Gun violence, corporate subsidies, and a look back at Woodstock.

August 12, 2019


Michigan Policast for Monday, August 12, 2019

  In this episode:

  • Democratic candidates respond to the shootings
  • Trump and George Wallace
  • Interview: Emily Durban with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
  • Corporate subsidies
  • Interview: Woodstock Festival producer Michael Lang
  • Transcript


Jump to:

Democratic candidates respond to the shootings


Trump and George Wallace



“Today I have stood, where once Jefferson Davis stood, and took an oath to my people. It is very appropriate then that from this Cradle of the Confederacy, this very Heart of the Great Anglo-Saxon Southland, that today we sound the drum for freedom as have our generations of forebears before us done, time and time again through history. Let us rise to the call of freedom loving blood that is in us and send our answer to the tyranny that clanks its chains upon the South. In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny… and I say … segregation today … segregation tomorrow … segregation forever.” (Inaugural address of Governor George Wallace 1963)

“You newsmen, have a fit, run on over there. They're more interested in two or three pickets here than they are the thousands of people here, that's what they'll show on television.” ~Tom Fielder repeating George Wallace rally comments



“He introduced us as people from Milwaukee who came down to interview him, and we got polite applause.  And then he said, “the man who shot me, Arthur Bremer, is from Milwaukee” and a hush came over the room.  and we were like, ‘get us out of here.'” ~Mike Jacobs, who interviewed Wallace after the assassination attempt.

“I didn't write those words about segregation now, tomorrow and forever. I saw them in the speech written for me and planned to skip over them. But the wind-chill factor was 5 below zero when I gave that speech. I started reading just to get it over and read those words without thinking. I have regretted it all my life.” ~ George Wallace via Washington Post


Interview: Emily Durban with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

Open carry is more than open carry
Brian G. Jeffs, 1st President, MOC, Inc.

It’s true that open carry has many advantages: a faster draw, a larger caliber handgun and greater round capacity; sure it’s been shown to deter crime, and it is immensely more comfortable to carry in warm weather, but it is much more than that. Open carry brings gun ownership out of the closet. It shows your friends and neighbors, your state and your country that you are not afraid of taking on the responsibility of protecting yourself and the ones you love from evil. Open carry is a visible expression of our natural right to self preservation. Open carry makes a statement that we are not afraid to stand up to the “politically correct” ideology that has created a nanny state, where the government is there to help us if we just do as they say, and a pox on anyone that disagrees. Open carry can lead us out of this stupor and deliver us once again to the days when a man could stand tall and be proud of his community, his state, and his country. When you open carry you are saying to the world, I’m my own man, I’m able and willing to defend myself, my family, and if need be my community, my state, and my country. It also states that I’m willing to stand up and speak truth to authority. It’s shameful that we as law abiding citizens must stand up to authority, the very authority that we have empowered, when questioned about our lawful right to openly carry a firearm. But stand up we must. The open carry of a firearm speaks volumes and it’s says much more than just open carry. – Michigan Open Carry archives

Trained gun owners, especially former law enforcement and veterans are important aspects of the solutions to gun violence ... the vast majority of them are in favor of criminal background checks and other measures like that. ~ @momsdemand Click To Tweet
#Opencarry makes a statement that we are not afraid to stand up to the “politically correct” ideology that has created a nanny state, where the govt. is there to help us if we just do as they say ... ~@michopencarry Click To Tweet



Corporate subsidies



Interview: Woodstock Festival producer Michael Lang

“Woodstock remains committed to social change and will continue to be active in support of HeadCount’s critical mission to get out the vote before the next election,” Lang continues. “We thank the artists, fans and partners who stood by us even in the face of adversity. My thoughts turn to Bethel and its celebration of our 50th Anniversary to reinforce the values of compassion, human dignity, and the beauty of our differences embraced by Woodstock.”

Read more here


Donald Trump 0:05
Obama ought to get off the golf course and get down there. They stay awake at night thinking about what to do. Where's Obama's up playing golf because he's playing so much golf. He doesn't have enough time to convince Congress to do it. You can't be playing golf when Japan is burning and crashing. You need leadership. You know, you can't fly to Hawaii to play golf. He's out there playing golf. I mean, he plays more golf than people on the PGA Tour, golf, golf, golf, golf more more. Learning how to chip learning how to hit the drive learning. Oh, I want more. I'm going to be working for you. I'm not gonna have time to go play golf.

