Professor Lawrence Lessig on “The Corrupting Influence of Money on Politics”

so thank you Dean Lester do I call you Dean or do I call you acting okay justine Lester it's good it's wonderful to be here I'm but I have to confess I'm a little anxious to be here I'm anxious because one part of my life a big chunk of the last 25 years of my life has been as an academic but the part of my life I want to talk about tonight is life as an activist I spend a chunk of my life talking about academic questions but i would ask citizen questions tonight and I was led to this shift by a certain recognition a recognition that I know many of the people in this audience share the recognition that something fundamental is not working I got to this place by thinking about IP both VIP as in tcp/ip and the IP as in copyright as IP my academic work focused in this area in this sense I spent like chunk of my life in the same place Thomas Jordan spent his life and in this space as we talked about these issues for over 15 years I saw progress everywhere in the recognition and understanding of people universities businesses parents ordinary Americans about the need for progress and to update the way in which the law thought about both the regulation of technology and the regulation of copyright we saw progress everywhere except for this place in this place members of Congress promulgated ideas like the statute in honor of this great American the sonny bono copyright term extension act a statute which extended the term of existing copyrights by 20 years an idea which when we challenged in the Supreme Court we had a brief by a bunch of economists including this right let the left wait no I'm sorry this is non filming right wing Nobel prize-winning economist who said he would join the brief attacking the statute only if the word no-brainer was somewhere in the brief so obvious was it that you couldn't advance the public good by extending the term of existing copyrights but apparently there were no brains in this place when Congress unanimously extended the term of existing copyrights an institution that promulgated this statute the SOPA PIPA statute which brought Wikipedia to shut down in protest and a year ago then led thousands of people to call their Congress people to get them to withdraw that idea a regime that leads people like this US Attorney Carmen Ortiz to say something like stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar showing clearly she understands neither computers nor crowbars so the question is why is it I asked about six years ago our political system is so bad in understanding and updating its recognition the way the law should work in this particular area and about 2006 I'm embarrassed to say I had the recognition that of course it wasn't just here in the area of IP that this failure to understand an update occurred it was in a wide range of areas but the particular focus that I had at that time was around this film which a friend of mine made for al gore and so I got to see Gore present this talk again and again and again and it hit me I thought it was a smart person but when I realized it took me so long to recognize this I realized I couldn't be a smart person it hit me that it wasn't just esoteric questions like IP where we couldn't get a Congress to respond to the obvious truths that other people got it was in this fundamental area too and in many fundamental areas and when you ask why is it the institution was incapable of focusing here I was struck by the comments of James Hansen who of course is one of Al Gore's heroes in the context of this film but as hansen accounts for the failure of the system to understand and respond to global warming he says I believe the biggest obstacle to solving global warming is the role of money in politics so between night 2006 and 2007 I had the great pleasure of being in Berlin I was writing the final book that I wrote in this space remix about this issue and I was visited by an extraordinary young man Aaron Swartz who came to Berlin to attend a conference called the Chaos Computer Conference and in January came to visit me at at the American Academy and we had a long conversation that night the two of us and he said to me in that conversation how are you going to ever deal with the issues that you care about without dealing with this corruption first and I said to him you know Aaron it's not my field on my field and he said as an academic I said yes as an academic it's not my field my field is technology and policy and I focused my energy there and he said well what about as a citizen what about as a citizen and it was that conversation that led me to decide that I was going to throw away all the intellectual capital I had built for the last ten fifteen years and started a new project which announced that summer a project to focus on this question of the corrupting influence of money and how do we rally or build the recognition necessary to address it and it's this move between the academic and the citizen that I want us to think about tonight in particular I want to think about the luxuries we can afford as citizens and his academics because it's academics we have to recognize at least in America it's as great as it has ever been in the history of human culture it's as great as it's ever been the resources the opportunity the culture encourages us to take her to question to wait to watch to quibble it is what we do as academics the question I want to ask tonight is what do we do as citizens can we afford this luxury as citizens because when you think back to other moments in our history when a political system felt