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tv   Melissa Harris- Perry  MSNBC  December 7, 2013 7:00am-9:01am PST

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es have crisscross bristles that remove up to 90% of hard to reach plaque. feel the difference. oral-b, trust the brand more dentists and hygienists use. oral-b. this morning, my question -- are republicans in denial about the country's growing inequality? plus, job numbers shoot up dramatically, but so, too, do demands far living wang. and a tactical shift in the ongoing fight for immigration reform. first understanding the impact and importance of president nelson mandela. >> i pledge to use all my strength and ability to live up to expectations. we are going forward.
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our noorch freedom is irreversible. we must not allow fear to stand in our way. >> good morning. i'm melissa harris-perry. the world lost one of its greatest leaders and agents of social change with the passing of nelson mandela at the age of 95 on thursday. madiba, the clan name by which he was known, transcended the boundaries of south africa as it became synonymous with the country's greatest struggles and triumphs. mandela meant many things to many people, including president obama, who offered this tribute shortly after mandela's death. >> for now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that nelson mandela lived, a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice. >> no one can deny the indelible contributions and sacrifices
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that nelson mandela made and for the people of south africa and ultimately the world. but often when a great leader passes on, what we think we know about that person and the truth become two different things. after death, the legacies of great leaders are often usurped and punched of any imperfection. this is exactly what happened with dr. martin luther king jr. his contributions are often confined to racial equality battles when his message was, in fact, much larger than that. remember, it wasn't just the march on washington. it was the march on washington for jobs and freedom. king's own economic message of a radical redistribution of wealth was not well received, and at the end of his life, he was not a national hero. he was reviled. and in his family life, king was far from perfect. his interpersonal failings and infidelities and at times intellectual dishonesties are well documented but frequently expunged from public memory. king's image, his word and
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legacy, have been appropriated by those whose policy ls he would have opposed and even those two stand firmly in king's tradition. for them the tendency is often to remember the man and the movement of which he was a part as sanitized and glorified rather than as messy and complex and human. the story of how martin luther king jr. has been misremembered in the u.s. context is a cautionary tale this week. in the wake of nelson mandela's death, it is important that we remember him as a man, as a human, and not as a myth. he is not an icon free of imperfection. and to insist on trasnforming him into one is dais service to mandela and to ourselves, because we cannot learn the lessons of mandela without knowing his story. what made mandela great is his humanity, and humanity is messy. always. while the popular narrative only includes mandela's adoption of change through nonviolent meth hods, before he was arrested he wrestled with nonviolent direct
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action versus armed insurrection against the evils of apartheid. in 1961 he had this to say. >> many people feel like it is useless for us to continue talking peace against the government. a defenseless people. i think the time have come for us to consider many the light of our experiences whether the method which we have applied so far is working. >> is that struggle between armed and unarmed resistance was a sentiment that he echoed both during his 1964 trial and once he was released from prison in 1990, when he spoke about the ideal of a democratic and free society. >> what i hope to live for and
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to achieve. but let me say it is an ideal for which i am prepared to die. >> and during his brief but historic tenure as president, mandela proved that south africa would not simply automatically follow the whims of the global community. it would set its own course. in 1997 he told washington leaders their desire to influence african foreign policies was arrogant and racist. and he said moammar gadhafi, an international pariah at the time, was his friend. he went right ahead and visit gad da fi in tripoli. he was also friends with fidel castro. he vied him after he was rae leased from prison in 1990 and em based the cuban leader because of his support to end apartheid even while the rest of the world shunned castro for his communist dictatorship. in 2003, mandela joined those
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who were against the u.s.-led war against iraq, and not only called it a tragedy but said "what i am condemning is that one pow we are a president who has no foresight, who no can not think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust. "for those who will only see mandela as the gentle saint, remember, it was he himself who said, "i am no angel." instead, he was complex, imperfect, and human, and we do his memory more justice when we remember the entire man. joining me this morning, mark quarterman from the enough project, amy goodman, host and executive producer of democracy now, khalil mohammed, director of the schaumburg center for research in black culture and marcus mabry, editor of the breaking news blog, the lead for "the new york times" who formerly served as the johannesburg, south africa, bureau chief for "newsweek." thanks so much for being here.
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mark, i want to start with you because you actually spent some time living in south africa before the end of apartheid and then sometime thereafter. it seems to me when we think about mandela, there are at least five mandelas, before robin island, of robin island, the mandela of 1990, as president, and the mandela after the presidency. if you can to sort of think about that trajectory. what are the key things we need to know about that mandela in terms of the context of the south african struggle against apartheid? >> well, i think you made a really good point before about how we defang or maybe make into teddy bears these great leaders and pick out one or two things. mandela's reconciliation when he became president, for example, and then act as if -- secondly act as if that one great leader was the person who did that. and we have to understand that the african national congress was based on nonracialism.
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i mean, it's core document, the free charter, the first thing id says, saut africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and no government can justly claim authority based on the will of all the people. when he became president, it wasn't as if he decided as a warmly humane person to reconcile or as a savvy political leader realizing that the only way to do it is reconciliation. he was following the freedom charter from 1955. he pralted in the conference but he wasn't the leader of it. he embodied the anc's approach, their principles. but he wasn't the only one. during my time in south africa, especially in the late '80s, when apartheid still existed, i met any number of south african, leaders, rank and pile, who had been through terrible injustice. fellow graduates of robin island, for example. people who had been tortured or
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under banning orders. and almost to a person i heard similar words from them that we heard from nelson mandela after he was released from prison. and in many ways my love for south africa and my inspiration from south africans came from those years when mandela was still in prison, when we didn't even know what he looked like because there was only one old picture. he was the leader. he was the "avatar" of the movement. but there's much, much more, and he was standing on a firm base, firm foundation. >> you know, it's been surprising, mark, you know, on the one handle, this effort to sanitize mandela that we're seeing now, you know, i'm trying to make this kind of play around king, and yet also -- and this is maybe even more surprising to me this week, this desire to go back and say you know what, at one point he talked about violence. i'm thinking we are talking about resistance to apartheid. violence was true. and he was talking about whether or not there should be armed or
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unarmed resistance but violence was already being perpetuated by the system. >> right. we often think of violence as the problem of the oppressed, not the problem of the oppres r oppressor. and what's interesting about mandela, to come back to an earlier point about his evolution, he was in some ways accidentally privileged by being able to get a missionary education, and he started out life essentially with a tremendous sense of self-confidence inspired by his local community. and to take him from that position which makes him an aspiring lawyer, by his early 30s he's already rising the ranks of the anc only marks the ways in which he evolved as an individual. and i think we have to hold that in place because he lived so long that he was able to draw on so many strains of thought. so, yes, he went through a period where he embraced africanism or black nationalism
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to a point where the notion of race first many the tradition of a marcus garvey in the united states, for example, this notion that black people have to solidify. and yes, the anc, there was tension there. >> such a great point, he lives to be nearly 100 years old. his trajectory for change is very different from that of a king who was assassinated while still a young man. one quick question then more after the break. not only do we misremember mandela, we misremember ourselves in relationship to mandela. we now say america always embraced the anti-apartheid movement. what are the parts of our own story that we're getting wrong? >> that is a key point. the u.s. devoted more sources to finding mandela to hand over the apartheid fors than the apartheid forces themselves. it was the cia that actually located mandela and he was driving dressed up as a chauffeur when he was stopped and arrested and ultimately serves 27 years in prison.
