On the News With Thom Hartmann: CEO Pay Up 23 Percent for 200 Largest Corporations, and More


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Inhumane conditions plague Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “tent-city” prison. On Saturday – temperatures at the outdoor prison housing 1,400 non-violent inmates shot up to 145 degrees – the hottest recorded so far this year. To beat the heat – prisoners were given 6–ounce cups filled with ice to which one prisoner said, “They’re doing this for the media attention. This cup isn’t going to do anything.” The media was indeed on hand to ask Sheriff Joe about the conditions that day – conditions that were causing inmates' shoes to melt. If we really think that the best response to the undocumented immigrant problem in this nation is to create giant sauna-like jails, then let's at least put into those jails the CEOs who hire undocumented workers, thus drawing more and more of them into our country, and the Republican politicians who supported Reagan's 1986 amnesty and subsequent suspension of laws that allowed prosecution of CEOs for hiring undocumented workers.

Another year – another devastating oil spill in America. At the end of last week – a pipeline belonging to ExxonMobil underneath the Yellowstone River ruptured, spewing tons of crude into the notable waterway. At first – the company downplayed the area of contamination – but now it appears that over 42,000 gallons of oil has coated more than 10 miles of the Yellowstone River – choking wildlife and slicking riverbanks. That now marks two national treasures blackened by crude in the last two years – how many more until we get the message and kick big oil out of our nation’s energy portfolio?

Corporate executives are swimming in cash while the rest of us are screwed. A new report on executive pay by the research firm Equilar revealed that CEO pay for the nation’s largest 200 corporations was up 23% from 2009 – nearly back to pre-Bush Depression levels. On average – each top CEO took home more than $10 million in 2010 with Viacom’s CEO Phillipe Dauman topping the list with a whopping $84 million paycheck. All the while – worker pay is down. Last year – the average American worker was earning about 750 bucks a week – a half-point increase from 2009. But when pay is adjusted for inflation – then Americans workers are ACTUALLY earning less than what they were before the Bush-depression. What else should we expect after forking over trillions in taxpayer dollars to Wall Street and corporate America to pay off the 2008 bankster meltdown – while not giving a dime to Main Street America. Trickle-down economics always does the same thing – and that’s make rich people even richer and turn the rest of us into a nation of peons.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Death row in Illinois is closed for business. A new state law abolishing the death penalty took effect last week, saving 15 inmates from execution. Since 2000, there’s been a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois after then Governor George Ryan called the system, “haunted by the demon of error” because of how many death row inmates’ convictions were overturned. And then in March – current Governor Pat O’Quinn – made it official and signed into law a death penalty repeal bill. Illinois is now the fourth state to kill the death penalty in the last two years – however 34 states around the nation still use it and the United States ranked fifth in the world in 2009 in the number of people we put to death – in the same company with China, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Are these really the nations we should be modeling our criminal justice system after? Let’s hope other states take Illinois’ lead.

Former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss Kahn may have escaped rape charges here in America now that questions have been raised about his hotel maid accuser – but he may not be so lucky in his home country of France. A French writer – Tristane Banon – announced she would bring rape charges against DSK today citing a 2003 incident when he tried to rape her following an interview. Banon described DSK’s behavior that day as, “a rutting chimpanzee.” In response – the DSK legal team is planning to file suit against Banon for libel.

President Obama earned a major endorsement yesterday from the nation’s largest teacher union. At a convention last night – the National Education Association formally endorsed the President despite many vocal concerns from teachers in regard to the President’s education agenda. Thanks to the endorsement – more than 3.2 million members of the NEA can now campaign for the President ahead of the 2012 elections. This is the earliest endorsement the NEA has ever given – meaning they know just how tough a battle 2012 will be and want to get to work immediately. Given how Republican Governors around the nation are gutting their public school systems and replacing them with religious or for-profit private school systems – this upcoming election could the most important ever for teachers around America. The public education system itself hangs in the balance.

So what will it take to “green” the world? Try $1.9 trillion a year. A newly released UN survey estimates that the world needs nearly $2 trillion a year in technology investments to fight global warming and curb ecological destruction. About half of that $2 trillion will go to developing nations to deal with surging food and energy demand. “Business as usual is not an option,” wrote Rob Vos – the author of the UN survey. He also warned, “Without drastic improvements in … green technologies, we will not reverse the ongoing ecological destruction and secure a decent livelihood for all of humankind…” I think $2 trillion a year in global wealth is a small price to pay to preserve the safety of our species. I also know a great place to get the money – Wall Street…they can spare it.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, July 5th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.