Abdul El-Sayed | The Epidemic of Poverty: The Government Imperative || Radcliffe Institute
Good. Afternoon and welcome to Radcliffe, my name is Janet rich Edwards, and I am an epidemiologist and, also. The life sciences, advisor to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and we, are so pleased, to see you here I'm. Excited, we had to move this. Talk. From a smaller room into this auditorium to accommodate, your, interest, this. Talk is one of several in, a, series. On epidemics. I hope you were with us back in October when we did a day-long event. But. In addition today's talk I want to let you know that there are cards, in the back that. Include the dates of our final two lectures in this series including. One on obesity, is more, complex, than you think on March. 27th, and then another one on Alzheimer's. The ignominy coz, of the dementia epidemic, on April. 23rd. Four. Day today, I have the pleasure of introducing, Abdul. El Syed to you he's, the former health commissioner of the city of Detroit he, has a medical degree from Columbia University and, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford where. He earned his doctorate, in public health he. Is a native Michigander. Who, grew up in, Metro. Detroit as many. Of you know he's, running, for governor for, the state of Michigan and launched his gubernatorial campaign. After. Witnessing, this is systemic. Failures, in Flint, and across. The state, he. Left his position as. An assistant professor in Columbia's, Department, of Epidemiology to, return to Michigan he. Became the youngest health, official, in a major American city when, Mayor Mike Duggan appointed. Abdul to rebuild Detroit's, health department, after, it was privatized, during. The city's bankruptcy. As. Health commissioner, he was responsible, for the health and safety, of over six hundred and seventy thousand, Detroiters, he. Worked tirelessly to, ensure government, accountability, and, transparency, to. Promote health and to reduce cross, generational. Poverty, and today's. Lecture we'll deal with that the epidemic of poverty the, government, imperative. Please. Join me in welcoming Abdullah Syed. All. Right good afternoon so. You gotta forgive me I'm a as. A politician, now. The. Town hall-style just never leaves you so good. Afternoon. Thank. You hey it. Is an honor and a privilege to. Be here today to. Dr. rich Edwards and, the conveners I really, appreciate the opportunity to speak and, to talk about an issue that I believe animates, much. Of our work and for people who are oriented, to, solving, the challenge, of human suffering I started. My career as a physician, and epidemiologist. I'm. Not running for governor and, to. Just sort of orient. You as to why, and. I was never supposed to run for office in, fact the. First time anybody, with with any degree of knowledge. Of the political process suggested, that I should run, for governor it was at my my college commencement I was. The valedictorian of my class at the University of Michigan and was. Selected to give the student speech now the, speaker that anybody including my own parents, actually came, to listen to was. President Bill Clinton and I. Got. To give my student speech and and President Clinton gave his actual, speech and he. Was so kind as to mention, my speech in his speech now was the first time my Egyptian, immigrant father ever. Mentioned, anything related, to pride and my name in the same sentence which is great. But. But. After the speech, President. Clinton you, know sort of sought me out and I, turned me around and said son why. You wouldn't med school. And. It's not a question that anybody asks, a graduating, senior who's going to medical school right. And. I. Just looked at him for a minute the. First thing that came to my mind was well President Clinton were Brown that's what we do. But. You know I told about look, I love people and I love science and I think that this is the way that I want to serve and. He said you know son you you have a real gift for communicating, and I hope that someday you might consider running for office and, I. I couldn't, help it but the first thing that came to my mind was, I don't. Know if you saw my, first name but, there are 11 letters in that name that's just the first name this. Is not not. In the cards for someone like me they said what look I understand.
I Get it. But I hope that someday you'll consider and. To, explain why I'm. Ultimately doing, this thing has everything to do with the, life of a three year old little boy whom, I had the privilege of serving, when, I was health commissioner in the city of Detroit his, name was de Marius he was the. Fourth child of a 21, year old mom met his father probably, about four times in his life because, his dad's in jail, but. Before I tell you how I met des Marius I want, to share, with you the context, within which I met him I grew, up in a family that was built by Mohammed to say it and Jackie Johnson, now Jackie I'll say it and. Mohammed. To say it is the, eldest, of six born, to vegetable. Salesman, and the smartest, wisest, woman I've ever met in my life who, is my grandmother so odd who never got to spend a day in school she was illiterate they. Raised there are six kids of the eight that she gave birth to in. A one-bedroom apartment overlooking. The fish market where my grandfather. Sold vegetables every day and. My. Dad knew, that if he was gonna walk a path that was any different than the one that his father had, walked that he was going to have to build that path for himself with, an education, and by all means he did he had. The opportunity, when he finally graduated. From his undergraduate, program, in engineering to. Pick one of two places that he was going to immigrate. To it was either going to be by. Roit Germany, or Detroit. Michigan. And. My dad has an affinity for the sound roit it seems. But. The only two similarities, between Detroit, and by Royds is that they're both places where people make cars and they, both end in the sound roit and so. My, dad was somebody who did his homework and when he did his homework he learned about a Detroit. That was in the United States of America, and he. Made the decision to come to this country because, of the ideals, upon which the. Country was founded now, my, stepmother, who raised me from the age of three could not come from different circumstances, she, was born and raised in a place called Grant, County Michigan so they're gonna pardon, my Michigan this here but grachi County is just here. And. Her. Family has been in this part of the world since before the Revolutionary, War she, can draw her lineage, to. Abigail Adams which, is just funny because my, younger brother's name is Wu sama so, he's like the only blue blood or sama in the world and. And. So. I got to grow up in this incredible. Multi-ethnic. Multi-faith. Multi. Context, family, and my. Summers would have me getting on an airplane going off to Alexandria. Egypt where I'd hang out with my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins and then, I'd come back in the middle of the summer to a place called Montcalm County where, my family has had a cottage on a lake for the past 90, years and, I'd hang, out with the other side of my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins and. Came. To appreciate some, things when, your grandmother. Kisses. You on the forehead or tells. You you should eat a little bit more or calls you an idiot it's, with the same love, regardless. If it's your, grandmother. Who raised six kids never got to go to school and Alexander Egypt or, your grandmother who raised three kids and as a nurse in Grant County Michigan and. Came. To appreciate that the things that make us human that bind us in who we are tend. To be far bigger than the things that differentiate, us despite, the fact that if you were to introduce my grandmother so I had to my grandmother Judy and.