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that is the key point. i mean, just as the u.s. government is surveilling today, they were surveilling back then. and then -- and we'll talk more about grassroots activism -- how important was the -- ultimately the u.s. supporting mandela and the anc came so much later. 2008 he was taken off the terror watch list. this was 14 years after he was president of south africa. he's taken off of the u.s. terror watch list. >> that point i want to return to as we come back because we have also sanitized sort of our notion, of course, we were always against apartheid. not true. mark, i promise to get you in as soon as we get back. right now a quick break. up next, why one of the most important things that nelson mandela did was the thing that he did not do. ♪ [ male announcer ] this duracell truck has some very special power.
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the time for the healing of the wounds has come. the moment to bridge the chasm that divides us has come. >> that was nelson mandela in his 1994 inauguration speech. marcus, what did mandela see as his key role, his primary responsibility in the presidency? >> he saw it as reconciliation. he saw it as transitioning south africa from this country that could have exploded into a violent racial all-out war, civil war, to a country that was actually feasible, a country that could actually be a part of the world community, a country that actually stayed together. he knew about the resentments.
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you were saying earlier about how we defy him to our peril and his and history's. it was not that he was a bitter man. he was very bitter. he was very hurt. he was very angry. mandela realized, however, that leadership was not what he felt or how he felt. it was all about the struggle and the legacy. we never saw what he felt. one of the few times i remember when i was bureau chief for "newsweek" in the country and he was president, one of the few times we saw what he felt and talk about how human hef, in the middle of his divorce from winnie, and when he got on the stand, he said, explaining his request for the divorce, that he had no physical affection from his wife after he'd left prison and how he was the loneliest man in the world. this is not a deity. this is not someone above all human emotion. but that's the only time we felt the reality of the personal
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feelings of mandela. it was never about that. he felt that was indulgent. so you can imagine, you know, talking about great leaders, right, and the difference between some of our more contemporary american leaders and nelson mandela, who believed if you deny the personal, that's what leadership is about. >> i want to push on this a little bit. any of you on this one. this is interesting to me that this man, who sees himself as not the key or central issue, even as you were saying, mark, that he's part of this tradition, and yet sees reconciliation as the primary goal. i wonder if there's a missed moment there. so on the one hand, like, my heart leaps at the idea of truth and reconciliation. but then i also think to myself why not have the primary goal be radical economic redistribution for the evils of apartheid. what would that agenda have looked like? >> i think tutu answered it best because tutu said, when i talked about the truth and reconciliation process itself, where people revealed some of the horrible things they did
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during apartheid to mostly keep africans down and horrible, disgusting things we couldn't even imagine today that were part of that system that were unseen until the truth and reconciliation process, what tutu said, talking about how people didn't find that fulfilling, the victims of apartheid said, but no one's going to pay a price. this person who did this to my family or to my child will come forward, give the facts and then not be criminally indicted for it. tutu said the point was we didn't win. this was a truce. we didn't win. and i think that is the key to it. we couldn't have all those other things because they didn't win. >> that's an absolutely fundamental point because from the time mandela was released the anc was unbanned until the election. there was a negotiation process. and one of the calculations that f.w. de klerk and the national party made was that they could win the negotiation process and maintain a degree of white
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control for a longer period. and one of the way theys set it up was a preconstitutional negotiation that had all of the homelands there and their leaders represented, the african national congress and the others and the anc was outnumbered there. i sat in on a number of those sessions. the homeland leaders almost all went with the national party in the beginning but it was really interesting. there was a shift around '93 when the homeland base for the national party began to crumble, when it was absolutely clear that the african national congress remitted the overwhelming majority of the south african people. and the negotiations broke down to basically the two big party, the national party and the anc working things out. and f.w. de klerk and his advisers realized they wouldn't be able to bum rush some sort of mild transition.
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there's another group we have to remember in this context. >> in the mid-1980s, a thousand people a year are dying in south africa due to direct action, protest. they are young people in the streets who are no longer willing to accept any of the rhetoric coming from either the anc or from the national party. and this is the process that begins the negotiation between mandela and the national party. interestingly, the national party ministers reflecting on this period later says our greatest fear was the high expectations of the youth. we did not want to make mandela a permanent martyr. so mandela becomes the only person who can stand between potential race war that marcus describes because of a symbolic nature. but it's the young people, not terribly different from the role sncc plays, those young people will pose a fundamental challenge to the possibility that white africanas can walk
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aawith an economy and privileges they had before it all begins to unravel. >> those young people are not only those people -- the young people living in south africa who are bearing the brunt of this violent regime and are willing to go to even more extreme lengths to make sure that apartheid crumbled but also the solidarity, then, with the international group of young people who make apartheid their fundamental -- >> and that was such a key point that all over the world -- and we talk about immigration and talk about the fast food movement. we have to look right now at the movement that ultimately took down apartheid. it was especially young people on college campuses, workers, not on college campuses, the polaroid worker who is said we're not going to be part of the company that provides the photos for the passbooks in south africa. it was this economic threat from the more radical young people and from youk people all over the world -- i mean, the campus
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movement in the united states was immense, very threatening to establishment institutions here. that was key in freeing south africa and nelson mandela. >> is there a way in which, for the generation of young people president obama in that generation, you know, obviously me at the back end of that generation, who find our first footing in the question of anti-apartheid movement, isn't it a part because we thought we could already fix the u.s. or because it had a kind of policy orientation that was clear, whereas the inequality is still persisting in the u.s. at that time or maybe harder to get your hands around as a matter of policy and protest? >> i think, you know, the '60s is a movement, the years of civil rights movement, the '80s, south africa, anti-apartheid activism, i think there was both but it was so riveting and real. even back to sharkville and the killing of 69 people, the kids
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in '76 in soweto. high school and elementary school children who are gunned down. it's tallas power of the images. you talked about nelson mandela. we did not see him for decades because they forbid his pic churs or voice from being heard. now we have the pictures from south africa. when you have children being gunned down, that is very hard to talk about. >> when we come back, what happened when ted cruz try day friday -- tried to remember nelson mandela this week. every day we're working to be an even better company - and to keep our commitments. and we've made a big commitment to america. bp supports nearly 250,000 jobs here. through all of our energy operations, we invest more in the u.s. than any other place in the world. in fact, we've invested over $55 billion here in the last five years - making bp america's largest energy investor. our commitment has never been stronger.
