'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Saturday, March 2nd, 2013
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
March 2, 2013
Guests: Dale Ho, Linda Greenhouse, Judith Browne-Dianis, Akhil Reed Amar, Debo Adegbile, Tom Colicchio, Saru Jayaraman, Andrew Moesel, Victoria Bruton
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
President Obama officially signed the budget sequester last night,
triggering $85 billion in federal spending cut this fiscal year and a
trillion dollars in cuts over the next decade. We`ll be talking about
those cuts on tomorrow`s program.
The state department released a draft environmental assessment yesterday
suggesting wrongly, I`ll note, that the Keystone pipeline would have little
impact on climate change. Coming up in a few minutes, I`ll be sitting down
with top chef`s Tom Colicchio. I`m really excited about that.
But right now, my story of the week. Assorted business. This week`s
Supreme Court oral arguments over the fate of Section 5 of the Voting
Rights Act, conservative hero, Antonin Scalia, said something instantly
infamous when he referred to the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act
as the perpetuation of racial entitlement.
Of course, obliviousness to offensive racial rhetoric is nothing
particularly new from the conservative justices on the Roberts` court in
oral arguments, but it`s not just the way the majority in the Roberts`
court talks about race, it`s a way they`ve gone about declaring
unconstitutional practices we use to pursue racial equality in a society
that is, to this day, shockingly unequal.
The guiding theory of the Roberts` courts jurisprudence on racial
discrimination is a belief in color blindness itself as a guide in
constitution principle rather than the more substantive goal of actual
racial equality. And of course, achieving racial equality has -- the
country`s long painful, bloody, violent racial history required constant
applications of laws, metrics, and approaches that are acutely race
You need to analyze the racially desperate (ph) effects of say a proposed
voter ID law in order to make sure you preserve equal access to the ballot.
Universities committed to diverse student bodies need to consider the race
and ethnicity of their applicants and school districts committed to
integration need to monitor and track the racial makeup of their student
The Roberts` courts conservative justices have no patience for any of this.
In his descent from a 2006 Texas in voting rights case, Roberts famously
proclaimed that he found the government`s intensive involvement in
achieving a racial equality in redistricting and icky business. It is a
sordid business, he wrote, this divvying us up by race.
And year later, when the court struck down, two school districts broadly
popular integration plans, Roberts declared his rationale with the factious
declaration that the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to
stop discriminating on the basis of race. That sentence, I think, is a
perfect distillation of Roberts jurisprudence on race with all of its
appealing pseudo simplicity, its adolescent soft history.
It`s a very short distance from a logic of that reasoning to asking why
there isn`t a white history month? Roberts` prescription of color
blindness, of course, requires the court, politicians, and citizens to
simply ignore or forget the actual history of actual places and people and
institutions and laws and traditions and cultures.
The lived experience of human beings embedded in a real existing society
where cutesy -- like proclamations fail to reckon with the awesome breath
and death of the fact of slavery, Jim Crow and their twin legacies.
And never was this more apparent than the actual Voting Rights case before
the court this week where the conservative justices wanted to talk about
the abstract principles of federalism while almost entirely ignoring the
actual record, the 15,000 pages of documentation Congress assembled during
its reauthorization hearings.
And the wrath of restrictive voting laws still being passed, and in some
cases, struck down in the states covered under Section 5. It was left to
Justice Sonia Sotomayor to raise the inconvenient fact that the actual
(INAUDIBLE) from the case Shelby County, Alabama, wasn`t exactly a model of
racial enlightenment since the city of Calera redistricted its lone Black
city council number out of the seat in 2008. And that was just one of many
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Assuming I accept your premise, and there`s some
question about that, that some portions of the south have changed, your
county pretty much hasn`t.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the period we`re talking about, it has many more
discriminating -- 240 discriminatory voting laws that were blocked by
Section 5 objections. And why would we vote in favor of a county whose
record is the epitome of what caused the passage of this law to start with?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That moment in oral arguments reminded me of a moment on our show
last week when we were discussing and debating the Voting Rights Act.
Bishop Harry Jones interjected to respond to Horace Cooper who`d argued
that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was outdated to say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BISHOP HARRY JONES, SHELBY COUNTRY RESIDENT: In Alabama, run for office
and see if he can win. And I think that one of the things that we`d have
to also look at the fact is that Section 5 has been -- the one thing that
has leveled the playing field.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: For the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Shelby V. Holder.
John Lewis, a man who has lived the history of struggle for voting rights
as much as anyone, spoke on the steps outside on behalf of the history that
roughly one hour later, Roberts and Scalia seemed only too happy to erase.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS, (D) GEORGIA: Field forces in this country, they`re going
to take us back to another period. But we`re not going back. We`ve come
too far. We`ve made too much progress to go back. (INAUDIBLE) may be
gone, but people are using other means of attacking and technique.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Right now, this morning, that same John Lewis is in Selma, Alabama,
commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Selma-Montgomery March. And I
have to say the country would be a lot better off if Roberts and Scalia
were down (ph) there with them.
Joining me right now, we have Linda Greenhouse, a night distinguished
journalist and residence at Joseph Goldstein Lecture in law, at Yale Law
School, who covered the Supreme Court for "New York Times" for 30 years and
now writes an opinion column for "The Times" website.
Dale Ho, an attorney with the NAACP legal defense and education fund and a
member of the litigation team for the defense in Shelby County V. Holder,
Judith Browne-Dianis, attorney and co-director of the civil rights group,
the Advancement Project and the friend of the show, Akhil Reed Amar, author
of "America`s Unwritten Constitution: The Presidents and Principles We Live
By," sterling professor of law and political science at Yale University.
Great to have you all here.
So, oral arguments this week. We talked about the case last week. I`m
curious. I mean, I think a lot of people went in essentially anticipating
a tremendous amount of hostility toward Section 5 on the part of the
conservative justices, and they were not disappointed.
HAYES: So, I guess, I`m -- my first question, and Dale, you worked on the
litigation team. What were the surprises in oral arguments to you?
DALE HO, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: Well, we weren`t surprised, as you
said, that there was some -- you know, there were some questions raised
about the continuing need for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. In fact,
if anything, I think people were a little less hostile than maybe they were
four years ago in the Northwest Austin case when some of the same issues
What was, I think, really, really interesting right out of the gate were
some questions by Justice Sotomayor about how a plaintiff county in state
of Alabama, of all places, can be the kind of place with a straight face to
come before the court and say we no longer need the Voting Rights Act given
the record of discrimination in a place like Alabama.
LINDA GREENHOUSE, YALE LAW SCHOOL: You know, if I can say about that and I
think this is sort of the lost in the discussion of the case. So, Shelby
County, Alabama, didn`t wake up one fine sunny morning and say, let`s
challenge the Voting Rights Act.
HAYES: Right. Right.
GREENHOUSE: It was recruited.
GREENHOUSE: It was recruited by this one person project`s unfair
representation. That -- lots of right wing foundation money to go out and
accept the court`s invitation from four years ago in the Northwest Austin
case to bring us a better case, because this is the playing out of what
I`ve called the Roberts projects.
You know, last year in the health care case, I predicted that the chief
justice would ultimately vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Why?
Well, various reasons. But basically, I didn`t think he was animated by
the sort of anti-federal government animus that went to so much of the
criticism of the ACA.
But I do think he`s animated by, as you said at the top of the show, this
color blind notion and to get the government out of the business of
accounting by race and that`s what motivates him and that`s what this case
JUDITH BROWNE-DIANIS, ADVANCEPROJECT.ORG: Racial entitlements. That, I
mean, shocker --
HAYES: You`re talking about the Antonin Scalia --
HAYES: Let me play that just so that everyone can hear it in its context.
And what`s very interesting about the context is, when I first heard it,
that was kind of the quote of the oral arguments. And I think it`s
actually worse in context, because basically, what he`s saying in context,
he`s making argument that the reason that this is -- that you need -- you
know, tremendous judicial activism to strike down, right?
What congress has passed under 21 hearings, 15,000-page (ph) record is
actually because the democratic process has this fatal flaw which is that
it cannot liberate itself from the straitjacket of political correctness,
that is racial entitlement, right? That if you call a law of the voting
rights act, that every legislator just bows before that.
And that that means that there`s this kind of role for the courts because
the democratic process is so fallen and dysfunctional that they just keep
unthinkingly passing this. Take a listen to Justice Scalia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I think it is
attributed, very likely attributable to a phenomenon that is called
perpetuation of racial entitlement. It`s been written about. Whenever a
society adopts a racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get them out
of them through the normal political processes.
I don`t think there`s anything to be gained by any senator to vote against
continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted
in perpetuity, unless, unless, a court can say it does not comport with the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I love the line it`s been written about. The sort of citation like
written about where? News max and town hall have been writing about the
fact that racial entitlement buys people -- I want to get your reaction to
that quote. And I also want to bring in one of the individuals who argued
before the court who is live in Selma. And we have a little bit of news
from a retired Republican senator who thinks the court should butt out.
All that after this break.
HAYES: So, Justice Scalia says, we`re probably going to have to step in
here because Congress cannot be trusted to stop itself from feeding at the
trough of racial entitlement. How compelling you find that argument?
BROWNE-DIANIS: So, this means we should really only have one branch of
government. We don`t need to vote for president. We don`t need a Congress
because the Supreme Court is going to take care of everything. We don`t
need hearings, all those Congressional hearings. What`s the point of that?
I mean, it is just amazing that a justice could actually said and claim
he`s not a judicial activist.
BROWNE-DIANIS: He is getting ready to just say, the heck with democracy.
I am going to decide the facts here. I`m going to decide discriminations
over. We`re in a color blind society. Move on, people.
