Tom Wolfe on the 'money fever' of the 1980s

The author appeared on "This Week" for a roundtable discussion about greed.
7:54 | 05/15/18

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Transcript for Tom Wolfe on the 'money fever' of the 1980s
Joining us now from Southampton New York author Tom Wolfe thanks for coming in now our bodies are being there. Now you have written about this decade of the eighties as the decade of greed is that the way we're all going to be remembered just is a much of the money grubbing people. Now not not just that affected me let you have to remember is that we are still. And the. The rising curve it has it hasn't fallen yet of a boom that began about 1943. It created a wealth that is probably has no way example in as no Preston in history. So you can be sure that right now you're. Electrician or your arm burglar alarm repairman. Is right now and threatened the Arturo or is a Barbados are saying cats. He's there with his third wife. They're sitting on the terrorists and having a little design a water before. Before brunch well it's. But is there a difference Aminu and well wealth is one thing that maybe wealth is good but but the Gordon Gekko business from the movie that greed is good. Mean his it to greedy not just I don't think. Well it's it's it is created without any doubt. A period of money fever and that's and that's the period we're in right now they. Robin is that sociologist has revived an old phrase. Thomas Carlyle which is they that an age of the cash nexus and wished the ties of share cash your money. Replace. The old ties of honor duty country and all and often all the rest of it and I've been talking recently for example to. Personnel. Matters a so called headhunters and they tell me they have never seen a period in which employees have so little. Loyalty. Two firms because the only time now it is is money and why should they normally they head of the firm. When the time comes as preferably willing to bail out of the organization on his golden parachute once the leveraged buyout is taken place or they are the hostile the hostile takeover. That's the you know we are indeed this is give the money fever the excessive side of something that basically is quite got what is prosperity. Tom you live in Manhattan which isn't even New York City in New York City as we have to keep reminding you people up there and even New York isn't even all the state of the country. Could it be that your your general rising. From a neighborhood about a decade. I think if you if you go out to some of the new. Techno verbs as they're called these are two entirely new communities far from the from this is like Naperville Illinois which are nickel slam and were recently. In investigated this is a the community while outside of Chicago. Formerly a rural. Area you'll find the same. The same cast of characters in which we called of the yuppies and the people who talk about time bankruptcy because they don't have time both the do aerobic exercises and their two jobs. And and and and and send in send the children to their special instruction in languages are doing the same that the the same. It away rather marvelous ambitions that people have for themselves are to be found in in all over the country look at the gourmet section in the the grocery stores in the shopping malls in the middle of nowhere it's in this this is a insists there is though this is Rick the last. The last time that the United States was characterized as overrun with more than usual quota of Bulgarians. Was an age called the gilded age now that age following the civil war is period of great boom and speculation and all arrests also was arguably the most creative. Hero of American history review socialized enormous numbers of immigrants bound the country together with commerce and steel rails and all the rest. May be progress just comes with this vulgar side to a disaster follow. Absolutely. The you know this this prosperity. That we have is is a result of something that is fundamentally quite marvelous which is a tremendous liberty. And one of the key. Images of the 1980s and one that I think will make the 1980s be remembered month long long pass this particular century. Is the is that miss liberty rising up in Tiananmen square. In which here is a a they the largest Communist country in the world. Suddenly looking towards the statue of liberty in the United States as soon as its symbol for the for the future. Tom let me ask you though and I have to apologists George on from Manhattan we know he commutes every week grove was corners New Hampshire to do his work where the real people live. But as one Manhattan eye to another. The people who founded this country. Also talked about something called civic virtue public happiness the notion that that real citizenship and a free society had something to do. With participating in broader causes then just individual. Achievement. A prosperity without that in contrast to the 1940s and fifties and sixties when we had a Marshall plan. A GI bill a civil rights revolution is that fundamentally healthy. Well if if you look at what's going on a college is right now I think you seat was seemingly contradictory things at work. You'll find them among college students today I've been going around campuses all year. That. There are at the same moment in which. Up to 40% of the leading students and university will be aiming to for jobs on Wall Street are real estate development and other some of high income. Areas there's also a very strong movement. Of concern for the homeless for example is probably not a cause. That. That is more passionately followed on the Marie on American campuses on the cause of the homeless the two things you know they're not. They're there and I think mutually exclusive and I that's what makes assess an exciting period again the same. The same underlying notion of American democracy American liberty. Concern can lead to excesses and and in the financial area but he can also lead to a tremendous extension of rights to people who work would never given rights before. I think it's a great time to be alive myself. Well as opposed the alternative on campus agreed that. Euro booked in by far the vanity shows how people can use extensively good causes. For really that is that the social climbing aspect and can can we say that the 1990s gonna see more of civic virtue as an ostensible reason to have one hell of a party. I'm so far not all that much has changed and what you're talking about Jeff to gore to continue right on is no question about it. I have one in the first great shoe dropped on October the nineteenth 1987. That was conclusion among a lot of people that suddenly the the party was over the carnival was coming to an end so far. How the other issue was never dropped as a tremendous help of data out there on that hasn't been. Hasn't been resolved so far nothing has happened to really put him in. Into the party and so I concede the until something else happens a 99 is going to be a and an ongoing. Tom. Look where a creek concluding question that is that you write. Big books and you sell. And lots of them. Are people gonna read books you talked a moment ago about campuses they're they're reading I gather T shirts and cartoon books after your people out as does the book have a future. Well one of the problems in the book industry right now is that too many books are being published. It's. You know and most of those books are paperbacks and when people buy paperback books they're reading them. There then don't put them they don't put them on the coffee table so I personally and I'm not worried about that who felt. Thank you Tom Wolfe from all of us who have written books but not with your success we hope you're right thank you for joining its Iraq.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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