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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Fareed's Take; Bill Maher on Donald Trump; Bill Maher Gets Real; Bill Maher on the Media & the 2016 Race; Bill Maher in Hillary Clinton; Do Americans Want to Withdraw From the World; Money For Nothing, Checks For Free. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired October 16, 2016 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] FARRED ZAKARIA, GPS HOST: This is GPS, the Global Public Square. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world, I'm Fareed Zakaria.
We begin today's show with the great observer of American life and politics, Bill Maher. He is politically incorrect, very real and obviously unafraid to say what he thinks --
BILL MAHER, REAL TIME HOST/COMEDIAN: Lying, bold-faced, caught on tape lying is no longer a deal-breaker at all.
ZAKARIA: -- about Trump.
MAHER: I think he's going to be the Jake Rivera of deplorables.
ZAKARIA: Hillary Clinton.
MAHER: She's like a black driver in a neighborhood and the police are the Republicans.
ZAKARIA: And the media.
MAHER: The media is rooting for a close race.
ZAKARIA: Then Trump wants to build a wall with Mexico, reconsider the NATO alliance and remade on the Paris climate agreement.
But what does the American public think of all this? I will bring you the results of an eye-opening poll. And with machines taking away so many jobs, inequality rising, and not enough work for many people, what to do? Some say the answer is simple. Send a check to every single citizen. A debate on the universal basic income.
But first, here's my take. Politics is an endearing future of human life but political parties are mortal. In this week, we watch the beginning of the end of one of the America's great illustrious parties. The republican party as we know it is dying.
Last Sunday's debate may have been the watershed moment as many commentators and some of his own strategists noted, it was pretty obvious what Donald Trump needed to do: Apologize, be contrite and then strike broad themes of change, bringing back jobs and putting America first. Ideally, he would reach out to women, the group of voters he desperately needs to win the election.
Instead, Trump did the opposite. He minimized his behavior as locker room talk --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Locker room talk.
ZAKARIA: -- went on to accuse Bill Clinton of much worse and paraded the former president's accusers at a news conference. Since then, things have spiraled downward. Trump has now made it clear that he will not go gently into the night. In fact, he has declared war on the GOP establishment. His goal is surely to take over the Republican party and remake it into a populist, protectionist, nationalist party, the kind that his Breitbart-oriented advisers have been dreaming about for for years.
After the election, there will be a fight for he soul of what is left of the Republican party. We can see the battle lines. People like Paul Ryan backed by the most serious conservative intellectuals will try to restore the party to its Reaganesque ideology, free-markets, limited government, entitlement reform and an assertive foreign policy.
Others like Mike Pence backed by Christian conservatives will try to bridge divides and keep everyone in a big tent. But then there is Trump, who has, for now at least, the crowds, the energy and the powerful message. The political scientist, Justin Gest recently surveyed white Americans on whether they supported a party committed to, "Stopping mass immigration, providing American jobs to American workers, preserving America's christian heritage and stopping the threat of Islam." Sixty-five percent said yes.
The Republican establishment could have stopped Trump months ago. But instead, it surrendered to him. Republicans often recall Neville Chamberlain and his policy of appeasing Adolf Hitler when they want to criticize opponents for being weak-kneed. And yet, that is exactly the approached of the party's senior leaders took with Trump, appeasing him in the hope that doing so would satisfy his appetites. They tolerated, excused and covered up for Trump as he began his political career with Birther racism, launched his presidential campaign with anti-Mexican slurs, heightened it with anti-Muslim bigotry and thrilled crowds with policies that would be unconstitutional or amount to war crimes, all the while demeaning and objectifying women.
Winston Churchill said of appeasers, each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last.
Let's be clear. Donald Trump will lose the election. Forget his dismal polls last week. He has almost never been ahead of Hillary Clinton in the polls for a single week since they were both nominated.
[10:05:06] The major models predicting the election have only once or twice put his chances over 40 percent.
But Trump will not sit in loyal opposition to Clinton. He tells his legions that the election will be rigged. He claims that the media is lying and that its reporting cannot be believed. He warns that the country will be utterly destroyed if Clinton were to win. He is fueling a toxic movement of rebellion and insurgency. So Donald Trump will lose, and he will then destroy the Republican party. The frightening question is what he will do to the country in the process?
