A discussion on the General Agreement on Trade with Sir James Goldsmith and Laura D’Andrea Tyson.
Thomas Frank rejoins the show to talk about the past, present, and future of the Democratic party. Hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper look into the Trump rallies planned for this weekend.
Amy Coney Barrett, whom President Trump has nominated to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, was born in 1972, so she can expect to spend several decades shaping both American law and American life. As it happens, a year before Barrett’s birth, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., then a prominent lawyer in Richmond, Virginia, and later a Supreme Court Justice himself, wrote a now famous memorandum to the United States Chamber of Commerce, arguing that businesses needed to take a more aggressive hand in shaping public policy. “The American economic system is under broad attack,” he wrote, from, specifically, the consumer, environmental, and labor movements. He added that “the campus is the single most dynamic source” of that attack. To counter it, Powell suggested that business interests should make a major financial commitment to shaping universities, so that the “bright young men” of tomorrow would hear messages of support for the free-enterprise system. A little less than a decade later, a pair of law professors named Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia signed on as the first faculty advisers to a fledgling organization for conservative law students called the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. The efforts of the Federalist Society were lavishly funded by the business interests invoked by Powell, and it has trained a generation or two of future leaders. Not all of them have been “bright young men.” Some are women, including Barrett, and her confirmation would vindicate Powell’s plan and transform the Supreme Court.
Barrett made an appealing first impression in 2017, during her confirmation hearings to the federal bench. She and her husband are the parents of seven children. For many years, she was a popular professor at Notre Dame Law School, which she also attended and from which she graduated summa cum laude. She clerked on the Supreme Court for Justice Scalia. As a judge on the Seventh Circuit, she has been a reliable conservative voice. Even liberal peers in the academy find her personable. She will probably do well in providing the artful non-answers that are the currency of Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, just as she did in 2017.
But there should be no doubt about why Barrett has been chosen. Much of the commentary about her selection will focus on the issue of abortion, and her likely role in overturning Roe v. Wade. During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly promised to appoint Justices who would vote to overrule that landmark, and with his three selections, including Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, he appears to have delivered. Barrett is not only a member of a conservative organization within the Catholic Church; her legal writings, and the views of some who know her, suggest that she would overturn Roe.
Still, it’s worth remembering the real priorities of Trump and Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, in this nomination. They’re happy to accommodate the anti-abortion base of the Republican Party, but an animating passion of McConnell’s career has been the deregulation of political campaigns. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision brought the issue to wide public attention, but McConnell has been crusading about it for decades. He wants the money spigot kept open, so that he can protect his Senate majority and the causes for which it stands. This, too, is why the Federalist Society has been so lavishly funded over the years, and why it has expanded from a mere campus organization into a national behemoth for lawyers and students. Under Republican Presidents, Federalist Society events have come to operate as auditions for judicial appointments. The corporate interests funding the growth of the Federalist Society probably weren’t especially interested in abortion, but they were almost certainly committed to crippling the regulatory state.
Barrett is a product of this movement, and not just because she clerked for Scalia. Her writings and early rulings reflect it. Her financial-disclosure form shows that, in recent years, she has received about seven thousand dollars in honoraria from the Federalist Society and went on ten trips funded by it. But it’s not as if Barrett was bought; she was already sold. The judge has described herself as a “textualist” and an “originalist”—the same words of legal jargon that were associated with Scalia. (She believes in relying on the specific meaning of the words in statutes, not on legislators’ intent. She interprets the Constitution according to her belief in what the words meant when the document was ratified, not what the words mean now.) But these words are abstractions. In the real world, they operate as an agenda to crush labor unions, curtail environmental regulation, constrain the voting rights of minorities, limit government support for health care, and free the wealthy to buy political influence.
It should go without saying that the nomination and the expected confirmation of Barrett in the final days before a Presidential election represent a paramount act of hypocrisy for McConnell and the other Republicans who denied even a hearing to Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court, in 2016. But the fact that these Republicans are willing to risk that charge shows how important the Supreme Court is to them. Far more than a senator, a Supreme Court Justice can deliver on the agenda. The war on abortion is just the start.
