Mark Cuban Wants to Save Capitalism from Itself
This is the New Yorker Radio Hour. CO-PRODUCTION WNYC studios and Yorker. welcome to the New Yorker Radio Hour I'm David Ramnik mark. Cuban's life story is like a capitalist fairy tale. A working class kid from Pittsburgh gets into technology early, and he becomes a prolific investor, a billionaire, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and then one of the hosts of ABC Shark Tank. When I was starting audio was turned into the Stream and industry basically I had people coming to me throwing money at me? We had zero in sales nothing not one person understood what we were doing. They just do based off. But Mark Cuban's politics have been veering in an unusual direction for billionaire. He recently tweeted that the government should higher millions of unemployed people to assist with covert recovery and he also tweeted. This now is the time to train or pay stay at home, parents and caregivers as well. Ideas that might have come from Bernie. Sanders were Alexandria. Cossio Cortez. Our business correspondent Sheila Kaul. Had car talk to mark Cuban earlier this month. You've been advocating recently for things like a much higher federal minimum, wage and payments to individual workers from the government. Putting health of workers head of prophets, which is a somewhat radical notion in some circles. You know the number one thing that I've been trying to push is a transitional federal jobs program. In order for the the economy to come back in an order for for people to feel more confident about their lives they have to. They're going to have to be more jobs. I mean we've lost thirty plus million jobs. We have another twenty million people who are underemployed, so there's fifty million people who are on precarious work positions. What I proposed is that we look at the things that we need as a society and as an economy and start hiring people for those jobs. Jobs and are giving the examples we need tracking and tracing that that's a given and testing. Why not hire two three four million people? Whatever the number is, train them you know within all the hip regulations of privacy requirements to be healthcare workers that can implement tracking tracing also testing for that matter. Pay Them you know at least thirty thousand dollars a year plus benefits now you have that number of people who are confident that they have jobs and are willing to become sumers. Would you have ever thought that you'd be advocating for a big expansion of the federal government prior to this pandemic? That was the very quick answer. Hell No, no, absolutely not, but these are unique circumstances. Unfortunately, so what happened? When did you start to realize? This was different from other kinds of economic crises. Yeah. I mean because it happened so quickly still compressed. We've never had a scenario where businesses just shut down. You know across the country for the most part. So when you get this compression, you can't go back to the old dog matic ways and say this is the way it worked before because there was no before that's Azkaban, and so there is not a Republican way. Trickle down doesn't work and even a democratic way of just random spending, and just you know find ways to spend money injected into the economy. Economy that won't work either. You need to create in my mind a scenario where you create jobs that people have confidence, they'll be able to retain all those companies who are able to borrow money whether big or small. There's nobody buying their products or services. They won't survive, so this has to be a bottom-up solution, not a top down or trickle down solution. Some of these ideas just sound almost progressive to be Has That's something you've struggled with it all I? Mean you know look I'm and I could care less about how it's categorized label. They don't care at all we literally are. Are you know in my opinion going from America? One point zero to try to figure out what America two point zero is going to look like progressive. Dog, Matic perspectives are out the window. Conservative dogmatic perspectives are out the window. There are no rules at work. We have to solve a problem. People's lives on the line. I'm curious to know. How would you rate the trump administration's response so far in terms of their economic policy actions. Has, the cares act done what it was supposed to do. No, but it wasn't because of the plan. It was because of the execution, and so the plan itself was great PPP. Program effectively was to try to get money into businesses hands so that they can retain their employees immediately. The word immediately means everything. The fact that it took so long to get money into companies, hands and by proxy into employees, hands. That's created a different set of challenges and that's been the problem. It does seem to me that the you know the federal money that was earmarked for these different sort of bailout programs. You had the P. P P program the loans that turned into grants. Than you had the different piles of money going to the Federal Reserve to go to larger. What do you make of the fact that the restrictions on those different piles of money seemed to be so different. I mean it does seem to be that the smaller you are. There are a lot of restrictions a lot of hoops to jump through. The largest companies have the fewest restrictions. There is nothing to prevent them from using money. They get through the Fed buying their debt to do stock buybacks, even as they're laying people off What do you make of that? It's wrong. It's absolutely wrong. Any money that goes to a big public company. There should be a reward for taxpayers for loaning to them. If we had given twenty five billion dollars to Boeing, taxpayer should've gotten warrants. They should've gotten options. They should've gotten preferred distributions that has to take place with any money's going to bigger companies period end of story. On top of that if there's anything that's given to executives and that company UNA Perry pursue basis, it should be given to employees so