2013-12-19 19:47:58

Thom Hartmann on the News: Dec. 19, 2013

You need to know this.  This year, we've seen massive protests for higher wages all around our nation, but this fight is not just for those struggling to live on minimum wage.  It's about our rights in the workplace and society saying “No” to corporate welfare.  This year, corporate profits hit another all-time high, while wages as a percent of our economy saw an all-time low.  Right now, massive corporations are taking advantage of high unemployment – using it as an opportunity to bust unions, prevent employees from organizing, and keep wages and benefits as low as possible.  This isn't only happening in Walmart stores and fast-food chains, it's happening in manufacturing and service industries that used to provide middle-class wages and pensions.  Large employers are using the threats of bankruptcy or layoffs to keep workers quiet about low-pay, nonexistent benefits, and other abuses – regardless of whether they're Walmart or Boeing.  And, these corporate giants are being subsidized by our tax dollars as they abuse workers.  This fight isn't only about providing minimum-wage employees enough pay to survive on, it's about putting workers' rights ahead of corporate greed.  High-paid CEO's and bankster investors are cashing in on higher-than-ever profits, while calling workers greedy for wanting fair pay and a little respect in the workplace.  Right now, this fight may be most visible in the retail and fast-food industry, but it's been underway in almost every workplace in America for the last 30 years.  The fight for a living wage is about all of us – it's about our tax dollars, our workplace rights, and our entire economy.  If we don't stand with those fighting poverty wages now, there may be nobody left to stand with us when we finally realize that our rights have also disappeared.

In screwed news... Last month was the warmest November in over 100 years.  According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, global land and ocean temperatures last month were hotter than any other November since they've been keeping records.  Almost every region of the globe was warmer than average, with some areas experiencing temperatures 14 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal.  And, the experts at NOAA say that things aren't going to be cooling down any time soon.  They expect 2014 to be even hotter than this year.  If and when global temperatures rise high enough, they could cause methane buried deep within our ocean to melt, and bring about the next mass extinction.  These rising temperatures pose a serious risk to our planet, and our entire species, but the world is not doing enough to address the threat of climate change.  If we don't act as a global community – and do it soon – it may be too late to save the planet, and the next generation who will inhabit it.

In the best of the rest of the news... 

Senator Elizabeth Warren wants to restore “basic fairness” for millions of Americans who are struggling to find a job.  On Tuesday, Senator Warren proposed a law that would bar employers from requiring job applicants to share their credit history.  These credit checks have prevented many people from finding a job, despite being perfectly qualified.  And, it's an issue that becomes worse for individuals who are out of work longer, as they typically can't keep up with all of their bills.  To make matters worse, tens of millions of Americans have errors on their credit reports, which could lead to being turned down for a job, and the process of correcting those errors can be daunting.  These credit reports have been used in the hiring process for years now, even though there is no evidence that a person's credit score has any effect on their job performance.  Senator Warren said, “This is about basic fairness – let people compete on the merits, not on whether they already have enough money to pay all their bills.”  Right now we have to focus the fight on extending unemployment benefits, but Elizabeth Warren's bill is another great way to help out-of-work Americans.

According to RadCast.org, radiation levels are still spiking in Southwest and Midwest, but they're finally coming down on the East coast.  Taylors, South Carolina is averaging 37 counts per minute, with spikes of 51, and Salisbury, Massachusetts is hovering at 40, with highs of 60.  Frederic, Wisconsin is sitting at 47, with spikes up to 73 counts per minute, and Lakewood, Colorado is at 78, with peaks all the way up to 111.  Chino Valley, Arizona is averaging 56 counts per minute, with spikes of 85, and Taos, New Mexico is hovering at 71 counts per minute.  Seattle, Washington is reporting levels of 31 counts per minute, with highs of 41, and Medford, Oregon is at 38, with spikes of 62.  RadCast.org's alert level is 100 counts per minute, but they remind us that there is no safe level of radiation.

And finally... Every year, Guinness World Records adds to it's lists of strange talents, rare physical features, and various types of longest, shortest, smallest, and tallest something-or-others.  And, this year will be no different.  Some of the newest additions to the famous book of world records include the world's hairiest cat, the fastest tightrope-walking dog, and the fastest skateboarding goat.  And, although Guinness is probably busy documenting new attempts to break the world record for the most people simultaneously twerking, we'd like to suggest a few other records they may want to add from 2013.  Perhaps they could give the whole Republican House of Representatives an award for the most attempts to repeal a single bill.  Or, they could offer Senator Ted Cruz the prize for the longest fake filibuster.  Maybe Guinness could give Fox so-called News the trophy for most consecutive stories about Obamacare, or they could list Rand Paul as the senator with the most speeches copied from Wikipedia.  After all, we wouldn't want to forget all of these new records set by Republicans in 2013... they may be very useful in upcoming elections.

Wage Gap

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