Page 1


Tomas Sedlacek: DEVILISH NUMBERS pg 16

Michele Bachmann: NEED TO COMPETE pg 44

Dr. Gloria Duffy: OCCUPIED pg 50

Commonwealth The


“It’s quite remarkable when you bring cloud computing into the vehicle. There’s no limit to what can be done.” –William Clay Ford, Jr.

Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman $2.00; free for members

December 2011/January 2012

Who you travel with makes all the difference… World-Class Destinations • Renowned Leaders • Important Issues • Exceptional Insight • Superb Staff • Outstanding Company

Commonwealth Club Travel

Frank Ackerman

Former Death Valley National Park Ranger

Death Valley’s Wildflowers & Canyons March 12-16, 2012 Experience the beauty of the canyons, salt flats, and wildflowers with a 30-year National Park Ranger guiding us every step of the way as we explore the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere. Frank imparts his knowledge not only on the spectacular desert flora and fauna – but the geology and human history. Come learn why the controversial decisions surrounding Death Valley’s preservation have such an impact on California. Cost: $1,995

Dr. Philippa Kelly

Shakespeare Scholar, Author, & Resident Dramaturg at Cal Shakes Oregon Shakespeare Festival June 12-16, 2012 Unravel the intricacies of Shakespeare during lively and enlightening discussions led by expert leader Philippa Kelly. Who is the “Bard of Avon” and how are his works still relevant? Ask Philippa! Take a tour of the festival’s three theaters, join specially arranged discussions with company members, and learn about Ashland’s history during a walking tour. Theater is a community event – join ours! Cost: $1,495

Ambassador Elizabeth Jones

Dr. Donald Stadtner

Legacy of the Silk Road: Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan

Burma (Myanmar) and Laos: Kingdoms of the East

October 6-20, 2012

October 14-27, 2012

Explore the fabled trading posts of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Nisa and Tashkent with their rich histories, culture and architecture –while also learning about the critical geopolitical and energy issues of Central Asia from Ambassador Elizabeth Jones whose 35-year career with the U.S. Foreign Service includes: designing U.S. policies for NATO and Central Asia; supervising 54 U.S. ambassadors and their embassies; and serving as U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan. Who better to travel with along the Silk Road? Cost: $4,995

Our study leader Dr. Don Stadtner’s recent books include Ancient Pagan: Buddhist Plain of Merit and Sacred Sites of Burma: Myth and Folklore in an Evolving Spiritual Realm. He takes us to temples, pagodas, and Buddhist shrines; a reception at the U.S. ambassador’s residence; and the remarkable ruins of Pagan. Lectures and briefings focus on sacred sites, history, economic development and contemporary issues. Travel with someone who literally “wrote the book” on many of the places we’ll visit. Cost: $5,495

Central Asia Expert

Author and Scholar

*All costs listed are per person, double occupancy CST: 2096889-40

For Complete Itineraries & Reservations: visit call (415) 597-6720 email

Inside The Commonwealth Vo lu m e 1 0 6 , NO . 0 1

d e c e m b e r 2 0 1 1 / j a n ua ry 2012

page 44

Making America Compete “We have always been about being on the cutting edge, leading the world in new ideas and the latest innovations. Steve Jobs represented that ideal at its best.” –Michele Bachmann

Photo by Ed Ritger






25 Program Information 26 Eight Weeks Calendar


Much Too Much Medicine Shannon Brownlee says we’re overmedicated, underinformed

12 Helping Hands An expert panel on how publicprivate partnerships are helping solve community problems

16 The Economics

of Good and Evil Tomas Sedlacek on zombie economics

20 The War Against War Joshua Goldstein says it’s getting better all the time

38 Blue Skying It

Editor’s Note Check-In


The Commons

Events from December 5, 2011, to February 6, 2012

Apple jam; Chernobyl ghosts

42 Board of Governors Ballot 43 New iPhone app

28 Program Listings 35 Language Classes

Club calendar on your device

49 Letters Bachmann, mayoral hopefuls

50 InSight

About Our Cover: William Clay Ford, Jr., the executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, explains his company’s success in tough markets. Photo by Ed Ritger.

Dr. Gloria C. Duffy Occupied



Paul Hawken and Bill McKibben on radical change

d ecem b e r 2011/ j an ua ry 2012



Photo by Ed Ritger

William Clay Ford, Jr., explains how Ford escaped the downturn without a bailout

Photo courtesy of Tomas Sedlacek



Editor’s Note

The Commonwealth 595 Market St., 2nd Floor San Francisco, CA 94131



Business offices

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Vice President, Media & Editorial

John Zipperer

SENIOR Editor Sonya Abrams


ASSISTANT Editor John Dangaran

Editorial Interns Caitlin Durham

Katharina Mack

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS William F. Adams Beth Byrne Rikki Ward Ed Ritger

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F The Commonwealth (ISSN 0010-3349) is published bimonthly (6 times a year) by The Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-2805. PERIODICALS POSTAGE PAID at San Francisco, CA. Subscription rate $34 per year included in annual membership dues. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Commonwealth, The Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-2805. Printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink. Copyright © 2011 The Commonwealth Club of California. Tel: (415) 597-6700 Fax: (415) 597-6729 E-mail: EDITORIAL POLICY FOR PROGRAM TRANSCRIPTS: The Commonwealth magazine seeks to cover a range of programs in each issue. Program transcripts and question and answer sessions are routinely condensed due to space limitations. Hear full-length recordings of events online at or contact Club offices to order a compact disc.

ADVERtising information Mary Beth Cerjan Development Manager (415) 869-5919



Photo by Ed Ritger

or some of you, this is your first issue of The Commonwealth, and you are only a month or two into your membership in The Commonwealth Club of California. We welcome you. You are joining thousands of others who are part of this famous organization, the nation’s oldest, largest and most active public forum. We are particularly pleased to have you joining our broad community of members. First, of course, your support is very important in allowing us to continue producing our programs and sharing them with the community and the world. Second, we are growing at a time when many membership organizations are losing members. The Commonwealth Club has been utilizing a broad platform of traditional and new social-media efforts to tell our story and attract new members. That is a reflection of our programming itself, a mix of traditional topics and formats along with cutting-edge and even experimental programs, such as our recent sold-out Pecha Kucha-style event at Levi’s auditorium, in which a selection of speakers each made presentations with 20 slides, spending only 20 seconds on each slide, exploring different aspects of how to create a more sustainable world. We host large events with audiences filling auditoriums, and we have small groups. We have this print magazine (also available free to members in digital form at, the nation’s oldest continuing radio program, video and all of the social media presences (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, our blog) for you to interact with other members and to stay informed about Club events. At the heart of the Club experience, of course, is our programming. We put together and host about 450 programs each year, and we really hope you make the decision to get out of the house or the office and attend some of them in person. If you love authors, we’ve got ’em; if it’s social policy discussions, there’s never a shortage here; if it’s conversations with business pioneers or economists, we’re your number-one spot; if you want politics, we’ve got all the journalists, critics and politicians themselves to keep you fulfilled – or angry. Take this issue of The Commonwealth as an example of our breadth. Read the upcoming events listings (beginning on page 28). Look at the program excerpts we’re featuring. We know not everyone will like every program we put together (and there was a lot of online chatter about the ever-controversial GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s late-October speech at the Club), but we offer so many programs from so many different angles and viewpoints that we are confident you will find plenty that interest you and that remind you of the reasons you joined this unique and valued organization.

decem be r 2011/ jan ua ry 2012


There’s always more to learn


orbes journalist Brian Caulfield recently highlighted a 1997 video showing Steve Jobs describing something that sounds very much like cloud computing. In the grainy video, Jobs tells a tech crowd in some detail about the wonders of publicly accessed servers that hold applications and services that can be accessed from anywhere. Fourteen years later, cloud services are revolutionizing personal and business computing. It’s just one example of the way Steve Jobs was able to view things that were undreamed-of by most people. The Commonwealth Club is turning the tables this winter, giving the public views of the late Apple CEO that they might not see elsewhere. First, on December 14, Aspen Insitute CEO Walter Isaacson will spill more secrets about Jobs when he discusses his new book, Steve Jobs. Then on February 15, Fortune Senior Editor at Large Adam Lashinsky will lift the curtains on Apple itself in “Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired and Secretive Company Really Works.” By the way, in 2008 Lashinsky predicted that Tim Cook would succeed Jobs as Apple CEO. So Jobs wasn’t the only one who could see the future.

Visiting the Ghosts of Chernobyl Jim Krantz finds life amidst the nuclear ruins


alking into a long-abandoned home in Chernobyl, a quarter century after the nuclear disaster there forced the evacuation of the entire population, Chicago artist Jim Krantz found a message in a bottle – literally. There, among the dinner dishes still on the table, he discovered an anonymous letter stuffed into a bottle. The letter, called “The Ballad of Chernobyl,” is a heart-wrending description of the experience of being forced to abandon your home. The “Ballad” text is on display at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco through January 13 as part of Krant’s exhibit, “Homage: Remembering Chernobyl,” in the Club’s Gold Room. Accompanying the letter is a selection of his haunting photos, some showing a surprisingly bucolic setting for what was the worst nuclear plant disaster in the world. Come view the exhibit for a graphic vision of a society that is, in Krantz’s words, “just hanging together by a thread.”

The City of Many Stories and Secrets Rick Evans takes a hike


ne of the most popular new destinations for many San Franciscans is ... San Francisco. That’s probably why some of the most popular tours The Commonwealth Club offers take place right here in the Fog City. H u n d re d s o f Club travelers have already taken the neighborhood treks, which are led by historian Rick Evans (pictured right). In these walking tours – which almost always sell

Photo courtesy of Krantz

Steve Jobs Past and Future

Talk of the Club

out – Club members get to know each other and they get to learn interesting new things about the city in which many of them have spent their entire lives. From fortune cookie factories to secret rooftop gardens, the tours help people to see things that have always been here but usually go unnoticed. Such as a Mona Lisa car painting.

d ecem b e r 2011/ j an ua ry 2012

Photos courtesy of Kristina Nemeth

Photo by Matt Yohe / wikimedia commons






Decem be r 2011/jan ua ry 2012

The leader of the only Big Three automaker that didn’t need a bailout describes his views of innovation, environmentalism and politics. Excerpt from “William Clay Ford, Jr.,” October 27, 2011. William Clay Ford, Jr. Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Co. in conversation with greg dalton Director, Climate One; Vice President of Special Projects,

Mustang photo by g4r37h / Flickr, lightning by ergates / Flickr

The Commonwalth Club of California DALTON: You have talked about the future of automobiles in a world where there’s going to be 2 or 4 billion automobiles, and you talked about urbanization and a more holistic view of transportation. What’s your vision for that? FORD: When people think about the auto industry and the environment, most everybody’s been focused on C02 and fossil fuels and the effect that both have on us politically and also environmentally. That’s an appropriate focus, but I started to realize there was this other looming issue lurking out there that nobody was focused on, and that’s what I started calling global gridlock. If you just do the math, in our lifetime the world’s going to go from about 7 billion people to about 9 billion people. While that’s happening, the number of cars is going to go from just under a billion today to – as you said – 2 to 4 billion. There’s another phenomenon happening at the same time, which is that people are increasingly moving to cities. So you’re going to have 75 percent of those 9 billion people living in urban areas; how are they going to move? It’s a huge issue, and it’s an issue today mostly outside of the United States, though I suppose if you’re living in Los Angeles and other places, you’d say it’s already here, but certainly not to the extent that it is in many parts of the world, particularly Asia. Last summer they had an 11-day traffic jam in China, which is incredible. It’s only the tip of the iceberg. How is the world going to address this issue, and how are we as mobility providers going to provide solutions and not be part of the problem? I’m not trying to turn attention from C02 and fuel economy, but I think we’re on a good road there. We’ve got a lot of battles ahead of us and a long way to go, but I can see a game plan to get us to an environmental answer that people are going to be happy with, that I’m going to be happy with. Put another way: Even if we clean up our cars, four billion clean cars is still four billion cars. We need to solve

that problem. Technology is really what’s going to be what sets us free, and a lot of that technology is being developed here in California, particularly Silicon Valley. At Ford we just put out a fleet of demonstrator vehicles with vehicle-to-vehicle technology. If your car is five miles ahead of mine in traffic and you hit a traffic jam, it will tell my car immediately – well, it will tell all the cars around it – and then the car can automatically reroute itself. We just introduced a concept car called Evos, which is connected

“It’s going to require

coordination not just between cars but every form of transport: trains, buses, subways, Segways ...” to the cloud and can not only check your blood sugar and your blood pressure and all those things, but it can also anticipate what’s ahead. For instance, if you’re in nice weather but two miles ahead it’s raining, your car will know that and it will start to adjust the suspension, the steering, and the vehicle dynamics so that your car will be well prepared when you hit that. That’s all ready for prime time, that kind of stuff. A little bit further ahead, though, is vehicle infrastructure communications; if you think about traffic jams, your vehicle will be able to talk to all of the intersections so the traffic lights can be timed in real time. Today, 30 percent of all fuel burned in major cities is burned looking for a parking spot. It’s an incredible number, but it’s a true number. Now, what if your car can, when you leave home, pre-reserve you a parking spot, know exactly where that spot is, and you drive right to it and get out? That will be a huge help for global congestion.

These are all technologies we know about today, but there’s going to be a tremendous surge of innovation that’s going to help deliver this. It’s actually going to require something beyond technology. It’s going to require a level of coordination that we’ve never seen before, coordination not just between cars, talking to each other, but every form of transport: trains, buses, subways, cars, Segways, bicycles. It’s all going to have to be one interconnected network. Really, it’s going to require all the different forms of transport to work together in an urban environment to make it all work. Cars will be a piece of that puzzle, but they won’t be the only piece. DALTON: One piece of the car puzzle is mobility as a service. Is Zipcar car share a threat or an opportunity to automakers? FORD: It’s a great opportunity. I don’t know how other automakers are doing. It’s funny, when I met you, Greg, at that same conference was Scott Griffith, the CEO of Zipcar. I heard what he was saying, and I thought, “This is really cool.” So I got to know him. I went out that night, and we hung out together. I was really excited by the business model. So we just announced a partnership with Zipcar on 253 college campuses across the country. It’s a really great opportunity and a really good thing, again for urban mobility, because people don’t have to own cars; they want to have access to cars. So the Zipcar model I think is a great one. DALTON: You don’t see that as a threat that you’re going to sell fewer cars because people don’t own? They rent, they don’t buy? FORD: Look, it’s going to happen anyway, whether we like it or not. We might as well like it. DALTON: There’s one interesting thing here in San Francisco called “Relay Rides,” which is a different model. Think about a car: you buy it and it sits there idle, depreciating; you’re paying insurance; it’s not used 80 percent of the time. You can rent

Decem b e r 2011/j an ua ry 2012

(Continued on page 22)





Patient inquisitiveness is the best way to reverse a lack of involvement in treatment decisions. Excerpt from “Shannon Brownlee: Avoiding Unnecessary Medical Treatment,” September 30, 2011. shannon brownlee M.S., Acting Director, New America Foundation, Health Policy Program;

Author, Overtreated


’m a reformed hope-pusher. Not dope – hope. I was a writer at US News and World Report for 10 years. I was the lead medical writer, and I wrote cover stories on all of the great medical breakthroughs that were often coming out of the NIH [National Institutes of Health].



I thought that what I was doing was really helping people. I was talking to readers, millions of readers, about all the great developments in biomedical research and all the great developments in medicine. Then I came upon a story that in effect radicalized me and began my path to re-

Decem be r 2011/jan ua ry 2012

demption. The story was about something called the PSA test. Many of the men in this room probably are well aware of the PSA test; it’s the Prostate-Specific Antigen test. It’s a blood test that’s used to screen healthy men for early signs of prostate cancer. The PSA test now is quite controversial and is

Photo by Dmitriy Shironosov /

in fact kind of a poster child for not such a great way to try to help people avoid dying of cancer. At the time, it was considered the new, great thing that was going to reduce prostate cancer deaths. I reported a story that said maybe it’s not such a great test. There was no good evidence that the test was actually reducing the death rate from prostate cancer, but there was abundant evidence that the test was leading a lot of men to get treated unnecessarily for a cancer that would probably never have bothered them. That’s probably a radical notion to many people in the room,

but there were real problems with the test, and the treatment had a lot of downsides. Incontinence and impotence: More than half suffered these two or at least one or both of these side effects from the treatment. It was a pretty critical story, and my editor said, “I don’t believe you,” in effect. I’d written all these cover stories, I’ve won all these awards for my magazine, and I write a story that’s critical of something that he thinks is the right thing to do. I’ve reported it very carefully, and he slashes the story by two-thirds and basically says, “I don’t think this is right.” That’s what made me think, “Wait a minute.” It took a while for me to start to realize that I was part of a very big machine, an industry. My job as a reporter at US News and World Report to some degree was to act as free advertising for health care. That’s what I was doing. I was really good at it. I couldn’t do it anymore, I found I couldn’t push hope anymore. I needed to push more accurate information, and I found I needed to be more critical of medicine. When I started my book, in 2003, people would ask, “What’s your book about?” I said, “It’s about unnecessary care,” and they looked at me like my hair was on fire. “What kind of idiot are you? We know the problem is that people aren’t getting enough care.” That was the framework in which we thought about health-care reform pretty exclusively. I’m very gratified to say that the problem of unnecessary care has really come into its own. It’s now considered a part of the problem. It’s about how we fail to clue patients in to what’s really going on. I want to suggest a new way of being a patient, and in fact a new way of having an interaction with physicians. A new way for physicians, as well. It’s a quiet revolution in medicine, and you may have never heard of it, but at some point it will be a regular part of your interactions with your physicians. How many [of you] have had an elective procedure? An elective procedure means that there are multiple ways to treat the conditions. Knee replacement is an elective procedure, bypass surgery is an elective procedure, a facelift is an elective procedure. It’s not necessary, but it’s one of multiple ways you can treat something. Most surgeries are elective procedures. PSA tests, mammograms – elective procedures. Elective procedures account for about 25 percent

of what we spend on health care. Only 15 percent of what we spend is what’s called evidence-based medicine, effective care. That means that everyone who has the condition needs to get that particular treatment. You have a heart attack, you need to have aspirin or beta blockers or both upon discharge; this is sort of the classic [example]. You go into the hospital, you’re elderly, you need a pneumonia vaccine. Only 15 percent of the money that we spend is on clearly evidencebased effective care. If you’ve had an elective procedure, you’re supposed to give something called informed consent. It’s a legal document; it lays out the risks, and signing it says you understand what the risks are and you still consent. It’s supposed to be a conversation between you and the provider, or you and multiple providers, where you really discuss and understand what the potential upside and downside is of the procedure. In the history of medicine, informed consent is a relatively new idea. If you go back to the time of Hippocrates, he introduced what was then a radical notion: That disease was caused by environmental factors, not divine punishment. That meant that treatment could be physical rather than spiritual. Today, physicians take something called the Hippocratic Oath. The standard way of translating is: First, do no harm. But the actual phrase in Hippocrates’ time was “physicians must do good and do no harm.” Another legacy of Hippocrates that is part of medical practice until very recently is don’t tell the patient what’s going on. When my grandfather died of brain cancer, he died never knowing he had brain cancer. The family and the physician decided that it was best for him not to know. This was thought of as part of the magic of medicine, and a lot of medicine until very recently was mostly magic; it was the belief in the physician’s power. Physicians had enormous autonomy and authority. Physicians have meant well all through history, but until very recently, a visit to the doctor was about as likely to cause you harm as to help you. In fact, I think the turning point came sometime in the 20th century. The 20th century also saw this shift in the relationship between the doctor and the patient and this notion of informed consent, which is a real shift in where the power lies. This came out of a series of scandals in which

