By Jim Miller
Trump is a train-wreck, I know.
But while the pathetic carnival that is the White House continues to distract and horrify Americans, some hugely important news is getting lost in the din.
Here are a few of the stories that should be getting equal time but have been drowned out by the drama of the Disaster in Chief.
1.American public education is under an unprecedented assault.
Through a combination of budget cuts and calculated policies to encourage rapid and wide-ranging charterization, the Trump administration’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is no joke when it comes to seeking to “disrupt” public education and promote privatization at any cost. That, combined with the national push by the billionaire-funded charter schools lobby, is in the process of fundamentally undermining American public education.
2.More new evidence suggests that economic inequality is deepening and is killing the American middle class.
After the new research by Thomas Piketty and his colleagues that I wrote about a few weeks ago, yet another new study has documented that, on average, things have not gotten significantly better for the American worker since 1942 and today’s workers have little hope of catching up. Even as America overall has become more prosperous, stagnant or falling wages have guaranteed that all the gains have gone to the top according to a Brookings Institute study that is important in that it shows that the decline of the American Middle class goes back even further than previously thought.
3.The American labor movement is on death row
While there was much ado on the end of the filibuster after the Democrats tried to stop Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorusuch, there was very little reporting on what this new court will mean for American Labor. Just as the death of Antonin Scalia gave American public sector unions a reprieve, this new court will likely soon be ruling on the Janus decision, a similar case to Friedrichs, that aims to kill agency fees for public sector unions in the United States. This combined with a Right to Work bill that has already been introduced to the House of Representatives, threatens to bring Scott Walker’s Wisconsin labor apocalypse to the entire country. When that happens, it will deeply damage the political prospects of Democrats and the economic prospects of everyday Americans (see story number 2).
4.All across America Republican statehouses are trying to criminalize protest
In at least 18 states across the country, Republican lawmakers have either proposed or introduced bills to curb protests or make certain protest tactics illegal. It is one thing to bemoan the authoritarian tendencies of Trump’s personality but it is another far more serious thing to see this kind of full-court press legislative assault on public assembly and free speech. Even if only one of these attempts succeed, it will set a very dangerous precedent for the entire country and give bills like HR 347, which would severely restrict the right to protest nationally, a better chance to pass.
5.While the Trump administration is busy trying to destroy the Environmental Protection Agency and kill every regulation on the books, more and more evidence of the effects of climate change is coming in fast and the news is not good.
Ice is melting much faster in Antarctica than previously thought, which may bring catastrophic flooding globally. Flooding is also jeopardizing the seed bank that serves as an archive for saving the world’s food supply. And if those two things didn’t get your attention, new studies indicate that the permafrost is melting in the global north, threatening to unleash a disastrous feedback loop effect that would dim the hopes of stopping the worst effects of climate change from wreaking great havoc on all life on earth.
So while the on-going Trump carnival is surely titillating, the terrible policy that is sliding by largely unnoticed is sobering indeed.