Pantechnicon; Interview with John Lindsay and News Commentary by Louis Lyons
Me. It's utterly absurd that in my city of New York issued me highly paid professional organizations that. Are advising companies to move out to states where they have lower taxes. No western country in the world.
Does this but us. We're a United States not a you know. That that has to be stopped.
John Lindsay is a four term congressman and a two term mayor of New York City who now practices international law along with appearances as a national television commentator for ABC. But John Lindsay is also an author who will discuss in his book his favorite of Manhattan tonight on Kentucky.
United magazine on the arts entertainment and ideas made possible in part through a grant from the courier corporation of Lowell Massachusetts. I will understand.
And I'm Frank Fitzmaurice and our own national commentator Louis Lyons will be along later in tonight's program with some further thoughts on news that made headlines during the week. That's all coming up on tonight's edition of pantechnicon.
John Lindsay is certainly well qualified to write a book on power and politics during times of crisis and this is what he's done. A novel called The Edge published by WW Norton and company. We asked him recently if now that he's no longer mayor of New York City he spends a great deal of time writing behind the typewriter.
I wrote a novel because we were living abroad and traveling very slowly not doing much. We're doing nothing in fact except perfecting languages.
I was married I will speak French and so we spoke French to each other traveled a bit saw some things and drag along my portable typewriter and I was going to help pay the freight by writing some essays and articles which I'd done in the past a lot and frankly got bored doing that I was boring myself writing heavy weight articles about the relationship between the federal government and local communities. And why is why is the eastern seaboard in trouble. And what's the relationship between police and politicians had left all that. And I thought to myself well I've got a message.
It's something I really want to say but why not do it or try to do it in such fashion that people will read it instead of instead of being published in some heavyweight monthly magazine that only intellectuals read.
And so Mike Stewart came out of all that so Mike Stewart came out and it's essentially a book about the rule of law.
And one reason I wrote it I got one of the critics in New York said Lindsay The trouble with Lindsey's book he tried it he wrote a serious no.
Well hell yes it was a serious novel The only news about the United States that we got when we were living abroad was Watergate. And that's all Watergate Watergate Watergate and French newspapers Spanish newspapers English newspapers once in a while get our hands on the American Tribune that was it.
And I began to think what was Watergate all about. What was it all about.
Well essentially was an attempted political coup by the man already sitting in the chair. It's it's most horrendous elements where the use of police powers for political purposes Internal Revenue Service Powers FBI CIA even police themselves. And unless you've been on the other end the receiving end of one of those of one of those things you don't know how awful it can be.
So there are a lot of Lindsay parallels in this book The Edge. You think.
Well it's based on a lot of observations. You'll notice that a lot of this takes place some of this takes place in the Justice Department with fights between assistant attorney general and the FBI as to who's boss who's running the country the FBI or they are the lawyers. And I was in the Department of Justice for several years and I watched all this go on. Some of it takes place in the Oval Office with a fictitious president has been in the oval office many times and watched what happens there. There are events in Congress and I've seen that there's a character who's a mayor of the California town. And I've seen the mayor's office so yes and I've seen a lot of. And I've seen a lot of these people I've seen a lot of congressmen a lot of mayors a lot of presidents a lot of all kinds of things and I've watched their behavior and seen the whole thing i've so that I've told them and told them that any novelist has to has to write from his own world and his own his own eyesight.
And what do you think then that Surveillant is something that we have to be concerned about.
Yes you do. What's that particular part of the FBI. How powerful they are.
You certainly do. You've got you've had a case just in the past several years where the CIA has has argued that it's above the attorney general and the attorney general who is the lawyer for the country has no right to tell them what to do.
Well by federal law the attorney general is the lawyer for the president and the whole cabinet and the whole government and if Mr. Nixon that had a lawyer that was a lawyer as an attorney general then we might not have gone in so much trouble at the end.
And there are things such as enemies list I've been on. I was on Mr. Nixon's enemies list six months ago. It was published that the Internal Revenue Service had its enemies list targets political targets people who whose tax affairs were to be audited and they were to be pursued.
And by golly for the first time in my life my 1974 tax returns are being audited and they have been audited in my life.
And curiously enough as the year Brackley without income I was out of I had retired from public life taking a sabbatical living abroad and I've also seen cases and instances where the use of police powers including Grand Jury devises and prosecutions. I'd seen those kind of the cases where that was done for political ends. I saw the contagion in the mix in the Nixon years before he really got caught in the Watergate problem when everybody set up you know this is a little thing. All politicians do that.
In fact the press was even you know smart guy gets elected to office if he's a smart politician who uses the tools of the office. The contagion was horrible. I saw mayors across the country using their own police departments for political purposes.
Do you think then that it's wise for the federal government to give money to the cities. Do you think that there's a danger of too many strings attached so that the mayors of the cities in this country can't do what you want to do.
