are we are doomed. We’re starting to impact the things that support life on this planet. He notes that you can track the correlation between the most polluted areas in the US and the highest incidences of cancer.
57:24Copy video clip URL Bahouth also notes that our society grew up as consumers. We were taught that consumption was good, but never told the down side of it. Individual consumers are not responsible for all the damage, however our individual consumer practice can send the message that we reject blind consumerism. We have to make pollution as unacceptable as sexual harassment.
01:00:04Copy video clip URL Bahouth says that it’s clear we cannot consume as we used to. We’re going to have to live a simpler life. We need to re-examine what “quality of life” means. Does it mean that we have a lot of stuff or does it mean that we have clean air and clean water? The choices shouldn’t be poverty or poison (e.g. you confront a corporation in the community and tell them to stop polluting and they argue that if they stop their business people will be laid off and out of work). The choice should be that we want productive clean technology in our community. Life in 2030 could be that we are making community-based decisions about how people are benefited and the environment is not harmed.
01:04:31Copy video clip URL Bahouth affirms that the role Greenpeace plays is to confront abuses towards the planet and help build a movement of people, to be much more diverse culturally and on the issues we work on. He wants to build a debate as to where we are going in ethical terms not just scientific terms. We will always keep to our roots: non-violence, bear witness, and activism. It’s like that guy at Tiananmen Square standing in front of those tanks. He didn’t stop the tanks, but that image of him taking the risk said so much to people. It’s an image imprinted in their brain that someone was willing to say, ‘this can’t go on.’ Bahouth adds that we are seeing a new generation coming up willing to take those risks.
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