it had to confront fundamental issues it didn't have the luxury that academics have today think back to the founding framers recognizing the nation was about to fall off the cliff recognizing they needed to figure out a new structure all they had was history a little bit of law they didn't even understand Adam Smith yet they had no regressions they had didn't even have Windows 3.1 they had none of these things for addressing the most important issues that they had yet they had to address them it had to address them with what they knew and architect a constitutional system they felt what makes sense with what they knew the puzzle is now that we have more than they had but it feels as if we have less capacity to do anything with what we have less capacity to resolve and move forward to decide to fix and I think we can't afford less anymore we have to think about how do we frame what we do in a way to get us into something more so here's the argument i want to lay out i'm going to set it up with a certain framing of the problem but i want to introduce this problem by telling you a story and disney told me that all stories have to begin like this so once upon a time started out with all due respect to the dean there was a place called Lester land Lester land now jelly didn't mention this because it's a secret I don't like anybody know this so don't tell anybody but my first name is Lester so I'm allowed to make fun of last year's I'm not making fun of the Dean I'm making fun of I'm invoking my own name here Lester land so here's last early unless you looks a lot like the United States like the United States it has about 310 million people and of the 310 million people it turns out 144,000 of them are named Lester so that means about point zero five percent of Lester land is named Lester now the thing about Lester land is that Lester's have a certain kind of power in lesterland there are two elections every election cycle in Westerland there's a general election and there is a Lester election in the last election the Lester's get to vote in the general election all citizens over 18 in some states if you have an ID get to vote but here's the catch to be allowed to run in the general election you must do extremely well in the Lester election you don't necessarily have to win but you must do extremely well now what can we say about this picture of democracy called Lester lamp well we can say number one as a supreme court said in Citizens United but the people in lesterland have the ultimate influence over elected officials because after all there is a general election but only after the Lester's have had their way with the candidates who wish to run in that general election and number two we can say obviously this dependence upon the Lester's is going to produce a subtle understated may be camouflaged bending to keep these Lester's happy and number three reform that angers the Lester's is likely to be highly unlikely in leicester lat okay now once you have this conception of Lester land I want you to see three fins that follow from this conception number one the United States is Lester left the United States is lesterland United States also looks like this also has two elections one's called the general election the other is called the money election and the general election all citizens get to vote if you are over 18 in some states if you have an ID in the money election it's the relevant funders who get to vote and as in lesterland to be allowed to run in the general election you must do extremely well in the money election you don't necessarily have to win there are jerry Brown's in this story but you must do extremely well but here's the key there are just as few relevant funders in this democracy as there are Lester's in lesterland now you say really point zero five percent when hear the numbers from 2012 2012 point four percent of America gave more than two hundred dollars to any federal candidate point zero five five gave the maximum amount to any federal candidate point zero one gave ten thousand dollars or more to federal candidates 4000 three percent gave a hundred thousand dollars or more my favorite statistic point 0 0 0 0 for 2 percent and for those of you doing the numbers you know that's a hundred and thirty two Americans gave sixty percent of the super PAC money spent in the twenty twelve election cycle so I'm just a humble lawyer I look at point four point zero five 5.01 I think it's fair for me to say point zero five percent is a fair estimate of the relevant funders in our system for funding elections in this sense the funders are our Lester's now like we can say about Lester land this is what we can say about us a len number one Supreme Court is completely right the people have the ultimate influence the ultimate influence over the elected officials because there is a general election but only after the funders have had their way with the candidates who wish to run in that general election and number two obviously this dependent upon the funders produces the subtle understated camouflaged we could say bending to keep the funders happy members of Congress and candidates for Congress spend anywhere between thirty and seventy percent of their time raising money to get back to Congress to get their party back into power Democratic leadership handed out this PowerPoint slide to all incoming Democratic freshmen this slide which gives them their daily schedule their daily schedule which includes explicitly for hours voted to the task of calling to raise money and this is just during the day what do they do at night go to fundraisers and raise more money