Tonight, Monday, April 19, Cable Ch. 21 at 8:30 pm is, of course, the regular weekly time for “Public Affairs,” through-out the City of Chicago. Become a Paul Green/Jeff Berkowitz watcher. Indeed, you can find Ch. 21 by stopping just one channel short of CBS (Two and a Half Men?), and yet you get so much more—A thoughtful, yet entertaining, humorous and illuminating clash on the national and state issues of our time.
Much, much better than Hannity and Colmes, Deborah Norville, Larry King, Las Vegas, Antiques Roadshow and even the Apprentice (We trump Trump).
Paul Green, WGN- 720 AM Radio Political Pundit and Roosevelt Prof., debates and discusses with show host and legal Recruiter Jeff Berkowitz Women’s rights; the Iraq War; School Vouchers; Does Race matter? Is the Machine Dead? Is God Dead? Barack Obama v. Jack Ryan/ As goes Ohio/Michigan, so goes the Country? Kerry v. Bush/ Blago v. Lisa Madigan/Can Berkowitz Stump Paul Green? A partial transcript of some of the show’s scintillating dialogue is included, below. Of course, the dynamic style and humor of our guest can only be captured by the TV show, not by mere printed words.
Paul Green: …When you think of Jeff Berkowitz, you always think of someone who has been in the vanguard for Women’s rights.
Berkowitz: Indeed, I have. I have two daughters. There is nothing I want more than equal opportunity for women. Anybody who has daughters would say that, right?
Green: I have one, too.
Berkowitz: There you go.
Berkowitz: …Can [John Kerry] build any trust in his foreign policy?
Paul Green: Sure.
Berkowitz: You think so, hasn’t he been on all sides on all issues?
Green: That is what the Bush people want to say.
Berkowitz: Well, would you say that?
Green: Well, one side he has been on—there is no one in the White House or anyone there who is talking tough who has ever been in battle. I mean it is easy—
Berkowitz: Yes, but if you are a hero, and he is a bona fide hero in terms of the military action that he gave this country in the early 70s
Berkowitz: Does that mean that you are necessarily the person with the best [foreign] policy thirty years later simply because you engaged in some heroic activity thirty years previously?
Green: Well, it is not a negative. You know, we have a long history in this country of electing Generals as Presidents.
Berkowitz: He is far from a General
Green: No, he defeated one in the Primary.
Berkowitz: Well, yeah, that guy was far from a General, too.
Green: I didn’t realize Jeff that you had become a military expert—
Berkowitz: Oh, come on now.
Green: The fact of the matter is—
Berkowitz: You are going to equate Wesley Clark with Dwight D. Eisenhower?
Green: Most of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s career wasn’t nearly as good as Wesley Clark’s. Eisenhower did peak at the end, but for most of the time, he was a gofer. If you read the history of Dwight Eisenhower--
Berkowitz: Yeah, but the end is what counts.
Green: Well, indeed, no argument there.
Berkowitz: Is education important to jobs in Illinois?
Green: Oh absolutely. And, again, each of these issues is so complicated and so—
Berkowitz: Is it so complicated? We have this backpack, here and you know this backpack, right?
Green: Oh, I know.
Berkowitz: This is our miniature backpack, but it will suffice.
Berkowitz: So you know the Jack Ryan approach [to this issue]. I am not supporting any candidate [for the U. S. Senate], but I am going to highlight the difference here. Jack Ryan says he supports school vouchers, school choice. We spend $9,000 [per kid, per year in the Chicago Public Schools] on operating costs. It is about $11,000- if you include capital costs. Jack says, give each student the amount equal to operating costs, or a little less. So, let’s say [we give each student] $9,000- that’s my approach. Put it in the backpack. Strap the backpack on each kid. There are 440,000 students in the City of Chicago. Let’s just talk about the City of Chicago now. We could talk about East St. Louis, as well.
Berkowitz: Give the backpack of money to the parent of each kid. The parent now has a choice. If the parent chooses to go to a private school, the backpack goes to the private school. The money follows the kid. Out goes the kid and out goes the money. The public school isn’t any worse off because it has lost one kid, but it has also lowered its operating cost by $9,000, the average operating cost of educating a kid in a Chicago public school.
Berkowitz: Now-- there is competition. Now-- there is innovation. Now-- possibly more kids can learn how to read, write, do math in a private school. How can anyone be against this? Well, Barack Obama, Democrat U. S. Senate candidate, is adamantly opposed to what I just said, school choice – school vouchers. Jack Ryan, Republican U. S. Senate candidate, is for this option. So, that is one case in which there is a choice, not an echo [between these two Senate candidates].
Green: When you replay this over the air, I certainly hope you have Stephen Foster music, like a beautiful dreamer, because that would certainly fit what you just said.
