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I'm Waleed Aly. Hi there and welcome to Big Ideas, Amongst our Short Cuts today, on how the West was lost. Economic scientist Dambisa Moyo the US alliance Bob Hawke reminisces about of prompt cards. and Ronald Reagan's use turned politicians Plus more on movie stars Hollywood's influence as a Californian historian reveals in American politics. Arnold, as he liked to be called of modern celebrity was so great showed that in fact the power to political office that a movie star could be elected

an established party network without the benefit of or a precise ideological message.

for governor He announced he was going to run on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, he publicised it on Oprah that used lines from his movies and he made speeches like promising voters who are not doing their job that politicians (Mimics) 'Hasta la vista, baby'. would be told, And calling legislators 'girlie men'. later. More from historian Steven Ross into Google Type 'scientists find the gene for' and you get 10,000 hits. actually mean? But what does that phrase or Neither, In a talk he calls Nature, Nurture blows a few scientific myths, the UK's Professor Steve Jones of the Royal Family and Siamese cats covering everything from the genetics

to whether genes determine obesity. both here in Australia, If you look at the press, and in Britain and worldwide, you will find again and again in almost every day's newspaper the gene for...' a statement, 'scientists find

and then fill in the gap. into Google to see what we found And a few months ago I put that that we got. and here's the first of 36,000 hits short sleepers, divorce, depression, Some of them - emotional memory, at the bottom there, you'll see premature ejaculation in the population, but... I'm not quite sure how that stays (Laughter) to say that something is in the genes There is an...almost an obsession OK? What does that mean? three letter word - I mean, 'for' is the most dangerous in genetics. not four letter word -

And that's what I want to explore. The gene 'for' this.

It's clearly the case run absolutely in families that some attributes be coded for in the double helix. and some of them might which is probably human - Here's an example of human - inheritance. rather straightforward genetic who's ears stick out, OK, Here's a man and we have sympathy for the poor man but he has a consolation prize of Greece and Denmark. because he's Prince Andrew He had a son who's ears stuck out. and his lady wife. There he is, the Duke of Edinburgh, had a son And he, the Duke of Edinburgh, and still stick out, OK, who's ears stuck out and here we have Charles

and his elder son, William. with his younger son His younger son - his ears stick out. to say And I would be reasonably happy the human genome that if you were to search

for the 'sticking out ears' gene one or two DNA substitutions you would probably find that actually did the job. about having your ears stick out Now, nobody really cares your ears do stick out, unless of course which mine don't, William - but you'll see his other son, has been in the press recently - who for some reason his ears don't stick out

that single copy of a gene so he obviously didn't get that causes this condition. However, his other son something from his father will almost certainly inherit for ten or more generations which has passed down the generations according to strict rules certainly heritable, and are certainly inherited, and this is what he'll get - the Crown Jewels, he'll get the British Royal regalia, within that family line which are passed down which are inherited and there are many, many things which are simply not genetic. There is no gene for wearing a crown, a millionaire there is no gene for being

a highly heritable thing to be. but being a millionaire is is inherited, So, the fact that something mean that it's genetic. obviously doesn't not necessarily that some things are genetic So you can perhaps say and some things are not. even than that. But actually it's more subtle a pathological interest I have - in many ways - in the genetics of cats in my teaching, and I use many, many examples

to illustrate genetics with cats. It's very, very easy to do, of good examples. there's lots and lots And one of the neatest examples nature and nurture interact of the way that you simply cannot separate in a way that which is this one here. comes from a particular cat mutation, we all love our Siamese cats, This is the Siamese cat, ears and tail, black feet. very handsome cat, black nose, which this one is, If it's a gentleman cat, although it's a shy one, black testicles as well.

with Siamese cats, as cat lovers do, And if you do crosses this is due to the inheritance it turns out that of a single genetic mutation in a part of a bio-chemical pathway called melanin, that makes a black pigment straightforward way, and is inherited in an absolutely green and yellow peas actually were. just the same way as Mendel's is clearly genetic. So, being a Siamese cat it's a bit more than that But actually, this error does because what this mutation, in the black pigment factory, in the melanin,

of the factory to work. is damage the ability But it only damages it a bit. you want to dissolve sugar in water Now, you all know that if in hot water than in cold water it's much easier to do it atoms and molecules zizzing about, because in hot water there's lots of to use technical language, and making it dissolve. and bashing on the sugar life is less stable, OK? So, in hot water, And what happens in this case, has been damaged slightly actually, this enzyme which means it can work perfectly well in cold conditions but not in warm conditions. So the cold part of the cat's body - it nose, ears and tail and its testicles, the coolest part of any male's body both literally and metaphorically, they're black. The warm part of the cat's body, the main body mass, which is two or three degrees Celsius warmer than the rest of the body,

that's white.

And if you want to make a relatively dark coloured Siamese cat, and people do try to breed them you can do it by choosing to breed from the darkest cats.

