Episode 24, 24 hours in day 24 and overrated series with Kiefer Sutherland, not a leading man, his father, Donald Sutherland, out there as an actor.
When I was 24, I just finished my two year analysts program at Morgan Stanley, moved back in with my mom, did not know what the dog was going to do.
Let's be 24 again. Move in with the dog. We're talking shepherd's pie on Sunday nights, doing your laundry on unconditional love. Episode 24. Go, go, go.
Welcome to the twenty fourth episode of the show and today's episode, we speak with Dr. Mehmet Oz, the renowned cardiothoracic transplant surgeon and Emmy Award winning host of The Dr. Oz Show. Dr. Oz discusses the state of play concerning covid-19 how we should be thinking about the reopening of schools and which countries got it wrong and got it right. As it relates to covid-19, what's happening this week, the Republican National Convention. Let's talk about the strategies of each of the parties conventions.
The Democrats are basically saying, don't be afraid of us here. John Kasich, he's a Republican and he likes this. Senator Jones, a moderate. Their attempt to pull off the mother of all pivots to the center to say don't be scared of us. And then the RNC was you should be very scared of them. They're a bunch of lesbian tech journalists and on Subaru's and independent bookstores. And they're coming for your money and they're coming for your future.
And we're going to have bedlam and looting in every suburb. It was very much this is coming down to a battle of the ages. And it's pretty straightforward. The Republican Party has a two pronged strategy. The positioning is we are the white patriarchy. And to be fair, there are a lot of people, including women in this country, who believe that the white patriarchy works and that if you look at history, there's a reason why the white patriarchy has been there, kind of a dominant force in some of the most productive countries in history.
Now, whether that's right or wrong, let's be honest. That's wrong. But that is their positioning. Hold on to the white patriarchy and to their tactic. That's their strategy of positioning and their tactics, their hourly saying we're going to suppress the vote, whereas the Democrats are saying, hey, we're just not that scary. We're moderates. It's a bigger tent and they're basically making a referendum on Trump that this just is whatever we are, we're just not Trump where the lesser the lesser evil, if you will.
I thought both did a pretty good job leveraging the mediums. I don't think we're ever going back to stadiums full of whack jobs and the red, white and blue hats and pens. The DNC and RNC conventions, I think, are pulling the world forward again, 10 years. We're going to see a lot of changes around remote. What else did we have this week? Wall Street Journal had a fascinating article saying that we are having a k shaped recovery.
That's one of those things I wish I thought of K shaped recovery.
A K shaped recovery is essentially the markets are hitting all time highs as hundreds of thousands of people are still without. And what's happening here? We have a weird dynamic, the best of the best, the companies that consolidate, the companies that have cash, the companies that have invested in automation, which our tax code favors because you're not payroll taxes. So not only is there an organic move towards technology, it's artificially juiced by a tax policy where basically robots cost less than humans.
So we're incentivizing putting people out of work. If that sounds morally corrupt and just stupid, trust your instincts. We also have lower tax rates on the wealthy, lower tax rates on corporations. We've essentially decided we've essentially decided to transfer trillions of dollars in wealth because our nation has become a lot more productive. There's been a lot of prosperity. There's just been no progress. And the shareholder class has boomed, which creates this upward cycle of the top 10 percent who own 90 percent of the stocks at the same time.
At the same time, we found that only 50 percent of America could not survive a month without wages or at less than four hundred dollars in savings. But we never tested those lows and we never found out how scary that would be as the tide never went out. Well, what do you know? The tide has gone out and we have about a third of Americans who say they can't pay their rent. Think about wealth work. Think about what's happened in terms of the wealthy and the trickle down.
And there was some trickle down, the misuses, the people serving you your food at that fancy four seasons, the person, the security guard or the janitor at the office building, you used to go to a ton of services, middle and lower income wage jobs in the middle of cities where wealthy people are commuting into work. Now, what's happened? People traveling less, people having less people in their homes, people not going into the office. And we're having a destruction, a destruction of jobs across the most vulnerable 10 percent.
Only 10 percent of people who make more than one hundred thousand dollars have been laid off. It's 40 percent among people who make less than forty thousand dollars. If you make more than one hundred thousand dollars, you're more than 60 percent likely to be able to work from home. And only 10 percent of people who make less than forty thousand dollars can work from home, meaning they put themselves in harm's way as they lose money. This is we have woken up from some underlying unhealthy trends around income inequality and we've woken up in a dystopia.
Everything has been pulled forward ten years, moving on to happier things. The Dow is shaking up. What does this mean? Salesforce, Amgen and Honeywell International will replace Exxon Mobil, Pfizer and Raytheon Technologies. And also this comes after Apple's decision to enact a four for one stock split, which is great for shareholders and investors, but reduces Apple's weight on the index, Bloomberg reported that Apple holds 12 percent of the 30 stock index.
This basically takes tech from being twenty seven percent of the index to twenty. It's the equivalent of the Dow saying, OK, we're going to take some profits off the table and diversify our portfolio, which all of us should probably be doing, giving techs run up. What do we have here? We have companies that now account for a unhealthy portion, unhealthy portion of these indices. Also, speaking of unhealthy these indices, what numbers are damaging? What numbers are damaging?
Do you know your PSA level or cholesterol level? These are damaging numbers or numbers. You should keep tabs. But what is the most damaging index? And that is the existence of this number hurts the world. Simple. The Dow, the Dow gives us cold comfort. The Dow is at an all time high and allows our leadership to lie to us and say that America is doing OK. No, it's not. The Dow is nothing but a proxy on the wealth of the top 10 percent who again see above 90 percent of the stock.
