Aspen Ideas Festival 2012

June 27 - July 3, 2012

Watch the World's Foremost Thinkers, Leaders and Personalities

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America's Energy Future: No More Fossil Fuels by 2050?

Richard G. Newell, Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, predicts the energy future of the United States in 2050.

Obamacare's Rotten Foundation and Romney's Secret Plan

David Brooks, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, believes the fiscal foundation of Obamacare is ultimately unsustainable and has a few harsh words for Romney's pathetic inability to talk about his own healthcare plan.

Americans Must Learn Chinese to Stay Competitive

Vishakha Desai, President and CEO of Asia Society, discusses why it's important that Americans start learning Chinese as a second language.

Is Obamacare Really Just a Huge Tax Increase?

Joel Klein, a columnist and senior writer at TIME, and Vin Weber, a prominent and successful strategist in the Republican Party, discuss the Supreme Court's view that Obamacare is a tax and offer a few predictions on how voters in the presidential election will react to this large tax increase. 

Honeywell CEO: Putting the Deficit in Plain Terms

Dave Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell, discusses the sheer magnitude of America's debt problem, and necessary steps to curb the spending deficit.

Investors Are Fixated on Stock-Market Noise

Keith Banks, president of U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, believes that investors are too focused on short run gains in the stock market, and have lost perspective of long term investing.

NFL Legend Jim Brown: Players Don’t Get Fair Share

Former NFL legend Jim Brown and William E. Mayer, Senior Partner of Park Avenue Equity Partners, talk about the league's level of wealth, and it's perceived mistreatment of the players who built the NFL into the juggernaut it is today.

Syria's Uprising: Why Hasn't U.S. Offered Citizens Aid?

David J. Rothkopf, President and CEO of Garten Rothkopf, talks about the ramifications of the United States not providing humanitarian support to the unrest in Syria.

The 'Elitist' European Union Will Endure

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, believes, despite its many limits and disadvantages, the European Union will survive present financial crisis.

Dallas Fed Reserve President: Why I Oppose Stimulus

Richard W. Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, shares his reservations of the United States' central bank adding to the nation's deficit.

Future of US: Multilingual, Multicultural and Mexican

Gustavo Arellano, editor of OC Weekly, talks about a growing trend in the United States: the rise of Mexican Americans.

Nocera & Robinson: Student Athletes Only Taught Cynicism

Joe Nocera, op-ed columnist at The New York Times, and Craig Robinson, brother-in-law to President Barack Obama and head coach of the Oregon State Beavers' basketball team, question the current state of NCAA sports.

Walmart's Doug McMillon on Global Consumer Behavior

Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart International, discusses how Walmart uses buying patterns and statistics to forecast how and what consumers will purchase.

Online Learning Is at a Historic Inflection Point

Andrew Ng, Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University, discusses how America's finest universities have revolutionized online learning by increasing their digital presence.

Alan Krueger: Extreme Inequality Damages US Economy

Alan B. Krueger, chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, argues that the middle class is the largest driver of the U.S. economy. While the top 1% of wage earners control most of the nation's wealth, they often sit on the sidelines regarding consumer spending.

CEO of IDEO Tim Brown: Exciting Future of Digital Design

Citing innovations such as Kickstarter and 3D printing technologies, Tim Brown, President and CEO of the design firm IDEO, believes the future is excited about the future of digital design.

Palantir Director: What Should Big Data Be Used For?

Michael Lopp, director at Palantir Technologies, discusses uses for big data, and whether data collection is used for good or for bad.

Americans Have Lost Touch with Foreign Olympians

Jeremy Schaap, reporter and host for ESPN, talks about the American nationalism that pervades Olympic coverage in the United States.

Arianna Huffington: Digital Media's Next Phase--Unplugged

Arianna Huffington in conversation with Walter Isaacson predicts the next big trend in digital media. 

Google's Eric Schmidt: Let's Celebrate America's Success

Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, is optimistic about the future of democracy in the U.S. and believes the internet is benefiting politics. "Things will get bad enough, that eventually, reason will prevail," says Schmidt.

Richard M. Daley: Congress Has Too Much Power

Richard M. Daley, former mayor of Chicago, argues that mayors are the true wealth generators and problem solvers in the United States.

Sandusky Scandal: Penn State & NCAA Acting Reprehensibly

Beth A. Brooke, global vice chair of public policy at Ernst & Young, and Christine Brennan, sports columnist for USA Today, argue that Penn State inaction following the transgressions of Jerry Sandusky was reprehensible.

