In today's On the News segment: The International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecasts for the world economy, United Nations is calling for a new social safety net for the world's poor, tens of thousands of Greek demonstrators took to the streets today to protest their financial overlord, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Did you notice during last week's Presidential debate – there was no talk about how to fix the ongoing housing crisis in America? That's because both candidates know that the one best solution to the mortgage crisis is to make the banksters take a hit. Ireland knows it, too – but they're willing to take on the banksters anyway. The Irish government is expected to pass a law this year that will force their banks to substantially lower monthly mortgage payments for struggling homeowners to stem the tide of foreclosures. Ireland would be the first nation to force the banks to take a hit to help homeowners since the global housing crisis started. And one of the reasons why Ireland can do this is because instead of giving the banks a blank check bailout – the Irish government took substantial ownership of them as well – basically nationalizing them. So now the government can tell the banks what to do. Since we didn't do the same thing in the United States – the banksters took all their bailout money, paid each other massive bonuses, started gambling in the market again, and left homeowners high and dry. But here's the thing – it's not too late to do what's right. Wall Street's gotten enough favors over the last 4 years – American homeowners need help now.
In screwed news...The global economy is sputtering out. The International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecasts for the world economy – and warned that there is a "alarmingly high" risk of deep economic slowdown. IMF projections now show the global economy growing by a mere 3.3% this year – the slowest growth since 2009. As the IMF says in its report: "Confidence in the global financial system remains exceptionally fragile...Bank lending has remained sluggish across advanced economies." With Europe's economy contracting, the United States headed for a "fiscal cliff," and emerging economies like India and China also slowing down – IMF leaders are calling on policy makers to address the threats in their economies. All around the world – we are witnessing the collapse of corporate globalism. The only question left is: just how messy will it get before working people around the world come together to forge a new economy for the 21st century.
In the best of the rest of the news...
We're learning of another new tidbit about Mitt Romney's previous life at Bain Capital. He used to sell cigarettes in the post-Soviet Russian economy. Not only did Bain help top cigarette maker Phillip Morris increase its profits in the United States – Bain also help two other tobacco companies move into the Russian market. Working with a $4 million contract courtesy of the United States government – the Huffington Post reports that Bain gained a foothold in the Russian economy working with the company British American Tobacco to push cigarettes on economically devastated Russian communities. One man hired to drive around Russia handing out free cigarettes to attract new customers was named Sushovan Ghosh. And Ghosh claims that he reportedly directly to Romney – that Romney was his boss. Today – Russia has a public health crisis with skyrocketing lung cancers and smoking rates among young people. It's unclear how Mitt will claim his experience pushing cancer sticks on the poor in Russia qualifies him to be President of the United States.
The United Nations is calling for a new social safety net for the world's poor. UN experts warned that most people around the world do not have adequate social protection from things like illnesses, disabilities, unemployment, and high food costs. So the UN is proposing a $20 billion global social safety net to help people living in the world's 48 poorest nations. Developing nations are being asked to contribute 2/3ds of the cost to this social welfare program – while rich nation are asked to foot the remainder of the bill. The UN's special rapporteur for food explained that this is a good investment for the world – saying, "Acting preventatively is much less expensive than intervention on an ad hoc basis. It costs eight times more to act in famine. By having safety nets in place, it will not be so necessary to intervene at an emergency stage." Here in the United States, we've forgotten this lesson while our own social safety nets are under unprecedented assault by billionaires like Mitt Romney and Ayn Rand followers like his running mate Paul Ryan.
In Greece – tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets today to protest their financial overlord – German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Greece attempted to ban protests during Merkel's visit – but more than 25,000 people still turned up to demonstrate. Merkel attempted to express solidarity with the Greek people – acknowledging that it's been a "very difficult phase" but "part of the journey has already been accomplished." She was met with signs that read, "Merkel we are a free nation and not your colony." To German policymakers like Merkel who are shoving austerity down the throats of the Greek people – it might all just seem like numbers on a spreadsheet. But to the Greeks, it's life and death. According to some estimates – as many as 3,500 Greeks have committed suicide from financial hardship since this economic crisis began. Austerity is not a bloodless game – and Republicans here in the United States need to learn this lesson, too.
And finally...Dick Cheney's former company, Halliburton, is in the news again for nearly causing an environmental disaster. Last month, Halliburton admitted that it lost a rod of radioactive material somewhere in Texas. The type of radiation – known as americium-241/beryllium – is considered a category 3 radioactive substance and can be fatal if encountered for a prolonged period of time. After Halliburton announced the rod was missing – the Texas National Guard was called up to find it. But no luck...until this week – when an oilfield worker noticed the radioactive rod alongside a highway near Pecos, Texas. So now Halliburton can breathe a little easier and get back to its day job: pouring faulty cement in undersea oil wells and carving up Iraqi oil fields.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, October 09, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.