THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
July 29, 2013
Guest: Allison Riggs, Melanie Andrade, Joseph Stiglitz
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, GUEST HOST: And thanks to you at home for
staying with us the next hour. Rachel has the night off.
This is then-candidate for governor in North Carolina, Pat McCrory,
late last year in a debate trying to convince voters in North Carolina to
vote for him. Here he is as a candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MODERATOR: If you`re elected governor, what further restrictions on
abortion would you agree to sign? Start with you, Mr. McCrory.
PAT MCCRORY (R-NC), THEN-GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: None.
MODERATOR: All right. Can`t really ask -- can`t really do a follow-
up with that one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was a pretty clear answer, but that was candidate
McCrory. This is Governor Pat McCrory after having won that election.
SB-353 there, that`s the abortion bill with all the TRAP provisions,
regulations so strict it is impossibly expensive for abortion clinics to
comply, so they have to shut down. That`s the whole point of TRAP laws.
That`s the point of this one. No matter how many times they want to put
the words health and safety into these bills, they are about shutting
This bill will probably shut down 15 of the 16 clinics in the state,
leaving just one abortion clinic left in the entire state of North
Carolina. Governor McCrory said last year he would not sign a bill like
this, and then a few hours ago, well, he did.
But opponents of the bill are not giving up. Earlier today they
gathered on the governor`s front lawn. Well, almost his front lawn. They
are across from the governor`s mansion, not on the property, but close
enough to be seen and to be disruptive.
Planned Parenthood and its supporters are camped out there today and
tomorrow. They wanted the governor to veto the bill just like he promised
to do when he was a candidate. That obviously didn`t happen. And so, they
say they will sue. This thing will go to court, they say, mark our words.
This whole legislative session in North Carolina has been seriously
off the wall. The session ended on Friday, but not before Republicans
could work in one last piece of legislation, and as they have done before,
they took a bill about one thing and attached to it a provision about
something entirely different. A health care bill that on Friday suddenly
gave leaders in the Republican-controlled legislature the power to
intervene in constitutional cases challenging state law, that`s a power and
responsibility that used to belong to the attorney general.
The current attorney general is this guy, Roy Cooper. Hey, Roy. And
as you might not know, unlike leaders in legislature, he is a Democrat.
Republican legislators are so worried he won`t defend the state`s new
Republican agenda in court that they have given themselves the power to do
it. They wrote a very special law to give themselves very special powers
to defend the laws that they just passed. And really, that was just the
cherry on top of the crazy cake in North Carolina this year. The
legislative session was so headline making, jaw dropping, and common sense
defying that this is what has looked like outside the general assembly in
Raleigh. Every Monday, for 13 weeks, the Moral Monday protests as they
were called were organized by progressive groups and religious leaders.
And today was the very last Moral Monday protest. In this particular
form, at least, followed by a march from the general assembly to the state
capitol just a few hours ago. Hundreds of people have gathered week after
week to protest just about everything the legislature has done, from
lowering the amount of money the state has to pay teachers, to the
draconian change in unemployment benefits, to those new abortion provisions
the governor signed today that will, in effect, shut down most of the
abortion clinics in the state.
Also on the governor`s list of unpopular bills to sign, the giant
omnibus bill to make voting more difficult. It also, and this is getting a
lot less attention but it simply blows my mind, the bill also greatly
expands poll watching in the state by allowing the chairs of each political
party in every county to designate poll watchers, essentially at-large
observers who may attend any voting place in that county.
Poll watchers, citizen poll watchers in North Carolina in 2013. OK.
Seriously, is anyone else having a flashback moment here to, oh, about 60
Governor McCrory says he will sign that bill. Just do him a favor and
don`t ask him what`s in it, pretty please? This is the actual "Associated
Press" headline over the weekend. "McCrory not familiar with all of the
bill he`s to sign."
The article goes on, quote, "An `Associated Press` reporter asked the
Republican governor how three particular provisions of the bill would help
prevent voter fraud, ending same-day voter registration, trimming the
period for early voting by a week, and eliminating a program that
encourages high school students to register to vote in advance of their
McCrory talked about two other sections of the legislation. Catch
this. OK, so asked about one aspect of the bill, he responded by talking
about a totally separate thing. Like if I asked you, what is the
temperature outside? And you told me what direction the wind was blowing.
