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Fareed Zakaria GPS
The Pitfalls Of Ukraine's Counteroffensive; West Africa On The Brink After Coup In Niger; Why Hasn't The U.S. Economy Fallen Into Recession?; Are The Fears About A.I. Chatbots Overblown?; Finding Meaning in Your Job. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired August 13, 2023 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to you all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you from New York.
ZAKARIA: We'll start today's program with two of the world's critical hot spots. First Ukraine where President Zelenskyy admitted this week that the counteroffensive is difficult as Western officials told CNN that further decisive progress by Kyiv is highly unlikely. So where does the war go from here?
And then to Niger, where a military junta launched a coup 18 days ago. That makes for a six-county belt of coups spanning 3,500 miles right across the African continent. We'll tell you what you need to know about this startling trend.
Also, are you amazed by the power of artificial intelligence? Well, wait until you hear about quantum computing. It will make today's AI look like child's play. I talked to famous physicist Michio Kaku about what he sees as the real game-changer.
ZAKARIA: But first, here's "My Take."
In early May, 2023, it seemed obvious that the United States was going to face an unmanageable border crisis. In the previous fiscal year there were about 2.4 million of apprehensions of people trying to enter the U.S. at the southern border, and the authorities were about to lose Title 42. The policy implemented in March of 2022 that allowed them to swiftly expel migrants at the border as a pandemic prevention measure.
But the end of the pandemic meant that temporary power also had to come to a close. In fact, as it turned out, there was no crisis. The number of encounters with migrants at the southern border actually dropped by a third from about 7,100 per day in April to about 4,800 per day in June. The latest available data. Why did this happen? It seems that the Biden administration's plan worked. It put in place
a series of measures designed to deal with the impending problem, chiefly a stiff penalty for crossing the border illegally, deportation, plus a five-year ban on any re-entry. Coupled with expanding ways to apply for legal asylum in the migrant's home country.
It was a welcome case of well-designed policy making a difference. But this success has not changed the fact that the U.S. immigration system is broken. The crush at the southern border may be less than anticipated but it's still an influx and its effects are being felt across the United States. Texas overwhelmed by the numbers has famously bused migrants to Washington, D.C., and New York.
But the truth is that migrants have been crowding into many major American cities on a scale that is breaking those communities' capacities to respond. The New York metropolitan area has borne a huge burden. New York City is housing more than 50,000 migrants in homeless facilities and Mayor Eric Adams estimates that this number will about double by 2025. He also estimates that the price tag for the city will be $12 billion over the next three years.
Each year that would be roughly two-thirds of what the city budgets for the New York Police Department. New York City is a magnet because after a 1979 lawsuit, it has based policy on the notion that every person entering the city has a right to shelter. Though, in fact, this right is ambiguous and if it exists, it applies at the state level, not just that of the city. But places from Denver to L.A. are all reeling from the burden of this influx.
The migration crisis is being exacerbated by politics on both sides. The MAGA right of course demonizes migrants and asylum-seekers and prefers no solution since a crisis helps them politically. But the far-left routinely attacks any sensible measures aimed at curbing the influx as cruel, inhumane and illegal. Many blue cities like San Francisco have ordinances and rules that force the local government to tolerate homelessness and vagrancy.
Biden's asylum policy faces lawsuits and court challenges from several left-wing groups. America's immigration system is broken. Its asylum laws were designed in the aftermath of the holocaust to allow admission to a small number of people personally facing intense persecution because of their religion or political relieves. It provided for their residency applications to be evaluated while they were waiting in the United States.
In recent years millions of migrants have arrived at the border with huge numbers of them claiming asylum. While some might have legitimate claims most are fleeing the same conditions of poverty, violence, instability and disease, that have been driving would-be immigrants to the United States for hundreds of years.
But today many had realized that if they claim asylum, they get special treatment. Some U.S. officials handling this issue have told me that people are simply gaming the system to gain the best possible chance of entry.
