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tv   Melissa Harris- Perry  MSNBC  January 18, 2015 7:00am-9:01am PST

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♪ ♪ you're only young once. unless you have a subaru. (announcer) the subaru xv crosstrek. symmetrical all-wheel drive plus 34 mpg. love. it's what makes a subaru a subaru. this morning, my question. is it time to free the children? plus beyonce family values. and the case for and against letting the government seize your assets. but first, president obama weighs into my territory. we're going to college.
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good morning, i'm melissa harris-perry. he's a lame duck. he has a congress dominated by the opposing party. but despite rumors of his political demise president obama is kind of on a roll. since his party lost the senate in november the president has allowed 4 million undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows. he's rebuilding relations with cuba. he's pushing congress to catch up with the rest of the world and force employers to offer paid sick days for their workers and give paid parental leave to federal employees for the first time. just this week the president's department of justice put major restrictions on a program that has allowed police to seize $3 billion worth of cash and personal property since 2008. the "washington post" called it quote, the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs. and he's trying to give free college to the people. free college!
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now, republicans with their newfound power in congress have also been on a roll. they are passing a bill to go over the president's head to approve a massive oil pop line that the president has promised to veto. they're planning to vote to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a bill which the president has promised to veto. they're hoping to rewrite the affordable care act employer mandate, which the president has promised to veto. and they are trying to derail the president's immigration actions saying they will only funneled the department of homeland security if the executive actions are revoked. these titans will clash face to face on tuesday at the president's seventh state of the union address. and the first with both chambers of congress controlled by the republican party. the president has been announcing his new policies ahead of the big speech. like his community college plan which would cover up to two years of tuition at community college for as many as 9 million students a year. >> i want to make it free.
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community colleges should be free for those willing to work for it. because in america a quality education cannot be a privilege that is reserved for a few. i think it's a right for everybody who's willing to work for it. >> access. see, the key here is access. in the history of higher education in america, it's for the most part a story of slowly widening access. for more than 250 years after harvard was founded in 1636 access to higher education was limited to the very very few, the very rich the elite. in 1915 just 6% of 18 to 21-year-olds went to college. less than 2% of those completed degrees. by 1940 attendance rates had nearly tripled to 16%, a rate far higher than any other country at that time. and with world war ii came the great american college access program, the g.i. bill passed in 1944 which funded college tuition and living expenses for
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veterans. in 1947 half of all college admissions were veterans. over 12 years, nearly 8 million vets used the g.i. bill for education or job training. now the rising tide didn't lift all boats equally. only about 3% of women who served in the war went to college on the g.i. bill and african-american veterans were still barred from most of the colleges in the jim crow south. but the g.i. bill helped make a college available to the middle class masses instead of the elite few. in 1957 37% of 18 to 21-year-olds attended college, more than double the rate less than 20 years previous and attendance has continued to grow. 19.5 million people attended college in 2013. two-thirds of high school graduates now enroll in college within a year. but after decades of expansion, access may now be shrinking. in 2013 college enrollment dropped for the second year in a row and higher education, if
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you're a parent you know this is getting ever more expensive. not just at private colleges. state cuts to public universities mean ever steeper tuition increases. debt-free financial aid is getting harder to find and the federal pell grant program, which is vital to low income students, is simply always on congress's chopping block. most recently just last month when lawmakers slashed $303 million from the program. and while more and more children from low income families are going to college, they attend at much lower rates than those from high income families. the gap between the two is now higher than it was in 1975. low income students are also more likely to go to community college or for-profit schools which have poor job prospects and higher debt loads while wealthier students are more likely to go to four-year and private universities. this is the result the unintended consequence of the same forces that opened the doors in the first place. and here comes president obama. he is throwing open the doors and trying to make some college
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affordable again. the question is it a good thing or a bad thing? joining me now, bob herbert, author of "losing our way, an intimate portrait of a troubled america." dalton connelly. michelle chen contributing editor at in these times and co-host of a podcast and patrick gleason, director of state affairs at americans for tax reform. dalton, i want to start with you about the ways in which college either widens or narrows inequality in this country and particularly whether or not you think this plan to provide more community college access will widen or narrow inequality. >> well the returns to a college education in terms of later earnings are higher than they have ever been in history and getting higher every year. if we don't do something, college will serve to wooindiden the
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gap and reduce economic mobility even more. i greatly support this program. i think there's a few tweaks that need to be made but it's a great step forward and the best program since the g.i. bill of the '50s. >> but on that return because i'm a college professor, i probably have predisposed to like the idea of more people going to college, but on the other hand when we looked at the returns for a bachelor's degree versus some college, including the associate's, versus high school, your unemployment rate for high school is at 5% for some college is close to 5% and for the bachelor's that's where it drops down. so is it two-year enough of a return? >> no, no no. i am a big fan of tuition-free college and i want more and more kids going to college. you need a college education not just to get a decent job but to have a fuller life a fuller life experience. but we have -- america has, as you know, the finest higher education system in the world.
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but one of the worst performing aspects of that system are the community colleges. what i would much prefer to see is the money that the president is proposing for this community college program to go to qualified students to use for higher education any way they wanted to so that you could use it for four-year college education. >> so that's almost more -- that's almost like a higher ed voucher program, right? where the money follows the students? >> that might be the way. you could use as a model, you could use the g.i. bill. i got benefits under the g.i. bill because i was in the army in the 1960s so the army paid for part of my college education. so you mentioned the g.i. bill. they did not try to track g.i.s into two-year schools from the g.i. bill. you could use those benefits any way you wanted to and most went to four-year colleges. i don't see any reason to make that kind of distinction now. >> then i'm sort of interested in then why the decision for community colleges. because again, i have a kind of strong -- anything that makes
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college more affordable seems something from my perspective as a teacher as well as a parent but i wonder if you create a system where you flood that two-year college market and end up with an unintended consequence of dropping the value of it because it does become universal. >> a couple thoughts. one, this is not free community college. according to the white house's estimates, it's in excess of $60 billion. >> it becomes free to the individual household. it's a cost that we bear collectively. >> it's being told as free to the students. but actually it's really a giveaway to community college administrators not communities. i think what you can expect to see is the same dynamic we've seen with traditional higher ed. as subsi dags has increased, so has costs. higher ed costs is one of the biggest problems, the skyrocketing costs and how they have grown well in excess of inflation. i think you'll see the same problem. >> but i want to pause on that
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for a second because the increase in tuition, particularly at state universities, which was the affordable space for ordinary folks to get four-year educations is not because of an increase in subsidies, it's because state legislatures decreased the amount they were giving to colleges. >> another thing to point out is pell grants which you mentioned earlier, cover a lot of costs of community college if not all of it for lower incomes. i think we should back up and mention it's a little hard to take this white house seriously on education when this is the same white house that tried to basically trap poor primarily minority d.c. students in bad schools because they want to get rid of the voucher program at the behest of teachers unions. and the only reason they didn't take place is because of the speaker john boehner so it's a little hard to take them seriously. >> i don't find it at all hard to take them seriously on the part of education because jill biden teaches at community
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colleges, they seem to be interested in this question. but the education piece i think is part of it. i'm going to play the president and then ask you a question about what they mean by education. here's what the president thinks education helps us to do. >> it is the key to getting a good job that pays a good income and to provide you the security where even if you don't have the same job for 30 years, you're so adaptable and you have a skill set and the capacity to learn new skills it ensures you're always employable. >> so it's the back end of that that i'm interested in. i wonder about the extent to which the community college thinking of this is the front end of it training you for employment but the part that you need is the back end, which allows you flexibility because most people don't work one job for 30 years anymore. >> exactly. i also think that's one of the key cost issues of the community college plan to begin with. the pell grant actually covers a lot of low income community
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college students' costs already so what we have is a plan that might end up benefitting the most advantaged students and not targeting the people who have not just difficulty paying for community college but i mean the actual tuition is just a tiny fraction of what it actually costs to bring yourself through higher education experience in this country. i mean we're talking about two years here but, you know what's the most beneficial is actually a bachelor's degree. so how are we going to see these people through that four-year experience or two-year experience and then make sure the experience pays off for them. not only that but that they have the resources they need to really keep their lives in order while they're pursuing their educations. >> i want to touch on both of those and then again this question of how we make it an even broader issue when we come back. before we go to break, we want you to update you on some potentially dangerous weather affecting parts of the east coast and new england right now. heavy rain snow and ice are making travel difficult on many roads, causing numerous
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accidents. in new jersey, hundreds of crews are spreading salt on roads throughout the state. new jersey transit has suspended bus service statewide. governor chris christie's office is urging people to stay home and for all motorists to exercise caution and drive slowly. stay with msnbc throughout the day for the latest on the weather conditions. your mom's got your back. your friends have your back. your dog's definitely got your back. but who's got your back when you need legal help? we do. we're legalzoom, and over the last 10 years we've helped millions of people protect their families and run their businesses. we have the right people on-hand to answer your questions, backed by a trusted network of attorneys. so visit us today for legal help you can count on. legalzoom. legal help is here. [ fishing rod casting line, marching band playing ] [ male announcer ] the rhythm of life. [ whistle blowing ] where do you hear that beat? campbell's healthy request soup lets you hear it in your heart. [ basketball bouncing ] heart healthy.
