…went much better than I expected. Listen here.

Quick thoughts:

An email comment from “Eric” noted that in the wake of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination it’d be hard to ask taxpayers to continue to expend resources for the black “underclass”. My response was that blacks serve as our nation’s “miner’s canary”, and that sooner or later, he and people he cared about would need help too. Probably sooner than later given the current state of the economy. If I had a do-over what I’d focus on is the fact that taxpayers already spend their resources on the black “underclass”, Why would he prefer that more money be spent on punishing, surveilling, and terrorizing black bodies rather than creating programs that help more citizens live more productive lives? (I suspect I know the answer….)

I also spent a little bit of time emphasizing the importance of “inner-city” values. One of the callers talked about how we can find a great deal of strength in poor communities if we just looked. I agreed wholeheartedly, emphasizing that it was the knuckleheads I grew up with in poor suburban Detroit that taught me most of the values I live by. Without these values I wouldn’t be at Hopkins, wouldn’t have a PhD. I didn’t get any pushback from Wilson here, but there were a number of callers waiting to get a piece of me that never got their chance because of time constraints.

“Middle class people know how to make hard decisions too” was the money quote from one of them.

Here I’ve obviously got class bias issues–I grew up working class, even though I’m no longer in that category. So my comments can be taken with a grain of salt. But if we had a real discussion about what middle-class values were in practice I think we’d look less to the over-spending over-consuming under-saving middle class and more somewhere else for the values that make America work at her best.

The one area of disagreement Wilson and I had was on the amount of spending that Obama included in the stimulus package to deal with poverty. For Wilson 50 billion was a windfall, and he’s right, if you look at it from a position of lack. Going from nothing to $50 billion is a big leap. But I set our sights much higher. If he can spend $1 trillion on the finance industry and they don’t make a single product that you and I can touch with our hands, surely he can spend more than  $50 billion on poor and working class Americans.

And I’d say “that’s just me”. But it isn’t.