For more, go to cnn.com/Fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
ZAKARIA: I spent some time this week in Los Angeles. And while I was there, I had the opportunity to sit down for a conversation with a man who is unabashedly off the left and also, I think, one of the most astute political observers of our time. Not a columnist, not an academic, but a man who apply his trait as a comedian, Bill Maher. He is, of course, the host of HBO's "Real Time". And HBO and CNN are both owned by Time Warner. We met on his "Real Time" set and things got real, well, really quickly.
Bill Maher, a pleasure to have you on.
MAHER: Pleasure to be here.
ZAKARIA: Whatever happens with this election, the big question I think we all are still trying to puzzle is, how Trump, why Trump? What is your explanation as to why Donald Trump erupted onto the political scene the way he did?
MAHER: Well, we have to look at the people who voted for him. I mean, it's depressing to think that you share the country with so many people who you share nothing with.
You know, Donald Trump is a reflection. And what we learned is that there's a lot of vulgar, tacky, racist people in this country more than I thought; I knew there were some. But it's the proverbial lifting up of a rock and what we found when we lifted it up was the basket of deplorables. And I know they hate that term, but if the basket fits, and it does.
ZAKARIA: There are a lot of people who talk about the economic anxiety, the dislocation, the pain. In your last monologue, you don't buy that.
MAHER: Well, I mean, we found that it was a myth. I mean, the typical Trump voter in the primaries made, I think, $72,000 and not hurting economically like they've said they are. No more likely to be hurt by trade or immigration. No more likely to be out of work.
You know, the base problem is that they live in this factory bubble. I mean, if you've ever seen one of his rallies, it's just a completely fact-free assessment of this country, the problems facing it and his always constitutionally impossible solutions.
It's funny the internet was supposed to make us smarter but it just served as a seal for knowledge to get in.
ZAKARIA: The perfect example of that is he keeps citing these on-line non-polls as polls. MAHER: Right. Yes.
ZAKARIA: It's like we won all the polls.
MAHER: He said this week that ISIS wasn't only going to take over their part of the world but take over America. You know, back in the day, if you're in the John Burke society, you have to go door to door with pamphlets and you have to talk to people or whatever. Now, they're right in a chat room. You can just spew your nonsense and there's lots of people who -- that's what they want to hear and they want to believe, and so they do.
So we live in this element where it's not even a race between ideologies anymore, it's not Republican and Democrat or conservative and liberal. It's reality versus alternative reality. This reality of their own choosing. And to make it even worse, they don't care about lying -- Lying, bold-faced, caught on tape lying is no longer a deal-breaker at all. They don't care -- they don't care. They know or they don't know, it doesn't matter to them. He's their guy.
ZAKARIA: How much of Trump's success is that he comes from this much larger world than the political world, the world of celebrity. I remember reading this thing by Josh Ramer who said if you had said to somebody two years ago, this is one candidate who's got two presidents in his family, and he's got an amazing Rolodex, he will raise $50 million in the first month or two and there's this other guy who's got 10 million Twitter followers, who's going to win? And it was the guy with the Twitter followers.
MAHER: Right. Well, celebrity is everything in this country. It's funny, somebody ought to write a book or maybe somebody already did about the history of fame and celebrity because it sure has changed. I mean, I think, 100 years ago, being mobbed, being famous was considered rather gauche, right?
[10:10:06] I mean in Shakespeare's day, actors were like the lowest form of life. And now being celebrity is everything. I mean, you see it in kids' reactions. What do you want to be? It's usually a model, a rapper, an athlete, a singer, you know. I mean, there's a lot of talk in this country from people about you can always live your dream, kids. And what is the dream? it's usually to be a singer, you know, American idol.
Let's get to the part where I'm an idol. Not a lot of doctors without borders. I mean, some, but there's way too much emphasis on that. And so, they think as celebrity is the best thing you can be. Certainly not held against Donald Trump by his fans.
ZAKARIA: And there's no distinction between fame, notoriety and celebrity, it's all the same, the famous.
MAHER: Yes, fame is the best thing.
ZAKARIA: All right. You have five, six million Twitter followers.
MAHER: Yes. ZAKARIA: When we come back, I'm going to ask Bill Maher if he might run for office.
[10:15:35] ZAKARIA: And we are back with Bill Maher talking all things Trump and some other things as well. So I was saying, I mean, the power of celebrity is extraordinary. He has this ability to bypass conventional media. He's got between Facebook and Twitter. He claims 25 million -- I haven't checked it -- followers.
