On Dr. Muhammad Yunus Being Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Statement From The Office of President Bill Clinton
Hillary and I first met Muhammad Yunus when I was Governor, and he inspired us to create a micro-finance program in Arkansas based on his model. Muhammad proved that the poor are credit worthy and that a micro-finance effort can be self-sustainable, create growth and spread peace. I was especially pleased that he participated in this year's Clinton Global Initiative. Because of his efforts, millions of people, most of them women, have had the chance to improve their lives and we are all better off as a result. I have thought for years that he deserved the Nobel Peace prize. The committee could not have selected anyone better.
At Jan. 29, 2002 talk by former President Bill Clinton at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.
The United States funded two million micro enterprise loans a year in poor countries, small loans to poor village people, a program pioneered by the great Bangladeshi economist, Mohammed Yunus with the Grameen Bank, a man who long ago should have won the Nobel Prize. I'll keep saying that until they finally give it to him. We should fund five times that many, maybe ten times that many. I've been in little villages in Africa where the local village person charged with keeping up with all the micro credit loans would run into the thatched hut and come out and show me his accounts and show me what everybody was doing with their money. And it can make a big difference...
Here is full Speech of former President Bill Clinton
This is a transcript of the Jan. 29, 2002 talk by former President Bill Clinton at the University of California, Berkeley. Clinton spoke at Zellerbach Hall, was introduced by Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl, and was subsequently interviewed by Journalism School Dean Orville Schell. California Gov. Gray Davis also spoke at this event.
29 January 2002
CHANCELLOR ROBERT M. BERDAHL: Good afternoon. Welcome. Our house is filled today with many friends and honored guests. And our hearts are fill with pride, at this significant campus community. Today, we bring together leadership and learning, as we always have done at Berkeley.
We owe a debt of gratitude to many people for making this event possible. But let me offer special thanks to three people, without whom today would not have been possible. Susie Thompkins-Buelle and her husband, Mark Buelle, And Dean Orville Schell of our School of Journalism.
We're also very pleased to be joined today by leaders of our local community, leaders of the state, by distinguished members of the California Legislature, including Speaker of the California Assembly, Robert Hertzberg.
I have the pleasure of introducing first this afternoon, a leader whose vision for California has placed education first, and whose record of accomplishments in office proves that. California Governor Gray Davis has fought for education at all levels throughout his public life. As Governor, he has recognized that the future of California not only depends upon a well educated populace, but also upon investment in research. In a visionary plan, the envy of public universities all across America, he has created four major research institutes within the University of California. Berkeley has benefited from this investment as the lead campus in the Center for Information Technology in the Interest of Society, and with UCSF as a major participant in the Bioengineering, Biotechnology and Quantitative Biology Research Institute. These institutes, along with other cutting edge research at the University of California will lay the foundation for the future of California in the nation's ec onomy. We're grateful for his visionary leadership and support for education and honored by his presence here today. Please join me in warmly welcoming the Governor of the State of California, a great friend of the University, the Honorable Gray Davis.
GOVERNOR GRAY DAVIS: Thank you. Mr. Chancellor, why aren't the journalists so nice in Sacramento? This is a wonderful reception, thank you all very much. Chancellor, thank you for your leadership. President Clinton, thank you for gracing us with your presence and for all you did for America as our President. Speaker Hertzberg, thank you very much for the wonderful working relationship we've had during your speakership. Very few people know how much Bob Hertzberg has contributed to this society. We together had to deal with the energy crises. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Bob was a true partner and a stand-up guy. Please give Bob a round of applause.
I may not have everyone who is in attendance, but I'm told Superintendent Delaine Easton is. She's a wonderful partner, as Superintendent of Public Instruction, thank you so much. I'm told that Mayor Brown of Oakland is here. I was just with him earlier. And if he's here, I thank him for being here. Mayor Shirley Dean of Berkeley. Thank you, very much, Mayor, for being here. And, of course, Dean Orville Schell, a wonderful friend of mine for 20 years.
I just have three quick observations. First of all, I've been so well received at Berkeley on the two occasions I've come here, it tells me that Berkeley not only is arguably the finest institution of higher learning in the world, but fully understands the phrase, 'the possibility of redemption. 'The reason I know that is my first appearance is at the invitation of your Chancellor to speak at Charter Day, which was a great honor, particularly for a graduate I hate to say it of Stanford. But people gave me a chance. They treated me warmly afterwards. So I know Berkeley understands that youthful indiscretions are one thing, what matters is what you do with the rest of your life.
And, secondly, I want to make an observation about President Clinton. We all know the tremendous leadership he provided the economy he helped to stimulate and encourage through fiscal restraint and good public policies, his commitment to education, to health care; let me just mention the SCHIP program, which was a real dream of his, to make sure that the children of working poor have health insurance. And I'm very pleased, we've moved that program from 50,000, when it was just getting started when I became Governor, to 500,000 now. So lots of people are benefiting from his idea.
But let me tell you how we can also solve problems. We just came that's why I was pleased that Mayor Brown is here, as I was just with him as we dedicated the beginning of repairing the Bay Bridge after the '89 earthquake. That's been a decade, 12 years, whatever it's been. There were all kinds of different disputes on both sides of the Bay, as to how that bridge should be designed, what it should look like, what kind of development should or should not occur at either end. And, finally, it prevailed upon all the mayors, not just the Mayors Brown, but all kinds of mayors on both sides of the bridge: let's all be bound by whatever the Corps of Engineers believes is the right design. CalTrans had a design that pre-dated my governorship; Mayor Brown has his view; the Corps of Engineers had their view; the Navy had their view; various mayors, Mayor Jerry Brown had his view; other people had their view we gave them all to the Corps of Engineers, and the president said, he said, 'Gra y, we'll be happy to do the study. If you'll pay for it, we'll be happy to do the study.' So they did the study. And the Corps of Engineers concluded that the design pre-dating me, by the Department of CalTrans, was actually the seismically best design. And so we, today, ended 12 years of talking and started building the bridge. It will be the largest public works project in California, employing 67,000 people. And it will literally be the safest bridge in America, designed to withstand an 8.5 earthquake and still be operational. So it's a tremendous undertaking, and we might still be talking about it if President Clinton hadn't helped intervene to resolve this dispute. So that's just one of his many achievements that may have escaped your notice.
Finally, let me just echo the Chancellor's comments about our Centers of Science and Innovation. I believe that our institutions of higher learning, particularly the University of California, offer young people wonderful opportunities to reach their full potential. And for decades they've been doing that. But for the last two or three decades, they've also been reinventing the future, creating economies that didn't exist before. And, in part, Silicon Valley was a vehicle to commercialize ideas that came out of Berkeley, UCSF and Stanford. Something called the Stanford Research Institute played a role in taking ideas and putting them in commercial form. People don't know this, but virtually every engineering company in America then then being at the end of World War 2, going into the 50's was located in Chicago. But when they saw all this synergy existing in the Bay Area, one by one, the moved out to the Bay Area because they wanted to be close to the source of new ideas.
Well, I wanted to take that model and recreate it for the technologies of the future. So we've created four Centers of Science Innovation, which are research institutes on UC campuses. All the campuses competed for different technologies, and the nine campuses actually made about 13 or 14 proposals, as they joined with other campuses. I'm very pleased that Berkeley on Information Technology; UCSF, also Berkeley, partnering on Bioengineering, Biomedicine; UCLA partnering with UCI on their Institute of Nanosystems nano being the smallest particle in the universe; and San Diego being Telecommunications, are the four research institutes that will help develop products, push back the frontiers of knowledge, and 25 years from now, people will say, 'This is the best thing the Davis Administration ever did.'
