December 10, 2013 - Alex Blumberg

  • 12/10/2013

Walmart becomes an elite institution, Virginia Postrel examines the value of television, Venezuela starts Christmas early, and Alex Blumberg discusses "The T-Shirt Project."

>> TONIGHT IS AMERICA'S MIDDLECLASS STRUGGLING?

NO, I'M DOING JUST FINE.

A NEW THREAT TO CHRISTMAS.

FROSTEE THE SNOW MAN IS MUSHYTHE MUSH MAN.

AND ALEX BLUMBERG WANTS TO KNOWHOW A TEE SHIRT IS MADE?

WELL WHEN A COTTON LOVES ATEXTILE MILL VERY MUCH THEY

EXCHANGE A SPECIAL HUG.

A 2014 CALENDAR OF SEXY TAXIDRIVERS.

IN THEIR HOME COUNTRIES THEYWERE SEXY PROFESSORS.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Stephen: WELCOME, THANK YOU

SO MUCH FOR JOINING US!

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Stephen: RIGHT THERE!

THANK YOU.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Audience: STEPHEN!

Stephen: A ROOM FULL OF THEMTONIGHT.

GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

WELCOME.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Stephen: THANK YOU.

I WANT YOU TO KNOWI'M DEDICATING TONIGHT'S SHOW TO

THE WHALES.

[LAUGHING]>> Stephen: BEFORE WE GET

STARTED I WANT TO TAKE A MOMENTTO TALK TO THE YOUNGER VIEWERS

IN THE COLBERT NATION.

I KNOW YOU'RE FILLING OUTCOLLEGE APPLICATIONS OR

RECEIVING EARLY DECISIONLETTERS.

I KNOW YOU'RE EAGER TO MOVE OUTOF YOUR PARENT' HOUSE GO TO

COLLEGE AND THEN MOVE BACK TOYOUR PARENTS' HOUSE.

I KNOW IT'S STRESSFUL.

WHEN I APPLIED TO DARTMOUTHEARLY DECISION I WAS IN SECOND

GRADE.

I WROTE MY PAPER ON THE PERILSOF THE NANNY STATE.

I WENT AFTER MY NANNY HARD.

IT'S NOT NAPPY TIME, ROSITA, IWILL SLEEP WHEN I AM DEAD.

MY HIGH SCHOOL VIEWERS OUTTHERE, OVER ACHIEVERS APPLYING

TO HARVARD AND PRINCETON.

I AM CONCERNED YOU'RE AIMING TOOLOW.

IT TURNS OUT THERE IS A MOREELITE INSTITUTION ON THE SCENE.

>> WALMART, 600 JOB OPENINGS AND2300 JOB APPLICANTS.

>> AT A RATE THAT'S LESS THAN 3%ARE GETTING HIRED.

HARVARD HAS A HIGHER ACCEPTANCERATE.

>> Stephen: YES, WALMART IS NOWHARD TORE GET INTO THAN HARVARD.

BROWN STUDENTS WANT YOU TO KNOWTHEY DIDN'T WANT TO GO TO EITHER

OF THEM ANYWAY.

I UNDERSTAND, I UNDERSTAND WHYWALMART IS SUCH A SELECTIVE

INSTITUTION.

MANY OF OUR PRESIDENTS HAVE GONETHEIR TO BUY BULK TOILET PAPER.

YOUTH NATION, IT MAYBE TOO LATETO GET INTO THE WALMART OF YOUR

CHOICE.

WHEN YOU HAVE KIDS OF YOUR OWNGROOM THAT CHILD FOR WALMART

FROM DAY ONE.

THAT OF COURSE MEANS SENDINGTHEM TO THE RIGHT PRESCHOOL.

LOOK FOR ONE WITH A EMPHASIS ONBLOCK STACKING.

OKAY.

IT'S A SKILL THEY NEED FORMAKING TOWERS OF DISCOUNT MILK.

GOOD LUCK, NATION.

REMEMBER, ODDS ARE YOU WON'T GETIN.