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easily caricatured by those with authority as threats to public safety, and those seeking basic rights and dignity as monstrous villains. and then after the radicals win, we try to make shem safe and useless to future radicals by pretending our beloved secular saints were never radical at all." so on the one handle you have adam pointing out how we sanitize mandela. on the other hand, you had ted cruz who in an attempt to sanitize sort of says, oh, you know, things map della has passed on. and the responses of folks to ted cruz were pretty stunning, saying thicks like go home, ted, you're drunk. he, mandela, was communist terrorist and targeted people for no other reason than being white. stunned to see you support this scumb scumbag, mr. cruz. he was a communist, a huge supporter of abortion. putting him in the same language of stalin, fdr, who are also
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dead and don't deserve a eulogy either. what does that tell us about the generations reflecting on this? >> shocking comments. these are ted cruz's ostensible supporters. how incredibly disturbing must it be for americans to read that, to say this is -- this vein of political thought, however large or small it is, exists in our country. >> i hope it's disturbing to us. >> i hope so. >> i'm mostly disturbed that maybe it isn't disturbing to us. >> obviously americans who agree with it, they're out there. i can't imagine it's a very large population, but it saez lot about people have asked for a long time what's the racial perspective of tea party members. unfortunately this is the perspective of some of them. >> remember, where you started the conversation about dr. king, i was radicalized partly, and that's ral caddized in a student protest contest, but radicalized
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or politicized by the fact i opened a newspaper at the university of p.a. fa in 1991 to read a lead column about dr. martin luther king saying he was a communist. i was, like, oh, wait a minute, and that he should not be honored at the university of pennsylvania that it was a sham, that the university was playing political correctness to satisfy the multicultural gri bri gads. that strain of thought not only gave birth to ted cruz and his supporters in this contemporary moment but is a core value in this country about what we make of people who challenge racial inequity, who challenge unfairness and class inequality in this country. >> it's also a commentary, i think, on where people get their information, though. and i have to say, you know,ite's cliche to talk about the conservative echo chamber or the tea party echo chamber, but i doubt that any of those people who posted would believe mainstream media or historical or scholarly or even read
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sources that might have another view of nelson mandela or if they do they'll discount them because of their trusted sources of information. and so i don't know if information is more balkanized than before but at least in this instance on these sorts of issues it absolutely is vulcanized. >> the notion that mandela targeted people for being white is sort of imperally false, right, so as much as there may be ideological ways of reading there's also just sort of reading. khalil mohammed and marcus marbury, marcus has a piece in "the new york times" on the this morning. you should take time to read it for sure. this is about the generation born after apartheid and how they see mandela's fight as history. marcus, thank you so much for being here. mark, see you in the next hour. before we change topics, i again invite you to visit our webpage, in particular, please take a look at msnbc reporter at am
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sor soros' fantastic piece. i beg to just read it on air and my producer said no. up next, president obama echo askey message of nelson mandela's. is inequality in america the ke death fining issue of our time? [ male announcer ] here's a question for you: if every u.s. home replaced one light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, the energy saved could light how many homes? 1 million? 2 million? 3 million? the answer is... 3 million homes. by 2030, investments in energy efficiency could help americans save $300 billion each year. take the energy quiz. energy lives here.
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♪ [ male announcer ] everyone deserves the gift of all day pain relief. this season, discover aleve. all day pain relief with just two pills. this week reissued his own call for a better country. in a speech on wednesday, president obama decried growing income inequality and lack of economic mobility calling it the defining issue of our time. he promised that it would be the core fight of his next three years in office. >> the idea that so many children are born into poverty
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in the wealthiest nation on sert heartbreaking enough. but the idea that a child may never be able to escape that poverty because she lacks a decent education or health care or a community that views her future as their own, that should offend all of us. and it should compel us to action. we are a better country than this. >> the numbers show that the reality, what president obama called the fundamental threat to the american dream, has been growing increasingly dire for decades. the richest americans have steadily take an bigger share of the country's income. the wealthiest 10% make more than half of all income in the united states. and it hasn't always been this way. just take a look at this chart. for decades what you are seeing there in the '50s through the '70s, in those years the rich earned about 30-some-odd percent of the neigh's income. now the income share of the richest 10% is the highest it's been in at least 100 years. and those initial high points of
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inequality that you see there on the left when it was nearly as high tz ast today, those were the years leading up to and during the great depression. it's not because americans aren't working hard. hourly wages have slumped along, growing at about 10% since the early '1970s. but the productivity of those workers has increased by 80% pop you see those two lines, productivity and wages? they used to run together in the early '70s. they, however, diverged and now are barely even related. of course we wouldn't be talking about income inequality if everyone's wages has stayed low. the people at the top are making a killing. average ceo compensation at the nation's top 350 firms in 2012 was $14.1 million. that is 273 time what is the average worker made. that means ceos are making more in a single workday than the average worker makes in an entire year. and once again as you can see the disparity has grown much worse over time. in his speech on wednesday,
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president obama offered a path forward to reverse the trend, rebuild roads and bridges, spend government money to spur economic growth while reforming the corporate tax code, offer high quality preschool to every child, encourage low-income students to attend college, enforce collective bargaining laws, raise the minimum wage and he challenged republicans, who posed those policy proposals to step up and offer their own. >> you owe it to the american people to tell us what you are for, not just what you're against. that way we can have a vigorous and meaningful debate. that's what the american people deserve. that's what the times demand. >> but here's challenge. for republicans to offer proposals of their own, they would first need to acknowledge that the growing income disparity in america is in fact, you know, a real thing, and have to decide if ideolodge cll cli it's an issue wooirt dressing and if so if it is the government's problem to fix. joining the table is mark mor yell, president and ceo of the
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national urban league and former mayor of my city, new orleans, joel berg, the executive director of the new york city coalition against hunger, and ovit roy, a senior fellow at the manhattan institute. i want to ask amy quickly, if you have a sense of whether or not the issue here is the left and the right disagree that there is a problem or if the left and the right simply disagree about the solution to the problem, because the latter to me feels appropriate in a democracy but first feels like climate change denialism, that there is no inequality problem. >> i don't even think this is a left-right issue because there are a lot of people who are not very well off on the right as on the left. just to make these numbers even more real that you just read because i was at the mcdonald's protest the other day covering it at 6:00 in the morning and covering the walmart protest. just talking about six members of the walton family, you know, sam walton founded walmart, they have amassed an estimated combined fortune of between $115
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billion and $144 billion. these six individuals have more wealth than the combined financial assets of the poorest 40% of the u.s. population. six people. 40% of the u.s. population. i think when we start to see this in the streets, just like mandela was part of a movement, people across the political spectrum do care that these very extremely wealthy families are getting huge tax breaks and they are relying on tax subsidized help for their workers because they need welfare, they need s.n.a.p. >> is there any reasonable either ethical or empirical economic reason that six people should have a wealth that is that much more than everybody else? like just that number alone, is there some way to explain that, that it makes sense? >> yeah. let me go back to the original
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question you asked, which is is this empirical or philosophical. it's both. there's a dispute about what the solution is. conservatives would say it's economic growth and private sector activity and employment. there is a disagreement also about the philosophy, where conservatives are -- and they don't always live up to this and address it with as much vigor as they should, but they say we should have equality of opportunity, the result is up to you. but let's make sure the tunnels are equal and we can have a debate about what equality of opportunity means but that's different from income inequality as it is is obviously always wrong. in america we generally don't have a problem with mark zuckerberg or steve jobs getting rich because we feel like we're benefitting from it. the cost of our lives goes down when technological innovation or other invaigs -- the fact walmart is so successful means a lot of people can buy goods that are inexpensive. that makes their lives better. >> what you've laid out, although i may have some disagreements with it, i think