The laws and rules around asylum must be fixed so that the immigration authorities can focus on the small number of genuine asylum seekers while compelling the rest to seek other legal means of entry. At the same time, it's important to note that America is currently facing a drastic shortfall of labor and needs to expand legal immigration in many areas for just that reason. We urgently need to attract the world's best technically skilled people so they can push forward the information and biotech revolutions that are transforming the economy and life itself.
And with unemployment rates around 50-year lows, it's obvious that we need more workers in many sectors of the economy, from agriculture to hospitality. If this is done in a legal and orderly manner, Americans will welcome the new workers.
Biden has tried to work with Republicans on several issues and he's even had a few successes. He should propose an immigration bill that is genuinely bipartisan and forces compromises from both sides. It would be one more strong dose of evidence that policy can triumph over populism.
Go to CNN.com/Fareed for a link to my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
Eleven months ago on this program, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told me that his goal was to remove all Russian troops from Ukraine. The interview took place during a time of triumph, just as Ukrainian soldiers seized Kharkiv back from Russian control. Today the picture looks very different. Ukraine is evacuating civilians from Kharkiv as Russia mounts an aerial bombardment of the territory.
Western officials have expressed disappointment in a much-lauded counteroffensive which began in June. Ukraine has only taken back an estimated 100 square miles of territory since then.
So why does the counteroffensive seem to be faltering, and does Ukraine have a chance of gaining more ground?
Joining me now to discuss is Alina Polyakova, the president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis.
Welcome, Alina. So tell us, if we are right that the counteroffensive is not going as well as people had thought, what is the central reason? Is there a central reason?
ALINA POLYAKOVA, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR EUROPEAN POLICY ANALYSIS: You know, the expectations on the counteroffensive were from the start I think unreasonably high and there is really two main reasons for that. One, Ukraine has never had complete control over its air space. And if you think about carrying out a land counteroffensive, which is of course what the Ukrainians are doing, while being bombarded from the air constantly encountering mines, no U.S. military operation would be carried out in the same way without complete air superiority. So that's one significant challenge that is really slowing down the
Ukrainians. And the second reason I think that's equally as important is that after many colossal blunders in term of its tactics and operations, the Russians have now also adapted to a long, drawn-out conflict and they are now in the position of defending territory which in some ways is easier than taking back territory. And those are I think the two main reasons for why we are seeing the kind of on-the- ground dynamics that have disappointed some Western officials.
ZAKARIA: So that raises this very, you know, difficult question going forward, right, which is that Russians are now defending and they've often dug into these positions and they're put land mines in.
And the Ukrainians are trying to attack and, you know, traditional NATO doctrine would say, you need, what, a 3 to 1 advantage in manpower, maybe a 4 to 1 advantage to achieve any kind of victory. Is it possible for the Ukrainians to break through this Russian -- these Russian -- you know, they've got land mines, then they've got trenches, then they've got artillery behind the trenches?
POLYAKOVA: Look, everything is really unknown in the fog of war, right. Certainly, right now, it doesn't look like Ukraine is in an enviable position. They're also taking high casualties over the last year and half or so. The Russian side has dug in. They have mined the areas between themselves and the Ukrainian advance very, very heavily. That is hurting the Ukrainians in huge ways. A lot of the weapons that the West provided earlier on in the war, tanks for example, are being taken out by these mines at a higher number than I think many anticipated.
And I think now is the moment to rethink our Western policy as well because we weren't prepared for this kind of war. We were supplying Ukraine with weapons to at least be able to defend themselves. But we weren't supplying them with the kind of weapons they need to be able to launch a proper counteroffensive which first and foremost means high, long-range missile capabilities so they can disrupt Russia's supply lines behind the front lines.
They are very limited in their ability to do that. So never say never, but I do think the outlook does not look positive for Ukraine over the next three or four months.