now any human that had this light would develop a sixth sense a constant awareness about how what you do will affect your ability to raise money in the words of the x-files they will become shape shifters as they constantly adjust their views in light of what they know will help them to raise money Leslie burn a Democrat for Virginia describes that when she went to Congress she was told by a colleague quote always leaned to the green and to clarify she went on he was not an environmentalist and then point three reformed that angers the funders is likely to be highly unlikely in USA as lesterland that's the first point to see here's the second United States is last LAN the United States is worse than westerlund worse than Lester work because you can imagine in lesterland if we lester's got a letter from the government that said you know you guys get to pick who's going to be the candidates that run in the general election you can imagine we would develop a kind of aristocratic attitude we would believe begin to believe we need to act in the interest of the country as a whole you know Lester's come from all parts of society at a rich Lester's poor Lester's black Lester's whites not many women Lester's except the Dean of course but not many women Lester's but put that aside for a second it come from all parts of society it's at least possible that the Lester's would be inspired to act for the good of lesterland but in our land in this land in USA land the Lester's act for the Lester's because the shifting coalition's that comprise the point zero five percent comprise two point zero five percent because of the issues they know will be decided in the next congressional term so if its climate change legislation its oil companies and coal companies that comprise a significant portion of the point zero five percent if it's health care its pharmaceutical companies or doctors or insurance companies that comprise a significant portion the point zero five percent whatever the issue is that what does that's what's determines who the Lester's are and these Lester's don't gather for the public interest so in this sense the United States is worse than less one point number three whatever one wants to say about Lester land against the background of its tradition whatever explains this interesting little place in our land in USA land we have to recognize that a Lester land like government is a corruption a corruption now by corruption I don't mean cash secret around in brown paper bags I don't mean a kind of Rob Blagojevich sense of corruption I'm not talking about the violation of any criminal statute I'm not asserting that anybody in our system does anything illegal I'm not talking about breaking the law instead I mean a corruption relative to the framers baseline for how the Republic was to function so the framers gave us what they explicitly called a Republican but by a republic they meant a representative democracy and bio representative democracy as Madison explains in Federalist 52 they meant a government that would have a branch that would be dependent upon the people alone here's the model of government they have the people they have the government and turn on slides it all the way that bounces like that okay the people and the government and through that exclusive dependency so would the public would be found but here's the problem Congress has evolved a different dependence not a dependence upon the people alone but increasingly dependent upon the funders this is a dependence too but it's different and conflicting from a dependence upon the people alone so long as the funders are not the people it is a corruption and we should understand it precisely as a corruption of the architecture of this Republic now I want to claim the right to say this that it's a corruption I'm going to claim the right as an academic to say this because I have credentials here right I'm a constitutional law professor deep I'm an adult constitutional law professor because I've been teaching for 21 years constitutional law okay and in the gestation period is getting really weird this was my teacher too okay so I have a sense of the Constitution tradition I think it was me to assert that this is I kind of ruption I believe that if I could bring a string of framers back I could convince them that this is a corruption of the system they described but the difficulty for me as an academic is that I want to say more than just that I want to say that this corruption has an effect I want to say has an effect on US citizens and it has an effect on our government so it as an effect are cysts citizens in the way drives us to regard our government so first effect is this Americans believe it's a separate question I think Americans are right to believe but let's focus on their belief americans believe quote money buys results in Congress seventy-five percent of americans according to a poll i conducted for the book that i published last fall a little bit higher Democrats and Republicans but i guarantee you before the republicans took control of the house it was just as many Republicans as democrats so whether it's two-thirds or a three-fourths here's the one thing we americans all believe money buys results in Congress leading to point number two that believe undermines trust in the institution of Congress ABC in new york times published a poll last year saying that nine percent of america a confidence in our Congress nine percent put that in some context but certainly the case at the time of the American Revolution higher percentage of Americans had confidence in the British crown than have confidence