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those are relatively consensus positions. mark, i mean, there was a time even in the construct of the civil rights movement, it held these views in the sense of saying economic growth, e equality of opportunity, in fact, i can't think of someone on the left making an argument for equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity, right, where somebody's not saying what we ought to do is grow the economy. >> it's far different to mouth the gospel of economic opportunity, the gospel of economic growth, and not to advance policies that ensure that that opportunity is meaningful and real or that that growth is shared by all. this is what we're talking act. so you've got economic growth taking place in the united states in the post recession era, 2 1/2 to 3%. a stock market improving. all of the financial indices improving. yet you've got job creation that
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is focused and centered on the lowest wage workers. and you've got an aberration and that is that productivity and wages are no longer aligned, okay, and that's a departure from a fundamental economic principle. >> we harder and produce more but don't earn any more. >> number two, that the minimum wage, which creates a basic floor, a basic fundamental floor, has not kept pace with inflation. it's departed from inflation. and those of us who have advocated for an increase in the minimum wage, and this has been our position for a while, we want to keep it aligned with inflation. because we think that that is the best public policy. so it's good and i embrace the idea that people say growth and economic opportunity. but it's got to be more than a set of talking points. it's got to be a set of public policies that ensure that that's
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meani meaningful, it's real, it's substantial. that the's the debate we have to have because this is really about the 20th century america which created a strong working and middle class now beginning to see our inability to create a strong working and middle class with more people stuck going this way and a lot of people whose fortunes have raisin, a portion of the population, 20%. >> this is what i want to come back to because that debate you just suggested broke out this week between president obama and rand paul and we want to look at what they said. president obama sat down with chris mathews this week. when we come back, i'll show you a particular part of what the president said in that interview. having triplets is such a blessing. not financially. so we switched to the bargain detergent
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how do we do those things that reduce inequality in our society and broaden opportunity? and government can't solve all of that, but government can't stand on the sidelines when we're doing that. and without some faith in our capacity for collective action, those trends are going to get worse. so we've got to -- and the young people in particular have to understand government is us. government's not somebody else. government's us. we have the capacity to change it. voters have a capacity to change it, members of congress do as well as the president. >> that was president obama in the interview with my msnbc colleague chris mathews explaining that government is not the other, government is us. and that's a fundamentally different view than that held by many conservatives, especially those with a libertarian bent. listen to senator rand paul in detroit yesterday explaining his proposed economic freedom zones to jump-start sluggish local economies. >> economic freedom zones will
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remove government obstacles to success. they'll provide a generation of citizens, students, workers and jobb ecreators with a new barga. your government will get out of the way. it will treat you like an adult. >> joel, is the thing we need is for our government to get out of the way? >> no. if we did there would be no public roads or public sidewalks for senator paul to even get to that event. the problem is we've replaced opportunity capitalism with kronney capitalism. my grandparents came here with the hope they could build a better life for themselves and their grandchildren and they knew if they worked hard and play bd i the rules by and large they could get ahead. the real engine of economic opportunity is hope and we've demolished hope in america and we have less upward mobility than virtually every one of our serious economic competitors. >> look, that point, ovik, just feels hard to deny, that we are not the country that we once were, that we have an american myth about economic mobility
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that that economic mobility has dissipated and it has dissipated at the same time that corporate profits have increased dramatically. why would we need more corporate profiteering, lower taxes, and less government investment? >> so i think also there's a consensus position around the fact that government should be involved in building roads and post offices. nobody's objecting to that, right? well, some of the libertarians are. >> not really. if the only thing the government did was build highways i think libertarians like rand paul would be very happy. right? but that's a fraction of the federal government -- >> why we can't get a transportation bill passed. traditionally, that -- i think he's correct in this sense. that's traditionally been the position i think of a lot of mainstream conservatives. but what i've seen as a departure, a departure from the idea that we held in this country that it was a combination of government and the private sector, not government versus, government against.
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and we had a debate about the degree, the extent, the roles, the responsibilities. i see a different kind of debate where either the government is all friend or all foe or the private sector is all friend and all foe. i tend to reject, you know, that point of view because that point of view is not the kind of point of view that helped us achieve a greater degree of economic mobility, a greater degree of income equality in the '50s, '60s, and '70s like your chart mentioned. >> is there a better balance then? there could be some balance between that conversation. because it does feel like paul is suggesting this massive disinvestment of the government. >> i think even rand paul would agree that economic mobility is the priority. the question is, again, what policies will achieve economic mobility. and this is one thing that to your point i think republicans -- republican intellectuals and thought leaders have long talked about the need to improve degree to which that is the priority of
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republicans. the republican base is less passionate about that sometimes, and that sometimes attention between how the gop advances these issues. having said, that certainly among the leadership of republicans, conservatives, read the national review or "the wall street journal," there's a lot of talk about what we can do for education where we see from the conservative point of view that's a progressive movement between teachers union and children, fighting school choice in louisiana. >> no, they're not. come on, now. this is one of the places my president and i deeply disagree in part because they really have much more conservative than -- the obama administration's education policies have not bolstered public education for the most part. they have mostly been voucher-based policies or charter schools-based policies or what we think of as school choice policies. but i just want to not miss what it is that rand paul was suggesting with these economic freedom zones, this significant decrease in taxes and basically
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spaces, zip codes where people can do business without eve an minimum wage. how is a lower minimum wage bad for detroit? >> it's not a new idea. it's a new twist on an old idea. jack kent had enterprise zones, bill clinton had empowerment zones. this is a new twist on an old idea. >> stick with me. we'll stay on this question of the old ideas and new ideas and whether we are a better country than this. up next, the movement demanding better jobs is growing exponentially even as the unemployment numbers are falling dramatically. we'll talk more with amy about the fast food workers debates. [ mom ] because we have people over so often, we've learned how to stretch our party budget. ♪ the only downer? my bargain brand towel made a mess of things. so goodbye so-called bargain brands, hello bounty basic. the affordably priced towel that's an actual bargain. watch how one select-a-size sheet of bounty basic
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i have a cold with this annoying runny nose. [ sniffles ] i better take something. [ male announcer ] dayquil cold and flu doesn't treat all that. it doesn't? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms plus has a fast-acting antihistamine. oh, what a relief it is! jo welcome back. i'm melissa harris-perry. income inequality is finally getting its due in the political spotlight. we've got pope francis
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deredefining what it mean s to be poping, sneaking out of the vatican at night to minister to the homeless and declaring that to not share your wealth is a form of theft. we have president obama saying income inequality and a lack of mobility is the defining issue of our time and his presidency. and most importantly we have people taking to the streets. thursday demonstrations were held at fast food restaurants in cities across the country. more than 100 cities according to organizers. protesters demanded higher wages for employees at mcdonald's, burger king and their competitors. the demand for a higher minimum wage is supported by the president. >> we know there are airport workers and fast food workers and nurse assistants and retail salespeople who work their tails off and are still living at or barely above poverty. and that's why it's well past the time to raise a minimum wage that in real terms is below
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where it was when harry truman was in office. >> this is all against the backdrop where even good news about the country's economic recovery is always tempered. take friday's job report. 203,000 jobs created in november and an unemployment rate that fell to 7%, the lowest level in five years. that's good news. but the percentage of working age americans participating in the labor force has remained practically static and has dropped in the past year. that means too many of the people who have given up on finding a job are still not seeing any reason to get back in the game. many of the jobs that have been created since the recession, most according to an august 2012 report of the national employment law center, have been low wage jobs. now, even as debate raising the minimum wage, congress is on the verge of letting long-term unemployment insurance expire to suddenly end benefits for 1.3 million people. oh, right, just after christmas. at the table, marc morial from the urban league and former mayor of new orleans, amy goodman, host and executive producer ot "democracy now."
