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Malcolm Harris: College Admissions Scandal and Capitalism
"The idea that a high-achieving student is doing $100,000 worth of labor a year won’t be surprising to anyone who knows one. Without huge amounts of time and effort beginning at a young age, it’s incredibly hard to pull together the kind of résumé that’s needed in order to stand out to elite and competitive schools. These teens end up putting in so much labor that they are developing their specialized skills to professional levels before they finish high school. In some ways, the unmediated job market has lower standards than the most exclusive colleges do. The best child musicians and scientists and athletes are working very hard, and what they’re doing has value, too. We know it does, because their efforts are worth counterfeiting.

Student labor has a curious character. It’s unpaid, but the idea is that it will be compensated indirectly later. There are tests that are meant to validate kids along the way, including college admissions and ultimately the job market. A higher grade (in the broader but also in the specific, academic sense) is supposed to lead to a higher wage down the line, something everyone understands implicitly. The value from all that childhood work has to go somewhere; we can think of that place as a sort of internal battery that stores human capital, the skills and abilities that we put to work when we go to work. Counterfeit human capital is what William H. Macy and Mossimo Giannulli were allegedly buying for their kids: the appearance of skills and abilities that didn’t actually exist.

Human capital is an odd commodity because it’s inalienable. You can’t sell your ability to do 100 push-ups or your starting position on the soccer team or your Yale diploma. That means that workers can’t really be said to own their human capital, since it’s not transferable. It’s an abstract substance that can be weighed and compared, but also a relationship between workers and owners — that’s why companies can use it in place of “human resources.” Human capital belongs to workers, but only to be managed and exploited by employers. To monetize their abilities, workers need someone to hire or invest in them. (The number of workers who are able to save up their wages in order to start their own businesses is much smaller than we’re led to believe, and shrinking.) There is no fixed correlation between the accumulation of human capital and pay. You get paid to work, not to be smart.

Because no one is on the hook for compensating any particular young person for their hard work, there’s no reason to set a limit on how much of it they should do. The random distribution of talents and passions and the very predictable distribution of resources have left students with any number of ways to differentiate themselves from each other in the eyes of graders. An arms race arises as students are encouraged to try their hardest, to reach their full potentials, to use every advantage they have. We can see the scale of it in the forged applications: The aforementioned Yale admit claimed to be a nationally ranked soccer player in China, a nation of 1.4 billion people. The admissions committee had no reason not to believe it; I’m sure they see genuine applications like that all the time. There’s always someone who can try a little harder and stay up a bit later or whose parents can pay more. The level of competition gets higher and higher, and theoretically that’s great — as long as everyone eventually finds a job that will repay the investments they’ve made in their own capacities. You can see the problem.

The best thing you can do for your own future employment prospects is to invest in your human capital: learn to code or speak Mandarin or captain your sports team or whatever else the Aspen crowd wants from us this week. Training according to guesses about the notoriously unreliable future demands of rich people is not particularly fun, and it’s obvious why their own kids can’t be bothered. But most of us have to try, and there arises a supply-and-demand problem: If everyone teaches themselves to code and the supply of human capital goes up, it’s suddenly very easy for employers to find coders, and the demand (read: pay) goes down. What’s advantageous for the individual is self-defeating for the class.

The result is workers who have not only taken on an average of tens of thousands of dollars in educational debt, but have also put in what we can now understand as hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars’ worth of unpaid labor. Taking no responsibility for this situation, employers have used the flood of overqualified workers to lower job quality, sometimes so far as to stumble onto the wrong side of America’s meager labor laws. That leaves young people who had planned on higher-quality jobs (as they were told to) underwater on their own human capital. Having invested more in effort and money than their work can command on the market, they’re not in possession of distressed assets; they are the distressed assets. And they’re stuck with themselves.

I can’t speak to why people who will never have to work in their lives care about getting fancy degrees, but I know why everyone else does. As the distance between the rich and the rest increases, the stakes of childhood go up too. Failure at one of the crucial steps (like college admissions) means taking a loss on your investment in yourself, which is extremely depressing. Everyone is compelled to work harder to try to avoid that fate, except the business owners and landlords, who just have to pay higher bribes — which they can afford to do because all those people who are working harder are, in one way or another, working for them. Depending on whether or not you own the means of production, it’s all a virtuous or vicious cycle. For most of us, it’s the latter."
malcolmharris  2019  labor  education  schools  schooling  colleges  universities  admissions  collegeadmissions  children  work  capitalism  exploitation  competition  highereducation  highered  debt  unpaidlabor  humancapital 
28 days ago by robertogreco
On Bullsh*t Jobs | David Graeber | RSA Replay - YouTube
"In 2013 David Graeber, professor of anthropology at LSE, wrote an excoriating essay on modern work for Strike! magazine. “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” was read over a million times and the essay translated in seventeen different languages within weeks. Graeber visits the RSA to expand on this phenomenon, and will explore how the proliferation of meaningless jobs - more associated with the 20th-century Soviet Union than latter-day capitalism - has impacted modern society. In doing so, he looks at how we value work, and how, rather than being productive, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it."
davidgraeber  bullshitjobs  employment  jobs  work  2018  economics  neoliberalism  capitalism  latecapitalism  sovietunion  bureaucracy  productivity  finance  policy  politics  unschooling  deschooling  labor  society  purpose  schooliness  debt  poverty  inequality  rules  anticapitalism  morality  wealth  power  control  technology  progress  consumerism  suffering  morals  psychology  specialization  complexity  systemsthinking  digitization  automation  middlemanagement  academia  highered  highereducation  management  administration  adminstrativebloat  minutia  universalbasicincome  ubi  supplysideeconomics  creativity  elitism  thecultofwork  anarchism  anarchy  zero-basedaccounting  leisure  taylorism  ethics  happiness  production  care  maintenance  marxism  caregiving  serviceindustry  gender  value  values  gdp  socialvalue  education  teaching  freedom  play  feminism  mentalhealth  measurement  fulfillment  supervision  autonomy  humans  humnnature  misery  canon  agency  identity  self-image  self-worth  depression  stress  anxiety  solidarity  camaraderie  respect  community 
january 2019 by robertogreco
David Graeber on a Fair Future Economy - YouTube
"David Graeber is an anthropologist, a leading figure in the Occupy movement, and one of our most original and influential public thinkers.

He comes to the RSA to address our current age of ‘total bureaucratization’, in which public and private power has gradually fused into a single entity, rife with rules and regulations, whose ultimate purpose is the extraction of wealth in the form of profits.

David will consider what it would take, in terms of intellectual clarity, political will and imaginative power – to conceive and build a flourishing and fair future economy, which would maximise the scope for individual and collective creativity, and would be sustainable and just."
democracy  liberalism  directdemocracy  borders  us  finance  globalization  bureaucracy  2015  ows  occupywallstreet  governance  government  economics  politics  policy  unschooling  unlearning  schooliness  technology  paperwork  future  utopianism  capitalism  constitution  rules  regulation  wealth  power  communism  authority  authoritarianism  creativity  neoliberalism  austerity  justice  socialjustice  society  ideology  inequality  revolution  global  international  history  law  legal  debt  freedom  money  monetarypolicy  worldbank  imf  markets  banks  banking  certification  credentials  lobbying  collusion  corruption  privatization  credentialization  deschooling  canon  firstamendment 
january 2019 by robertogreco
How This All Happened · Collaborative Fund
"This is a short story about what happened to the U.S. economy since the end of World War II."



"10. The Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, Brexit, and the rise of Donald Trump each represents a group shouting, “Stop the ride, I want off.”

The details of their shouting are different, but they’re all shouting – at least in part – because stuff isn’t working for them within the context of the post-war expectation that stuff should work roughly the same for roughly everyone.

You can scoff at linking the rise of Trump to income inequality alone. And you should. These things are always layers of complexity deep. But it’s a key part of what drives people to think, “I don’t live in the world I expected. That pisses me off. So screw this. And screw you! I’m going to fight for something totally different, because this – whatever it is – isn’t working.”

Take that mentality and raise it to the power of Facebook, Instagram, and cable news – where people are more keenly aware of how other people live than ever before. It’s gasoline on a flame. Benedict Evans says, “The more the Internet exposes people to new points of view, the angrier people get that different views exist.” That’s a big shift from the post-war economy where the range of economic opinions were smaller, both because the actual range of outcomes was lower and because it wasn’t as easy to see and learn what other people thought and how they lived.

I’m not pessimistic. Economics is the story of cycles. Things come, things go.

The unemployment rate is now the lowest it’s been in decades. Wages are now actually growing faster for low-income workers than the rich. College costs by and large stopped growing once grants are factored in. If everyone studied advances in healthcare, communication, transportation, and civil rights since the Glorious 1950s, my guess is most wouldn’t want to go back.

But a central theme of this story is that expectations move slower than reality on the ground. That was true when people clung to 1950s expectations as the economy changed over the next 35 years. And even if a middle-class boom began today, expectations that the odds are stacked against everyone but those at the top may stick around.

So the era of “This isnt working” may stick around.

And the era of “We need something radically new, right now, whatever it is” may stick around.

Which, in a way, is part of what starts events that led to things like World War II, where this story began.

History is just one damn thing after another."
history  economics  us  ww2  wwii  2018  morganhousel  debt  labor  work  credit  teaparty  donaldtrump  employment  unemployment  inequality  capitalism  1940s  1950s  1960s  1970s  1980s  2000s  2010s  expectations  behavior  highered  highereducation  education  communication  healthcare  housing  internet  web  online  complexity 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Here's Fresh Evidence Student Loans Are a Massive, Generational Scam - VICE
"Over the centuries, America has bestowed generous, state-sponsored privileges upon select classes of its citizens. Veterans and old people get free socialized healthcare—and, for the most part, they love it. Corporations (who count as people, look it up) get sweet tax breaks and, in the case of defense contractors, no-bid deals to build extremely expensive weapons unlikely to be used in the near future. And young people get thousands and thousands of dollars of student loans to pay for college, putting them in a hole they might spend the rest of their lives digging out of.

Obviously, one of these things is not like the others—the United States has put many students in the position of making decisions that can determine their financial futures when they're teenagers. This has nightmarish consequences: Some 44 million people have $1.5 trillion in student loan debt on the books. And even when young people do get through college and find a decent job, many can't fathom possibly buying a home or taking on other trappings of adulthood when faced with decades of monthly loan bills.

The worst part is that those who sought an elite education on the widely accepted notion that it would help them later in life were basically sold a bad bill of goods.

All that debt provides awfully little payoff in terms of boosted wages, even as it ensnares more and more people and hits youth of color especially hard, according to a new paper released Tuesday by two researchers at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute. Research fellows Julie Margetta Morgan and Marshall Steinbaum concluded that more and more debt hasn't significantly boosted income for college grads—it just seems that way because high school grads without BAs are making less than they once did. They also found that looking at decent rates of repayment by student debtors is a misleading way to look at the scale of this crisis. And thanks to workers lacking the power they once enjoyed in an increasingly skill-obsessed economy, young people are often being pressured into getting extra degrees on their own dime (which is to say by taking on more debt) for minimal payoff.

For some perspective on how America let student loans get so out of control, why taking on debt is so often a mistake, and what we can do about it, I called co-author Julie Margetta Morgan for a chat.

VICE: Why do you think this has been allowed to get so bad, to the point not only that it's widely known as a crisis, but one that gets worse and worse?

[A] Julie Margetta Morgan: We have seen the overall amount of student debt grow and we've seen some of the industries around repayment get worse over time, although default rates recently got a little bit better. But I think that the reason why it's sort of been allowed to exist as this quiet crisis is that there's not a lot of agreement among experts that, on the whole, student debt is getting worse. I think that's because experts primarily look at measures around successful repayment of the loan as the target. And in this paper we try to take a slightly different look. First of all we interrogate those questions around repayments themselves—so we have a section around, like, experts have said that student debt is not a bigger burden now than it was a generation ago. And yet if you delve into the figures a little bit deeper you can see that, in fact, it is worse—the burden is worse but the repayment plans are slightly better, which masks the burden on students.

So part of what we're trying to do here is combat some of the common wisdom in the higher education policy world—what we tend to hear is: Yeah, students are taking on a lot of debt but ultimately that debt is worth it because their degrees are paying off in the long run. And we're finding that that's not necessarily true.

[Q] Is the most radical conclusion you reached here that the increased debt burden people are bearing is not paying off in terms of boosted income? Or is that already well known?

[A] That higher education is not paying off in terms of overall changes in the distribution of income is definitely apparent to labor economists but not necessarily apparent to higher education policy experts and those who advocate on behalf of students, because we are so often fed the college earnings premium as the single measure of whether college pays off over time. Yes of course college still pays off, but it pays off because it's becoming less and less viable for someone to make a living with just a high-school diploma. It's no longer this thing of, I'd like to earn a higher income, I guess I'll go to college. It's like, I have to go to college in order to not end up in poverty—and I'm also forced to take on debt to get there.

[Q] Is there any evidence that, thanks to income growth in the last year or two, college debt is paying off more than it did?

[A] It remains to be seen, but I'm not sure that it's a good idea for us to tie higher education policy—how we fund college—to the swings of the labor market. Our focus should be on taking the risk off of the individual and spreading it across the public, because the public is getting a lot of the benefit of college degrees.

