May 1st, 2011
04:30 PM ET

Watch GPS May 1, 2011: the Middle East and Malcolm Gladwell

A major reshuffling occurred at the highest levels of the U.S. intelligence community and military this week. General David Petraeus and Leon Panetta will take on new roles as the head of the CIA and the Pentagon respectively. Fareed calls these “excellent appointments” but his take is that no matter who leads, there needs to be major strategic shift in America's approach to international crises.

Next we’re bringing you a panel of experts to discuss the brutal crackdown in Syria, a potentially unified Palestinian front and the fate of the Arab monarchies. Joining Fareed this week are:

Martin Indyk, the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution.
– Fawaz Gerges, the Director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics
– Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera English’s Cairo-based correspondent who was recently named one of TIME Magazines 100 most influential people in the world.
– Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush.

Then, just what in the world is Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s favorite word? And how often did he use it during his historic press conference?

And when did the income gap grow so wide? Malcolm Gladwell, the New York Times best-selling author and staff writer for the New Yorker will answer that question.

Is college in your future? If so, you’ll definitely want to hear what Gladwell has to say on the annual college rankings.

And finally, two of the economic greats rumble while they rhyme.

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Topics: Afghanistan • Diplomacy • Economy • Education • GPS Episodes • GPS Show • Intelligence • Islam • Israel • Libya • Middle East • Military • NATO • Palestinian Authority • President Obama • Revolution • Security • Strategy • Syria • Time Magazine • United States

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. james2

    You are talking about college rankings on Sunday? Here is an interesting article by a college law professor from the University of Colorado {http://www.tnr.com/article/87251/law-school-employment-harvard-yale-georgetown} detailing how law schools cook their numbers a bit to improve their ranking.

    April 30, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Reply
  2. Dan

    Malcolm Gladwell missed a very important fact: in 1971 Nixon took America off the Gold Standard and the US currency from that point on was restricted in quantity by specie as it had now become by Fiat. Well, more money, higher prices as Fareed pointed out earlier in the show using the car analogy. Wages are prices too so that it should not be surprising that wages for the "talented" skyrocketed since then. But it cannot last. Essentially the money printing has put the average family into chronic debt (college, medical, mortgage, etc) and the higher talent salaries are an implicit tax on main-street.

    May 1, 2011 at 10:49 am | Reply
  3. Dan

    I meant "Malcolm Gladwell missed a very important fact: in 1971 Nixon took America off the Gold Standard and the US currency from that point on was NOT restricted in quantity by specie as..."

    May 1, 2011 at 10:50 am | Reply
  4. Nana Bolini

    Very much enjoyed Mr Gladwell's talk on why there is income inequality here in the US. Taxing the rich may be the only way to address it but won't that take a monumental change in the current political climate?

    May 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  5. Loach

    Why liberals continue to believe that income inequality is a result of tax cuts to the rich is beyond me. Instead of picking the pockets of those that "do", or blaming those who are successful on those who are not, why not encourage people to get a college education, or develop skills that are needed in a free market. Reduce taxes and make regulations more favorable to businesses and you'll see this economy flourish. The result will be a higher standard of living for all of us.

    Also, just a side note, differences in wages, and our standing amongst the world in education, is partly explained by our enormous immigration population that are predominately unskilled and uneducated. It takes a few generations before these families assimilate and start moving up.

    May 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Reply
    • phil

      easy to say,encourage them to get an education. how? see, the view is always good from the cheap seats.

      May 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  6. Muin

    JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs get bailout because it has long-term relations with U.S government. I understand your point about risk management but who is going to bail out U.S government. The best policy is to kiss King’s hand like Bush used to do during his presidency.

    May 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Reply
  7. Online Education Advocacy Group (OEAG)

    On this 'College Ranking' Gladwell so poetically argued against in Fareed's show, may be that's why "it stands out online degrees even from legitimately accredited universities are treated as a novelty or a contradiction" – http://online-education-advocacy-group.webs.com/.

    May 1, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Reply
  8. Augustine

    Where´s the rap video? Can´t find it...

    May 1, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Reply
  9. james2

    hmm...

    May 1, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  10. james2

    My comment isn't showing up. Is there any reason this might be?

    May 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Reply
  11. RJinAZ

    Apparently CNN censored my last post because it just hit too close to home. We wouldn't want the masses to know Fareed Zakaria's show is nothing more than a bogus Council on Foriegn Relations infomercial now would we? CNN is a disgrace to true journalism.

    May 1, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Reply
  12. RMATTEN

    Malcolm Gladwell may be correct with respect to the extraordinary growth in incomes of celebrities and other high powered individuals but it appears that he missed the more significant role that the concentrated ownership of massive amounts of productive capital have played in the increasing spread between the middle classes and the handful of owners of most of the productive capital in this counrtry. My comment relates more to this development regarding the ownership of productive capital.

    It is interesting to note that even when we have close to full employment, the trend toward greater income inequality continues; i.e., even when everyone is working, the system does not seem to work in the direction of everyone getting some sort of a fair share. Also, we must recognize that the purpose of technology (from the invention of the wheel to the invention of robots) has been to increase the production of goods and services through the injection of capital goods. While education and skills make the human element more productive, increases in productivity due to capital dwarfs the increases due to labor input.

    In a free market (or one that tries to be so), one might expect that the owners of capital would tend to receive the overwhelming amount of income derived from the productive process. Correspondingly, those who would contribute only their labor power would expect to receive a smaller and smaller portion of the increasingly large total amount of income. This is compounded by the fact that the process of technology reduces the amount of labor required to produce an ever greater amount of goods and services. If this process was permitted to continue in a vacuum, the owners of capital would be entitled to receive virtually all of the goods and services produced. Clearly, an unworkable arrangement. As you are aware, in today's world, a very small percentage of people own a very high percentage of the productive capital. The solution that has been developed is a highly sophisticated arrangement of income redistribution from the owners of capital to those who contribute only their labor power. This is manifested by a whole array of labor laws, tax laws and other governmental sponsored redistributive activities that redistribute income (but not the underlying wealth that produces the income) so as to mitigate the risk of the masses rising up against the wealthy.

    The fundamental problem is that our society has not developed a way for the mass of the people to participate in a meaningful way in the production of goods and services. The struggle that we see in our society today is, to a significant degree, a struggle between the owners of capital (who, in a moral sense, rightfully claim an increasing share of the national income) and those who have only their labor power to contribute to the production of goods and services (who, out of a need to have a right to a share of the national income commensurate with their numbers, demand that the government take redistributive action so that they will have a fair share of the national income).

    I do not see a real solution to this issue (i.e., income going to those who produce it versus income being artificially redistributed to those who need it) until our society develops a way for everyone to individually own enough productive capital so that they will have the right to a reasonable income based upon their individual ownership of productive capital. The natural tendency toward the concentration of wealth is compounded by our corporate and tax laws that encourage it. We need to develop ways in which people can acquire ownership of productive wealth. There are many ways that the tax laws and other governmental policies could be changed so as to give a meaningful opportunity to people to acquire income producing capital. The government's tax laws and activities definitely have an affect on what happens in this arena. The government's role should be one of an umpire and not a participant and, as such, could appropriately establish rules of the game that give most of the people a more realistic and practical opportunity to participate in the productive process. Although I have thoughts on how this might be done (or at least get started), they are beyond the scope of this comment. Suffice it to say that once you agree with the basic premise, a little imagination will take you in the direction of developing workable solutions.

    May 1, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Reply
    • cynik, Switzerland

      "We need to develop ways in which people can acquire ownership of productive wealth. There are many ways that the tax laws and other governmental policies could be changed so as to give a meaningful opportunity to people to acquire income producing capital. The government's tax laws and activities definitely have an affect on what happens in this arena."

      I don't know if this reasoning is sound. One way of changing laws to give a meaningful opportunity to people to acquire income producing capital is to declare a minority cultural group to be legally sub human and without property or human rights. Regrettably, humanity has tried this experiment in "fairness and policy" many times. It ends with genocide, war and catastrophic waste.

      It seems to me that you are searching for a change in the law to make capital less stable, not less powerful. You wish to give people access to capital, but capital with power.

      Would it not make more sense to alter laws to make capital less powerful, so that the acquisition of capital itself was a tiresome and unprofitable enterprise?

      Indeed, I would argue that this is precisely what has happened in modern history. I don't think capital exists, anymore, except as beans on a colossal abacus run by a combination of government and private institutions that resemble government institutions.

      What matters now, and what has mattered since war chest economics gave way to capital markets, is access to government spending.

      Who cares who says they own the capital, when 50% of the nations GDP is government spending? If you control government spending, you control the flow of revenue in the land, and if you control the flow of revenue, you control the profits. Capital becomes irrelevant, a curiosity to be managed by boffins and bean counters.

      This is not a radical argument. If you ask international capital whether it wants to invest in raw material assets in a given jurisdiction, the answer will be dependent upon the deal that can be cut with the government of the day.

      So the economic game for big profits is not capital and labour, but political influence, and access to the golden money tap of party based government.

      Why own and manage capital when the real money is in sponsoring and lobbying (ergo owning and managing) a political party?

      And when you own your political party, or two if you live in a "western democracy", be sure to channel your tax revenue spending towards charitable enterprises, like expensive universities and hospitals and parks. That way the profits will be tax free, and the asset accumulation will preserve your standing in government for many years to come.

      Das Capital was a boring book written by the bitter son of a preacher. Capital is dead. Modern man is a political animal, and the only game in town is the party. Exhibit A, check out Fareed. Counsel rests.

      May 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Reply
    • John S

      Agreed. While Gladwell's talent recognition demand in the 70's might have been famously started by Curt Flood in baseball and Lauren Hutton in modeling, what we have now is a growing corporate aristocracy that has little to do with talent, in view of the fact that upper level managers are overcompensated regardless of individual success or failure. When you have a corporate fraternity that often for generations have sat on each other's corporate boards, scratching each other's backs with escalating salaries, what you now see is a kind of corporate socialism which eschews entry of real talent. Witness the recent demise of the American auto industry.

      May 2, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Reply
    • Rethink

      Good points, a certain Dan Pink video come's to mind, or his TED talk on the same theme.

      May 6, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  13. Dani

    Eu quero saber do video ....hip hop....

    May 1, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  14. Sum of Squares

    Saluting our men and women in uniform:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFN4_V0pE9A&w=640&h=390]

    May 2, 2011 at 7:09 am | Reply
    • Jerry Blakeley

      Why has no one made a comparison regarding the moral and legal implications of our killing OBL and Gaddafi's son and 3 grandchildren? What moral or legal right did we have to drop a bomb on Gadaffi's home to kill these people. Certainly the UN resolution did not sanction this. Are we not terrorists ourselves in doing this?

      May 2, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  15. cynik, Switzerland

    Great ideas and articulation from Gladwell, incidentally. I love listening to this guy. He can build a case over a ten minute period, and it always spreads out lie crazy before finally pulling itself together at the end.

    He also has that edgy, paranoid look that Nail Ferguson has been developing recently. It is the hallmark of a serious intellectual, I figure, to become nervous and frantic at the incidence of fools in the world. The deep love of reason deludes these poor souls into caring that the great mass of humanity are as dumb as a bag full of hammers. They care that this may be so, and hide from it, and get frantic. It's great theatre for entertainment fundamentalists.

    Those two on the show at once would be awesome. Make it happen, Fareed.

    May 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  16. cynik, Switzerland

    Jerry Blakeley
    "Why has no one made a comparison regarding the moral and legal implications of our killing OBL and Gaddafi's son and 3 grandchildren? What moral or legal right did we have to drop a bomb on Gadaffi's home to kill these people. Certainly the UN resolution did not sanction this. Are we not terrorists ourselves in doing this?"

    I'm actually relieved that nobody is talking about this stuff. It gives me hope that people are thinking it, and saying nothing.

    Being cynical, I expected the press to be celebrating the killing of the Gaddafi son in the same spirit as football celebrations, as we are now seeing with Obama.

    It is so incredibly wrong to argue that the killing of any person is never a cause for celebration, and that even the death of those who are crazy and in pain, or who do not deserve to live, should be dignified?

    I'd have shot Osama bi Laden myself, and paid for the bullet, but I would not dance on any person's grave.

    Well, it's entertainment and military spending needs enemies.

    May 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  17. Maxx

    Wrt to Fareed's comments on Bernake fed conference and inflation comments, "...the Fed chairman is like the driver of the National economic automobile ...".

    The Fed tools were meant to be temporary, like weaning from a bad drug. The tools have little power to actually do long term permanent structural improvement. Unfortunately, those tools used in excess and with poor judgment, can inflict much long term harm. Printing money and lowering rates has become a permanent crutch which will lead to permanent crippling. Bernanke is in essence, trying to undo the damage that the last Fed Chairman inflicted – and in-turn likely causing more damage.

    Before the Clinton administration, the Federal Reserve was largely an unknown entity in the wings, keeping a low profile and doing the right thing for country without fanfare or political strings. Human behavior and psychology was not part of their equation. After Clinton provided a “coming out party” for the Fed Chairman Greenspan at the time (thank you Mr. C), the position seems to have gained rock star status (Do you even recall who was Fed chairman before Greenspan?) and every word spouted, rocks the markets. The Fed is now swayed by political, media and Wall Street interests and feeds on its own hype and ratings. Why did Greenspan keep rates so low for so long ? – because he was in the limelight and as such did not want to get blamed for a normal cyclical recession pattern that should have unfolded gradually—“not on my watch!”. Now we are left with his legacy.

    I think the best thing the media and commoner can do is just ignore the Fed, and let them go back to their rightful job of providing temporary band-aids in the wings.

    May 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  18. Rethink

    Very Scarry to hear someone in Elliott Abrams position been so very far out in his understanding of one of the few examples of relative success when it comes to terrorism. He claims it was a Military victory over terrorists who launch cowardly murders from the shadowsin a reasonably civilised country with the rule of law! That's so far of the mark its Very very Scarry!
    Someone should fill him on the use of internationally respected personalities visiting N. Ireland & the positive effect this had on the media "The Messenger to the people"
    This was nothing short of a very smart way to show the power of the peaceful majority when given a voice

    May 6, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Reply

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