The last think I'll share with you I was at a Symposium on Innovation in San Diego, and the President of M.I.T. came up to me, and he said, 'Governor, you may think I'm here to speak at the symposium. I'm really here to study your Centers of Science and Innovation.' I thought, 'We're on the right track, if M.I.T. is thinking of copying us.'
So I'm delighted that Berkeley is one of the four centers. This has been a pioneer of thinking, new ideas and innovation for years and years, over a hundred years. And I'm thrilled to be a part of this day, which is honoring President Clinton. Thank you for inviting me.
CHANCELLOR BERDAHL: Thank you very much, Governor Davis, and thanks for the bridge. You've been building bridges all term, so we're really delighted for that.
Berkeley has hosted many world leaders and United States presidents throughout the years, beginning with Benjamin Harrison in 1891, who actually was so out of sorts by the time he got to the Berkeley campus because of the dust and the rough roads over which his carriage had to pass, that he declined to descend from the carriage and greet anyone. Presidents couldn't get away with that, I think, these days. But then he was followed by Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, and Harry S. Truman. The last United States president who spoke on the Berkeley campus 40 years ago, this spring, was John Fitzgerald Kennedy. President Kennedy understood intrinsically, the relationship between leadership and learning. And that was the central theme of the speech that he was to deliver in Dallas on November 22 nd, 1963. Berkeley provided such intellectual firepower to the Kennedy Administration, that JFK said in his address on Charter Day, 1962, to th e campus, "I am forced to confront an uncomfortable truth, that the new frontier may well owe more to Berkeley than to Harvard." To which we can only say, 'Go Bears!'
Berkeley's influence grew again during the Clinton Presidency, as numerous members of our faculty served in the Administration. Among them, our economists Laura Tyson and Janet Yellon, had a profound role in successfully shaping the economic policies that provided the remarkable economic growth of the 1990's.
William Jefferson Clinton first campaigned for office and later governed from the Oval Office, in order to provide economic opportunity to more Americans. In his words, he saw early on "the huge vast pent-up potential of the American economy." "If I didn't get the economy going," he said, "nothing else would matter in the end."
During his presidency, Bill Clinton oversaw the longest economic boon in American history. A 50% expansion of the economy in real terms; a decline in unemployment to 4%, marking a 40-year low; and the creation of 15 million new jobs in America. During his presidency, the United States moved from record deficits to record surpluses. Some would say this was merely good luck, and, no doubt, some luck was involved. But it should be now apparent to all, it was also the result of prudent tax policies and prudent expenditure policies.
Another profound transformation of the economy was underway as the Information Age emerged from Silicon Valley and became global by the end of the century. When he took office in 1993, few had heard of the Internet. By the time he left office, the whole world was connected. The basic idea of economic progress, the foundation of the American dream assumed global dimensions. In the New Economy, progress fueled by knowledge holds the dreams of children in future generations in countries all across the earth. For that reason, perhaps William Clinton has been called the First Globalist President.
Since leaving office, he has visited more than 20 countries, carrying a message of renewed dedication to the goals of economic empowerment of poor people; racial, ethnic and religious reconciliation; and citizen service. Throughout his life he has embodied Herculean persistence and endurance in public service. He once said, "There's a lot to be said for showing up everyday and trying to push the rock uphill. If you're willing to win in inches, as well as in feet, a phenomenal amount of positive things can happen. If you love your country and have something you want to do, and you put together a good team, and you're willing to be relentless and exhaust yourself in the effort, the results will come."
Indeed they have. And we are honored by the presence of such inexhaustible leadership and vision in this hallowed place of learning here today. In honor of monumental public service, Berkeley has historically reserved its most prestigious award, the Berkeley Medal. As Chancellor, on behalf of the University, I am delighted to both welcome former President Bill Clinton here today, as well as bestow on him for his lifetime of service to society, the Berkeley Medal.
Please welcome our newest Golden Bear, President Bill Clinton.
PRESIDENT WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON: Thank you. I would be willing to bet that was the nicest welcome ever given to a Stanford parent. I am delighted to be here. Thank you, Chancellor, for the wonderful medal and the great honor. Thank you, Governor and Dean Schell.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to be here, and honored by the invitation to speak. I first came to this campus as a visitor in 1971, before most of you were born. It was an interesting time to be on the Berkeley campus, a time when as has become traditional, the students here were challenging the status quo and determined to change the future. I met on the street a man who was then a very famous author from back east, named Charles Reich, who wrote a book called The Greening of America. And I was about three blocks from here when Richard Nixon announced that he was imposing wage and price controls. That would make him a left wing Republican in today's context. A lot has changed in 30 years.
I admire this school very much for the remarkable contributions you have made to America, to California, and I want to especially thank my long-time friend, Governor Davis, for the support of these Institutes of Science and Innovation, especially the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society here, and the Health Science Initiative to turn breakthroughs in biomedicine into longer lives for people. So I am very happy to be here.
Now, Dean Schell told me when I came out that after I finish speaking they're going to be taking questions from the audience, then we're going to go over there and sit as if we were in our living room, in this intimate little setting, and I'm going to answer the questions. So what I think I will do is to try to shorten the remarks that I was otherwise going to give, so we can leave more time for your questions. But I have a few points that I want to make.
Since I left office, I have tried to go around America and around the world, first, working on things that I cared deeply about as President, the economic empowerment of poor people in Harlem and Lower Manhattan after September 11 th; in India, where we have established a foundation to try to rebuild Bhuj in Gujarat. On education, Senator Dole and I after September 11th, launched a fund to raise enough money to guarantee a university education for spouses and children of all the people killed or disabled on September 11 th. And we're about 90% of the way home, and I feel very good about that. On racial and religious reconciliation, I've just come back from the Middle East, and we just had my Foundation's first event at NYU this year on 'Islam and the Modern World.' I went to Ireland last year to try to help the process along there, in what was otherwise a very dreary year for peace. I think the Irish have made now an irrevocable commitment that wil l not be reversed, and for that I'm very grateful. And I'm trying to expand AmeriCorps here in America. And President Mandella and I have been working on a project to bring AmeriCorps to South Africa, so they will have a community service program there for young people, where people will work together across racial lines for an extended period of time.
But I also, even before September the 11th, was making an attempt in America and throughout the world, to explain to people where I think we are at the dawn of this new century. Something that is even more important now. I recognize that I am here under the sponsorship, in part, of the School of Journalism, and I have to say good citizenship and good journalism are more important than ever, and perhaps more difficult than ever to achieve. A lot of what we need to think about and talk about is hard to get through the blizzard of competing media networks, the 24-hour news cycle, shorter and shorter attention span, and a climate in Washington that my wife often refers to as an 'evidence-free zone.' So nonetheless, I think that it's more important than ever. So here's what I would like to say to you about that, especially to young people. The United States played the major role in rallying the world after World War II, first of all, to organize ourselves for the Cold War, and, secondly, to try to build the institutions of international peace and prosperity for people who embraced freedom. That is, after all, what the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, all these other international institutions, were about.