But wait, there`s more. Quote, "McCrory was then asked specifically
about the provision ending preregistration by those under 18. He replied,
"I don`t know enough, I`m sorry, I haven`t seen that part of the bill."
The North Carolina "make it harder to vote" bill may be the most
drastic in the country and the governor who`s about to sign it doesn`t seem
to have any idea what is in it. He does not seem to understand the most
drastic and radical new election law in the country which he will be
responsible for. He does not know what is in the bill, but he does know,
for sure, he`s going to sign it.
So if North Carolina`s election law is the number one most drastic in
the whole United States, Texas has put up a pretty good fight for the
number two slot.
After last week, the Department of Justice took action. Attorney
General Eric Holder announcing last week he would use a part of the Voting
Rights Act that is still in place of the Supreme Court gut gutted it. The
part that` intact lets Eric Holder get involved in Texas Republicans`
redistricting scheme that just happened to redistrict black legislators out
of office, but not any white legislators. Coincidence?
The attorney general doesn`t think so. And neither does a federal
court who said the state acted with discriminatory intent.
Speaking about this intervention last week, Eric Holder said this
would not be the last time he used his office to protect voting rights.
So the question, now, is: North Carolina, are you next? Partisanship
and access to the ballot and the right to have your vote counted, they`ve
been on the front burner of our politics for centuries.
At the 1964 Democratic convention, Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, a
sharecropper-turned-political activist, explained to the Democratic Party,
to their faces, what it was like for her to try to vote in her home state
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FANNIE LOU HAMER, TESTIFIED AT 1964 DNC: It was the 31 of August 1962
that 18 of us traveled miles to the county courthouse in Indianola to try
to register to become first-class citizens. We was met in Indianola by
policemen, highway patrolmen and only allowed two of us in to take the
literacy test at the time. After we had taken this test and started back
through Rosedale, we was held up about the city police and the state
highway patrolmen and carried back to Indianola.
The plantation owners came and said, "Fannie Lou, do you know -- did
cops (ph) tell you what I said?" I said, "Yes sir." He said, "Well, I
mean if you don`t go down and withdraw your registration, you will have to
leave. Then if you go down and withdraw that you still might have to go
because we`re not ready for that in Mississippi."
And I addressed him and told him, said, "I didn`t try to register for
you, I tried to register for myself."
I have to leave that same night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That moment is in our living history.
And although there are other states with poll watching provisions,
it`s not just North Carolina these days. But shouldn`t there be less of
them, not more of them over time?
Joining us now is Allison Riggs, voting rights attorney with the
Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which is based in Durham, North
Ms. Riggs, thanks for being here.
ALLISON RIGGS, VOTING RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Thank you for having me,
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I wanted to have Fannie Lou Hamer to be our voice
in this moment, in part because of the reproductive rights issue on the
table at this moment, and voting rights, are things she had to live with,
right? She was involuntarily sterilized and she was kept from registering
to vote. It feels to me like this Moral Mondays movement understood the
connection between all these aspects of social justice.
RIGGS: Moral Mondays represent long-term coalition building in North
Carolina between groups interested in different issues. Environmental
issues, racial justice issues, women`s rights issues. And the key to
binding them all together is a recognition that the right to vote is
critical to influencing those other issues that we care about in North
HARRIS-PERRY: And that right to vote, I to pause on it a little bit
because I think, we`ve talked a lot about voter ID laws, the ways in which
they have a disparate impact on certain kinds of communities. But the one
that is just killing me in this provision is this thing about the poll
watchers because it feels to me so reminiscent of that moment that Ms.
Hamer was talking about, and that possibility of voter intimidation.
Tell me about this poll watching of the bill.
RIGGS: We have a history of poll watching in North Carolina. Just in
November in 2012, we came across some poll observer lists in Wake County
which is be Raleigh is, and without , the conservative groups who were
organizing the observers targeted the precincts with the highest African-
American and Latino populations without fail.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, because if you`re from anywhere in the state and
you`re going to go poll watch and make challenges, what would be the basis
on which you`d be making those challenges except some sort of external
ability, say, oh, you don`t look like a voter?
RIGGS: That was the law, now there`s an extended ground of reasons
that observers can make, challenge. The potential for interference in
election administration, in addition to harassment and intimidation of
voters is very great.
