March 17th 2009 On the Program


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Quote:  For in the final analysis, our most basic common link, is that we all inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's futures, and we are all mortal.  -- John F. Kennedy
Hour One - Why do Republicans have different standards for blue collar vs. white collar workers?
Hour Two - Should we legalize all drugs worldwide now?  How about regulation? with Jacob Sullum Reason Magazine 
Hour Three -  "Come Home, America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country" William Greider


Chris from Saint Paul Mn (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

I am an avid listener of Thom Hartmann, and was happy to have been one of the very select Americans who can listen to him everyday on the radio dial. (Of course it's AM, not the clear digital FM signal that Sean Vanity, etc. have.

Anyhow. Maybe some of the listeners, bloggers and Thom can help me with a few talking points I am constantly in a debate over with soemone.

1. Why wouldn't a fair tax work better than the Progressive tax system? I have a hard time explaining points against why it would fail.

2. Are there some solid examples of nationalized "Socialistic" Countries and why they are successful?

Thanks and I'll lsiten from 2-5pm when Thom's on in Minnesota. Fight for Franken!!!!

Carol (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

I'm not sure if this is the best place to air my comment, but I'm not sure where else to do it...

I think we should start a "GREED Campaign," where we post the names of each of the AIG executives who receive this "incentive" money, how much they made prior to getting any bonuses, how much incentive money they received, names of all family members, home towns, etc. We could do a daily posting that would feature one of the greedy execs, including photos of that person and their family, etc.

It seems like they have no shame about taking these huge sums at a time when they certainly have done nothing to earn anything more than getting fired. How can they live with themselves? How can they be held accountable? Perhaps by putting their faces and names of family members all over the Internet, and maybe even in a paper or two, they might be moved to rethink their greed. But then, maybe I'm dreamin'.

Berkeley, CA

lalo from south texas (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

hi chris from st. paul/ hope Franken gets seated soon,

really enjoy listening to Thom Hartmann's cool collective approach to explaining the progressive/ liberal viewpoint.

1. as for progressive tax, it is actually a way to evenly distribute tax burden on the populace, local taxes, state taxes, (usually in the form of purchases) and icluding FICA, OASI taxes take a larger percentage of the income of the lower paid people. the "fair" tax is placing heavier burden of tax on the lower paid working class.
2. as for a successful socialized/nationized program .. no need to look further than our own country, our police/law enforcement is afforded to everyone (no matter how much tax you pay into it) and we have relatively safe environment in our county, complacent population ... its a highly successful socialized program
3. (these same discussions are frequent here in red state texas) and i dont understand the defense of weathly people by the working class around here?

Keith (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

One of my St. Patty favorites: May your coffin be made of the finest wood from a 100 year old tree that I'll go plant tomorrow! Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!!

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago


Evo Morales is the president of Bolivia.

Mark Mayo (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

In re the drug issue: Please don't discount the business/economic aspects of legalizing drugs ... all of the jobs dependent on the criminalization of drugs ... police, prisons, private prisons, all companies who manufacture and supply all of the hardware and other things these institutions use daily, all of the government money awarded to various locales and companies to pursue drug criminalization and offenders. The police and prisons are nothing more than employment agencies, affording jobs to communities who have no other industry. We hear that AIG and other companies are too big to fail. I wonder the same about the agencies, institutions and companies involved with capture and confinement of drug offenders.

I personally know whereof I speak. I served 18 years in a state prison for smuggling marijuana, and witnessed all of this daily.

don the hippie (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

As a 50 year old who has smoked weed for 35 years, I have never been unemployed and have only worked less than 40 hours in a week two times in my life, excluding paid vacation (in order to undergo surgery). I make a good living and have worked at the same company for 18 years now. Hopefully all those non-weed smoking people running this country can fix things before us potheads get laid off.
I was infuriated by your caller that insinuated that pot heads are lazy unproductive leaches on society. We are not. Perhaps he has a lot of relatives that smoke pot and are lazy and is confusing heredity with the act of smoking weed itself.
Lazy people can smoke pot (and many do), but smoking pot does not dictate that you are lazy.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

To -

Chris from Saint Paul Mn

Google: fair tax pros and cons - and you'll find the arguments for and against the idea.