Share, With them the. Fact that they share a grandchild that, would have blown their minds and and. And that's the the blessing of having grown up in this country now. My. Father grew up in a market, and so he, has this real affinity for outdoor markets, and there's this incredible market, called the Eastern Market in Detroit anybody ever been there before all, right so if you ever go to Detroit tell, him I sent you you got to go over there is the guy who sells mushrooms, the. Kind that you eat and and. They're fantastic and. So. So. We used to drive from, the. Suburb, just north, of Detroit into. The city Detroit most, Saturdays and. One. Of the things that struck me during, my childhood I, think when you're the most perceptive, about the world is that. The, difference, in life opportunities. And, expectations, that we would drive in that 30 minutes, was. The same as it. Would take me eight hours to cross when. I'd go off to Alexandria, and, that. To. Me was the framing, for everything, I was interested in throughout. My education, why is it that you can travel 30 minutes, and 10. Years difference, in life expectancy in these United States of America, so. I knew. That I loved people and my. Parents are both engineers so I knew I loved science and I thought I wanted to do something about that chasm, that, 30-minute, 10-year, life, expectancy, chasm, and, that. Ultimately led to, the. Opportunity to study biology and, politics, at the University of Michigan I went, off to Oxford, I was a Rhodes Scholar and did a PhD in public health and then went, to medical school and in, my last year at medical school I came to appreciate that, the clinical, world that I had thought I wanted to inhabit was not going to be the one that was going to equip me with a set of tools to. Be able to solve that difference. Studying. Biology and politics, one of the more interesting things that you come to appreciate is that actually. These systems are quite similar, if. Biology. Is a set of rules by which our cells make complex, decisions about scarce resources, in our bodies, politics. Is just a set of rules by which our, communities. Make complex, decisions about scarce resources, in society. And if you want to understand why people get sick we spend a lot of time focused, on the biology the odd decisions, that cells sometimes, make but.
We Don't focus as much on the. Odd decisions, that communities. Sometimes, make and the. Ways in which those decisions ultimately pattern, access, to. All of the means of health and disease a good, job that pays a living wage that puts a good roof over someone's, head put. Clean air in their lungs clean, water in their cups allows, them to walk in their communities without being victimized, by, either a neighbor or the state itself those. Are the things that ultimately pattern health, and disease that is what differentiates, the, experience, that I got to grow up in from, the experience, that so many live in the city of Detroit, and. So I spent. The first couple of years of my career as. Demmick doing research around, trying, to understand, how, we think about policy relevant. To health disparities and realize pretty quickly that most of the people around me were a lot smarter than I was and, that my best skill set was probably more navigating. The bureaucracy, which a lot of my academic friends, found so difficult but. That seems so much more native, to me and realized. That it was probably my curtain call on an academic career and I. Knew that I wanted to be about solving, hands on that, chasm. And so, I got, that opportunity when by happenstance a friend of mine started working. With the mayor of Detroit and I. Had. Called him up we were planning to do lunch and on a whim I brought a couple of CVS two, weeks later I'm having a conversation with, the mayor of Detroit about public health in Detroit, and a. Month, later I'm walking in. To, the Detroit Health Department, as health commissioner, to rebuild a health department that had been shut down now let, me tell you the story of Public Health in Detroit. Detroit. First. Had a Health Department beginning. In. 1827. And in. 2012 the. City went bankrupt and they. Made the decision to shut down their. 185, year old health departments this, in a city with a higher infant mortality rate, than, my father's native Egypt, in, a city where our children face triple the probability, of being, hospitalized, for asthma quadruple. The probability, of being exposed to lead then, the state average they, shut down their, health department, I was, hired in 2015, to. Rebuild that, health department now I didn't, quite appreciate what I was walking into when. We started we had five city employees, and 85, contractors, in the back of the building in Detroit where people go to pay their parking tickets so. First. Day of work I know I look a little bit young and at that point I was 30 years old so you. Know I I grew my beard out a little bit more I put on my big boy suit my big boy tie walking. In first day you're, the commissioner you, get a commission nobody. Ever tells you what that means but. You're gonna do it anyway and. This. Guy walks up to me from the right now, you you. Work here they. Looked at him for a minute like all right you're the commissioner yes. I do. He's. Like great can you take my parking ticket in for me I. Was. Like no sorry I'm I'm that I'm the, health commissioner he, looks at me for a minute like why, are you walking to the parking building I. Look. At I was like you know what I'm actually asking myself the same question. So. We got his ticket paid problem, solved. First. Three weeks of work you've. Got to imagine the circumstance, that I mean my job is ostensibly to provide basic. Public health goods and services for 700,000, people who, have been systematically, marginalized, by every. Single level of government intended to serve them and I. Didn't. Even know where to begin you know I knew. Everything I could know about the theory of public health I'd, gone, to two, different graduate schools to learn what, public health is and I still didn't have an operational, definition that. Would actually, help me to do my job and that's. When I got to meet des Marius, so. - Marius I met, him when I was touring our vaccination clinic and. This. Kid walks in with, about as much charisma, as you can imagine right this three-year-old little kid just got this saunter, this swagger about himself it was like this kid I need some of that and. He. Just had these big brown eyes and just, this personality, that lit up the room and when. His mom figured, out who I was and introduced me to him and I've been introduced to a fair number of three-year-olds, and usually, the way it goes is that the parent will say hey meet this person and the, three-year-old will look at you just, enough to realize they don't know who you are and then bury their face back in their parents right kidand ooh that looks, me right in the eye shakes. My hand give me a hug walks back to his mom I was, look at this kid I was like this kid is either the most rational or the most confident, three-year-old I've ever met in my life and.
