“With great power comes great responsibility.”

That’s what Uncle Ben said to young Peter Parker in the Spider-Man stories that we all love so much.

But in the real world, power doesn’t manifest in wall-crawling, super strength, the ability to fly, or shoot laser beams out of our eyes, etc. In the real world, power manifests as wealth, and in today’s America, we have a massive number of super-villains, but no heroes:

Rick: “We have this tool. We’ve got the power. We’ve got the power to do whatever we want. Collectively, we can solve any problem whatsoever, except we choose not to.”

He then brings Superman into the discussion, and compares our wealth class to him. It doesn’t go well:

Rick: “What if Superman – with all the power Superman has – decided that ‘You know what? I want to rob banks instead. I don’t want too use my powers for good. I don’t want to do the right thing. I just want to rob banks.’ That’s basically what our economy has turned into. You have a bunch of really wealthy people out there who think ‘The heck with you guys – More for me!'”

Superman would never buy a $500 million boat, but Jeff Bezos did, just as Lex Luthor would. And therein lies the problem.

To hear the full broadcast, click the player below:


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When we negotiate with power for better wages, we rarely fight for everyone. In fact, some of the first groups we negotiate out of the discussion are restaurant workers and tipped workers. Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage has been a fierce advocate for this particular group of workers, and she explains why in a recent interview on The Rick Smith Show:

Saru: “The wages in the restaurant industry were set at emancipation of slavery in 1865 when the restaurant industry wanted the ability to hire black people not pay them anything and and get free labor that lived on nothing but tips; and that is the origin of a sub-minimum wage for tipped workers which became law and has resulted in the wage in the restaurant industry being $2.13 an hour for tipped workers today, slightly higher in 40 states out of 50 [but] their wages are still five dollars or less. And it has been ridiculous for a long time. It took a pandemic for millions of workers to say enough is enough.”

Many GOP governors and state legislatures are beginning to pull unemployment benefits from workers in an attempt to force people back into these jobs. However, the plan isn’t working for one simple reason: The majority of these workers never made enough in wages to collect UI (enhanced or otherwise) in the first place. So for all the political posturing and worker shaming going on, none if it is likely to actually lead to these workers retuning to their poverty wage gigs.

Saru: “We just did a survey of 3,000 workers: 53% that are left say they’re leaving the industry;  76% say the top reason they’re leaving is low wages and tips; 78%, nearly 8 in 10, say the only thing that would make them stay in a restaurant or come back is a full livable wage with tips on top.”

We call them essential, and indeed they are. It’s time to pay them that way.

See Saru’s article “Restaurant Workers Say They Won’t Return to Work Without a Living Wage” in Truthout.org HERE.


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Things are getting scary out there. We have Trump claiming he’ll be reinstated in August, his former National Security Advisor calling for a Myanmar-style military coup over the Memorial Day weekend, and GOP legislatures all over the country doing everything in their power to make sure people of color or anyone else who might vote for a Democrat can’t get access to the polls.

Odd time to quote a Republican on the air, but that’s what Rick chose to do. He quoted something said by GOP congressman Pete Meijer over the Memorial Day weekend. Here’s why:

While it is encouraging to see some speak out, each time someone in the GOP does, that decency is immediately stamped out by the sheer tonnage of seditionist ideology all around it. Rep. Meijer will almost certainly be attacked, will need security for himself and his family, and he will certainly face a primary challenger from his right – one with the full support of an aging orange madman with delusions of dictatorship.

And in the end, the most likely scenario is that Meijer will be replaced, just as he replaced Justin Amash, who also committed the mortal sin of standing up to the lunatic right.

And the crazy train will just keep coming, chugging its way toward political violence, state-sponsored voter suppression, and minority rule by the wealthy few who hold the power to manipulate our government.

And America’s working families are standing on the tracks.


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The argument is simple: large segments of the US working population once belonged to unions. In those unions, we found power, but we also found community. And while a lot of attention has been paid to the power we lost as union membership declined, we have spent much less time talking about how we lost that sense of togetherness, that sense of solidarity that unions provided. And what has replaced that community, in many cases, has been a dangerous form of right-wing conspiracy worship in the form of militia membership, Qanon, and anti-government lunacy in a variety of forms.

