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'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, June 1st, 2013

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MELISSA-HARRIS-PERRY
June 1, 2013

Guests: Carmen Wong Ulrich, Josh Barro, Reshma Saujani, Hilda Hutcherson, Jonathan Metzl, Katie Meyler, Dan Gross


MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question is for the
ladies. If there was a pill that would make you feel frisky tonight, would
you take it? And my solidarity with the women of the Fox News Channel.

Plus, I`ve got a letter to a mayor who is no Richard Daley. But first,
sequester is not symbolic, it is real. And real people are suffering.

Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry and we have a lot to get to on the
program today, but first we want to get everyone up to date on the latest
situation on the ground in Oklahoma. Because last night we all sat
breathless watching video like this one coming in live, less than two weeks
after a tornado destroyed so many homes and buildings and lives in Moore,
Oklahoma. And then five new tornadoes hit the Oklahoma City area and St.
Louis area, causing flash flooding and a new round of damage. This morning
the details are still coming in, but already there are reports of five
people dead and at least 70 injured due to the storm. For more, we go live
to NBC News`s Janet Shamlian on the ground in Oklahoma City. Janet, you
were there last night as the tornadoes hit. Tell us how people handled the
danger and where you were.

JANET SHAMLIAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Melissa.
Yeah, we were here doing "Nightly News with Brian Williams." And, you
know, the reason we were here because it was forecast to be such a
dangerous day. I headed with this -- and headed to the airport with
another NBC staffer after the broadcast and as soon as we got to the
airport, the sirens sounded. The airport authorities herded everybody down
into a tunnel that is half underground and connects the terminal to the
parking lot and there we stayed for the next 90 minutes. Many people in
Oklahoma City did the same. But as we`ve seen from the pictures, a lot of
folks did not. As you know, we had two fatalities at least on Interstate
40. Although there is damage in the surrounding area and they`re assessing
that this morning, this is shaping up to be a flood event. We`ve had flash
flood warnings all night. And it`s a beautiful day behind me now, but I
tell you, I wasn`t like that. It turns like this within the last hour or
two. It has just been coming down all night long after the tornadoes moved
on. We have at least six inches of rain in some parts of this area, high
roads -- I mean high water on roads and a lot of debris in the roads, so
today is going to be really a day of assessing the damage here to a
community that`s suffering some emotional wounds as well, Melissa, just
having to go through this drill day after day as they have been doing here
since Shawnee, that was a week ago Sunday.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

SHAMLIAN: It`s been very stressful for a lot of people who live in this
community.

HARRIS-PERRY: Janet, we`re just so pleased that you are safe and obviously
so sad for those who did in fact lose their lives in the storm last night.
Thank you to Janet in Oklahoma City. And for a closer look at where the
danger still lies this morning, I want to bring in NBC meteorologist Bill
Karins, who is keeping a close eye on the situation. Bill, is there any
risk? And if so, where is it now?

BILL KARINS, NBC NEWS METEOROLOGIST: There`s a little bit of a risk today,
but I`d say it`s about a tenth of what we dealt with yesterday and last
night. We just got the preliminary tornado tracks in for where the storms
were last night and how they related to the Oklahoma City area. Then we
had almost three separate tornadoes it looked like. The big one they have
seen the pictures of on TV is the one that was south of El Reno, and it was
heading in a generally east direction. Kind of an unusual storm track
there now on. And then it reformed just to the east side of Yukon, dipped
to the south of OKC, in between Oklahoma City and Moore. Then there was
another one out by Tinker Air Force Base. But the strong one the one that
was south of El Reno. The flash flooding overnight was devastating. It
really delayed first responders from getting to the scenes where there was
destruction last night. Seven inches estimated of rain in and around
downtown Oklahoma City.

In all we had 19 tornado reports. The St. Louis area got hammered, too,
along with Springfield and Joplin. A lot of damage out there by St.
Charles. Now, this morning we`re still dealing with heavy rain, flash
flooding threat right around Arkansas and Little Rock we had a strong
thunderstorm, but the tornado threat is much lower today. I`m expecting
very few tornadoes and I don`t think we`re going to see any strong violent
tornadoes, but if you`re in the areas of yellow including Dallas, Memphis,
Little Rock, Shreveport, Nashville, Louisville, Lexington, all the way up
through the state of Ohio, you are at risk of strong storms today with
damaging winds, hail, and of course lightning can also be a killer, too.
Otherwise the East Coast is fine and the West Coast is fine, Melissa. The
worst over, this was like a six-day tornado outbreak and it looks like it
has finally come to an end. Everyone in the Midwest can finally try to
enjoy their afternoon without worrying about tornadoes.

HARRIS-PERRY: Bill, thank you so much. It certainly was, last night was
just riveting and at least it wasn`t any worse.

KARINS: It could have been.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, but last night it just -- it was really awful, so thank
you so much.

And from a natural disaster, I want to turn now to a man made one.
Sequester. Now, please -- OK, don`t turn the channel, stay with me because
we are going to get beyond the obscure, super boring economic drivel inside
the Beltway speech. See, the sequester is real. And so are its effects.
The sequester has been a drawn-out battle between the president and
Republicans over deficit reduction and the debt ceiling. I know, it still
sounds boring but I`m telling you this is big stuff. Why? Because to
understand what we are facing today, we`ve got to go back to August of 2011
when President Obama signed the Budget Control Act to raise the debt
ceiling. Now, it was supposed to be temporary, but instead after nearly
two years, the White House and congressional back and forth, sequester has
now become the new normal. A new normal that cut federal spending by $85
billion. And that translated to a 7.9 percent cut to defense spending,
another 4.6 percent cut to other programs. But consumer confidence is
high, housing is back, the Dow is up, so sequester isn`t really having much
of an effect, right? Well, think again. The budget for national parks,
those things that people like to go to when the weather is nice, has been
cut by more than $100 million. And who cares about whether or not low
income American Indian kids want an education? Because the sequester cut
$60 million for American Indian schools across the country. And if you`re
poor and you`re in need of housing, sorry, because housing authorities have
essentially stopped issuing rent vouchers because of the sequester.

And that`s only a few of the examples of people really feeling the very
real impact of the sequester. And more importantly, this really is only
the tip of the sequester iceberg. Because the cuts of 2013 will have
nothing on 2014. The sequester damage is allowed to continue, it will cut
$92 billion from the 2014 budget and $35 billion in cuts allocated in 2012
will finally go into effect. These are no longer simply automatic
indiscriminate cuts. When next year the sequester iceberg shows its true
size, Congress gets to choose which programs will be cut, including those
covered by the critical Departments of Labor, Education and Health and
Human Services. You`d better put on your life preserver. Because the SS
Economy is heading straight for danger. At the table Carmen Wong Ulrich,
industry professor of finance and risk engineering at NYU`s Polytech and
Daniel Gross, global business auditor at "The Daily Beast" and author of
"Better, Faster, Stronger: the Myth of American Decline and the Rise of a
New Economy." Good to have you both here.

DAN GROSS, GLOBAL BUSINESS EDITOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": Good to be here.

CARMEN WONG ULRICH, NYU POLYTECH: Hello.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, I want to start with the big picture. We`ll get to like
sort of what people are feeling on the ground. But, you know, the "Wall
Street Journal" today, front page. What sequester? Washington booms as a
new Gilded Age takes root." Right? I mean is it all we are really about
to go into an iceberg or is everything just fine?

ULRICH: It is gilded. Gild. See, but the use of that word alone should
really make you question what was going on here. The truth of the matter
is this is definitely a recovery for the rich. Let`s just look at the
housing market flat out. Just -- let`s take that first. If home prices
are going up and it`s a supply and demand issue and unemployment remains
pretty dismal, 12 million people unemployed, almost half of those long-term
unemployed, incomes haven`t budged for middle Americans, middle income
Americans over 40 years, so who`s buying the homes? Where`s that money
coming from? A lot of this is -- but a lot of this is three big banks
pulled off the market their foreclosures, OK? And then there`s flippers.
I got an email last night from a California Flipping Association, which was
so (inaudible) about it.

HARRIS-PERRY: And it wasn`t gymnastics for your six-year-old?

ULRICH: No, it wasn`t --

(LAUGHTER)

ULRICH: -- but I had to click on it and make sure it wasn`t gymnastics,
because it sounded so crazy. When you start getting e-mails about flipping
homes in California, something is going on, something is wrong. And this
is not about the majority of Americans.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, Dan, but I know you`ve in part made the argument that
when we get leaner, these things that we tend to think of as indicative of
decline in our economy might in fact just be making us leaner, stronger.

GROSS: Well, here`s the thing. The sequester, $85 billion, it`s easy to
sort of overlook that on a macro-economic level. Why? Because the economy
-- we are a $16 trillion economy, we are growing at a three percent rate.
We`re adding $400 or $500 billion of new economic activity each year. So,
that kind of outweighs that. When you look the fact is there are 2 million
more people working today than there were a yore ago at slightly higher
wages.

HARRIS-PERRY: Is that -- is that -- is it that it`s really are higher
median wages, or is it that we`ve got kind of a bimodal distribution where
-- where you`ve got people at the top earning a lot more, but then you have
all these new jobs that are --

GROSS: So, average earnings are up about two percent year over year.

HARRIS-PERRY: OK.

GROSS: Median earnings, it`s a little different than average --

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, exactly.