In. That moment I couldn't, help but contrast. His. Confidence. To. The set of circumstances, in which, he's living I already, told you about the public health statistics but just. Probabilistically. If this kid graduates, from his decrepit, underfunded, public school system in the city of Detroit his. Probability, of winding up in jail remains statistically, higher than it does of winding, up in college. And I realized that for me the definition, of public health that mattered most was that which, gave this. Child a. Justification. For the kind of confidence that he and any other child of his age should have in the life that he or she is going to live that. Is the work of government fundamentally. Is that we have to be about justifying, that kind, of confidence that kind of swagger that kind of belief in yourself and the world in which you live that you in fact if you do your work will have access to the kinds of opportunities that you deserve and, that's. What led us to thinking, about our Health Department and setting. Ourselves a vision and a thesis for how it was that we were going to rebuild this department, we. Rebuilt Detroit's, health department around the goal of leveraging, health to disrupt intergenerational. Poverty because. If you think about what the epidemic, of poverty is that, boy is patient. Zero and if. We're not optimizing. Around his, experience. And the, experiences, of the people that make his life what it is then, we're missing the point entirely, so, often in government it's easy to think in abstract to, talk about tackling one problem or the other without, actually, optimizing, around the lived experience, of the people who. We are intended, to serve and so. For us we identified. A set, of critical outcomes, that we saw as being a part of the. Cycle of, poverty. Teen. Pregnancy. 16. Percent of all. Births in the city of Detroit are unintended, to a teen mother and if. A young woman gets. Pregnant. Without. Intending, to before, graduating high school her, probability, of dropping, out is about 50% one. In two. Infant. Mortality, or. Infant. Mortality rate in the city of Detroit is higher, than my father's native Egypt it is the highest of any big city in the, country and we. Set our goal to address infant mortality, because. If a child is, in a position where. The probability, of death is high that kid already starts their life. Behind. Everyone else. Lead. Poisoning we, all know the. Biophysics, of lead and what it does to a young, developing, mind and so, it doesn't matter what you do around the investment, if you've already poisoned that mind and its ability to move. And leverage, and make sense of information and knowledge. Vision. Deficits if you can't see what's happening on the school, board it doesn't matter what's happening on the school board. Asthma. A child. With persistent, asthma is. Likely. To miss a day. Of school every, two weeks any. Sort of persistent asthma and if. You're talking about moderate. To severe persistent asthma talking, about a day every week imagine, trying to learn but. When you're missing a day every week because you can't breathe. And. Instead of spending a day in the classroom you're spending a day in the, emergency room. Miss. Nutrition, we find this brutal. Paradox, among. Low-income. Children disproportionately. Children of color in communities. Like Detroit where they have too much of the macronutrients that. Build a guts in too few of the micronutrients, that build a brain and so, it's not even that it's just malnutrition. It's about the wrong nutrition, it's miss nutrition, and then. Finally elderly, isolation, and, one would say well if you're focused on children why why.
Elderly, Isolation, well the single best thing you can do for a young person to give is give them access to an older person who, cares about their life and too. Many of our seniors in places like Detroit fundamentally. Can't get around because of the way that we built our city and I want to share with you just four of the projects, that we kicked off to. Try and disrupt this, cycle of intergenerational, poverty to break down the barriers that killed kids like des Marius had to being able to learn and earn in Detroit like we would want for any child anywhere, we. Did around, infra mortality, we built a program called sister friends with, the idea that so many women who are caring for the first time don't, have high quality mentorship. And are not connected, to the resources that do exist and a lot of that has to do with the brutal. Geography, of the city of Detroit so, much of the attention is paid to eight square miles of a hundred and thirty-eight and so, many of the people lived on those other hundred and thirty and so. Folks don't have access, to those kinds of resources both as a function, of knowledge and also as a function of geography, and so. If you're able to equip a young woman who's caring for the time with, access to a mentor who's not going to judge her and is. Able to empower her just by being there and also because, that person can connect her to, the resources, that exist in the city then. You have a chance at being able to reduce the probability of preterm birth and ultimately, its infant mortality. Around. Teen pregnancy, we, know that, so much, of the. Unwanted, pregnancy. Burden in Detroit, is a function, of lack of access to very basic preconception. Family planning services we, have one Planned Parenthood clinic, serving. 700,000. People in the city of Detroit and it's right, in Midtown you, guys familiar with shinola watches it's. Walking distance from us from shinola and so. You think about where. The burden right. Of need is and we're not serving that burden so what we wanted to do was, provide access to preconception. Family planning services in, the, neighborhoods, in which young. Women live learn, pray, and play and so, we wanted to put them in context. That were discrete that we're not going to be stigmatized, so, for example if you were able to put such, a clinic, in a rec center it's, possible, that a young woman could just as easily be walking, in to have a conversation about, controlling. Her fertility as she couldn't be playing basketball and so, we wanted to provide these, services in the places that people actually are. When. It came to asthma so much of the burden of asthma, in Detroit is driven by the poor, quality of air that we have in a highly industrial, city. Corporations. That pollute have had their way with both state and city government, for the past several decades we, built an environmental, justice practice, to stand up against these polluters when marathon. Petroleum, that has a refinery, in southwest, Detroit the, most polluted ZIP code in in, in. In in in, Detroit, and in the state of Michigan, we. Were able to organize with the local community the Michigan, Department of Environmental Quality who is supposed to regulate on these issues was, set to okay the deal and, we. Organized and we stood up and together, the, voice of the community was able to force. Marathon petroleum. To. Reduce their emissions when, they had wanted to increase them investing, ten million dollars, to clean up their act we. Did the same thing when it came to. Uncovered. Piles. Of, petroleum, coke on the, Detroit riverfront we, were able to force, that. Operator, to cover their piles up if they wanted to store these. These. Piles that release fugitive, dust and ultimately get into the lungs, of our children. When. It came. To. The issue of, water. And. Lead. Poisoning we. Had built a program called lead safe Detroit now let me tell you what led safe Detroit was we. Were in a situation.