in our Congress today and that leads to point number three this weekend trust weakens the reasons one has to participate so this is the point that David Souter made in Nixon vs shrink Missouri he said leave the perception of impropriety unanswered and the cynical assumption that large donors call the tune could jeopardize the willingness of voters to take part in democratic governance it's would Rock the Vote discovered in 2010 in 2008 they turned out the largest number of young voters in the history of voting to that point 2010 they founded a significant number of their voters were just not going to turn out so they pulled them to ask them why the number one reason by far two to one of the second-highest reason was no matter who wins corporate interest will still have too much power and to prevent real change and it's not just kids vast majority people in 2010 who could have voted did not vote I submit in part at least because of this belief and even in this election for to the percent of the people who could have voted did not vote in part at least because of this belief that is its effect on us but maybe more significant is its effect on our government because I believe this economy has this corruption has a certain economy an economy that has actors the lobbyists the members the Lester's working together in an economy and this economy has an effect two in particular I want to identify here number one we can think of the economy of know that gets produced by this economy of these three actors number two the economy of extortion so let's think first about the economy of no in any system where this tiny fraction of the one percent are the relevant funders any system like this means that a tiny number of that tiny fraction of the one percent is sufficient to block any motion for change always or at least almost always and this points to the instability that I think we have allowed to evolve inside of this government this is the economy of know and this economy depends upon polarization to make it function better it depends upon dysfunction to make it function better because dysfunction makes it easier to sell the good that is being sold the good of saying no of stopping the system from functioning dysfunction is the business model Lee Fang at the nation wrote this piece about lobbyists we're trying to stop the reform of the Senate filibuster process and he quoted from a website one of the lobbyists describing the service that lobbyists could provide to any business that was so interested in securing it it's a service called managing holds and filibusters your organization has an interest in a bill that has been proven controversial and you require advocacy before those legislature legislators often back the bench Senate Republicans who may exercise is their prerogatives to delay or obstruct endgame strategies will give you a new way to manage your interest in a legislative environment that gives great power to individual senators we are auctioning the ability to block and it's because of this tiny number of less Lester's that are needed to exercise the leverage to get them to block to get them to say no that we have this economy of know at the center of the way this government now functions now there are exceptions we can now dream of the negation immigration reform because this party is fearing its own extinction there are exceptions the tragedy and Sandy Hook may bring us to a place that the government can finally address the problem of guns in a comprehensive way these are exceptions but there are exceptions against the background of a clear rule and if that rule I suggest that is the core of the instability in the way this government doesn't function so that's the economy of note and then there's the economy of extortion so I've pointed to the point zero five percenter Lester's think now about the point zero zero zero one four percent members of Congress because the dynamic that we should recognize is obvious once you think about it the dependence members of Congress creates their own dependencies to help them feed their dependency so think for example about this The Wall Street Journal two years ago was puzzled by the rise of what they called these temporary tax code provisions task code is riddled with the short-term provisions that expire at a certain point and if you want them extended got to go to Congress to get them extended once again and the number of these extensions was growing and the journal didn't quite understand why they would be growing like this but from the perspective I'm offering it should be obvious why they're growing like this Reagan gave us the first of these temporary provisions the 1981 research and development tax credit it was made temporary because there was an argument about whether work Democrats said it wouldn't work Republicans said it would work so they said okay let's make a temporary and then we'll ask economists after a period of time whether worked after period of time as didn't work and the answer from both sides was yes it did work it made sense absolutely be part of the tax code because it induced a kind of investment that otherwise would not be there but here's the puzzle it is still temporary to this day it is temporary so why is it temporary rebecca keiser sorry in the Georgia law review describes the principal recipients of the research credit are large US manufacturing corporations these business entities are more than willing to invest in lobbying activities in campaign donations to ensure the continuance of this large tax savings the Institute for uh for policy innovation puts a little bit more sharply the