Weekly Roundup: April 12, 2023

Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work.

New this week: Silicon Valley Bank Mania! “woke” economics, Housing w/ Harvey, China & small businesses

Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work!

Economic Update: When We Put People First in US Politics

Prof. Wolff presents updates on the failures of GOP and Democrats to face or solve major crises; layoffs and stock buybacks by US hi-tech companies; a new study of "food insecurity" in LA county. The second half of the show is dedicated to a discussion of how US history of the 1920s and 1930s shows the possibility of a progressive political shift and upsurge in the US today.

Wolff: “Quite a few folks have been feeling powerless, not clear about a way forward and yet deeply and increasingly distressed by the rising inequality, the instability, the polarizing political hostilities everywhere, and are upset and rightly so, by right wing impulses and movements that come to the fore and wondering and worrying about a way forward. Is there one? What might it be? I want, with you, to go through a moment of American history when that kind of feeling was widespread and was overcome.”

Anti-Capitalist Chronicles: Housing in a Broken System

Prof. Harvey shares major lessons he learned while studying the housing issue in Baltimore in the late 1960s and asking the questions: Why is housing quality so appalling in low-income areas? Why had past attempts to change that failed? How could the richest nation in the world tolerate this? Harvey explains how he came to learn the importance of looking at the totality of the system—not just the issue itself—as well as leveraging, how social policies often work well for those who need it least, the issue of gentrification, and more. 

Harvey: “No matter how well-meaning the efforts are and how big the monetary commitment is, that principle that the policies are going to be least effective where they're most needed and most effective where they're least needed, that is the principle which is going to prevail. Unless we are prepared to rebuild the whole system from the ground up.”

All Things Co-op: Silicon Valley Bank and the Mania of Capitalist Banking

Larry, Kevin, and Cinar discuss the Silicon Valley Bank collapse, financial markets, self-regulation and the role of capitalist ideology in modern banking, the effect on real people of bank collapses, and more.

Larry: “One of the things [deregulation] did that led to this financialization, I think, is it removed the barriers between commercial banks, investment banks, insurance companies, and also to other proto-financial institutions. And it led to the eventual rise of what a lot of people call the non-financial banks, or the shadow banking system.”

Global Capitalism: It's Okay to Be Critical of Capitalism

Richard Wolff on why every economic system has critics, and like we are grateful to the critics of slavery and feudalism, one day we may be grateful to the socialists who criticize capitalism.

Wolff: “You know what the fundamental cause of the critique of capitalism is? Capitalism itself. Wherever it spreads, it brings those who love it, and it brings those who are critical. It inspires people to admire it, and it inspires people to think we can do better."

Ask Prof Wolff: The Illusion of Woke Economics

A supporter of Democracy at Work asks: "Please discuss woke economics. I have seen YouTube clips using this term. After viewing a couple clips I concluded this is capitalism claiming to be the answer to the social problems caused by capitalism. Do I have that correct?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response. To learn how to ask your own questions to Prof Wolff, click here.

Wolff: “This is the key word from history: reform. A better capitalism. A capitalism that has cleaned up its act. It's woke. It's better. And I've never liked these kinds of talk because what it seems to do is to suggest… that they believe that capitalism has flaws which can be fixed like the instability and the poverty. And I don't. So I disagree with it. I think the key problems of capitalism are precisely built into that system and not the kind of thing you can change with a reform or a law or a regulation.”

Ask Prof Wolff: The Impact of China on Small U.S. Businesses

A supporter of Democracy at Work asks: "I am a pediatrician but like everyone in the medical field, we are tired of serving insurance companies and Medicine is not fun anymore. I wish we had public insurance as I don't see how health can go with profit. I am opening a small business. My question is, for us tiny companies: what will the future bring with a possible war with China? Aren't we the biggest losers here? We don't manufacture anything anymore! How can small businesses survive in current times?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response. To learn how to ask your own questions to Prof Wolff, click here.

Wolff: “The conflict between large and small business is every bit as intrinsic to capitalism as is the struggle between employers as a class and employees. I wish that were better understood because if it were, then small businesses would understand that one of the ways they might make it easier to start and build a small business is if they were allied with workers to fight against big business rather than doing what mostly happens here in the United States: that little businesses are cleverly drawn into alliances with big businesses against working-class people.”

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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