BE SURE TO APPLY TO A SAFETY

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Stephen: I HAVE ALWAYS SAID.

I HAVE ALWAYS SAID AMERICA ISTHE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE

HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.

[ APPLAUSE ]>> Stephen: SOME NAYSAYERS THEY

SAY THE COUNTRY IS IN DECLINEBECAUSE IT'S HARDER TO GET INTO

WALMART THAN HARVARD.

REALLY?

WHERE DID YOU HEAR THAT SOUNDSLIKE [BEEP].

THEY CLAIM THE MIDDLE CLASS HAVEA DECLINING OF STANDARD OF

LIVING.

IT ADJUSTS TO INFLATION OF 199.

SO INCOME HASN'T CHANGED FROMTHE 80s.

NEITHER HAS A LOT OF THINGS.

LOOK AT ROB LOW.

YOU'RE OLDER THAN I AM!

WHY AREN'T YOU MELTING.

YOU'RE LIKE A FLOWER PRESERVEDIN AMBER.

NOW, NO SURPRISE --[LAUGHING]

>> Stephen: NO SURPRISE.

BITCHING ABOUT THE MIDDLE CLASSHAS BECOME OBAMA'S LATEST PET

PROJECT.

WHICH HE DETAILED RECENTLY IN AMAJOR SPEECH HE CALLED "LET'S

TALK ABOUT ANYTHING BUT OBAMACARE."

JIM.

>> -- DECREASING MOBILITY POSE AFUNDAMENTAL THREAT TO THE

AMERICAN DREAM, OUR WAY OF LIFE,AND WHAT WE STAND FOR AROUND THE

GLOBE.

IT HAS JEOPARDIZED MIDDLE CLASSAMERICA, IF YOU WORK HARD YOU

HAVE A CHANCE TO GET AHEAD.

I BELIEVE THIS IS THE DEFININGCHALLENGE OF OUR TIME.

>> Stephen: NOT TRUE SIR.

I BELIEVE THE DEFINING CHALLENGEOF OUR TIME IS SELF HEATING

NACHOS.

WE'RE STILL WAITING, NASA.

WHEN THE PRECEDENT WAS DONEPANDERING TO THE POWERFUL

PAUPERS.

>> OUR OUR INCOME RATES NEARJAMAICA AND ARGENTINA BUT THAT

IT IS HARDER TODAY FOR A CHILDBORN HERE IN AMERICA TO IMPROVE

HER STATION IN LIFE THEN IT ISFOR CHILDREN IN MOST OF OUR

WEALTHY ALLIES.

>> Stephen: GENTLEMAN MAKE APOOR, REALLY.

I SPENT A WEEK IN THE SANDALSALL INCLUSIVE MONTEGO BAY.

NOBODY WAS POOR.

I CHECKED EVERY KA BAN.

>>Anthony: TAKE A CHILL PILL,SIR.

I KNOW THE MIDDLE CLASS ISBETTER OFF THAN EVER.

THAT TRUTH BRINGS US TONIGHT'SWORDS CHANNEL SERING.

NATION, FORGET WHAT THEPRESIDENT SAYS.

FORGET WHAT THE NUMBERS SAY.

FORGET WHAT YOUR BANK STATEMENTSAYS.

AMERICANS ARE DOING BETTER THANEVER.

THAT'S THE NEW VIRGINIA POSTRELREAD.

CONGRATULATIONS IT'S A GREATREAD AND GUARANTEES YOU WILL

NEVER GET A RAISE FOR THE RESTOF YOUR LIFE.

MS. POSTREL STARTS OFF WHAT SHESAYS MIDDLE CLASS AMERICANS CALL

A LIFE EXPERIENCE.

WATCH A FOOTBALL GAME ON THEPLANE, PLAY POKER, WATCH "DUCK

DYNASTY" AND RUN HE WILLERY FROMTHE DVR QUE.

ROCKEFELLER COULDN'T STREAM"DUCK DYNASTY" ON THE iPAD.

BET HE COULD GET IS SEIGFELDFOLLIES ON HIS ZOOM.