Joseph Eugene Stiglitz (/ˈstɪɡlɪts/; born February 9, 1943) is an American economist, public policy analyst, and a professor at Columbia University. He is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979). He is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and is a former member and chairman of the (US president’s) Council of Economic Advisers.some ways I one has to recognize that42:32China may have been lucky they began the42:37development strategy just at the moment42:39when the West was very open to importing42:43manufacturing goods it was a moment42:49where because there were a large profit42:54opportunities in the West that sustained42:58the opening with wrong without regard to43:01the effects and workers over the over43:04the effects and the overall economy so43:09in a way China’s success is testimony to43:13the failures of democratic politics in43:16the United States in Western Europe43:19because the rules the game were designed43:26worked to advantage American43:29corporations Western European43:31corporations with no attention paid to43:37the consequences to the workers as the43:41United States d industrialized now some43:43countries in Europe did pay attention43:45and they did have active labor market43:49policies that shifted workers from the43:53old sectors that were dying into the new43:55sectors and Scandinavia has been very43:58good in these active labor market44:00policies which I think are really44:02important in the United States we didn’t44:06do that even though economic theory said44:11opening up of trade between an44:14banks country like the United States and44:16China West events would result in lower44:21real incomes for unskilled workers44:24there’s a missing Stover theorem and it44:28was unambiguously clear even though we44:31were getting cheaper goods real incomes44:34of unskilled workers would go down and44:36it’s only if you had a mystical belief44:39in trickle-down economics would you44:41think otherwise but our politicians did44:44have a mystical belief in trickle-down44:46economics and they asserted this over44:51and over again and so even when you know44:54in the Democratic Party we tried to get44:57Trade Adjustment Assistance we try to44:59have some active labor market policies45:01when we couldn’t because of concerns45:04about austerity and not enough budget45:07concerns they wouldn’t work we went45:11ahead anyway there is a growing sense45:15the United States though that actually45:16the agenda on the right was to increase45:23unemployment and suffering you say why45:26would they anybody you know why do45:29people want suffering well it was part45:32of a concerted agenda if you look at to45:35weaken the bargaining power of workers45:38and drive down the wages which increases45:41profits so if you look at this from a45:45conservative point of view the reforms45:47and our labor laws and reforms in the45:51way antitrust policy was enforced that45:55reform is a not the right word but45:58changes in those laws changes in46:02corporate governance and implicit46:04understandings the legal frameworks and46:08in the investment agreements in the46:10trade agreements the investment46:12agreements they gave more secure46:14property rights if American firms46:16invested abroad than if they vested at46:18home which meant that they were46:21encouraged to invest abroad which also46:24meant that if the firm if workers came46:27to affirming46:28we want higher wages and the firms know46:31if you we give you if you continue to46:35demand higher wages we’re going to leave46:37that was more credible so I think it was46:43a deliberate strategy to drive down the46:45wages of workers and it worked in terms46:50of the economics that I described before46:52it did drive down the wages but it has46:55now led to these this political backlash46:58with which we are dealing so there is a47:04relationship between China’s success and47:07some of the problems that we’re facing47:09it wasn’t inevitable we could have47:11managed it better we should have managed47:14it better but we didn’t but just as a47:16footnote the point I’m making is that47:20that was a particularly47:23Africa won’t be able to follow the47:25manufacturing export-led growth model47:28that led to the success of East Asian47:32countries including China in fact now47:36globally manufacturing employment is in47:40decline in any country that believes47:44that manufacturing should be at the47:46center of their economic policy is47:48misguided it can be part of it it can’t47:52be at the center well let me just47:57conclude by SEP some let me just48:02conclude by a set of remarks about that48:07in a way that pertain to all countries48:10but we’re we’re china realized this in a48:16way more forcefully than many others48:18have and that is that reform is a48:20never-ending process that societies are48:28always changing technology’s changing48:30and therefore the policies that are48:36going to make a society successful have48:38to change in a corresponding way48:41for China China’s entering a new stage48:43of development it’s facing critical48:46problems of inequality health48:47environment livable cities markets won’t48:51solve those problems in fact many of48:53those problems have been created by the48:56fact that they had markets that were too49:00unfettered to under-regulated49:02they’re going to have to regulate them49:04better there are further questions posed49:09by changing globalization the49:12recognition of the risks of excessive49:14financialization the West49:18I believe hasn’t succeeded in adequately49:20taming financial markets as you know49:23this is this week is the 10th49:25anniversary