Where So, many of our kids that had, been tested positive, for lead poisoning would fall through the cracks we weren't able to move all of the goods and services that we could offer these kids to these kids because, there was no system of actually managing the cases and so, we would convene a meeting every month where, we would sit with all of the agencies, that touch lead together. In case manage every single, case of lead, poisoning to make sure that every child had access to everything, that they needed but there were circumstances that. Reminded, us that we weren't doing enough to prevent in the first place and so. I had, just finished, inspecting, city schools when, I heard about the Flint water crisis, our, teachers, in Detroit some of the most courageous public, servants you can talk about who, are doing the impossible every, day in communities where, they are under-resourced and without, the means of being able to just basically do their job. They. Had conducted a sick-out because. Their, buildings, were not meeting. Code and so, as a city we inspected. Every single, school. In the school district, I personally, inspected, a couple of them now I want you to imagine with me this imagine. You're walking into a first grade classroom, it's. 11 a.m. it's. About February, 1st and the. First thing that you see is, a. First grader wearing. Their coats it's 11:00 a.m. and the. Minute you walk into the room you feel the chill kind, of like when you walk outside and you. Realize that those kids go to school in that circumstance, almost every single day because the boilers and their buildings don't work and then. You start looking around the room and you see, in the corner a dead, mouse now not just any dead mouse mouse didn't just die the mouse literally in a state of decay suggesting, it's been there for days and. Then. You walk out of that classroom and you're walking by the gym and you smell the smell of mold and you, look inside and you see the gym floor buckling, because of the amount of mold growing underneath that, floor these. Are the circumstances, in which kids go to school in Detroit and we realized that given, those. Circumstances it. Was possible, that our kids could be exposed to the same let we were hearing about in Flint's. In the single place where we systematically, concentrate.
Most. Of our kids most, of the day most, of the year and so. We put together a protocol, to have every single school daycare and Head Start tested, for let in the water tested, all 360. Buildings in six months and created, a protocol that has now modeled practice nationwide. Now. You. Think about the. Circumstances. Of a life and I. Shared with you some of the work that we did at the, health department and if, our goal is to tackle, this. Epidemic. Of poverty then, focusing, on health is certainly one. Approach to doing that, but. You and I well know that the responsibility. Of addressing, poverty goes well beyond the kinds of things that you can do in a Health Department and I, came, to appreciate that, and. Frankly. The the heart roof of being. Able to work. As a public servant, in a pointed office when. I took on my mayor on issues that he didn't want to pay attention to the. City of Detroit shuts down. 18,000. Homes from having water every single year now, it shouldn't you know I don't know how many of you all public health people or doctors, but you. All would probably agree with me that something, that. Comprises 70 percent of your body the, lack thereof, is probably a public health issue right. Seems. Like you should make sense and. And. The. The city didn't want to move on it because it didn't make them on financial, sense and so, we're raising the cost of water on people without being able to actually empower. Them to pay their bills and they face shut offs I came. To appreciate how serious that was when I was personally, visiting a house where, a woman had lost a baby and I. Asked, her if I could use her restroom, and I went to use the restroom, only you appreciate that there was no water in the restroom instead there were a couple of bottles lined up next to the sink and, I saw the, the. Baby bath and the. Bottles lined up to the baby bath and I asked her you don't have water do you she said no said, how long haven't you had water she's a couple months. Imagine. Trying to bathe your child with bottled, water because you don't have water in your house because, because. You're paying hundreds. Of dollars a month simply. To pay for something that frankly, should be a human right these.
Are The circumstances, in a place like Detroit and if you don't pay attention to that there's no way you're, going to interrupt real poverty and then. You have challenges, relating, to housing, in the city our biggest. Monument. Program in the city of Detroit was a demolitions, program the idea being that if you demolish homes that are no longer being used that that'll, raise the value of all the other homes and in theory it works here's the problem though if you're demolishing, housing, that. Was built before 1978. The. Probability, that there is lead in the walls is 100 percent and if. You don't take, precautions. Around. Around. How. You do this around following, the, kind of protocol, that will protect, from fugitive, dust there's. A high probability that you're going to release a cloud of lead, dust into the air we. Did it an. Analysis. On this very issue we found that. The probability, that a, child who, lived within 400, feet of a demolition of. That. Child testing positive was about 30% higher and if they lived within 200 feet it was 60% higher the, dose response relationship, it's. About as good as you get in epidemiologic, studies and you, know what was the what, was the mayor's response well I needed I need a third opinion well. You know before I I did, this job for you I literally did this kind of research that was my job and this. This. Kind of assessment this kind of study right. It's about as ironclad, as you get and. No. Attention paid because it wasn't politically feasible and so, in that moment I came to very much appreciate that the responsibility. Of tackling the. Kind of poverty that we wanted to address the epidemic of poverty required. Us to be able to set the agenda around, the circumstances, in which that little, boy lives I want. You to think about his user experience, for and I want you to think about his life put, yourself, in his shoes and he's walking through his life he. Lives in a home that was built before 1978. That his mother, rents. From a predatory landlord, he. Pays the same kinds of rates that people like, me paid in downtown. Detroit simply, because they, prey off the fact that a lot of those other folks because of credit score can't, compete for that kind of housing in. Detroit if you own your home there's a 36%, probability. That you are going to lose that home not. To mortgage foreclosure, but to tax foreclosure. Why. Because, we're assessing homes, at about, 50% plus, the rate of the. Value of the home imagine having to pay 50%, of the value of your home every, year in taxes.