Decem b e r 2011/j an ua ry 2012



Photo by Sonya Abrams

“Until very recently, a visit

to the doctor was about as likely to cause you harm as to help.”

physicians did unethical or harmful things to patients without the patients’ knowledge. One of the first cases was brought in 1917 against a New York hospital: A patient had a surgical procedure performed after she had refused the procedure. Justice Benjamin Cardozo concluded that every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done to his own body. But here’s the thing: We know that patients in many, many cases don’t actually understand the first thing about the procedure. They don’t actually understand the first thing about the risks; they don’t actually know how small the benefits for many things are. They overestimate benefit a lot. They underestimate risk a lot. They’re not very well informed – and this is intelligent, well-educated patients as well as patients who don’t speak English very well. Just because you have a lot of education does not necessarily mean that you’re going to be well informed about your elective procedure. So we know that patients are consenting to something that has been recommended, but the patient hasn’t really been engaged in the decision. We delegate a lot of decisions about what’s going to happen to us to this person who we know has superior knowledge, but who we also assume is going to



make a decision that is in our best interests. The other thing that we know is that different physicians have different opinions about what is the right thing to do for a different patient. If you have chest pains from angina, some cardiologists will do a really good job of giving you the right medications and really helping you control your chest pain through medication, and helping you understand what you need to do. You need to quit smoking, you need to get more exercise, know how to take your medications. All of these various things, changing your behavior, taking the drugs, can reduce your chest pain and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. But other cardiologists will recommend right off the bat that you undergo an angiogram and that you undergo other procedures: maybe a bypass surgery, maybe a stent, maybe an angioplasty. If you have a hernia and you don’t have symptoms, some doctors will recommend that you repair it immediately, and others will say to wait if it isn’t bothering you: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If it isn’t bothering you, we won’t subject you to surgery. Same condition, same patient, different physicians, different opinions about what the right thing to do is. If you have knee pain for arthritis, some orthopedics will recommend knee replacement right

Decem be r 2011/jan ua ry 2012

away; some will say, “Let’s do arthroscopic surgery,” which, by the way, has been shown not to be effective. Some will say, “Let’s try losing a little bit of weight,” “let’s try pain medication, and then if we need to, we’ll think about knee replacement.” It turns out, when it comes to these elective procedures and elective tests like PSA and mammography and knee replacement and angioplasty, who you see is what you get. Patients often say, “What would you do, doctor? What would you recommend, doctor?” They don’t really get informed about what their possibilities are, what their alternatives are and what the trade-offs are in each of those alternatives. I’ll bet that more than half the people in this room are tonsil free. Tonsillectomy was one of the most common surgical procedures when we were kids. It’s very interesting, because there was huge variation in what physicians thought about whether or not their young patients needed a tonsillectomy. The evidence for whether or not you ought to get your tonsils out was not there. It was nonexistent. It actually depended to a large extent on where you lived. Now we think, “That was then; now, medicine is scientific.” Modern medicine is scientific, and today, in fact, tonsillectomy is rarely done. It’s very easy to dismiss this as sort of a practice of a foolish, bygone era. But we are better at diagnosing disease, we have a lot more technology, we have CT scanners, we have ultrasounds, we have blood tests for diseases we didn’t even know existed 50 years ago, and we like to think that our doctors make decisions for us on the basis of sound evidence. But in fact, if that were so, why do we see so much variation in how patients are treated in different parts of the country, and in fact in different parts of California? [A recent study funded by the California HealthCare Foundation on carotid endarterectomy found that] if you live in Santa Maria, which is near Santa Barbara, you’re four times more likely to undergo a carotid endarterectomy than if you live in Laguna Hills, which is in Orange County. If you live in Clear Lake, up in Napa, you’re three times as likely to undergo a carotid endarterectomy than if you live in Chino; and if you live in Modesto, you’re two and a half times more likely [to have one] than if you live in Los Angeles. Now, is that because patients need a carotid endarterectomy so

much more often in Clear Lake, Santa Maria and Modesto? There’s no evidence for that. I’ll give you an example from Berkeley: Women who live in Berkeley are 10 times more likely to have a vaginal birth after a cesarean section; 10 times more likely than women who live in Hanford, near Fresno. Is that because there’s something fundamentally different about women in Berkeley? No, probably not. Heart procedures, elective stents and angioplasty: once again, in Clear Lake [it] is 10 times as likely than if you live in Sonoma; if you live in Fresno, you’re nine times as likely to have angiography, and this is not being driven by differences among patients. It’s being driven by the fact that physicians in different parts of California have different practice patterns. What does this mean for you, as patients? For some procedures, a very low rate in a region might mean you’re not getting care that could help you. If you live in Los Angeles, the rate of knee replacement – rate meaning how many knee replacements per the total population in the area – is remarkably low. It’s possible that there are people in Los Angeles who could actually benefit from knee replacement and would want it, if they understood that. But they’re not getting it. There are also probably people in Los Angeles who are getting knee replacement who really wouldn’t have wanted it if they’d really understood what their alternatives were. But by the same token, if you live in Lindsay, near Bakersfield, you have a much greater chance of having an angioplasty or a stent than in other parts of the state. That suggests that there are people who are getting these procedures that, if they had understood what the risks were and what the benefits were, they would have chosen not to do it. In other words, informed consent is broken. They were not well informed. This has real consequences for us as patients. About three years ago, a 43-yearold woman had a whole series of events happening in her life. She’s a Brazilian immigrant, she came here to go to college and instead she got pregnant, had three kids, got married and never went to school. Her oldest son was about to go off to college, and she was studying to become a nurse’s aide, and her husband was beating her. She was having panic attacks. She was finding herself unable to breathe, feeling like she had chest pain. She knew she was having panic

attacks, but she was scared. So she went to the emergency room, which checked her out and said, “There’s nothing wrong with you,” and sent her to her primary care physician. Her primary care physician sent her to a cardiologist, the cardiologist checked her out and said there’s nothing wrong. She ended up going back to the emergency room again and she went back to the cardiologist, and the cardiologist said, “Just to be safe, let’s do an angiogram. Let’s look at your heart.” So she went in to have the angiogram: she was semi-awake, she’s a little bit drugged and she could see on the screen that her heart was as clean as a whistle. The doctor said, “See, you’re absolutely fine, everything’s OK,” and as he’s withdrawing the catheter out of her heart, he perforates her. It means he makes a hole in her coronary artery and her heart stops. She has to be defibrillated nine times. For the physicians in the room, they know what that really means; for the non-physicians, think ER with the paddles to get her heart going again, to get it beating in a regular rhythm. Nine times. She said to me, “You know, everybody thinks that when you die you see a light at the end of a tunnel,” she said, “No, when you die it’s really dark and then when you come back to life, it’s really light, because there’s this light over your head with all the doctors leaning over you.” Now she really does have heart disease. She takes 13 different medications and, as you can imagine, one of them is an antidepressant. She can’t walk up stairs, she can’t walk the dog, she can barely run her life. I think she was an inappropriate patient, physicians who’ve looked at her records think she was an inappropriate patient. She shouldn’t have had it. But let’s say she was appropriate. This might have helped her. She had no idea what the possible downsides were. She was not an informed patient. She was a passive patient. She was a scared patient. She, I suspect, is a patient that every physician should dread: not engaged, passive, not really paying attention, but also she was the kind of patient that none of us want to be, because she didn’t ask the critical questions and her physician did not really inform her very well. It may seem that I’m beating up on cardiologists, but it’s a really convenient [position] to be able to talk about because there’s a lot of stuff going on in cardiology that’s not

so good. It turns out that when patients are really informed, they make really different choices. We know this from trials, we know this from studies: Patients who are really informed tend to be more conservative. The evidence suggests that they are 20 percent less likely to choose an invasive option when they really understand. How can we make sure that we as patients really understand what tradeoffs are involved in these elective procedures and tests? How can medicine, as a profession, make sure that patients are really involved and engaged? One way is to give patients access to information that they can understand. One way to do that is something called a patient decision aid: the patient decision aid is not a person, it’s a thing. It’s often a brochure, it can be web-based, it may have a video involved; it helps patients really understand what the tradeoffs are. That’s the thing that’s involved. The process that we need to be pushing for, requesting, is shared decision making. We need to be asking our physicians to share those decisions rather than delegating the decision to the physician. This is the revolution in medicine that I’m talking about. One way to think of it is perfected informed consent, if you’re a lawyer; another way to think about it is the democratization of the doctor-patient relationship. Your physician may have access to patient decision aids, if not, you may be able to ask your insurance company for a patient decision aid, and if not, I’m not sure what you’re going to do, because they’re not as available as they should be. But the more we talk to our physicians and say, “I want to really understand, and I need the information in a way that I can understand,” some of your physicians will welcome you asking these kinds of questions and some will not. But this is what we really need as patients; we need to have really good information. A new way of doing medicine and a new way of being a patient is that we need to ensure that we get all the care that we need and no more, we get the care that we want, and no less. One of the ways to do that is to start thinking about sharing those kinds of crucial decisions. This program was made possible by the generous support of the California HealthCare Foundation.

Decem b e r 2011/j an ua ry 2012



Deep cuts in public service budgets are hampering government and private services. Here’s how some of them are finding solutions by working together. Excerpt from the Innovating California Series program, sponsored by Chevron, “Public-Private Partnerships: Boosting America’s Jobs, Education and Economic Development,” September 20, 2011. john donahoe CEO, eBay; Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

sid espinosa Director of Corporate Citizenship, Microsoft Corporation; Mayor, City of Palo Alto

john lee Executive Director, The Bread Project nicole levine Executive Director, Women’s Initiative

Sydnie Kohara Broadcast Journalist – Moderator

for Self Employment for San Francisco and the Bay Area KOHARA: I want to get the lay of the land out there from your perspective. How would you describe the current economic situation from your point of view? DONAHOE: I’m an optimist. I’ll tell you what is not going to serve our economy well, which is CEOs and politicians sitting around talking about how bad it’s going to be, or how nervous they are. My biggest concern right now is frankly just that. It’s the narrative around the economy. The narrative may be worse than the reality. What I see, though, that makes me optimistic is that the current economic times, where there are a lot of people out of work, are creating a round of what I would call American ingenuity and entrepreneurialism. There are two things I would highlight that we at least see at eBay. One is that the Internet and mobile technologies are now making it possible for someone in a rural



town, where big company jobs may never come back, to start a business and with customers that are not just in their town. They can start a national business or a global business. These mobile and Internet technology tools empower them to be able to do it. I see wonderful examples of people in these communities coming together. One of the groups of sellers I met with on eBay a couple months ago talked about the small businessmen driving exports. They hear the president talk about jobs, jobs, jobs, and we need to have more exports to grow our economy, to grow jobs. Typically when you say that, you think of big corporations doing that. Well, these are people that may have four, five, six employees and they’re saying, “We’re now selling to customers all over the world.” “Half my customers come from outside the United States.” I see people, perhaps out of

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necessity, being more creative, and technology giving them tools to really live out the next round of American entrepreneurialism and ingenuity. KOHARA: Sid Espinosa, you are in the heart of Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, California. What are you seeing? ESPINOSA: My assessment is really that it’s volatile and that it’s mixed. In California, a report just came out that we [have] the second highest unemployment rate in the country, but we’re also the second highest in the creation of jobs over the last six months. So you’re seeing some different stories there. Palo Alto, of course, is unique. Frankly, on any level our economy is booming and hotter than it’s ever been. Sales tax [revenue] is up. Housing prices are soaring on almost every level. But there are cities where 40 percent of the homes are at risk of foreclosure. People have very serious problems that

they’re facing in terms of governance. I have to say that I have a bit of a problem with the terminology we’re using: publicprivate partnerships. I know it’s the term of the day, but sometimes they’re public-public partnerships. Sometimes they’re whole new models around coming together for community collaboration for the better well-being and for problem solving. We’re seeing that like we’ve never seen it before. Often out of necessity. Nonprofits need to combine. Governments just can’t continue to provide those services. They have to reach out to others. I’m seeing conversations happen now that I didn’t even two years ago. It’s a mixed bag in terms of the assessment of the economy, but the path forward: We’re finally starting to get some people out of their silos and get some creative thinking. KOHARA: Nicole Levine, you hear a lot of optimism so far on the panel. You’re in the trenches. What about you? LEVINE: I’m going to give some broad strokes. One in six people in this country lives in poverty. Unemployment is pretty stagnant right now. While men are seeing some job recovery, women are still not seeing as [much]. So I want to talk a little bit about Women’s Initiative, what we do and what it looks like from a local perspective. We help low-income women start up and expand their own businesses by providing training, micro loans or funding and ongoing support. We work with supporting micro enterprises, businesses with five or fewer

employees and capital needs of $35,000 or less – very small businesses. Our clients [are] low-income women; average individual income when they come into our program is $14,000. The good news is that one year after going through the training, it goes up to $22,000. Their average education is 11th grade; 80 percent are women of color, and of that, 53 percent are Latina. Average age is about 39, but we’ve got women in our program from 18 all the way up to 79. Twenty-five percent report recent domestic violence. All of them face barriers: isolation, limited English skills, limited education – something that is getting in the way, not being able to find a job. In Marin County, we have a 75-year-old woman who went through the program last year. She had been laid off three years ago, and had been doing odd jobs wherever she could get them. She had in her past owned an art gallery. She was able to go through our training, write a business plan, [and] she’s going to open her gallery in Sausalito. She got a micro loan, the training and now we’re giving her the ongoing support. Another example is a very successful restaurant in San Francisco, The Front Porch. I don’t know if anyone’s eaten there? The owner was a waitress. She was doing fine, but she had a dream. She came to our program. She now owns a very successful restaurant where she’s employing over 20 people. That’s a little bit of who we have coming into the program, what their stories look

like. We are trying to address these issues of unemployment [and] underemployment creatively. We’re seeing more and more women entering the program because of foreclosure. We’re also seeing more and more women becoming economically independent by starting their own businesses. So I fall out as optimistic. KOHARA: John Lee with the Bread Project. Three out of four of my panelists are optimistic. Are you? LEE: I share some of that optimism. Recently EDD [Employment Development Department] came out with a report about the growth areas in certain sectors of the California economy. Food service and preparation is in the top 10 for the next 10 years, in their projections. Bakery production is a little bit lower. Our training program is about providing people with the on-the-job experience that they need to transition into the workplace, whether that’s about teaching them how to be on-time to a job or shift, providing them with the experience to work with other people, or to deal with their employers. Everything that we do in our social enterprises is to help people with the experience that they need to then find jobs in the workplace. What we are seeing though, on the ground, is that there are definitely more people coming to us for these kinds of services. That was one of the main reasons why we decided to expand so drastically. In terms of our results,

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Photos by Ed Ritger

“What really needs to happen is more

public-private partnerships.” – Donahoe we’re also seeing an impact there. Also due to the economy, our employment rates for the last three years have seen dips. We still remain positive. The majority of our graduates are still getting jobs. One of the things that we are noticing is that the labor market is increasingly becoming more [of ] a buyer’s market. Median wages are being depressed, especially in the service industry. In addition, we’re seeing a trend toward temporary or part-time jobs. Obviously this has a huge impact on our participants, who are all low income. Very similar to what Nicole is describing in her target population, they are facing many barriers to employment, such as being formerly incarcerated, living in single-parent families, formerly homeless, people with a long history of drug use. Despite all of those things, you see these really nice gems. We’ve had a former insurance underwriter come to our program. Her skills no longer fit the market need out there, and [she] needed to have that quick career change. One of the benefits of our program is that it is quite short and intensive. She was able to get through our program and then find a job in a bakery. Another form of success



is somebody coming to our program who had a long history of methamphetamine abuse: that person going to a job every day and sticking it out. For many of us who I think are a little bit sheltered from that kind of a background, this is an amazing achievement. But even having them come out with more self esteem, more confidence when they go out to meet people and network on their interviews or job applications, that’s a real great success for us. Something else related to the economy that I’d like to talk about is the state of California and decreasing education. As many of us know, adult education has been severely cut in many of the counties in the Bay Area. In Oakland they are now running at about 10 percent of their previous capacity from 2008. Berkley Adult School in Alameda had $1 million cut from their respective budgets, so we’re seeing a shift from public education, in terms of vocational training, to nonprofits such as ourselves. That is being reflected in the increase in our applicant pool as well as the type of demographics we’re seeing in our applicant pool. Many of them have no high school education of note. KOHARA: We talked about vocation vs. education. What do you think works better? Or does there need to be a partnership there? LEE: I think, and many of my colleagues would probably agree, that there needs to be a certain level of partnership. The irony is that the same barriers that people face getting into employment are the same barriers they face on a system level from government agencies, whether it’s colleges, EDD, one-stop career centers, CalWORKs, what have you. There isn’t really a seamless system delivery that enables people to jump over those barriers to continue on their path to self-sufficiency. KOHARA: How much government participation is too much? What is the proper role for the government to play in public-private partnerships? Sid? ESPINOSA: I’m happy to start, but I might be a little bit biased in this. In Palo Alto we have a long history of public-private partnerships, and part of the reason I was elected is that I was working on establishing a major public-private partnership for our city and serving on a couple boards to do that around our arts facility. People said, “You’re doing such a great job here, and frankly the city needs to do more things like this. Could you

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step up and run for council and make more of these things happen?” [People] saw that these things weren’t going to happen with the government alone if you didn’t have this type of coalescing of dialogue and ideas around solutions, around some of our real problems within our community. I think that governments can serve as a convener. They can serve to highlight certain programs. We’re using our city as a test bed in partnerships with Stanford for new technologies they’re creating. It’s not just philanthropy that we’re seeking. It’s not just trying to get nonprofit dollars from companies. That’s not what we’re talking about here. It’s really coming together and saying, “Community – however you’re defining it: your neighborhood, your city, your region, your state – faces real problems, and how are you going to bring the right people to the table to solve those and think about what uniquely people bring?” Just quickly, with Microsoft, we came together with a bunch of legislators here in California as well as nonprofits, academics, business leaders. A few years ago we talked about what problems we’re facing in this state. Front and center people said,

“Adult education has been severely cut in the Bay Area. Many [applicants] have no

high school education of note.” – Lee

“We need our corporations, we need our government; we need

them to be our voice.” – Levine

“Jobs.” This really is the problem. It’s not the sexiest thing necessarily to do in terms of philanthropy. There’re a lot of other things: bringing in kids, it’s a lot better [to do] STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education]. Tech companies tend to do STEM. But we heard sincerely, especially from government, that this is where we needed to have a focus. We created partnerships, investing tens of millions of dollars across the state in nonprofit organizations that were doing phenomenal work. WHIMS [Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study] was one of them. And we can track real results. Each of those sectors – nonprofits, government, business, academic, etc. – needs to think about the roles that they’ve had differently. [They] need to think about having a different type of responsibility in solving these types of problems. I think being that convener, highlighting these types of solutions, really identifying those needs and helping people think differently is the role the government can play. KOHARA: John, you are a member of the White House Council for Community Solutions. Tell us how it’s going. DONAHOE: The council is something that

[is] a great passion of the president and the first lady. Frankly, they want exactly what Nicole and John are doing, which is: They want to bring people in communities – in this case youth, disconnected youth, youth who may not otherwise have a good path into the workforce and into a healthy, sustainable adult life – and to create pathways. Create pathways into education, create pathways that will lead to jobs and careers, and create pathways into being constructive and productive members of society. What has been so striking to me, in addition to the strong commitment of the president and the first lady for this, is that many of the ingredients are there. The examples of organizations that are doing this in small pockets all across the country are really striking. What really needs to happen, and where the council’s coming down, is more publicprivate partnerships, or like what [Espinosa] said: public-public partnerships. It’s just coming together. How do we stitch these things together in a way that multiplies the impact? [It] is clear that we’ve all got to get the organizations that are on the front lines and the government and companies working together to have 10-fold the impact on getting these disconnected youth or other people who are facing hardship back on a constructive path. KOHARA: Let’s talk creative solutions; where do we start? Does it start at the grassroots level when we look at a successful business model? DONAHOE: Absolutely. Going back to the conversation about the public-private partnerships, clearly that space needs to exist. In addition, not just the space, but a system of evaluation and selecting those innovations that are doing very well and producing the results and growing those. I think that the government has the capacity and the scope to make that happen at the state level, regional level, national level. That’s very important, because at the grassroots level, we don’t have that kind of capacity to expand like we need to; we don’t necessarily have the constraints that the bureaucracy or what have you, where we are able to put good ideas into use, to implement new ways of thinking, of approaching problems and coming up with the solutions. LEVINE: I want to say: Our program is working. We are a creative solution that

is working. You looked at the economic stimulus money that went out, $60,000 to $200,000 was claimed to create jobs. We know that we can create a job for $1,500. That means $1 million investment is 148 new jobs in 2012. In five years, that will be nearly 550 jobs. So we know that our program is working, but we’re small. We’re growing, but we’re still small. And we desperately need our partners. We need our corporations, we need our government; we need them to be our voice. We need them to convene us. We need them to invest in us financially. We need them to give us access to markets for our clients. We’re applying for our clients to be a part of eBay’s world of goods so that they could sell their products through eBay. We need the support from Microsoft, they’re investing in our software programs, so that we have the info structure. We need our partners to advocate for us, to help us to be the voice at the table, so that we can get what we’re doing so well out into this country. This program was made possible by the generous support of Chevron.