Spoiler alert they're killing it. What would be better indices? What would be better indices? Better numbers? How about life expectancy down three years in a row for the first time until twenty nineteen? And then it ticked up because it looked like we were getting our arms around or beginning to address the crisis where there are 50 or 60 thousand unmarked graves, mostly of middle and lower income kids or young adults that no one gives a shit about. That's right.
We were losing more people to opioid overdoses every year than died in the entire Vietnam conflict. And then, boom, we started to address it. Last year, for the first time, life expectancy began its upward march again, like every other country in the world. And then what's happened? Opioid overdoses have skyrocketed in March, April and May. And we are going to see, again, a reduction in our life expectancy. What the hell does it matter if your 401k is up, if your kids or your neighbors or your friends are dying from depths of despair which have skyrocketed?
And what's the problem? What's the problem? There's too much death. I think it was Stalin who said one death is a tragedy. Millions of deaths is a statistic. That's where we are. I believe this administration would be guilty of manslaughter if it was ten, twenty or a thousand deaths from covid-19 or the incompetence had led to dozens of deaths. But because they're one hundred and seventy five thousand deaths, we can't wrap our minds around that. We begin to lose our empathy.
Empathy is strongest when it's one or two people, you know, suffering the moment it becomes dozens or hundreds of thousands, you end up in a country where fifty three percent of a political party. Guess which one think the number of deaths so far is, quote, acceptable and quote, you have your head up your ass, end quote. If you think one hundred and seventy five thousand deaths is acceptable. Remember all the bullshit and concern and faux empathy around the two people who died in Benghazi?
Well, guess what? That's how many people were losing every four minutes from their incompetent handling of covid-19 one. Death is a tragedy. Millions of deaths is a statistic. Well, folks, we're moving towards a statistic. We'll be right back.
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Welcome back. It's time for officers, the part of the show where I answer your questions on business trends, big tech, career advice and more, I'm not sure what more means here.
But anyways, if you had like to submit a question, please email a voice recording to officers at Section four dotcom.
Com First question paper IFJ. My name is Sam and I'm currently quarantining from Kansas City. You've talked about Spotify pursuing vertical integration as a way to differentiate themselves from Apple Music. It appears they are doing just that with acquisitions of Gimblett and anchor. And more recently, Spotify is one hundred million dollar deal with Joe Rogan. My question for you is, if it makes sense for Spotify to backward integrate into music content production, for example, acquiring Warner Music Group, which is a large music publisher and record label Spotify, could prioritize new music releases on their platform or even make certain music or music videos exclusive to Spotify, further differentiating themselves from Apple Music and total Spotify and Apple Music, representing a third of Warner's revenue stream.
Warner went public earlier earlier this year and has a market cap of 15 billion versus Spotify at 50 billion. I'm curious if you think a combination like this makes sense.
Thanks, Sam, from Kansas City. First off, I want to acknowledge that I know where Kansas City and it's obviously not in Kansas. It's in Georgia. It's in Georgia. And by the way, you don't sound like a Sam. You sound like a David from Austin, Texas, anyways. Anyways, let's talk a little bit about vertical integration. Most of the companies that have added tens of billions of value of stakeholder or shareholder value have one thing in common that is their vertical.
They both manufacture the product, distributed service, retail, et cetera, which kind of blows out this initial notion of core competence, trying to describe what Apple's core competencies anyway.
Anyway, Spotify should absolutely reverse engineer into content production, and they're doing this with the acquisition of Gimlet and the Joe Rogan deal. And you're exactly right. They're getting into the business of content creation because it's very hard to maintain any differentiation. Google has a different search product than being a superior product. And when you're all pushing the same content, all you can really do is get into curation or technology around assembling different playlists. And I think Spotify does a better job of that.
But eventually Apple will catch up. So then it becomes, all right, what proprietary content can you have? And they're going after podcasting because proprietary content around rock and roll is much harder because it's a mature industry. And yeah, it makes sense to go by Warner Brothers, but it doesn't. When you look at the price and the reason why Warner Brothers is able to garner a 15 billion dollar market cap is that they sell to a variety of different players.
And if they all of a sudden went proprietory to Spotify, you have a company they purchased for 15 billion that is maybe worth two or three billion because they give up 70 or 80 percent of their revenues if they're not selling it to everybody else. And at the same time, would it be worth 13 billion dollars that they would lose in value to have proprietary content? Probably not. You could create a lot of your own content with 13 billion dollars, but producing your own or creating your own music studio is a pretty difficult effort.
And most most artists like the idea of going vertical or starting their own label see above what Jay-Z did. But it doesn't work because you have to be able to monetize it across different platforms. The company that's managed to pull off this gangster hat trick with Disney that started pulling their content from other platforms and took a substantial financial hit in the short run as they weren't selling to anybody but just going vertical with their own Disney platforms. Keep in mind, Disney, though, has about, I think about one hundred and fifty billion dollar market cap so they can do this, whereas Spotify doesn't have the firepower to start investing in and maintaining their own music content.
Now, podcasting they're doing then the question is, the question is, could they forward integrate, could they forward integrate?
Sam from Kansas City? I think the gangster move here, that makes sense from a strategic advantage standpoint and also from a valuation standpoint, as I think I think and I'm predicting here that Spotify should acquire Sonus. I think it's got about a one and a half billion dollar market capitalization. It's the device of choice and the homes of wealthy households which kind of set the tone for everyone else, because we all want to pretend that we're wealthy. But I think this would be kind of a sweat off their brow, a three percent solution to four to integrate into devices or hardware or if you will, shoot a flare across the bow of Amazon and Apple who control the rail.