cycle has repeated itself for years Congress allows the credit two laps until another short extension is given preceded of course by a series of fundraisers and speeches about the importance of nurturing innovation Congress essentially uses this cycle to raise money for re-election promising industry more predictability the next time around I think about this other example Medicare I just found this on the web it's so exciting to me this is the only large organization in the world that doesn't have a high quality logo on the web it's kind of fun should be proud of this the government just doesn't invest in this way more efficient baby but here's their low quality logo medicare medicare has built within it since the 1990s a provision called the sustainable growth rate provision that's meant to lower the amount that medicare pays doctors on an annual basis it was in so as to induce more efficiency the thought was inside of doctors but of course every single year this issue comes up the question is whether Congress is going to delay the reduction in the doctors pay and the doc fix of course becomes a regular feature of end of your cycle and it becomes a regular feature because this becomes another moment to induce a lot of money into the campaign process by telling the doctors you need to line up the support you need to continue to pay as it was before or think about the fiscal cliff that we've just gone through right now there of course lots of these things people are discovering and the final settlement of this fiscal cliff there are plenty of tax extenders in it there was a doc fixed extender in it but the most interesting was this bit that was revealed in the new york times last week outraged shedded staffer secretly revealed this because they couldn't believe that they had actually gotten this in there's this provision that indirectly allows the maker of amgen which is a drug used for dialysis not to be subject to a pricing reduction that was otherwise going to kick in after a two-year delay had been already past two years ago and that reduction would have saved taxpayers one-half of 1 billion dollars but they succeeded in getting the delay put in leading Richard painter who was the ethics czar in the bush administration to calculate the nine thousand nine hundred percent return on investment they earned between the lobbying dollars they spent and the amount of money they will now get because they didn't find themselves subject to this pricing reduction and it's not just in the context of taxes everyone will recognize this of course at the Communications Act 1934 which has seven different six different titles title to governs telecom title six governs cable Al Gore shortly after inventing the internet ok that's cheap I'm sorry I mean that ok after inventing the observed Al Gore had the idea as vice president to create a new title seven that would take the internet related components of title to entitle six and put them under a new provision and fundamentally deregulate the infrastructure provision of broadband internet service but when he took this idea to Capitol Hill is chief policy advisor who described this story to me so that the response they got from Capitol Hill was quote he'll know if we deregulate these guys how are we going to raise money from the extortion this is the extortion that enables the fundraising enables the funding and that's my point here we should see this funding as key to the story of how the system functions or to invoke the metaphor which is motivated many people to be here tonight the route henry david thoreau there are thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root the root here is the structure of incentives that leads to the Congress to be able to facilitate this funding both the incentives to stop through know and through extortion and the rich striker is one who sees that because of the two ways this economy functions this corruption turns out not to be partisan it's non partisan corruption the economy of extortion together with the economy of know blocks the reforms of both the left and the right because whether it's the economy of know or the economy extortion if you're on the left and you care about health care reform the right you care about government bailouts or the left you care about global warming on the right you care about a complex tax system or the left you care about financial reform or the right you care about financial reform the point is both sides get blocked by this economy induced by the structure of funding and as non partisans then or as citizens it's my view we need to find a way to fix it ok now if the problem is this dependency or a certain disciplining practice that the dependency produces the practice of one spending tons of time fundraising from a tiny slice of America those two components together describe the problem then the problem is not money in the abstract problem is not the amount of money that's in the political system the problem is not to misuse this poster a little bit that corporations are persons or as money is speech those are not the problems the problem is this that the time time spent to raise money from a tiny slice of American people and if that's the problem then the solution to that problem is to find a way to address this nature of the problem by changing the time raised spent fundraising and by changing the slice from of America from which these funds are raised so to make them the elections citizen funded elections not Lester elections that's the solution to the problem if the problem is as I described it and the good news is is that there are plenty of