Historian Kevin Gannon, who many remember from the Netflix documentary 13thjoined The Rick Smith Show to talk about how this happened, beginning with those who could have fought it, should have fought it, but mostly chose to sit it out, and how that choice was perceived:

Rick: “[Workers] want somebody who they perceive is going to fight for them, even if it’s the wrong fight.”

Rick: “If there’s a street fight, [the Democrats] will offer to hold your coat. Maybe. I want somebody who’s gonna ball up their digits and get in there and mix it up.”

Kevin: “The Democrats stopped fighting for them because the Democrats have stopped fighting for the working class … period.”

Kevin continued, turning to the subject of how the right co-opted those old coalitions and transformed them into a population that now votes for the very people who have been taking power away from working people for generations:

Kevin: “[The] working class […] is the most powerful multi-racial coalition in this country and when you have white workers who […] feel alienated and are committed to having somebody fight for them and then the right says “We’ll fight for you because you’re white,” well, you’re still fighting for me, so all the potential that is embedded in working-class politics and good progressive union-oriented working-class politics has been co-opted for the last several decades.”

Rick: “[T]his is where unions served a real purpose. It brought people together. It got people to join into a common interest and that common interest is better wages, hours, conditions, better opportunities for our families, better communities. That was the what drew us together and as Republican policy – and some Democratic policy […] Democrats were responsible for the destruction of unions too – destroyed the union’s ability to bring people together, those people sought other things out. And that’s how you end up with the Q-kooks and all these right-wing militia groups and all of this insanity that’s out there.”

While no one argues that this is the entire reason for the rise of the conspiracy culture we now live in, none can argue that this is not a significant factor in how we ended up where we are today. It’s an important discussion, and one that isn’t going away any time soon.

To hear the rest of Rick and Kevin’s conversation, the podcast is available below:


The #RickShow​ is available everywhere. Check your radio dial or your favorite podcast app, and if you want to catch the TV show, find us on:

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On Wednesday morning, a murderer walked into a public transit rail yard in San Jose, California and murdered eight co-workers with a gun, then turned a gun on himself.

It’s an event that can happen anywhere, in almost any country on the planet, but it is also an event that happens so frequently in America that if we don’t find a way to do something about it, the mass shooting will soon be associated with the very fabric of American culture, right there next to baseball and apple pie.

Rick Smith spoke about this at length just a few hours after the shooting, echoing the words of California Governor Gavin Newsom:

“I was listening to Governor Newsom out in California talk about it. He goes ‘What the hell’s going on? What’s going on in this country? There’s a sense of numbness I imagine that some of us are feeling about this because there’s a sameness to it. Anywhere, USA.’ It just feels like this happens over and over and over again. Rinse and repeat rinse and repeat, and he says it begs the damn question, ‘What the hell is going on in this country? What’s going on in the United States?'”

“What’s wrong with us?”

That’s a question that can’t be answered in a 20-minute radio segment, but what we can do is help. We are encouraging our listeners, friends on social media, and union brothers and sisters to do what they can to support the grieving families of those ATU brothers we lost. It will only be a small comfort, but it will certainly be much more than what our political class is doing. Donations can be made to the ATU Disaster Relief Fund HERE.

To hear the rest of Rick’s commentary on the latest senseless act of gun violence, the podcast is available below:


The #RickShow​ is available everywhere. Check your radio dial or your favorite podcast app, and if you want to catch the TV show, find us on:

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Pennsylvania State Senator Art Haywood joined us on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death to discuss police reform, common sense gun violence legislation, and how we can get more control over how our friends and neighbors are treated by law enforcement.

Watch as the Senator explains what police reform is, and what it isn’t, and what he thinks will make our neighborhoods safer.

“Folks in my neighborhood are not for defunding the police. If there’s a problem, we call the police. [If] there’s a burglary, we call the police – a robbery, we call the police. So defunding the police is not something that I want to see happen or most of my neighbors. I will say this there are many who want to see more resources for social services, mental health and I got to tell you police officers are requested to do a number of things well beyond their scope.”

The Senator discussed the topic at length, including the need for training, accountability, and adequate pay. He also had some time for questions on the “labor shortage” that has many GOP governors pulling UI benefits, which he blamed mostly on substandard pay for working people:

“Workers […] are dissatisfied with many of the jobs that are offered and employers really got to look at this question of why aren’t people attracted to the jobs that they have.”


The #RickShow​ is available everywhere. Check your radio dial or your favorite podcast app, and if you want to catch the TV show, find us on:

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