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education helps us be better people. it helps us be better citizens. you came to college to learn about the world and engage with new ideas and to discover the things you're passionate about. and maybe have a little fun. and expand your horizons. that's terrific. that's a huge part of what college has to offer.
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but you're also here now more than ever because a college degree is the surest ticket to the middle class. >> that was president obama last friday at a community college in knoxville, tennessee, announcing his plan to make community college free to some 9 million students a year. i do want to pick up on the earlier point that in fact community college is free for many students effectively already, particularly the lowest income students where pell grants cover almost the entire cost of education. does this, therefore, end up being an unintended subsidy for middle class kids instead of for the neediest students? >> i think it's important to make anything for education universal, it will have more political support, but i agree with bob that it shouldn't be confined to community colleges that don't have the returns that four-year colleges do. attach it to every kid in the u.s., even itchf it's only two years of funding, take it anywhere you want. i disagree with the point that it's subsidies driving the cost of higher education.
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we don't benefit from technology. it's still you and me in a classroom with 30 kids or 300 or whatever it is and we can't clone ourselves, we can't make robots of melissa to lecture simultaneously in four languages or whatever so there's no returns to technological advancement the way there is in other industries. relatively it gets more secretary of defense i've because it's very high human capital. >> is that an argument? i had a little chill went down my back because there is nothing i value more in my experience than me in a room with 30 kids. and in fact i think those in the elite continue to pay for that form of education. so is it that it just will get more expensive because of human capital costs or okay, time to uk suck it up and teach our 4,000 person online classes. >> no. >> that becomes the argument for containing costs. >> you can try to contain costs and the important thing is to do it in a reasonable way. college is going to be expensive. any time that you have this intense relationship between
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instructors and students and then the other aspects of college life it's going to cost a lot of money. but the president made the important point that he said that college -- he said that higher education is a prerequisite for a middle class standard of living. he could have gone further. i think a four-year degree is almost a prerequisite for a middle class standard of living. if that's what the country is supposed to be about, then we do have to suck it up and pay for it. >> is there a claim potentially there that that's an elitist world view. that education is a good but not a totalizing good not the only good and what we need to do is create more avenues for people who aren't going to get four-year college educations instead of trying to turn everybody into citizens of nerdland. >> i think it's important to remember that there's actually speaking of vouchers if the point is to give people flexibility and options, then presumably you'd want them to have some agency and map out
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their educational trajectory. but we're talking about attaching the funding to the kid here. not everybody goes to community college. a lot of these people are parents and have a lot of other stuff going on in their lives which is why i come back to the real cost of college education because this is going to be an average of $3800 per capita. that's really not enough to cover even you know one piece of the total cost of going to college. here in new york city i'm a student at the city university of new york right now. the costs have been going up but the actual tuition is really just a small part of that. >> and if you're a parent then there's the cost of child care and gas cost there's a variety of opportunity costs. but when you're talking about it not being free you're talking about the social cost the tax burden cost as opposed to these individual opportunity costs. >> the white house said it's in excess of $60 billion is the cost. but that ties into the problem as far as logistics of getting
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such a proposal through. how do you get it through a republican house and senate? they're going to have some problems with the price tag. but even more importantly than that is governors, both republican and democrat. it's analogous to the problem of getting medicaid expansion passed. for this community college thing, it's 75% the feds will pick up and the rest is up to the states. just like with the medicaid expansion, the states understandably don't trust that the feds are always going to hold to picking up that portion of the tab. >> this is so great. i want you to pause because i want to take a commercial break and come back on exactly that issue. i'm going to make a claim the republicans don't like this plan. well it may be only themselves they have to blame. it's a republican plan.
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spiriva handihaler tiotropium bromide inhalation powder does not replace rescue inhalers for sudden symptoms. tell your doctor if you have kidney problems, glaucoma, trouble urinating, or an enlarged prostate. these may worsen with spiriva. discuss all medicines you take, even eye drops. stop taking spiriva and seek immediate medical help if your breathing suddenly worsens your throat or tongue swells,... you can get hives, vision changes or eye pain or problems passing urine. other side effects include dry mouth and constipation. nothing can reverse copd. spiriva helps me breathe better. sfx: blowing sound. does breathing with copd... ...weigh you down? don't wait ask your doctor about spiriva handihaler. the president may be hoping his free community college plan is more palatable to republicans because it's based on a republican governor's idea. governor bill haslem of
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tennessee who is issuing a similar program. but that's far from a guarantee of bipartisan support. in fact the guy might even run against you on a platform of repealing the very policy he once embraced. so from that though what really are the politics of this? and who stands most importantly to benefit or to be harmed by this? >> well i think the president can benefit in the sense that he's in favor of higher education for american kids. >> precollege is well branded, easy to understand. >> and it's unlikely this is going to pass. to say it's a long shot in a republican dominated congress is an understatement. which is why, if you make this kind of a statement, for example, i would just go the whole hog and say let's provide free tuition for state colleges state four-year universities all across the country. if it's going to get shot down
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then let the big proposal get shot down. >> what about, we were talking on the break, what about taking on the private for-profits that are also sucking in resources from so many of these students who are impoverished? >> i think they're basically like a vampire squid on the educational system. the only good of keeping them in i can think of is if they lobby the republican patrons to say pass this because we want to make some profits and later we can fix it by eliminating them. but i also want to say that i'm for this plan. i would like it to be four-year as bob said but i'd rather spend the money on early childhood education. we know that the returns are proven and more powerful than they are later on in life. >> i'm not really sure we need to be pitting pre-k students before community college students. more is better and i agree invest now or pay later. that's sort of the moral of the story here. but in many terms of the symbolism, if it can get people
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talking at least to entering a policy discussion which we start talking about college as an extension of the k through 12 system, right. no one talks about the cost of k through 12 through for a very long time graduating from high school was not necessarily the thing to do for everyone in this country and now the conversation around that has changed. so if this can change the political climate around public education funding that's more important because what we've seen, especially since the great recession but for the past generation we've seen massive disinvestment in higher education. who's been paying for that for the low income families. so it's not just about showering free tuition on these people there's a huge deficit of years, a generation that we need to make up for in terms of getting the lowest income people to where we want to be and to foster equality from there. >> and just 15 seconds left, but are republicans really prepared to be against free college? is it well enough branded that it becomes difficult politically
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to stand against it? >> as i mentioned before it's not free. you mentioned is this coming from the states and i'm a big subscriber to former supreme court just brandeis' idea. obama pointed to two of them as why they should do it nationally. let's try it in more places before you nationalize it. one city one state and then take it national? let's try it in a handful. >> i'm just so excited that you said lavatory for democracy because i have a little something to say about that when we come back. thank you to michelle chen. the rest of the panel is sticking around. more to come this morning. mike huckabee's beef with beyonce. but first my letter of the week and it's about the lavatories of the states.