No you're asking a very complicated question and I'll try to give you a very simple answer if I can.
I believe I believe very strongly in decentralization. I think what's one of the things is wrong with the country right now is that is that nobody knows where the government is or who to talk to.
They don't know who to complain to the nearest place is a local city halls so they go down and beat up the local mayor. They don't have time for that.
They have no idea where the state government is or what it does. Federal government is a distant thing that is completely amorphous to them and understand how it works he said. It's there and that Congress kind of the maxim bills and the president is having press conferences behind marble walls and Secret Service. I think you need decentralization. And I believe it is quite possible to have central collection of resources for public services and and local authority and autonomy. I am so fed up with the hodgepodge of tax structure for example in this country that I would strongly recommend the Congress consider enacting a bill which it can constitutionally that abolishes all state and local income and sales taxes collect centrally and return funds to localities. Unfair formulas based on density and need and have the poor taxpayer file only one tax return and stop this idiocy of having people shop around for tax havens. It's utterly absurd to say that residents of this great city of Boston which I'm not saying it's just because I'm on your radio show because it is a great city is so utterly absurd that residents of this town in Massachusetts should be looking for other places in the United States to move to because of lower property taxes and the tax on your taxes and your taxes are going up. It's utterly absurd that in my city of New York there should be highly paid professional organizations that are advising companies to move out to states where they have lower tax systems. No western country in the world does this but us where we're Adis United States not a United States and that that has to be stopped. It's bad enough that you have corporations and people looking for tax havens in the Cayman Islands Bermuda Spain offshore islands and the rest of it. But to have the country polarized in that fashion is is is is is really self-defeating is going to it's going to destroy this country if we're not careful.
Do you feel that it's fair for people to look at what's happened to New York City in terms of its bankruptcy problems.
And I think as New York goes so goes the rest of the country.
Do you feel that New York City is a unique city in terms of being able to run it and its problems.
It is unique and to try to compare New York City with any other city is a trap.
For example New York City is the only city in the United States that is forced by federal law also by a peculiar state law in New York which is too complicated to explain but mainly federal law to pick up in its budget. One billion dollars a year for welfare.
And how about Chicago. A lot of welfare they don't have to pay a nickel not a nickel that's done by the federal and state governments there's not another city that has to do that.
If New York City was relieved of that problem that it would have not just a balanced budget but a surplus. New York City is required by state law to pay for the costs of correction and prison system for state prisoners. New York City by state law is required to pay 50 percent of the salaries of state supreme court judges. This kind of thing. How long has all the old hospital system that that New York City has been required to carry now that goes back 200 years. Gradually it's been it's been an evolution.
And New York is the only city state in the country in effect and it's been forced by law to carry more of a burden than any other community in the world. Now that's not to say that other older cities of the United States and the Eastern Seaboard particularly like Boston don't have a lot of problems industrialized cities which which where jobs have moved textile textile states and in the north which have moved to the south because of lower wages and lower taxes. That compounds the problem terribly. But New York's problems are really unique.
What do you say to people when they feel that perhaps one of the problems is that John Lindsay spent too much money.
I can. I have a very simple answer that I say that the month that I retired from office December of 1973 Standard and Poor's raised the credit rating of New York City and its bonds that 12 months before that Moody's had which is just lower the credit rating of Boston raised the credit rating of New York City and its bonds. So my last two years in office based on their examination of fiscal prudence they raised our credit ratings. We had a balanced budget. Excellent relations with the banks good credit confidence. Our rate of crime was decreasing our welfare rate caseload even though we don't control that but have to pay for it was zero growth. Contrary to the suburbs where it was growing. And I would maintain you can call this self-serving if you will that relative to other transition periods from mayor to Mayor in the history of New York City that I left my successor a very tidy ship indeed. Also with with one of the most admired productivity programs for public productivity that took years to build up because of the of the old fashioned nature of the New York city's bureaucracy but with a lot of work we brought in the Rand Corporation from California. We surrounded that bureaucracy with Booz Allen and McKenzie and other people and then funneled people in laterally in order to build a productivity program.
And we had representatives from states all across the country including New York State examined how we did this.
But you know now in fact you've got New York City being run by three ex members of my own Cabinet.
And the and the emergency control board is running the city. They're all people who came out of the Lindsay cabinet. You've got you've got three members of the old Lindsay cabinet who were running the three biggest departments of three of the states of the Union. You've got several of them who are teaching at Harvard. So I've been very quiet about this subject when I've heard people suggest this and argue it and I'm getting a little tired of it.
A little fed up with it. And I'm just getting ready to fight back. That's going to be a next party.