ZAKARIA: When you talk to Biden administration officials, they usually have two arguments as to why they haven't done more faster. One is that the Ukrainians need to be trained on this equipment. The second is that with longer range missiles, you are -- there is a balance. You don't want to use missiles that attack deep into the heart of Russian territory which could give the Russians the provocation to feel that they were at war with NATO, to use tactical nuclear weapons, to get much more aggressive in terms of their aerial bombardment of Ukrainian cities.
What do you think of those arguments? POLYAKOVA: The argument that we're going to somehow provoke Russia
beyond what is currently already done, I think this is a red herring, frankly. Mainly because I don't think there is a high chance that the Russians will go towards the nuclear decision. We have managed that nuclear escalatory risk very, very effectively and the Biden administration deserves a huge amount of credit for that certainly.
And it's not the Russian interest because they would lose whatever alliances or partnerships they still have with countries like China, with India who do not approve of nuclear use and have made that very clear even publicly as well as privately to the Russians. And my second point would be in terms of reaching further into Russian territory by the Ukrainians. Well, look, this is war. If you're not able to disrupt your enemy's supply lines, if you're not able to hit their centers of operations, even on Ukrainian territory, the Ukrainians cannot fully reach Russia's logistics and supply lines in their own country.
And I think this is where the real problem is. Ukraine has no interest in attacking Russia. They don't want to escalate this war. As President Zelenskyy said on your program, they want to take back their own territory and currently they don't have the reach to be able to truly, truly fight this war in the way that any Western military would have in a similar environment.
ZAKARIA: Alina, that is incredibly enlightening. Thank you so much.
POLYAKOVA: Thank you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, Niger and the global implications of one more coup in West Africa.
ZAKARIA: Niger's military seized power last month detaining the country's pro-Western President Mohamed Bazoum and dissolving the country's constitution. The head of Bazoum's own presidential guard now claims he is in charge of Niger. The coup has sparked fury within most of West Africa's political block ECOWAS which met this week to announce it is activating a standby force for a possible military intervention.
But the block appears split with two member countries that also experienced coups recently, Mali and Burkina Faso, vowing to defend Niger's junta that is now in power.
Joining me to discuss what is at stake is Rama Yade, who is the senior director of the Atlantic Council's Africa Center. She also served as France's secretary of state for foreign affairs and human rights.
Welcome, Rama. Help us understand what is going on here. "The New York Times" calls this the coup belt, and if you look at Sahel, this area that is just below the Sahara and above the Sudanese Savana, it does seem like there have been I think about six coups in the last few years. So what is going on?
RAMA YADE, SENIOR DIRECTOR, ATLANTIC COUNCIL'S AFRICA CENTER: Niger is the last frontier of the fight against terrorism in Africa. And that's why that's the first reason why this country matters so much now. The second reason is that there is a strong fear that the region, the Sahel collapses and falls in the hands of China and Russia because, as you know, there is this strong competition between global powers and even regional powers in Africa.
And Niger represents these two things. The last frontier of this fight against terrorism, against the Islamic State and al Qaeda in Africa but also it's an important asset for Western forces who would like to contain the Chinese and the Russian agenda in Africa.
ZAKARIA: So this is getting very complicated. So let me try to understand it. Because what you see is in the same area of the Sahel, global terrorism deaths have gone from about 1 percent in 2007, now it's up to 43 percent. So you have the Islamic State or ISIS or remnants of it, destabilizing these countries, which is then causing these governments to get weak and fragile and military coups, and meanwhile the Chinese and Russians are trying to take advantage?
Are they allied? Are the Chinese and Russians allied with the military juntas that are taking control in these countries?
YADE: You know, Russia, it's more a matter of opportunity and China, it's not limited to the Sahel. This global competition is everywhere on the continent. But every time a coup happens in that area, you can see Russian flags in demonstration, popular demonstrations. Africa is key in its influence, in Russian influence, and it's a good way for the Russian government to avoid -- to avoid sanctions because it is a rich territory.