AKHIL REED AMAR, YALE LAW SCHOOL: And what`s so striking is the
constitution of the United States says really clearly who`s supposed to
AMAR: Thirteen, 14th and 15th amendments all end with the words "congress
shall have power." These are written by Congress, for Congress --
AMAR: -- Stevens, Tommy Lee Jones.
HAYES: Actually written by Tommy Lee Jones.
HAYES: Little known fact. Historical fact.
AMAR: And he says, well, you can`t trust the politicians because they
didn`t vote for this stuff because -- that`s true of the constitution (ph)
itself. But the politicians -- we`ve never going to get rid of this 13th
amendment and 14th amendment.
AMAR: It`s perpetual, the constitution itself.
HAYES: I want to bring in Debo Adegbile, a special counsel of the NAACP
legal and education defense fund who just argued for the defense in Shelby
County v. Holder before the Supreme Court. This week, he joins us from
Selma, Alabama who is taking part in the 48th anniversary recreation of the
history Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights March.
Dabo, first of all, nice job on Wednesday. I was incredibly impressed.
And second of all, what was your sense of being in that room, standing
before those justices, particularly, on this question of who should be
making this call?
DEBO ADEGBILE, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: Well, I come back to Akhil
Lamar`s (ph) point that the constitution is crystal clear on this point.
This is a court that likes us to look to the text and adhere to the
principle and the constitution. And the reason that the 13th, 14th, and
15th Amendments were drafted and drafted as they are to allocate the power
to Congress is specifically because states, and to some degree, the court
itself, were participants in the perpetuation of racial cast through
And so, the country made a different choice. It made a choice to move
forward and to actively tend to our democracy with the minority inclusion
principle. And the only way to get there is to recognize our history and
to recognize its continuing claims.
HAYES: I want to play what I thought was a really interesting moment on
this question about the balance between Congress and the courts on this
question. And this is --Bert Rein is the lawyer for Shelby County, and
he`s talking and Justice Kagan asked him a very provocative question. Take
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the problem to which the Voting Rights Act was
addressed is solved. So, that`s like saying if I detect that there`s a
disease afoot in the population in 1965 and I have a treatment, a radical
treatment that may help cure that disease when it comes to 2005 and I see a
new disease or I think the old disease is gone, there`s a new one, why not
apply the old treatment?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well then Mr. Rein, that is, that is the question,
isn`t it? You said the problem has been solved, but who gets to make that
judgment really? Is it you, is it the court, or is it Congress?
That`s a big new power that you`re giving us, that we have the power now to
decide whether racial discrimination has been solved?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That does strike me as a big new power, Linda.
GREENHOUSE: Well, yes, and you know -- something else to say about
Scalia, too, is that he`s Mr. No Legislative History, right? He`s Mr.
Let`s Look At The Face Of The Statute and we don`t look beyond it.
And all of a sudden, he`s imputing the motives of the Senate that
unanimously, including senators, of course, from every cover jurisdiction
in the House with only 33 descending votes and votes from members of the
House and every covered jurisdiction that they`re somehow, you know,
cowards, they can`t stand up to their constituents and we look beyond what
they actually do which was reauthorized the statute for the fourth time.
HAYES: Debo, is there a legitimate -- I mean, I guess we`re all sitting
here, we don`t have anyone, really, on the other side of this issue, but I
mean, it just does -- I have a hard time seeing the other side. I mean,
what is the interest on the other side of this case?
It seems to me that you have the moral force of protecting people from
systematic exclusion, discrimination on one side. And on the other side,
the best you can come up with is like the sovereign dignity of Alabama?
ADEGBILE: Right. So, I think there were really two issues in play, and
both were in evidence in the court the other day. The first is that some -
- there are those who, in some ways, although they deny it, are contesting
the original premise of the Voting Rights Act.
HAYES: Right. Yes. That`s a very good point.
ADEGBILE: That is to say, you know, whether Congress actually has the
power to make these distinction and treat a problem where it finds it being
most pernicious and corrosive to our democracy, but the second claim that
runs through this case, and this is a question that requires a closer
explanation, is whether the problem today still remains most intense in
certain places as opposed to others.
This part of the Voting Rights Act covers all or part of 16 states. And
Congress took a very hard look at this question and it found that, indeed,
although there`s voting discrimination in many places, the nature of the
problem in the covered jurisdictions is that it tends to be more persistent
There are more repetitive violations such that a single case is inadequate
to dispel the discrimination. And that`s the proof that Congress made.
And the court, I think, is asking the question about whether they`re
satisfied that Congress did their homework. The important thing is that
Scalia, himself, criticized some of the court`s federalism decisions in an
opinion where he said it`s not the duty of this court to ask whether
Congress is doing its homework.
ADEGBILE: So, we`ll have to see how that gets worked out.
HAYES: And we were curious on this point. I came away from -- and said,
you know, what the justice is saying is incredibly insulting to members of
Congress, right? He`s basically saying you guys are not -- you sort of --
you know, automatons who just willy-nilly don`t actually exercise due care.
BROWNE-DIANIS: And to the president who signed it.
HAYES: And to the president who signed it. Exactly. And so, we actually
-- we e-mailed to -- there`s -- how many -- there are 43 senators still in
office who voted the first time around. We e-mailed all them. We
basically gave them Scalia`s statement and said -- basically, the
Republican senators, sorry. The 43 Republican senators were around when it
And we e-mailed them and we said, do you agree with this, you know? And we
got one response. One response --
HAYES: And probably not coincidentally from a retired Republican senator,
Judd Craig, who said I do believe this is a legislative matter where the
action of Congress should take priority and does not raise constitutional
issues that justify judicial action superseding the legislative branch`s
GREENHOUSE: Well, that`s really interesting because he`s from New
Hampshire, and New Hampshire is a covered jurisdiction.
HAYES: And also, I think a party to the suit, aren`t they? Or some of the
jurisdictions joined it or at least they were come -- they were on NPR
rallying against it.
AMAR: And he`s saying it because he believes it, not because he has to do
it to get re-elected --
AMAR: -- in honesty there. Now, in your defense, here`s the reason why
this is not a balanced panel. Unlike Obamacare where there were leading
academics leading the charge, not many of them, but there was Randy Barnett
and others saying this is unconstitutional and you had them on your show
AMAR: -- there are no leading academics that I know of or I think my
colleagues know of where saying, you know, the real problem in America is
we have a Voting Rights Act.
HAYES: Right. Debo, I want you to stick around if it`s OK because I want
to sort of broaden the lens out here to the broader question of what kind
of (ph) racial jurisprudence of this court is. There`s a huge affirmative
to action case up.
There`s a case that was one of Roberts` first big decisions called parents
involved, which I think has really knocked out the attention in broad
public sphere that it deserves because it`s really remarkable case in terms
of what it says. So, you stick around. You at home stick around as well.
We`ll be right back.
LOUIS C.K., COMEDIAN: My kids are good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes.
LOUIS C.K.: I mean, on paper they`re great. The two little white girls in
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, right.
LOUIS C.K.: I just want to say I`m not trying to say that if you`re white,
you can`t complain. I`m just saying that if you`re black, you get to
You can`t take people`s like historical context away from them. And
everybody wants us to like white people are always like, come on, it wasn`t
us. Like, they want black people to forget everything. Like every year,
white people add 100 years to how long ago slavery was.
LOUIS C.K.: I`ve heard educated white people say slavery was 400 years
ago. No, it very wasn`t. It was 140 years ago. That`s two 70-year-old
ladies living and dying back to back.
LOUIS C.K.: That`s how recently you could --
HAYES: That is the amazing Louis C.K., talking about the sort of
importance of the context of history. And I think it brings us a broader
question about how the court thinks about protecting against racial
discrimination, racial exclusion.
And, there`s seems to be a debate that the court has been having before
Roberts, but now, we`re going to see it revisited in this term about, I
guess, the question is, how much you can take race itself into account when
implementing policies with the goal of producing some kind of outcome that
is either racial equality or diversity or some other compelling interest,
I mean that is kind of -- am I right that that`s the sort of the battle on
the table, Dale, in terms of this jurisprudence?
HO: Right. I think the first principle is that you have to look at what
the history is first before you start saying we don`t want to be race
conscious now, right? You played that clip or you read that line from
Justice Roberts` opinion about the sordid business of giving itself (ph)
race. Well, that sordid business didn`t start with the Voting Rights Act
or civil rights legislation.
It went on for decades in the jurisdictions covered by Section 5 of the
Voting Rights Act when African-Americans could finally registered and vote.
After 1965, they responded immediately by slicing and dicing African-
American population to say, OK, well maybe you can register to vote, but
you`re never going to actually elect anyone.
And Selma, where Debo is, the birth place of the Voting Rights Act, that to
be stopped by the Department of Justice from doing that five times in the
1990s. So, it`s not 400, 700 years ago that we`re talking about here.
We`re talking about just a few decades ago.
AMAR: And one point about that is that, although this is a challenge to
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, if they think that the justice
department is being too strict in pre-clearance, courts are in charge,
ultimately, of the enforcement of that. So, if they think that the whole
jurisprudence under the Voting Rights Act is too race conscious to codify
(ph), they are in charge of that.
They can dial that back. But instead, assaulting (ph) in this cases,
Congress` fundamental choice to have a Voting Rights Act. The other thing,
above and beyond (ph) is federalism question of treating some states
differently than other states, the sovereign dignity of Alabama and news
flash to the justices, the very process by which the 14th Amendment was
adopted was one in which some states had crummy (ph) voting rights
AMAR: --were treated differently, were required to ratify the 14th
Amendment and -- were required to have public schools, you know, even
though other jurisdictions didn`t have to have public schools, were
required to give Blacks the vote before other places actually were obliged
to do so.
