Weekly Roundup: October 5, 2022

Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work.

New this week: Economic Update, Capitalism Hits Home, Cities After..., Global Capitalism & Ask Prof Wolff

Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work!


Economic Update: Insecure Housing is a Social Crime

Prof. Wolff talks about the large strikes in Seattle (teachers) and Minnesota (nurses), the significance of Sweden's big vote for ex-Nazi party, and how anti-Russia sanctions cause US electricity prices to rise at twice the inflation rate. In the second half, Wolff interviews Leilani Farha, global campaigner for housing as a human right and against the financialization of housing.

Farha: “Governments are allowing the private sector to lead, and with the private sector leading, we are seeing really horrible outcomes: women with PTSD because they've lived in homelessness and housing precarity, right? That's the outcome we're seeing. People dying on our streets across North America because governments are allowing the privates to lead."

Capitalism Hits Home: Adoring the Monarchy

Dr. Fraad dissects the bizarre American adoration of the British monarchy following Queen Elizabeth II’s death. The monarchy symbolizes the absence of social mobility, hierarchy, and the appropriation of public money for private wealth. What do ordinary people get out of this unequal system and why are we all so comfortable with it?

Fraad: “This lavish funeral and lavish display of wealth is at the same time as Britain is going through a terrible recession... We have to question why. What do ordinary citizens get out of paying for this when they are immiserated more and more every year?”

Cities After…Office Spaces as Homes Pt. 1: The Modernist Legacy

This episode of Cities After… is the first of a two-part series in which Prof. Robles-Durán will explore a post-covid urbanization trend taunting real estate developers and municipal governments across the globe: the adaptive reuse of vacant office spaces into homes. As businesses struggle to lure employees into the full-time occupation of their corporate cubicles and housing prices continue to rise, some champion the rezoning and transformation of office space into residential property as a win-win scenario for cities, while others forewarn the trend as a fiscal and economic catastrophe in the making. Robles-Durán takes a different stance on these positions in this two-part series, first, by unfolding a brief history of a few influential urban ideas from the end of the industrial revolution to the present—particularly functionalist and modernist principles—and, second, by discussing the effects and socio-spatial consequences of these trends.

Robles-Durán: “The hundreds of static, utopian proposals of built and unbuilt modern cities provided the spatial infrastructure that capital needed to optimize this core functional need: atomize, isolate, alienate, separate."

Global Capitalism: The Tragic Possibility of War

Prof Wolff speaks on the growing economic tensions between the United States and China, and how economic wars tend to turn into military wars. He asks each of us to think creatively to avoid this situation and find a diplomatic solution.

Wolff: “If you're really going to put your Navy in the South China Sea right next to them, if you're going to arrest executives in their companies, if you're going to ban Chinese companies from listing their shares on the stock market (or at least talk about it), if you're going to hit them with tariff wars and trade wars and you know all the rest, you're waging economic war. And you're smart enough to know that in the past economic wars have a nasty habit of disintegrating into military wars. You have to know that.”

Ask Prof Wolff: Interest Rate Hikes - Who Wins, Who Loses?

A Supporter of Democracy at Work asks: "Prof Wolff, now that we've entered a recession here, how would the continued Fed interest rate hikes correlate to supply shortage due to our low production capacity? At what rate would the Fed have to lower demand in order to bring down inflation? Or are we inevitably entering stagflation?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.

Wolff: “Where we get the phrase stagflation: when you don't have a booming economy, yet you still have inflation at the same time. Have we ever had that before? Yes. Has it been an outcome of a policy of raising interest rates? Yes. Is the Federal Reserve squaring with us by telling us, “Look, this policy may or may not work?” It may give us the worst of both worlds inflation and stagnating no jobs.”


Ask Prof Wolff: Why Capitalism Is Obsessed With Growth

A Supporter of Democracy at Work asks: "The focus on economic growth, something you talked about in the September 2022 Global Capitalism lecture, seems misplaced, at least for rich nations. I'm reminded of the Kenneth Boulding quote from the early 1970’s—“Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” Can you please give your perspective on the obsession with economic growth that is seen almost everywhere? There is a degrowth movement which I believe you have mentioned in a discussion of capitalism. Where would economic growth stand in a socialist perspective?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.

Wolff: “Whether you're a political thinking person or an economist of one kind or another, growth, growth, growth, and that's part of the reason why we have done the kind of blind damage to our environment right up until this present moment that so many are rightly concerned about. What would be different? Could it be different? Could you get to an economy that didn't feel the need to grow?”

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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