36%. Default and they're kicked out of their homes and. Then. You think about the circumstances. Of his mother's work she, works two jobs just, to be able to pay a basic. Income. To be able to put good food on the table for her kids, two. Jobs why, because, you can't actually afford the. Cost of that rental and the cost of that food on minimum. Wage working, forty hours a week you. Think about his grandmother who provides most of the childcare well. She has Medicaid, and Medicare but the problem is is that the, way that we incentivize, doctors, means that there aren't doctors in the community in which she lives and, there's. Questionably. Reliable, public, transportation, you have to wait about an hour to. Take a bus and for, her to get to the nearest clinic that would see her for her heart failure, she'd have to take two buses that means one transfer, that means the whole trips gonna take her two and a half hours and she's got four, kids to care, for so. Instead she, winds up in and out of the hospital because she exacerbates, every. Month. You. Think about that boy's father. Man's. In jail third time, never. Even. Accused, of a violent crime. We. Incarcerate 11%, more people in the state of Michigan than the national average, we. Have a system of policing that seems to want. To police on top of people rather than police with people we're, way better at. Violating. People's bodies, for, crime than we are in policing. The, violations, of their bodies for serious crime the. Probability, of closing, a murder in, Detroit. Is extremely. Low and yet. The cops will pick. On you just because you look a particular kind of way and. Then, you think about the air that boy breathes and it's polluted. By folks like marathon, you. Think about the water he may or may not have in his house. You. Think about the school district he's gonna go to that's been under receivership, from. This state for the past seven years that has preceded despite. Only having to, do the work of reducing that debt has doubled. The debt over the past seven years and. Meanwhile. You have a corporate, system of charter. Schools that, have eaten, up the. Children. From. Public, schools and, so. Those public schools are hemorrhaging to these for-profit corporations, that take our tax dollars and put them in their back pocket Thank, You Betsy DeVos. You. Think about the fact that we don't have reliable mass transportation, in Detroit anywhere and if you have a car, the. Probability, is in Detroit because we have a legal system of redlining that. You're gonna pay upwards of five hundred to a thousand dollars a month just for your car insurance so, 50% of Detroiters do what's called driving dirty meaning that they they don't have insurance, so that forces you to do something illegal simply, because if you're, black or you live in a particular particular. Zip code or you haven't completed high school or your credit scores below 600, well, you're, gonna pay a lot more for your car insurance the. Tragic irony of the Motor City is about 25%, of Detroiters, don't, have a car in. A. City that was built around the, car and. So. To be able to address the circumstances of, that boy's life if we are honest about trying, to actually address this epidemic of poverty it forces, us to pay attention to those issues our. Campaign just put out a 45, page, urban. Agenda and in, that agenda we're talking about how it is that we solve that foreclosure, epidemic. In the city of Detroit how it is that we create something as simple as a renters Bill of Rights we're. Talking about the fact that water the. Basic amount that a family of four needs to be able to drink to clean to cook and to bathe should, be a right it should be free. We're. Talking about how it is that we actually incentivize. Real mass transit, and. We. Bar the. Predatory, auto insurance, industry, from, being able to charge differentially. Based on where you live or based. On what your education level is, we're. Talking about what, it means to actually build, a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality that's, focused, on environmental justice, as an end rather, than being run by a former, oil executive, as it is today. We're. Talking about real. Criminal, justice reform, policing. With communities. Rather than upon communities, making. Sure that the leadership of our police is not, somebody who calls, people who are peacefully. Protesting. Young. Black men. Just. For taking a knee, calling. Them degenerates, and ungrateful. People. Who represent the, communities, that they are meant to police and have. Experience, in those communities, where. We're not throwing, the book at people simply for possessing a.
Drug. That ought to be legal in the first place. Where. If. You go to jail that jail is going to be a place where you're going to get access to the education, that we fail to give you when, you are in our public school system and that. Once you get out people, aren't going to ask about your experience, of having been in jail. We're. Talking about being. Able to build, the kind of Michigan. Where. We are empowering, people like that little boy to, be the means of growth in the first place that. Has, to be the way that we tackle, this epidemic of, poverty. Systems. Matt oftentimes. You know politicians like me will stand up and just give you a bunch of issues systems. Matter they reinforce, themselves, and they are directed. In particular, directions. And if we're not willing to, direct our system, of how we govern, in a place like Michigan around, empowering, that little boy than to be the means of what the future looks like then were failing him and were failing ourselves, and that, is the focus, of how we ought, to be able to move poverty, that actually actually move policy, that actually does address. This epidemic of poverty now I, want. To end on a couple of notes. Recently. Amazon. The. You know that big corporation, that we all you, know click and save. Amazon. Announced that they wanted to have a second headquarters and there's big sweepstakes, about where they were going to go and the city of Detroit and also actually also the City of Grand Rapids both, put in proposals. And, neither. Detroit nor Grand Rapids made their top 20 list and everybody in Michigan was really. Upset about this whole thing here's, the problem I think we're asking the wrong question, right, the question should not be why does Amazon. Choose not to come to Detroit the question has to be how, do we empower people like that little boy Demaryius, to. Be the people who start the Amazons of the future in Detroit in the first place. Because. Unless we're willing to invest in people and the, places in which they live learn, work and, play.
Then. We're missing the point about what it means to grow the kind of just equitable. Sustainable future. That we want for, a state like Michigan I, also. Say this politics. Is very personal and anybody, who tells you otherwise either. Has the privilege of never having have. Never, having to have been locked out or, doesn't. Have the empathy to appreciate what that might feel like politics. Is deeply personal and for me I, just. Recently had a reminder of just how personal it is my partner. Sarah about, ten weeks ago gave birth to our first baby girl and. This. Little girl is going to be this ethnically. Half Egyptian. Ethnically. Half Indian. 100%. American. Muslim. Soon-to-be, woman sooner than I'd like to admit and. I. Think about the world that she's, growing up and every night I get to come home and I get to put her to sleep and, you. Know in that moment I get to look into her eyes and I. Feel. Things and the. Things that I want to feel are the. Assuredness, that the world in which I'm raising her is a world that is going to support her like, I hope to support her to empower her like I hope to empower her to love, her like I hope to love her and I. Don't. Feel that. And so. Many people don't feel that right, now but. I can't help but contrast, my. Little girl Emma D to. De. Marius and my experience, putting my little girl to, sleep every night -. What de Marius his mom must feel when, she walks in and sees him sleeping and. The. Work that we have to do comes down to whether or not we are willing to, live our aspirations. Now I told you about my dad at the outset my dad is somebody who does his homework and he learned about a society built on a set of ideals and I, had those ideals, very vividly. Illustrated. In my mind by my, public school. Civics, teacher this woman named Miss Raber she, had this rare gift among educators, she was the kind, of person who, could go into your mind and put, together. A, set, of concepts It was as if you were just there, and, I remember feeling like I was with the framers of the Constitution, when they made a decision to make our society about ideals, instead, of identities, and among. Those ideals, is the one that I know my dad took a bet on back in 1978, when he chose to came to come here we. Hold these truths to be self-evident, that all, people, are created equal, and. In, that world, should. We choose to, reach. Out and grasp that aspiration, that world is the world where my daughter has no obstacles, but even more important, than that that, boy Demaryius has no obstacles, either. And. We have to ask ourselves how far we are away, from that world and whether or not we're willing to do the work of getting there now. The work of getting there will require us yes to have, smart policy solutions fine but, more importantly, it will require us to stand up to, the institutions. That, have created the world as it stands in the first place I think about politics, is that it doesn't really exist without, conflict, so. Many people want a politics, where you're, not actually standing up against anything everybody kind of agrees well in rooms like this we all kind, of can agree because, by definition were, the people who've won, now. The question becomes are we willing to stand up on a set of things and against a set of others are, we willing to have conversations that, say no you can't, act, they close, the door on certain kinds of people you cannot erect, the kind of institutions, that hold people down you cannot continue to, eat. At a particular, corporate trough if you want to actually serve the public are. We willing to call that out are. We willing to have the courage of a set of convictions about. The aspirations. That are supposed to animate our society, in the first place. That's. Not to say that we can't aspire to a world where we all get. There but. That getting there means that the folks who say that certain people don't belong and certain. People can't be a part of the solution and certain people can't, be a part of the world we want to build while those folks that have to be sidelined and it. Means being willing to do the work of saying those ideas are broken they don't work anymore. Now. Tell you, I've. Always believed that some. Boys. Believe that light drives out darkness it's the only thing that can and the. Thing about light is usually, it's the willingness to just be in a moment where it's hard to be and. And. One. Of the things I've come to appreciate is that. So. Many of the people. Who. Have been told that, the, circumstances. In which they live are a function of others. Right. So many of those folks when you sit down and you're willing to actually be with them and you're, willing to hold a conversation with them you're willing to dignify, them for real people you're.