Berkowitz: What is the problem with that. Here, you take the backpack.
Green: No, Jeff, there is a lot of money in there.
Berkowitz: How is a student worse off as a result of that backpack? Answer that question.
Green: …You have turned into a bureaucrat. Forget all the finance and forget all the education factors, how are you going to administer that? Who is going to do that?
Berkowitz: State and Local governments. Just like we do it now. Only difference is--
Green: State board of education? Local school districts?
Berkowitz: For the city of Chicago, it is very simple. The CPS has the money now. It simply takes these backpacks, it takes the money it gets from the state; takes the money it gets from the property taxes, it accumulates all of the money and puts it all into the backpack, and it says you have a voucher for $9,000 and that’s it. If you go to a school, so that school gets you as a student, [then for the first year, the school would get a voucher that it could redeem for $9,000 from the CPS; in subsequent years] it would get a voucher to redeem from the state and local governmental units for a total of $9,000.
Green: Who is going to transport the kids?
Berkowitz: Well, if they are close enough
Green: Oh, if!
Berkowitz; Many will be. Look, producers tend to go where the customers are. The customers are in various geographic areas.
Green: On, so we are not going to have existing schools, we are going to have new schools?
Berkowitz: If you are going to have 200,000 students leave the public schools, you are going to need some new schools.
Green: And, who is going to run those schools?
Berkowitz: Entrepreneurs, the same kind of people who make computers, build cars, service cars, provide stores—you know this is not a socialist country; it is a free enterprise country. Do you wake up every day and say who is going to produce sweaters that you buy, suits that you buy?
Green: No, don’t change the subject.
Berkowitz: It all comes from free enterprise.
Green: What are the responsibilities for those people? How are they going to--
Berkowitz: [Their responsibility is to] satisfy the customers more than they are now because the customers can always go back to the crummy schools that failed to teach them how to read.
Green: Most of those crummy schools may close.
Berkowitz: If they do [and the customers want them back], they’ll come back. Government is never slow to step into--
Green: Who is going to pay for all this?
Berkowitz: Who is going to pay? We are paying now. We are paying 4.9 billion dollars [per year] now [for the CPS].
Green: But, you are going to pay more. You better get a bigger backpack.
Berkowitz: Oh no, I don’t think so.
Green: Because the backpack that they are going to take back from some fly by night operation—Who is going to license those schools?
Berkowitz: The same people who do it now. They do accreditation. We are just not going to—
Green: The State Board?
Berkowitz: We are going to look at very basic things. If there is fraud—
Green: Will these be private religious schools?
Berkowitz: We can cross that bridge if we have to but I am saying-
Green: Do we avoid the First Amendment?
Berkowitz: Even if we don’t allow them to be religious, they would be very much improved for students.
Green: So we are going to use tax dollars to support various religious groups.
Berkowitz: No, I am saying if you want to say we can’t do that- the U. S. Supreme Court actually differs in the Zelman case from [what you are suggesting]. But if you think the Court would agree with you, I think people would be content to have private, non-sectarian school choice.
Green: What if we have 20,000 kids who want to go to Islamic schools?
Berkowitz: Well, they can do that now but they have to pay [for that themselves].
Green: You would support that?
Berkowitz: No, I am saying that if you think that is the case and the Supreme Court would support you [that is reverse Zelman and say that vouchers can’t be used at religious schools], I can live with it either way [religious or not religious schools]. My concern is to allow kids who are not learning how to read to have an opportunity to do so. That is probably the most important thing we can do for them, right?
Green: Well, we agree on that.
Berkowitz: Basically, [Senator John Edwards] was running [for President] on a protectionist program, which we had in the 1930s-- which helped turn a recession into a depression—when we raised tariffs all around. This was John Edwards' solution basically, he didn’t say it clearly—but it was basically to wall off opportunities, to wall off globalism, to wall off trade—not exactly an enlightened approach from somebody who is the Director of the School of Policy Studies, right?
Green: Don’t equate me with John Edwards.
Berkowitz: No, I am saying you would refute that because you don’t teach people that trade is a bad thing, do you?
Green: No, no.
Berkowitz: But, that is what John Edwards was saying: Trade is a bad thing.
Green: We have a New Economy- but the people have to earn a living and—
Berkowitz: They do.
Green: And, all of the fancy verbalizations of the famous Jeff Berkowitz doesn’t take away from the fact that there are a lot of working people out there that are struggling to earn a living. And that is a problem that the President of the United States has to—
Berkowitz: Hope, growth and opportunity. Cutting tax rates, giving people an incentive to work, save and invest will create more jobs. You can’t dispute that, can you?
Green: We’ll see if in fact they create more jobs or if they just pocket the money.
