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February 11, 2010

Host: Ted Simons

African-American Legislative Conference

  |   Video
  • Senator Leah Landrum Taylor discusses the African American Legislative and Leadership Conference taking place at the State Capitol.
  • Lean Landrum Taylor - Seantor
Category: Culture

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Ted Simons: February is Black History Month and to coincide with that, a huge African-American legislative and leadership conference is being held at the state capitol today and tomorrow. 1,000 African-American leaders from around the state are expected. Here to talk about the conference is State Senator Leah Landrum-Taylor, the organizer of the event. Good to have you here.

Leah Landrum-Taylor: Glad to be here.

Ted Simons: The conference goals, what's going on here?

Leah Landrum-Taylor: Well, the main point of this conference and this is our ninth year of having the conference at the legislature, and we look at several pillars that we focus on. Education, health, justice, economic development, as well as youth. And the big portion is to make sure people understand, look, this is your capital, and if you want to make sure you have a place at the table, you need to come down here and you need to talk about things that are relevant to the community and then from that, we're able to come up with different policy changes if necessary, if it has to be legislative, or it can be things internal that we can work with. We've seen significant strides in the amount of legislation we've been able to get passed, has been incredible.

Ted Simons: When it comes to things like education and justice and environment and the economy and these sorts of things, what stands out, what are people talking about this go around?

Leah Landrum-Taylor : Right now, of course, the big topic is the budget: There are some certain concerns that have been voiced as of this morning with the opening ceremonies and particularly making sure that education is protected because we want to make sure we have a educated workforce even that’s out here that will help businesses and we owe that to our young people to be able to have a productive education system. Another big thing that has come up, are the whole -- the cuts as it relates to healthcare, and some of the things that are relevant to the African-American community. The full elimination of sickle cell anemia and programs for that. These are huge issues, diabetes. These are major concerns and another thing that came up was the whole dissolving of the juvenile corrections system.

Ted Simons: Interesting. The legislative workshops, what exactly happens at one of these things?

Leah Landrum-Taylor: It will take place on Friday, tomorrow. There will be people from around the state. Just about every county is represented this year. It's one of our largest attended. It's really great. But what happens when they walk up to that workshop, there are facilitators that are there in the various committees and from that it's handled just like a committee regularly at the capitol. People have an opportunity to present and the public has an opportunity to weigh in on the top subjects they're going to be going over. From that, these ideas are developed. And we have position papers we put together and take a look at what was relevant that came out of the particular workshops and what should be looked at in order to go forward.

Ted Simons: In the years past, has anything surprised you? Do you go in thinking this may be the focus and coming out, wow, I didn't expect that.

Leah Landrum-Taylor : Well, absolutely, because it's open to the public and a facilitator may have something planned and then all of a sudden, a big issue comes up someone is able to talk that and it may turn into something entirely different.

Ted Simons: I know looking at your agenda, there's a career fair for kids. Talk to us about that.

Leah Landrum-Taylor: This year, I must say, this is one of the largest attended youth participants that we have. And our goal and focus this year, the theme is passing the flame to the next generation. And so there was a huge focus to make sure the youth workshops were going to be incredible as it relates to economic development, what they can do in order to weigh in on issues important to them. Like education and other issues. And so we are going to be having a career fair right there at the capitol, so they can see what are some things and possibilities they can get into in the future and colleges will be out as well.

Ted Simons: Very good. Is it difficult considering all the stuff going on at the state capital right now, is it difficult to get folks interested or involved in the legislative process? Survey after survey shows most Americans are down on the legislative process, lawmakers in general. If you're a politician, I’m sorry, but if you’re a politician it sounds like people aren't happy with you. How are you getting people involved?

Leah Landrum-Taylor: One of the things I've noticed over the years of having this conference, is people are understanding, truly, the complexities of the whole governmental process and how difficult it is to have this idea that you're working on and to have that idea become a law. And how much work that actually takes, going through the committees and, you know, the whole body and then moving over to the other chamber and finally, if it survives, over to the governor for a signature or perhaps a veto. And I think what people are seeing, you know what? Without us voicing our opinions on these various pieces of legislation, the things we don't like, it may go on through because people may think it's ok and if we do support something, if we aren't coming out here and weighing in on that support, that might be difficult getting through. It's just one legislator trying to fight the battle.

Ted Simons: Yeah, it’s interesting the things going on at the capitol right now are there so divisive in many ways, it's like a civics education in and of itself and I’m sure that message is getting crossed in a variety of ways. Good luck with the conference. Thank you for joining us.