When Communism failed, the Berlin Wall fell, and the economy became truly global, America and other wealthy nations reaped very big benefits. But I think very few people had thought through the full implications of the new world in which we found ourselves. A world characterized not just by a global economy, but by a global information society. When I took the oath of office as President on January the 20 th, 1993, there were only 50 sites on the WorldWide Web. In '93. When I left office, there were over 350 million and rising. Today, they're probably somewhere around 500 million. There's never been anything like it. At the same time, we had this breathtaking scientific advance. I was honored to be president at the time when the International Consortium of Scientists finished the sequencing of the human genome, something which has already yielded the two major variances that are high predictors of breast cancer, something that is leading us very close to unlocking the genetic strains that cause Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. And quite soon, young women will come home from the hospital with their newborn babies in countries with good health systems with little gene cards that will say, 'Here are your child's strengths and weaknesses, and if you do the following ten things your baby has a life expectancy of 93 years.' This is going to happen in the lifetimes, and in the childbearing lifetimes of those young people in this audience.
We saw an explosion of democracy. For the first time in history in the 1990's, more people lived under governments of their own choosing than not in the world. And an explosion of diversity within democracies. We all know now that one of the cruel ironies of September the 11 th is that a few hundred Muslims were killed at the World Trade Center, people from every continent. I visited one of the schools of where the kids were basically blown out of their schools by the debris from the explosion, and had to go to another school. And there were children from 80 different ethnic and national groups. So we have become more diverse, and we have become a more democratic world.
America benefited enormously from this, as did other wealthy countries. So we find ourselves in a world where we have torn down walls, collapsed distances, and spread information and technology more widely than ever before. And we got out of it 22-1/2 million new jobs, the highest per capital incomes in history, the lowest poverty rates in a generation. In the last five years I was president, the people at the bottom 20% income were increasing percentage-wise even more rapidly than the rest of the economy.
And we also were given the chance to promote peace and prosperity and our ideals around the world. But it wasn't the whole story, because half the world was left out of the economic expansion. About half the people on earth live on less than $2 a day. A billion people live on less than $1 a day. A billion people go to bed hungry every night, and a billion-and-a-half people never get a clean glass of water. So not surprisingly, they don't think as much of this new world as many of us do because they're not really a part of it.
In addition to that, for all the educational advance in America, for example, one of my proudest accomplishments as president was that we had the biggest increase in college aid since the G.I. Bill, in over 50 years. And more than 10 million more college students were getting assistance. The average assistance was more than it had been, dramatically, than when I took office. But there are 100 million young people in the world of primary school age that never go to school at all half the kids in Sub-Saharan Africa, a quarter of the kids in East Asia, a quarter of kids in South Asia. Indeed, one of the most gripping stories that has come out of the post-September the 11th obsession with that part of the world, of Afghanistan and Pakistan and the breeding of terrorists, have been all the stories about the Madrasas in Pakistan, the religious schools, where so many people are indoctrinated, rather than educated. There was a story of a young boy, who was an otherwise marvelous young boy, who gets up every morning at 4:30 to pray and he's devoted to his parents, can answer any question about the Koran, but doesn't know what 2 times 2 is, and believes that America and Israel brought dinosaurs back to earth to kill Muslims. That is a function of the poverty that gripped Pakistan over the last 20 years, and their inability to fund their public schools, and the fact that this boy's parents couldn't afford the money to pay the tuition at what used to be a free public school. So you have, you know, that problem.
We talk about all these health advances. And I didn't even mention some of them. We started spending money on nano technology when I was President, investing in that. Congress went along and we were getting close to diagnostic tools that would identify cancers when they're only a few cells in size, raising the prospect that they could all become curable. We were working on digital chips to replicate the sophisticated nerve movements of damaged spines, raising the prospect that we might be able with chips, to give spines the capacity to work again, and people long paralyzed could stand up and walk. And that exists in a world where one-fourth of all the people who die this yearâ€“from terrorism, from natural disasters, from heart attacks, and strokes, and cancerâ€“a quarter of all the people who die on earth will die of AIDS, TB, malaria, and infections from diarrhea, most of them little kids that never got a clean glass of water.
For all the explosion of democracy and diversity and the triumph of freedom and the relegation of Communism to history's cellar, we have also seen a dramatic rise in identity politics littered in race, religion, tribe, and ethnicity, in ways that have very negative manifestations in people who basically don't buy the idea that we can build a common future based on our common humanity. And since we have built a world without walls, we can't claim the benefits that we have enjoyed so richly without some greater exposure and vulnerability to all those burdens.
So in a profound sense, September the 11th was the dark side of this new age of globalization and all of its benefits. We have to decide what to do about it. Of course, at least I believe the answer is, of course, we should do whatever we can to destroy the Al Qaida network and Mr. Bin Laden, they are the most dangerous terrorist network in the world, and they've been trying to kill us for a long time. And I did what I could under the circumstances that I found as president, to do that. We should cooperate with others in the fight against terrorism around the world, in whatever ways are appropriate and possible. Because it's a global threat, invulnerability is global. But I do not believe that a law enforcement and military strategy alone is sufficient to build a world that I hope the young people in this audience will live in and raise their children in, simply because I don't want you to have to substitute the walls that we have torn down for barbed wire. I don't wa nt you to have to wonder every time you get on an airplane. And I don't want the world we live in to change the character of our country, by having people dominated by fear of today, fear of tomorrow, and fear of each other. And if you don't want that, then we have to say, 'Okay, what kind of world do we want to live in? How are we going to achieve it?' It seems to me, we have to focus on the fight against terror. That's important. We have to focus on improving our defenses. That's important. The President is giving his State of the Union Address tonight, doubtless he will talk about that. And homeland defense, there's a lot more that needs to be done there.
But we also need to build a world where there is more cooperation and less terror. And in order to do that, it seems to me that three things are required. First of all, we've got to spread the benefits and shrink the burdens of the modern world, so there are more people included in what we like. Secondly, we have to work on creating the conditions in countries that breed terrorism that made progress in a different ethic possible. We have to advance human rights and freedoms, and actual basic good governments, things that it's so easy to overlook in the grip of the enormous harm that our people have sustained here. And, finally, we have to build a truly global level of consciousness about what our relationships and responsibilities are going to be.
You know, the people that attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, they saw them as symbols of corrupt American materialism and power. They saw all the people that died on those airplanes and in those buildings as legitimate targets because they didn't share the truth that they think they own. But I live and work in New York, and my wife represents New York in the Senate, and I was the Commander in Chief of many of those people who died at the Pentagon. I know people who were on those planes; many of you do. And I have a very different view. Those people to me represented the world that I worked for eight years to build, a world where there's more diversity and stronger community, where there's more opportunity, where we keep reaching out. And these different views are the extreme examples of a whole range of differences that, basically, divide the world in ways that don't make any sense anymore.
And so what I would like you to think about is what you want the world to be like in 10 years. How do you want to live? What are you prepared to do to achieve that? What are you prepared to have your country do? And let me just talk a little about each of these things.
What should America do to spread the benefits and shrink the burdens of the 21st century world? I think you could make a lot of statements, but I'll just give you four examples. We ought to do more to create economic empowerment and reduce poverty. And there are clearly proven affordable strategies. I'll just give you a couple. In my last year as president, we had a total bipartisan effort to complete an initiative I started in 1999 to give debt relief to the two dozen poorest countries in the world if, but only if, they put all the money that they save into education, health, or economic development. Now, it passed, and in the year that's since then, I'll just give you two examples. Uganda doubled primary school enrollment and reduced class sizes. Honduras, in our hemisphere, increased mandatory school ing from six years to nine years, a 50% increase. This was peanuts, what it cost us; it made all the difference in the world to them. We should do more of that.
