Meet the Press   |  July 21, 2013

Class divide as a cause for trouble in Detroit

A Meet the Press roundtable discusses the socioeconomic divides in Detroit and how it impacts the current complications for the city.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> listen, we've got two narratives. the one is deindustrialization. the other is institutional failure. deindustrialization didn't only happen in detroit . it happened in san francisco and most other places.

>> pittsburgh.

>> pittsburgh, really, probably the best parallel because they had economic diversity. they had education. and they did not have institutional failure. detroit , to me, is decline 101. whether it's the roman empire , british empire , spanish empire , entrenched interests. they're together forever and forever. they get a culture of mediocrity, cronyism and collapse.

>> you think about major institutions, whether washington is broken, schools, cities. george packer , we discussed the book he's written called "the unwinding and inner history of the new america ." and he writes this, in part. no one can say when the unwinding began, when the coil that held americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way. like any great change, the unwinding began countless times, countless ways and at some moment the country always the same country crossed a lane and became different. if you were born around 1960 or afterward, you would spend your adult life in the vertigo of that unwinding. you watched structures that had been in place before your birth collapse like pillars of salt across the vast visible landscape. you think a lot about this concept of whether this is american decline or if this is something much more temporary and narrow.

>> these are -- it's not american decline. it's class . we've had a lot of discussion about race on the show today. to me the class divide is bigger than the race divide. if you're in the educated class , college-educated communities, you're not seeing decline. you've got family structures, rising incomes, you're doing fine. if you're in the less educated, whether you're african-american, latino, white, asian, you're seeing collapsing social skrurkts. 70% african-american kids born out of wedlock. so what you're seeing is this collapse of order on the bottom. if you're born into a certain class , there are certain railroad tracks , you just go along the tracks.

>> you know what, david? that's inconsistent with what the 20th century was about. because what the 20th century was about was the rise of the middle class . and the opening of doors of economic opportunity. and i think that the class divide combined with the race divide is america 's greatest 21st century challenge because what's changed is the world in which we live. the world in which we live with new competitors all across the globe. and we're in the changing dem graph demographics of america . we've had substantial progress in the 20th century when it came to closing the class divide. we've departed from that. and what i'm concerned is that we, in many, many polite circles, do not think that that class divide is a challenge to americans' economic competitiveness.

>> and governor, my mother, born in detroit , grew up at a time when a middle- class job in detroit was possible, that you could really think about sustaining a family on.

>> well, that's the whole point. is what is -- if we want congress to act on anything, it is on a strategy to keep and create middle- class jobs in america . you're right. but we are seeing the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and that large scope of poor, the group is getting larger. so how do we create, in a global economy , middle- class jobs in america ? other countries are doing this. we have not. we can learn from germany. we think that because we are exceptional as a nation, that we ought not be borrowing best practices from other countries. but in fact, the other countries have figured out how to crack the code, to create advanced manufacturing jobs in their nation. why can't we? it's because we have gridlock in congress that refuses to have any hands on when it comes