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Killing Joke and the Eighties

Killing Joke and the Eighties should be required listening – hope comes from outside the box of trickle-down 80s neoliberalism. The invisible hand supposedly made private vices into public virtues and the self-healing market tending to equilibrium was upended by the 2008 financial meltdown.


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Poisoning the Well, or How Economic Theory Damages Moral Imagination

Poisoning the Well, or How Economic Theory Damages Moral Imagination
by Julie Nelson, October 2012

Markets are human inventions. Today’s neoliberal economic dogma creates myths that strengthen the most powerful, most greedy, and most short-term economic actors while the normal ethical consciousness and the normal longings of people for a flourishing, just, and sustainable society are undermined.

Structures must be changed so ethical conduct is possible. Different incentives are needed. Universities are taking the same path as businesses. Ms. Nelson’s 18-page “Poisoning the Well” was published in October 2012.

Julie Nelson is Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The interview “Markets are Human Inventions” was published on 4/7/2016.


Posted in Neoliberalism, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution | Leave a comment

Democracy and the Social State by Franz Segbers


Finance capitalism and Citizens United have turned life, language, and democracy upside down as the $150 million given by Wall Street to Hillary Clinton falls under the rubric “social engagement.” With these theses, Franz Segbers emphasizes the social state as the foundation of democracy, the great facilitator, the fate corrector and the key to the regulation of capitalism.

We need a renewal of social state discourse. The strength of a people is measured by the well-being of the weak. A new start beyond finance capitalism seems the proper answer to the crisis, not the mere repair of the crisis.

The center cannot hold (W. B. Yeats) when all life is subordinated to economization and profit maximization. Universities become profit centers. Corporate media stresses fear-mongering and sloganeering. Political and economic elites profit from trillions in state bailouts to “too big to fail” banks. Speculation and narcissism become ladders to success. Labor and environmental protections are decried as costs and threats to corporate profits. Countervailing measures to 30 years of neoliberal rollback are hardly concrete. Self-healing markets and invisible hands making vices into virtues dominate in the universities as if the party weren’t over. The sickness is the cure when more privatization, deregulation, and liberalized markets are urged to counter exploding inequality and mistrust.

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Neoliberal Crisis Policy has Failed by Sonja Forcher

Neoliberal Crisis Policy has Failed
by Sonja Forcher, August 2016


The term “invisible hand of the market” goes back to Adam Smith. This assumes all economic activity promotes the common good.

The market is superior to the state. The state only has the task of removing all restrictions to access to the market and protecting economic freedoms and private property. In (neo-) liberal theory, an invisible hand and self-healing powers make the market a kind of miracle machine.

The financial markets provoked the crisis, not the state. These markets went completely off course after they were liberalized by neoliberals. Today the IMF puts in question the mantra that neoliberal reforms bring more growth. Instead, the neoliberal reforms brought massive inequalities that curb growth… Deeds must finally follow words.

The state could provide a basic social security and equal access to education or raise taxes to make possible equal starting conditions… To speak with Colin Crouch, neoliberalism’s survival is surprising because its theoretical assumptions are dubious. People cling to neoliberal prescriptions against all empirical reality.

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Profit-Making is Different than Profit-Maximizing by Ulrich Thielemann

Profit-Making is Different Than Profit-Maximizing
by Ulrich Thielemann Feb 23rd, 2015


Discussions of jobs and the economy are often marked by trivialization, distortion, unreality and wishful thinking. The neoliberal model promotes profits, not investments and rationalization and digitalization lead to mass unemployment. Most created jobs are temporary and precarious. People trust in the myths of the self-healing market, efficient financial markets and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. System analysis and market failure are usually glossed over. All personal achievement depends on state investment in roads, schools, hospitals, airwaves, food safety and water quality. Alternative critical economics emphasizes reducing working hours, person-oriented work, labor-intensive investment, community centers and exchanging roles


[This Wikipedia post is translated from the German on the Internet, http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulrich_Thielemann. Ulrich Thielemann is director of the MeM think tank on economic ethics in Berlin and author of “System Error” and many provocative articles on economic ethics.]

Even before my university study, the intuition creeped over me that the market cannot be the solution to all social problems. Today I would say the “market mechanism” that appears so “peaceable” and generally advantageous is not fit to be the highest moral principle though this status is ascribed by many economists.

Posted in Alternative Economics, Essays, Neoliberalism | Leave a comment

Growth Criticism and Reduced Working Hours by Heinz-J. Bontrup


Today’s growth critics speak of the necessity of a post-growth, a “renunciation society” or at least of a “green” capitalist model. Meanwhile, 1.6 earths would be needed because humanity exploits natural resources faster than the earth can generate them (cf. recent accounts of Earth Overshoot Day).