just to pick numbers out there at the CEO makes a million dollars a year, and has given a million dollars and warrants, options or stock repricing. Then there's the same amount of grant. Opportunities should be given to the the lowest end worker for one hundred percent of their earnings. This truly should be capitalism at its best coming up with solutions to very severe problems with the reward, not necessarily going into an individual's pocket, but going into the taxpayer's pocket. I mean. These are very appealing ideas, and and they make a lot of sense, but again it's it's. It's a very heavy involvement of the government, and where you're almost suggesting a situation where the government is telling companies who gets paid what? And I could imagine that the corporate world being very resistant to being told how much they can pay. They WANNA. Pay CEO's whatever they want and they WANNA pay workers. As little. He wants right when businesses good all CEO's or capitalist when business is bad, all CEO's are socialists, right? They want as much as they can get for as little as possible But you know somebody's gotta put populist hat on and negotiate for the tax payers. Company and that's all I'm talking about. It's a form of capitalism, but it's it's different from the traditional understanding of capitalism is sort of a new idea of capitalism that you're thinking. If you look at it that way at all I'm just we have to have good representation of workers, and the economy is whole by true capitalist, and maybe that turns people off or rubs people the wrong way, but just not doing what's right and to me that's that's capitalism at its best, maybe with a little added dose of compassion, which I think particularly right now is needed, but is also a business I mean if you look at millennials and generation Z.. They only want to buy from people who. whose ideals they match up with, and those types of points of compassion are good business, and now we just have to apply those same concepts to what we do as a country. You know the game has changed. You know we're in a world now. Where if the people that we live next to the people that we pass in the streets, the people in our communities aren't doing well. Then all business fails. If people can't afford to buy anything, but the basics may not even the basics. All businesses of all sizes fail and I think people are starting to recognize now that if we don't lift up from the bottom, there won't be consumer demand because this all happened so quickly. Investor in Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. He spoke with our business correspondent Sheila had car. Shield up Mark Cuban said to you that Progressive Orthodoxy and Conservative Orthodoxy are now out the window because of the pandemic, but as anything. He just told us not in fact, progressive orthodoxy. I. Think if you were to put the question to him. He would say well. My ideas are very focused on job, preservation and job creation. traditional sort of democratic socialist. Politician might be more focused on giving money to people giving social services, social supports and programs to people rather than focusing on the job element, but I thought it was interesting that a lot of the things that Mark Cuban says that he's four right now in terms of addressing. The problem and giving people more. Money to get through this are not happening because the Republicans in Congress. Don't want them to happen. And in many cases, the Republicans are actively blocking these things from happening the idea of extending unemployment benefits, considering sending more cash aid to families. There definitely opposed to that idea. They think it will create a disincentive. To working which is their longstanding argument? Sheila is Mark Cuban alone on this hill. Are there other business leaders saying similar things? There are. You've even seen the CEO of J. P. Morgan Chase, CEO, recently. You know we need to take this as an opportunity to rethink capitalism. Look I've personally spoken to Wall Street. Executives I think a lot of people even conservative wall. Street executives recognize the uniqueness of this situation and a number of people have expressed to me privately. Listen. You've got to give people money to get through this or there's going to be an uprising. There's going to be tumult in the government has to help people through that or you're going to have a real problem. You can find Sheila Kaul. Had Cars Work at New Yorker? Dot Com. This is the New Yorker Radio Hour. Stick around! This is the New Yorker Radio. Hour I'm David Redneck. Katie Waldman is one of the most voracious readers I know, which is good because that's her job. She writes the page Turner Column. For The New Yorker and she's always got a pile of the most interesting and on point books of the moment around. And while some people are talking about the big serious books, they're finally going to tackle. Katie Waldman recently wrote a piece about something quite different. We're here to talk about comic novels and not is definitely been wonderful and actually kind of a change of speed for me, because I'm more of a waller by nature than an escapist, so I was doing a lot of kind of grim reading. I was working on a piece of diaries, and I was reading civil war diaries Anne Frank's diaries, and it was all about enclosure and loneliness, and suddenly I thought you know I actually don't need an even worse reflection of the way that I'm feeling I would like to feel something completely different. So. I started reading comic novels, and so the first novel the I want to recommend is not going surprise anyone, but it's. Right Ho Jeeves by PG woodhouse. He is wonderful. He is written twenty three of these Birdie and jeeves stories and right Ho Jeeves is widely regarded I. think as the Crown Jewel. Jeeves is the Butler. He's STOIC. He's brilliant. He's impeccable and then Birdie is the colorful well-to-do fashionable young master. WHO's really friendly and loyal and wants to help those close to him. Get Out of scrapes, but he is unfortunately a bit of a