AMAR: That`s baked into -- that`s part of the DNA of reconstruction.
BROWNE-DIANIS: This -- I mean, this racial entitlement language, this is,
first of all, GOP talking points. But the important part is that the
Voting Rights Act, that`s not about an entitlement.
BROWNE-DIANIS: It`s not like a -- it`s not like -- and it`s also not the
kind of remedy we would see in an employment case or in the affirmative
action cases. It`s actually protection.
BROWNE-DIANIS: Section 5 stops discrimination before it happens. And I
can tell you that when I`ve done cases under Section 2, Florida, 2000 --
HAYES: Just so we`re clear, Section 2, you can bring a private suit after
the voting right -- the law has already happened.
BROWNE-DIANIS: Right. And so, it is very difficult. Florida, 2000, it
was difficult, we could not remedy it. Your voting rights have been
infringed. The right to vote is gone.
HAYES: You can`t go back --
BROWNE-DIANIS: -- and say, you know, President Bush actually gores the guy
(ph) who should be sitting --
HAYES: Part of this, and I`m turning on Debo, is that this idea that I
actually think is the wrong idea that seems broadly shared, which is the
idea that we`re on some sort of, like, trajectory towards some final steady
state equilibrium of color blind equality at which point things no longer -
- that the history goes away or we know longer -- like, we`ve made
progress, and then, everyone is sort of like, we`ve made progress, but is
And Debo, I want to ask you, you know, is that the right way to think about
it as where we are on some sort of historical trajectory. And I want you
to answer that right after we take this quick break.
HAYES: So, Debo, as you stand in front of the Pettus Bridge in Selma, you
know, is -- thinking about where we are in the historical continuum, the
right way to conceptualize what the proper remedies are in the United
States governmental machinery for redress for racial exclusion and
ADEGBILE: So, Chris, here I go back to the constitution. It begins by
inviting us to make the union more perfect. It`s an aspirational document.
It contemplates more progress. It contemplates the fact that the democracy
must be tended to.
And so, as I stand here before the Edmund Pettus Bridge and as Dale on the
panel referred to the discrimination that was occurring right here in
Dallas County and some Alabama in the 1990s, it seems almost denying
reality to suggest that we -- that we can`t encourage more progress and ask
for it. We don`t dishonor our progress by asking for more of it.
And I think it`s remarkable that the court would not look at cases like the
McGregor case out of Alabama that we cite in our brief where a federal
judge in 2011 cites the last Supreme Court case interpreting the Voting
Rights Act and says, look, it may well be that we`ve made progress in the
south. But some problems in Alabama remain stubbornly the same.
And he points to evidence in that case where members of the state
legislature that sit today, referred to African-American voters as
illiterates and aborigines, and this was caught on a recording that the
legislator himself was wearing as part of the sting.
GREENHOUSE: Well, in fact, I mean, we should point out that the Voting
Rights Act itself contemplates progress, because if a jurisdiction can show
HAYES: Ding, ding, ding --
GREENHOUSE: -- that for ten years it has not had a Voting Rights Act
violation it, quote, "bails out." And dozens of jurisdictions have bailed
out, including the ten counties in Virginia, other jurisdictions in the
south. And so, it`s not, you know, sort of a badge of dishonor that these
jurisdictions have to wear forever. They just have to behave themselves.
AMAR: And on the flip side, if an uncovered jurisdiction misbehaves, it
can get put in by a judge, it can be bailed in. And so, this statute has
its own tailoring, its own updating --
HAYES: Built into it. And it`s not frozen.
GREENHOUSE: And Congress repeatedly has reviewed the legislation and
reauthorization with thousands of pages of documentation.
HAYES: But it does seem to me that there is -- the underlying thing here
and this comes out in the Kruger case on affirmative action which I think
Justice O`Connor at the time, I think it`s her opinion, right, the majority
of Kruger (ph). I think she even says like 25 years from now, we`re not
going to -- like even like gives this timeframe.
There`s this underlying -- there`s a kind of underlying assumption in all
of this, right? It`s like it`s all moving towards some place where we can
get rid of all this ugliness, all this sordidness. And I sort of wanted,
like, I wanted, you know, the response to Scalia to maybe -- will be in
perpetuity. Like, what exactly is wrong with --
HAYES: Right. Exactly. Like things can -- I just think that the
assumption that seems to frame all this discussion, particularly, for like
the moderate swing, you know, voters on the court like O`Connor before and
Kennedy now is this assumption that, like, if it`s not time limited in some
way, there`s not some sort of horizon to which we`re marching, that,
somehow, that invalidates it.
But it just seems to me that things that are good that prevent bad things
from happening can just stay --
HO: -- to protect them from bad things as long as there are bad things
BROWNE-DIANIS: Right. And one of the worst things she could have done was
put that number out there.
HAYES: Twenty-five years. Exactly.
BROWNE-DIANIS: Because people are counting down.
HAYES: I know. Literally, yes.
BROWNE-DIANIS: And unfortunately in this case, you have Justice Roberts
who actually says, no, actually, it`s less than 25 because we have a Black
man in the White House.
BROWNE-DIANIS: So, why do we need this any longer?
HAYES: It`s a preposterous thing to litigate, I think. Debo Adegbile with
NAACP`s Legal and Education Defense Fund who joined just argued for the
defense in Shelby v. Holder and did an amazing job, joining us this morning
from Selma, Alabama, which is commemorating the 40th anniversary of
historical civil rights mark, Selma to Montgomery. Thank you so much.
ADEGBILE: Great to be with you.
HAYES: Linda Greenhouse who covered the Supreme Court for the "New York
Times" for 30 years, Dale Ho, member of the litigation team for the defense
in Shelby v. Holder, Judith Browne-Dianis of the Advancing Project, and
Akhil Reed Amar of the law school. That was really fantastic. Thank you
much. We learned a lot.
All right. Top chef host, Tom Colicchio, joins us to talk about the
intersection of food culture and hunger. That`s next.
HAYES: Right now in the United States, the richest country in the world,
there are 50 million Americans who do not know where their next meal will
come from, almost 17 million children who simply do not have enough to eat.
Hunger in the United States, a societal ill that was nearly eradicated in
the 1970s for sustained government investment has exploded in the wake of
the great recession.
A new documentary released yesterday called "A Place At The Table,"
document that faces the growing epidemic. In the film, Barbie Escierdo
(ph), a mother of two, talks about the struggles of qualifying for
government assistance to help feed her family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The assistance programs in the United States are very
hard to qualify for. It`s like either you`re starving or you don`t get any
help. Well, what defines starving? Like, if you don`t eat for a day, are
you starving? In their eyes, no, but in your eyes and the way you feel, of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: While millions of Americans do not have enough to eat, the
government spent over $15 billion in 2011 alone subsidizing a food system
that overproduces the worst types of food. A system that encourages the
production of cheap processed foods laden with fats and sugars and makes
fruits and vegetables quite expensive.
But while divergence and price and availability between processed foods and
fresh foods has increasingly create two Americas when it comes to
consumption, one that consumes cheap and widely available processed and one
that has developed an almost neurotic obsession with the naturalness,
purity, and authenticity of its foods.
Joining us is now Tom Colicchio, executive producer of the new documentary,
"A Place To The Table," head judge on the reality show, "top chef," now in
its 10 season on our sister network, Bravo, and founder of the Colicchio &
Sons Restaurant in New York, and a craft restaurant empire, also winner of
five James Beard awards, and it`s really a great pleasure to have you here.
TOM COLICCHIO, HOST, TOP CHEF: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Tom, the documentary is -- you know, it`s horrifying to watch this
unfold. And it`s moving in seeing the faces of people that are just kind
of grinding along. And I came away thinking, well, what`s the failure
here? Like what is wrong that we are doing wrong? Is this broadly a
problem of poverty in general, and hunger is the symptom? Can we target
hunger just itself or do we need to make sure that people aren`t poor?
COLICCHIO: I think, actually, both. It is a symptom of poverty, but you
can`t target the symptom, because the discussion of poverty takes on a much
bigger sort of political discussion. You start getting the questions of
why are people living in poverty. It goes into sort of how can we fix
that, but we know we can fix hunger because we fixed it before.
Back in 1968, there was a doc that came out, a news doc that came out by
CBS News called "Hungry America," and it showed near starvation conditions
in the United States. And very quickly, the populous kind of demanded that
it`d be fixed. And you had Senators Dole and McGovern got together,
created legislation, and signed into law by Richard Nixon, and we created
the modern food safety net and pretty much (Inaudible) hunger.
Until the 1980s and the ideology changed, and so, hunger starting to grow.
So, this happened way before the recession. It started just to creep up,
and then, it was compounded by the recession.
HAYES: So, we now have what we call supplemental nutritional assistance
programs now that was (ph) to be called food stamps. We`ve done segment
from the show before about massive expansion in how many people are using
it in the wake of the great recession.
HAYES: You know, 44 million Americans -- one out of every two children is
going to have food assistance?
COLICCHIO: At some point in their lives, yes, one out of two children.
HAYES: Is the point, though, that that`s not enough. I mean, I guess, the
question is should that be bigger, should eligibility be expanded?
COLICCHIO: Well, it should be. It`s not enough, especially when you look
at how food stamps are calculated. The government using something called a
thrifty food plan, there`s actually four plans that they use by which to
sort of benchmark, how much calories or what foods you can buy. And so,
there`s a thrifty plan, a low plan, a medium plan, and high plan.