Second example. The United States funded two million micro enterprise loans a year in poor countries, small loans to poor village people, a program pioneered by the great Bangladeshi economist, Mohammed Yunus with the Grameen Bank, a man who long ago should have won the Nobel Prize. I'll keep saying that until they finally give it to him. We should fund five times that many, maybe ten times that many. I've been in little villages in Africa where the local village person charged with keeping up with all the micro credit loans would run into the thatched hut and come out and show me his accounts and show me what everybody was doing with their money. And it can make a big difference.
A third example. A great Peruvian economist, Hernando de Soto, basically discovered something that was before all of our eyes, which is that poor people actually have quite a lot of wealth in the world. The poorest people have, according to him, $5 trillion worth of assets in their homes and their businesses, but they're totally useless for joining the market economy because they're not in the legal system. If they live in Bombay, they're in a metal shack, they don't have an address, they don't have a verifiable title, they don't have any way to establish value, so they can't borrow any money on it. If they live in a city and they have a small business, chances in most big cities in poor countries are better than 50:50 the business will not be legalized because of the bureaucratic and other hassles it takes to legalize the business. I just saw Desoto's map on Cairo, a very important city to the future, and about eight in ten businesses are not legalized. Because if we went there tomorrow, you and I, and decided to open bakeries, it would take us almost two years to go through all the legal hurdle to open a little bakery, where we're just trying to make and sell bread. So he's going around the world trying to clean all this up, get all these businesses first, and then later homes, in the legal system, so people can actually have collateral for loans, and borrow money and join the market economy. It has enormous potential. They did it in Peru. They had double-digit growth three years in a row. We gave him a little money when I was president. We ought to fund this and get this done everywhere, so people will be in a better position to help themselves.
And America should also buy more products from poor countries. In my last year as president, we had trade opening to Africa, to the Caribbean, to Vietnam and to Jordan. In less than a year, our purchases from some poor African countries had increased by a thousand percent. And it didn't hurt the American economy. And it didn't cost a lot of people their jobs. And we should be spending more money on job training and reap the training anyway, in America, for people that need that, need to be moving up in their income-earning potential. This is important, and it will create a world with more partners and fewer terrorists.
The same thing applies to education. In my last year as president, we got $300 million to offer a good meal to children, breakfast or lunch, if, but only if, they came to school. $300 million in the poorest countries in the world will feed 6 million children everyday of the school year. Six million. And we just got the reports. The enrollments are exploding.
Same thing applies to health care. Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the U.N., has asked us for $10 billion, the whole world, to fight AIDS, TB, malaria, and other infectious diseases. Our share of that would be somewhere between $2.2- and $2.4 billion. The Afghan war cost about a billion dollars a month, to give you some idea of what you're comparing. And that's about as inexpensive as a war gets these days for a country like ours. So that's roughly comparable numbers. And is it worth it? Well, Brazil proved that medicine and prevention, they could cut the death rate from AIDS in half in three years. Uganda proved that prevention alone, they could cut the death rate in half in five years. There are now 40 million people with AIDS and there will be 100 million in 2005. And if you have 100 million, take it from me, some countries are going to fail. And you'll have a lot more young people willing to be terrorists or mercenaries in tribal wars because, what the heck, they're goi ng to die anyway. And we'd spend a lot more money cleaning up those messes than we would spend if we invest in now in this health fund.
You could make the same argument with the environment. You know, we've got terrible problems. The ocean is deteriorating; it generates most of our oxygen. I already said one in four people don't have access to clean water. And climate change is real. If for the next 50 years, the earth's climate warms at the rate of the last 10, we'll lose 50 feet of Manhattan Island, we'll lose the Florida Everglades, island nations in the Pacific will be flooded. That's the most dramatic set of examples, but the most important is that agricultural production will be disrupted all over the world, and millions upon millions of people will be turned into food refugees, breeding more terrorists and anger. So this is one area where I actually think we could make money, and we could help poor people make money. I just got back from the Middle East, and I told them they ought to forget about being the oil center of the world, they ought to become the energy center and double the capacity of solar tec hnology and conservation technologies and put them in in every warm place in the world, because it's important.
Now, the point I want to make to you is listen tonight to the State of the Union address at how much money we're spending on defense and what the proposed increase isâ€“and I support a lot of it and how much money we're spending on homeland security, the proposed increase and I've already told you, we need to spend a lot on it. But I'm telling you, we could do America's fair share of economic empowerment of poor people, putting all the poor kids in the world in school, funding the Secretary General's health efforts, and accelerating the effort to turn around climate change. We could do all that, and pay our fair share for more or less what we would spend in a year in Afghanistan in the conflict, and much less than we spend on other things. And I can only tell you, it is a lot cheaper than going to war. And it is a lot cheaper thanâ€¦ and it's also in real dollars terms a lot cheaper than what we spent on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II. And it's the same basic idea. Go back and read George Marshall's speeches, somebody ought to just stand up everyday and read George Marshall's speeches to America for the next month or two. And, you know, we were grievously wounded, and we spent this money to help Germany after what they did. We wanted Japan to come back. We've got to think about this in the way that we want the world to be in 15 or 20 years.
The second thing I want to say is we want to spend more effort trying to help countries solve their own problems and develop basic capacity freedom, openness, human rights, and actual capacity to govern. I spend a fair amount of time on that now, and I hope I'll be able to do more in the years ahead.
And the final thing I want to say and then we'll open the floor to questions, is we have to develop a way of thinking about the world that is more consistent with the way the world is and the way we would like it to be. Bin Laden and this crowd that attacked us and killed all those innocent people, they're like fanatics throughout history. They believe they have the whole truth. And if you share their truth, your life has value, and if you don't, you're a legitimate target, even if you're just a 6-year-old girl that was going to work with her mother on the morning of September 11 th. And that's what they really believe. I mean, you've seen him on television, you know, that's what he believes, he's a serious person. And their view of community is very different. Their view of community is that you've got to think like them and act like them, and if you break the rules there's got to be somebody to whip you back into line, which is why everybody was so happy when Afghani stan was liberated and women took off their burkas and men started shaving. But that's what they believe.
So they have sort an extreme, exclusive view of the world. 'Don't tell me about my common humanity. The only thing that matters about me is my difference. I know that Islam is the only true religion, and I know what Allah meant in every word of the Koran.' And the second knowing is more trouble than the first, just like it is for those of us of other faiths. Right?
So most of us, we have a whole different view of that. Most of us believe that nobody's got the whole truth, that especially among deeply religious peopleâ€“deeply religious people I mean, most people who are deeply religious feel our human limitations all the more, and understand that nobody's got the whole truth, therefore, life is a journey on which we move toward the truth and we learn something from other people, so everybody ought to be entitled to take this journey. Therefore, most of us believe a community is not everybody who is just alike, but everybody who accepts certain rules everyone counts, everyone has a role to play, we all do better when we help each other. So, radically different world view.
But I would argue to you, in a world without walls, it is the only sustainable world view. If you take down the walls, no matter how much barbed wire you put up in its place, no matter how many defenses you think you can erect, if the world is dominated by people who believe that their racial, their religious, their tribal, their ethnic differences are the most important fact of life, a huge number of innocent people will perish in this new century.