So, yes, vertical integration is absolutely with Spotify needs to do they reverse integrate into some content, probably podcasts and forward integrate through the acquisition of sonas.
Thank you, Sam, from Kansas City, Georgia. Next question. Hey, Scott.
David in Boston, Massachusetts here. I've learned so much from the property show and I've been a religious listener since May. So keep up the great work. I'm learning a lot from you. And now for my question, I started. Talking about founding a business with a good friend of mine who's also a former co-worker, we think our best startup idea is for a software company. My friend manages the development and deployment of a software product, but he's not a programmer.
And I'm a salesperson with limited technical skills. We're at the stage or we want to start developing our product, but we aren't sure who should it. Should we start a search for a third co-founder with a technical background, or shall we outsource our development until we've established product market fit, got a little revenue coming in the door and have a better sense of whether or not this business has legs? What do you think? Thanks, David, from Boston.
Thanks for the kind words, the generous words. So you answered your own question. If you look at the majority of tech companies and software companies that have gone on to be successful, the founder or at least one of the founding team is a tech guy or tech out. And that is someone who has a vision, someone who can stay up all night and actually build things. It's the builders. The Earth is not being inherited by the make. It's being inherited by the builders, not the branders, not the managers, not the biz dev guys.
It used to be the CEO was just a salesman. You have to be able to sell. But on your founding team, if you want to raise money, you need a technologist on the founding team. Are there exceptions? Sure. But the majority of tech startups now the founder or part of the founding team can code like no one's business. So, yeah, I think you answered your own question. I think you need a third leg of the stool here, and that stool has zeros and ones all over it.
Thanks very much, David, from Boston. Next question. Hi, Scott.
This is ever from San Diego speaking. I really enjoyed your take last year regarding Slack and their growing competitor, Microsoft teams who created a similar service, but essentially for free. Similarly, I see DocuSign leading the e-signature space, but they're facing Adobe, a company that could leverage their size and undercut DocuSign prices with their Adobe document cloud. What strategies can these software companies employ to generate customer stickiness? Or will regulatory bodies have to step in to maintain equal levels of competition?
Thanks and have a great day ever from San Diego.
Thanks very much. So what can these do? What can these plucky, young, more innovative startups with better products do to fend off their big Darth Vader corporate evil titans that will bundle the product, basically feature their product and maybe even offer similar to what Internet Explorer did or Microsoft did with Internet Explorer and basically put Netscape out of business, which at the time was the fastest growing company in America. And by feature ising a browser basically put them out of business and bundling it with their sweet.
There's not a lot they can do. What they can do is vote for leaders who actually have the sack to embolden the DOJ and the FTC such that those regulatory bodies can find their voice and their backbone again and be again upholding our antitrust laws. So Microsoft is coming for slack teams is a good products like there's a better product, but there's a decent chance that Microsoft could put out of business. There's also a very good chance that Adobe could put DocuSign out of business by just flicking a switch and saying, OK, document signature services are now free and part of a broader package of Adobe suite of products.
I think in the short term, if they don't want to count on a feckless DOJ or FTC to step in, obviously innovation is the answer everyone throws. Keep making the product awesome. I think these companies probably need to pull a man bites dog. And that is, I would think that over time should consider a merger or acquisition by Atlassian and take on try to become more like Microsoft Office for Microsoft Office becomes more like slack in some put pressure on Washington, DC and regulators to do their goddamn job or to move upstream and try and become Microsoft before Microsoft becomes.
Thanks for the question of her. Keep sending in your questions again. If you'd like to submit one, please email the voice recording to office hours at Section four dot com.
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Welcome back. Here's our conversation with Dr. Mehmet Oz. I met Mehmet and his wife Lisa in nineteen ninety nine and I wanted to have them on the show for a couple of reasons.
One, he is a very thoughtful and famous doctor now probably most famous doctor in the world, maybe with the exception of Dr. Fujino. But I think Memet has been unfairly cast as this conservative. I find our politics have become so polarized and our thinking, our slow thinking as well. Are they a zero one? Are they red or blue state? In the moment we decide if they're red or blue, the other 50 percent decides to hate that person.
And Mayman has gone on Fox. He's made some provocative, aggressive comments about reopening schools. But I have found and I'm not friends with Memet, but I'm friendly with them, that Dr. Oz is a thoughtful guy and I think he's been unfairly cast as this kind of red state doctor. That's just not the Mehmet Oz I know. And I wanted to have Memet on because I think that there needs to be more oxygen given to people that require more nuance and people whose viewpoints require more of our slow thinking.
Or specifically, I want to support more raging moderates. A number of liberals who identify a number of Democrats who identify themselves as moderates has plummeted, while the number of people who identify themselves as liberal has skyrocketed. Why? I think we're all very busy. I think we all get angry in social media platforms, embarrass the other side by figuring out who we want to see, embarrass and plays on our tribal instincts. But I think we need for those of us who are from the center and most Americans are actually when you ask them about their political views in the center, I think we need to be more thoughtful and give people a chance to provide a nuanced view.
And I think that's what we try to do here with Dr. Mehmet Oz. Anyways, our conversation with cardiothoracic transplant surgeon Mehmet Oz. Dr. Oz, where does this Bob find you?