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few issues divide americans along party lines more than race? reproductive rights maybe? how about this one, tax policy. just think how reliable that tax and spend liberal cliche is in american elections. the partisan debate about taxes is not just an obscure, economic theory or about deep ideological commitments, it as has measurable effects. in social science we might say the idea that lowering taxes improves the economy is a testable hypothesis. you remember hypotheses from middle school science. you make your best guess, conduct an experiment to see if you're right. here in the u.s. there has been quite a tax experiment under way for the last two and a half years. the laboratory the state of kansas and the evidence is in. that's why my letter this week goes to the man who has been conducting the experiment. dear governor sam brownback, it's me, melissa. in your state of the state
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address this week it seemed you might be ready to concede that your experiment in dramatic tax reduction has failed. you admitted my budget proposal recognizes that the current budget trajectory is unsustainable and difficult solutions are required by state as well as by fiscal prudence. the current budget trajectory is unsustainable and who exactly set the current trajectory? that's you. remember when you used your very first state of the state back in 2011 to promise a reset of the kansas tax code? well, you made good in may of 2012 when you signed historic tax cuts into law and claimed that as a state marched toward zero income tax it would, quote, create tens of thousands of new jobs and help make kansas the best place in america to start and grow a small business. you followed that up with even further income tax cuts in 2013. but the jobs and small business growth and booming prosperity you hypothesized did not
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materialize. instead as a result of your experiment, last april moody's downgraded your state's credit score and standard & poor's followed with a credit downgrade for kansas in august. the downgrades reflected a reality that your sunny disposition did not. your tax cuts have created a $1 billion revenue loss and run up a staggering budgetary shortfall, estimated to be as large as $280 million. that's after you cut education funding so ruthlessly that the kansas supreme court declared it unconstitutional. even after you relied on the obamacare drug rebate program to help stem the financial hemorrhage, the same obamacare you have strenuously opposed. so there you stood on thursday night, a republican governor determined to use his state as a laboratory to test the idea that lower taxes are the solution to most problems. you tried it. it failed. and it seemed like maybe you were ready to admit it when you called for greater fiscal prudence and even for new taxes.
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some clarity that kansas needs more revenue! then came the details. stick with phasing out the state's income tax but hike up taxes on cigarettes from 79 cents a pack to $2.29 a pack. and liquor you plan to raise that tax from 8% to 12%. you certainly are consistent, you still have no intention of asking the highest earners to pay their fair share. instead the poorest people in your state will bear the brunt of your mistakes because as the guardian reports, a tax system with zero income tax and high sales tax may seem like the picture of equality but it's punishing to the poor. taking a -- taxing a tenth of every dollar paid at the corner store isn't much when there's millions in the bank but it's quite a lot for someone earning minimum wage. looks like you are determined to proceed with your failing experiment despite all the evidence that it's time to stop. at least now american voters will know better than to let you turn the white house into your next laktboratory. sincerely, melissa.
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okay on my ipad you will find many magazines and bookmarked websites to help me stay informed on the latest news, but you might be surprised to know that i also read town & country and southern living and, yes, celeb gossip rags like "star" magazine. look, even professors need a break from the rigors of the academy and simply want to read about a little hollywood drama or quick update on the dutchess of cambridge, kate middleton and perfect treadmill motivation. but this week's "star" if you revealed another turn in the saga of the spelling family. the news that former teen icon and television star tori spelling might be win out of her mother's will. after the death of her father aaron spelling, the bulk of his estate was left to his wife cindy, tori's mother. cindy spelling then bequeathed
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tori -- there was a fan suggestion that she leave tori with nothing at all. now, you might ask yourself how any of this relates to an issue of national importance. as it turns out, the spelling family feud is a small window into a much larger problem here in the united states. in the leadup to president obama's state of the union address, there has been a lot of talk about the president's plans to unveil a new economic jaenlda facing the income inequality and he's not alone. even former and possible future presidential candidate mitt romney used his recent speech to lament our nation's growing income inequality. despite the focus, many top economists have pointed to a far different factor or one connected but different that drives our economic divide. one more likely than our increasingly disparate incomes to not get any better driven in
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large part by generations of inherited wealth. a new study reveals over the next three decades, the u.s. will experience the largest wealth transfer in history with $6 trillion in wealth being transferred mostly between family members of ultra high net worth individuals. the fact that 75% of u.s. wealth is held by only the richest 10% of its people is an issue our policy makers have yet to resolve. the most effective policy that exists for making a dent on the issue, the estate tax. it's deeply politically divisive. so i want to know should your kids get it all even if they didn't work for it? joining the panel now, co-host of "the cycle," krystal ball. there's a fundamental moral as well as political question here about whether or not at the end of your life you ought to be able to transfer all of it to your kids without spreading it
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around a little bit. >> right exactly. well, first off i learn so much on this show i had no idea about the spelling family drama, so thank you for that. it adds a whole new layer to this conversation. but fundamentally this was the insight of that bulk because of thor economics book "capital in the 21st century" was the fact that if you care with inequality, the biggest thing that is leading to these heightening levels of inequality that we see here is increasing wealth accumulation. we talk a lot about income inequality but the real problem is wealth inequality. right now we have no estate tax. we can leave whatever you want to your kids and that means that generation after generation you have this rigid class structure building and building and building because you can always accumulate more on the wealth that you have than you can from the wages that you earn. if you careuyou --
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>> people use income and wealth sort of interchangeably and it's just so critical i think, to make that difference clear because an individual working hard can earn a higher income but even an individual working hard with a higher income can't necessarily close that wealth gap. why? >> well economists -- actually larry summers estimate that 80% of our lifetime wealth accumulation is related to past generations. that might not be direct inheritance or gifts but it could be that one kid graduates college with $150,000 of debt and has to use all those earnings to pay back that and the other kid got college for free. so we know that wealth is along with parental education is the most important predictor of kids' success economically. >> and that does seem to fly in the face of meritocracy.