[Q] Have you seen any indicators that people—including the communities hit hardest by college debt—might actively be avoiding college because of the specter of endless debt?

[A] We have lower levels of college attainment already among African American and Latino populations and we do see polls that suggest people are more and more skeptical of the value of college. And that's exactly the result we don't want to see. We don't want to see the people already discriminated against in the labor market avoiding going to college.

The other trend that comes to mind is this trend of programs that we would have previously considered trade programs, whether they're now being offered at for-profit colleges or as industry credentials that are trying to become part of the mainstream higher education system and get access to the loans. So there's a world in which people are trying to avoid getting the loans but the loans are actually following them to these trade programs.

[Q] But given that discrimination, is it not rational to—in some cases—calculate against attending college given the massive debt burden and how it hits some communities extra hard?

[A] I think it's absolutely at an individual level a rational decision that we're seeing people make. And at a national level we ought to be concerned about that and looking to change policies so people don't have to make that decision.

[Q] I know one of your aims here was to reinforce that this is a worse crisis than people think, but isn't the problem that Republicans just don't care?

[A] There's obviously a group of policymakers who don't want to deal with it. But I think there's another subset of policymakers who are looking at the student debt crisis through the lens of repayment—that the goal is to ensure that people can repay their loans. Keeping people out of default shouldn't be the biggest goal we set for ourselves.

If student debt is a crisis, is the answer that we should have less student debt? Or just that people are able to make their monthly payments? Our answer is that we should have less debt overall.

[Q] Part of your paper is about how workers keep getting pressured to gain new degrees and credentials that load them up with debt—all because they have no power. Is this about unions disappearing, or what would help there?

[A] Certainly the declining power of unions is one part of it. The lack of say for average workers in the decision-making at the companies they work for, the increase in corporate concentration within the economy—the rise of monopoly power makes it harder for workers to have a say, because there are fewer employers. And back during the recession, the scarcity of jobs made it harder for employees to have power and negotiate for themselves.

[Q] It's hard not to read the paper and feel like taking on student loans is maybe (very often) a mistake or even that the larger system is a scam. Even when students are not being preyed upon by for-profit schools or predatory lenders, the whole seems flimsy or even fraudulent. Is that unreasonable?

[A] I don't think it's unreasonable. I think of it as a failed social experiment that young people are caught in the middle of. It wasn't intentionally sold like a scam, but the way young people experience this is they were told: You go to college, you study, don't worry so much about how much it costs, it's going to be worth it in the end. And they get out on the other side, they have a ton of debt, they are working as hard as they can, but they're not getting ahead—they're treading water. They're making payments on their debt, but not able to buy a house, they're not able to save for retirement. You were sold on a promise, you come out on the other hand that that promise was false, and everybody looks at you like, What's wrong?

One of the things I thought was so exciting about writing this paper is it puts data to that deep frustration that we see in younger generations right now.

[Q] It doesn't seem likely that we'll see a major overhaul of the system in DC right now, with unified Republican control. But what can and should be done, the next time Democrats have control of the government, or in the meantime?

[A] There are things we can do right now. it's encouraging to see what's happening in the courts—some great student advocates and lawyers have taken action to make sure the [Education Secretary Betsy] DeVos administration at least enforces rules on the books to help get student loan cancellation for a smaller group of borrowers and limit predatory practices at for-profit schools.

As we look to the future, we have to think a lot bigger. We should be looking at both free and debt-free options for college. Free college at public universities and more debt-free options for students. That's how we take care of generations… [more]
studentloans  health  healthcare  inequality  2018  economics  socialsafetynet  society  us  education  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  juliemargettamorgan  marshallsteinbaum  debt  income  policy  politics  labor  markets  capitalism  work  unions 
october 2018 by robertogreco
An interactive map of debt in America
"The Urban Institute has built an interactive map for exploring debt in America.
Credit can be a lifeline during emergencies and a bridge to education and homeownership. But debt-which can stem from credit or unpaid bills-often burdens families and communities and exacerbates wealth inequality. This map shows the geography of debt in America at the national, state, and county levels.

I’d love to hear why the “share with any debt in collections” is so relatively low in the Upper Midwest, Minnesota in particular.

Update: Unsurprisingly, health insurance coverage is a significant factor in American debt…and Minnesota has a low rate of medical debt in collections along with a relatively low rate of uninsured. This 2016 press release from MN Department of Health provides some clues as to why the uninsured rate is so comparatively low. (via @yodaui)"
maps  mapping  us  data  debt  economics  2017  classideas  money  finance  inequality 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Forget Coates vs. West — We All Have a Duty to Confront the Full Reach of U.S. Empire
"What are the duties of radicals and progressives inside relatively wealthy countries to the world beyond our national borders?"



" Is it even possible to be a voice for transformational change without a clear position on the brutal wars and occupations waged with U.S. weapons?"



"Our movements simply cannot afford to stick to our various comfort zones or offload internationalism as someone else’s responsibility.

The unending misery in Haiti may be the most vivid illustration of how today’s crises are all interrelated. On the island, serial natural disasters, some linked to climate change, are being layered on top of illegitimate foreign debts and coupled with gross negligence by the international aid industry, as well as acute U.S.-lead efforts to destabilize and under-develop the country. These compounding forces have led tens of thousands of Haitians to migrate to the United States in recent years, where they come face-to-face with Trump’s anti-Black, anti-immigrant agenda. Many are now fleeing to Canada, where hundreds if not thousands could face deportation. We can’t pry these various cross-border crises apart, nor should we.

IN SHORT, THERE is no radicalism — Black or otherwise — that ends at the national boundaries of our countries, especially the wealthiest and most heavily armed nation on earth. From the worldwide reach of the financial sector to the rapidly expanding battlefield of U.S. Special Operations to the fact that carbon pollution respects no borders, the forces we are all up against are global. So, too, are the crises we face, from the rise of white supremacy, ethno-chauvinism, and authoritarian strongmen to the fact that more people are being forced from their homes than at any point since World War II. If our movements are to succeed, we will need both analysis and strategies that reflect these truths about our world.

Some argue for staying in our lane, and undoubtedly there is a place for deep expertise. The political reality, however, is that the U.S. government doesn’t stay in its lane and never has — it spends public dollars using its military and economic might to turn the world into a battlefield, and it does so in the name of all of U.S. citizens.

As a result, our movements simply cannot afford to stick to our various comfort zones or offload internationalism as someone else’s responsibility. To do so would be grossly negligent of our geopolitical power, our own agency, as well as our very real connections to people and places throughout the world. So when we build cross-sector alliances and cross-issue solidarity, those relationships cannot be confined to our own nations or even our own hemisphere — not in a world as interconnected as ours. We have to strive for them to be as global as the forces we are up against.

We know this can seem overwhelming at a time when so many domestic crises are coming to a head and so many of us are being pushed beyond the breaking point. But it is worth remembering that our movement ancestors formed international alliances and placed their struggles within a global narrative not out of a sense of guilt or obligation, but because they understood that it made them stronger and more likely to win at home — and that strength terrified their enemies.

Besides, the benefit of building a broad-based, multiracial social movement — which should surely be the end goal of all serious organizers and radical intellectuals — is that movements can have a division of labor, with different specialists focusing on different areas, united by broad agreement about overall vision and goals. That’s what a real movement looks like.

The good news is that grassroots internationalism has never been easier. From cellphones to social media, we have opportunities to speak with one another across borders that our predecessors couldn’t have dreamed of. Similarly, tools that allow migrant families to stay connected with loved ones in different countries can also become conduits for social movements to hear news that the corporate media ignores. We are able, for instance, to learn about the pro-democracy movements growing in strength across the continent of Africa, as well as efforts to stop extrajudicial killings in countries like Brazil. Many would not have known that Black African migrants are being enslaved in Libya if it had not been for these same tools. And had they not known they wouldn’t have been able to engage in acts of necessary solidarity.

So let’s leave narrow, nostalgic nationalism to Donald Trump and his delusional #MAGA supporters. The forces waging war on bodies and the planet are irreversibly global, and we are vastly stronger when we build global movements capable of confronting them at every turn."
cornelwest  ta-nehisicoates  2017  us  politics  global  international  jelanicobb  barackobama  imperialism  africa  malcolmx  haiti  naomiklein  opaltometi  climatechange  colonialism  immigration  refugees  activism  outrage  crises  donaldtrump  fascism  military  borders  naturaldisasters  isolationism  debt  finance  destabilization 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Stefano Harney on Study (Interview July 2011, Part 5) - YouTube
"we’re talking about getting together with others and determining what needs to be learned together and spending time with that material and spending time with each other without any objective, without any endpoint"



"[Study] almost always happens against the university. It almost always happens in the university, but under the university, in its undercommons, in those places that are not recognized, not legitimate…"

[See also Margaret Edson: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:181e6f50825b ]
2011  stefanoharney  study  studies  highered  highereducation  resistance  unschooling  deschooling  labor  work  informal  community  interdependence  cv  credit  credentialism  accreditation  slavery  blackness  debt  capitalism  fredmoten  universities  undercommons  freedom  practice  praxis  learning  communities  objectives  messiness  howwelearn  productivity  production  product  circumstance  producing  nothing  nothingness  idleness  relationships  imperatives  competition  howestudy  self-development  sharing  subversion  education  baddebt  studentdebt  completion  unfinished  margaretedson 
december 2017 by robertogreco
This Is Hell! | Radical resistance within, against and beyond the neoliberal university.
""We've seen over the last 50 years a move away from any sort of critical curriculum that could create well-informed citizens, and towards professional degrees geared towards spitting out compliant workers. We should step back and question what a good citizen is. To be frank, a good citizen is a revolutionary in these days. And universities have taken it as their task to eject revolutionary thinkers, or to police them."

Members of the Undercommoning collective discuss the social and economic burdens of the neoliberal university - from the precarious nature of adjunct employment, to the existential claustrophobia of an educational system geared toward the sole production of debt and workers - and explain how a new wave of radical organizers are finding solidarity and building alternative forms of research and education

Max, Cassie and Brianne are part of the Undercommoning collective, who recently published the letter Undercommoning within, against and beyond the university-as-such at ROAR Magazine."
briannebolin  cassiethornton  maxhaiven  education  neoliberalism  activism  resistance  colleges  universities  economics  undercommoning  adjuncts  employment  highered  highereducation  debt  bankingsystemofeducation  paulofreire  corporatism  corporatization  schools  us 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Why Young Americans Are Giving Up on Capitalism | Foreign Policy
"Imagine that you’re twenty years old. You were born in 1996. You were five years old on 9/11. For as long as you can remember, the United States has been at war.

When you are twelve, in 2008, the global economy collapses. After years of bluster and bravado from President George W. Bush — who encouraged consumerism as a response to terror — it seems your country was weaker than you thought. In America, the bottom falls out fast.In America, the bottom falls out fast. The adults who take care of you struggle to take care of themselves. Perhaps your parent loses a job. Perhaps your family loses its home.

In 2009, politicians claim the recession is over, but your hardship is not. Wages are stagnant or falling. The costs of health care, child care, and tuition continue to rise exponentially. Full-time jobs turn into contract positions while benefits are slashed. Middle-class jobs are replaced with low-paying service work. The expectations of American life your parents had when you were born — that a “long boom” will bring about unparalleled prosperity — crumble away.

Baby boomers tell you there is a way out: a college education has always been the key to a good job. But that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. The college graduates you know are drowning in student debt, working for minimum wage, or toiling in unpaid internships. Prestigious jobs are increasingly clustered in cities where rent has tripled or quadrupled in a decade’s time. You cannot afford to move, and you cannot afford to stay. Outside these cities, newly abandoned malls join long abandoned factories. You inhabit a landscape of ruin. There is nothing left for you.

Every now and then, people revolt. When you are fifteen, Occupy Wall Street captivates the nation’s attention, drawing attention to corporate greed and lost opportunity. Within a year, the movement fades, and its members do things like set up “boutique activist consultancies.” When you are seventeen, the Fight for 15 workers movement manages to make higher minimum wage a mainstream proposition, but the solutions politicians pose are incremental. No one seems to grasp the urgency of the crisis. Even President Barack Obama, a liberal Democrat — the type of politician who’s supposed to understand poverty — declares that the economy has recovered."



"Does this mean that the youth of America are getting ready to hand over private property to the state and round up the kulaks? No. As many of those who reported on the Harvard survey noted, the terms “socialism” and “capitalism” were never defined. After meeting with survey takers, John Della Volpe, the director of the Harvard poll, told the Washington Post that respondents did not reject capitalism inherently as a concept. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting,” he said.

Capitalism, in other words, holds less appeal in an era when the invisible hand feels like a death grip. Americans under 20 have had little to no adult experience in a pre-Great Recession economy. Things older generations took for granted — promotions, wages that grow over time, a 40-hour work week, unions, benefits, pensions, mutual loyalty between employers and employees — are increasingly rare.

As a consequence, these basic tenets of American work life, won by labor movements in the early half of the twentieth century, are now deemed “radical.” In this context, Bernie Sanders, whose policies echo those of New Deal Democrats, can be deemed a “socialist” leading a “revolution”. His platform seems revolutionary only because American work life has become so corrupt, and the pursuit of basic stability so insurmountable, that modest ambitions — a salary that covers your bills, the ability to own a home or go to college without enormous debt — are now fantasies or luxuries.

