Guests: Dave Cullen, Tim Carney, Jill Nelson, Rich Benjamin, Betsey Stevenson, Fmr. Mayor Rocky Anderson, Rich Benjamin, Betsey Stevenson, Tim Carney, Jill Nelson, Rocky Anderson, Katha Pollitt>
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Friday to extend its
observer mission in Syria by another 30 days.
And suspected Colorado theater shooter, James Holmes, is scheduled to
make his first court appearance on Monday. We`ll get to that story in a
But right now, I`m joined by Rich Benjamin, senior fellow at the
progressive think-tank, Demos, Dave Cullen, author of the remarkable book,
"Columbine," Tim Carney, senior political columnist for "The Washington
Examiner," and Jill Nelson, author of "Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic
I want to start with the shooting in Aurora, Colorado early yesterday
morning that killed a dozen people and injured 58 others. Police went
door-to-door last night informing victim`s families that their loved ones
had been killed. In his weekly address this morning, President Obama urged
Americans to remember the victims of the movie theater shooting.
The president cut short his campaign trip to Florida to return to
Washington yesterday and ordered that flags be flown at half staff. The
Aurora police say 24-year-old James Holmes wore a bulletproof vest and was
armed with an assault riffle, a shotgun, two handguns, and gas canisters
when he attacked movie goers at a sold out midnight screening of the new
Police say all four guns were purchased legally at nearby stores along
with 6,000 rounds of ammunition purchased online. The assault rifle he
used would have been illegal under the assault weapons ban that expired in
2004. The Pentagon says at least three members of the U.S. armed forces
were wounded in the shooting. Aurora, Colorado is home to Buckley Air
Among the few things we know about James Holmes are these. Police say
he is not cooperating with investigators aside from telling them that his
apartment was booby trapped with trip wires and explosives. He is
originally from San Diego, California. He was reportedly in the process of
withdrawing from a Ph.D. program in neuroscience at the University of
Colorado Denver, and we know nothing of his mental state.
Dave Cullen, I`m glad you`re here, because the book you wrote about
"Columbine" isn`t just (INAUDIBLE) I`ll say it on air. It`s a masterpiece.
It`s a remarkable piece of work. A truly remarkable piece of work and
people should read it. To start off the conversation, we find ourselves,
sometimes, in the business of cable news having air time to fill with not
that many facts to fill them with.
And one of the things that comes across in your book is that the story
that we got about what happened in Columbine and the perpetrators of
Columbine on the day that it happened and the week that it happened and the
month and even years past that became the thing that all we knew about
"Columbine" with the facts. The facts wasn`t actually true.
DAVE CULLEN, AUTHOR, "COLUMBINE": Right.
HAYES: What do we think we know that we didn`t know and how did that
happen that we came to think that we knew what happened than we didn`t
CULLEN: Right. I mean, now, most people still believe that we know
exactly what happened in Columbine, what went on, that it was two loner
outcasts from the Trenchcoat Mafia who went on this revenge spree against
the jocks as revenge for years of being bullied. Not one single thing in
all those (INAUDIBLE) -- not one of those is true. They weren`t even part
of the Trenchcoat Mafia, hadn`t been bullied.
They weren`t boners or outcasts, none of that. And, when I went back
trying to reconstruct to how did this happen, I thought, you know, I was
going to go through the first week of newspaper coverage and day-by-day and
see how it happened.
I was shocked to find out -- I had to go back to the CNN transcripts
of the first hours, and you can see it from hour one, two, three, and four
progress where it goes from reporters asking kids open ended questions
like, did you know these killers, what were they like to more leading
questions like, we`re hearing they`re loners, we`re hearing they`re
outcasts, is that true?
And kids who most of them didn`t really know them or didn`t them know
them at all who were in the school, and you know, everybody`s witness
saying, yes they were. And then, by like hour three, it was just taken as
a given. And within the first four hours, nearly all the myths were
And once we have them and we have this profile in our minds of who
they were, we went with that and that just became the narrative, and it
never went away. And journalists covering it actually discovered within
the first six months or so that all of these were myths. But you can never
take the story back.
The fact that every reporter working the story knows we got it
completely wrong and that we`ve given the public the wrong story, you can`t
untell (ph) that story. And frankly, the public stops listening. There`s
a certain window of opportunity right now for a week or two or something
where everyone in America is watching this story.
And whatever we tell America during this next week or so, they will
believe until the end of time. We can never take it back.
HAYES: All right. So, what are you watching -- I mean, how do you
approach this -- I mean, you know, the facts that we`ve laid out that
seemed really confirmed in terms of the arms that were used, the basic
facts about him about his -- he was an undergrad of neuroscience major. He
was in a Ph.D. program seems to be fairly quite academically accomplished
but not a lot more than that.
CULLEN: Not much more. And we can see that he was ruthless about the
way he did it, and we can see that he had extensive planning.
CULLEN: But again, that`s true almost all of these cases.
CULLEN: And it doesn`t really tell him much -- you know, actually, in
this one case, I should take back -- it is a little different when the
person is still alive.
CULLEN: -- go on trial and, for instance, with (INAUDIBLE). We had
Oklahoma City completely wrong for the first couple of days, and we assumed
that, you know, it`s an Arab terrorist attack and all these things.
HAYES: Right, right, right, right.
CULLEN: When you got him to go on trial, eventually, that will come
out to the wash. So, maybe, we`re in a little less danger here, you know,
because once that all comes out, we`re likely to know, but you know -- that
HAYES: It`s interesting that you brought up the prospect of
terrorists from jihadist (ph), because I was thinking about this today, and
I was thinking about the fact that when we came in to talk about this
yesterday, I mean, the first feeling is like just, you know, horror
stricken, grief, and having read a little bit about the victims that it`s
just unbelievably wrenching to conceive of, obviously.
But then, there`s also the feeling of a weird routinization. There is
a script for mass shootings in America and their after math. And that
shootings, we should say, happen around the world. It happened in
Australia. It happened in Scotland. The worse one in recent memory after
the Norway which was the most horrific details, I think, I`ve ever read of
But we have more of them here. And they`re more -- they happen with
relative frequency. And the thought I kept having was, what if all of
these had been pulled off by jihadist, our reaction would be so different
about whether we think this is an acceptable threat, right, about what
threat it post, whether we just acclimate ourselves to talking about it and
having a week`s debate about gun control, and what our society -- what in
our society produces violence et cetera, and they`re kind of moving on.
If we thought -- if it was actual -- you know, if the person that was
nabbed was, you know, sworn fealty to al Qaeda at Virginia Tech and here
and in Columbine, we would have this completely different even if the
number of killed was the same.
TIM CARNEY, WASHINGTON EXAMINER.COM: Well, I`ll go even further.
Yes. The terrorism, you know, 3,000 people died on 9/11. That`s a car
deaths, something like 3,000 a week.
CARNEY: So, we do have this sort of zero tolerance for terrorist
killing, and it`s irrational to the point where we have all these insane
security procedures, et cetera, while other deaths like, I think,
especially auto accidents, we have some tolerance. But the mass killings
also kind of fit into the, you know, Islamic terrorist box in that we do
put such emphasis on it because of the terror aspect of it.
You know, (INAUDIBLE) 13 people might die in Washington, D.C. in
Prince George`s County in a bad weekend.
CARNEY: And that will get headlines in the "Washington Examine" and
maybe the "Metro" section of the "Washington Post." But 13 people die in
this particular way we put so much more emphasis on it. The horror, the
terror, all that stuff, clearly, is probably on a higher level than --
HAYES: Right. And it`s a horrible, horrible grieving story. I mean,
that`s the nature of news, but I think we get your point.
CARNEY: But both the media and sort of public policy try to react to
these events on a much great level than they`ll react to the 13 people who
get knocked off in Anacostia and PG County on a given --
JILL NELSON, AUTHOR, "VOLUNTEER SLAVERY": But at the same time, it
seems that we have this weird acceptance of the ritual of these type mass
slayings in this country. You know, it`s almost just as you talked about
creating the identity of the shooters, we also have this whole template
where we get the balloons, we get the teddy bears, we say we`re sad, we
don`t mention the NRA gun laws don`t change, and we go back to business as
usual until the next shooting.
RICH BENJAMIN, DEMOS.ORG: And that`s what`s really odd is that these
are such horrific crimes with a lot of deaths, but they take place by
perpetrators who look like kids we recognize from our communities and so
on, and they take place in such normalized environments whether it`d be a
movie theater, whether it`d be a school yard, whether it`d be a McDonalds.
And so that, on the one hand, they have that ordinary aspect where it
happens, and then, we ignore it. And then, on the other hand, they`re
still horrific. But my question to you, Dave, is what is this impetus to
really find this profile and put it in this neat little box by both the
media and law enforcement? This is the criminal profile and now we solved
CULLEN: Right. There is that thing. And you know, you were talking
at the beginning of the speculative nature of cable news, there`s a really
good instinct there. There is a strong desire --
CULLEN: -- to make sense of it. To understand, and we want to know
why, and we`re good people who are trying to get to the bottom of that.
We`re just trying to get way too soon. It`s taking little scraps that tell
us nothing. And though I think of it as a year or two years from now,
we`re going to have a really complete picture of this guy.
