This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

Need to Know, April 22, 2011: Chinese drywall, ‘Capitalism 4.0,’ right-sizing Detroit

This week on Need to Know, we team up with ProPublica to examine the harmful effects of tainted drywall manufactured in China, and the legal frustrations consumers encounter when trying to sue foreign manufacturers for damages. We follow one homeowner whose family abandoned their home because of tainted drywall, and see how she eventually took her case to Congress.

Also: In collaboration with Blueprint America, we look at a controversial plan in Detroit to “right size” the city for easier management by using financial incentives to encourage residents to move out. We also follow students at a Detroit middle school as they participate in a competition to design the “city of the future.”

And: Author Anatole Kaletsky speaks with us about a new era of capitalism that we are approaching, and Jon Meacham comments on a recent controversy over Pastor Rob Bell’s remarks questioning the existence of hell.

Watch the individual segments:

Home sick: Living with Chinese drywall

We team up with news organization ProPublica to examine the harmful effects of tainted drywall manufactured in China, and the legal frustrations consumers encounter when trying to sue foreign manufacturers for damages. We follow one homeowner whose family abandoned their home because of tainted drywall, and see how she eventually took her case to Congress.

Joaquin Sapien on Chinese drywall

ProPublica reporter Joaquin Sapien follows up on the report about China-manufactured drywall and discusses what steps homeowners in similar situations can take.

The downsizing of Detroit

A report on the controversial plan by Detroit mayor Dave Bing to “right size” the sprawling city, shrinking it down to a more manageable size through financial and other incentives to get residents to move.

Designing the city of the future

In conjunction with Detroit Public Television, Need to Know follows students at a Detroit middle school as they compete against students from around the city and more affluent suburbs in a national engineering contest to design the “city of the future.”

Anatole Kaletsky on the new capitalism

Anatole Kaletsky, economics commentator and author of “Capitalism 4.0,” speaks with Need to Know financial correspondent Stacey Tisdale about a new era of capitalism that requires a balance between free markets and stricter government regulation.

In Perspective: What if there’s no hell?

Jon Meacham comments on the controversy in some Christian communities over an evangelical minister’s book, which questions the existence of hell.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.

  • thumb
      Watch the full episode
    A symphony orchestra thrives in Congo, and we investigate faltering safety in work sites that police themselves. Also: South Sudan's historic election and Jami Floyd on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case. Maria Hinojosa guest hosts.
  • thumb
      Watch the full episode
    How will Greece's debt crisis affect the U.S. and the rest of the world? Also: California's radical new approach to statewide redistricting, and journalists Brian Stelter and David Carr discuss "Page One: Inside the New York Times."
  • thumb
      Watch last week's episode
    We explore the inner workings of a military organization's $17 billion effort to combat IEDs, and Jami Floyd discusses the ramifications of the Supreme Court's decision on the Wal-Mart case. Also: The science of what makes a good marriage.


  • Ha_clark

    Seems to me that getting the Chinese Drywall out of the houses that have it should be the first step in solving the problem. The homeowners themselves could do that for very little cost. Replacing it after checking the wiring would also be fairly inexpensive and could, for many, be done by the homeowner. The homeowners who have this problem should be sueing the retailers and installers that furnished the drywall, not the Chinese. Sueing the Chinese would be the retailers problem. All and all, the whole job could be done, including paint for under $5,000.00. per house. That is not a huge expense, but the longer the owners wait, the bigger the problem will become.

  • Tony

    Our government has sold its people out to China primarily and everyone else it owes money to from our huge national debt! Our loser politicians on both sides of the aisle have been selling the American people out for decades…consider NAFTA and GATT. They allowed all our industry to leave to foreign shores, even as we pay to fund those companies! Americans are being sold down the river, until they’re too stupid to understand what’s going on.

    Screw China! They’re selling us poisoned dog food, toys, now sheetrock…and our government keeps giving them a pass…at our expense. Wake up America; it’s time to right China off and get rid of them. They’re not for anyone but China. THINK AMERICA!