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the wealth gap just skyrockets particularly in the period we generally think of good for african-american income. but it's not because black folks are just buying cars instead of houses, it's because of the intergenerational aspect. >> blacks have been frozen out of wealth accumulation in this country for most of the country's history. it's only in recent decades that blacks have been able to accumulate any wealth at all. i guess median wealth for black households is somewhere between $6,000 and $11,000. that's no money at all. if your roof caves in you have no at all or if somebody gets sick. but we talk a lot about wealth inequality in this country but i hear very few people hardly anyone wanting to do anything serious about it. to do something about inequality you have to transfer wealth in this country and nobody wants to talk about
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transferring wealth. and one of the ways of transferring wealth of course is via inheritance taxes. there's other ways as well. >> if i could just throw one -- we're using a lot of big words. to me it's very stark. six wall six walmart heirs have as much wealth as 80% of black people in this country. >> they may be great and hard work bug working but that's not why they're at the top. >> the death, estate tax, whatever you want to call it. >> whatever that is. >> it's the death tax. it does do -- it does do a great job of income redistribution, but not in the way the proponents think. it redistributes from predominantly family businesses family farms, small businesses to -- >> that is so not true. >> you're not really spewing that, are you? >> it redistributes it to
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accountants, tax lawyers and other folks in part of the estate planning industry. >> but if your family business is walmart, right, which is part of your point about the waltons, right, so i hear you. and i think this is part of why people don't want to do it is because for -- because we're a striving meritocracy based people so we always believe i may be the person who's finally going to get to pass on wealth. so it's part of how we tie people do it. but can't we just do it at the very top. >> we are doing it at the very top. right now a couple over $10 million, that's the cutoff. very very few people pay any estate tax and it's all sheltered. so it -- >> over 70% of americans -- >> we're talking about the policy issues here. just because something poemslls well or doesn't poll well doesn't make it a good or bad policy. but to melissa's point and to
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your point, there are two sort of american principles that are in competition here. one is essentially the belief in the american dream. the belief -- >> some day i'm going to be rich and i want to give it to my kids. >> and this sense of the least possible government intervention that you should be free to do with you and yours as you wish. but the competing principle is the idea of equality of opportunity. and already if you're born into a wealthy household as dalton is point out. you have so many advantages. you have the education, that environment, so much going for you that when you add on to that the generations of accumulated wealth it just makes us into old europe where we have this rigid class system. >> we're going to take a break. i do want to quote adam smith here and i promise we'll come back on this topic. but i want to quote adam smith since you brought the question of our philosophical underpinnings. a power to dispose of the estates forever is manifestly absurd. the earth and the fullness of it belongs to every generation and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from
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posterity, such spengs of such property is quite unnatural. there is no point more difficult to account for than the right we certain men to have to dispose of their goods after death. i want to bring you up to date on the severe weather this morning. icy roads are being blamed for several accidents in parts of new jersey new york and pennsylvania. in new jersey, hundreds of crews are spreading salt on the roads and bus service has been suspended statewide. outside philadelphia at least 20 cars were involved in a pileup as freezing rain contributed to slick roads. stay with msnbc throughout the day for the latest on weather conditions. up next we'll talk more about this because president obama has a plan for the rich who want to shelter their money in order to leave it to their children and he's going to announce it on tuesday night. ♪ ery now and then i get a little bit hungry ♪ ♪ and there's nothing good around ♪ ♪ turn around, barry ♪ ♪ i finally found the right snack ♪ [ female announcer ] fiber one.
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we've been talking about how inherited wealth drives inequality. the president will address part of the issue in his state of the union speech on tuesday.
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according to senior administration officials, among many new tax policy proposals, president obama will proposing closing the so-called trust funneled loophole. it helps wealthy pass on assets to their heirs and avoid paying taxes on them. officials say 99% of the impact on the president's plan will be squarely on the top 1% of the wealthiest americans. see what he did there? 99/1%. but i want to take seriously the idea that if you create a new tax structure for rich people that they figure out how to get around it. they hire accountants and so there's a transfer and that transfer goes to their accountants. like can we -- can we actually do this through the tax -- if we can agree that there needs to be a spreading of the assets is the tax code the right way to do it? >> i subscribe to the whoopi goldberg school of thought which is you've paid taxes on your income you pay it when you get your investment returns and now all of a sudden when you die you have to pay this?
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it strikes me as unfair. but also also this is -- this tax makes the death tax, estate tax, whatever you want to call it makes for sense from an economic standpoint. if your goal is to raise it for function it raises very little revenue. if you got rid of it today, it would be less than 1% of federal revenue. >> dalton, the estate tax, death tax, what do you want to call it? >> the last time i heard people don't pay taxes. >> the one time you don't have to. >> i think what we should do is focus on the recipient and call it the inheritance tax or paris hilton opportunity tax or whatever. >> i like that. >> we want to treat all income whether it's thomas pickety's return on investment or hard won earnings, treated all income the same and not create distortions. that's another thing he wanted
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to do is raise the marginal rate on capital gains tax closer to what you get on earnings. if we treat everything that somebody gets an investment banker or someone who's a working stiff, then let's treat them -- tax all those forms of income the same way and that includes inheritance. >> isn't this perhaps a way to profoundly simplify the tax code and then it just says basically anything over whatever our first level is $10,000, everything, however you get it is taxed at the same? >> that is a way of simplifying it and i'm in favor of this kind of proposal. but i also think that it's important to maintain a progressive income tax structure so you can't lose that in the mix of mangking it fair because that is fair. >> one small point that i wanted to talk to patrick about is what the president is proposing in terms of changes to the estate tax and the way that that works, what he's talking about is
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closing a loophole that allows this particular wealth to not be taxed at all. so we're not talking about double taxation we're talking about like this is a massive loophole that only the wealthiest among us gets to benefit from. >> and there's no -- i do want to point out you said if your goal is to raise it for core functions of government which is one part of taxes. but what we are talking about here is an attempt to reduce inequality particularly wealth inequality which grows exponentially over time and which does seem to have meaningful effects on our capacity to get the best human capital for our country. like it's not a small point. >> well two points in response to krystal. the money is taxed. it was taxed at the income level. >> no, no. >> and now you want to tax it again. >> no. >> and the second point goes to the other thing. you mentioned paris hilton. it's analogous to the attempts to raise the normal wage income tax, which they want to raise taxes on paris hilton what have
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you. the unintended consequences of who it hits and the same thing with estate tax. you hit the majority of small business revenues. >> that's not true. >> so not true. >> by raising the estate tax, you're doing the most harm to family businesses, such as family farms and mom and pop shops. -- >> i was going to say you can't even find a family farm. >> and the 1% the paris hiltons you want to go after, they have foundations and structures and staff and attorneys that get them out of these. >> right, so that -- >> are you concerned about wealth inequality? >> we're going to figure out on the commercial break, we will figure out how to tax paris hilton effectively. thank you so much for patrick gleason. everybody else is sticking around. patrick, i hope you'll come back and talk more taxes with us. still to come this morning, why mike huckabee should be on the look outand janet mock at