And it`s used for things like paying alimony and child support or how much
calories the military can receive. And, they use the thrifty plan only to
determine how much money you get for food stamps -- and it`s somewhat
HAYES: Right. So, in other -- when they`re sort of calculating, budgeting
allowances for calories in other areas of the government, right, how much
do we have to give people to use these other plans?
HAYES: But for the specific, you know, the needy, you get the thrifty.
COLICCHIO: The thrifty plan. And also, you know, it takes into
consideration, for instance, fish. They assume that the only fish that
you`re going to buy on this plan is canned tuna.
COLICCHIO: They also sort of calculate that, you have more time, for some
reason, I don`t know why, that you can cook. So, the average person spends
about just under five hours a week cook, where on this plan, they sort of
saying that you have 13 hours to prepare a meal. And then, you know, with
that comes the -- because you have 13 hours, you can buy other foods that
take a long time to cook like beans and rice and stuff like that. And so,
you know --
HAYES: So, there`s a bunch of assumptions about how people are going to
get by with this assistance, baked into calculating how much assistance
they need that squeezes people?
COLICCHIO: That`s correct. Exactly.
HAYES: The other aspect, and it comes through -- you spent some time on it
in the film is a lot of -- the other program (INAUDIBLE) is the free
lunches and breakfast that kids get in schools. And there`s a great scene.
I think we have the scene, don`t we, from this "Top Chef" challenge to
create a meal with the budget constraints of a school cafeteria. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ll be feeding students using the same restrictive
budget that our public schools have. $2.68 per child. That`s $134 for all
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of that $134, I`m going to take $4 away because for the
$2.68 that the school has to serve lunch, that includes labor and supplies,
and anything it takes to get that food to the plate. So, $4 is actually a
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bananas, despite the fact that I`ve been cooking
them for 20 minutes, they taste like white bread. They`re very starchy.
I`ll add sugar and that will hopefully break down the starch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you find that you had to add more sugar because the
bananas were starchy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe there was a total of about two pounds of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s what happens when we don`t use good ingredients,
you add a lot of sugar or fat to make them taste better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s your classic "Top Chef" reaction shot there with the eyes
bugging out. I just thought it was such a good illustration of the way in
which price constraints lead to food that is actually less good for the
person who`s eating it.
COLICCHIO: Yes, exactly. The foodless (ph) program, you know, it started
actually way back and it started in the late 1800s which was a charity
response to children that were hungry. They knew that children showing up
for school that couldn`t really focus. They weren`t getting good grades
and so -- and then it was -- it became a federal program under Truman in
And I think we need to start looking at these programs as nutrition
programs. It`s not a handout. You know, we send kids to school. We give
them books. We give them a desk, but we don`t give them food. And so,
we`re providing a meal now, but it`s not a good meal. It`s not a healthy
meal. It`s not a nutritious meal.
HAYES: And when you think of it as a nutrition program as opposed to what?
What is the conceptual change that needs to happen?
COLICCHIO: People look at feeding programs whether its snack or whether
school lunches a handout as a charity program. And we have to look at it
as sort of a tool to prepare our children to eat, especially when you look
at breakfast programs. There`s a new study that just came out by Deloitte
that was done with Share a Strength and No Kid Hungry.
And they`re showing when kids eat breakfast in school, their math scores go
up by 17 percent. They have less incidence of being absent. And so,
there`s all kinds of benefits. And so, the school lunch program is just --
right now, it`s just not funded. And that clip that you showed actually
set up the -- I actually testified in front of Congress on behalf of the
school lunch program.
And the president asked for $10 billion over ten years. So, it gets
watered down in the House to an $8 billion program over 10 years, goes to
the Senate, and gets watered down to $4.5 billion. Half of that money
comes from SNAP.
HAYES: Taken out of SNAP.
COLICCHIO: Taken out of SNAP --
HAYES: While we have record amounts of people qualifying for SNAP in
eligibility. And this is something -- I did not notice until I saw the
film, which by the way, as you say, is co-directed by your wife.
COLICCHIO: My wife and her partner, Lori Silverbush (ph). Yes. I`m sorry
her partner, Christy Jacobson. Lori is my wife.
HAYES: Get that right. And I did not know this until your mom ran a
COLICCHIO: She did, yes. My mom ran a school lunch program in Elizabeth,
New Jersey. And, you know, I didn`t quite know that my mom sort of had
this more of a mission as managing this cafeteria until I tried to get her
to retire. And, she was in her early 60s. And, you know, she said, Tom,
you know, I know the kids who are coming into my school lunch room for
breakfast and lunch, I know this is the only meal that someone were eating.
COLICCHIO: And that kind of, you know, hit me. I thought mom was going
there for social time. I didn`t realize that she -- there`s a greater sort
of mission behind it.
HAYES: I want to talk about the sort of flipside of the kind of two
Americas in terms of food which is the way that food resonates in our
cultures and the incredible importance that we confront increasingly. And
I think there`s a lot of things that good about that, a lot of things that
bad about that. That also gives us an opportunity to spotlight the
makeover you can --
HAYES: -- a pastry plate. We`ll talk about that right after this break.
HAYES: That`s the remade up pastry plate courtesy of the pastry chef at
Tom`s restaurant craft.
COLICCHIO: Steven Cullici (ph). Yes.
HAYES: And some people on the internet have noted that I think rightly
that, you know, the sort of juxtaposition of this gorgeous bounty of food
here and we`re talking about hunger. And I think that, in some way, is the
point, right? I mean, the point is that there really are two Americas in
terms of food.
People who have the resources, and you know, I`m among those people, you
know, spend a lot of money on getting fresh, high-quality food to the table
and things like that. And then, there`s a whole part of America that is,
you know, increasingly food insecure and getting whatever they can in areas
where they don`t have access to anything fresh, right. And you made this
point to me about how kind of invisible that aspect of things can be?
COLICCHIO: Yes, it is. You know, part of the reason for doing the film
was to sort of change the face of hunger, because I think we`re conditioned
in the United States to think of hunger in terms of third world hunger,
famine victims, you know, war victims. And, there`s hunger here, but it
doesn`t look like that.
And you know, you think, one in six Americans are food insecure. Meaning,
they can`t figure out where the next meal`s coming from. So, if you`re a
crowd at subway New York, most likely, there are people that are hungry
sitting next to you. They`re in your community. You may know them. And
so, it`s really important to sort of show that. Yes. The plate, I think,
illustrates it really well.
COLICCHIO: There`s abundance and there are people who are struggling. But
also, you know, it`s very easy to demonize people for making a bad choice,
COLICCHIO: You`re feeding your kids sugary foods and sodas and things like
that as if they actually had a choice because healthy foods, fruits, and
vegetables, are very expensive.
COLICCHIO: And so, it`s --
HAYES: And you do a good job in the film of showing that. I mean, you go
to Mississippi, and it`s like, you know, where can you get fresh. And even
just the basic logistics of like a huge truck is going to not going to
through back roads of a small town to unload fresh produce to the local
grocer. They`re going to go to these, you know, major centers and
COLICCHIO: It`s a problem in rural areas. It`s also a problem in urban
areas. You know, I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday who opened up
a food store in New Orleans in an underserved community. And, you know, we
need more of that.
There`s some programs here in New York where they`re, you know, taking
bodegas and getting some refrigeration of bodegas to get fresh fruits and
vegetables in bodegas, because in the city, you have to take several
subways, buses, and we actually able to straight that (ph) in the film as
well, to find a fresh fruit or vegetable because it`s just not there.
HAYES: I`m really curious about the increasing role that food plays in our
culture. And to me, there`s a few example, the success of "Top Chef" is a
perfect example. I mean, when Julia Child had a cooking show, that never
existed before and it was the only on TV. Now, there`s million cooking
show. There`s a cooking channel.
"Top Chef" is massively successful. "The Nation" magazine where I`m
editor-at-large has a food issue every year, right? Twenty years ago, you
wouldn`t have a food issue because it didn`t have the role in our culture
that food does now.
COLICCHIO: Right. It`s definitely become part of pop culture. You know,
I have my own theory on that. You know, back in the 1980s when everybody
was sort of going to club for entertainment, you know, Studio 54, stuff
like that, eventually, woke up from their cocaine high and decided they
need another form of entertainment, but they still wanted to go out. And
so, they kind of gravitated towards restaurants. That`s just my point.
HAYES: No. And I think it`s become -- it says very interesting about
where our culture is, particularly, this kind of inequality we have, this
abundance on one end. Raj Patel that you have in the film talks about
stuffed and starved.
HAYES: -- title of this book. So, I want to talk about that. We have a
great clip from Portlandia I want to play for you right after we take this
HAYES: Hello from New York. I`m Chris Hayes here with Tom Colicchio, chef
and executive producer of the new documentary, "A Place at the Table."
And we`re talking about food culture and the role that food kind of plays
in our culture. And I want to -- I want to play this clip from
"Portlandia" which kind of satirizes some of the kind of the bogee (ph),
hipster obsession with food purity. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you have any questions about the menu, please let
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess I do have a question about the chicken if you
can tell us about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The chicken is a heritage breed. Woodland raised
chicken that`s been fed a diet of sheep`s milk, soy and hazelnuts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is local?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if you just wanted to -- and it`s local?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that USDA organic or Oregon organic or Portland
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s just all across the board organic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hazelnut, is it local?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How big is the area where the chickens are able to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m sorry to interrupt. I have exactly the same
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. So here is the chicken you`ll be enjoying
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have this is -- this is fantastic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. His name was Colin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I think that`s -- you know, it`s funny like at one level, right,
there`s a level of critique of the current industrial food system that says
we have this huge directory of farms, subsidies, lots of cheap calories,
corn gets in everything because we`re subsidizing corn. The reaction it to
create something that is more about local farm to table, right?