THIS CHALLENGES THE INCREASINGCONVENTIONAL WISDOM THAT'S

STAGNATED FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS.

IRE WELCOME MIDDLE CLASS.

I HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN WATCHING MEIS A FORM OF CURRENCY.

ALSO FOR THE RECORD, A FORM OFSUBSTANCE APBS.

WHO NEEDS FOOD STAMPS.

BELLY UP TO THE ALL YOU CANSTEPHEN BUFFET.

BUT FOR SOME REASON, FOR SOMEREASON, FOLKS, ECONOMIC ANALYSTS

DON'T FACTOR IN THE VALUE OFQUALITY TV PROGRAMMING.

AS POSTREL POINTS OUT LITTLE OFTHIS CUSTOMIZED ENTERTAINMENT.

WAS POPULAR A DECADE AGO.

WHY DOESN'T WATCHING MORE TVCOUNT AS INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY.

FOLKS, ALL OF THIS ENTERTAINMENTISN'T A PLAYGROUND FOR THE RICH.

AS SHE SAYS NEW ENTERTAINMENTOPTIONS ARE PARTICULARLY

IMPORTANT TO POORER PEOPLE WITHAMPLE LEISURE TIME.

WHEN I SEE A MAN ON THE SIDEWALKI THINK LOOK AT THAT LUCKY FELLA

WITH AMPLE LEISURE TIME.

AMERICA, REMEMBER AMERICA ISEXTRA RICH RIGHT NOW BECAUSE WE

ARE IN THE MIST OF A NEW GOLDENAGE OF TELEVISION.

SO, THE NEXT TIME YOU'RE LATE ONYOUR MORTGAGE SEND A NOTE

REMAINING YOUR BANK THAT"BREAKING BAD" WON TEN EMMYS.

NOW, THE POINT IS BEINGDISTRACTED FROM YOUR POVERTY IS

THE NEW FORM OF WEALTH.

FOLKS, BY THAT STANDARD, BY THATSTANDARD AMERICA'S MIDDLE CLASS

ARE THE RICHEST PEOPLE INHISTORY.

JUST LOOK AT PORN.

IT IS ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE.

IT MAY NOT SHOW UP IN THEPRODUCTIVITY DATA BUT YOU'RE

PRODUCING SOMETHING.

SO, QUIT, QUIT COMPLAINING.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Stephen: OKAY.

YOU ARE RICH WITH TV.

REMEMBER MARINE ANTOINETTE MAYOF LIVED IN A PALACE.

SHE NEVER GOT TO WATCH THELEARNING CHANNEL.

AND THAT'S THE WORD.

WE WILL BE RIGHT BACK.

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,EVERYBODY.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Stephen: YOU KNOW I HAVE LONG

WARNED YOU ABOUT SECULARPROGRESSES, HUMANISTS OR

WHATEVER THEY CALL THEMSELVESNOW.

GLUTEN FREE.

WE KNOW THEY'RE OUT TO DESTROYOUR CHRISTMAS.

ONCE AGAIN IT FALLS TO ME TOLEAD THE FIGHT AGAINST BIG

SCROOGE.

I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT A NEWTHREAT TO CHRISTMAS.

SO SCARY IT MADE ME DROP A LUMPOF COAL IN MY STOCKING.

THIS IS THE BLITZKRIEG ONGRINCHITUDE.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Stephen: FOLKS, LATEST THREAT

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Stephen: FOLKS, LATEST THREAT

TO THE NORTH POLE COMES FROMSOUTH OF THE BORDER.

>> CHRISTMAS IS COMING EARLY TOVENEZUELA.

AS OF NOVEMBER 1st THECHRISTMAS SEASON WOULD KICK OFF

IN THE COUNTRY.

>> Stephen: IF YOU'RE THEPRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA YOU CAN

MOVE CHRISTMAS.

MOVE THE WHOLE HOLIDAY.

VENEZUELA PRECEDENT NICHOLASMADURO ANNOUNCED EARLY

CHRISTMAS.

