Melissa Harris-Perry's new show on MSNBC along with Chris Hayes' Up are generally are some of the most intelligent, well rounded discussions on cable television. That said, I really do not understand why the producers of Perry's show thought bringing in Reason Magazine's Nick Gillespie was going to add anything informative to the conversation this Saturday.
It's not as though anything he said here was going to come as a surprise for anyone that's followed him. Typical Libertarian clap-trap was all he had to add to the panel segments. Jonathan Chait did a nice take down of Gillespie and his water carrying for the Koch brothers last year which I'll share a bit of here:
The KOCH brothers must be stopped. They gave $40K to Scott Walker, the MAX allowed by state law. That's small potatoes compared to the $100+ million they give to other organizations. These organizations will terrify you. If the anti-union thing weren't enough, here are bigger and better reasons to stop the evil Kochs. They are trying to:
- decriminalize drugs,
- legalize gay marriage,
- repeal the Patriot Act,
- end the police state,
- cut defense spending.
This is a pretty silly argument. The Koch brothers are right-wing libertarians. They believe in limited government almost across the board, but their energies are devoted to economics in general and policies that benefit them in particular. When the Koch brothers get involved in politics, they support right-wing and Republican causes: [...]
Gillespie's implication is that, if you're horrified by the Bush administration's civil rights record and supportive of gay marriage, the Koch brothers are for you. In fact, they're not. They work very hard to elect Bush and members of Congress who will support his agenda. They support think-tanks that oppose right-wing defense and civil liberties as long as they also support right-wing economic policies.
Another way to put this is that the Kochs will happily put their money behind candidates and intellectuals who agree with their economic agenda but disagree with their social agenda. They will never put their money behind candidates or intellectuals of whom the reverse is true.
In the segment above, Gillespie pulled the Castro card on Harris-Perry when she dared to say that she was disgusted that Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin was going to renounce his citizenship rather than pay taxes on his new found earnings since taking their company public and wondered why that was allowed to be legal in America. So of course she's the equivalent of some evil communist in Gillespie's world.
In the next segment, the panel followed up on some of their discussion from earlier in the show on Wall Street and the need to regulate the global financial industries, and Gillespie changed topics suddenly and told the panel he that the problem with Social Security is that it shouldn't exist.
After Gillespie argued that we should be means testing the program and that it's somehow harming our younger generation to pay into Social Security, I think Harris-Perry did a good job of countering that argument and here's how she responded:
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me make a quick argument for why Social Security should not be means tested and it's simply this. That when we have had public policies that are means tested public policies, particularly around poverty, those policies become highly politicized and the group of people who are beneficiaries of them are the most vulnerable and the least likely to have political access.
Part of why Social Security is untouchable in the way that it is, is because the AARP, because old folks are not a group that is stigmatized in the way that poor people are. So you look at how easy it was to end welfare as we know it, literally creating food insecurity for American children who are poor, because they are poor and therefore have less of an ability to maneuver anything.
GILLESPIE: Social Security is not help for poor people.
HARRIS-PERRY: No, it's for old people.
GILLESPIE: I... everybody at this table actually is in a place where you would get less out of it, just in a dollar for dollar basis on Social Security than you put in...
HARRIS-PERRY: And if my mother did not have Social Security right now, the cost in my household with having to support my mother would be extraordinary.
GILLESPIE: She should get more... wait, wait, wait... stop. If she's poor, let the government help provide a social safety net. That's a good thing, Medicaid spending keeps going up. If we didn't like the poor, it wouldn't be going up, it would be going down.
HARRIS-PERRY: It's just because we actually created more poor people.
GILLESPIE: Oh... please.
HARRIS-PERRY: We've been talking billions all hour.
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