We`re going to know exactly what he`s like, what he was up to, the
whole picture. Right now --
CULLEN: Yes. Right. And we`re getting -- and even -- even when
they`re dead of -- you know, there`s a lot of stuff that will come out.
We`ll have this whole picture. Right now, we`re getting dots like this,
you know, tiny little specks. And we`re having the urge to put them
together and draw a picture from them.
And you know, you`ve got little dots here and here. The picture we`re
going to come up with is probably wrong, but we want to do it. And we need
to keep reminding us all -- three scraps of data out of 100,000 that I`m
extrapolating from that`s not going to work.
HAYES: And I think that gets to -- to me, that gets to the kind of
second conversation which is about policy responses, right? I mean, I
think that`s, you know -- again, this is now part of the ritual which is so
(INAUDIBLE) and bizarre is that, you know, the second order conversation is
about policy responses because all these mass shootings have happened with
And, we have a country that has way more guns and other culpable
industrialized democracies for a whole bunch of reasons which we can get
into. And when you`re thinking about that, part of that in wrestling to
get to this why did this happen, right, is one vision of this as
essentially a natural disaster, right?
People -- there are some horrible people in the world or there`s
people who are severely deranged or whatever the explanation is for why he
did it and there`s no real way that come around to some kind of policy
framework for dealing with this kind of thing can`t (ph) solve it. And
then the other is that there are.
That if he didn`t have the kind of gun he had, that if the Gabby
Giffords shooter did not have the extra magazine, that if we had a
different approach to guns, we would see something different. And I want
to talk, I want to discuss that after we take this break.
HAYES: Welcome back. We were talking, of course, about yesterday`s
horrific shooting in Aurora, Colorado. One of the things that happen in
the midst of these situations is that we spend a lot of time on the killer
and much less time on the victims, and partly that`s because the killer
seems so much more incomprehensible to us.
We`re crying to figure out the killer, but there`s also something
perverse about that, because there`s a perverse kind of fame and celebrity
that cruise to someone who did something so horrible. Again, we should say
allege in this case. We`ve not confirmed that James Holmes is actually the
killer. We do have process in this country -- innocence.
He is the one being held in police custody. But we have not said the
names of the victims. We`ve only got a few released. And obviously, we
don`t want to go on air with the names of victims, unless, they`ve been
checked by standard. We have three names, Alex Sullivan (ph), Mikayla
Medic (ph)and Jessica Gulley (ph).
So, those are three of the names of the victims. We will continue to
bring you the names of victims as they`re released and confirmed. We don`t
want to get out ahead of that for obvious reasons, but I do want to just
say their names. These are real people who have lost their lives and
family members are suffering.
And, we should be keeping them in our thoughts as we wrestle through
the implications of why this could have happened.
Let me show you a chart that shows gun homicides by country, because
this is part of the context for this discussion. This is not per capita.
Obviously, Japan is a smaller place. England is a smaller place. German
is a smaller place, and Canada is a smaller place, but it`s orders of
I mean, we just have -- the U.S. just has a ton more gun homicides.
The majority of people who die from guns every year in America should be
noted is from suicide. There are more gun suicides than gun homicides
every year in America. And in Brazil, the U.S. is not number one in this.
There are countries that have far more gun violence than we do.
Look, I can`t help but come to this gun conversation, because --
partly, because, you know, yesterday morning when we were debating this
editorial meeting, we were like, we don`t know. Maybe the guns were legal.
Maybe he knew someone in the military and he stole it from them. In which
case a gun control conversation doesn`t actually pertain to the facts of
the case, but in this case, we know that he legally acquired these guns.
One of them was an assault rifle. It`s the kind of weapon that would
have been banned under the assault -- bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition.
And even in some ways more bizarre which doesn`t even touch on the Second
Amendment, I think, in the NRA is the tear gas canisters which we were
going online yesterday.
I mean, that just didn`t occur to me that you can just -- anyone -- I
mean, to me, that`s a silly thing to say but it just never occurred to me
that you can just purchase tear gas canisters. And when you go online, the
description of them, it`s for crowd control. And on the website, you know,
there are five star reviews of how these tear gas canisters work.
You know, I -- it`s just -- you know, it`s very hard for me to get my
mind around when we think about what the state regulates and what it
doesn`t. I mean, it regulates lot of things, right? You can`t drive a
car unless you pass a test, because a car is a dangerous thing (ph). And,
I don`t think we see that as a fundamental impingement on our freedom, that
you can`t drive a car until you pass the test.
And I just think that, you know, it`s very hard for me to understand,
and Tim, maybe you can help me because you`re coming from, I think, a
different place on this, why we don`t regulate something like an assault
CARNEY: Well, there are two reasons. The first is the sort of
fundamental principle question of rights. And that, it is the American
attitude. I once talked to this German cabinet minister who told me in the
history of Europe, it was occupied. There is basically broke down into two
different types of people.
There were the people who were sort of rule followers who gave (ph)
what they said, who followed authority. And then, there are people who
bucked authority, always went out on their own, who didn`t like being told
what to do, and that second group of people all got on a boat and came to
CARNEY: So, it`s built into a craze -- these are cultural DNA that we
don`t like being told what to do and the sort of at least -- sort of the
symbolic idea that we are armed as a (INAUDIBLE) against tyranny runs deep.
I`m not going to argue about that. I don`t think you can fight off the ATF
HAYES: -- you know, if you think that the reason we have the Second
Amendment as rooted in originalism which is as a check on government
tyranny, then there`s two sides of that ledger. One is how many guns do I
have in my house? The other is how big is the Pentagon? And the other
side of that equation does not look good for those who would like to --
CARNEY: But we do know --
HAYES: - -insurrection against the government to check it`s --
CARNEY: We do know historically that one of the things tyrannies do
is take away guns. Again, I`m arguing this mostly as a U.S. why we --
HAYES: Right. Yes, yes.
CARNEY: -- symbolically. And one of the countries that took away
guns was the Soviet Union. You didn`t put up the murder rate of Russia
there which is far higher than the U.S. And it has incredibly low gun
And studies that have been -- and now getting to the sort of factual
reason why we don`t want to -- why many of us don`t want to regulate guns
is because in a place like Russia they didn`t have guns, and the murder
rate -- the gun rate is the second lowest in all of year up (ph), and the
murder rate is by far the highest in all of year up.
And it`s higher than ours. There`s not a correlation between gun laws
and murder or between gun ownership and murder that`s been born out in many
HAYES: Well, there are two things. One is that studies on these very
principles have declined dramatically post 1996 when the Republicans in
Congress managed to squelch off all CDC funding for anything having to do
with public health and guns. So, there`s actually a little bit of a hole
in our knowledge on this.
It is true that gun rates and homicides don`t correlate very neatly.
Having a gun in your home does correlate to the likelihood of a gun induced
death in the home that`s largely because of this huge silent killer we
never talk about which is the suicide epidemic that happens of people with
guns in their homes and that fact that suicide through gun is a far more
fatal way of undertaking suicide.
And most people that fail in trying to take their own life the first
time do not succeed the second time around, right? So, there`s actually
high failure rate. We`re in the weeds of the public health on this.
HAYES: But I think it`s important to establish -- Jill.
NELSON: You know, I think that is just absolutely an unacceptable
that a so-called civilized society would have assault weapons. Why do we
need assault weapons? I mean, deer hunters aren`t going and shooting deer
with assault weapons. And this notion that, you know, it`s the founding of
the nation and that we`re protecting ourselves against tyranny with guns --
there are so many deaths from suicides, as you mentioned.
There are so many deaths from guns in the homes from accidents. It`s
unacceptable. And what we -- I think, one reason we obsess about the
identities of the shooters and their background is because we want to sort
of pretend that we can box this up, tie it up, and understand it, and not
deal with the real issue which is how this does happen.
And the way to happen is people legally buy guns. They don`t have
waiting period. In Colorado, I think you can buy as many guns as you want.
You can buy assault rifles. As you said, ammunition on the internet is
absolutely unacceptable. And this notion that we`re protecting ourselves -
- this is part of our great American value, I mean, so was slavery.
NELSON: So, let`s move on.
HAYES: Well, I think there`s also this cultural -- I think there`s
also a huge cultural gap in this, right, because one of the things that
mass shootings do is, you know, there`s an experience of gun ownership in
parts of the country that are -- that has the culture of hunting and all
these things or protection of your land.
And then, there`s the experience on the west side of Chicago which has
seen a grisly series of murders this year that actually has Rahm Emanuel in
very hot water, in PG County or in Anacostia, in Anacostia, particularly,
which is in Washington D.C. You know, in areas that have high levels of
gun violence where this kind of horror is happening in smaller, you know,
in microcosms every day or every other day or every week.
