Economics

Watch Matt Welch Defend the American Dream on PBS's Brand New Late-Night Talk Show Point Taken

11 p.m. ET & PT, 10 p.m. CT, to decide whether we've finally killed off all hope

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True story: They wondered if maybe I might be more comfortable losing the tie. "Nah, that's kinda my jam," I replied. ||| PBS
PBS

Tonight PBS is entering the late-nite political chat-show realm with a shiny new program called Point Taken. Hosted by Ozy founder/CEO Carlos Watson and shot out of WGBH Boston, the show features teams of two debaters on either side of a single central question. Tonight's question (at 11 p.m. or 10 p.m. your time; check local listings) is: "Is the American Dream Dead or Alive?" I will be weighing in, though not without a caveat or two, on the it's-only-a-flesh-wound side.

Joining Team Optimist is Isabel Wilkseron, author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The epic story of America's great migration, whose disquisitions on the power of dreaming and personal agency will make your heart melt. The Dark Side is represented by Boston Herald Radio Executive Producer Tom Shattuck and personal finance guru Monica Mehta. While the show is tightly wrapped around the single debate question (with the studio audience voting their views before and after the verbiage), you can bet some ancillary questions will get some treatment, including the drug war, student loan debt, whether our children will ever be worse off than us, and what middle class shrinkage really means.

Follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #PointTakenPBS, and make sure to have fun with your new online public-television pals!

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  1. The economy’s cold!

    1. Throw a blankie around it!

      DO SOMETHING!

  2. Welch is down to PBS. His career is really in the tank right now.

    1. But he brings the alt-text. So, even if he’s a loser now, he’s still cool. Not cool enough to mention in public or anything, but cool.

      1. I saw Welch on the street. I called him out, thanked him for the good work at reason magazine. My colleague was wondering how the fuck I recognized him but actually knew the publication.

        I think Matt was wearing a backpack with a suit.

        1. Matt was wearing a backpack with a suit.

          (insert horrified gasp)

        2. That was sweet, thanks. And I totally was.

          1. WTF Matt?! Will you come give a lecture at my library next? I’ve had Skenazy and Sullum at different events. I oversee services for 165k people… come on, man.

            1. Am I not unresponsive? Email me!

    2. Next he’ll be laughing uncomfortably at Paula Poundstone’s “humor” on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

      1. Best use of quotation marks I’ve seen in a while.

      2. She was funny in the Daly 90s on stand up stand up.

  3. “Is the American Dream Dead or Alive?” they asked the ginger gent in the new wave revivalist outfit. A smile came upon his face. “You can spin the politics right round, baby, right round all you like; this is only a flesh wound.” 2000 miles away, a man wearing only underpants places a chalk mark in the column marked “Welch”, one line closer to the count named simply “The Jacket”, a celebration of pomposity over punk. In competition, the beat of the libertarian moment gets stronger.

  4. I have 3 PBS channels but you’re not on any of them. I have a show on Victoria Falls, BBC world News, and As Time Goes By on the HD one.

    1. You don’t have the PBS 24/7 Downton Abbey channel? Call your local cable provider and demand this!

      1. Why is it porn?

        1. For some it probably acts as an adequate surrogate.

    2. I don’t have the slightest idea where my PBS stations are on my cable.

      1. Found it! I’ll tape it.

  5. Good luck Matt, and snag an extra tote bag for me if you can.

  6. The Warmth of Other Suns: The epic story of America’s great migration

    I’m disappointed with this book, as it’s not about interstellar space travel.

  7. Based on the preview on the PBS site, it sounds like there will be a lot of “income inequality” talk, as if that measures anything meaningful. Also, a lot of glorification of the middle class. Any discussion of the “American Dream” is subjective, although it’s come to mean the 1950’s ideal of owning a home, having a steady job, and sending your kids to college. I prefer the American dream of the 1880’s, involving exploration of the frontier and the ability to start all over again. That has nothing to do with stability and everything to do with being given the opportunity to land on your feet if you choose to jump.

    1. if that measures anything meaningful

      Other people getting “super rich” is a bad thing because in the zero-sum economic view of progtards, that is “wealth” that would otherwise have been distributed to the Masses.