  • Barbara

    Thank you for airing your program regarding the Chinese Drywall. My house in Delray Beach, Florida, was built with Chinese drywalll in 2001. We have been living in this toxic house for almost 10 years. We have replaced many air conditioning coils and in 2004 purchased a new air conditioner. The coils have been replaced several times as well as the heating element and fan. All the wiring inside the walls are black. Anything copper is black. We didn’t find out what it was until March of 2009. My husband and I are senior citizens who are retired and living on a fixed income. He has trouble breathing and I have itchy, burning eyes, runny nose, sinus problems, fatigue and joint pain. It is very depressing that our government cannot help us. I’m praying that our lawsuit will help us remediate the house.

  • Swilkens

    I am a victim of Chinese Drywall. I built my house in 2006 after going through a painful divorce of a 25 year marriage. I paid cash for my home and was lloking forward to start a new life. I have had numverouse problems from the moment I moved in to my garden home as did my neighbors. We did not connect the dots until 2009 when we were told our homes were built with a tainted drywall from China. The expenses I had endured for 3 years were replacing air conditioning coils, appliances failing, electrical outlets failing causes my TV’s radio’s lamps anything that was plugged in to an outlet went bad. This not include the medical side of my probles, nose bleeds, severe sinus infections, asthma systoms and to no avail doctors couldnt’ figure out why I had lost my sense of smell and taste. I finanly moved out of my home July 2010 and am renting an apt. I can’t sell the house, I can only watch it rot to the ground. My life savings are gone and I am sixty years old. I will never be able to retire unless I can re-coop the loss of my home through legal ramifiacations. I have been suffering this now for two years with no end in sight. Until you have lived with this problem you have no idea how it consumes you.

  • Swilkens

    Do you have chinese drywall because if you don’t you have no idea of what you are talking about. I have spent the last two years trying to have my house remediated to have the drywall,wiring etc. the cost is astronimical! No one will loan you the money to even attempt the project.(I paid cash for my new home). You have to meet a whole sluegh of protocols, which then even if you met everything , they still don’t know how to dispose of the drywall! Please do your homework before you make another comment about this problem.

  • Charles Hummer

    I am a Disabled Vietnam Veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam. We bought our new home in July 2007 in North Port, Florida. The house was built in 2006 and from day one we had problems with the air conditioner. We had to keep calling out service people, who changed wiring, three thermostats, and etc. We finally stopped calling as we couldn’t afford to keep paying the service call fees. Then our kitchen stove went, as well as our water heater. Then all kinds of tools and small appliances (everything was new) stopped working. About six months into the house my wife started having some kidney issues. She is younger than I am and this was her first visit to a doctor. Then I started to have all kinds of medical problems myself, keeping in mind that I am a disabled veteran and I have continuous ongoing care. From June 2009 until March 2010 I had kidney issues, blood pressure, heart, and lungs, which resulted in my being hospitalized 6 times. Finally when the smoke alarms kept going off we decided that we had enough and moved out in the middle of october 2010. After moving out my wife and I went through withdrawals from the hydrogen gases for about 1 month, which resulted in my being hospitalized oe additional time. It is now April 2011 and I am beginning to get a little energy back. But in living 39 months in my new home it has damaged me where I have additional spots on my lungs, spots on my liver, my heart has been damaged. This Chinese/Domestic drywall has done more damage to my body in 3 years, than the Agent Orange did in 40 years. My drywall is marked US Gypsum, and yes it is cooking in the house, so now you can only enter wearing a gas mask. In April of 2010 we had contacted every Property Appraiser’s Offices in Florida and at that time there were approximately 4600 homes that the Florida Government was aware of. Now we hear that the Florida totals are over 8000. I fought for all the rights and freedoms that our Country has always boasted about, yet I like thousands of other Chinese/Domestic Drywall “Victims” are still waiting for help. This is a Disaster, Congress, Mr. President, FEMA, how many of us have to die before somebody will step in and help us?