And that`s part of the two different conversations. I mean, I come
from the Bronx, I come from New York City, and my dad has been involved in
gun control activism. And that`s the conversation that happens in East New
York, in Brooklyn. Conversation happened in Harlem, the Washington
Heights. Let`s talk more about this after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN BARTON, SHOOTING VICTIM: As soon as I got hit, my arm went
like this, limp. I was like I need to hit the ground. I was looking at my
hand. I thought it was blown off because I couldn`t feel it at all or like
broken in some way. And so, I was kind of relieved to see it still
attached to my body.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Stephen Barton, a victim of the shooting in Aurora (INAUDIBLE)
there. We`re talking about guns. I mean, two things I would say just in
response to this when we have this debate. And one is that, you know, the
American public attitudes on guns are one thing, and there`s a lot being
pair (ph) in the NRA, which, you know, it is huge. I mean, it`s cliche to
say the NRA is one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, but it`s one
of the powerful lobbies in Washington.
It`s incredibly powerful organization. Second of all, the Democratic
Party has completely retreated from gun control. I mean, they just don`t
push it. It`s not part of the agenda. It was, I mean, when you go back --
it`s crazy to go back and look at the west wing. It`s like every other
episode of the west wing is about gun control.
All the Democrats are doing is pushing -- but it wasn`t -- it was a
major issue in this country. And one of the ways politics work in America
is if the two parties don`t have a disagreement on something, it`s not an
issue, right? So, it`s like, you know, we don`t have a disagreement on it,
so like, we don`t have an active debate on it no matter how many kids get
killed in Harlem or in Anacostia or west (ph) out of Chicago.
And then, the other thing just to throw the final thing in, and then
I`ll shut up, that the -- you know, the Supreme Court has massively changed
the constitutional interpretation of what the Second Amendment does and
what rights it confers. You know, the decision (ph) in 2000 -- I guess, it
must be 2008 said that, you know, you have an individual right to bear
It departed from the previous jurisprudence on what that Second
Amendment which is one of the most bizarrely worded passages in the entire
constitution, because it has this clause in the beginning about well-
It decided that you have an individual right to bear arms and struck
down a restriction in D.C., and that changed the, you know -- that`s
created a whole new landscape for the way that we understand the
CARNEY: It is relevant. People say don`t politicize it and talk
about gun control. I think it`s a perfectly relevant thing to talk about,
but the more we talk about it, the more we realize that a debate about gun
policy, banning guns doesn`t lead us towards ending these sort of things.
You are saying banning guns, restricting gun, putting rules only can,
you know, limit suicides or, you know, a six-year-old shooting his four-
year-old brother. That all might be the case. But we`re trying to jump
from this one killer who did have legal guns killing a dozen people to the
idea that you ought to ban guns. But the -- I was looking --
CARNEY: -- that regulating guns will reduce murder. That is a
natural assumption, but it is simply not an assumption borne out by the
data. And your show and Melissa`s show after this in MSNBC, you guys pride
yourselves and I admire it on looking at data and working from not knee
jerk reactions, but what does the science tell us.
And we had a 2007 national association -- National Academies of
Science med (ph) study that -- 270, and it could not find a correlation
between gun ownership and gun crime. It could not find correlation between
gun laws and gun crime. The CDC had a study in 2003 where these people
walked in to find it. It was very clear.
They said, oh, we need better studies, but they didn`t find it. I was
referring to Europe study. We had a -- I guess, National Academy of
Science papers in 2004. 2007 was a Harvard journal of law and public
policy paper by Don Kates and Gary Mauser and what they went ahead and
these guys have been leaning towards liking gun freedom.
And they went ahead and they said, look, again and again when you look
at it, yes, it would be great if our laws could -- if gun control laws
could keep guns out of the hands of people like whoever shot these people,
but there`s no evidence that --
HAYES: Right. But part of that is in the case of -- a lot of the
studies that happened happened in this geographic correlations, right? In
the U.S. we have this incredibly -- these huge black markets in guns. I
mean, you know, that become -- ends up becoming the issue. Obviously, the
guns that are being used in New York don`t often come from New York.
It certainly don`t come from New York City. So, I`ve also read
critiques of a lot of those studies about the methodology of correlating,
you know, tear drop (ph) of coincidence of gun crime to availability of
guns in that area does not necessarily capture what`s happening in terms of
the market. The other thing is that, look, the question is, what is being
lost if we do say you just can`t have assault weapons, right?
I mean, that`s the other thing on the side. Look, we just -- like
because, you know, maybe this whole not prevent, you know, a ton of
murders, but if there is someone out there who does want to do something
horrible, you know, the loss of liberty of that AR-15, it`s just not that
big a deal.
I mean, you know -- and so, that`s -- we`re just going to take a
precaution (INAUDIBLE) because obviously, look, I mean, obviously, we do
this with other stuff, right? I mean, you can`t have a tank. You can`t
have a surface to air missile. God knows you can`t have a surface to air
missile. Surface to air missile would be a lot more useful if you find to
restrain the tyranny of the American government, right?
If the idea that you`re going to be a check (ph) on the force of the
state, that would be a more useful implement than an AR-15 assault --
NELSON: -- there`s no data, we should do nothing. I mean, it makes
no sense. I mean, to me to sell assault rifles is ridiculous. To make it
so easy to get guns is ridiculous. They`re not necessary. We have police
force. We have security. We have tons of ways that people are protected
in this culture.
So, to argue that because there`s no data that proves that guns
correlates guns with these crimes that we shouldn`t do anything is absurd.
HAYES: There`s lots of data --
NELSON: But I would argue that -- I see the data in correlation with
my neighborhood, Harlem, in communities around this country all the time,
where you see the proliferation of guns, you see the increase in gun funds,
and if guns weren`t available, people wouldn`t be shooting as many people.
HAYES: Can I come back to the final thing, Dave? What was the --
what did you take away from the book that you did on "Columbine" when you
think about all -- when you think about these issues? When you think about
the question of why at the personal level and then you think about this
policy discussion which is the policy discussion about guns? What did you
come away from that book.
CULLEN: Well, the biggest thing I came away with was that we didn`t
understand the killers, and we could have done a lot if we had. And in
this case, there were -- in that case, there were two different types of --
completely different types of killers. It was a psychopath which,
unfortunately, we can`t do much about, because they`re wired that way. The
other one was depressive.
And it turns out the most of the mass murderers are angry depressives
if you chunk of them. And if we address depression in this country and
solve that other looming problem, we would, you know, decrease the suicide
rate, teenage pregnancy, school dropouts, you know, drug and alcohol, all
sorts of other problems, and people messing up their lives.
We solve all this problems as a byproduct would end up (ph) most the
mass murderers without trying because we would help the people who then
wouldn`t go down this terrible road.
HAYES: Dave Cullen, author of the book "Columbine," which I cannot
recommend highly enough to really (INAUDIBLE) and thanks for joining us.
Really appreciate it.
MSNBC will have special coverage of the Colorado shooting this
afternoon. Chris Jansing is anchoring live from Aurora, Colorado starting
at 3:00 p.m. eastern.
A new Mitt Romney ad takes President Obama`s words wildly out of
context. We`re going to talk about that up next.
HAYES: All right. Mitt Romney and Republicans spent the week
hammering President Obama for allegedly denigrating American business
owners. Of course, the president`s remarks were taken out of context, and
he`s making the case for fair taxation, progressive taxation and speech in
Virginia last week. Here is what he said in full.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you are successful,
somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher
somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable
American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.
Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you got a business, you
didn`t build that, somebody else made that happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s the president. And most fair observers have since
noted that you didn`t build that line referred to roads and bridges and
other public services, not the businesses themselves. Nonetheless,
bloggers (ph) followed by the Romney campaign left on the line accusing the
president of demonizing American workers. Here`s Romney at a campaign stop
in Pennsylvania on Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To say something like that
is not just foolishness, it`s insulting to every entrepreneur, every
innovator in America. It`s wrong.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yesterday, the Romney campaign went on the air with a TV ad
that deceptively edited out the president`s references to roads and
bridges, making it sound like he said business people didn`t build their
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If you`ve been successful, you didn`t get there on your own.
If you got a business, you didn`t build that, somebody else made that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The actual substance of Obama`s remarks that businesses
benefit from public services like roads and bridges is uncontested.
Instead, the heart of this back and forth to something I`ve been thinking
and writing a lot about lately the myth of purely meritocratic achievement.
The idea that success is exclusively the product of individual
accomplishment and ambition and nothing more. Joining us now in the table
and talk about this is Betsey Stevenson, columnist from "Bloomberg View,"
former chief economist of the Obama labor department.
Great to have you here. So, I thought in this whole debate both
fascinating and maddening, because, at a certain level, there`s not
actually -- like the point is so banal. It`s such a banal point. Here`s
Mitt Romney after attacking the president for his remarks basically saying
he`s essentially right. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: He goes on to describe the people who deserve the credit for
building this business. And of course, he describes people who we care
very deeply about, who make a difference in our lives, our school teachers,
firefighters, people that build roads. We need those things. We value
school teachers, firefighters, people who build roads. You really couldn`t
have a business if you didn`t have those things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Right. Exactly. You really couldn`t have a business if you
didn`t have those things. That`s -- so, what is -- why is this -- I mean,
I really think -- and this is part of something that`s broader that`s
happening in this election, which is there is this inclination and I think
it`s particularly true on the Romney side, but in some ways, both the
president and Mitt Romney have dual incentives to make this the case to
create a vision of the election as a grand titanic clash between two
Like the ideology of pure job, distilled and (ph) radiant job creator
individualism versus this social Democratic welfare statism when we`re
talking about raising tax rates maybe eight percent? Like that is the
thing that is this -- and now, we`re having this debate because of this
attack that says -- you know, that -- I don`t know. What are we even
fighting about? Can someone explain to me what this fight is about?
