In today's On the News segment: By almost every measure, Americans are better off living in a Blue state; our wages are growing at the slowest rate since the 1960s; Senator Bernie Sanders says Congress must stand up to the NSA; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. By almost every measure, Americans are better off living in a Blue state. On Friday, Politico Magazine released a list of state rankings, using respected sources like the Census Bureau, the FBI, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What they found was stunning. On average, Americans living in Red states had lower wealth per capita, were more likely to be living in poverty, had shorter life expectancy, higher rates of infant mortality, and lower overall well-being. Republicans love to say that lower taxes, less regulation, and pro-business policies benefit Americans, but this report proves that people are suffering in states that adopt those principles. Americans who live in Blue states tend to have lower rates of obesity, higher scores in reading and math, and higher per capita income. Progressive policies like stronger social safety nets, higher corporate taxes, and larger investments in education and infrastructure actually benefit people living in democratically-controlled states. This report provides an incredible snapshot of how Republican policies effect Americans. Yet, in the face of these overwhelming statistics, Republicans want to enact these extreme policies nationwide. They want to slash our national safety net, eliminate corporate taxes, create a national right-to-work-for-LESS law, and privatize education and our commons. These policies don't work for the people in Republican-controlled states, and they won't improve life for Americans if they were instituted on a national scale. This is why elections matter, and this is why we must enact progressive policies that actually benefit all Americans, regardless of the state in which they reside.
In screwed news... Our wages are growing at the slowest rate since the 1960s. According to new research by Goldman Sachs, American workers' wages are increasing by only 2 percent per year. That means that pay increases are only slightly outpacing inflation, which rose by 1.5 percent in 2013, and many Americans can't even keep up with the cost of living. In fact, wage stagnation has been a serious issue in our nation for decades, and many workers have seen their paychecks shrink since the year 2000. During that same time period, worker productivity increased by 25 percent, but all those additional profits were siphoned off by those at the top. Americans are working harder than ever, yet they're not sharing in any of the income gains. Corporate greed has led to extreme income inequality in our nation, and low-wages prevent us from closing the massive wealth divide. We must undo the damage of three decades of Reaganomics, ensure that all Americans benefit from shared prosperity, and demand that all workers have the right to a living wage.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Senator Bernie Sanders says Congress must stand up to the NSA. In response to a new report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, Senator Sanders says we need new legislation to protect our civil rights. The Oversight Board's report called the NSA's phone data collection illegal, and said that the spying program should be shut down. While President Obama recently proposed some superficial changes to data storage, he did not suggest any meaningful changes to data collection. In a press release last week, Senator Sanders said, "The president's recommendations last week did not go far enough to reign in the out-of-control National Security Agency. Congress must pass strong legislation to protect the privacy and civil liberties of the American people." It's clear that President Obama won't call for big changes to government spying programs, so it's up to Congress to stand up for our civil rights. Thankfully, Senator Sanders is leading the fight to protect our privacy.
According to RadCast.org, radiation levels have come down from last week's unusual highs, and you can check out levels in your area on RadCast.org's new website. Robbinsville, New Jersey is reporting levels of 44 counts per minute, with spikes of 66, and Fredericksburgh, Virginia is averaging 37, with highs of 60 counts per minute. Warren, Michigan is sitting at 40 counts per minute, with spikes of 62, and Rapid City, South Dakota is hovering at 38 counts per minute, with highs of 60. Chico, California is averaging 30 counts per minute, with spikes of 66, and Hanford, Washington is sitting at 28, with highs of 54 counts per minute. RadCast.org's alert level is 100 counts per minute, but they remind us that there is no such thing as a safe level of radiation.
Google wants to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy, and the company is well on their way to doing just that. Last week, the tech company announced a 10-year contract with Swedish wind company Eolus Vind. That deal will supply 59 Megawatts of wind power to Google's data centers, and it will add to their diverse portfolio of green energy. By making these investments, Google is helping renewable energy companies grow, and they're showing the world that green energy is right for business and our environment.
And finally... If you weren't already creeped out by the NSA's spying programs, their website for kids will seal the deal. The CryptoKids website uses cartoon characters and games to convince our kids that government spying is a good thing. Characters like T. Top the turtle, who wears a backwards hat and baggy jeans, tell kids that breaking codes is really "kewl" and talks about the benefits of a career at the NSA. Although many would call the site government propaganda, an NSA spokesperson said, "The site is designed to help children learn about cryptology and [the] NSA's mission to defend the nation." If the NSA is going to use cartoons like Decipher Dog and CryptoCat to teach our kids about spying, perhaps they should add Whistle-blower Whale to their list of characters.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, January 27, 2014. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.