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because health is everything. welcome back i'm melissa harris-perry. when candidates announce that they are running for president of the united states or at least exploring the idea what we would prefer is for them to state their platform the reasons why we the voters should choose them or the issue that they want to highlight. mike huckabee began that process by going after arguably the two most well-known black families in america. the former arkansas governor quit his own cable news show earlier this month to consider running for president, telling his audience that he will not make a final decision until the spring of this year. but he already has something we can expect from new candidates. a new book called "god guns grits and gravy." in it huckabee offered this
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analysis about of all people music superstars beyonce and jay z who are married with a young daughter, blue ivy. huckabee offered this bit of cultural criticism about their recent performance at the grammy ards wa. huckabee said my reaction. why beyonce is incredibly talented gifted in fact. she has an exceptional set of pipes and can actually sing. jay z is a very shrewd businessman but i wonder does it occur to him that he is arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex object? yeah. so that alone ensured that the b agency will be after him in no time flat but having described beyonce's music as obnoxious and toxic mental poison he later told "people" magazine that essentially two particular presidentings and first lady obama
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were feeding that poison to their two teenaged daughters, malia and sasha. he said though the obamas are excellent and exemplary parents in many ways he said quote, i don't understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything, how much balkroccoli they eat and where they go to school and that they're sheltered and shielded but they don't see anything that might not be suitable for a preteen and teen in the lyrical content of beyonce who he implied has a regular key to the door of the white house. huckabee has long been a family values politician known for his opposition to marriage equality but his use of parenting as a political wedge is not exactly ground-breaking. remember when she became the vice presidential republican nominee isn't 2008? sarah palin's mothering became a campaign issue. whether negatively in reference to her teenage daughter bristol's pregnancy during the campaign or positively regarding
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her son trigg born with down syndrome. whether or not palin was a good or bad mom became part of how many judged her qualifications for the job. likewise ann romney defended herself against hilary rosen who said that romney's husband, mitt, didn't understand women's economic issues because his own wife hadn't quote, worked a day in her life. ann romney said my career choice was to be a mother and we need to respect the choices that women make. well, years later it seems mike huckabee still needs to learn that same lesson. joining me is bob herbert, a distinguished fellow dalton connelly who's also the author of "parentology everything you wanted to know about the science of raising children but were too exhausted to ask." krystal ball co-host of "the
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cycle" and janet mock. so you actually wrote the book on parenting so i guess i need to ask, you know the extent to which parenting becomes a political wedge. again, both democrats and republicans using it against particularly women in public space to say she's a bad mother. >> yes, usually used against women. i think what huckabee is doing in this case actually is trying to emassculate obama. the broccoli thing is coming from michelle so really you have no rein over your household and that's a coded message to the populous i think. >> that's interesting. >> let's listen to mike huckabee this morning talking a bit about the obamas. >> beyonce is a wonderful talent. my point is she doesn't have to do some of the things that she does in the lyrics because it's not nextcessary.
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she has nothing to make up for, she's an amazing talent. and in speaking about the obamas, i said in the book they're great parents. but it was president obama in an interview with "glamor"glamor" he won't listen to some of the lyrics with his daughters because it embarrasses him. if it embarrasses you why would you possibly think it's wholesome for your children to put it into their heads. >> janet, i just can't -- >> as a representative of the bagency, let me just say that huckabee's comments are an example of when something doesn't quite know something is not made for him and i think that's why he's so bothered. beyonce has 17 grammys, she is the top earning woman in music, in spite of him, right? like her music is not made to center or to speak to him. she is very explicit about her music is hers her body is hers and her sexuality is hers. he's bothered by it. >> and i also -- for me so part
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of it is an emasculation and part of it is racialized. there are few clear more examples of black marriage and biokids than the obamas and jay and beyonce. it's not just that beyonce may or may not be good -- she has a kid, they have a child. her child listens to her music. in order to do this you have to erase that a family and family values might look like something other than what your narrow prescription of it is. >> so well said. i think the comments that he made about jay z being her pimp -- >> yeah. >> -- speak very directly to what you're saying. to me that was just a mind boggling comment. >> i just want to point out, there are -- she does own her sexuality. >> absolutely. which is fabulous. what's wrong with that? >> nothing is wrong with the videos. i mean like if we think about the videos particularly in this album that came out. the drunken love video, the partition video, right, the
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images not only of beyonce's beautiful face but of her beautiful body. but the idea that that is not somebody's mother that's a virgin whore thing going on. >> that is why it was so powerful when beyonce put up feminist behind her. there's been this on the right that feminists are men hating ugly hairy arm pits that they couldn't be sexy beautiful, attractive women that are in charge and in power of their own sexuality. i don't think that that's a bad role model for a young woman. there's -- >> i also don't think it's bad for a woman to be hairy armpit -- >> of course. the other thing is that mike huckabee specifically and many christian -- folks on the christian right have used this whole mantra of parental rights right? the home schooling movement was integral to mike huckabee's success in iowa back in 2007. this whole idea that parents get
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to have total control over what they say to their kids. i also seem to remember a little bit of a freakout over some comments that you made about children and the raising of children. so there's this sense that parents should have total control and it shouldn't be any of our business critiquing what's going on in that household and it's a total hypocrisy when you're critiquing what music they're listening to? >> i'm wondering, bob, if there's also part of like a moral panic going on here right? because it doesn't square with some of the other beliefs about sort of individual, right? but if there's a kind of moral panic that somehow sexuality -- that seeing beyonce's beautiful body constitutes a pimping of beyonce by her husband rather than her own choices, that like it's this notion that that's where all the bad pathologies of the underclass come from, even though he's talking about folks who are the 1%ers of every kind.
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>> there's a limit of how much i want to think about mike huckabee sitting in front of a television -- >> watching the partition, trying to think about what does that surfboard line mean exactly. >> this is not a pleasant image to start with. but the idea that he used that term "pimp," the inference being that beyonce is in some sense a whore and horrible and it goes back to this obsession with black sexuality which has been a grimace pekt aspect of american politics for the entire period of this country and we don't need to go there. he needs to stop. i found it offensive and actually i would be demanding an apology. >> it's also worth pointing out there may be a pimping of beyonce that goes on but it's because every time we put her on the screen the ratings go -- the world loves beyonce, so it is possible that pimping goes on, but it's not from her husband or from her or related to her children or the obamas it's related to a popular
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culture that sees beyonce's -- what i'm saying is when huckabee says beyonce, it gets us talking about huckabee when we may not otherwise. >> it's working for him. >> oh dalton connelly said that it is twerking for him. >> i didn't say twerking i said working. >> we'll continue our discussion in a moment. before we go to break i want to update you on the icy weather conditions impacting travel along the east coast. at least 20 cars were involved in a pileup on interstate outside of philadelphia this morning and more than a dozen accidents are being reported throughout the region. new jersey people are being urged to stay off the roads and bus service has been suspended statewide. stay with msnbc throughout the day for the latest on the weather conditions. and when we come back they're being called free-range children. like that's a bad thing.