I'm in New Jersey. I'm at home. We've got a studio in the basement. So it's made it a little easier to keep up with the news. We actually built it at the very beginning of this whole pandemic because my show is in China. So I had a pretty good insight into what might happen here. I never thought it would actually hit us the way it did. But we have a studio as a backup and it ended up being a wise move because we never had to shut down.
Yeah, it's it's crazy how the world of content has changed just in terms of the expectations have been lowered, which in some ways makes makes life in some ways a little bit easier. Let's let's start very broad perspective. Give us your sense of the state of play around the pandemic. What how would you describe what is going on? Surprises where you think we're making progress? Give us kind of the state of play, if you will. So let me start off with the good news cases are dropping across the nation.
There are some states that are still suffering, but the vast majority are headed in the right direction. We have reduced the chance of getting admitted to an intensive care unit. If you're sick enough to go to the hospital in half, that's in part related to better protocols for managing patients and getting them into the hospital in a timely fashion and recognizing weird things that happen with this virus, like your oxygenation drops to a level that you should be in a panic mode and you won't even know it's called happy hypoxia and low oxygen.
So these kinds of observations now have become wildly appreciated that the Sunbelt states, for example, had significantly better outcomes than where I am now than New York, New Jersey area in terms of overall patient management and mortality. We've got clinical trials showing that there are some medications, generally repurposed old cheap medications like steroids that seem to help a lot because the common pathway that the virus uses to kill us is often not specific to this virus, but a reaction to the body's reaction to the virus, which is typical when we're fighting other viruses in other conditions as well.
So if you can avoid the overreaction of the immune system, the civil war that results in the body when you have already killed the virus, but you don't realize it starts slaughtering or causing problems in your own cells, then you can keep people alive. And we actually are making gargantuan headway on the vaccines. There are dozens that are out there. I know that business schools around the country are looking at these different opportunities because these some of these companies are going to do fantastically well.
There are a whole different business models used to allow the promising candidates to start making product quickly, even before they've proven their vaccine work, so that if they do actually show effectiveness and safety, that we'll have the hundreds of millions of vaccines required to allow success. So we'll know. I do believe by the end of this year that we've got some really promising candidates, certainly by the beginning of next year. Twenty twenty one will say, OK, here, here are three vaccines that work.
Some of them have never been made before, like the Morenae vaccines. Others are traditional ways. You make vaccines. Two thirds of the population will feel comfortable getting vaccinated. One third probably won't. But that's OK because you only need to get about 60 percent of the population protected against covid-19 start enjoying a little bit of herd immunity. We can talk about where we are today, even before the vaccine with that, because that's all the good news. Bad news.
We're dead last in the world pretty much. Granted, our data is probably more honestly collected than in some countries, but we're not doing so well, at least among the western civilized countries where civilized health care systems that are sophisticated enough that they could cope with it. People have invested a lot of effort into health care in these countries, so we should be doing better. A lot of this because of our public health infrastructure being not as strong in some ways rotted because we haven't invested in it over many years.
And part of it's because as Americans, we don't like to be bossed around. That's created some problems. So we got a lot more virus than we thought we'd have. We have a scared population and we have scared leaders who are worried about making mistakes and getting to be held accountable for some very unpredictable outcomes from almost whatever they do. And so we're really cautious in some places and not cautious enough in others. And everyone is claiming they're doing it in a science based way.
But as a doctor, I'll say the science doesn't actually help us as much as we would have hoped to exactly know what to do and what to say to the average American.
Yeah, and I just it's kind of there's so many variables here. Right. But I look at I think I look at Germany lost 90 people, 90 covid related deaths last month. Last month we lost eighteen thousand. When you look at Germany, when you look at South Korea and it feels like, OK, China, I understand there's a different political system, a different culture that lends itself more easily to a radical shutdown that's probably not feasible in the United States.
But Germany and South Korea democracies. And you'd like to think that they value freedom as well. What are the two or three things that they got right that we've gotten just so wrong? Let's start at the very beginning.
They had a way of testing their population and contact tracing people who were tested, and they are liberal democracies. But both those countries specifically were OK with people who got sick having to tell other government workers, health care workers at who they were in contact with. We bristle at that. We have an allergic reaction to someone trying to find out who we were with last night and going after that person to make sure they're not infected because it's just not part of our culture.
But I got to say, stop in one place, those countries, and they're also different than us and a lot of other ways are homogeneous populations. South Korea had been hurt by viruses several times this decade and several Asian countries. So they were already hyper aware of distancing masks and things that might be effective. The Germans are they're very nice people. But look at the Swedes, which is the real story. I was actually always amazed how it seemed like so many were rooting against Sweden, but the Swedes were trying a very different approach and just make sure we had the same page.
They basically said we're going to do all the things America is doing right now. Social distance, wear masks if you want, don't run restaurants. But we're not shutting down. We're just going to keep the doors open and do the best we can. And they messed up in the nursing homes, just like we did here in New York, New Jersey. And half their deaths were from nursing homes, which are privately run in Sweden. And so they didn't have the kinds of quality controls that sometimes you cut corners if you've got a privately run business where no one's watching that stuff.
But overall, it hammers them for having higher rates of infection than Denmark and Norway. I mean, my goodness, Stockholm is a more cosmopolitan city in many ways than in much of Norway. So you can have more international travelers. You would have expected to have a bit more cases there. And right now, their health minister has been defiant on this and saying, listen, you know, we don't have any more deaths. We don't see that many cases.