“Governments can serve

as a convener. They can serve to highlight certain programs.”

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– Espinosa




Economics of

Good & Evil The Occupy Wall Street movement and the Tea Party are both recognizing that Western capitalism has become a zombie, a body separated from its soul. Excerpt from “Tomas Sedlacek: The Economics of Good and Evil,� October 18, 2011. Tomas Sedlacek National Economic Council, Prague; Lecturer, Charles University; Author, The Economics of Good and Evil; Advisor to Vaclav Havel 16


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hy is the book called Economics of Good and Evil? The title itself is a provocation, because economists are not supposed to talk about good and evil: the first rule of economics is, You do not talk about good and evil. We’re sort of trying to get back into the Garden of Eden, before Adam and Eve did the fruit thing and started talking about good and evil, but before they had no knowledge of good and evil, and this is something that we try to do in economics. Consequently, Milton Friedman said once in his famous article, “Essays in Positive Economics,” there’s a famous quote. The argument goes that economists should not have normative judgments; we should only speak of positive things. In other words, we should not be value-laden; we should only describe things as they are, not the way we want them to be. So let me here quote the master himself: “Economics should be a positive science.” Now is that a normative or positive statement? That’s a normative statement. Milton’s values happened to be that economics should be value-free – which is by the way a huge value, especially to us economists. He was describing economics not as it is, but as he wanted it to be. This is fine, but let’s not pretend there are no values in economics. What I tried to do in the first part of the book [is] look on economics. I look for the economics in myth, religion, theology, philosophy, the belief systems, only to find a lot of that. I was actually expecting to find very little. There is tons. In the Epic of Gilgamesh – which is the oldest epic or story that we have, way older than the Bible, for example – there is the very first protest in the history of mankind. It had also something to do with the wall. You know, we have Occupy Wall Street? In Gilgamesh we had the first revolt of people, [which] had something to do with the wall, because Gilgamesh the king of Uruk was forcing his people into slavery, building his wall around this city. People were complaining to gods, going around with all these signs, and then God punishes Gilgamesh by sending this wild beast called Enkidu. In the second part of my book, to be fair, I try to look in modern economics for belief systems, myths, religion, theology,

philosophy, [and] again [I found] a huge amount of that.

Zombie capitalism


et’s start, for example, with this story that we all know, which is in the Old Testament, the story of the Garden of Eden and the original sin. Now, how to read this economically? I will try to show that it is actually not difficult to read it economically, and, in fact, it is impossible to separate the two. When you separate economics from philosophy, ethics especially or other humanities, it stops making sense. This, I think, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what we’re witnessing today, with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Isn’t the complaint



described economics not as it is, but as he wanted it to be. Let’s not pretend there are no values in economics.” there? “We don’t know what’s wrong exactly, but something’s wrong with it, and you fix it.” Now, a lot of commentators are very critical about this and they go, “They don’t know what they want.” But isn’t this what we do in our daily lives all the time? “My computer doesn’t work; I don’t know what’s wrong with it; something’s wrong with it; you go and fix it.” It is not their responsibility to come up with the answers; they are, let’s say, customers of the system. It is our responsibility as economists and humanity students [to come up with answers]. Let’s take an example from modern pulp culture, the horror genre. What happens when you separate a body from the soul? What do you get? You get a zombie. An instrument like a body is supposed to serve the soul – I hope my soul, or whatever spirit or whatever it is in me – is telling my hands to wiggle around in a very funny manner and they do. So the body is listening to the impulses of the soul. When you remove the soul from the body, you get a zombie, which is an inhuman human; looks like a human, but it isn’t human.

That’s the complaint of the Wall Street protestors: We’ve lost the soul. The question here, the debate here, isn’t whether economics or markets or capitalism work or not. I think they do very well. The question is whether they work the way we want them to work. Suddenly there you have a normative statement. You can’t really duck it. Does capitalism work the way we want it to work? The answer is, of course, not absolutely. In many cases, yes; some cases, no. So you get a zombie. This, I think, is easy; but you also get a ghost. If you separate the body from the soul, you get two elements, one of them is a zombie that attacks you. The other one is a ghost, sort of a psychological super ego that blames you. What does a ghost do? Ghosts don’t really attack, ghosts stare; they have this deadly stare, they scare you. I think this is exactly what happened. If you divide what always was together and is supposed to be together – and I’ll put some arguments to support that thesis – you get ridiculous moral standards or requests of the market. In this I think the Tea Party people and the Occupy Wall Street people are similar, in [that] they both overestimate the value of the market. One blame it for every evil in the world, that human beings are stupid and egoistic; well, OK, what does that have to do with capitalism? And the Tea Party movement overestimates the power of the economics, because they think that unregulated markets is an answer to every trouble that we have. So in this they could both shake hands. Here you have a body that’s supposed to serve us. It no longer serves us; it does a thing of its own, and [you have a] super-ego, too critical, ethical sort of a request of the economy. We need to put this back together. Now, the whole idea that economy is a machine is something that needs to be questioned. This is one of the myths that we have in our heads; I have it in my head, I think this is quite common, that the economy is a physics-like machine that works with rules that you do not compromise, that you can’t debate. Around it we cushion it with the government, we cushion it with aid, we cushion it with NGOs, we cushion it with whatever. This is a wrong understanding of economics, and it can lead to many errors of perception. There are so many things you can’t see if you look at one specific

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Photo courtesy of Thomas Sedlacek

scientific field alone. [The movie The Matrix featured] a machine that was supposed to serve us, but we end up serving it. If you remember, human beings become something like a battery that serves the robot. This I think is the feeling that many people express. Something that’s supposed to be an instrument gets a life of its own.



How would an economist read The Lord of the Rings? Well, the book is called The Lord of the Rings; the CEO of the Rings, we would say. A proper question is, Who is the CEO of the ring? Does he control the ring? Does the ring answer to him? The whole trilogy is about him trying to gain control. He looks for it, he seeks the ring, but he can’t exactly control it, because it’s sort of a disjointed ownership. You can go even further than that and say, “Well, how is the pecking order really organized?” If you destroy the ring, you destroy Sauron. So who owns the ring? Who is the lord of the ring? The ring, exactly. So here you see another example of a partial object: the ring enslaves. The ring has a will of its own, like Gandalf says. Why did Aragorn never touch the ring? Why did Gandalf never touch the ring? Why did Galadriel never touch the ring? T h e ring i s

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in control and it enslaves. The ownership there is very, very complicated. Now, let’s have a look at the very first ownership; here we get back to the Bible. The original sin was always read with sort of a sexual connotation, especially in the Medieval times; something sexual must have happened in the garden. Well, we don’t read anything about any sex, unfortunately, in the garden. The only thing we read [is] that they consumed something that they were not supposed to consume. So to an economist, the reading here is easy: it was a consumer sin. It actually repeats the word consume three times in

“In The Lord of the Rings, who is the CEO

of the

ring? Does he control the ring? Does the ring answer to him?”

one sentence: She saw, consumed, gave the apple to consume to Adam, and Adam also consumed. Three times the word [consume], so it’s really the economic reading there [that] is much more straightforward than the sexual reading, which is unsupported. You know, to an economist, this makes much more sense. My second point is they didn’t eat it out of hunger; they didn’t need to consume it. We have this story of the 13th chamber, the fairy tale about this rich king inviting this poor girl to his castle. [She] can do whatever [she] wants to do in all chambers – only one chamber do not open. She always does open [it], and again, she doesn’t really need to open that chamber; it’s not like she doesn’t have anywhere to put the vacuum cleaner. We always make the biggest mistakes out of unnecessity. So [Adam and Eve] consumed something that they were not supposed to consume, and this is the reason they were thrown out of the garden, the story says. It is as if God is saying, “Because what I gave you wasn’t enough, nothing will be enough.” So Eve gets cursed, I call it a curse of demand: You will want, but

you will not get, your wants will always run away from you. And Adam gets the curse of supply: You will work, but it will not be enough to satisfy her demands. There you have demand and supply right away in Genesis, chapter four, and it makes perfect sense, because you will work in the sweat of your brow, and the nature will be against you, you will loose this harmony. We read the same topic [of lost harmony] in the story of Prometheus, when Prometheus and his other brother – whose name is really difficult to pronounce so I won’t say it – are charged with empowering all animals, including human beings. So to turtles they give the nice little shield, to tigers they give teeth, so that they can protect themselves in nature. Only, bummer, when it came to human beings, they already gave everything out. Human beings don’t have anything special. We don’t have very strong teeth, we don’t have very strong nails, we can’t really run, we can’t hide, we’re usually very pale. So Prometheus comes up with this idea, “OK, OK, OK, we ran out of gifts; let’s go and give them knowledge.” It is represented in the arts, it is represented by fire, but [the legend] actually says techne; this is translated as knowledge, from the gods to human beings, and this of course makes everybody very angry and as a punishment they send Pandora. Pandora is also the first woman created in Greek mythology, only she wasn’t created as a help but as a curse. One of her curses is also the curse of labor: what was once pleasant now becomes tedious and toilsome. So here knowledge is traded off for harmony. They lived in harmony before that; they gained knowledge – this is typical of Greeks. The knowledge in Greek terminology is technical, scientific, philosophical; in the Hebrew it is also knowledge, but it’s more moral, knowledge of good and evil. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, there is also a story [about] how animals become human beings. The lion gained reason, and animals ran away from him. Again there’s harmony with nature we’ve lost because of knowledge. There’s also a beautiful story about this in the Book of Genesis. I will try to argue ethics and economics [are] inseparable; [in the story], the first ownership of mankind was what, it was the leaf, which later became skin. We read in all textbooks that

human beings started dressing because they were cold. Why did Adam and Eve cover themselves? Shame. Here you see the reason for ownership wasn’t necessity but it was psychology, [a] moral feeling of inferiority that we try to cover up by covering literally up our most sensitive and most intimate parts. This is the moment where economy is born, because if you become what I call naturally unnatural, since then we feel much more natural when we are unnatural; this is true psychologically, and from other aspects as well. Let’s take a very stupid example. This [auditorium] is warm enough for all of us to sit here naked. In other words, to be natural, the way we were born – you don’t really see me, you see my face and my palms but that’s it. But if we sat here naked, we would feel very, very unnatural because we feel more natural when we are unnatural. In other words, I feel much more Tomas Sedlacek when I am in the skin of [clothes]. This is the engine of economics. This is the very reason we want an external thing, because of some internal disbalance, the book of Genesis tells us. It’s useful to take a look at the very first business cycle in the history of mankind: the story of Joseph. Pharaoh has a dream. He dreams about seven fat cows and seven thin cows. He doesn’t know what to make of it, so he calls upon Joseph and [asks him the meaning of the dream]. Joseph says “Congratulations, Pharaoh; you just had the first-ever macroeconomic prediction – 14 years ahead of time – in a dream.” We usually get it wrong two years ahead of time. He got it right 14 ahead. In other words, you will have seven very good years and seven very bad years. [Joseph says], “In the good years, do not consume everything that grows, but save. In the good years, do not eat everything that grows, but save one fifth of it and create grain houses, so that in the bad years you can invest and you will not die of hunger.” In other words, translated into economics, in good years, create budget surpluses so that you can run budget deficits in the bad years. Take the energy from the good years and teleport it, so to speak, into the bad years. What are the lessons from that story? First of all, the first sign of the future was

revealed in a dream. The question is, why was it revealed to Pharaoh and not to the Hebrews? That’s a different question. Also [it shows] the value of information. Egypt enslaved all the nations, because of this piece of information. So today what reveals the future of the economy today? Models. [Models and dreams] aren’t really that far from one another, because how do you construct a model? You close your eyes.

Question and answer session QUESTION: You’ve just been talking about one of my favorite topics, which is the illusion of control. We have it wherever we turn and therefore. If you wish to comment further, I would be happy to hear it, but there’s something else. At the Hoover Institution, we have a very interesting scholar named Thomas Sowell, and he made an observation a year or two ago: There are no solutions, there are only trade-offs. Would you give us your observation of that? SEDLACEK: Yes. The basic trade-off is, for example, freedom and specialization. We are – and this is again the image of control – we feel one of the highest values of America and also of Europe, more so I think in America because you have freedom fries, is freedom; we don’t have freedom fries. I think French wine will be soon called freedom wine, maybe. Here is the image that you can be independent of a society. Well, the more specialized a society is, the less independent you are. In fact, how many of you sit here in a piece of cloth that you made yourself? Somebody, forget about money for a while, somebody gave you that cloth. Do you know his name? Do you care? No, of course not. But you consider it your own. How many of you can find sources of fresh drinkable water? How many of you can hunt, I suppose, here? I love beer, but I don’t know how to make it. I’m relying for 99 percent of my needs on somebody else while I’m paid for – this is what I tell to my son, it’s always difficult to explain to kids what it is exactly that we’re doing, especially when we’re economists – so I say that I tell fairy tales for adults. This program was made possible by the generous support of Robert W. Baird.

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war, World War II, killed more than 5 million people per year. That’s a really high rate of war deaths. The Cold War battlegrounds, including Vietnam, my generation’s war, killed hundreds of thousands per year. And today’s wars kill a little bit more than 50,000 per year. In terms of fatalities alone, we’re seeing a dramatic decline over these generations. In terms of America’s own war fatalities, we also see a dramatic decline. World War II killed about 300,000 Americans in battle, Vietnam about 50,000, Afghanistan and Iraq about 6,000. Now, each life is precious, and one war death is one too many, but in a country of 300 million people, the number of Americans killed in war last year was fewer than the number who died falling out of bed.

Better than yesterday

The daily reports of fighting, civil wars and suicide bombings hide a positive development: The world’s wars are decreasing – not increasing – in intensity and number. Excerpt from “Joshua Goldstein, Ph.D.: Winning the War on War - The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide,” September 21, 2011. joshua goldstein  Ph.D., Author; Professor Emeritus of International Relations, American University


eace has been the dream of humanity for thousands of years, but the reality of human history has been recurrent war. War has been such a central part of the human story that it’s easy to think that it’s permanent, [that] we’ll always have it, and if anything, people think it’s getting worse through time. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. The dream of peace hasn’t died, and in the last 60 years, and especially the last 20 years, we’ve made remarkable progress toward peace. I don’t mean peace [as in] the absolute end of all wars, peace and harmony



in the world; but peace as in fewer wars, smaller wars, fewer people dying in wars. That’s a story where we’ve made a tremendous amount of progress. That’s a counterintuitive idea for people, because everybody thinks war’s getting worse; we see it on the TV all the time. So I want to start out just by talking about three generations. My father’s generation, mine and [that of ] my 17-year-old son: the generations of the world wars, the Cold War and the post-Cold War era. We’ve all lived in war time, but consider the differences between them: My father’s

Decem be r 2011/jan ua ry 2012

he question we should ask about today’s terrible bloody conflicts is not [how they] compare to an ideal world, aren’t they terrible; but [how they] compare to any time in the past. Vietnam, World War II. The Thirty Years War. And then we’ll see progress is being made. It is not just the scale of warfare that is changing, but also the character of war. During my father’s war, World War II, the Americans and British firebombed German and Japanese cities, killing tens of thousands of civilians in a single night, and doing this repeatedly, doing it scientifically, deliberately: This was not collateral damage, this was strategy. The atrocities that Nazis and Japanese war criminals committed against civilians were far worse than that. During my war, Vietnam, the My Lai massacre killed hundreds of civilians. It was a lot smaller scale; and atrocities in wars like Bangladesh in 1971 also were very terrible, but smaller scale than World War II. In the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq used chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians, and that was terrible. In my son’s time there are also atrocities in war. We see suicide bombings and air strikes, and they kill scores of civilians or even hundreds at a time. If you’re in the middle of one of the atrocities, they’re just as atrocious as ever, but the scale of them is getting smaller worldwide as time goes by. The truth is that civilian and military deaths are about 50-50 through the last

Photo by MATEUS_27;24&35 / Flickr


couple of centuries, the number’s not changing much through time, though it does vary a lot from one war to another. Some are harder on civilians, like the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; some are harder on military, such as the Eritrean-Ethiopian war, which was mostly trench warfare out in the desert. What about the ultimate atrocity, nuclear war? In my father’s time, two entire cities with their inhabitants were bombed with nuclear weapons, killing hundreds of thousands of people. In my lifetime, nuclear weapons were never used, thankfully, but tens of thousands of them were poised to destroy the world; this seemed a real possibility, and when I was a kid, we practiced hiding our heads under the desks in school to be ready for when that happened. In my son’s time, we’re not worried about the world being destroyed with nuclear weapons; we’re worried about one nuclear weapon maybe getting in the wrong hands, and blowing up a city. That’s terrible, and I do worry about that. But it’s still progress compared to blowing up the entire world. More important, the arsenal of tens of thousands of weapons on both sides has been reduced by three quarters, just in the last 30 years. This is a historic phenomenon, disarming three quarters of the nuclear weapons, and the new START treaty that’s just been ratified on both sides is going to reduce these stockpiles further. We’ve also made progress in organizing the world’s countries to stop fighting and to control conflict and manage violence. My father was born in the same year as the League of Nations. It was a complete failure; it didn’t stop the aggression in the 1930s, it didn’t prevent World War II, the United States didn’t even belong to it. When I was growing up, the United Nations was young, and, of course, it started right here in San Francisco. Everyone belonged to it, and it symbolized humanity; we used to go out when I was a kid with orange boxes to collect money for UNICEF on Halloween. But the Security Council was stalemated by the Cold War standoff and not very effective. Today, the Security Council is much more effective. My son is growing up in a world where the UN has 100,000 peacekeepers deployed around the world, helping fragile societies as they try to emerge from wars, trying to keep

ceasefires from breaking down. The UN still has a lot of problems, but it’s also had great successes. There’s also now an International Criminal Court that didn’t exist in previous generations, and an emerging doctrine of responsibility to protect, which means that the international community has some responsibility to civilians if their own government doesn’t protect them. From generation to generation, from my father’s to mine to my son’s, peace is increasing and war is decreasing.