And I tell you the reason I've been quiet about it is that is it is it a B move with my successor who who I ran against the first time I ran for mayor and we've been political opponents ever since was in so much trouble. He didn't need second guessing from ex mayors or anybody else. It got in such trouble that he needed to be have total support in the arguments he was making with the federal government not for a federal bailout but for a for a backup of credit wasn't going to cost the taxpayers a dime and everybody had to rally around while you were mayor.
That's over now so I'm free to speak while you were mayor of New York. You feel that there really was a very bad crime problem in the city or is there always been a problem.
Look. Be very skeptical about FBI crime data.
But it's the only crime data that we have. And New York City when I left it was 22 down the list in crimes which meant that you were you were there were 21 cities in the United States where you had a larger chance of being victimized by crime than in New York City. But because the media is located in New York and everybody else had the image of New York was that it was the crime capital the world which simply wasn't true.
Houston St. Louis Detroit Los Angeles. I think Boston Washington D.C. the nation's capital all were way ahead of New York in rate of crime and your chances of being victimized by crime are higher. That to say we didn't have a terrible problem.
What do you think of New York City becoming a state.
That's a ridiculous Yes because it's because it's so politically and unreal. You have you would have no chance at all of getting the people of the United States to vote for an amendment to the United States Constitution to admit New York City as a separate state in the union. It was hard enough to get. They get Alaska and Hawaii but they get New York City in the city. I mean you know they hate the hate love relationship in New York City which has gone back to that going back for many decades. And then I may say that that was that was furthered by the behavior of the Prez of the United States and in an all out attack on the city and its management which is a joke in itself when you examine the management of the Post Office Department and a few of the other few things that the federal government runs the cost overruns of the Pentagon and the waste that goes on in Washington.
There's a joke Don Lindsay going to be running again for something.
But but when the president attacked the city he had attacked He polarized the country. And it's as I said tax wise it's badly enough polarized. I tell you you've got you've got a country and a lot of trouble. And there's a little thing called leadership that's going to be needed if we're going to get out of this trouble. No John. John Lindsay is not going to run out of his out of running politics. I've I ran for 17 years and I think it's time. I think it's time to go back to the plow.
I think it's a very useful things are going to be a Democratic or Republican. Do you think. I don't really know yet.
No no no I'm going to be I'm I'm a private citizen.
I like to think of myself as an independent.
I think there's more hope for the country in the Democratic Party.
I think you've got basic party shifts going on and party realignment.
Now the Republican Party which was once a member of and left is no longer by any stretch of the imagination the party of Lincoln.
It had an opportunity once way back to become so but it abandoned that.
But as a political scientist All I'm saying is that you have a phenomenon happening which is a rare rearrangement of the party structure in the U.S. You talk in your book about a new party being formed.
Do you think that a new one is going to be formed in reality. Do you think that the Republican Democratic Party are absolutely useless at this point.
I think that they've come from the Republican and Democratic parties have come close to proving that that they do not make the system work as well as it should work.
And there's got to be something better devised the way they are now structured.
They're rigid. The national campaigns are an outrage. How long they take and the cost of them people that treat them have tended to treat them a little bit like religions which is a very dangerous political party is not a religion. It's simply a vehicle by which you try to make your country a better place and the government run better.
Are you going to function as a consultant anyway even though you are a private citizen.
No no. I spent my time practicing law I'm an international lawyer. I travel abroad a lot to practice. I'll be leaving Mary and I are leaving Saturday for a week abroad on business.
And then I do ABC television. Too.
And it's getting a little difficult and that keeps you busy 24 hours a day. In. Talking with John Lindsay former city and recent author of the book titled The Edge.
And coming up next on tonight's edition of pantechnicon we take a few looks behind the headlines with WGBH commentator Louis Lyons who's been spending the week reading the papers and so on preparing this report and now here's Louis Lyons.
While presidential candidates swarm over New Hampshire the electoral power of the country is passing to the south. The Census Bureau reports an historic shift of power with population from north to south. This trend Maine is the next reapportionment of congressional seats in 1980 will reverse the present 225 to 210 edge that the North has over the South and the house. Maurice Yodels home state of Arizona has been going four times as fast as New Hampshire. Ronald Reagan's State of California twice as fast. Florida has doubled population in 15 years and a large part of it the last five years. This trend has been indicated before and recent census reports but not of such a sweeping national change. 85 percent of national growth the past five years has come in the 14 states from Virginia to California. That's the Census Bureau now called the Sunbelt all but two of the 13 fastest growing metropolitan centers the past five years have been the three Sunbelt states of Florida Arizona California. The other two are resort areas in Colorado of the biggest metropolitan areas the only ones that have been going faster than the national average since 1970 are in the Sunbelt. Houston Miami Atlanta Dallas San Diego comparable northern metropolitan areas have been losing population. New York Cleveland St. Louis Pittsburgh Seattle wild growth in the south has been in metropolitan areas and cities have had the opposite experience. Disbursal overspreading suburbs and in the case of New York City even across state lines to New Jersey and Connecticut. The boom in population in the sunbelt has come in spite of the big northern migration of blacks from what was called the black male. But as the racial issue has faded the recession has spurred a return tide from such depressed cities as Detroit. Other streams of southbound population are the retired elderly seeking a warmer climate and cheaper living people seeking the recreation opportunities of South and Southwest and business following its customers. Employment in the sunbelt region increased by 7 percent from 1967 to 1972 while it declined to 12 percent and the rest of the country the south still has many poor and gets federal aid. Billions more than it pays in taxes while not Pipp pays out 20 billion more than it gets back.
