Return to Transcripts main page
FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
The Crumbling of the Post-War Order; Immigration Backlash Rocks the West; Aired 10-11a ET
Aired July 1, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:16] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN 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 coming to you today from London.
ZAKARIA: Today on the show, Trump and Putin. As they prepare to meet in Helsinki, Trump throws cold water on concerns that Russia meddled in America's elections. Meanwhile, NATO and the EU continue to be targets of his criticism.
What is going on and how does it look from this side of the Atlantic?
All that and more with the powerhouse panel, the editor of "The Economist," Britain's former finance minister and Tony Blair's press wizard.
And President Trump is set to arrive here in London in less than two weeks. The mayor of the city has said Londoners have made it clear Trump is not welcome. What do the protesters hope to accomplish? I'll ask one of the organizers.
Also, what in the world are 7500 oil barrels doing in the middle of a pristine park in Central London? I'll tell you.
ZAKARIA: But first, here's my take. In recent weeks, you will have heard or read about two seemingly unrelated issues. In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio has signaled his desire to scrap the highly competitive exams for eight New York public schools. In Boston there were new revelations from a lawsuit against Harvard University that alleges the university systemically discriminates against Asian Americans in its administration's process.
These come from very different directions. But they represent an assault on one of the foundations of modern society. The meritocracy. The meritocracy is now an idea under siege. On the right many of Donald Trump's supporters see it as a code word for an out-of-touch establishment that looks down on ordinary, hard-working Americans.
Here in Britain, Theresa May's call for a more meritocratic society was assailed on the left by those who saw it as a constant but breeds elitism and inequality. Until the 1950s America was running every corridor of power by white Anglo-Saxon Protestant men. That WASP aristocracy was slowly but surely dislodged through the rise of merit- based systems, largely in education, that opened up elite institutions to people of talent, no matter their background.
So let's first talk about the New York challenge to meritocracy. Its eight selective schools are a wonder of the modern public education system. Admission to them is based on a single test. Having well- thought connections will not get you in nor with your race or athletic prowess. These schools have an astonishing track record of moving smart kids out of poverty and into the middle class.
But it turns out that blacks and Hispanics comprised just 10 percent of these schools compared with 68 percent of the city's student body as a whole. The tests are said to favor one group, Asians, who make up more than 60 percent of the students. But to complain that the schools have a diversity problem as the mayor does is wrong and wrongheaded. First, these schools are incredibly diverse.
The category called "Asians" actually encompasses people that trace their ancestry to China, South Korea, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines, among others, wildly different countries and cultures. Perhaps more important the test is designed to find talented students, not to raise up specific minorities which the rest of the vast New York's school system works hard to do.
The challenge from Boston to the meritocracy is different. Arguing that elite institutions pretend to be meritocratic but don't actually practice what they preach. And several Princeton University studies point directly and persuasively to the fact that many highly selective academic institutions are systematically biased against Asian Americans.
The lawsuit alleges Harvard uses soft criteria like personality to downgrade Asian applicants with high test scores and grades and considerable extracurricular activities. This harkens back to methods that admissions committees began using in the 1920s then to deny qualified Jewish applicants.
Harvard denies the allegations.
Now let's be clear. Tests are not perfect and they should be supplemented by other factors. But we should all be wary of a system that returns the selection process to one in which people make highly subjective judgments, as well as the case in the days of the old boy networks. Historically that becomes a process that smuggles in prejudice and preferences based on class, race, religion, politics, and money.
It was also a process that did not find or promote genuine talent nor did it create much social mobility. The meritocracy is under assault, but those who attack it should ask themselves. What would you replace it with?
As Churchill said of democracy, a meritocracy is the worst system to select the society's elites except from all the others.
For more, go to read my CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
In just over two weeks' time, President Trump and President Putin are set to meet in Helsinki, Finland. The location is an interesting choice with an important history. In 1975 the Helsinki accords were signed there. This agreement was signed by the United States, Canada, and almost every European country. It solidified the post-World War II order in Europe. The Soviets have their well-established sphere and the West have the rest.