Preparing a better tomorrow


merica’s wars went the opposite direction in the last decade, because we had a relatively peaceful 1990s, and a relatively war-like past decade. But now that’s also reversing. Between now and the end of the year, 50,000 American troops are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and we’ve

“Of the wars that are still going on, there are only five of them that rise to the level of daily

sustained fighting.”

started the process of withdrawal from Afghanistan that’s supposed to end in a few years. As President Obama put it in June, “The tide of war is receding.” In fact, these trends have created a world today that’s very different from the past. The biggest difference is that historically, the big wars, the lethal destructive wars have been those of national, regular, uniformed armies, one against the other, with their tanks, with their artillery, with their airplanes: Iraq versus Iran, India versus Pakistan. Those are extremely destructive and very lethal wars. Today in the world, nowhere are those national armies fighting each other. Nowhere in the world. This is a remarkable development. Though the countries of the world remain armed to the teeth, with 20 million soldiers, they all have these heavy weapons, but they’re not

using them against each other. People worry about China as the next big threat: You know, China is growing, China is modernizing its military, China is building an aircraft carrier, so does that make it inevitable that China will go to war with the United States as it grows? China hasn’t fought a single military battle in 25 years. It’s the only member of the Security Council at the UN that can say that. Twenty-five years – no fighting. China is rising on what it self-consciously calls “a peaceful rise strategy.” That economics and prosperity is what gives the leaders of China their legitimacy, not nationalism and riling up of the population for war. They have to deliver on prosperity and the way to do that is not to go to war; that would be a disaster for China. The way to do that is to have a peaceful world where they can trade, where they can make money from their biggest trading partner, the United States. The remaining armed conflicts in the world are civil wars: wars of governments on one side with rebels or insurgents on the other side. Sometimes those rebel or insurgent forces have another government supporting them financially but never with soldiers from the other country. These civil wars are smaller than the interstate wars. Even then, we have smaller civil wars than in the past and fewer of them. Big wars, such as in South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka have ended in the last 10 years, and they haven’t been replaced with equally big wars anywhere in the world. [Of ] the wars that are still going on, there are only five of them that rise to the level of daily sustained fighting. Those are in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and the Congo. Even these are not big wars like Vietnam and Korea, much less the Napoleonic wars, and even these are all diminishing and becoming more localized in fighting, except for the mess in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the dog that didn’t bark: the wars that are not happening. Whole regions of the world that used to be consumed by war a couple of decades ago [are] now completely at peace. This program was made possible by the generous support of the San Francisco Business Times.

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Photos by Ed Ritger

William Clay Ford, Jr. (Continued from page 7)

it out and get some revenue off your idle car. Pretty cool. FORD: I’m familiar with it; it’s very cool. All of these new applications for transportation are going to be needed. I think if we’re talking five years from now, we’re going to be talking about stuff that we haven’t even begun to think about. I do believe that technology is really going to be the great liberator in all this. I’ve outlined what some of those technologies are, but the rate of change in technology is quite staggering. Just the notion of bringing the cloud into

“This Evos vehicle is

connected to your calendar. It’s remarkable when you bring the cloud into the vehicle.” the vehicle – there are issues with that. There are privacy issues and things that still need to be worked out. But on the other hand, it can be really, really powerful. DALTON: How about young consumers? Some of these things like car sharing comes naturally to college campuses. It used to be that a car was a tool of social mobility. Now if you ask people if they’d give up their car or their cell phone, they might give up their



car and keep their cell phone. FORD: I think there’s this whole model called collaborative consumption. It’s out there in the next generation, and cars will be part of that. That’s something the next generation is very comfortable with. The cell phone and the iPad and the computer are all now seamless with the car. This demo vehicle that we’ve built called Evos is connected to your calendar. So your car will actually know if your meeting that you’re going to is running on time. It’s quite remarkable when you start to bring the cloud into the vehicle. We have to do it in a very thoughtful way, though, because you can overload drivers. Obviously that’s not a good thing, driver distraction. You can give people too much information. The point is that there’s no limit to what can be done. I think it’s then up to us and customers to do it in a very thoughtful way. DALTON: Another thing coming into the car is electricity. You’ve said that by about 2020 a quarter of the cars you sell will be electric. How are you going to get there? FORD: That’s a really good guess by the way, I have no idea about that. DALTON: No one knows. FORD: That’s the thing. I learned long ago that predictions in our industry usually don’t pan out. I will say this: We are making big bets on electric and, in fact, we have an all electric Focus still coming this year. We have a plug-in coming next year. We’re actually choosing to do something a little different, though, with our electric vehicles. A lot of our competitors, or some of them anyway, are doing purpose built vehicles. We decided

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to electrify a mainstream product called the Focus. The reason we did that is Ford’s history. My great grandfather believed in creating transportation for the average person and not to make it an elitist thing. So we felt that by electrifying a mainstream product like the Focus and making it affordable and also making it flexible – coming down the same line will be an internal combustion 40 mpg Focus, a pure electric Focus, a hybrid off of the Focus platform, and a plug-in – that way the costumer decides, “Which one do I like best?” Whichever way they decide, we can flex up and meet that demand. DALTON: General Motors and Nissan have been first to the market with pure electrics. You’re a little bit later, but you think you have a more flexible strategy? FORD: I like our strategy, because it really lets the market decide how it all rolls out and what the customer wants. Right now, one size doesn’t fit all. I think that is really because of batteries. You still have range limitations on pure electric. We’re rolling out our pure electric. If you live in San Francisco and all you do is drive in the city, that’s great; pure electric is probably exactly what you want. If you have that same vehicle, but you want to drive to Los Angles on the weekend, now you want a plug in, because you drive all week on the battery, but you have the freedom then of the gasoline backup engine to go wherever you’d like to go. That will start to [change] as batteries get better and range starts to extend on the pure electrics. Like all new technologies, expect that to happen; but as we sit here today, you really do have some range issues on pure electric, which are ameliorated when you go to a plug-in or obviously a conventional hybrid. DALTON: Nissan made a big splash when they priced the Leaf very aggressively. The Volt, some people say it’s very high at around $40,000. Have you decided on a price for the Focus? FORD: We haven’t announced it, but it’s obviously going to be very competitive. As I said a minute ago, we want to make it affordable to lots of people. That’s our goal on all our technology. It’s interesting, we made a very audacious bet about four years ago. We decided we wanted to be the fuel economy leader in every single segment. Coming from us and our background, that wasn’t certainly our strength. It’s certainly not something

people would have expected from us. DALTON: The maker of the Explorer. FORD: Yeah, and the F150. But we decided even in the F150 that we wanted to be the fuel economy leader. One of the things that enabled that was, during the dark days of our industry, during the 2006-2009 period, when a lot of our competitors – not just the domestic but overseas as well – were cutting back on R&D, cutting back on product programs, we actually accelerated ours. It seemed to us that there’s no point in going through a very painful restructuring if you come out at the end of the tunnel and the cupboard’s bear. We also did some research that showed that the number-one reason the people rejected Ford was fuel economy. So, we said, “Okay, lets shoot for the moon here and see if we can actually deliver it.” But to deliver, it meant new technology, and that’s when we decided that we needed to double-down on our product spending and our new technology. So we did that. Today, we’re in 12 segments where we’re the fuel economy leader, and that will continue to grow. We’re about to roll out a new three-cylinder gasoline engine. We’ve got obviously hybrids and – DALTON: You’re going to put the hybrid engine in the F150 truck? FORD: Eventually we might, but it’s harder to hybridize – even today – a bigger vehicle. It just is. Batteries of that strength are still not ready for prime time. You could make small hybrid improvements. Frankly, you can make bigger improvements by something we call eco-boost, which basically allows you to get the power of an eight-cylinder but the fuel economy of a six-cylinder. That’s why I said that one-size doesn’t fit all, and that’s true of technology. For some segments, it’s better to go there; for others, it’s better to go electric. For still others, compressed natural gas [will be the answer] as we start to look into bigger vehicles. We’re still working on bio-fuels and hydrogen. It’s interesting how things change. If we were talking two years ago, we would have been talking about cellulosic ethanol. If we were talking a few years before that, it would have been fuel cells. Today, it’s electric, and we are making big bets on electric. We’re still investing in those, because we really don’t know how the world’s going to break out. Until this nation has an energy policy,

which we desperately need, all of this is going to be [less than perfect]. Think about electrification. How are we going to build out the smart grid that we’ve been talking about for five or six years? Hasn’t happened yet. How are we going to power this grid? We’re going to have to build more plants. How are we going to power those? Are they going to be coal fired? I hope not. Are they going to be nuclear? Well, that’s a national discussion we need to have. Will renewables do it for us? We need to have a national policy and a way to get there, because otherwise we’re going to be there with the hardware and customers are going to say, “Nah, I like the hardware, but I just don’t feel comfortable yet, because I don’t have ubiquity of plugging.” I think that as a nation, there’s some discussions we need to have, and we need to have them pretty quickly. DALTON: Are you part of any group in Washington trying to advance that, because it seems like there’s special interests – the coal people protect their thing, the natural gas people have a different view– and it’s all carved up, and there’s no coherent policy. FORD: I guess I would just say, Too bad. We need to get on with it. Yes, we are making our voice heard in Washington. DALTON: Do you think a gasoline tax would be a part of that? FORD: I’ve been pushing for that for the last 10 years. DALTON: I guess you’re not going to run for elected office anytime soon. FORD: For a lot of reasons. DALTON: Every economist says it’s great,

but no politician will touch it. FORD: I’ll give you an example of where that works. Obviously we’re a big player in Europe; within the last 10 years, the European society decided they wanted to bring down the CO2 curve. They said, “How are we going to do this?” At the time, diesel seemed to be the best option, because electric was still far off and other bio-fuels weren’t available. What happened

“When a lot of our competitors were

cutting back on R&D, we actually

accelerated ours.” was that the various EU governments, the NGO’s and the auto makers all sat around a table and we said, “How can we collectively make this happen?” The auto makers said, “We can make the small diesels, but the customers are going to have to want to buy it.” So what the governments did across Europe that made a lot of sense was they gave tremendous tax breaks to diesel, and they taxed the heck out of petrel. When a customer came into the gas station, it was a no-brainer, “I want to buy the diesel.” Guess what? It worked. Almost overnight, the diesel penetration of the auto fleet just went [up], and in every segment it’s worked.

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Photo by Ford in Europe / Flickr

Ford Dagenham Powerhouse 1957: Before the term carbon footprint had been invented, Henry Ford knew that generating power on-site reduced costs, lowered environmental impact, and safeguarded production. With a Ford sign measuring 140 feet by 60 feet, the powerhouse could be seen from 20 miles away and generated enough electricity for a town of 180,000.

Unfortunately, without that kind of clear pricing to the customer, it wouldn’t have happened that quickly. We don’t have that in this country. People often say to me, “Why don’t you do diesels? You have them in Europe and Asia.” Yeah, we do, but diesel costs slightly more to the customer to buy upfront. If you pull into a gas station today, diesel is priced on or above gasoline. The customer is doing the math and saying, “This may not be worth the trip.” DALTON: And there’s also health concerns. FORD: Yes, that’s a whole other thing. We’re solving that in Europe. It’s fairly expensive in terms of treatment that we have to do. For a long time diesel was sort of a word you couldn’t use in this country. DALTON: It’s a dirty word because of the knocking. FORD: Exactly. In Europe, they’ve embraced it. I’m not here to shill for diesel at all. In fact, I’m sort of agnostic about whether we do diesel or not. But I just want to point out, that that was one approach where you had a government that took pricing action to signal a behavior to the customer, and it worked. DALTON: Do you think there should be a price on carbon emissions that would give that signal? FORD: We were a part of the original part of the Chicago Climate Exchange, which did carbon trading. I think with any carbon mechanism system, it’s so complicated. It



has to be economy-wide. A well thought-out carbon scheme still has yet to be articulated. DALTON: Your bio describes you as a lifelong enviromentalist. What do you think about some of the recent attacks on the EPA, clean air, clean water, etc.? FORD: We work very well with the government. In fact, the one national standard for CAFE [corporate average fuel economy], which is a very tough mileage standard, we work very closely with the government on that. It’s going to be tough for us to do it, but it’s the right thing to do. If I rewind 10 years ago, we basically said “no” to everything. Our whole goal, environmentally, was to comply and not for leadership. Here’s one thing that we couldn’t stand as a manufacturer: We can’t have multiple [standards]. That’s why we wanted one national standard, because as a manufacturer if you try to make something for California, something different for Nevada, it’s an absolute nightmare. So we were happy to have one tough national standard, because we can comply with that. DALTON: Do you think there’s a trade-off between environmental standards and jobs, that environmental standards cost jobs? FORD: No, I think you could turn it around, and say that they create jobs because it’s going to require a lot of new technology to meet these standards. We’re hiring people who are well versed in things like solar, biofuels, electric. Obviously there’s a tipping

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point if something goes into effect that you simply cannot do; then that’s a problem. DALTON: BMW did something recently. Their chairman said they got out of Formula One Racing, which has traditionally been used to develop new technologies, and said they’re going to put those resources instead into – he used the word “premium,” more efficiency and environmental and sustainability initiatives, saying that’s where change and innovation will come from. That’s pretty interesting. Take these fuel guzzling, high performance cars, and we’re going to look for another place to innovate. FORD: Yeah. Great. We’re doing that too. Formula One – we haven’t been in that for quite a while. I don’t know that we ever really derived a great benefit, technically, from it. Our engineers liked working on it years ago. It was fun. They kind of had a blast working with race engines, but really, in terms of what it brought to the mainstream products, it was probably minimal. DALTON: There are a lot of car companies in California that are starting electrics. There’s Coda, Tesla, Fiscer, Better Place. FORD: I think it’s great. It’s not just in the electric-based [technology]. All this technology, information technology, safety technology. It’s really pouring now into the auto industry. I love it. I’m on the board of eBay, which takes me to the Valley all the time. I’m always poking around when I’m there. I started my own strategic investment fund in the intelligent transportation space, because I saw so much interesting, cool technology being developed in what we call the ITS space. You mentioned my environmental interests. When I was younger, [the focus] was, How do I wake up this industry? We were a very insular industry in an insular town. There weren’t a lot of kindred spirits. I was told very early, and this was a direct quote, “Stop associating with any known or suspected environmentalists.” Then I addressed the Greenpeace International Conference I think in 1991. I don’t know who was more freaked out by it, the Greenpeace people or the people in Deerborn. [But] this notion of making people’s lives better is what drives me, and it really has to drive our enterprise. This program was made possible by the generous support of ClimateWorks Foundation.


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RADIO, Video and podcasts

INFORUM is for and by people in their 20s and 30s, although events are open to people of all ages.

Hear Club programs on about 200 public and commercial radio stations throughout the United States. For the latest schedule, visit In the San Francisco Bay Area, tune in to: KQED (88.5 FM) Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 a.m. KRCB Radio (91 FM in Rohnert Park) Thursdays at 7 p.m. KALW (91.7 FM) Inforum programs on select Tuesdays at 7 p.m. KOIT (96.5 FM and 1260 AM) Sundays at 6 a.m. KLIV (1590 AM) Thursdays at 7 p.m. KSAN (107.7 FM) Sundays at 5 a.m. KNBR (680 and 1050 AM) Sundays at 5 a.m. KFOG (104.5 and 97.7 FM) Sundays at 5 a.m.

MEMBER–LED FORUMS (MLF) Volunteer-driven programs focus on particular fields. Most evening programs include a wine reception. Member-Led Forums Chair Dr. Carol Fleming carol.fleming@speechtraining com FORUM CHAIRS 2011 ARTS Anne W. Smith Lynn Curtis ASIA–PACIFIC AFFAIRS Cynthia Miyashita BAY GOURMET Cathy Curtis SF BOOK DISCUSSION Howard Crane BUSINESS & LEADERSHIP Kevin O’Malley ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES Kerry Curtis Marcia Sitcoske GROWNUPS John Milford

Health & Medicine William B. Grant HUMANITIES George C. Hammond INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Norma Walden LGBT Stephen Seewer

Watch Club programs on KRCB TV 22 on Comcast & DirecTV the last Sunday of each month at 11 a.m. Select Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley programs air on CreaTV in San Jose (Channel 30). View hundreds of streaming videos of Club programs at and

Julian Chang MIDDLE EAST Celia Menczel

Subscribe to our free podcasting service to automatically download a new program recording to your personal computer each week:

PSYCHOLOGY Patrick O’Reilly


science & technology Chisako Ress

To request an assistive listening device, please e-mail Ricardo Esway at or call (415) 869-5911 seven working days before the event. d ecem b e r 2011/j an ua ry 2012



Eight Weeks Calendar December 05 – January 29 M on




December 05


6:00 p.m. Do Human Rights Have a Future? FM 6:00 p.m. Insiders Look at Education FM 5:30 p.m. In Patagonia FE 6:30 p.m. Holiday Cooking Party

Noon Stephen H. Scheider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication




5:30 p.m. Middle East Discussion Group FE 6:00 p.m. EJ Keller, Personal Chef FM

6:00 p.m. Extreme Weather

6:00 p.m. Walter Isaacson Talks Steve Jobs







Club offices closed

Club offices closed

Club offices closed






Christmas Observed

New Year’s Day Observed Club offices closed

09 6:00 p.m. Scholasticism and the Design of the Medieval Gothic Cathedral FM

5:30 p.m. Humanities West Book Discussion: Ming China 1368-1649: A Concise History of a Resilient Empire FE 7:00 p.m. Patricia Schultz




Martin Luther King Jr. Day

6:00 p.m. Edward J. Larson: The 100th Anniversary of Rober Falcaon Scott reaching the South Pole

Noon Catholicism, Conscience and American Politics: Reflections by a Catholic Bishop FE

Club offices closed




1:45 p.m. North Beach Walking Tour 5:15 p.m. Understanding the Mysteries of Aging FM 6:00 p.m. Getting Financially Fit in 2012 FM

6:00 p.m. Swans, Swine and Swindlers: Coping with the Growing Threat of MegaCrises

6:00 p.m. Tani Cantil-Sakauye 7:30 p.m. 2012 Silicon Valley Reads: One Book. One Community FE



d ecem be r 2011/jan ua ry 2012


San Francisco


Free program for members

East Bay


Free program for everyone

Silicon Valley


Members–only program



S at















January 01

Christmas Eve Observed Club offices closed



Club offices closed

Club offices closed












1:45 p.m. San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour 7:00 p.m. Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel 7:00 p.m. Dr. David Agus

12:30 p.m. Michael Boskin and Christina Romer: Bank of America/Walter E. Hoadley Annual Economic Forecast MO



6:00 p.m. Who’s in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain

12 6:00 p.m. Amy Chua: Tale of a Tiger Mother



Noon Coffee Story Ethiopia Noon Thomas Frank 5:30 p.m. Arts Forum Planning Meeting FE 6:00 p.m. Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin 6:00 p.m. Can You Hear Me? 7:00 p.m. Capitalism 2.0

Noon Women and the Arab Spring FM

Decem b e r 2011/j an ua ry 2012



December 05 – January 05 M on 0 5 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

M on 0 5 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Do Human Rights Have a Future?