And, as you know, Wagner is very active in Mali, for example, where they tried to develop and they are developing predatory business through diamonds, gold, sugar, you know, all these very important materials that are very important to feed the war in Ukraine. So no matter what we say here, the future of the war in Ukraine goes through the Sahel region. So that's why also it's so important.
ZAKARIA: The whole thing does feel like one more step backwards in terms of democracy. Right. I mean, you had these countries that had kind of heroically managed to become democracies and slowly one by one it is unraveling. It feels to me like part of a global trend. But particularly concentrated in these fragile states in Africa.
YADE: When you have been facing the terrorist groups for 10, 15 years, in the poorest countries in the world, knowing that you have to manage very vast and large territories, where local governance is weak, I can tell you it's very challenging. And President Bazoum from Niger was doing his best. Many experts noticed that the number of attacks, of terrorist attacks against the civilians have decreased this past month, this past year. But it was not enough. And the ECOWAS, the regional West African organization, decided to
activate its standby force, a military force, and to be ready to restore the democratically elected President Bazoum who is detained right now in a house in Yami by the coup leaders. So it's a lot that is going on right now. A lot is on the line. Will they do cross that line and send the soldiers from ECOWAS to restore the classic power in Niger or not?
And in the meantime the coup leaders are doing their thing. You know, they have appointed a new government, a new prime minister, they have closed the border, they faced the sanctions. And under the eyes of a worried international community, so a lot is on the line right now.
ZAKARIA: So there is a glimmer of hope there and we will have to leave it at that and keep watching. Thank you so much, Rama.
YADE: Thank you. Thank you, Fareed, for having me.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, many experts predicted the United States would be in recession by now. In fact, most. But the American economy is actually looking pretty good. Why did economists get things so wrong? I ask a Harvard professor when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Right now, the United States is supposed to be in a recession. Or at least that was the overwhelming conventional wisdom this time last year when most experts predicted that high inflation, a massive energy shock created by the Ukraine war, and overheated labor market would lead us in that direction, especially because the Federal Reserve continued to raise interest rates. One economic model at Bloomberg last October set the odds of a U.S. recession at 100 percent.
But it turns out that the economy is actually humming along pretty well. Inflation has come down significantly. America's GDP growth is the strongest in the G7. Unemployment remains at a more than 50-year low. Wages are even growing. Today the Fed is no longer forecasting a recession at all and big banks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have also walked back their recession predictions.
So why did economists get things so wrong? I'm joined by Jason Furman who has some answers. He's a professor of economics at Harvard's Kennedy School and a former economic adviser to President Barack Obama.
ZAKARIA: Welcome. And before we get started, I want to do a big hat tip to Derek Thompson, who has a wonderful podcast. And he and you talked about some of those issues and this is very much inspired by that. So, my question quite simply is if someone were to ask you how come the United States is not in the recession that many people thought was going to happen, what is the answer?
JASON FURMAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMICS ADVISERS: Fareed, I think there are three parts to that answer. The first part is that in 2020 and 2021, the government gave people $5 trillion. They didn't go out and spend all of that money right away. In fact, it was hard to spend a lot of that money in those years. And so, some of that money got spent in 2022, some of it is still being spent now. And you see that in the very strong consumer spending numbers.
The second thing is that Russian invasion of Ukraine is still just absolutely horrific. But in terms of the economic data, the price of oil is back to where it was before there was any concern about the invasion. It is basically that particular issue has gone away.
And then the third thing is the fed has raised rates a lot. It raised them by more than five percentage points but rates still aren't that high in the grand scheme of history. So, maybe monetary policy wasn't as contractionary and negative a force as people thought it was.
ZAKARIA: So, let me -- let me try to unpack two of those -- of those. So, you talk about consumer spending, but isn't it also true that maybe we didn't keep in mind that the Biden administration was also spending.
