Economic Update: Local Groups, Social Change


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On this week's episode of Economic Update, Prof. Wolff provides updates on new book "Coming of Age in the Other America," new research shows superiority of worker coops over capitalist enterprises, negative results of profit-driven enterprises, "America" replaces Budweiser. Interview with Betsy Avila, digital organizer of local groups for social change.

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  • followed this page 2016-10-19 11:16:30 -0400
  • commented 2016-07-09 07:40:39 -0400
    I can see where you’re coming from Norma but greed is not a theological concept invented by religious leaders; it’s a very real, and very negative, human characteristic and a moral reprobation that existed prior to religion and exists outside of it. It’s a human trait that some or most of us are born with before we even learn about religion, and religion is something we’re not born with; we learn it. All religion does is acknowledge it as something which already exists, and correctly condemns it. Greed is a very real thing and it infects and metastasizes inside those who want more more more, and those who get what they want end up never being satisfied with what they have.

    This concept of “more more more”, which is the essence of greed, perfectly parallels the key capitalist concept of never ending growth (i.e., “more” growth and even more growth and so on). Greed has everything to do with capitalism, as we’ve seen it manifested in the society’s top capitalists throughout world history. It’s always there, so to divorce greed from capitalism is profoundly ignorant especially considering what we see every day in America.
  • commented 2016-07-09 03:43:12 -0400
    Greed is a churchly emotional accusation. Capitalism is a structure; it is The structure of society – except for locales pursuing socialism. A structure: picture climbing a ladder. As you go up it you’re told, ‘ok, now go to your left – or right. You can’t. You keep going – up, or call it along. But you keep going on that structure. All that is possible is to get DOWN!! and remove that structure.
    Greed has nothing to do with it. The church preachers tell us of greed. They are an adjunct of capitalism: quoth they: the meek shall inherit the Earth --AS IF!!!!
    Interim efforts like these are essential – to teach us it takes a universe to overthrow capitalism. Steps here and there help us understand what we need to do – we need to do the whole thing.
    I think we will. Norma
  • commented 2016-06-15 18:14:29 -0400
    Very well written Marc. Thank you for pointing out that I was on right path in my analysis and for further stating that greed manifests in all – big & small companies. The only way to fight greed/selfishness is with a higher power of “Unselfishness”. Worker Co-ops is definitely the first step towards that – united we work & share earnings. We should then take the next logical step – a non-profit worker co-op.

    I have a question for Prof wolff – We see so many non-profit organizations in service sectors – health, education, charity etc.. Why are there no non-profit products – why don’t we hear about a non-profit shampoo, a non-profit chips company ? These can beat the capitalists by price factor & by superior morals. Also our donations can help such companies expand (as they do not have profits to help expansion). Why is this not being done prof?

    Also can we have an economy where money is completely replaced by this thing I like to call “Serves” (for a lack of better term) ? Can you please validate this theory for me professor – , I’ve been working on this for months now but do not have anyone to get feedback from ?
    When we trade using money, we always cater to the rich rather than catering to human needs; The basic demand-supply curve is a way of catering to rich; The REAL demand supply curve takes Human needs into picture & that is missing in economics.

    Would love to hear you talk on these subjects Sir.
  • commented 2016-06-15 11:45:41 -0400
    I wish that links or references would be provided to the sources of the news items discussed in the audio segments. I often find that I would like to read more about one or more of the topics mentioned.
  • commented 2016-06-15 10:59:48 -0400
    P-1: “Alan Watts (approximately 1965) – Discusses money and politics” (13:55)
  • commented 2016-06-14 09:14:54 -0400
    Another solid, informative podcast. I did enjoy the interview with Betsy, it was enlightening as it touched on aspects that I can relate to. Indeed being tired and busy are very real phenomena, especially if you have children to tend to. Not saying that’s an excuse, nor am I saying that it’s not.

    On the profit motive discussion, and perhaps this dovetails into Nikhil’s earlier comment, I’ve always felt that this particular term doesn’t quite capture the business environment of today, which IMO rivals that of the Industrial Revolution (another ridiculous term, it was really Tycoonism). I’ve worked a number of years in the private sector at the worker level, both in blue- and gray-collared positions, and if senior-level customer service counts as such, a light-gray collar that’s between gray and white, and I’ve seen first-hand the mindset of mid-level managers, senior-level company officers and majority ownership (very white collar). I think it’s less accurate to describe it as ‘profit motive’ as much as ‘profit obsessed’, which is always synonomous with the imperious mindset. Their personal actions aren’t overt with it, but their decisions and company policies are. With these people it’s a pathological level of greed (as Nikhil correctly mentioned in his link) which cannot be explained at the academic level because it’s not academic in nature; it’s moral or perhaps clinical as many of them are clearly psychotic as clinical defined (disconnected from the reality of the workplace they cultivate, everything’s premeditated, cannot bond nor empathize with their workers but act like they can, sometimes bizarre behavior at the workplace, etc). Perhaps Dr. Fraad could comment on this since she’s a therapist. These people can still get the same level of production from their workers, perhaps more, if they’d take their foot off the throat of their workers, yet they don’t. Why? Because of their ‘need’ to exert complete control. The image of the “sweaty-toothed madman” as described in the movie Dead Poets Society comes to mind, one consumed with acquiring increasingly obscene and unnecessary levels of more, but this madman is skillfully cloaked, hidden under a very calm, ‘professional’ and even personable veneer who willfully makes destructive decisions on a nearly daily basis. More than we think are simply lost, reprobate, but you wouldn’t know it when meeting them for the first time.

    Earlier I intentionally used the term “business environment” and not “corporate environment” because there are countless non-corporate giant businesses that are just as rapacious as any, especially when it comes to worker treatment. Smaller and mid-sized family-owned businesses are notorious for viewing workers with contempt and disdain. I’ve worked for big corporations and smaller family-owned companies and I’ve found that, pay aside, the former treats their workers with more dignity on the production floor. That’s likely due to the workers not having to deal directly and regularly with the company’s true capitalists due to the sheer size of the employee base, something they normally do in smaller mid-sized businesses because the fishbowl to interact in is much smaller. And like their bigger corporate brothers with the federal government, many smaller and mid-sized businesses too get away with insulting tax breaks handed to them by local and state governments. It’s very critical to realize this fact because they’re not that different, yet too many times we immediately blame the corporate giants for the mess we’re in. And they do deserve a lot of the blame but not all of it. The aforementioned smaller and mid-sized companies are no less culpable in our poor economic environment.
  • commented 2016-06-13 04:53:33 -0400
    On the 24th Minute Question : Profit motive – good or bad? Prof Wolff gave an awesome answer and pointed out the taboo we have regarding it. But Professor, why don’t you dig deeper – “why are we behind profits?” and reach the deeper core of our problems, or is that another taboo too?. My deeper analysis I present here – , Please help me understand if I’m wrong Sir.
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