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the issue of parenting also made news outside of washington, d.c., this week literally just miles outside of it in suburban silver spring, maryland where two children a 10-year-old and their 6-year-old recently embarked on a mile long saturday afternoon walk from a local park to home alone. they only made it about halfway. no, this isn't a kidnapping story. the police picked them up after someone reported seeing the two children walking by themselves. now the parents say they are being investigated by child protective services for neglect as a result of that december 20th trek. again, for allowing their kids to do this to walk home by themselves. their mom explained to msnbc correspondent kristen welker why they did that. >> they need to learn that
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intangible thing we call street smarts. the only place you can learn that is outside. >> the family believes in what is known as free-range parenting which emphasizes teaching self reliance through allowing kids to venture out on their own. or what it used to be called in the '70s. parenting. seriously? i mean i try not to do just straight outrage segments but isn't there in fact like less reason to be afraid of stranger kidnapping than there was even in the '70s when we routinely allowed children to be outside by themselves? >> remember etan patz in 1981? that changed everything. and we don't anymore. and kids are safer than ever. who knows what's cause and effect there. but i think that what's interesting is that this is a highly educated group of parents and they're making hay out of it. of course they're not going to get their kids taken away. contrast that to the episode a
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couple months ago where the woman working for burger king let her daughter play in the -- >> mcdonald's. >> yeah i'd love to know what happened with that situation and follow-up. >> and that income disparity thing again really does feel like it's in the center of this for me janet. when i think about what is dangerous for our children i think about the fact that a majority of u.s. public schools now have children in them who are living in poverty. i think about the fact that in 2013 over 45% of the children who were getting food assistance in this country are -- i mean 45% of the people getting food stamps are children in this country. there are things to be morally outraged about, about children's safety. walking to the park is not one of them. >> i was one of those kids who had a working single mother who i had a key and i had to pick up my brothers and go home. >> latchkey kid. >> yeah i was that kid. so this conversation doesn't make me want to have any children. the kind of children i would
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want to have would be self reliant, knowledgeable and responsible about their environments and where they live. >> and we did that kind of walking about before we were tethered by cell phones. i'm rarely out of contact with my child for any long because i can text her and she can call me at any moment. >> there's some really interesting studies about the impact about this intensive parenting where children are never alone to figure out things by themselves. in particular on playground equipment. we've got all these rules about the mulch has to be 6 inches deep and this safety precaution. i made up the 6 inches. but playground injuries have not gone down. they basically have stayed the same. it used to be that kids would figure out for themselves what an appropriate level of risk was. and now they feel like well nothing can possibly happen to me so they haven't learned how to gauge those risks. the same applies with childhood in general. there's very little time that these kids have on their own to figure out the world, to figure out how to be safe to figure
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out what is an appropriate risk. i think about my own daughter. she's going to be 7 in march. if it wasn't for my fear that i would be arrested and cps would knock on my door i would absolutely let her walk across the street. she's perfectly capable, she's totally responsible, she could take my cell phone and be fine. but because we have in society decided that children can never be alone, that they poenl can't handle that responsibility and the world is so fraught with peril, i can't do that because i would be worried about cps coming. >> so on the one hand we want to create a protective bubble around a particular class of children but there's another class of children who we allow to live in circumstances of extraordinary poverty, violence and i think if you want to protect kids in the post newtown moment where even children of great privilege were victimized by gun violence we weren't prepared to protect children with -- by protecting them from guns and poverty.
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>> and to even ask -- whether there are guns in the home. >> i think you make such an excellent point. we ought to be looking at the extremes again here in trying to figure out what kind of life we really want for american youngsters, and it's somewhere in the middle. i'm quite worried that we're raising a generation of wusses right now because a lot of parents are so protective of young kids. >> and you don't mean a negative gender bias you just simply mean incapable of making good individual decisions. i know my audience people will be mad at you, bob. >> in any event, fearful children. a lot of fearful children growing up here. when i was a kid, parents used to say go outside. you'd get on your bike and you'd be gone. no cell phones or anything like that. and i don't see anything -- anything wrong with that. i was going to school by myself
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when i was 6 years old. and the youngsters that you're point out who were picked up in the walk were the same age as my sister and i, 10 and 6, when we would walk more than a mile home from school every day. >> it's not the 1970s anymore. in some ways it's better of course. i lived in a neighborhood where 70% of the heroin coming into the united states came right through our block. and we went out and played in that environment. but there's benefits to that. but at the same time what we were talking about earlier, human capital, knowledge, parents, the elite parents are trying to cram as much into their kids add all time by structuring their days with educational activities from morning to night and homework has gone off the charts. >> and this is in response to structural realities, yes. >> we live in an information economy and parents feel that anxiety so they don't want their kids just hanging out with the friends skateboarding, they want them learning piano, latin,
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malt, whatever. >> i also think in a post-9/11 world we overestimate the likelihood of negative things occurring. and my biggest concern is we underestimate the actual negative things that are occurring like poverty and inequality and interactionsing with police officers that can be problematic in some communities versus kind of a clear-eyed vision because we're worried about them getting taken by strangers, which is vanishingly small likelihood. right now i want to bring you some breaking news. there are reports of shots being fired near the delaware residence of vice president joe biden. according to the secret service, a vehicle drove at a high rate of speed past the bidens home saturday night and several shots were fired from the car. the bidens were not home at the time. stay with msnbc for more on this breaking story. up next who the oscar is not going to. out of 42 vehicles...
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each year during award season, the academy of motion picture arts and sciences makes the announcement of oscar 1 tender -- contenders as only hollywood can, with a lot of drama. this year viewers watching the live telecast waited for the names of the chosen to appear on giant screens flanked by larger than life oscar statues in front of a red velvet curtain. and the nomination announcements did deliver some surprises. jennifer aniston's effort to remind us that she's more than one of our old friends with her performance failed to sway the academy voters. a $258 million box office hall and best song nomination for "everything is awesome" were not enough to convince them everything about the lego movie was awesome enough for best animated feature. and even the moving commentary about the life of film critic
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roger ebetter shockedrtebert shocked us when it failed to claim a nomination. what was surprising was the snub of a film that we love so much we spent an hour talking about it on last week's mhp. despite securing a nomination for best picture and best original song "selma" was not recognized for the beautiful portrayal of martin luther king jr. by the lead actor and overlooked the masterful work of "selma's" director. now, if you couldn't tell from my interview last week we are big ava fans here in nerdland. and if she had secured the nomination it would have been an historic first for an african-american woman director. so don't get me wrong, because yes, the snub from the academy was certainly disappointing and even frustrating. maybe even a little infuriating. but surprising? not so much. especially when you consider this.
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ava is the ninth woman who failed to receive a best director nomination for a film that was nominated for best picture. so for all the surprises the academy had in store in its nominations, its failure to recognize the work of this talented woman was simply par for the course. up next a new installment of our ongoing series "tv now in color." last week tina fey and amy poehler had jokes for some of hollywood's biggest names in 2014, when we come back. ls great rates. it's a fact. kind of like mute buttons equal danger. ...that sound good? not being on this phone call sounds good. it's not muted. was that you jason? it was geoffrey! it was jason. it could've been brenda.