Walt Sorg 0:42
Yeah, right. So of course fearless leaders on another golfing vacation for the next 10 days. He's already spent more than 200 days at one of his golf courses since taking office, more than one out of every five since he swore to uphold the Constitution. This is the Michigan podcast. I'm Walt Sorg.

Christine Barry 1:00
I'm Christine Barry. They'll spend most of this week's podcast on the political fallout from the twin tragedies in Dayton and El Paso.

Amy Kerr Hardin 1:07
I'm Amy Kerr Hardin in corporate America extols the virtues of free enterprise, but all too often their business plan is built on corporate welfare. The right wing Mackinac Center says that needs to end and this time they're right.

Walt Sorg 1:20
And this week marks the 50th anniversary of the ultimate blending of politics and music. The iconic Woodstock Music Festival in upstate New York ran for three days in August of 1969, we'll have a bonus interview on this week's podcast with the man who actually created the Woodstock Festival producer Michael Lang,

Speaker 1:38
Is there anything in your mind that the President can do now to make this even better?

Speaker 1 1:42
What do you think? You know, the shit he's been saying? He's been calling Mexican immigrants, rapists and criminals. I don't know, like members of the press. What the fuck? Hold on a second. You know, I it's these. It's these questions that you know the answers to I mean, connect the dots about what he's been doing in this country. He's not tolerating racism, he's promoting racism. He's not tolerating violence. He's inciting racism and violence in this country. So, you know, I just I don't know what kind of question that is.

Christine Barry 2:15
Beto O'Rourke suspended his presidential campaign to help his former constituents in his hometown of El Paso deal with the murder of 22 shoppers at a Walmart and the raw emotion finally hit the boiling point. It was the starkest example of a remarkable turning point in American politics. Multiple Democratic candidates for president label Donald Trump a racist, a white supremacist and an enabler of the El Paso shoote.

Joe Biden, chucked the prepared text for an Iowa speech about agriculture to rip the president.

Joe Biden 2:46
We have a president with a toxic tongue was publicly and unapologetically embrace the political strategy of hate, racism and division. We're living through a rare moment, this nation is history where our president isn't up to the moment where our president lacks the moral authority to lead where our president has more in common with George Wallace than he does with George Washington.

Christine Barry 3:16
And Cory Booker went to the side of another mass shooting the Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, South Carolina, to renounce the racism and bigotry coming from the White House.

Corey Booker 3:25
The anti Latino anti immigrant hatred we witnessed this past weekend did not start with the hand that pull the trigger. It was sowed by those who spoke the same words the El Paso murderer did warning of an invasion. It was sowed by those who spoke of an infestation of disgusting cities, rats and rodents, talking about majority minority communities. It was sowed by those who've drawn an equivalence between neo nazis and those who protest them. It was sowed from the highest office in our land. We received in tweets and rhetoric, hateful words that ultimately endanger the lives of people in our country.

Christine Barry 4:23
Just listening to that audio is is painful. I can't imagine what it must have been like to have lived through the civil rights movement and all that. Amy we all remember the George Wallace campaign for president a campaign built around racist dog whistles. Joe Biden flat out said Trump is worse than Wallace a more overt racist, appealing to the worst of us. What do you think?

Amy Kerr Hardin 4:44
Well, when Wallace was spewing all the racist, hateful words, during his campaign, I was 12 13 14 years old, I was living in affluent suburb of Detroit, and everyone there was Republican, every single household. They were pretty much silent on Wallace, I don't think that he would have been their first pick for President Trump is definitely taking a page out of Wallace's playbook and amping it up. And and we've suspected that his campaign committee has been actually studying Wallace and seeing how he was successful with that type of rhetoric.

Walt Sorg 5:18
This is a man who openly called for segregation, who openly call for separation of the races, who openly said that white people were superior to black people, and built this whole political career around it. And he was not just a fringe candidate, he was on the verge of getting electoral votes when he ran for President of the United States, because he was striking a chord in a lot of voters, especially in the south, but all over the nation. He was very popular. I remember actually going to a rally of his on the steps of the state capitol in Lansing in 1972. Yes, I'm very old, and covering it as a reporter. And there had to be 3000 people there. Now there were a lot of protesters are surrounding the rally. But still, he has had thousands of supporters on the lawn of the capitals, one of the biggest demonstrations up to that point that ever seen at the Capitol in Lansing. It was a frightening time.