Shell CEO Marvin Odum: US Can Become Energy Independent

Shell's CEO Marvin Odum believes America can become energy independent if it chooses to do so. It may choose, however, not to be, if there are secure energy resources that are easily and cheaply available.

Taymor: Controversial Saga of Spider-Man the Musical

Renowned broadway and film director Julie Taymor discusses, for the first time, the controversy surrounding Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark musical which led to her leaving the project.

What Americans Value in Education and the Economy in 2012

Mark Penn, CEO of Burson-Marsteller and Penn Schoen Berland, presents the findings of the 2012 American Values Survey concerning education and the economy.

Anne-Marie Slaughter: UN Needs a Protection Brigade

Former Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department Anne-Marie Slaughter argues for a voluntary multilateral military brigade in the UN with a goal aimed at intervention.

Arts Funding: Wealthy Only Give to Marquee Institutions

Darren Walker, vice president of education, creativity, and free expression at the Ford Foundation, talks about the state of art funding in the United States. Walker argues that while there are more avenues for funding, the money is going to the wrong places.

Charlie Rose: Roberts' Healthcare Decision ‘Brilliant’

Charlie Rose gives his opinion on why he believes Chief Justice John Roberts decided to uphold President Obama's controversial health care law.

Fix Corporations by Stopping 'Hyperfrenectic' Trading

Lynn A. Stout, Distinguished Professor of Corporate and Business Law in the Clarke Business Law Institute at Cornell Law School, explains the volatility of today's stock market, and argues that a transaction tax would curb "hyperfrenetic" trading. 

How Obama Wants to Use Games to Make America Better

Constance Steinkuehler Squire, senior policy analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, shares how the Obama Administration intends to use gaming for social policy achievement.

Robert Putnam: America’s Class Divide Is Not About Race

Robert Putnam, a public policy professor at Harvard University, says that rich African-Americans share much more in common with rich white Americans than they do with their poor racial counterparts.    

Sandel: America’s Democracy, Everything Can’t Be for Sale

Michael J. Sandel, Professor of Government at Harvard University, makes the case why marketizing every facet of society causes problems of class and a constriction of democracy.

Shelly Lazarus of Ogilvy: Career Women 'Can Have It All’

Shelly Lazarus, chairman of Ogilvy & Mather, addresses Ann-Marie Slaughter's argument that women can't have it all.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz: Bringing Jobs Back to USA

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz talks about why the world's largest coffee company is bringing manufacturing jobs to the United States.

A Parliament System Would Resolve Congress Gridlock

Sanford Levinson, professor of government at the University of Texas, argues that a parliamentary system in United States would diffuse the gridlock of Congressional party politics. 

Broad & Friedman: Why US Education System Can’t Compete

Eli Broad of Broad Foundations and Thomas Friedman of the New York Times discusses the failures of U.S. school institutions. Broad argues that school board members are too preoccupied with political careers to focus on improving education.

David Agus: Stop Treating Cancer Incorrectly

David Agus, professor of medicine and engineering at the USC's Keck School of Medicine, argues that cancer treatment is too focused on "germ theory", and fails to take into consideration that a cure might be different for every patient.

E.J. Dionne: Justice Scalia Should Resign Now!

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne expands on his column in which he says Justice Scalia must resign from the Supreme Court after the Arizona Immigration decision. "He crossed a very important line here," says Dionne.

Hadron Collider: Solving the Great Questions of Physics

Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, acknowledges that there are still a great many cosmic unknowns to discover, even after the purported finding of the Higgs Boson "God Particle" at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. 

Deborah Goldberg: Fracking Feeds Fossil Fuel Addiction

In her opening argument, Deborah Goldberg of Earth Justice asserts that fracking is an overhyped initiative that will continue to feed our addiction to fossil fuels and further deteriorate our environment.

Does Natural Gas Fracking Improve America’s Security?

In the debate whether America's natural gas boom is doing more harm than good, the panelists argue whether finding a solution at home liberates the United States from conflict for oil in the Middle East.

Joe Nocera of NY Times: Fracking Is a Tremendous Gift

In his opening argument, Joe Nocera, columnist for the New York Times, asserts that fracking and other energy capturing initiatives at home improve our global security by ending our dependence on foreign oil.

Make Schools Center of Community, Not Factories

Joanne Weiss, chief of staff to US Secretary of Education, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, discusses the importance of the local schools as centers of community.

