In today’s On the News segment: In 2014, the state Bank of North Dakota was more profitable than Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase; Detroit teachers are fighting for the pay and benefits that they deserve; the Supreme Court just stood up for workers; and more.
Thom Hartman here — on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News…
You need to know this. In 2014, the state Bank of North Dakota was more profitable than Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase. And, that’s why every state should own their own depository institution. Most people attributed the Bank of North Dakota’s success with the oil boom in that region, but their latest report shows that last year was their most profitable year ever, despite the fact that their state’s oil boom has become an oil bust. In fact, for each of the last 12 years, the Bank of North Dakota has outperformed each previous year, and their return on investment last year topped 18 percent. While the rest of the banking industry was dealing with the turmoil of the last financial crash, the state-owned depository bank was propping up their economy. And, once again, as North Dakota’s economy suffers because of the decline in oil prices, their state-owned bank has helped fund 300 new local businesses, which means a ton of local jobs. If other states had their own banks, they could help stimulate their own local economies when times get tough, and they can do so without handing over millions in profit to Wall Street. For example, if the state of California created their own state bank, they could save billions on fees and interest currently going to the big banks. And, they could better protect state pension funds and finance modern infrastructure projects like a bullet train or new green energy. Rather than simply throwing money away in the form of interest and fees, states could protect depositors, boost local economies and fund the new infrastructure needed for the modern era. North Dakota has proven that state-owned banks are a win-win for all of us, and more states should follow their example.
Once again, Detroit teachers are fighting for the pay and benefits that they deserve. The Detroit Public School System is dealing with major financial distress, and state lawmakers are trying to put more of that burden on to the backs of hard-working teachers. Last week, to protest the news that teachers may not be paid during the summer, teachers across Detroit staged a “sick-out” protest that ultimately shut down most schools across the city. The coordinated action was organized by the Detroit Federation of Teachers, and they say that an official strike will be their next option if lawmakers don’t find a longer-term solution to fund schools and teachers salaries. Teaching our children is one of the most important jobs in our nation, and it’s unacceptable to balance the budget on the backs of these dedicated teachers.
Believe it or not, the Supreme Court just stood up for workers. Last week, the highest court in our nation refused to hear the fast food industry’s lawsuit against Seattle over that city’s new $15-an-hour minimum wage. With that rejection, the higher minimum wage is safe in that city for now, but the fast-food industry and other large employers aren’t done trying to undermine the Fight for $15 movement. Although Seattle was the first city in the country to pass a $15 minimum wage, other towns and cities around the country have responded to the call for a living wage. That is why industry lobbyists have put pressure on state lawmakers to block municipalities from enacting their own wage legislation. The very same party that proclaims the benefits of the free market and the virtue of local government control is suddenly against those principles now that they may interfere with corporate profits. That’s why we must keep fighting until workers all over the country are paid a living wage and we can’t let corporate greed stand in our way.
The President of France says “No” to the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Last week, after details about the corporate-friendly deal were leaked to the public, French President Francois Holland said that he would “never accept” the massive corporate power grab. According to a recent post over at Common Dreams, the TTIP threatens important regulations that protect our health, our employment rights and our environment. If France says “no” to the TTIP, that could be the end of the massive trade agreement. Just like the US must keep fighting to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Europe must keep the TTIP from undermining their regulations and their sovereignty.
And finally… Republicans in Congress hate the IRS, but they are short on details when it comes to doing anything about that. According to a recent statement by the Republican Study Committee, two-thirds of Republican House members have called for the “complete elimination of the IRS.” However, that committee has no further details on how they plan to actually accomplish such a task. And, even fellow Republicans are dubious on how such a goal could ever, or should ever, be reached. In a recent interview, Republican Rep. Charles Boustany said, “Before we start making blanket statements about abolishing the IRS, I think it’s important to focus on what the tax code for the 21st century should look like.” Like most rational Americans, Representative Boustany understands that our government needs revenue to function, and the IRS is our primary means for collecting our taxes and enforcing our tax policies. In addition to collecting tax payments, the IRS also helps us encourage responsible investment and development, by using tax breaks to stimulate particular industries. Eliminating such a vital agency would only make it harder to enact important reforms. And, Republicans know that as well as the rest of. Talking about abolishing the IRS is just talk, and the idea should be written off as nothing more than a ridiculous talking point..
And that’s the way it is – for the week of May 9, 2016 — I’m Thom Hartman — on the Economic and Labor News.