I mean, I am serious. You are sort of have, in that same world, you've got five, six million Twitter followers. Have you ever thought about the fact that you could probably run? You have more name recognition than any politician.
MAHER: I know, but it's my views. Interesting, I could run more reasonably than I could ten years ago. But my standard answer to that was always I think religion is bad and drugs are good. And that is not a slogan that will probably get you a lot of votes in America. People are rather conservative when they go in the voting booth.
Even liberals. I mean, not necessarily ideologically but they want someone stable. I mean, we will see. If Trump gets elected, this goes out the window. But just being an atheist, I mean, right there, that's like the ultimate deal-breaker. There's polling on this in America. They will vote for anybody before an atheist. I'm talking about the categories that have never been elected, a Jew, homosexual, vegetarian -- they hate vegetarians and they will even vote a vegetarian before an atheist. That's rock bottom. So, yes and nor would I ever want to.
Oh, my gosh, I mean, to be restricted in the ways you have to be? I have to get up in the morning. Right there is a deal-breaker.
ZAKARIA: What does Trump do, in your view, after his probable defeat?
MAHER: Not good things. I worry about that. I think a lot of people do. Because, first of all, he's got his knuckle-draggers all riled up about the fact that this is a rigged election. I think I read 65 percent of his followers already believed it is a rigged election and talked about Hillary, putting her in jail.
This is dangerous talk. We saw that woman at the Mike Pence rally this week. I mean, first of all, they live in this, again, alternative reality where country is hanging by a thread and if she is elected, it's this existential threat to our way of life on earth, it's just insane. But if you have that mindset and then he loses, what happens? I don't think he goes away.
You know, this is a Caesar crossing the Rubicon moment; he's got an army. What's he going to do with that army? I think he will be -- people say he might started his own Fox News-type station, I don't know. But I don't think it's going to be good. I think he's going to be the Jake Rivera of deplorables. I think he's going to a revolutionary out there and h;es going to be a martyr to this loss, and I hope loss. And I don't know what they're prepared to do. They already talk about things like Second Amendment solutions. That phrase becomes a lot more acceptable.
ZAKARIA: Do you think he believes any of this? I mean, he was a Democrat pro-choice, praised the Clintons, smeared Clinton's accusers and now he's this.
MAHER: I don't know. I think he always was a racist because he adores his father and that's baked into the cake with him from way back, the housing stuff. He went after those five who were acquitted of the rape. And even after they were acquitted, he still -- I think he's truly a racist. So he started with that, the Birther stuff. And that's where they should've stopped him, by the way. That was where you stop this maniac but they didn't.
After that, once he got in front of his rallies, those crowds, I think he let them dictate where he went. He feeds off the love of those people. We know this about him. Putin says he likes him. Putin is a great guy. Someone criticizes him, that's a horrible person. If he ever got elected, it would just be government by snit, not about ideology, really.
You're right, he's all over the map. It doesn't matter. It's whether you like him or you don't. If you praise him, you're great. If you don't, you're awful. So he gets up in the front of those people and he finds out as the campaign went on. I say this and they cheer and they loves it.
ZAKARIA: He's like a salesman. He's sensing the crowd.
MAHER: Ye, absolutely. Yes, sensing the crowd. So I think that is what has shaped his ideology as far as it goes.
ZAKARIA: You know, one of the things that we've all grappled with, which has been very tough is how do you cover this race? And how do you cover Trump, particularly, when, you know, what he says things that are just not true?
[10:20:08] So for instance, I even watched him this last debate and Anderson Cooper said to him, do you think you have the discipline to be president? For example, you tweet late at night and you ask us to watch a sex tape, which by the way didn't exist. And he says, I didn't. What do you supposed to do with that point when, you know, he did tweeted and how many times do you do that?
MAHER: Well, I think the media, you know, has been going downhill for a long time with notable exceptions. But I think one of their big problems is that they confuse fair and balanced with false equivalency. You know, he's not the same as Hillary Clinton. I mean, Politico did a study of this of how much they lie. She lies about 28 percent of the time somewhat or fully, which is about pretty good for politicians.
ZAKARIA: It's about the average.
MAHER: He lies like 80 percent of the time. Like she lies less than most politicians, he lies more than anybody we've ever seen. He just says whatever comes into his head. I think it's the media's job to point that out. I know he's going to stammer and yell, and he does; I saw it at the last debate. He's like a five-year-old.
