In today's On the News segment: In one day, Big Oil earns $342 million in profit; the number of Americans in low-wage jobs is expected to hold steady over the next decade; a 21-year-old in Arkansas is dead after he was mysteriously shot in the head while handcuffed in the back of a police car; and more.
Karl Frisch here in for Thom Hartmann – on the news...
You need to know this. In one day, Big Oil earns $342 million in profit, pays their CEOs $60,000 in salaries, spends more than $160,000 lobbying, and dumps a billion pounds of carbon pollution into our skies. That's all in a single day. And what do we get out of it? Rapid climate change that's threatening to destabilize the entire planet. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture – more than half of all the counties in the United States are now primary disaster areas – stricken by one of the worst droughts in our nation's history. To give relief, the USDA has opened up 3.8 million acres of conservation land for ranchers to use for grazing. It's the latest effort by the Department to prevent a rapid increase in food prices that could kill our fragile economic recovery, hurt working Americans, and push the developing world into starvation and chaos. Meanwhile – Big Oil and Big Coal – which have been dumping unimaginable amounts of carbon pollution into the atmosphere for centuries – continues to take in enormous profits without contributing one cent to fixing the destruction they're causing around the planet. This is predatory capitalism at its worst, and if left unchecked, our future is uncertain.
People better get used to low-wage jobs. According to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute, the number of Americans in low-wage jobs, defined by wages at or below the poverty line, is expected to hold steady over the next decade. Currently, 28% of workers hold low-wage jobs in America – and by 2020 – that number will be the same. Curiously, the top industries that employ low-wage labor – are growing faster than the entire economy. What does that mean? It means that workers are no longer getting paid for their higher productivity. Instead, CEOs and executives are pocketing bigger and bigger paychecks – pushing wealth inequality to levels in America not seen since the Stock Market crash of 1929. As the Center for American Progress points out, the 50 companies that employ the most law-wage workers – CEOs raked in on average $9.4 million. The war on labor, the destruction of domestic industries through so-called free trade, and the enormous tax cuts for the rich are all contributing to this problem.
In the best of the rest of the news...
A 21-year-old in Jonesboro, Arkansas is dead after he was mysteriously shot in the head while handcuffed in the back of a police car. Chavis Carter was arrested on Saturday for possession of marijuana. According to police, while they were searching Carter's car they heard a gunshot and found Carter dead in the squad car. The odd thing is police reports indicate that two searches of Carter never turned up the alleged handgun that police now claim he shot himself with...while he was handcuffed. Carter's mother is accusing police of killing her son saying, "I think they killed him, my son wasn't suicidial." The two officers involved in the incident have been put on leave and a formal investigation has been launched. This incident comes on the heels of police brutality in Anaheim where a week and a half ago – police shot an unarmed man who was fleeing in the back of the head killing him. That triggered days of demonstrations and unrest in the streets of Anaheim. The last thing police need right now is another incident that makes a local community lose faith in law enforcement.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn't backing down from accusation he hurled at Mitt Romney this week, accusing the Republican nominee of not paying any taxes for ten years. Reid made the claim in a recent interview with the Huffington Post, provoking renewed calls for Romney to release more than just two years of tax returns. Reid says a former investor in Bain Capital gave him the info on Romney's taxes. When questioned about who his source is again on Wednesday, Reid told the Las Vegas Review Journal, "I don't think the burden should be on me. The burden should be on him. He's the one I've alleged has not paid any taxes. Why didn't he release his tax return?" That's a good question, why don't you, Mr. Romney?
Last night at midnight, the United States Postal Service defaulted on a 5.5 billion payment it owes to the Treasury thanks to a poison pill piece of legislation passed by Republicans in 2006. Despite the financial troubles of the Post Office being well-known in Congress – Republicans in Congress have refused to do a single thing to help the institution, which is older than the nation itself. Instead, over the last two years, House Republicans have introduced 60 bills to rename post offices around the country. Yet, not a single bill to save the Post Office has been considered in Congress. That's because Republicans really don't give a damn about the Post Office and its unionized workers.
And finally...we know Pentagon engineers are good at building missiles and bunker-busting bombs. But they're also pretty good at downloading porn. As Bloomberg News reports, employees at the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency were sent a memo by the Executive Director warning them to stop using agency computers to download porn. The agency is an $8 billion a year operation, that could be put in danger by malware and viruses that often accompany internet porn. As the memo read, "The seriousness of the potential breach to operations cannot be overstated." And we all thought the phallic shape of missiles was for aerodynamics.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, August 02, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.