BENJAMIN: so, maybe this is what the fight at. Romney is trying to
stake a clear line between what he calls an entitlement society.
BENJAMIN: That`s Obama and his opportunity to society. And it`s
fascinating, to me, the way meritocracy is coming up in this election,
because it lets a lot of inequality off the hook, and it lets you put this
myth of individualism that`s going to be at the heart of cutting
government, raising small entrepreneurs and all that.
But he said that pretty blank. You can vote for me, the candidate of
opportunity, or you can vote for the so-called entitlement society.
BETSEY STEVENSON, FMR CHIEF ECONOMIST, LABOR DEPT.: But what`s
frustrating is, of course, opportunity comes -- I mean, he`s describing
this idea of opportunity and then the proposal is to cut a lot of
opportunity. So, opportunity comes from having access to good education.
Opportunity comes from a lot of the services that government decides.
And so, it is the false (ph) of economy that`s the economy of, you
know, opportunity versus, you know, this idea of entitlement. The
government funds important things. And, you know, when I think about the
reason we need progressive tax rates in particular is because we do want
the government to make investments in people.
When they pay off, the government should get a share of that just like
Romney got a share in his investments in Bain when they pay off.
STEVENSON: You know, the government invested in me. I couldn`t have
gone to college without student loans. The most important day of my life
was the day that government decided to fund my Ph.D. program to the
National Science Foundation. That changed my life. I`ve made more --
HAYES: I think of you as kind of a welfare queen.
STEVENSON: And as a result, the government has a right and should be
taxing me at higher rates, because they made an investment that`s paid off.
And certainly, I couldn`t have done that without hard work. I couldn`t
have done that without all of the -- me taking every opportunity that was
given to me.
STEVENSON: But if there weren`t opportunities to take, what kind of
opportunities in society do we have?
CARNEY: Well, we`re talking sort of about infrastructure on lots of
different levels here.
CARNEY: Expanding out from roads, bridges, and then you`ve got sort
of public schools, and then you`ve got your Ph.D. subsidy and I`ve got my
student loan subsidy and we`ve all got -- and so, as you get further out
from sort of the bed rock that Romney was agreeing on as far as what sort
of infrastructure you have, you get a lot of people who sort of the
government infrastructure is there and we might benefit from it, but that
doesn`t mean we think it`s a good thing.
I benefit from lots of things I don`t think are good think. I think I
benefit from white male privilege, and I don`t think that`s a good thing.
I think to --
HAYES: See, that`s why you`re the conservative we have on the show.
CARNEY: I think my student loan and subsidies, I think my mortgage
subsidies, I think the fact that I live in Washington, D.C. and government
growth drives up my home value.
CARNEY: All those things are not good thing, and that we know that
Obama believes that government ought to do more subsidizing and more
regulating of business. The subsidizing and regulating -- I`m not talking
HAYES: I don`t even think -- I don`t even agree with you on the --
see, there are two levels of where this happening, right? There`s an
ideological conversation which gets to this kind of almost sort of tribal
cultural politics about like I am a job creator, like you`re a ward of the
state. Like, no, I believe we`re all in it together (ph) and I believe in
social safety net.
But then there`s the question of what will this actual -- how this
cash out in terms of policy? And I`m convinced the Republican Party is
actually -- this is my big hobby horse I`ve been racking for the whole
Partly influenced by the columns of Tim Carney, which is that I`m just
unconvinced that a Republican Party is going to do any less subsidizing.
I`m convinced they`re going to -- I`m totally unconvinced they`re going to
CARNEY: Well, let me put it this way. I think they will do less, but
I think Mitt Romney is one of the -- at least, this is where we agree.
Mitt Romney is one of last people to sort of talk about this. He believes
in subsidizing business as much as almost any other politician.
HAYES: We have a great quote that shows at, which we will show you
right after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: One of the ways we can get more money is by being much more
aggressive in getting something called new market tax credits. It`s a
federal policy. What they do is that they`ll provide federal tax credits
to enterprises that are investing in certain areas of our state like this
one. That`s if you will free money to us in Massachusetts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s Mitt Romney touting the free stuff to use his term.
Money from the federal government for businesses. And we`re talking about
this kind of, I think, manufactured controversy over incredibly banal
statement that the president made about the fact that, you know, business
success is produce partly by the social contract and also by the underlying
fundamental infrastructure that government provides.
I do think there`s this weird -- you heard this thing (ph) before like
there is this weird impulse I find in this election, particularly, among
conservatives to make this as ideological as possible. And I can`t tell if
that`s an overcompensation from Mitt Romney. I can`t tell if it`s because
the message of rugged individualism is so appealing.
Bu that`s -- it seems to me time and time again that -- you harken
back, I mean, you can imagine a kind of -- a campaign that Mitt Romney ran
that was much more pragmatic about poor economic performance, and
sometimes, he does that, but he seems to get pulled constantly into making
this much more ideological case.
NELSON: I think that`s true. I think there`s a lot of coded language
that`s being used in this election. You know, it`s funny how Obama becomes
sort of the entitlement president, but we never hear George Bush described
as the entitlement president when he was entitling the rich.
NELSON: We never hear Romney described --
NELSON: Right -- Romney described as the entitlement candidate, you
know? So, I think it`s ideological. And I think it`s also coded, frankly,
racial language, and it`s the strategy in 2012.
NELSON: You know, and it`s really problematic. And let me say, if
this add -- it`s almost as if the Romney people had too much caffeine. The
24-hour news I think jumped on this so fast, and then as we saw from the
clip, Romney had to sort of agree with the president.
HAYES: Right. But what`s weird also that they didn`t jump on it that
fast in the sense that -- I think he said this on July -- this is weird
about this as a gap. He said this on July 5th, I think, and no one said
anything, because it was so banal. And then here`s the Fox Business hosts
and guests responding to the outrage over this that he would make such a
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Small business owners, guess what, the president
has a new message for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If you`ve got a business, you didn`t build that. Somebody
else made that happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Huh?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate to use the word, but that`s a near
socialist approach to economics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just spit in the face of every American who
goes to work every day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get in a lot of trouble for calling him a
socialist. His policies are socialist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn`t expect two guys in a welfare line to
have this conversation as to why they haven`t succeeded and then go out in
the back at alley and smoke a joint while they`re waiting for the number to
HAYES: All right. We`re going to talk more about pre-stop (ph) and
what the government does and doesn`t subsidize. And Mitt Romney`s personal
experience about. One of his personal claims of success came at the
expense of more than a billion dollars in taxpayer handouts. That story is
HAYES: Mitt Romney has three main items in his resume for president,
his 15-year career at Bain Capital, his four years as governor of
Massachusetts, and his time running the 2002 winner. Olympics.
But his time at Bain Capital is now the subject of a series of
withering attacks about outsourcing and job losses and a signature
achievement as Massachusetts governor is something Mitt Romney would rather
not talk about, thank you very much, which leaves his tenure as the head of
the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics as the only part of his record he
can tout uncomplicatedly.
Romney managed to restores sponsors confidence to Olympics after a
bribery scandal catch the shadow over the games. The game is went off
without a hitch and turned a hundred million dollar profit. The grand
irony of Romney`s individual success here is that he was assisted by over a
billion dollars in federal handouts.
Right now, I want to bring in Rocky Anderson, former Democratic mayor
of Southlake City who work with Mitt Romney for the 2002 winter games, also
had the nominee of the justice party running for president of United
States. Rocky, great to have you.
FMR. MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON, (D) SALT LAKE CITY: It`s good to be with
you. Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: So, you`ve been -- describe the situation, because Mitt Romney
came there to ---to turn around -- he wrote a book about it called "Turn
Around to Turn Around the Games" that were mired in scandal and a big part
of this strategy -- I know you endorsed Mitt Romney, I think, when he run
He endorsed you and you run. You guys are friends, but the big part
of the strategy was getting federal money, right?
ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely, and specially after 9/11, our security
concerns were overriding. Everything that we were doing we had and few
making certain that there was not a security problem. This is the largest
public event in this country since 9/11, and we want to make sure things
went along smoothly, and that nobody was hurt.
HAYES: The money that flowed in to the state that came from
government, I want to show quickly just so people get a sense of the scale
of the spending here. 1984 Los Angeles was $75 million. Atlanta was $609
million, but the time we got the Salt Lake City games, a $1.3 billion
Presumably that got money didn`t just disappear, right? It built
things there were developments that happened. There was light rail I think
that was constructed from it?
ANDERSON: Yes. Our highway construction was massive. And a lot of
that was being done before they came here. We did light rail money, which
serves as community, and its expanding. Of course, the Olympic village
which now serves as student housing at the University of Utah. There were
a lot of great legacy facilities as a result of the Olympics.