We don't even need to wear masks anymore. And sweet stuff that I don't recommend for America. But it's very interesting. This is a health minister's I mean, the foushee of Sweden is saying this stuff. And if you look at their curves, know, I love your blogs, by the way, because they're all data driven. They're like, you can't do those cartoons drawn by, you know, are you kidding?
No. I have a team of people much more talented than I love the cartoons.
But when you draw the cartoon of Sweden, it looks like a curve of any other country that was locked down, except they never locked down. So it challenges the basic concept of what we did throughout the Western world. You mentioned China. China did not shut down during this period. They shut on that, which is a hundred million plus people. So it's a big deal. But I mean, really bolted the door shut, but they didn't shut down Beijing.
And so in this country, when we said, OK, everyone shut down, even though most counties in the country never had a case, everyone's going to shut down and then people wait around for a couple of months. Nothing happens. They don't know anyone who got sick. And they start to say, well, that was a misread. I mean, did they are they just crying wolf all the time? Now, people started to act out.
And I think that was most people would agree, the cause of resurgence in the south. We just want to make sure that in the fall coming up right around the corner, we don't repeat that same mistake, that we begin to act like Europe is acting because guess what? In Europe, they got one tenth or less of the cases that we have total forget about seven total cases. So they're doing something that works. So let's just copy them.
We don't have to reinvent the wheel here.
Yes. In Florida, we now have more deaths per day than all of Europe combined on Sweden, just in terms of data I have read. And and maybe it's not accurate, but I've read actually that the data on Sweden shows that the mortality rate is much higher than bordering countries and that they didn't get any economic benefit to sort of this semi staying open, that the economy is contracted at the same rate they've gotten all of the bad taste they've gotten by.
My sense is high mortality rates, but none of the or all of the calories, but none of the none of the great taste that their economy has contracted, I would argue, or at least the stuff I've read. And they can all go into kind of our own bubbles. Maybe I'm being selective, but I'm under the impression that Sweden is evidence that the semi, the semi locked down did not work, that they actually look back and if they could do it again, would have done it differently.
You see it as evidence that that is a viable option, kind of the pursuit of Hermia immunity, if you will.
If you talk to the Swedish leadership, they're not going to acknowledge that this was a mistake. And if you point to to economic issues, you're absolutely right. Their economy did contract and they did not get the benefit you would have hoped if your country stayed open that stadium. That's primarily because they are truly an island in a continent that completely shut down. So if only Georgia stayed open, but every state around them closed. You can lose everything that has to do with international trade, which is why Stockholm and Sweden have done well in the last decade or two.
So that's not really a fair litmus test. I'm speaking as a doctor, as a scientist. And the guy who's making these decisions in Sweden, again, Foushee, the head of their pandemic response team, is saying, I can't control the economy and I can't control international trade. What I can tell you is that most people would have expected that if we didn't shut down, we would have increasing numbers of deaths that would dwarf everybody else. Instead, we had a lot more deaths than surrounding Nordic countries that are not as prone to international travel also as we are.
But we had less death than London and the English, which is a comparable country to us. We had far fewer deaths per capita than a lot of other countries in Europe. So we definitely weren't the worst either. So forget about whether we're right or wrong. Is there something to be learned from what we did? And this? Both the Swedes and the Germans have published papers arguing that up to a third of their population may already have some immunity to covid-19 from past common cold viruses, which are often coronaviruses that we've looked at them in past years.
And that's not because of antibodies, because they don't have antibodies. It's because they have tela T cells, memory t cells that remember a past coronavirus. So that might mean that up to a third of the population in some areas of the world already are resistant to bad covid-19 infections or maybe infections. And also that gets you to say 30 percent. Then you have another in some parts of the world, five, 10 in here in New York City, we project up to 20 percent of the population has already been exposed to the virus.
So that gets you to 50 percent. So you mentioned herd immunity. I mean, we're not there yet, but the Swedes would argue they're getting close enough and the actual numbers required for her immunity may be less than 50 percent and again, depending on how it's managed in a population. So they're arguing that without any other real treatments, they've been able to bend the covid-19 infection curve down. They are correct about that. Now, why it happened, we can debate.
Yeah, yeah, so my sense is you're a glass half full kind of guy, I'm a glass half empty kind of guy unless I see I'm curious to get your thoughts on the fall and school, both K through 12 and higher ed on. My thesis is that America, I don't wanna say falls apart, but America feels real strain when tens of millions of households where their kids are stuck at home. We're talking about developmental disability. You're talking about economic threat to the to the household.
But at the same time, a lot of schools are opening and closing or just not opening at all. What's your view on K through 12?
I don't think you should lump them together, Scott. I think you've got to divide K through five or K to middle school because the older kids have the ability to distance learning. They do tend to get the infection and have some symptoms much more than, for example, that kid kindergartners where I think, thank goodness, one of the few good things about these viruses doesn't seem to really cause a lot of morbidity among younger children, some and some syndromes afterwards.
But generally speaking, the virus is spared younger children and they're not going to wear masks, not going to associate this.
And so the question then becomes these kids, in theory with some of the CDC recommendations, which I think are very wise, separating the desks, feeding the kids in their classrooms, not letting them congregate. So therefore you actually change their arrival times the school, change your pick up time. So you reduce the chances of me hanging out in the locker rooms and contaminating each other that you can actually get kids safely through the school system. Now, that's the kids, their teachers, when they go home, if they've gotten it asymptomatically, can they contaminate grandma?
