In today's On the News segment: Net neutrality may be hanging on by the thinnest of threads; the Fight-for-15 wave hits another major city; the US ranks number one in how badly we treat our nation's new mothers; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News...
You need to know this. Net neutrality may be hanging on by the thinnest of threads. Last week, the FCC formally proposed new rules that could allow companies like Netflix to pay internet service providers like Comcast to have their content sent to customers at faster speeds. However, those proposed rules include a pathway to protecting the internet. After weeks of protests from consumer advocates who disapproved of so-called "fast lanes" on the net, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler changed his proposals to include the possibility of regulating the internet like a public utility. But, it's not time to celebrate just yet. Last week's vote only opened the proposal up for public comment, and we now have four months to weigh in on why we will not accept a pay-for-play internet. Setting up a tiered system could allow huge corporations to pay hefty fees, and ensure that their content is delivered faster than the work of independent artists, journalists, and even shows like this one. And, you better believe that massive internet providers like Comcast and Verizon will simply pass that fee right on to the customer. If we don't demand that internet providers be classified as common carriers, we could see a win-win for huge corporations, and a lose-lose for the rest of us. The changes that the FCC made to these proposed rules show that they can be swayed by public pressure, so we have to keep it up to protect our information commons. Our voices do matter, so let's let the FCC know what we think by leaving a comment at FCC.gov. Tell Chairman Wheeler to classify internet providers as common carriers, and keep the internet open and free.
The Fight-for-15 wave has hit another major city. Earlier this month, San Francisco held their first public meeting to work on a ballot measure to raise that city's minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour. And, labor organizers, activists, and community members are going around City Hall to put their measure before voters. Rather than waiting on the mayor's idea of finding so-called "consensus" between corporations and unions, this group is pushing for a more progressive wage increase that has overwhelming community support. The new measure would require companies with more than 100 employees to raise their minimum wage to $13 dollars an hour by January, and to $15 an hour by 2016. Small businesses would have an extra year to increase pay for their employees. Polling already shows that about 60 percent of the community supports this measure, so it has a strong change of becoming law. Hopefully the workers of San Francisco soon see a much-needed raise, and people in other cities see that you don't always have to wait on lawmakers to fight for what you believe in.
We're number one! But in this case, it may not be something to brag about. According to a new study by the United Nation's International Labor Organization, the US ranks number one in how badly we treat our nation's new mothers. The report surveyed national law and practices in 185 countries and territories, and compared maternity and paternity practices among nations. The researchers found that we're one of only three countries that don't provide any cash benefits during maternity leave – and the other two are Oman and Papua New Guinea. In fact, 70 other countries even provide cash benefits for fathers too. The International Labor Organization states that the minimum protections should guarantee a new mother can take 14 weeks of maternity leave, and most developed nations offer much more. Here in the U.S., a new mother is only guaranteed 12 weeks of maternity leave, and not only red cent to help them take time off. Many people think the US is the best country on Earth, so perhaps it's time we start acting like it.
The Campaign for America's Future says that a new wave of populism is coming. Despite being mocked by former presidents and Wall Street executives, the populist movement is growing, and they want to take our economy back from the banksters. According to new polling compiled by C.A.F., the vast majority of Americans want more government oversight on banks and Wall Street trading, they support the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and they still want the banksters held accountable for crashing our economy. Eighty percent of Americans think that inequality is our nation's biggest problem, yet Republicans in Congress would rather stage political witch-hunts than create jobs or raise the minimum wage. Right now, our government is broken, and the average person doesn't have a say in our democracy. But, when 80 percent of people stand up, and demand action, there won't be enough billionaires to stand in our way.
And finally... It turns out that there really are makers and takers. Unfortunately for Republicans, it looks like the Red states are the ones doing the taking. A new analysis by WalletHub found that "Blue states are less dependent on the federal government." For all the Right-wing talk about low taxes and small government, it turns out that some states are raking in the federal tax dollars. For example, South Carolina gets back almost $8 dollars for every dollar they pay in to the federal government, and Mississippi gets almost half of all its state revenue from federal tax dollars. And, despite all that federal money, many Red states still have failing schools, crumbling infrastructure, and air and water that could leave you feeling ill. Meanwhile, Democratic-leaning states like Delaware only get back 50 cents for every dollar they pay in to Uncle Sam, yet they still manage to top the list of education spending per student. Republican-led states aren't shining examples of free-market, small-government utopias, they're plain, old moochers who are living on the government dole. So, the next time your conservative friend starts complaining about government handouts, you may want to mention that the Republican-led states that are the real welfare queens they've all been whining about.
And that's the way it is - for the week of May 19, 2014 – I'm Thom Hartmann – on the Economic and Labor News.