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joel berg, director of the new york city coalition against hunger and ovik roy, senior fellow at the manhattan institute. amy, why is $15 so important? >> first they were chanting in the streets before the sun even rose on thursday in times square. we can't survive on $7.25. right, the federal minimum wage. i was talking to a woman named evelyn who walked out of mcdonald's, makes $7.50, one raise in six years. she can't support her child on this. then we played on "democracy now" a recording that nancy, a woman who works at mcdonald's in chicago made when she called the mcdonald's resources line and said i can't make it. they said there's a federal program pa that goes with your salary called s.n.a.p. she said could i take my kids to the doctor on that? they said there's another program called medicaid. this goes to the issue of conservatives and liberal whence you say, well, just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get another job and another job. the fact is that there isn't an
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outcry by conservatives or some there is when the very ceos of these very corporations are being tax subsidized. let me give you an example. this is an amazing story that came out from the institute of policy studies called fast food ceos rake in taxpayer subsidized pay. use the example of yum brands. they own kfc, pizza hut, taco bell. they paid ceo david novak $94 million in fully deductible so-called performance pay, outside of the salary, over the years 2011, 2012. that works out to a $33 million taxpayer subsidy to yum for one exec tiff e's pay. $33 million. we are subsidizing workers at these low-paying corporations because they have to get welfare, they have to get s.n.a.p., they have to get medicaid, and then we subsidize these massive ceo pays because they get these loopholes like
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performance pay. >> one of the things that's interesting to me is that i was in seattle and i think last week there were two news report, one in seattle where the seattle city council is considering its own $15 an hour minimum wage. montgomery county, maryland. you have local ordinances now and you've got a number of states that have created minimum wages higher than the federal minimum wage. that's a response to federal inaction. >> yes. >> the best approach, the best way is for congress to set a reasonable minimum wage and tie it to inflation. we have local governments and state governments taking matters into their own hands because this a problem. they're hearing it from their constituents. they're hearing it from people across the nation. look, in new jersey, the voters, the voters passed a higher subminimum wage, put it in the state constitution, which is remarkable in a sense that it's a response to federal inaction.
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>> at the same time, they're electing chris christie, right? this is indicative of this possibility that some sense of economic justice might, in fact, transcend sort of our most narrow partisan battles. part of the argument amy made is if you want to legitimately shrink the social safety net, if you're not a bad person and want people to go hungry, you say i think there are too many people on these various government programs. it seems the most standard basic way to do that is to make living wages in which people can purchase their own food and housing. >> absolutely. if you look at the polls, even the the majority of republicans in america support raising the minimum wage. i say the conservatives. if you're against government spending then you should be for higher minimum wages. it doesn't take a penny of government spending to say we're finally going to reward work. i spoke at a campus recently and student was insistent he learned in class that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs. i said it's been done dozens of
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times, it's never happened. if you had a professor who told you turning water down to zero will never make it freeze, if you turned it down 32 times and it froze, maybe the theory is wong. minimum wage gives people more purchasing power. >> and people at the margins will spend that money right away. >> on wasteful things like food and clothing. >> ovik, you made a point earlier i want to return to on this question, which is there's the conservative intellectuals and think tank folks, people running for office, and there o's a base. talk to me about the politics of what it means to be a conservative lawmaker running against the minimum wage, running against -- what's the political calculus that says it makes perfect sense for me to run against an increase in the minimum wage, to run on a slashing of food stamps? what are the political realities on the ground that are making conservative lawmakers think that makes sense?
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>> there's shall we say two sets of issues, issues where there might be tension between the base and the intellectuals and those are things like prioritizing the quality of opportunity, really focusing on things like education reform and all that sort of thing. when it comes to the minimum wage, there isn't tension between the base and the intellectuals because there is a consensus in the conservative world that raising the minimum wage is economically disruptive. [ inaudible ] i'll get to that. so to your argument, amy, about the ceos making all this money and that's why people have low wages, these are -- >> subsidized. one thing if they're paying their fair taxes, these corporations but a $33 million subsidy for -- >> but the ceo does not pay the wage of the local worker at the mcdonald's. the franchise owner is paying the wage. >> why should he get $33 million? >> if you double the wages of a person who works at that mcdonald's, if that person, that
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franchise owner doesn't have bags of money hiding behind the potato fryer, he has to do one of two things, hire lesds people or raise prices for consumers. >> but that franchise argument, which i actually -- i respect the franchise argument in the sense of for actual franchise owners they are facing some real constraints. but that's precisely why the corporations set the process up in this way. it's not as though in order to run a mcdonald's or a fast food corporation you would necessarily have to franchise in this way. this is precisely developed so that it is the front line sort of small business owner, you know, mcdonald's owners operators who have to take the hit. why not force a new situation where the corporations at the top who are getting these enormous tax subsidies at multiple levels have to pay their workers a fair wage? >> because the result would be higher costs and less hiring. >> how could there be less hiring? >> if you want to address income
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inequality, don't make it more expensive for companies to hire people but have a direct transfer through things like the earned income tax credit. >> i want to respond to that because i think the more important point, and you sort of made this point, and i'm trained in economics, so economic theory versus economic practice and economic history. so the history of the minimum wage, particularly in these types of times, demonstrates that when you raise it the people who are the beneficiaries will spend it back in the economy and it has a demand stimulative effect. that offsets, if you, will the negative side of simply raising the wages across the board. the other point is -- >> that's if the money is idle before -- >> the other point is, and this is really a critical point, and that is that the safety net system, whether it's c.h.i.p.,
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medicate, the earned income tax credit program, across the line are subsidizing low-wage jobs because a large portion, maybe 40% to 50% of low wage -- we talk about working people, many of them women, are also their families participate in these safety net programs because they don't make enough money to sort of be ineligible for the program. so if you're talking about economic self-sufficiency -- so we've got to understand this in the context of pragmatism, reality, and history. and too much of this debate is dominated by theoretical and ideological conversation. >> in fact, speaking of ideological, when we come back, i want to talk about the fact as the rich are getting richer, the rich members of congress are actually debating how to take away from the poor, how much. the democrats are talking about how much should we cut in what poor children eat. right here in the richest nation
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so the farm bill is still in negotiation by house republicans and senate democrats. one of the things they must reconcile is how much to cut from s.n.a.p., that's the food assistance program, that helps feed 47 million americans a year. at this point it seems unlikely that s.n.a.p., which saw a massive all-at-once $5 billion cut at the beginning of november, will escape more reductions. in fact, the nation has reported that according to a source close to negotiations the conference committee is ready to cut another $8 billion to $9 billion from the program over the next ten years. joel, i was writing questions after sort of doing the research
