Nick Gillespie's Interview with Ken Burns on Prohibition
By David Henderson
Reason TV has up two parts of an interview that Nick Gillespie did recently with interviewee Ken Burns. Burns has a new 3-part PBS series out on Prohibition, which my economist/historian friend, Jeff Hummel, tells me is excellent.
These interviews are excellent too. In part one, Gillespie and Burns are basically sympatico as they talk about the horrible effects of Prohibition. Gillespie, quite rightly, sees parallels to today’s prohibition of some drugs.
In the second video, Gillespie broadens the topics to talk about such issues as whether PBS should exist and whether Burns thinks he could have done his many works without government funding. Burns’s energy and heat rise a notch or two. The fireworks start at just after the 6:00 point and go pretty much to the end. Surprisingly to me, but maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, Burns is quite confident that he would not have been successful without government funds. I think this could be an example of a phenomenon that Milton Friedman often noted: that people who are used to something have trouble imagining the world without that thing, in this case, government funding of Burns’s documentaries.
I think Nick Gillespie is coming into his own as an interviewer. It’s true that later in the second video, Burns call Gillespie on the fact that Gillespie interrupts a lot. Gillespie acknowledges the point and almost apologizes. I noted, though, that Burns often interrupts Gillespie after Gillespie has asked a question and then tries to give background for the question.
HT to Bill Courtney