Weekly Roundup: January 25, 2023

Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work.

New this week: Worker Co-op vs. Consumer Co-op, Capitalism’s Cities, Debunking “Non-Profits”, Economics for a New Year

Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work!

Economic Update: Economics for a New Year

Prof. Wolff discusses US spending for war in Ukraine paid for by higher interest rates and inflation hurting middle and small businesses, a rational transport system is NOT electric cars, and an appreciation of the "degrowth" impulse with a critique of the degrowth movement's focus on individuals' consumerism and excess consumption.

Wolff: “The problem is we already have a bad inflation, and the spending on Ukraine would make the bad inflation worse. So we have the Federal Reserve, another part of our government, raising interest rates. And that works like a tax, but it's a tax on middle and low-income people... Does that have to be? Absolutely not.”

Capitalism Hits Home: Ukraine War & Our Coping Mechanisms

"Denial is a way the brain copes with a painful reality." In this episode of Capitalism Hits Home, Dr. Fraad continues her discussion of how Americans are coping with a falling empire: by not facing it. Human brains have the capacity to look away or shift blame when facing reality is too difficult, mainly through denial, dissociation, projection, and transference. Fraad looks at the war in Ukraine as a prime example of how America is falling and how our coping strategies are getting in the way of confronting that truth.

Fraad: "It's time we give up our attempted empire. It's time we give up the budget of $850 billion, which we gave to the military this year, and cut it ten times down so we could be safe. Give it for public health care. So we don't have the highest death rate in the world and for our lives, so Americans aren’t so angry and alone and unhealthy.”

Cities After… Urbanization as the Text of Inequality

Welcome to Season 3! Prof. Robles-Durán presents a personal account of his life in Tijuana, Mexico to illustrate how cities are central to understanding the ways in which capitalism materializes into our daily lives. By tracing his earliest experiences with capitalism’s complexities, Robles-Durán reveals how we can practice the reading of urbanization as the living text of inequality and invites each of us to exercise deciphering the capitalist and anti-capitalist code that is constantly being written in our cities and offering a myriad of possible futures.

Robles-Durán: “I realized that cities were the material mirror of capitalism, that urbanization was the living text of inequality and that I could understand and predict capitalist dynamics by learning how to read this text, meticulously observing how macroeconomic abstractions had a clear and tangible physical representation in the spaces I inhabited."

Global Capitalism: Shifting from Economic Neoliberalism to Economic Nationalism

The U.S. reached global dominance as an advocate of neoliberalism and globalization, a champion of free-trade and open markets. But as Prof Wolff argues we have now entered into a phase of rampant economic nationalism. Why? Because capitalists searching for profit, who once turned to the U.S., found greater gains elsewhere, including in China. Now, a desperate U.S. turns away from the policies that are now undercutting them, and pivots to government intervention to stop the bleeding.

Wolff: “The government is literally brought in because it seems that the American leadership has given up on globalization.”

Ask Prof Wolff: Consumer Co-ops vs. Worker Co-ops

A Patron of Democracy at Work asks: "You're known as an advocate of worker cooperatives. However, back in the 19th century, Friedrich Engels (as well as Eduard Bernstein, the father of Democratic Socialism) was very skeptical of worker cooperatives because of the power the workers at a company could still have over the general public to whom they were not responsible to, meaning they could still, for example, create a monopoly, jack up prices, and engage in protectionist tactics. Instead, Engels and Bernstein preferred consumer cooperatives, in which the public that patronized the business would be the ones to own it and the business would be responsible to them, thereby giving the public a say in the running of the company as well as the workers. What do you think about the advantages and disadvantages of the two systems and why do you think worker cooperatives are the superior arrangement?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response. To learn how to ask your own questions to Prof Wolff, click here.

Wolff: “Consumer co-ops, which are widespread here in the United States and even more so around the world, are pretty well known and pretty well tolerated in capitalist societies. That is not the case with worker co-ops; they are discriminated against. They are blocked. They are limited. They are not spoken about. Many people don't know they're even there. So, our focus is more about making sure that in the conversation of going beyond capitalism, whatever we say about consumer co-ops we ought to also be saying about worker co-ops.”


Ask Prof Wolff: Why Yale and Other Non-Profits Should Be Called “Tax-Exempt”

A Patron of Democracy at Work asks: "One issue I hope Prof. Wolff might address is a comparative analysis of the role of for-profit vs. non-profit corporations. For example, in the recent shows on inflation, he notes that raising prices by the employer is motivated by profit maximization. This dynamic can't play an obvious role for a non-profit, but they could raise prices to maximize the salaries of high-ranking corporate employees. But do they? Alternatively, would we be better off with more non-profits? The big picture here would be invaluable." This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response. To learn how to ask your own questions to Prof Wolff, click here.

Wolff: “What is all this talk about non-profit and not-for-profit when so few enterprises really are what those words imply? It's because those words are fake- that is, they are disguises worn by enterprises that are in fact profit-seeking and profit making.”

Learn more about d@w latest book, Stuck Nation: Can the United States Change Course on Our History of Choosing Profits Over People?

by Bob Hennelly





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