In today's On the News segment: The world's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, who was born into a wealthy mining family, is suggesting that Australia should be considering paying workers a $2 a day wage; Wall Street, along with other transnational corporations, millionaires, and billionaires, are expected to spend upwards of $2.5 billion this election; 26 US states are slashing education spending; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. While Democrats are taking the stage at the DNC to make an argument for why President Obama deserves a second chance, the banksters were making their own plans. Wall Street is on pace to break an ominous new record – spending more money in this election than in any previous election ever. The previous record was set in the 2008 election, when Wall Street dropped $170 million into races around the nation. But according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with two months still left to go until this election, Wall Street has already spent a jaw-dropping $164 million – well on pace to shatter the 2008 record. So far, 60% of Wall Street's political spending this election has gone to Republicans – with a huge chunk of change going to Wall Street's favorite candidate Mitt Romney. Altogether, Wall Street, along with other transnational corporations, millionaires, and billionaires, are expected to spend upwards of $2.5 billion this election – by far the most ever spent in any election ever. Thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, "we the people," who are supposed to control our democratic republic, have been sidelined while the oligarchs run the show. Go to Move To Amend.org to do something about it.
In screwed news ... Americans are falling way behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to internet connectivity. The nation of South Korea is expected to have internet speeds 200-times what we have here in the United States by the end of the year. And here's the kicker: they'll pay only $27 a month for it. According to a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – the United States is falling way behind other developed nations when it comes to internet speeds and connectivity. Currently, more than 94% of South Koreans have access to high speed internet. In that United States, only 70% of us do – with roughly 100 million Americans unable to access high-speed internet at all. So what's the secret in South Korea? Government regulation that prevents oligopolies from rising up in the internet market and charging whatever they want. It's time we start enforcing the Sherman Anti-trust Act in America again – break up the giant internet cartel – and bring more competition into the market to lower prices. High-speed internet is the basis of the new economy – and thus it should be fundamental right for all Americans to have access to it.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The American car industry is booming. General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford sold more than 1.2 million vehicles last month – the best month since Bush's Great Recession began in 2007. The big three automakers also saw huge sales increases from just last year. When Republicans ask if our nation is better off than it was four years ago – all you have to do is look at the auto industry, which was on the verge of collapse when President Obama took office, and you know the easy answer to that question. Yes, we are better off.
When it comes to education, a majority of states in the nation are embracing the same failed austerity policies that are dragging Europe closer to collapse. According to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – 26 states are slashing education spending. At the top of the list are Alaska, Alabama, and Washington – which are cutting more than $200 per pupil out of their education budgets. So what are the consequences of these cuts? Massive layoffs of teachers and school administrators, adding to the ranks of the unemployed and sucking more demand out of our economy. Plus, fewer opportunities for our young people to receive the education they need for 21st century jobs. No nation in the history of the world has ever cut its way to prosperity – especially through cutting education, which is our nation most important infrastructure. We need to be making massive investments in education to grow our way out of this recession and debt problem, just like Eisenhower did when he sent millions of Americans to college for free on the GI Bill in the 1950's and created the American middle class.
Meet Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted – the man who is desperately trying to keep Democrats from voting in November. News broke last week that a federal judge had overturned Husted's order to cancel early weekend voting in November – ruling that it will disproportionately affect poor and minority voters. Well, today – Husted isn't budging. In a memo coming from the Secretary of State's office – Husted is refusing to announce new early voting hours to comply with the court's ruling. He says he will not make plans to open up early voting until his court appeal is considered. It's important to remember that Husted has already fired two election officials who tried to keep early voting hours in place over the weekend. Clearly, this guy is willing to do whatever it takes to suppress the vote in November. Keep an eye on what's going in Ohio.
And finally ... the world's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, who was born into a wealthy mining family, is suggesting that Australia should be considering paying workers a $2 a day wage. As Rinehart explained, "The evidence is unarguable that Australia is indeed becoming too expensive and too uncompetitive to do export- orientated business...Africans want to work. Its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day." Aside from the tinge of racism in her comments, they're also completely uninformed. Just a few weeks ago, African miners were slaughtered while they were on strike demanding higher wages – including a $1500 monthly minimum wage – which is well above Rinehart's call for $2 a day. But her comments speak to something bigger – they reveal how the billionaire class thinks. They don't think of workers as humans beings trying to live a decent life – they think of them as numbers on a spreadsheet. Gina Rinehart would have felt right at home at last week's RNC.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, September 05, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.