I mean, those are big issues and I don't think anyone really has an answer. The modelling hasn't shown that to be a devastating impact on society, but and the Europeans have been able to go back into the classroom without experiencing horrible problems, as have the Asians. But there have been examples of outbreaks. But there's two realities here. One, we are going to have infections in school. And the question then becomes, what do you do if you beat the kids into small cohorts of 15, 20 kids when one kid gets sick or they get tested and shown to be positive, and if they're asymptomatic, if you can close that one cohort down for two weeks and bring them back and not shut the whole school down every time one kid gets ill or one teacher gets ill, that will be one option.
And I think that's the hope of a lot of urban school systems. But we have to have recognition that that's going to happen. And we have to we as a society have to be willing to tolerate that. And if we're not, there's no point trying to open schools.
When we talk about higher ed or where I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the upside and downside, I think the downside vastly outweighs the upside of having kids back at college. I think there are a group that largely over index is upper middle class and from wealthy households, I can take care of themselves. They'll still get most of their college experience, even if they have to do remote. And the downside of these this cohort that's known to be super spreaders, putting them in the density, whether it is the college campus environment, just presents all kinds of risk.
So K through 12, a risk worth taking, higher ed, a risk not worth taking. And we should close campuses.
Your thoughts generally agree. I think the school systems are going to have to develop strategies that they're comfortable with, but they should er on trying to get the the children back into the schools for all the reasons that we mentioned and I think we have of organized medicine is fully behind that. But we have to recognize that if we are not willing to tolerate one child in a classroom getting ill, will that change the school down? There's no point because that is going to happen.
And I say this because everyone's doing it safely and they define not safe lives. One child getting ill if we define that is being cavalier, then it's which is, I think it in practical definition of what success looks like, then we're not going to end up with kids in school. They're going to be going back and forth, back and forth. I don't think the hybrids work well. I don't understand why you'd be in school two days a week, not in school three days a week.
I mean, I think they're smarter strategies. For example, if you really are worried about infections in kids, get the high school kids home where they are closer to college. Kids that you mentioned could potentially learn more effectively. At least they can they can speak for themselves and then spread to elementary kids out into the high schools or use unused gymnasiums and use the facilities. We have to allow more kids to be the elementary school kids in school, the colleges, the one issue all raise with you, NYU.
It's very hard for those kids to stay away from everybody else. But if you're at Amherst, right, or a school that is able to have everyone come on campus, they can't leave. It's like a bubble. Imagine the NBA and you've got all those kids realizing that they're going to need to buckle down and in order to get through the school year, start right now because and many have because they want to try to get as much the school as they can and recognize that at some point probably going to get shut down, but get as much in as you can.
And if you do really, really well with the frequent saliva testing we have available now and I say kids don't but don't don't send them home because just spreading the virus, they stay on campus, they say. Isolated in the dorms, schools have the ability to do that. It's a model, they're going to be some schools that are successful doing that. You know, you see where a friend of mine had a son get ill and Notre Dame, which I was really one of the first to say, we're opening.
We had to pull back. But both those schools had big Franni Benshoof. The Greek society is big there. And they just they didn't pay attention to it. They cost everybody, which is, again, my biggest people throughout this. People kept saying, don't cramp my style, let me be free to me is being able to go to work and make a living. That's freedom. If I have to wear mask when I go to a party in order to go to work, make a living and feed my family, that's freedom.
And somehow we have been connect those dots as clearly as they did in Europe and in Asia.
I think what's happened to Notre Dame and USC is more it's going to be more the norm than the exception. And I would I worry that universities are thinking with their pocketbooks and rather than just shutting down for a semester and focusing on online learning and coming out of this with stronger online learning skills, that we've invented this series of protocols that are somewhat, in my view, just totally unrealistic, given the age and given the instincts of these young people. I think it's higher ed.
It's just not worth not worth the squeeze here. What what would you like to if in the next 30 days we could implement two or three things, either the government level, behavioral level, say, in the next 30 days, clean slate, we need to not suppress the we just need to crush the curve. What would you like to see the nation or our leadership put in place? If I could just change a question a tiny bit, sir.
I just don't think we can eradicate this virus. And if we use that as our definition of success, we've got to keep a positive rate under one percent, which by anyone's definition of success is if we did it, the goal here is to make sure that our vulnerable members are not. I just give you a number. If you look at New York City. Ninety six percent of the people admitted to our largest health care institution for covid-19 had a risk factor of obesity, diabetes, hypertension or chronic lung disease.
Eighty eight percent. This is important. Eighty eight percent, almost nine out of ten people admitted to these institutions had two of those risk factors, not just one year, just heavy. You were so happy. You were also diabetic. So we know where the risks are now. That doesn't mean you won't have sick Quilly or long term consequences. But as a member of the media who speaks daily on this topic, it is bothersome to me that whenever we see an outline case, a twenty five year old who gets sick all of a sudden the front page.
Right. So if I was CSAR, I'd say, OK, the people who are vulnerable, we have to do everything possible to get them out of the mainstream of life, including, for example, if in a population that is that is the bottom half of the financial pyramid. It's the grandson has got to go to work to make a living. And he's a front line worker, which are the jobs that are so critical now that generally are done by folks, especially people of color when they get home.
And grandma has to live in the same multifamily dwelling because there's no money to send it. We've got to figure out ways of getting grandma out of that environment. In York City, when we crushed the actual new cases and we were still having people admitted they were all coming from home, people had not left their home in months. We're getting admitted to the hospital because of that very scenario I described. So we need to have a structure and this has been done elsewhere of taking that population that fills our hospitals are easy to use and really hurts our country and get them out of the way of the mainstream of life.
