In today's On the News segment: Tens of thousands of people marched on Washington to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech; the IRS is facing a lawsuit over its failure to enforce the church electioneering ban; the Economic Policy Institute released a new report that argues that the vast majority of American workers have seen little to no wage-growth over the last decade; and more.
Shane Farnan here – in for Thom Hartmann – on the news...
You need to know this. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people marched on Washington to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Rev Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. During the event, called the "Realize the Dream March and Rally," civil rights leaders ranging from Reverend Al Sharpton to Martin Luther King III spoke to the crowd about the continued fight for equality, and focused heavily on voting rights. Representative John Lewis of Georgia – who was the youngest speaker at the original March on Washington 50 years ago – said, "You cannot stand by. You cannot sit down. You have to stand up, speak up, speak out and get in the way. Make some noise. The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It's the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society and we've got to use it." This coming Wednesday, on the August 28th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King's original "I have a Dream" speech, President Obama will give a speech from the very spot at the Lincoln Memorial where those powerful words were originally spoken. The event will be called the "Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action Ceremony." Just Obama's presence says something. According to the NYT - The election of America's first black president is a testament to America's sometimes halting progress toward what Dr King that day envisioned as an "invigorating autumn of freedom and equality." We have come a long way towards real equality, but we still have a long fight ahead.
In screwed news... A huge, massive fire is burning near Yosemite National Park and it is continuing to spread. Campgrounds are being evacuated, and firefighters are working hard to protect ancient giant sequoia groves. This fire is now within one mile of the water reservoir that supplies water to 2.6 million people plus in the San Francisco Bay area. Johnny Miller, an information officer with the unified fire command directed by Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service said, "It's the highest priority fire in the country right now because of its location, because Yosemite National Park is at risk. It's not just a national treasure, it's a world treasure."
In the best of the rest of the news...
The IRS is facing a lawsuit over its failure to enforce the church electioneering ban that's been in place since 1954. The Internal Revenue Code prohibits tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations - including churches - from intervening or participating in political campaigns on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate. But, many churches are ignoring that law. In an annual event called "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," pastors from more than 1,000 churches have challenged the regulation by preaching about political topics. The group did this leading up to the 2012 election as well - with many pastors flat out endorsing Mitt Romney for President in their daily sermons. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing the IRS for its "policy of non-enforcement of the electioneering restrictions" when it comes to churches and religious organizations. So - isn't this the real IRS scandal? Should churches and pastors be allowed to openly preach politics? According to IRS regulations - "501(c)(4) [organizations] provide for exemption from federal income tax of civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare." Somehow, the word "exclusively" is being left out of enforcement, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation says that must change.
This week, economists Larry Mishel and Heidi Sheirholz of the Economic Policy Institute released a new report that argues that the vast majority of American workers have seen little to no wage-growth over the last decade. T he report found that between 2007 and 2012, wages fell for the entire bottom 70 percent of the wage distribution in America, despite productivity growth of 7.7 percent. And, between 2000 and 2007, the median worker saw wage growth of just 2.6 percent - despite productivity growth of 16.0 percent. The fact is, we can't have an economic recovery if workers' wages are flat-lining, while corporate profits are at an all time high. The only way to achieve a real economic recovery in America, is to increase workers' wages so that they can participate more in the economy. American workers can't spend money to stimulate the economy, if they have no money to spend.
And finally... According to new research, when you share your food with others, you may be subconsciously using a strategy to insure that others will share their food with you one day if you find yourself down on your luck. In order to take a closer look at food sharing, researchers at the University of California in Santa Barbara examined food sharing activity in monkeys, apes, and humans. Adrian Jaeggi, one of the lead researchers, said that humans and other primates form long-term relationships for mutual gains, and that benefit given to others are more likely to be returned when these long-term relationships are formed and maintained. This study demonstrates, for example, the value of the food stamps program. By using our taxpayer dollars to help struggling Americans get the food they need to survive, we could be trying to ensure that if or when we are also in need of assistance, that assistance will be there to help us get back on our feet. So, as Conservatives continue to wage war against food stamps, maybe they should think a little more about what would happen if the shoe were on the other foot.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, August 26, 2013. I'm Shane Farnan – in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.