Economic Update: Morality and Economics

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On this week's show Prof. Richard D. Wolff presents updates on mostly low-paid service jobs in US future, Senate deregulates banks, college spending per student reinforces income inequality, US loneliness a factor in illnesses and premature death, Univ of Chicago grad students unionize, Brazilian civil and religious authorities push almost-rotten food for the poor, and costs of pollution. 

SPECIAL GUEST: Dr. Harriet Fraad discusses the psychology and economics of the sex work industry.


Showing 8 comments

  • followed this page 2017-11-17 01:39:03 -0500
  • commented 2017-11-15 14:55:55 -0500
    Rape Vs. Rape
    There is hypocrisy around prostitution. But there’s another group that gets rapped everyday, and its never reported in the news: prisoners.

    If you go online, you can hear horrific testimony of ex-prisoners explaining the predatory, rape culture in US prisons. Even I didn’t know it was so bad.

    In our country, we give 20 year-olds thirty years for selling a little coke. In other countries it would be a citation. So from these inhumane sentences, homosexuality thrives.
  • commented 2017-11-15 14:07:32 -0500
    I’m a fan of your podcast and particularly enjoy the insights from Dr. Fraad, but I think both of you misunderstand the issue of “sex work”.

    By casting the issue as one of morality vs. economics you erected a straw woman that was easily dismissed. The so called moral opposition to sex work is inherently subjective and usually associated with conservative right wing views. And using the traditional measures of work, including salaries, working conditions, benefits etc. again misses the more complex nature of this issue. After all, slaves work, but we don’t place them into traditional categories of labor.

    Why? Because a slave by definition lacks freedom, free will and choice. So we don’t even begin to measure relative working conditions of slaves to determine if this form of ‘work’ makes sense. Similarly, the overwhelming majority of prostituted women are poor, on a world wide basis mostly women of color and face such dire economic and social conditions that they are driven to prostitution not by choice, but from profound lack of choice.

    Add to that the violence, sexual abuse and the innumerable inequalities that they face and the lack of choice become even more pronounced. The real question to ask is does “sex work” promote equality for women? And the data shows that it does not.

    Survey’s by the Prostitution Research Institute in San Francisco have found that in the US, prostituted women have higher than average levels of drug and alcohol abuse, higher incidents of child sexual abuse, and a host of personal and psychological needs, including PTSD. When the ‘legal’ prostituted women of Nevada were interviewed the majority wanted out of the “profession” but couldn’t figure out how to otherwise meet their economic needs. Our daughters don’t grow up saying I think I’ll be an accountant or a doctor, or a ‘hoe’ (sic).

    It is true that in the West there are some percentage of women, mostly white, mostly college educated who clearly have more real choices than women of color, both domestically and internationally and who chose to rent out their body. Apparently the Sugar business is increasing that number.

    But this doesn’t change the essential exploitive nature of what they do. Their ‘job’ is to subordinate themselves to men so that men can pursue their sexual needs, their sexual fantasies and more often than not, their need to control and subordinate the woman that they have rented. The women who choose this path hope that the money they receive will somehow compensate for this degradation.

    Sex is the most physical intimacy that humans experience. This is true whether it’s accompanied by emotional intimacy or not. Today’s “sex workers” are simply a reflection of what some Marxists theorists call the fetish of the commodity. This theory holds that in the advanced stages of capitalism literally everything is turned into a commodity to be bought or sold. In this form of capitalist culture things loose their intrinsic value and take on the value ascribed to them by the market place. When we sell our most intimate physical experience, no matter how one might try, all real sense of agency and independence disappears and the woman, or actually her body parts become worth only what might be paid for them.

    I think this theory captures why so called “sex work” is simply another form of capitalist exploitation that is being born primarily by women. This is why equality, not morality is the counterpart to “sex work” and the point at which a real conversation should begin. Only after real equality has been achieved for women, all women can we talk about how women exercise free choice in their lives. Until then I stand with the many brave and brilliant women who have declared themselves to be abolitionist. It is to them I owe my evolving consciousness on this subject.
  • commented 2017-11-13 12:42:41 -0500
    Thank you for the suggestion Martin!
  • commented 2017-11-13 11:47:31 -0500
    Professor Wolff… you need to place a easy One Click Link in the note to this Patron web site—->> SPECIAL GUEST: Dr. Harriet Fraad discusses the psychology and economics of the sex work industry.
  • commented 2017-11-09 11:19:57 -0500
    Hello, I would really appreciate the sources of the things you talk about. Some quick links under the Text would be very helpful!
  • commented 2017-11-06 11:30:58 -0500
    I generally like your podcast. This week I felt you didn’t express a balanced outlook on future jobs. The growth of home health aides and service workers is largely based on the age demographics and failing health in America. Capitalism doesn’t make people age nor does it cause diabetes or obesity. Service jobs growth seems to be tied to the hyper- consumerism we’ve adopted in this country. And who’s to say these jobs, especially home healthcare aides cannot foster work cooperatives? I like when your arguments are followed by possible solitions.
  • commented 2017-11-06 00:12:25 -0500
    It is interesting to recall that the first episode of the iconic television political drama series, THE WEST WING, dealt with the “Sugar Industry,” as discussed by Dr. Fraad.
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