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  • - Good evening.

  • I'm Janet Gornick, Professor of Political Science

  • and Sociology here at The CUNY Graduate Center

  • and I'm also director of The Stone Center

  • on socioeconomic inequality,

  • one of the hosts for this evening's event,

  • and it's my pleasure to welcome you this evening.

  • Welcome to those of you in the Elebash Recital Hall

  • and welcome to our viewers joining via live stream.

  • Let me just say a few words about

  • the City University of New York and The Graduate Center

  • for those of you who might not be familiar with CUNY

  • or The Graduate Center.

  • CUNY, which of course serves the city of New York

  • is the country's largest urban public university

  • and the third largest university system

  • in the United States.

  • We have 25 campuses, about 275000 matriculated students

  • and nearly 7000 professors.

  • Among the overarching themes

  • to be raised this evening is inequality,

  • and in my view, there's no more appropriate setting

  • in which to discuss inequality than here at CUNY.

  • CUNY itself is a massive project aimed

  • at reducing socioeconomic inequality

  • and enabling intergenerational mobility.

  • When our first college, The City College of New York,

  • was founded in 1847, it was described as an experiment

  • whose purpose was to educate

  • the children of the whole people.

  • And over 170 years later, our mission is intact.

  • CUNY, with a design unique in the United States,

  • has dedicated one of its campuses to graduate study

  • and that's The Graduate Center where we are this evening,

  • The Graduate Center, a small school embedded

  • in this large system enrolls nearly 5000 graduate students

  • across an array of disciplines.

  • The Graduate Center is strongly committed

  • to CUNY's historic mission, we provide access

  • to doctoral education for diverse groups

  • of talented students including those

  • who have been underrepresented in higher education.

  • In the last decade, the graduate center has set,

  • among its highest priorities, expanding our capacity

  • in research and teaching in the field

  • of socioeconomic inequality

  • with an emphasis on empirical work,

  • high quality data and quantitative methods.

  • One of our primary goals is to contribute to

  • and to deepen the complicated national

  • and international conversation about economic inequality

  • that has received so much attention in recent years.

  • This evening's event will address several of the economic,

  • political and institutional challenges that many of us here

  • at The Graduate Center and throughout CUNY

  • have grappled with in recent years.

  • The Graduate Center is now home

  • to more than 30 research centers

  • and institutes including our own,

  • The Stone Center on Socioeconomic Inequality.

  • The center's mission is to build and disseminate knowledge

  • related to the causes, nature and consequences

  • of multiple forms of socioeconomic inequality.

  • The Stone Center has six core faculty members,

  • myself, Leslie McCall who's on stage,

  • Miles Corak, Paul Krugman,

  • Salvatore Morelli and Branko Milanovic.

  • Tonight, The Graduate Center and The Stone Center

  • are delighted to be partnering with The Guardian

  • whose new series, 'Broken Capitalism',

  • addresses the question of why discontent with capitalism

  • is rising and asks if it can be repaired.

  • Richard Reeves, from whom you'll hear in just a moment,

  • is the guest editor for this Guardian series.

  • Richard is bringing together an extraordinary group

  • of scholars, politicians, writers and activists

  • to reflect on this critical topic.

  • I encourage you to follow this series

  • which will run throughout the summer

  • and we're extremely pleased tonight

  • to offer this companion live event

  • which will examine the topic of democracy and capitalism

  • asking the fundamental and rather ambitious question,

  • can they co-exist?

  • Tonight's event is also part of The Graduate Center's

  • two year initiative of scholarship and public programs

  • called the Promise and Perils of Democracy

  • which is supported in part by a grant

  • from the Carnegie Corporation New York.

  • And now without further ado,

  • I'd like to introduce our moderator

  • for tonight, Richard Reeves.

  • Richard is a senior fellow in economic studies

  • at the Brookings Institution where he's also co-director

  • of the Center on Children and Families.

  • He's author of the highly praised book,

  • 'Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class

  • 'Is Leaving Everyone in the Dust,

  • 'Why That's a Problem, and What to Do About It.

  • 'Richard will introduce our distinguished panel.'

  • Richard, I turn the evening over to you.

  • - Thank you Janet for that great introduction.

  • (audience applauding)

  • It's my great pleasure to be moderating this panel today

  • and to be guest editing The Guardian series.

  • It's a deliberately provocative title of course,

  • the idea that capitalism and democracy can't coexist

  • is a provocative one.

  • It's one we wouldn't have even asked ourselves

  • not so very long ago and probably the thinking behind

  • the title of this evening's event but also this series

  • is to think about the connections between

  • our political system, our forms of governance and democracy

  • and our economic system.

  • So it goes, it wasn't that long ago

  • when we wouldn't even ask,

  • not only not asking a question whether they can coexist

  • but also they seem like natural bedfellows.

  • Those long enough memories,

  • we remember the end of history being declared,

  • the end of the Cold War and there's just this sense

  • that broadly market based economies

  • would come together, converge together

  • with broadly representative political systems.

  • It seemed to be the way the world was converging

  • but now we're seeing the rise of illiberal democracies,

  • the rise of state forms of capitalism.

  • And a real question being asked now

  • which is how do the traditional ways

  • in which market based economies operate,

  • really interact with political systems

  • and particularly with democratic systems.

  • And Janet has already set up very well

  • by talking about the rise in inequality,

  • sluggish income growth especially in the middle

  • and the bottom and growing fears about climate crisis.

  • The promise of capitalism is one that is being questioned

  • as, I would say, as never before

  • but certainly more strongly questioned

  • than in recent history.

  • In some polling you'll now see

  • significant numbers of Americans especially millennials

  • and those who support a democrat party

  • saying that they actually kind of veer more

  • towards socialism than capitalism.

  • On closer investigation of course,

  • what they really mean is more social democracy,

  • something more like a welfare state

  • and so being clear in our definitions is important too.

  • And so what I'm gonna do is introduce our three speakers

  • who are gonna speak to this kind of question

  • and what does it mean to be a citizen

  • in both a political democracy and a participant

  • in a capitalist economy, what does that mean now?

  • Where are the pressure points?

  • Why are we having this conversation at all?

  • They'll each give some brief comments,

  • I'll then moderate the discussion between the panelists

  • and then we'll throw it open to the floor for Q&A.

  • I'm gonna offer brief introductions

  • because obviously you can look online

  • to see more about our distinguished panel.

  • And I'm going to introduce in the order

  • in which they're going to speak.

  • So first we're gonna hear from Andrew Yang.

  • Andrew Yang is a tech entrepreneur, he's a philanthropist,

  • he founded 'Venture for America'

  • and he's author of most recent book of

  • 'The War on Normal People:

  • 'The Truth About America's Disappearing Jobs

  • 'and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future.'

  • I apologize in advance to the other panelists.

  • I don't have their book in my hand.

  • That's because they didn't just give it to me

  • whereas Andrew cleverly gave me the book,