Policies like a $15 per hour minimum wage — brought to mainstream attention not by Sanders, but by striking fast food workers years before — are not radical, but a pragmatic corrective to decades of wage depreciation. The minimum wage, which peaked in 1968, would have reached $21.72 in 2012 had it kept pace with productivity growth. Expectations of American life are formed on the premise that self-sufficiency is possible, but nearly half of Americans do not have $400 to their name. The gap between the rhetoric of “economic recovery” and “low unemployment” and the reality of how most Americans live is what makes Sanders seem unconventional: he describes widespread economic hardship many leaders rationalize or deny. Voters are not only rejecting the status quo, but how the status quo is depicted by media and politicians — the illusion that the economy is strong, and that suffering is the exception, not the rule.

We live in an era where heated rhetorical battles are fought over terms that have lost clear meaning. In an attempt to placate an angry populace, all three major candidates — Sanders, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton — have at various times positioned themselves as “anti-establishment”: a dubious description of two career politicians and a billionaire tycoon. “Neoliberal” has gone from a term that describes an advocate of specific economic and political policies to an insult hurled indiscriminately on social media. Thanks to Trump, the word “fascist” has reentered the American political vocabulary, with some playing down Trump’s brutal and unlawful policies on the grounds that they do not precisely emulate foreign fascist leaders of the past. Meanwhile, Trump castigates Clinton for not using the term “radical Islam.” This sparring over labels illustrates the depths of our ideological confusion.

It is in this rhetorical morass that the debate over whether young Americans support “socialism” or “capitalism” takes place. Omitted from most coverage of the Harvard poll was the fact that youth were asked not only about socialism and capitalism but four other categories. “Which of the following, if any, do you support?” the questionnaire inquired, giving the options of socialism, capitalism, progressivism, patriotism, feminism, and social justice activism. None of the terms were defined. Respondents could choose more than one. “Socialism,” at 33 percent, actually received the lowest support. “Patriotism” received the highest support, at 57 percent, while the three remaining categories were each supported by roughly half the respondents.

What do these category-based questions really tell us, then, about the allegiance of youth to ideologies? Nothing. The real answers are found in questions about policies. When asked whether they support the idea that “Basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that the government should provide to those unable to afford them,” 47 percent of all respondents said “yes.” Does this indicate support for socialism? Not necessarily. It indicates that respondents grew up in an America where a large number of their countrymen have struggled to afford food and shelter — and they want the suffering to stop.

You do not need a survey to ascertain the plight of American youth. You can look at their bank accounts, at the jobs they have, at the jobs their parents have lost, at the debt they hold, at the opportunities they covet but are denied. You do not need jargon or ideology to form a case against the status quo. The clearest indictment of the status quo is the status quo itself."
age  capitalism  economics  us  socialsafetynet  socialism  2016  occupywallstreet  ows  democracy  labor  work  minimumwage  education  highered  highereducation  debt  neoliberalism  progressivism  patriotism  donaldtrump  hillaryclinton  barackobama  opportunity  hope  despair  frustration  ideology  berniesanders  employment  unemployment  youth  politics  policy  statistics 
june 2016 by robertogreco
American Capitalism’s Great Crisis | TIME
"America’s economic problems go far beyond rich bankers, too-big-to-fail financial institutions, hedge-fund billionaires, offshore tax avoidance or any particular outrage of the moment. In fact, each of these is symptomatic of a more nefarious condition that threatens, in equal measure, the very well-off and the very poor, the red and the blue. The U.S. system of market capitalism itself is broken.

[…]

America’s economic illness has a name: financialization. It’s an academic term for the trend by which Wall Street and its methods have come to reign supreme in America, permeating not just the financial industry but also much of American business. It includes everything from the growth in size and scope of finance and financial activity in the economy; to the rise of debt-fueled speculation over productive lending; to the ascendancy of shareholder value as the sole model for corporate governance; to the proliferation of risky, selfish thinking in both the private and public sectors; to the increasing political power of financiers and the CEOs they enrich; to the way in which a “markets know best” ideology remains the status quo. Financialization is a big, unfriendly word with broad, disconcerting implications.

[…]

The changes were driven by the fact that in the 1970s, the growth that America had enjoyed following World War II began to slow. Rather than make tough decisions about how to bolster it (which would inevitably mean choosing among various interest groups), politicians decided to pass that responsibility to the financial markets. Little by little, the Depression-era regulation that had served America so well was rolled back, and finance grew to become the dominant force that it is today. The shifts were bipartisan, and to be fair they often seemed like good ideas at the time; but they also came with unintended consequences.

[…]

This sickness, not so much the product of venal interests as of a complex and long-term web of changes in government and private industry, now manifests itself in myriad ways: a housing market that is bifurcated and dependent on government life support, a retirement system that has left millions insecure in their old age, a tax code that favors debt over equity. Debt is the lifeblood of finance; with the rise of the securities-and-trading portion of the industry came a rise in debt of all kinds, public and private. That’s bad news, since a wide range of academic research shows that rising debt and credit levels stoke financial instability. And yet, as finance has captured a greater and greater piece of the national pie, it has, perversely, all but ensured that debt is indispensable to maintaining any growth at all in an advanced economy like the U.S., where 70% of output is consumer spending. Debt-fueled finance has become a saccharine substitute for the real thing, an addiction that just gets worse. (The amount of credit offered to American consumers has doubled in real dollars since the 1980s, as have the fees they pay to their banks.)

[…]

Remooring finance in the real economy isn’t as simple as splitting up the biggest banks (although that would be a good start). It’s about dismantling the hold of financial-oriented thinking in every corner of corporate America. It’s about reforming business education, which is still permeated with academics who resist challenges to the gospel of efficient markets in the same way that medieval clergy dismissed scientific evidence that might challenge the existence of God. It’s about changing a tax system that treats one-year investment gains the same as longer-term ones, and induces financial institutions to push overconsumption and speculation rather than healthy lending to small businesses and job creators. It’s about rethinking retirement, crafting smarter housing policy and restraining a money culture filled with lobbyists who violate America’s essential economic principles.

It’s also about starting a bigger conversation about all this, with a broader group of stakeholders. The structure of American capital markets and whether or not they are serving business is a topic that has traditionally been the sole domain of “experts”—the financiers and policymakers who often have a self-interested perspective to push, and who do so in complicated language that keeps outsiders out of the debate. When it comes to finance, as with so many issues in a democratic society, complexity breeds exclusion. "

[via: http://finalbossform.com/post/146159698129/americas-economic-problems-go-far-beyond-rich ]
ranafarhoo  culture  economics  us  capitalism  banking  taxes  accounting  policy  politics  finance  banks  hedgefunds  inequality  financialization  wallstreet  debt  speculation  interestgroups  corruption  government  instability  regulation  democracy  markets 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Is this what's really hurting the US middle class? | World Economic Forum
"The saving critique merits further analysis. The data show that countries with saving deficits tend to run trade deficits, while those with saving surpluses tend to run trade surpluses. The United States is the most obvious example, with a net national saving rate of 2.6% in late 2015 – less than half the 6.3% average in the final three decades of the twentieth century – and trade deficits with 101 countries.

The pattern also holds true elsewhere. The United Kingdom, Canada, Finland, France, Greece, and Portugal – all of which have large trade deficits – save much less than other developed countries. Conversely, high savers like Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, South Korea, Sweden, and Switzerland all run trade surpluses.

Saving imbalances can also lead to destabilizing international capital flows, asset bubbles, and financial crises. That was the case in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008-2009, when global saving imbalances, as measured by the disparities between countries with current-account deficits and surpluses, hit a modern record. The asset and credit bubbles fueled by those imbalances brought the world to the brink of an abyss not seen since the 1930s.

Here, too, there is considerable finger pointing. Deficit countries tend to blame the yield-seeking “saving glut” that sloshes around in world financial markets. As former US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke put it, if only countries like China had spent more, the bubbles that nearly broke America would not have formed in the first place. Others have been quick to point out that America’s supposed growth miracle probably could not have happened without the capital provided by surplus countries.

The prudent approach would be to strike a better balance between saving and spending. That is particularly important for the US and China, which together account for a disproportionate share of the world’s saving disparities. Simply put, America needs to save more and consume less, while China needs to save less and consume more. To succeed, both countries will have to overcome entrenched mindsets.

On this front, China has been leading the way, with a strategy of consumer-led rebalancing that it introduced five years ago. The results so far have been mixed, as inadequate funding of a social safety net continues to temper the support to household incomes provided by services-driven job creation and urbanization-led increases in real wages. But China has lately shown a commitment to addressing this shortcoming. Its recently enacted 13th Five-Year Plan aims to dampen fear-driven precautionary saving through interest-rate liberalization, the introduction of deposit insurance, the loosening of the hukou residential permit system (which would improve benefit portability), and relaxation of the one-child family planning policy.

The US, however, is headed in the opposite direction. There is no interest in debating the saving issue, let alone implementing policies to address it. A pro-saving US policy agenda should draw on the following: longer-term fiscal consolidation, expanded IRAs (individual retirement accounts) and 401Ks, consumption-based tax reform (such as value-added or sales taxes), and interest-rate normalization. Instead, US politicians continue to focus on keeping the consumption binge going, regardless of its implications for America’s saving imperative.

The asymmetrical response of the world’s two largest economies to their respective saving dilemmas has far-reaching consequences. To the extent that China makes progress on the road to consumer-led rebalancing, it will shift from surplus saving to saving absorption. Already, China’s gross national saving rate has declined from a peak of 52% of GDP in 2008 to around 44% this year. It should fall further in the years ahead.

The US, long locked in a codependent economic relationship with China, cannot afford to ignore this shift. After all, along with reduced current-account and trade surpluses, China’s consumer-led shift to saving absorption likely entails diminished accumulation of foreign-exchange reserves and reduced recycling of those reserves into dollar-based assets such as US Treasuries.

To the extent that America fails to boost its domestic saving, the lack of Chinese capital may well force the US to pay a steeper price for external financing, through a weaker dollar, higher real interest rates, or both. Such are the classic pitfalls of codependency: when one partner alters the relationship, there are consequences for the other.

No country can prosper indefinitely without saving. Holding the world’s reserve currency, America has gotten away with it, largely because the rest of the world let it. After all, the enablers – especially export-led economies like China, along with its resource-dependent supply chain – benefited from America’s consumption binge, as it drove an outsize expansion of global trade.

But those days are numbered. American voters – especially disenfranchised, angry middle-class workers – increasingly recognize that something does not add up. Yet US politicians continue to deflect the electorate’s anger outward, dismissing the growth subsidy that accompanies the “kindness of strangers.” It is time for politicians to own up to the uncomfortable truth: The saving deficit is the single greatest threat to the American Dream."
us  middleclass  society  china  2016  class  savings  economics  inequality  debt  politics  policy 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Yanis Varoufakis: Capitalism will eat democracy -- unless we speak up | TED Talk | TED.com
"Have you wondered why politicians aren't what they used to be, why governments seem unable to solve real problems? Economist Yanis Varoufakis, the former Minister of Finance for Greece, says that it's because you can be in politics today but not be in power — because real power now belongs to those who control the economy. He believes that the mega-rich and corporations are cannibalizing the political sphere, causing financial crisis. In this talk, hear his dream for a world in which capital and labor no longer struggle against each other, "one that is simultaneously libertarian, Marxist and Keynesian."



"Whereas Athenian democracy was focusing on the masterless citizen and empowering the working poor, our liberal democracies are founded on the Magna Carta tradition, which was, after all, a charter for masters."
capitalism  democracy  yanisvaroufakis  politics  economics  2015  labor  marxism  keynsianism  libertarianism  greece  debt  inequality  wealth  magnacarta  poverty  automation  waste  society 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Facebook Wants to Redline Your Friends List - Pacific Standard
"The company recently filed a patent on using social network data to influence lending decisions. God help us all."



"Returning to an era where the demographics of your community determined your credit-worthiness should be illegal."
susiecagle  2015  facebook  redlining  debt  socialnetworks  segregation  demographics 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Exclusive: Yanis Varoufakis opens up about his five month battle to save Greece
" “It’s not that it didn’t go down well – there was point blank refusal to engage in economic arguments. Point blank. You put forward an argument that you’ve really worked on, to make sure it’s logically coherent, and you’re just faced with blank stares. It is as if you haven’t spoken. What you say is independent of what they say. You might as well have sung the Swedish national anthem – you’d have got the same reply.”

This weekend divisions surfaced within the Eurogroup, with countries split between those who seemed to want a “Grexit” and those demanding a deal. But Varoufakis said they were always been united in one respect: their refusal to renegotiate.

“There were people who were sympathetic at a personal level, behind closed doors, especially from the IMF.” He confirmed that he was referring to Christine Lagarde, the IMF director. “But then inside the Eurogroup [there were] a few kind words and that was it: back behind the parapet of the official version. … Very powerful figures look at you in the eye and say ‘You’re right in what you’re saying, but we’re going to crunch you anyway’.”