Growth does not automatically mean more prosperity and happiness for people. The questions to be answered include a) what cannot grow anymore and b) who should decide under the conditions of the “capitalist wolf law,” competition, what should still grow?

Redistribution from top to bottom must be joined with a collective reduction of working hours and growth that is oriented socially and ecologically. However, both cannot be realized with a liberalized market under one-sided profit orientations. Only suboptimal social results are possible without state regulated interventions in the markets.

A political transformation process is necessary… The British economist John Maynard Keynes (in 1936) dreamt of a time when his grandchildren would only face a 15-hour work week.

Posted in Alternative Economics, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution, Reducing Working Hours | Leave a comment

The Crises of Today’s Economy by Ulrike Herrmann and Stephan Schulmeister

The Crises of Today’s Economy
by Ulrike Herrmann and Stephan Schulmeister


Struggling for basic rights through middle-class revolutions and for the social state through workers’ movements are the most important examples of the emancipation process.

The market is not a subject but an instrument. Nevertheless “the primacy of the market” has replaced “the primacy of politics.” Neoliberalism actually serves the interests of finance capital. A doctor whose therapy causes sickness cannot understand this. Therefore our elites are in great distress and urge more market and more counter-enlightenment.

Ulrike Herrmann is an author and the economics editor of taz.de. Stephan Schulmeister is an author and critical economic researcher in Austria.

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Video: “The Secret Government” (1987)

Video: “The Secret Government” (1987)
by Bill Moyers

“The Secret Government is an interlocking network of official functionaries, spies, mercenaries, ex-generals, profiteers and superpatriots, who, for a variety of motives, operate outside the legitimate institutions of government. ”


The web of Iran-Contragate began unravelling. “The Enterprise” was a shadowy government with its own aircraft free from the law itself that put profits above patriotism… We were in business to make a living… Profits were made as lives were lost.

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US Economy: False Diagnoses and False Solutions by Helke Buchter

US Economy: False Diagnoses and False Solutions
by Helke Buchter, translated from the German in Die Zeit, August 2016


Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s economic plans are too simplistic. Innovations and ideas are lacking. Many people despair. American can only be great when it takes along the weak. Washington did not always ignore the middle. After the Great Depression, a series of rural development projects including the Tennessee Valley Authority built whole cities and not only dams and power supply systems. FDR’s New Deal built 165K public buildings.

The New Economy is suddenly here after a decade of delay. The digital economy has long been marked by its prominent representatives Apple, Google and Facebook that will ultimately replace the Old Economy. This change was announced so often since the Dotcom bubble burst that the actual change was nearly unnoticed. However, the signs are now immense. Online retailers – with Amazon leading the way – are taking down traditional department stores like Macy’s and the Wal-Mart supermarket chain. After 200 years, the past rivals Dupont and Dow Chemical hope to at least ward off the twilight of the former US industry icons. They can hardly prevent their twilight.

The new economy is completely changing the labor market. The discussion about the 1% vs. the 99% gives way to the Digital Divide. The creative technology elite profits from progress and simultaneously creates short-term jobs at low wages at the lower end for which the use of robots or computers would be too expensive or too awkward: cleaning, cooking, and nursing. Jobs in the middle become fewer. Thus an imbalance arises on the labor market that is much more threatening for the economy and society than the crassly unequal distribution of wealth and income.

Posted in Political Theory, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution, Roosevelt and New Deal | Leave a comment

Court overturns Canada’s approval of Northern Gateway pipeline

Court overturns Canada’s approval of Northern Gateway pipeline
by Obert Madondo, editor of The Canadian Progressive, June 30, 2016

“First Nations and Canada have a lot of work to do regarding measures needed to finally put us all on the path of reconciliation and partnership.”
The court’s ruling offers the Trudeau government with a unique opportunity to re-think both Canada’s discredited pipeline approval process and the ongoing efforts to achieve reconciliation with First Nations.


“In a decision that’s already being hailed as a major victory for First Nations and the planet, the Federal Court of Appeal recently overturned the Canadian government’s 2014 approval of Enbridge’s contested Northern Gateway pipeline project.

The court concluded that Canada failed to respect its constitutional duty to properly consult the various First Nations that would be adversely affected by the $7.9 billion pipeline before approving the project.

According to the court’s ruling (pdf), “Canada offered only a brief, hurried and inadequate opportunity” for dialogue. Canada acted in a manner that “was not consistent with the duty to consult and the obligation of fair dealing.”


“It would have taken Canada little time and little organizational effort to engage in meaningful dialogue on these and other subjects of prime importance to Aboriginal Peoples. But this did not happen.”

Posted in Environmental Economics, Political Theory | Leave a comment