Leah Landrum-Taylor: You're welcome. Thank you.

Mexican Drug Cartels

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  • Is Mexico on the verge of becoming a “narco-state”? Recent news about drug cartels dismantling local governments suggests they’re power is growing. Dr. Llewellyn Howell, an Emeritus Professor of International Management at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, shares his thoughts about how to address the growing power of Mexico’s drug cartels.
  • Dr. Llewellyn Howell - Emertius Professor of International Management at the Thunderbird School of Global Management
Category: Law

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Ted Simons: The drug war in Mexico continues as the Mexican government tries to stop organized narco-traffickers. Thousands have been killed as the drug war rages on. Here to talk about the growing violence of Mexican drug cartels, Dr. Llewellyn Howell, an emeritus professor of international management at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale. Good to have you here.

Dr. Llewellyn Howell: Nice to be here.

Ted Simons: How bad is the problem of violence in Mexico?

Dr. Llewellyn Howell: It's getting serious now. It has been growing for a number of years and the actions that president Calderón started taking in 2006 were already at a point where this had become a very serious problem that spills across the border. Some of the cartels and gang activities that are funded out of the drug trade in northern Mexico are spilling over here. There's local affiliates and connections here in Glendale, Phoenix, PEORIA, even, I saw named and spillover that is concerning us in the U.S., not just Mexico.

Ted Simons: I want to get back to the U.S. in a second. In Mexico, how ingrained are these cartels in the Mexican government. I'm hearing of elections that can't be held because the process is corrupt.

Dr. Llewellyn Howell: Every country has corruption and corruption is a big problem all over the world and Mexico certainly has its share. It’s probably still not the major problem, I think that many of the people are attracted into the gang activities and supporting the cartels simply because they don't have an alternative for earning income. It's not that they're making bad choices. They don't have any other choices. The economy in Mexico has been in tough straits for a long time and it's -- you know, not -- not recovering any more than ours is from what has happened here in the last couple of years.

Ted Simons: With that in mind and the growing influence and power of these drug cartels, some analysts are seeing Mexico as very very close to a narco state like Colombia was back in the '90s.

Dr. Llewellyn Howell: I think that’s exactly the best description to give it. It's alarming description in a sense to say it's turning into a narco state and it might be deemed prejudicial by some people. But there's a seriousness here with regard to what is happening in the rural areas and small towns and throughout Mexico. The cartels extend all the way from north to south, although in the northern parts they've been more active in recent times.

Ted Simons: Compare and contrast what's happening in Mexico and what has happened -- and did happen for years in Afghanistan.

Dr. Llewellyn Howell: Well, Mexico in a sense is going one way and Afghanistan is coming the other. But they will meet before very long and Mexico could become a serious problem as we have in Afghanistan, with regard to people in rural areas, small towns, even now into some of the cities of Mexico, being a part of the drug world. Just like we have that drug world in Afghanistan. It's the opium is the way people earn money. Some estimates have for states in Mexico, maybe 20% of the economy being dependent on the drug trade at source. Which means, they're not necessarily all directly dealing in drugs but the drug trade has turned into other businesses and people are employed by those businesses owned by the cartels so it makes them kind of a government within a government in those states. And it's quite differentiated across the states in Mexico but still a serious problem everywhere.

Ted Simons: How much is the illegal immigration problem in America, the crackdown in America, the bad economy in America, that means fewer immigrants, illegal or otherwise coming across, sending money back to Mexico. Is that at core here as well?

Dr. Llewellyn Howell: One of the ironies of illegal immigration, is that it has, in fact, helped support Mexicans. That is illegal immigrants they come here and earn money and sometimes astounding to me how much of it they send home to these small Mexican villages. As the illegal immigration itself diminishes and some of these people are sneaking back into Mexico, but even for the illegal immigrants that remain and not working and not sending that money back. In those villages the people who were dependent on this income are now looking for other sources of income and they're turning to the cartels as their employers of necessity in Mexico.

Ted Simons: Interesting, let’s get back to the United States here. What do we do? We've encouraged Mexico and there are some suggesting that the Mexican president's crackdown was not necessarily the smartest thing to do. How do you feel about that? Did it stir up a hornets nest here?