GROSS: -- are sort of bumping along and like slightly ticked upward in
April. But the reality is there is a lot of activity going on in the
private sector economy that wasn`t happening a year, two, three years ago.
I`m talking about auto production, housing starts, just generally people
working, and that, I think, in the mind of a lot of economists and people
who look at this very big picture of the economy, they look at that and
say, well, $85 billion in the sequester, we`re sort of powering through
that.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me ask about this, though. So it could be that
there are two different ways to think about this as a problem. One is that
it is an absolute bad that makes things worse. The other is that it is a
relative bad, that we are doing better but that we could be doing even
better, right? So if I have one cookie on my diet, it`s not going to be
the end of my diet, but I would have done better, right, if I hadn`t had
that one cookie. Is that basically what the sequester is here?

ULRICH: There`s just danger, and as you say like where are you looking
from? I`m looking at the point of view of the average American, right?

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

ULRICH: who is trying to earn a paycheck and trying to stretch that
paycheck. Now, if we see consumer confidence go up and we see them
spending more money, but there`s no more money coming in, some of this is
also phantom money. We saw this before the housing bubble burst. When
housing values go up, regular Americans suddenly think that they have more
money so they`re going to spend more. There`s confidence there. But is it
real? Let`s not forget that equity in a home is vaporous, it`s phantom,
it`s not real as people found out.

HARRIS-PERRY: As people realize this time.

ULRICH: But again there is very much the sensation with Americans that,
wow, the housing market is doing good so this is good. The economy is
good, the stock market is doing good. Listen, if you own and you have
invested well in the market, then you`re doing pretty good, right? And if
you had a home and you`re selling it today or while the market is doing
well, then you`re doing good. What about everyone else?

HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, when we come back, that`s exactly what I
want to talk about. But we`re going to add a couple of more voices to the
table, but I also want to talk very specifically about those who are
feeling in a direct way those cuts when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: The end of the 2013 fiscal year is looming large. Exactly
four months from today on October 1st, the next federal budget year begins,
which may mean a second year of sequester cuts. Why? Because we don`t seem
to be able to get together. And the difference for the 2014 budget is the
cuts will no longer be automatic. Instead Congress, you know that
Congress, you remember that Congress, they`re going to choose what agencies
will face cuts. So if you think you haven`t felt the effects of sequester
yet? Just wait, because the next round of cuts could directly affect all of
us. Back at the table, Carmen Wong Ulrich and Dan Gross. Joining me now,
also Joy Reid, managing editor of the Grio.com and Josh Barro, politics
editor at "Business Insider." So when it comes to -- Joy, I want to start
with you. If you are directly impacted by this, if you are a child on an
indigenous reservation, then your school has already been impacted.

JOY-ANN REID, MANAGING EDITOR, THE GRIO: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: If you`re one of the 60,000 women who`s been denied Women,
Infant and Children`s supplemental nutrition benefits, you`ve already been
impacted by this. Is it -- that we just sort of don`t care because those
are the most poor, most marginalized people or that we really just don`t
see the effects of sequester?

REID: Or if you are a senior that was relying on Meals on Wheels.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

REID: I mean normally politics caters to senior citizens, but not in that
instance. I think what it is, is that the poor do not have a lobby. There
is no money to be made in lobbying for the poor so they`re always the first
to feel the effect of any negative economic policy. And then on the other
side you have got this ideology on the right. They really do believe in
punitive policy toward the lower income groups. They just really do
believe that if you strip away all the protections of government, somehow
some great resilience will -- and these people will pull themselves up by
their bootstraps and be good Christian Americans and make it. And it
doesn`t really work that way. And the irony of this is that it actually
chills economic recovery for everyone. Because if you think about it --
who`s shopping at Wal-Mart? It`s not rich people, it`s people who have
less money. Like who`s going to the store every day as opposed to being
able to buy a month`s worth of food. Buying food constantly. Always in
the grocery store? You`re talking about lower income people. And so, what
they`re doing is, they`re dampening the economic recovery by constantly
wanting to stick it to the poor.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, Josh, we kind of look, though, at the bar graph of who`s
impacted by the CBO breakdown, right? The Defense Department is actually
at the top of that, right?

JOSH: Yes.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, on the one hand it may be the most vulnerable
who feel it most because they have the least discretionary income, but if
you look at the 2013 sequester cuts, it`s actually defense and then
domestic discretionary. How big an impact will that have ultimately on
sort of, you know, those multiplicative effects within the economy?

JOSH BARRO, BUSINESS INSIDER: Right. Well, it`s a meaningful effect,
especially in parts of the country where the defense industry is big. And
this is --

HARRIS-PERRY: Virginia, Maryland.

BARRO: Right. Exactly. And the whole point when they designed the
sequester was it was supposed to be so politically unpalatable that it
would never go be possible for it to come into effect and they`d have to
cut a deal. So it`s not just poor people getting hit. There are a lot of
people in Washington on the Republican side who would be perfectly happy to
slash programs for the poor, but everyone has something --

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah --

(CROSSTALK)

BARRO: There`s something in the sequester for everybody to hate. And yet
it`s persisting anyway because nobody can come up with something that they
find more politically palatable. That said, the size of the sequester,
it`s about half a percent of GDP, so it`s a significant austerity measure,
but it`s not enormous. And you can compare it to bigger austerity measures
that we did on purpose at the beginning of this year. The expiration of
the payroll tax cuts, the expiration of part of the Bush tax cuts.
Together, those are about twice as big as the sequester and we seem to be
weathering this 1.5 percent of GDP fiscal austerity much better than
similar austerity in Europe.

HARRIS-PERRY: And the deficit is coming down. I mean this is the other
thing that the president is doubting, right is you see that deficit is
shrinking dramatically.

GROSS: This is the -- you know, I tried to coin the term the golden age of
deficit reduction.

(LAUGHTER)

GROSS: It was never before that we had so much deficit reduction. That
(inaudible) 1.089 -- what`s coming in at about 640. But no one
contemplated that magnitude. And let`s not in this sequester -- let`s not
forget the poor, giant corporations.

ULRICH: Oh!

(LAUGHTER)

GROSS: Federal government contracting is a major piece of business in this
country, so you`ve had Cisco systems come out and say our sales aren`t
going to be so great because of the sequester. IBM, GE, Booze Allen, these
are people that in large measure subsist on Defense Department contracts.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, honestly --

GROSS: They`re not getting them and to me it`s sort of amazing that --
it`s -- we`re not surprised that the political system is not responsive to
the poor.

HARRIS-PERRY: So that`s part of what was --

GROSS: We are not surprised that it`s not responsive to the rich we`re
getting --

HARRIS-PERRY: Wait, wait. But still -- but see, this is part of what is
interesting about the "Wall Street Journal" piece to me. So, I was reading
it this morning. And part of it`s claim is that you end up with these
folks who started with those Defense Department contracts, who the
initiation was in fact government spending, but now they`re international.
Now they`re global, and so they`re simply more able to move beyond the
boundaries of what`s happening in any particular region.

ULRICH: This is global. Let`s talk about global corporate taxes.

HARRIS-PERRY: Apple.

ULRICH: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

ULRICH: No, because here`s the thing -- is that what is the sequester
discussion about? A lot of this is tied to deficit, right?

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

ULRICH: So it`s folks say who are going to say, I want to cut all of these
programs for the poor. Remember, last time I was here for the senior
citizens. So, we`re going to -- the kids and the old people, they`re going
to cut -- we don`t want to pay these taxes, we don`t want to pay corporate
taxes on profits overseas. We want to keep our taxes low. At the same
time at the expense of the fact that they actually raised taxed or actually
get taxed on funds outside the U.S., they could pay for these programs. We
wouldn`t have to be doing all this cutting.

REID: Let me --

HARRIS-PERRY: Go ahead.

REID: I was going to say the other thing, is that we`re now -- we`re
finding out the interconnectedness of the economy that the poor included.
Right, cut food stamps, cut Kraft, right?

Because who benefits most from food stamps?

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

REID: People who sell things like macaroni and cheese. So you wind up --
exactly -- so you wind up actually as the residual effect, you do hurt
corporate America because a lot of the profits of agro business, a lot of
the profits of places like Wal-Mart are actually tied to the spending that
goes right back into the economy from things --

HARRIS-PERRY: So, Josh, you were talking about the political palatability
of it, right?

BARRO: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: And is that what it is? Is this about the fact that there`s
nothing more politically palatable or is it because people really do enjoy
seeing those deficits go down and are willing to just kind of say at least
we`ve got one indicator that economically makes us feel sort of strong and
capable?

BARRO: Well, I think it`s two parts of that. One is, there is a
bipartisan consensus in Washington that people want deficit reduction. And
we saw this in the way the president negotiated over the fiscal cliff at
the beginning of the year. He was trying to come up with an alternative
deficit reduction package. He was not pushing the idea that we did not
need as much deficit reduction. No, obviously he`d like a package that
shifted away from near term cuts in discretionary spending and toward
entitlement reform and tax increases. Republicans don`t want any tax
increases. And what`s in the sequester is more palatable to them than
anything that raised taxes, even though half of it falls on defense. And
Republicans would like to replace these cuts with cuts that are heavier on
domestic programs that hurt the poor more. Obviously that`s not palatable
to Democrats. So, it`s not that anybody likes the sequester, it`s that
everybody likes the sequester better than the alternative plans.