proposals now out there by people who have recognized this as the problem that would push us to a place where elections would be citizen funded and not Lester funded the idea Bruce Ackerman and ian ayres inn in their voting with dollars book of vouchers that every citizen would have that they would give to candidates running for congress to fund their campaigns an idea which in my book i modified a bit to basically make it conditional upon being able to receive those vouchers that you agree to fund your campaign with vouchers and contributions limited to just a hundred dollars per citizen the fair elections now act which would match small dollar contributions and give a pretty large stipend to an initial candidacy to make sure it could run a successful campaign John Sarbanes grassroots democracy act which has matching fund proposal a tax credit proposal and a pilot program for the vouchers proposal or the most ambitious anti-corruption proposal that we've seen I think in a hundred years you know the Republic's American Anti Corruption Act which I see they've paper the room right here so you can read all about it which would create essentially a very large voucher program tied to a whole string of changes that would change the economy of influence inside of washington all of these would be solutions to the problem i described because all of them would bring more citizens may be aspiring to all citizens serving the role as the funders and not just the Lester's now it might also be a solution to something else we think about elections in the way I've set them up here elections can be either discrete or continuous discrete in the way that voting elections are discrete they happen on two days in the course of a two year cycle or continuously with the money election is continuous every single day the candidate is trying to raise money so every single day you have a chance to vote over the whole period of the election cycle today with both of these elections we see candidates appealing to the extremes trying to get the politically motivated class to turn out and they turn out to be P at the extremes trying to raise money from those who get motivated the most they turn out to be people at the extremes but if we had a voucher system for funding elections that maybe a different set of incentives it would produce did it may create the incentives like the incentives that exist in Australia where every single citizen has to show up to the voting booth because they all have to show up to the voting booth campaigns need to appeal to all citizens because they're very likely to vote if they've showed up at the voting booth and the vouchers wooden franchise all in a similar way giving candidates and incentives than to speak to all of these people because all of these people would be necessary to fund the kind of campaigns that needed to be funded if you needed to raise money from the vouchers okay no that's the solution there's not a problem with that solution though well let's say another problem or maybe most accurately the real problem here the real problem is characterized most forcefully to me by this man Jim Cooper who's a Democrat from Tennessee it's been in Congress for as long as all but about 20 other members of Congress Cooper said you know the thing you've got to understand is that Congress has become a kind of farm league for K Street k street for the lobbyists work and his point is that members and staffers and bureaucrats have an increasingly common business model in their head when they go to Washington a business model focused on their life after government their life is lobbyists Public Citizen calculated between 1998 and 2004 fifty percent of the Senate left to become lobbyists forty-two percent of the house those numbers have only gone up United Republic calculated the average salary increase for those they tracked 1452 percent for the members that moved to the lobby of Rights so in a world where everyone depends upon the system surviving this is their future it's a fair question how is it possible the day would ever initiate the move to change that system and I think we have to admit maybe in our academic mode it might not be possible might not be possible might be the system is so entrenched the incentives are so strong there isn't the motive there is the lever to get them to change but as the citizen I want to say if it's possible it starts in the recognition that happens in places like here not necessarily among academics but among citizens citizens who say we believe this is a corruption we can see how it contributes to every pathology we see within our government we can see how it disables and enables governments we can see how it disables reform and enables extortion citizens who see this and then think how can we respond to this problem and the response i think begins with a certain recognition chatter oddities believe that the interesting distinction in American politics is between the left side and the right side but I think the interesting Division American politics today is between the inside and the outside the inside the world inside of the beltway and the outside the rest of the United States and to remix the title of this book just a bit if you think about what they think about and what we think about we can say DC is from Mars and we are from Earth so this inside and outside each has its own politics and using the frame Nigel Cameron is given I want to describe the outsiders politics is the kind of XO politics so XO politics is not a politics of politicians do not want to be congressman that i'm talking about its citizen politics its citizens