Dr. Llewellyn Howell: The crackdown in a sense had reached all the way into the United States. Many of the efforts such as marijuana farming in Mexico have now been pushed out of the country. Now in federal parks and other facilities in the United States and California, Oregon, maybe Arizona, I don't know the extent of that there, but some of the industry, drug industry has shifted to the United States where it's safer than it was in Mexico. So there's some effect in Mexico and it is pushing some of that into the United States.

Ted Simons: So what does the United States do? How do we handle this?

Dr. Llewellyn Howell: Certainly on our side of the border, we have to be more diligent and put the resources out there to try to control that and to control those industries that are there, marijuana, the processing of methamphetamines and others, and that are from those drug cartels in Mexico, but the events are occurring here on our territory in the United States. So we have to go after them. I agree, though, with the people who argue we have to do something about the pull here. That is, cocaine and marijuana and some of the methamphetamines from Mexico are really big industries because we're the customer, we're the demand, we're pulling it across the border. Until we address our own part in this, and our interdependence with Mexico on this issue, we're not going to solve this.

Ted Simons: That sounds like either decriminalization or the just the legalization of drugs. Do you think America is ever going to reach that point?

Dr. Llewellyn Howell: It's hard to imagine, isn't it? We've fought it for so long and we made it almost into a religion of being -- there's a medical use of marijuana and a religious use of marijuana. But we've kind of made that into the evil that we cannot ever tolerate. I don't think we're going to be able to change that very easily. Not under the current president because he would be the guy we would expect to make this change, to decriminalize marijuana and -- and deal with this in a different way. So he can't. He's up against a political wall -- wall and it's difficult to imagine he would be able to change this.

Ted Simons: All right. Interesting stuff. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.

Dr. Llewellyn Howell Thanks for inviting me.

The Great American University

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  • Jonathan Cole, author of “The Great American University”, discusses how great American universities have transformed the Nation, why they’re under attack and what must be done to protect them.
  • Jonathan Cole - Author, “The Great American University”
Category: Education

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Ted Simons: How have great American universities transformed our country? And why are these universities now under attack? Here to talk about that and more is Jonathan Cole, author of the book, "The Great American University." Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Jonathan Cole: Good to be here.

Ted Simons: A great university is a creative machine, or so you say. Explain.

Jonathan Cole: Well, I think what makes the university truly great and what allows American universities to be preeminent, is that they not only are extraordinary transmitters of knowledge that is great teachers, teachers of graduate students, undergraduates, professional school students . But they have become the engines of innovation in our society. The discovers that are -- the discoveries that are coming out, the development of new medical devices to help improve healthcare, these discoveries whether they are the F.M. radio, magnetic resonance imaging, global positioning systems, the laser, all of these things came from universities and transforming our societies in ways most people don't really understand.

Ted Simons: How did American universities get so good so fast?

Jonathan Cole: That's an excellent question. The way in which they did it was to adapt from two different models, one was the German model which had existed and succeeded into the early part of the 20th Century. Which was based upon research, it was focused on research and discovery. It was hierarchical. We didn’t adopt the hierarchy we were much more democratic in the structure. And we also adapted from the British model, which was the collegian model. The ideas behind Oxford and Cambridge and the idea of undergraduates. We brought these together and we created a system which was also unique and these gave us the potential to being great. We needed other conditions also. After the Second World War, we developed a way of the government supporting higher education in an unprecedented way. They used taxpayer dollars to support research but outsourced them. They weren't going to build government laboratories they weren’t going to build government-controlled institutions. They built institutions that were highly competitive in which they were trying to develop their own research knowledge and being facilitated in part by those resources. And also able to track the most extraordinary talent from all over the world to the United States and that helped as well.

Ted Simons: I thought that part of the book was fascinating. When you talked about what happened in Nazi Germany and what happened in Vienna and parts of Europe and so many people with innovative minds brilliant minds saw a threat and came to America and really changed academia in America forever.

Jonathan Cole: A very important moment was January 1933. Hitler came to power. The German universities were the best in the world. FDR was inaugurated and James Conan became president of Harvard, that was less important. But I can tell you that within three months, Hitler had taken the greatest system of higher learning in the world, that had dominated Nobel Prizes in the first third of the century and decimated and dismantled that system. Those intellectual migrants were not only great physicists but they were artists writers, poets and social scientists and they sought to the safe haven of the United States and we gave them places at our universities and they became leaders of young very very talented people who are upwardly mobile. I talk about the interesting convergence of social mobility, vertical social mobility in the United States, and the horizontal mobility of all those intellectual migrants coming across the great pond coming to the American university and making it their home.