But this is gradually balancing out the Census Bureau is cautious about what this means.
But the New York Times has been discussing it all week. Politically it means more southern seats in Congress and more delegates to presidential conventions. It means the most conservative region gain strength. The Northern infusion is leavening the conservatism but so gradually has to be glacial reports. New York Times study Republicans have gained southern congressional seats from 22 in 1960 to 57 now and newer Democrats have replaced the senior citizens with power as committee chairman has eroded as their rural constituencies have lost population to the fastest growing urban South. But the Congressional Quarterly finds other Democrats vote with the conservative coalition as often now as 15 years ago. Americans for Democratic Action Report the increase in liberal voting by the new Southern Democrats and this Congress has been only from 19 to 22 percent of the time in the Senate from 24 to 29 percent of the time in the house. This persistence of conservatism is partly accounted for by the increased number of the elderly including two thirds of the retired military officers in the country and of course by the influence of the dominant oil interests in the region the migrating business businessman tend to take on the political coloration of the environment. Of course knowing and became aware of us Southwood movement a long time ago that New-England textile industry was moving south more than 50 years ago. Responding to the economies are being close to cotton and needing less costly construction and heating but impel also by the Southern lagging labor laws and by the greater efficiency of their new mills. While the old mills of the North declined under financial control of their industrial management the government located the preponderance of defense plants in World War 2 in the south partly for the climatic advantage partly from the southern dominance in Congress increased population has itself attracted more business growth has been accumulated and recently accelerated grow some resettled. Northerners like them. Julie Pace or the woman who used to be held at the high north temperate zone climate toughened the fiber induced more energetic enterprise with the warm sun slacken yankie dry. Population pressure is compelling more disciplined public activity. Bigness has become a problem itself. The million additional people who poured into Arizona and New Mexico since 1960 forcing attention to pollution control their environment has become the central concern of Arizona's presidential candidate Morris Utah and Florida cities that have added a third to a half to that population in five years. Having to turn to public planning and also the South is gaining by a brain drain from the north. Both in business executives and then the development of a quality university faculty in Texas California North Carolina and Tennessee. The Census Bureau spells all this out and more in a report entitled estimates of the population of metropolitan areas.
1973 in 1974 and components of change since 1970 which can be had for 75 cents from the Government Printing Office Washington DC 2 0 4 0. The French people contemplate a political situation. Most would not have imagined the French Communist Party Congress has just declared its independence of Moscow and its preparation to join the socialists and the opposition to the government with the socialists of Mitterrand they would equal the Gaullist now in power. They have long been the second party in numbers for three years they've had an understanding with the socialist governing elections. Joining in the so-called union of the left with the support of the socialist Mitterrand missed in the last election as president. My hair will meet around except a more complete coalition. Now that the communists have abandoned their dictatorship of the proletariat by redefining the proletariat to include almost everybody. All Europe has an interest in the French question politically all Europe or nearly all Europe is under a socialist government. The Communist Party in Italy is even stronger than France and evidently acts independently in its government or many Italian cities but as in France it has been denied a part in the national government. The most recent collapse of the Italian government came on a division in the socialist ranks between those who wanted to bring the communists into the government and those who rejected the political risk and Louis Lyons will return on Friday.
Pantechnicon That's Friday at 6:30 with the review of the week's news.
Thank you for being with us tonight. Every weeknight at 6:30 AM weekends at 5:30 p.m.. This is Oliver Stone.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
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- Four-term congressman and two-term mayor of New York, John Lindsay, discusses his book entitled, "The Edge." He describes it as "essentially a book about the rule of law." Lindsay also opines on national politics and running New York City. Louis Lyons concludes the episode with a commentary on the week's headline news.
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Guest: Lyons, Louis
Interviewee: Lindsay, John V. (John Vliet)
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- Chicago: “Pantechnicon; Interview with John Lindsay and News Commentary by Louis Lyons,” 1976-00-00, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 21, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-000005vm.
- MLA: “Pantechnicon; Interview with John Lindsay and News Commentary by Louis Lyons.” 1976-00-00. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 21, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-000005vm>.
- APA: Pantechnicon; Interview with John Lindsay and News Commentary by Louis Lyons. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-000005vm