You can do it in another way, you can actually keep it in a cold room, OK? And if you want to make a rather expensive black cat, you can keep your Siamese in a refrigerator

and you will have a black cat and inside that black cat will be a Siamese struggling to get out. (Laughter) On the other side of the coin, if you want a light coloured Siamese, simply keep the animal in a warm room as a student pointed out wittily when I gave this lecture this year, 'if you want another kind of black cat, put it in an oven.' So, these cats have got the same genes. Somebody a few years ago had the brilliant idea of taking their Siamese kitten that was called Edward, and shaving an initial letter E on its side and keeping that cold and you can see that this animal grew, on perfectly natural black fur, the letter E so it could stalk the streets of London, frightening and terrifying the local cats and the local people as well. And that, too, is an example of nature and nurture working together. It makes no sense to ask the question, 'is being a Siamese genetic or is being Siamese environmental?' It's both. And that's true really for every - possibly every condition, human condition and cat condition that you can think of. Many people think of being a Siamese or being any other condition as being rather like a cake you can slice it into a bit that's called gene or nature and a bit that's called nurture or environment. And that's not true, as the Siamese tells us. What happens when you eat too many cakes? There's somebody eating a cake, doing a bit of heritability there. You'd have to un-bake the cake to get the genes and the environment back, which you can't do. But if you eat too many of these things, what happens?

You get very fat. Alright? And there is, as we all know, an enormous obesity epidemic across the world. Without going into detail, you can see in different parts of the world,

for example, in western Europe or in the Americas

there's a huge problem with obesity in middle age, with women more than men, in fact. In other parts of the world, such as Africa and Japan, the problem is much smaller. Britain doesn't have all that much to blow its trumpet about anymore but we have one great strength - we are the fattest nation in Europe. You can see the obesity levels at the bottom - Britain, 24% of all adults are obese compared to only 7 or 8% in Romania and Switzerland. So, we have that to boast about.

And, indeed, if you go into Britain you can see the fat map and I actually come from one of the fattest parts of Britain in west Wales, there. Although I'm not particularly obese myself, there's a lot of concern. And clearly obesity is a real problem particularly as it shows no signs of going away, it is spreading very, very rapidly. And if you project into the future what might happen,

the figures are positively frightening. They're not that bad for Australia, I didn't manage to dig out a slide

Sorry, they are quite bad for Australia. They're much worse in the United States and certainly by 2025, the claim is that 70% of Americans

at the present rate of increase will be obese. Australians perhaps 60%, British perhaps 50% And this has a high, high cost in terms of health.

Now, you can measure obesity in various ways, one of which is simply weight, which in not very efficient - men weigh more than women,

muscular men weigh more than less muscular men. There's one rather strange mechanism that's called BMI

which is a composition of weight and height and you simply take your weight and your height

and you plonk yourself on that graph. And it's a standard - it's what we call a distribution free thing so it's hard to do stats on those figures. I think it's the square of the weight over the height, I can't remember. But you can put yourself on that. And if you take people's BMI in relation to their health there is a striking effect. If your Body Mass Index is above 21, which is where obesity begins to come in, your liability to particular diseases go shooting up, particularly those green spots which are type 2 diabetes,

the diabetes that comes on in adult life. And you don't want to have type 2 diabetes, it's a very unfortunate condition, leads to all kinds of side-effects - to blindness, to nerve damage, to kidney and liver failure even to amputation of limbs so it's a real, real problem and it's a growing problem enormously worldwide. In fact, it turns out obesity is one of the classic issues where you don't know what you're measuring.

It turns out that BMI is not a particularly effective measure of medically important obesity because there's two kinds of obesity - there's what's called 'apple' obesity and 'pear' obesity. Apple obesity is having a big belly, pear obesity having a big bottom. And the apple obesity, the big stomach obesity, is much, much more dangerous than the pear obesity because the stomach fat is much more readily, um,

much more readily mobilised than fat around the behind. Women tended, historically, to have the second kind, men the first kind, but women are rapidly becoming more apple shaped as obesity spreads. So, it's a real issue. So, what's it all due to? Well, clearly part of it is due to a change in the way people live. There's a great wave of lard, a tsunami of fat which has spread out from the United States and has splashed the shores - most shores - across the world. And it didn't really get started until the 1970s so this is all really quite new. And part of that, without question, turns on a change in the price of food. These are American dollar prices but you can see that certain kinds of foods have become much, much cheaper. It used to be, in the 1920s, that the average American working man would have to work seven hours a day to feed his family. Now he only has to work 1.5 hours a day, as long as he feeds them on cheap junk food and sugars and cheeseburgers and that kind of stuff. So, that's certainly part of the equation and in fact we now live in an extraordinary period in history and Marie Antoinette said of the starving poor, 'Let them eat cake.' Well, they have.

