Economic Update: Convention Economics


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On this week's episode of Economic Update, Prof. Wolff provides updates on platform contradictions, the VW scandal, CEOs pay explosion, Italian banks crisis, scary US auto loans. Major discussions: economics of lotteries, when profit decides who gets mortgages, and why 21st century socialism makes worker cooperatives the basic production institution.

Showing 5 comments

  • Eric White
    followed this page 2016-09-29 11:41:34 -0400
  • Will Cooper
    commented 2016-07-26 10:48:07 -0400
    I always thought that state lotteries were immoral, because the state should not be encouraging (abetting, if you will) risk-taking behavior that on average worsened the lot (if you will) of the most vulnerable and poorest among us. The state constitutionally is established to protect the safety and welfare of its citizens, not to delude them with false hopes, addict them to a game of chance, and worsen their economic circumstances. Long ago in Chicago I was riding in a cab. The African American driver had taped a color photo of his family, all twelve of them, on the dashboard to look at as he worked, much as executives in their offices have family photos on their desks. I also noticed he had a wad of lottery tickets on the seat next to him. Roughly at the moment I noticed these things we happened to drive past a gigantic billboard advertising the Illinois State Lottery. It portrayed a young white couple bursting with joy, presumably celebrating a big win. The slogan underneath them in large block letters read, “You Gotta Play to Win!” It hit me that a cab driver with twelve mouths to feed must live on a pretty tight budget, and being the nosy person I am I asked him how much he spent a week on average on the lottery. He spoke up right away and told me about a hundred bucks. A hundred! That’s about what he’d earn in a long day’s work after paying Yellow Cab’s exorbitant leasing fee and the cost of the gasoline he consumed. It was then that I developed a deep hatred of state lotteries. This driver, who seemed like a nice soft-spoken fellow, a loving family man,was being led to waste perhaps a seventh (or more) of his weekly income on a game in which the odds of winning are far worse than getting hit by lightning, which is about 1/27,000. The chance of winning lotto is 1 in tens of millions. When the Illinois State Lottery was formed, its profits were supposed to go to public education, but that proved to be, also, false advertising. It went into the general fund, replacing, as Professor Wolff, says, taxes that should have come from the wealthy or from corporations. The lottery is a highly regressive form of disguised taxation and should be abolished.
  • Joanne Demarco
    commented 2016-07-25 18:08:18 -0400
    The Democratic Party stole the nomination from Bernie and is handing the election to Trump. Trump’s stance on the TPP vs. Hillary’s will cost Clinton the election. She’s going to lose some Bernie supporters over it. Already in my state, Florida Hillary has lost her 8 point lead and is losing to Trump. All along polls have shown Hillary loses to Trump and Bernie beats him. Because of its opposition to Bernie’s positions which their big dollar donors don’t like the Democratic Party is sabotaging itself and ensuring a Trump presidency. This election is very important for many reasons, but none more important than preserving a livable planet for future generations. We don’t have time for incremental change. By pussyfooting around and not committing to banning fracking, opposing the TPP and pledging to keep fossil fuels in the ground the Democratic Party is pushing the climate over the tipping point. If they’re not denying climate change like Trump their position would have the same effect. James Joyce said “History is a nightmare from which mankind struggles to awake .” The Democratic Party is pushing the snooze button.

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  • Joanne Demarco
    commented 2016-07-25 18:06:24 -0400
    i pentagonal antagonist i crawl like a viper down these suburban streets i urge u not to man the aegis- monkey wrench- use hammers and blood on aegis missiles- present the holy flower that grows in the air (non-violent direct action) stick itstem down the gun barrels- get busted 4 a good reason 4 civil disobedience is your duty- pound the arms in 2 plowshares now! goodbye sadness! see ya acedia! we don’t need you anymore dreamers awake unite and imagine the party we could have! “I will occupy "!-Metallica, Master of Puppets. Now’s the time occupy the DNC #
  • Marc Hudgens
    commented 2016-07-25 12:34:25 -0400
    Another solid EU. On the economics of lotteries, it indeed epitomizes capitalism. Take a few dollars from millions of people, then give those millions of dollars to a few people. Ham and cheese is a great analogy.

    It does sound like a tax the way Prof. Wolff describes it. Because it overall subsidizes a tax burden on the wealthy, and it’s largely middle class and poor who buy the tickets, one can argue it’s essentially a regressive tax.

    And the fact that lottery winners don’t spend all that money (pumping it back into the economy), at least not immediately, that might be true. But what I think happens more often than not is that these aforementioned winners are probably hawked by “financial advisers” or otherwise stockbrokers who want to get their hands on it and invest it in what already is a wild and erratic stock market, not to mention they might be courted by country club reps who approach them with their hand out too. Kind of like university officials, who will also approach them and offer to name a building after them or something silly for a cool million. To me, the fact that the powerful always have their hand out just as much as they accuse poor people of doing (they just beg different people) is also capitalism.

    Lastly, it didn’t go unnoticed by me that the intermission song was The Pretenders’ “My City Was Gone”, the same song Rush Limbaugh uses for his opening them on his shows. I’m really trying to get that fact out of my head but I don’t know if it’s possible.

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