Insiders Look at Education: Creating Great Teachers

Dr. William F. Schulz, Former Executive Director, Amnesty International USA; President, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Today human rights are nominally accepted as a lingua franca of international relations, invoked by politicians, jurists and young people leading revolutions in the Middle East. Schulz will outline the major human rights challenges around the globe and reflect on how our understanding of human rights may change in the future. MLF: Humanities/ International Relations Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students Program Organizer: Karen Keefer Also know: In association with Northern California Peace Corps Assn. and Unitarian Universalists

John Merrow, Education Correspondent, NPR/PBS; Author, The Influence of Teachers Kathleen Martin McCarthy, Recipient, 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching; Teacher, Washington Elementary School, San Leandro Anthony Smith, M.D., Superintendent, Oakland Unified School District Additional panelists TBA

A panel of high-level educators and experts will discuss what they believe makes a great teacher and what the public and government can do to ensure that standards of excellence are set and adhered to at the primary and secondary levels. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Also know: Part of the Innovating California Series, sponsored by Chevron. In association with Dartmouth Alumni Assocation.

M on 0 5 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

M on 0 5 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T u e 06 | San Francisco

In Patagonia

Holiday Cooking Party with Hands On Gourmet

The Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication

Join fellow book lovers to discuss In Patagonia by the late Bruce Chatwin, both a captivating travel narrative and an extraordinary literary meditation on the southern tip of South America, one of the most remote and exotic locations on the planet. Originally published in 1977, Chatwin’s book continues to be seen as one of the great works of travel writing of the 20th century. MLF: SF Book Discussion Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Howard Crane



Keep the holiday spirit alive with an interactive, dynamic, hands-on cooking class with Hands On Gourmet’s personal chefs. Prepare a three-course menu customized to take advantage of the season’s best and freshest ingredients. To start, enjoy an artisan cheese plate, followed by the cooking class; coffee and tea will accompany dessert. Bring your own preferred beverage and an apron, and prepare to enjoy a convivial atmosphere with fellow guests. MLF: Bay Gourmet Location: Hands On Gourmet, 2325 3rd Street, #409 (at 20th St.) Time: 6 p.m. check-in/reception, 6:30 p.m. class Cost: $60 standard, $48 members Program Organizer: Cathy Curtis Also know: Public transit routes: 22 bus line, T-Muni line, Caltrain (Pennsylvania/22nd)

d ecem be r 2011/jan ua ry 2012

Dr. Richard Alley, Professor of Geosciences, Penn State

Alley will receive the first $10,000 Climate One award in honor of the late climatologist Stephen Schneider. Alley, host of “Earth: The Operator’s Manual,” once testified before Congress using his bald head to illustrate ice age cycles and recorded a video explaining geoscience while strumming guitar to Johnny Cash. Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students Also know: In association with the Science & Technology Member-Led Forum. Underwritten by ClimateWorks Foundation and Michael Haas, founder of the Alliance for Climate Education.

M on 1 2 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

M on 1 2 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T u e 13 | San Francisco

Middle East Discussion Group

EJ Keller, Personal Chef

Wild Weather

Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion with fellow Club members as you weigh in on events shaping the face of the Middle East. Each month, the Middle East Member-Led Forum hosts an informal roundtable discussion on a topic frequently inspired by recent headlines. After a brief introduction, the floor will be open for discussion. All interested members are encouraged to attend. There will also be a brief planning session. MLF: Middle East Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Celia Menczel

See Website for Panelists

This holiday season, Monday Night Philosophy turns to personal chef Keller for a juxtaposition of the culinary cultures in France and the Bay Area. In 1995, Keller and his wife returned to her homeland of France. Captivated by French food culture, Keller spent a decade in French kitchens before becoming a personal chef. Discover his knowledge of French cuisine and insights into the Bay Area’s booming cultural interest in food. MLF: HUMANITIES Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: George Hammond

Wed 1 4 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

W E D 04 | San Francisco

Walter Isaacson Talks Steve Jobs

Book Discussion Group

CEO, the Aspen Institute; Former Chairman and CEO, CNN; Former Editor, Time; Author, Steve Jobs

Much of Steve Jobs’ life was obfuscated by rumor and legend. Drawing on more than 40 interviews with Jobs himself, Isaacson presents a remarkable new account of Apple’s co-founder. After two years of research, speaking with family, friends, competitors and colleagues, Isaacson has compiled the story and life of one of the most influential people of the modern era. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $10 student. Premium (includes book and seating in first few rows): $60 standard, $40 members

We will discuss A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Considered an American comic masterpiece, this book is set in New Orleans and describes the outrageous adventures of “slob extraordinary” Ignatius Reilly. The author was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize for this novel. The author will not be present. MLF: San Francisco Book discussion Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Howard Crane

Massive blizzards are slamming the East Coast and epic droughts are parching the Southwest. Though scientists are careful to say no single storm can be attributed to climate change, their models indicate more droughts, floods and other extremes are headed our way. How can farmers, companies and governments manage weather risk? Join our discussion to find out what Mother Nature has in store. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. reception Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID)

T h u 05 | San Francisco

Who’s in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain Michael Gazzaniga, Professor of Psychology and Director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, UC Santa Barbara

Known as the “father of cognitive neuroscience,” Gazzaniga makes a powerful argument for free will. Gazzaniga argues that the human mind constrains the brain and monitors our behavior, much as a government constrains its citizens. Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, as well as ethics and law, he offers a deeply considered case for human responsibility. MLF: Humanities/Science & Technology Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: George Hammond

d ecem b e r 2011/j an ua ry 2012



January 09–19 M O N 09 | San Francisco

Wed 1 1 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Wed 1 1 | S i l i c o n V a l l e y

Scholasticism and the Design of the Medieval Gothic Cathedral

Humanities West Book Discussion: Ming China 13681649: A Concise History of a Resilient Empire

Patricia Schultz

Robert A. Scott, Author, The Gothic Enterprise

Monday Night Philosophy explores how ideas shape influential architecture. After explaining the origins of scholasticism in Aristotelian philosophy and identifying its fundamental precepts, Scott will explore how these ideas were combined with theological notions about light to produce the Gothic look. MLF: Humanities

Come chat with fellow humanities lovers about John Dardess’ engaging exploration of how the Ming dynasty was able to endure for 276 years. Focusing on foreign relations, the lives of its 16 emperors, its system of governance, the literati who served it, and the mass outlawry that allowed the Manchu invasions to succeed, Dardess presents a fascinating study. Lynn Harris will moderate the discussion. The author will not be present.

Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m.

Travel Journalist; Author, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die

Before you plan your next trip, hear travel expert Schultz’s practical guide and wish list of unique destinations from around the world. Discover and learn about 28 new countries, highlighted in her updated best-selling travel book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Schultz also offers budget-conscious suggestions on where to stay, restaurants to visit, festivals to check out, and don’t-miss travel experiences for adventurous globetrotters.

MLF: Humanities Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: George Hammond Also know: In association with Humanities West

Location: Historic Hoover Theatre, 1635 Park Ave., San Jose Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing Cost: $15 standard, $10 members, $5 students

T h u 12 | San Francisco

J an 1 6 - M A R 0 1

J an 1 6 - M A R 0 1

Amy Chua: Tale of a Tiger Mother

Stephen Joseph: Photographs from the Muir Woods Centennial Project

The Art of Living Black: Fortune Sitole – Mixed Media Artworks

Joseph is a distinguished California landscape photographer whose work has been widely featured in books as well as exhibited at the Oakland Museum of California, the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite Valley, and the Fine Arts Museum of the San Francisco Legion of Honor. In 2007, he was named the Muir Woods National Monument Centennial Photographer. His work will be on display in the Club lobby during January and February.

Sitole recreates the black South African townships of his childhood by combining scavenged materials. Scenes of everyday life emerge from wood, sand, aluminum, paint, sticks and bottle caps. Fortune’s exhibition is part of the Bay Area’s annual tribute to African American artists, The Art of Living Black. Come enjoy his work on display in the Club office during January and February.

program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7

students Program Organizer: George Hammond Also know: In association with Humanities West

John M. Duff Professor of Law, Yale Law School; Author, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Parenting in public is a gutsy move, and no one knows that better than Chua. The Yale Law School professor’s 2011 memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, took an honest and often provocative look at the rewards – and the costs – of raising her children the strict “Chinese” way. Join us as best-selling author Chua talks about the parenting cultural divide, her struggles as a parent, and what it really means to be a tiger mother. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students



MLF: The Arts Location: SF Club Office Time: Regular Club business hours Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Lynn Curtis

d ecem be r 2011/jan ua ry 2012

MLF: The Arts Location: SF Club Office Time: Regular Club business hours Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Lynn Curtis

T U E 17 | San Francisco

Wed 1 8 | S i l i c o n V a l l e y

w ed 1 8 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Edward J. Larson: The 100th Anniversary of Robert Falcon Scott Reaching the South Pole

Catholicism, Conscience and American Politics: Reflections by a Catholic Bishop

Coffee Story Ethiopia: A Food Crop. A Nation. Its New Future.

Bishop Robert McElroy, San Francisco Archdiocese

Majka Burhardt, Author, Coffee Story: Ethiopia; Climber; Guide

Are there clear Catholic positions on issues in American politics? What is the role of Catholic Church authorities, and what is the role of the conscience of the individual Catholic in assessing and voting on these issues? Bishop McElroy, one of the auxiliary bishops of the San Francisco Archdiocese, will offer his reflections on these crucial matters.

Ethiopia is fighting to shed its history and public image of drought, famine and war by embracing the heritage and potential of its defining crop: coffee. Burhardt recounts that process in a tale of opportunity, resources, education and tradition, transcending the bean itself to explore food anthropology, development, adventure, Ethiopia’s landscape and peoples, and the impact of coffee on world politics and global understanding.

Visiting Professor of Law, Stanford University; University Professor of History, Pepperdine University

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Larson is a master of the history of science and exploration. He now delves into the heroic age of Antarctic exploration, which culminated 100 years ago when Roald Amundsen and Robert F. Scott reached the South Pole within five weeks of each other. MLF: Humanities/Science & Technology Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students

Location: Arts & Sciences Building, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real Time: Noon program Cost: FREE Also know: In association with The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Program Organizers: Chisako Ress/Julia Reder

MLF: Bay Gourmet Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: Cathy Curtis

T H U 19 | San Francisco

T H U 19 | San Francisco

T h u 1 9 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

Humor Columnist Dave Barry and Former “SNL” Writer Alan Zweibel

Dr. David Agus

Co-authors, Lunatics

Despite advances in modern medicine, Agus asks why we aren’t better at curing illness. He offers a practical health guide to better understand the human body and takes on some myths and misconceptions about the benefits of vitamins and supplements, foods, and the role of DNA. He will also discuss exciting breakthrough technologies that promise to transform medicine in our generation.

Explore the SF Financial District with historian Rick Evans. Hear about the famous architects who influenced the rebuilding of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Discover hard-to-find rooftop gardens, Art Deco lobbies, unique open spaces and landmarks. This is a tour for locals, with hidden gems you can only find on foot! We will conclude the tour at a local watering hole. Location: Galleria Park Hotel, 190 Sutter St.

Time: 1:45 p.m. check-in, 2–4:30 p.m. tour, no-host socializing to follow Cost: $40 standard, $30 members Also know: Operates rain or shine. Limited to 20. Must pre-register. Covers less than one mile. Questions? Call (415) 597-6720. Involves stairs.

Professor of Medicine and Engineering at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and Viterbi School of Engineering; Author, The End of Illness

Experience the world through the eyes and words of Pulitzer Prize-winning Barry and five-time Emmy Award winner and “SNL” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” writer Zweibel – a sure way to tickle your funny bone! Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students. Premium (first few rows) $45 standard, $30 members Also know: Underwritten by The Bernard Osher Foundation

Location: Schultz Cultural Hall, Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students

d ecem b e r 2011/j an ua ry 2012



January 20–26 F r i 20 | San Francisco

M on 2 3 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Michael Boskin and Christina Romer: Bank of America/ Walter E. Hoadley Annual Economic Forecast

Understanding the Mysteries of Aging: Treating Illnesses and Extending the Healthy Years

Dr. Michael Boskin, Professor of Economics and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; Chair, President’s Council of Economic Advisers under President George H.W. Bush Dr. Christina Romer, Professor of Economics, UC Berkeley; Immediate Past Chair, President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers

Don’t miss this chance to hear a lively discussion with two former top presidential economic advisors on where the U.S. and global economies are headed in 2012. Romer served as chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. She is a specialist in economic history and macroeconomics and is best known for her work on the causes of and the recovery from the Great Depression, and on the impact of monetary and fiscal policy. Boskin is the Tully M. Friedman Professor of Economics and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. MEMBERS-ONLY +1 paying guest Location: Grand Ballroom, Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St. (at California) Time: 11:45 a.m. luncheon, 12:30 p.m. program Cost: Regular: $85 standard, $65 members. Table pricing: Before Dec. 31, 2011: $800 members; $1,100 standard; $2,500 patrons. After Dec. 31, 2011: $960 members; $1,320 standard; $3,000 patrons. To purchase tables, please contact Mary Beth Cerjan in the Club’s Development Department at (415) 597-5919. Also know: Underwritten by Bank of America. Registration required by noon on January 18.

M O n 23 | San Francisco

M O n 23 | San Francisco

Getting Financially Fit in 2012

North Beach Walking Tour

Ted Rice, CIMA, Senior Portfolio Manager, Merrill Lynch San Francisco

Rice, an expert in estate planning and investing in troubled times, will share strategies (and secrets) to take a fresh look at your investments and find those rare opportunities to grow your nest egg. Where are the investment opportunities in these volatile times? How can you avoid tax penalties to your retirement accounts? Rice will provide a long-term strategy to help achieve and maintain financial fitness. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID)



Join another Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure! Explore vibrant North Beach with Rick Evans during a two-hour walk through this neighborhood with a colorful past, where food, culture, history and unexpected views all intersect in an Italian “urban village.” In addition to learning about Beat generation hangouts, you’ll discover authentic Italian cathedrals and coffee shops. Location: Washington Square Park at Saints Peter and Paul Church, 666 Filbert St. Time: 1:45 p.m. check-in, 2-4 p.m. tour, nohost socializing to follow Cost: $45 standard, $35 members Program Organizer: Kristina Nemeth Also know: Limited to 20 people. Must preregister. For questions, call (415) 597-6720.

d ecem be r 2011/jan ua ry 2012

Brian Kennedy, Ph.D., President and CEO, the Buck Institute

By working to slow the effects of aging and prevent or delay the disorders commonly associated with it, Kennedy and Buck Institute scientists are focused on extending the healthy years of life so that growing older doesn’t have to mean growing ill. MLF: Grownups Location: SF Club Office Time: 4:45 p.m. networking reception, 5:15 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: John Milford Also know: In association with the Buck Institute


Before You Arrive Event times and dates are subject to change, and at times programs get sold-out or cancelled. We recommend pre-registration for all our events. Event time and date changes are communicated to registered attendees directly, and they are always posted on our website. If you have not registered for a program, but want to attend, please make sure to check our website for any program updates before heading to the event. You can also call our box office at 415-597-6705.

T u e 24 | San Francisco

W E D 25 | San Francisco

Swans, Swine and Swindlers: Coping with the Growing Threat of Mega-Crises

Tani Cantil-Sakauye

Ian Mitroff, Professor Emeritus, USC; Adjunct Professor, UC Berkeley; Author, Why Some Companies Emerge Stronger and Better from a Crisis Can M. Alpasian, Professor, College of Business and Economics, California State University, Northridge Kevin O’Malley, President, TechTalk / Studio – Moderator

In a world beset with global financial, climate and poverty crises, getting a good handle on the problems is as important as finding good solutions. What steps can we take to better anticipate and manage mega-crises, such as Haiti, Katrina and 9/11? Engaging with one of the fathers of modern crisis management, this panel will offer tools and frameworks you and your organization can use to deal more effectively with the interconnected “messes” and crises of today and tomorrow. MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

w ed 2 5 | S i l i c o n V a l l e y

California Supreme Court Chief Justice

The first Asian-Filipina American and second woman to serve as the state’s chief justice, Cantil-Sakauye will expand on her judicial philosophy and discuss the challenges of access to justice and the threats to an independent judiciary. Cantil-Sakauye has served for more than 20 years on California appellate and trial courts; she also chairs the Judicial Council of California, the administrative policymaking body of state courts, and the Commission on Judicial Appointments. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID) STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP Publication title: The Commonwealth. ISSN: 0010-3349. Filing date: October 27, 2011. Issue Frequency: Bimonthly. Number of issues published annually: 6. Annual subscription price: $34. Location of office of publication: 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. Location of office of general business office: 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. Name and address of Publisher: The Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. Editor: John Zipperer, Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. Managing Editor: Sonya Abrams, Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. Owner: The Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. Known bondholders, mortgages and other security holders: None.

2012 Silicon Valley Reads: One Book. One Community. Sumbul Ali-Karamali, Author, The Muslim Next Door G. Willow Wilson, Author, The Butterfly Mosque Mike Cassidy, Columnist, San Jose Mercury News – Moderator

Ali-Karamali and Wilson use their personal stories as jumping-off points to shed light on the Islamic faith, cultural traditions and misconceptions about one of the fastest growing religions in America. As young women in the United States, Ali-Karamali grew up Muslim and Wilson converted to the faith. Hear more about these authors’ lives, experiences and the complex issues they and other Muslims in the U.S. face. Location: Campbell Heritage Theatre, 1 West Campbell Ave., Campbell Time: 7 p.m. check-in, 7:30 p.m. program, 8:30 p.m. book signing Cost: FREE Also know: In association with the Santa Clara County Office of Education, Santa Clara County Library and San Jose Public Library Foundation

EXTENT AND NATURE OF CIRCULATION Avg. No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: Total number of copies (net press run): 11,582. Paid/ Requested Outside County Subscriptions: 10,247. Paid In-County Subscriptions: None. Sales Through Dealers & Carriers: None. Other Classes Mailed Through USPS: None. Total Paid Distribution: 10,247. Free Distribution by Mail: None. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail: 1,235. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution: 1,335. Total Distribution: 11,482. Copies not Distributed: 100. Total: 11,582. Percent paid and/or requested circulation: 89.24 percent. No. Copies Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date (October/November 2011): Total number of copies (net press run): 11,135. Paid/Requested Outside County Subscriptions: 10,235. Paid In-County Subscriptions: None. Sales Through Dealers and Carriers: None. Other Classes Mailed Through USPS: None. Total Paid Distribution: 10,235. Free Distribution by Mail: None Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail: 800. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution: 900. Total Distribution: 11,035. Copies not Distributed: 100. Total: 11,135. Percent paid and/or requested circulation: 92.75 percent. I certify that the statements above are correct and complete. John Zipperer, Vice President of Media & Editorial, October 27, 2011.

d ecem b e r 2011/j an ua ry 2012



January 26 – February 01 T h u 26 | San Francisco

T h u 26 | San Francisco

T h u 2 6 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

Thomas Frank

Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin: Tea Party Patriots Seeking a Second Revolution

Capitalism 2.0

Founding Editor, The Baffler; Author, What’s the Matter with Kansas? and Pity the Billionaire

Co-founders and National Coordinators, Tea Party Patriots; Co-authors, Tea Party Patriots

Sramana Mitra, Founder, 1M/1M Global Initiative

Mitra discusses how Capitalism 1.0 has been hijacked by speculators, and why entrepreneurial hubs should be democratized to increase the distribution of capitalism. She insists that the framework for capitalism needs to change and provides an overview for Capitalism 2.0. Mitra is the founder of the 1M/1M global initiative, a program to help mentor a million entrepreneurs to reach a million dollars each in annual revenue, build $1 trillion in global GDP, and create 10 million jobs by 2020.

