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Wolff Three Pack

Program #WOLR012-WOLR011-WOLR009.

First program: Trumponomics

Trumponomics. Wall Street likes what it sees in the 45th president. The stock market is way up. The reality TV star heads up one of the most pro-corporate administrations in U.S. history. After railing against elites Trump’s cabinet is loaded with Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan honchos. Millionaires and billionaires are staffing key positions. It’s the wealthiest cabinet in history. Deregulation of banking is high on their to-do list. Critics are calling Trump’s economic policies warmed over trickle down Reaganomics. Remember the slogan, a rising tide lifts all boats? Thing is only the yachts go up, the canoes and rowboats sink to the bottom. The New Yorker says, “Trump’s proposed tax cuts would greatly accentuate inequality” and his “protectionist impulses, meanwhile, almost certainly won’t bring back lost manufacturing jobs, but they could spark a damaging trade war.”

Second program: Capitalism: Fantasies & Realities

The stories spun about the economy are more akin to fairy tales. The most popular one, endlessly repeated, is that if you work hard you’ll get ahead. Another is trickle down. Remember that one? The fat cats get fatter and you’ll benefit by getting the leftover crumbs. It’s a wonder after decades of breathtaking income and wealth inequality and flat wages for most workers that these tales are still told. Noam Chomsky talks about "really existing capitalism," dependent on state subsidies, tax breaks and loopholes. The drift to oligarchy continues unabated. Corporate power is dominant. It has tremendous political influence. The media fail to inform. In spite of all that, people all over the world, tired of enduring the lies and deprivations, are asking questions about the fantasies and realities of capitalism.

Third program: The Market: Paragon of Virtue

Myths die hard. Just as there are no unicorns, there is no free market. The myth is propagandized by its beneficiaries, i.e., the rich and powerful, the 1%. The oft-repeated line is the market is some neutral entity which fosters competition and people benefit as prices come down. Reality is slightly different. We don’t have a really free market because there is massive government intervention to prop it up through bailouts and subsidies, tax breaks and loopholes. The system generates more and more monopoly and concentration. Attempts at regulation are non-existent or are so watered down as to be virtually meaningless. The market as a paragon of virtue? Heard of secret deals and insider trading? The crucial question: how do we create an economy which is responsive to people’s needs, meets social goals of equality and protects the environment?

Speaker(s):

Richard Wolff

Richard Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and currently a visiting professor at the New School in New York. The New York Times calls him “America’s most prominent Marxist economist.” He is the author of numerous books including Democracy at Work and Occupy the Economy with David Barsamian.

 

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