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and it literally says, joel, wtf? like, how is this possible? how is this where we are? >> it's possible because low-income americans are disenfranchised from the political system. they don't have campaign contributions to give, corporating a ra businesses donated $600 million to federal campaigns over the last decade and it's possible because one side is evil and the other side is spineless. this is the first time a democratically controlled house of congress in u.s. history has proposed their own farm bill with massive cuts. senator gillibrand from here in new york has been leading the opposition to these cuts and we still hope we can kill them. the president spoke out more forcefully about s.n.a.p. this week than ever before about president and i hope he threatens to veto this large amount of cuts. >> your point about evil and spinelessness, we took a poll
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about addressing inequality. 82% say it is important that we have to grow the economy, 70% say increase opportunity, but only 46% saying it is important that the federal government take a role in reducing the income gap. this in certain ways comes back to what ovik was saying, it's tough to get eve than discourse of inequality in front of americans to say that politically, right, these members of the u.s. senate who are democrats should be held accountable for wanting to cut these programs. >> that's why it's so important that we see what's happening in the streets. the whole discussion is changing now in this last year as both the walmart protests have grown around the country, i think this year black friday it was something like 1,500 big box stores were protested, and the fast food worker strikes in over 100 cities. i think it's very hard across the political spectrum when you see how hard people are working. people experience it. they go into the stores and see
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back-breaking work of people there that they not only get paid so little but that we then subsidize. and that's the point here. it's not just a matter of what's fair for them. it's what's fair for all of america. why should the rest of america pay for these corporations to make the kind of money they make at both ends, subsidize the ceo's pay and the worker's lack of pay? >> i think you'll see pope francis's words, his advocacy change the thinking because when the leader of the catholic church speaks on this it creates and gives it a moral fabric versus simply a political fabric. and i think that is what -- when we talk about cutting a basic necessity of life, food assistance, something tells me that that's a moral issue and it's not just a political issue. >> marc, we were talking about this morning. i was reminded of the moment during the 2008 election cycle
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when joe the plumber encounters then candidate obama and gets him on record in what is supposedly a gaffe. i want to watch that for just one second. >> if you've got a plumbing business, you're going to be better off if you have a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you. right now, everybody's so pinched that business is bad for everybody. and i think when you spread the wealth around it's good for everybody. but listen, i respect what you d and i respect your question. >> in 2008 candidate obama talked about spreading the wealth around. that little clip goes viral, oh, he's this redistributor. but now as you point out, pope francis is, like, yeah, spread the wealth. like i was having this imaginary clay major leagues in my head where joe the plumber asked that same question of pope francis and pope francis said, no, seriously, you have to spread the wealth around. >> another radical, radical christian had that idea, jesus christ. >> that jesus guy. >> look, every major religious tradition, i grew up in the
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jewish tradition, muslim tradition teaches this, too, that social justice is beyond charity. it is making sure that if you're working hard and playing by the rules, you can get ahead. and those people who are disabled, those people who are seniors, those people who are senior, and that is two-thirds of the food stamp s.n.a.p. caseload that you should be able to eat. this is not some radical idea. this is a mainstream idea that people like bob dole and richard lugar, conservative republicans, advanced for decades. >> so ovik, this is not a small point. there have been conservative republicans -- there was much more of a consensus around this kind of fundamental right to a social safety net floor. and i think for a lot of americans who are observing this moment, what they look at from the joe the plumber moment on is this consensus has fallen apart because this is an african-american president. and i have various feelings about whether or not i think that's empirically true, but it certainly seems that at this moment the failure of the consensus to believe that ordinary working, hardworking
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poor people, children, the disabled, the elderly, should have sufficient food on the table that we are no longer in a place where we can have consensus about that does feel motivated by something that was changed in the american moment. >> the best engine ever created by man in the history of civilization for spreading the wealth around is free market capitalism. that's why south korea is much richer than north korea, why west germany was richer than east germany, why china is eradicating poverty at dramatic rate, why the united states has been the richest country in the world. that is how you generate wealth for a lot of people. i know that's a disagreement between the right and the left but -- >> it's not a -- >> free market capitalism, we embrace it, but free market capital ism is imperfect because human beings are imperfect. and even adam smith in his wealth of nations recognized a role for the public sector in education and in jobs. i think one of the things we had
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with dick lugar and bob dole and that generation is we had a generation of leaders who had the experiences of the great depression, of world war ii, of the civil rights era in their dna. i think we have a generation of leaders all too often now for whom growing up more prosperous, better off -- >> that's interesting. >> -- is what they know and what they understand. and i ask them all the time, where did your grandfather or great grandfather start? were they, you know, someone that lost their job in the great depression? were they a veteran that got a house through the v.a. or the fha? i think we see a leadership class in this country that may not have the personal experiences that helped to define an earlier generation why they thought the way they thought and why there was a general consensus that there needs to be a reasonable safety net. we used to debate about the type and size of it.
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>> i that idea, the experience of living through the depression shapes who people are forever. i certainly know it was true for my grandparents and my pasch who is came at the end of that depression era. my next guest has had no food for four days this week, but in this case it was by choice. tuesday through friday he consumed nothing but water all in an effort to be heard. we'll hear from him next. love that pope. washing feet. in the nation, sometimes bad things happen. add brand new belongings from nationwide insurance and we'll replace stolen or destroyed items with brand-new versions. we put members first. join the nation. ♪ nationwide is on your side ♪ medicare open enrollment. of year again. time to compare plans and costs. you don't have to make changes. but it never hurts to see if you can find better coverage, save money, or both. and check out the preventive benefits
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in her favorite princess dress. and she's not exactly tidy. even if she gets a stain she'll wear it for a week straight. so i use tide to get out those week old stains and downy to get it fresh and soft. since i'm the one who has to do the laundry. i do what any expert dad would do. i let her play sheriff. i got 20 minutes to life. you are free to go. [ dad ] tide and downy. great on their own, even better together. in his interview with chris mathews on "hardball" on thursday, president obama expressed his continued frustration with republican intransients especially when it comes to issues all sides seem to agree on, like the need to fix our immigration system. >> my argument to boehner and mcconnell and everybody else up there is let's go ahead and have big arguments on the things we
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disagree about, but why don't we go ahead and work on the things we agree about? a classic example is immigration reform. >> activists were given new hope that congressional republicans might footbally bring immigration reform to the floor next year. when news spoke that john boehner hired john mccain's ex-chief of staff, an expert on immigration policy. when he was asked specifically whether the house would finally get it done in 2014, speaker boehner punted. >> listen, i've learned a lot ting ago from this podium not to make a lot of predictions. >> while that was happening, children of immigrants were on capitol hill as part of a protest by the reform group keeping families together. singing in house majority leader eric cantor's office, outside of speaker boehner's office, and on the mall. activists were fasting for immigration reform. the fast for families began on november 12th and has received support from the highest democratic leaders in the country including the president and first lady.