HARRIS-PERRY: So why should I care about North Carolina? If I`m not
from there, if I don`t have some deep connection to it, if I`m not quite
sure where on the map it is or how it`s different from South Carolina, what
is it about this state that makes it important going forward into 2014 and
RIGGS: The nature of this bill is going to make North Carolina ground
zero for the battle for minority voting rights and for voting rights of all
citizens in general. This bill is comprehensive in its attack on voting
rights. It`s going to make it harder for everyone in North Carolina to
easily and fairly access the ballot box. It`s going to have a
disproportionate negative impact on voters of color on a number of
HARRIS-PERRY: So, what`s left? Clearly part of what allowed this
bill to come forward was the decision by the Supreme Court to gut Section 5
by taking away the Section 4 formula for preclearance.
But we have the attorney general saying, hey, I can opt Texas in any
way. There`s a way that I can do this. Do you expect North Carolina to be
RIGGS: We`ll be encouraging Attorney General Holder to stand by his
process and to aggressively enforce the voting rights act and (INAUDIBLE)
under Section 5. There will certainly be challenges to these laws. We
have clients who are poised and ready to defend their rights under the
Voting Rights Act and under the federal Constitution. If he means what he
says, he`s going to have a chance to urge a federal court to bail in the
state of North Carolina.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, you`re an attorney, but let me ask you a political
question here for a moment. McCrory in saying, initially as a candidate,
that he would veto anything that changed or further restricted abortion
rights, seemed to recognize the kind of purple nature of the state of North
But tonight, he had signed that restrictive bill. He`s prepared to
sign a voter bill that he doesn`t even know what is in it. What has
changed in the political winds that makes him feel that this is possible?
RIGGS: I think there`s just a very loud group in their base, I think,
that there were folks in the North Carolina general assembly who probably
would have preferred to take more moderate steps, but the red meat eaters
on the right shout louder and move fast.
All of this happened in the last 48 hours of the session. The House
was left in a strange position where since the Senate attached all of these
other, you know, nonsense elements to the voter ID bill, they would have
had to vote -- they would have had to turn, you know, vote down the voter
ID bill, which they campaigned on. So it was a sneak attack at the end,
and I think they probably felt trapped, but it`s going to bite them in the
I mean, this is -- this alienates voters of color, it alienates
students. It alienates women, all of them.
HARRIS-PERRY: Allison Riggs, I appreciate it. We were talking in the
break that Moral Mondays is not over, that you guys have continuing
protests and legal challenges planned. We will undoubtedly keep our eye on
what`s happening there. Thank you for joining us.
RIGGS: Thanks, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: And for two weeks now, protesters have been occupying
the Florida capitol demanding legislative change on their state`s ""Stand
Your Ground"" laws. It is so not over. People are rising up everywhere.
The latest, next.
HARRIS-PERRY: Say what you will, the Catholic Church has survived for
more than 2,000 years, mostly by remaining astonishingly predictable, even
in changing times. Well, Pope Francis may be many things, but predictable
he is not. What he said today that has got everyone talking is just ahead.
HARRIS-PERRY: On a February night, two young men pulled their car
into a Tallahassee apartment complex. They were driving on to a rival
gang`s turf and they were not there to make friends. They came armed.
And one of the young men in that car fired a gun. He fired first.
What a witness described as small arms fire. Then, a rival gang member got
out of another car and returned fire this time with an AK-47. Another
resident said the gunfire did not stop -- boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.
The prosecutor in the case called the shooting an ambush. He said the
only one shell casing was ever found linked to the car that fired first,
for that second car, as many as 25 -- what he called an overwhelming
disparity of force. One of the young men from the car that drove into the
apartment complex, that drove into the ambush, was killed.
So what happens next? I mean, when a 15-year-old is killed in a gang
shootout, what happens when he is gunned down by a stream of 25 bullets?
Well, if he happens to live in the state of Florida, there`s a good
chance that his killers might walk free. Provided they defend themselves
under that state`s "Stand Your Ground" law.
In the case that I just described, the judge ruled that the rival gang
members who shot the 15-year-old and killed him were immune from
prosecution. They could not even be tried because the other car fired its
It did not matter that those young men were driving into an ambush.
"Stand Your Ground" made it impossible for state prosecutors to pursue a
case against the other shooters. The judge ruled they fired in self-
defense and said, quote, "The law would appear to allow a person to seek
out an individual, provoke them into a confrontation, then shoot and kill
him if he goes f his gun. It is very much like the Wild West."