Berkowitz: We are taping this show on April 1, 2004, …but just about a year ago, April 3, 2003, you said on this show, “I have no problem with the whole idea of going to War in Iraq.” That was your statement—are you going to stand by that.
Paul Green: Yes.
Berkowitz: It was a good move. Would you say that?
Green: Anything to get rid of Saddam Hussein, I think, but there was more that I said, too.
Berkowitz: There was. You said there were three ways to analyze this to see if this was a good public policy action. One, is the U. S. safer? Let’s analyze that now. Is the United States safer as a result of going into Iraq?
Green: That’s a really tough question. There hasn’t been any terrorist attacks in this country but I think the question remains very open whether or not we are safer and what’s happening now in Washington with the 9/11 Commission and all that coming out, my guess… is probably no change.
Berkowitz: Not safer, not less safe?
Green: Right, the risk is about the same… go ahead, read the other two.
Berkowitz: Is it a better life for the Iraqi people, as we sit here today?
Green: That is a very tough question. We are trying to create a democracy in a region that only has one or maybe two democracies [and that has] no tradition of democracy. We are trying to imbue individuals who have deep religious and tribal differences with the notion of the rule of law and the rule of the ballot box…It is going to be a very tough slog…it is a gray area- there is no—
Berkowitz: What is the grayness? You, at one point, had a ruthless dictator who had shown the propensity and willingness to use chemical and biological weapons. Now, that person is not in power. Now you have a governing council that is more democratic.
Green: Well, anything would be more democratic
Berkowitz: So, that is a plus. And, you have a constitution tentatively written. And you have a chance that there will be democratic elections within the next year to elect a government. Now, how could that possibly be worse than what the Iraqi citizens had a year ago?
Green: Three or four possible answers. No. 1, you will never hear me say anything positive about Saddam Hussein. Anything would be better than him. But, put that aside for a second. Are the Iraqi people better off now, to use the Ronald Reagan line, than they were a year ago? That’s debatable. Is the economy coming back?
Berkowitz: Why is that debatable?
Green: Let me just finish my points. No. 3. The economy of Iraq…some of these…overstated views that we would be viewed as liberators—You know, vice president Cheney doesn’t talk much, but when he does talk a lot, it usually is not the truth [Ed.note—Paul Green says he is the “white line down the middle of the road”; It appears the “White Line” is veering, here, to the left] You have this notion—we aren’t liberators, we aren’t selling Iraqi oil and having them pay for their own rehabilitation. It is costing American taxpayers an awful lot of money. And, No. 4, All the things you mention about the potential good things [e.g., a model democracy in the Middle East], none of them may work—we may end up with a complete morass there where we have this constant fighting and picking off our soldiers and no chance of ever having anything close to a democracy…on the other hand Saddam Hussein was one of the most ruthless individuals who have ever lived—getting rid of him was a plus, so as I said at the beginning, it is not a good multiple choice question because there is not a simple answer. There is that gray area in there…I am not very optimistic.
Berkowitz: …Would you say over the long haul, over the next 5 to 10 years that what we did in Iraq …is it more likely than not to be a plus or a minus?
Green: …Looking at it for 10 years, if in fact some of what we are promising happens, and if by some miracle, there is a notion of democracy, I think it would be a positive… That to me is the real issue, [that is] are we going to stay the ground, is it worth it?
Berkowitz: If it is George W. Bush and he is re-elected, there is no doubt, he will stay the ground. If John Kerry…is elected instead of George Bush, then it is questionable whether we will stay the course, right?
Green: Yeah, I think John Kerry is not bound by the kind of things that George Bush is—who basically has staked his entire reputation on this notion…in many ways George Bush is a bleeding heart on the issue of Iraq, trying to do for the Iraqi people what they don’t want to do for themselves.
Berkowitz: No, no.
Green: I am sure you believe that.
Berkowitz: No, we are not all that altruistic. You had said we are into nation building. That is exactly what George Bush had said we wouldn’t do when he ran. But, all things changed on Sep. 11, 2001. All people were required to re-assess their prior positions. Bush did. Cheney did. Rumsfeld did. They all looked at this and said what we have been doing in the past hasn’t been working to make it safe for the United States. [They decided] we needed to go into the Middle East to try to create a friendlier environment and less friendly one for terrorists because we can’t simply build a fence around the United States.
Green: But, the issue is—going to Afghanistan and searching for the people who committed 9/11 is one thing. Going to Iraq is another. And, if you read Dick Clarke’s book, “Against All Enemies,” I mean that’s a real issue. That there were people there who were gung ho to go into Iraq before 9/11.
Berkowitz: Gung ho where?
Green: Within the Administration. Before the terror attack.
Berkowitz: Those are people who perhaps had some foresight to say, “You had terrorists not only as a problem in Afghanistan because that country was providing a safe haven for them but you had terrorists and allies in other countries—
Green: But, that logic suggests that we also should be invading Syria, we should be invading Iran—Egypt is coming up close.