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♪searching with devotion♪ ♪for a snack that isn't lame♪ ♪but this...♪ ♪takes my breath away♪ at ally bank no branches equals great rates. it's a fact. kind of like mute buttons equal danger. ...that sound good? not being on this phone call sounds good. it's not muted. was that you jason? it was geoffrey! it was jason. it could've been brenda. last week at the golden globes, teen app fay and amy poehler had jokes for some of the biggest names in 2014. when it came time to lampoon one of the most infamous names in hollywood, they turned to the talents of comedian margaret cho. she appeared dead panning and speaking broken english and she played the part of a star-struck
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north korean general. it was meant to poke fun at kim jong-un whose assassination in "the interview" led the country to declare the film an act of war. but not everyone was laughing. response to cho's routine was mixed with reactions ranging from amusement to discomfort to offense to flat-out accusations of racism. but if anything the intense scrutiny of cho's performance reflected a reality faced by many performers of color and asian americans in particular. that the burden of shouldering racial representation weighs heaviest when you are the only one carrying it on screen. as writer kai ma notes it was in front of an award show where asian americans have been act as nominees presentingers or guests but where the one asian american was assigned not as percent but a perennial stereotype. things got uncomfortable.
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faced with that reality, there's the option as an al jazeera article argued this week about mindy kaling of slugging it up. kaling thinks any considerations of race would detract from rather than enrich the framework she set up. or when you get your shot at bringing your story to the mainstream, you can try to bring as much nuance and detail as you can to your individual immigrant experience. in an essay in "new york" magazine celebrity chef eddie wong let loose his frustrations about watching as his memoir "fresh off the boat" became an abc sitcom of the same name writing "fresh off the boat" was a very specific narrative about specific moments in my life. the network's approach was to tell a universal, ambiguous, cornstarch story about asian-americans resembling missouri goo gai pan but who is that show written for.
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joining me is janet mock and kevin fallon senior entertainment reporter for "the daily beast" and writer and journalist justin chan. joining me from los angeles is jeff yang, wall street journal columnist columnist. so nice to see you, jeff. i actually wanting to ask you about the chop sticks question at the media event for "fresh off the boat" because it seemed like it got at the heart of the expectations about these shows. so the first question from a member of the press was i wanted to ask the question i love asian culture and i was just talking about chopsticks and i just love all that. will i get to see that or will it be more americanized? jeff? >> it's -- you know we talk about uncomfortable moments. and i think that part of what
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that question really exemplified was the reality that because there's so little imagery of asian-americans, so few asian-american images and stories represented onscreen people don't really know how to address where we're coming from what we're trying to say, and how these stories are playing out on screen. what you mentioned about margaret and the golden globes margaret cho and the golden globes and "fresh off the boat" dealing with a question about eating utensils at a launching of one of the most buzzed-about shows for mid-season tv it's all part of the same thing. there's a lot of burden of representation when you're the only one. >> so, jeff stick with us. i want to talk a little bit about that notion of a burden of representation. i was just sort of irrated about the fact that ava duvernay doesn't end up with an oscar nod in part because as an african-american woman i see her in me. but on the other hand like
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people are having individual human experiences. how do we balance that in the context of representations? >> yeah i think throughout the course of american history there's just been this kind of perception of asians and asian-americans as sort of the other -- you know as a foreign group. i think there's a real need for the entertainment industry to show the country, its audience that the asian-american experience isn't one-dimensional, that it's a multitude of experiences. and the one thing that i really love about this new show that's coming out is that it tells a particular narrative. it's not your stereo typical kind of asian-american experience. it's not about a guy who studying math or is trying to be a doctor. it's about a guy that loves hip-hop, embraces his family's immigrant background. and i think one way we can kind of get the entertainment industry to kind of show more of those narratives is to educate them about it. sit down with directors, sit down with producers and tell
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them, hey, throughout the years, you guys have been kind of portraying us as a stereotypical kind of community and we don't like that and we want to tell you our stories. >> one of the primary ways you push the entertainment to have a demonstration there's a market for it. >> the thing about "fresh off the boat" and also "blackish" is they're saying there's a mainstream audience that in the past would have been targeted at very specific demographics. >> i want to unpack that a little bit because we say -- do you mean white folks will watch it? like when you say there's a mainstream audience now that would have been targeted demographically before do you mean that there's a group of white folks interested in consuming black and brown bodies in a new and different way? or is it that the demographics are shifting such that asian-americans, african-americans, latinos constitute the mainstream? >> i think it's both things. i think what you're seeing is what we've been seeing over time with the portrayal of black culture on tv with gay culture
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on tv that visibility is important, popularity is important. with visibility and popularity comes normalization. after normalization comes nuance and you get to see more of a spectrum of experience. and i think the opportunity with "fresh off the boat" is abc is giving it a big platform and big advertising push for that mainstream push for popularity and maybe in the future more nuance. >> janet, that's a really interesting thing to think about it. first the mainstream and then the nuance. i always wanting the nuance straight off the top. >> that's what i prefer. but what i loved about eddie's piece about working with "fresh off the boat" was the idea that his parents didn't feel they could have voice so they remained silent. now we're in a space 20 years after "all american girl" with margaret cho. people don't realize that he did not write, direct or produce that series. she had to pretending as if she was -- she was the face of it but it was not necessarily about her in a sense. now we have him, eddie wang
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who's there saying that i am conflicted about my story being flattened a bit so that it can appeal to the whitest possible audience. >> so both wanting the appeal. stick with us jeff stick with us out in l.a. we've got more on this but i do need to pause for a moment. we've got to bring you a little bit more on the breaking news. the secret service says that shots were fired near the delaware residence of vice president joe biden on saturday night. according to the secret service, a vehicle drove at a high rate of speed past the bidens home and several shots were fired from the car. the bidens were not home at the time. nbc's kristen welker is at the white house with the latest. what more can you tell us kristen? >> reporter: melissa, first, just to set the scene, vice president biden's delaware home is several hundred yards away from the main road not visible from the main road but here's what happened last night according to an official with the secret service. at about 8:00 shots were heard being fired near vice president
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biden's delaware home from that main road. officials in that county set up a perimeter, started to investigate immediately and that is when another car drove by authorities. newcastle county police saw that person stopped that person and essentially took that person into questioning to try to determine if there was any connection between those shots that were fired. at this point in time it is not clear and there's no indication that there is any connection. but obviously this is of concern. vice president biden, dr. jill biden were not home at the time but i am told that acorecording to a senior administration official that they were briefed after this incident. so this is an ongoing investigation. fortunately at this point in time no indication that anyone was hurt by those shots that were fired, but clearly a concern. you have multiple shots that were fired near the vice president's home. >> absolutely particularly on this eve heading up to the state of the union address. kristen welker at the white house, thank you so much. we'll have much more on this story on msnbc throughout the
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day as we have more information. don't go away when we come back, we're staying on this topic, tv is now in color. introducing... a pm pain reliever that dares to work all the way until... the am. new aleve pm the only one to combine a safe sleep aid plus the 12 hour strength of aleve. thanks. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] fedex® has solutions to enable global commerce that can help your company grow steadily and quickly. great job. (mandarin)
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sexy. go national. go like a pro. last year we were eagerly anticipating the debut of abc's new sitcom "blackish" a show depicting an upper middle class black american family dealing with blackish. the show has definitely delivered on our expectations including in this week'sed soap satisfying my curiosity about how or if they would touch on real world racish. >> i know that you think that i've had it so easy that i don't see what's up but i do. i'm a black kid in a world where bad things happen to us. they can happen to anyone. >> and that's why i worry about you, son. >> and i worry about you too. but you've got to believe that you've taught me enough to be careful. but also brave. >> of course that line ends with him saying it's just like froto