One of the defense attorneys added, "You can`t pick or choose who`s
going to benefit from a law." advocates of "Stand Your Ground" tend to
argue the law increases public safety, but when the courts are saying it
creates a Wild West, acknowledging that fact as they set killers free, it`s
hard to take the notion of public safety seriously.
The verdict in the George Zimmerman trial two weeks ago might be the
most high-profile example of "Stand Your Ground`s" unintended consequences.
But it is just one of many in the eight years since then-Governor Jeb Bush
signed "Stand Your Ground" into law.
Thirteen days ago, in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, a group of
protesters marched into the Florida state capitol, to the reception area
outside Governor Rick Scott`s office. The latest sheriff of Florida`s Wild
West and those prosecutors haven`t left -- and those protesters haven`t
First, they said they wanted to meet with the governor, and it
actually happened. After a few days of staying away from his office,
Governor Scott held a meeting with a protester. The group, which calls
itself the Dream Defenders, now says it`s going to stay at the capitol
until the governor calls a special session to review the "Stand Your
Ground" law. That looks very unlikely to happen, but the protesters are
planning to hold their own special session. What they are calling the
people`s session, to begin tomorrow.
The session will hear testimony from experts on repealing "Stand Your
Ground", on ending racial profiling, and on other issues. In Miami Beach
this morning at the convention of a group that represents African-American
lawyers and judges, Trayvon Martin`s mother made her own appeal to have the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN`S MOTHER: The thing about this law is
I just think it assisted the person who killed my son to get away with
murder. I think we have to change these laws so that people don`t get away
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining us now is Melanie Andrade, Florida A&M chapter
president of the Dream Defenders, who has been protesting at the Florida
capitol in the wake of the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict.
Ms. Andrade, thanks for being here today.
MELANIE ANDRADE, DREAM DEFENDERS: Thanks for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, talk to me. What is it you all hope
the people`s session will accomplish?
ANDRADE: Well, the people`s session is just, you know, us taking
leadership on something that Governor Scott has had a hard time taking
leadership on in the past two weeks. So, what we`ll be doing, as you said
before, having testimony from community members as well as experts from
across the country talking about what`s most important here, which is what
created the Trayvon Martin environment, what created the Trayvon Martin
So we`re talking about the school-to-prison pipeline, racial
profiling, as well as "Stand Your Ground". And the school-to-prison
pipeline is as it states, it`s the direct funneling of young black and
brown and even poor youth from the school system into jail systems, with
policies like zero tolerance.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, talk to me a little bit about that, Melanie,
because when you say you want to investigate the entire environment that
made the death of Trayvon Martin possible, I think that`s incredibly
complicated, right? There`s the interaction between these two people on
that one night, but your claim is it`s all of these other policies. How do
you propose to start moving forward on such a complicated set of matters?
ANDRADE: Well, what we have proposed to Governor Scott on numerous
occasions is that we called this special session, that`s only called when
we are in a state of emergency. Because what we found when was verdict was
delivered is we are, indeed, in a state of emergency.
You know, if a young black woman like me has no instruction on how to
defend myself if, you know, a George Zimmerman might happen upon me, then
what exactly is it that I do? So what we`re proposing here is not, you
know, is not to repeal "Stand Your Ground". It`s not to pass laws for us,
but it`s to open a session so we can be at the table and start discussing
how to move forward.
So we`re not shying away from the idea of repealing "Stand Your
Ground". Like we said before, we understand that this law was passed in
order to create a safe environment for people to defend themselves, but we
also understand that we don`t want laws that condone violence. We need
laws that are going to help prevent that.
HARRIS-PERRY: So this idea of sort of being at the table, it`s an
interesting one. We were just talking about North Carolina and the fact
there have been 13 weeks of protesters there. That governor never did come
out and meet with those protesters. You, on the other hand, did get to
have a meeting with Governor Rick Scott.
Tell me about it and why that ended up not being enough for you.
ANDRADE: Yes. Well, Governor Rick Scott on day one told us he wasn`t
going to meet us the at all and wouldn`t be calling this special session.
On day three, actually night three, he said he would have a meeting with
us. About 8:00 p.m., we found out he was going to meet up with us at 9:00
So, there were seven people sent into that meeting with him. I was
one of them. We basically shared our stories with the governor and we laid
out the way Trayvon`s law would look. You know, we want to cover racial
profiling, school-to-prison pipeline, as well as "Stand Your Ground". And
we had people share their experiences, black and Latino people in Florida,
myself included. So, I shared my story about, you know, growing up as a
black woman in Florida, in central Florida, to be exact.