HAYES: So, when you -- wasn`t this debate that`s happening in which
there seems to be this argument a slightly fake argument about individual
achievement versus the support network of what the government provide in
certain infrastructure, how do you fit Mitt Romney`s period of time working
on the turn around the Olympics into that?
ANDERSON: Well, I really think it`s very hypocritical, and what`s
most ironic to me is that when the president was speaking about how were
all in this together that can be construed somehow now as if were all on
different sides, and it has to be this dichotomy between the wealthy you or
those who start businesses and become wealthy through the process, and
everybody else that some were construing as it`s carrying the entire load.
It`s not like that at all. This is all of this working together
towards success, and I wish somebody would talk about the obstacles to
starting small businesses, and the greatest one is the lack of a descent
healthcare system within this country.
HAYES: I`m going to stop you right there. I`m going to stop you
right there, Mayor. We got to take a break. We`ll be back very soon.
HAYES: All right. We are hear talking about the Olympic -- the
tenure of the Olympics in Mitt Romney`s resume.
We have with us Rich Benjamin from Demos; Betsey Stevenson, former
economist of the Labor Department of the Obama administration, Tim Carney
of "The Washington Examiner"; Jill Nelson, author -- book store owner at
some point, right?
JILL NELSON, AUTHOR: No.
HAYES: I thought you were.
HAYES: So, Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City on the line
And one of the points here I think is that in the midst of this
conversation about "you didn`t build that" and, you know, the idea that
rugged individual success is what makes America great and detached from the
government is just the brute fact that everybody is embedded on the system
that relies on the state for all kinds of things. And not just the basics
of infrastructure, right? I mean, Mitt Romney`s whole -- essentially his
mission as head of the Olympics was to go and get federal money to make
sure this thing succeeded. And that`s now something that he`s touting.
And, in fact, it provoked this outrage from John McCain who is, you know, a
scourge of earmarks.
This is -- this is John McCain talking about Olympic pork back in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: For the upcoming 2002 Winter Olympics
in Salt Lake City, that bill to American taxpayers is estimated to be $1.3
billion. The Olympic Games supposedly hosted and funded by Salt Lake City
was begun in corruption and bribery, has turned into an incredible pork
barrel project for the Salt Lake City.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Tim, is there any indication that anything is going to change
fundamentally? I mean, when we talk about crony capitalism, which is the
sort of attack de jure from the Mitt Romney and it`s something to your
great credit you have written about a ton and you`ve written about I think
without fear of favor across party lines, is there reason to believe that
we are going to see some tremendous change in that, you know, tax credits
for starting new businesses and subsidies under Mitt Romney?
TIM CARNEY, WASHINGTONEXAMINER.COM: No, Romney did the same sort of
subsidizing business that Obama does, even the same industries, biotech and
green energy, as governor, when he was governor of Massachusetts were
getting his gifts. So, he -- just like our president -- mandated that
people buy private health insurance.
HAYES: Right. Unless he forget.
CARNEY: He supports an ethanol -- ethanol subsidies. He supports
energy subsidies for what he calls infant industries. And so, he does
believe or has until recently in that kind of broader infrastructure that
Obama is talking about. But I also think that Romney`s record like Obama`s
record highlights a reason why more liberals ought to be worried about it
because the one who ends up benefiting as the government builds more and
more of these institutions, it`s the guys who can hire the lobbyists,
former member of Congress, or the guys who can hire the developers who can
hire Mitt Romney to use his connections in Washington bring the money back
HAYES: Betsey, what is your feeling about that?
BETSEY STEVENSON, FORMER LABOR DEPARTMENT ECONOMIST: What`s --
HAYES: I mean, this sort of crony capitalist critique that`s
happening, right, which is this idea that government and enterprise are in
bed in some sort of unique fashion of the Obama administration -- which
does not strike me as accurate. But he broader fact that this seems to be
the fabric of the system that everybody is embedded with and this kind of
disingenuous claims they`re going to get rid of it.
STEVENSON: So, that`s -- I think you just nailed the point, which is
that this idea that it is different under the Obama administration is kind
of silly to me. The idea that he is over-regulating or that he is
fundamentally changing business is silly.
But if you look at the way our system is structured, it is structured
for the people with the loudest voices to, well, speak the loudest. I
think that is true whether it comes to allocating money or even to thinking
about the regulatory process.
So, you know, I think we try very hard to think about the costs and
the benefits of regulations, but there is a real difference when one side
has a lot of money to make sure that their particular costs and benefits
are heard very, very loudly. And the people who get hurt are the American
public because the American public is usually not represented in these
discussions because they are not out hiring lobbyists.
HAYES: And is the case -- Rocky, I mean, my understanding from going
through a lot of reporting about the game in Salt Lake City is that there
are big public investments. But there`s also quite a bit of private
profiteering off a lot of government contracts that came through that two
in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
FMR. MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON (D), SALT LAKE CITY: Of course public money
went somewhere. It is so interesting to see the Mitt Romney then and it`s
true I did endorse him at the time when he ran for governor of
Massachusetts because he was a very reasonable, moderate person --
completely different from the Mitt Romney that we are seeing now run for
president. It`s like night and day.
We know that he has changed his position on so many issues or he never
would have been able to get elected as governor of Massachusetts at the
time and now seek the Republican nomination.
But you can`t have it both ways. It is amazing to me that this
doesn`t catch up with him. People in this country need to understand none
of us now have any idea who the real Mitt Romney is. What is his core?
What would he be like in the White House?
Because to me, he has been two very different people. This is hard
for me to say because we established a good friendship. We supported each
other, although we recognized that we had a lot of political differences.
Now those political differences are massive.
RICH BENJAMIN, DEMOS.ORG: Yes, it`s difficult to say. I mean, Romney
is in the position of running on a resume and not on an economic agenda.
We don`t know fundamentally what his profound economic vision is. We have
Remember, Halliburton no big contracts, the energy meetings that were
held at the White House without any sort of scrutiny and transparency.
That was profiteering and crony capitalism at its height.
Well, no one wants to re-persecute old scores. But the point is how
do we go forward?
The context of the crony capitalism with Obama was to say his
political supporters were benefiting from the stimulus money when a lot of
it went to tax breaks, a lot went to building roads.
So, that was the context of that first charge, was that his political
supporters were entitled and were benefiting from a lot of the stimulus
money, which in fact wasn`t the case.
HAYES: Well, both of those things can be true. I mean, part of the
problem is, part of the problem is when you have a campaign finance system
like we have, right, that is the background against which everything
CARNEY: I don`t think Obama is uniquely sort of crony-esque in giving
money to his supporters. I think his project of growing the government at
even a faster rate than George W. Bush inevitably results in those with the
best political connections getting their hands on the most money, because
the guys who can hire the former members of Congress as their lobbyists are
not mom and pops.
So, you increase -- you throw this giant stimulus pie out there, where
a lot of the tax breaks really were basically handouts. The guys who were
going to get their hands on the pie, on that blueberry pie, are going to be
the guys with the lobbyists.
STEVENSON: I think really I don`t like the idea that Obama grew the
STEVENSON: We had the worst recession since the Great Depression.
And what was a strategy for addressing was to you spend more -- to increase
government spending was to give more -- put more money back in people`s
pockets through increasing unemployment insurance which was done every
single time we enter recession which is the worst recession.
So, we spent a lot of money to deal with a problem that Obama
inherited. I don`t think you can then leap from that to say this is a guy
who`s going to build a giant government. He is not a giant government kind
of guy. I mean, he`s a pretty small government kind of guy.
I think once we get out, you know, completely out of this recession
and once we start getting the economy -- once the economy looks like it can
manage on its own, you are going to see those cutbacks. In fact, you`re
already seeing that.
HAYES: And CBO projections in terms of government spending as a
percentage of GDP we see in the out years after the stimulus money, the
Recovery Act, has been spent. And in recovery, projections towards smaller
-- obviously that is the future.
But, Rocky, I want to get your last thought on this, which is that
when we talk about these public investments that flow through Salt Lake
City, I mean, did they do the thing that we want public investment to do?
I mean, that`s the -- the fundamental question here is was Salt Lake City
better off? Were there public benefits conferred by the $1.5 billion in
taxpayer money that Mitt Romney, in his position, helped to get for the
area? And is that a testament to precisely the inverse of the point that
Mitt Romney seems to be making?
ANDERSON: Well, there were lasting benefits in Salt Lake City,
certainly. Our transportation system, the infrastructure -- our highways,
the light rail system, again, the student housing, the Olympic venues,
first-rate training facilities.
But I think the real question is what is the role of the federal
government in these kinds of projects and is it really a boondoggle for
those who end up benefiting in the long term? I just can`t imagine anybody
saying we`re all doing this by ourselves and yet looking to the federal
government for this kind of money to cover those kinds of infrastructure
investments as well as the important security money that was there because
we needed that. There is no question about that going into the largest
event since 9/11.
HAYES: Rocky Anderson, former Democratic mayor of Salt Lake City --
thank you for joining us this morning. Really appreciate it.
ANDERSON: Great to be with you. Thank you.