And now we're in a situation where, for the first time ever, the poor are fat and the rich are thin. And that's because the environment has changed, there's no question that there's a strong environmental effect there. However, that doesn't alter the possibility that there could also - just as in the Siamese cat - be a genetic effect. And there are a number of experiments

that show that to be true. As it happens, I'm the son of an identical twin - my mother was an identical twin and, of course, identical twins, as Galton himself noted

are nature's experiments because they're genetically the same, OK? And you can ask are identical twins more similar to each other in one attribute than non-identical twins are. 'Cause non-identical twins only have half their genes in common. And here's a neat experiment, which you wouldn't get away with doing nowadays.

It was done in the 1980s in the States. And students were paid considerable sums of money to eat much more than they normally would or much less. And one group was told, 'We'll give you $1,000 to eat everyday as much as you can possibly hold down,' and another groups was told, 'we'll give you $1,000 to eat as little as you possibly can without starving to death'. And here's the result. These are pairs of identical twins. And you can see that if you ask people to eat until they're full they certainly put on weight, as you can see, at the bottom there on the left they put on up to 12kg in weight, which is a lot. But the interesting thing is that each twin put on the same amount of weight, OK, Twin A and twin B. The same was true if you starved them. If people would only eat as much as they thought they could possibly get away with. So, there's a strong genetic difference revealed by this experiment. Which is almost certainly, as we'll see in a moment, a difference not in metabolism, in burning the food, 'cause that seems to be unimportant, it's a difference in appetite, controlling your appetite in plus or minus kinds of ways. So this is the genetics of twins - the genetics of obesity without question in spite of the environmental effects. And obesity certainly runs in families - here's a classically obese, I think, American family. These people are morbidly obese indeed and you can see the parents are very, very fat and indeed as is their daughter.

Here, on the other hand, is a picture of their cat. (Laughter and gasps) And it's one of the little-known facts of science and it is in fact quite true that fat people tend to have fat cats, OK? They have fat cats, fat dogs, fat goldfish. And as far as I'm aware, they don't share any DNA with their cats, their dogs or their goldfish. What they actually do is they overfeed themselves, they overfeed their children, and they overfeed their pets. Professor Steve Jones with the David Rivett Memorial Lecture

for the CSIRO in Canberra. And you can head to our website to see that event in full. Next up, Australia's longest serving Labor prime minister looks back upon his time managing our relationship with our most powerful ally, Uncle Sam. As PM, Bob Hawke, worked with two Republican Presidents - on some critical global issues. These included the fall of the Berlin wall, the creation of APEC, the end of apartheid in Africa

and bringing China into the global community. Led by political journalist, Paul Kelly, the conversation includes some amusing anecdotes like Ronald Reagan's use of prompt cards in high level meetings at The White House.

Ronald Reagan didn't pretend to be an intellectual - he would have been on very shakey ground if he's tried to. (Audience Laugh) Nor did he pretend to be across the detail of most areas of policy. He had an unshakeable conviction

in the evil nature of the Soviet Union. Which, as you know, he described as the Evil Empire and he believed, rightly in my judgement, that under his predecessor the Soviet Union and Leonid Brezhnev

had been given too many easy victories. And indeed, when he came to power, and I did a few years later, the arc of Soviet influence spread from, if you like, Angola, south of Africa right through the Middle East across Europe and down to Vietnam. And he had an absolute conviction that the Soviet Union had to be stood up to, that the United States had to increase it's expenditure on defence.

He had a conviction that if through solid defence the two respective economic systems could be left to fight it out. He had no doubt, and he was right, that the competitive free enterprise system would leave the Soviet command system for dead. So, my assessment of Reagan was, he was the man for the time. Remember, those times were very dangerous. I think you're implying, from what you've just said, that you also at that time felt that a tough attitude was required towards the Soviet Union. Of course it was. This was an hegemonistic power. I've just indicated the stretch of it's power and influence. They were not about being chummy little friends, they were about acquiring power and influence and territory. And their regimes were hateful regimes and they were economically backward. They did nothing to tap the capacity and resources for human kind. And so it had to be defeated. And while I have many criticisms about the United States, which may come through in the course of the evening, the fact is, that it was the steadfastness of the United States, and particularly under the leadership of Ronald Reagan, that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union. What was the response of some of your Labor colleagues when you talked to them about Ronald Reagan? How many of them shared your assessment of him? Well, I don't think that what I'm saying

was the overwhelming majority view, of course. But they had not had the privilege and the pleasure of meeting with Reagan. What is worth noting about Reagan, Paul, is this - I made many visits to the United States, five under his presidency, and not once did I meet anyone on either side of the political fence, Democrat or Republican, who didn't like him personally. It was one famous little interchange I had with Tip O'Neill, who was then the Democrat Speaker of Representatives and he'd seen my schedule and said 'I seen you've been down the White House, Bob' and I said 'Yeah, yeah I've been down there.'