HARRIS-PERRY: Then the one thing that would be otherwise. All right.
Stay with us, because as we talk about this reality of sequester hitting
home, I`m going to talk to someone who is behind the numbers. There are
real people being impacted.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re going to have to put all of our stuff in the
storage and then live with my mom again. I`m 26, live with my mom again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never thought I`d be --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You never --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- getting help from the state, you know. I never
thought I would.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told myself I would never do that. I would never
do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Food stamps, I`d never put that in my head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: That was a scene from the recently released documentary
"American Winter" which aired on HBO in March, the same month the sequester
cuts took effect. Three months later, we`re seeing the sequester hit poor
people particularly hard. And some of the people affected will testify
before Congress next week in a hearing on the state of the American dream.
Joining me now from Portland, Oregon, is Diedre, she is one of the subjects
of "American Winter", the documentary, who will be testifying before the
Senate subcommittee on economic policy on Wednesday. Thank you for joining
me, Diedre.

DIEDRE: Thank you.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, you work for "Two on One," which is a human services
hotline in Oregon, is that right?

DIEDRE: Yes.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, tell me what both from your own experiences and from
what you`ve been hearing from your callers, what you`re going to tell
Congress on Wednesday.

DIEDRE: Well, I would like to tell them first and foremost, I would like
for them to understand that the sequester cuts hit people like myself,
people who I classify as working poor. I would like them to know that
there I talk to a countless number of people on a daily basis who are
calling me from work. They`re struggling. They`re trying very, very hard
to make ends meet. There has been an immediate impact from the sequester
cuts from a "Two on One" standpoint. A lot of --

HARRIS-PERRY: Diedre --

DIEDRE: And a lot of --

HARRIS-PERRY: So, when you hear people saying on television, on a show
like this the economy is getting better, things are improving, house values
are up, does that resonate with what your experience is?

DIEDRE: Not at all. Not at all.

HARRIS-PERRY: What would it take for you to be feeling like we were in a
better place economically?

DIEDRE: Simply put, we need a living wage.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah.

DIEDRE: We need to make enough money to live. Just simply put. There`s
other things that we could do, but we definitely need to make a living
wage. We definitely need to look at increasing the minimum wage. We
definitely need to look at the reality that --

HARRIS-PERRY: Diedre, one of the things that we`ve talked a lot about here
on the MHP show is about childhood poverty and about the fact that there
are 16 million American children living in poverty. Either from your own
experience or from the parents that you hear from, what do they tell you
about the experiences that their kids are dealing with?

DIEDRE: It`s really sad. I talk to homeless families daily. Children who
are involved in the "Backpack" program, which is a program that schools
sponsor so that kids can eat on the weekends. They`re suffering. You have
to think about kids who are actually homeless and they still have to go to
school. You think about parents who have to deal with the situation. And
in fact I was just speaking with a lady the other day, she was actually
five months pregnant and living on the streets. She had been assaulted
recently and we just didn`t have the resources to give her some of the
programs that existed before, just not in existence anymore.

HARRIS-PERRY: And I know many shelters don`t actually accept pregnant
women because they see it as an insurance liability problem.

DIEDRE: A risk, hm-hm. And there were programs in existence, like the
hotel voucher program. Those programs just aren`t in existence anymore.
There`s no more gas vouchers. There`s almost no emergency funding for
anything.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

DIEDRE: And sometimes we have a tendency to look at people and feel like
they created this situation for themselves. In reality, we are -- I know
I`m one step away from being in the same situation. I rely on public
services. And those were affected in the sequester cuts. Food stamps are
going down.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

DIEDRE: I talk to people on a daily basis who no longer qualify for
extensions as far as unemployment go.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

DIEDRE: So they are like literally living without an income.

HARRIS-PERRY: Diedre, I can -- I can sense your exasperation and I just
want to tell you how much I appreciate you not only joining us here on MHP
show, but the fact that you`re going to testify in front of our lawmakers.
I appreciate you for doing that.

DIEDRE: Thank you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you.

Thank you to Diedre in Portland, Oregon, and up next -- we`re going to talk
about exactly the politics here. Is anybody going to lose their job
because of the sequester? When we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Over the past
four and a half years, we`ve been fighting our way back from a financial
crisis and an incredibly punishing recession. The good news is today our
businesses created nearly 7 million new jobs over the past 38 months, the
housing market is coming back, the stock market has rebounded. Our
deficits are shrinking at the fastest pace in 50 years. People`s
retirement savings are growing again. The rise of health care costs are
slowing. The American auto industry is back. So we`re seeing progress,
and the economy is starting to pick up steam. The gears are starting to
turn again and we`re getting some traction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So, all true. All of that is true. And yet right -- this
has been your point, Carmen, there are -- there are two economies, it seems
to be.

ULRICH: Half of Americans don`t have retirement savings. So that other
half is not -- doesn`t play any role in anything that he`s just talking
about right there. Maybe jobs, maybe the auto industry. But if half of
Americans don`t have a retirement savings, what are we doing for them? And
then if we have 15 percent on food stamps, so basically there`s just a
whole huge segment of this country that shops at Wal-Mart, that shops at
Costco that really is kind of a heavy foundation for our economy that`s
being left behind. I hope this is trickledown. I hope. But I don`t know.

REID: But you know what the genius -- probably the most genius thing that
Wall Street has done like in the last 100 years is to create something
called the mutual fund and the 401(K).

(LAUGHTER)

REID: So, at the same time, it allowed corporations to strip away the
pension, which used to be our parents` way --

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

REID: -- of knowing they would retire having some security. To make the
pension an anachronism.

ULTICH: They privatized. Right. Totally privatized.

REID: Exactly. And to psychologically connect middle class Americans --
.

HARRIS-PERRY: To the markets.

REID: and to Wall Street.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

REID: -- to make people think Wall Street is up, I`m doing better. Even
though your percentage of --

HARRIS-PERRY: So, how do you thread the needle? You`re president of the
United States, you`ve been re-elected, but your party is going to stand in
the 2014 midterms. On the one hand you have to say, and it`s honest we`re
making some real progress. On the other hand, you don`t want to sound all
roses and glory when people are still suffering. Is anyone other than
regular people going to lose their jobs? Is there any member of Congress
who is going to be held to account for our current economic circumstances?

BARRO: I think probably not. And the reason is that there`s a lot of
blame to go around on the sequester, which is an idea that the president
and the Republicans came up with jointly. And they will each blame each
other for it. And people who are inclined to vote Republican will assume
it`s the president`s fault and vice versa. So no, I think that the economy
will play a role in the 2014 elections and I think to the extent that it
continues to pick up a little bit, that`s advantageous to the Democrats.
But I don`t think specifically the mess created by the sequester is going
to play a big role because it`s just really not clear who to blame for it.
But I give the president a little bit more credit for focusing on the stock
market and the home prices, because there are two aspects to this. One is
when stock values go up and home prices go up people who own those things
are better off. And that`s something that obviously, mostly is impact at
the top. But the other is there`s a reason that home prices and stock
prices are rising. That reflects expectations of greater economic growth,
further higher corporate profits in the future because there will be more
consumer demand. And then on the home prices, people are willing to invest
again and it reflects pickup in the economy, more household formation.

(CROSSTALK)

BARRO: So those are things that affect everyone.

GROSS: What I think it needs to do -- I think we`re all together
(inaudible) where government policy stopped us from going into depression.
It stopped the decline.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

GROSS: It helped create the situation where we`re adding jobs. As you
said, almost 7 million private sector jobs. That`s all to the good. And
the next thing to me is to happen is for those jobs to pay more and come
with better benefits.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And just (inaudible) was saying right -- we need --
jobs are good. Now we need living wage jobs.

GROSS: That typically doesn`t happen when unemployment is 7.5 percent.
There`s slack in the labor market, you don`t have to compete for workers,
they`re still beating the day lights out of labor. What needs to happen is
a sense of self interest on the part of corporations that says unless we
pay a little more, we`re not going to see more economic growth and we may
be willing to give up a little bit of our profit margin in the next year or
so for the sake of having higher demand.

(CROSSTALK)

GROSS: This was Henry Ford`s insight of a century ago, they all thought he
was nuts.

HARRIS-PERRY: But he -- but what -- .

GROSS: Everyone has forgotten what he taught us.

HARRIS-PERRY: But part of what Henry Ford was, was more constrained
geographically, right? So, I think and in many ways, we actually expect
corporations to continue to behave on that Fordist model. And it`s part of
why -- you know, there`s this notion about cutting taxes for corporations,
but their profits are record profits. They figured out how to have these
profits without making labor investments. And it`s in part because Henry
Ford couldn`t build his Model T`s in some other place.

REID: Right. Exactly. Right, and because the global economy has
basically incentivized corporations to always reduce costs. Because the
other thing is that CEOs are no longer paid based on, you know, the pure
profitability. They`re paid on the stock price.

GROSS: Yes.

REID: So you have to maximize shareholder value. That is the prime
directive of a CEO.

(CROSSTALK)

REID: And you do that by reducing labor costs.

GROSS: I think we let them off the hook by saying it`s just a global
economy.

HARRIS-PERRY: OK.

GROSS: Wal-Mart is now a dysfunctional -- I don`t want to say dying
company. But they are suffering, their sales aren`t going up. They can`t
keep there -- their store shelf. They employ 1.4 million people, remember?
They can`t like get someone in India to do those retail jobs. If they paid
their people more, they set the standard. They`re nine percent of the
retail industry employment. If they put that benchmark up a little bit,
then people would have to agree with them --

HARRIS-PERRY: But the thing is we know about --

GROSS: -- but more people would be spending.

HARRIS-PERRY: But it doesn`t happen because of corporate logistics, it
happens because of organized labor, right?

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So it`s not - right, I mean in other words, corporations
figure this out because labor organizes and it says if you don`t, then
we`ll strike. I mean there has to be that counter. And part of what Wal-
Mart has been very clear about is their unwillingness to allow their
workers to have that --

(CROSSTALK)

BARRO: I don`t think that`s the only way for that to happen. I think you
can what happened in the 1990s, where you just have a very strong labor
market where there`s a lot of demand to hire people and employees can
demand higher wages, not necessarily for organizations. --

HARRIS-PERRY: But this is the (inaudible) market.