I mean, there is a massive infrastructure bill. There is a -- Inflation Reduction Act which has a fair amount of spending in it. There is the CHIPS Act, which has a fair amount of spending. And it also did the price cap on oil which forced Russia to discount its price, further reducing energy prices. So, could that all -- you know, I mean, think of your three buckets. One and two, spending and energy prices, would you think those were effects as well?
FURMAN: Yes, I agree with all of that. You know, normally, you would see as the economy strengthens, the unemployment rate is low, the stock market is up, you'd expect to see the budget deficit go down. Right now, we're seeing something unusual which is over the last year the budget deficit is actually been rising. And part of that is all of these new programs that you just mentioned, infrastructure, CHIPS, climate change, and the like. And they are really sort of stimulating the economy.
And the other thing is, yes, the reason oil prices fell isn't just pure luck. It is in part the administration, I think, has done pretty deft handling of denying Russia some of the money, maybe not all of the money they could otherwise have gotten from oil and while making sure that it didn't cause a global recession by spiking.
ZAKARIA: And finally, let me ask you about going forward. As you point out, there has been a lot of government spending. Usually in situations like this, the deficit is going down. Right now, it is going up. It is going up a lot.
Do you worry about that rising deficit? And could it derail the economy in some way?
FURMAN: Yes. Look, I'm worried about the deficit now. I was a little bit less worried a few years ago but a few things have changed. One is interest rates have risen a decent amount. That makes it harder to service your debt. And there is there was an old rule that when times are good, your deficit goes down. And then when times are bad your deficit goes up. And that's fine if you're doing that.
And right now, we're breaking that rule. We're seeing good times with a pretty large deficit. So, I'm not panicked. I don't think the sky is falling. But Washington is going to at least in the next few years need to turn its attention to this question in a way that it really hasn't for some time.
ZAKARIA: Jason Furman of Harvard University, thank you so much.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, you may think the next big breakthrough will be in artificial intelligence but I want to tell you what could be an even bigger technological revolution, the wild world of quantum computing. I'll talk to physicist Michio Kaku after the break.
ZAKARIA: Artificial intelligence is the hottest new thing in technology right now, but my next guest says there is something else we should be paying attention to, quantum computing. It is an emerging field that aims to use the weird properties of quantum particles to make computers that have vastly more processing power than computers have today and that could help us solve all kinds of difficult problems. I spoke to the famous physicist Michio Kaku who has a new book called "Quantum Supremacy: How the Quantum Computer Revolution Will Change Everything."
ZAKARIA: Michio Kaku, welcome again.
MICHIO KAKU, THEORETICAL PHYSICIST: Mm-hmm.
ZAKARIA: Tell me what is your take on the A.I. chatbots, ChatGPT, that everybody is so obsessed by now.
KAKU: I think the media is hyperventilating over the implications of these chatbots. First of all, they are productive. They're going to speed up the ability to produce materials. This could be an advance for society in general. However, people are focusing on the negative aspects of chatbots as well because people are afraid.
However, what is a chatbot? A chatbot is a glorified tape recorder. It takes snippets of what is on the Web, created by a human, splices them together and passes them off as if it created these things. And people are saying, oh, my God, it is a human. It is human like. The chatbot simply rearranges what is ever on the internet already. It is a tape recorder of a very advance type that does not understand truth, what is false, does not understanding slander versus reality. That has to be put in by a human.
ZAKARIA: So, the real shift that you say is going to take place is once we get to quantum computing?
KAKU: We've gone through three basic stages of computer revolution. First stage was when we computed with sticks, stones, levers, gears, pulleys, string. That was the first stage, the analog stage. And then comes World War II. At that point we switched to electricity, and we switched to transistors, and that gave us the microchip and the digital revolution of today. We're in stage two. Now --
ZAKARIA: Which is the ones and zeros, the bits and bytes.
KAKU: That is right. Zeros and ones, zeros and ones. But Mother Nature would laugh at us. Because Mother Nature does not use zeros and ones, zeros and ones. Mother nature computes at electrons, electron waves. Waves that create molecules and that is why we're now entering stage three. Silicon Valley could become a rust belt unless they get on the bandwagon.