and he said, 'There's never been a more conservative son-of-a bitch in that place.' but he says, 'You can't help liking the guy can you?' And that was true, he was a loveable bloke. Reagan was supposed to rely on cards to guide him in these discussions. What was your experience, did he or did he not actually use the cards when he was talking - Did he ever. First meeting, June '83 White House, long table, Ronald sitting there, I'm sitting here,

on his left, he has his economic advisors, including Donald Reagan,

the secondary of the treasury, George Shultz on his right. He opens up and says some very nice things about me

and then he says, 'Well, Bob, you're our honoured guest, what would you like to start on, Bob?' So, I - you may remember in '83,

the States were just coming out of a recession -

and so I asked what he expected the rate of GDP growth to be in the next 12 months and so on. (Audience Laugh) It's true. Finds the appropriate card, he reads a few sentences and he says, 'Well, Donald, I think this is in your area, would you like to take this up with Bob?' So, the secretary of the treasury of the United States and the Prime Minister of Australia

engage in an intelligent, rational conversation, with the most powerful man in the world sitting there saying bugger all. And after the end of that little interchange then he says, well, Bob that was mighty interesting, what would you like to go to next? So the next one was foreign affairs, I asked the question and - Come to the appropriate card, a couple of sentences and he says, 'Well, George Shultz, this is in your area, perhaps you'd like to take this up with Bob.' So the secretary of state, of the United States and the Prime Minister of Australia have an intelligent, relevant conversation for five minutes, most powerful man in the world, nothing. And so it went on. We were leaving that, Paul, to go out and have lunch, which is what he enjoyed most - 'Telling a few stories, Bob? Swap a few stories?'

And as we go out, my blokes said to me - you know they were appalled. I said, well, wait on what would you rather have?

Would you rather have a bloke who doesn't really know a lot about the details rabbiting on, or handing it over to someone who does? 'Course I was right. Now you've talked about George Shultz, how important was your personal relationship with George Shultz

in terms of establishing your effective relations with the President and with the broader Reagan administration? Critically important. I'd had the privilege of meeting George Shultz in 1976 we had lunch at the Southern Cross Hotel, in Melbourne. He was there in his capacity as head of Bechtel,

a huge United States international construction company. They had a lot of projects in our region, including most particularly, the building of the Bougainville Copper project. They'd been having some problems, labour problems, and the people who had got in touch with me and asked if I'd see him when he came - I did, and we clicked immediately. He had the background which was in my area, he'd been a professor of economics, been Secretary of Labour, Secretary of Treasury and he was a great man. We got on very well. So it was enormously helpful when I became Prime Minister in 1983, that he was Secretary of State. He told Reagan that I was a good guy. The first congratulatory message I got from an international leader was from Reagan with a warm, very warm welcome to come and meet him as soon as possible. And, of course, the warmth of that relationship not only opened doors but it meant we were able to discuss things in an absolutely frank, open, constructive manner. And I suppose the best illustration of the importance of that relationship came in the resolution of the MX crisis. Well, I was going to move on and talk about these two issues, these two crises which came up early on in your prime ministership, we had the New Zealand policy on nuclear warships, which led to a crisis between New Zealand and the United States and the effective removal of New Zealand from each its treaty arrangements with America.

And then we had the MX crisis as well.

So, let's just deal with the New Zealand crisis first of all. What was your view of the policy of New Zealand Prime Minster, David Lange, on nuclear warships and what sort of discussion did you have with him about that? The first thing to understand wasn't David Lange's policy, I had, in the end, nothing but contempt for Lange and his vision on this. We met in Port Moresby when he hadn't been elected long, and we were up there for the opening of the new Parliament House and we were to meet in my room in the hotel I was in, in Papua New Guinea. Ross Garnaut, who was my personal economic advisor, brought him in and when Ross had left I said to him, 'That's Ross Garnaut, my personal economic advisor.' and he said, 'Oh I think I've got one of those, I haven't met him yet.' I thought, 'Shit, what have am I talking to here?'

So, that initial impression was re-enforced very quickly

by the following conversation. I said, 'We haven't got time let's get it down to it. about the question of visits by US ships.' I said, 'It is not conceivable that you can have an alliance relationship with a country - an important alliance relationship,

embodied in a treaty - and not allow the ships of the alliance partner to visit your ports. It doesn't make any sense.'

And so I put that strongly to him. and I said 'Well, perhaps you'd tell me your position.' And he started to talk to me and explain it and as he was talking about it, explaining it, I said, 'I don't think this bloke believes this.' So I said to him,

'David I get the impression you don't really believe this.' He said, 'Well that's basically right, we did a deal with the left before we came to government that they would have their position in regard to international policy if they gave Douglas and myself a free hand to reform the economy.' So, you can imagine the feeling I had about that. I mean, it's just despicable.

