Occupy Wall Street: Analysis and Legacy

Democracy at Work has the episode Economic Update: Occupy Wall Street: Analysis and Legacy.

This episode of Economic Update was developed as part of a collective effort to explore the legacy of Occupy, in light of this 10 year anniversary. Through this project you can also hear analysis on the impact of Occupy from The Dig & Upstream. The producing partners for this project are the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s New York office and The New School’s Milano program. We encourage you to learn more and listen to some of the other episodes by visiting RosaLux.NYC/Occupy.


Sharon and I participated in some of the events in Boston and Worcester. It was exhilarating, but we knew it couldn’t last past the fall season. I have learned a lot since then, but I am not sure how much the country has learned. If we continue to resist the learning experience as a society, we may be forced to learn it by the success of China. The powers that fought and beat Occupy Wall Street are determined to put a stop to China. I am not sure who is going to win that fight. We will get our comeuppance. I am just not sure when and how it will happen


Common Good Economics – The Real Purpose of Taxes

YouTube has the video Common Good Economics – The Real Purpose of Taxes.

Doug Pagitt and resident Economics Professor Fadhel Kaboub discuss the real function of taxes at the Federal level.

You can always get a great explanation of the way money works when a knowledgeable person interviews Fadhel Kaboub. It all went well until they started talking about the money private banks create. Fadhel went right back to the standard fiction. I can’t convince MMT experts to stop doing this. I have tried.

Private banks don’t create money. They create promises of money. If too many people want actual money in their hands, the banks have to get that money from the Federal government. As long as people trust banks to hold their money, the promise to give it to you when you need it is good enough (until it isn’t, then the economy freezes up as it did in 2008.) If private banks create money, what was the crash of 2008 all about?


Feminist Economics with Jayati Ghosh

The Institute for New Economic Thinking has the series of articles – Feminist Economics with Jayati Ghosh.

In this five-part lecture series, the renowned scholar guides us through the field of feminist economics and shows how our understanding of the economy, theory and policy changes with the adoption of a gender perspective.

Danger Feminist Economics

Here is the first lecture in the 5 part series.


No, the Richest One Percent Don’t Pay 40 Percent of the Taxes.

New York Intelligencer magazine has the article No, the Richest One Percent Don’t Pay 40 Percent of the Taxes.

The Stat is literally true. But it is deeply misleading — so misleading, in fact, that it routinely fools even the people who are citing it into thinking it indicates something other than what it actually means.

This stat is so misleading that the author of this article even misses a good part of the point. If you looked at wealth gain instead of income, you would see that a very healthy portion of wealth gain is never counted as income.

How is wealth gain different from income? When the market value of your assets increases, but you don’t sell those assets, this is called unrealized capital gains. You can borrow against your assets without ever selling them so that the gains would never have to be reported as income. When the Federal Reserve Bank keeps interest rates low, it is cheaper to borrow than it is to pay cash and taxes. If you are clever enough, you can even have the tax laws written to let you deduct the interest from the income that you do have to report.

It also helps when the FED pushes money into the private sector in a way that props up the stock market and real estate market. This vastly increases wealth gain without having to touch income.


Ask Prof Wolff: China VS. a Myth of Stolen Technology

Democracy At Work has the video Ask Prof Wolff: China VS. a Myth of Stolen Technology.

A patron of Economic Update asks: “I recently watched a great news segment about China’s acquisition of western tech by China. You have spoken on this point in the past, could you reiterate that the tech acquired by China was not stolen, but as Saagar stated “China’s ability to weaponize western greed.”

This is Professor Richard Wolff’s video response.


I think this is a pretty good explanation. He did not go on to explain why labor is cheaper in China than it is in the west. I think I know the explanation. With the financialization of Western economies, capitalists find it easier to make money by extracting rent from the workers. Let China have the manufacturing and the low overhead economy. Our capitalists make money by draining the life out of the workers. It is easier for the capitalists, but it isn’t good for the society. Too bad the USA refuses to learn as mcuh from China as China has learned from us. If we choose to do ourselves in, should we expect China to do the work of saving us from our own worst instincts?


Urban Emptiness and the Pandemic

Cities After… has the podcast Urban Emptiness and the Pandemic.

In the first episode, Prof. Robles-Duran explores the urban shifts surrounding the dramatic rise of commercial and residential vacancies during the global pandemic.


If you let this episode open your mind, all sorts of possibilities become possible.

Right now the Federal Reserve Bank is using its money creation powers to finance the creation of empty space in our cities by buying up bonds of the real estate investors. If we could harness this power of the government entity which is the Federal Reserve Bank to benefit society instead of using this power to enrich the already wealthy, we could make better lives for millions, if not billions, of people.

All this time I have been focused my thinking about the way The Federal Reserve Bank is pumping up the stock market by helping to finance stock buybacks. I had not focused any attention on how the FED is pumping up the real estate market. The people who have to pay the rents for the inflation in the housing markets are suffering. The people who are being evicted so that the rents can stay high are also suffering.