And Governor Rick Scott told us that he, you know, he`s a firm
believer and supporter in "Stand Your Ground". He does want it to remain
on books because of the task force that was convened last April.
ANDRADE: They found nothing wrong with it and he supports them. And
he also told us that when it comes to racial profiling, you know, he
doesn`t believe in it, nor do the people who work with him. And only idea
he has that we can do about it is to pray about it.
So the Republican governor of Florida told black people and Latino
people to pray about racial profiling.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, not that that`s a bad idea, but maybe you want to
do a few other things as well?
ANDRADE: Yes. We all understand, we all come from faith-based
ANDRADE: We do pray. But we all also know that, you know, faith
without works is dead. So to say, you know, praying is all we can do is
pretty much ridiculous. He pretty much told us that, you know, I had to
come out here and speak you all because you`ve been sleeping on marble
floors for three days.
And, then, you know, on day seven, he sent us the secretary to the
DDJ. She left almost in tears. We just told her the truth. We told her
how we feel and fact that, you know, policies are being passed that aren`t
necessarily helping us, and the majority of the people that she`s dealing
with look like us.
So, wouldn`t it make sense to, you know, to have us at the table? I
mean, not to take surveys of our communities, but to legitimately have us
at the table. So --
HARRIS-PERRY: Melanie, we`re running out of time, but I have a quick
question for you. There you are in Florida doing this work, but the issues
that you`re talking about affect young people all over the country. Are
you all like the, for example, those kids who sat in at the North Carolina,
Greensboro counter, 50, 60 years ago are you all working with other young
people around the country?
ANDRADE: Yes, we`ve actually been a part of -- well, Dream Defenders
is part of the AEJ, which is the Alliance for Educational Justice. So this
past weekend we actually had a few organizations bused down from Philly,
New York, D.C. and Baltimore.
So there were about 150 people sleeping in the capitol this Friday and
Saturday, and, you know, there are people all across the country who are
looking to start up Dream Defenders chapters, and, you know, just like you
said, this is not about -- this is not just about racial profiling in the
state of Florida. However, we are offering the governor here and the
legislature to stand up and be leaders against racial profiling and against
the criminalization and the war on youth for the whole country.
So, you know, the night before governor -- I mean, the night before
the president gave his address on racial profiling and his experiences as a
black man in America, you know, we shared our experiences with Governor
Scott. So this is the beginning of a very long conversation that needs to
be had in America on race.
HARRIS-PERRY: Melanie Andrade from -- Florida`s A&M chapter president
of the Dream Defenders, thank you so much.
ANDRADE: Melissa, actually, can I ask you something?
ANDRADE: When are you going to come down to Tallahassee?
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, actually I will be in Florida third week in August.
I promise I`ll look you up. We`ll do some work together.
ANDRADE: Third week in August.
HARRIS-PERRY: See you there.
ANDRADE: See you then.
HARRIS-PERRY: Just you wait. Just you wait for the best new thing in
the world today. You will only like it if you really like young, really
cute, really smart little girls.
HARRIS-PERRY: Chart imitates life. Do you know who low-wage workers
in America actually are? Two in five people making $10 an hour or less are
35 or older, 43 percent of them have at least some higher education, and 27
percent of folks earning near the minimum have children for whose lives
they are responsible.
But the president of the United States thinks about it, and what low-
wage workers are doing about it is next.
HARRIS-PERRY: Not long ago the executives at McDonald`s corporate
headquarters posted a helpful tool for their employees. The practical
money skills budget journal described by McDonald`s as a great step towards
taking control of your money, knowing where your money goes and how to
budget it is the key to your financial freedom. Maybe it`s easier to know
where your money goes when you work selling burgers for McDonald`s, in
which case you don`t have so much of to keep track of.
McDonald`s provides this sample monthly budget. Note the line for
income from your first job and your second job because you work for
McDonald`s, after all, so you`re going to need one of those second job
After a list of monthly expenses that notably does not include basics
like food, you arrive at a daily spending goal of 25 bucks. But if we
could just go back to that opening page again, the nice lady shown by
McDonald`s on the welcome page also lives here, in our favorite collection
of stock photos.
She`s a businesswoman. That`s the title of her photo. You can find
her under keywords like white, office, professional occupation. No mention
of want fries with that?