>> Stephen: HE CAN MOVE THEHOLIDAYS?

THAT'S WHY IT'S SO WARM THERE INFEBRUARY.

I'M SHOCKED BY THE POWER GRAB BYNICHOLAS MADURO AND JIMMY

KIMMEL'S SECURITY GUARD.

NOT BECAUSE I THOUGHT VENEZUELAWAS THE HORN AT A SOCCER GAME TO

ANNOUNCE THE START OF A RIOT.

FRANKLY I'M FRANK-INCENSED BYMADURO'S SO-CALLED EXPLANATION

FOR STARTING CHRISTMAS EARLY.

LISTEN TO THIS GUY.

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2013, CHRISTMASEARLY VICTORY, EARLY HAPPINESS

FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY. WE WANT TODECLARE THE ARRIVAL OF

CHRISTMAS.

WE WANT HAPPINESS FOR EVERYBODY.

HE DECLARED HAPPY NEW YEAR 2045,HAPPY ROY BOT BUTLER TIME.

GUESS WHAT, LADIES ANDGENTLEMEN, I DID SOME RESEARCH.

IT TURNS OUT THAT AMERICANCHRISTMAS ISN'T UNTIL

DECEMBER 25th.

THANKS OBAMA CARE.

[LAUGHING]>> Stephen: SO, IF THE

VENEZUELANS STARTED THEIRCHRISTMAS ON NOVEMBER 1st THAT

MEANS THEY'RE GETTING -->> Stephen: THIS MANY MORE WEEKS

OF CHRISTMAS.

HOW DID THE VENEZUELANS ACHIEVETHIS ACHIEVEMENT IN CHRISTMAS?

THEY CREATED A NEW CABINETPOSITION.

A PROMOTION FROM THE UNDERSECRETARY OF ULTIMATE GIGGLES.

AND MADURO'S REIGN OF FESTIVEDOESN'T END THERE HE ATTACKS THE

HOLIDAY WE HOLD MORE SAKE R +ETRED THAN CHRISTMAS, BLACK

FRIDAY.

>> I ORDERED THE MEDIATEOCCUPATION OF THIS CHAIN TO

OFFER PRODUCTS TO THE PEOPLE ATFAIR PRICES.

EVERYTHING, LET NOTHING REMAININ STOCK.

>> Stephen: EVERYTHING MUST GO,CRAZY NICK WON'T BE UNDER SOLD

UNLESS HE'S OVER THRONE.

FOLKS, I SAY.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Stephen: FOLKS, I SAY WE

CONDITION ALLOW A YULETIDE GAP.

AFTER ALL IF VENEZUELA CAN MOVECHRISTMAS WHEN THEY WANT WHY

CAN'T WE.

WE DO IT WITH HANUKKAH.

THE JEWS SHIFT THAT AROUNDLOOKING FOR THE SWEET SPOT.

THEY WILL GET IT ONE OF THESEDAYS.

AFTER ALL THEY'RE VERY CLEVERPEOPLE.

WHICH IS A COMPLIMENT.

WE WILL BE RIGHT BACK.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Stephen: SO, WELCOME BACK

EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS CO CREATOROF NPRs "PLANET MONEY" IT WAS

EARTH THE WHOLE TIME.

PLEASE WELCOME ALEX BLUMBERG.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Stephen: ALEX, THANK YOU FOR

COMING ON.

>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

Stephen: NICE TO HEAR YOURVOICE AND SEE YOUR FACE AT THE

SAME TIME.

>> YES.

Stephen: YOU'RE CO CREATOR OFNPRs "PLANET MONEY" CO CREATOR

OF "TEE SHIRT PROJECT."

>> YES.

Stephen: NOT A FAN OF THISPROJECT.

THE GLOBAL MARKETPLACE ISSOMEPLACE WE EXPORT WORK TO HAVE

HAPPEN IN WHATEVER CONDITIONS WEWANT.

THE PRODUCTS COME BACK TO MECHEAP ENOUGH TO THROW AWAY

WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT IT.