The best-selling author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? takes a sardonic look at why he believes the the worst economy since the 1930s has brought about the revival of conservatism. When Frank set out in 2009 to look for expressions of American discontent at the collapsing economy, he said all he could find were loud demands that the economic system be made even harsher on the recession’s victims and that society’s traditional winners receive even grander prizes.

In 2009, an unemployed mother of two and a politically inexperienced California attorney met on a conference call that would result in one of the largest and most controversial political organizations in the U.S., the Tea Party Patriots. Party founders Meckler and Martin will explain how the Tea Party evolved, what the party is and what it is not, and the movement’s detailed plan to change the country.

Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students

Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students

T h u 26 | San Francisco

T h u 26 | San Francisco

Arts Forum Planning Meeting

Can You Hear Me? Giving Voice to LGBT Elders

Please join us and other arts enthusiasts for a discussion of programming ideas for the coming year. The Arts Member-Led Forum oversees Club programs in the fine arts, theater, dance and music, and hosts Club exhibitions.

Brian de Vries, Professor of Gerontology, San Francisco State University; Co-chair, Lesbian and Gay Aging Issues Network; Policy Advisor, AARP California James Hormel, First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador; Philanthropist; Senior Community Leader Catherine Dodd, Director of Health Services System, City and County of San Francisco Gustavo Serina, Commission on Aging and Adult Services, City and County of San Francisco

MLF: The Arts Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30-7 p.m. planning meeting Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Lynn Curtis

Location: SV Bank, 3005 Tasman Dr., Santa Clara Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students

An estimated 3 million LGBTQ elders live in the United States, with 25,000 living in the Bay Area alone. Many mainstream LGBTQ service providers do not have programs designed for seniors, and many senior centers are not prepared to address LGBTQ issues. To ensure that San Francisco meets the unique needs of these seniors, panelists will describe ways to encourage their civic engagement and amplify LGBTQ senior voices in government. Join us for a discussion with local LGBTQ senior leaders and advocates about where we go from here. MLF: LGBT Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Julian Chang



d ecem be r 2011/jan ua ry 2012

F r i 27 | San Francisco

T u e 31 | San Francisco

Women and the Arab Spring

What to Do When Words Don’t Work

Laila El Sissi, Memoirist, Out of Alexandria Lina Khatib, Ph.D. Political Communications; Manager, Program on Arab Reform and Democracy, Stanford; Author, Image Politics in the Middle East Aidah Aliyah Rasheed, Student, MFA, California College of the Arts Annick Wibben, Ph.D., International Politics, specializes in Security Studies and Feminist International Relations, University of San Francisco; Author, Feminist Security Studies Dina Ibrahim, Ph. D., Journalism; Associate Professor, San Francisco State University-Moderator

Across North Africa and the Middle East, people are struggling for a better life, freedom and equality. About half of the region’s inhabitants are under 30 and half of these are women. This distinguished panel will discuss the contributions by women to bring about monumental changes, the problems women face and what is hoped they will gain from the Arab Spring. MLF: Middle East Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Celia Menczel

w ed 0 1 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Robert Reich: Where is America Headed?

Humanities West Book Discussion: The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Come join us as Reich lays out his unabashed thoughts on the current administration, the nation’s economy and it’s cloudy future as another Presidential election looms near. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:15 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $15 members, $7 students (with valid ID). Premium (priority seating in the first few rows) $45 standard, $35 members Program Organizer: George Hammond Also know: Photography provided by Michael Collopy

In business, politics and life, we’re surrounded by “blah” – misleading and unintelligible words. And with the more words we hear, says Roam, the less we understand. Learn his method for becoming a better communicator through “vivid thinking” techniques. When words are accompanied by the right pictures, we will start to see and understand each other like never before. MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

w ed 0 1 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Professor, U.C. Berkeley; Former U.S. Secretary of Labor; Author, Aftershock

Dan Roam, Founder and President, Digital Roam Inc.; Author, The Back of the Napkin and Blah, Blah, Blah

Join us to discuss Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, with one eye on the Jungian archetypes on display in this Russian classic. The discussion will be moderated by Denise Schickel. Needless to say, the author will not be present. MLF: Humanities Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. discussion Cost: FREE Program Organizer: George Hammond

Foreign Language Groups

Free for members Location: SF Club Office

FRENCH, Intermediate Class Thursdays, noon Pierrette Spetz, Graziella Danieli, FRENCH, Advanced Conversation Tuesdays, noon Gary Lawrence, (925) 932-2458 GERMAN, Int./Adv. Conversation Wednesdays, noon Sara Shahin, (415) 314-6482 ITALIAN, Intermediate Class Mondays, noon Ebe Fiori Sapone, (415) 564-6789 RUSSIAN, Int./Advanced Conversation Mondays, 2 p.m. Rita Sobolev, (925) 376-7889 SPANISH, Intermediate Class Tuesdays, noon Nancy Esteva, SPANISH, Advanced (fluent only) Fridays, noon Luis Salvago-Toledo, (925) 376-7830

d ecem b e r 2011/j an ua ry 2012



February 01–03 Wed 0 1 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

T h u 02 | San Francisco

California’s Water Future

Chinatown Walking Tour

David Zetland, Author, The End of Abundance: Economic Solutions to Water Scarcity

How should California manage its water in the future and which incentives will motivate the biggest changes in conservation and agricultural efficiency? Which water policies and practices have backfired? Join water economist Zetland for a fresh perspective on how we can manage our most precious resource in the 21st century and what we can learn from past mistakes. MLF: Environment & Natural Resources Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Christie Jordan

Enjoy another Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure. Join Rick Evans for a memorable midday walk and discover the history and mysteries of Chinatown. Explore colorful alleys and side streets. Visit a Taoist temple, an herbal store and the famous Fortune Cookie Factory. There is a short break for a tea sample during the tour. Location: Meet at corner of Grant and Bush, in front of Starbucks, near Chinatown Gate Time: 1:45 p.m. check-in, 2–5 p.m. tour Cost: $45 standard, $35 members Program Organizer: Kristina Nemeth Also know: Temple visit requires walking up three flights of stairs. Limited to 12 people. Participants must pre-register.

F r i 03 | San Francisco

M on 0 6 | S a n F r a n c i s c o

Developing Leaders for a Complex World

Club Volunteer Orientation

Dr. Jennifer Berger Garvey, Partner, Cultivating Leadership; Author, Changing on the Job

How can we address the shortage of real wisdom and leadership in organizations and develop people who are more sophisticated, thoughtful and nuanced? Using realworld examples that bring concepts to life, Garvey offers tools to change the way you think about leadership and growth, and building blocks to support realizing your fullest potential and growing the capacities that organizations need. MLF: Business & Leadership Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley



The Club can’t function without the dedication of its volunteers. Help us keep public discussion alive. Event volunteers assist with greeting, ticketing, receptions, ushering, question cards, and timing programs for radio broadcast. If you’d like to attend the next volunteer orientation, please email The privilege of volunteering is reserved for Club members. Please include your name and contact information in the email. Location: SF Club Office Time: 6 p.m. orientation Cost: Free

d ecem be r 2011/jan ua ry 2012

Club Leadership OFFICERS of The Commonwealth Club of California Board Chair Dr. Mary G. F. Bitterman Vice Chair Maryles Casto Secretary William F. Adams Treasurer Anna W. M. Mok President and CEO Dr. Gloria C. Duffy BOARD OF GOVERNORS Jill Nash Dan Ashley Richard Otter* Massey J. Bambara Joseph Perrelli* Ralph Baxter Hon. Shirley Temple Black* Hon. Barbara Pivnicka John L. Boland Hon. Richard Pivnicka J. Dennis Bonney* Fr. Stephen A. Privett, S.J. Helen A. Burt Dr. Mohammad H. Qayoumi John Busterud* Dan C. Quigley Michael Carr Toni Rembe* Hon. Ming Chin* Victor A. Revenko* Jack Cortis Skip Rhodes* Mary B. Cranston** Dr. Condoleezza Rice Dr. Kerry P. Curtis Fred A. Rodriguez Dr. Jaleh Daie Renée Rubin* Evelyn S. Dilsaver Robert Saldich** Lee J. Dutra Joseph W. Saunders Joseph I. Epstein* George M. Scalise Rolando Esteverena Connie Shapiro* Jeffrey A. Farber Charlotte Mailliard Shultz Dr. Joseph R. Fink* George D. Smith, Jr. Carol A. Fleming, Ph.D. James Strother Lisa Frazier Hon. Tad Taube William German* Charles Travers Dr. Charles Geschke Thomas Vertin Rose Guilbault** Robert Walker Jacquelyn Hadley Nelson Weller* Edie G. Heilman Judith Wilbur* Hon. James C. Hormel Dr. Colleen B. Wilcox Mary Huss Dennis Wu* Claude B. Hutchison Jr.* Russell M. Yarrow Dr. Julius Krevans* Lata Krishnan * Past President ** Past Chair Don J. McGrath ADVISORY BOARD Karin Helene Bauer Hon. William Bradley Dennise M. Carter Steven Falk Amy Gershoni

Heather M. Kitchen Amy McCombs Hon. William J. Perry Ray Taliaferro Nancy Thompson


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Dear Commonwealth Reader, What a year this has been here at The Commonwealth Club! You heard David Brooks talk about mental illness, Bruce Bochy talk about winning the World Series, Belva Davis discuss her career in journalism, programs about immigration, Burning Man, health care, and an entire month of programs on India. This is why you belong to the Club: you care about ideas and facts and philosophies that help us to be better informed people, part of a stronger community. The world is moving forward at lightning speed; we all need to get the best possible information to keep up. As a member, your continued commitment shows how much you value the programs and discussions that happen here every week. That is why I ask you to consider making a donation today to help us continue as the oldest and most well-known public affairs forum in America. All of the Club’s activities are made possible by members, both through annual membership dues and special donations. When you think about how much the Club has meant to you, your family and your desire for impartial, thoughtful policy discussion, you will want to consider a year-end gift that reflects your regard for all the Club offers. Please take a moment right now to make a donation to your Club using the envelope in this magazine, and help us shine the light on the truth in the coming year, and for generations to come. Thank you for your membership! Wishing you a peaceful holiday season,

Mary Bitterman Chair, Board of Governors d ecem b e r 2010/Jan ua ry 2011



Blue- Skying It Is radical change of society the best way to deal with climate change? Two liberal environmentalists argue that it’s the only way. Excerpt from Climate One’s “Blessed 350,” September 8, 2011. Paul Hawken Author, Blessed Unrest BILL MCKIBBEN Founder, DALTON: Paul Hawken and Bill McKibben are bestselling authors of seminal books advocating a cleaner and healthier form of capitalism. McKibben’s 1989 book, The End of Nature, was among the first published on climate change and has been translated into 20 languages. His latest book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. He’s also a founder of, a grassroots organization pressing for deep cuts in carbon pollution. This summer, Bill McKibben led a group of 1,200 activists who were arrested in front of the White House protesting a proposed pipeline that will bring oil from the Canadian tar sands to refineries in the United States. In 1999, Paul Hawken coauthored Natural Capitalism, an influential critique of industrial capitalism that has been translated into 12 languages. He founded sustainable



GREG DALTON Director, Climate One; Vice President,

The Commonwealth Club of California – Moderator

food and energy companies, hosted a PBS series on socially responsive business, and remains active as an entrepreneur, consultant and author. His latest book is Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw it Coming. Let’s begin with the economy and growth. Jobs and economic growth are on people’s minds, and most people would say the way to get out of this recession or whatever we’re in is to grow consumer spending or government investment. Is that really [something an] environmentalist would say? Paul Hawken, is that the way out of our current predicament: growth, more and more? HAWKEN: We got into this predicament by artificially stimulating consumption for the last 40 years by a series of cascadingly bizarre debt instruments and using smoke

Decem be r 2011/jan ua ry 2012

and mirrors to have consumers believe that they actually had the money to spend and send to China for LCD TVs and things like that. What we saw in 2008 was the puncturing of that. That’s the real bubble; it’s a credit bubble. We’ll probably be experiencing for the next 10-12 years the unwinding of that credit collapse and the de-leveraging. That means the old levers wouldn’t work; giving people tax cuts or putting money in their pocket so they can spend it in WalMart is not going to get the economy moving again. In order to re-imagine what it takes to grow an economy, you have to first identify and change what we’re growing, because what we’ve grown has actually put us into this position in the first place. We’ve exported jobs and money, we’ve degraded our currency, and put the nation at great risk by its dependency not only in other coun-

is nothing growing there now. Everything was flooded and submerged; our best local farms were under water. We’ve got to take on these environmental challenges to have any hope of being able to do the kind of really interesting transformative economic work that’s possible now. DALTON: You mentioned limits to growth; that idea has been around since the Club of Rome in the 1970s, and some people would say hasn’t had a whole lot of impact, that even if some Americans bought into that, there’s a couple hundred million Indians and Chinese and Brazilians who want to grow into the middle class. Is that something that is inextricable, that can even be stopped? MCKIBBEN: One of the things that makes our predicament hard environmentally and economically is how unequal the world is. That kind of inequality, which has always been a sin, is also a great practical impediment; the dual challenges are reconfiguring Western economies so that they no longer [operate as a] planet wrecking dynamo and [instead] spend some of the money that we piled up in a hundred years of doing what we’ve been doing to help other economies figure out other paths forward. DALTON: Bill McDonough was here and he said recently, “It’s not okay to be just less bad.” A lot of environmentalists will say, “It’s okay; there is green growth.” Is it okay if it’s just less bad or is that not enough? HAWKEN: It’s a chicken-and-egg argument, because incrementalism will kill us, and there’s no way to get there except by increments. It depends on the way you look at it. The reason it’ll kill us is simply because of that rate of change. I prefer climatic volatility to climate change. Change sounds kind of interesting, and we all want change in our lives, but we don’t want to change climate. But it’s the volatility; you get not just extreme weather events but super storms like we saw in Pakistan, the super storm we saw in Europe last year, what we saw in Queensland in Australia and Cyclone Yasi just stunned the East Coast of Australia. When you get that kind of volatility, it makes it much more difficult to rationally move in increments, because the nature of human beings and the nature of institutions is that we can change what is. “This is okay, but we just change it, and we will make it better.” “We’ll do this, and we’ll screw in the

[green] light bulb,” and all that sort of stuff. None of those acts themselves is irrational, and they’re all helpful. But what happens is that you don’t step back as a human being and say, “Okay, but what do we really need to change?” What we need to change is the system, and the system cannot change until there’s a manifest crisis that is shared and the pain is shared. That’s just the way human beings are. I don’t know what it will be. The small farm may look inconsequential, but there’s no such thing as inconsequential action. There’s only consequential inaction. DALTON: We have some crises now unfolding. There’s droughts, there’s forest fires in increasing frequency and intensity. But are those waking people up in Texas in the Southwest or – HAWKEN: No, because strictly speaking you could say, “Well, that was an anomaly,” or, “That’s weather,” and there’s a difference between weather and climate. This is where, in a sense, the deniers can climb aboard and actually with some respectability say, “You cannot say this correlates.” Steven Schneider and many others [have said] that this is a pattern that you will see if climate changes happen. That pattern is absolutely happening. In fact, it’s happening in an accelerating way much quicker than any scientist had predicted; even the most radical [scientists] are now taken aback by the rate of change that we’re seeing. MCKIBBEN: It’s happening. It is breaking through the people’s consciousness. When the forest fires in Texas were at their height in late summer, the head of the Texas Forest

Decem b e r 2011/j an ua ry 2012

Event photo by Ed Ritger, all others by / Flickr

tries’ manufacturing but on oil and energy from other countries. Americans generally don’t respond to real systemic change until it’s a crisis, and this is a crisis. MCKIBBEN: If we back up a step and think about what our economy has consisted of since the end of World War II and this creative spectacular growth, the basic animating force of that economy was the task of building bigger houses farther apart from each other. That’s what we’ve spent more of our wealth on, and it’s a project that ended up being environmentally ruinous and socially ruinous too. The average American has half as many close friends as they did in the 1950s. That’s why, despite the fact that our standard of living has trebled, the number of Americans who say they’re happy with their lives is consistently down. The fact that we’re in a period of economic trauma probably is a good sign that we need to start thinking much more systemically about what we’re gonna do differently. My guess is that the economy we’re moving toward looks less to growth and durability and resilience and security, that it’s probably going to be far more that the trajectory will be more in a direction of local, instead of the ever-expanding outward globalism that’s relied on an endless supply of cheap fossil energy to make it possible. We’re in one of those really interesting moments that has a lot of promise, and the only real worry is that climate change is happening so fast that it may knock the props out from under the whole thing before we can get where we need to go. Just to give you the easiest example, the place you can see this new economy emerging is in food. It’s been wonderful to watch. The local food movement has grown and the number of farmers markets has doubled and then doubled [again]; that’s the fastest growing part of our food economy. Fast enough that last year, the USDA said there are actually more farms in America instead of fewer for the first time in 150 years, which is great. I live in Vermont, which is one of the headquarters, along with the Bay Area, of this sort of local food movement. When we had Hurricane Irene dump more rain on Vermont than ever has fallen there, it was a direct consequence of the fact that the warm air holds more water vapor than cold. When that happened, it wiped out every farmer in the state. There



Protesters for climate change gather in front of San Francisco’s City Hall.

Activists gather in Washington, D.C. to promote international climate reform.

Young Snorkelers on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, supporting

A bike parade in Hanoi, Vietnam on the Moving Planet International Day of climate action.