Ted Simons: And the accessibility for Americans to go to college increased greatly with the G.I. bill. Talk about that and let's move into the UC system university of California system and Clark Kerr who you write about the mix of elitism and populism that changed the nature of universities.

Jonathan Cole: The G.I. bill was one the most important things that the congress passed after the Second World War. It opened up enormous opportunities for education improving human capital among people who’s opportunities had been limited before. There was a huge number of students coming into the system. What Clark Kerr did in the California plan of 1960 was to have dual goals of having a university that provided access to anybody with talent regardless of whether they had the means to go to college, and also to create engines of innovation in terms of the research that was being produced at places like Berkeley and UCLA and the like. He believed these were not inconsistent. The idea of opening up the university, teaching them and getting them to be better citizens and better skilled and able to do better jobs in terms of high-skilled industry and at the same time, creating the discoveries that are going to transform our lives was possible and he did an amazing job actually in California.

Ted Simons: Critics then and I guess critics even now, and critics of Arizona state university say the research is wonderful, that's fine, but think there's a disconnect between research and teaching. Is that a valid complaint?

Jonathan Cole: No I don’t really think it is. I think that in Arizona President Michael Crow has done an extraordinary job of not only opening up access and investing resources into the transmission of knowledge to very talented undergraduates who would not otherwise have opportunities. Also training extraordinary graduate students, who are going to become the future discoverers of the world, and also stimulating an amazing amount of discovery. What I think President Crow has done is take the model that existed in California under KERR and taken it a step further in a very innovative way. He believes and I think he's correct in saying that society's problems are large, they take many disciplines great expertise across the entire university to solve these problems. We should be interested in the common good and try to solve those problems and let's bring together the talent that we have throughout the entire universities so with the end of silos and the beginning of opening up the idea that everyone can contribute to the advancement of the knowledge at these places.

Ted Simons: Talk about the balancing act that this university will have-- the great American university, the future university, the research university has between government, private enterprise, the academic world itself. There's a little bit of a juggling act going on there. Can it succeed?

Jonathan Cole: It has succeeded and I think it can continue to succeed. But the government cannot disinvest in higher education. It would be extraordinarily unwise and unproductive for the states or the federal government for them to do so. If they cannot create a highly skilled labor force they're not going to have the basis for economic development and sustainability in their states. The dismantling which is taking place in California today is a great tragedy. The idea that we're going to take resources away from places like Berkeley and UCLA and give them to the prison systems and consequently dismantle those institutions is very, very shortsighted. Those legislators simply do not understand that it's infinitely more difficult to rebuild great universities than to maintain them as great universities.

Ted Simons: In reading the section about Clark KERR, some of the critics of the original plan were saying government money; state money may not always be there. We're putting too much into that pie. It sounds as though, what? -- 40, 50 years later, that has a little bit of presence to it. Does it make sense to take so much government money and then worry about it or not be prepared when that government money is gone?

Jonathan Cole: I think we have to think of the investments in higher education and education as investments in the state's future. Anything short of that is shortsighted, in my view. When the state of California spends more money on prisons than higher education, it's a very shortsighted policy. In Arizona, I think it would be a tragedy, frankly, if they were to disinvest in higher education and stop the momentum that is being produced at these great universities. This is enormously important for Phoenix, for the whole state's economy, for the welfare of the nation, quite frankly, so it would be quite unfortunate for them to do that, I think.

Ted Simons: When you look at Arizona State University or a great university across the country, biggest threat? Biggest challenge?

Jonathan Cole: I think the enemy is us. It's not the universities in China. It's not the universities in India it’s not the universities in Europe. They are a good, but not as great and we can stay ahead of them and competition from them shouldn't be a bad thing. It can help us all, frankly. The worst thing we can do is undermine ourselves by over control of these universities by the government and disinvesting in them economically. Those two things, which could seriously damage free inquiry at the universities, academic freedom in the universities and cut the university off from its talent base. For example, extraordinary student who might want to come from anywhere, who come to these places. We've been open to the world. Higher education is perhaps the only industry with a favorable balance of trade and we have the smartest people in the world who want to come to the United States and to cut them off by unwise visa policies makes no sense at all to our future.

Ted Simons: Last question, are you optimistic?

Jonathan Cole:I'm very optimistic.

Ted Simons: Fascinating book. Thank you so much for joining us.

Jonathan Cole: Nice to meet you.