Christine Barry 6:08
It's an interesting comparison, Wallace and Trump because it isn't just about the racism, it's also about some of the tactics that he used in terms of attacks on the press. For example, He called the New York Times the Moscow Times said they were a communist newspaper, there's a video that we will have in the notes. Reporter talking about the damage that was done at one of these, I can't remember it was a rally what it was, but the reporter was there to cover it. He had his nine year old son with him and Wallace is up at the podium pointing at him, calling him a communist the reporter be, you know, going on about how he's an enemy of America. And then after it was over, called the reporter and his son in and brought his son up to his lap and said, Don't even think about it. It's just politics. And so whether Trump feels that way or not, doesn't really matter. It's the fact that it's a tactic. It's a strategy that's being used. And he does have that in common with Trump and that Trump uses that strategy as well, to erode the efficacy, I guess, of media criticism of his presidency.

Walt Sorg 7:19
And he called Martin Luther King, a communist, he called all his opponents communist. Similarly, now you've got Donald Trump saying all the democrats are socialists, and trying to ruin America, it's pretty much the same MO. Just without a southern drawl.

Christine Barry 7:33
They always have a label for something. It's either communist for a brief time, it was terrorist and traitor to America. That was the that was that lasted about one to two years around the bush versus Kerry time. Now we're back to socialist because we have people who actually are, you know, embrace the phrase democratic socialist, they always need a label. I don't know what the label is going to be next time, it probably won't be socialist.

Walt Sorg 8:01
Putting that aside, one of the things that really struck me about how the president reacted, post these two shootings was he displayed a lack of a characteristic that I think is absolutely critical for somebody who wants to be President of the United States. And that is the ability to be truly empathetic with people in times of suffering and to bring people together, Trump turn these things into photo up for himself. If you go on his his Twitter page, which is kind of frightening. They put together a video of his trip to El Paso, and it's all about Donald Trump getting off the plane and shaking hands with people and smiling and thumbs up and all that and very little emphasis on the victims. You compare that with the Presidents that have come before him. You know, Ronald Reagan utilizing the challenger astronauts when the shuttle blew up on reentry, Bill Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing at the Federal Building, George W. Bush in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack, first on the rubble of the World Trade Center, and then a couple days later, visiting a mosque in Washington, DC. And then of course, brock obama singing Amazing Grace at that same church where Cory Booker was speaking last week, and then I remember Obama to almost breaking down in tears at a post shooting news conference in the White House. You don't see any of that Donald Trump, it's all about him. And it's all about smiles. And look what a great leader, I am.

Amy Kerr Hardin 9:22
There's that PR photograph they put out of him and millennia in the hospital, and millennia is holding the baby of the parents that died shielding their child, and she's got a big smile on her face. And Trump is standing right next to her but that ear to ear Graham giving a thumbs up. It's just so inappropriate.

Walt Sorg 9:40
I saw people on Facebook who were speculating that was photoshopped to make Trump look bad. And I went on to the White House Instagram official feed, and it was actually there. It was not photoshopped. It was Donald Trump. And in reality,

Christine Barry 9:54
There was some commentary that uncle who I guess has custody of the baby is a Trump supporter. And he says so was the baby's father, I don't feel like that matters. Like That was the whole defense of that image. And that is not what the image is about. You're holding the victim of this horrible shooting whose orphaned forever will never know his parents and and you're standing there like an idiot, grinning and, and your thumbs up. You know, Obama went into sandy hook and turned photographers away, so that they would not see him meeting with those families. Because it was not time for that. It was time for an actual human president.

Walt Sorg 10:36
You know, I saw some video of Andrew Yang speaking in Iowa. And he broke down. He couldn't handle the was thinking about his own kids. And he literally broke out in tears on the stage where he's supposed to be promoting his candidacy. And that was, you know, he talks about being the one at from Donald Trump as an Asian man who loves math, but it's more than loving math and being Asian, it's being human.

Christine Barry 11:00
I don't know what else to say.

Walt Sorg 11:02
So what does it do for the gun safety debate at the state level? And certainly we're going to have that debate when the legislature returns. Our guest this week offers one perspective, she's Emily Durban, who was the volunteer chapter leader of the Michigan chapter of Moms Demand Action for gun sense in America. Emily is in fact a mom. And when I talked with her over the internet, we were in fact joined by one of her kids her four year old, who wasn't real happy to have mom distracted with the discussion. So bear with the sun as we talk with Emily Durban.

All of a sudden seems like maybe critical mass is there for some action on gun safety legislation is that your sensors is still an uphill battle.