Varoufakis was reluctant to name individuals, but added that the governments that might have been expected to be the most sympathetic towards Greece were actually their “most energetic enemies”. He said that the “greatest nightmare” of those with large debts – the governments of countries like Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland – “was our success”. “Were we to succeed in negotiating a better deal, that would obliterate them politically: they would have to answer to their own people why they didn’t negotiate like we were doing.”"



"The referendum of 5 July has also been rapidly forgotten. It was preemptively dismissed by the Eurozone, and many people saw it as a farce – a sideshow that offered a false choice and created false hope, and was only going to ruin Tsipras when he later signed the deal he was campaigning against. As Schäuble supposedly said, elections cannot be allowed to change anything. But Varoufakis believes that it could have changed everything. On the night of the referendum he had a plan, Tsipras just never quite agreed to it.

The Eurozone can dictate terms to Greece because it is no longer fearful of a Grexit. It is convinced that its banks are now protected if Greek banks default. But Varoufakis thought that he still had some leverage: once the ECB forced Greece’s banks to close, he could act unilaterally.

He said he spent the past month warning the Greek cabinet that the ECB would close Greece’s banks to force a deal. When they did, he was prepared to do three things: issue euro-denominated IOUs; apply a “haircut” to the bonds Greek issued to the ECB in 2012, reducing Greece’s debt; and seize control of the Bank of Greece from the ECB.

None of the moves would constitute a Grexit but they would have threatened it. Varoufakis was confident that Greece could not be expelled by the Eurogroup; there is no legal provision for such a move. But only by making Grexit possible could Greece win a better deal. And Varoufakis thought the referendum offered Syriza the mandate they needed to strike with such bold moves – or at least to announce them.

He hinted at this plan on the eve of the referendum, and reports later suggested this was what cost him his job. He offered a clearer explanation.

As the crowds were celebrating on Sunday night in Syntagma Square, Syriza’s six-strong inner cabinet held a critical vote. By four votes to two, Varoufakis failed to win support for his plan, and couldn’t convince Tsipras. He had wanted to enact his “triptych” of measures earlier in the week, when the ECB first forced Greek banks to shut. Sunday night was his final attempt. When he lost his departure was inevitable.

“That very night the government decided that the will of the people, this resounding ‘No’, should not be what energised the energetic approach [his plan]. Instead it should lead to major concessions to the other side: the meeting of the council of political leaders, with our Prime Minister accepting the premise that whatever happens, whatever the other side does, we will never respond in any way that challenges them. And essentially that means folding. … You cease to negotiate.”

Varoufakis’s resignation brought an end to a four-and-a-half year partnership with Tsipras, a man he met for the first time in late 2010. An aide to Tsipras had sought him out after his criticisms of George Papandreou’s government, which accepted the first Troika bailout in 2010.

“He [Tsipras] wasn’t clear back then what his views were, on the drachma versus the euro, on the causes of the crises, and I had very, well shall I say, ‘set views’ on what was going on. A dialogue begun … I believe that I helped shape his views of what should be done.”

And yet Tsipras diverged from him at the last. He understands why. Varoufakis could not guarantee that a Grexit would work. After Syriza took power in January, a small team had, “in theory, on paper,” been thinking through how it might. But he said that, “I’m not sure we would manage it, because managing the collapse of a monetary union takes a great deal of expertise, and I’m not sure we have it here in Greece without the help of outsiders.” More years of austerity lie ahead, but he knows Tsipras has an obligation to “not let this country become a failed state”.

Their relationship remains “extremely amicable”, he said, although when we spoke on Thursday, they hadn’t talked all week."

[See also: http://www.newstatesman.com/world-affairs/2015/07/yanis-varoufakis-full-transcript-our-battle-save-greece ]
greece  europe  debt  politics  2105  grexit  yanisvaroufakis  policy  imf  europeanunion  finance  economics  democracy  germany 
july 2015 by robertogreco
—Ethel Baraona Pohl— dpr-barcelona — Have several mixed feelings by the inherent...
"Have several mixed feelings by the inherent contradictions from this crowdfunding project. At first sight it seems like a great, creative idea, but with a simple double thought, you realise how easy is to ‘find a creative solution’ for our problems, without thinking in deep if the problem doesn’t rely on our need of keep doing the same again and again… I mean collecting the same old money that will go to the same old banks, and not to the citizens in Greece; because, where does the final goal of this campaign will go if it succeed? To Tsirpas pocket? Don’t think so.

As a symbolic project is super strong indeed, but perhaps we need to use 'the power of the crowd’ to ask responsibilities to the EU, to remind them about the real fact that we are already 'crowdfunding’ our social health by paying our taxes —taxes that are being used to rescue banks and enrich the rich—. The problem at the end is not the money, is the failed system of considering 'democratic’ those decisions taken by just a few, and even worse, when those few are economic institution (FMI, CEB, etc.)

Perhaps we need the 'power of the crowd not to collect the same old money that has taken us to this stupid discourse of austerity, but to think how to use the collective power to provoke structural changes in the political field. Difficult though, but which change hasn’t been difficult along history?"
ethelbaraonapohl  2015  greece  bailouts  crowdfunding  imf  debt  money  power  change  systemsthinking  creativity  zoominginandzoomingout  finance  banks  banking  capitalism  policy  politics  geopolitics 
july 2015 by robertogreco
John Green's tumblr • Fascinating chart from The Economist (not famed...
"Fascinating chart from The Economist (not famed for its liberal bias) showing how already-rich universities are receiving the most gifts from donors.

In the accompanying article, they write, “Philanthropy may be tilting America’s higher education system even further in favour of the rich.” 

I don’t think there’s any maybe about it. 

Harvard is (obviously) a great school. And because Harvard has an endowment of $32 billion, they can afford to give out a lot of scholarship aid; in fact, over 70% of their students receive aid; the amount is calculated based on family income and assets.

But at least according to Harvard’s financial aid calculator, you have to be ungodly rich not to be in that >70% of kids who receive scholarships. Like, if your parents make $150,000 a year, you personally have a $100,000 trust fund, and your parents have $1,000,000 of assets (not including their home), you get a scholarship.

The ~28% of Harvard students who don’t get merit scholarships are RICHER than that. Basically, over a quarter of Harvard student are in the top 5% of Americans when it comes to income and wealth. 

Meanwhile, as seen in the chart above, less-rich schools attract less donation money, which leads to smaller endowments and fewer scholarship dollars, which means more students have to take out loans, which only increases the U.S.’s already untenable economic inequality."
universities  highered  highereducation  endowments  2015  inequality  wealth  donations  harvard  riceuniversity  financialaid  loands  studentloans  debt  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  stanford  yale  princeton  sartmouth  duke  johnshopkins  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The microfinance delusion: who really wins? | Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian
"Far from being a panacea, small loans add to poverty and undermine people by saddling them with unsustainable debt, argues anthropologist Jason Hickel"

"I’m always amazed at how many students show up each year in the classrooms of the London School of Economics, where I teach, quivering with excitement about microfinance and other “bottom-of-the-pyramid” development strategies. Like eager young missionaries, they feel they’ve stumbled upon the One Idea that is sure to save the world.

Would that it were true. What’s so fascinating about the microfinance craze is that it persists in the face of one unfortunate fact: microfinance doesn’t work. Of course, there are some lovely anecdotes out there about the transformative power of micro-loans, but as David Roodman from the Center for Global Development put it in his recent book, “The best estimate of the average impact of microcredit on the poverty of clients is zero.” This is not a fringe opinion. A comprehensive DFID-funded review of extant data comes to the same conclusion: the microfinance craze has been built on “foundations of sand” because “no clear evidence yet exists that microfinance programmes have positive impacts.”

In fact, it turns out that microfinance usually ends up making poverty worse. The reasons for this are fairly simple. Most microfinance loans are used to fund consumption – to help people buy the basic necessities they need to survive. In South Africa, for example, consumption accounts for 94% of microfinance use. As a result, borrowers don’t generate any new income that they can use to repay their loans so they end up taking out new loans to repay the old ones, wrapping themselves in layers of debt.

When micro-loans are used to fund new businesses, budding entrepreneurs tend to encounter a lack of consumer demand. After all, their potential customers are poor and low on cash, and what little money they do have gets spent on basic goods that tend already to be available. In this context, new businesses end up displacing already-existing ones, yielding no net increase in employment and incomes. And that’s the best of the likely outcomes. The worst – and much more likely – is that the new businesses fail, which then leads, once again, to vicious cycles of over-indebtedness that drive borrowers even further into poverty.

This demand-side problem can be stated quite simply: poor people don’t have enough money. Apparently we need expensive research studies to point this out.

The only consistent winners in the microfinance game are the lenders, many of whom charge exorbitant interest rates that sometimes reach up to 200% per annum (as in the case of Banco Compartamos). In the past we would have called such people loan sharks, but today they’re called microfinance providers, and they crown themselves with the moral halo that this term carries. Microfinance has become a socially acceptable mechanism for extracting wealth and resources from poor people.

The failure of microfinance is recognised at even the highest levels, and yet for some reason it retains its staying power, like a zombie that refuses to die. Why is microfinance such a resilient idea? Because it promises an elegant, win-win solution to the problem of poverty. It assures us that we – the rich world – can eradicate poverty in the global South without any cost to us, and without any threat to existing arrangements of political and economic power. In other words, it promises revolution without the messiness of class struggle. And, what is more, it promises that we can help save the poor while making money from it. It’s an irresistible tale.

It’s also a very effective tool of political control. Milford Bateman, one of the most compelling critics of microfinance, points out that the movement had its roots in the US government’s “containment strategy” in Latin America. The idea was to prevent people from subscribing to leftist movements by reframing poverty not as a political problem, but as a private problem. Microfinance became a powerful way of casting the poor as responsible for bootstrapping themselves out of poverty: all you need is a bit of gumption and some credit, and you should do just fine – if you fail, you have no one to blame but yourself.

It’s the neoliberal development strategy par excellence. Forget about colonialism, structural adjustment, austerity, financial crises, land grabs, tax evasion, and climate change. Forget about challenging the concentration of power and wealth. And, above all, forget about collective mobilisation. Bankers shall be our new heroes and debt our salvation. Debt, incidentally, is a great way to keep people docile.

If we expand our view to encompass the actual causes of poverty, it becomes clear that microfinance just won’t do. Structural problems require structural solutions. What might this look like? We could start by democratising the World Bank and the IMF, renegotiating trade agreements, clamping down on capital flight, rebuilding labour rights, and so on. If we want to eliminate poverty, rich countries and rich individuals are going to have to feel the pinch – there’s no way around it. Unfortunately, the missionaries of microfinance are unlikely to be happy about this.

This is not to say that we should abolish microfinance altogether, but simply that microfinance will never work until we address the background conditions that produce poverty in the first place. We also need to set up the right systems for small businesses to succeed, such as strong subsidies, state assistance, and welfare support to prop up entrepreneurs when they fail – the very systems that neoliberalism has convinced us to abandon.

There’s also a much more immediate solution we could try. Why not just give money to the poor, for free? A growing body of evidence suggests that direct cash transfers, with no strings attached, not only deliver success where microfinance fails, they appear to be the single most impactful anti-poverty intervention available. Experiments with basic income grants have been conducted in Namibia, Mexico, South Africa, Indonesia, and elsewhere, all with astonishingly good results. They smooth out consumption deficits, improve health indicators, and allow people to start small businesses that are successful because they can take advantage of increased local demand.

The beauty of this approach is not just that it actually works; it also brings about a fundamental change of attitude toward the poor. It treats them not as hopeless victims to be pitied with charity, nor as sources of potential value for a rapacious financial sector, but rather as human beings with an innate right to the wealth that we draw from our planet’s common resources."
jasonhickel  2015  microfinance  leanding  loans  usury  finance  economics  poverty  debt 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Everything To Like About Kevin Carey’s #EndofCollege And Reasons to Pause — The Message — Medium
"If “The End of College” gives a little love to jobs, it does not give much love inequality. There isn’t a single discussion of any of higher education’s well-documentated fault lines in the entire book. That ommission undermines the arguments chosen to advance the major claim of what technology can do. Take for instance, Carey’s framing of higher education’s skyrocketing cost. He talks about high student loan debt and tuition. But debt and cost are relative. Despite impressive sounding aggregrate numbers about student loan debt the most vulnerable students are struggling with objectively small debt burdens. Making college cheaper by cutting out the expensive campus real estate arms race does not address the fact that cheap is not an absolute value. That is why race, class, gender, and citizenship status are ways to understand how much college costs: they map onto the relative nature of debt. If you don’t talk about why skyrocketing tuition is relative then you aren’t really talking about skyrocketing tuition. And if your argument is built on the claim that it counters skyrocketing tuition, then the slightest tug of the thread unravels the whole thing.

Let’s take another example of how the “End of College” argument talks about jobs. For Carey, the key to changing higher education is employers seeing online degrees as “official”. Becoming official could, indeed, change the game. We call it legitimacy and it is hard to earn, hard to keep but worth trying because legitimacy can turn a piece of paper into currency. If Mozilla badges become the preferred degree for jobs, we may be talking about a big deal. But, again, the challenge is not about quality of teaching or the skills people learn at online colleges. Colleges aren’t even the problem for online degrees’ quest to become official. The problem is that easy access to skills training is precisely what employers do not want. A labor market of all creeds and colors and cultures with objective skills is actually a nightmare for employers. Employers benefit when they can hire for fit and disguise it as skill. If the private sector were interested in skills over racism, sexism, and classism, it need not end college to end wage disparities. Employers could start by ending inequalities among the people they already employ. They don’t because politics makes it so they don’t have to. Carey overstates the private sector’s interest in skills and understates its interest in hiring for who we are as much as for what we know."