Then you get everybody else to a I think, a logistically achievable goal with frequent population screening because you don't know when you're sick and then contact tracing and then let people go back to work and let them do what's been done in Europe and other countries successfully, because otherwise people are going to get more and more upset about what they're going through. And the decision makers, I must say, this should be controversial. Decision makers are not living the same life as the people paying the price, the people paying the price and lost their hope.
And we can't afford for them to do that because they do get upset. They should get upset and they are striking out, but they don't know what to get mad about. So we need to be able to encourage those people to to go back in and by following the rules that we know can work as they've been done successfully elsewhere, re-engage. And that needs to be the upbeat message delivered by Democrats, Republicans. It's not about the politics of this, although I know that is always going to come up.
But that's a message that the people desperately need our help need to hear.
Yeah, it's just where is the line between giving people the liberty and the freedom to get engaged back and work in their regular lives, but also giving them the economic sustenance they need? Such a like you said, if they need to distance, they can distance. The fear is that I think the fear is that some people feel a pressure to put themselves in harm's way for economic reasons. It's such a huge portion of our populace is vulnerable. They can't put their health first, if you will.
So I want to. I want to. I want to switch gears. So when I first met you, I think about ninety nine or two thousand. You are cardiothoracic tranced. I am surgeon, and that's kind of it, you weren't globally, you weren't this global brand, and since then you've become an influencer. Your you have made this like crazy. I don't know what you call it. Pivot. I'm curious. One, what was the motivation for that?
I mean, that's just not that's not something that just accidentally happens. You clearly had a plan, worked hard at it. And what has been the most the biggest surprise to the upside and the biggest surprise to the downside around this evolution? From what I'll call a surgeon, you're a famous surgeon and famous in your own circles to sort of this media personality. What what inspired that and what's been good and what's been bad about it?
Well, Scott, thanks for the kind words about who I used to be. And I still practice medicine. I'm actually taking my board exams. So I'm still your graduate during Columbia University. I take great pride in that part of my life. However, the reason I shifted gears because it was never on my vision board to do media. Yep. Was my wife. And much of what has happened good in my life was because it took her some time.
I would listen to her and she kept saying was, you're coming home from work, having perfected different. I invented all these devices for repairing heart valves. I was doing a lot of mechanical heart replacements and heart transplants. You figured all these things. And so in theory, you should feel like a million bucks. But I know you're not happy because and you're telling me you're not happy. And the reason is because you're doing heart operations on people who don't need heart surgery.
If they had just adjusted their lifestyle and they just understood what the doctors knew about, for example, coronary blockages or strokes or frankly, most chronic illnesses that plague America, that then they would need you to operate on them. And it's not fulfilling to have to do something that is not necessary, that could be prevented if people just knew what to do. So slowly but surely, she began nudging me to pick up the phone when media outlets called.
And ultimately we ended up making a documentary, 13 part documentary for Discovery Channel. This is back in 2003. And my first guest, the first person I invited on was Oprah Winfrey. And Lisa had wisdom to say Oprah's had health issues. But also Oprah is a teacher. She's a best teacher probably on the planet right now, judging by how much people react to what she says. So if you can team up with her, she can teach you to teach to a large population to support this mission because it's part of her calling to be minister.
She wasn't a talk show host. And and meanwhile, we'll get America to think differently about their health. So I end up doing the Oprah show dozens of times. She became my partner on my show, which we launched in 2009. And then I had to learn the answer to the two questions that you really are asking, which is what's good and what's bad. So what's good? People put a lot of emphasis into what you say when you're on national television, and part of it is because you do have a team that can theoretically build up the best ideas.
You have the budget to make the best demonstrations. You can take wisdom that's out there, but not appreciate it and shine a light on it. And I think that is the ultimate opportunity for television when done correctly. And the negative side, not everyone's happy you're doing it. My own father didn't want me to do television. He said, why are you wasting your time talking to people on television? We could be in the operating room saving lives.
And I would answer predictably, I'd say, Dad, you know, if I prayed as much as I can potentially do, I'll do ten thousand cases of my life. I speak to millions of people a day around the world. We're a hundred countries. I can speak to a lot of people about health insights. And now that they understand them, they'll be able to react even before they see their doctor and do the right thing. However, when you do that, you do upset the apple cart.
You begin to empower people in ways that you can't predict. Sometimes they are empowered and do the right thing and lose weight. Their blood pressure gets better and off they go. Sometimes they start doing things that you never have told them to do and didn't know they were doing. And they'll say it was your idea to do it and their doctors get upset. So you're in the public eye taking incoming and you've experienced and I have every single thing these days look around and every celebrity has incoming that sometimes unpredictable even from people you think you'll be your allies.
And I think that's part and parcel of what's partly plaguing America today. We're not allowing people to be heroes, even if they don't deserve to be heroes. Probably throughout human history, that's been the reality that people weren't quite as good as you thought they were. But you let people dream that they were great. So you could actually have a few people who are respected in society. And even the people that I respect the most, I see getting criticized often.
I don't agree with the criticism, but more importantly, I don't agree with the muddying of the water around the clarity they were trying to bring to the world. Even spiritual leaders are facing that.
Yeah, I don't have a tenth of the celebrity of you, but my sense is once you hit a certain point, there's a cottage industry and what I call guardians of God, where they get virtue points around, examining everything you say, twisting it, attacking you and kind of. There's an industry and sort of, you know, bringing you down, you know, building you up so they can tear you down and, you know, I find it disappointing that that their job isn't to interrogate what you said and learn from it or to push back.