Now the post-World War II order has crumbled. Russia's reach is extending even into the United States where it meddled in the 2016 elections, and with a tweet on Thursday, Donald Trump signaled he believes Russia's denials despite the findings of his own intelligence community. Indeed the administration no longer seems to want to uphold the post-world order at all. A diplomat says Trump told the G7 that NATO is as bad as NAFTA.
These are the atmospherics as the two powerful men prepare to have a summit.
What to make of all of this? Joining me now is Zanny Minton Beddoes, the editor-in-chief of "The Economist," George Osborne is the editor of "The Evening Standard" previously. He was Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, a very fancy name for finance minister. And Alistair Campbell was Tony Blair's press guru. He is now a writer and a strategist.
So, George, this is an odd moment, isn't it? I mean, you've had Trump come out of the G7 meeting where he has basically let us know that he thought Merkel was a disaster for Germany. The prime minister of Canada was a deceiving guy who one of his aides said there was a special place in hell for. And he can't seem to get -- you know, he's so excited to meet Putin just as he was to meet Kim Jong-un.
Does -- I mean, does all these atmospherics matter? Does it -- it does feel like he doesn't really particularly care for the Western alliance.
GEORGE OSBORNE, FORMER U.K. CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: Yes. It does matter. It makes the U.S. a less reliable partner for Western countries like my own. And of course the atmospherics drives the media agenda all of which points to a sort of disintegration of Western unity. That said, there are some bigger trends happening behind that. In many ways America was withdrawing a bit from the world before Trump arrived.
There are new rising powers like of course China and a more resurgent Russia. And so, you know, how much is the froth of Trump's Twitter feed? And how much is big, macro forces happening in the world I think is debatable. The one thing I'd say is Trump is not doing anything to counter those forces. He is accelerating it.
ZAKARIA: Alistair, you look at these images, the imagery, this is the kind of thing you worry a lot about. What does it say that, you know, he really wants these meetings with Putin, with Kim Jong-un, he likes -- you know, it's almost like he wants to create his own alternative -- alternative to the G7, the strongman 7. You know, Erdogan, Putin --
ALISTAIR CAMPBELL, FORMER DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AND STRATEGY FOR TONY BLAIR: Yes.
ZAKARIA: You know, people like that.
CAMPBELL: I think he is -- I think he's jealous of Putin because I think he does believe in the strongman view of leadership. I don't think he does like institutions. I think it's about him and he's a narcissist. It's all about him. And I think he looks at Putin, he thinks there's a guy who controls his own parliament, doesn't have dissent, controls his media, basically has far more power than the size of his country and his economy might indicate.
And he wants to be like that. Added to which I think Putin gets away with a lot more. And I think Trump would like to get away with a lot more. So I think he looks at Trump and thinks all these international bodies, they're a check on me. And they won't be a check on me. And I don't want any checks on me so I'm going to go for the big guys. I mean, how can you go from basically saying, I got along with Kim Jong- un, he's kind of a strong leader. You know, that's when he was asked by the way about the starvation camps and the death camps.
ZAKARIA: He said I think his country -- his people love him.
ZAKARIA: About literally the world's most oppressive dictator.
CAMPBELL: Whereas Merkel -- whereas Merkel is a disaster. Now that says to me as somebody who really doesn't care that much. I think George says it is important to us and it's probably he knows it's more important to us than it is maybe to him. But I think it's also important to America. And that's what I think all Americans should be very worried about his relationship with Putin as well as people like us.
[10:10:01] ZAKARIA: But, Zanny, what about the substance? Because behind all this, there is also the reality that he talking about and doing tariffs against Europeans, talking about there's -- you know, he's apparently at the G7 meeting, said I might withdraw from the WTO. I mean, that's pretty serious substance.