"The argument is well aware that political priorities and coalitions produce higher education crises. But what are those politics? The book never says. Of course, other books do say but there aren’t many references of them. A reader who picks up just this one book is going to know a lot more about technology and very little about the politics of how we live with technology.

Just once I would like a technological disruption to be tuned for the most fragile institutions, rather than the most well-heeled. Carey seems to aim for just that. Less well-funded colleges, especially those without the prestige to justify their tuition are squarely in Carey’s sights. The argument is that these schools cannot compete for the best; subsidizing them is throwing good money after bad; and, individuals are better left to their own devices. But even Carey’s choice of George Washington University does not represent the typical college in the U.S. or the diversity of colleges. There is no treatment of historically black colleges, Hispanic-serving colleges, or for-profit colleges. They are in the status competition race, too, with different stakes and different traditions with different importance for different reasons than Harvard or even George Washington University. The institutions, like the students they serve, just disappear in the future. The book is about the end of college but Carey’s higher education future only describes the end of some colleges.

All of that is also fine. Really, it is. Imagined futures can be useful thought experiments, although I admit a preference for those that do not erase people who look like me. But I’m selfish that way.

Thought experiments can be fun and edifying and useful abstractions. I like that about the tech sector’s approach to problem-solving. But in reality, these arguments can also suck the air out of the room precisely when we must make hard, political choices."
tressiemcmillancottom  education  highered  highereducation  2015  kevincarey  disruption  technology  class  inequality  race  politics  policy  meritocracy  future  endofcollege  forprofit  jobs  employment  legitimacy  badges  mozilla  credentials  debt  gender  tuition 
march 2015 by robertogreco
How will I pay the bills?
"This mini-rant was originally posted on Twitter, but people really responded to it, so I’m archiving it here.

“How will I pay the bills?” is a perfectly reasonable question from a young person, worth a thoughtful answer.

“How will I pay the bills?” is not a question of the scared or cowardly, it’s a question of the sane and responsible.

1. Make a budget. Start a spreadsheet and figure out exactly how much you’ll need to live on. It might be more or less than you think.

2. Figure out how to get ahold of that money. For many, it will be a day job, or doing things that aren’t sexy and/or fun. (You know, work.)

3. Budget your time. Find every free second you have that you can devote to what you really want to be doing. Use that time best you can.

* * *

Write the following quotes on index cards and stick them above where you work:

“The key to eternal happiness is low overhead and no debt.”
—Lynda Barry

“If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do, kid.”
—Bill Cunningham

* * *

The next time someone tells you to “do what you love no matter what,” ask to see their tax return.

Anybody who tells people to “do what you love no matter what” should also have to teach a money management course.

Low overhead + “do what you love” = a good life.

“I deserve nice things” + “do what you love” = a time bomb.

* * *

In summary: Live below your means. Don’t go into debt. Jam econo. Do the best you can with what you have."
2015  austinkleon  homeeconomics  life  debt  living  creativity  thegoodlife  happiness  money  finance  budgets  dayjobs 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Episode 587: Jubilee! (?) : Planet Money : NPR
"There's an idea that dates back at least to biblical times. There should be a moment when debts are forgiven. Its called a jubilee.

The jubilee has not gotten a lot of traction in the modern world. You may remember after the financial crisis, some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters were calling for a jubilee. But it basically ended there.

Today on the show: the story about a country that is actually trying a jubilee. Iceland."
iceland  debt  finance  policy  jubilee  debtforgiveness  2014  economics  debtslavery 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Un(der)known Writers: Diane di Prima – The New Inquiry
[also posted here: http://thenewinquiry.tumblr.com/post/104194087199/un-der-known-writers-diane-di-prima ]

"REVOLUTIONARY LETTER #9

[…]

declare a moratorium on debt

the Continental Congress did

‘on all debts public and private’

& no one ‘owns’ the land

it can be held

for use, no man holding more

than he can work, himself and family working

//

let no one work for another

except for love, and what you make above your needs be given to the tribe

a Common-Wealth

//

None of us knows the answers, think about

these things.

The day will come when we have to know

the answers."

[and]

"REVOLUTIONARY LETTER #31

(for LeRoi, at long last)

not all the works of Mozart worth one human life

not all the brocaded of the Potala palace

better we should wear homespun, than some in orlon

some in Thailand silk

the children of Bengal weave gold thread in silk saris

six years old, eight years old, for export, they don’t sing

the singers are for export, Folkways records

better we should all have homemade flutes

and practice excruciatingly upon them, one hundred years

till we learn to

make our own music"
poetry  poems  dianediprima  capitalism  wealth  debt  labor  commonwealth  knowing  notknowing  diy  making  possessions  ownership  consumption  property  communalism 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The Miseducation of America - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"While I was watching Ivory Tower, a documentary about the state of college in America that appears in select theaters this month (the movie also airs on CNN this fall), it occurred to me that of the many problems with higher education these days, not the least concerns the way we talk about it. "Efficiency," "art-history majors," "kids who graduate with $100,000 in debt," "the college bubble," the whole rhetoric of crisis and collapse: The public discourse is dominated by sound bites, one-liners, hearsay, horror stories, and a very great deal of misinformation.

Higher ed is not unique in this respect, of course, but it is particularly bad. College, as the movie points out, was always treated as a black box: 18-year-olds were inserted at one end, 22-year-olds came out the other, and as long as the system appeared to be working, no one bothered to inquire what happened in between. Americans, as a result, have very little understanding of what college is about—how it works, what it’s for, what larger social benefits it offers—and those employed in higher education have had very little practice in explaining it to them. The debate has been left to the politicians, the pundits, and increasingly, the hustlers and ideologues. Few who talk about college in public understand it, and few who understand it talk about it.

Ivory Tower, for the most part, is an honorable exception."



"Ivory Tower shows us why it’s so important that we get this right: that we think with facts, with respect to college costs and what they get you, not emotions. When we cherry pick the scariest stories and numbers, we do two things: We open the door to hucksters selling easy answers, and we forget what college is really for. Apocalypticism leads to messianism. Close behind the anxious parents whom we see on college tours at Wesleyan and NYU—variously blithe or glum adolescents in tow—come, like vultures to a kill, a pair of now-familiar figures: Peter Thiel and Sebastian Thrun."



"The truth is, there are powerful forces at work in our society that are actively hostile to the college ideal. That distrust critical thinking and deny the proposition that democracy necessitates an educated citizenry. That have no use for larger social purposes. That decline to recognize the worth of that which can’t be bought or sold. Above all, that reject the view that higher education is a basic human right.

The film recounts the history and recent fate of that idea: its origin among the philanthropists of the industrial age, figures like Peter Cooper, founder of his eponymous Union; its progressive unfolding through the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the GI Bill of 1944, the postwar expansion of the University of California, and the Higher Education Act of 1965, which created the federal student-loan and grant programs; and its deliberate destruction under Ronald Reagan and his ideological heirs.

Free, high-quality higher education (just like free, high-quality school, which we continue to at least pretend to endorse): that is what we used to believe in; that’s what many other countries still believe in; that is what we must believe in once again. The filmmakers undoubtedly knew what they were doing when they chose to show us the moment, during that seminar at Deep Springs, when the students are debating Hegel’s proposition that, as their professor puts it, "you need to have a common identity as citizens, because it creates the bonds of affection." Or in Delbanco’s words, "What kind of society do we want to be?" Cooper Union’s commencement speaker, that tumultuous spring of 2013, turns out to have been none other than Michael Bloomberg. "The debate you’re having really isn’t about whether education is free," we see him tell the students. "It’s really about who can and who is willing to pay for it."

On this the billionaire and I agree. In terms of the "can" (and it’s hard to believe the word could even pass his lips), the answer is clear. Not just the plutocrats, not just the upper class, but the upper middle class, as well. Everybody knows by now that the share of national income that accrues to the famous one percent has risen to about 23 percent, higher than at almost any time since 1928. But the share that accrues to the top 10 percent as a whole, which stayed around 33 percent from the 1950s through the 1970s, has risen to its highest level ever (or at least, since record-keeping started), more than 50 percent. In a $17-trillion economy, the difference represents a premium of nearly $3-trillion a year, about five times the federal deficit and more than enough for this and many other public purposes.

The problem of costs, to be sure, is not a one-way street. Higher education must indeed increase efficiency, but how? Institutions have been willing to spend on everything in recent years except the thing that matters most: instruction. Dorms, deans, sports, but not professors. Piglike presidential salaries, paid for by hiring adjuncts. Now, with MOOCs and other forms of online instruction, the talk is more of the same. My friends, they are coming for you. The professoriate no longer has the luxury of thinking that all this is someone else’s problem. If you want to save your skins, let alone ensure the future of the enterprise, you need to wake up and organize against the people who are organizing against you. The fact is that by focusing exclusively on monetary issues, the current conversation prevents us not only from remembering the higher objectives of an undergraduate education, but also from recognizing just how bad a job our institutions have been doing at fulfilling them. Colleges and universities have a lot to answer for; if they want to regain the support of the larger society, they need to prove that they are worthy of it.

Ivory Tower ends, in the manner of such films today, by referring us to a website. Under the rubric "Take Action," the site encourages us to sign a petition that calls on Congress to pass legislation, of the kind proposed by Elizabeth Warren (and just blocked by Senate Republicans), allowing individuals to refinance their student loans. That would certainly be a good thing, but we need to set our sights a great deal higher. If service workers can demand a $15 minimum wage, more than double the federal level, then those who care about higher education can insist on the elimination of tuition and fees at state institutions and their replacement by public funding furnished by taxes on the upper 10 percent. As with the minimum wage, the campaign can be conducted state by state, and it can and should involve a large coalition of interested groups: students, parents, and instructors, to start with. Total enrollment at American colleges and universities now stands at 20 million, on top of another million-plus on the faculty. That’s a formidable voting bloc, should it learn to exercise its power. Since the Occupy movement in 2011, it’s clear that the fight to reverse the tide of growing inequality has been joined. It’s time we joined it."
2014  williamderesiewicz  highered  highereducation  education  policy  politics  finance  money  studentloands  ivorytower  reform  faculty  solidarity  ows  occupywallstreet  inequality  purpose  canon  funding  publicfunding  mooc  moocs  unions  labor  deepspringscollege  colleges  universities  liberalarts  society  learning  criticalthinking  uncollege  dalestephens  peterthiel  sebastianthrun  peterschiff  efficiency  cooperunion  communitycolleges  debt  studentdebt  employment 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Chile students' debts go up in smoke | World news | theguardian.com
"Artist named Fried Potatoes removed tuition contracts he says were worth up to $500m from private university and burned them"

"For a whole year, a Chilean artist using the name Fried Potatoes (Papas Fritas) planned his revenge. Saying he was collecting material for an art project, the 31-year-old visual artist sneaked into a vault at a notorious private, run-for-profit university and quietly removed tuition contracts.

Fried Potatoes – whose real name is Francisco Tapia – then burned the documents, rendering it nearly impossible for the Universidad del Mar to call in its debt – which he claimed was worth as much as $500m (£297m). "It's over. You are all free of debt," he said in a five-minute video released earlier this month. Speaking to former students, he added: "You don't have to pay a penny."

Tapia's move is just the most radical of a three-year campaign by students and children to demand free, improved public education. With monthly marches– and four former student leaders elected to parliament – the students have built a potent citizen's movement rarely seen in post-Pinochet Chile.

This week, they claimed their biggest victory so far when the president, Michelle Bachelet, outlined a multibillion-dollar package of educational reforms and invesment. "Chile needs and the people have clamoured for this reform, which must transform quality education into a right," Bachelet said at a bill-signing ceremony. Her proposals include an end to state subsidies to for-profit universities and schools, and – potentially – the introduction of free university education for all. While Bachelet spoke, students outside the congressional hall scattered ashes from the burned Universidad del Mar documents in symbolic protest against for-profit educational scams.

The ashes have since been converted into a mobile art exhibit built into the sides of a Volkswagen camper van. The back window of the van holds a video screen so that Tapia's message can be played to crowds of curious onlookers.

The van, laden with ash, has toured the streets of Santiago and Valparaiso, and even went on display at the GAM – a prominent Santiago art gallery and cultural centre. When Chilean detectives, wearing white body suits, attempted to confiscate the fine grey dust as evidence, they too were incorporated into the exhibit's PR blitz and listed as "media partners".

According to government investigators, the Universidad del Mar, in the swanky seaside resort of Renaca, was less a university than a money laundering operation. The university was shut last year, accreditations stripped away and thousands of students left with half a diploma – but who still found themselves lumbered with outstanding debts.

Lawyers say that Tapia's destruction of the files does not technically rescind the debt, but it does make it extremely difficult to prove the debt exists. Only by formally testifying in court and acknowledging the debt would students now be forced to pay, said Mauricio Daza, a lawyer.