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joining us from washington, d.c., where he just ended his fast is executive director of dream director, phillip agnew. nice to have you. >> thanks for having me. good morning. >> so start by telling me about what the fast for families movement is and what it hopes to achieve. >> yeah so, for 26 days fasters have been on the capitol, at the capitol, in a tent, pushing lawmakers to do something, to make a move on immigration reform. there's no food. there's just water. and it's a wide group of people determined to stand in solidarity to deny those basic needs to ourselves so that other people can have a pathway to citizenship in a country that says that it's the land of opportunity for all people. >> phillip, the use of fasting and of hunger strikes to bring about policy change is one that has a deep, even international tradition. but it's often one that is tied
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so very specific interests so that you know when it happens in part because people's lives are on the line here if they're not eating. so tell me what are the very specific aspects of immigration reform that you and other activists are asking for in this moment? >> well, we've been asking for boehner to allow for a vote to happen. and he's consistently said even this week he cavalierly said he wouldn't make a prediction on the issue, but this is a pressing issue. as you said, when people are doing a fast, there's a level of urgency. you see it in their faces, and it has moved a number of democratic lead er and a very fw republican leaders to come down and visit with us. but speaker boehner has continuously punted and moved the ball down. we want them to allow a vote. as president obama said, this is something they agree on and something you see in the tent the large number of constituents from around the country believe in. i've heard numbers of 70% of americans believe in a pathway
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to citizenship for immigrant families in our communities. so we want something to happen and we want it to happen now. >> phillip, stay with us for a moment. i want to ask you about this effort, amy, because that sense of urgency philly talked about, the idea that people are willing to go without food to try to move forward a vote on which both parties agree strikes me as sort of evidence of just how far we've broken down in terms of our ability for regular politics. >> yet how positive grassroots action is. people like phillip and modena, who also fasted, goes back to fasting with cesar chavez, this is reviving when we're talking about state to state and demanding federal policy. when there's a complete breakdown. extremely positive. it shames the so-called leaders
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and brings in new ones. >> i was stunned this week when the staff -- a staffer from keirsten cinema's office actually quit her job in the office in order to focus full-time on her mother who is an undocumented immigrant and is in danger of deportation. and i guess something i found stunning about it is i thought, wait a minute, you work for a member of congress and yet you feel that the work to be done has to be done outside of congress. >> that she had her hands tied there. that's what she felt. it is absolutely astounding that she didn't think she could achieve this in the place where people make policy. and so the policy is now being made in the streets. marc was talking about seattle city council, seattle/tacoma, the airport, they have passed $15 minimum wage, so people are taking it, like gay marriage, step by step, state by state, and, you know, the congress members will come around. >> phillip, you recently met and talked with eric, the staffer
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from congresswoman cinema's office. >> i met with people working with her. and as amy said, it is a pity that somebody has to leave the halls of congress where an issue like this should not be an issue and go to save her mother. and so we see thousands of families being deported daily. if you go to the capitol lawn, there are crosses signaling or symbolizing the amount of families that have been deported since the fast started. and this is not the country that any young person wants to live in. i'm an african-american citizen of this country. and if you look at the issue of immigration it's important you talk about mass incarceration, racial profiling, and these risch shoes that african-americans and latinos in this country have been facing and the immigration question is one of the defining issues of our generation and it is a pity that you have to leave your job and go to save your mother from being deported from this country. >> we talked a lot about the minimum wage here, but we ought to note how many americans are working at the subminimum wage,
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and most of them are immigrants. fairly reforming immigration will significantly reduce hunger and poverty in america. that's a very important point that's been missed in this debate. ? and stimulate the economies in the ways we've talked about a stimulation that happens from raising the minimum wage, putting those folks on the books, earning minimum wage positions and without the kind of wage that we see and paying tacks. phillip agnew and ovik roy, thank you both for being here. phillip, thanks for your point about the kind of coalition building that is part of this strategy. i greatly appreciate it. i'm glad you've had the opportunity to break your fast and thank you for your contribution to this effort. >> thank you very much. thank you for having pe. >> thank you, ovik,ing if being here. i hope you come back. we always like an economics debate between marc morial and you. that's high "nerdland" activity. when we come back, nelson mandela's first visit to the united states after being released from prison and how he
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...because i'm the equipment manager in this house. that's my tide. what's yours? in june of 1990, less than five years after his release from 27 years in prison, nelson mandela arrived in the united states for a tour that included a presidential visit, a concert by the biggest pop stars of day, and a show of gratitude by millions of people inspired by his fight against apartheid. over 12 days he kept a grueling schedule, visiting eight cities -- miami, boston, washington, atlanta, detroit, los angeles, oakland. his first stop, new york city. back in 1990, tom brokaw, anchor of nbc's "nightly news," reported on the historic visit. >> the man who spent 27 years in prison was give an hero's welcome. governor mario cuomo calling him a symbol of the
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indestructibility of the human spirit. he seemed tired, not quite ready for it all. jesse jackson gave him a hand with his tie. mandela usualed the united states to maintain its tough policy against south africa as blacks there struggled for equality. >> and the only way in which we can work together on this difficult road is for you to ensure that sanctions are applied. >> mandela! mandela! >> mandela and his wife, winnie, stopped by a brooklyn high school. they were greeted by 10,000 people. then new york city honored mandela as no other city can. a ticker tape parade up broadway. mandela said he knew he e had friends in new york but never dreamed he was so loved. the key to the city from mayor david dinkins. mandela then talked of unlocking
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the shackles of apartheid. >> we want our new south africa to be a country which banishes forever racism in all its forms. south africa shall be free. >> for many young americans at the time, including president obama, a number of my guests today, heck, even for me, nelson mandela's struggle was our struggle. it was the first real chance to agitate for global change, our first real chance to see the power of our protest in action. so when we come back, how nelson mandela's inspiration shaped an american president. turn to roc® retinol correxion®. one week, fine lines appear to fade. one month, deep wrinkles look smoother. after one year, skin looks ageless.
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[ ding ] cheese plate? cheese plate. no, i made something better. you used the oven? boom. [ male announcer ] pillsbury crescents. make the holidays pop. ♪ i have a big meeting when we land, but i am so stuffed up, i can't rest. [ male announcer ] nyquil cold and flu liquid gels don't unstuff your nose. they don't? alka seltzer plus night fights your worst cold symptoms, plus has a decongestant. [ inhales deeply ] oh. what a relief it is. president obama on thursday afternoon recalled how he started in politics.
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not his first race and not his first phone call on behalf of a candidate. the moment he became political. for that moment the president thanked nelson mandela. >> i am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from nelson mandela's life. my very first political action, the first thing i ever did that involved an issue or policy or politics was protest against apartheid. i would study his words and his writings. the day he was released from prison he gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they're guided by their hopes and not their fears. >> the president isn't alone. for many of us of a certain age who grew up here, american activism against apartheid was the civil rights awakening. the wordy vestment entered our political lexicon as countries, entire cities and statements urged to pull their money out of apartheid south africa.
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the purpose of that activism wasn't merely to bankrupt the racist regime, to use finance to expose to the world just how morally bankrupt it was. joining us now from chicago is the senior pastor of trinity you nighted church of christ who began protesting against apartheid in south africa when he was just 14. also back with me, marc morial, president of the urban league, amy good mance, host and executive producer of "democracy now," joel berg, director of the new york city coalition against hunger and mark hogman for crimes against humanity. reverend moss, thanks for joining us from chicago this morning. >> thank you so much. great to be on the show, melissa. >> talk to me a little bit about your own efforts and sort of becoming politicized in the context of the anti-apartheid protests. >> well, i first want to just acknowledge what a powerful leader president mandela was. he's our noble, prophetic prince and moral voice not only for south africa but for the world.