  • James

    It was my husband on the program last night. The doctor told him not to return to our dream home. He was hospitalized twice last year with inflamation in his lungs his doctor believes this was caused by CDW. His death was caused by the different lung problems. This was our dream house that we planned to live in and enjoy. Now we have a beautiful home that we planned so that the whole family could come and enjoy. Instead we have a home that makes all of us sick. There has been no help from any government agency and nothing but alot of stalling. After all these years, you would think the government would help the people that elect them. We do not hesitate to help every other nation that needs help and totally disregard the people who have worked hard and paid our taxes to be ignored. We need help. How many people have to get sick and die before someone will open their eyes to the tragedy that the CDW diseaseter has caused.

  • Moserm80

    I am an elderly widow who purchased a condominium in March 2007. The rotten egg odor was evident almost immediately, but was told it was from the water. I invested everything I had in my lovely condo thinking this was where I wanted to be the rest of my days. THEN, discover that my lovely living quarters is completely contaminated with CDW. I have had extreme burning in my eyes and difficulty breathing. My voice has also been affected. WCI, we know now, was aware of the contamination when they sold these properties, but went bankrupt in order to avoid correcting the situation. However, now they are permitted to build housing developments elsewhere. Why have they not been charged with this criminal act?

  • Construction-Guru

    Consumers have lost confidence, not only with the CPSC, but also our legal system.
    CPSC has waffled on numerous findings, based on incomplete and inaccurate testing.
    Legal system should have known and realized NO recourse was available against the Chinese manufacturer’s.
    Insurance carriers or companies are all hiding behind a loosely written “Pollution Exclusion” that has such a broad scope, almost any and all claims could legitimately be denied, based on this exclusion, leaving policyholders, asking “what insurance coverage do we really have ?”
    Consumers continue to pay taxes, and our Government continues to support corporate bail-outs, Foreign disasters, wars, and numerous other issues, yet have failed to not only protect Consumers, but find financial means and methods to support Consumers of Chinese or Tainted Corrosive Drywall victims.
    America, the GREAT place to live, has lost alot of this glow or shine, and needs to take care of problems at home before spending another nickel on others.
    Remember … Charity starts home … Help Americans … NOW !!!

  • J_mivory

    We are chinese drywall victims. We purchased our retirement home in Punta Gorda, Fla. in Feb. 2009, discovered we had chinese drywall in March and had to move out in April. 2 yrs. later now and KB homes still will not resolve the problem, yet they are building new houses on the other side of town??? 2 yrs. out of our retirement life gone. Now paying two mortgages, no money left to enjoy retirement. Attorneys think it will be another yr. before we have our day in court??? Frustrated

  • Construction-Guru

    ConstructionGuru forgot to add our contact info …

    Our Team of experts and professionals are in your area …

    Call and drop by one of our current abatement sites to talk to other CDW victims and observe our Insurance backed abatement and treatment system.

  • Bonnie Mitchell

    In 2007 we moved into our dream home in Cape Coral FL. We built it for our retirement. In 2009 we discovered we have corrosive drywall that was making all of our AC coils fail along with TV’s, computers, hard drives, small appliances, large appliances, etc. We have decided to stay in our home rather than face financial woes because we do not have to make the health decision for young children. I have constant burning eyes, sinus problems, headaches, joint pain, etc. My husband has had the shingles and a constant cough. The hydrogen sulfide has permeated all of the soft furnishings, many of them new when we moved in, and also our clothing. It has ruined all the sterling silver and many other metal objects. All the books and picture albums will have to thrown out. We have lost hope in the insurance companies and government—both of whom we have paid plenty to over the years. Mistakenly I thought both were here to protect us. Instead as soon as the lawyer notified the insurance company they cancelled us. It was hard to get insurance and a lot more costly when we finally did. Now it has been 2 years and I have just about lost hope in our legal system too. Thank you for running this story. I sure hope somebody will help soon.

