On the News With Thom Hartmann: The Debt Collector Industry Is Booming, and More


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. To quote Mitt Romney in Michigan last night, “We didn’t win by a lot, but we won by enough and that’s what matters.” Romney edged Rick Santorum Tuesday in the Michigan and Arizona Primaries. Despite outspending Santorum six-to-one, Romney couldn’t crack 50% – and only pulled off a scant three-percent victory in his home state of Michigan. And it looks like the boatloads of cash that Romney is being forced to spend is taking a toll on his campaign. For the first time ever – Romney used his victory speech last night to publicly beg his supporters to donate money through his website. The only thing that’s more ironic than one of the wealthiest people to ever run for President – who’s raised more money from Wall Street than any other candidate – begging his supporters for money – is that Romney made the appeal in Michigan – a state he called for going bankrupt back in 2008. But with these latest victories under his belt – Romney instilled a little more confidence in millionaire and billionaire hedge fund managers on Wall Street that he is still their guy – so expect the bankster cash to keep flowing in.

The debt collector industry is booming – and is another reason why average Americans are screwed. According to a report from the Roosevelt Institute – one in seven Americans are hounded by debt-collectors. That’s twice as many as in 2000 – and a consequence of a disappearing middle class that has to rely on credit cards to make ends meet since their wages have failed to keep up with inflation over the last 30 years. The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can keep debt collectors in check but – unfortunately – Republicans in Congress are working hard to shut down the agency by cutting off its funding.

In the best of the rest of the news…

The movement to kick corporations out of our politics marches onward. State lawmakers and activists rallied outside the Massachusetts Statehouse on Tuesday calling for an amendment to the Constitution to overturn Citizens United. Inside the Statehouse – the “People’s Rights Resolution” was introduced by two Democratic lawmakers to do just that. As one sponsor of the bill – State Senator Jamie Eldridge said, “In two short years, the Citizens United decision has upended our election system, with serious consequences for the health of our democracy.” If the resolution is approved – Massachusetts will joins states like New Mexico – California – New York – Vermont – Washington – Montana – Colorado – and Maryland – where local or state governments have joined the fight against the corporate takeover of our government. Go to MoveToAmend.org to join the movement.

It’s not just our roads and bridges that are in tough shape – it’s our water pipes too. A new study by the American Water Works Association reveals that America’s underground water pipe infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating – and needs to be revamped to the tune of one trillion dollars. Most water pipes were laid down more than fifty years ago and today – after more than 30 years of “starve the best” Reaganomics – are nearing the end of their life spans. The study also called for replacement of wastewater pipes – which will cost another trillion dollars and put millions to work. Unfortunately – Republicans in Congress are pushing austerity rather than infrastructure repairs. Does anyone else find it strange that the United States – the richest nation on Earth – is being forced by Republicans to live with a third-world infrastructure?

Are we about to execute another innocent man? Down in Alabama – questions are swirling around Thomas Arthur – a man convicted of murder three decades ago who is set to be executed in March. Since his conviction – a key witness has recanted her testimony – another man has admitted to the murders – and Arthur’s lawyers are calling for DNA tests that could prove their client is innocent. Unfortunately – the state is refusing to allow for the DNA to be tested. Arthur’s lawyers have even volunteered to pay for the DNA testing – meaning it wouldn’t cost the state a dime to find out the truth in the case. As Andrew Cohen writes in the Atlantic, “Alabama wants to finally solve its Arthur problem by executing him. No matter how the new DNA test could come out, the state is more interested in defending its dubious conviction.” And the state can do that – get rid of this problem by killing a potentially innocent man – because of another 5-4 decision by our right-wing Supreme Court. It's time to get corrupt justices like Thomas and Scalia off the Court!

A new report by Greenpeace puts the blame for the Fukushima nuclear crisis NOT on last year’s earthquake and tsunami – but instead on the Japanese government itself. The report accuses the Japanese government of ignoring the risks posed to Fukushima before the earthquake and “cutting corners to protect profits over people.” French nuclear physicist Dr. David Boilley wrote the report – which argues that nuclear energy is “inherently unsafe” and government are too quick to approve nuclear power plants, while at the same time unable to the consequences of nuclear disasters. As one Greenpeace organizer said, “This has not changed since the Fukushima disaster, and that's why millions of people continue to be exposed to nuclear risks.” America has been repeatedly warned about our aging nuclear plants, particularly those sitting on fault lines across America. We can’t wait for Fukushima to happen here before we as a nation decide to ditch nuclear energy for good.

And finally…if you’re looking for psychopaths, Wall Street is a good place to start. In an upcoming article in the trade magazine CFA – Sherree DeCovny alleges that one out of every ten employees on Wall Street is a clinical psychopath. That’s a psychopath rate ten timesabove what you see in the general population – where only one percent of people are psychopathic. As Decovny writes, “A financial psychopath can present as a perfect…CEO…because their destructive characteristics are practically invisible.” Then again – the economic destruction caused by the banksters in 2008 – culminating in the robbery of $7 trillion from the middle class – is hardly invisible – and clearly psychopathic.

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, February 29th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.