I mean, he kept saying to the moderator, she got more time. This is what my sister and I used to do when we were literally toddlers. She could to do anything she wants and I can't watch any of my shows. The idea that this is somebody who they are seriously considering electing? Even if he loses, that is a depressing thought. But yes, I do think the media has to do a much better job of that.
ZAKARIA: But again, his supporters and all the people on Fox News, they buy this all. They like it.
MAHER: I know but the media has to understand that, again, fair and balanced. They got that in their head, which they think means, well, I say this to this guy and I said exactly in the other guy. But if one person is saying that the earth doesn't revolve around the sun, you know, the answer is not to give that person equal weight with that. And also -- I mean, come on, the media is rooting for a close race. It's better for them.
I mean, Hillary is way up now but I don't think that's what the media wants. And they're going to take these nothing e-mails that are in the Wikipedia leaks -- I mean, the WikiLeaks, and they're going to find something in there and they're going to dwell on it, and people out there who don't know much about anything in politics are going to go, it's a wash, you know. That;s it.
Well, you know, he did the 8,000 horrific things, but what about the e-mails? You know, the e-mails, big nothing burger. The Clinton foundation, nothing there. God forbid, they get caught helping people overcome diseases as supposed to Donald Trump's charity which, you know, was basically a slush fund that benefited one orphan, Donald Trump. And people think all these things are a push. The media has to take some responsibility for that.
ZAKARIA: All right. When we come back, I'm going to ask Bill Maher whether it is possible to be a comedian with Hillary Clinton as president.
[10:26:53] MAHER: Hillary, I love her, but she's not good at this. I mean, in 2008, she lost to a black man with a Muslim name. Now she's losing to a 74-year-old Jewish socialist. I mean, Hillary, we're making this as easy as we can for you, but you're going to have to help a little.
ZAKARIA: That was Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" talking about Hillary Clinton in February. Have his views changed? Listen in.
So who is Hillary Clinton, really? I mean, one of the this people wonder about is, who is that person behind this what seems like a programmed facade? MAHER: I don't find her to be this mystery to people. I mean, she's been out there for this long. Looks, she is certainly shell-shocked from 30 years of being attacked. I don't think there's anyone who's ever been more scrutinized, over-scrutinized. I always say she's like a black driver in a white neighborhood and the police are the Republicans. They keep pulling her over and they keep having to let her go.
So, obviously, she's guarded. Maybe she's that way from the beginning, from her upbringing, but she's -- I can't blame her. And, I mean, we're starting to read all the e-mails. There's nothing in there.
You know, they reveal what she is, a government nerd who never stops working. The kind of person who knows details, who believes government can do good, and I just think that's exactly who she is. She's someone who wants to roll up her sleeves and make a problem better, like Bill Clinton said at the convention. I don't think there's much more to it than that. I don't see -- I certainly don't see a scary person. She's a centrist.
The idea in their minds that she's going to change the country very much is crazy. Bernie has moved her to the left to a degree, that's good. But she's not going to rock the boat. And what's so ironic is that he's the big businessman. They love him because he's rich. And of course, if you're rich, anything you say is brilliant.
But he's the one that's going to lose everybody their money. I've been saying this for a long time and now I see business people are saying it too. The market will tank before he's even taken the oath of office because the market is very nervous, hates volatility, they pretend they hated Obama as the stock market went from 69 to 18,000 but they've loved him, really, because he's calm. He doesn't rock the boat. He's steady. And the market loves that. And Donald Trump is just the poster boy for volatility.
ZAKARIA: And if Hillary Clinton is as dull and intense as you say --
MAHER: Yes, it will be tough.
ZAKARIA: -- how are you going to make the jokes?
MAHER: I mean, we always could make jokes every time there's a passing of the guard. I remember when bush left office, all the media called, all the comedians have said, will there ever be anybody as fun -- well, of course, you know, the Republicans, first of all, will be who we make fun of mostly, even though they're not the president as they haven't been, somebody always steps up.
[10:30:01] I mean, if George Bush goes down and a Sarah Palin steps up. And then a Ted Cruz, a John Boehner, I mean, Donald Trump. I mean, these people are the evolutionary chart in reverse. It just always gets worse. And I have no doubt that there are people who will step up for the Republican Party who will make my job easier if I'm here when I'm 110, which I hope to be.
ZAKARIA: Bill Maher, pleasure to have you on, as always.
MAHER: Pleasure to be here as always. Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Thank you so much.