You do not conduct the foreign policy of your company on that basis. And when he was subsequently dashed around the world, telling his story and being nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, I - well, I won't say exactly how I felt. Well, you've said you had a contempt for his policy. What advice did you give the Americans at the time? Because you're in a situation where you've got Labor governments in Australia and New Zealand following different policies on this issue, and to what extent where you concerned that if the Americans didn't take strong sanction against New Zealand then you would come under domestic attack from the Labor party

for your own policy? On the contrary, I was in a very strong position in arguing that the American's shouldn't take strong sanctions. I mean there was a very strong move

particularly within the defence department, that under Cap Weinberger, that New Zealand should be punished by imposition of trade sanctions. I said, 'That is wrong.' I said, 'We've got to - we can't punish the people of New Zealand for the stupidity of their governments position.' I said, 'We should do everything to try and maintain an efficient relationship in the defense areas we can. I will see that at the Australia/New Zealand level

we keep the co-operation going.' And I think my voice was significant in stopping the sanctions against New Zealand. The state department wasn't quite as strong as the defense department over there in pushing the sanctions but they then adopted the vision I was talking about. I wasn't so much thinking of economic sanctions, more... But they were very much an issue. ...of course, of course. They were being proposed. Of course, of course. But I was thinking more about New Zealand's ongoing role as a treaty partner and presumably you made it clear to the Americans you felt that was untenable.

Well, they - I said that we would continue to share intelligence with them. It was not possible to maintain the status quo. But by definition - and of course when the issue came up on the question of Buchannan, when they said 'The Buchannan can't come.' - that was their warship - It was quite clear that you had a situation which simply wasn't normal. My position with the United States is that 'Let's make the best we can out of this situation and strengthen our co-operation, I'll strengthen my co-operation there so that no on balance serious, ill effect, or concern.' And let's face it, frankly, New Zealand didn't make an enormous contribution to the - I don't say that in a disparaging sense - but if you look at United States and it's contribution and ours, in terms of defense and strategic terms, we weren't devastated by their temporary absence. Former prime minister Bob Hawke speaking with Paul Kelly for the US Studies Centre. Next, a logical follow-on in a way. Historian Steven Ross explains how movie stars shape American politics. According to Ross, Hollywood's engagement with politics has been longer, deeper and more varied than we ever imagined. From Charlie Chaplin to George Clooney

and all the way to the presidency. The 2003 California recall and gubernatorial elections looked like a flashback to the 1960s - an actor with seemingly no political experience was trying to win a major office. And columnists breezily compared Arnold Schwarzenegger to two movie star turn politicians - George Murphy and Ronald Reagan. But such comparisons were totally inaccurate. Even the best of our press, whether its New York Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal - they don't take Hollywood politics seriously. Had they really paid attention they would have known

that Murphy and Reagan weren't just B-actors who ran for office because they had nothing better to do - that they had actually worked for over 20 years in the political trenches and in fact, had many deep ties to the Republican Party leadership. But Arnold, as he liked to be called, was a relative newcomer. And other than campaigning for George H W Bush in 1988 and 1992,

he had no ties to the Republican Party. And if history was any lesson, he would have gone down to defeat

to either one of the two established front runners - Republican Tom McClintock or Democrat Cruz Bustamante. But Schwarzenegger defied history and in so doing he elevated yet another form of politics - celebrity politics - to new heights. Now, throughout the 20th Century - really starting in the 1920s, late '20s and '30s - Democrats and Republicans would both use the Hollywood democratic committee and the Hollywood Republican committee to send movie stars out on the road to campaign with candidates - either congressional candidates, senatorial candidates

or gubernatorial candidates. And in reading correspondence to those committees what I discovered was the same from both parties, they said, you know, when our candidate, particularly congressional candidates would go out on the road maybe they'd get 200 or 300 people but the moment a Humphrey Bogart turned up or an Adolf Mansu on the right - they'd get 5 or 10,000 people. And while many of those people were just there to see the movie star, many of them stayed and listened to the candidate and once they listened to the candidate, many of them voted that way. But Arnold showed that in fact the power of modern celebrity was so great that a movie star could be elected to political office without the benefit of an established party network or a precise ideological message. And Schwarzenegger's story reveals how changes in the entertainment industry transformed American political culture. His electoral success was made possible by the explosion of the 24/7 entertainment media that we have today. Now, the Austrian immigrant wasn't the first person to use popular shows to reach audiences. For those of you who have long memories - John Kennedy and Richard Nixon both went on the Jack Paar Show in 1960 and Bill Clinton played sax in Orsinio Hall in 1992. But these appearances were peripheral to the candidates focus. Traditional politicians saw newspapers, serious television talk shows like Meet The Press and going out on the road and speaking with voters themselves as at the core of what a political campaign constituted. Well, Schwarzenegger differed from all of them in his innovative use of celebrity and media to forge a political career. He understood that seemingly lightweight entertainment shows like Access Today or Entertainment Tonight offered new ways of engaging and mobilising voters - particularly the 50% of the voters in America who rarely turn out for elections. He shunned traditional outlets and placed these entertainment shows at the absolute centre of his campaign. As we see here, he announced he was going to run for governor

on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, he publicised it on Oprah and he made speeches that used lines from his movies like promising voters that politicians who are not doing their job

would be told, (Mimics) 'Hasta la vista, baby.' And calling legislators 'girlie men'.