Berkowitz: Not necessarily, because by having a demonstration effect, by taking an action—you can deter others. Don’t you think
North Korea, at least for a while, seeing what happened [in Iraq], became a little more friendly toward the U. S., a little more willing to consider some intrusion into what they are doing.
Green: I don’t think either one of us knows exactly what is happening to North Korea.
Berkowitz: What about Libya? Did Libya suddenly have a change of heart [after the military action in Iraq]?
Green: Well, I think Qaddafi has been moving in that direction.
Berkowitz: But, you see my point—you don’t have to go around attacking every country [friendly to terrorists] to have an effect.
Paul Green: The machine has been dead for a very long time.
Jeff Berkowitz: Would Barack Obama have won if he had all the [same] attributes, but he had been white-- all the [same] attributes that he has, as substantial as I say they are, but he had been a white person rather than an African-American person, would he still have won?
Paul Green: I think he probably would have won; he wouldn't have won by nearly as large [a margin]; everything worked out for him including the collapse of Blair Hull. He had the best-run campaign.
Paul Green: ...I'll make a prediction on this- he who carries Ohio- Michigan will win the [Presidential] election.
Berkowitz: Yeah, but I think-
Green: Because of the job loss. Will Bush's performance, and say he withstands the current flap over 9/11 and all that stuff with the Commission, will his anti-terrorism posture trump the loss of jobs?
Berkowitz: Well, maybe-- because people say a re-election is a referendum on the existing President?
Green: Of course, that's what it has to be.
Berkowitz: Might these people ask-- how will John Kerry be more likely to provide jobs for people in Ohio and Michigan than George Bush? What's the answer to that question?
Green: Well, you have to look at the whole economic agenda. You know there is so much that has gone on, and to people around George Bush's credit- he has withstood some real heavy body blows- you know Texas oil companies who are basically thugs in the street, stealing money- he withstood that--
Berkowitz: Texas oil companies who are thugs in the street?
Green: Yeah, Enron. Enron to me is the equivalent of a street gang with nice suits. I mean, what they did-- those individuals should be doing hard-- in fact they should be in the cell with Saddam Hussein, taking people who worked for their company-
Berkowitz: How is that George Bush's issue, though?
Green: Well, Texas oil company. Check his D-2s. He [President Bush] has done very well down there, raising
Berkowitz: No, but Enron was pretty nice to Democrats, as well--
Green: I know, it was the Clinton thing, of course.
Berkowitz: I am just saying, they [Enron] would give to anybody.
Green: Of course, it goes back to Franklin Roosevelt. I mean, we know that. That's what you do; you could get a job at the White House-- Duck and Dodge.
Berkowitz: I mean I am just asking how is what Enron did attributable to George W. Bush?
Green: So, you have the scandals with Enron, which cost people jobs and their life savings. You have the first President who has lost more jobs than he has created. Fact, remember I am the White Line down the middle of the Road. I am just saying- Fact. So, you have this economic policy where people are really hurting and the question is--
Berkowitz: Well actually, there are people who dispute that- that he has lost more jobs than he has created.
Green: Those are the people who--
Berkowitz: No, if you look at Bureau of Labor and Statistics Data--job growth [over the last few years] has actually occurred. [Indeed, a day after this taping, it was announced that 308,000 new jobs were created in March, 2004].
Green: Yeah, most of the people who are really thrilled with George Bush are the people who made a lot of money and had their taxes cut...
Jeff Berkowitz: ...You have [Gov] Rod Blagojevich trying to look like a reformer; You have [AG] Lisa Madigan trying to look like a reformer. Why don't we just auction off these things [casino licenses] and get [the state] out of this business?
Paul Green: You see, I believe in free enterprise. Just like you.
Berkowitz: Okay, so auction them off.
Green: No, not auction them off.
Berkowitz: Highest bidder.
Green: We did that.
Berkowitz: And, then the government reneged...
Green: I think-- why should businesses be protected because they want to make a profit. I think whoever has the money to build a casino should do it. I don't think we should limit it to ten [casinos]. I think Waukegan should get a casino. I think there should be a casino in Rosemont. I think there should be a casino in the south suburbs-- near the Indiana border. And, if they go under, they go under- they lose their investment. The State has no responsibility to guarantee people success.
Paul Green, WGN political pundit and Roosevelt University Professor, interviewed on "Public Affairs," recorded on April 1, 2004 and to be aired through-out the City of Chicago, tonight, Monday, April 19 at 8:30 pm on Ch. 21. The show with Paul Green will also have a special encore airing later this week at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, April 21 on Comcast Cable Ch. 19 in 10 North Shore and northwest suburbs: Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka.