George Gilder on 'Wealth and Poverty' and its Influence Today

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Paul Ryan has been picked as Mitt Romney's running mate. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

In the past 10 days, we’ve learned a lot about Paul Ryan and the events in his upbringing that influence his policies today: The 42-year-old Congressman grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin. He’s a devout Roman Catholic. He was elected class president in high school and selected as prom king. He works out and likes to fish and hunt for deer. On his bookshelf you can find his favorites, from Ayn Rand’s "Atlas Shrugged" to the Bible.

He’s perhaps best known as the architect of the Paul Ryan budget, the leading Republican plan to balance the budget, and the book that may very well have influenced his economic ideals is George Gilder’s "Wealth and Poverty." 

A copy of that book was first handed to him by Republican political insider Cesar Conda when Paul Ryan was just a 19-year-old. At the time, that book was regarded as the intellectual guide for Reaganomics and the Reagan White House in the 1980s. When Conda got his copy of the book back from Ryan in 2007, it was heavily marked up.

George Gilder is the author of "Wealth and Poverty," which was re-released last week.


George Gilder

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja and John Light

Comments [17]

Kathy from Denver

Perhaps I didn't listen long enough to the interview, but the interviewer seemed to become offended within the first few minutes and retorted with some statement that “...all YOU PEOPLE want to stop the entitlement programs...”.
When can journalists return to civil, neutral, and objective reporting and interviewing? Please stop imposing /interjecting your own leanings into the piece and let the discussion or facts stand on their own. Much more powerful approach.
I seriously doubt that the Obama's have risen through the ranks due to affirmative action programs. There is something about taking responsibility for one's life, finding the resources, and not expecting/asking government to solve every problem.

Aug. 21 2012 10:40 PM

What Simon from Indinapolis fails to realize is that when referring to the
economic growth of the past 30 years "the wealthy" and "the poor" are not the very same wealthy and poor as 30 years ago. Those "poor" are no longer poor. They have worked hard to enter the middle class and some may even be part of the wealthy. Today there is a new "poor" that has willingly emigrated to our country for the "possibility", not the guarantee of a better life. It always works this way in our country. Otherwise why would we have created programs like "affirmative action" and others. In fact, look at our president and his wife. Well educated (Harvard and Princeton) and moved through middle class to become wealthy with the help of our tax dollars and affirmative action. Is that not what these programs have been designed to do????

Aug. 21 2012 06:52 PM
Todd Zwillich from New York, NY

Thank you everyone for your comments on the George Gilder interview. It's good to see it got people interested.

Here's how I approached Guilder for this interview: His book was written more than 30 years ago. It has been debated, redebated, parsed and dissected many times over. Rather than call him to task for the validity of his theories, my aim was to help listeners get to know more about the economic philosophy that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan embrace. George Gilder isn't running for office, nor is Ronald Reagan. But Romney and Ryan are. And if Gilder's book is credited with being an important foundation of Paul Ryan's philosophy, then let's hear what that philosophy is.

I think the interview achieved that. And if you learned a thing or two about what a couple of the candidates think, I'm glad.

Thanks for listening!

Todd Zwillich

Aug. 21 2012 05:48 PM

This interview with Gilder today was a appalling - the guy is basically selling a repackaged version of the Laffer curve and whoever was interviewing him basically backslapped and laughed with him through the whole thing.

Gilder claimed the tax cuts in China/Poland/Estonia somehow prove his theory to be correct & you didn't think to ask him what the starting tax rates were in each of those countries and what those rates were cut to?

You let him claim stock prices prove Obama's policies have failed Wall Street - AND YOU DIDN'T THINK TO MENTION THE DOW SETTING RECORD HIGHS: ( )???

The interview was bad and you should feel bad.

Aug. 21 2012 04:37 PM
Joe from Salem, Oregon

i don't tune into NPR for one-sided partisan politics, and I hope that is not what this program is going to be. However, this segment was clearly designed to allow the guest an open, unchecked platform where all the typical top-down theories are stated as fact. I can think of another network that allows similar one-sided views an unchecked platform and airtime.

Since this show has only been on OPB for a few weeks now I am inclined to give the benefit of the doubt but segments like this make me question it from the start.

Aug. 21 2012 04:26 PM
Vinny from Manalapan, NJ

"William Alexander
I was flabergasted that TheTakeAway gave a fair interview to George "

If by "fair interview" you mean not challenging the guest with any voracity that you happen to agree with, than yes, it was a "fair interview".

Aug. 21 2012 04:02 PM

I was very disappointed with the interviewer. There was no follow up to any of the guest's claims. For example, when he said that the current economic crisis is a result of the failed policies of the president, why didn't the interviewer ask him to elaborate on which policies? How have they created our current problems? The whole interview went that way - the guest was allowed to make sweeping statements and never asked to support them with detail. I got so frustrated that I finally turned it off.

Aug. 21 2012 03:42 PM
Tom Stickler from Pawleys Island, SC

George Gilder was very careful in his claim that the Reagan era tax cuts resulted in an increase in the taxes paid by the rich, as if that were an unalloyed good thing, and could cure the economy tomorrow.

He ignores the fact that this can only happen when there is an increase in wage inequality so great that the proportion of the nation's total income going to "the rich" goes up more than the reduction in tax rates.

Income inequality started a steep increase with the Reagan administration while middle class incomes have stagnated.

That explains why this current economic downturn is dragging on and on. In contrast to the recovery in the Reagan administration, this recession is hobbled by a lack of demand. Greater income inequality accounts for this lack of demand, since "the rich" can eat only so much and wear out only so many clothes and cars, while the rest of the people try to make do with what they have and try to hang on until things get better.

BTW, when David Rockefeller, Sr. is your godfather, you get opportunities to spout economic nonsense without worrying whether you are wrong, and may lose your job.

Aug. 21 2012 02:56 PM
Beaufort Cranford from Dearborn, Michigan

Great comments from Toyo and Froodish. I was almost as put off by Gilder's laughable hogwash as I was offended by the interviewer's reference to Social Security as an "entitlement." This, of course, is pure Tea Party crap. I worked for my Social Security; I earned it. And there's no way I'll ever get back what I put into it. It's no bloody entitlement. That's not only a careless adoption of a pejorative with no basis (as was the sidelong reference to Barack Obama and George W. Bush as big spenders; somebody needs to fact-check this juxtaposition); it's also abysmal journalism.

Aug. 21 2012 02:01 PM
Toyo Yamamoto from Salem OR

A new low for NPR. This uncritical review of George Gilder and celebration of the Reagan legacy was quite lacking in any context. Gilder's racism, lack of understanding of feminist issues, and unabashed cheerleading of the bogus concepts of Hayek, Friedman et al were not explored. It is possible to link Ryan to such nonsense to provide an understanding of his fantasies, but this did not happen.
Please take the Take Away off of Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Aug. 21 2012 01:47 PM

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old’s
life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish
fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable
heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood,
unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
--John Rogers

Aug. 21 2012 01:31 PM
Angel from Miami, FL

Is George Gilder the reincarnation of Ayn Rand? Let's delay Enlightenment and ride this crazy train 'til our delusions float to the top of the cult latrine!

The reason Atlas Shrugged and Wealth and Poverty still sell is because these are works of fiction. Outside a school Home-Ec project, a single individual cannot fathom the intricacies of any economic system and the myriad forces at work upon it. To think that an author can create a working economic model via allegory and quasi-math is simply dumb. It's dumb.

Why not use Starship Troopers to shape future citizenship and immigration laws? The book deals with stuff like that. But you know it will work because it's set in "The Future".

Paul Ryan mentions these books along with the bible because he's really a big mythology geek.

Aug. 21 2012 10:39 AM
William Alexander

I was flabergasted that TheTakeAway gave a fair interview to George
Guilder. Looking at all of the above responses tells you that most of your listeners are of a monolithic, closed-minded, and Left leaning persuasion. They were also suprised about your interview! Congratulations, and keep up the good work. The Left saying this economic theory is VOODOO Economics is too easy not to mention inaccurate.

Aug. 21 2012 10:29 AM
Jon Pope from Ridge, NY

Please ask guest if tax breaks work like he claims, why have the "job creators" who have been getting tax breaks for almost a decade have yet to create any jobs?

Aug. 21 2012 09:44 AM
Karl from Denver

Guilder's comments on the role of fairness reminds me of capitalism as currently practiced in Russia. There it is a rich take all game. The USA gets more and more like that.

Fairness matters. Responsible budgeting matters. The only time we reached budget balance in recent times is due to Clinton's combination of fairness and responsibility.

Maybe Guilder out to get out a bit more, and see what his vision of capitalism looks like.

Aug. 21 2012 09:41 AM
Jessie Henshaw from way uptown

This guy is in complete fantasy detachment from any idea of functional organization and method.

Aug. 21 2012 09:37 AM
Simon from Indianapolis

I was disappointed that the takeaway came close to endorsing the Gilder's views. The title of his book "Wealth and Poverty" says it all. The economic growth of the past 30 years has increased both WEALTH for the wealthy and POVERTY for the poor. If that is the measure of success of Reaganomics, then it has been highly successful. You can see why the top 1% endorse Gilder and Ryan's economic vision, but this nation does not need any more of their success.

Aug. 21 2012 08:56 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.