But that itself can sometimes feel to me like fetishistic. You know what I
TOM COLICCHIO, CHEF: Yes.
HAYES: Do you feel that? Do you feel that way?
HAYES: Like, I just feel like the discussion we have about food is like
what is the middle path in between knowing the name of your chicken at a
restaurant that you eat in Brooklyn, and, you know, just nothing but canned
goods and sugary sodas, right? That seems to me the spate that`s missing
in our food culture.
COLICCHIO: Right. There`s definitely a middle road. The middle road is
that I think a lot has to do with education.
You know, it was interesting. I was reading a (INAUDIBLE) from Mika
Brzezinski`s book "Obsessed", and Charles Barkley talks about his struggle
with weight. And he talks about how culturally, he grew up in Alabama, how
culturally the way that he was, you know, sort of taught to eat was so
unhealthy, but he didn`t know any other way.
And so, but there is a middle ground. I`m not suggesting that organics is
the answer to fixing the food system. We`re suggesting that it`s really
just subsidizing some fruits and vegetables so you can make that more
affordable. Not organic fruits and vegetables, although that would be
COLICCHIO: But I think the idea is just to, you know, just to get a middle
ground to sort of teach people about healthy food, teach people why it`s
healthy, teach people how to cook it, teach people to sort of focus on the
health side, but not the fetish side of the -- you know, what kind of air
the chicken is breathing.
COLICCHIO: It`s kind of over the top.
HAYES: And I think the school food system is sort of the place to do that,
right? I mean, there`s a connection as you`re saying between the way that
we fund a school system`s food and what quality of food they`re going to
COLICCHIO: Right. Well, see, you kind of have to hope that some of that
sort of fetishness, sort of the over the top, sort of "I want to know where
things come from" filters down to parents who say, you know what, let`s
start with our kids, because it`s OK for the 20-something hipster to go out
to Brooklyn to get that, but what about, you know, just teaching our kids a
little bit of that.
You know, not -- again, it doesn`t need to be so over the top. But I
think, yes, that`s where it begins. And there`s a lot of programs to get
fresh produce and local produce into schools. Although it is being met
with a lot -- you know, a lot of school systems don`t want to do it because
they don`t have kitchens. They would rather just sort of mass produce
food. It`s cheaper.
HAYES: Right. It`s expensive -- and this gets to something else about
cooking, right? I mean, you know, you said the average household spends
five hours like cooking. I even see in my own life, as you go through and
your jobs get more demanding and you have kids, the amount of time -- it`s
easy to start cutting corners on cooking.
And what`s happened I think is very interesting we cook less and think
about food more, right?
HAYES: Those two things are happening at the same time. In some ways,
it`s like I spend the hour I could cooking watching "Top Chef."
COLICCHIO: You can cook and watch at the same time.
HAYES: How do we get that back?
COLICCHIO: You know, it`s interesting, because I find I`m cooking more now
that I have two little children. I have a 3-year-old and 2-year-old at
home. I`m home at that 5:30, 6:00 slot cooking for them. So, I`m finding
just the opposite and you find time, although, you know, the time I spend
in the kitchen I can get things done a lot faster than the average person.
But I think we`ve moved away from cooking, more cooking shows. You can
watch food programs all day long.
HAYES: All day long.
COLICCHIO: But people are actually cooking less. It`s paradox. I think
it started when we took home ec out of schools.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
COLICCHIO: You know, we`re not teaching anymore. And the idea, there`s a
whole generation of people who grew up and not knowing how to cook, they`re
not passing that down anymore, because that`s how we learn how to cook,
pass down from parent to parent.
HAYES: Right. So you interrupt that chain.
HAYES: And you sort of get a facility.
"Top Chef", I want to talk about for a second because I love the show. You
know, there`s something about why it works so well. What is it -- this is
a real fanboy question, so I`ll come to that. But why does it work like
that? As someone who makes television now for a living, like it just --
the structure of it really works year in and year out?
COLICCHIO: Yes. And, you know, that structure is something that we`re
always messing with. Sometimes we mess with it too much. But we`re
constantly tinkering with it.
I think we all figured out early on, that the big problem doing a food show
is you can`t taste it. Fashion shows you can see it. Other shows you
relate to it. But you can`t taste the food.
So, we know that we`d have to have a serious, honest conversation about
that dish, about what it tastes like, about the technique involved, about
the personal style that that chef had, to sort of get people to understand
that food is more than just a recipe on our plate.
COLICCHIO: And there`s so much that goes into it.
HAYES: Right. I think what`s really interesting about the show, it`s
actually more of a food criticism show than it is a cooking show, right?
HAYES: Because of the emphasis is actually on developing a vocabulary for
people that aren`t used to doing this, of the same way that, you know,
people who, you know, are art critics, you know, develop a vocabulary to
talk about a sculpture. You guys have this vocabulary that I think the
viewers of the show come to learn about how to talk about it, you know?
COLICCHIO: Right. I love when someone is in a restaurant, they actually
talk the vocabulary and start hearing, you know, I`m hearing myself. It`s
kind of funny.
But, yes, but not only that, it`s -- it`s a mentoring -- at least from what
I`m judging, I`m trying to sort of give an insight to sort of help them.
You know, it`s really great. We`re not allowed to interact with the
contestants during the shooting unless we`re on camera.
But afterwards, I get letters and notes saying thanks for the criticism,
thanks for the feedback really because it changed the way I`m doing things.
I`m thinking a little differently about food. So --
HAYES: Do you think it changes -- it`s funny the way fashions will come
and go in restaurants. Every restaurant now has Brussels sprouts. You
cannot go anywhere without Brussels sprouts, right? You know, five years
ago, nobody was serving Brussels sprouts.
Do you think that shows like "Top Chef" acts as accelerants to spreading
these sorts of food fashion?
COLICCHIO: Yes, it`s interesting. It definitely spreads it. But it`s
funny when, like for instance, gastronomy which has faded away, thank God.
We had this (INAUDIBLE) on the show who talked just going back to season
three I think.
COLICCHIO: And he -- I think he`s much better now, but he really had no
idea of what he was doing. But he became the poster boy for gastronomy.
And people like (INAUDIBLE) and other people like that who have been sort
of practicing (INAUDIBLE) cook, which I prefer to call it. They got lost
and sort of equation in the sort of general public`s understanding of that
style of cooking.
So, our chefs definitely follow trends but it gets amplified through the
HAYES: I`m glad we`re talking about restaurants because one of the most
remarkable facts about how Americans eat is how much more they eat out than
they did just 20, 30, 40 years ago. And eating out is a much bigger part
of people`s lives and that`s up and down the social hierarchy, right? I
mean, even people that don`t make a lot of money are eating out more,
probably because people have less time to cook.
COLICCHIO: Just to be clear, if you have food stamps, you cannot use that
to eat out.
HAYES: Absolutely. So, I want to talk about the industry that you`re in.
The restaurant industry, because there are workers who make that food and
serve that food and clean those kitchens, and they are often literally
invisible to us because they`re in the kitchen. And I want to talk about
what industry looks like, particularly because it`s an industry that`s
producing more jobs than a lot of other industries. More and more of
America is going to look like the restaurant industry. I want to talk
about that future and bring in some other guests, right after this break.
HAYES: In 1960, according to the CDC, Americans spent just 26 percent of
their food budget eating away from home. By 2011, that figure had almost
doubled to 49 percent.
Food retail and service is one of the healthiest growing industries in the
country. For the past decade food industry job growth has far outpaced
totally sector job growth.
And yet by almost any measurements, most of these are simply not good jobs.
They are some of the worst jobs in the country. In fact, food industry
workers use government assistance programs like Medicaid and food stamps in
much higher than the general workforce does.
Over 27 percent of the food industry workers on Medicaid, compared to 19
percent of the general workforce, and over 13 percent of food service
workers receive food stamps compared to just 8 percent of the general
According to Food Chain Workers Alliance, a workers advocacy group, nearly
80 percent don`t have paid sick days or don`t know if they do. Eighty-
three percent of food industry workers do not receive health insurance from
their employer, and 58 percent do not have any health insurance at all.
Restaurants generally functioned with an underpaid and under benefited
workforce, many of whom are undocumented, and through the bizarre, archaic
institution of tipping, which I want to talk about. As Americans continue
to eat out more and more, and food service shops continue to be a larger
and larger part of the economy, it`s time we take a serious look at the way
food industry functions and the way its workers are treated.
Joining us now are: Saru Jayaraman, author of "Behind the Kitchen Door",
and co-founder and co-director of Restaurant Opportunities United.
Andrew Moesel, a registered lobbyist and spokesperson for the New York
State Restaurant Association, which represents nearly 500,000 restaurants,
the largest food service trade in the world.
Victoria Bruton, a banquet veteran and 23-year veteran of the restaurant
industry, also member of the Restaurant Opportunities Center United.
And still with us, Tom Colicchio of "Top Chef."
I want to talk about the restaurant industry, because it`s such a distinct
industry in so many ways. And it always seemed to me -- I worked as a
waiter, and I loved waiting tables and I had family in the industry. It
seems to me, it just is different than other industries, right? What are
the sort of main ways that`s the case?
SARU JAYARAMAN, "BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOOR": Well, right now, the industry
has over 10 million workers, one in 10 Americans actually works in the
industry. So, one of the main ways it`s different. It`s actually one of
the top two largest industries in the country, unfortunately, also happens
to be the employer of seven of the 10 lowest-paying jobs in America, and
the two absolute lowest paying jobs in America.