Lehman Brothers and and a49:27lot of people are talking about have we49:29done enough I think it’s absolutely49:32clear no and what’s particularly49:39disturbing is the Trump administration49:41is trying to undo the inadequate things49:44that we’ve already done again I was at a49:48dinner right before the inauguration of49:51Trump where one of his chief economic49:54advisors was there49:56I don’t normally associate with his49:57people might make it clearer but it was50:02an embassy dinner so I and I didn’t know50:06he was going to be there anyway50:10and he was talking about how he was50:16going to deregulate the financial sector50:19within weeks after taking office and the50:26first thing that struck me is he clearly50:28had no idea of our democratic processes50:31yeah he really thought you know Trump is50:34the dictator he gets to write rewrite50:36all the rules no no none of these50:38processes that we put in place as50:40democratic checks against authoritarian50:43leaders no knowledge of that was just so50:46clear but the second point I was going50:50to ask what somebody who asked it before50:51I did quizzically50:55didn’t we have a crisis in 2008 and the51:02implicit answer was that was ancient51:04history and we have to move on but it’s51:09not ancient history and I think the51:12risks are very much with us one of the51:17concerns that I increasingly seeing in51:20China is that as China grows the51:26influence of vested interest will grow51:28and you can feel it already51:32another just a little anecdote every51:36year when I go to China I often talked51:42to the finance minister and I’ve been51:43pushing them to move away from their51:46debt finance growth model to more tax51:50financed in particular I’m telling them51:53they need a carbon tax and it would51:56raise a lot of revenue it would help51:59clean up their air pollution exceed me52:02an obvious idea and the finance minister52:05every year says great idea and he says52:10we have some political problems which he52:14means the auto industry the coal52:16industry this you know steel industry52:18and so forth we’re gonna work on it next52:22year we go through the same conversation52:27as China has grown and it has taken on52:31many of the features of a modern vested52:37interest economy we’re getting change is52:41becoming more difficult and that of52:43course is is very worrisome but the52:49principles that guided China in the52:53first 40 years are likely to continue to52:55be relevant and that by that I mean the52:57pragmatism crossing the river by feeling53:00this still stone they’re going to be new53:02problems not fully foreseen would that53:04appear it will have to address these53:08problems53:09using insights from theory and past53:11experience and the second critical point53:14is openness there is much to be learned53:18from experiences of others and from the53:20ink sykes of non-ideological economic53:23analysis and again we’re in a particular53:29moment where I hate to keep coming back53:34to the United States but we’re a little53:35bit obsessed with with our problems one53:41can’t help but reflect on the closed53:45mindedness of our current administration53:48of not looking around you know if you53:52think you’re number one and you think53:54that you’re the there’s nothing to learn53:57from anybody else that is part of the54:02beginning of the end so we hope that54:05this is just a temporary interlude but54:09as we reflect on what makes I know54:14successful in the ways it is I think54:18there are a lot of lessons for all of us54:19to think about how we can make our own54:21economy successful for all of us thank54:24you54:30
With every major financial recovery since the second World War beginning in a place of greater debt than the one before it, how could we not have foreseen the financial crisis of 2008? In this episode of Meet the Renegades, economics professor and author, Michael Hudson argues we did.
How could an economy that created so much debt also save the banks rather than the economy itself, following the 2008 financial crisis? Michael discusses the phenomenon of debt inflation and how the economic curriculum should change.
“If you’re teaching economics, you should begin with the relationship between finance and the economy, between the build up of debt and the ability to pay.”
Michael discusses the ‘Great Moderation’, a common misrepresentation of a healthy economy in which job productivity was increasing, labor complacency was at an all-time low was a complete myth. Michael argues that ‘traumatized’ workers were too in debt to fight for better working conditions leading up to the 2008 financial crisis and how this reflects neo-classical ideas.
Michael offers solutions – urging the importance of writing down the debt and keeping basic services in the public sector, ridding the economy of financial tumors through a proper tax policy based upon the this public sector model.
Depending on your 401 (K) or your pension is a recipe for retirement disaster! America is facing a retirement crisis and every day there are more and more victims of this corruption.
No other industrial country treats its working class so badly. And there’s one big reason for that.
The United States is the only advanced industrial nation that doesn’t have national laws guaranteeing paid maternity leave. It is also the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee workers any vacation, paid or unpaid, and the only highly developedcountry (other than South Korea) that doesn’t guarantee paid sick days. In contrast, the European Union’s 28 nations guarantee workers at least four weeks’ paid vacation.