Don't forget the next and final presidential debate is right here on CNN, Wednesday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Don't miss it.
Next on GPS, the candidates for president have very different views when it comes to American foreign policy. But where does the American public stand on these issues? I think you'll be surprised. Up next.
[10:35:25] ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. And today we are talking about America's place in the world. The candidates for president present almost diametrically opposed visions of how American should behave on the world scene.
But what does the American public think about these crucial issues? Is a wall on the Mexican border needed? What are the biggest threats to the country? Is globalization good or bad?
Well, you're about to hear the results of a very telling public opinion survey, the results of which are just out from the Chicago Council of Global Affairs. The president of that council, Ivo Daalder, joined me. He is the former U.S. ambassador to NATO. Listen in.
ZAKARIA: Ivo, a pleasure to good you on.
IVO DAALDER, PRESIDENT, CHICAGO COUNCIL OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS: Great to be here.
ZAKARIA: So these are fascinating results. Let's just run through some of them first. The big thing, the issue of this campaign, the wall. What do Americans think of the wall?
DAALDER: So there is a huge split between Americans. 92 percent of core Trump supporters, the people who really want Trump to be president, believe we should build the wall. But if you look at the overall results, they're split. About 48 percent are in favor and 50 percent are against.
ZAKARIA: What's interesting to me is this partisan divide shows up not just in issues like immigration, which you'd expect, but even on the core threats to the United States. We are so divided as a country. Terrorism is number one. But what's -- but how does it break out after that?
DAALDER: So after that, among core Trump supporters and indeed among Republicans, immigration and Islamic fundamentalism are very high threats. They're critical threats to the United States. For Democrats, it's nuclear proliferation and the threat of a North Korean nuclear weapon. Climate change appears on the list. Another financial crisis.
ZAKARIA: What about the concern that people have often had about a return of American isolationism. America historically didn't want to be involved in the world. From Washington's farewell address through the 1930s. That changed after World War II. A lot of people worry when they listen to some of the things Trump says that he wants to withdraw from the world and his support as well, withdraw from the world. What's the polling?
DAALDER: So that's the interesting thing. We've been asking one particular question since 1974. Should the United States have an active role on world affairs or should stay out? Today two-thirds of the American public says we need to have an active role in world affairs. About one-third says we need to stay out.
Core Trump supporter, it's a little lower. It suggests a bare majority. But for the rest, Republicans and Democrats all want to remain engaged. And it's been like that more or less for the last 40 some years.
ZAKARIA: What about NATO? Trump has said some things which seemed to disparage NATO. He said NATO is obsolete. He then has qualified but what does the American public think about NATO if it thinks about it at all?
DAALDER: Well, it does. And we've asked the questions. 63 percent of Americans want to maintain our commitment to NATO and another 12 percent want to increase our commitment to NATO. So three quarters of the American public wants to either maintain or increase it.
Among core Trump supporters, it's a little lower but it's still well over a majority of core Trump supporters who believe that we should maintain if not increase our commitment to NATO.
ZAKARIA: What do you think -- looking at this, knowing the history of this polling data, what's the bottom line conclusion you come -- come to?
DAALDER: The bottom line is that the fear that we see in the commentary that America wants to withdraw from the world, a fear that frankly Donald Trump is mobilizing in his campaign but that's not where the American people are. That in fact there remains a majority of constituency in favor of strong American engagement in the world to deal with the threats that are out there, to do so in a way that maintains openness to the world through open trade, through immigration, through alliance commitments, the kind of liberal internationalism that we have seen for the last 70 years at the core of American foreign policy. There is a majority support for that.
ZAKARIA: Ivo Daalder, pleasure to have you on.
DAALDER: My pleasure.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAKARIA: Up next, amidst concerns that Donald Trump may have paid no taxes for decades many Americans are once again searching for some way to even the economic playing field. And then idea that keeps cropping up is, should the government simply pay every adult American citizen a healthy amount every year. How would you like a check for, say, $15,000?
[10:40:02] I'll explain to you how it will work when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now whether a universal income is the right model, is that going to be accepted by a broad base of people, that's a debate that we'll be having over the next 10 years, next 20 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: That was President Obama from an interview in "Wired" magazine.
He's right, but we're not going to wait 10 years to have that debate. We will have it right now. Let me explain the basic idea he's talking about. It's called a universal basic income or UBI. The idea is you get an annual check from the government for, say, $10,000 a year. No questions asked. You don't have to do anything to be eligible for it, just be a citizen.