ZANY MINTON BEDDOES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE ECONOMIST: Yes. It's pretty serious. I think the way to think about it, he is -- and I completely agree with George and Alistair. He basically loves autocrats. He kind of -- they're much more on his wavelength. It's much more about person-to-person bonding. They appeal to his narcissism. They don't have to deal with boring things like democracy and checks and balances. But ultimately he's also driven by what the stock market does, what the U.S. economy does, and that depends ultimately on the substance. And so I think for me the big question is, is what he's doing
essentially going to push for the right kind of change in an institutional structure, in a global world order, if you will. But that does need some changes. So whether it's in trade, dealing with China in a somewhat different way, in NATO -- you know, he has a point, actually, that, you know, other NATO countries aren't living up to their spending -- their commitment of spending 2 percent of GDP.
So you could imagine a sort of crazy guy from the outside pushing the sort of institutions into doing something better, or, and this is the really negative one, is he actually a wrecker? Who because the president has such power in foreign policy, is going to be able to completely wreck institutions? Whether it is withdrawing from the WTO, for goodness sakes, or whether it is, you know, and turning up at the NATO summit and saying actually we don't really believe in Article 5. I'm now good to go and see Putin, which would be catastrophic.
What happens then, though, I think is that you start seeing stock markets plunged, you start seeing a huge rise in fear. And then that's the thing that really will possibly change the president's mind.
ZAKARIA: George, you've had to deal with these kinds of issues at the highest level. What is your sense of whether Trump is willing to actually have a trade war? Because there's a side to him that often says, look, it's going to be rough. I know the markets are not going to like it, but I intend to do this. You know, this is -- these are his original positions. In the '80s we used to talk about how we had to fight back against Japan. Now it's China. How worried are you that there will be an actual trade war?
OSBORNE: Well, I would say at the moment Trump's bark is worst than his bite in the year that since he's been in office. You know, he talked about pulling apart NAFTA. NAFTA's still intact. He talked actually about universal tariffs on Chinese imports. I think 40 percent of his campaign he's applied some targeted tariffs on some Chinese aluminum tariff -- products which actually is a kind of thing some previous years' presidents have done.
When it comes to NATO, there are I think now more U.S. soldiers on NATO missions abroad than when he came to office. So he's done these things that haven't yet pulled apart NAFTA, pulled apart NATO. And, you know, as Zanny was saying, I think the question is, is he actually prepared to do those things? In which case that would be -- that's what world markets which otherwise would have been pretty buoyant and broadly speaking and the U.S. economy has been pretty strong, would really react to.
And would that then become a kind of self-regulating mechanism that would stop him to it because you get the impression this is a president who, you know, checks the Dow several times a day and judges his success against that. So we don't know. That's the kind of unknown. What we do know is that if you're the British prime minister or a French president, you know, or the Japanese prime minister, you cannot rely on this guy. You don't know how he's going to react to these things. You don't
have the answer to the question, is he going to pull apart NATO? And, you know, that's --
CAMPBELL: -- a big question.
OSBORNE: And that creates a lot of uncertainty in decision making, you know? Alistair and I both worked in Downing Street. And you had a pretty good idea that the United States president had your back. He wasn't always going to agree with what Britain or France, or whatever it wants, but you knew, Alistair, that you are close allies and friends.
I think the problem for any European leader is you just don't know what the response is going to be when you need America's help. And that creates the uncertainty before these institutions actually disintegrate.
ZAKARIA: All right. We are going to take a break.
Next on GPS, my brilliant British panel will stay with me. We will talk about the issue that is roiling both the United States and Europe. Immigration.
[10:18:26] ZAKARIA: And we are back with Zanny Minton Beddoes, George Osborne and Alistair Campbell.
Alistair, what has happened in the United States as you know is as Trump approaches the midterms, he has decided essentially to nationalize the midterm election around immigration. And I think his thinking is this is the emotional core of the base. And it seems to work. The generic ballot where the Democrats were leading by 14 points is now down to seven points.
Do you think that immigration -- because it seems very similar in Britain, does it have enough resonance to get Trump to surprise us all with how well the Republicans do and badly the Democrats do?
CAMPBELL: Well, about election, I mean, certainly Trump is beyond surprising as with anything because he surprises us day by day by day, and his behavior gets ever more surprising and ultimately sadly normalizing as well. But I think he's -- I mean, I saw a poll the other day, 92 percent approval rating?
ZAKARIA: Among Republicans.
