In this 2004 Moyers Moment from NOW with Bill Moyers, author Richard Dawkins makes the case for evolution’s truth, and assesses the argument of “intelligent design.”
“All material should be studied with an open mind and studied critically. What’s wrong is to single out evolution as any more open to doubt as anything else,” Dawkins tells Bill. “Evolution is about as certain as anything we know.”
In this 2006 Moyers Moment from Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason, novelist Martin Amis talks about his inner conflicts when it comes to his own agnosticism.
“Agnostic is the only respectable position, simply because our ignorance of the universe is s0 vast… We’re about eight Einsteins away from getting any kind of handle on the universe,” Amis tells Bill. “But why is the universe so incredibly complicated? That makes me delay my vote on the existence of some intelligence.”
Sheila Bair on Moyers & Company. (Credit: Dale Robbins)
In an op-ed published in The New York Times yesterday, Sheila Bair, the George W. Bush-appointed chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from 2006 through 2011, wrote that recent research by economist Emmanuel Saez should prompt Republicans to rethink their policies.
Saez studies income inequality in America, which reached a 90-year-high in 2007, immediately before the financial crisis. And Saez’s recent studies have found that, since 2009, inequality is again on the rise. The economy’s gradual recovery is only a recovery for the one percent: In the last two years, the richest Americans have seen their incomes grow by 11 percent, while the bottom 99 percent of Americans saw their incomes shrink by 0.4 percent. MORE
To those who would argue that the notion of a perpetual motion machine is impossible, we give you the revolving door — that ever-spinning entrance and exit between public service in government and the hugely profitable private sector. It never stops.
Yes, we’ve talked about the revolving door until we’re red or blue in the face (the door is bipartisan and spins across party lines) but this mantra bears its own perpetual repetition, a powerful reason for our distrust of the people who make and enforce our laws and regulations.
Cathy Koch poses in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on April 3, 2009. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images)
Jesse Eisinger, writing at The New York Times, reports that on January 25, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid announced the appointment of Cathy Koch as his chief advisor on tax and economic policy. According to the Times, “The news release lists Ms. Koch’s admirable and formidable experience in the public sector. ‘Prior to joining Senator Reid’s office,’ the release says, ‘Koch served as tax chief at the Senate Finance Committee.’”
But, Eisinger notes, the press statement fails to mention Ms. Koch’s actual last job — as a registered lobbyist for GE. “Yes, General Electric,” he writes, “the company that paid almost no taxes in 2010. Just as the tax reform debate is heating up, Mr. Reid has put in place a person who is extraordinarily positioned to torpedo any tax reform that might draw a dollar out of GE — and, by extension, any big corporation.” MORE
Last year, we took a look at some of the proposed changes members of the Texas School Board had requested be made to textbooks used in the state’s schools. Because Texas has such a huge school system serving nearly 5 million schoolchildren, many of the textbook changes that get made in Texas end up making their way into school books across the country. Over 100 amendments were debated — many of which had a very clear conservative political agenda.
Later this week we’ll be hitting the books again with our guest, activist Zack Kopplin. The Louisiana native became alarmed when he realized that a law that passed the state legislature was making it easier to teach creationism in public schools. Kopplin wrote a research paper on the law when he was just 14 years old. He assumed someone else would take on the law. No one did. So Kopplin started a campaign to repeal the law. He worked with Sir Harry Kroto, a British chemist who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry, to write a letter opposing the law that was signed by 78 Nobel laureates. He’s also drafted three bills, two of which have been introduced in the Louisiana state legislature. MORE
President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Martin Luther King, Jr. on Aug. 6, 1965 upon signing the Voting Rights Act. Credit: Yoichi R. Okamoto, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum
On Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, a case with the potential to dismantle the Voting Rights Act. The landmark law, passed nearly 50 years ago and reauthorized by Congress four times, made various forms of voter discrimination in the South, such as poll taxes and literacy tests, illegal. The central issue of the case is whether Congress should continue to review new voter laws in certain states to ensure discrimination is not taking place. MORE
Try to remain calm — even as you begin to feel your chest tighten and your heart race. Try not to panic as water starts flowing into your nose and mouth, while you attempt to constrict your throat and slow your breathing and keep some air in your lungs and fight that growing feeling of suffocation. Try not to think about dying, because there’s nothing you can do about it, because you’re tied down, because someone is pouring that water over your face, forcing it into you, drowning you slowly and deliberately. You’re helpless. You’re in agony.