THAT'S THE INVISIBLE HAND OF THEMARKET.

WHY DO YOU WANT TO MAKE THE HANDOF THE MARKET VISIBLE.

>> WE'RE ALL PARTICIPATING IN ITIF WE WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT OR

NOT.

OUR T SHIRTS.

WE MADE A TEE SHIRT.

>> Stephen: YOU MADE A TEE SHIRTFOR "PLANET MONEY."

IT HAS A SQUIRREL WITH AMARTINI.

WHY IS THE SQUIRREL DRINKINGBOOZE ON THE "PLANET MONEY" TEE

SHIRT.

>> IT'S HARDER THAN WE THOUGHTTO COME UP WITH A DESIGN FOR A

TEE SHIRT.

[LAUGHING]>> YA.

Stephen: OKAY.

OKAY.

>> WE WANTED TO DEAL WITH -- THEREASON WE WANTED TO MAKE THE TEE

SHIRT IS TO SEE THERE IS A WORLDBEHIND THE CLOTHES WE WEAR.

THIS TEE SHIRT WENT FROM COTTONMILLS IN MISSISSIPPI.

>> Stephen: THERE IS STILLENOUGH COTTON GROWN IN THE DEEP

SOUTH OF THE UNITED STATES.

>> IT TURNS OUT COTTON IS --UNITED STATES LEADS THE WORLD IN

EXPORTING COTTON.

NUMBER ONE COTTON EXPORTER INTHE WORLD.

>> Stephen: WHO IS PICKING THATCOTTON?

>> NO ONE.

IT'S ALL MACHINES.

ALMOST NOBODY ACTUALLY WORKINGON THE FARM.

LIKE 13 PEOPLE ON THE COTTONFARM IT PRODUCED ENOUGH COTTON

TO MAKE NINE MILLION T SHIRTS.

THIS ONE FARM IN MISSISSIPPI.

>> Stephen: WOW.

>> YES.

Stephen: OKAY.

SO, YOU HAVE ALL OF THIS COTTON.

WHERE DOES IT GO?

>> SO, IT GOES.

THEN IT GOES ON A GLOBALJOURNEY.

IT TRAVELS 20,000 MILES AS IT ISMADE INTO A TEE SHIRT.

SPINNING FACTORIES IN INDONESIA.

THEN GARMENT FACTORIES AND BACKTO YOU.

>> Stephen: SWEATSHOPS?

THIS IS NPR TEE SHIRT.

IS THIS MADE WITH SWEATSHOPHRAEUBER?

>>>> Don:

Stephen: REALLY.

IT'S MADE IN BANGLADESH.

THE ENTIRE COUNTRY IS SWEAT.

>> SO THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGSWE WANTED TO LOOK AT.

SO IN BANGLADESH THERE ISSOMETHING TO WHAT YOU SAY.

BASICALLY -->> Stephen: GENERALLY.

>> -- BECAUSE BANGLADESH IS AINCREDIBLY POOR COUNTRY.

WE INTERVIEWED A PERSON, THE CEOOF A GARMENT MANUFACTURING

COMPANY.

HE SAYS OUR GOVERNMENT TPO +LGFOLLOWS POVERTY.

IT GOES TO THE POOREST COUNTRYIN THE WORLD OF HRAEUB TORE MAKE

THE SHIRTS.

>> Stephen: IT'S NOT ASWEATSHOP.

WHAT IS YOUR STANDARD FORSWEATSHOPS.

>> WHEN YOU HAVE A COUNTRY LIKEBANGLADESH WHERE YOU HAVE

MILLIONS IN ABJECT POVERTY.

YOU HAVE A BIG CORPORATION, THEYCAN BE EXPLOITED.

ON THE OTHER SIDE THERE AREMILLIONS OF PEOPLE LIVING IN

POVERTY AND THE GARMENT INDUSTRYIS SMALL BUT A SIGNIFICANT STEP

ABOVE -->> Stephen: BY EXPORTING OUR

GARMENT WORK TO BANGLADESH AREWE HELPING THESE PEOPLE OR

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE PEOPLE?