If you wanted to find real McDonald`s workers today, you need to look
outside the restaurants. Fast food workers walked off the job today in
cities around the nation, St. Louis, Chicago, New York, and Milwaukee and
Detroit. With pickets and protests at chains like Mickey D`s and KFC and
Burger King, the food workers were joined by clerks from chain stores like
Dollar Tree and Victoria`s Secret. The strikes are expected to continue
Congressman Lacy Clay showed up in St. Louis today to help these
workers make their point that $7-something an hour is not a livable wage.
They are asking nationwide for 15 bucks an hour, double what a lot of them
are making, but still barely north of $30,000 a year. You might say,
managing a cash register, that`s a kid`s job, it should pay minimum wage.
Except that 27 percent of the folks making those low wages are, in
fact, parents. They are parents making $10 an hour or less. Now, even if
that is not your personal situation, it is everyone`s problem. The
experience of poverty and poverty wages is approaching universal in this
country. A new report from the "A.P." suggests if you have never been poor
in your life, just wait a minute, because four out of five adults at some
point will be unemployed, broke, and/or on welfare at some point in their
lives, 80 percent.
That includes 76 percent of white Americans. We are not talking about
exclusively black and brown poverty. We are talking about everybody
poverty, maybe not for your whole life, but in just a blink for most people
in this country, that constant and well-founded fear amount to a national
crisis. Not just a crisis of confidence, but a crisis of lived economic
experience. That constant and well-founded fear is a powerful, corrosive
on the ties that are supposed to bind us as a nation.
Now, it would be nice to believe that shared experiences of financial
hardship bring Americans together and give us a sense of common cause. But
the fact is, when the economic pie shrinks, we tend to become more bigoted,
more nativist, more likely to turn on one another. Coalition is the fruit
of boom times, not bust.
Last week, President Obama began making the case, again, for
government doing something about income inequality -- the rich getting
richer/the poor getting poorer.
Afterwards, he talked to "The New York Times" about his belief being
able to better your lot in life is essential for Americans, and for the
idea of America, starting right here in ordinary towns like Galesburg,
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thirty years ago,
anybody in this town who wanted to find a job, they could go get a job.
The kids here all went to the same school -- the banker`s kid and the guy
working at the Maytag plants going to the same school. They got the same
social support. College is affordable for all of them. They don`t have to
take out $100,000 of debt to do it.
And there was a sense of not upward mobility in the abstract. It was
part and parcel of who we were as Americans. And that`s what`s been
eroding over the last 20, 30 years, well before the financial crisis.
(END AUDI CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The president telling "The New York Times," quote,
"Everything I will be proposing over the next three years goes right at
Joining us now is someone who I bet has some ideas for how the
president might address that issue. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize
winning columnist and author of "The Price of Inequality: How Today`s
Divide in Society Endangers Our Future."
Joe Stiglitz, thank you for being here.
JOSEPH STIGLITZ, ECONOMIST: Nice to be here.
HARRIS-PERRY: So the president repeatedly tried to pivot this
conversation back to the economy, especially a middle-outs version of the
economy. What are the real policies he could propose that could make this
STIGLITZ: Actually there are a lot, and in the last chapter of my
book, I list about 21 of them. But the most important are things that he
actually called attention to -- education, access to education, the fact
that with college education rising in prices, incomes of most Americans
today are lower than they were 15 years ago. The only way that people can
afford a college education is debt.
STIGLITZ: And they know what that means, graduating with $100,000 of
debt. So that`s one.
Second thing, housing. We`ve become more and more economically
segregated. And that means -- he pointed that out, too. People who are
rich live in different communities from people who are poor.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And zip code ends up being destiny for
everything from your health, to your longevity, to the likelihood of your
kids being able to make it out of whatever your zip code is.
STIGLITZ: Exactly, that`s an important thing that`s come out in one
of the recent studies which is that economic inequality is very highly
related to equality of opportunity. You know, a lot of people on the right
say, we don`t care about outcomes, we believe in opportunity.
STIGLITZ: But America has become the country among the advanced
industrial countries not only with the least -- with the most inequality,
but also with the least equality of opportunity among the advance
HARRIS-PERRY: I want you to talk to me about how we end up there in
part because I think it`s easy to have a partisan narrative about this.
That either it`s the Democrats` fault for big government, or it`s the
Republicans` fault for being stingy with government.
But, you know, my grandfather drove a delivery truck. His wife did
not work. They managed -- work outside the home. They managed to raise
five kids, send them all through school. Even though, themselves, were not
college graduates. They owned a home.