Daza also argued that the debts were of questionable legality even before Fried Potatoes destroyed them. "These debts are product of a fraud by the owners of the university over a long period of time," said Daza. "They pretended to have a non-profit [university] but really it was all a cover-up for getting money from the students and the state and transferring those resources into the pockets of the university owners."

Chilean students brought up the accusations of for-profit education schemes during huge street protests in 2011. As hundreds of universities and high schools were seized and occupied by teenage students, legislators began to investigate the charges. Eventually the students were proven right, university leaders were jailed and institutions shut down.

Tapia said his plan was hatched after reading press accounts that Universidad del Mar students were being forced to pay debt even after the university was shut down.

In a statement delivered to a Chilean court, Tapia defended his action. He claimed to have smuggled the documents to Santiago, where he began to investigate the credit files, case-by-case, student-by-student. By day Tapia would investigate the financial situation and life struggle of a single student. Then in the evening, he would destroy the documents related to that particular debt. "Every night, like a ritual, I burned the documents that detailed the debt."

A university spokesman confirmed the documents had been stolen but refused to quantify how much the papers were worth.

Former Universidad del Mar students have celebrated the unorthodox protest. "This is spectacular, this is the only victory we have had in economic terms," said Raul Soto, a spokesman for the former students. "This gives us the peace of mind that we are not going to still be in debt to Universidad del Mar.""
chile  art  education  debt  studentdebt  friedpotatoes  franciscotapia  universidaddelmar  forprofit  highereducation  highered  via:audreywatters 
may 2014 by robertogreco
College is a promise the economy does not keep - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"Purchasing credentials

College does not guarantee a job. It is debatable whether college - in a time of defunded and eliminated programmes, rampant grade inflation, and limited student-professor interaction - offers much of an education, at least one for which it is worth taking on significant debt. So why go?

People go to college because not going to college carries a penalty. College is a purchased loyalty oath to an imagined employer. College shows you are serious enough about your life to risk ruining it early on. College is a promise the economy does not keep - but not going to college promises you will struggle to survive.

In an entrenched meritocracy, those who cannot purchase credentials are not only ineligible for most middle-class jobs, but are informed that their plight is the result of poor "choices". This ignores that the "choice" of college usually requires walking the road of financial ruin to get the reward - a reward of employment that, in this economy, is illusory.

Credentalism is economic discrimination disguised as opportunity. Over the past 40 years, professions that never required a college degree began demanding it.

"The United States has become the most rigidly credentialised society in the world," write James Engell and Anthony Dangerfield in their 2005 book Saving Higher Education in the Age of Money. "A BA is required for jobs that by no stretch of imagination need two years of full-time training, let alone four."

The promotion of college as a requirement for a middle-class life in an era of shrinking middle-class jobs has resulted in an increase in workers whose jobs do not require the degree - 15 percent of taxi cab drivers, 18 percent of firefighters. More perniciously, it has resulted in the exclusion of the non-college educated from professions of public influence. In 1971, 58 percent of journalists had a college degree. Today 92 percent do, and at many publications, a graduate degree in journalism is required - despite the fact that most renowned journalists have never formally studied journalism.

Journalism is one of many fields of public influence - including politics - in which credentials function as de facto permission to speak, rendering those who lack them less likely to be employed and less able to afford to stay in their field. Ability is discounted without credentials, but the ability to purchase credentials rests, more often than not, on family wealth."
colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  2014  sarahkendzior  education  credentialism  credentials  meritocracy  economics  inequality  employment  work  labor  debt 
may 2014 by robertogreco
18. Webstock 2014 Talk Notes and References - postarchitectural
[Direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/91957759 ]
[See also: http://www.webstock.org.nz/talks/the-future-happens-so-much/ ]

"I was honored to be invited to Webstock 2014 to speak, and decided to use it as an opportunity to talk about startups and growth in general.

I prepared for this talk by collecting links, notes, and references in a flat text file, like I did for Eyeo and Visualized. These references are vaguely sorted into the structure of the talk. Roughly, I tried to talk about the future happening all around us, the startup ecosystem and the pressures for growth that got us there, and the dangerous sides of it both at an individual and a corporate level. I ended by talking about ways for us as a community to intervene in these systems of growth.

The framework of finding places to intervene comes from Leverage Points by Donella Meadows, and I was trying to apply the idea of 'monstrous thoughts' from Just Asking by David Foster Wallace. And though what I was trying to get across is much better said and felt through books like Seeing like a State, Debt, or Arctic Dreams, here's what was in my head."
shahwang  2014  webstock  donellameadows  jamescscott  seeinglikeastate  davidgraeber  debt  economics  barrylopez  trevorpaglen  google  technology  prism  robotics  robots  surveillance  systemsthinking  growth  finance  venturecapital  maciejceglowski  millsbaker  mandybrown  danhon  advertising  meritocracy  democracy  snapchat  capitalism  infrastructure  internet  web  future  irrationalexuberance  github  geopffmanaugh  corproratism  shareholders  oligopoly  oligarchy  fredscharmen  kenmcleod  ianbanks  eleanorsaitta  quinnorton  adamgreenfield  marshallbrain  politics  edwardsnowden  davidsimon  georgepacker  nicolefenton  power  responsibility  davidfosterwallace  christinaxu  money  adamcurtis  dmytrikleiner  charlieloyd  wealth  risk  sarahkendxior  markjacobson  anildash  rebeccasolnit  russellbrand  louisck  caseygollan  alexpayne  judsontrue  jamesdarling  jenlowe  wilsonminer  kierkegaard  readinglist  startups  kiev  systems  control  data  resistance  obligation  care  cynicism  snark  change  changetheory  neoliberalism  intervention  leveragepoints  engagement  nonprofit  changemaki 
april 2014 by robertogreco
DROM - Strike Debt!
"Written by a network of activists, writers, and academics from Strike Debt, The Debt Resisters’ Operations Manual reveals how the predatory debt system works to increase inequality, undermine democracy, and ruin lives. It provides detailed strategies for fighting common forms of debt and lays out an expansive vision for a societal movement of debt resistance. The full text of the manual is available here for free."
strikedebt  debt  resistance  inequality  activism  howto  toread  capitalism  finance  money  economics  freedom 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Wendell E. Berry Lecture | National Endowment for the Humanities
[via: https://twitter.com/dirtystylus/status/384660397238026240 ]

"“Because a thing is going strong now, it need not go strong for ever,” [Margaret] said. “This craze for motion has only set in during the last hundred years. It may be followed by a civilization that won’t be a movement, because it will rest upon the earth.
E. M. Forster, Howards End (1910)1"



"The economic hardship of my family and of many others, a century ago, was caused by a monopoly, the American Tobacco Company, which had eliminated all competitors and thus was able to reduce as it pleased the prices it paid to farmers. The American Tobacco Company was the work of James B. Duke of Durham, North Carolina, and New York City, who, disregarding any other consideration, followed a capitalist logic to absolute control of his industry and, incidentally, of the economic fate of thousands of families such as my own.

My effort to make sense of this memory and its encompassing history has depended on a pair of terms used by my teacher, Wallace Stegner. He thought rightly that we Americans, by inclination at least, have been divided into two kinds: “boomers” and “stickers.” Boomers, he said, are “those who pillage and run,” who want “to make a killing and end up on Easy Street,” whereas stickers are “those who settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.”2 “Boomer” names a kind of person and a kind of ambition that is the major theme, so far, of the history of the European races in our country. “Sticker” names a kind of person and also a desire that is, so far, a minor theme of that history, but a theme persistent enough to remain significant and to offer, still, a significant hope.

The boomer is motivated by greed, the desire for money, property, and therefore power. James B. Duke was a boomer, if we can extend the definition to include pillage in absentia. He went, or sent, wherever the getting was good, and he got as much as he could take.

Stickers on the contrary are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it. Of my grandfather I need to say only that he shared in the virtues and the faults of his kind and time, one of his virtues being that he was a sticker. He belonged to a family who had come to Kentucky from Virginia, and who intended to go no farther. He was the third in his paternal line to live in the neighborhood of our little town of Port Royal, and he was the second to own the farm where he was born in 1864 and where he died in 1946."



"Because I have never separated myself from my home neighborhood, I cannot identify myself to myself apart from it. I am fairly literally flesh of its flesh. It is present in me, and to me, wherever I go. This undoubtedly accounts for my sense of shock when, on my first visit to Duke University, and by surprise, I came face-to-face with James B. Duke in his dignity, his glory perhaps, as the founder of that university. He stands imperially in bronze in front of a Methodist chapel aspiring to be a cathedral. He holds between two fingers of his left hand a bronze cigar. On one side of his pedestal is the legend: INDUSTRIALIST. On the other side is another single word: PHILANTHROPIST. The man thus commemorated seemed to me terrifyingly ignorant, even terrifyingly innocent, of the connection between his industry and his philanthropy. But I did know the connection. I felt it instantly and physically. The connection was my grandparents and thousands of others more or less like them. If you can appropriate for little or nothing the work and hope of enough such farmers, then you may dispense the grand charity of “philanthropy.”

After my encounter with the statue, the story of my grandfather’s 1906 tobacco crop slowly took on a new dimension and clarity in my mind. I still remembered my grandfather as himself, of course, but I began to think of him also as a kind of man standing in thematic opposition to a man of an entirely different kind. And I could see finally that between these two kinds there was a failure of imagination that was ruinous, that belongs indelibly to our history, and that has continued, growing worse, into our own time."



"It may seem plausible to suppose that the head of the American Tobacco Company would have imagined at least that a dependable supply of raw material to his industry would depend upon a stable, reasonably thriving population of farmers and upon the continuing fertility of their farms. But he imagined no such thing. In this he was like apparently all agribusiness executives. They don’t imagine farms or farmers. They imagine perhaps nothing at all, their minds being filled to capacity by numbers leading to the bottom line. Though the corporations, by law, are counted as persons, they do not have personal minds, if they can be said to have minds. It is a great oddity that a corporation, which properly speaking has no self, is by definition selfish, responsible only to itself. This is an impersonal, abstract selfishness, limitlessly acquisitive, but unable to look so far ahead as to preserve its own sources and supplies. The selfishness of the fossil fuel industries by nature is self-annihilating; but so, always, has been the selfishness of the agribusiness corporations. Land, as Wes Jackson has said, has thus been made as exhaustible as oil or coal."



"In such modest joy in a modest holding is the promise of a stable, democratic society, a promise not to be found in “mobility”: our forlorn modern progress toward something indefinitely, and often unrealizably, better. A principled dissatisfaction with whatever one has promises nothing or worse.

James B. Duke would not necessarily have thought so far of the small growers as even to hold them in contempt. The Duke trust exerted an oppression that was purely economic, involving a mechanical indifference, the indifference of a grinder to what it grinds. It was not, that is to say, a political oppression. It did not intend to victimize its victims. It simply followed its single purpose of the highest possible profit, and ignored the “side effects.” Confronting that purpose, any small farmer is only one, and one lost, among a great multitude of others, whose work can be quickly transformed into a great multitude of dollars."



"Statistical knowledge once was rare. It was a property of the minds of great rulers, conquerors, and generals, people who succeeded or failed by the manipulation of large quantities that remained, to them, unimagined because unimaginable: merely accountable quantities of land, treasure, people, soldiers, and workers. This is the sort of knowledge we now call “data” or “facts” or “information.” Or we call it “objective knowledge,” supposedly untainted by personal attachment, but nonetheless available for industrial and commercial exploitation. By means of such knowledge a category assumes dominion over its parts or members. With the coming of industrialism, the great industrialists, like kings and conquerors, become exploiters of statistical knowledge. And finally virtually all of us, in order to participate and survive in their system, have had to agree to their substitution of statistical knowledge for personal knowledge. Virtually all of us now share with the most powerful industrialists their remoteness from actual experience of the actual world. Like them, we participate in an absentee economy, which makes us effectively absent even from our own dwelling places. Though most of us have little wealth and perhaps no power, we consumer–citizens are more like James B. Duke than we are like my grandfather. By economic proxies thoughtlessly given, by thoughtless consumption of goods ignorantly purchased, now we all are boomers."



"In this age so abstracted and bewildered by technological magnifications of power, people who stray beyond the limits of their mental competence typically find no guide except for the supposed authority of market price. “The market” thus assumes the standing of ultimate reality. But market value is an illusion, as is proven by its frequent changes; it is determined solely by the buyer’s ability and willingness to pay."



"By now all thoughtful people have begun to feel our eligibility to be instructed by ecological disaster and mortal need. But we endangered ourselves first of all by dismissing affection as an honorable and necessary motive. Our decision in the middle of the last century to reduce the farm population, eliminating the allegedly “inefficient” small farmers, was enabled by the discounting of affection. As a result, we now have barely enough farmers to keep the land in production, with the help of increasingly expensive industrial technology and at an increasing ecological and social cost. Far from the plain citizens and members of the land-community, as Aldo Leopold wished them to be, farmers are now too likely to be merely the land’s exploiters."



"In thinking about the importance of affection, and of its increasing importance in our present world, I have been guided most directly by E. M. Forster’s novel, Howards End, published in 1910. By then, Forster was aware of the implications of “rural decay,”10 and in this novel he spoke, with some reason, of his fear that “the literature of the near future will probably ignore the country and seek inspiration from the town. . . . and those who care for the earth with sincerity may wait long ere the pendulum swings back to her again.”"