ZAKARIA: But would it be fair to say that the shift that you're describing, quantum computing, basically we are now trying to mimic what nature does because an electron is not a particle, it is a wave or it's sort of both and that is where computing has to go.
KAKU: My God. I think you got it. That is exactly what we're talking about. Because, for example, take a look at a transistor. A transistor has two states, up and down, left and right, true and false. So, think of an atom that spins either up or down, two states. The digital revolution is based on that idea.
However, a quantum computer can be at any angle. Now, think about that. There are infinitely more states that you can create if an electron is allowed to wobble and point in any direction whatsoever rather than up or down.
ZAKARIA: So, a quantum computing is a computing using not computer chips but using these waves or these --
KAKU: That is right.
ZAKARIA: Can you explain?
KAKU: The various states of the waves. These waves can vibrate in any direction and they're simultaneous. So that it can actually calculate two or three places at the same time.
So, think of a mouse in a maze. A digital computer will calculate the trajectory of each mouse at every joint, at every place where there is a decision to be made in a maze. That takes forever. Now, a quantum computer instantly analyzes all possible modes, all possible trajectories simultaneously. Now, that violates common sense. Common sense said you cannot be in two places at the same time. Well, get with it. In the quantum theory, you can be at many places at the same time. And that is the power of quantum computers.
ZAKARIA: What would it look like? Would my laptop look the same?
KAKU: When you look at a quantum computer it is like a chandelier, a gigantic device. But the actual -- the actual computation is done at the very bottom.
What is this chandelier? The chandelier is cooling pipes, cooling pipes to bring it down to near absolute zero where there is no vibrations. If somebody sneezes a block away, that could ruin your whole calculation. And so, you want everything to be frozen near absolute zero.
ZAKARIA: But I'm also struck by -- tell me if I'm wrong, when you hear about all of this artificial intelligence and the amount of computing power you need to produce this stuff, and the amount of energy you need to run all of these computers, I think, God, the brain is very energy efficient. We're able to make all of these calculating. We don't need all this cooling. We are somehow doing it using much less energy than these vast computers with all their due heat.
KAKU: Mother Nature is still ahead of us. Our brain is the most complex object in the known universe. We knew of nothing in the universe more complex than the human brain which has 100 billion neurons. Each neuron connected to 10,000 other neurons and it is all done at room temperature. And so, we're playing catch up, catch up to Mother Nature.
Mother nature is quantum and that is why we have to make the transition, from digital computers to quantum computers. And that will allow us to calculate diseases, for example, that are at the quantum level, cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's disease.
These are diseases at the molecular level. We're powerless to cure these diseases because we have to learn the language of nature which is the language of molecules and quantum electrons.
ZAKARIA: Michio Kaku, always a pleasure to talk to you.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, are you happy with your job? Well, most of the world's employees are not engaged at work. My next guest will tell us how to make work more meaningful, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: According to a recent Gallup survey, only 23 percent of the world's employees say they are engaged and thriving at work. That number is actually an increase from previous years. But most workers of the world are not satisfied with their employment.
My next guest has a vision for how to make work more meaningful. Bruce Feiler is an author who has written seven "New York Times" best- sellers. His latest is "The Search: Finding Meaningful Work in a Post- Career World."
ZAKARIA: Bruce Feiler, pleasure to have you on.
BRUCE FEILER, AUTHOR, "THE SEARCH": Thank you very much. Thank you for inviting me.
ZAKARIA: So, everybody is aware that there is something going on in the workforce. You know, there was -- during pandemic there was that great resignation where people just dropped out. There is this whole work from home thing where people are stubbornly resisting the idea of going back to work. All of which suggest some kind of dissatisfaction with the old work model.
And what is interesting to me is you've been on to this earlier than most of us because you've been researching this book. Tell me what led you, what took you to this place of asking what is going on in the workforce and why are people unhappy?
