Guest: Nicolas Rivero of Quartz; Also: House finally passes Biden BBB agenda, hard part waits in Senate; VA school board unbans books; Fight for majority control of VA House of Delegates not over yet...
By BRAD FRIEDMAN on 11/19/2021 7:00pm PT
Apparently it's another myth busting episode of The BradCast today. It would be nice if lousy reporting from the corporate media --- particularly regarding the economy --- didn't make these so frequently necessary of late. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
But, first up today, a few other stories of note today...
- The 17-year old white kid who crossed a state border into Kenosha, Wisconsin to unlawfully wield a semi-automatic weapon before using it to shoot three anti-racism protesters, killing two of them, was acquitted of all charges today. So, we guess it's now open season to shoot anyone ya like, as long as you claim it was done in self-defense. And, yes, as long as you're white.
- Democrats in the U.S. House finally came together today to pass the Build Back Better Act, President Biden's nearly $2 trillion landmark spending bill to expand healthcare, childcare, education, eldercare and much MUCH more, including the most substantive action to combat the global climate crisis in the history of the nation. Every Republican in the chamber voted against it. The transformative legislation includes scores and scores of long-overdue provisions that, if virtually any one of them were passed on their own as a standalone bill, it would be, to paraphrase the President, a BFD. But, of course, while getting it through the House took months, that was the easy part. Now, the crowning achievement of Biden's agenda will have to get through the U.S. Senate, where, without any Republican votes, all 50 Senators who caucus with the Democrats will have to sign off on in order to pass it under Senate budget reconciliation rules. That means obstructionist Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema may feel free to water it down further than they already have, or kill it all together. We'll find out what happens when the upper chamber picks up the measure, after the Thanksgiving holiday.
- A few days ago, we reported on the Spotsylvania County, Virginia School Board's 6 to 0 vote last week to begin removing certain books from their school's libraries after a debate about whether they should ban the books or both ban and burn them. It was one of several stories we highlighted to underscore the unmistakable drumbeat of rising authoritarianism in our country right now. But, at least on that story, there is some good news this week. Democracy struck back! After 4 and a half hours of public comment at the Board's subsequent meeting this week, cut off only because it was midnight, the Board voted to reverse it's ban! Though the Board's two book burning proponents stood their ground, they lost in a 5 to 2 vote. All thanks to excellent local media reporting and a huge turnout from teachers, librarians, parents and teachers who spoke passionately in favor of libraries and books while calling for the book burners to resign.
- Following up on another story we covered earlier this week, on the media's horrifically misleading reporting on inflation, we share part of a Paul Waldman excellent column from WaPo that sounds as if it could have been ripped straight from The BradCast's coverage that day, myth busting the very same issues that we did.
- Then, picking up on a related-ish myth that needs busting as well this week, we're joined by NICOLÃS RIVERO of Quartz, to discuss his recent myth-busting, deep-dive reporting on our current, pre-Christmas, "post-pandemic" supply chain issues and why, despite no shortage of bad reporting on this, a shortage of truck drivers is not actually to blame.
In fact, the industry has been claiming virtually every year since 2005 (and, really, going back to the late 1980s as Rivero documents), that they have a shortage of drivers. Last month, the American Trucking Associations announced a shortage of 80,000 drivers, declaring it "an all-time high for the industry." That, despite the fact that states issue more than 450,000 new commercial driver's licenses every year. Something doesn't add up here. At the same time, as Rivero tells me today, "between 1995 and 2017, the turnover rate at big trucking companies averaged 94%," according to the industry's own data. "That means that every year, they are refilling the equivalent of virtually every driving position, because people are quitting and leaving."
"The real shortage," he explains, is not of truckers, but "of good trucking jobs that can attract and retain workers in a tight labor market." So, why isn't supply keeping up with demand in that supposedly free market? Rivero discusses the industry's "race to the bottom," leading drivers to take equal or better paying jobs elsewhere that don't come with all of the burdens --- especially for long-haulers --- the industry now forces onto their drivers.
We also discuss the trucker's unions' part in all of this, and how --- and if --- Biden's new infrastructure bill might actually improve the situation, for drivers, for the industry and, yes, for our "post-pandemic" supply chain woes.
- Finally, in our closing few minutes (before standing down to hit the road ourselves for the holiday next week!), the fight for control of the Virginia House of Delegates may not be as over as it appeared almost three weeks ago, when Republicans were declared by media to have taken the majority back from the Democrats during the off-year elections. A very close race in one district and a tallying error in another very close race (leading the Dem who currently holds that seat to withdraw her concession), has now resulted in two upcoming recounts. Republicans will control 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber. The question is now whether the GOP will control the chamber outright or --- long shot as it may be --- if both races flip to the Democrats resulting in a 50-50 power sharing agreement. Luckily, the commonwealth recently moved from 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots. So a fair, overseeable count of voter intent is now possible in the state where Republican Glenn Youngkin was declared the winner in the Gubernatorial race and Republicans swept the other two statewide races on November 2nd for Lt. Governor and Attorney General.
We'll be watching over the holidays, even as 'The BradCast' and 'GNR' stand down next week for a much needed recharge of batteries and some long-overdue family time. We'll see ya after the holiday! Desi and I both hope it will be a healthy and happy one for all!...