CAMPBELL: Among Republican voters?
ZAKARIA: Yes. Yes.
CAMPBELL: Now that's a very, very solid consolidation of the base. I wonder the extent to which he realizes how frankly despised he is by an awful lot of other people in his own country and certainly around the world.
But immigration, as we've seen in Brexit, as we've seen in recent Italian elections, and we've seen in some of the European elections in the last few years, on the back of austerity and on the back of the global financial crisis, immigration is a very, very powerful political weapon. And I think what he does in the same way as a lot of people in Europe have done, is he takes a real issue and he exaggerates it and he makes it worse than it is and he makes people feel that it's a real threat to them.
[10:20:09] And that's (INAUDIBLE) is very powerful. I happen to think the leader of the Western world is grossly responsible.
ZAKARIA: You know, George, how would you fight this? Because I -- Democrats would say to me, look, what do we do? He says, the Democrats want open borders. They want -- and he describes all these -- none of which actually are true, but in a kind of very simple way it puts the Democrats on the defensive. Now, you know, you're on the other side on this issue because you've generally, you know, been in favor of immigration.
ZAKARIA: Obviously. How would you fight this?
OSBORNE: Well, first of all, I think people who have been in favor of immigration, such as myself, in office did not do enough to talk about the benefits of immigration. And we, you know, in some ways went along with public concerns. Second, I do think you've got to have elements of border security. I think where the pro-immigration lobby loses is when people see on their television screens just un-policed borders whether it's the Mexican border or the Mediterranean here in Europe. And it just looks chaotic. And --
ZAKARIA: But you were in favor of -- I mean, how do you convey --
OSBORNE: Well, I think, you know --
ZAKARIA: A moderate position.
OSBORNE: Well, I think you have to reassure people that you know who's coming you're your area, in the case of Europe, the European continent, and so for example in the last couple of days the European Union has committed to further measures to police its border, to deal with processing the economic migrants.
I do think people who want to make the pro-immigration case for integration, for diversity in their own communities, do have to reassure public concerns about, you know, who is actually coming in.
ZAKARIA: You know, George, Alistair's point, though, is right which is he blatantly misrepresents your position and says you're in favor of open borders and you don't want any -- what do you do?
BEDDOES: But Trump does that on everything. And I think in the long run the only way you counter that is with a positive vision of your own. I think George is right that liberals broadly had been -- have focused insufficiently on border security and there has been a sense that they have allowed the narrative to develop. That liberals don't care about border security, which I really do, it's not true, but I think countering that is one thing.
But more important is coming up with a positive vision of what immigrants do for a country positively. I think one of the problems in the UK was that you had a big increase in immigration, pretty much at the same time as you had austerity, and that was a large part of why people were fed up with the large numbers of people coming in. And we don't need to re-litigate that now but I do think --
OSBORNE: Which is in this country, I'm sure it's true in the States areas with large numbers of immigrants are the areas that are also most comfortable with immigration.
ZAKARIA: Absolutely. Absolutely.
BEDDOES: Yes. But --
OSBORNE: Whereas in the case of the UK where there is not large numbers of immigrants --
ZAKARIA: Exactly the same.
BEDDOES: What matters is the change.
OSBORNE: That's the exploitation here.
BEDDOES: What matters is not the absolute number of immigrants. What matters is the change in the rate --
ZAKARIA: The rate of change.
BEDDOES: In the rate of change and the change in the ration of immigrants to be global. And so if you look at what's going on in Hungary or in Poland, there's not absolute numbers. There are hardly any. But they're obsessed with immigration and it's in part of the country --
Well, it's the perception of --
OSBORNE: And I think it --
BEDDOES: It comes at the same time. If you are cutting public services at the same time as you are seeing on your television, Fareed, and you're seeing that there is an increase in immigration, and you're seeing that your doctor --
OSBORNE: I think this is where we're wrong to go along these arguments. It's not true. You know, the --
BEDDOES: I think you need --
OSBORNE: -- in the UK were facing huge pressure from immigrants.
ZAKARIA: I think it's cultural. It's this fear of culturally being denuded, being swamped by --
BEDDOES: It's both. Right. It's both.