Emily Durban 11:43
That's very much my sense of momentum. Momentum has been shifting for a number of years now. And then we've had some inflection points post-Parkland was an inflection point. And this feels very much like the atmosphere post-Parkland where this issue is front and center. You start to see movement among politicians previously intransigent more and more people joining gun violence prevention organizations, it does feel that we're moving towards more action a federal level in particular, that's been the case in years past,

Walt Sorg 12:11
one of the areas that you've been emphasizing, which seemed like one that would be less controversial politically, and that's dealing specifically with domestic violence.

Emily Durban 12:20
Yes, it's totally non controversial position that domestic abusers should not have easy access to guns. We know that domestic abuse is a precursor among many mass shooters, that they have a history of domestic violence, aggression, violence towards women. Most incidents and mass shootings in this country are actually instances of domestic violence, where someone typically a man murders his current or former partner and other members of his family. Domestic Violence also kills 50 American women every month. This is something we've known for a very long time. And it's a there's bipartisan agreement that we should have common sense solution to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. And that's a really important and critical a component of making sure that women and children are safe in this country.

Walt Sorg 13:04
Where does Michigan law stack up relative to other states and the federal government on gun safety.

Emily Durban 13:09
So Michigan has some strong elements of gun safety in our state. So for example, we have a permitting system, we have a license to purchase, which is associated with reduced rates of gun violence with a permitting system for concealed carry, which is a strong element of gun safety. Unfortunately, with regard to domestic violence, Michigan is one of the few states that's yet to enact state law, that will map on to the federal standard.

So there is no state law that prohibits convicted domestic abusers from possessing or purchasing guns. Michigan has yet to close the so called boyfriend loophole, which allows those convicted of misdemeanor or domestic violence against their dating partners or stalkers for having guns. And so that's one of our main agendas here in Michigan is to shore up that Michigan state law so the are local police can actually enforce that prohibition to keep Michigan family safer.

Walt Sorg 13:59
What about the roadblocks with the legislature is still a partisan issue where Republican side just won't move on any of this.

Emily Durban 14:06
It's a partisan issue among elected official, it's not a partisan issue among Michigan constituents. So time and time again, just like national data shows when there is polling in Michigan, we see that the majority of Michiganders including gun owners support common sense gun safety, including criminal background checks on all sales, keeping our permitting system and other measures.

What we see is a case where the elected officials and our state are much more divided on this than their actual constituents are. And so what we really need to have happen is for constituents to be using their voices to close that gap between where Michigan citizens are and where the elected officials are. So we've seen any number of over the past two sessions under Republican leadership, members of the House and the Senate on the Republican side proposing bills to essentially gut our permitting system to punish local municipalities for trying to enact common sense, gun safety legislation to allow guns and schools and bars and churches, stadiums, all moving very far away from where the majority of Michiganders would like to see us go.

Walt Sorg 15:05
I would assume the governor's office is more conducive to your point of view now than it was last year.

Emily Durban 15:10
That's true. So in the 2018 elections, Moms Demand Action across the country had a gun sense candidate program where we offer distinctions for candidates whose policies were consistent with our main national agenda for increasing public safety across the country. And Governor Whitmer earned a distinction as did Attorney General Dana Nessel and several other members of the house the senate who took new seats in 2018.

Our guns, its candidates were actually very successful in the state, they outperformed the generic dems didn't have the gun sense distinction in terms of winning their seats and cutting into republican and majorities. So we're in a very different landscape. So we have a gun sense governor and Attorney General, we have a number of gun sense candidates in the House and the Senate. And so we have many more votes than we did before. And so we think this is a good time for constituents to be reaching out to hold those elected officials accountable.

Walt Sorg 16:00
There is a lot of talk at the national level about doing away with assault weapons or making them very scarce for civilian ownership. Is that something really that makes little sense at the state level, simply because it's so easy for the weapons to cross state lines?

Emily Durban 16:14
Yeah, so I mean, there are a number of issues with those kind of proposals. So one is that what we know from previous attempts to enact ban or prohibitions on particular kinds of weapons is that gun manufacturers very savvy, and they will change the weapon so that they no longer meet the definition under the laws that makes it very difficult to enforce in meaningful way.

But we do know from empirical research following the federal assault weapons ban and bans in some states, that those laws do seem to result in a reduction in the number of fatalities, particularly a mass shooting incidence, the most effective part of that seems to a prohibition on high capacity magazines, because those can be accepted both by assault weapons and buy some handguns the majority of gun deaths in this country, actually from handguns. So while assault weapons bands are potentially a solution that's effective for addressing mass shootings, they don't do as much to address the everyday gun violence that kills 100 plus Americans every day. And so we want to make sure that when we're talking about strategies for reducing gun violence, we don't forget all of those gun deaths that happened as well.