So, you`ve got the largest industry in America basically proliferating the
lowest-paying jobs with the least benefits. So, it also -- is the industry
with the least amount of paid sick days. So workers in this industry don`t
have a way to get paid when they`re sick, which means two-thirds report
cooking and preparing foods while they`re ill.
ANDREW MOESEL, NY STATE RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION: Well, another thing that
makes a difference, as Tom will probably tell you, it`s a very low-profit
margin business. It`s a very difficult business. I mean, you hear a lot
of statistics like, depending on the story, two out of three, or three out
of five restaurants fail within several years, that`s because it`s very
difficult to make a living serving food to the public.
And, you know, as you said, there`s been tremendous growth in New York,
around the country, of restaurant jobs. And while a lot of them are entry
level jobs, we`re providing those jobs to people that might not otherwise
JAYARAMAN: Actually, industry wise, data shows that profit industry is 4
percent to 5 percent. You compare that to Walmart, which has a 1 percent
profit margin for the big chains --
HAYES: Also, it`s not actually a bastion of --
JAYARAMAN: No. That`s true.
It`s really not a company that people think of as making profit, right? If
they have a 1 percent profit margin and the industry has a 4 percent to 5
percent profit margin, I think, especially for the large corporations,
there is the ability to pay better.
HAYES: Well, and this is part of it also is the makeup here, right? I
mean, I think we think about, when you -- what do you consider a
restaurant, right, the local diner or craft, right? But most of these jobs
if I`m not mistaken are large multinationals, right, are chain restaurants.
I`m sure most of your members probably aren`t that, but if you were to take
the pie chart of the revenue of the New York State Restaurant Association,
most of that is coming from large --
COLICCHIO: Yes. Andrew, you`re right. Profit margins are tight. I would
suggest if you actually pay a better wage, you`ll attract better employers.
Better employers will increase that profit margin.
JAYARAMAN: That`s right. Actually, we have 103 partners around the
country that are great small businesses, all the way from small mom and pop
restaurants. We`ve been able to show over and over again that they have
less turnover, so workers don`t leave as often. They don`t have to pay for
rehiring and retraining people. They have higher productivity because
people feel really invested in their work.
VICTORIA BRUTON, BANQUET SERVER: I know from personal experience that a
lot of us in this industry are very transient. We go from restaurant to
restaurant to restaurant, looking for better wages, better tips to just to
support ourselves. So --
MOESEL: So I couldn`t agree with Tom more, I don`t want this conversation
to be in the context that every single restaurant worker is only making the
HAYES: Sure, right.
MOESEL: That`s only about 5 percent that are making the federal minimum
wage of $7.25 an hour. I think 17 or 18 states have higher minimum wage
that. As Tom said, the restaurants, the vast majority of them were
actually paying their workers more than the minimum wage. In fact, in some
good restaurants, they are making a decent middle class wage.
What we`re saying that should be a business decision that`s up to each
individual owner, because the fact is, you can afford to pay your
employees, that`s the business decision that you make. You have well-
trained employees and high retention rate, and all things that were thrown
up here, you can do that.
But what we don`t want is to have business owners who can`t afford that to
make that decision being put out of the business --
HAYES: You guys think -- do you guys hold that should there be no minimum
MOESEL: Well, minimum, I mean, that`s a very difficult issue, we probably
don`t have the time to address here.
HAYES: No, I mean, if that`s a principle --
MOESEL: There`s been studies on both sides. Some say it suppresses job
growth and it`s bad for the economy. I mean, I went to the University of
Chicago, which is a bastion of laissez-faire economics, so I know all about
people who don`t think there should be any minimum wage.
HAYES: Yes, do you.
MOESEL: But I mean, I think, certainly, we are in the restaurant industry
in favor of paying our employees a wage that is going to make them happy
employees and better employees.
JAYARAMAN: Yes. I think we can agree that we want workers who can support
themselves. Who can put food on their own tables and take care of
themselves when they`re sick. And, unfortunately, we need some guaranteed
minimums because right now, food server workers use food stamps at double
the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce and suffer a poverty rate of
three times the rest of the workforce.
So, we need some minimums to help people up to a livable standard.
COLICCHIO: I`m in favor of raising the minimum wage, for that very reason.
Look at it this way, in 2007, when minimum wage was increased, it actually
gave a tax break to small businesses who were employing people of lower
wages. So we could do the same thing again. I mean, I think that`s a good
HAYES: Kind of a both sides deal, right?
COLICCHIO: If you`re in favor of smaller government. If you started
moving off people to a higher minimum wage, I would suggest $11 is probably
better, you can move people off public assistance. And then get if we get
tax breaks on the back end to fix it.
You know, the last time I checked, that seemed to be a real sort of,
something that the right was favoring, sort of smaller government and lower
taxes. So, they should be all for it.
HAYES: I want to -- the certain element in the room, of course, is the
tipping system. Because the weird -- that`s the weird thing about food
service. We have two different minimum wages, right? I mean, it`s in the
law. There`s the minimum wage for everyone. And then there`s minimum wage
for tipped employees which right now is $2.13, right?
I want to talk life as someone who works for tips and what that means, and
the tipping system as a whole right, after we take this break.
HAYES: Victoria, you worked as a waitress --
BRUTON: I did.
HAYES: -- for a number of years.
HAYES: What was it like to essentially plan a household and a life, an
economic life, around the tremendous uncertainty that comes with working
BRUTON: Well, first of all, I was a single-income household. And I had
young children. So that limited the amount of time that I could work. So
I worked predominantly lunches.
As I`m sure you know, lunches aren`t the most profitable shift. You need
to turn your tables over to make money. And I was still getting paid on
average $2.13 an hour. Well, I think was $2.68 at the time, back in 1991
when I started.
HAYES: Plus tips?
BRUTON: Plus tips. If we got a slow lunch, a whole hour would go by, no
table, no tip. And then my paycheck would be eaten up by 213, you know,
the taxes and Social Security, there were times I made no money per hour at
a long run.
HAYES: So, what did that mean for how you went about paying -- there`s
such a volatility?
BRUTON: Sure, every day was a crapshoot. Every day at the end of the
week, I`d sit down with the money I made, had to make tough decisions.
Like, OK, this would go to rent. OK, we have to choose between the
electric bill, gas bill or the phone, I would borrow Peter to rob -- I
would borrow left and right, just trying to balance my budget.
It was -- it was not fun. It was not. It`s a hard way to make a living,
and also to put food on the table, to provide for my family.
JAYARAMAN: Let`s remember the history of how this came about.
HAYES: Yes, please. It`s kind of a fascinating story.
JAYARAMAN: So it`s been stuck at the federal level at $2.13 for the last
22 years, back in 1991 --
HAYES: Even though, rate -- I just want to clarify.
JAYARAMAN: That`s right.
HAYES: Regular federal minimum wage has been raised a number of times.
The tip employee`s wage has not, it`s been at $2.13.
JAYARAMAN: That`s right. It`s because back in 1991, the minimum wage was
going up -- the tipping wage was going up with the regular minimum wage.
In `96, Herman Cain, recent presidential candidate, was the head of the
National Restaurant Association, struck a deal with Congress saying that
they would not oppose the minimum wage to rise as long as the minimum wage
for tip workers stayed frozen forever at $2.13 an hour.
And I have a new book out called "Behind the Kitchen Door", and I tell
stories of workers in Texas, in, you know, middle of the country, Michigan,
who are earning less than $3 an hour. And sure, there are times when they
earn tips on top of that. But plenty of times like Victoria has mentioned
where actually they didn`t. Grave yard shifts where they take home zero.
They would get a paycheck that says this is not a paycheck.
And that is why you`ve got workers around the country suffering three times
the poverty rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce.
COLICCHIO: Yes. I mean, first of all, I think calling Herman Cain a
presidential candidate is a stretch.
HAYES: No, but I guess my guess my question here is, why -- like why do we
have this institution? Why don`t question just pay -- I mean, the question
is, here`s the first question. Could restaurants survive? Like, imagine a
world in which you wave a magic wand. And we get rid of the institution of
tipping, OK? And you have to just pay people a wage the way you do and
every other business.
JAYARAMAN: That`s right.
HAYES: The number of restaurants -- what would happen to the restaurant if
we woke up tomorrow in that world?
COLICCHIO: You would have to increase prices by about 25 percent to 30
percent. Then it`s OK --
HAYES: You`re saying above -- but gratuity right now is 15 percent, 18
percent, 22 percent in there, you`re saying you have to increase prices
above what the customers directly subsidizing.
COLLICHIO: It`s now income, so now you`re taxed on that.
HAYES: To get back to the same level, you would have, right.
JAYARAMAN: Well, we just put out a report called a diamond day. We
actually used USDA methodology to show that even if you raise wages by the
current proposal in Congress, the one that Obama mentioned in the State of
the Union, it would not increase prices in restaurants by more than pennies
on a dollar, by a dime a day for food and grocery stores and restaurants.
So, yes, some there would be some increase but that`s only if restaurants
passed 100 percent of the price increase.
COLICCHIO: Yes, but Chris is actually talking about not tip --
JAYARAMAN: I understand that.
I just want to be clear that raising it to at least a decent level would
not substantially increase prices.
HAYES: Do you restaurant owners like the institution of tipping? Would
you like to wave that magic wand where it was all on the table?
MOESEL: I would imagine, you know, I imagine different people in industry
have different --
MOESEL: But it`s the fact that it is difficult. Not only are profit
margins very, very small, but there`s tremendous labor costs. So it`s a
way of keeping down labor costs and making sure that the people can still
afford the product that we`re selling.
HAYES: Would -- if you could go back, would you rather have made a
straight wage that you knew you could count on.
