On the News With Thom Hartmann: Decriminalization of Marijuana Possession Is one of New York Governor’s Top Legislative Priorities, and More

In today’s On the News segment: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that decriminalization of marijuana possession is one of his top legislative priorities; there’s talk coming out of the White House that President Obama is seriously considering hosting a climate summit; Sheriff Joe Arpaio is dispatching members of his armed, volunteer posse to schools around Maricopa county; and More.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. So-called Free Trade is destroying our national manufacturing base. According to a new report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, free trade relations with China, beginning in 2000, are responsible for killing off 30% of the manufacturing jobs we had in this nation. You can see this decline in the raw numbers. Around 2001, there were 17 million manufacturing jobs in America. Today, that’s collapsed to 11.5 million. And, according to the Economic Policy Institute, nearly 3 million of those lost manufacturing jobs went directly to China since 2001. Thanks to so-called Free Trade, our “job creators” are exporting those crucial blue-collar jobs that once sustained a prosperous middle class, from the end of World War 2 all the way until the 1980’s. And without those jobs, Americans are forced into the minimum wage service sector, asking, “Would you like Fries with that?” or greeting people at the door saying, “Welcome to Wal-Mart.” This is exactly what the transnational billionaires who push for these trade agreements want. And until we drop out of these so-called free trade agreements, and once again begin protecting domestic manufacturing with tariffs or VAT taxes – the middle class will continue to shrink – and America will look more and more like a Third-World nation.

In screwed news…the days of guaranteed retirement benefit in the form of a pension are long gone. As numbers out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics show – defined benefit retirement pensions are on a drastic decline since 1981. That was the year when over 80% of full-time workers in the private sector participated in a pension plan. By 1997, that number had fallen to just over 50%. And by 2011, looking at all workers in all private businesses in America, fewer than 20% of workers have some sort of pension retirement plan. This creates massive economic insecurity for seniors – especially now that Republicans in the House are trying to give Social Security and Medicare to Wall Street. It also adds to the growing list of things that Corporate America, in its quest for higher and higher profits, is taking from their workers. In recent months – we’ve seen employers promise to cut hours to avoid providing health insurance, we’ve seen the right to free political speech taken away, guaranteed vacation time and maternity leave don’t exist – workplace safety laws are getting watered down – heck, they’ve even taken our money by flattening our wages during a time of increased productivity. In some states, they even want to take away our bathroom breaks! This is nothing short of theft. And pretty soon, we’ll be handing over the shirts on our backs, just so our bosses can squeeze out whatever profits they can.

In the best of the rest of the news…

If you don’t want your kids’ school guarded by a gun-toting posse of excitable volunteers – then stay out of Maricopa County, Arizona. Beginning this week – Sheriff Joe Arpaio is dispatching members of his armed, volunteer posse to schools around that county, saying it will prevent violence. Arpaio’s posse is comprised of 3,000 mostly-volunteer officers – with a good chunk of them owning firearms. All posse members pay for their own weapons and equipment, but are insured by the Sheriff’s office. As you might expect, some parents are uneasy with the idea of armed posse members camped out in front of their children’s’ school. As one parent told a local news outlet, “They have guns? No, I don’t like that, and I can’t believe something like this would be implemented without speaking to parents first.” What we have here is yet another gun nut who thinks more guns will solve gun violence – and who thinks the best way to protect kids is to turn our schools into military zones. It’s enough to make Americans long for the good ol’ days when Sheriff Joe’s posse was just looking for the President’s birth certificate!

Coming off the hottest year ever recorded in the United States, there’s talk coming out of the White House that President Obama is seriously considering hosting a climate summit early in his second term. As the Guardian reports, “The White House has given encouraging signals to a proposal for Obama to use the broad-based, bipartisan summit, to launch a national climate action strategy.” Given that the last year has seen super storms, super droughts, and super heat – we’re past-due for action on global climate change. And not since 2009, when Democrats in the House passed cap-and-trade legislation, which was later filibustered by Republicans in the Senate, has there been any real legislative solution to our warming planet. A summit is a start – but the time for talk is over – and the time for action was yesterday.

And finally…the nation’s most influential state could be taking a big step in the right direction when it comes to stopping Richard Nixon’s failed drug war. In his State of the State Address on Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that decriminalization of marijuana possession is one of his top legislative priorities this year. Referring to the thousands of people in the state who are busted for non-violent drug possession, Cuomo said, “It’s not fair, it’s not right. It must end, and it must end now.” Already, the number of marijuana arrests in New York is expected to decline, now that the courts have barred “stop and frisk” searches without reasonable suspicion. About half of all the people arrested in New York City for pot possession were targets of a “stop and frisk.” After California decriminalized marijuana – arrests for the drug dropped 61% – which means fewer taxpayer dollars being funneled into an unwinnable drug war. It’s time for the rest of the nation to chill out like California, Washington, Colorado, and, hopefully, New York state.

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, January 10, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.