      Because everyone knows Google would have happened anyway, and that all the features of our modern technology-enabled world just *happen*, and some people just arbitrarily benefit disproportionately. Duh.

      1. Gilmore has two rocks, one dinosaur femur, and a sabretooth cat claw. I have none. And that is all we will ever have. /ProgUniverse

    2. There was almost no talk of income inequality, and plenty about the subjective nature of the Dream itself (including crazy personal latitude and striving).

  8. Well this sounds better than the typical 2-sentence MSNBC appearance.

    I shall sharpen my attire-assessment kit forthwith.

    1. I really hope Matt doesn’t invite Carlos to come read our comments.

      That’s wouldn’t be good for business.

  9. Jim Fisk and Jay Gould may not have had iPads but just you try and go down to Delmonico’s and order a lunch of endangered species.

  10. My prediction: They won’t take any of your points.

  11. PBS? Well, I guess better than that Russian government channel you were always on back in the day.

    1. At least the Russians aren’t commies anymore.

      1. “That’s what we *wanted* you to think!”

  12. Point Taken, Matt. I PVRd the show at 11.

  13. If the “American dream” is defined as “being a country where people are free to develop themselves and their talents however they choose and benefit from their own labors”… i’d say we’re generally still doing pretty well

    If its some formulaic “everyone can have a house, 2 kids, send them to college, leave some money to them when you die”…

    …then forget it. We’ve made opening a business so hard that unless you’ve got a peach job, a lot of people are going to be living hand-mouth for much of their lives lives.

    in that sense, the spectrum of opportunity has narrowed significantly. The US is still a place of enormous opportunity… its just that in the low-middle range, the small-holder has been mostly killed.

    Note that nowhere does the bullshit term “middle class” appear anywhere.

  14. This appears to be a step in one direction or another from the Show Formerly Known as Red Eye.

    Has Matty started doing a Libertarian on the Street segment for Kennedy yet? Times Square imports a thing or two about old-fashioned classical liberalism would make for riveting television.

  15. It’s gotta be a bit awkward for a libertarian to appear on PBS. “Overall, your job does more harm to society than good and certainly is a propaganda wing of the government. Other than that, thanks for having me.”

    1. “Oh, and you want me to appear on Sesame Street to debate with Big Bird why minimum wages are counterproductive? Sure, why not?”

      *a man dream, can’t he?*

    2. Bill Buckley didn’t mind.

      Oh, he wasn’t a true libertarian.

      1. Yeah, but he was cool af.

        1. Buckley was cool. PBS should recognize that, as a (partially) government funded media operation, a clear incentive exists for defending government actions. To correct that imbalance, they should have a Libyan baker whose family was killed in a sloppy drone strike, the father whose baby was permanently scarred by a SWAT flashbang grenade and the store owner whose deposits were seized thanks to asset forfeiture as their newscasters. It’d increased ratings I bet.

          1. Why do want to make Gwen Ifill have a sad? Monster.

    3. IIRC Milton and Rose Friedman did their free-market program on PBS.

      1. And it is a rather excellent series.

          1. Love that series. Milton is such an eloquent speaker and presents his ideas in a very inviting way.

            1. Plus it has a young and fired-up Thomas Sowell.

    4. PBS isn’t really the Great Satan you’d imagine it should be.

      which probably has something to do with the fact that its mostly “sponsored” rather than govt-controlled-&-paid for. i forget the %s.

      compared to NPR, its downright capitalist

      I mean, you *hardly need* PBS to be a Statist-Propaganda outlet when you have the NYT, MSNBC etc. doing it all for ‘free’

      I maintain that the News Hour (when JL was running the show) was the best daily TV news program ever.

      1. It definitely could be worse. Just saying it’s a bit weird.

      2. This. Don’t confuse PBS with npr.

  16. If it was me, I’d tell PBS to show this video and then say “any questions?” when it finishes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwH3Xr6uyG0

    Imagine all the angry calls they’d get.

    1. The thing about that video is most progs don’t want communism, they want “social democracy”. Like what they think the Nordic countries have.