Now, I think it is unlikely that the 21st century will be as bloody as the 20th. And let's try to put this into some context. We lost 12 million people in World War 1, 20 million in World War 2, 20 million between the Wars, 20 million from bad governments after the War, over a million in Korea, about a million in Vietnam, 700,000 in Rwanda in 90 days, a quarter of a million in Bosnia, at least, and most of them were innocent non-combatant. But with technology being spread wider and wider, with the weapons available to people, and the knowledge available to people, and the walls down, it will be a dreary world indeed, unless those of us who believe that our common humanity is more important than our interesting differences, can defeat in the battle of ideas and in the facts of life those who believe that their differences define the truth and give them the right to wipe out the lives of others.
That's what this whole thing is about. And, you know, you can look around Berkeley; it's a nice university. You look around this crowd, everybody's different. It looks a lot different than it would have 30 years ago, and radically different than it would have 40 years ago when President Kennedy was here. And it's easy to give this right answer. But I promise you, it's very hard to live this right answer. In my last year in college, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were killed trying to reconcile the American people to each other. Gandhi was killed by a Hindu, not a Muslim, because he wanted India for everybody the Sikhs, the Jains, the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, the Buddhists. In the Middle East from which I just came and where I had worked so hard, and ultimately, unsuccessfully, to make peace, two have died since we started this peace journey over 20 years ago. Anwar Sadat, killed not by an Israeli commando, but by an Egyptian, who thought he was a bad Egyptian an d a bad Muslim for making peace and wanting a secular government; and my friend, Yitzhak Rabin, whose grave I visited last week, killed by an Israeli, who thought he was a bad Jew and a bad Israeli because he got tired of killing Palestinians and thought he ought to give them a homeland instead, and find a peace by recognizing their legitimate aspiration.
So it's easy to talk about this in the comfort of an auditorium like this. But out there in the real world, where the economic problems overlap, the health problems overlap, the politics overlap, people acquire all these vested interests in keeping whatever world's turmoil is out there tearing people into knots. It's hard to live. But the fact is that there are just too many places where people my age are making decisions that inflame people your age and cause them to die. In the Intifida, since August of 2000, 55% of the Palestinians who have died have been under 18. Over 60% of the Israelis who have died have been under 24. Hillary gave me a little card when I ran for President in '92; it's something that I just kept reading every time I'd get discouraged. It said, 'Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.'
So, you know, this may sound naÃ¯ve to all of you, but I can tell you, you know, I've ordered people into battle, I've dropped bombs, I've done all those things that you're supposed to do in the real world, usually to good effect. I'm proud of what we did in Bosnia and Kosovo. And I wish I had been successful in my efforts to get Mr. Bin Laden earlier. But in the end, in the end, what's going to determine the shape of the 21 st century, is whether we have an ethic that says, 'I think we like our differences. We like who we are. We like the color of our skin, the way we pursue our faith, we like what's about us that's different. We like our little boxes, we all have to have them to navigate reality.' You laughed when I said Cal and Stanford. You gave me a good reception because I was a Stanford parent, right? It gives you a way to organize things. But the older you get, somebody's a scientist, another person's an economist; somebody's a Democrat, somebody else is a Repub lican; somebody's Asian, somebody else is something else. But in the end, most people figure out that these boxes with which we navigate reality, as important as they are, are not as important as our common humanity. And if we don't figure it out, then a whole lot of experience is denied us, and a whole lot of wisdom never comes into our spirits.
And that's really what's going on here, folks. The world has never truly had to develop an ethic of interdependence rooted in our common humanity. And if we do it, the 21 st century will be the most interesting, exciting, peaceful era in history. If we don't we'll spend a lot of time playing catch-up and trying to punish people, and get them to atone for travesties like September the 11 th.
So I will say again, I support the current effort against terrorism, we need more of it, and we need to increase our effectiveness, and we will get better at it. And no terrorist campaign in history, by the way, has ever succeeded. And this one won't either, unless we let it change us. But if you want the world that I think you want, you have to both be very vigilant and disciplined, and tough in people that have already set themselves beyond the pale of the world you're trying to build. And then you have to go about trying to build a world where you spread the benefits and shrink the burdens, where you help people who aren't very good at solving their own problems yet get better at it and understand they have to accommodate human rights and openness. And you have to basically tell people, 'Look, we respect your differences, we'll celebrate them, but only if you acknowledge that our common humanity is more important.' Not very complicated, but that's what I think will determine the whole shape of the new era. Thank you very much.
DEAN ORVILLE SCHELL: Well, thank you, President Clinton for those interesting remarks. It's wonderful to have you here, and we join the Governor and the Chancellor in thanking you for taking the time to do so.
Let's plunge right into questions. I have questions from you, some from myself, so let's just get going.
Let's assume for a minute that globalization is the best possible scenario for the world; in any event, it's happening. How do we galvanize our own country to become sufficiently internationally-minded, to really play a role we must play if it's going to succeed?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I think, first of all, the American public is now seeing everything, even things they're not consciously seeing through the prism of what we endured on September the 11 th. And a lot has been learned. For example, I'm encouraged that the Administration wants to spend some money in Afghanistan to help it succeed, because in the early 1980's, we were only too happy to support the Mujahadeen when they were fighting the Soviet invasion, on the old theory 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend.' And then as soon as that was over, we pulled away from them, and paid the consequence. So here's a case where an Administration that criticized me for my involvement in a lot of things around the world, has now said, 'Wait a minute, we can't just go in there and overturn the Taliban and leave the Afghans to their fate. We have to help them build a future.' So they were able to see this reality in a different way because of what happened on September the 11 th and what they had to do about it. And I applaud them for that.
We have to do that in other areas as well. Our country spends a smaller percentage of our income of foreign assistance than any other country in the world with an advanced economy. In the Cold War, we justified it because we spent a larger percentage of our income on defense. So we basically said to the Europeans and the Japanese, 'Look, here's the deal we'll create a defense umbrella and you guys go take care of the problems.' And then most of our foreign aid was tied to some specific other objective we had.
Now, we know what works. We know this debt relief works, we know the micro loans work, we know that there are proven programs which will reverse the AIDS epidemic. It's not like we don't know what works. We're not talking about going out there and just throwing a bunch of your money away. And it is such a small percentage of the overall money we're spending to build the world we want to defend ourselves, I think if we can just get the facts out and tell people that this will help us to avoid further insecurity from terrorism, and it's either that or try to rebuild all the walls of the world, which we're not going to be able to do anyway, and most of us wouldn't want to do. I think that's where you have make the argument in the context of what we have learned since September the 11 th, and I think you will have a listening audience.
But the American people also have to have the facts. Most Americans are shocked to know what a tiny percentage of the federal budget foreign assistance is, they're shocked to know that every other advanced country in the world spends a higher percentage of their income than we do on it. And they are shocked to know that you could do as much good as you can do with as little money as you can, which is why I tried to make that point with all of you today, and I hope you will repeat that. So I think you have to really look, this country is around here after more than 225 years because most of the time we do the right thing on the big decisions, if we have time to absorb the reality and we know the facts. We normally do the right thing, that's why we're still here. So I think what we have to do is to get the facts out there and the arguments, and reference it to what people are feeling and knowing since September the 11 th. Then I think we'll have good success.