HAYES: Blaming unwed mothers for rising inequality, when we come
HAYES: Two points I want to make quickly before we cue up this next
One is that the vast majority of the money that Mitt Romney acquired
for Salt Lake City actually came before 9/11 so there was a big security
amount of money. I think it was $240 million in security money that that
came actually on September 10th was voted through. And then they got a
little supplement, which is a small amount of money. But most of the money
was before 9/11, just so folks don`t think that 1.5 million was all in
response to 9/11 for security. It just wasn`t, in terms of how the numbers
Also, I want to offer our condolences to the family of Alex Cockburn,
who is "The Nation" columnist, longtime "The Nation" columnist. I just got
news that he passed away. I saw Katrina Vanden Heuvel tweeting about it.
Alex is a colleague of me and Katha Pollitt, who I about to introduce in a
second. So, we want to send our condolences.
Attacking President Obama on the economy, Mitt Romney held up Jessica
Schairer, a single mother featured in a "New York Times", a middle class
victim of the Obama economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t know whether you
read the story over the weekend, there was a story in "The New York Times"
which described a couple of women that are working in a daycare center.
One of them is a single mom. She has three kids. One full time job and
three kids does not make a real, comfortable life. She`s had tougher,
tougher times, being middle class in America is getting tougher and
And a lot of people in the middle class have fallen to poverty. This
president`s economy is not working for the American people even for those
that are employed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, Romney referenced the piece to attack Obama`s economic
record. The article he mentions written by Jason DeParle uses two women
with children, one with a husband and one without to make the case of
decline in marriage rates, accounts for much of the growth in inequality.
In the piece, DeParle cites a litany of studies, including one showing
that just 40 years ago, the top and middle third incomes have almost
identical family patterns, which have since diverged. DeParle cites a
study by the think tank Child Trends showing that, quote, "less 10 percent
of the births to college educated women occur outside marriage. While for
women with high school degrees or less, the figure is nearly 60 percent."
Earlier this year, Charles Murray, in coming a part of the state of
white America from 1960 to 2010, made a similar case that poverty comes
from poor individual choices and family structure rather than unjust
Conservatives have gone from denying the rise of income equality to
attempting to explain it, they turn towards cultural explanations like the
break down of marriage as a root cause.
And joining us now is the aforementioned and legendary Katha Pollitt,
a contributor to "The Nation" magazine, my friend and colleague.
It`s great to have you here.
KATHA POLLITT, THE NATION: Thanks so much for having me.
HAYES: This article spurred a tremendous amount of debate and partly
because it`s at the intersection of two of the things that are I think
right in the middle of what we`re wrestling with as a culture, the rise in
inequality and also changing family structure. And we have, you know, 1
percent/99 percent conversations about the economy. We have "having it
all" conversations about work life balance and emerging family structure
and the challenges of a world in which we have a feminist vision but also a
lot of structure of patriarchy, et cetera.
And this article (INAUDIBLE) got a lot of response. You wrote a
response to the article. I should note that we reached out to Jason
DeParle who we wanted to have on but was on assignment. So, he couldn`t
What was your frustration with the article?
POLLITT: Well, my first frustration with the article was the idea
that "The New York Times" puts on its front page a story the point of which
is, it is better to have a college degree and a husband who makes a good
living and is a nice guy than be a college dropout with three children you
are supporting alone, with not child support or anything. I mean --
HAYES: Breaking news.
POLLITT: Really. When has this not been the case? I felt that the
article, it was -- as a piece of -- if it was a novel, it would be quite
HAYES: Jason DeParle is a great reporter and he`s always detailed.
POLLITT: It had a lot of interesting details about how both of these
women live. But behind it and significantly mentioned fairly positively in
the article was Charles Murray, was this idea that this is all about
values, people having the one wrong, specifically women having the wrong
ones. It always comes down to women.
You know, I just want to say, men wrap it up. Just once, I would like
to read a piece where it`s all about why do men sire three children and
have no intention of living with the mother and supporting afterwards?
What`s going on there? Nobody ever asked that question.
It`s always -- why would she do this? Why would she do this? Why she
didn`t she get married?
Well, you know, the point is, if she had married this woman is a hero
in my view because -- first of all, she gets pregnant. He says don`t have
an abortion, like she was considering. Let`s drop out. There`s a great
idea and start a family.
Well, seven years and three kids later, he still hasn`t married her
and he leaves. And, you know, she had -- she -- since then, she`s has
gotten a degree at a community college. Imagine doing that.
HAYES: I should say that she -- this woman who was referenced by Mitt
Romney in that piece of sound comes off remarkably as an amazing mom and
POLLITT: Completely. And she is shafted at every turn. I mean, I
don`t want to rant and rave. I was so struck how by thrown back on her own
resources she was. Long before any of this.
For example, OK, he makes a big deal. She went to college. She was
just like that other woman, until she got pregnant.
Well, the college she went to, William Penn University in Iowa, it
costs $20,000 a year. It has a freshman year retention rate of 55 percent.
So, 45 percent of the kids leave. Something is wrong there.
POLLITT: And you just wonder, you know, these kids are very young.
She got pregnant very young.
Maybe people need a little more nurturing and help and they need a
little more birth control. They need a little more of the suggestion that
having an abortion is not a shameful, terrible thing. You really should be
practical about your child bearing.
POLLITT: But also, she has a son with Asperger`s. She`s getting no
help for that.
HAYES: Betsey, can you fill in some --
HAYES: I just want to fill in some, because there is the individual
What DeParle is trying to do is basically tell a story about
sociological trends and the micro story of these women, right? Which is
what you do as a reporter, because you try to make the date live. So,
necessarily, there is some jaggedness to that.
But the data here is interesting and complicated in all sorts of ways.
When you said something to me about what you were struck by as someone who
spent a lot of time thinking about women and wages and work --
STEVENSON: So, first of all, what we know is that college dropouts
have the highest divorce rates of anyone else, much higher than high school
graduates who never go on to college, much higher than people who graduate
from college and even really higher than people who drop out of high
So, that`s the group where -- you know, there is something that`s just
not going right in their life and that`s contributing to them dropping out
of high school. It`s contributing to their marriage --
HAYES: Dropping out of college.
STEVENSON: I mean, sorry, dropping out of college.
HAYES: It`s contributing to their marriages not working out.
You know, another thing I wanted to jump on this -- it just so, I had
the same reaction to the story and maybe more hypersensitive to it.
Because, you know, you said seven years later, he still hadn`t married her.
Well, the research shows that women in these situations don`t
necessarily want to marry these men until they show that they are going to
contribute something of value to the household, either contributing through
helping with the children or bringing home a paycheck. And it sounded
like, that guy was doing neither. And she might have been better off
getting rid of this mouth to feed, which is nothing but being a burden on
That`s what the research Kathy Eden at Harvard has this great research
on this, showing that, you know, women want to get married, they want to
get married to a guy who`s going to change the diapers, go to work, who`s
not going to drink up all their money and alcohol.
CARNEY: And this is what we have always known. What grandma told us
HAYES: Here comes the conservative.
CARNEY: Yes. No, this is -- what we are learning here and I`m
agreeing with a lot of what you guys are saying, except for the suggestion
that the first baby should have been aborted. But what we learn is, you
marry a guy -- OK, I`ll put it -- you don`t like the burden being put on
the women. That is fair, too.
Guys are told you have to grow up and become a guy who is responsible
for yourself, who can -- if need be -- be responsible for other people like
children and who can do your part, getting married as a man involves giving
up of individuality, it involves self sacrifice, it involves subletting
your will to that of your wife.
And all of these things, these are lessons that we`ve always been
told. We`ve been told this for generation. And a lot of the social
scientists are basically yes, a good family where the guy is a both a
decent loving guy, but also a guy who can be a care taker, that is the
HAYES: Let me interject one thing, which is we are saying men and
women because the subject of the article is men and women in the vast
majorities of households are men and women. But I just want to make sure
there are obviously households with men and men and women and women, which
I want to put on equal footing.
I want to respond to that Jill and I want to get to your thoughts
right after we take a break.
HAYES: So, we are talking about -- we are talking about marriage, the
changes to family structure, the trends towards more children being born
outside of marriage and particularly how those changes are happening at
different rates, at different levels of the income scale, which is a fairly
established, empirical fact. So, it is a case that there is a fairly
significant and noticeable growth in the percentage of children born
outside of marriage in the bottom third of the income distribution and
increasingly in the middle third and much less at the top third. So,
that`s one of the issues.
Then there is the question of inequality and the rule that those two
things play costly, and then a lot of other compounding variables come in,
which is I can never tell if the conversation is about single moms who can
be married and divorced, right? Like -- or mothers who have kids not in
marriage and whether the father is present, isn`t totally related to
marriage or not.
In your case, right, Betsey? I mean, you are -- I`m not glowing up
your spot by saying you have written about this, you are an unwed mother,
right? You have a long term, stable, monogamous partnership with Justin
Wolfers, another economist, the two have not entered into the bonds of
marriage as recognized by the state, but you are raising a family as
STEVENSON: But I think that the choices that we are making and the
difference between us and the typical cohabiting family in the United
States is really what`s driving the different outcomes for these kids.