Dodo. Glorious lack of self awareness. Getty. Did you want to read a passage from this novel sure? Well, I should introduce this by saying that right Ho Jeeves is in what is known as the rebellious period of the Brady and jeeves relationship so Birdie is quite a funded that his friends are leapfrogging over him to consult Jeeves so he is quite insulted and he tries to take a soothing bath to take mind off of the indignity. When one has taken the trouble to whack out a highly juicy scheme to benefit, and in the suit friend in his hour of Travail, it's pretty foul to find him giving the credit to one's personal attendant, particularly, if that personal attendant is a man who goes about the place, not packing mess jackets. The discovery of toy duck in the soapdish. Presumably, the property of some former juvenile visitor contributed not a little to this new and happier frame of mind. What with one thing and another, I hadn't played with Toy Dachshund, my for years and I found the novel experience. Most invigorating for the benefit of those interested I may mention that if you shove the thing under the surface with a sponge, and then let it go. It shoots out of the water in a manner calculated to divert the most care warn. Ten minutes of this and I was enabled to return to the bedchamber much more the Mary Old Bertram. The thing that people comment on all the time, and you can't help but love in. Would houses just the sentences that the language the sound of it? The kind of jokes that seem. inimitable, where does where does that come from I mean it's a great question. Because I think he creates these very ornate cataracts of nonsense. Like. This person doesn't necessarily know where his sentence is going to end, and neither do you, but you're in it together. Presuming that you're not just plowing your way through a stack of woodhouse day after day. What else is on your? Hit parade well I wanted to bring up Richard Russo's novels straight man in part, because it heartaches in a long and glorious tradition of grumpy professor novels. Straight man is about an English professor named Hank, who is kind of wisecracking and anarchic, and he has all these problems in his department. First of all, there's no money, so he has no budget. Second of all his colleagues are back. Biting and rude and one is physically violent. Third he is estranged from his wife. His children are kind of feeling to launch Sui as all these somewhat ivory tower problems, and the climax of these various simmering pots is he ransoms a goose from the university duck pond and declares that he will kill it and less. Someone gives him a budget with which he can get things done in the English department and it just gets crazier from there. Sounds Great. Have you ever thought of Richard? Rousseau is really funny. Writer but somebody WHO's. It's an interesting point because I think he. When I I found it I was in middle school and I thought it was the most charming book I ever read. Now you know rereading it. It's not entirely lighthearted. The stakes are somewhat high. The emotions are real and often painful, and you kind of see that he's made a conscious decision to laugh instead of cry, and that's his way of claiming agency. There's a real understanding their the comedy sort of glows the brightest when it is sat in tragic frame. What's next on your reading list? So this one is called lightning rods, and it's by Helen dewitt. Have you heard about this book or Heaven? She is a wonderful author. You may have read the last Samurai, which was praise to the heavens, but this is slightly smaller and a little bit weirder work. It's an office sex comedy, and and the idea is that There's a lot of ambient sexual tension in the American workplace, and so this one guy has the idea to deploy temp workers that provide anonymous sex to people in a corporation and company gone. So that they don't sexually harass the actual female employees bizarre sounding novel. Yeah, well one thing that's kind of funny about it is. You haven't seen better. Call Saul. Have you sort of breaking bad spin off I have okay, so this is a very the main character is very saul like he's kind of hapless on one, and but also this kind of silver, tawny opportunist at flexible morals who? We actually start to think in his rhythms, because dewitt inhabits his thoughts, and that itself is somewhat audacious and funny. You keep hearing about readers who say okay now. That I've got this, you know. Thanks to this terrible thing. This opportunity that I'm finally going to read and then fill in the blank. Do you have anything like that on your list? I should finish moby Dick Right. Yes. Yes, you always come up short with Moby, Dick. You know I actually really love it. It's very Allah Ping I just. I. Don't have that drive to finish it because I like having it there as something that I can always always make a little bit of progress on well. Here's to good reading. Thank you so much, Katie thank you. Katie Waldman has more recommendations for comic novels, and you can read her on books new and old at new. Yorker DOT COM. Now if you're thinking that while you're spending so much time at home, this might be the chance to master that craft. That's always eluded you. We've got a little cautionary tale. A few years ago, The New Yorker Susan Orlean attended Origami USA a gathering of the hard core of Origami guests. Here Susan. I've always loved reading about and writing about people who are inordinately passionate about something, which is kind of a nicer way of saying people who are obsessed. Of course I. Love Origami People. That I went to the convention to see one origami person in particular, a Caltech train physicists name Robert Lang. Robert had been doing cutting edge, research and lasers, but then at the peak of his career in physics, he gave it up to become professional origami artist. Every Origami Fan at the convention wanted to be in a class with Robert. He's the Davinci of Origami maybe his. The OBI Wan Kanobi of Origami many's the secretariat of Origami. He was teaching session on a model of his