DEAN SCHELL: On the other hand one would have to say that September 11th, even though it does have certain benefits and maybe sounding the alarm, it was a terrible shock, a terrible way to have to become more globally conscious. Is it possible for us to, I think, evolve in this way without such terrible alarm?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yeah, I think it was possible. I mean, if I had told you in 1999, when I said I went to Cologne, Germany in 1999 for the GA meeting. And I said, 'Look, the world's rich countries should forgive the debt of the world's poorest countries, but only if they take all the savings and put it into health education and economic development.' Okay, so I make that speech. But I told you in 1999 that okay, it didn't surprise me then that the Pope came out and said, 'The millennial year is a jubilee year, and it's a year, scripturally, for forgiving debts.' It probably didn't surprise us. Then, if you know anything about U2, it probably didn't surprise you that Bono decided to lead the sort of citizens' efforts around the world for debt relief. But if I told you, 'Guess what? Bono's biggest convert will be Jesse Helms, and everybody's going to be for this, and the only time Pat Robertson ever came to the White House when I was President to meet with me was to be part of the big religious coalition to forgive the debt of the poor people of the world,' you might have found that surprising. But that's exactly what happened. And we can do that on everything else, and we don't have to have a lot of people die to do it. But we do have to have people who will press the case and make the arguments in terms of what's in our interests, and well as what's consistent with our values.
I don't think that. I don't think September 11th had to happen at all, and I will never be reconciled with the fact that it did.
On the other hand, let me just mention, since you mentioned this, for different reasons, if no one had been killed during the anthrax scare, and, tragically, about five people have been, it would actually have been a good thing because in 1999 and 2000, we got funds for all the major urban areas of America to plan responses to incidents of bioterrorism. And my guess is most of them haven't done very much with it and hadn't thought very much about it. And I think the fact that there was this anthrax scare has caused a much higher level of preparedness all across America for dealing with the practical problems presented by acts of bioterrorism. So that actually might have had, on balance, a good effect. And as I said, if it hadn't been for the people dying, I would have actually been not so disturbed that that happened, because it forced everybody to kind of get their act together and find out where we're still behind in the antibiotics and vaccines, and having surge beds where pe ople can be in quarantine and still be in hospital-like conditions. So that's actually something everybody's thinking about working on now, and that's quite good.
DEAN SCHELL: Thinking about globalization, I think one would have to say that this point in our history global companies play an equal if not more powerful role than governments. What's your assessment of the ability of corporations to act in the global interest in a way that would be salutary on this whole undertaking?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, they may be more powerful than some governments. They're not more powerful than ours, which is why it's still important for ours to establish certain rules of the game, and certain things that companies can and cannot do, and should and shouldn't be able to do. And why it's important, I think, to have international institutions that are a public counterweight.
The only place where I think that companies are more powerful than the wealthy countries are not companies, but where the market, if you will, is in financial management. It's clear now that fiscal responsibility in a global financial system is imperative even for a wealthy country. And if you get caught not practicing it, there's nothing in the world you can do to make your interest rates other than what they're going to be anyway. So, for example, if you look at this present situation, the Fed has lowered interest rates 11 times in the economic slowdown, but long-term interest rates didn't change very much because the markets believe that we have decided to return to deficit spending over the long run, and we won't be able to handle the retirement of the Baby Boomers without huge borrowing, and therefore, that is going to reduce our economic growth, unless we can turn that perception around. So that's true.
Poor countries, on the other hand, are powerless in the face of companies that are doing irresponsible things. And so I think it's important that we, number one, try to get responsible companies together and work with them in partnership, and, number two, try to identify things that are being done that shouldn't be done. And the international institutions like the United Nations, like the International Labor Organization, like the WTO, which I still believe should have environmental and labor standards factored into all the trade negotiations those international institutions have to require the capacity to set, in a way, the limits of acceptable conduct. You can't have a global economic system without having a global social policy, global environmental policy, global education effort, global security effort. You can't just say, 'We want global economics,' and everything else should go away. As we have seen, it doesn't work that way.
DEAN SCHELL: Do you think it's actually possible, I mean, that if globalization succeeds, that the resources of the world, the environment of the world, could actually sustain the level of development it would really take to lift all boats, not just yachts?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I do, but only if we sever the link between greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth. And the sustainable development is still a phrase that means next to nothing for most people. I mean, most people in the university campus know what it means, and it sounds like a pleasant enough concept, but it might as well be in Aramaic to most people. And one of the you know, this assault on the Kyoto Protocol has not just been on the practical details of what are we know having since the Congress wouldn't the Republican Congress when I was president, wouldn't adopt any of the initiatives I had for meeting the Kyoto goals, can't be met. There are really people who basically believe, first, that you can't really get rich, stay rich, or get richer unless you put more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And, therefore, they have to believe that global warming is a fraud, otherwise, they'd face the Hobson's choice of being poor or being toast.
So I want you to laugh, but only because I want you to think about this. This is dead serious. There are a lot of people who just don't believe this. But if you look at Governor Davis will remember this. A couple of years ago, we got the Energy Department and HUD and the Homebuilders hardly a left-wing radical group, the National Homebuilders Association to agree to build a housing development at the end of the rail line in the Indio Empire around San Bernardino for low income working people, and promised them that they would pay a little more for these houses, that all had little solar reflectors in their shingles, better insulation, the best lighting, that we would lower their electric bills, on average, by 40%. And two years after these houses were built and occupied, the average reduction was 65%. That was all using existing, known technologies in voluntary partnerships. There is a $1 trillion market out there right now. And we're very close to having cars that get 89 miles , to having fuel cells that are commercially viable, to all kinds of other breakthroughs, never mind the existing stuff that's out there now.
So, yes, I think we can lift the poor of the world to a decent standard of living without burning up the planet, but only if the people who are in a position to make the decisions, honest-to-goodness believe that we can do it. I know the Chinese and the Indians often believed when I was president that they liked me well enough and they thought I meant them well but when I got off on this, they thought I was either going into never-never land or I had some Machiavellian strategy to keep them poor. I remember when the Chinese Environment Minister came up to me after my environmental meeting event in China on my way down to Gualin, and thanked me for doing this because he said the people in his own government just didn't believe him when he kept telling them they could meet the challenge of global warming and still sustain China's growth targets.
So this is a debate for a lot of you in this room, this debate was over a long time ago. For the real world out there, this debate is just beginning, and that's why I have belabored this answer. You should never assume that just because you think something, everybody else knows it and thinks it. And you shouldn't assume that you can't win this argument because you think it's you know, it's a question of Republicans and Democrats and liberals and conservatives. This is an idea deeply embedded in the collective psyche of the industrialized world, that you can't get rich, stay rich, or get richer unless you put more stuff into the air. Unless you change the idea, the policies won't change.
DEAN SCHELL: I think the notion of how you get these ideas deeply embedded in the public consciousness raises the question of the media. It is a question that everyone wants to know: How do you view the media? Has it been fulfilling its role in meeting the public's right to know?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Oh, I think it depends entirely on which media and what issue. I think, on balance let me say this on balance, and I've had more than my share of differences, but I'm still trying to figure out what the difference is in revealing what went on with the Health Care Task Force when I was president and what went on with the Energy Task Force now. I can't understand the distinction, but there must be one and I'm just too dim to get it.
But I think, first of all, you can't generalize. So let me say I don't really want to go where your question is, but I want to say two things. One is, I think the media has done a good job, generally, of educating us since September the 11 th about who the Taliban is, that not all Muslims are terrorists, that there is a difference in doctrine and practice, and that it is wrong for us to discriminate against Muslims. I think one of the best things the President did after September 11 th was go to a mosque and meet with Muslim leaders, and then break the fast of Ramadan with some Muslims in the White House. So I think that there's been a effort to educate us about what the nature of the terrorist threat is, what their attitudes are. We've learned a lot that we never knew about Afghanistan and about Pakistan and about terrorist networks, generally. We know more than we ever did about problems in Indonesia and the Philippines and other places. So I think, in gene ral, they've actually done quite a good job in bringing us as a people up to speed.