Oskar Eustis: How Shakespeare Made Theater Matter to All

Oskar Eustis, artistic director of The Public Theater, talks about the genius of William Shakespeare's mass appeal to distinct and disparate audiences. Eustis believes that the audience makes theater worthwhile.

U.S. Must Focus on ‘Shocking’ College Dropout Rate

Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed: Rethinking Character and Intelligence, and Russell Shaw, head of Georgetown Day School, argue that poor high school preparation and a lack of student ownership have contributed to the world's highest college dropout rate.

Can Women Have It All? Accommodation vs. Ambition Gap

Anne-Marie Slaughter responds to Sheryl Sandberg's criticism of Slaughter's now infamous "Why Women Still Can't Have it All" article.

Architect Mark Wigley: Data Visualization Is the New Art

Architect Mark Wigley argues that data visualization is a work of art. Wigley believes that this art form will be the basis of science, business, and transaction.

Onyx CEO: Obamacare Good, But Needs Malpractice Reform

Anthony Coles, CEO of pharmaceutical company Onyx, offers a brief opinion on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- otherwise known as "Obamacare." While Coles generally views the act as a positive development, he notes one additional area for reform.

Tiger Mother Amy Chua: US Parents Are Very Judgmental

Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, discusses the reaction of parents to her controversial memoir on her culturally Chinese background, and the impact on her parenting.

U.S. Income Inequality Is Bad, Only If Its Source Is Bad

Larry Summers, former director of the White House United States National Economic Council under President Obama, believes that inequality isn't necessarily a negative byproduct of capitalism. Summers argues that we should judge the source of the inequality, because wealthy innovators like Steve Jobs have contributed greatly to society.

Vijay Vaitheeswaran: Harnessing Greed for Economic Good

Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran, China business and finance editor for the Economist, makes the case for greed in America's innovation industry.

Will Google Become a Major Player in the Hardware Space?

Marissa Mayer, vice president of location and local services at Google, discusses the search leader's transition into the hardware marketplace.

A Liberal Bias? NPR Seeks Truth Not Balance

Gary E. Knell, President and CEO of NPR, acknowledges that the station has a certain perspective, but declares that the news coverage is driven by truth rather than strict balance.

American Support of Arab Spring: Tunisian's Perspective

Amira Yahyaoui, Tunisian peace activist and founder of Al Bawsala, discusses how it feels to have the perceived support of the United States following the protest for democracy in Tunisia.

Greenspan: U.S. Has Two Economies, the Good and the Bad

Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, discusses the state of the United States' economy, and why it's still plagued by recession.

If US Can’t Fix Politics, Emerging Markets Will Dominate

David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, argues that the United States is a quickly diminishing empire. Rubenstein asserts that unless Congress stops it's political gridlock, America will be surpassed by emerging China.

Mitch Daniels: Too Much Regulation Paralyzing US Economy

Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana argues that the United States is over regulated. Regulation has a paralyzing effect of uncertainty on the economy warns Daniels.

Sec. Ray LaHood: Obama Has Jump-Started Hybrid Movement

Ray LaHood, the 16th U.S. secretary of transportation, discusses how the Obama Administration has changed fuel and transportation standards in the United States.

What Environmentalists Can Learn from Monsanto

Allison Carruth, assistant professor of English at UCLA, shares what environmentalists and organic food producers can learn from pesticide creator Monsanto.

Lehrer: U.S. Pumps Out Genius Athletes, Why Not Artists?

New Yorker columnist Jonah Lehrer discusses the state of America's art education. Citing Moneyball's Bill James, Lehrer argues that we have an advanced system for creating genius athletes, but America doesn't put the same focus in other areas of education.

Obamacare Already Improving Healthcare and Cutting Costs

Ezekiel Emanuel, who helped write the Affordable Care Act, says America's healthcare system will be transformed by 2020.


About this conference

The Aspen Ideas Festival gather some of the most interesting thinkers and leaders from around the US and abroad to discuss their work, the issues that inspire them, and their ideas. Presented by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, the Festival is unique in its dedication to dialogue and exchange, and in its commitment to bringing ideas to the public at large.

About The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC, Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and has an international network of partners.

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About Atlantic

Since 1857, The Atlantic has helped shape the national debate on the most critical and contentious issues of our times, from politics, business, and the economy, to technology, arts, and culture. Through in-depth analysis in the monthly print magazine, complemented by up-to-the-minute insights delivered throughout the day on, The Atlantic provides the nation’s thought leaders and professional class with forward-looking, fresh perspectives that provoke and challenge, define and affect the lives we’re living today, and give shape to the lives we will live tomorrow.

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