The Thom Hartmann Show

How All of Us Are Paying a Heavy Price for Corporate Greed

There’s a new epidemic spreading across America.

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How the Mainstream Media Is Propagating GOP Myths

The Caucus Room Conspiracy is alive and well, and it’s getting a big time boost from the mainstream media.

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The Best Thing America Can Do to Help Iraq Is to Do Nothing at All

Editor's note: As Obama's "favorite" think tank, the Center for American Progress announced in a new report on Tuesday that the US should “prepare for limited counterterrorism operations against ISIS, including possible air strikes,” Thom Hartmann points to the folly of another US intervention in Iraq.

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300,000 People Were Exposed to a Toxic Chemical in W. Va. - Why Is the EPA Investigating It Four Months Later?

America doesn’t give a rat’s ass about poor people.

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The Koch Brothers Are Now Worth an Obscene $100 Billion -- And They Are Using That Fortune to Destroy Our Society

On Wednesday, Charles and David Koch - the Koch Brothers - reached a new personal milestone.

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Nevada Ranch Stand-Off Was One Big Promo for Rustic Right-Wing Millionaires

Now that the Bureau of Land Management has started returning millionaire rancher Cliven Bundy’s cows, some in the media are saying that the so-called “Nevada range war” is over.

But they’re wrong.                                                                  

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Outsourcing and Privatization are Killing America

With devastating austerity measures being imposed nationwide — state and local governments are facing a lot of budget crunches.

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Cruel Politics: How Republicans Are Literally Shutting Down Hospitals

Republicans are literally forcing hospitals to close down.

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One American City Enjoys a Hyperfast Internet -- Any Surprise Corporations Don't Control It?

It’s time for high-speed internet access for all!

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Latest Major Chemical Spill Exposes Flaws of Libertarian Approach to Govt.

Not too long ago - the last “do not use” water ban was lifted in West Virginia - more than a few weeks after the devastating chemical spill in Charleston. Theoretically - that means that West Virginians should be able to drink their water without any concerns that it’s still contaminated.
 
But if West Virginians are still concerned about their drinking water being contaminated - they’re not going to get any help from their governor. At a press conference on Monday - when asked by a reporter if the water was actually safe to drink and to use - Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said that, “It’s your decision. If you do not feel comfortable drinking or cooking with this water then use bottled water.” Tomblin added that, “I’m not going to say absolutely, 100 percent that everything is safe.  But what I can say is if you do not feel comfortable, don’t use it.” He finished by saying that, “I’m not a scientist, you know. I have to rely on the best information that I have.”
 
This week - the company that owns the factory - Freedom Industries -  the one's who caused the leak admitted that a second chemical spilled into the Elk River. But Governor Tomblin doesn’t seem too concerned about that - and isn’t in any rush to hire more scientists to ensure that the water is safe.
 
He’s saying that the people of West Virginia should play scientist - and decide for themselves if the water is safe to drink. While Tomblin might be a Democrat - in this instance - he's taking a very libertarian approach - and that comes with a lot of flaws. Libertarianism assumes that we are all capable of making those complex kinds of decisions - and assessing risks for ourselves.
 
But we aren’t all scientists. We can’t decide for ourselves whether drinking water does or doesn’t have dangerous chemicals in it. We need regulations to keep us safe - before chemical spills and other disasters happen.
 
In Europe - governments and lawmakers proactively address problems and potential disasters - to prevent harm to their people. As the E.U. government describes it - “The precautionary principle enables rapid response in the face of a possible danger to human, animal or plant health, or to protect the environment. In particular, where scientific data do not permit a complete evaluation of the risk, recourse to this principle may, for example, be used to stop distribution or order withdrawal from the market of products likely to be hazardous.”
 
While the very mention of the “precautionary principle” is enough to scare libertarians straight - it’s essential that we address problems before they happen - not aft.
 
What’s going on in West Virginia right now a classic example of how libertarianism is a flawed system.

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