I think that for other issues it is difficult for the media to do a fair and balanced and accurate, and sometimes even truthful job because of the structure of the modern media. When I was a young man in college, there were three television networks. There was enough competition, so that they kept each other honest, and they had enough guaranteed market share so they could hire seasoned people who know a lot, to do thoughtful pieces. And I think television, particularly, was a much more, in that sense, balanced and constructive and sort of stable force in our national life. Now, you have CNN plus all these cable channels that are on all the time. By the time the evening news comes on, most news events have been on the television at one of these cables for hours and hours. By the time the newspapers come out the next day, they've been washed over 50 times, and there's all this there's this incentive to think you've got to put a little spin this way or that way on it, just so it will be worth absorbing if you're later in the chain.
Plus, there's so much competition to do it so fast, there's very little time. I once had a media executive, who must remain nameless, tell me in the middle of an argument we were having and he was sympathetic to me and I said, 'You know, when I was a young man starting out in politics, I had a lot of opposition from the conservative press.' Because look at what was going on in the early 70's the Vietnam War was still going on, the ERA debate was going on, Roe v. Wade was two years old, we still had civil rights troubles in the South. There was a lot to argue about. And I was often strongly vigorously opposed in the conservative press. But I said, 'You know, everybody I dealt with really cared that what they said was accurate and fair, and true, and really cared.' I said, 'A lot of you guys don't care anymore, do you?' And he said, 'No, we don't have time to.' And then he sort of tried to back off. And I said, 'No, it's okay, you should be I said, 'You know, you told me the tru th, and I'll never out you this.'
But that's the world we live in. And so I say this out of sympathy. I have a lot of sympathy for people. How would you handle it if you were the news director for one of the cable channels? How would you change your news coverage if you were the news director for one of the network nightly news shows, and half the stories you want to talk about have been on these cable channels for six hours? How would you change the content and the organization of your newspaper under these circumstances? And if you had a cable channel, so you had to depend on a segmented market, would you really want to challenge those viewer's views, or would you just want to reinforce them because all the research shows that to get a segmented market of 800-, 900,000, a million people, which is all you need to keep one of these things going, you have they want to look at somebody that agrees with them, and tells them what they already think.
So I'm just saying, the media faces a lot more challenges today. It's a much more difficult job than it used to be. And yet we need more reason, more balance, more sustained argument, and less demonization of each other than we have ever needed it at a time when all the commercial pressures and all the political pressures are pushing them into reverse direction. So I think there are still some really great newspapers in America. I think the L.A. Times is a great newspaper. And I don't always agree with them, and Lord knows, they didn't always agree with me. And I think there are lots of other good newspapers in America, but it's hard for them, it's really hard. And you should think about, those of you who are in the Journalism School, think what you would do if you had to start tomorrow and you were one of the cable channels, and you didn't want to go broke.
DEAN SCHELL: Well, that raises the question of ownership, and whether, in a certain sense, there is a contradiction between a media outlet that has to compete and, you know, have a bottom line, that is competitive with some other company. Do you think that there may be some discussion we ought to have about a different form of media ownership? I know, for instance, in your 1998 State of the Union talk, you called for free or inexpensive political ads. And the National Association of Broadcasters didn't like that because it would have drained them of a huge source of income.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yeah, but they're wrong about that. That's a different issue; let me talk about that. On the ownership, you know, I really don't know where you would begin. All I can tell you is that if you're a Democrat I can only say what I know you know, people in my party who pick up, who follow this stuff, the Republicans, for years, were alienated because they thought the press was so liberal. And our perception is that there are basically two dominant elementsâ€“there's an establishment press and right-wing press. And the right-wing press is a magnet and pulls the establishment press to the right. That's what most Democrats think. And so since we know that the politics of some of the people that own some of these networks are so overt, that's what we believe. So they've already got one strike against them before they ever come on the air, in terms of us believing that it's balanced perception and reality.
But I don't know what to do about that. I can't figure it out, and I don't know how to tell somebody they can't own something. I mean, I don't know how you do that now.
But let me go back to this. I think that it wouldn't matter as much if we had the right kind of campaign finance reform. And let me explain what it is. I support this bill that's going to pass, finally. And one of the things the media didn't tell you because they had to convince you that both parties were equally at fault, is that for at least two years, we had 100% of the Democrats in the House and the Senate for the McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan Bill for at least two years, 100% of them, we had them all.
So it's not true that both parties are equally tainted. It is true that I refused to practice unilateral disarmament and pretend that it was law when it wasn't. I tried that dealing with the opposition and it never worked very well, unilateral disarmament. I usually wound up with severe wounds under those circumstances.
But this is a plus, it's a good thing to do. But let's talk about why elections cost so much money. They cost so much money because we raise all this money Governor Davis is out here raising all this money, and I'm going to help him if I can but he's out here raising all this money because he's got to tell you what he did as governor and what he'd like to do next time, and if someone criticizes, he has to give you an answer. And it costs a lot of money to do that on television, or in a radio ad, or in some other forumâ€“the mass mailing or big newspaper ads. It costs a lot of money. So the very people that have attacked us vociferously for raising too much money and all those things they say, are the same people that when we want to communicate with our voters say, 'Give us the money. Show me the money here.' Because it's a business.
So if you really want campaign finance reform that will work, which is to give you a clear sense that you know who the candidates are, you know what the issues are, you know what the differences are, you know what the consequences are, and you want to do it so that they don't have to spend all their time raising money, then there has to be some incentive, which is free or reduced air time or a publicly-funded subsidy for that. And I always favored free or reduced air time for the you know, you get the airways if you own one of these television channels, and you tend to do pretty well. But I think that's really important.
The networks got a little closer. You know, in my last election, I think Fox gave Senator Dole and me five minutes, and then one of the other networks gave us like 90 seconds at three different times during the week. You can say a lot in 90 seconds if you you're on three different times in the last week before the election. But I understand why they don't want to do this. But I'm telling you, you can say, 'I'm going to eliminate soft money,' and 'this group can't give,' and 'that group can't give,' and 'they can only give 50 cents,' or whatever, but if it still costs that much money to communicate with you and for a person to defend himself or herself when someone else is attacking them, then these politicians are going to have to find some way to communicate with you or otherwise just get wiped out in every election. And it will undermine democracy.
Let me just say one other thing. I said this yesterday in Washington, in Seattle, but I want to say it to you. There's another reason you should be for this kind of campaign finance reform, more for your senators and congressmembers than for your governors or other state officials because at least they're here on the ground. But one of the reasons that Washington is so you're going to all laugh when I say this, and you're going to think, 'He's like everybody else. You know, when they get out of office they get a little dotty and little crazy.' But I'm telling you, one of the reasons that there is often such an acrimonious atmosphere in Washington, is that too many members of the Congress in both parties are sleep deprived. And you just think about it. You send somebody from Berkeley to Congress. Now, it's okay, let's say, here that it's not so much overwhelmingly Democratic districts or an overwhelmingly Republican district, an overwhelmingly Democratic state, overwhelmingly Republic state once you get in, they think they can stay. But in every competitive environment here's what we say: 'Go to Washington. Make all your votes. Read all the reports. Read all the information. Cast intelligent votes. This is a complicated time, take a little time and read a few books. Have a few people to dinner who are experts, learn what you're doing. Show up here every weekend to see us. And in the meanwhile, raise a fortune for every election.' I'm telling you that the main reason you ought to be for some kind of meaningful campaign reform is that half the people in Congress are physically exhausted all the time from trying to make their votes, learn about the issues, come home on the weekend, and spend all their time raising money. And it clouds your judgment, and it undermines your ability to be relaxed and respectful in dealing with your adversaries.