BARRO: Yeah, the type market. You have to pay more to get good workers.
And that, I don`t think we can depend on companies to create that. That`s
something the government has to do. I think the Federal Reserve has been
trying very hard. And I think the reason that we haven`t had big negative
economic effects from the sequester is that the Fed came in and got very
aggressive right at the time that Congress was imposing fiscal austerity.
But I think if we had even more stimulative action, either on the fiscal or
monetary side, we could get a tighter labor market and that`s when we would
get the growing wages.

GROSS: But we`re not going to get that from this Congress and this White
House.

ULRICH: No.

BARRO: Unfortunately not. But we could get more action from the Fed. But
I don`t think we can just say, well -- .

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, whether it`s democracy, I hate that we have to throw
up our hands and say, well, our elected officials can do nothing.

(CROSSLTAK)

REID: What you started with, is that somebody has to lose their job in
Congress?

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, right.

REID: You have to see it --

(CROSSTALK)

ULRICH: Well, and to the point about the stock market, the problem is
that, you know, if you in any way cut profits a little bit, so you can pay
people more, this stock market will punish you.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.

ULRICH: So it`s way too closely tied to this weird valuation of oh, gosh,
profits are cut. Look what happened to Apple. Boom! I mean -- it will
hit and so many people lose money. The danger is if anybody steps forth
and does something like that, short term, they will be punished. Just -- a
corporation has to think long term --

HARRIS-PERRY: They have to ride it out for the long term.

ULRICH: -- and ride it out and see it to make it work.

HARRIS-PERRY: All right. Thank you to Dan Gross and the rest of the panel
is sticking around, because our theme for this morning, money, power and
sex. We`ve done the money, the power and the sex are coming up. But first
before we get there, have you seen the cover of this week`s "Time"
magazine? Yeah, well, I say bull of a different kind. My letter to Rahm
is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: The photo of this week`s "Time" magazine cover guy is
accompanied by a question that I can only assume is rhetorical because the
answer to the question about Chicago`s mayor, why are people mad at him,
should be readily apparent to anyone following recent headlines about 50
Chicago schools slated to be closed. It`s certainly obvious to my favorite
MHP show guest from last weekend, nine-year-old Asean Johnson who gave the
mayor a piece of his mind when his elementary school was on the chopping
block. And the answer was no mystery to ordinary land buddy Dave Zirin
when he wrote in his "Nation" column this week that the mayor of Chicago is
in the running for, quote, "the most loathsome person in American political
life." It doesn`t seem to be a question anyone else is really asking. So
I wondered if maybe it might be on the mind of the man himself. In which
case I`m happy to oblige and use my letter this week to tell them why
they`re mad.

Dear Mayor Rahm Emanuel, it`s me, Melissa. Mind if I call you Rahm or
maybe Rahmbo, remember that, that was the nickname you earned for yourself
back when you were the gladiator to President Obama`s Olivia Pope, the bad
cop to his good one, the Merlin to the president`s King Arthur. The guy
"The New York Times" once described as "the leading practitioner of the
dark arts of the Capitol." Back when you were the White House chief of
staff you used your special magic to help the president advance his agenda.
Man, I mean I miss that guy, because this guy on the "Time" cover of 2013?
Not so much. Chicago bull? Only if it`s describing what you are full of
because let`s be honest, Rahm, your reasons for closing those 50 schools
doesn`t quite hold water. You`ve said reassigning students from closed
schools to higher performing schools is intended to make sure every child
can get a quality school with a quality education, but the University of
Chicago`s consortium on Chicago school research found no demonstrable
improvement for students when their schools are closed. In fact in the
short term the stress and anxiety of being displaced actually causes
students to perform even worse academically.

As for the need to close that billion dollar budget deficit? Funny how
that need is pressing only when it comes to schools in predominantly
African-American and Latino neighborhoods, and not when you`re using
taxpayer dollars to build a $100 million basketball arena for DePaul
University. Meanwhile, your decision is forcing students to cross gang
lines to travel to new schools in unfamiliar neighborhoods. Mayor Emanuel,
the lives of children are too high a cost to pay for free education. And
students are not the only ones who suffer when a school is closed. It also
robs a neighborhood of an institution that is often at the heart of the
community, leaving in its wake an empty shell that`s a magnet for blight
and crime, in areas that are already struggling with those burdens. Mr.
Mayor, I really hope you start feeling like your old self again, that guy
who was the president`s pit bull, because the people of Chicago need a
mayor who`s a fighter, but one who`s fighting for them, not against them.
Sincerely, Melissa.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: This week we had the clearest sign yet of looming
apocalyptic Armageddon. The Pew Research Center released a new study this
week finding that women are the soul or primary bread winners in 40 percent
of American households with children! Take cover! No, seriously, if that
doesn`t sound like rapture producing, eschatological finding to you, well,
then you haven`t been watching the Fox Business Channel. And their all man
panel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: We`re watching society dissolve around us,
Juan, what do you think?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: You`ve seen the disintegration
of marriage. Something going terribly wrong in American society and it`s
hurting our children.

DOBBS: And those are the children who survived. 54 million abortions
since Roe v. Wade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you look at biology, look at the natural world, the
roles of a male and a female in society, and other animals, the male
typically is the dominant role.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a catastrophic issue and, sadly, no one on the
left, right or center is dealing with the breakdown of family structure.
We`re losing a generation. Bottom line, it could undermine our social
order.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So here with me once again, our personal finance
expert, Carmen Wong Ulrich, business insider Josh Barro, who is going to
answer for all men --

BARRO: Yes.

HARRIS-PERRY: The Grio`s -- and the Grios joined me and joining the table
now also candidate for New York City`s Public Advocate Reshma Saujani. OK.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS-PERRY: I`ve got to do when I start with you, Josh. What is wrong
with you all?

(LAUGHTER)

BARRO: I can`t answer for Fox Business. No, I mean I think what I see
actually, there is -- part of this story is totally fine. There actually
are a couple of alarming undercurrents to this, one of which is that over
the last 30 years men have not been keeping up with economic shifts.
You`ve had this job polarization where middle skill jobs are falling out.
We have more high skill and low skill jobs and women have responded to that
by greatly increasing their level of educational attainment over the last
30 years. Men haven`t, and so they have had decreased attachment to the
workforce. More of them are working in low skill jobs. And that`s one of
the reasons that you have more households with women as primary bread
winners. So that I think is in part not a happy story because it`s about
men not keeping up. But I think this idea that, you know, biological frame
that`s been put on it is very odd.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, and even less whether or not men are keeping up, the
idea that a household isn`t keeping up, right?

REID: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: That we now live in a country where to live a standard that
my grandparents may have been able to do on one income, you simply must
have two incomes.

ULRICH: Well, that`s the most dangerous point. That`s the most dangerous
point. That now we think that dual income is natural and that`s the way we
should rule our lives. The problem is, it`s actually the most fragile
position to be in. Because if you basically base an income off of two,
base your whole household off of two, you lose one, that`s 50 percent
income.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And you could lose (ph) them from divorce, we lose
from illness, we could lose them from accident --

ULRICH: Anything. Anything.

HARRIS-PERRY: -- from actually any of those vulnerabilities.

ULRICH: But I love what you just said about the men taking responsibility.
Because what we just saw was absolutely no responsibility for the breakdown
of households, and American households. That men really haven`t kept up.
You have.

(LAUGHTER)

ULRICH: But men in general have not kept up. But that`s the trouble
because we also see that in the households, the bread winning households,
too, which we`ll talk about later, women being overburdened by all the
responsibility.

REID: At the same time, too, there`s also that culture component --

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah.

REID: Because, of course, it is Fox, so it is conservatism. And I think
my new slogan for the Fox Business Network which I`m going to write to them
right now, is "Fox Business, woman have baby, make sandwich."

(LAUGHTER)

REID: That should be their slogan, right? I mean because --

(CROSSTALK)

REID: And the thing is that because I believe that what we`re seeing there
is a lot of men reacting to the cultural shift of men not being dominant,
period. And this idea that underlies conservatism, with the consent of
conservative women, which is what is required to make that work --

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

REID: -- is that you have to give men the dominant role in society such
that women typically stay not as competitors in the workforce. And I think
that since Roe v. Wade, the idea that women have sort of autonomy over
their bodies, the idea that women are going into the workforce not out of
necessity, but sometimes because they want to --

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

REID: -- is really threatening to a lot of conservative men who don`t
want to compete with women in the workforce, number one, and who definitely
don`t want to work for women in the workforce.

(LAUGHTER)

RESHMA SAUJANI, CANDIDATE FOR NYC PUBLIC ADVOCATE: And for those all about
good old boy privilege, right?

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

SAUJANI: I mean the fact that we are now the majority in the voting booth
and we are the majority in college, we are the majority in the labor force.
And that is threatening to them. The thing, though, I think that you
raised that I wanted to bring up and the Pew say that was disturbing was
how much single mothers are making.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

SAUJANI: We`re focused, we should be focused on low income women, right?
Minority women and immigrant women who are still not able to have good-
paying jobs and to lift their families forward. And that`s the
conversation we should be having.

