60 Minutes Highlights
UPDATE: Correction below
Just before watching David Ortiz’s grand-slam home run in the Detroit/Boston game this evening, I watched 60 Minutes bat 1.000. Two out of three segments were excellent, one was good, and all had explicit or implicit economic content. Of course, I have some critical comments.
1. The horrible state of Detroit. Bob Simon did a good job–I’ll say in a minute why it wasn’t excellent. I see the ruined neighborhoods he shows every year when I go to Detroit and visit my friend–the one who ran the gas station that I posted about.
The good news was Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans taking a risk and buying up buildings in downtown Detroit to locate his firm there from the suburbs.
Now the bad part from Simon. Simon asks: “Bob Simon: Are you doing what’s good for Detroit or what’s good for you?”
What I would have liked Gilbert to answer and what I answered to the TV in real time: “What do you mean ‘or’?”
What Gilbert actually answered, which wasn’t bad: “I know that sometimes there’s Hollywood movies that, you know, describe every investor and profit-making capitalist as somebody very greedy. But in our case, I think it’s doing well by doing good. And I think that fits very nicely together.”
2. Boy Wonder, the story of Jack Andraka. Jack is a 15-year old who has developed a test for pancreatic cancer. His delight at winning a big prize is wonderful. He’s such a sweet kid.
Here’s the story of how his teacher–I think in his government school–reacted:
He began probing the Internet for everything he could find about pancreatic cancer biomarkers. He read research articles during class and in the middle of biology while stealthily reading a medical journal he says inspiration hit. The teacher was not amused.
Jack Andraka: I swear, she has, like, eyes on the back of her head or something. She sees me. And she storms up to my desk and is like, “Mr. Andraka, what is this?” and, like, snatches it out of my hand.
Morley Safer: As if you had Playboy Magazine right?
Jack Andraka: Yeah, yeah. I’m just like– it was just a science article. Shouldn’t this be a good thing?
He managed to persuade a scientist to give him a space in a lab to work out his ideas. When the camera shows him going into the lab, the viewer notices David Koch’s name on the side of the building. You’ve heard of David Koch, right. He’s that really bad man who wants to help people fight cancer and who hates America so much that he donated $10 million to the ACLU to fight the civil-liberties destroying USA PATRIOT Act.
UPDATE: A regular reader informs me that David Koch, contrary to the report linked above, did not contribute $10 million to the ACLU.
One creepy note:
Morley Safer: You’ve also become a heavy-duty celebrity?
Jack Andraka: It’s pretty insane. I mean, you see Barack Obama.
Morley Safer: President Barack Obama.
Can’t have this kid mention Barack Obama as if he’s a guy. He’s the President. Can’t have the kid deny his authoritay.
One sobering note: The scientist who helped him cautions that the test for pancreatic cancer must undergo large-sample testing before it will be on the market. He doesn’t explain why. But the reason is the FDA. We can’t have people actually trying the test now. The downside, when there’s no other test around, would be awful.
3. The daring rescue that saved 105 Vietnamese people from the Communists. Heroic story.
I would tell the latter story at greater length–kind of a mini-Schindler’s List–but I need to go to bed to get up at 4:15 a.m. PDT to see who won the Nobel prize and figure out whether I know enough about the winner to write a piece for the Wall Street Journal.