And and some of the pushback is healthy. You know, we should be questioned. We should have our assertions tested, but it gets very heated and very personal. I was you know, I was thinking about, you know, I know you, but I don't know you well. But I've never thought of you as someone who's really left or right. Again, I'm going to speculate that you like me or a moderate or I've always thought of you as a moderate.
Yeah, I am. And in the last couple of years, you've been I don't want to call it politicized, but I think everybody there's this weird dynamic where everybody wants to put you in a red or a blue bubble and then 50 percent of the population decides they hate you. And my sense is, for whatever reason, you've been perceived as foxy or as the conservative doctor. And that's, quite frankly, I might be wrong, but that's not the kind of amendment I know.
Is it frustrating that is that do you believe that's true? My sense is you have been categorized and a lot of that is now people say, well, I'm going to try and find everything wrong with what he says. It feels like you've been politicized to a certain extent.
Well, you know, I launched last season with Bernie Sanders as my guest. Who actually enjoy him and I appreciate a lot of what he's trying to share with America. I mean, I had a bunch of the Democratic candidates on, in fact, Kamala Harris, who, again, congratulations to her for becoming a vice presidential nominee. She was supposed to come on my show the day that she dropped out of the primaries. So I don't think that it's fair to say that I don't respect what the Democratic Party offers.
And and I've had plenty of folks on the blue side on the show. I've also had people on the right side of the show because I'm interested in the wisdom around health and I don't have them on to bash the other side. I have them on because I'm curious, what would you do about how would you fix it? What's what's your strategy? Well, if you think of Medicare for all, I mean, how how do we actually make that sustainable?
Could it be Medicare Advantage for all? I mean, I went to business school. My goodness, I can talk about health care policy issues enough to keep up with political leaders who are articulating hypotheses. And it is then, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, of all the forms of racism, the most important thing is health care inequality, because you never get out of the starting gate, you never get on the field to compete. And so it's one of those areas that I think we haven't focused on.
And I've been talking to a lot of folks who have some clout in this area. I actually think that once we get through the Black Lives Matter crisis with criminal justice, we're going to have to deal with the one in health care justice. Because as I practiced medicine in Harlem, Spanish Harlem, I mean, I see this up front while we've got some big gaps in how we provide care to people of color in this country. And that's a good example of that, is that I think people who are Democrats and Republicans should be upset about want to address.
Why would I want to politicize that?
Mm hmm. So talk to me. Last 20 years, in addition to being a surgeon, you become you know, you've sort of I don't say own media, but you have attacked it, owned a check that box with indelible ink. What's the next thing? Is it more media? Is it do you see yourself in public service or what? What is your if you want to look 10, 20 years out, what how would your career look different than it does now?
Scott, I think I mean, you and many of the people listening to this podcast, by the nature they're paying attention, are in the change business. And I went into medicine to change medicine because I saw opportunities to make heart surgery look different. I went in the media because I felt that if American got the message and it came from us trusted people on the inside of the ivory towers, that they'd react because I thought it wasn't doing the right things for the health because they'd never gotten the message before.
So I started doing television. I think short term, I'm focused on building the media connections to people so I can meet them where they are. Television, obviously the foundation element to what I do. I'm proud of what we've accomplished with the one hundred really dedicated producers and staff, and I know we can do much more as we get more and more clout, both in social media. We've got about 13 million people, followers not just in this country, by the way, but many countries have their own social media platform.
So we're trying to get the word out everywhere. So that's a major focus of mine. But yes, public service is part of my future. And I think that's something all of us who've had some modicum of success in their day jobs need to think about. We need more people in the in the boat's growing resource to help America. We got opportunities to continue to shine a light not just for this nation, but worldwide. And what hurts me the most is when I go round to meetings of the countries and they say they lament the fact that we're not showing them what great looks like anymore and we need to hold the baton up and say, guys, as a species, we got here because we've got a collective unconscious, some deeper wisdom, some insight that we all deep down in our soul no is real.
It's what allowed our species fifty thousand years ago to come out of Africa to every corner of this planet and build up communities that have thrived. I mean, it's remarkable what we've done. Let's not muck it up by forgetting what those roots are all about. And when we don't let that guidance rule us, then we begin to fall into the bitter disputes. And we need to remember that we are like raindrops falling into the ocean of humanity. And some of the bickering and things we're talking about earlier where people are picking apart folks who are trying to make a difference, especially people in politics, by the way, we get maligned even if they're great people.
We've got to get these folks a little bit of a lifeline, let them get the head above water, let them lead or get in with them and help support them at worst. Get out of the way.
Rain drops into the ocean of humanity. You have a career in the next five years about poetry for you. Last question, I promise. Go back. Thirty years. Advice to your younger self.
Make as many non-fatal mistakes as you can. You'll learn from them. You'll be better for it. You won't have any formal fear of missing out because you didn't take the opportunity, obviously, to be rational because you don't want to commit territory while you're doing it. But take some chances, make some mistakes. It's worth it. Mehmet Oz is a cardiothoracic transplant surgeon, a media personality has a new line of goods products focused on helping people get better, the best sleep possible, and joins us from New Jersey.
Mehmet, it's great to speak to you. Hi to Lisa and thanks for joining us.
God bless you, my friend. Written those beautiful blogs. I love them. Mandatory reading. Our producers are Caroline Chagrinned, Andrew Burrowes, if you like what you heard, please follow, download and subscribe. Thanks for listening. We'll catch you next week with another episode of the property show from Section four and the Westwood One podcast network.