FEILER: Well, I think that is a great frame for this conversation. So, as you say, I've spent the last six years helping people navigate life transition. To this point I have crisscrossed the country multiple times collecting hundreds of life stories of Americans of all backgrounds, all walks of life, all 50 states. And basically, what I've been doing is looking for clues for how people can find meaning in times of change.
And as you say, no area of our life is changing more than work. So, let's just set the table here. Seventy percent of Americans are unhappy with what they do. Seventy-five percent of Americans, in a survey released in April, say they plan to look for new work this year. That means 100 million Americans, in a workforce of 160 million, will sit across from someone today, tonight, tomorrow, and say I'm not happy with what I'm doing. I want to do work that makes me happy.
ZAKARIA: Is it possible for everyone to have work with meaning? Because I feel like this is something that people like us talk about a lot, because what we do, I mean, honestly is great fun. I can't believe people pay me to do this, right?
And Scott Galloway says this whole idea of telling young people, you have to find your passion when you are 20 or 21, is kind of nonsense. Find something you're pretty good at. Try to do it well. You know, try to move up and get more responsibility and that becomes more fun. What do you make of that argument? FEILER: I agree that follow your passion is one of the worst pieces of career advice. I, in fact, asked everybody, did you follow your passion, you know, discover your passion or make your passion? Nine out of 10 people did not follow their passion.
Your passions change. The world changes. Along comes circumstances. Something happens to you medically. Here comes A.I. So, the idea of locking into a passion early is a preposterously bad piece of advice.
But what I do think is true is that people across the income spectrum care about meaning. But the question, and I think the opening and what I've tried to offer here, is how do you decide what gives you meaning when that is going to change over time?
ZAKARIA: And what is the answer?
FEILER: The people who were happiest and most fulfilled in what they do, they don't just climb, they also dig. They perform what I call a meaning audit. Where they do personal archeology, like this treasure hunt through their own life story trying to figure out. And so, what I offer in this book is --
ZAKARIA: Trying to figure out what it is that they like, what it is that makes them happy, what is it that gives them purpose?
FEILER: Today. Not two years ago, not 10 years ago, not what your parents wanted, not what you thought you wanted but what you're doing right now. I'm in a moment in my life when -- OK, I'm in a moment in life when I need to make money because my kids are going to college. Or I have newborns and I want to spend more time with my children. Or I want to travel more or I'm an empty nester and now I want to do something for myself.
The point is that your who, your what, your when. They change over time and this is the great opportunity in your work life when you're going to go through 20 of these work quakes in your life anyone can be a moment to reimagine.
ZAKARIA: But I think what you're really saying is that we are at -- we are going through one of these big transitions.
ZAKARIA: That nothing is going to flip back to what it looked like 10 years ago.
ZAKARIA: That these trends that we see, the work from home, the great resignation, this is all part of a much broader phenomenon. So, five, 10 years from now, you think the workplace will look -- careers will look completely different and how?
FEILER: I absolutely think it is that big of a change. So, I think what is happening here is a kind of rebalancing of the power between the worker and the workforce. [10:55:01]
And so, really what I'm, you know, offering people here is this opportunity to meet actual real people. I mean, I tell the story as you know in the introduction. It is one of my -- it's one of my favorite stories, of a woman named Meroe Park, OK, who was on the Soviet desk of the CIA, like at the most prestigious. And she made a transition within the CIA to leave the spy department, to go to the bureaucracy side and run payroll.
Like her friend said, you are a fool. What did she do? She ended up running the entire CIA.
And every story, Fareed, has what I call like the un-right decision. The decision that will disappoint somebody but it is the decision that is ultimately true to yourself. And that is the burden but it is the opportunity of this moment to decide what story you want to tell.
ZAKARIA: Bruce Feiler, pleasure to have you on.
FEILER: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
ZAKARIA: It is a fascinating book. My thanks to Bruce Feiler and thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.