Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work!
This week on Economic Update, an analysis of Ukraine propaganda war, US inflation worsens, the US college debt crisis and New York City eviction crisis looms. In the second half of the show, Wolff interviews Gayle McLaughlin, former Mayor and City Council member, Richmond, CA. on winning progressive politics.
McLaughlin: "My view is that we were able to reach out and stand up to the big oil refinery and make some great progress in terms of this oil giant that is harming our community on a daily basis and harming the planet on a daily basis.”
Prof. Harvey examines the current US inflationary crisis and suggests that its cause goes beyond the mainstream explanation of supply and demand. He argues that the crisis has been engineered by capital in an effort to protect profits, weaken the power of labor and discipline social movements. Harvey looks back at the inflation of the 1960s and the 1970s and the relationship that existed between wage rate, profit rate and inflation rate. He predicts this current wave of inflation to be with us for some time, and urges us to consider whether the resulting recession is caused by a lack of opportunity, or if it is simply a means for the capitalist class to seize more power and control.
Harvey: "What's happening to wages, what's happening to inflation and are the capitalist class themselves using the inflation rate as a good way to manage wages in relationship to their own profit rates? So this is one of the things that I think we should look for right now.”
Cinar, Larry, and Kevin talk about the issue of innovation under both capitalism and a possible cooperative economy. The innovation we’ve seen over the last 250 years has been so immense that people often believe if we changed our economic system, we’d lose the drive for innovation. Though the innovation achieved under capitalism has led to a decrease in needless death, greater standards of living, and massive economic growth, it has also created immense inequality and has led to ever more frequent recessions. As we approach the era of artificial general intelligence and irreversible climate change, how do we account for and justify the costs associated with capitalism?
Kevin Gustafson: “The question, to me, this issue of innovation really needs to ask is: Who? Who's innovating? Who can innovate and why are they innovating and other people not?”
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "What are some potential macroeconomic consequences if a significant number of corporations began to experience a profit rate that is near 0 or even less than 0? Thank you!" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “It turns out there are lots of alternatives. When we don't pursue most of them, it's because we're pandering as a society to those people who run those enterprises now. They want to have the exclusive power to decide what to do when profits go down, and they make decisions that are good for them- not for the rest of us.”
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "Hi, Prof Wolff. I work as a pilot in the airline industry. We enjoy great pay, benefits, work rules, etc. compared to other labor in the USA. This is because we have strong unions. There is a company that is doing great financially, has publicized massive growth plans, but is dead-set against meeting pilots’ demands for an industry competitive contract. It almost seems like the behind the scenes leadership (the major share holders) are setting the company up to be sold. Is there anything In the USA specific work groups (or better, all of them combined) can do to hold Big Money owners accountable?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “We advocate that if the people who work in a company all have to live with the decisions that are being made about flight routes if you're an airplane [pilot], about procedures and about wages and about working conditions- if everybody has to live in that community that works that way, then everybody ought to participate in deciding how to run it.”
Prof. Wolff calls attention to the class struggle going on in the US today. This struggle between minorities with power and majorities with no power has long existed—within master/slave, lord/serf, and now employer/employee dynamics. Wolff points to the myriad of signs of class struggle: mass resignations, large unionization efforts, inflation, rising interest rates, and more. The masses want change and the minority in charge can sense it. As this class struggle heats up, can we stay unified against distraction tactics and divisive rhetoric in order to create a more just society for all?
Wolff: “Sometimes the little quiet under the radar, below the surface (struggles over wages and working conditions and all of the rest of the issues that set employers against employees from time to time), things get hot. Things get difficult, and the class struggle (cause that's what it is. It has a name) comes to the surface. And we see it all around us. That is what's happening today, and let me take you through the different signs so that you can see with me how they add up.”
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