Walt Sorg 17:16
Looking at this purely from a political point of view, it's being said that the shift in the political landscape really revolves around people who look like you suburban women, and that this gun issue is probably going to be the one that could shift the election. Is that the sense you're getting from your membership?

Emily Durban 17:34
In one sense? Yes, I do think the issue of gun safety is for first and foremost, very strong in the suburbs, strong among women. But there are also other constituencies are very concerned about gun violence, and I think will be really important in this upcoming election.

So we know in this country that communities of color are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. That's a really important constituency for folks who want to run and win the White House and one state and local elections. We know veterans are very concerned about gun violence. So the two thirds of gun deaths in this country are suicide. And those who've served our country are especially high risk for firearm suicide. That's another important constituency that I think that will be critical for 2020. And I think politicians who don't see that they're going to lose the female vote, they're going to lose a suburban vote. They're going to cut into these other constituencies if they don't speak out on gun violence, and that's a place where some people are going to get caught back on their heels so they don't see which way the political winds are blowing on this issue.

Walt Sorg 18:29
Another thing that seems to be changing too is a lot more war veterans are entering Congress and entering state legislatures. If you've got Tulsa Gabbert running for president as a war veteran, you've got Pete Butegieg, who's a war veteran served in a combat zone. Locally, your member of Congress, Elissa Slotkin had several tours of duty overseas. And they seem to be on the side of limiting these weapons, because they respect them.

Emily Durban 18:53
Yeah, I think the voice of gun owners and those who are trained gun owners, especially former law enforcement and veterans are really important aspects of the solutions will have for gun violence in this country. Because folks who grow up around guns who have grown up with a culture of responsible gun ownership, those who've been employed in dangerous situations have a very different attitude about what are reasonable levels of oversight and restrictions and reasonable levels of training that we should have for those who are going to be using guns and in particular, carrying guns in public spaces. And I think those are really critical voices. It's very consistent what we know from public polling that among the American public, the vast majority of gun owners also are in favor of common-sense measures, like criminal background checks on all gun sales and other measures like that,

Walt Sorg 19:37
organizationally, how does Moms Demand Action for gun sense work? You're a volunteer organization, obviously, what is your method of operation

Emily Durban 19:44
We're the nation's largest gun violence prevention organization, we have chapters in every state and the District of Columbia. And so the organizational structure and the grassroot side flows from a variety of local groups that spring up over the state. The local groups are organized by a chapter leader in Michigan that me, we share actions across different local groups. So we may coordinate on an on a public safety campaign. We may coordinate on events for survivors, we may coordinate, we all coordinate our legislative advocacy day, every year that we have in Lansing, we have both stuff that comes up from the local level and we have state level leadership, in addition to our local group leaders that help manage our data needs. The people would like to join moms be a member of this organization, they can text the word ready to the number 64433. And one of us will get back to them and tell them how they can join an event and work alongside us.

Walt Sorg 20:34
Emily Durban, Michigan chapter leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Thanks so much for joining us.

Emily Durban 20:40
Thank you so much.

Christine Barry 20:46
All right. It seems like every announcement of a big corporate investment that will create jobs is accompanied by an announcement of government subsidies and incentives for that business. Big companies pit state versus state community versus community to get the biggest possible pot of taxpayer assistance for their expansions. Now, one of the most influential voices on the right is calling for an end to this corporate welfare. Amy, you find yourself in a very unusual position of agreeing with the Koch funded Mackinac Center.

Amy Kerr Hardin 21:16
It's rare that I agree with the ultra conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy. But last month, they published a spot on opinion piece calling for the end to corporate subsidies. And there's currently a bipartisan push in the mid Michigan legislature to do the same. The House Budget calls for a $55.6 million cut to corporate welfare that's slightly north of 50% of what they normally spend. And the watchdog agency Good Jobs First keeps a database tracking corporate subsidies state by state, Michigan's recently gotten bumped from the number two spot for the worst in the nation, Louisiana edged them out with over 25 billion in tax giveaways. New York takes the top spot with about 34 billion Michigan clocks in at 15.5 billion with 17,680 individual subsidies at state and local levels. The bulk of the breaks went to Ford Motor Company, GM, Chrysler and Dow-Dupont. Those companies raked in 9.4 billion.

The tracking tool is imperfect and good jobs first admits that a lot of these substitutes at the local level are not reported. So they can't pick those up. We'll have a link to both the opinion piece and the subsidy tracker in the show notes.