So, we had been in our relationship for 12 years and we have literally
spent 12 years discussing how we would parent together and how it would
affect our relationship. What changes we would make in our life, like we
planned and planned and planned. We waited until we were both sort of more
established in our careers and we were ready to make sacrifices, because we
had acknowledged and thought about those sacrifices.
I mean, all of those steps are the things that are really making a
difference. It`s not that, you know, if I can get Justin Wolfers down the
marriage aisle that the good fairy would, poof, turn him into a more
STEVENSON: That was sort of this underlying theme in the article was
that the guy who had fathered her children would have been just like Kevin,
a great dad throwing the baseball and going to the scouting camps --
HAYES: If they had --
STEVENSON: -- if he had been hit by that --
JILL NELSON, AUTHOR, "VOLUNTEER SLAVERY": I agree with that.
I thought one thing that Katha said was the lack of support that the
single mother with the three kids got in terms that she had one kid with
Asperger`s. She`s trying to take the kids -- she has no money for extra
curricular activities. She has no money for camps.
I raised a daughter as a single kids. I was able to do it because of
But also there were -- there was subsidized daycare. There were
subsidized camps. There was all kinds of outreach in my community that
helped support me with my child and to bring her along. You know, there
were free after school activities and free sports.
So, all that was present, and what I thought was striking in DeParle`s
article and you brought it up in yours, was that this woman seemed to have
no other support. And let me say this. Also, she had the -- I think she
had cervical cancer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
HAYES: That`s an amazing detail.
NELSON: She goes out for -- she has surgery and the doctor says her
to stay out for six weeks. She stays out for one because she can`t afford
to stay out any longer.
POLLITT: Paid sick leave. And just if I could say --
POLLITT: People should know -- this woman works as an assistant
manager in a daycare center. She makes $12.35 per hour. She clocks in and
out. So, if she takes an afternoon off, she loses that pay. She has no
What kind of a way is this to treat a person who is doing everything
right after, you know, having the kids by the time she was 25? Who hasn`t
screwed up by the time they are 25?
CARNEY: I have a quick point to what you are saying, sort of -- and
tie it together the "you didn`t build that" stuff. We do need community
support. One argument that, I mean, Ross Douthat, who`s been on the show,
has written -- wrote a column called "Government and its Rivals."
And one of the points that he makes in there is sometimes you look for
a solution on the national level because a problem is throughout the whole
country. But sometimes, the only effective way to provide the support is
going to be community-based. Some of it is going to be voluntary based and
church based. Some of it is just going to be sort of the bonds of
community and neighbors and friends. The dissolution of that is the root
of the problem.
And then you guys can have your -- the solution, it`s going to be the
federal government. But I think somehow, and (INAUDIBLE), a British writer
writes about this, somehow we need to rebuild sort of a community where
your next door neighbor can watch your kids while you run out.
STEVENSON: I couldn`t actually agree with you more on that point. As
a hormonal pregnant woman reading article, I burst into tears at one point,
that`s when nobody showed up at the kid`s birthday party.
STEVENSON: And no one showed up at that kid`s birthday party. That`s
not a problem the government is going to solve. But it is a problem
community can solve. I mean, you know, what`s going on with the school
system with all those parents that a kid can literally have his entire
class invited to his birthday party and no one show up.
HAYES: Just to be clear here. I mean, subsidized daycare is
something the government is going to pay. I mean, there are public
resources for -- you know, if we are going to have universal pre-K, which I
think we have and I think -- we should have and I think all the data shows
that universal pre-K would be great for child`s development and we great
for moms in the situation, it would be great for people across the income
I think we should fund that with tax dollars. That should be part of
our social culture. We should pay for that.
CARNEY: We can compromise and do it on the local level.
HAYES: Right. We can pay -- how would we pay for it federally, we do
it in local level. We solve universal pre-K.
Katha, I want you to respond but let`s take a quick break first.
HAYES: Katha Pollitt, you wanted to respond. We were having this
conversation -- if people are just joining us -- about changing households,
family structure, increasing percentage of women having children outside of
marriage and the rule that may or may not play in inequality.
POLLITT: Well, I just want to say that the dominant paradigm, it
seems to me, is the one of values are driving all of this. And that`s bad
and the marriage fairy will change everybody if they just get married.
But it isn`t just conservatives as I think you dropped into the
conversation earlier. This was the theory behind the welfare reform Bill
Clinton signed which said, you know, marriage, yes and everybody should
have been working.
And has this slowed the growth of single motherhood? No.
POLLITT: And this woman is doing everything right. Is she getting
help that, you know, according to welfare reform, should have been extended
to her? We`re going to reward the people who are doing the right thing and
not the other? No.
HAYES: She is on foot stamps as 45 million Americans are.
HAYES: She is not getting any (INAUDIBLE) --
POLLITT: Is she a program for her Asperger`s son? No. You know, he
should be learning social skills and people would come to his birthday
party. And that`s beyond the family.
HAYES: And there`s two -- I just want to say, there are two economic
things happening here. Two also, right? One of the things in this
conversation is the fact that women have entered the workforce in
increasing numbers, right? And we`ve seen women`s earnings go up over
POLLITT: Lowering the poverty rate.
HAYES: Lowering the poverty rate. I mean, this is a good thing.
But the point is one of the things that happens is in a world in which
you have two earner households, obviously, one earner households are going
to be in a lot of worse off shapes. So, that`s a big part of what this
If the norm is two earner households and one of the things we`ve seen
is that the majority if not all of the rise in household income that
happened adjusted in real terms that happens for a large share for 20 or 30
years in the 1970s is happening because of increasing women labor force
labor market participation, not because of rising wages. If you just take
men and look at their wages, between 1973 to today, they are down about
$12,000 in real terms. And $44,000 to $32,000, that`s men between 25 and
34 in the kind of prime marriageable years, right?
So, you are seeing a decline in male earning which I think is part of
what`s driving this, as well -- the question of finding someone who, quote,
"can support a family".
STEVENSON: So, economic changes in the country and in the world have
fundamentally changed marriage. And this is something I`ve written a lot
If you go back to, say, the 1950s what we had was a world in which the
ideal marriage was one that was more where people were more productive when
they were married than when they were apart. They got that productivity
HAYES: Right, division of labor. Right.
STEVENSON: Division of labor, Gary Becker won the Nobel Prize for
this. You know, you described a world in which one person -- particularly
the man -- went into the market and focused on earning money and the other
person stayed at home and focused on doing all of the things that a
STEVENSON: And what`s happened in decades is we just had a number of
changes. All right? So reduced discrimination has increased the
opportunity cost of having that person stay home because now that second
earner can earn more money.
The technological change in the household has been enormous and has
actually reduced the value of having somebody who specializes in the
household. You don`t need one person who does the laundry because laundry
is so complicated. Now any idiot can run a washing machine.
CARNEY: Even me.
STEVENSON: You can try on a load of laundry. He doesn`t need his
wife to be a laundress, right?
HAYES: Right, right.
STEVENSON: And we`ve also had an increase in trade, that means we
don`t need women to stay home and perfect learning how to sew because they
can hire a seamstress from China.
STEVENSON: They can buy their clothes at very cheap prices that have
been important. So, this has really the dynamics. And what we`ve seen is
marriage shifting from one that`s based on productivity, financial
security, to one that`s based on companionship, one that`s based on people
choosing each other because they are going to get along better. They`re
going to enjoy life more together.
HAYES: Which I think is groovy. I mean, I like that.
STEVENSON: Let me tell you a couple of facts on that. College
educated women were the least likely to marry under the old regime.
STEVENSON: They were very, very unlikely to marry. If you went to
HAYES: Because they didn`t have the skill set for the specialization,
STEVENSON: And nobody wanted to be --
STEVENSON: Today, they are the most likely to marry because everybody
wants to marry this companion person.
HAYES: I want to get your response but I want to take -- I`m sorry.
We are going to take one more break and we`re going to get your response.
HAYES: Tim Carney, you want to respond to what Betsey Stevenson was
saying about the sort of changing role of marriage in the economy.
CARNEY: I`m saying, get groovy, but don`t get too groovy. In other
words, companionship has to be defined in a broader way. If that`s what we
are seeking, that`s some sort of economic arrangement, the companionship.
There is the most basic level of a companionship which a lot of sort of --
you know, high school kids think of.
CARNEY: It`s the sort of the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie thing. Oh,
we`re going to be together, as long as we love each other, duh, duh, duh.
But no, a broader, a smarter form of companionship is what you were
thinking about, Betsey, where you`re thinking, wait a second, do we both
want kids and how are we going to raise the kids, talking about religion.
I`m a Catholic, is she a Catholic, et cetera. Going through and defining
companionship to be broader and not just, oh, we love each other so much.
HAYES: The big variable, I should say, here is waiting. I mean,
that`s the other thing that is the big takeaway from social science,
whether you are married or unmarried, the longer you wait to have kids as a
general rule, the outcomes for those are better. That is one thing social
science tells us.
And we have seen the average age that women has children has moved
quite a bit, right? It`s moved from something like 20 to 26.
STEVENSON: But this is the really important point, I just want to
give the facts on this, which is that it`s moved for highly educated women
and not really for less educated women. And I think that`s been something
that`s been driving the gap in outcomes, family outcomes, outcomes for the
kids is that highly educated women are postponing kids until they are more
ready and less educated are not.