Now, every one of you, if you've ever been really tired a long time you know, I spent 30 years sleep-deprived and I got used to it “but I'm serious, you have no idea how much more physically difficult it is to be a member of Congress now than it was before you had to raise this kind of money. And you ought to take a burden off their back and keep working until we get real campaign finance reform, so you can have people who are thinking, who have time to think about these issues and study them, and who believe they will have the opportunity to argue their position to their constituents, so they don't have to take the most extreme possible position because that's what it takes to get the money, and they're not so exhausted from chasing around after the money, that they never get a decent night's sleep. Now, you can laugh about that, but I'm telling you, if you had all members of Congress here and they were being honest with you, they'd tell you that I just told you one of the most important reasons that you could ever be for this.
DEAN SCHELL: Why did the right wing despise you so?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Because I won. You have to understand that they thought there would never be another Democratic president. They thought that they had found a fool-proof formula to turn us into cardboard cutouts, superficial one-dimensional non-American figures to the American people. Remember the '88 Presidential Election, and they performed reverse plastic surgery on Dukakis? Do you remember that? Here was a guy who didn't care if his wife was raped, wouldn't stand up for anything you know, all the kinds of they had this little formula. And so we didn't fit the formula, and the American people voted for me. And they never thought it was legitimate. They never thought it was legitimate. They decided no honeymoon, no nothing, you know, 'We should not have ever lost the White House, it's ours. It belongs to us.' And you're laughing, but I'm telling you, this is true. I never would have believed it if I hadn't lived through it.
So if you want to be a Democrat or a Progressive and run for national office today, you have to have a reasonably high pain threshold. But it's still the best work in the world, it's the most rewarding thing I ever did, and if I had to do it all tomorrow, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I mean, I just think. And I hope that maybe one of the things that will come out of this whole, awful thing we've been through is that we will all, all of us, be a little more charitable toward one another, and have our arguments in a more reasonable context. That's what I hope will happen. It may or may not happen. But I'm just telling you I've have great candid conversations with Newt Gingrich and many other members of Congress privately, in which they basically said that, 'We have to, you know, inflame people against you because you're winning. And so since we can't win the argument, we've got to convince them you're a devil.' And that often works, but it didn't work. So don't sweat it. Don't sweat it.
There's nothing else to say, it's just part of the cost of doing business in politics today. But I learned a lot from listening to people like Mandella and other friends of mine who have been through stuff. It makes my life look like a walk in the park. It's never what happens to you, it's how you choose to react to it, how you choose to respond, and whether you let your heart turn to stone. And, you know, I got to serve; I had no complaints. And it was the most wonderful experience of my life, and I feel very grateful. I don't think it's particularly good for America to have the, you know, right wing in America be as hard as they are and as tough as they are, because not everybody has the level of pain threshold I have, or my critics would say, you know, obtuseness. But it's just part of the deal, it just goes with the deal of being in public life today. I mean, look what they did to Senator Daschle when he said what he thought was right about the kind of stimulus package we ou ght to have. It's just part of the deal. And you just have to smile and go on and deal with it, and stand up for what you believe in.
There's nothing better than public service, it's still the best work in the world. If you talk to all the people who were involved in our Administration, they're out doing other things now, 90% of them would say if you said, 'How you doing?' They would say, 'Well, I like having my life back,' they would say. I would say that to you, I enjoy that. They would say, 'I'm making a lot more money. But I miss the people, and I miss the work. I miss the work.' So I have no complaints.
But they didn't like me because I won, and they didn't think they would ever lose again. And, you know, I think Democrats, we don't necessarily hate people when they beat us because we were so used to losing for the last 34 years. We thought, you know, it's like a contest, you get in the ring, you wrestle or you box or you go play a game, and somebody wins and somebody loses, and you wait until the next time and you try again. But if you think you're going to win every time, and you think you found a formula by which they can't even get close, and then somebody turns up and wins when you thought they were never going to win again, you've got to go out and convince the people who feel dispossessed that something bad happened here. And that's basically what happened. They just never thought any of us would win again.
DEAN SCHELL: Speaking of winning and losing, Enron is quite a loss. I wonder what does that whole experience say to you about well, anything?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: The Enron thing? Well, I think, first of all, there are two separate things here. I have no knowledge, and most of you don't either, I don't think, what, if anything, this particular government did or didn't do that they should or shouldn't have done, except on public policy grounds. Our Administration tried to shutdown some of the tax havens, partly because we thought of it as part of the fight against terrorism. There's a story in the news about it today. And we also Arthur Levitt, the SEC Commissioner tried to change the rules in a way that would have made the kinds of things that were done wrong by that company more difficult to do, and the Republican Congress did everything they could to stop him. It was a difference of philosophy about how the economy should be managed.
I think we proved beyond question that you can have responsible management of the economy and still have it grow like crazy. That if you moderate the excesses of capitalism, both by lifting people out of poverty and by stopping particular excesses or wrong businesses practices, that the capitalist system will actually work better and you'll get more growth. That was our theory, and I think the evidence is that we're right about that. But we had differences of opinion.
In terms of specific acts of what or what didn't happen, that's what we're having an investigation for, and I don't think the rest of us ought to get in the way of it. Just let it happen and we'll see what happens. I don't know what the facts are.
DEAN SCHELL: You know, I know you got to go, but I can't help resist asking you as a writer, how is your book coming?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: It's really interesting, and it's harder than I thought to do, and it's more fun to do. And what's really humbling about it is the bizarre tricks your memory plays. You know, I'm shocked at I told somebody I just came from a lunch with a bunch of my friends, and I told them, 'I want to have a chapter in this book, and the title of the chapter is going to be 'Everything Happens At Once.' Some of you who followed our '92 campaign know that we had a slogan that said, 'It's the economy, stupid.' James Carvel put that sign up in our little war room. So about a month after I was in office, there was this hilarious cartoon where I'm sitting behind my desk, and there's this sign that's tacked up that says, 'The economy, stupid,' and another one says, 'It's China, stupid,' and another says, 'It's health care, stupid,' and another says, 'It's Social Security' 'It's Haiti' 'It's refugees' 'It's' And there's like 50 things up there.
Everything happens at once, and I'm shocked at what I can no longer remember. But thank goodness, we've got pretty good records, and I'll try to make it an interesting book. I didn't mean it like that! I did not mean it that way. You all started laughing about that deal, I didn't even think about that.
DEAN SCHELL: Well, however it turns out, we wish you God's speed on the venture. And I particularly want to thank you, you've been incredibly gracious.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you all very much. And bless you. Thank you.
Clinton's speech in Microcredit Summit,2006
Bill Clinton congratulates Nobel laureate Professor Yunus
Note that 14 years ago in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1992, Clinton said that "I think Muhammad Yunus should be given a Nobel Prize...he made enterprise work. He promoted independence, not dependence...I just loved it."
For more information, check www.microcreditsummit.org, which is working towards achieving the millenium development goals.