CAMPBELL: Huge fear is easily exploited.
BEDDOES: So we need to convince people --
CAMPBELL: And the question that you ask originally is how do you deal with this? I think Trump and the lessons from Brexit have thrown a really difficult question out for politics and political campaigners. I mean, George and I fought on different sides of campaigns, and you've - you know, I think we'd both say we're pretty tough at putting over a case. But with Trump, you're dealing with somebody who just straight out lies about his own position and about your position, and that gets his opponents on the defensive pretty much all the time.
ZAKARIA: I want to close where we started.
George Osborne, how worried should we be? Really a lot of people in America now worried that we are witnessing the end of the American-led post-World War II order, trade, NATO, all that. I mean, how worried --
OSBORNE: I mean, I think we should be worried. You know, when people like Donald Trump say to the population, you know, what the hell have you got to lose? Well, peace, prosperity, and security is a hell of a lot. And, you know, I think the main challenges is U.S. leadership, but also binding the new powers in the world, particularly China, into that global order.
ZAKARIA: Hard to do if you don't believe in it yourself.
OSBORNE: Yes, but -- but, you know -- well, you know, make, actually, President Xi and the Chinese government feel it too has a stake in the United Nations, in the World Trade Organization. If those are -- so that there are multiple actors, and they're not just relying on the occupants of the White House.
[10:25:02] CAMPBELL: But we in Britain have always felt this very, very close tie to America. And I'm halfway through the Albright's book on fascism at the moment, and I just think there are far too many parallels from the 1930s for us not to be very, very worried about this sense of the international order and international institutions being undermined by the people whose responsibility they are.
ZAKARIA: All right. We've got to go. Thank you. Fascinating discussion.
Next on GPS when we think of the 1 percent, we tend to think of the United States, the UK, maybe Russia, the Gulf states. Don't forget China. The wealthy are growing wealthier there at an outstanding rate. And it has caused a real problem. I will explain when we get back.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. It's not news that the rich are getting richer. It is where they are getting richer and how fast they're doing it that's fascinating.
China has entered into its very own gilded age. A new report out by the Boston Consulting Group shows that the pool of assets belonging to the very richest in China is now $3.7 trillion. That amount of wealth for that segment is second in size only to the United States.
For perspective, $3.7 trillion is more than the entire GDP of Germany. And that Chinese wealth just like the number of billionaires in the country is growing fast. The reasons are clear, China's economy is now the second largest in the world. It contains nearly one-fifth of the world's population. The tech boom has anointed a new class of robber barons flexing market power and consolidating wealth, says Nicholas Lardy, an economist with the Peterson Institute.
So where does that leave the rest of China? The poor? Well, not as well off. The poor are getting richer but not nearly as fast. Take China's poorest half. Since 1978, the year China began its economic reforms, their incomes have grown by 400 percent according to a study last year co-authored by well-known economists including Thomas Piketty. That's pretty good particularly when you look at the poorest half of Americans during that period for whom incomes declined by 1 percent.
But now look at China's richest 10 percent. Their incomes grew by 1,289 percent in that same time period. In the U.S., that group's income was 115 percent higher. The top 1 percent in China, their incomes rose by nearly 1,900 percent between 1978 and 2017.
These numbers do more than just boggle the mind. They represent an existential problem for China which still bears in its DNA the imprint of a far more equitable system, says Orville Schell, the head of the Center for U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society.
That's why even as wealth and incomes are rising astronomically, now welfare programs are scaling up at an astonishing rate. Take, for example, dibao, China's minimum income guarantee, which has been called the largest social assistance program by population coverage in the world. It provides cash transfers to people living below the poverty line which is in China is about $350 per year.
With the bar so low, there aren't many of them. They comprise just 3 percent of the population. Dibao grew from fewer than one million participants in 1997 to more than 75 million at its height in 2011.