call the Taiwan goldfish. It's open, seven hundred and sixteen in the WHO've of Robert Lang. This is Robert Lay be presenting his Taiwan goldfish. Thank you Robert. You're welcome. Are we ready to go? Okay I told the folks here. We're using ten inch. Foil backed paper. American foil flew over years. Robert has folded flat sheets of paper into an unimaginable array of things including rhinoceros. Kuku clocks UNICORNS. Nearly every kind of beatle known to mankind, and in one of his most famous demonstrations, the head of Drew Carey. There was a plot line where drew Carey took up on me, and they said well. We want them to fold a big origami model himself. So would you fold? A Life Drew Carey which I did but they rewrote that script. So, it never made it to air. Sort of too bad. Now I am the lowest level of. Artist fact I really shouldn't even dignify myself by calling myself an artist. I I like folding paper. Normally. I would not be the target audience for Roberts Class. So. Let's get started and we're GONNA. Start with the color up. And folded paper in half from edge to edge. This was step by step instruction on how to fold Roberts Taiwan goldfish. It's this really beautiful creature with a hinged mouth. Long elegant tail, and all the proper goldfish fins trailing off in a kind of poetic way. and. It's really hard. So hand. Don't go so fast. So I cheated. I was sitting next to a friend of Roberts another professional origami artists. And he kept leaning over in helping me. Fix My mistakes. Here's where we were. Going to bring this raw edge. Lineup with a diagonal existing crease as I do that. I'll have to make a squash fold of the layers in between squash that and flatten. There's a low close up. The crease folded over. And I squash fold a little hood. And then pressed flat. There is a problem and we're ready for our next step. Origami is an ancient art form that nobody would ever describe as a growth industry, but we're also now recognizing that it has enormous technological potential. In fact in two thousand twelve, the National Science Foundation awarded millions of dollars for research into the scientific applications of folding, and this this gave a huge jump start to the field. There have been all of all of these applications that people have demonstrated. Demonstrated using origami and solar rays and airbags and telescopes and things like this, and this is something. The really cool ways Origami is being used now is as a foldable Kevlar bulletproof barrier for police teams, so it's twelve layers of Kevlar and you grab it, and it unfolds and creates this sort of arc shaped barrier, because it's folded from one sheet with no scenes, there are no weak places. The next step is going to be a CRIMP. Shrimp is to foul. Valley Goldfish Mountain exists. The mountain folds. Is this verdict goal crease that we made early on. The valley folds going to run out in this. Is there something innate that would make someone good at Origami as opposed to just being studious? It's hard to put a finger on precisely what is? To be really good Origami. You need to be able to visualize what the papers doing and visualize. kind of what's what's going on inside a stack of layers. You know I just thought. This might be ridiculous, but. I wonder if people who are good at our Gami would also be good at cutting hair. because its three dimensional. And it's lots of layers. And have to research that, but it's just. I don't know any haircutters who come to the convention I'm drawing this connection. 'cause I'm really bad at cutting hair much as I always love to cut like my boyfriend's hair. And also quite bad at Origami, and so I think I think there is a connection known origami. If we mess up, we throw it away. Grab a new sheet of paper. You have to have a little more care and precision when you're reading. Someone say new boyfriend. Just. Get a new person. Can See this. This side is half of a reversible GONNA. Do the same thing on the other side. I should have had more coffee. I remember when we first met. You said something to me. That I've never forgotten that that paper has a memory that once you fold it. You can never entirely. Remove the fold my remembering this right. Yeah, one once you, may you fold it at the paper has a memory because the the the fibers and the bonds between the fibers or permanently changed, and so it'll, it'll always know that full. It's funny because it's something I think about often because there's something kind of profound about it, if feels. Seems like it's kind of about life to. The engineers have a way of you know reducing a profound concept to a technical term. It undergoes plastic deformation just means A. Change and lots of materials do that as well. If you take a sheet of metal, and you hold it, and then you try to unfold it. You'll be left with a little bit you that you can't really get rid of but paper Yes. It remembers that fold, but then it's also happy to fold the other direction. And Dad is unusual. Key Kid. And the very last regular full. I'm going to. Open it out. And reversible at forward. So that. We go. You get a mouth. That is the mouth. Is. And once you have the mouth then. You can put your fingers inside round the body. And bring the Finns out. That's our finished goldfish. And our visitor was successful. Well. Let's. Susan Orlean with the Origami Legend. Robert Lang Susan's most recent book of nonfiction is called. The library book. I'm David Remnant and that's our show for today. Thanks for joining US I hope you'll join us next time for the New Yorker Radio Hour. The new. Yorker Radio Hour is a CO production of WNYC studios and the New Yorker. Our theme music was composed and performed by merrill garbage of tune yards with additional music by Alexis quadruple. This episode was produced by Baron Emily Boutin Ave Correo ran in corby Cala David. Krosno Caroline Lester. Go Fan and put. Louis Mitchell Michelle, Moses, and Steven Valentino with help from Alison Macadam, Morgan Flannery Monkey Chen and emily man. The New Yorker Radio. Hour supported in part by the Tarinah and domino.