demanding that their politics change and what we've seen is repeated waves of self-described Open Source Energy driving to this change in many different contexts many different places and increasingly frequent I think the first of these 1998 move on we're a couple of programmers here in Berkeley look up from their computer and say wait a minute the United States Congress is going to impeach a man for lying about sex what's going on here there are million problems more important than this problem why is the whole United States Congress stopped and focused on this so they started a movement move on which had a technique for building a list and a petition and very quickly had millions of people Republicans to Democrats alike saying move on from this problem censure the man and get back to the business you're supposed to be engaged in and it had a significant effect to pushing Congress away from that strategy of impeachment 2009 I believe the tea party patriots the grassroots component of the Tea Party movement was another XO political movement using the infrastructure of the network and what they described as open source energy to rally an incredible number of people to the cause that they believed in even if it's not a cause that I would affirm I think the Occupy movement in 2000 line was in EXO political movement I think the movement that stopped SOPA in 2012 a movement that Aaron Swartz helped engineer was another XO political movement these are all cases of power welling up from the ground it's something new could be something new but in my view is if there is hope it's going to be from this XO political power but this XO politics needs a way to speak speak so it sounds like its citizens speaking not so it sounds like it's polarized parts of America speaking so not these different groups that stand and represent small segments of our public not as partisans but as citizens and the challenge is to think what could we do to build that but I actually think California has begun to do that I think the experiments that were started with the California forward movement using deliberative democracy from Stanford from Jim fish Canada at Stanford to bring together citizens in a context where they can make reasonable and sensible judgments about how to address the problem that they all acknowledge gives us an alternative to the kind of clown like I'm sorry that's really terrible times come around like way in which Congress now functions and my view is we need something like this we need to use something like this if we're going to build the alternative that this XO political movement must eventually be okay let me just say one more point before it's dr.

So some of us will remember these images march of 1989 when a ship under the command of Captain Joseph Hazelwood ran aground in Prince William Sound and spilled about 11 million gallons of oil into the ocean this is the radio broadcast from mr. Hazell wit reporting the accident to that command we touched up Oh bizarre hello oil so I'm sure many of you had the same thought that many people had after this accidents especially after hearing your transmission like that I thought being was Captain his a word drunk at the time he was copying a supertanker he denied it he said he had only had four vodkas before he got on board that night to captain the ship but his blood alcohol level said he must have been at least six times the legal limit when he got on board but his lawyers fought it it was adjudicated he was never convicted so let's say there's some doubt about whether his away was drunk what there was no doubt about was it he had a problem with alcohol mother testified he had a problem with alcohol Exxon knew about it 1985 Exxon treated him for his problem with alcohol after the accident exons president said he thought he had mastered the problem but in 1986 three years before the accident he been arrested and convicted of a DUI and in 1988 one year before the accident he'd been arrested again and convicted of driving under the influence at the time he was captaining a supertanker he was not allowed to drive a VW Beetle okay but forget Hazelwood what I want you to think about as those around his away the other officers people could have picked up a phone while a drunk was driving a supertanker I want you to think about the people who did nothing what do we think about them now they had their jobs realism told them nothing would be done regardless of what I said they kept their heads down they focused on their work they ignored this problem what do we think about them and I asked that question in this way because as I think about the problem i described tonight I increasingly believe we are they we are they nation faces critical problems requiring serious attention but we had these institutions and capable of this attention distracted unable to focus aloof and who is to blame for that who is responsible for that it's too easy to blame the Blagojevich's it's too easy to blame the evil people there are evil people in these stories but there are good people too decent people the people who could have picked up a phone us we the most privileged the most capable have the obligation to fix this as academics maybe not because we can't perhaps say clearly enough what the source of these problems is and what the remedy for them is maybe not as academics but as citizens because the most outrageous part is that the corruptions I've just been describing have been primed by the most privileged but permitted by the passivity of the most privileged to us thank you very much you

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