In today’s On the News segment: Our GDP growth rate was 2.8 percent in the third quarter of 2013; it turns out that consumer choice is an illusion; Germany has smashed the world record for solar power; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. You wouldn’t know it by looking at your bank account, but our GDP growth rate was 2.8% in the third quarter of 2013. That’s much higher than the long-term rate of 2%, but average Americans won’t see any benefit from better growth. The latest figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis show that our nation is recovering from the 2008 recession, but all of that growth is going straight into the pockets of the corporate elite. Executive salaries and bonuses have exploded in recent years, and corporate profits are higher than they’ve ever been. But, average wages remain stagnant, and median incomes are actually lower than they were in 2007. The Right claims that our national debt is stifling economic growth, but that’s nothing more than a talking point meant to hide the fact that corporate greed is the reason paychecks haven’t gotten any higher. Growth is not the problem in our nation, and it’s not the reason that Americans haven’t gotten a real raise since Reagan. The real problems are income inequality, and the Right perpetuating economic myths. Over the past 32 years, the rich have convinced us that the purpose of our economy is to generate corporate profits, rather than serve the people who depend on it. As it stands now, our economy is working great for those at the top, and it’s preventing the rest of us from benefiting in any growth. All around our nation, people are starting to wake up to the fact that we need to change this. From WalMart strikers to fast-food workers to transit employees, people are speaking out against corporate greed. By standing together, Americans are realizing that we have the power to change things, and we have the power to create an economy that works for us.
In screwed news… It turns out that consumer choice is an illusion. Unless you buy locally grown food and locally made products, ten mega corporations control almost everything that you buy. A new chart posted on Reddit links nearly every product sold in the US to one of ten major corporations – and highlights what the chart’s creator calls the “Illusion of Choice.” The companies include CocaCola, PepsiCo, General Mills, Kelloggs, Mars, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, P&G, Nestle, and Kraft. Those corporations make and sell everything from our food to our cleaning products to our blue jeans. The list clearly shows why so many new businesses fail, or get bought up by a mega-corp. To make a dent in this concentration of corporate power, we need to buy local, and push our government to start enforcing the anti-trust laws that are already on the books. If we want real consumer choice, we need more than 10 companies to chose from.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Germany has smashed the world record for solar power. In 2012, that nation’s solar power plants produced 22 gigawatts of electricity – which is the equivalent to 20 nuclear power plants. By 2022, Germany hopes to eliminate all nuclear plants within its borders, and they are already half way to that goal. The German government has invested in restructuring that nation’s power grid, and already they have more solar energy units than the rest of the world combined. And, to help reach their nuclear-free goal, Germany is also increasing the use of wind, bio-mass, and other forms of renewable energy. They are leading the world in use and development of green energy technology, and proving that it’s possible for all nations to be free of dangerous nuclear and fossil fuels.
According to RadCast.org, strong air currents may be responsible for radiation waves throughout our nation. In some areas, radiation levels are down – like Bellingham, Washington and Oxford, Michigan, which are both hovering at 31 counts per minute. And in other areas, levels are way up from just days before. Gainsville, Georgia is hitting 66 counts per minute, and spiking at 74. Henderson, Nevada is hitting spikes of 68, and Chicopee, Massachusetts is at 53 counts per minute, with spikes of 64. As air currents move over our country, levels could change rapidly, but RadCast.org is following them closely to keep us informed.
In the wake of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan left thousands dead in the Philippines, one man is demanding action on climate change. The head of the Philippines UN delegation has announced that he will not eat until there is “meaningful” action on protecting our environment. At a two-week United Nations conference in Poland, Mr. Yeb Sano gave an emotional speech, saying that when it comes to climate change, “there are no winners and losers, we all either win or lose in the future [that] we make for ourselves.” Super storms aren’t limited to hurricanes and typhoons, and island nations and coastlines won’t be the only places feeling these effects. Snowstorms, floods, droughts, and tornadoes will all be larger, and more frequent, because of warmer temperatures. As Mr. Sano said, we must all work together to prevent these storms from getting worse, and to win a cleaner, safer future for the world.
And finally… Senator Rand Paul says they’re coming for our doughnuts. After the FDA announced last week that they are planning to ban trans fats, the Kentucky Senator railed against the so-called oppressive nanny state coming after one of America’s favorite sweets. However, what Rand Paul fails to realize is that most popular doughnut brands, like Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme, already eliminated trans fast from their products, and customers couldn’t tell the difference. Trans fats have no nutritional value, and don’t add anything to the taste of our sugary snacks, but they have been directly linked to serious health problems and increased risk for heart disease. Our doughnuts aren’t going anywhere, but facts have never stood in the way of a Rand Paul talking point. Libertarians have always used porn and pot to sway voters, but I guess they’re trying to pick up the Homer Simpson swing vote.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, November 13, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.