And instead of talking policy to reporters from the LA Times or Wall Street Journal, he preferred television interviews with Larry King, Jay Leno and Sean Hannity. Well, celebrity got Schwarzenegger elected but it didn't ensure that he would be an effective leader. His campaign and subsequent years in office point to the limitations of turning politics into entertainment without offering voters the complex but boring policy statements that allow them to select the person

who's actually the most capable of governing. And after his victory - remember that Reagan photo -

Republicans learn from one another more effectively than Democrats learn from one another. Well, after his victory he learned there was a stark difference between running for office and governing in office. And indeed, the one-time action star was not up to the task of overcoming California's many financial crises. Instead, he deepened them.

And in the end, Schwarzenegger's story highlights the critical difference between the celebrity who knows how to win an election and a politician who knows how to work within the system. And as Barack Obama showed in 2008 and John Kennedy before him politicians who become celebrities

have a better chance of governing effectively than celebrities who become politicians.

Well, Barack Obama's election in 2008, a victory greatly aided by Oprah Winfrey's endorsement, leads us to reconsider why the Hollywood right has been more successful in the world of electoral politics than the Hollywood left.

So, let me give you a few explanations and then I'll stop.

I think there have been three key reasons. The first is that conservatives have a better story line than Democrats. From Louis B Mayer to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Hollywood right has told a compelling story of American triumphalism.

America is the greatest nation in the world what else do you need to know? Few citizens want to hear a Jane Fonda, a Warren Beatty or a Sean Penn point out everything that's wrong with the United States. They like to hear about God, faith, country and hope. Now, Democrats and Republicans both want a better world but the right plays to emotions

and employs fear mongering to sell its stories and fear has usually had a greater impact on voters than hope. But not always. Barack Obama understood the importance of story line and he steered clear of unsuccessful Democratic narratives of hope and guilt. And instead, he shifted his party's mantra to hope and change we can believe in.

Secondly, the right's success can be attributed to structural factors - the left has a harder time because it works to initiate reform while the right works to maintain the status quo. And it is always easier to maintain the status quo than to shift the balance of power. Indeed, in the United States' 250 year history, the eras of major reform - like the 1830 civil war, progressive era,

New Deal and the 1960s, have been the minority, the exception rather than the world. That laissez faire ideology has been the dominant structural ideology of American government, not an activist state. And finally, a third factor has to do with image.

Like the stories they tell, the role movie stars play can have an important impact on voters. Murphy and Reagan's good-guy cinematic image allowed them to fare better with the voting public that their left counterpart. Now, both men were affable mid-westerners who represented the kind of entertainment values favoured by those disgusted with stars whose politics and lifestyles seemed out of touch with ordinary Americans. And in 1964, many California voters still remembered Murphy as the nice guy who danced with Shirley Temple and Reagan had an equally wholesome quality. And while he was certainly part of Hollywood,

he belonged to its conservative, more Christian anti-Communist wing. Well, the Hollywood right's success in electoral politics should not obscure the important impact that the Hollywood left has had on political life. The left preferred pursuing issues and movements of broad national importance

rather than running for high political office. And they often did so at times when many of the causes they preferred were highly unpopular. They helped publicise the dangers of Hitler in the 1930s and '40s, they helped expand the civil rights movement in the 1950s and '60s they helped lead anti-war movements in the 1960s, 1970s and 2000

and the advanced social and political movements that advocated a more open and tolerant society in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Historian Steven Ross speaking there at Sydney University. Finally today, How The West Was Lost. It's the provocative title of a new book by Dambisa Moyo. In it, the Oxford and Harvard educated, former investment-banker at Goldman Sachs,

daringly claims that the west can no longer afford to simply regard global up and comers like China, India and Brazil as menacing gatecrashers. Moya argues radical solutions are required if the west is to regain its economic power. My parents in particular gave me a lot of grief about writing this book, because it seemed like quite a departure from my first book, Dead Aid, which was really focusing on the issues

around economic poverty, economic development and the role of the international community in providing aid to Africa. And in fact, I had the great pleasure being here a couple of years ago to discuss that very book. What I want to assure you and also to bring to your attention, is that my books are actually very much linked and there's an over-arching theme between the first book, Dead Aid,

and this current book, called How The West Was Lost. And the over-arching theme or the running idea between the two books, is unintended consequences.