Think about how all this investment in real estate fails to lower rents, but actually finances rent increases. This is not the way we have been told that the “free market” works. I leave it to you to listen to this podcast to ponder this question.


Cities After… Post-Pandemic Urbanization: Spectacles, Speculation & Tourism – Pt 2

Democracy At Work has the episode Cities After… Post-Pandemic Urbanization: Spectacles, Speculation & Tourism – Pt 2.

In today’s podcast, Prof. Robles-Duran will continue to discuss Post-pandemic urbanization trends by taking a deep dive in the speculative global rent markets and their exacerbating social ills. For help with this, he is joined by Dr. Jaime Palomera from Barcelona’s radical research cooperative La Hidra who will help focus a conversation on a striking report that they published two months ago titled “The Social Impacts of the Rental Market”, done in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Barcelona and the Institute of Government and Public Policy at the University of Barcelona.


This episode has changed my attitude about rent control considerably. There are still foreseeable problems with rent control, but there are also considerable problems without it.

Here is the episode list for Cities After…


Part 1 helps to contextualize Part 2 above Cities After… Post-Pandemic Urbanization: Spectacles, Speculation & Tourism – Pt. 1.

This podcast will be the first of four episodes where, together with future guests, Prof. Robles-Duran will slowly adopt the city of Barcelona as a sample to think through some of the tendencies of a post-pandemic neoliberal urbanization. He will do so by looking at three trending development drivers, the production of urban spectacle, the burdens of rental housing, and the limitless expansion of mass tourism.


Economic Update: The Rational & Irrational in Anti-Vaxxers

Democracy at Work has a list of Economic Updates. The one I want to focus on today is on YouTube with the title Economic Update: The Rational & Irrational in Anti-Vaxxers.

Richard D. Wolff breaks down why so many in the United States distrust government mandates and the long history of private, medical capitalism influencing our public health. While the suspicion is well-founded, he answers what we must do to protect ourselves from COVID-19 and build a better society in the future.


I came to this episode by seeing a snippet of it just about the first topic about vaccines. When the snippet seemed to end abruptly, I felt sure that they had edited out the finish to that topic. So I looked up this video of the entire episode of Economic Update.

On many of the topics covered today, Prof. Wolff leaves us hanging. He tells us about problems and how we got to have these problems, but he doesn’t offer any alternative. If you can find someone to blame for a problem, getting rid of that cause may not lead to its solution. What is the solution that follows getting rid of today’s causes?

One of the things he fails to mention is that the rules and the enforcement of those rules in the USA economy has made it more profitable to ship manufacturing jobs to other countries while turning to extracting economic rent as a way to make money. The cost of labor in the USA is high because our workers have all this “rent” to pay. If we changed the rules so that manufacturing was more profitable than rent extraction, businesses would go back to focusing on manufacturing. If we cut out the rent seeking, our cost of labor could be more competitive.


Thomas Frank on Breaking Points

Here is just the Thomad Frank part of the 2019/09/09 episode of Breaking Points. I am not so thrilled with the rest of the show as I used to be.


The Zeitgeist of this Moment: Marianne Williamson with author Peter Joseph

YouTube has the video The Zeitgeist of this Moment: Marianne Williamson with author Peter Joseph The transcript of the conversation is on Transform with Marianne Williamson in the article The Zeitgeist of This Moment.

Americans are very good with a to-do list. We like to say, “Okay, just tell us what to do and we can do it.” We’ve proven many times over that we have tremendous capacity for action once we know what it is we need to do.

But this is not a moment where it’s as simple as saying, “Let’s do this, and everything will be okay.” Our challenges are too complicated, too large, and too numerous to be amenable to anyone’s simple to-do list.

It’s not more data that we need; it’s more understanding that we need. It’s not more power that we need; it’s more wisdom that we need. It’s not more technology that we need; it’s more compassion that we need.


Here is the beginnings of a very deep conversation. I doubt that I am in 100% agreement with either of these two. Richard Wolff’s idea of democracy at work may have a lot to do with the necessary change. I also don’t agree with Richard Wolff 100%, but there can be a synthesis that is going on that might eventually lead to solutions (if time does not run out).

I like to try a thought experiment about imagining the possibilities. Here is the description by Peter Joseph of what I have in mind.

The idea was simple. You increase efficiency. People realize a sustainable standard of living based on scientific principles. You start to reduce the work week. You increase wages, you lower costs, all in direct proportion to itself based on the kind of technological – which is true – economic efficiency and then suddenly you wake up one day and families have a unified form. No one’s struggling to survive. No one’s in debt. They have everything they need. They work a little bit a week and suddenly balance emerges. Beautiful.

The purpose of my thought experiment is to imagine this goal, and then get to work trying to figure out how we make a transition to that world.

Peter’s Book: The New Human Rights Movement: Reinventing the Economy to End Oppression