Someone posted something about the Fair Tax on the show blog not too long ago. I looked it up and found that all or almost all of the supporters in the congress were Republicans.

As for your question about nationalized socialistic countries, it's hard to tell what you mean. Do you mean countries that have completely socialist economies or do you mean countries that have hybridized (or mixed) economies that have parts of the economy that are government owned and run and parts of the economy that are privately owned and run?

Pat (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

Great topic. I could not get through on the phone, but feel this is important enough to add to the conversation:

I'd like to enhance the statement regarding the use of drugs in decriminalized nations. The evidence shows you to be correct in that countries which treat soft drugs as a non-issue have experienced a much smaller increase in the use of hard drugs. What you don't mention is the reason for the lack of increase.

This is a small but extremely important point because, in this country, marijuana is constantly referred to as a "gateway" drug.

The reason pot is a gateway drug here, and not in Holland or other decriminalized countries is this: Where it is treated as a crime, those people who use pot are forced underground where they are exposed to a criminal element which in turn gives them direct access to those hard drug. Whereas, in decriminalized countries, the soft drug users are allowed to use out in the open, and are not forced underground with the criminal element. They are therefore not exposed to the hard drugs in the criminal underworld, and you don't see the jump from marijuana products to opiates and other hard drugs.

Robert Alton (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

My solution to get AIG to change their mind about paying out any retention bonuses is to have President Obama threaten to change their name to PIG which he should be able to do if the government owns 80% of the company, right? Maybe the muckety mucks would think twice about having everyone refer to their company by that name.

kim (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

As to changing the marginal tax rate: in order to raise the marginal tax rate to 90% for anyone whose income is above $3million (or whatever...), make any congressperson whose income is above that recuse themselves from the vote....

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago


If you think you heard a distant voice shout "OH THOM" a few minutes ago, that was me when you repeated your ridiculous "insight" that young black men sell drugs because they have some entrepreneurial instinct.

That's not only ridiculous, it's uninformed and probably benignly racist. Would you say the same for poor women around the world, including in the black community who turn to prostitution? Do they go into prostitution to fulfill their entrepreneurial instinct.

You should read "Gang Leader for a Day" by Sudhir Venkatesh or have him on your show as a guest.

You probably think you're praising the "entrepreneurial spirit" of blacks with that comment. I think you're exposing your ignorance (at best).

There's a huge underground economy that goes on in communities that are denied access to the mainstream economy. That underground includes the school janitor who does plumbing and other handyman work when he's off work. It's the guy who does auto repairs in his front yard. It includes women who do "hair" in their kitchens or childcare in their homes. These are normal work that are done without business licenses.

But it also includes "illegal" business like prostitution and drug sales, which usually is the last resort for people who for any number of reasons can't get into the above ground economy. It also includes people who sell stolen property, like clothes, for less than they would cost to buy in the stores.

There's a sliver of truth in your statement that people who sell drugs have an entrepreneurial spirit. The same could be said for some of the people who get involved in prostitution. But the majority of people who get involved in those activity is survival, plain and simple, and they'd do something else if they had the opportunity. (The reasons they don't have the opportunity is a complex topic, in and of itself, with many layers of complexity and feedback loops between these layer that make the problem even more complex.)

I think your claim that entrepreneurship is the motivation behind drug dealing is a case of you projecting your beliefs on others you don't really know much about.

kim (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

B Roll-- I think you didn't hear ALL of what Thom said -- because he did say that they used their entrepreneurial spirit in illegal businesses BECAUSE they couldn't get into legitimate businesses.

kim (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

Chris from St Paul -- First, a flat tax isn't a fair tax, and calling it that is pure spin.
Second, here is the reason it isn't really fair:
When you make only enough money to live on (or less), you spend all of your income on necessities. When you make somewhat more than subsistence amount, you spend most of it on necessities, and most of the rest on semi-necessities (maintenance, advancement strategies like college, etc.) When your income really exceeds what you NEED for food, shelter, transportation, and clothing and even semi-necessitites, Then you start buying luxuries, investments, upgrades, and frivolities.
If you are spending 100% of your income on necessities, you really can't afford to pay a big percentage in taxes. When the first fraction of your income goes to necessities and the rest is free for luxuries, you can afford to pay a much larger percentage in taxes. People who have more, also tend to use The Commons more (roads, police, courts, legal protections, etc.), and therefore cost the country more --so they owe more.
I hope this helps.

