Morning Joe | August 20, 2012
>>> 24 past the hour. live look at the white house . joining us now editor at large of salon and msnbc political analyst joan walsh author of "what's the matter with white people , why we long for a golden age that never was."
>> talking about republicans from congress?
>> you know, joe , i want to promise you this is a todd akin - free zone and there are no naked congressmen in this book.
>> you're going to gloat.
>> there's no needp.
>> that might be be for the sequel, but i did not deal with them. i want joe to feel safe around this book.
>> seriously, joan , for all the times that you've sat and looked at democratic candidates, going why do all stupid people decide they want to run on the democratic ticket, we have paid you back.
>> thank you.
>> we're good.
>> we have have had a run of five, six, seven years of one self-inflicted wound after another.
>> it is unbelievable.
>> akin, let's talk generally about that. what kind of impact does that have on the republican convention next week if we have these rolling press stories and mitt romney doesn't get in front of it?
>> maybe some pictures come out.
>> maybe pictures come out. akin and the ridiculous remark about rape, there's a problem because there are people in congress including i believe paul ryan who are been trying to redefine the definition of rape. you have a bigger problem than akin as far as i'm concerned. people trying to say certain kinds of things women claim are rape really aren't. that's offensive. again when the ticket might have been making inroads with women, might have been some polls showed a little movement.
>> you know, i think you're going to see the bottom drop out.
>> quote legitimate rape, begs the question what is illegitimate rape?
>> who draws that line? does todd akin ?
>> whose mind is going there?
>> whose mind is going there. there's that. the naked cavorting in the sea of galilee holy site for my people, you know, we all cavort periodically, i don't know. i'm not going to get too judgmental. it's ridiculous.
>> the thing, i'm not getting judgmental, but do that at a holiday inn in topeka. don't go to the sea of galilee now, like i said before, this is -- this sends a message, such a message to evangelicals, who are the back bone of the party in a lot of areas, that some of your youngest, most conservative types, just don't believe what they say they believe.
>> they are complete hypocrites. not larry craig , a little different thing, but don't practice what they preach.
>> don't take the job seriously.
>> that is the bigger issue. more reality aside, even if your agnostic, you probably don't want your congressman or senator taking off their clothes at a fact finding mission at a holy site. it has nothing -- i mean, you know, we'll let preachers judge the guy. that's a question of judgment.
>> i'm going to say my congresswoman nancy pelosi would never have.
>> let's hope not.
>> i can say that with firm conviction.
>> all right. let's talk about white people .
>> tell us about the book. what's wrong with white people ?
>> that's the title.
>> how is it going?
>> it's going pretty good for a lot of white people . what i've been thinking about and talking to you guys about for a long time the pessimism and the growing negativity of the white working class , which has shifted from being the core of the democratic base to now the core of the republican base. and so, you know, in my research and in my talking to people over the last few years, it really struck me this group -- this is the group of people, white working class , to some extent the white middle class has seen its standard of living fall, wages decline, they are afraid, they are genuinely in polls they are the people most pessimistic about the future of the coun some of my friends on the left will say it's racism and they don't like racial change. that's true for some. i think for a lot of white people there's a sense, a kind of longing for this golden age .
>> pre- '60s golden age but it didn't really exist.
>> why do you say it didn't exist? obviously you had post-war extraordinary growth and i think -- i think actually, misunderstanding what happened like 1945 to 1960 , fuels so much -- or gets in the way of an honest debate. everybody wants to go back to a time that was fueled by a war that destroyed all of our competitors.
>> right. there are a lot of things it was fueled by. first of all there was a golden age for some of us, there was. i realize writing this book my childhood actually was like the dreamiest moment in the american dream where every --
>> you and kurt won the lottery.
>> probably the last generation of people for whom the american dream really worked.
>> and guess what? just a decade later, i won't ask how old you are, i'm 49. just a decade later i'm driving around in upstate new york in middle school and my parents -- i'm hearing my parents in the front seat asking where are the steel plants going? why are companies moving overseas? opec. everybody has an idea this just started in 1991 --
>> '90 --
>> this has been going on like --
>> but i think, i mean.
>> this was like -- get off your reagan kick. this was the early '70s.
>> everything changed. i say this in the book, everything changed in 1973 . it's an astonishing year.
>> 1973 , jeff sacks has a statistic and i want you to go into this, this is the tipping point economically for us. 1973 average wages have declined for men.
>> yes men.
>> since 1973 in real terms , every year since 1973 . talk about '73.
>> 1973 a bunch of things came together and then they were building. deindustrialization and outshoring, we got into that at various points later in the '80s or '90s. this was happening, it was beginning in the '60s and '70s. you had the beginning of these good jobs going away. the other part that i wonder if joe and i would agree on this when you talk about let's talk about what happened after the war, we came out of the great depression and we came out of the war and we were terrified in a lot of ways. we wanted to build the biggest middle class in the world. we thought that was the key to prosperity and to stability, right?