Fire Service said, “No one has ever tried to fight forest fires in conditions like these in human history.” He was right. With the exception of what happened in Australia a couple years before, there has never been recorded the sort of humidities that low, temperatures that high, wind speeds like that. When I’m around the country talking to mayors and things like that around the world, you can often get mayors interested; the people who had no problem at all understanding exactly what you’re talking about are the people who run public works departments in cities around the world, and it’s because the old books said, “You put in a six-inch culvert, and that’s going to handle any storm except for the 1-in-500-year storm,” and wherever they can, they are ripping out the six-inch culverts and putting in 10-inch ones because the 500-year-storm is coming every six months and they just cannot deal with it. DALTON: That’s going to cost a lot of money. We come back to governments that are broke. California in particular is starting to move toward resilience and adaptation while still pushing on mitigation. We’re getting ready for the storms that scientists and the models say will come our way. Talk about adaptation and how we can respond to these things and get ready, and actually drive more things to a more local level. MCKIBBEN: We have got two tasks now as a society. The interesting and powerful fun one – it takes all our creativity – is to figure out how to build these beautiful, resilient, interesting local and regional economies that can roll with the punches. That’s really where I wish I could spend all my time. That’s what I mostly write about, and Vermont where I live is a place like California, a leader in it. The second part of this task, the emergency part, is making sure that we don’t push the system so hard that that can’t happen. So far, we’ve raised the temperature of the planet one degree, but the climatologists are quite robust in their consensus that that will be four degrees by century’s end unless we get our act together very, very fast. You can’t adapt to change at that level. So we have got to adapt to that which we can no longer prevent, but even more important probably is to prevent that which there is just no way for us to adapt to. We’re already pushing the outer limits, I mean we’ve moved out of the Holocene [geological era], that 10,000 years of benign climatic stability that underwrote the rise of human civilization, and we’re into something else. The question is, How deep into that something else are we going to go? If you think it’s hard for us to adapt to those things in a place like California that has plenty of money, this is already a matter of life and death for people in place after place around the world. The horrible ethical irony is that the places hit hardest are the places that have done the least to cause the damage. DALTON: But do Americans really care? There’s been poverty in the Third World for a long time. MCKIBBEN: Not all Americans care, but a lot of Americans do. Most people understand that climate change is an incredibly serious problem about which we need to do something. I’m not worried about average people being willing to step up. Our problem is far and away caused by the fact that the fossil fuel industry, which is the most profitable industry on earth, has all the political, all the financial means at its disposal to keep us from taking action, and clearly they’re willing to use it. They are willing to keep going the record profits they are making for another five or ten years, even if it means the ruination of the planet. DALTON: You were in front of the White House in August. About 1,200 people were arrested. MCKIBBEN: What was interesting about it and about this whole

40 THE COMMO N WE AL TH to help Decem beclimate r 2011/jan ua ry 2012 Students gather in Cebu, Philippines spread awareness.

Tar Sands fight that’s been underway with many groups involved – including great groups from California like Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club – was it wasn’t the usual suspects who were out there getting arrested. We asked everybody when they signed up, we didn’t ask them how old they were ‘cause that would be rude to ask. We asked who was president when you were born. The biggest cohort came from the FDR and Truman years. DALTON: Bill McKibben, you’ve mentioned big fossil fuel companies, and it’s easy to blame big companies. But aren’t we ultimately driving a demand and we’re creatures of comfort? MCKIBBEN: Yeah, and that can go on for ever and ever. I mean, people; I think we sort of blame big companies for the wrong things. I get emails regularly from people saying someone’s invented a way to make energy with, you know, from water and Shell bought up the patent and they’re not [releasing it]; I don’t believe that. But what I do believe is that they’ve used their political power to prevent the series of conditions that would allow us to change relatively easily and quickly. We know the thing that we have to do. Everybody who’s ever looked at it knows that if you put a serious price on carbon to reflect the damage that it does to the environment, then we would begin to move much more quickly and gracefully in the right direction. DALTON: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. was here a couple of weeks ago and he said that he was defending the Obama administration, with which he advises. saying, “Well, Congress is in the grip of the fossil fuel companies that you just mentioned.” Is that true? Do you think that also the Obama administration has softened because of the resistance? HAWKEN: I would counter that argument. People understand he is handcuffed by Congress, but people don’t understand why his mouth is handcuffed. What we need from Obama is conviction and spine and a clear vision of the future, and that is totally absent. He has that bully pulpit anytime he wants it. No Congress can stop him from being a human being, and no Congress can stop him from being a father of two beautiful children saying, “I am going to do everything I can to ensure that my daughters have a livable world.”

MCKIBBEN: There are issues on which the Congress doesn’t get in the way. That’s one reason that we’ve focused so hard on this Keystone pipeline. Congress has not a thing to do with it. The president will either sign or not sign something called a Presidential Certificate of National Interest; if he doesn’t sign it, then they cannot build this pipeline. We’re doing our best to help him sort of nerve up to do it. They’ve done a couple of good things. We’ve got better mileage standards than we used to, and there was some money in the original stimulus bill for green things, [though] not anywhere near



is making sure that we don’t push the system so hard that [recovery] can’t happen.” –McKibbon as much money as say the Chinese put in to their similar stimulus bill. They’ve done a lot of bad things on their own. Earlier this year, they’ve opened up 750 million tons of coal underneath Wyoming for mining, and it wasn’t something Congress made them do, Ken Salazar and the president decided to do it. That’s the equivalent of opening 300 new coal-fired power plants. We can’t afford to be doing this any longer. Everything we know about the science of climate change is that we’ve got to keep carbon in the ground. DALTON: Bill McKibben, you were [at the Copenhagen climate conference], I was there. A lot of people were there hoping for a global deal, and yet now that seems not possible, perhaps not even desirable for the world to come together in a global deal. Is that still your hope? MCKIBBEN: There’s got to be, sooner or later, a global agreement of some kind. I mean I don’t think there’s any other. This is the first global problem that we’ve ever had. We’re not going to get America and China and the other big problems to agree without some serious pressure from the other countries of the world. Everybody’s going for the next sort of international negotiations to Durban this fall. Hopefully, one of

the things that will be happening there is the entire continent of Africa which – the top half of which is locked in a devastating drought right now – will be putting serious pressure on the world. That’s one of the things we do at is try to mobilize the whole planet. And most of that planet uses so little carbon that they don’t have any affective way in their own personal lives to change the outcome, but politically, they can put a lot of pressure on those of us who should be changing things. Copenhaghen – the movie did not end the way it was supposed to end. We had 117 nations that we managed to sign on to this 350 Parts for Million target. All right. That’s good but they were the wrong 117 nations, you know. They were all the poor and vulnerable ones, and the rich and addicted ones led by our country, undermined that meeting and have done nothing since. The State Department has been – even under President Obama, a complete and utter failure at getting any kind of international momentum going towards an agreement. We got to change that. Eventually, this is going to happen. Eventually, there’s going to be enough bad things that have happened that people all over the world will be saying “we have no choice but to do something.” HAWKEN: Greg, you talked about jobs, but if we just look at where we are right now and say “What would it take to achieve 450 [parts per million of carbon]” – and that is the cap at 450 before drawdown in 25 years. The first thing we have to do is stop increasing our use of energy. That’s about 16 terawatts right now. So in order to do that – and you can do the numbers yourself and play, it’s fun to do – but you will need 200 square meters or 15-percent solar panels every second for 25 years, and you need 50 square meters of solar thermal – DALTON: Building new ones, you’re saying? HAWKEN: Yeah. Every second for 25 years. And you would need one 3-gigawatt wind turbine every six hours for 25 years; you’ll need one Olympic-size swimming pool of biodiesel algae every second for 25 years. You’d need one new 100-megawatt geothermal plant every week for 25 years, and you’d need one 3-gigawatt nuclear power plant every week for 25 years. DALTON: Wow. HAWKEN: That’s the shopping list; you

Decem b e r 2011/j an ua ry 2012



can rearrange it any way you want. And that’s with population increasing by maybe 40 percent during that time. With many people in the world needing more energy, not less. We’re a 10,000-watt society. You divide 16 terrawatts into 7 billion, you’ll get just under 2,300 watts per person; that is the allocation that would be fair and just right now, and we’re way over that. So we have to think about what a 2,000-watt community looks like; actually, it looks fantastic because really it’s a source of innovation. We all have smart phones and things. But just think about the other things that you didn’t know. They were so kludgy and had such a big footprint not so many years ago. Remember the phones? You said “God, this phone number has a zero.” As if you can keep dialing zeroes, you know, on the rotary dial. Now it makes no difference; I mean, this little thing. So we know that in a sense, changing fundamentally our technology so that we do more with less is not a curse. It is a blessing. Again, we have a tremendous amount of lobbying and bizarre politics, in a sense convincing us that we do so at our peril, that we do so at risk to our economy,

ONLINE ELECTION Commonwealth Club Board of Governors The election of members of The Commonwealth Club Board of Governors for the 2012 term will be conducted online. The ballot will be available on The Club’s web site, from Wednesday, December 21, 2011 through Saturday, December 31, 2011, during which time Club members may submit their votes. Following the voting period, the votes will be tabulated, and a meeting of the membership will be held at 5:45 PM on January 11, 2012 (this date may change), preceding that evening’s program, at which the election results will be ratified by the members present. Please visit The Club’s web site between December 21 and December 31 and submit your vote for the 2012 term of the Board of Governors.



to our future, to our children, to our security. And the fact is that the truth is the other way around. AUDIENCE MEMBER: I have a question on that heavy duty carbon tax, which I like a lot. But often, the fossil fuel companies like to pass those taxes to the consumer. I would like to hear your strategy of preventing that to happen or make it as little as possible. MCKIBBEN: We want fossil fuel companies to pass the cost on to the consumers. That’s how it’s going to work. If you put a huge tax on Exxon for every barrel of oil or whatever it’s got, then you do want them to raise the price at the pump until Americans are paying what Europeans pay for gasoline. But you don’t want to bankrupt people in the process. That’s why that some of the most promising strategies in recent years for this kind of stuff fall into this rubric that we call like ‘cap and dividend’ or something like that. You take the money from Exxon and you write everybody in the country a check every month for their share. I mean if anybody owns the sky, we all do. Under most of those schemes, the people would put out, and Maria Cantwell, senator from Washington just had done sort of the most ambitious one so far. Eighty percent or so of Americans actually come out ahead. They begin to get enough money back that they actually have something to go put Paul’s solar panels up on their roof with, things like that. That’s probably in the long run. And some of these strategies are things are working pretty well. I was just up in Canada, and British Columbia has had a version of this now for a couple of years. The Economist just wrote an article explaining that it had been effective both in reducing carbon and in keeping people kind of mollified, that they weren’t being ripped off by the whole thing. The bottom line is, our tax system is very odd in that we tax things that we actually would like to encourage, employment say, instead of taxing things that we would really like to get rid off, like pollution. If we’re smart we can figure out how to do it in a sensible way. AUDIENCE MEMBER: My question is for Bill. If you could open up a section in your debating an idea I’ve been promoting for 30 years and if you can also respond in writing why you did that, and if not, respond in writing why you chose not to.

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AUDIENCE MEMBER: There was a bill in the Congress 30 years ago to challenge youth between 17 and 18 to think about doing some form of community service or military service. My proposal to the Congress was to establish a youth energy efficiency corps decentralized across the country, and since then, nearly every liberal I’ve encountered has rejected this idea, but not really clearly stated to me why they’ve rejected it. DALTON: Here’s your chance. Youth energy conservation corps. MCKIBBEN: I don’t know all the details of your plan, but the basic idea is good. and we’re seeing a lot of that start to happen. Some of it is coming right out of the Bay Area. Van Jones really did a tremendous job of getting this sort of connection between young people in poor places and the need to have those people out and employed, doing just this kind of work. We’re seeing the same things in a new company called Solar Mosaic, a nonprofit, it’s doing its first project in Oakland right now getting communities involved in financing this kind of transition. I got to tell you, my sense from around the world is it’s young people who are providing most of the leadership that we’re seeing on this issue. Certainly it’s true at 350. Everybody I worked with is 24 or 26 which is good because they have a lot more energy than I do. But that’s who’s leading the charge, it’s time for the rest of us to be catching up to them like that. AUDIENCE MEMBER: The United States got wealthy off fossil fuels and is not really willing to go with the Kyoto approach to pay any kind of reparations for the climate damage that we’ve already done. What can we hope for in terms of an agreement, if Obama goes ahead with the pipeline. and when the petroleum prices get too high and he opens the reserves to lower it, is there any way the United States can get up to the bully pulpit and say “Hey, let’s make a deal.” MCKIBBEN: At the moment, there’s no possibility for a global deal, just like there’s no possibility for anything happening in Congress right now. We’re clearly not there. That’s why our job is to build a political movement big enough to force our leaders to actually lead. This program was made possible by the generous support of ClimateWorks Foundation.

The Commonwealth Club Comes to the iPhone

Imagine having The Commonwealth Club in your pocket at all times. Now you can, with the brand-new Club app for iPhones. The Commonwealth Club app was created in response to member requests to have a handy way to know what events were happening today, tomorrow, and in the near future. This app gives users a handy two-week preview of upcoming events in a scrolling listing. To get more information, simply click on the event in the list that interests you, and you

will get a complete writeup. If you haven’t yet purchased tickets, you can either click a link to go to the full website or use the app’s “contact us” feature to call our reservations line right then and there. The app was designed and created by David Platt, a Club member and mobile app developer with more than 25 years of software development and tech industry experience. He is also the owner and winemaker at Canzona Vineyards, a small artisanal winery in the

Sonoma Valley, and a member of the organizing committee of the Commonwealth Club’s Asia-Pacific Affairs Member-Led Forum. David can be reached at by email at The Club app works on iPhone and iPod Touch; it will also display on iPads. The app requires iOS 4.3 or later. The free app can be downloaded from iTunes: Stay tuned for more iPhone and Android apps.

D E C E M B E R 2011/J A N UA RY 2012



making america competE



Decem be r 2011/jan ua ry 2012

g a E

The controversial founder of the congressional Tea Party Caucus comes to San Francisco to explain her plan for reviving American economic competitiveness. Excerpt from “Michele Bachmann: The Revival of American Competitiveness,” October 20, 2011. michele bachmann Congresswoman; Republican Candidate for

U.S. President

Bachman photo by Ed Ritger, Illustration by Nicholas Monu /


ow can America regain her competitive edge? Over the past few months, all of us have been rightly concerned about the high unemployment that too many Americans have been unfortunately experiencing in the midst of an economy that is continuing to stumble. But little-noticed by most Americans was a startling piece of news that was partially responsible for the grave economic times that we are experiencing. It’s the fact that America has slipped to the fifth place in the list of competitive nations. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid summed up quite nicely what I call the fantasy economics thinking that is dominating Washington, D.C., today, when Majority Leader Reid said, “It’s very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine. It’s the public-sector jobs where we’ve lost huge numbers, and that’s what this legislation is all about.” With all due respect, I say that that statement could be entered into Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Because that’s despite that fact that since 2007, private-sector job losses have been three times greater than government’s [losses]. Federal employees take home, on average, $126,000 annually, which is two and a half times the United States median. The United States of America is history’s most successful political and economic experiment. It’s proved that a nation rooted in free market competition has led the world in innovation in areas that have advanced the disciplines of medicine, science, technology. San Francisco has been the hub of much of that innovation. You’ve given much not only to this great nation, but to the world. You’ve made America’s quality of life second to none. That’s good, and that’s something we want to continue. But when government gets in the busi-

ness of choosing winners and losers, as in the case of Solyndra, then [it’s] our cash for the government’s clunkers, and worse, American competitiveness in the world becomes badly damaged. That’s the casualty. For America to gain our edge in the global economy, we have to fundamentally restructure how Washington, D.C., is spending our money – it’s not their moeny. We have to radically reform the tax code. We have to educate better; we’re not doing the job we need to do in education. We need to train our workers far better than we have before. We need to provide for more efficient movement of goods. We have to encourage fair trade relationships, and reduce unilateral regulatory barriers to entry into the marketplace. The passing of Steve Jobs saddens every one of us, I am sure, in this room. He was more than just the co-founder of this marvelous company, Apple. He was an icon who represented the greatest of competitiveness, and he never settled for constantly asking employees if they had produced their best possible product. That’s what we loved about Steve Jobs. We have always been about being on the cutting edge, leading the world in new ideas and the latest innovations. Steve Jobs represented that ideal at its best. Who could have imagined just a few years ago that in our hands or in your pocketbook would be a small device that would fit just in the centerpoint of your hand and would contain all of your music collection, your camera, a video camera, your photo collection, your phone, and an encyclopedia – all collected in one device. Who could have imagined? Steve Jobs imagined, and he and his team changed our world for the better. That Steve Jobs spirit still exists in the imaginations of young entrepreneurs trying to catch a break and get ahead today. A

Decem b e r 2011/j an ua ry 2012



Photo by Ed Ritger

Bachmann calls for more private innovation and less government spending.

recent Wall Street Journal article indicated that 77 percent of all students who were surveyed by Gallup about their aspirations want to be their own boss. That’s a good thing. The next generation of “Steve Jobs” is out there waiting to step up and drive the engine of American innovation and competition. Entrepreneurship is the fastest growing course of study on campuses nationwide. The desire to succeed remains in young people in America. But here’s the challenge: Many of these young people lack basic information and basic experience to enter the work force – their level of experience doesn’t equal their desire to succeed. The [problems of ] the United States Post Office prove why government should not displace proprietary functions. That’s what Steve Jobs practiced as one of the keys to his success. [He said,] “Simplicity, and saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.” Instead, the oxymoron of government-run businesses is that they say ‘yes’ to doing everything and will spend anything that’s taxpayer money, because they’re not driven by the need to produce a profit at the end of their balance sheet. Researchers, entrepreneurs and investors across the United States have been paralyzed by the current administration’s anti-business policies that have created severe uncertainty in the business climate. As president, I will signal by way of leadership to innovators that the time has come to once again unleash the genius of Adam Smith’s invisible hand, working to create the wealth of our nation. What drives investment and in-



novative ideas is a business environment that fosters it. My Real Jobs Right Now solutions are aimed at fostering [that] culture, which will turn our economy around and create high paying jobs that we need for 14 million unemployed Americans. Our ability to compete in the global economy begins with education. We must demand strong schools so that Americans enter the workforce with the skills they need to succeed. Education has always been the gateway to a better life in this country and our primary and secondary schools were long considered the world’s best. When I was a child of a single mother, it was education that was my ticket out. But on an international math test in 2003, U.S. high school students ranked 24th out of 29 industrialized nations surveyed. American educated scientists and engineers have historically been the driving force behind our tech revolution, but we’re not graduating enough of them. To keep our competitive edge, we have to raise the math and science skills of our students. College tuition prices are out of control. Our nation’s young entrepreneurs are graduating with enormous debt loads that often steer them away from pursuing a new business, and instead toward stable jobs that increase their ability to pay down their loans. I intend to increase our competitiveness by following [Ronald Reagan’s] blueprint for tax reform, which had as his core principle, which is my core principle, stopping taxes

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on investment and productivity. I would enable American companies to bring those earnings home and invest [them] here in America, a practice known as repatriation of American dollars. Repatriation and a low corporate tax rate would incentivize American businesses to return to manufacturing here. That would create millions of high paying jobs. Repatriation is a private stimulus to the U.S. economy not funded [by] taxpayers. My Real Jobs Right Now solutions call for massively cutting federal spending by eliminating government agencies; cutting taxes on investment and productivity, repealing $1.8 trillion in annual job killing regulations; spurring new investment in America; and finally enforcing America’s immigration laws – ending taxpayer subsidized benefits to those who break our laws and come into the United States illegally. To restore the United States’ competitiveness we must constrain the reach of government and protect the rights our founders gave their last measure of devotion to ensure. May each one of us as true servants of the people and most assuredly of our blessed constitution go and do likewise. We’ve always lived up to that challenge. Will we live up to that challenge in this generation? Question and answer session with Dan Ashley, anchor of ABC7 News and member of The Commonwealth Club Board of Governors ASHLEY: You expressed great concern over the threat from Iran. Please address your position on what’s happening in Pakistan. BACHMANN: I’m very concerned about the threat from Iran [and its] acquisition of a nuclear weapon. I say that because of the statements made by the president of Iran as recently as three weeks prior to speak[ing] to the UN Assembly. The statement was simply this: He sought the eradication of Israel from the earth. That is in tandem to [earlier] statements, saying that once Iran obtains a nuclear weapon they would use [it] to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and against the United States of America. Those are highly destructive statements that I believe should be taken seriously. Pakistan has been the staging ground for terrorists [and] terrorist training activities.

interview of the Occupy Wall Street [movement] and he had said, that of those that were demonstrators, 98 percent believe in civil disobedience and an excess of 30 percent believe in using violence to achieve those ends. I think that would be tremendously counterproductive for us to see that movement in the United States. What we need to do is get the economy moving. That’s what we need to do. We need jobs, we need the economy to function again; that’s quite simply what we need to do. ASHLEY: You often cite history and quote from our founding fathers. This country was founded on rebellion and civil disobedience in some respects; the Tea Party gets its name from the Boston – BACHMANN: But the Tea Party picks up its trash after it has a demonstration. There’s a difference. The Occupy Wall Street [movement] calls for more government spending and more government involvement in people’s lives. There was a call for the federal government to assume student loan debt. That’s a trillion dollars in debt, so the Occupy Wall Street is asking for more spending and more government as the answer to their problems; the Tea Party movement in high contrast is calling for less government and less spending so that individuals can solve their own problems. There’s a 180-degree difference between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. ASHLEY: Do you understand why people are on the street protesting? What does it say about the state of the country?