NELSON: Let me -- the question for me is if you don`t wait and if you
don`t marry, how can -- how you do become successful?
NELSON: I mean, I felt -- in a way, I felt like -- I feel the single
women and children are almost punished. You made the mistake and now,
you`ll suffer for the rest of your life. You`re not going to get ahead
Yet, we live in a culture where we help Wall Street when they make
mistakes, you know?
NELSON: So, why not help women and children? We pay such lip service
to women and children. We love our kids and the children are our future.
But when these children birthed and existing in certain family structures,
we sort of write them off as if they are not important.
HAYES: I mean, there`s a lot of human potential there. I mean, you
were saying during the break, you said you had your daughter when you were
20 years old. And, you know, investments you make in mothers and children,
if they are successful investment and you were saying your experience was
nothing more successful investment produced a lot of human value, right?
We want to have flourishing people at the end of this whole thing.
NELSON: Let me say -- at that period of the early `70s, the notion of
being a single mother was not as demonized and negative as it is now. I
mean, I watched it change over the years, especially for women of color and
women who are not middle class, it`s sort of like you made a mistake and
now, you have to live with it.
HAYES: Katha Pollitt of "The Nation" magazine, it`s so great to have
you here for the first time.
POLLITT: Thanks so much for having me.
HAYES: All right. What do we know now we didn`t know when the begun?
We`ll find out after this.
HAYES: In just a moment, what we now know that we didn`t know last
week. But first, a quick update. On Sunday`s show, Ed Conard, a former
partner of Bain Capital, said the United States has increased productivity,
while Europe`s productivity has fallen. He painted a picture of America as
a home to a dynamic productive entrepreneurial capitalism, while Europe
suffered in the doldrums of statism and lack of productivity.
That`s not really a complete picture. It`s important to point out
that as recently at 2009, American workers were less productive per hour
than those in Belgium, Ireland and Norway, and just a smidge more
productive than the workers of France, Germany and the Netherlands, all
countries with significantly higher taxation and provision of social
While productivity per hour in the United States has gone up during
the Great Recession as employers squeeze more work out of existing
employees, without hiring new employees, it remains to be seen how and
whether this benefits the American worker in terms of rising wages.
In my personal update, my book "Twilight of the Elites" is on sale now
at online retailers and your local bookstore. Check out "Twilight of the
Elites" Facebook page of our Web site at Up.MSNBC.com for more details,
information about upcoming appearances.
So, what do we know now we didn`t know last week?
Well, we now know that nearly 18,000 cases of whooping cough have been
reported to the CDC this year and nine babies have already died, putting it
on track to be one of the worst outbreaks in the United States in over 50
years. We know there has been a sustain campaign of paranoia and
misinformation about vaccines that has convinced many parents not to
vaccinate their kids. We know this kind of creeping blanket distrust in
expert opinion has catastrophic human cost.
Though no one is paying all that much attention, we now know the U.S.
has done something conservatives said wasn`t possible. It has cut its
carbon emissions while also growing its economy. We know the U.S. leads
all other countries in carbon emission reductions since 2006, cutting a
whopping 8 percent to put it back to 1996 levels.
We know the reasons for the reductions aren`t exactly reassuring,
partly due to economic slowdown in the wake of the financial crisis and a
glut of cheap natural gas made possible by fracking.
We know the road to dramatically reduce carbon emissions is
complicated but the math is simple. As Bill McKibben spells out in
"Rolling Stone" this week in an absolute must-read article, "If we want to
have a chance of avoiding catastrophe, we need to leave 80 percent of all
the known fossil fuel reserves, including natural gas in the ground."
We now know that the Republicans not only oppose public funding or
campaign finance restrictions but now apparently also oppose disclosure.
The Senate Republicans killed the DISCLOSE Act this week, a bill that would
have required the full disclosure of campaign contributors, a bill that
many of them previously supported as an alternative to campaign donation
We know that Ron Paul`s Campaign for Liberty, the National Rifle
Association and the Koch-funded Tea Party group FreedomWorks warned
senators that they would be keeping a score card of their votes on the
DISCLOSE Act. We don`t know however just who is funding the majority of
the third-party ads being run this election, but, of course, that`s the
And finally, where there is smoke there`s fire. We know an eagle-eyed
conservative blogger hot on the trail of liberal media bias caught Ohio
Senator Sherrod Brown and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz
in a very cozy embrace. The conservative blogger reached out to Schultz by
email, telling here he was writing an expose on media figures getting too
close to Democrats and asking for her comment.
We know se responded, quote, "I am surprised you did not find a photo
of me kissing U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown so hard he passes out from the
lack of oxygen. He`s really cute." And then followed with, "He`s also my
husband. You know that, right?"
We know that no scandal in America is too fictitious or invented to
attract the full diligence, care and resources of the conservative media.
Rich Benjamin from the progressive think tank Demos is back with us at
I want to find out what my guests think we now know at the end of this
week. I`ll start with you, Rich.
BENJAMIN: I now know a trend in the wealth management industry, April
Rudin, a CEO of the Rudin Group, advising her industry to declare the
middle class is toast and that they should now focus on the wealthy. We`ll
see what Charles Schwab would say about that.
HAYES: Wait, in terms of their investments?
BENJAMIN: In terms of managing their wealth and in terms of growing
their business. She said the middle class is toast, forget about them, and
that you should now only focus on the extremely wealthy.
HAYES: There`s a book coming out soon from Jeff Faux, who`s at the
Economic Policy Institute, which I`ve heard great things about this, called
"The Servant Economy." And it`s all about -- the conceit of it is that we
have -- increasingly, we`re going to have essentially a wealthy class and
then jobs in the service industry giving them the things that they want.
And I`m anxious to talk to Jeff about the book.
STEVENSON: We know that Chairman Bernanke thinks that there`s more
that the Fed could do to help the economy, and we can combine that with
what we already knew which is that the Fed is projecting they are going to
miss on both their unemployment and inflation targets. In other words,
inflation is projected by them to be lower, under the 2 percent they
target, closer to 1 percent.
So now, what we don`t know is what they are waiting for.
HAYES: I have said this before. If Ben Bernanke were a surgeon, we
would be suing him for malpractice if he did this (INAUDIBLE) on an
operating table. Absolutely true.
CARNEY: We unfortunately know the instinct to pin tragedies and
horrific offenses on the Tea Party is almost involuntary reaction in
certain circles of media and politics. We had Brian Ross of ABC News
speculate widely and irresponsibly that the suspected shooter was a Tea
Party member who had the same name. You know, it showed up in a Google
This isn`t the first time. Gabby Giffords was shot and people killed
in that case. You had a rush of people in the media and politicians and
most notably Paul Krugman making this part of the Tea Party world.
2010 Times Square bombing by Faisal Shahzad who, as you can tell by
the name, is not a -- well, I should say, Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani
American. The same American who is not a member of the Tea Party -- let me
put it that way. He got trained in Pakistan.
You had Robert Dreyfuss in "The Nation" say, "This was far more likely
a lone nut job or a member of some squarely branch of the Tea Party anti-
government right." And Mayor Bloomberg suggested it was somebody upset
about the health care bill.
I could go on. Joe Stack, the IRS, we had the Census worker hanged --
HAYES: The Joe Stack thing, Joe Stack I wrote about in my book, whose
politics completely compound (INAUDIBLE). I think the general -- with the
exception of Ryan Ross making that statement, which was then retracted, he
got a ton of reason for, I think people have been good in the last day or
two about not speculating about political motives --
CARNEY: And --
HAYES: -- because I think partly because we learn the lesson, which
is that we do not know.
Jill Nelson, quickly, what do we know now?
NELSON: We know what an abortion at six weeks, thanks to a woman who
had one and posted it on the Web site called thisismyabortion.com. After
years of attack since Roe -- decades of attack since Roe v. Wade on woman`s
right to choose, and woman`s right frankly to have been abortion, of the
demonized pictures of little baby`s in jars with arms and legs in jars, we
see exactly what it looks like when a woman decides legally to exercise her
right to have an abortion at thisismyabortion.com.
HAYES: Jill Nelson, thank you very much. My thanks to Rich Benjamin,
author of "Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of
White America," Betsey Stevenson, formerly of the Obama Labor Department,"
Tim Carney of the "Washington Examiner"; and Jill Nelson, author of
"Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience" -- thanks for getting
UP. It`s really great conversation.
Thank for joining us today for UP. And join us tomorrow, Sunday
morning at 8:00, when we`ll talk to Gary Gensler, chairman of the U.S.
agency that regulates commodity trading, about the effect of drought on
food prices. And we`ll have Amy Goodman, host of "Democracy Now".
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". On today`s "MHP," Melissa
will have more details on the shooting in Aurora and explore whether we in
times of crisis are prepared to give up civil liberties. She`ll be joined
by NBC`s Harry Smith for that.
Also, have we seen the end of moderation? Is there any room left in
the middle? Congressman Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania and former
Representative of Delaware join Melissa. That`s "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY"
coming up next.
We will see you here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.
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