>> IT'S A REALLY FINE LINE.

SOMETIMES WE'RE TAKING ADVANTAGEOF THEM.

SOMETIMES WE'RE HELPING THEM.

THE PEOPLE IN BANGLADESH, MOSTPEOPLE, THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.

FOUR MILLION PEOPLE WORKING INTHE GARMENT INDUSTRY OF

BANGLADESH.

THEY'RE CONSIDERED GOOD JOBS.

IF YOU'RE NOT WORKING IN AGARMENT FACTORY YOU PROBABLY

WANT A JOB IN ONE.

>> Stephen: CONDITIONS OR PAYINCREASE.

>> YES.

THE CONDITIONS -- THE MINIMUMWAGE ALMOST DOUBLED IN THE MONTH

AFTER WE GOT BACK FROM $39 AMONTH TO THE $60 A MONTH.

>> Stephen: SO MUCH WORK IS SENTTHERE THEY CAN ASK FOR HIGHER

WAGES.

>> AND I THINK THE WORLD ISPAYING ATTENTION NOW TO

BANGLADESH.

>> Stephen: ARE THEY NOT POORENOUGH FOR US TO TAKE ADVANTAGE

OF THEM ANYMORE?

CAN WE MOVE TO THE FOURTH WORLDAT THIS POINT.

DO WE MOVE TO ANTARCTICA ANDTEACH THE PENGUINS TO SEW?

>> THIS IS INTERESTING.

OUR GARMENTS HAVE GOTTEN CHEAPERAND CHEAPER.

THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PLACE TOGO TO PAY WORKERS LESS.

>> Stephen: THERE IS NOTHINGLESS THAN A TEE SHIRT.

WE FIRE THEM OUT OF AN ONS ATDRUNK PEOPLE.

>> WE INTERVIEWED A GUY WHOBOUGHT T SHIRTS BECAUSE HE

DIDN'T WANT TO DO LAUNDRY.

>> Stephen: HE'S BURNING HISCLOTHES.

>> YES, THAT'S HOW CHEAP OURCLOTHES ARE.

I THINK THE TREND IS AT AN ENDNOW.

IT SEEMS THAT BANGLADESH IS THECHEAPEST PLACE.

>> Stephen: THERE ISN'T ACHEAPER PLACE?

I THOUGHT THEY HAD FACTORY SHIPSTHAT PULLED UP TO A PORT IN A

CITY AND SAID COME ON YOUDESPERATE PEOPLE MAKE OUR

CLOTHES.

IF YOU ASK FOR HIGHER WAGES WEWILL TAKE THE SHIP SOMEWHERE

ELSEWHERE THEY WON'T ASK.

>> I WOULDN'T PUT IT PAST PEOPLEFROM DOING THAT.

>> Stephen: DID I JUST COME UPWITH THE GREATEST IDEA EVER.

IF SO I WANT A PIECE IT HAD.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME.

>> THANK YOU.

Stephen: ALEX BLUMBERG.

HOW MUCH FOR THE SHIRT.

>> $30.

Stephen: $30 FOR THE SHIRT.

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,EVERYBODY.

I WANT TO SAY GOODBYE TO ONE OFMY WRITERS.

FRANK.

FRANK IS KNOWN FOR HISUNPRODUCIBLE SCRIPTS.

SERIOUSLY, FRANK, WHERE ARE WEGOING TO GET A HOVERCRAFT?

I DON'T HAVE ONE.

YOU MAY KNOW HIM AS DRUG LORDOMARO, HIGH FIVING CONQE,

UESTDOR OR MY INTERVIEW STUNTBEARD.

WE WISH HIM LUCK AT HIS NEW JOBTAKING PATRIOTISM TO THE

STREETS.

>> I'M A BIG LOUD FLAG, MOVEAROUND ME!

MOVE AROUND!

YOUR BABY WANTS FREEDOM!

I'M A BIG Captioning sponsored by

COMEDY CENTRAL Captioned by

Media Access Group at WGBH access.wgbh.org