Why would the government do this? Well, it's under consideration around the world and even being tested in a handful of nations. You see, technology is replacing more and more of the jobs that humans do. Western societies generate lots of wealth, but it's skewed very unequally.
[10:45:08] UBI is the way to deal with the unemployment or underemployment that appears to have become a feature of modern Western life. In other words, if you're a truck driver and autonomous automobiles put you out of a job, well, you would at least have some income to fall back on.
ZAKARIA: Let' get into this deeper with a debate. Chris Hughes is a big supporter of the idea. He is, of course, a cofounder of Facebook. And Eduardo Porter is more skeptical of the UBI. He's a columnist who writes mainly on economics for the "New York Times."
Chris, how did you come to think about this? Presumably watching Facebook and the kind of technology that this revolution must have something to do with it?
CHRIS HUGHES, CO-FOUNDER, FACEBOOK: Absolutely. You're watching a world that is changing incredibly fast, and the reality is that the nature of work itself has changed dramatically. Upwards of 40 percent of jobs in the United States are now contingent labor. so in other words, the kind of labor that people are cobbling it together. Uber drivers, temps, independent contractors.
ZAKARIA: The sort of gig economy.
HUGHES: Exactly. And as that has changed and continues to change very quickly, the reality is our social safety net has not caught up. It's not sufficient in size and most importantly, it's inefficient in the way that we cobble it together. So this idea is pretty crisp and it's pretty clear. It's really Social Security for all. A check from the government that enables people to live their lives as they see -- as they see fit.
ZAKARIA: But to explain, you know, again, the underlying premise here, you really think that automation and these technological changes are going to create, if you will, on one level so much per activity but take away so many jobs that you really will not have stuff for a large number of people, maybe a majority of working age people, to do?
HUGHES: Probably. But this whole argument that robots are going to take jobs or maybe they're not going to take jobs I think thinks a lot about the future, but this is the present, the reality, which that the median American household income today is less than it was 20 years ago, and people are trying their hardest to cobble it together.
ZAKARIA: Eduardo, do you agree with the premise of some of this thinking which is that technological change and automation are going to make it harder and harder for people to find good, full-time jobs?
EDUARDO PORTER, ECONOMIC SCENE COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, let's start by saying that, you know, predictions, especially about the future, are really fickle, you know, and also to say that we've been making this prediction for more than 100 years.
Our, you know, technology has changed the labor market since the Industrial Revolution. These fears that there's not going to be enough work have been around pretty much forever. You know, we've transformed our society from being mainly agricultural producers where, you know, 60 percent, 70 percent of work was on farms, to where 1 percent to 2 percent of work is on farms. And yet, you know, we created other needs, a demand for other stuff, gave work to most people.
Now, again, you could argue that we're going through, you know, a transition, a very fast transition, but to conclude from there that there is not going to be work seems to me a stretch that we don't really have sufficient, you know, basis to do.
ZAKARIA: So when you look at this situation, presumably you're saying, you ain't seen nothing yet. That if you look at where Google's driverless car is going to take us. One thing I'm always struck by is when people talk about this, and it's this enormous promise, the single most widespread occupation for American men is driving a car, bus or truck. And so if you end up with a technology that essentially either eliminates the need or even reduces it substantially, this is going to have a huge impact.
Is it the kind of thing that you see going on here that is part of what's driving you, or is it another fact, which I want you to talk about, is it that this idea of a universal basic income is actually a more efficient way to do welfare?
HUGHES: The issue is trying to predict the future is exactly the one that you mentioned, is that no one can do it. And so rather than try to think what the world is going to be like in 2025 or 2030. I think I and a lot of other people in the basic income movement want to think about what the world is like today and say that the future is already here and every day people are struggling. There was a study that came out from the Fed just a couple of months ago that shows that nearly 50 percent of Americans could not find $400 in the case of a health care emergency or if their car broke down. They would have to sell, borrow or find some other means to be able to afford just $400.
That's half of Americans. The reality is the economic security net in the United States is in the process, under our very eyes, of collapsing.
[10:50:03] And we feel this general sense of anxiety in the culture, in the society, certainly in our politics, and I think it is a response to that. So we tend to get caught up in very intellectual conversations about, is work going to go to zero, is Google going to be able to actually execute on a self -driving car? And those are very interesting but I think they're in some ways irrelevant to the fact that we need to start experimenting with solutions like this now.
