Political Economy category archive
A self-proclaimed “ex-objectivist” tries to differentiate between Randian “objectivism” and “libertarianism.” Sam suggests that that’s a distinction without a difference.
David and Professor Henry Giroux discuss the destruction of the concept of the common good.
Robert Pawlicki takes a look at the tales we tell ourselves to rationalize the perpetuation of privacy and deprivation and at the consequences thereof to the polity. Here’s a little bit of the article; follow the link for the rest.
- “We worked hard for our wealth, and those who aren’t well-off are either inferior or lazy.”
- “We live in the land of the free, and anyone putting their nose to the grindstone can make a good living.”
- “Too many poor people are living off of the government because they want to.”
- “Giving money to the poor is socialism.”
Such beliefs, and many more, contribute to political policies that prevent the government from additional funding of public schools, offering government-paid preschool education and national health care, thereby preventing all citizens a necessary platform from which to move forward. Instead, the threat that the poor will have additional assistance to raise out of poverty grows the fear that some portion of American society will get something for nothing — or that we’d have to pay more taxes.
It’s been a long time since I studied economics in college, though I’ve never abandoned my interest in the topic, and, I must say, I’ve seen no better explanation of Reaganomics than the one offered by the character Quark as he refuses the post of Grand Nagus of Feringinar in the penultimate episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette takes a long look at whether unemployment benefits keep persons from applying for jobs. In a lengthy article, they explores the pros and cons of the issue. Given all the shouting, the piece is worth a read. Here’s a bit:
“I have not heard a single person in our group say, ‘These benefits are great, I’m going to stay at home,’” said Ms. Deutsch, who also is the director of worker justice campaigns at the Center for Popular Democracy, a progressive advocacy organization based in New York. “They don’t want to experience the shame of being unemployed. They know that even under the best-case scenario, these benefits will not last forever.”
I doubt seriously that many persons would choose unemployment benefits over gainful employment and suspect that those who do are likely battling other issues, such as drugs or alcohol or personal issues or lack of means of transportation to and from work.
The key phrase, of course, is “gainful employment.”
I believe that what underlies the claims by employers that persons willingly choose unemployment benefits, which are meager at best, is that employers would rather pay meager wages than living ones. So they point their fingers elsewhere to take attention away from the starvation wages they are offering.
But that’s just me.
Thom and his guest discuss the “morbidly wealthy” and their dynastic desires.
“Morbidly weathy.” What a well-turned phrase.
At the Bangor Daily News, David Farmer makes the case that poverty in America is a policy choice, not a sign of moral failing on the part of the impoverished. A snippet:
The fact that families — including children — live in poverty is not something that just happens in the United States. It is the predictable outcome of our policies choices. And when we opt for the status quo we contribute to the problem.
There are a host of different policies that could reverse course, but first that we have to stop conflating poverty with morality. Being poor isn’t a sin. It’s the result of specific policies.
Follow the link for his evidence.
Professor Richard Wolff joins Thom to talk about the recent inflation numbers.
A little–I emphasize little–inflation is not necessarily a bad thing. I think that a major contributor to the emotional panic we see today at the least little bit of inflation is a legacy of the OPEC fuel embargo of the 1970s. Fuel prices rose starkly (remember gas lines and odd-even rationing?), spurring double-digit inflation rates across the economy.
Part of the legacy of that experience, in my view, is an unreasoning fear of even the smallest hint of inflation, leading to gnashing of teeth, wringing of hands, and stupiding of policy.
At the Des Moines Register, Maria Reppas remembers her time working in a restaurant and makes the case that small business owners (such as restaurants) are grousing about the wrong shortage. A snippet (emphasis added):
When I hear about the “labor shortage” in the restaurant industry, I look at the pay. The federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour, and for tipped servers it’s $2.13 an hour. Despite increased costs of living, those rates haven’t changed since 2009 and 1991, respectively. . . .
Instead of a mythical labor shortage, the United States has a livable wage shortage.
David dissects the double-speak.
Read Newsweek’s report on this Chris Wallace interview.