>> so one place where you and i, republicans and democrats kind of break down here, is that i really want to tell the story of how government worked to build that middle class . government made decisions from the new deal from social security , making it easier to join unions, now whether you like unions or not, they helped create the rising --
>> i say all the time, by the way, the union i think it is a great crisis for the american economy that private sector union membership is down to about 7%.
>> it is.
>> what does that mean? that means manufacturing jobs are gone. that means all the factories up and down the coast of new england are gone.
>> we need to put them back if 20%, 25% are private sector unions and we have sane workforce rules means we have a strong middle class , right?
>> absolutely. we also made decisions, we have the gi bill , built public universities, subsidized mortgages, guaranteed mortgages. here's where it stops.
>> what about dwight eisenhower .
>> the interstate system that got us to the subways.
>> post-sputnik decides to invest in science. gives us a generation of scientists, mathematicians that take us to the moon 12 years later.
>> republicans did that, democrats did that together.
>> nothing bad.
>> but here's the bad part. a lot of people were left out of that golden age . a lot of these programs i've described to you, either did not prohibit discrimination, going back to social security and the new deal. they either did not prohibit discrimination against black people and other nonwhites or they actively abetted it. so that they were leaving people who weren't white out of the golden age .
>> so bob herbert from let's say 1945 to 1965 , golden age for whites, not so until lbj.
>> i grew up in the era that joan was talking about. i'm a kid of the '50s and '60s, that's when i came of age, and the thing that i think -- i think a lot of ways it was a golden age because even though so many people were left out, the sense in the country was that we were moving in the right direction, so you had the civil rights movement .
>> you still had the labor movement , you had the anti-war movement, people thought things would get better for them and i think that's one of the fundamental differences with now the pessimism that she's talking about.
>> now is a real debilitating drag.
>> but there's also, i find, a divide in a lot of my -- i tell the story through the story of my family which really rose from poverty to the working class to the middle class to upper middle class in my dad's generation. and so white people got a certain kind of help that black people didn't necessarily get. and so i find that black people and other nonwhite people actually see that super structure of government support, the scaffolding that lifted us to the middle class , they know they didn't get all that help. you have white people saying wait, i didn't get any help. that was the garden of eden and i worked hard on my own, which they did, my grandparents worked like dogs, but this divide where i'm saying --
>> joan , please, don't say you didn't build your own business. that starts a new thing.
>> here was the difference, the difference between these universal entitlements like social security , gi bill , that everybody thinks that's what everybody gets. i wasn't -- i didn't get any special help versus welfare.
>> and government.
>> that has been the -- driven so much of that exactly the political --
>> not only that. you know, you have the whole government situation and the government supports, but the critical thing in that era was that people worked. even poor people had jobs. work was easy to come by and education was affordable. so if you had a family that didn't have a lot of money, but they were working every day, they could send their kids to college and those kids would have a better life than their parents had.
>> that is the difference there. that the jobs were there if you wanted them.
>> we talked to colin powell and he talks about how he walked i guess -- in the bronx, he decided he wanted to work in a store in the bronx as, you know, carrying crates an kept working there and led to something else. the jobs were there.
>> that's the economic conversation you were talking about that we're not having the big economic conversation. the big economic conversation we're not having is that change from industrial america to post-industrial america, where jobs really weren't sent overseas because there wasn't a free global market to where it is we're not having that conversation and no easy left, right solution to that.
>> two things too, a lot of people, this is -- don't want to get into a long debate here, but you hear about the 1% and 99%, everybody talks about george w. bush 's tax cuts only that simple we'd abolish them tomorrow. you have i.t. creating the huge divide between the haves and have nots and you have productivity, we're more productive as a country ever than ever before.
>> but --
>> that's leaving more and more people behind.
>> it's also --
>> out of work.
>> the amazing thing about productivity as productivity rose in the '40s, '50s, '60s, and '70s wages rose. something is happening in the relationship between management and workers well, can talk about days about what that is why are workers not sharing?
>> when robots take their jobs the investors get their profits.
>> it's not only that.
>> i've got to get the exact statistic, as a politician i keep adding millions of jobs every year, but something like 1993 , if we were just as productive as we were in 1993 , something like 20 more million people would be working today. that's how much sort of i.t. revolution has -- and, you know, we talk about atm machines , last time you've been to a teller.
>> they're going to have self-checkout.
>> i won't do it.
>> how many people will lose their jobs.
>> ring a bell and ask for help.
>> say you want that, yes, swipe it on the ipad and, you know, how many people does that put out of work.
>> every day.
>> and then we're all doing more. i want do less.
>> i want to do less too.
>> you know what i want to do, hang out at giants games and guess which members of the field are on steroids.
>> i will hurt you. don't talk to me about that right now.
>> the new book --
>> we need a prediction, the giants and dodgers look like they're into a classic pennant race. what's that going to look like?
>> a classic pennant race a lot less fun without melky cabrera . i am in mourning.
>> at least you can look back at the glory days of barry bonds .
>> the golden age .