That is -- that story is simply not possible right now. That one
would have that sort of working class job without a college education, one
income, send all those kids to school.
STIGLITZ: That`s right. One of the things that`s happened is that if
you look at the median income, the person -- median income for a male
worker today is lower than it was 40 years ago. So while those in the top
are doing very well, college education has gone up, price of that has gone
up, incomes of a male worker have actually stagnated for 40 years.
HARRIS-PERRY: So this is part of why you end up with two-parent
households. Two parents having to work in a household, or two adults in a
household is in part just to be able to do what one income used to be able
to do, in part because these incomes are so low. So, when you see folks
walking out of the McDonald`s, of the KFC.
You know, when I talk to franchise owners they say to me, hey, what
can we do? We`re squeezed here. If I pay $15 an hour, I`m going out of
business. What is the response to that?
STIGLITZ: Well, there are a couple of responses. If you look at the
CEO pay, they`re not on $15 an hour. They`re getting multimillion dollar
pay, unrelated to the productivity that they bring to the firm, dividends,
many of these companies, very high. Apparently because market power that
The evidence is pretty clear. A really good study was done by -- a
number of years ago -- by Alan Krueger and David Card where they looked at
what happens if you raise the minimum wage of -- which affects McDonald`s.
Doesn`t have the negative effects that the right wing claim. It does have
a positive effect on the livelihood --
STIGLITZ: -- of these families, as you pointed out, 27 percent of
these minimum wage, of these low-wage workers are -- have children.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, and it`s worth pointing out when you improve their
lot by a little bit, they go out and spend that little tiny bit of extra
money and it stimulates the economy. So, what`s good for them is actually
STIGLITZ: What was one of the points that Obama made, but another
aspect that is distinctive about America, we have now about 25 percent of
the children in America are living in poverty.
HARRIS-PERRY: And that, that feels sort of inherently un-American.
Nobel Prize winning columnist Joseph Stiglitz, thank you so much for
joining us tonight. We greatly appreciate it.
So, the new pope says something that surprised a lot of people in a
very happy way. It`s a great stories and it`s next.
And amazingly, it`s actually not even the best new thing in the world,
which is also totally great, and ahead.
So stay tuned.
HARRIS-PERRY: Last week, we saw crowds gathering in three different
places. Crowds in Egypt took to the streets for the most serious of
political protests. The country remains in the throes of national crisis,
as citizens risk and even lose their lives over issues of democracy, the
limits of military force and the legitimacy of leadership.
Very different kinds of crowds gathered in London last week as the
royal couple, Will and Kate, introduced their baby boy, George Alexander
Louis, to the world. Yes, little George is third in line to the throne.
But this wasn`t a political movement in the streets. It was news as
There was a third sight where people took to the street in mass.
Brazil, where there were neither the high stakes life and death politics of
Cairo nor the cuddly, happy, relative meaninglessness of the U.K. These
crowds greeted the newly elected Pope Francis, the first pontiff from Latin
America, as he took the first foreign trip of his papacy to Brazil.
His visit came just a few weeks after tens of thousands of Brazilians
protested economic inequality in huge anti-government demonstrations across
Now, remember that Pope Francis is a Jesuit who made poverty and
economic inequality the central issues of his papacy. Remember, he washed
the feet of 12 young inmates at a youth prison including two Muslims and
two women. This marked the very first time a pope washed the feet of a
woman, breaking church ritual that usually restricts only for men.
It is no mistake that he went to a place where economic inequality is
at the root of recent social unrest. While there, he made clear where
allegiances lie, when he visited one of Rio de Janeiro`s most dangerous and
impoverished favelas and actually interacted with people there.
And when he visited a hospital that treats drug addicts that he
called, quote, "a shrine to suffering." then yesterday evening the pope
ended his trip with an open-air mass on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro
where more than a million people gathered. Some reports say as many as 3
As the people waited for the mass, the crowds, including those nuns,
took a good old-fashioned dip in the water. And when we thought all the
crowds were gone, there was one more crowd to gather.
On the airplane with the pope a crowd of reporters. At first nothing
dramatic is happening. The pope is sitting up front and the reporters are
in the back until -- whoa, whoa, whoa. Look, Pope Francis is coming down
the aisle, out of nowhere.
