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This week on Economic Update, Prof. Wolff presents updates on the 2021 record 100,000 opioid overdose deaths in the US, the savage reductions in K-12 public education, inflation's profiteers, and offers a different take on the truckers' convoy in Canada. The second half of the show features an interview with activist Rob Robinson, formerly homeless, now a professor advocating for public housing.
Robinson: "I've been blessed to be surrounded by theorists, Marxist, anti-capitalist theorists that have helped shape the way I think about housing, but it is hard to get a big section of the society to think about that. I do think there's a shift. Things are changing.”
Technological dynamism comes in various forms: the organizational form, used to improve social productivity, such as the just in time system implemented by the automobile industry; the software of production which centers around keeping employees happy and motivated; and the hardware of technological change, via machinery and equipment. Technological change is driven by the coercive laws of competition between individual capitalists. However, Harvey points out that it is also increasingly driven by the coercive laws of competition between states, and between power blocks (China, US, Russia, Europe), yielding new technologies and non-benign forms of competition used for military advantage and for wealth and power. But, Harvey asks, in what ways can we keep pressure on progress and innovation to produce new technologies that will benefit society as a whole.
Harvey: “To what degree is competition between states somehow rather related, tightly related, to the competition between between capitalists?"
In this episode of All Things Co-op, Kevin, Cinar, and Larry discuss the urgency of scaling the cooperative movement. Traditional capitalist enterprises leave the majority of workers feeling trapped and exploited. Democratically-run worker co-ops are a functional solution to a system built on workplace inequality. The ATC guys explore how to grow the co-op sector by asking questions like: Why do co-ops need to scale? For what purpose? What does a scaled co-op economy mean in terms of challenging capitalism? Can the cooperative system help unify and support a Leftist political movement?
Kevin: “If you have a big network of cooperatives working together and having a kind of growth in its own sector in the economy, now you've got the challenge, the vision and the basis for a real political program."
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "You frequently mention the amount of corporate debt in America (which exceeds $18 trillion, an outdated statistic by now), despite having record profits, which are used to buy back stocks to pay dividends to shareholders. As this is the case with capitalism, the bubble always bursts eventually. Under "normal" conditions, the losers would be absorbed by winners, but since we're in End Stage Capitalism, it seems like all the companies in debt would be losers. Would the government bail them out? Or would the companies simply cease to exist? I know you can't predict the future, but I'm hoping you can lay out some possible scenarios based on historical parallels, if there even are any." This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “At this point, you are going to be asking the government to step in at a time when its credibility and its credit are under the severest stress, probably in the history of the country. So, yeah. We are treading in very dangerous waters.”
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "I have heard various politicians, from both left and right, argue that to “look after” an aging population there is a requirement for population growth. The premise of the argument being that there needs to be sufficient numbers of working age people to fund those that have retired. My assumption is that it's not possible to have continual and perpetual population growth, simply because there must come a time when our planet cannot sustain the numbers. What is your view on the argument that there needs to be population growth to fund an aging population, and do you consider my assumption to be reasonable?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “This is an interesting question. It comes up so often, and it's scary because if you don't answer it properly, it becomes a struggle between older and younger.”
In this Wolff Responds, Prof. Wolff looks at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from an economic and historical perspective by focusing in on how nations have often stoked fear of threats to national security to justify illegal international intervention and how sanctions have never been successful. Wolff goes on to reveal that way in which these sanctions will only come back to hurt the US economy.
Wolff: “That will worsen and lengthen the inflation already shaking the U.S. capitalist system to its foundations. An inflation doubly destructive because it comes after the last two years when we had simultaneously an economic crash of immense proportions and the worst public health disaster in American history at the same time. On inflation now is as people are feeling it an unbelievable extra burden and it's going to be worsened by this program of sanctions.”
Learn more about [email protected] latest book, Stuck Nation: Can the United States Change Course on Our History of Choosing Profits Over People?
by Bob Hennelly