Economic Update: Economics and Red States: Arlie Hochschild

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On this week's episode of Economic Update, Prof. Wolff provides updates on Corbyn's victory in UK, Uber drivers unionize, state retirement systems sued for threatening pensions, hard facts about US medical insurance. Interview with Arlie Hochschild on new book Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right and why she believes "bridges" between progressives and Tea Party folks are very possible.

Showing 6 comments

  • commented 2016-10-12 05:31:18 -0400
    Hi Kevin: I finally managed to create an account and logged in with that. Hopefully, this will not appear on Facebook. Let me know.

    I understand your position on the teaparty, and I broadly agree that its dangerous to alienate them more than they have already been. I do not, however, agree that Arlie Hochschild is the means for bridging the gap. She speaks and writes as a bourgeois sentimentalist. She may diagnose some things correctly, but as long as she believes that Obama America is the answer, she will convince no one, least of all me. I know exactly why these people listen to Trump, and its the reason why they will never listen to Hochschild.

    You and I probably disagree as much as I do with Hochschild’s position. The idea of “democratic capitalism” in America and much of the west, is a conceit. Capitalism has evolved to the stage where there is no greater conflict than that between capitalism and democracy. This is what people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama call “freedom”…the freedom to pervert the original intent of capital accumulation (which is production), into an obscene financial casino. The Obamas ensure that none of the crimes, immoralities, harm caused by this perversion are even commented upon. American freedom means the freedom to screw whomever you want in whatever way you wish, if you are wealthy and connected. There is no democracy now, so how do you recover the democracy and tame the capitalist beast ?

    Richard offers one way forward: democratising the work-place. OK, he is right to insist on that transition, but is it really a way to recover democracy and tame the capitalist beast ? The better question is whether the current form of government and economy that exists within the US (and much of the west especially the UK) could happily accommodate Richard’s cooperative innovations, and remain essentially the same ? My answer is that it would be a slam-dunk. Of course the system could continue to invade other countries, loot their wealth, kill their citizens, murder innocent black people, increase the income gap. In fact, the coops might easily be tempted to join the front line in the chants about American greatness. Before long, hedge-funds would be betting on the success of the coops, and they would become securatised.

    Of course it would be great to have democracy in the work-place, but its far from sufficient, and you know as well as I do that US coops will face the same uncompetitive realities as US corporations. The change I want isnt the same as would satisfy Hochschild. With Hillary, she will get change that will fry the roots of her hair. What is the single biggest threat we face ? Climate change. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the major cheerleaders for fracking across the world. Obama lies every time he speaks about climate change, and he has deliberately blocked international efforts with his phony COP21.

    I believe the risks we face are so great that the difference between Trump’s narcissism and Obama’s narcissism is inconsequential. I agree that it is very difficult to be an American, even a progressive one, and understand why that is so.
  • commented 2016-10-09 15:03:58 -0400
    Consider the possibility that one of the drivers of high health insurance costs and deductibles is the effective monopolization of American medicine by one professional group (medical doctors) that have not only effectively frozen their competition out of the business through a variety of mechanisms … but are themselves stuck for many reasons in an outdated approach to their own clinical work.

    I’d be glad to expand upon this theme if anyone wants to be in touch. But it’s a classic monopoly situation … rising costs and steadily lower levels of service and responsiveness to the needs of the population.

    Leaving aside (for the moment) the issue of marginalizing chiropractic, naturopathic and acupuncture professionals … the competition … here’s where one can go to see where 21st century MD-style medicine is developing. Inspired in part by traditional chinese medicine’s systems thinking, two generations of MDs are well-along in the process of developing new forms of medicine reliant on individual education about the health effects of their daily habits and in particular the way the highly-industrialized diets most of us take for granted set the stage for epidemics of modern diseases set in motion by chronic low- to mid-grade inflammation … a situation 20th century style conventional medicine is structurally incapable of effectively managing. This is one (just one, but major) driver of steadily inflating health costs in the US. 20th century-style medicine long ago reached a point of diminishing returns.

    http://jeffreybland.com/content/home.aspx
  • commented 2016-10-07 12:35:39 -0400
    @lee I don’t disagree with you assessment of Clinton’s policies, or your critique of capitalism/neo-liberalism in general – I think we are in 100% agreement there. My point was the speaker in this audio wasn’t only talking about alternatives to capitalism, or the progressive movement specifically, but all the “leftish” groups, including social policy liberals like Hillary Clinton. My secondary point is that regardless of how much I disagree with neo-lib policy, Clinton’s particular flavor (she’s such a hawk, too much neo-con – hard to swallow indeed) is likely far better than the flavor of the same policies that Trump and the GOP have to offer – and on that there is surely room for disagreement. What I’d truly like to see is an actual policy left alternative to neo-libs for sure, but I don’t see anyone prominent running (Sanders was the closest we’ve gotten).

    I do disagree that her insight is widely understood, or at least that the insight is widely applied – we’d win more if it was. The tea party folks, and I have many in my extended family, aren’t bad people. They aren’t some other tribe, they are our tribe. We were sold a package, and told to wait in line. For a time it even worked – up to the 1960s, even bringing down the gap between historical racial groups. Then the deal was cancelled without actually telling anyone, while we continued to stand in line. Empathy is important here.