Walt Sorg 22:35
You know, it's interesting that they're calling for this action, basically the state and local level. I worked in the Commerce Department for several years. And we faced this problem all the time, because it's like unilateral disarmament, if we didn't come up with the Bucks some other state would, it really needs to be done at the national level. Because if you don't, some state is going to say, well, let's let's get this business Look what they did, with the Amazon to headquarters in the fight there in the fight for the manufacturer of the iPhones that ended up in Wisconsin, and is not creating nearly the jobs that were promised. You had AOC getting a lot of heat for fighting the subsidies for Amazon to come into New York, and ultimately didn't come into New York. But if you don't, if you do it at the state level, it's going to hurt your state and it's going to hurt you politically because somebody else is going to get those jobs.

Amy Kerr Hardin 23:25
That's true and the Mackinac Center to do a study on this. And they found that it didn't really create jobs, sometimes jobs were actually lost. And these companies come back time and again saying you want us to stay and then you have to pay us again. It's just corporate extortion.

Walt Sorg 23:40
What's interesting to you look at the movie industry, Michigan had that program, that Jennifer Granholm instituted for a while to basically the state became a financial partner and a lot of movies that were done in Michigan, and we got a lot of production. But to this day, there's an awful lot of debate as to whether it was worth it.

Christine Barry 23:56
How long was it in place, though? I mean, if you if you're really going to subsidize something, or invest in something that that investment needs to stay there for a long time, then I think they they may have taken that away too soon. One of the things though, that I questioned about what the Mackinac Center has to say about the subsidies is I am first of all in agreement that larger corporate subsidies, those subsidies seem unnecessary, I am sure that we're paying for research and development and that kind of thing. But they've got profits for that. That's what profits are for. But when we're talking about something like Pure Michigan, which Mackinac Center specifically called out, that is an investment into our brand as Michigan. So that is a direct subsidy of like bringing people into the state, I'm not sure that their call for an end to Pure Michigan subsidies is a good one.

Walt Sorg 24:58
What would you say, though, about subsidies for alternative energy manufacturing to come into the state of Michigan, or to come into the United States, for that matter? Right now we're fighting with China for a lot of that investment on batteries for the future windmills, windmill turbin construction, and also solar panels, and we're losing most of that competition.

Christine Barry 25:17
Yeah. And I said we should invest in it's, it's like the film and when you're trying to establish an industry in a state, you need to invest in that industry. I don't know why we need to continually invest in automotive businesses, because it seems to me like there's enough profit there now that they can do that on their own. Now, I don't know a lot about that industry. I'm not going to talk a lot about that. But when you have a profitable industry, and established industry and profitable companies, like Ford involved in that, why is Ford the biggest recipient of subsidies in the state –

Walt Sorg 25:53
Because if Michigan doesn't give them those subsidies, they end up in Ohio, or Indiana or Tennessee.

Christine Barry 26:01
Correct. And along with every dollar in subsidies, there's also dollars in establishing offices internationally, I think we lost, we lose Toyota to Illinois, several years ago. Okay. And it was. And part of that was because we had closed our Trade Office out there something it's not as simple as it sounds, but let's, let's think about this for a minute.

The Mackinac Center says, you spending all this money, you're not really getting enough jobs out of it, or you're not really getting more wages out of it. There's another study from this year, or at least it it's an article from this year, that references a study 61% of the jobs in Michigan are now less than $20 an hour, it's the first time in the state's history, that Michigan has been low prosperity while we've had a strong auto industry. Where should we spend money to fix that?

Amy Kerr Hardin 26:58
I think one of the things we could do is if we're going to give these subsidies. And we would have to get an agreement from the company that they're going to stay in the state and they're going to create so many jobs. And if they break that agreement, then they have to pay it back and trouble damages. So they would have a stronger incentive not to screw us over.

Christine Barry 27:15
I think that's that's an excellent point. And I remember sitting in college, talking about what General Motors did to Flint. And the professor said, why didn't Flint just go into those plants and tell them you're not taking a single thing out of here until you pay back all of those subsidies that we gave you. And it was a was a thought exercise. It wasn't so much something that might have been practical. I mean, Flint doesn't have troops or anything like that to stop them. But there is a great inequity between the state and the businesses they subsidize, but also between the workers who are making less than $20 an hour and the subsidies that are going to these, these places.