Willing To appreciate, the pain that they have and. You're. Willing to articulate, a future that says that actually when we come together as people who have been locked out in different ways for different reasons, when we come together around a politics, that brings us together that. In fact the world can be the kind of place where all of us succeed, all of our children have the kind of future we would dream, of for them and, that's. Going to mean being, willing to take on, institutions. And to. Ask ourselves what, role we play in perpetuating, institutions. And what. Role we can play standing. Against institutions. When they're wrong think. About institutions, is that they're usually populated, with good people right, almost, everybody in institutions, a good guy good. Person they. Don't mean, wrong the problem is that the institution enforces. A certain way forward and so, for us it's about coming together and. Within, the institutions, that we live in and, deciding. That we won't just be validated, by whether or not those institutions, tell us that, were good and, give us gold stars but that, we're willing to stand up on a set of ideals, and values that we believe in to, drive the institutions, in the directions that they need to go, and. I. Know, I. Know. One, thing about this country is. That the, people here. We. Have a unique capacity to. Correct see. The thing about the idea of a more perfect union is it, implies two, mutually, exclusive ideals. At the same time which is just so fundamentally, human a. That. You're not perfect to begin with, because. Otherwise, you couldn't be more perfect. But. Be that, you aspire to perfection, even still. And. So. In, a moment like this where. The politics, looks so broken and we. Are so, frustrated, I believe. That if we're willing to aspire. To that thing we're. Willing to have conversations with. The people who animate, institutions. We're. Willing to ask ourselves what, our ideals, really are and what. They imply for. Who we ought to be we're. Willing to stand firm on those ideals, we're.
Willing To grab, hands, with unlikely, partners and. We're. Willing to walk forward. That. That world of ours that, more perfect union that we can get there and I. Look forward to partnership, as we walk that path together thank you. I wish, I lived in Michigan. So. We have I think about 15, minutes for questions so. I'd encourage you to come up to the mic, tell us who you are and, state, your question and, thank. You very much. My. Name is Ned bacon thank, you so much for really, an inspirational, speech and I commend. You for your ability to tell stories, that. Make, all this very real, I've, worked in institutions. I've worked in businesses, and I'm. Sure, you've encountered. The same problem which, is that whether. It's Harvard, or whether it's a big corporation. The. Need, for resources. Always. Seems to, exceed. The resources, that are available and. I. Like, the. Discussion. Of ideals, how. Do you get the, resources in, place, because. These problems you've described, are so big and so, broad. And, there's. A need so how do you address that problem yeah thank you for the question. You, know one. Of the first things I was ever told about a budget is that it is a manifestation. Of, your ideals and your values right because. Your ideals mean nothing in infinite, resource space you need to do anything right but, the question becomes when. Your resources are finite what. Do you spend those resources on. And why, and I. Do. Agree that we have. Deep resource, constraints, but we also have deep resource constraints, within the context, of the. Ideals, that we've already sort. Of seemed, to baked in to, what we spend our money on so we, live in a country right now where, we spend 46, percent, of the world's, military expenditure. The world's, expenditure, and I. Get it it is it is a hard-knock, world out there and yes, you have to defend yourself but. 46. Percent, of the world's, military expenditure, and when. People talk about things like universal. Health care they say well it's gonna be so expensive so. Yeah it is it is gonna be kind of expensive but the question becomes is that, what we're willing to spend our money on visa vie all of the other things we already spend, our money on and I. Think, the responsibility obviously, is to be working towards situations, where your, solutions, are nonzero-sum where you can actually generate, more out of what you choose to do but, I will also say that it's going to mean making hard decisions about, the things that we already spend on and why and this. Is what I meant when I said that it means standing up against, certain things and I. Wish, we could have everything. And have our cake and eat it too but that's not the world that we live in and the, world we live in is one where we have to toggle against, different viewpoints, and different perspectives, on what is a value and we, have to ask ourselves whether, or not what we spend is consistent, with what our values, purportedly, are and then, we have to be willing to do the work of elevating, the people who speak on behalf of alternative. Viewpoints, right I mean I. I'm. Here, talking. To you today I really, wish you could just meet des Marius I wish. He, could be here talking for himself because, if he was the. Question of whether or not he's, worth it the. Investments, are worth, it I think. That be answered and. And. I think that's what we have to be about doing right places like this in particular are. Uniquely good about shaping at shaping, the kind of conversation, that we have about, dictating, what is a value and what is important and when. We marginalize. People like des Marius and the, people who live. In communities like, his all over the country, I mean this could just as easily be Roxbury right. It's. A lot easier to continue to make you decisions as we continue to make them and I. Want, us to have a conversation where, we, are shedding light on what. The alternative, uses of our money look like and what, the policies. Of the current uses of our money look like I. Mean. You're Colin. You. Laid out a inspiring. Program. Inspiring. Electoral.