That's basically good intentions that our policy makers have that yield bad outcomes. So, in the context of aid to Africa, we see horrendous pictures in the newspapers, on television, of people suffering from horrendous diseases and living very, very impoverished lives and we feel like we need or the good intention is that we want to do something, the bad outcome is that by using aid we end up with a whole host of economic problems. Such as inflation and the debt burden and corruption and a lot of the stuff I talked about in Dead Aid. In very much a similar way, I'd like to spend time talking today about the good intentions, things like pensions, things like artifacts of the subprime crisis, which is the idea of everybody having housing, which are all good intentions which have unfortunately put western countries, and the United States included, on a very precarious path of economic decline. So, I want us also today to suspend our ideological beliefs, because I think we become too wed to what we think we know, and unfortunately I think this makes us slightly hamstrung when it comes to not only thinking about what the problems that we face are, but also in sort of, brainstorming and what the solutions might be. And I say this because I do not claim to be an oracle and know all the answers,

but it's really essential for all of us to understand that we are in the middle of quite an inflection point in terms of where we are today and where the world is going.

In 2050 there could be as many as 9 billion people on the planet and some of the issues around natural resources, things like arable land, access to water, access to energy and to minerals,

are things that we absolutely are going to contend with.

And therefore it's essential that we come together and think about, not only what the real issues are, but also start to come up with some credible solutions that can solve these problems. Economists tend to look at the economy by focusing on three key ingredients. The first one is capital, which is basically money. The second one is labour, which is just the work force

and the third one is what we call productivity.

And I must tell you that I often joke that productivity's kind of,

a bit of a cheat sheet for economists, because it's sort of a catch-all. It's everything else that's not capital or labour. The reason, however, that this productivity element is important, is that economists think that it explains about 60%

of why some countries grow and other economies don't. So, it is very much a crucial issue. But what I want to do for you now, is show you how, in the very deliberate way, policy making in the United States and across Europe have in the last 50 years, specifically designed policies and implemented policies that have eroded these three very key factors.

I would like you also to bear in mind that it's not just the quantity of quality labour and productivity that matter, it's also the quality that matters and therefore, as we will see, in particular in comparing the United States to perhaps what's going on in China, and other places around the world, it's important that our discussion is much more nuanced

and doesn't just focus on the big headline numbers. So, let's talk a little about capital. We all know where the world is right now, and particularly where the United States and European countries are. They are essentially characterised by very large debts and very large deficits. And this is an unfortunate situation which is not just at the public or government level, but it's also very much reflected at the individual household level.

And in many ways, if you really drill down to what has happened in recent years, in particular the subprime crisis, I argue in the book that this is really an artifact

of the 'housing for all' policy. Remember again, a good intention, but unfortunately that has yielded a bad outcome. And I can understand why policy makers might see it fit for us all to have a roof over our head, that's a great thing. But the manner in which the governments set about setting a policy environment clearly disincentivised people from doing the right thing and more importantly, it has led to a situation where the average American has invested a large proportion of their wealth into a particular sector, in this case the real estate sector.

But it was actually artificially made to look attractive by government policy. What did the government do? It kept interest rates low, it built in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for example, but it created an environment where there were guarantees and subsidies. And it's these types of artificial factors that make the housing sector look much more attractive than other asset classes such as bonds,

stocks, or commodities or even cash. If you look at where the United States is today, versus, for example, China, in terms of capital, we all know the headline numbers, that China has a lot of reserves, about $3 trillion in reserves. But there's a more subtle point worth stressing here.

In China, a lot of the money is concentrated,

whereas in the United States - although the United States is still a $14 trillion economy -

and therefore one of the largest economies, if not the largest on the planet It definitely is much more diffused, across pension funds, individuals, hedge funds and so on. Why does that matter? Well, it matters because when governments have to deal with very big problems,

things like resource shortages, things like financial crises

which they invariably do, the issue becomes 'how flexible, how capable is your government able to do that?' In the case of China, as we've seen, the government has maintained

a lot of flexibility by being able to have this access to capital. Whereas the United States, we've seen that the government is very much hamstrung now by a lot of catastrophic errors

that have happened not just in the last few decades but over a much longer period. And in the book I talk about systematically how it is that we've ended up in this place. If you move into the labour sector, there's so many things that are cause for concern in the United States and across Europe. Things like pensions and healthcare, which we're very familiar with, but also the standards of education that are slipping dramatically. With regards to pensions, for example,

even at this stage it is pretty unclear how much the United States government owes to us as individuals in terms of pension liabilities. You hear so many different numbers, the most recent one that I heard is $2.5 trillion. But the fact of the matter is there's this dark cloud looming, because we all know that there's a serious problem emerging, but there simply isn't enough discourse

in actually what is going to be done. Just to illustrate how serious this is. There's some estimates that as we move into 2040 - so over the next 20 to 30 years - there will be a 250% increase in the number of people who are 65 years or older. And that's a serious implication for the pension costs,

but also healthcare costs. Already in the United Kingdom, 70% of the costs of the NHS are for long term illnesses associated with people in their later life. Now, this is not to say that we want to turn the taps off, but we have to understand that the way in which the pension schemes were structured

have not only decimated industries like the auto industry and the airline industry and also have created problems in the steel industry, but in effect we have built a Ponzi scheme, where we know that the younger people coming in, the later participants are paying for the older participants. And it's simply unsustainable.