The Water Torture. — Facsimile of a Woodcut in J. Damhoudère's Praxis Rerum Criminalium: Antwerp, 1556.
In short, you’re a victim of “water torture.” Or the “water cure.” Or the “water rag.” Or the “water treatment.” Or “tormenta de toca.” Or any of the other nicknames given to the particular form of brutality that today goes by the relatively innocuous term “waterboarding.” MORE
Volunteers fill bags with food at the Cleveland Foodbank. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
In his State of the Union address, President Obama offered the kind of concrete proposals that anti-poverty advocates have long been waiting for: raising the minimum wage, expanding high-quality early childhood education and creating new “ladders of opportunity” in twenty of the poorest communities in the country.
All of these policies would help reverse the spread of hunger, which now affects more than 50 million Americans, including more than one in five children — an increase of 37 percent in childhood hunger since 1999. However, these promising proposals aren’t nearly enough, especially since the country is poised to move in the wrong direction in the fight against hunger.
If the sequester cuts takes effect, 600,000 low-income pregnant women and children up to age 5 will be cut from the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program, which currently provides them with a monthly package of nutritious food. SNAP (food stamp) benefits are also scheduled to be cut in order to pay for — if you can believe it — a 2010 deal that improved the nutritional quality of school lunches. After November 1, SNAP benefits will average approximately $1.30 per person per meal. Finally, during the last Congress, both the House Agricultural Committee and the full Senate voted to cut the SNAP program — by $16 billion and $4.5 billion, respectively — so more cuts might be on the horizon. MORE
Since 2009, income growth among the majority of Americans has remained relatively stagnant. But an updated version of economist Emmanuel Saez’s study, “Striking it Richer,” shows that this is not true for the top one percent of Americans.
The study found that since the recovery began in 2009, while the bottom 99 percent of Americans’ incomes have fallen by 0.4 percent since the recovery began in 2009, the top one percent’s incomes have risen by 11.2 percent. So the recovery is only truly a recovery for the wealthiest Americans.
Since the 1970s, the wealthiest one percent increasingly have earned a larger and larger share of America’s income. The recession in the early 2000s and the “Great Recession” starting in 2007 decreased their earnings, but — as the chart below shows — the top one percent still earned more than the next four percent of income earners combined. And since the recovery began in 2009, the top one percent’s incomes have bounced back more than that of any other percentile. MORE
Kassandra Guzman, an 18-year-old high school student from Queens, N.Y., works seven days a week and said she still has trouble saving for college after helping her parents pay their bills. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Today, a single parent earning minimum wage takes home $15,080 a year. That’s $3,400 below the federal poverty line for a family of three. President Obama noted the statistic in his State of the Union Address — “That’s wrong,” he said, calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $9 an hour because “in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.”
The minimum wage has not always left a single income-earner for a family of three so far below the poverty line. In 1968, when minimum wage was at it’s highest point ever, that same breadwinner would have made $19,245 a year in today’s dollars — roughly a third more than he or she makes now.
In 1981, in an attempt to fight inflation, the minimum wage was frozen at $3.35 per hour despite the rising cost of living. It wasn’t bumped up until 1990, by which point it had fallen well below the poverty line for a family of two (about $2,500 lower than for a family of three). From 1997 to 2007, the minimum wage remained stuck at $5.15 per hour, as, once again, the cost of living continued to increase.
Between 2007 and 2010, the federal minimum crept up to $7.25 per hour, though individual states were given the power to raise the minimum wage above the national one, and nineteen have taken that opportunity. Now, Obama says, it’s time for the minimum wage to increase again nationally. MORE