And it's not just dibao, the Chinese are not where they should be on welfare spending, but they are ramping up the reach of programs across the board. What I've described China's wealth sore in just as it dramatically expands welfare, may it be a contradictory? But remember, whatever China does, it does on a massive scale. Regulations that threaten to choke wealth can fall away with ease just as regional poverty schemes can go nationwide almost instantly. That is because of China's peculiar mix of economic systems and the slick competence of its authoritarian state.
This kind of boundless growth, a nation undergoing a consuming transformation all recall another country at a similar point in its trajectory. The rising United States, of course.
Next on GPS, after canceling an earlier visit, President Trump will arrive here in London in less than two weeks. And the city is gearing up for major protests. Just what do the protesters hope to accomplish? I'll ask one of the organizers when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[10:37:49] GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: It's a fantastic thing to come to a country where people are able to express their views.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: That was President George Bush here in London 15 years ago in the early months of the Iraq war. He had come to the capital for a state visit, but it was marred by mass protests. An estimated 100,000 protesters shouted angry slogans and toppled a statue of Bush in Trafalgar Square.
The question is, will President Trump be as gracious about his protesters? He's scheduled to arrive here on July 13th to meet with Prime Minister May and the Queen, according to U.S. ambassador Woody Johnson. And he, like Bush, will be met with large protests.
The anti-Bush protest didn't end the Iraq war. So what will the anti- Trump protest do?
Joining me now is Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, a lawyer, the founder of a woman's magazine, and the co-organizer of London's Women's March. She's leading an anti-Trump protest that will greet the president on the day he arrives. Shola, thank you for joining us.
SHOLA MOS-SHOGBAMIMU, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: So why did you get involved in this? You're a distinguished lawyer. You've got other things going on. What made you decide you wanted to lead this protest?
MOS-SHOGBAMIMU: Well, women like myself understand that it's time to make our voice count. Our vote and our voice count. We can't sit in silence or sit on the fence while we see intolerance, while we see acts on policies that just seem to -- not just see but actually allow for inequality, intolerance and all of its shapes that affect people's lives. You know, we have to do something about them. And that's why we're here.
ZAKARIA: Now, you know there are a lot of people in the United States, and probably around the world, who've been saying look, Trump was elected president of the United States. He has to do business with the rest of the world. He's coming to Britain. You know, it's not a state visit as I understand it, it's more of a working visit.
ZAKARIA: What's wrong with him meeting the prime minister?
MOS-SHOGBAMIMU: The point is not about his visit. The point is the demonstration being put together is a celebration of who we are, the values that the Trump administration clearly does not appreciate. And the values that the policies of his administration are stamping down on.
[10:40:05] And the protests, the demonstration is also to bring about a call for action. We expect our elected government officials to take note that we are watching. We expect them to represent us properly when meeting with President Donald Trump.
ZAKARIA: What is the protest going to look like as far as you can tell?
MOS-SHOGBAMIMU: The protest is going to be a huge celebration of British values. It's going to be -- I mean, definitely it's being led by women but also being led by coalition of very high charitable organizations and grassroots activists who are supporting us in this.
There will be people in London with their pots and pans to bring about the kind of celebration and noise that will drown out a lot of the divisive language, that will drown out a lot of the intolerance that are just coming out of the Trump administration.
ZAKARIA: You know, a lot of people watch this kind of protest and said this is all great, and it happens more on the left. But it sort of -- it ends up with everyone feeling good and everyone pressing like on their Facebook or whatever it is, or hearts on their Twitter.
ZAKARIA: But it doesn't cause change. That what causes change is you have to have very specific programs and policy agendas. You have to show up and vote. And that, you know, a lot of people come for the celebration and then stay home for the vote.
MOS-SHOGBAMIMU: To be perfectly honest with you, Fareed, this is different. Not just this mass -- this mass demonstration which we call "Bring the Noise." But I think you will see from last year, here in the United Kingdom and other countries, more and more people are actually taking that action to vote. More and more people are recognizing that their voice counts.
I disagree that protests or people gathering together collectively or acting individually makes no change. I disagree. Because look, for instance, because of the backlash on caging children, what did Trump have to do? And that backlash didn't just come from the United States. It came internationally. So I think we keep doing what we have to do until we see the change that we want.