    The way forward then is to offer a better deal, one which workers can understand and empathize and then get on board with. Neoliberalism and meritocracy are not that deal. I think Richard Wolff’s WSDE – true democratic-capitalism* – model gets at that alternative deal, a real ownership society. But like most great critics, Wolff has great insights, but isn’t a salesman (which makes the growth of these ideas even more impressive). We need more salesmen.

    The Facebook comment I made was meant for the admins of this site, and not for you. Sorry for the confusion – it was about the Open Graph tags (an HTML reference) that are not configured correctly on this site (I’m a web developer). It makes sharing this on Facebook ugly, and would really prefer friends aren’t turned off just by seeing an big ugly graphic – I want my friend on Facebook to actually click the links. Sales and conversion are important.
    • I used “capitalism” in democratic-capitalism for two reasons here. 1. It isn’t technically other-than-capitalism unless the system outside the enterprise changes. WSDEs democratize workplaces by distributing ownership within existing rules of capitalist ownership, rules in which the owners get to make all the decisions. That doesn’t change int he short term, though the hope is once people get used to democracy at work, they’ll start to demand it elsewhere such as in their towns and communities. 2. Marketing – many people have a tribal allegiance to the term “capitalism,” so why trigger their tribal defenses if you don’t have to. We in this way can defer the conversation about the larger system, in favor of promoting actual functioning democracy at the workplace in the immediate term. Calling it democratic-capitalism is more accurate, and avoids triggering tribal defensive impulses, those beliefs that “bind and blind” – see Jonathan Haidt.
  • commented 2016-10-06 05:46:25 -0400
    The only reason I logged on via Facebook is that the link to register is dead…it produces only a dummy site. When that is fixed, or someone can tell me how to register, I will do so.

    We basically disagree. Clinton’s policies are monstrous, neo-con, classic neo-liberal measures to perpetuate the horrors that Richard talks about all the time. I never advocated voting for Trump. I dont believe it makes any difference who wins. Arlie talks like a pious good-doer. The teaparty was a response to decades of Democratic pandering to the wealthy and privileged. After Reagan, the Republican neo-cons gradually but surely took over the Democrat Party, as evidenced by the policies (lies and crimes) of Clinton and Obama. What is left of the Republicans is largely a husk. Obama appointed the top neo-cons to his administration, and has effectively displaced the Republican Party on the right of the political spectrum.

    What Arlie discovered is useful but already widely known and understood. Her interpretation is sugary sentimentality, so typical of her ideological enclave. The fight against the right has to begin in the Democrat Party, about to coronate the most right-wing presidential candidate ever to emerge from that party. What’s more, she is a crook.
  • commented 2016-10-05 16:28:54 -0400
    @lee you missed the point on two fronts. First, Arlie Hochschild is addressing what folks in the tea party and other seemingly misaligned working people on the right hear when liberals (like Clinton and Obama) and progressives (maybe you) talk, and she does so effectively, with clear and profound insights. Second, she’s claimed (correctly, though without much policy discussion) why Democratic party policy would better protect those people in LA even though they don’t want to hear it – yes, including even Obama and Clinton policies.

    Who she might advocate voting for is of so little importance against all that insight, and in a single election cycle, it’s not worth more than a sentence or passing comment, so here’s mine. Out of the two terrible candidates our horribly disfigured political system provided us, Hillary Clinton is clearly more progressive than Trump – purity not withstanding, and yeah, that sucks.

    To expand outside of pointless Clinton hatred, there are additional parties, so feel free to vote for one of them if you’d like to bolster their chances for the next round. Someone will after all have to pick up the pieces of the Republican party (Trump was never going to be a good candidate for them – and the polls are starting to reflect that). That task will be difficult to do if we allow simple fury and anger to blind us from seeing what Arlie Hochschild has explained here.

    Most importantly – democracyatwork.info still does not have property configured open graph tags! It makes these links very unappealing when I share on Facebook and Twitter. It’s doubly a shame because you have clearly gone to the effort to choose a content appropriate image for your post, and it would be so dumb simple to simply set that image as the open graph image (go:image tags). Please fix!

    https://developers.facebook.com/docs/sharing/best-practices
  • commented 2016-10-05 03:44:29 -0400
    Arlie Hochschild calls herself a progressive, and ends her talk by calling for people to vote for Hillary Clinton. In fact she seems to think like a cloistered yuppie. For her, the “right” is Donald Trump and the Teaparty. What is her “left” ? Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democrat Party ?? What have Obama and Bill Clinton, the most recent expressions of her “progressive” ideas, done for the alienated whites of Louisiana ? Should the fishermen she spoke to celebrate Obama’s baling out of the banks, protection of war criminals and torturers, murderer of tens of thousands of innocent people overseas ? Does Arlie not realise that the growth of the right incorporates the Democrat Party ? Her starting assumptions are simply flat wrong, probably the outcome of living in an enclave of jurrasic dinasours on the coast of California. This interview really angered me.
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