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at the gates of -- it goes immediately into funny. so jeff part of what i wanted to ask you about because i've been wondering in the context of black lives matter moment and everything that we're having what happens with a show dealing with young african-americans that isn't going to cope with this. so let me ask you that. how do you deal with the struggle when you're trying to talk about just life real life? >> well real life is the struggle, as you well know melissa. >> and it continues. >> and it continues. i think that it is a challenge because the family sitcom especially is such a unique lens, right? it's one that is both universal, it's about connecting people it's about telling a story that we all can kind of be a part of. and yet especially when you're talking about communities that are not deeply represented, there is a desire to be authentic and to be true to the spirit if not always the exact letter of what a particular story, especially one based on
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real life like this one, is all about. i think what i'd say is this. there is a sense in which every time we do this and this is only the second time in 20 years. the first was margaret cho's "all american girl," this has takenly a generation for asian-american families to be on prime tie tv again. it gets better. and this show is about as hard and authentic and raw as the struggle that asian-americans have as you can get. >> and not just an 11-year-old -- i want to -- your son in that role i guess -- i want to follow up on this struggle question in part because the authenticity of your individual kid, you know which is undoubtedly coming out in his acting and what it means for him to be carrying the burden and you as a parent to watch him carry the burden of that representational responsibility. >> oh, yeah. and there are things that he's
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dealing with in this show that we've had to talk about. the first -- the pilot episode, as eddie points out, deals with the "c" word. probably the most painful slur that can be applied to a chinese american. he's heard it before. he doesn't really quite know the history around it or why people use that term. we had to talk about it. but the fact is we are at a point now where that conversation can be had. i think more than anything else eddie, the producers, even peripheral types like myself who have the opportunity to be outsiders and insiders at the feast, we want that conversation to happen because ultimately you know, with a bit of a part to ghandi, first they critique you, then have a conversation about you, then they consume you and then you win. >> jeff hold on. i want to play the exact moment that jeff is talking about and get you to respond. let's play that. >> you're the one at the bottom
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now. >> no, i'm not. >> yeah you are. it's my turn -- >> your son unleashed a stream of obscenities that i've never heard before and i grew up in boston. >> so it's interesting to me that that word the c word was put into the mouth of an african-american rather than a white student in that moment. what is the work then that you see that as doing? >> yeah i mean like i said or like jeff said i think this is true to eddie's story. i think that it shows that you know racism is everywhere. i mean it's prevalent among all communities. and i'm very proud that this particular show is reflecting that sort of reality. personally, i've been in a fortunate position where i've never had to deal with somebody calling me the "c" word but i've had people call me a slur that's commonly reserved for korean
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americans. and i think with this scene here it just goes to show that asian-americans do experience discrimination and people need to know about that. we're not just sort a minority and i think it's great eddie is putting this out in the forefront. >> i'm going to let you weigh in here in part because there's another piece going on in the the land of television around an award-winning show where the character is trans, but also a white trans woman in a way that still might create anxieties for members of the community who feel like there are still parts of our story that are missing, but you can only tell one story at a time. so how do you deal with that intersectionality samt as representation. >> i think the golden globes is a statement or testament on representation. you have jeffrey tambor accepting this prestigious award
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for a show that also won the best comedy series. but i think what is fascinating about jill and jeffrey is that they take on the responsibility of representation. they know that they're a part of changing culture for a community that many people don't know. and let's be honest if we're talking about a show that's as mainstream as possible about trans people putting whiteness onto it and a white middle class, an upper middle class onto it makes it as wide as possible for people to make it more palatable for people to understand. >> but when you talk about the burden of representation part of what i want to ask is so where is the burden of representation for middle class white men to make sure that they represent the world. >> i think what we see happening here is we're talking about authenticity and what we're seeing on tv is an embracing of different voices different cultures and the way to bring it back to the oscars we're not embracing those voices, we're
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not giving ava the nod that she deserves and not giving people the platform to tell the stories. even baby steps are starting to tell on tv. i just think thatagain, with visibility comes can nuance comes a spectrum and we'll see these stories being told. >> and also apparently, tv is just better than hollywood. good job. thank you so jeff in los angeles, california. we're going to look forward to watching you. and here in new york, thank you to janet and kevin and justin. up next a story about this very program that i don't think i've ever told before. i make a lot of purchases for my business. and i get a lot in return with ink plus from chase. like 50,000 bonus points when i spent $5,000 in the first 3 months after i opened my account. and i earn 5 times the rewards on internet, phone services and at office supply stores. with ink plus i can choose how to redeem my points.
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in the three years since this program began, i'm not sure i've ever taken the opportunity to explain our hashtag. #nerdland comes from an off-hand remark i made in an interview
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before the show began, make reference to the show i hoped i would be able to make and what it might take to get you, the audience to watch it. they'll go with you to nerdland but you have to earn their trust, i said back then. it was just an off-the-cuff reference. i honestly didn't think much of it. but this guy did. jameel smith, the mhp programs digital and segment producer one of what we like to call an o.n., or original nerd. he took the term nerdland and ran with it making it our hashtag and the tv equivalent of an alter ego. this morning i have bittersweet news to report. one of the few remaining original staffers here in nerdland is leaving the program. jameel has before him an opportunity not to be missed. he will be writing and editing for "the new republic." while i will miss the opportunity to lend my voice to the passionate scripts that jameel writes for this program,
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i'm thrilled for him to have the opportunity to speak even more in his own voice. because of jameel's dedication to our digital presence thousands of you engage with us all week long through our facebook page. because of his deep understanding of social media, even as this show plays out live on tv a robust discussion of the issues is also taking place on twitter. because of his deep passion for his home state of ohio, this program has tracked and reported on everything from the state's battle with voting rights to the return of king lebron james. in fact, if you've seen a sports segment on this program, odds are either that jameel wrote it or at the very least helped to shape it editorially. for three years now, he has been my trusted set of eyes on the internet catching the stories this program needs to know about, spotting key voices to bring to the table, and bringing a most valued perspective to every editorial meeting. jameel, we wish you well in your new endeavors.
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but i also want to take this opportunity to remind you of our credo. once a nerd always a nerd. and that's our show for today. thanks to you at home for watching. i'm going to see you next saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern. right now, time for a preview of "weekends with alex witt." >> thank you so much melissa. helping the middle class by taxing the wealthy. the white house gives an early look at the president's proposals in the state of the union address. the michigan couple poised to make same-sex marriage history. i'll speak with them about the supreme court agreeing to hear their case. and what is it like to ride in a car that doesn't need a driver? you're going to hear from a rider who did just that and why he calls the experience almost boring. don't go anywhere. i'll be right back. t one lesson to a new business owner, it would be one thing i've learned is my philosophy is real simple american express open forum is an on-line community, that helps our members connect and share ideas to make smart business decisions. if you mess up, fess up. be your partners best partner. we built it for our members, but it's
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plus, new poll numbers that show he may have an uphill battle. police catch up with a pair of teenage sweethearts wanted in a crime spree across the south. how their run from the law ended this morning. how did he survive? a man somehow walks away from a crash between two semis and all he needed afterwards were two little things. for the record books. new numbers about the pope's mass today in the philippines. ♪ good day to all of you. it is high noon here in the east. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." we begin with breaking news. a car drove nearby joe biden's home in delaware and multiple shots were fired. kristen, what's the latest? >> just to set the scene at the vice president's house, it is located several hundred yards


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