Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News...
You need to know this. After the recent, massive march on climate change, activists and protesters took over Wall Street. Three thousand people held a sit-in around the infamous charging bull statue, and demanded an end to the “economic system based on exploiting frontline communities, workers, and natural resources.” Protesters say that the root of the climate crisis is capitalism itself, and they want the banksters to stop profiting off of our planet's destruction. Rising temperatures, toxic water, mega droughts, and super storms are some of the environmental risks of global warming, but these protesters wanted to shine a light on the economic causes, and dangers, of climate change. The profiteers on Wall Street are heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry, and they rake in more cash every time a company destroys a community with drilling. These oil and gas profits continue to make billionaires richer, and help keep the working poor from gaining any economic ground. In turn for all those profits, Wall Street's investments help finance the Oil Lobby's destruction of our planet, which is already having a much more devastating effect on the world's poor. The billionaires on Wall Street think they can afford to shield themselves from the dangers of a warming planet, but storms and droughts don't pardon those with large bank balances. They might not care about how their investments destroy the planet, but we do, and the “Flood Wall Street” protest brought our fight to their doorstep. Now we must keep the pressure up until they put our planet ahead of their oil profits.
The Obama Administration is standing up to corporate tax dodgers. Last week, the Treasury Department announced new rules that will make it harder for companies to use “inversions” to avoid paying their taxes. Although Congress refuses to act on corporations off-shoring profits, President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew are doing what they can to stop companies from dodging their taxes. In a statement about the new rules, President Obama said, “We've recently seen a few large corporations announce plans to exploit this loophole, undercutting businesses that act responsibly, and leaving the middle class to pay the bill.” The Treasury Department's new rules will prevent companies from using so-called “hopscotch” loans to move profits to overseas subsidiaries, and block these “inverted” companies from getting tax-free access to foreign earnings. Congress has the power to reform the tax code and make corporations pay their fair share, but for the time being, they refuse to act. Thankfully, our president and our Treasury secretary are doing what they can to make corporations pay their fair share.
It may have taken some public pressure, but Google has finally dropped ALEC. Last Monday, the tech giant announced their plans to cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council. Their announcement comes only a few weeks after Microsoft also dropped the lobbying group, saying that ALEC's policies did not align with the company's renewable energy projects. Although there are numerous reasons why these corporations should disavow the group, Google's decision was also influenced by ALEC's anti-science views on global warming. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said, “Everyone understands climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a worse place.” He added, “And so, we should not be aligned with such people – they're just, they're just literally lying.” It's about time that Google took a stand on ALEC's anti-science, anti-worker, anti-regulation policies. Many large corporations have dumped the lobbying group in recent years, and it's nice to see Google has finally done the same.
There's only a few weeks before the November elections, and voters in Wisconsin are scrambling to get photo IDs to vote. Thanks to a last-minute ruling by a three-judge panel on the 7th Circuit Court, election officials are working frantically to make sure eligible voters get an ID in time. Although state officials have tried to make the process easier, by allowing voters to apply for a free ID without showing a birth certificate, that may still prevent some eligible voters from casting a ballot. For instance, Shirley Brown, one of the lead plaintiffs in ACLU's lawsuit against the voter ID law, was delivered by a midwife, so she lacks the documentation that the DMV requires to get a photo ID. The ACLU has filed a demand that the full appeals court re-hear the case, arguing that there is simply not enough time to ensure that all voters have the proper ID. They explained to the court, “It is not only unreasonable, but also mathematically, logically, and physically impossible that by November 4th, hundreds of thousands of voters will learn about the need for ID, collect multiple required documents, get to a DMV office, and obtain the ID.” Three hundred thousand people in Wisconsin lack the identification needed to vote, and the DMV would have to issue about 6,000 IDs per day to serve all of them. As it is simply impossible, the full 7th Circuit must re-hear the case and ensure that everyone has the right to participate in the democratic process.
And finally... Students in Denver are standing up for history. Last week, hundreds of high school students walked out of class to protest a decision by the Jefferson County School Board to limit history education to lessons that shine a “positive light” on American Heritage. Subject matter would be limited to materials that “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect authority and respect for individual rights.” Students disagreed with the school board's decision to sensor their education, and many teachers supported their decision by staying home as well. One high school senior who took part in the walk out said that protest is an important part of American History, “and if you take that from us, you take away everything that American was built off of.” And he is exactly right. Standing up to authority is how our nation was formed, and school boards should not be omitting that idea from out history books. Students in Denver are demanding a real history education, and they're learning the art of civil disobedience in the process.
And that's the way it is - for the week of September 29, 2014 – I'm Thom Hartmann – on the Economic and Labor News.