He gives an unprecedented 80-minute news conference with reporters
where he speaks about just everything, including the sexual orientation of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE FRANCIS, CATHOLIC CHURCH (translated): If a person is gay and
seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The pope continues to say that they should not be
marginalized. He also reaffirmed the church -- reaffirms the church`s
policy that homosexual acts are a sin. "But who am I to judge?"
OK, granted, this is not groundbreaking stuff by secular standards.
But within the church, you know, the church, the one with millions of
faithful adherents around the world, when the leader of that church just
sort of shrugs and says, it`s not a big deal, I`m not even here to judge it
-- it is sort of a big deal, because it was a big deal for his predecessor,
Pope Benedict, who authored a Vatican document that said that men with
deep-seeded homosexual tendencies should not become priests.
You might say we kind of had an idea that this pope was a tad
different from the get-go when he said no thank you to the fancy red papal
loafers that went -- and went instead with a simple pair of black shoes or
when he decided to carpool in a minivan with the cardinals who elected him.
Oh, and let`s not forget his decision not to move into the luxurious papal
apartment, which is where he`s supposed to stay, instead opting for the not
as fancy Vatican guest house.
Then, a couple of weeks ago he picked his pope mobile of choice. It`s
a five-year-old Ford Focus.
Now, we knew something was up. But what he said on that plane, the
"who am I to judge" part, does set him apart from the other guys.
You see, the Catholic Church retains a public sort of unseen policy
presence in the rest of the world, something that`s difficult for many of
us here to imagine. What the Catholic Church says in much of Latin America
and much of Africa, even in some parts of Europe -- well, it pretty much
And if the pope says not to judge -- well, maybe, just maybe people
will choose not to judge.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Best new thing in the world.
These past few weeks, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin/George
Zimmerman trial, there`s been a lot of national consternation over the
subject of black youth in American society. There have been a lot of
discussions about whether or not African-American youth are threats. Lots
of questions about how black moms and dads should parent their kids in the
context of this Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman moment in America.
The past weekend in Chicago, the Congressional Black Caucus wrapped up
a state of emergency conference on the issue of black youth violence.
State of emergency, crisis!
Honestly, it`s been kind of a tough moment to be a black parent in
America. It felt -- it felt raw.
But the best new thing in the world today, I promise you is the
antidote to those feelings. Meet 4-year-old Anala Beevers. She hails from
my home city of New Orleans. And if you`re a 4-year-old coming up in New
Orleans right now, you are facing daunting statistics.
New Orleans has the highest per capita murder rate of any major city,
one in seven black men in New Orleans is either in prison, on parole or
probation. The poverty rate in New Orleans is one of the highest in the
country. Right now, the stories I read about young black people in my
beloved city are about violence or delinquency or failure.
But the New Orleans black youth story sweeping the Internet today has
nothing to do with any of those issues. It is all about this little 4-
year-old girl. She is an international superstar of geniuses.
Four-year-old Anala Beevers is in all likelihood smarter than you are.
At a tender age of 4, when even the advanced kids in class are just
learning to write their names, Anala Beevers is doing stuff like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, Anala, we`re going to do some state
capitals and country capitals, OK?
ANALA BEEVERS, 4-YEAR-OLD: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Tell me the capital of China.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s the capital of Kenya?
BEEVERS: Kenya is Nairobi.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And what`s the capital of South Korea?
BEEVERS: South Korea is Seoul.
UNIDNTIFIED FEMALE: And what`s the capital of the Netherlands?
BEEVERS: Netherlands is -- is --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good job!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: At 4 years old Anala Beevers has state and world
capitals down cold. Now, be honest, did you know the capital of the
It`s not just geography that Anala excels at. It`s also numbers. Oh,
yes, in multiple languages.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anala knew the alphabet at four months. At 18
months she knew her numbers. In Spanish.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She says she`s smarter than you are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would agree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Anala`s parents marveling at the absolute
wonder that is their wiz kid of a daughter. And that sort of top-notch
intellect recently attracted the interest of none other than Mensa, the
international high IQ society. When Mensa tested Anala Beevers to see if
she had what it takes to join the elite ranks of highly, highly intelligent
people, she made the cut with room to spare. Four years old and an
official member of Mensa.
When that local reporter asked Anala what she wanted to be when she
grows up, she said very proudly that she would like to be a nurse so that
she can help people. Four-year-old Anala Beevers of New Orleans, a
reminder that we are always capable of more than what the data suggest --
best new thing in the world.
You go, girl.
And that does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Right
now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Have a great night.
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