Proposal, Basically, so. My question is I. Have. Two concerns and one is that. Your program is. Somewhat. Narrowly urban. Oriented, and also it has a narrow class. Basis. So. What is the Democrat graphic. Situation, because you're right running for governor of Michigan, right so, I wonder, how you as. Hugh thought that's true, but you haven't addressed it and the other is how are you going to realize this, ambitious. Human. Very very, human, humane. Program. Given. The federal, context, in which we'll be working, yeah. Thank you for your question I really appreciate it, so, I focused. Today on what was ultimately our urban agenda, we. Will be rolling out a rural agenda in the next three weeks and the reason I chose to focus on the urban agenda today is. Because, it comes out of my, work in Detroit and is educated, by that experience. I'll. Tell you this though I took. A bet on the fact that this kinds, of challenges that people in urban communities and people in in rural communities face tend. To actually be more similar than. We're allowed to see and, that. Inability. To look beyond the curtain has been driven in large part by. By. The goals and the agendas, of politicians, who benefit tremendously from, dividing these two groups of people I'll. Also say that. When. You talk to. Folks. Who don't suffer, that kind of poverty, one. Of the big challenges that many. Of us faces. Why. As the world becomes, so insecure and, there's. A lot of conversation, about neo, populism, in this moment and a, lot of that is driven by. The. Manifestations. Of, stories. Told to people about, why they no longer have, what they used to have and. Then. The question becomes well what do we do to make sure that people don't lack access to those things in the future it's. Easy I think in this moment of time where we get hyper segregated. By. Race certainly, but also by socioeconomic position, to. Assume. That. The, lives that others lead have no implication, for our own and I. Think that's a very dangerous assumption. It's, a dangerous assumption because it it hurts, people but, it's also a dangerous assumption, because it's just fundamentally not true we all live in the same world and. You, know when I speak on the coasts sometimes, about the situation, in. The middle of the country I often, get very well-meaning questions, about well oh why, why do people go for Trump I'll tell you my own uncle voted for Donald Trump this is a guy who drove. Truck his whole life and I. Mean he was somebody who I thought he was most, fun uncle he was the guy who took us snowmobiling. In the winters took us waterskiing, in the summers introduced, me to a mustard pretzel which you've never had one is delicious and. You. Know went as far as to learn how to prepare venison, halal so that my family could eat it he's, not motivated by any, anti-muslim. Animus. At all but. He, lost his business in 2008, when the economy went bust he. Was told by the Democratic establishment that, the economy is back well it's back if you're a trader on Wall Street it's, not back if you're my uncle in, the middle of the state of Michigan and so, for him he felt like he was between somebody.
Who Was kind of crazy but was speaking right to him and somebody, who, seemed, not to care about people like him at all and he, made what was within the, boundedness, of his information a pretty rational decision, they got imagine I was quite. Surprised, right, and I confronted, him about it you, know I'll never forget what he said you vote in your best interest and I vote in mine and it's, time for us to be able to have a conversation across. These. Bounds. About, what drives people's. Decision-making, and about, the facts and realities, of those lives because, if, we don't pay attention to them right, we risk not only tearing. Apart our social fabric but. Allowing people to live in unnecessary. Suffering, the, kind of suffering that we could solve if we're willing to get it right about where we allocate our funding. Hi, my name is Nikhil Patel I'm actually a student here at the Business School and, coincidentally. I'm also actually going to go work in Detroit the summer in the mayor's office so it's. Exciting and encouraging to hear this my, question, to you is regarding, your comment about Amazon, so you mentioned, how there's. A state of the world where you invest in making, it so that in Detroit there, could be the next Amazon, if, you were governor how would you balance that versus. The very, real possibility that. Cities. Like Boston, or San Francisco or even Austin already. Have business, momentum, and if, we take too long to build that business momentum. In Detroit or even in the state of Michigan then you're gonna lose that battle over, and over so how, would you prioritize getting. Companies to come first and then, investing, or the. Other way around it's a great question I'll tell you this right um all three, of those cities that you named they. Have a really, strong startup, culture right. And if. You're a startup, you want two things you, want talent and, capital, agreed. Here's. The problem in, Michigan we have played by an economic script, that says that, we actually have no capacity to generate our own businesses, organic. Growing, businesses, and, so. The best thing that we can do is provide. Ridiculous. Tax subsidies, to huge corporations, to come and bring jobs that we know are going to get off shorter automated, within, the next five years anyway, and then, when those jobs that we promised, go away and they're still getting subsidized, well we've. Got to go back to the drawing, board so what do we do we do the same thing again and then, you're left in a circumstance, where you no longer have the revenue to be able to invest in people and infrastructure. And you have. A couple of corporations, that run highly, automated factories. In random plates and parts of your States what's. Lost is the ability to actually attract. Talent. And capital so. To me I would, much rather start, investing in our talents and our, infrastructure, which if you talked to any business leader in the world they will tell you the things that I want our highly. Talented skilled skillset, and skilled, workforce and really, great infrastructure, that's not gonna let me down you, do those things I'm a lot more interested in coming to where you are and right, now we're. So beholden, to our dependency, on these huge corporations and we're, so at a loss for the ability to actually invest in people and infrastructure, that were stuck doing the same thing over and over again should I mean and so, you know part of the question is like well if you're losing the game do you just give up or, do you just start playing the game better well you start playing the game better right and so in Michigan we have to start playing the game better that means to me a couple of things number one it, means really believing, in our ability to build a small.