ZAKARIA: Shola, pleasure to have you on.
MOS-SHOGBAMIMU: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Up next, I will introduce you to one of Britain's most celebrated journalists. For 31 years, Lucy Kellaway helped her readers understand business and corporate culture. Now she's quit all that for a second act that she calls brutal. What is it and why did she give it all up? Well, find out when we come back.
[10:46:40] ZAKARIA: Lucy Kellaway was one of Britain's best and best known journalists. She spent 31 years in the business as a reporter, a columnist, and an editor working mostly the business beat. But then she shocked the nation at the age of 57 by saying farewell mostly to the pen and pad of journalism, and saying hello to the chalk and chalk board of teaching.
Calloway is now a trainee teacher instructing England's next generation of youngsters in math. She joins me now.
So, Lucy, I read you for years. You had this column which was sort of on business culture. So there's a column that every C suite executive read, CEOs must have talked to you about it, complimented you. So you were in this giddy world where you are kind of a horse whisperer to CEOs and writing for the "Financial Times." And you quit it all at the point where your column was probably at its most influential. Why? Why go teaching and become a trainee?
LUCY KELLAWAY, CO-FOUNDER, NOW TEACH: Well, I'd just done it for too long. I mean, you're right. I had this amazing platform. And I found the job that I could do. Something that I was good at. But it was just too long. I mean, I'd been at the FT for a total of 31 years. And writing that column for well over 20. I just wanted to do something new. And I was sort of tired of the cushy lifestyle or at least I thought I was back then.
And I wanted to do something that was more useful. And I come from a family of teachers. And I'd always rather fancied it. And I thought, I'm going to do this. I'm not too old. I've set up the things and encouraged lots of other people to do it with me. And that was last September. And I'm now not a journalist anymore. I'm a teacher.
ZAKARIA: OK. What's the biggest revelation, difference, you know. What's the lead in the story if you were to write one?
KELLAWAY: OK. The lead is that teaching is really hard. I had in all thought I was going to be brilliant at this. I love talking. I really love teenagers. I mind about social mobility. I like math. So I'm a math teacher. I like explaining it and what could go wrong. So I thought. But actually, teaching is very, very difficult.
I've just completed my training here or nearly completed it. But I'm still nowhere near there. I didn't expect it. I mean, the arrogance of me. I expected that, you know, within a few weeks I'd be absolutely great. And I'm not.
ZAKARIA: What's hard about it?
KELLAWAY: Well, mainly it's about multitasking. You have to do so many things all at once. For start, your 32 children, you must be aware of all of them. You must be aware who understands it, who doesn't. You must be aware who's talking in the back row and who needs controlling. You must be aware of who needs pulling on. Then there's all the other staff. I mean, I need to be mastering my slides which I'm very bad at. I need to know which is my interactive pen and which is my board marker. I keep getting them confused. You need to come with a supply of new exercise books. You need to remember to set the homework. So there are hundreds of things every lesson.
ZAKARIA: And meanwhile, you're doing the substantive part of the math.
ZAKARIA: Which you have to get completely right.
KELLAWAY: Yes. And actually quite often what happens is I find myself making moronic mistakes on the board because I'm trying to do all of these other things. And then the kids gosh, she's not very good at math. So yes, it's the hardest thing I've ever done by a million miles.
[10:50:01] ZAKARIA: When you hear people say, well, why do schools not run like businesses, you have all this experience as a business columnist. Do you think that there's a problem in terms of how school -- if only you could bring the private sector expertise to schools.
KELLAWAY: You see what is so interesting in my past writing about management, you know, and most big companies, hierarchies have been more or less, you know, swept away. But not in schools. Schools are very hierarchical. Very rule-bound places. And I see both the advantages of that and the disadvantages.
I mean, in an autocracy, it's very easy. You don't spend hours having meetings. We spend not time in meetings talking about things. We're just told that, you know, this is the drill for this and this is the drill for that. And so it makes the school very efficient. But there's no soft cuddly feely time. There's no time to pat us all on the head or ask us what we think about anything. We just have to get on the boat.
ZAKARIA: And they should probably.