BRUTON: Absolutely. Sure. This way at the end of the week, I`m not
playing -- I go into work. I know how many hours I`ve worked. I know how
much I`m coming home to. I don`t have a voided check.
I can do my budget math and make things stretch better than like, OK,
tonight I need to make $300. Come on $300.
BRUTON: You know, I don`t have to do that anymore. And walk home with
$75, you know?
COLICCHIO: I think also you inject more of a sort of an idea of
meritocracy of restaurants when that happens?
HAYES: How so?
COLICCHIO: Right now, say you`re working in a restaurant that tips their
poles. You could have somebody who`s not pulling their weight and still
COLICCHIO: It definitely changes that. It also changes the relationship -
HAYES: So you`re making an argument for ruthless individualistic
capitalism against the socialist of pooling your tips is basically what I`m
COLICCHIO: Well, sure --
BRUTON: It`s a great idea in theory. But there was always some exception
where like Tom was saying there`s that one person who is not pulling their
weight. And we would have to take the brunt of -- financially, we would
suffer because of that one person.
HAYES: As opposed you`re saying everyone making a wage like they do in
other -- would you like to see that happen?
COLICCHIO: Actually I wouldn`t mind it. It`s happening now. Restaurants
like per se in New York are doing it. Back in 19 -- late -- oh, 2000, I
guess -- 2004, when I worked for Quilted Giraffe and Barry Wine, Barry did
HAYES: I have this great -- this is from a 1916 anti-tipping manifesto
written by William R. Scott, member of the anti-tipping movement. There
was an anti-tipping movement in this country. It was actually a big labor
fight calling the itching palm.
This is so good. "In the American democracy, to be servile is incompatible
with citizenship. Every tip given in the United States is a blow at our
experiment in democracy. The custom announces to the world that we do not
believe practically that all men are created equal. Unless a waiter can be
a gentleman, democracy is a failure. If any form of service is menial,
democracy is a failure. Those Americans who dislike self-respect in
servants are undesirable citizens. They belong in aristocracy."
HAYES: What do you think?
HAYES: On behalf of the New York Restaurant Industry Association?
MOESEL: You know, tipping, I think it -- the reason we call it the service
industry, the fact that people are providing service. And tipping is away
to keep those people -- it`s to provide a high level of service. In fact,
it`s something written about a lot in the New York media is that service is
actually on the decline. I guess in terms of formality of the entire
culture, we`re just getting more informal. There`s a lot of restaurants,
very good restaurants, where they don`t take service seriously.
I think tipping is a way to keep people --
HAYES: Because you think you align the incentives?
MOESEL: Right, correct.
JAYARAMAN: Andrew, it sounds like we agree --
HAYES: Hold that thought. I want you to respond to that. We got to take
a quick break.
JAYARAMAN: All right.
HAYES: The question on the table is tipping -- an insult to American
JAYARAMAN: Well, Andrew was saying tips are a way to ensure better
HAYES: Line incentives across the board?
JAYARAMAN: That`s right. But I think we`d agree, in that system, in
asking for better service, no one, the customer or worker, no one thought
of the tip as the wage. They thought it as maybe a way to create an
incentive for better service on top of the wage, but certainly not as the
wage itself. I don`t think most customers in American when they tip think
that they`re actually paying the worker`s wage, which is the case when you
got a wage that`s $2.13, the vast majority of the wage is being paid by the
HAYES: In other cultures, the tips are like that? Right?
JAYARAMAN: Not in just another culture. But in seven states in the United
States, including California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Nevada -- these
are states that are doing really well. California has the largest
restaurant industry in the country. And there`s no difference between the
minimum wage for tipped workers and not tipped workers. The tip is on top
of that basic rate wage.
COLICCHIO: I always find it interesting that to ensure proper service, if
that were the case, wouldn`t you tip before you start?
JAYARAMAN: That`s great.
MOESEL: That`s only if you want to get a good table.
HAYES: Here`s my question, though, when we talk about service -- I mean,
what I think is so fascinating with this quote to be servile in
incompatible with citizenship. And as we move towards the service economy,
right, when we think of the hardship of labor in the 19th century. We
think about blast furnaces. We think about the physical toil.
And there are many -- there are millions of people still doing that right
now. They are still people in coal mines. And there still people doing --
and there are physical dangers in a kitchen as well, as everyone who has
worked in a kitchen knows. I mean, everybody has their horror stories.
But I wonder like -- I`m curious, Victoria, if there`s an emotional toll
that service takes? You know what I mean? Like that is the service analog
to what the physical toll of these kind of 19th century jobs?
BRUTON: Well, absolutely. Let`s say for instance you have four tables.
And there are like you got two people over here, four here. Let`s make a
six-top over here for fun. They`re all here to have a good time.
Nobody goes into a restaurant looking for a bad time. It`s not like you`re
going to the hospital, like, I`m sick, I`ve got to deal with this. No, you
go for a good time.
HAYES: That`s why people open restaurants, right?
BRUTON: You go in there, that is your job. That responsibility is on you.
You`re the go-between between the kitchen and your customers or your
guests, as we call them.
So, OK, this guest has an allergy over here. So, you need to address that.
This guest, it`s their anniversary, so they want special attention, too.
And these people have to make a show at 8:00.
So, here you are. Keeping all the balls up in the air, something goes
wrong in the kitchen. That falls on you. They ran out of something or
that allergy can`t be met, we have to go out there and address that as
well. So you`ve got a lot of balls in the air.
You can to placate to everyone for a tip you may or may not get.
BRUTON: And you don`t know if that`s going to actually like come out at
the end of the night for it to take care of you, you know, when it`s time
to pay the bills or whatever you want to do.
HAYES: Did you like the human interaction?
BRUTON: I loved it. I love it. Current tense.
JAYARAMAN: Can I say, in our organization? We`ve surveyed thousands of
workers, and for the most part, people take great fried in hospitality.
JAYARAMAN: There`s one thing about being serving (ph) and invisible, we`re
trying to live up the stories in the book.
BRUTON: Yes, we`re here to give you a good time, provide an experience for
you, coupled with the good food that you came in to enjoy.
JAYARAMAN: That`s right. It`s a career. I think it`s something we can
agree with the industry association on, that we want this to be a career
that people take great pride in. It`s professional.
HAYES: It all gets professional, right?
JAYARAMAN: That`s right. And provide a ways for people to live on. It`s
not a job -- sometimes, we hear from the industry, this is a kids` job,
people move on to something better.
BRUTON: Absolutely not.
JAYARAMAN: No, people make they`re careers, their livelihoods out of this.
BRUTON: We raise our children. We send them to college. We take
vacations. We`re regular people, just like lawyers, you know, just that we
got to hustle a little bit more.
HAYES: That`s a great line. I want to talk about kitchen employees, too.
And particularly the issue of immigration and undocumented immigrants
because my experience, I mean, if you -- if you deported every undocumented
immigrant in New York City, there wouldn`t be any single restaurants --
BRUTON: They`d clean out a restaurant.
HAYES: So, I want to talk about that. We have a great quote from
Willoughby Cooke in Portland right after this break.
HAYES: Now, in major cities around the country and all across the country,
kitchen staff, particularly, are heavily foreign-born and often in my
experience, in New York, often undocumented. I mean, I know when I worked
places, a lot of undocumented workers.
I wonder where the industry is as immigration reform kind of coming up on
the horizon politically? Where the industry is on this? Are they support
of comprehensive immigration reform? Is that a sort of a priority for you
because presumably, if, you know, ICE shows up in a kitchen, you guys in
are in bad shape?
MOESEL: Well, I want to address a quick point that goes to this and also
some other things had they we talked about. What`s amazing about the
restaurant industry is that it is an entry point for so many immigrants to
come here and get their first job. And also people, not just kids but
people in all walks of life and a host of MSNBC show, for example.
And that`s what makes it such a great, great asset to us here in America,
is that it gives people an opportunity to work a job. And it`s true, a lot
of people go on into that industry. They may not work the same job,
though. They may not work the same federally minimum wage job or might go
on to better restaurants or gain responsibility in the same restaurant.
In terms of immigration policy, obviously, no one wants to see, you know,
HAYES: Mass deportation?
MOESEL: Yes, sweep here because the restaurant industry relies very
heavily on immigrant workers. And it is a fact that a large portion of it
So, we`re in favor of strong immigration reforms to make sure we can have
these workers that the industry can function in a way that`s above board.
JAYARAMAN: And that the workers can actually have the rights that
everybody else does. That`s really important that they`d be able to stay
here, speak up when there are problems on the job, complain about working
conditions and if they need to have to their rights vindicated. That`s an
incredibly important part of immigration reform.
Otherwise, you`re still going to end up with an underclass that has less
rights than everybody else, and it`s going to create a really horrible
incentive for employers to want to exploit workers who don`t have those
HAYES: This is from Willoughby Cooke, a line cook in Portland, in talking
about the kind of, sort of sustainability movement to table restaurants and
so forth. And way that labor is not a part of that vision or sort of
exclusive of that vision.
"I`ve worked as a cook in the restaurant industry for the past decade.
It`s become clear to me over the years, the vision of sustainable system
ignores one key element: working conditions. In other words, it ignores
me, the grunt, the cog, the line cook making your dinner. The price of a
plate of food in a fine restaurant, no matter how high hour or low seems to
be the customer, depends on the people making it getting paid very little."
Do you think that`s a statement of fact or is that a statement of the way
things are now and can be different? Or --
COLICCHIO: Well, I think it`s -- number one, I just want to say because
I`m know I`m going to get a lot of pushback. I don`t pay minimum wage in
my restaurants. I pay well above minimum wage. My cooks are making well
above minimum wage.