Walt Sorg 28:01
If anybody wants a good case study in the flaws with these incentives. We will have some links on our website to some details on the Foxconn boondoggle in Wisconsin, where you had the former Governor Scott Walker committing more than $4 billion in subsidies so they could make iPhones in Wisconsin, and it just hasn't worked out.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic Woodstock Music Festival. It didn't even happen in Woodstock, though. It was 43 miles southwest of Woodstock. in Bethel, New York. Woodstock was the intersection of music and political activism. It came a year after the murders of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. The Summer of 1969 was a summer of national unrest with Americans increasingly divided by the Vietnam War. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to talk with the man who created the Woodstock Festival. His name is Michael Lang, he was the producer and creator of Woodstock.

What did you plan on doing it? which clearly you weren't planning on having a half million people there in the mud? Most of them not paying to listen to music? What was the plan in the beginning?

Speaker 2 29:27
Well, the plan was to have 200,000 people but not in the mud. And it just exploded. You know, everybody's the idea just caught fire. It was it was the right time and the right message. And everybody wanted to be there.

Walt Sorg 29:41
As you were building it, you had trouble as I understand it in the beginning, even getting acts to play. And it was John Fogherty and Creedence Clearwater that really kind of broke the damn open.

Speaker 2 29:51
Well, actually, you know, the first few acts that we booked,  Creedence and it was Canned Heat and the Airplane. And once they agreed, and word started to go out this was real and acts started to call us.

Walt Sorg 30:09
At what point did you start getting some hostility from the community? I've watched the documentary on the on the creation of Woodstock, and your battles just to find the location were incredible.

Speaker 2 30:20
Yeah, I mean, mostly, you know, the problem with finding the right spot. I think big enough with the right facilities and a place to park, we were looking for hundreds of acres of open land with good access. And the first few communities that we found, you know, just were not interested in having started in Woodstock and then went to Saugerties and, and finally went to to Wallkill, we found a place in Wallkill and started to work there. And it started to build over within a couple of months that we were working there. And finally, we decided, you know, we had a move.

Walt Sorg 30:55
Finally, the concert gets going on August 15. The word is spread across the nation. So how many tickets are just sold at that point, but 150,000?

Speaker 2 31:05
Maybe a little less? Just right around there?

Walt Sorg 31:07
When did you know things have gotten out of hand?

Speaker 2 31:11
I would say, you know, probably five days before the show's to open 60 70,000 kids sitting in the field, I knew we were into something bigger?

Walt Sorg 31:21
And then what When did you decide, well, we're just going to give up on the tickets because there's, there's no way we can control this thing.

Speaker 2 31:27
You know, it's funny, people came looking for places to buy tickets. And our problem was we were so rushed, we had a month to build something that would have taken, you know, probably four or five months at another location. We we just went for our priorities, which were stage and sound health and water and sin and toilet facilities we went to, you know, first to build the things that we would need, you know, to get through the weekend, and the fences were not a priority. And by the time we got to them, and to the ticket booth, it had rained so much. Everything was stuck in in various parts of the site, and we couldn't move into place. When people started to arrive, there were no places to buy tickets.

Walt Sorg 32:14
during the concert on the third day of the concert, Governor Rockefeller, Nelson Rockefeller, New York, was talking about bringing in the National Guard to control things, which you and your partners basically talked him out of it

Speaker 2 32:30
It was such a wonderfully peaceful event. 10,000 kids with rifles showing up and not have been a great idea. And he kind of got that. Luckily.

Walt Sorg 32:40
What was your feeling is is the country has going on and you've got all these people, you don't have enough food for them. toilet facilities is raining, so it's muddy. And I'll get up even water being a challenge. And of course, health. There were drugs going around. And so you had health problems as well, with some drug overdoses. What was the highest priority already on your mind? Or was it just a matter of multitasking 24 hours a day with no sleep?

Speaker 2 33:04
It was pretty much multitasking. But I had an amazing crew, on Woodstock and they were smart and flexible. And we figured out other ways to get you know, things done, we figured out how to bring after the first day on the road started to opened a little bit, we figured out how to get the food supplies and and keep the water system going and then deal with sanitation. You know, Necessity is the mother of invention. And we were inventing around the clock.

Walt Sorg 33:32
Yet some amazing performances during the what turned into a four day concert or three and a half day concert. And probably to me the most amazing The Who does a 25 song set

Speaker 2 33:42
The Who were incredible, you know, they wouldn't want to act it really didn't want to be there. We had to talk him into kind of an incredible. To me, the highlight musically was Sly at that moment. You know, when he when he did Higher it was really the peak of the weekend.