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i became politicized through my parents, through operation push, learning about divestment. but the first time i protested without my parents was at 14 to protest against the investment in south africa through british petroleum and was thrown out of the british petroleum office in cleveland, ohio. it was a great moment for myself, for my own agency and studying the words of nelson mandela and learning from my parents about what south africa meant to us as a community and how there was solidarity between what we were doing in the u.s. and what was happening in south africa. >> and that -- >> and -- yes. go ahead. >> that sense of solidarity is institutional. you are not the senior pastor at trinity united church of christ, which is one of the first institutions to clearly indicate its position around divestment. >> absolutely. it was in 1979 i believe that my
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predecessor, dr. jeremiah wright jr., placed a "free south africa" sign in front of the church and people didn't even know who nelson mandela was. but the church helped to not only radicalize but to communicate to the wider community the importance of the solidarity with south africa. not only trinity united church of christ but the progressive national baptist convention under leadership of j. alford smith and charles adams also took a position in reference to south africa. and ron dellums in 1972 was pushing for divestment. didn't happen until 1986, but every year was pushing it forth until william gray was actually able to put forth the bill that ronald reagan vetoed, but they were able to override and the united states then joined with this great movement. >> i don't want to miss that point at the end, that ronald reagan, of course, tried to override there, right, that notion that in fact we did not have support that these were
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truly grassroots activism and that, in fact, much of the national leadership of the u.s. wanted to stay invested in the south african apartheid regime. >> that was an interesting divide between the political leadership, at least the administration, and grassroots activists and other activists on the left and really the u.s. congress. the overriding a presidential veto is a pretty extraordinary act. we haven't seen it for a very long time. democrats controlled the house and the senate at that point. didn't control the white house. and pushed through a significant bill that the administration completely opposed. >> it had never been done in foreign policy ever. >> that's right. and the administration was carrying out a policy of constructive engagement in south africa. it was still a cold war ally with the recognition that cuban troops were fighting in angola, that angola and mozambique were marxist countries, and so this was very much a part of the
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entire -- >> i don't want to miss this. for many of us, for reverend moss, for me, for president obama, part of this was about a racial identity that was about the african work identity but it was also a movement that crossed racial lines. >> i felt then and i feel today i'm not free if everyone's not free. that's the bottom line. and for all the talk about evil conservatives were on this, and they were, let's remember the come police si of good-minded liberals, i went to columbia university. most of the people running it consider themselves liberals and they were vested up to their elbows in apartheid money. and we took over the administration building for a few weeks to force them over time to divest from south africa. >> you have 30 seconds, reverend moss. give me the moral and ethical piece here. what it is that we learned from this movement not only about political and economic global strategy but what it takes to e create a moral international
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movement. >> well, one is the solidarity between not only south africa and the united states but of people all across the world. you only get a leader as much as mandela once a generation, a mandela, a king, a gandhi. but also the recognition that if i am not free, then you cannot be free, that kind of coalition. the other thing that is powerful about the south african movement, that it was multiracial, but also raised issues around gender, also raised issues around class. and so if we are to build a global movement, we have to recognize that what happens in one country also affects us in another country. and the decisions that we make, whether they are financial or political, affect someone outside of the u.s. we've got to move from being just local but recognize that our local communicates an affects globally. >> thank you to reverend otis motsz in chicago. i hope at some point you'll have time to join us at the table in new york. >> i would love to.
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>> thank you. and thank you to marc morial, who i always love having at my table, and who promises to come back and talk with me about community policing at some point. thank you to amy goodman, always brilliant at my at my table and put up with man explaining today. joel berg, thank you and mark porterman for his international example and global awareness in the world. up next, i have a letter. i just work here. up next, my letter. my asthma's under control. i get out a lot... except when it's too cold. like the last three weekends.
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asthma doesn't affect my job... you missed the meeting again last week! it doesn't affect my family. your coughing woke me up again. i wish you'd take me to the park. i don't use my rescue inhaler a lot... depends on what you mean by a lot. coping with asthma isn't controlling it. test your level of control at, then talk to your doctor. there may be more you could do for your asthma.
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normally when i send an open letter it's with the expectation it will come to the inattention of the intended reyip sent. today, i know the person i feel most compelled to directly address will not be there on the receiving end. i believe a note of thanks is one of the best ways to show genuine appreciation for a gift. i'm sending a thank you letter to the man who dedicated to his people one of the most precious gifts of all, his life. dear president mandela, it's me, melissa. to the many words that have been
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spoken and written in your honor to mark the moment of your passing i would like to adds these two. thank you. thank you for the preservation of humanity under the most inhumane of conditions. no one would have begrudged you the vengeance that would rightfully have been yours after at appalling circumstances of your imprisonment. but instead, you emerged from the darkness as a light. your example was a beacon, not just for your people, but for the world. in you, we found a model of humanity that showed us who we are, need not be constrained by the conditions in which we exist. when finally you walked free, you wasted none of the precious years ahead of you mourning the 27 you had lost. there was no room for self-pity because you were too full of the spirit exemplified as you once said of the story of the village who gave food to a hungry traveler. you were the embody mmt of umbutu, collective uplift guided
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by compassion and empathy, the idea i am because we are. amazingly, incredibly, you expanded that we to include the very entity that refused to extend that same embrace to you. after all, it was the south african government that was the instrument of your oppression and the oppression of your people, a government that you had every reason to resist and reject after your release. but you south a place at the head of that state. it is not hard today to find failed attempts at the democratic project, but when you pursued and won the presidency of south africa, you proved the possibilities and the power of democracy. and you gave the world another reason to believe in it for you. and for that, i thank you. thank you for sharing yourself with all of us because while you are unquestionably a son of south africa, you have always embraced your place as a citizen of the world. even as fought inequality at
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home, you extended your battles beyond international boundaries. in particular, the special kinship you cultivated with the black civil rights movement in the united states. you embraced us as your sisters and brothers bonded by a shared struggle but also by refusal to be defined by it. though our ancestors may never have set foot on african soil, in you, we found a home. thank you for holding on, for not heading the end of your presidency be the end of your public life, for offering your wisdom and your service, long after your body was telling you that your own journey was nearing an end. and even then, even at the very end when we were still not quite ready to let you go, you held on just a little bit longer, giving us all time to adjust to the idea of an unfamiliar world in which nelson mandela no longer lives among us. now, that sad day has come.
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beloved mandela, we let you go with hearts that are heavy, but also filled with gratitude and though these words will never each your ears, i hope your spirit is at peace knowing this. for your courage, for your endurance, for your engenerosity and your vision and your grace, for all that you were and all that you continue to be to us, sincerely, thank you. melissa. it's donut friday at the office. and i'm low man on the totem pole. so every friday morning they send me out to get the goods. but what they don't know is that i'm using my citi thankyou card at the coffee shop, so i get 2 times the points. and those points add up fast. so, sure, make me the grunt. 'cause i'll be using those points to help me get to a beach in miami. and allllllll the big shots will be stuck here at the cube farm. the citi thankyou preferred card. now earn 2x the points on dining out and entertainment,
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