"“The light within,” I think, means affection, affection as motive and guide. Knowledge without affection leads us astray every time. Affection leads, by way of good work, to authentic hope. The factual knowledge, in which we seem more and more to be placing our trust, leads only to hope of the discovery, endlessly deferrable, of an ultimate fact or smallest particle that at last will explain everything."



"No doubt there always will be some people … [more]
wendellberry  capitalism  corporations  economy  imagination  stickers  boomers  2012  economics  land  place  memory  industrialists  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  culture  art  liberalarts  humanism  humanity  rural  farming  history  debt  affection  knowledge  materialism  howardsend  emforster  ruraldecay  agriculture  aldoleopold  environmentalism  environment  sustainability  destruction  destructiveness  local  scale  mobility  change  adaptability  adaptation  evolution  ecology  technology  machines  alberthoward  wesjackson  johnlukacs  growth  data  quantification  wealth  remoteness  jamesbduke  industialism  power  greed  consumerism  plannedobsolescence  nature  corporatism  allentate  property  ownership  effectiveownership  human  humans  limits  limitations  modesty  democracy  wallacestegner  via:markllobrera  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  babyboomers  control 
september 2013 by robertogreco
Trevor Paglen: Turnkey Tyranny, Surveillance and the Terror State - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
"A few statistics are telling: between 1992 and 2007, the income of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States rose by 392 percent. Their tax rate fell by 37 percent. Since 1979, productivity has risen by more than 80 percent, but the median worker’s wage has only gone up by 10 percent. This is not an accident. The evisceration of the American middle and working class has everything to do with an all-out assault on unions; the rewriting of the laws governing bankruptcy, student loans, credit card debt, predatory lending and financial trading; and the transfer of public wealth to private hands through deregulation, privatization and reduced taxes on the wealthy. The Great Divergence is, to put it bluntly, the effect of a class war waged by the rich against the rest of society, and there are no signs of it letting up."



"…the effects of climate change will exacerbate already existing trends toward greater economic inequality, leading to widespread humanitarian crises and social unrest. The coming decades will bring Occupy-like protests on ever-larger scales as high unemployment and economic strife, particularly among youth, becomes a “new normal.” Moreover, the effects of climate change will produce new populations of displaced people and refugees. Economic and environmental insecurity represent the future for vast swaths of the world’s population. One way or another, governments will be forced to respond.

As future governments face these intensifying crises, the decline of the state’s civic capacities virtually guarantees that they will meet any unrest with the authoritarian levers of the Terror State. It won’t matter whether a “liberal” or “conservative” government is in place; faced with an immediate crisis, the state will use whatever means are available to end said crisis. When the most robust levers available are tools of mass surveillance and coercion, then those tools will be used. What’s more, laws like the National Defense Authorization Act, which provides for the indefinite detention of American citizens, indicate that military and intelligence programs originally crafted for combating overseas terrorists will be applied domestically.

The larger, longer-term scandal of Snowden’s revelations is that, together with other political trends, the NSA’s programs do not merely provide the capacity for “turnkey tyranny”—they render any other future all but impossible."
trevorpaglen  surveillance  terrorism  2013  edwardsnowden  climatechange  authoritarianism  thegreatdivergence  disparity  wealth  wealthdistribution  tyranny  global  crisis  society  classwar  class  deregulation  privatization  taxes  taxation  unions  debt  economics  policy  politics  encarceration  prisons  prisonindustrialcomplex  militaryindustrialcomplex  socialsafetynet  security  terrorstate  law  legal  secrecy  democracy  us  martiallaw  freedom  equality  fear  civilliberties  paulkrugman  environment  displacement  socialunrest  ows  occupywallstreet  refugees 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Boston Review — Lili Loofbourow: “No to Profit” (Chile, Privatized Education)
"“The culture of the market that was established in Chile made social inequality ethically and politically tolerable,” Mayol writes. Such a system “guarantees that difference will exist,” in fact, “differentiation is its sign of health.”
We are Chileans of an age in which ideas . . . are ‘bought,’ where ‘to cooperate’ means to be dim or naïve (because to be intelligent is to be selfish), where achieving an object regardless of the means is ‘making it,’ and where being a millionaire is synonymous with a high intellectual capacity.

Thus Chileans became accustomed to a passive role. Their country would react to international demand for goods—mainly the nation’s rich underground resources—and services, and that would be all. Everyone had to adapt, and there was no use complaining about it. The result is that Chileans aren’t even actors in a free market anymore. They’ve instead become another resource Chile can offer to investors: a captive consumer base forced to pay private industry for domestic goods that were once public.

Mayol sees the student movement as the stirring to life of a people that had forgotten it once had the right, and even the responsibility, to complain and to demand. Following the example set by the students, citizens started complaining to the institutions that they felt were behaving abusively. In 2010 there were 9,010 complaints against rising health care costs. In 2011 that figure was 25,767. There was no substantive change in health care; what changed, Mayol says, was the public’s consciousness. Suddenly there was hope that complaints might not be futile after all."
chile  economics  neoliberalism  2013  education  healthcare  markets  albertomayol  ricardolagos  sebastiánpiñera  universities  highereducation  highered  debt  consumerism  citizenship  civics  passivity  freemarket  responsibility  society  lililoofbourow 
may 2013 by robertogreco
A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse | David Graeber | The Baffler
[Now here: http://www.thebaffler.com/salvos/a-practical-utopians-guide-to-the-coming-collapse ]

"What is a revolution? We used to think we knew. Revolutions were seizures of power by popular forces aiming to transform the very nature of the political, social, and economic system in the country in which the revolution took place, usually according to some visionary dream of a just society. Nowadays, we live in an age when, if rebel armies do come sweeping into a city, or mass uprisings overthrow a dictator, it’s unlikely to have any such implications; when profound social transformation does occur—as with, say, the rise of feminism—it’s likely to take an entirely different form. It’s not that revolutionary dreams aren’t out there. But contemporary revolutionaries rarely think they can bring them into being by some modern-day equivalent of storming the Bastille."



"Revolutions are thus planetary phenomena. But there is more. What they really do is transform basic assumptions about what politics is ultimately about. In the wake of a revolution, ideas that had been considered veritably lunatic fringe quickly become the accepted currency of debate. Before the French Revolution, the ideas that change is good, that government policy is the proper way to manage it, and that governments derive their authority from an entity called “the people” were considered the sorts of things one might hear from crackpots and demagogues, or at best a handful of freethinking intellectuals who spend their time debating in cafés. A generation later, even the stuffiest magistrates, priests, and headmasters had to at least pay lip service to these ideas. Before long, we had reached the situation we are in today: that it’s necessary to lay out the terms for anyone to even notice they are there. They’ve become common sense, the very grounds of political discussion.

Until 1968, most world revolutions really just introduced practical refinements: an expanded franchise, universal primary education, the welfare state. The world revolution of 1968, in contrast—whether it took the form it did in China, of a revolt by students and young cadres supporting Mao’s call for a Cultural Revolution; or in Berkeley and New York, where it marked an alliance of students, dropouts, and cultural rebels; or even in Paris, where it was an alliance of students and workers—was a rebellion against bureaucracy, conformity, or anything that fettered the human imagination, a project for the revolutionizing of not just political or economic life, but every aspect of human existence. As a result, in most cases, the rebels didn’t even try to take over the apparatus of state; they saw that apparatus as itself the problem."



"In retrospect, though, I think that later historians will conclude that the legacy of the sixties revolution was deeper than we now imagine, and that the triumph of capitalist markets and their various planetary administrators and enforcers—which seemed so epochal and permanent in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991—was, in fact, far shallower."



"In fact, most of the economic innovations of the last thirty years make more sense politically than economically. Eliminating guaranteed life employment for precarious contracts doesn’t really create a more effective workforce, but it is extraordinarily effective in destroying unions and otherwise depoliticizing labor. The same can be said of endlessly increasing working hours. No one has much time for political activity if they’re working sixty-hour weeks.

It does often seem that, whenever there is a choice between one option that makes capitalism seem the only possible economic system, and another that would actually make capitalism a more viable economic system, neoliberalism means always choosing the former. The combined result is a relentless campaign against the human imagination. Or, to be more precise: imagination, desire, individual creativity, all those things that were to be liberated in the last great world revolution, were to be contained strictly in the domain of consumerism, or perhaps in the virtual realities of the Internet. In all other realms they were to be strictly banished. We are talking about the murdering of dreams, the imposition of an apparatus of hopelessness, designed to squelch any sense of an alternative future. Yet as a result of putting virtually all their efforts in one political basket, we are left in the bizarre situation of watching the capitalist system crumbling before our very eyes, at just the moment everyone had finally concluded no other system would be possible.

Work It Out, Slow It Down

Normally, when you challenge the conventional wisdom—that the current economic and political system is the only possible one—the first reaction you are likely to get is a demand for a detailed architectural blueprint of how an alternative system would work, down to the nature of its financial instruments, energy supplies, and policies of sewer maintenance. Next, you are likely to be asked for a detailed program of how this system will be brought into existence. Historically, this is ridiculous. When has social change ever happened according to someone’s blueprint? It’s not as if a small circle of visionaries in Renaissance Florence conceived of something they called “capitalism,” figured out the details of how the stock exchange and factories would someday work, and then put in place a program to bring their visions into reality. In fact, the idea is so absurd we might well ask ourselves how it ever occurred to us to imagine this is how change happens to begin.

This is not to say there’s anything wrong with utopian visions. Or even blueprints. They just need to be kept in their place. The theorist Michael Albert has worked out a detailed plan for how a modern economy could run without money on a democratic, participatory basis. I think this is an important achievement—not because I think that exact model could ever be instituted, in exactly the form in which he describes it, but because it makes it impossible to say that such a thing is inconceivable. Still, such models can be only thought experiments. We cannot really conceive of the problems that will arise when we start trying to build a free society. What now seem likely to be the thorniest problems might not be problems at all; others that never even occurred to us might prove devilishly difficult. There are innumerable X-factors.

The most obvious is technology. This is the reason it’s so absurd to imagine activists in Renaissance Italy coming up with a model for a stock exchange and factories—what happened was based on all sorts of technologies that they couldn’t have anticipated, but which in part only emerged because society began to move in the direction that it did. This might explain, for instance, why so many of the more compelling visions of an anarchist society have been produced by science fiction writers (Ursula K. Le Guin, Starhawk, Kim Stanley Robinson). In fiction, you are at least admitting the technological aspect is guesswork.

Myself, I am less interested in deciding what sort of economic system we should have in a free society than in creating the means by which people can make such decisions for themselves. What might a revolution in common sense actually look like? I don’t know, but I can think of any number of pieces of conventional wisdom that surely need challenging if we are to create any sort of viable free society. I’ve already explored one—the nature of money and debt—in some detail in a recent book. I even suggested a debt jubilee, a general cancellation, in part just to bring home that money is really just a human product, a set of promises, that by its nature can always be renegotiated."
debt  economics  politics  revolution  work  labor  davidgraeber  power  society  revolutions  2013  grassroots  punk  global  conformity  bureaucracy  feminism  1789  frenchrevolution  1848  1968  communism  independence  freedom  1917  thestate  commonsense  fringe  ideas  memes  socialmovements  war  collateraldamage  civilrights  gayrights  neoliberalism  freemarkets  libertarianism  debtcancellation  fear  insecurity  consumerism  occupy  occupywallstreet  ows  sustainability  growth  well-being  utopianism  productivity  environment  humanism  ideology  class  classstruggle  abbiehoffman  slow  supervision  control  management  taylorism  virtue  artleisure  discipline  leisurearts  globalization 
may 2013 by robertogreco
The closing of American academia - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"Academia is vaunted for being a meritocracy. Publications are judged on blind review, and good graduate programs offer free tuition and a decent stipend. But its reliance on adjuncts makes it no different than professions that cater to the elite through unpaid internships.