      1. Exactly, they want to save capitalism from itself. Like FDR did.

        /sarc

      2. You’d think the high suicide rate in those places might get them thinking about how happy those places really are.

        1. You really think they know anything more about these countries than what MSNBC and the NYT’s tells them?

          1. What’s really fun is asking them who has lower per capita income: Sweden or the poorest state in the US. It’s fun to watch them sputter when they learn that Sweden is poorer than Mississippi.

    2. OMG public transportation! SICK.

    3. 333 dislikes.

  17. A short video about a certain underdeveloped country:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxo8usuMnuM

  18. Matt Welch on PBS. Nick, your order of “Libertarian Moment” helium ballons is ready for pickup.

    1. And federally subsidized helium balloons too! Something, something, Zeppelin gap.

  19. Anyone know of a livestream link? it doesn’t look like this show is on the Tues night schedule here.

    1. I guess Welch dressed up for nothing. He could of gone on in one of Michael Moynihan’s size-too small sweat-stained T-shirts.

      1. Moynihan is an artist and is bound to different standards than you or I. We cannot judge him but must struggle to understand him, and in the struggle come to better understand ourselves.

    2. I’ve got 2 public television channels, and one has Charlie Rose and the other is Independent Lens. Who do I blame? I blame Obama.

  20. I take it the State station is statist

  21. Point Taken Attire Review, April 5th, 2016

    Matt “Living the Dream” Welch:

    – I blame either the shoddy lighting of the stage, the poor color-encoding in PBS’s broadcast, or simply Matt’s own proclivity towards odder-corners of the color spectrum, but i’m unable to identify the exact shade of Matt’s shirt/tie combo. I’d guess the shirt is either a light grey or light blue, with a very closely-matched grey (or lilac) tie with purple/silver stripes. Its basically going for “strong consonance” instead of trying to contrast colors. I think it would actually work better with a grey suit as the relative range of shades would be more balanced; with a very dark suit, it generally works better to stay high-contrast, or at least pick a stronger color to balance the black silhouette. Nitpick = wish they’d put the lavalier mics on the lapel rather than on the tie, where it looks like a tarantula angling for his jugular.

    Matt wins the contest by default by wearing a tie (“Libertarians: you may think we’re crazy, but at least we dress sharp”), and having better posture and charisma than the ladies. Kudos.

    1. It was my standard deep blue Indies suit, slightly less blue (but good-for-Matt) shirt, and winning several-shades-of-shiny-diagonal-blue tie. It usually passes muster.

      1. I also blame the live-feed i watched via facebook. It came off black suit, grey shirt, & tie had lilac look. Regardless = Excelsior! victory is yours.

        1. Matt’s dress was blue!

  22. re: the format

    they don’t define the “Dream” before they start, and doom themselves to talking across one another.

    re: Monica bemoans the fact that so many luxury cars are leased…

    …not realizing that is because many people can afford to buy the darn thing many times over, but that its actually more cost-effective for many well-to-do people to lease a car and replace it every 4-5 years.

    IOW, her data means nothing relative to her point.

    This sort of thing repeats itself a lot. I think the simple “good” point made by Isabel is that we’ve seen huge growth amongst groups like ‘Black women’ in the last 20 years. The people for whom the “Dream” applies the most are the people who’ve previously been denied it.

    I note that there are no Mexicans on this panel. (shakes my damn head)

    1. monica does it again by citing “more people in law school than there are practicing lawyers” – suggesting that we’ve saturated the market and these young students are doomed.

      Except that’s been true forever. only a fraction of the people who graduate law school actually pass the bar. (according to this, ~40%)

      People use data all the time that they don’t really understand. Or if they do, they misuse it on purpose.

  23. It seems that the greatest confusion was in the definition of The American Dream. For one team it was a dream, while for the other it was realization of that dream. Matt’s partner, Isabel, makes the point that the dream is strongest in those for whom it has been denied. This speaks to the definition of Americanism as a dream of success or even self-actualization. The other team seemed to define the Dream as a realization that’s been denied. This apples-versus-oranges difference in definition makes the statistics questionable. However, that’s not the most important point.

    What I got from this discussion is that the American Dream is alive and kicking, but that the realization of it has waned in recent decades.

    1. I blame both Bush and Obama.

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