Walt Sorg 34:14
What about the groups that didn't participate? I had a chance to run into Tommy James a few weeks ago. And he says now not being in Woodstock was a huge mistake.

Speaker 2 34:26
I've gotten a few of those responses from people we'd asked. Most like the Moody Blues, you know, they were working on an album and they were in England and made a decision that they really wanted to stay in the studio and finish and they regret it. Jeff Beck Group was booked but Rod Stewart left the band couple weeks before the festival so they didn't get a chance to play. There were a few of those but but most people showed up.

Walt Sorg 34:50
Obviously the band that everybody would want first and foremost would be the Beatles. How close Did you come to getting them?

Speaker 2 34:57
The Beatles were no longer performing. So there was no chance of getting them, but I tried for months to get John Lennon to to, to come in. And they wanted to come. I mean, John wanted to come and he was he had immigration problems and it's been busted in England. And the Nixon administration really didn't want them in the country because of his anti-war stand. So we worked for several months with them to try and bring bring John in. But that didn't work.

Walt Sorg 35:23
Financially this thing didn't work for the longest time. Somebody was very prescient in deciding, hey, we're going to film a documentary because then that would ultimately bailed you out financially the film itself.

Speaker 2 35:35
Yes, well, finally, we didn't know that at the time, but it turned out to be the case. We'd always plan on filming it. You know, we tried out a festival in Miami, a year and a half before Woodstock called the Miami Pop Festival and filmed that as well. And I just thought you know, it's going to be such an interesting weekend. It's worth documenting. We managed to make a deal actually already my partner managed to close a deal with Warner Brothers. The day before the weekend.

Walt Sorg 36:02
Joni Mitchell made Max Yasgur a little bit more famous with her song Woodstock. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young recording it. Tell me a little bit about Max he was he was kind of a an odd character.

Speaker 2 36:14
He was our hero. He's our Savior. He was actually very conservative. He was a supporter of the war, but also a supporter of free speech and felt that we deserve the right to to assemble and to do our thing. And once he agreed to support us, he never wavered. He was an amazing, amazing character. Very smart man.

Walt Sorg 36:36
Looking back on Woodstock and The Road to Woodstock, your new book, what are some of the things that you see now that you didn't see that or didn't even see 234 years after it was over?

Speaker 2 36:46
Well, you never know what that would sort of the largest significance is going to be or something like that, you kind of knew what what it would be for, for hope, we knew it would be for the people on the ground, but, but it seems to inspire people around the world to give sort of a hope for chance of a world without, you know, without arms, and where people can can get along and and help each other rather than, you know, repeat the mistakes of the past

We were a generation that grew up, you know, been supportive of civil rights and human rights and women's rights and, and anti war and those those ideas really took root. And we began the green green movement in the 60s and you don't see the result of that kind of thing, you know, immediately that those are the things that take root and grow, hopefully. And I think, you know, there's come there been comparisons, you know, during the Obama's inauguration of things that are Washington's Woodstock and I mean, it just it became a much more more open and liberal society, I think because of Woodstock.

Walt Sorg 37:52
Does it sometimes keep you personally in awe that Woodstock is more than just the name of a town now. It's not in the same sense that it's like Watergate. It is something that just has a meaning far beyond what it originally have. What about some of the bands and actually participated yet 32 different acts over the three and a half days. And you changed the lives of a lot of them?

Unknown Speaker 38:16
Yeah, a lot of people were discovered at Woodstock, a lot of people sort of really ignited their careers. It just it was also the first time that that was demonstrated that music had the ability to draw so many people together. And that these bands were capable of doing that. So it really changed a lot of the dynamics of the business as well.

Walt Sorg 38:37
Michael Lang he was the producer of Woodstock.

Amy Kerr Hardin 38:42
That's the Policast for this week. Our thanks to Emily Durban and Michael Lang. For more information on this week's topics head to our website,

Christine Barry 38:51
and we welcome your questions and comments and feedback. And we especially welcome those five star ratings on iTunes. You can email us at And please do so.

Walt Sorg 39:05
Our thanks to listener Kristi Bartholomew, who provided us with an explanation of Cory Booker's Kool Aid slam of Joe Biden. The Urban Dictionary tells us dipping the Kool Aid when you don't even know the flavor is what you say to dumb people that are getting into your business are messing with stuff. They don't need to be messing with

Amy Kerr Hardin 39:26
On behalf of Christine and Walt I'm Amy Kerr Hardin. Thanks for listening.

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