So we have to ask ourselves 'What are we going to do?'

'Are we going to make sacrifices today in order for America to become competitive tomorrow? Or are we going to find solutions that are going to help us today but in the longer term, because of the cost of pensions, actually make American companies and the American government back-footed, and therefore find many more challenges around the pension issue?' Healthcare costs I've touched on a little bit

and we know that costs around Alzheimer's and type 2 diabetes which are very much associated with older age - and I do talk about this a lot in the book - are very significant.

McKensey has estimated that in the years to come the United States will have a 100% healthcare bill to GDP. It's clearly unsustainable and there's no way a government can spend every dime that it earns only on healthcare. And the question then becomes 'What is it exactly we're doing now

to make sure that we don't have to tackle issues of obesity, issues of healthcare and so on - that are associated with healthcare in the longer term?' These elements act as a drag on society over the long term and we know that, again,

they are driven by good intentions but the manner in which they are structured absolutely lead to a drag on the broader economy. I'm going to spend a minute on education, because here too is a very serious problem that everybody is very much aware of. We've heard from President Obama and other people talk about how in one generation, the United States has gone from number one in college graduates to 12th in the league tables. You only have to look at the OECD statistics -

this is the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development,

of which the United States is a member - they have something called the PISA survey, P-I-S-A,

and there's another survey called the TIMS survey, which is a Trends in Mathematics and Science study. And if you look at those statistics in aggregate, the United States and also many other European countries are seriously falling behind in mathematics, in sciences and in reading. Just to give you an example, in the UK, which is where I live,

the United Kingdom in the past decade as gone from 7th in reading to 17th. This is reading in English, which is their language. But in addition, in things like mathematics, they've gone from around 8th to number 24. So you've got numerous countries that are ahead, and I've seem advertisements here in the United States about the number of countries, as you well know,

particularly from the emerging world, that have bypassed the United States. And I really urge you, if you have interest in this subject, to take some of the tests that they have online for the PISA survey, you'll be really surprised. And these are for young people, but it's quite interesting to see

they type of tests that our young people in the western societies are failing to pass. It's actually quite distressing. Dambisa Moyo, author of the new book 'How The West Was Lost'

speaking there at the Commonwealth Club of California. That's all from this week's Short Cuts from Big Ideas. Remember, you can find all the talks you've seen on the show today and more besides at the Big Ideas website. And look out for our shows on News 24 Saturday and Sunday at 1pm. I'm Waleed Aly, I'll see you then. (Closed Captions by CSI)



Peru is home to some of the world's greatest wonders,

and one of the great lost civilisations - the Incas.

Their way of life is still celebrated in modern-day Peru, 500 years after the Inca world was destroyed by the Spanish conquistadores. A narrow-gauge railway through the High Andes leads to our wonder. Reputed to be one of the most beautiful and spiritually uplifting places on Earth.

It was lost in a cloud forest for 400 years and only rediscovered in 1911. Standing on a natural shelf high in the Andes, 2353m above sea level, it's a stunning sight. An extraordinary place to build a city. It still feels like it's on top of the world -

the realm of the gods - it's Machu Picchu. It's thought to have been built in the 1460s by the Inca god-king, Pachacuti Inca. Machu Picchu has about 200 buildings, was home to around 1,000 people. It's laid out with streets built on terraces cut into the mountain side. Most people lived in small humble houses like this one,

still intact apart from the roof timbers and thatch. The Incas were remarkable civil engineers. They built advance sewers and water systems for the city. Water was channelled from the mountains and bought down into a small canal and then into this waterfall. The Incas celebrated the world around them in stone. This strange stone has a profile that exactly matches, in miniature,

the mountains behind. Inca stonework was outstanding - massive blocks fit together like bits of jigsaw. Where over time the stones have moved apart, it's even more apparent how accurate the stone-cutting was. To the Incas, a rainbow was the son of the sun, and Machu Picchu was thought to be home to beautiful virgins who dedicated their lives to the Inca sun-god.

There's little doubt that Machu Picchu was a sacred city - a holy place where the Incas were at one with nature and their gods, the mountains and the sun. Closed Captions by CSI ..

This Program Is Captioned Live.

Live. The battle for Afghanistan claims another

Australian soldier, five others

are injured. This is a

difficult and tragic day in the

life of our nation. 10km of destruction, a small town

obliterated in America's worst

twister for 50 years. The

house was shaking. It was

scary. Scary. The US President

finds a new

finds a new connection with

Ireland. My name is Barack

Obama. Of the Moneygall Obamas. And I've come home to find the

apostrophe that we lost