HARRIS-PERRY: I think this is -- we were talking about the bimodal
distribution around the economy in general and we really saw that in this
Pew data, right? That on the one hand you do have women with very good
educations who are often married, who are working in upper income jobs,
right? 83,000 plus. And they`re working largely often because they want
to. Because -- and they want to work these jobs because they`re fulfilling
and they`re well paid. And then you have women, single moms, who were
working at the $20,000 wage --

REID: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: -- who very well may have a preference for staying home
and providing for the emotional nurturing, care of their kids, but have -
absolutely -- and those are two different sets of, you know, so-called
choice that`s the women are facing.

REID: I`m sure those Republican men are not willing to put the resources
in to make sure that they can actually stay home and take care of their
children.

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, no.

REID: Those women should work because now there`s that sort of dual mindset
among the right, which -- they are saying that women like the one he
described, that have lower income, that are working because they have to,
well, they need to be responsible. They`re the ones who need to -- if want
to get public assistance, they better work for it.

HARRIS-PERRY: I`m going to tell you- it`s not just a cultural question,
it`s a public policy question. You can`t get -- you cannot get what you
need.

ULRICH: And if you have those babies, those 65 million babies.

HARRIS-PERRY: Which you must have.

ULRICH: That he brings up, and then, they want you to have them. They
don`t want to have to support them --

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

ULRICH: -- or the parents.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, that`s right.

So, when we come back, there is so much more on this question of women
changing roles at home, but we`re also going to talk about the other house.
You know, the House of Representatives, we`re also going to talk about a
room in the House. Later on, in 11:00 hour, we are talking about sex.
We`re going to the bedroom and whether or not a new drug can make you want
to go to the bedroom more often. There is in fact more Nerdland at the top
of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.

And we are looking the Pew Research Center survey released this week that
focused on women as breadwinners and how very frightening that growing
trend is for some folks -- frightening, apparently, to the men of FOX News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERICK ERICKSON, REDSTATE.COM: Recognize that having moms as the primary
breadwinner is bad for kids and bad for marriages. And reality shows us
that`s the clear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: But let`s be clear. Not everyone over there at the other
network is quite so backward. The women of FOX very quickly stepped up to
school their male colleagues on the ways of the world.

Here is Greta Van Susteren writing on her blog after the segment aired.
"Have these men lost their minds? Are these my colleagues? Oh, brother.
Maybe I need to have a little chat with them. Next thing, they will have a
segment to discuss eliminating women`s right to vote."

And having that little chat on the air with FOX News` Megyn Kelly, who
yesterday called into Lou Dobbs and Erick Erickson to explain themselves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: American Psychological Association, 2010 study.
According to a review of 50 years of research -- children whose mothers
work are no more likely to have any problems than kids whose mothers stay
at home. They studied 69 studies. Over 59 years of research.

Your fact and your science, Erick, is not supported by the American
Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Columbia
University study, University of North Carolina study. I mean, why are we
supposed to take your word for it, Erick Erickson`s science, instead of all
of these experts?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: You are not going to see this often -- but go, Megyn!

Which brings me to a point I really want to make about how important it is
to have women in power. You see, even if we have disagreement on
ideological questions, women as breadwinners but also as business leaders,
as FOX News hosts, as elected officials, women on the right, on the left,
in the middle, they often try to fight for things that men in all of these
places have ignored for decades.

Now, it`s not universal. You`ll always have the Margaret Thatcher`s and
Michele Bachmann`s who`s politics are not only far from feminist, but also
not particularly women-centered.

But women are more likely to ask questions like how do we make it possible
for parents to both work and take care of the children. Something that`s
ironic about the FOX News men, really conservatives in general, is they
often espouse things like traditional family values and women staying at
home with their children as essential to our social fabric but at the same
time, they fight tooth and nail against any policy that would allow women,
especially poor women, to do just that.

These are the same people that say parents on welfare, including single
mothers of young children, must work. Definitely not stay at home with
their children.

Erick Erickson is certainly not about to call for government subsidized
affordable child care or raising the minimum wage or offering parental sick
leave. Neither is John Boehner.

So let`s talk about women in power and what it means for women and really
for families as a whole.

Back with me, finance expert and working mom, Carmen Wong Ulrich; politics
editor for "Business Insider, Josh Barro, holding it down for the guys at
the table.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS-PERRY: Joy Reid, managing editor of TheGrio.com, and also a working
mom; and Reshma Saujani, who is the founder of Girls Who Code, and a
candidate for New York City public advocate.

So, Reshma, I wanted to ask you because you say you are running as a woman.

RESHMA SAUJANI, FOUNDER, GIRLS WHO CODE: Oh, absolutely.

HARRIS-PERRY: What does that mean?

SAUJANI: Unabashedly.

You know, when I talk about my four pillars as I`m running for public
advocate, one of them is women, right? We as a city will not be as strong
as we can be unless we uplift women. And that means fighting for paid
parental leave, it means put, you know, creating incentives for
corporations to have day care centers on site, it means increasing tax
credits for child care which we have not done in over a decade.

Like, we can`t make it possible for women to work and have children unless
we change structures. I mean, the FLA was passed in 1993, 20 years ago.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

SAUJANI: Twenty years ago.

And the thing is that`s really amazing, right, is I can say that as a
female candidate. You couldn`t say that a couple years ago. It`s
uplifting.

And women get riled up. They are fired up after 2012.

HARRIS-PERRY: It was pretty extraordinary to see Megyn Kelly there. I
mean, I must say there are people on my network who sometimes say things
that I deeply disagree with and I just go on and do my show the next day.
For her to actually take on the men on her network, I mean, that is
incredibly courageous and she did it pretty darn well there.

JOY REID, THE GRIO.: She did a great job. Watching the women of FOX rise
up and stand for women is the most amazing and awesome thing in the world.

I agree with you. Go, Megyn Kelly. And hearing facts on FOX threw me off
a little bit.

(CROSSTALK)

REID: I mean it`s true. The important thing that Reshma said, it has to
be not about women with nannies, because women with nannies are going to be
OK. Women with nannies have choices.

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s about the nannies.

REID: Exactly. And the women who need structural policy still from the
government, which only the government can do, that make it possible for
them to have to work, but also have full lives. You know what, women do
want to stay home with their kids who are not rich. There are women who
want to make the choice and have the option to have parental leave.

I know people --

HARRIS-PERRY: Or stay home for a year. It`s not as though these are total
life decisions, right? Six weeks is barely enough time to feel human
again, right? Particularly after certain kinds of giving birth. But if
you had six months, if you had a year, you might be fully ready to go back.
And, by the way, also men might be the ones who want to pick up that second
year.

CARMEN WONG ULRICH, FINANCE EXPERT: And to bring about the scientific side
of all of this because I`ve seen way too many men use this whole scientific
research shows and all of this, it`s here`s the thing -- the real issue is
that there are differences between groups that are just as equal as the
differences within groups.

Now, that`s a basic tenet of social science. Everybody knows that. So I
can find you a stupid male traitor who will lose out to a just had a baby
fantastic female trader.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

WONG-ULRICH: And when we have hedge fund managers, and when we have all
these folks saying that this is scientifically based, I`m telling you that
you can find stupid guys and you can find stupid ladies and great guys and
great ladies. Nothing to do with whether there`s a baby at your bosom,
which they actually talk about. It has to do with the person.

So if we can go to the table as a person, as opposed to just a woman, who
they feel are somehow crippled by hormones or whatever, that we can have
that chance to prove it. The fact that you have two women who worked for
you and had a baby and left and got stupid, does not speak for all of us.

HARRIS-PERRY: And, look, I think what`s interesting though around what
you`re saying around this question of sort of women standing in for the
whole group, we saw this with Michele Bachmann, right? And Michele
Bachmann making a choice to step down as a member of Congress and not to
run for re-election.

Look, I am no fan of Michele Bachmann`s policies, but I have been
consistently irritated with the kind of representation of her as vacant, as
dumb, as incapable, as incompetent because it feels gendered, right?
Because the house is full of dumb men and we just don`t represent them as
somehow indicative of the entire gender in that way.

JOSH BARRO, BUSINESS INSIDER: Well, I think -- I don`t think she was that
often represented as vacant and dumb. I see a contrast between her and
Sarah Palin who I think absolutely did get that representation, in part
because I think it`s sort of true of Sarah Palin. But Bachmann, it was
always clear that she had something going on upstairs. She`s a crazy
person, but she -- I don`t think --

HARRIS-PERRY: She did the one thing that a member of Congress has to do.
That is she got re-elected over and over again, right?

BARRO: Just barely. She won by one point in a district that Mitt Romney
carried by 14 points in 2012. So she was -- she was clearly a weak
candidate because she was so far out there.

What I loved about that Megyn Kelly interview with Erick Erickson was the
way that she really went to the science on that, because Erickson did this
thing you always see when someone is defending some sort of traditional
gender role where they`re saying it`s not that it`s my religious view or
some internal bias, this is what the science says.

WONG ULRICH: Animals. And the same thing with gay marriage. They bring
up animals.

And here`s the thing. There is absolute evidence with animals of
matriarchies where the women rule and also of homosexuality. It`s there.

HARRIS-PERRY: Have you watched National Geographic? It`s the lioness who
hunts.

REID: Can I also take a moment to pause to kind of marvel at watching a
predominantly white conservative movement react in horror to a societal
norm, something that has been a societal norm for the African-American for
a really long time, which is that you did have a lot of women who had an
easier time getting into the workforce than black men. I mean, black men
have had a comparatively more difficult time breaking into high levels of
corporate measure, getting higher education.

So, for African-American families having a woman in that role was actually
nothing new. But watching it happen now I think in the larger society,
there`s a reaction of just horror because they`re tying immediately that
all these social pathologies are going to follow. You`re going to have out
of wedlock birth and you`re going to have poverty.

