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Melissa Harris-Perry: What's Riskier Than Being Poor?

It's rare that you see this level of emotion on a weekend news show. But it's righteous, completely justified anger, amplified if you had watched the one and a half hours that preceded it. One of Melissa Harris-Perry's guests for the entire

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It's rare that you see this level of emotion on a weekend news show. But it's righteous, completely justified anger, amplified if you had watched the one and a half hours that preceded it.

One of Melissa Harris-Perry's guests for the entire duration of the show was Monica Mehta, described as a "business and finance expert" and author of an upcoming book entitled The Entrepreneurial Instinct. I've not seen her on any other shows, probably because I avoid business channels like the plague. For all of Mehta's supposed expertise, her knowledge seems fairly limited to conservative talking points. When discussing women's reproductive rights earlier in the show, Mehta dismissed it as less important to women's voters than the economy and jobs. She shrugged off commentator Nancy Giles' point that not having control over one's own reproductive system directly affects women's ability to participate in the economy, though the point is indisputable. Mehta also interrupted Wake Forest University professor David Coates as he pointed out that economic mobility has dropped radically as income inequality has risen.

Because Mehta still lives in the rarified world of privilege and the myth of meritocracy, she cannot or will not expand her world view to see that there are vast swaths of the American population who--through no fault of their own--don't get to go to Wharton Business School, work in private equity and carve out a media pundit career. Not because they're lazy or undeserving, but because those avenues are closed off to them economically. In my opinion, Mehta also suffers from the delusion of value by virtue of the size of one's portfolio, a common ailment of conservative thinkers. Her story is proof that the system works. Her success is all from the risks she took, not from the luck of her birth, nor the doors opened by attending a prestigious business school. But the truth is, where was Mehta's risk? It wasn't her money she invested. If she gives erroneous business advice in an appearance on television, or if her book isn't worth the paper it's printed on (scroll down for review), who has suffered? Not Mehta.

So perhaps Melissa Harris-Perry had had enough of the conservative delusions by this point in the program. But after calling out the barely veiled dog whistles of the attacks on welfare by the RNC last week and how here, in the wealthiest country in the world, conservatives can call a ridiculously meager subsistence for the most vulnerable among us an "entitlement" but think tax breaks for the very, very wealthy are great, Harris-Perry did not want to hear about how we must reward 'risk-takers' (starts at 8:14)

“What is riskier than living poor in America? Seriously! What in the world is riskier than being a poor person in America? I live in a neighborhood where people are shot on my street corner. I live in a neighborhood where people have to figure out how to get their kid into school because maybe it will be a good school and maybe it won’t. I am sick of the idea that being wealthy is risky. No. There is a huge safety net that whenever you fail will catch you and catch you and catch you. Being poor is what is risky. We have to create a safety net for poor people. And when we won’t, because they happen to look different from us, it is the pervasive ugliness.”

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