In today's On the News segment: The banksters who caused the economic crisis are raking in profits; the state you reside in may be the most important factor in your child's education; Starbucks raises wages and covers education for its employees; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News...
You need to know this. Our economy has been struggling since the 2009 financial crash, but the banksters who caused that crash are raking in record profits. In the second quarter of 2013, American banks reported a combined profit of $40.24 billion. That figure was only slightly lower than the $40.36 billion in profits reported during the first quarter of last year, which was the largest quarterly profits in the 23 years that SNL Financial has been keeping records. Meanwhile, the median American household earns less than $32,000 a year, and millions are still out of work. The very people and institutions who wrecked our economy are making more money than ever before, yet the American taxpayers who bailed them out are still being screwed. The fact is, our system is broken. The billionaires and Wall Street gamblers rigged the system to benefit themselves at the expense of our nation, and the end result of their greed is all around us. The banksters gambled with the security of our housing market, and when they lost, Americans lost their homes and the degenerate gamblers got a bail out. The corporate elite have demanded higher and higher executive pay while helping to shrink the size and value of Americans' paychecks. The billionaires rail against government handouts, while they benefit from some of the largest tax breaks and subsidies in our nation. And now, the too-big-to-jail banks are reporting record profits while they screw the rest of us with ridiculous fees and exorbitant interest rates. It doesn't have to be this way. Only decades ago, we had regulations in place to prevent all of this, and Americans stood together to demand the salaries, protections, and services they deserved. We can do it again. Let's make our economy work for us by organizing, unionizing, and standing up to banksters once again.
A good education can make a huge impact in a child's life, and where they live can make all the difference. According to a new report from WalletHub, the state you reside in may be one of the most important factors in the quality of your child's education. The authors used 12 key education metrics to determine how states measure up on education. After analyzing statistics like test scores, student-teacher ratios, dropout rates, and more, the researchers determined that one of the most important factors in education quality is how much a state spends on each student. The highest ranking states, like Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, all provide adequate education funding. The lowest ranking states, like Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, all spend far less on educating our kids. In addition, researchers found a strong correlation between income and education quality, thanks to our backwards system of funding schools through property taxes. If we want our children to compete in the global economy, they need a high quality education. Let's invest in our kids and fund their schools properly.
Once again, Starbucks is doing right by their employees. In recent months, the coffee franchise announced they were raising wages and covering education costs for employees. Now, they're changing scheduling practices to make lives easier for their workers. Cliff Burrows, the president of U.S. Starbucks stores, sent an email to all 130,000 workers, and said that they would no longer have to open stores the day after staying late to close them. Starbucks stores will also have to post employee schedules at least one week in advance, and allow managers to transfer workers to stores closer to their homes. Erratic schedule, split shifts, and mid-day part time work all make it difficult for low-wage workers to find a second job or pursue an education. It's great to see that Starbucks is changing these practices, but it's time that we demand all workers have the right to a fair schedule.
For now, our government can continue spying on us, and keep secret the court orders and phone companies helping them do so. Last week, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers sided with our government against the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF was requesting that the Department of Justice hand over materials showing which companies were spying on us for the government, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders that supposedly authorize that surveillance. According to the EFF, much of the information was already released by whistleblower Edward Snowden, and the government should declassify the rest. However, Judge Rogers disagreed, and said that disclosing that information could "provide a roadmap" for people trying to avoid surveillance. She wrote that Edward Snowden's revelation "does not eliminate the dangers to national security." Our Founding Fathers warned us not to sacrifice liberty for security, but it appears that Judge Rogers, and our federal government, didn't get the message. Thankfully, the EFF and many other great organizations are not giving up on this fight, and we should be doing everything we can to help these groups stand up for our right to privacy.
And finally... The RedTail Coffee shop in Colorado is trying to solve an age-old problem. It's almost impossible for find a job when you're homeless, but it's even harder to afford a home when you're out of work. So, Mr. and Mrs. Kelley decided to provide a solution to this catch-22. Their new coffee shop is located alongside a new low-income housing development in Fort Collins, and they are specifically hiring people who have been stuck in this no-home-no-job cycle. In addition to providing work for those who need it, the Kelleys also hope to challenge some of the negative stereotypes associated with low-income housing. Because many of their neighbors objected to the new housing development and its likely residents, the Kelleys set out to change beliefs. They explained that the new coffee shop will be an opportunity to "challenge neighbors to see the people living in those projects as their baristas." The RedTail Coffee shop is changing lives and changing minds in Fort Collins, and we can only imagine what our nation would be like if more business owners did the same.
And that's the way it is - for the week of August 18, 2014 – I'm Thom Hartmann – on the Economic and Labor News.