In today's On the News segment: The wealth gap has become increasingly racialized, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Sequester cuts are hitting vital programs like Meals on Wheels, Head Start, and cancer treatment centers. So, it's difficult to understand why Congress would be pushing to spend $436 million on tanks that the Army says it does not need. According to Congress, keeping the production line rolling is important to jobs and supporting businesses in Lima, Ohio, where the tanks are manufactured. But the Army chief of staff says, "If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way." The military must absorb $487 billion in sequester cuts over the next decade, and like various other programs effected by the cuts, they're finding it difficult to figure out where that money will come from. Reducing the production of tanks they don't need seems to be a reasonable cut. But, Lima Mayor David Berger says the plant is the city's fifth-largest employer, and closing the factory would have "about a $100 million impact annually." Once again, we see a prime example of how Republican austerity destroys economies. There's no question that it's foolish to be building tanks our military doesn't need, but without economic investment in that region, there may not be other jobs available for that plant's employees. And, as the sequester has also forced cuts to vital programs like unemployment aid, housing assistance, and nutritional programs, people who find themselves out of work will find it even more difficult to get by. Instead of arguing with the military about whether or not the tanks are needed, Congress should be investing in Lima, Ohio, and creating new jobs for plant employees to turn to. While they're at it, they should also reverse the Republican austerity measures hitting children, seniors, and cancer patients in our nation. Let's demand that Congress put an end to the now-debunked austerity theory and start putting people back to work. Join the fight at No-Cuts.com.
In screwed news... Before the 2008 economic crash, there was already a huge gap in wealth among ethnic groups in our nation. On average, white families were about four times as wealthy as minorities before the crash, but by 2010, whites had about six times the wealth. According to a study by the Urban Institute, the most recent data shows that the average Caucasian family had about $632,000 in wealth, while Hispanic families had $110,000, and African-Americans had only $98,000. In the years since the 2008 crash, two main factors contributed to the widening of this racial wealth gap. When the housing market crashed, black and Hispanic households took harder hits than white households. And, the Urban Institute found that African-Americans saw their retirement savings shrink by 35% between 2007 and 2010, while white families, on average, actually saw their savings grow by 9%. One of the study's authors, Caroline Ratcliffe, said, "The racial wealth gap is deeply rooted in our society. It's here, it's not going away, and we need to care about it." Let's prove we do care, and start working to put an end to the racial wealth gap.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The European Union is finally doing something to save the bees. There is growing concern throughout the E.U., and the world, that the decline in bee population will make it extremely difficult and expensive to pollinate the plants that the world relies on for food. Fifteen E.U. countries voted in favor of a ban on pesticides that are believed to harm bees, and a two-year moratorium on those chemicals will begin July 1st. According to researchers, wild honey bees are responsible for pollinating about one third of the world's food crops, and it's estimated that they contribute more than 22 billion euros a year to the European Union. Their survival is vital to our survival. Here in the U.S., we should take a cue from the E.U., and start protecting our honey bees. We must protect our food supply. For the benefit of our own bodies, and for the benefit of the honey bees, let's call for a ban on these toxic pesticides here at home.
Detroit is kicking out the homeless. That's according to a complaint filed against the city by the ACLU of Michigan. Last year, the ACLU began receiving complaints that homeless people were being picked up in vans, driven miles away from the city, and told not to come back. The Michigan staff attorney for the ACLU, said, "the city's desire to hide painful reminders of our economic struggles cannot justify discriminating against the poor, banishing them from their city, and endangering their lives." According to CBS Detroit, Police Chief Chester Logan said he will look into the matter, as the Department had not received a copy of the complaint. This is simply inhumane. City officials should be helping people find a way off the streets, not allowing the police to dump them in another town as if they're trash. It isn't a crime to be poor, and it's time that Detroit stop treating the homeless like they're criminals.
And finally... Few of us would be happy about an upcoming colonoscopy, but 80-year-old Miriam Tucker had 5,000 reasons to be excited. The Tampa Women's Club held a charity event, where each participant spent $20 for a chance to win a one-carat, $5,000 diamond. Organizers placed cubic zirconia stones in all but one of 400 champagne flutes. In the last glass, they placed the prized diamond. Miss Tucker drank a bit of the champagne and accidentally swallowed a stone. When jewelers inspected each stone to name a winner, Miss Tucker discovered that the missing stone was, in fact, the diamond. Although embarrassed, she informed the jewelers what had happened. As luck would have it, Miram Tucker already had a colosocopy scheduled for that Monday, so her doctor was able to recover the stone. They say that preventative care is priceless, but this is one case where the procedure literally paid for itself.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, April 29, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.