Among the three dozen industrial countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States has the lowest minimum wage as a percentage of the median wage — just 34 percent of the typical wage, compared with 62 percent in France and 54 percent in Britain. It also has the second-highest percentage of low-wage workers among that group, exceeded only by Latvia.
All this means the United States suffers from what I call “anti-worker exceptionalism.”
Academics debate why American workers are in many ways worse off than their counterparts elsewhere, but there is overriding agreement on one reason: Labor unions are weaker in the United States than in other industrial nations. Just one in 16 private-sector American workers is in a union, largely because corporations are so adept and aggressive at beating back unionization. In no other industrial nation do corporations fight so hard to keep out unions.
The consequences are enormous, not only for wages and income inequality, but also for our politics and policymaking and for the many Americans who are mistreated at work.
To be sure, unions have their flaws, from corruption to their history of racial and sex discrimination. Still, Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson write of an important, unappreciated feature of unions in “Winner-Take-All Politics”: “While there are many ‘progressive’ groups in the American universe of organized interests, labor is the only major one focused on the broad economic concerns of those with modest incomes.”
As workers’ power has waned, many corporations have adopted practices that were far rarer — if not unheard-of — decades ago:
- hiring hordes of unpaid interns,
- expecting workers to toil 60 or 70 hours a week,
- prohibiting employees from suing and instead forcing them into arbitration (which usually favors employers), and
- hamstringing employees’ mobility by making them sign noncompete clauses.
America’s workers have for decades been losing out:
- year after year of wage stagnation, i
- ncreased insecurity on the job,
- waves of downsizing and offshoring, and
- labor’s share of national income declining to its lowest level in seven decades.
Numerous studies have found that an important cause of America’s soaring income inequality is the decline of labor unions — and the concomitant decline in workers’ ability to extract more of the profit and prosperity from the corporations they work for. The only time during the past century when income inequality narrowed substantially was the 1940s through 1970s, when unions were at their peak of power and prominence.
Many Americans are understandably frustrated. That’s one reason the percentage who say they want to join a union has risen markedly. According to a 2018 M.I.T. study, 46 percent of nonunion workers say they would like to be in a union, up from 32 percent in 1995. Nonetheless, just 10.5 percent of all American workers, and only 6.4 percent of private-sector workers, are in unions.
But this desire to unionize faces some daunting challenges. In many corporations, the mentality is that any supervisor, whether a factory manager or retail manager, who fails to keep out a union is an utter failure. That means managers fight hard to quash unions. One study found that
- 57 percent of employers threatened to close operations when workers sought to unionize, while
- 47 percent threatened to cut wages or benefits and
- 34 percent fired union supporters during unionization drives.
Corporate executives’ frequent failure to listen to workers’ concerns — along with the intimidation of employees — can have deadly results. On April 5, 2010, a coal dust explosion killed 29 miners at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia. A federal investigation found that the mine’s ventilation system was inadequate and that explosive gases were allowed to build up. Workers at the nonunion mine knew about these dangers. “No one felt they could go to management and express their fears,” Stanley Stewart, an Upper Big Branch miner, told a congressional committee. “We knew we’d be marked men and the management would look for ways to fire us.”
The diminished power of unions and workers has skewed American politics, helping give billionaires and corporations inordinate sway over America’s politics and policymaking. In the 2015-16 election cycle, business outspent labor $3.4 billion to $213 million, a ratio of 16 to 1, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. All of the nation’s unions, taken together, spend about $48 million a year for lobbying in Washington, while corporate America spends $3 billion. Little wonder that many lawmakers seem vastly more interested in cutting taxes on corporations than in raising the minimum wage.
There were undoubtedly many reasons for Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, but a key one was that many Americans seemed to view him as a protest candidate, promising to shake up “the system” and “drain the swamp.” Many voters embraced Mr. Trump because they believed his statements that the system is rigged — and in many ways it is. When it comes to workers’ power in the workplace and in politics, the pendulum has swung far toward corporations.
Reversing that won’t be easy, but it is vital we do so. There are myriad proposals to restore some balance, from having workers elect representatives to corporate boards to making it easier for workers to unionize to expanding public financing of political campaigns to prevent wealthy and corporate donors from often dominating.
America’s workers won’t stop thinking the system is rigged until they feel they have an effective voice in the workplace and in policymaking so that they can share in more of the economy’s prosperity to help improve their — and their loved ones’ — lives.