Business, Startup, oriented, kind of economy people want to come to Detroit if we're, able to incentivize, them to come that, means when they come they know they're gonna have an awesome workforce and they've got great infrastructure, an infrastructure also means the kinds of things that you as a young person who's making a decision about where you want to build, your life the. Kind of lifestyle, that you want right, unfortunately, in Michigan almost, all of the housing we have is single family units right, in random neighborhoods that people young people don't really wanna live in anymore right and so unless we're able to build around trying, to attract, the, people who are going to build. The economy of the future and more importantly invest, in our people in, Michigan, right that little boy so, he's the kind of person who goes to college stays in Michigan builds a great startup. That becomes a billion-dollar corporation, I'd love to see that said I mean and so, it's about making those investments, strategically, now and recognizing. That the short-term incentives set that most, politicians and, most corporations are are, beholden. To are only, going to allow us to swirl further and further down the toilet bowl right and at, some point you got to rethink it I was sitting with the mmm. Cranes Detroit business editorial, board and they're like the business magazine, for for. Detroit companies and articulated. This vision to them and they're like well that's a 50-year vision I was. Like yeah. It's. Like well you're not able to accomplish it in eight years it's. Like yeah I agree but. The question the, question to me has to be how. Do I make the Michigan where my daughter chooses, to raise her kids and her kids choose to raise their kids not. Right. How do I make myself look good for four years right, so everybody Pat's me on the back and then we're all right, down where we were we, need leadership that's thinking on a fifty year to 100 year time horizon that's, what all leadership should be. Thank. You very much this has been a refreshing, talk, I. Guess. My question, is I think about this is this I think was Frederick Douglass said power, never sees anything without a struggle never has never well and. It. Looks like the corporations, and the people who want to tax, cuts for the rich and so forth really, have a little a pretty loaded deck right now so. How can we help, citizens. Who've been shamed who. Feel like it's their fault that they're poor or they're not getting educated, to, feel like they. Can unite, and stand. Up to Citizens United. Thank. You for the question. The. Caustic, influence, that corporate. Money has had in our politics I you. Know I don't even think the full stories been told, you. Know just as somebody running for office I don't take corporate money so. Even. Without taking corporate money I know I'm gonna be vastly out Spence both in the primary and the general by people who to take that money and I still spend 60 percent of my time raising, money right, and.
And. That just is a complete, waste of time honestly, complete waste of time, it's. Not going to make me any better because. I spend five hours on the phone asking, people for money right, that's. The state of, running. For office it's a big reason why a lot of folks who are well qualified don't, because, it just it sucks and. And. So. The question becomes how. Do we reverse. That I think. A couple of things right number. One we have to Center those conversations. And. At the point that you made about Frederick Douglass's quote and power and struggle matters. We. Have to Center the voices of people who suffer in the conversations, that we have and we. Have to recognize, that the challenges, that they face have, nothing, to do with. Circumstances. Of their own making they have everything to do with structures. That have, created. A very, easy way for money to follow money right and we've. Allowed the, biggest institutions, in our society to, not just, corrupt, I reckon and create this kind of inequality but corrupt our politics as well by being able to reach over and control, right. Via access to money the kinds of people who run so, there aside, from centering, those those voices, which I think is probably the most important thing we. Also have to think I think systematically, about how it operates right, one. Of the frustrations, that I've had with the way that Democrats have operated over the past several years is that we've, forgotten that the real action is local right and everybody's. Focused on the presidency, and Federal Elections but we forget that relaxed real action is local and I, don't mean to make this partisan so Republicans. Probably, did the same thing but. They. Actually did Republicans, knew exactly where the action was. And so. We're. About two state legislatures, away from. The possibility, for nationwide. Republicans. To host a constitutional, convention and ratify. Changes in the Constitution how. Do you think about that means so. Focusing. Local, is. Critical. Gerrymandering. Is probably the most important. Local. Governance issue aside, from money in politics and. I think there's been a lot of really great headway in the courts and, a lot of really great headway that citizens, groups have come together in Michigan there's a group called voters not politicians, they got 400,000. Signatures in the metal of like three months to, get a ballot proposal, on our 2018 ballot, so that people can actually vote on bipartisan. Independent or nonpartisan independent redistricting. Which is amazing, but. Those kinds of efforts matter a lot and that's where this needs to be fought and then, in, terms of in, terms of money in politics I also think that this is a local fight right, overturning citizens united, is. A. Much hairier, process, at the federal level but what we can do right is focus on state level legislation. That, at least sunshines and if if not Sunshine's, ideally, gets, that money out of politics I'll tell you in my race alone any. Individual, can spend sixty. Eight hundred dollars on the race a. Couple. Can do thirteen thousand six hundred and a, corporation, can do 68 thousand, and that's all that's aboveboard that's not even including super PACs right, and, we just passed at the state level a. Policy. Proposal or a body. Of bills now. That they call citizens united on steroids, that basically makes it state law in Michigan that. That. There is no. Actual. Limitation. On what a corporation can give to, a super PAC through dark money and soft money means but. Focusing, locally to try and undo that or to block it where it happens I think is critical and then, the. Final thing I'll say is get out and vote I mean this is the crazy thing about it right thirty percent I mean probably in this room you're, talking about most, of you get out and vote but thirty percent in, any given election actually, come out to vote if, everybody, voted politics, in Michigan in Michigan, and in the United States would look substantially, different and. The work of getting people out and getting. Them to the ballots that matters, that's the only thing that does matter in the end right, and I think a lot of the attention has to be paid around, getting out the vote and getting communities out to, vote which. Also means thinking differently about the kinds of people who run right, you. Know one of the things that's been really interesting in my race is that people don't like me don't usually run. And. When I say like me I mean like me in a lot of different ways young, you. Know ethnic minority, of religious minority, somebody. Who has a professional, skill set outside of law those. Folks don't run and I. Think that that we need to be empowering.
Different. Kinds, of of. Candidates. Because, they're able to speak to to. The electorate in different ways and I think we'd start to see a lot more movement in that electorate, when people actually see themselves in their politicians. Hello. My name is Omar Tulagi, my, parents, are immigrants. The. University of Michigan Law School go, blue go, blue one, thank you for your time so many of us here on campus and across the country who are young Muslim Americans are looking up to you and when we read articles like, a blow. Syed a great guy not so great name but. They bus are left wondering how, a person like you is both navigating. Both the media intro in Michigan, and establishment, politics in the state yeah, I uh. I. Like. My name. I'll. Tell you a funny story about how I became Abdul so my whole, name is actually Abdul Rahman which, is, a, as, about as intimidating as it sounds in English and. My. Parents, got divorced right. After they had me and and both remarried, and I was raised by my father and my stepmom and. 1989. Rolls around and I'm about to start kindergarten and my. Stepmom, looks at my dad and is like he's not gonna make it a day with that name. So. They certain state they sort of cast about looking for a new thing and turns. Out that 1989. In September. Guess who's topping the charts. Straight. Up now baby. It's. Paula Abdul was straight up and so, at, that point they're like this is his name it's gonna be I'm doing from here on out. And. I told you about I told you about my little brother Osama he, he. My, parents were you know they didn't want to mess it up twice so eight. Years later he's, being born and they're like we're gonna give him a really easy name it