BACHMANN: I think again you’re looking at two different views of how to solve the current problem. And my Real Jobs Right Now plan, I don’t want to wait until I’m president of the United States, 14 months from now, I would happily give this plan to President Obama and say “Please, use this plan, put it into effect today” because the current plans and the plans that the president’s put into place during the course of his administration clearly have failed to turn the economy around. We need to try something different. We’ve seen massive increase[s] in spending, a massive, unprecedented increase in the level of government involvement in private business; it has been a miserable failure. Now we have to have a government that embraces what works: that’s free market solutions. It’s a framework of two philosophies. One says government directed solutions, focusing on temporary gimmicks, based upon government directed solutions. That hasn’t worked. I prefer permanent solutions, driven from the private sector. We saw that in the 1980s, we saw success with that philosophy. ASHLEY: Please tell us why you think the 9-9-9- tax plan would not work, and blending in another question, do you believe [Herman Cane’s] proposed 9-9-9- tax structure would hurt or help a family that makes less than $250,000 annually? BACHMANN: Yes, I believe it would hurt that family. I’m a former federal tax litigation attorney, also as someone who’s Photo by Sonya Abrams

Pakistan has also been engaging in proxy wars in Afghanistan. We need to take the issue of the Iranian threat extremely seriously because they’ve been able to come closer to achieving their goal. I sit on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. We deal with threats to the United States, both [inside and outside] our borders. While this election is about jobs and the economy, we cannot forget that there are very real national security concerns that also need to be a part of this. ASHLEY: An idea was expressed at the last Republican debate to get out of the United Nations. Your view on that? BACHMANN: I am not an isolationist. But I also believe that a lesson that we should learn from the last dozen years is that once the United States becomes engaged in a foreign entanglement, it is extremely difficult to extricate ourselves. We cannot be overextended. I believe also NATO needs to stand on their own two feet. I believe the United States needs to stop providing the defense forces for other nations. I stand with our military. We cannot ask them to do a job that is impossible, where we are so extended and they’re not resourced. We have to be extremely careful about which conflicts we choose to enter into. ASHLEY: Do you believe it was a mistake to get that involved in [Iraq and Afghanistan]? BACHMANN: I think that the most salient fact is the fact that last weekend we were looking at drawing down to only 500 troops that would remain in Iraq after this year, and their presence would be primarily to be trainers. We were just told this weekend in a statement that was stunning, we were rebuffed in effect by the Iraqi government, despite the fact that we have spent literally hundreds of billions of dollars but with the greater cost being the loss of American life on behalf of liberating this nation and the people; we found out in a stunning rebuff that the Iraqi government said they would not grant immunity to those 5,000 who would remain behind. We cannot put American soldiers in [that] situation. ASHLEY: Would you please comment on the Occupy Wall Street movement? BACHMANN: I think this is something that was very remarkable. In an editorial that came out earlier this week by Doug Schoen, who is a Democrat strategist and also a Democrat pollster, he had done an

Press filled the back of the Blue Room for the Minnesota Congresswoman’s speech. Decem b e r 2011/j an ua ry 2012



created a business and runs it properly, but also as a member of Congress: I have seen up close and personal what the Congress is capable of when it comes to taxes. First of all, as an overview, the [9-9-9] plan [that] was proposed was a tax plan. It’s not a jobs plan: Mine is an overall economy recovery plan that also contains a tax plan, but we need more than just changing the tax code in order to spur job creation. That will be part of the answer, but not the entirety. Here’s what the problem is with the 9-9-9 plan: First of all, you’re looking at giving Congress a brand new tax. Congress instituted the Spanish-American War tax back in 1898: we still have the SpanishAmerican War tax today. We couldn’t even repeal it in 2006. Here’s the other thing you need to know: When the income tax was instituted with the 16th Amendment in 1913, the top tax rate was 7 percent. By 1980 the top tax rate was 70 percent. Tax rates don’t stay where they’re at, and if you have a new administration come in, which we had in 2008 where one party controls the White House and both sides of Congress, very quickly you will see the 9-9-9 go to 15-15-15 or 39-39-39 or 49-49-49. The other thing you need to consider is this is in effect a value added tax. This will hurt American production. When we have foreign products coming into the United States, there will be one 9 percent sales tax when they enter and when they’re sold. Contrary to American-made products, that are manufactured here, when one component of the product is made and then sold to a vendor, that’s a 9-percent sales event, and then the next value is added to that product and it’s sold to the next vendor, that’s a 9-percent sales event. So in effect you have a value added tax which means that American competitiveness is reduced. This will kill American jobs. We don’t need that. One thing that hasn’t come out yet is the empowerment zones that are a part of this plan. Empowerment zones sound good in theory. They lower the tax for some people, but not for others. So some people are more equal than others in the 9-9-9 plan. Costs are shifted and are born by some Americans that aren’t born by other Americans. My plan is to flatten the tax for all Americans. Every American should pay something even if it’s a dollar. We all benefit



by this magnificent country. Today, only 53 percent of Americans pay federal income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay nothing. Everyone should pay something, even if it’s a dollar. ASHLEY: A question from the audience: Would single-payer health care improve the environment for true competitive capitalism in this country? BACHMANN: Well, single-payer health care is another way of saying socialized medicine. Ultimately, that’s what Obamacare will give us, because we will see in all likelihood the private insurance market collapse, and then government will take over health care. This is one-sixth of the American economy. Already the administration has admitted that Obamacare is a failure. Last Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary


last thing we

need right now is more programs that are going to bankrupt



Kathleen Sebelius said that the portion of Obamacare known as CLASS – that deals with long-term care, that’s dealing with nursing homes – can’t work; the numbers don’t work; it’s a bankrupt program. She said therefore “we, the Obama administration, will not put forward the CLASS Act.” there must have been some bickering behind closed doors, because the Obama administration came out and repudiated the secretary of Health and Human Services and said they will go full-speed ahead. In other words, they will go full-speed ahead with a program we know will bankrupt the country. The last thing we need right now is more programs that are going to bankrupt the country. ASHLEY: You spoke about what you called massive government overregulation, including the Environmental Protection Agency. This comes from the audience: How do we balance economic growth with environmental stewardship? BACHMANN: We have to make sure that

Decem be r 2011/jan ua ry 2012

we continue to maintain clean air and clean water. But we also see that the EPA has been the centerpoint for killing jobs in this country in the last few years. We’ve seen the increase in bureaucracy and the regulatory burden. Even the Obama administration had to admit that in the last month or two. They had regulations that in effect would have closed down 20 percent of all the electricity generating plants in the United States that are coal-fired plants. So they had to pull back on the regulatory burden We have to introduce common sense. The United States has come up with the innovations that have helped preserve the environment. There is no one in this room who wants dirty air [or] dirty water. We all want the same thing. But it’s through innovation, competitiveness, that we find new ways to keep the environment clean. I want to unleash the technology so we can solve the problems. ASHLEY: As our next president, what would be your immigration policy? BACHMANN: I would enforce the immigration policy. We have very good laws on the books on immigration. The problem is that the United States is not currently enforcing those laws. Also, there’s a tremendous cost to illegal immigration in the country. It costs the taxpayer $113 billion a year. Here in California, you bear that more than most states. The state and local governments bear the cost of $82 billion in taxpayer-subsidized benefits for illegal aliens. That works out to approximately $1,000 per household. That’s a very real cost and it’s hurting American competitiveness. When I say that, it’s not to say that the United States is anti-Hispanic or that I see a racism in the United States. I go to states all across the United States. When I talk to people about this issue, I don’t see bigotry when people talk about this. They’re concerned about losing economic competitiveness, and they’re worried about the tax burden this is putting on the state and local governments. It’s also a national security issue. There are 59,000 [people] other than Mexicans who crossed America’s borders last year. This includes people who are coming into the Unitesd States illegally from countries that are state sponsors of terror. Also, we have a very real narco-terrorism war on our southern border that has to be dealt with.

Letters Mayoral Feast

Kudos to Caroline Moriarity Sachs and Inforum for outdoing themselves in [the October 6, 2011] program, “The Race for Mayor 2011.” Not only did all 16 mayoral candidates appear live and follow a strict, if not unusual format – the panel moderator, Melissa Griffin, brilliantly engaged each of them on a myriad of San Francisco’s core issues. Griffin and Mistress of Ceremonies Beth Spotswood brought humor and excitement to more than two hours of political debate. I came away with a better understanding about how to choose the candidates that will get my vote.

Judy McCarthy Langley San Francisco

Questioning Bachmann

First, I’d like to say that I love the Commonwealth Club and I plan on being a long-time member.

That said, I’d like to register a complaint about the Michele Bachmann program. I was very disappointed with the toothlessness of the Q&A. I cannot believe that no difficult questions were submitted. I submitted two questions myself: When he was in office, Anthony Weiner was criticized for burning through his staff at an incredible rate. In your just five years in office, you have had at least five chiefs of staff and now your campaign manager resigns, two of whom have been harshly critical of you – an alarming rate of change that is highly unusual in Congress. How can you be expected to manage a federal government with over 2 million employees when you seem to be having some trouble maintaining a 12-person staff? What [does this]say about your ability to lead others? Excluding non-binding resolutions honoring Minnesota’s 150th anniversary and the merits of foster parent work, you have never passed a substantive bill in the House or even

in committee. Recently, you had missed 88 consecutive votes. But a Humphrey School analysis – from the University of Minnesota – once showed you to be a very regular fixture as a cable television talking head since you came into office. How can you run for president on such a thin, perhaps even non-existent record of accomplishment? How do you defend your apparent greater propensity to appearing on TV than actually crafting legislative solutions? I understand these questions were a bit long, but they could have been asked more succinctly. Instead we got questions like “What do you think about Pakistan?”

Keith Carter San Francisco, CA

The Commonwealth magazine welcomes letters to the editor. Include your name and address. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

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d ecem b e r 2011/ j an ua ry 2012



InSight Beyond the Occupy Movement Dr. Gloria C. Duffy

Photo courtesy of Gloria Duffy

President and C.E.O.


he Bay Area was host to numerous street protests this fall, stimulated by the Occupy Wall Street movement. In addition to marches in downtown San Francisco, many outlying cities have seen their own demonstrations. As the protests spread to Occupy Monterey, Occupy Santa Rosa, Occupy San Jose and Occupy Oakland, some of them turned violent. Occupy Oakland shut down the port and resulted in clashes between law enforcement and demonstrators in which some serious injuries occurred. Obviously the banking and financial practices of the past few years, ranging from rip-offs like Mr. Madoff’s to sub-prime mortgage lending resulting in widespread home foreclosures, are sparking concern among the American public. This has probably been the period of deepest unrest we’ve seen here since the anti-war protests of the late 1960s and 1970s. A number of factors led to the financial mess resulting in the current, persistent recession. Trends in the international economy, such as the entry into the job market of millions of new workers in the post-Soviet, post-Maoist and developing world economies, drove down wages and created competition for the United States. Credit was too lenient, both to consumers and homebuyers, racking up too much debt. Government borrowing ballooned the federal deficit. The Obama administration, the Congress, the private sector and non-profits are making efforts to address what went wrong in the U.S. economy. Deficit reduction, infrastructure projects, tightening credit, repatriating jobs and better educating the public about financial choices are all significant ways of getting this problem under control and preventing future economic meltdowns. However, these steps will not address one of the root problems that has contributed to this mess. To have the level of financial dislocation we have experienced, and have it persist well beyond the normal period of a down business cycle, means that we have some systemic problems in the United States that need to be addressed. One of these is that our system of politics and government is no longer very effective at responding to challenges in the economy or addressing crises such as the financial meltdown. Extreme partisan bickering has precluded timely solutions. But at an even more fundamental level, ethical lapses throughout our society are having a negative impact on our economy. Our values



d ecem be r 2011/ jan ua ry 2012

are not supporting a healthy economy at this time. You might ask, How do ethics affect an economy? David Callahan, a Princeton Ph.D., founder of the Washington, D.C., research institute Demos, and author of the recent book The Cheating Culture, has described how cheating and rule-bending are occurring in nearly every aspect of the American economy. Callahan has studied what he identifies as systematic cheating in over 30 different areas across numerous sectors and professions in American life. These include sports doping, workers comp fraud, pension abuses, Ponzi schemes, insider trading, scientific misconduct and accounting fraud. The professions in which he finds significant cheating include law, medicine, accounting, business, real estate, finance, politics, the media and education. Enron, Bernie Madoff, Arthur Anderson and Eliot Spitzer are just a few of the names prominently associated with cheating scandals in recent years. The effects of widespread cheating on the economy are to create an uneven playing field for citizens that disadvantages those who play by the rules. Perceptions of an uneven playing field may decrease incentives for people to work hard, start small businesses or strive to succeed. Falsifying loan qualifications to make subprime mortgages may have temporarily inflated the income of certain mortgage sellers, but in the end it has led to foreclosures, bank failures and negative effects on homeowners and communities. Cheating takes down companies when scandals are exposed, cheating on income taxes denies the government funds needed to operate, and cheating generally creates dysfunction in our economy. Callahan traces what he calls the “cheating culture” to a “winnertake-all society.” in which individuals are so determined to get ahead that they bend the rules in order to do so. He notes that the penalties for cheating are not high enough to deter it, and that most cheaters get away with cheating. But one does not even have to ascribe the cheating to this cause to accept Callahan’s position that it is happening and to conclude that the effects on our economy are negative. Callahan has set up a website to expose cheating in America in all its forms and to discuss solutions, and it’s worth reviewing at To pull out of the present economic morass, where job recovery is still not happening for many Americans and the majority of those previously eligible for unemployment benefits have now exhausted their coverage, we need to go beyond deficit reduction and tinkering with the national budget. We need to address both the ability of our political system to produce results that keep our economy and country strong, and how to restore the underlying values that are needed to support a vital economy.

Commonwealth Club Travel

Botswana Safari Desert Sunset, Delta Dawn

Study leader, Dave Hamman

May 17-27, 2012 Considered by many to be Africa’s ultimate safari destination, Botswana is revered for its breathtaking landscapes, spectacular wildlife and luxurious tented camps. Discover the best that Botswana has to offer, from the vast Kalahari Desert to the fertile Okavango Delta. • Explore with our leader, photographer and author, Dave Hamman, one of Southern Africa’s top naturalist guides. • Search for black-maned lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, cheetah, and the exceedingly rare African wild dog. • Enjoy a cultural experience with the Bushmen of the Kalahari. • Watch for lions passing right under the camp’s walkway and elephants splashing in the river while you dine.

• Fall asleep to the sound of hippo crunching on water lettuce just outside your door and awaken to the songs of hundreds of birds welcoming a new day. • Take a serene ride down the quiet waterways of the Okavango Delta on a traditional mokoro. • Enjoy sundowners in the bush while taking in impressive views of the surrounding landscape. • Optional pre-trip extension to Cape Town and post-trip extension to Victoria Falls are available.

From $6,895 per person, based on double occupancy, not including airfare. CST: 2096889-40

For Information & Reservations: visit call (415) 597-6720 email

The Commonwealth Club of California 595 Market Street, 2nd Floor San Francisco, CA 94105

Purchase event tickets at


or call (415) 597-6705 or (800) 847-7730 To request full travel itineraries, pricing, and terms and conditions, call (415) 597-6720 or email


Jan 12

Walter Isaacson Talks Steve Jobs

Amy Chua: Tale of a Tiger Mother

Walter Isaacson

CEO, the Aspen Institute, Former Chairman and CEO, CNN; Former Editor, Time; Author, Steve Jobs

Amy Chua Author, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother; John M. Duff Professor of Law, Yale Law School

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was a visionary and an inspiration, with his products fusing technology and design in unprecedented ways. But much of the fiercely private businessman’s life was obfuscated by rumor and legend. Drawing on more than 40 interviews with Jobs himself, critically acclaimed and bestselling Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein biographer Isaacson presents a remarkable new account of Jobs.

Parenting in public is a gutsy move, and no one knows that better than Chua. The Yale Law School professor’s 2011 memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, took an honest and often provocative look at the rewards – and the costs – of raising her children the strict “Chinese” way. Join us as best-selling author Chua talks about the parenting cultural divide, her struggles and aspirations as a parent, and what it really means to be a tiger mother.

for event details, see page 29

for event details, see page 30

Jan 19

Jan 20

Dave Barry/Alan Zweibel

Annual Economic Forecast

Dave Barry Humor Columnist; Co-author, Lunatics Alan Zweibel Former Writer, “Saturday Night Live”; Co-

Dr. Michael Boskin Professor of Economics and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Chair, President’s Council of Economic Advisers under President George H.W. Bush

author, Lunatics

Beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Barry and quirky Thurber Prize-winning writer and “SNL” alum Zweibel take you on a literary journey of inspiration and mayhem. In a world filled with jerks and morons, the protagonists of their new book collide in a swiftly escalating series of events that will send them running for their lives. Experience the world through the eyes and words of these award winning humorists. for event details, see page 31

Dr. Christina Romer

Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley; Immediate Past Chair, President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers

A lively discussion with two former top presidential economic advisors on where the U.S. and global economies are headed and what should be done to put them on track. for event details, see page 32

The Commonwealth Dec-Jan 2012  
The Commonwealth Dec-Jan 2012  

Ford Motor Co. Exec. Chairman William Clay Ford, Jr., talks cars and climate; GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann pitches a jobs pla...