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Prof. Wolff talks about Sri Lanka’s economic crisis as a global example, and how US billionaires escape taxation at our expense. In the second half, Wolff discusses how and why the market system produces inflations like today’s.
Wolff: "Don't be fooled. The market is a sometime institution. It's got as many flaws as virtues. It has to be regulated and controlled like every other institution. And nobody should ever allow someone to tell you it's a perfect mechanism."
Dr. Fraad continues her discussion of mental health. She argues that we need to do away with the medical model of mental health that diagnoses depression as a brain disease and seeks to treat it exclusively with medication rather than acknowledging the societal and systemic conditions which lead to this chronic unhappiness. Fraad contends that human misery stems from a lack of meaningful connections to others, society and the world. Capitalism keeps people isolated and often unable to satisfy basic human needs. To truly address the mental health crisis the US faces, we need to create a system built on collective resources, collaboration, and connection.
Fraad: "Human misery... comes from the society. It comes from unhappy lives, unhappy families, and unhappy adolescents, unhappy college years or young adulthood, and unhappy middle age and old age. Ascribing those things to disease is very convenient if you don't want to help people, if you don't want to recognize that the capitalist society we live in has a lot to do with people's unhappiness.”
Billionaires, or more accurately, oligarchs, exert disproportional influence and control over the world’s political power, media outlets, military discourse, human labor, and natural and urban resources, including those that we commonly regard as public. In this episode of Cities After…, Prof. Robles-Durán looks at the idea of "public space" and asks: Is there anything "public" left in our urban and territorial infrastructure? What is the meaning of "public" within an oligarchy? How did the neoliberal agenda push public resources into the hands of private stakeholders and what can we do to reclaim and reinvest in truly public spaces?
Robles-Durán: “The monopoly power over urbanization over large territories is a dictatorial right given to oligarchs by capitalism to enjoy profitable play over the rights of others, to steer the public to whatever direction he pleases, to speculate over the complete life of the planet, humans and other species, and to be revered as the one visionary.”
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "Can Prof Wolff please explain what it means when a country declares bankruptcy? Like in Sri Lanka?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “Bankruptcy is a normal part of business, and there's a simple reason why… So, the system long ago had to figure out a way to handle this inevitable part of the way the system works.”
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "Hello Prof. Wolff, I came across this article that shows there’s a study on 'Re-imagining' Capitalism. Why is the Hewlett Foundation engaging Howard University’s Center for an Equitable and Sustainable Society? Could this be a way of making capitalism favorable to excluded and disfranchised people of color finally, or is it something finessing the issue? With no real commitment to rewrite the ills capitalism has caused to the black community and other minority groups?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “Capitalism [is] always the same: the same small group of people making the same decisions trying to make the business profitable. They disagree on how you treat the people under them, but the basic story doesn't change. I think it's delusional to imagine that the Hewlett Foundation is going to discover how to save capitalism from itself.”
Prof. Wolff discusses Elon Musk purchasing Twitter for $44 billion and comedian Russell Brand’s comments on the buyout. As yet another billionaire uses his wealth to obtain control of a media platform, Prof. Wolff asks us to consider what this reveals about our culture and economy. Is free speech free if it can be sold to the highest bidder? Should our digital public spaces used by the masses be controlled by a small minority? Can democracy exist within a capitalist society?
Wolff: “There's no democracy here. There's no accountability here. There's just raw power that goes with money. Those of us who thought that there could be a compatibility between capitalism and democracy have had to long suffer the obvious truth that they don't go together. They are, in fact, opposites.”
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