Weekly Roundup: August 25th, 2021

Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work.

New this week: Economic Update, Capitalism Hits Home, 10 Years Ago, Ask Prof Wolff & Wolff Responds...

Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work!


Economic Update: Liberating Technology from Capitalism

On this week's show, Prof. Wolff provides updates on two small labor victories (Vermont's AFL-CIO and 4000 pork-processing meat cutters in Sioux Falls), how global capitalism became even more unequal during the pandemic, Iceland's move to the 4-day work week, US students hobbled by debt, and why "labor shortage" is actually class war. On the second half of the show, Wolff interviews Wendy Liu, author of "Abolish Silicon Valley: How to Liberate Technology from Capitalism."

Wendy Liu: "To the argument that capitalism is the only reason we have a technological process, I would say: well, capitalism is the reason we have all of these useless products and why we have all these exploited people. It's why we have all these billionaires. I think there is a kernel of innovation that capitalism has been able to take advantage of. I don't think [the kernel of innovation] is intrinsic to capitalism."

Capitalism Hits Home: Cruel Optimism

In this episode of CHH, Dr. Fraad explores the concept of cruel optimism from Lauren Berlant's book. American culture teaches us to look on the bright side. Nonetheless, the blight side of US life is emerging. The media, corporate advertisement-driven as it is, hides the reasons why pandemic and recession blight spreads. People, and particularly men, are driven mad. They reach for their guns to reassert their supremacy. Reflexive optimism turns cruel.

Fraad: “Men are in particular trouble because the optimism they had about making it in society... it's over, by and large. And that cruel optimism, that was part of our culture... And what has happened is that the explanations largely available blame the individual... And of course, the newspapers and television, Fox News is the most popular television, is not showing people "Your standard of living has decreased because capitalism gets workers to work for cheap"”

Ten Years Ago: S&P Downgrade of US Debt [10th Anniversary of Economic Update with Richard Wolff]

If you’re one of the many wondering “How much debt can the United States possibly accumulate?”, then you’re not alone. In our new video celebrating 10 years of Economic Update, Prof Wolff explains the troublesome economic policy the United States has adopted: instead of making the rich pay their fair share of taxes, the U.S. borrows money from them instead.

Wolff: “There is no private economic capitalism in our society. There is capitalism for sure, but it is on life-support from the government with no prospect of that ending anytime soon.”

Ask Prof Wolff: Are High Paid Athletes Workers?

A patron of Economic Update asks: "Dr, Wolff, with the Olympics, the Naomi Osaka drama, and LeBron James’ recent announcement of reaching earnings of one billion dollars, I am interested in your thoughts about the “status as workers” for these professional athletes who make so much money, but are still represented in unions. Are professional athletes workers?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.

Wolff: “Yes, workers can get higher incomes, but they’re workers. They're in a class of employees. They're exploited because they produce more than they themselves get as a group. And that means something is going on (exploitation) that makes Marx think you could do a lot better than a society organized that way.”

Wolff Responds: A Critique of Profit

In this Wolff Responds, Prof. Wolff explains what profits are and how they are used in our society. He asserts that revenues generated, i.e. profits, are not used in a manner that is in the best interest of the majority of people, but instead to amass wealth for a small minority. Profits, Wolff argues, are only important to employers. Treating profits as a religion is short-changing the majority of people, the workers.

Wolff: “The job of an enterprise has never been just to produce profits. That's not its only purpose. That's not its major purpose, not at all. In fact, if you take democracy seriously, the vast majority of the people involved in every enterprise are the employees- not the owners, not the profiteers. Therefore, if democracy is to rule, the first and dominant purpose, the bottom line, should be the welfare (the income) of the majority who are the employees.”

Wolff Responds: Today's Food Stamps Scandal

In this Wolff Responds, Prof. Wolff evaluates and provides commentary on the latest Food Stamp Program increase by the Biden Administration. 

Wolff: We have 42 million hungry people, half of them children, and in this society, our priorities are so twisted that we are producing desperate people [and] deep social divisions between them and everyone else, because we will not dip in to the enormous wealth of the tiny few [or] to the enormous outlays for wars in foreign lands to do something fundamental, like providing adequate, quality, healthy food for our 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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