SAUJANI: This is some of the work I do with Girls Who Code. I started a
nonprofit to teach girls how to computer program. And, forever, we`ve been
telling girls math and science is too hard for you, you`re not going to be
good at it. And now you can make $83,000 as a Web site programmer.

These are the middle class jobs. There`s 1.4 million of them out there.
Less than 20 percent of women are going into them and let`s not even talk
about women of color, right?

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

SAUJANI: So I think it`s really fighting against these systems and these
structures that are set up against women and girls.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

SAUJANI: That`s what that panel was about. That`s why you`ve got to have
more women running for office. That`s why we got to make sure that we`re
constantly educating --

(CROSSTALK)

SAUJANI: And putting resources towards women and girls.

HARRIS-PERRY: More as soon as we come back, because I do want to talk more
about the fact that it is absolutely clear that a woman`s place is in the
house, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to continue our discussion about women in power
in just a moment but first we want to bring you the latest on the severe
weather in the heartland. Less than two weeks after a deadly twister tore
through the city of Moore, Oklahoma, another round of tornados hit the
Oklahoma City area and the death toll connected to the storms now stands at
nine, seven adults and two children.

For more we go live to NBC`s Janet Shamlian on the ground in Oklahoma City.

I`m sorry -- Janet.

JANET SHAMLIAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Melissa. Yes, in addition to
that death toll rising as you just indicated, we hear there are hundreds of
people that have been injured. Some 90,000 in the metro Oklahoma City area
without power. Power crews are out this morning, as are folks picking up
debris. That`s really two of the issues.

But the major story here is that this is going to be a flooding concern.
After the storms, the five tornados passed through this area last night,
the rain continued until very early this morning, the entire region under a
flood watch. Where we are is downtown right now and that phrase the
Chamber of Commerce Day, it feels like that. It`s hard to believe what
happened here last night, there`s not a cloud in the sky. But we do
there`s cleanup taking place all over the city and there`s high water, not
here downtown but in a lot of outlying areas.

In addition, the airport has reopened that was closed yesterday. In fact
we were in the shelter underneath the airport as the tornados were coming
through, so flights are starting to resume. But a number of events,
including some sports competitions here, Melissa, have been cancelled for
the weekend and of course late afternoon today, there is that potential
threat once again that is really just too hard for people here to get their
head around, that they could be facing the same thing all over again,
though we must say chances today are highly diminished.

Back to you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, the psychology of that kind of disaster is tough.
Thank you, Janet.

SHAMLIAN: Yes.

HARRIS-PERRY: That was Janet Shamlian in Oklahoma City.

We`ve been talking about the Pew Research Center survey showing that women
are increasingly the breadwinners of U.S. households, but women in the U.S.
House, as in Congress, now that`s a different story. Women still make up
only one-fifth of the Senate and less than a fifth of the House, and the
113th Congress is in fact the record-breaking Congress for women.

One of the things I think that`s been most interesting for me, Reshma, is
watching how the women of the 113th have in fact taken up issues that
impact men and women, but particularly the sexual assault in the military.
Elizabeth Warren and other women who have been right out there in front,
Barbara Boxer and others, saying we have to address this now.

SAUJANI: There are many men who have also been victimized by sexual
assault, but it took women sitting there to get this finally moving
forward. I think it goes back to what I`m saying. I think that many women
who are in elected office see it as their responsibility to bring these
issues forward, right? And it comes from a place I think of passion and
interest. Senator Gillibrand has been out there on this issue as well.
You`re seeing, you know, with Tulsi Gabbard, Grace Meng (INAUDIBLE) are
very vocal on issues immigration, how it affects undocumented and immigrant
women.

So, I think that`s why we need more women in elected office because they
are going to push these issues forward and raise these questions that quite
frankly men haven`t raised.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, I`m willing, though, to make a claim for women in
elected office even if they didn`t, right? That there is a demographic
value in a democracy to saying that the body into which you are born is not
in and of itself a disqualification for office. So even if I disagreed
with all of the women who were running or if they didn`t bring up specific
questions, that it still wouldn`t matter.

Are we really just wanting feminists in office or does having all women,
including the Michele Bachmann`s of the world in office matter?

WONG ULRICH: We need more women -- we need all sorts of women because we
are a full spectrum. So I don`t want to just see raging feminists. I want
to see women there who actually may side with policies that I may not like,
because they are the voice of other female Americans. Females, period,
need to be up there, or else, we`re going to have our voice really
represented. And it`s way too easy to take down both extremes. We need a
little bit more in the middle.

REID: And you`ve seen that there are women in power on the right, too. I
mean, you think about Governor Nikki Haley, the way that they tried to stop
her from being elected was through a sex scandal, sort of impugning her
sort of, you know, was she a proper Republican conservative woman?

I do think it`s important to have women on both sides of the aisle, because
as we saw with Megyn Kelly, when it comes down to brass tax, women are
women and they`re going to defend themselves and defend their own honor.
And I think it`s important.

But it`s also important where the women are.

HARRIS-PERRY: At least working women are working women, because I`m
sitting here thinking, I`m not sure I always buy that, but I do buy
probably Megyn Kelly in part was -- I mean, I take personally -- you know,
we`re all mothers who work. But the idea that we are harming our children
by working, like that goes to the gut of who we are.

WONG ULRICH: A happy mama is a good mama and I will not be happy if I`m
sitting at homemaking sandwich. I would not be happy that`s part of it.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s OK if some women are.

WONG ULRICH: The full spectrum of what a woman is. I just want the
opportunity to do what makes me happy and that makes me a better parent to
my child.

REID: But you also have to have women in a position to make a difference.
If you look at the House and the Senate, when you talk about an elected
office, the women in the House are there, but the women in the senate have
power because you have more women who the Democrats decided to put in
leadership and you have women like Dianne Feinstein who`s been very
forthright on issues like guns and national security. You know, you have
Kirsten Gillibrand who led this fight about sexual assault in the military.
These women are on proponent committees and are very important.

If you look on the House side, the most powerful woman in the House is
Nancy Pelosi, who is the minority leader, who John Boehner can`t pass
legislation without her. When she was speaker of the House, there was more
legislation passed since any Congress since the Congress that passed
Medicare.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. But there`s also the point, however -- I mean, that
if we look, for example, at our Supreme Court. That doesn`t require voters
to kind of get on board. We`ve only had four women on the court in all of
American history and three of them are sitting on the court right now.

When we look at cabinet level positions, only 45 ever in American history,
45 women ever in cabinet level positions. That doesn`t require voters
getting on board, that requires the men who are currently in leadership
getting on board to put women there.


BARRO: And then even in countries where you have women as prime ministers
often or other chief executives, they still end up filling their cabinets
with men. Margaret Thatcher I believe had only one female cabinet minister
in the first cabinet she put together in the U.K.

HARRIS-PERRY: But she was Reagan --

BARRO: And also 1979. So, I think -- but I think, you know, the low
representation of women in Congress is a symptom of a broader problem of
un-representativeness of Congress. It`s not just the Congress is heavily
male. They`re rich. They`re people who went to elite schools. Very
larger percentage of them are lawyers.

And it`s important to have a diversity of experience so people can relate
to the needs of their constituents.

There`s also a problem that the economy is much better in Washington, D.C.,
than it is in the country as a whole so people get cloistered in this D.C.-
centric view. I think it`s part of the reason that they`re not treating 7
1/2 percent unemployment as a crisis, because the economy looks quite good
for people in D.C., especially for affluent people in D.C.

So, I think, one thing we need to bring that diversity of experience is
women in positions of power. But there are other measures that are harder
to find on a demographic table that are ways to which --

SAUJANI: Can I add to that?

BARRO: Yes.

SAUJANI: I mean, it`s important to note that I think one-third of women
who run say someone discouraged them from running, right? And that there
used to be a time I think with female voters -- well, I`m not going to vote
for the women. You should vote for the women and I think that`s changing
and I see that in my (INAUDIBLE) public advocate.

Women are, you know, my donor base, my volunteer base, we will be led to
victory because women voted for us.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And, in fact, speaking of all the data we`ve been
studying, data show that when women are running in open seat races, they
have just as much likelihood of winning as men, so the problem of not being
able to win is an incumbency problem. It started out with all men and so
the men are the incumbent so it`s become harder to win those seats.

Thank you so much for joining us, both Josh and Reshma.

Carmen and Joy are staying around because up next, we are going in --
medical orgasms, little sex pills, and what the hysteria is all about.
Send the kids out of the room for this one because we are talking lady
loving, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So listen up, the next segment is strictly for the grown and
sexy. Yes, viewer discretion is advised. Send your young children out of
the room, because we`re going to talk about sex.

If the Food and Drug Administration likes what it hears about a new drug up
for approval later this year, women may soon find themselves having to
clarify what they mean when they request a prescription for the pill. The
arrival of America`s very first female desire drug was the subject of
Sunday`s "New York Times" magazine cover story. The article was adapted
from writer Daniel Bergner`s fourth coming book, "What Do Women Want?:
Adventures and the Science of Female Desire".

For the 30 percent of American women who Bergner says experience emotional
distress because of a loss of lust, these new drugs could for the first
time give them the keys to their own sex drive and it would be a milestone
in the medicalization of women`s sexual desire, which, perhaps
unsurprisingly, has historically been, figuratively and literally in the
hands of men. It`s no coincidence that the word "hysteria" which we
understand today to mean a state of uncontrollable emotion is derived from
hystera, the Greek word for uterus.