KELLAWAY: Yes. I think so but if it means we don't ever have to go to meetings, then that's a fantastic advantage. And if in the end we know what we're trying to do which is educate the kids. We don't need to go to meetings about that. We know what we're doing.
ZAKARIA: You know, I saw somewhere you wrote fundamentally journalism was about me and education is about the kids. And I want to know, you know, just watching what you've done and this embracing of humility and taking on all this hard work, there seems to be a kind of Calvinist part here where you're doing something that's very hard, very painful because you think it is ultimately -- you know, that pain is good, suffering is redemptive.
KELLAWAY: Yes. I'm not even sure I've got a very puritanical streak. I wish I could say I've become a nicer person as a result of this. I think my friends and family would say I was just as tiresome as I always was. So I don't think it's had that big -- but you're right about redemption in a way. And there probably is some part of me that feels vaguely guilty and fraudulent about having lived such a charmed existence.
I mean, by the end I was going on beautiful holidays that were paid for in order to write about them. You know, I mean, it doesn't get cushier than that. And I'm paying for it now except that t the reward, you're absolutely right. It's not about making my ego feel better. It's about trying to teach the kids some math.
ZAKARIA: It's one of the most fascinating ways of giving back that I've ever seen.
Lucy Kellaway, pleasure to have you on.
KELLAWAY: It's been a great pleasure for me, too.
[10:56:32] ZAKARIA: U.S. tensions with China have been increasing over trade tariffs in recent weeks, but there's something that is not increasing. The amount of plastic waste the United States ships to China. Last year China announced it was banning the import of all non-industrial plastic waste like water bottles and plastic bags. And it brings me to my question. Roughly how much of the world's plastic waste has ended up in China since 1992? 1/5? 1/3? 1/2? 2/3?
Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer. My book of the week is a classic. John Steinbeck's "East of Eden."
If you're looking for a big fat book of fiction for the summer as I was, try this one. It is to my mind the book that best illustrates the idea of the great American novel. A rich saga of families moving westward on a vast, unformed continent making a new life and a new nation.
And now for the last look. I'm in the heart of London not too far from Hyde Park. A 350 acre area known for its lush green space and pleasant water features. But this week the park's serpentine lake has a stunning addition. A massive stack of painted floating oil barrels. This is an art exhibit by the Bulgarian born artist Christo. He and his late wife are known for building large scale artworks that involve complex engineering.
The artists have wrapped buildings and landmarks in fabric like the Reichstag in Berlin and the Pont Neuf in Paris. They've set up thousands of colorful gates in Central Park and have constructed floating piers in Italy that allow people to walk on water. Well, this work is called the London Mastaba.
Christo told us about his newest engineering feat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTO, ARTIST: The Mastaba for Hyde Park, 7,506 barrels stacked horizontally floating in the water. Really floating. It's not supporting anything with -- plenty heavy anchors in the water.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: That's 7,506 oil barrels floating in the shape of a mastaba, which is a trapezoid shaped Egyptian tomb of sorts. Its stark presence is juxtaposed with the colors reflecting on the water creating an abstract painting on the lake. Now if you think Christo's sculpture looks massive, think about this. OPEC just raised its target daily output of oil by one million barrels a day. It would take more than 133 copies of the London Mastaba sculpture to contain all of those barrels.
But Christo wants to come close. He's planning a 410,000 barrels stack for Abu Dhabi. He says it will be bigger than the great pyramid of Giza. Now that will be something to behold.
The answer to my GPS challenge this week is C. Roughly half of the world's plastic waste has ended up in China since 1992. And according to a new paper published in the journal "Science Advances," China's ban of non-industrial plastic waste will lead the world with an additional 111 million metric tons of plastic to deal with by 2030.
The impact will certainly be felt around the world. The study found that in 2016, more than half of America's plastic waste exports went to China. Germany sent more than two-thirds of its plastic waster to the middle kingdom while efforts to eliminate plastic straws and ban plastic bags are noteworthy, in order to counter the millions of tons of waste piling up around the world, more initiatives to drastically reduce and manage waste will surely be needed.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.