ZAKARIA: You ran the numbers, and you said the other thing to keep in mind here this is -- if properly executed, that is to give people a basic income, a very expensive idea.
PORTER: Well, of course depending on how big this basic income happens to be. At $1,000 per person, I think you calculated it about 1.4 percent of our Gross National Product? Which is three times the food stamps budget, and you know, you see how the kind of political pressure the food stamps are under. So it is not trivial.
ZAKARIA: But you did it at $10,000 because --
PORTER: Yes. So you're thinking of something that, you know, really moves the population out of poverty and whatnot. At $10,000, you're talking about three trillion which is like a humungous amount of money. It's 16 percent of our Gross Domestic Product.
ZAKARIA: And it's about all that the federal government --
PORTER: Spends today. It's almost all of the federal government spend today. So the idea that we will have the appetite for that kind of taxation, if we're going to put it up on top of the safety net that we have, we're going to start looking like Norway. Norway has that, you know, like four out of every $10 we produced goes to the government and then is redistributed into the populations. That's like the Norwegians do it. We have never been that generous about our taxes and spending. ZAKARIA: Well, Freedman, a great conservative economist, has basic
answer to -- what should an advanced industrial society do about poverty. Well, he said it's very simple. Give poor people money. In other words, instead of having these vast, complicated nanny state that tells poor people if you jump through this hoop, I'll give you some money but you can only spend it in a grocery store. If you do this -- just give them the cash, treat them like adults.
PORTER: Well, sure, I mean, I know that there is a big part of our political spectrum that really likes this idea which tends to be the more libertarian -- keep the government out of our decision making, but I would argue that, in fact, a lot of this government intervention through the safety net has been very, very positive. I mean, the earned income tax credit is one excellent example.
ZAKARIA: That's giving a lot of people cash.
PORTER: But it's giving people money if they go to work.
PORTER: So there is a quid pro quo, and that has encouraged a lot, a lot of work, which is in fact which improves the lives of these people more than if you just give them a check.
ZAKARIA: So we're going to have to leave it here but I think it illustrates very nicely what a fascinating idea this is and so grateful to you, Chris Hughes, for launching -- been one of the people launching this discussion, and Eduardo, for everything you write which I love.
HUGHES: Thank you very much.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, another novel idea about you and your money. Radical transparency. A country where everyone's tax returns are available for all to see. Donald Trump would obviously hate this, but what about you?
[10:57:06] ZAKARIA: This week a Chinese company pledged to invest $20 billion into a new world capital city. This comes months after another Chinese company pledged $15 billion to help build that same capital.
It brings me to my question. Which of the following country is planning to build a new capital city with the help of investments from Chinese companies? Is it Egypt, Angola, Niger or Ethiopia? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
This week's "Book of the Week" is "The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed Politics in Europe and America" by John Judas. The financial crisis and recession had many effects but perhaps the
most lasting will be that it unleashed a wave of populism in the Western world. Judas provides a very intelligent guide to this phenomenon which is by no means over.
And now for the last look.
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TRUMP: I pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, but -- but as soon as my routine audit is finished, I'll releases my returns. I'll be very proud to.
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ZAKARIA: Imagine if everyone's taxes were available with a click of a mouse? Well, in Norway you don't have to imagine that. That country has a transparent tax system where income earned and taxes paid are public information, the "Guardian" points this out. In fact, just this Friday, the 2015 taxes of all Norwegians were published online for everyone to see. The searching is not anonymous. Norway's parliament requires logs be kept so you can see if you've been searched. But anyone can look up the taxes of their bosses, colleagues, friends or enemies for that matter.
Proponents of the system argue that it increases openness, deters tax fraud and reduces income disparities between gender, race and class. It also makes it easier to find out just how much your favorite politician pays in taxes, if anything at all.
The correct answer to the GPS challenge question is A. As CNN has reported the Egyptian government officials announced the plans for the construction of a new capital city last year, in part because of overcrowding, population and rising real estate prices in Cairo. A 270-square mile city capable of housing five million people will be constructed in the desert east of Cairo and will even become the new home of the government.
And China is just one of several countries with companies pledging to invest in Cairo 2.0. In fact, much will be built by the UAE company that developed the Burj Khalifa. The mega project's critics point out that this kind of money that is proposed for the new city could go a long way to solving the actual problems of Cairo.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.