As early as the fourth century A.D., female hysteria was a mental illness.
Greek philosopher Plato pronounced a sexually frustrated uterus that
wandered throughout the body as nothing less than a threat to women`s very
sanity. Hysteria could become the common catch-all diagnosis given to
women who complained of all manner of symptoms, consistent with otherwise
normal female sexuality. Everything from a lack of desire, to too much
time spent fantasizing about sex, to too much vaginal lubrication, that was
all your hysteria just acting up.

Luckily for the women of yore suffering with these afflictions, their
physicians had just the thing. The cure for a bad case of hysteria was --
wait for it -- a good orgasm. A treatment that if unable to be properly
administered by a woman`s husband was readily available in the doctor`s
office. The orgasm cure, delivered by manual or battery-powered pelvic
massage, was commonly provided to women for a fee by their doctors.

If this all sounds a bit medieval, consider this -- the hysteria diagnosis
didn`t fall out of fashion in the U.S. until the 1950s. Of course, the
history of pathologizing women`s sexual desire hasn`t always been as benign
as take two orgasms and call me in the morning.

As late as the 20th century in the United States, it was accepted medical
practice to deny women`s sexual agency by attempting to remove it
altogether. Masturbation was considered to be dangerous for women because
it was believed to trigger what could cause hysteria. For decades, from
the late 19th to the mid-20th century, clitoral circumcision was used in
this country as a treatment to prevent women from losing their minds by
stopping them from pleasuring their bodies.

And while the practice is brutal, historical artifact for American women,
it remains a reality for girls and women in 28 countries around the world.
In comparison, the possibilities of popping a pill to get things popping is
a relatively small victory for women`s sexual empowerment. But much like
the culture shift that caused that other pill of the 1960s, even that small
step for women could be a giant leap for womankind. So what`s the holdup?
That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: So, if the two pills created to help women to manage their
sexual desire clear the FDA`s approval hurdles, they wouldn`t arrive in
pharmacies until 2016. But these drugs have already shown more promise in
previous pharmacological attempts to piece together the complex chemical
and physiological puzzle of women`s arousal, because as it turns out for
women, getting their mojo back with a Viagra of their own isn`t as simple
as popping a little blue diamond.

Think about it. For men who wanted to get that old thing back, Viagra was
the key to jump-starting an automatic transmission. It`s the matter of
repairing the mechanics of one basic part. Get that up and running and --
voila, you`re ready to ride.

For women, you`re trying to find the key to operate a manual transmission.
There are a lot more moving parts for the ladies, and they all have to be
working together in sync, or else you are going nowhere, fast.

Joining me today to talk the pharmacology and the politics of women`s
sexual desire is Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, clinical professor of obstetrics and
gynecology at Columbia University and the author of "Pleasure: A Woman`s
Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve."

And Jonathan Metzl, professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University and
author of "Prozac on the Couch: Prescribing Gender in the Era of Wonder
Drugs."

And still with me, although --

(CROSSTALK)

REID: Hey!

HARRIS-PERRY: Joy Reid and Carmen Wong Ulrich.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS-PERRY: Doctor, should we be excited about these new drug
possibilities?

DR. HILDA HUTCHERSON, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, yes, I think we should.
You think about Viagra, it was on the fast track. It got through the FDA
so fast.

But when it comes to women`s sexuality, we`re a little more cautious. Do
we really want women walking down the street hitting on every man --

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

HUTCHERSON: -- that she happens to come in contact with? No, of course we
don`t want that. But there are many, many women in this country in great
relationships, everything is wonderful, they love their husbands, they love
sex when they have it.

But something is not working up here so that they actually want to have
sex, that they want to enjoy that with their partners.

HARRIS-PERRY: And so when you describe it as something not working up
here, I wonder, Jonathan, is it something biochemical that we ought to be
addressing with a pill? Or is this something that`s not working up here,
part of what`s interesting about that "New York Times" magazine article is
apparently women want sex just fine as long as it`s a new partner.

The issue is they get bored.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS-PERRY: Something we`re not at all shocked about when we say men get
bored, right? That`s why the cover of every single magazine for women is
how to keep him excited, what a man wants, right? He wants you naked with
a sandwich.

So, is there -- is there something that -- are we trying to solve a
cultural issue with a pharmacological intervention?

DR. JONATHAN METZL, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: It`s quite a bit more
complicated than it seems, even from that article, which I thought was
interesting. There`s a long history of trying to medicalize women`s desire
and this goes back from psychoanalysis and the kind of idea that women as
the dark continent or what do women want.

HARRIS-PERRY: I thought that was Africa?

METZL: That too. Yes. There`s a lot of continents going on there. And
then everything from kind of popular lower like oh, let`s just put some
Spanish fly in the water. And everything is going to go from there to when
Miltown first came out, the first tranquilizing drug, people thought it was
a drug to cure frigidity, women`s marital, you know, having pain or not
having sex with their husbands.

More recently, Pfizer has put billions of dollars into trying to kind of
make this women`s Viagra. As you say, it`s like there`s a mechanical issue
and there`s a -- it turns out it`s more complicated for women.

And so, I would just say that history teaches us to be wary of drugs for
women`s desire. There`s a long history of medicalizing things that are
more cultural than they are biological.

HARRIS-PERRY: And I wonder if there`s also, I mean, we`ve been talking
about the kind of power issue associated with women as bread winners and
all of that but I also wonder if there isn`t, as you point out, a kind of
fear when you said, we don`t want some women walking down the street
hitting on every man? Well, why? Why do we have a particular angst about
that?

WONG ULRICH: Crazy. Here`s my point. One, I think we`re just tired.
We`re just tired so that`s why.

We`re earning the money, we`re working, we`re cleaning. You know, the guys
try to keep up, please, with helping us out so that we can focus on you and
enjoy it. But also too, I have to ask the doctors, how much of this is a
culture component? Because I feel like American culture, we were talking
about this, is like weird. It`s this puritanical strange, especially the
idea of marriage and being a mother because --

HARRIS-PERRY: Suppose to be --

WONG ULRICH: But because in other cultures, I`ll bring up Latin culture
for example as a Latina, there is no real conflict between being a mother
and retaining your sexuality and being a wife and still being sexy. That`s
a very normal thing.

I grew up with that with my mother so it`s handed down. But is American
culture a big part of what`s going on up here?

HUTCHERSON: I certainly see a lot of women, and this is my specialty as a
gynecologist, I see lots of women who feel guilty about wanting to have
sex. They have been told --

HARRIS-PERRY: About wanting to have it?

HUTCHERSON: About wanting it, about desiring it, because if you`re a good
girl, you don`t desire it.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

HUTCHERSON: And some parts of the country, you don`t even enjoy it.

REID: I don`t know. I guess I`m maybe more in Carmen`s camp on this. I
have to suspect this pill was invented by a frustrated man.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: The book was written --

REID: I mean the thing is, I don`t know, I think in normal, ordinary life,
you don`t need a pill. The cure for this is a vodka and a clean kitchen.

HARRIS-PERRY: But the clean kitchen is not a small point.

REID: But a man helping you clean it. Clean the kitchen and bring me a
vodka.

HARRIS-PERRY: There`s an actual thing about -- so I`m wondering in part if
it is connected to the fact that when we are -- when we are power sharing
in work and everything else and then we`re doing the second shift, right,
it is -- it can be hard to concentrate on intimacy if when you look up,
there`s the pile of laundry right in the corner.

So, is this -- and that won`t be solved, right? The pile of laundry won`t
be solved from the pill.

HUTCHERSON: Right. Yes, but there are some women, and I agree with you,
for the majority of women if hubby goes and cooks and cleans and puts baby
to bed, and you`re in the bath tub. You know, you`re taking your bubble
bath and waiting for him, then, yes, the sparks fly.

But there is a small subset of women where all of that`s happening. Hubby
is doing everything. He`s perfect, he`s gorgeous, he smells good, you
know, and he`s technically very good. Everything is wonderful.

But something is not clicking here. It`s just not happening for them. And
for those women, what do we do?

HARRIS-PERRY: Jonathan?

(LAUGHTER)

METZL: This is really fun, I`m just sitting here.

No, I love Joy`s point, if there was a pill that would do the laundry, that
would solve all the other problems. I think that`s a terrific point.

But I would just say that there is an issue about how medicalization works,
the medicalization of sex works, in that when Viagra first came out, it was
billed in exactly the same way. It was like a pill to cure relationships
and they had older, elderly people dancing together and it`s not, oh, it`s
not going to be this thing and it turned out in a five-year period all of a
sudden they were marketing it as a club drug, and it was becoming this kind
of thing.

So medicalization, it generally works this way. It starts off as let`s fix
relationships, which that "New York Times" article was all about. And over
time as the market widens, you know, it`s like oh, we can come it with red
bull in a club and all at kind stuff.

HARRIS-PERRY: I want to come to exactly some of these cultural questions
and our anxieties about the issue of mamas maybe and papas maybe when we
come back.

And, ladies, don`t feel ashamed for liking it, it`s all right, when we come
back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back and talking about the politics of women`s sexual
empowerment.

It does feel to me like the question of whether or not there will be social
sort of collective support for this depends a lot on the women that we are
imagining taking it at the moment that we`re thinking about it. So I like
your point that there`s this dichotomy in Western culture between the
Madonna and the whore and this idea that if you`re married and a mother
you`re supposed to suppress those moments.

And my bet is lots of married men would be excited about this drug for
their wives and terrified about it for their teenage daughters, right? And
so, like, because we do fear certain kinds of women`s sexual awakening and
that sort of thing.