But also, we promote our workers. So someone who is a busser, you know,
two years later, they can be a captain. In there`s issues with language,
we actually bring in people to teach language courses.
HAYES: That`s sometimes a weird caste system.
BRUTON: That`s right.
HAYES: Oh, here`s the college grad who has like hipster glasses and is
going to be a waiter. And here`s the guy from Puebla, right, who is going
to bus tables for 15 years and can`t go anywhere.
JAYARAMAN: That`s right.
COLICCHIO: No, we`re constantly looking to promote. Same thing with
cooks. Someone will start in (INAUDIBLE) and move to a cook and then a
sous chef and then eventually chefs.
I mean, kind of my growth plan, I`ll just open a restaurant when I know I
have someone in the organization who think that next step. So a sous chef
that makes $50,000, $60,000, they`ll double their salary when they take
that next step. So, you know, we`re looking at new talent to promote
people through the system.
BRUTON: And I`ve worked with people who have started off as dishwashers
and worked their way up through the system. And when it works, it works,
it definitely does.
COLICCHIO: I started as a prep cook in a restaurant.
JAYARAMAN: Tom is a shining example I think of how workers can go up the
ladder and be paid well and somebody can still make a profit and do well
and grow. Unfortunately, there`s still a $4 wage gap between white workers
and people of color in this industry nationally. And there`s incredible
segregation between workers of color and white workers and very little --
JAYARAMAN: That`s right. In fact, we did a study in New York where we
sent 200 pairs of white and people of color applicants in fine dining
restaurants to see who would get hired. And we found that white applicants
with a lesser qualified resume had twice the chance of a person of color of
getting one these jobs with the same accents. Sometimes, unintelligible
accents, the white workers still had twice the chance.
It`s not about language. It`s not about immigration status. It really is
unfortunately about race. And we need to see workers of color have these
opportunities because it`s better for all of us.
I think -- I`m sure Tom will agree, when you have someone who stays with
you over 20 years, moves up the ladder, that`s a better worker. They`re
more loyal. They`re more invested. You`d get a better service.
COLICCHIO: We have people with me 12 years and they don`t want another
job. They like what they`re doing, and they get raises.
JAYARAMAN: Yes, that`s right.
BRUTON: That would have been a dream job for me. In some places, if I
could have stayed in the same --
HAYES: All right. So, what do we know now we didn`t know last week? My
answers after this.
HAYES: In just a moment, what we now know we didn`t know last week.
But, first, a few updates on some stories we`ve been following. Yesterday,
the dreaded automatic budget cuts known as sequestration officially begin
to take effect. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been decrying
the cuts as disastrous and panicking over how to stop them.
But until this week, no seemed to consider the most obvious solution, which
I proposed here on the show last Sunday, in a direct plea to members of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Go to work tomorrow if you`re in session. You won`t be in session
half a day on Thursday. But on the off chance you ever go to Congress,
just pass a one-sentence bill that repeals sequestration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, my prayers were answered. Four days after my plea, a group
of progressive House members led by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan
introduced a one-sentence bill called "Cancel the Sequester Act of 2013,"
which would eliminate the $85 billion in cuts set to take place this year.
And the effects of those cuts become known over the next few months,
perhaps more members of Congress will get on board.
Now, on Friday, the State Department released a draft of its supplemental
environmental impact statement on the proposed Keystone Pipeline extension
which would transfer oil from Canadian tar sands to the United States. The
report did not find any conclusive environmental reason the pipeline should
be built despite the act that as we detailed on the show, extracting,
shipping, refining and burning oil from Canadian tar sands produces more
greenhouse gas emissions than more conventional forms of foreign and
domestic oil do.
There are now be a public comment period followed by a final environmental
review that a national interest determination by the administration. So
final decision on whenever to build the pipeline isn`t likely to come late
this year. We`re going to be following each of those steps closely.
And, finally, last week, we told you about Florida Governor Rick Scott and
other Republican governors who dropped their opposition of the Affordable
Care Act Medicaid expansion, decided to accept federal funding to cover
more people at or near the poverty line.
On Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie became the eighth Republican
governor to support the Medicaid expansion. In announcing New Jersey`s
participation, Christie said, quote, "We are putting more people first,
hopefully, more Republican governors will do the same."
So, what do we now know we didn`t know last week?
Well, we now know the wealth gap between black people and white people in
America has not only remained vast, but has grown massively over the past
quarter century. According to a new study from Brandeis University`s
Institute on Asset and social policy, the total wealth gap between black
and white working household has nearly tripled, going from $85,000 in 1984,
to more than 236,000 in 2009.
We know that one of the chief components of this divide is the very real
disparity in homeownership. The study points out that after decades of
segregation by government design and other forms of discrimination,
including unequal access to credit, it`s no surprising that homeownership
rate for white families is 28 percent higher than it is for black families.
We know it from generations and generations, official government policy at
all levels of government had the explicit and often intended affect making
black people poorer. We know we have never seen an adequate revolution in
our approach to social policy to undo the effects of that legacy.
We now know the number of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan did not drop after
the U.S. sent in a two-year long surge of 33,000 additional troops as was
initially reported by U.S.-led coalition forces in January. NATO`s
international security assistance force initially claimed a 7 percent drop
in such attacks, but after being questioned about that figure, they said
Tuesday there was a mistake with its recordkeeping, and in fact, the number
of attacks from Taliban insurgents did not decline last year.
Finally, we now know that multiple American conservative opinion writers
were paid by the Malaysian government for a series of intermediaries to
produce articles published in American outlets, mostly as part of the
campaign to discredit a pro-democracy Malaysian opposition leader.
As "BuzzFeed" first reported, documents filed with the Department of
Justice this week show that conservative pundit, former UP guest, Josh
Trevino, was under contract for nearly $400,000 between 2008 and 2011 to
lead the effort which involved him paying a series of writers sums of money
to write pieces which appeared in a range of high profile outlets,
including Red State, "National Review", "The Washington Times" and
None of them appeared with any disclosure about the payments by Trevino.
Trevino the lost his job as an opinion writer for "The Guardian" last
August for failing to disclose his ties with the Malaysian government. On
Friday, Trevino said he, quote, "should have come clean" to BuzzFeed
politics editor Ben Smith in 2011 when Smith was at `Politico` and first
asked Trevino if he was being paid by the Malaysian government. Trevino
told BuzzFeed" it was, quote, "a fairly standard P.R. operation."
I want to know what my guests now know that they did not know at the
beginning of the week -- and I`ll begin with you, Saru.
JAYARAMAN: Sure. This week, I am excited to find out that on Tuesday,
there is a bill introduced in Congress by Senator Harkin and George Miller
in the House that will finally raise not just the overall minimum wage, but
the wage for the first tip minimum wage for the first time in two decades,
and there are two bills also at the local level in Philly and Portland to
get sick days paid for workers, which is incredibly important. Flu season
right now, we need these workers to not be sick on our food.
HAYES: Christine Quinn, there`s over 1,000 days that she has not
introduced paid sick days bill in the city council in New York and we`ve
been following that.
JAYARAMAN: Consumers have such an opportunity right now, all of us who eat
out, to speak up and say we need this.
MOESEL: So, one thing that I found out today, I`m sorry this week, is that
in the New York City Council, as you mentioned, there`s actually been some
cooperation between council and the mayor`s office in trying to lower
business regulation and fines that are big problem in New York. And if
that happens and if they are successful in making small policy changes that
will free up the capital for restaurateurs we`ll be able to do some of the
policy initiatives that we talked about today to help both the business
owners and the workers.
BRUTON: What I now know is that in Philadelphia, we are now about to pass
the pay-sick leave. I am a huge advocate of that as someone who has worked
sick. It is not a pleasant experience for you or for me. So I am 100
percent behind that.
HAYES: Did you have paid sick days when you`re working of a restaurant?
BRUTON: Absolutely not.
HAYES: And there`s actually some insane data about which I have misplaced
here about the number of transmissions of things like stomach bugs --
JAYARAMAN: Ninety percent of food-borne illnesses can be traced back to
sick restaurant workers.
MOESEL: I don`t know standards that -- I`m trying to get said data on
foodborne illnesses forever and there`s no way you can get --
JAYARAMN: Well, if the Centers for Disease Control doesn`t know about
HAYES: We won`t litigate this further.
JAYARAMAN: I don`t know who does.
COLICCHIO: Eighty-five percent of all the antibiotics used, 85 percent of
the 25 million pounds of antibiotics used in this country go to feed
livestock, OK? Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control warned that
dangerous bacteria is increasingly resistant to the arsenal of antibiotics
and the world health organization said that a strep throat or scratch can
be deadly. We have to get them out of the food system.
HAYES: Yes, it`s creating massive, cascade effects and all throughout the
health system and multiple strain resistant bugs and super bugs. There`s a
book about super bugs which is horrifying which you should check. I`ll put
on the cover page.
My thanks to Saru Jayaraman of the Restaurant Opportunity Center United,
Andrew Moesel of the New York State Restaurant Association, Victoria Bruton
who works as a banquet server in Philadelphia, and renown chef Tom
Colicchio, executive producer of the new documentary, "A Place at the
Thank you all for getting UP.
BRUTON: Thank you.
JAYARAMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: Thank you for joining us today for UP.
Join us tomorrow, Sunday morning at 8:00 and we`ll have former Biden
adviser Jared Bernstein and columnist David Sirota.
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". On today`s "MHP," the political
domination by the rich that denies economic mobility for the poor. A
scathing new report from Demos. That`s coming up next on "MHP".
We`ll see right here tomorrow at 8:00. I`m going to go eat some pastries.
Thank you for getting UP.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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