As to socialized countries, most of modern Europe is semi-socialized. They also score higher than we do on almost all quality-of-life tests that anyone does. Now, they also have more social mobility than we do -- meaning the ability for a poor person to become a rich person. That used to be one of the things we were proudest of about America -- and we have lost it.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago


I heard EXACTLY what Thom said and I've heard him say it several times before. As you stated, Thom said that young black men who sell drugs do it because they don’t have a legal outlet for their entrepreneurial spirit.

I’m saying that’s BS. I’m saying that a number of young black men end up involved in a number of illegal activities because they don’t have employment opportunities, not because they don’t have entrepreneurial opportunities. Selling drugs is one of the illegal activities, but there are others such as robbery, burglary, pimping, selling bootleg and/or stolen merchandise and identity theft. It’s sad but it’s a fact in our society.

It’s not because they’re naturally inclined to do so, it’s because a confluence of societal and economic factors keep many of them out of legal employment and the mainstream economy. Our society has failed them.

But they’re only a portion of the black community. Many blacks who are employed feel the entrepreneurial impulse, and they do what people of other communities do. They start small businesses on the side. They use their own financial resources if they have any, or get help from their families. Sometimes their side businesses are intended to supplement their income from their jobs. Sometimes they hope to grow their side businesses into full time businesses.

Like I said in my original post on this topic, there’s also a large underground economy in the black community. Some of it is merely unlicensed and unreported, and some of it is blatantly illegal. People do what they have to do to survive.

What I objected to was Thom saying what I’ve heard him say several times before, and just using it as a throwaway line. He says it with authority, but to me, it indicates that he’s accepted a romanticized view of the illegal drug industry. The reality is that these young men aren’t entrepreneurs; they’re more like employees of the gangs that control the drug business. The work is dangerous and doesn’t pay as well as most people imagine. They’re more likely to get robbed, shot and/or arrested than they are to retire to a comfortable life in the islands. Many only do it occasionally because of the danger and the fact that they don't want to live a life of crime.

When Thom made that comment, he didn’t think he was saying anything wrong or offensive. He thought he was sharing one of his insights. But I’ve been listening to Thom since he took over for Al Franken. I’ve hardly missed a show. I haven’t heard anything to indicate that he knows much about life in black or other minority communities and I haven’t seen much indication that he’s very interested in it.

From my perspective, today Thom used black people for a throw away line that he’s used before on his show. I think what he said was wrong and ridiculous and I called him on it.

Good_Boy (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

Oy! My bias is against any drug use. That being said, the drug problem in neighboring Mexico, may stretch deep, into a historically mis-understood region of that honorable country? The rich Mayan culture once dominated in Meso-America until 900 C.E. when (IMO?) dis-honorable Azteks forced their way into power....Aztek leaders, brothers Tlacaelel and Moctezuma1, set up shop, deep in the heart of the inter-continental peninsula! They reportedly institued the hostile policies as book burning, ritual wars, and the wholesale re-writing of histories! Spanish conquest around 1500 A.D. might have severly repressed real Mayan histories, and civil concepts of that noble, culture??

Hergs (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

In regards to Thom's warnings about false populism...

The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Good_Boy (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

On a much more fundamental level, what is the source of human conflicts? Are we, by the force of social necessity, engaged in 'fighting' the better part of our divine or common nature? Were humans always aware that they were healthy, and fecund? Because, we all essentially eat one diet. How are we all coping?

christoper worth (not verified) 13 years 15 weeks ago

I found this song about the wallstreet bailout on youtube and it's spot on
i think you all will get a kick out of it

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