HUTCHERSON: Well, it`s very interesting because we tell teenage girls not
to have sex and not to enthusiast think about it and to suppress their
sexuality. Then when they get married, we tell them, you`re supposed to
all of a sudden be the whore in the bedroom and that doesn`t always happen
for women.

Sometimes you can`t make that transition from being this good girl to being
always ready for your husband in the bedroom.

And that sometimes can cause problems in relationships and that`s why we`re
looking for an easy fix.

HARRIS-PERRY: Is this primarily a heterosexual problem? Is this primarily
a thing going on with wives and husbands or do we also see this in same-sex
couples? And if it is in same-sex couples, is it primarily with women in
same-sex couples or do men also experience this long-term reduction of
desire for one another over time.

HUTCHERSON: Well, as a gynecologist, I see it in my lesbian couples as
well. After a certain period of time of monogamy, they lose desire and
it`s called bed death, I think is the term that`s used.

WONG ULRICH: But to your point about the whole kind of cultural how you`re
raised to be the good girl, I think that`s a real issue.

Actually to be raised embracing your sexuality and knowing its power and
also being able to enjoy it, I think is a really powerful thing for young
girls to understand because in that way, it is yours. You do own it. No
one else does and, therefore, you will stand up for it and you will be a
real part of the process, if I may say, that you`re present, you`re there
and you can enjoy it.

To me, my daughter is only 6, but yes, I fear it but I`m going to be
completely realistic and assume that she`s going to do it and I want her to
know that it is her right to enjoy it. Just don`t get pregnant.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: But look, that`s actually part of -- I wonder if that`s part
of it. So when you say to be a young woman, not necessarily who uses her
sexuality all the time but who has it and who has a sense of control over
it, but connect that to the fact that young women are growing up in a rape
culture where in fact they don`t control their own sexuality, where they
are constantly in circumstances that are predatory. There might also be a
desire to suppress or cover sexuality in part for personal safety.

REID: And not only that, but I worry about, when you talk about this being
a pharmacological sort of answer to a social problem, I do worry about it
and we talked a little bit about that on the break. You know, how do you
get this drug? Is it something that young people can get their hands on?
Could it be abused in the sense that it`s given to girls or slipped to
girls when they don`t know it in order to enhance their sexuality?

And then, could it come up in terms of rape? If somebody was taking the
drug. I mean, I worry about the abuse of it because, as you said, all of
these drugs that start out as sort of a solution to a problem, there`s
always potential for abuse. I`m wondering about that too.

METZL: Well, I think that`s a very real issue and certainly, I mean, it --
you know, especially given the way that this drug seems to be kind of
coded. Something like slip it to a woman in a bar or something like that,
I do think that that`s something I worry about. But the flip side is that
very often -- I think we learn a lot in our culture about the debates we
have about these drugs. Far in excess of what the drugs actually do.

So, I remember when Prozac first came out, people were really worried and
people really thought this was a drug that was going to restore men`s
virility and certainly with Viagra, I think, using your terminology, there
was a sense of oh, my God, it`s going to change everything. Men are going
to be running out in the street and having sex with like sandwiches.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS-PERRY: No, no, no, they don`t want the sandwich to have sex with.
They want the sandwich at -- we`ll talk later, Jonathan.

METZL: The point I`m trying to make is actually it sparks a cultural
debate about issues that oftentimes is in excess of what the drugs actually
do. So, I haven`t seen evidence, at least this particular drug is going to
be like this huge radical thing. Instead I think it`s going to be a piece
of the puzzle about talking about sexuality, which is an important
conversation to have.

HARRIS-PERRY: Would you be ready to prescribe this to your patients,
particularly the ones who come in concerned about lack of lust?

HUTCHERSON: I don`t know that much about the medication at this point. It
hasn`t been approved. But if there were a medication for a specific group
of women where everything else in their lives is wonderful, in their
relationship, everything is great, they enjoy sex, it`s just something
missing up here, perhaps I would prescribe it.

And to your point, it doesn`t seem like the kind of medication where you
slip it to a young girl and all of a sudden she`s going to be like, you
know, I`ve got to have sex, got to have it, got to have it. I don`t think
that`s what would happen.

I think it`s something where you would be more available and open to it,
receptive to your partner.

HARRIS-PERRY: What I will say is until, until it is available, there are
always toys. And there`s toys, vodka and clean kitchens.

Thank you to Hilda Hutcherson and to Jonathan Metzl, also to Carmen Wong
Ulrich and to Joy Reid. You guys have been so fun, you can sit at Nerdland
all the time.

We are not done yet. Up next, the woman who is saving young girls half a
world away, one of our favorite foot soldiers. I know we`re not supposed
to play favorites, but we do. One of our favorite foot soldiers joins us
when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Now it`s time for foot soldiers we highlight ordinary people
who are doing extraordinary things to create change, and empower their
communities. And although we love all of our foot soldiers equally, we do
become attached to some of them as part of the Nerdland family, like Katie
Meyler of New Jersey.

We introduced you to her back in December. Katie is the founder of the
organization More Than Me, a nonprofit that helps girls get off the streets
and into schools in one of the poorest slums in the world, in Liberia, West
Africa. These girls, often without access to education and income, are
vulnerable entering a life of prostitution just so that they can purchase
clean drinking water.

So far, Katie and her organization have changed lives of more than 100
girls in Liberia. And so much has happened to Katie and her organization,
More Than Me, since we named her our foot soldier back in December, that we
wanted to bring Katie in to talk with us.

So good to see you.

KATIE MEYLER, FOUNDER, MORE THAN ME: Nice to see you. I love all of your
fans and your show. I feel like your family.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, we really feel like you`re family. We are incredibly
excited about what`s going on. So, tell us, what`s happening with you all
in Liberia?

MEYLER: We have up until this point, we`ve been partnering with local
schools. And now, we are launching our own More Than Me Academy!

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s pretty incredible. So, you have our own building?

MEYLER: Yes, it was donated by the government of Liberia, and we`re fixing
it up should be ready to go. A big opening on September 7th, which
actually my birthday. We`re doing a ribbon cutting. So, you have to come
for that.

We`re getting curriculum ready. We`re bringing over a bunch of fellows
right now. So, we have, you know, U.S. fellows. One of them is actually a
Liberian refugee, which is really exciting.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, how many girls will the school serve?

MEYLER: The current school has enough room for 240. So, we`re hoping to
have that many by the end of next year. But we want to make sure
curriculum is set and adding them in at little at a time.

HARRIS-PERRY: You want to do it right. You want to do it well.

MEYLER: We want a strong school, best school ever.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, help folks understand, because public education is not
free for most Liberian children, especially Liberian girls. But for you
all, this is going to be a completely free school?

MEYLER: Yes, it is free. So, our families, they say schools are free in
Liberia, but it`s not because they have to pay for shoes. So, our school
is free. Everything about it is free at this point.

So, our families make about $17 a month, some of them, on average. And so,
they can`t afford things like shoes or clothes or even things like drinking
water. So, we provide lunch, water for them.

HARRIS-PERRY: The drinking water, I have to say, reading the stories that
you, you had a conversation with my producer about, about what it takes for
a young girl to get drinking water. And the fact that before she`s 10 or
11, she might be in circumstances of having to trade sexual favors for
clean water?

MEYLER: Yes, that was a story of one of our girls. So, she had told me
personally. I asked her how to she got into prostitution, she was 12 years
old. She started 10 or 11, and she said that she didn`t have any water to
drink.

So, you know, even bath water, which is fascinating. I mean, it`s
interesting. But you know they want another way out. You know, they`re so
determined and motivated.

This is not a black hole at all. If you give these girls an inch, they
take a mile. They have huge dreams for their lives and we believe in them.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, you`re from New Jersey. And this is Liberia. This is
many thousands of miles away. How -- why that? So, do you get resistance
from people who are like, you`re not from here. You know, you`re going to
leave after a while, that sort of thing.

MEYLER: Exactly. You know, we`ve been really blessed and lucky. I feel
very supported by you know both the government there as far as the locals.
It`s been -- I don`t feel that at all. I -- we work with the community.
It`s not like I`m here this white woman coming into Africa.

HARRIS-PERRY: I will save you, right, yes.

MEYLER: It`s not that vibe at all actually. And anyone who knows us or
sees the project knows that Macintosh runs the program, he was a former
child soldier. That`s the reason why we`re able to do the work that we do
because he takes us in and shows us behind the scenes of what`s really
happening. So --

HARRIS-PERRY: And you guys have needs, though. I know -- this is the
moment when I wish I were Oprah and donate to you, you know, all the
computers. And you are basically fund-raising. You still have needs.

MEYLER: Yes. We have needs. We need computers. We need a playground.
We are looking for solar panels. We`re going to put a list on the blog.

But there are a lot of needs for the school. We have a volunteerism
program launching as well. We hope to have a lot of people come and add
value to our program in that way and teach different things like dance and
computers or, you know, art classes.


HARRIS-PERRY: Before we started, you invited me. I promise you, I make a
promise now, I will be coming. I want to come. I want to meet your girls.

MEYLER: Whoo!

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you so much, Katie. And I so appreciate all of the
work.

MEYLER: I love you guys. Thank you. This shows awesome, by the way. I
love it.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you. Thank you to Katie.

And that is our show for to thanks to you at home for watching.

I`m going to see you tomorrow, 10:00 a.m. Eastern. We`re going to look
ahead to President Obama`s upcoming meeting with the new president of China
and the proposal of a Chinese interest to buy up American ham. Yes, we`re
going to explain what export has to do with the world.

But, right now, it is time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."

Hi, Alex.


END

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