  • barbara

    Hi Bonnie, I read your comments and I identify with you and your husband. We retired in 2001 and bought our dream home in Delray Beach. We have been living in this toxic for almost 10 years, but didn’t know what the problem was until two years ago. It’s very frustrating. We have the same physical problems and problems with the coils, wires, etc. I’m hoping we’ll be able to remediate the house if we win our lawsuit. Good luck to you.


  • dlips2wo

    The difference between europe’s privitization and american privitization is regulation! Business are heavily regulated in Europe. Where did they find this tool of guy to champion “more privatization” for business in america. This results in stifled advancement – power and economic decision-making should be spread among as many people as opposed to being concentrated into the hands of a few

  • dlips2wo

    The difference between europe’s privitization and american privitization is regulation! Business are heavily regulated in Europe. Where did they find this tool of guy to champion “more privatization” for business in america. This results in stifled advancement – power and economic decision-making should be spread among as many people as opposed to being concentrated into the hands of a few

  • Ferdi2u2

    We are victims of Chinese Drywall…we are months away from losing everything.
    Our goverment is ignoring the problem…and while we wait for some justice we get to suffer for a little longer.

  • Eloise

    My Golden Retirement Years? NO!!! not with Chinese Dry Wall! I’m a very active elderly widow who built this home in 2006 and wondered why some of my 14-karat jewelry was turning orangey-black, why I couldn’t keep my silver polished, and why my eyes were constantly burning and I was having strange headaches I had never had before; then my appliances started failing…..brand new ones. The answer: In April of 2008 I discovered my house was built with lots of Chinese Dry Wall and the real nightmares began. Nothing I could do would stop the ‘time bombs’ from going off…..with each appliance that stopped working and needed repairing/replacing, I was bleeding more $$$$$s I couldn’t afford on my very fixed income, and definitely no money to remediate my home which I love…..just perfect for me and my Maltese Tiffany. You drive down my street and just about every other house is infected with this problem, from the outside we look great, but our neighborhood has been struck with a Silent Hurricane….you just can’t see it, but it is there, it is real! If we had been hit by a hurricane or a tornado, the help of many federal and state agencies would be available to us, but we have been making all kinds of efforts for over three years to our various government agencies to help us……just stalling and more stalling is what we have gotten so far. No one wants to handle this ‘hot potato.’ There are about 100,000 homes involved throughout the country. Think of all the jobs that would be created if these homes were remediated. Construction workers + supervisors, truckers, building material suppliers, appliance factories and their suppliers and shippers, carpenters and cabinet makers, plumbers and electricians , lumberjacks and railroads, and on and on. It would be a huge boost to the economy. We appreciate your airing this situation on your program. Hopefully others will have a better understanding of our problem and maybe even join us in our efforts to get some relief.

  • Bonnie

    I feel your pain. Many of us have the same symptoms and nobody seems to care. I have just paid over $100 today to have more gas put in my AC system and they will be back tomorrow with a better leak detector–most likely will need another coil. Another hard drive failed on me this morning and it contained what I was scanning all of my old family pictures to so I could throw out the albums that are all ruined by the gas!!! Everybody keeps saying its all material but that saying is getting real old. We are all tired of bleeding $$$. We all wanted to enjoy our golden years not live thru this nightmare. Why can’t our government put Americans back to work fixing our homes? Let’s all pray todays settlement with Interrior Exterrior will help all of us.

  • Ceb1016

    It has become apparent that our government does want to get invloved in issues it helped create. Our government allowed this TOXIC CRAP in this country and now refuses to stand beside its own Citizens. We do not want to offend China, well as a tax payer I am offended that Washington DC will not help us. We are so quick to criticize other countries for how they treat there citizens, and it is ok for our government to leave out to dry. These Toxic Imports from China have got to stop !!

  • Ceb1016

    At Ha_Clark……..It would cost me about 10,000 to re-wire my home……The Drywall costs about 5,000…….Then you add the carpet, paint, fixtures, and other……Where did you get 5,000 per house from ??? Wake up !!

  • Kathryn Obraien

    Superb article, I really appreciated with all the given information, This is important and valuable to read  for future, I will bookmark it, for further read and sharing with my friends. Thanks