Anthropologists are known for their attentiveness to social inequality, but few have acknowledged the plight of their peers. When I expressed doubt about the job market to one colleague, she advised me, with total seriousness, to "re-evaluate what work means" and to consider "post-work imaginaries". A popular video on post-graduate employment cuts to the chase: "Why don't you tap into your trust fund?""
sarahkendzior  wealth  internships  publishing  lottery  meritocracy  elitism  education  debt  work  labor  teaching  adjuncts  2012  highered  highereducation  access  academia 
september 2012 by robertogreco
California and Bust | Business | Vanity Fair
"The smart money says the U.S. economy will splinter, with some states thriving, some states not, and all eyes are on California as the nightmare scenario. After a hair-raising visit with former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who explains why the Golden State has cratered, Michael Lewis goes where the buck literally stops—the local level, where the likes of San Jose mayor Chuck Reed and Vallejo fire chief Paige Meyer are trying to avert even worse catastrophes and rethink what it means to be a society."
california  2011  finance  michaellewis  debt  money  government  crisis  collapse 
september 2011 by robertogreco
potlatch: riots and credit crunches: when economic objects attack
"What to do? The Actor Network Theorist might smirk and say that we should be putting the HDTVs and trainers in jail, rather than the poor human actors who sought to liberate them. Maybe the mortgage-backed CDOs should themselves be appearing before Congress, explaining what they were up to in the years leading up to 2007. The bankers were merely their servants. Or else we need to rediscover the virtues of a boring, inanimate economy, as the basis for an animated social and cultural world, as Marx intuited. The tedium of the old socialist block - laughable cars, unchanging fashions, steady incomes, pitiful growth - was always at the heart of its apparent legitimacy crisis. But it strikes me that it's precisely this tedium that we now need more of, to escape the tyranny of financial and consumer objects."
anthropology  sociology  markets  marxism  neoliberalism  riots  2011  actornetworktheory  karlmarx  socialism  finance  london  uk  society  capitalism  materialsm  consumerism  consumption  values  objects  possessions  economics  restraint  boringness  ownership  credit  debt  potlatch 
september 2011 by robertogreco
John Lanchester · The Non-Scenic Route to the Place We’re Going Anyway: The Belgian Solution · LRB 8 September 2011
"There is, just, time for this change of course to happen, before it’s all too late. But I fear that the grip of anti-spending ideology is so strong throughout the West, and the politicians’ fear of the banks is so entrenched, that the ten-year slog looks more likely. Oh strangest of all strangenesses, the deep longing for the whole world to be more like Belgium."
johnlancaster  2011  finance  crisis  economics  policy  eu  politics  us  uk  greatrecession  debt  debtceiling  debtcrisis  belgium 
september 2011 by robertogreco
World of Class Warfare - Warren Buffett vs. Wealthy Conservatives - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 08/18/11 - Video Clip | Comedy Central
"Warren Buffett's op-ed is a thoughtful treatise on the advantages the super-wealthy currently enjoy at the hands of the tax code, or to put it another way, "class warfare."<br />
<br />
"World of Class Warfare - The Poor's Free Ride Is Over: The government could raise $700 billion by either taking half of everything earned by the bottom 50% or by raising the marginal tax rate on the top two percent."<br />
<br />
[That's from the second part here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-18-2011/world-of-class-warfare---the-poor-s-free-ride-is-over ]
classwarfare  humor  dailyshow  jonstewart  warrenbuffett  poverty  us  foxnews  budget  debt  wealthdistribution  wealth  2011  policy  taxes 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Iceland's On-Going Revolution | Mostly Water
"…refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’ debts, and accepted calls for a referendum…

…93% voted against repayment of the debt. The IMF immediately froze its loan. But the revolution (though not televised in the United States), would not be intimidated…launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis…

Icelanders didn't stop there: they decided to draft a new constitution that would free the country from the exaggerated power of international finance and virtual money…

To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet."
iceland  collapse  debt  finance  2008  2010  2011  constitution  citizenry  power  capitalism  corporatism  politics  policy  history  sovereignty  collaboration  banking  justice  via:bettyannsloan 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Standard & Poor's Downgrade: How Debt Has Defined Human History - Speakeasy - WSJ
"in the Middle Ages…merchants had to develop reputations for scrupulous integrity—not just always paying their debts, but forgiving others’ debts if they were in difficulties, & being generally pillars of their communities. Merchants could be trusted w/ money because they convinced others that they didn’t think money was the most important thing…“credit,” “honor,” & “decency” became the same thing…

For much of human history, the great social evil…was the debt crisis. The masses of the poor would become indebted to the rich…lose flocks & fields, begin selling family members into peonage & slavery…uprisings…Periods dominated by credit money, where everyone recognized that money was just a promise, a social arrangement, almost invariably involve some kind of mechanism to protect debtors…

…since 1971, we did exactly the opposite. Instead of setting up great overarching institutions designed to protect debtors…[we] protect creditors."
culture  politics  history  economics  money  debt  1971  2011  middleages  medieval  credit  integrity  usuary  honor  decency  slavery  peonage  creditors  debtors  bankruptcy  debtforgiveness  wealth  disparity  debtceiling  society  imf  relgion  s&p 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Educación en deuda | Blog - Paula
"Crecimos escuchando que si estudiábamos más, tendríamos asegurado un mejor futuro: más ingresos, más prestigias, más satisfacción. Y nunca antes en la historia tantos chilenos habían alcanzado los niveles educacionales de hoy. Pero los jóvenes que constituyen la primera generación de sus familias en la Educación Superior se enfrentan, con frecuencia, a una realidad amargamente decepcionante: su título no les asegura un alto nivel de ingresos y la deuda que han contraído para pagar sus estudios contrapesa cualquier margen de movilidad social como lo haría una roca amarrada a los pies de un hombre tratando infructuosamente de nadar. Este es un reportaje para entender el descontento."
chile  education  class  2011  debt  loans  socialmobility  classmobility  highereducation  highered  society  privateschools 
july 2011 by robertogreco
YouTube - DEBTOCRACY (FULL - ENG Subs)
"For the first time in Greece a documentary produced by the audience. "Debtocracy" seeks the causes of the debt crisis and proposes solutions, hidden by the government and the dominant media."
2011  greece  debt  finance  banking  imf  worldbank  odiousdebt  politics  economics  argentina  ecuador  eu  ecb  sovereignty  freedom  europe  olympics  arms  class  classwarfare  social  democracy  government  policy  corruption  goldmansachs  crisis  financialcrisis  healthcare  poverty  education  documentary  globalization  neoliberalism  theft  via:steelemaley 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Hyperbole (and Progressive Bloggers) Fail Me: The End of Public Higher Education « zunguzungu
"I don’t expect Kevin Drum to have the answers, and we can debate what it will look like when this bubble finally bursts. Some people think it will be a good thing; I think it will be a clusterfuck for the middle and lower classes. But we all need to open our eyes to the fundamental transformation of American society that it represents. The generation before Drum’s made it possible to get an excellent education even if you couldn’t afford to pay the $9,000 that Stanford charged in 1981. Kevin Drum’s generation enjoyed the benefits of that system and then they dismantled it. My generation is muddling through by going deep into debt. The next generation will not."
education  berkeley  highereducation  elitism  money  debt  privatization  publicschools  publicuniversities  public  csu  uc  kevindrum  california  via:javierarbona  tuition  fees  higheredbubble  2011  universityofcalifornia 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Economist's View: Increasing Taxes on the Wealthy is Unfair???
"The immorality is based upon the idea that the wealthy earned every penny they received and it would be immoral to take it away and give it to those who didn't toil as hard, as effectively, or at all (you know, the people whose wages have not kept up with their productivity). The arguments against the idea that pay at the top reflects merit alone are well known -- the contention hardly passes the laugh test -- and I won't repeat them here. But anyone who thinks the reward for crashing the financial sector ought to be unimaginable wealth should rethink their ideas."
taxes  budget  debt  2011  morality  right  left  income  wealth  policy  politics  trickledowneconomics  economics  money  society  wealthdistribution 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Generation Z will revolutionize education | Penelope Trunk
"1. A huge wave of homeschooling will create a more self-directed workforce…Gen X is more comfortable working outside system than Baby Boomers…

2. Homeschooling as kids will become unschooling as adults…school does not prepare people for work…Gen Y has been very vocal about this problem…

3. The college degree will return to its bourgeois roots; entrepreneurship will rule. The homeschooling movement will prepare Gen Y to skip college, & Gen X is out-of-the-box enough in their parenting to support that…

Baby Boomers are too competitive to risk pulling college rug out from under kids. Gen Y are rule followers—if adults tell them to go to college, they will. Gen X is very practical…1st gen in US history to have less money than parents…makes sense that Gen X would be generation to tell kids to forget about college.

90% of Gen Y say they want to be entrepreneurs, but only very small % of them will ever launch full-fledged business, because Generation Y are not really risk takers."

[Via (see response): http://www.odonnellweb.com/?p=9206 AND http://radiofreeschool.blogspot.com/2011/04/revolutionizing-education-were-doing-it.html ]
education  homeschool  generations  genx  geny  babyboomers  boomers  generationy  generationx  risk  risktaking  unschooling  deschooling  culture  learning  change  entrepreneurship  2011  colleges  college  universities  schools  schooliness  rules  rulefollowing  competitiveness  lcproject  debt  tuition  freeuniversities  doing  making  trying  generationz  genz  strauss&howe  gamechanging  generationalstrife  autodidacts  autodidactism  self-directedlearning  self-directed  selflearners  self-education  penelopetrunk  autodidacticism 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Have we officially returned to when the Robber Barons ruled? | Thom Hartmann - News & info from the #1 progressive radio show
"We know millions around nation have been screwed over by predatory lenders & fine print credit card contracts—& now are swimming in debt.  But can you believe that some of these people are actually being thrown in prison for going into debt? That’s right—American in 21st century is bringing back debtors’ prisons.  People who can’t pay off their credit cards can be thrown in jail in a third of states in our nation—& since the start of 2010—5,000+ arrest warrants have been issued against people who owe as little as $1,000 to massively profitable corporations like Capital One. <br />
<br />
So let me get this straight—a few years after the financial crisis where massive fraud was perpetrated by Wall Street—not one bankster is in jail—but 5,000 low or middle-class Americans who were screwed over by these banksters were sent to debtor’s prison?<br />
<br />
It’s official—Republicans have set our country back more than 100 years—to 1800’s—when Robber Barons ruled & our politics were corrupted to the core."
debtorprisons  thomhartmann  us  policy  economics  crime  law  wallstreet  debt  creditcards  robberbarons  2011 
march 2011 by robertogreco
How big is the problem? | The wrong cure | False Economy
"No country can run huge deficits every year for ever.

The bigger the national debt that builds up, the more expensive it is to meet interest payments. At some point it becomes more difficult and more expensive for governments to borrow extra money because people become reluctant to lend to them.

But we are nowhere near that point in the UK. Let's look more closely at the national debt. "
uk  debt  nationaldebt  2011  infographics  charts  economics  statistics  policy 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Nigel Marsh: How to make work-life balance work | Video on TED.com
"Certain job and career choices are fundamentally  incompatible with being meaningfully engaged on a day to day basis with a young family…

The first step in solving any problem is acknowledging the reality of the situation you are in.

And the reality that we are in is that there are thousands and thousands of people out there living lives of quiet screaming desperation where they work long hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.

It is my contention that going to work on Friday in jeans and a t-shirt isn’t really getting to the nub of the issue."

[via: http://onthespiral.com/liberate-rat-race-dont-get-educated ]
ted  work  life  balance  yearoff  play  nigelmarsh  careers  ratrace  families  society  livetowork  unschooling  deschooling  schools  schooling  well-being  racetonowhere  education  debt  finance  neweconomy  economics  schooliness  glvo  wageslavery  meaning  passion  postmaterialism  relationships  postconsumerism  money  work-lifebalance 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Liberate From The Rat Race – Don’t Get Educated | OnTheSpiral
"one of the biggest obstacles to realizing the promise of the new economy is this notion that traditional education is a sure thing. In a rapidly changing world this couldn’t be further from the truth. Education provides the illusion of heading in a stable direction until that direction becomes a dead end when the market shifts. The recent financial crisis dramatically exemplified this danger.

The reality is that you have no direction. In a philosophical sense this was always true. As the pace of change accelerates it becomes increasingly true in a practical sense as well. The average worker’s ability to plan (with reasonable foresight) a predictable career path is negligable.

If we accept this reality, then what we lose in stability we gain in opportunity. By proactively breaking the cycle we can step off the treadmill and embrace the freedom to explore our curiosity without financial burdens…"
ratrace  racetonowhere  education  debt  finance  entrepreneurship  neweconomy  economics  autodidacts  curiosity  yearoff  learning  schooling  schooliness  unschooling  deschooling  glvo  nigelmarsh  wageslavery  meaning  passion  postmaterialism  gregoryrader  relationships  postconsumerism  money  well-being 
february 2011 by robertogreco
StickWithANose » Student Loan Scam
Graphic describing the problem and its history, with suggestions about how not to fall into the trap at the end
studentloans  money  finance  government  policy  education  salliemae  debt  debtslavery  history  law  legal 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Seven Reasons Not to Send Your Kids to College [and five alternatives] - DailyFinance
"Imagine a retirement where you could have an extra $1million to $3 million in the bank with basically no effort. Now imagine telling your kids that you aren't going to send them to college. And, you go on, you want them to immediately start a business or get to work as soon as they finish high school.

These are difficult things to imagine because we've been so scammed by the "career industry" that tells us we need college degrees in order to succeed in life, regardless of how much money we spend for those degrees or what we actually do with our lives during the four to eight years it takes us to get those degrees.

But in my view, the entire college degree industry is a scam, a self-perpetuating Ponzi scheme that needs to stop right now."
colleges  universities  highereducation  highered  cost  debt  alternative  jamesaltucher  ponzischemes  bubbles  higheredbubble  unschooling  deschooling  glvo  education  learning  entrepreneurship  income  travel  handson  apprenticeships  internships 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Contributor - Four Deformations of the Apocalypse - NYTimes.com
"The day of national reckoning has arrived. We will not have a conventional business recovery now, but rather a long hangover of debt liquidation and downsizing — as suggested by last week’s news that the national economy grew at an anemic annual rate of 2.4 percent in the second quarter. Under these circumstances, it’s a pity that the modern Republican Party offers the American people an irrelevant platform of recycled Keynesianism when the old approach — balanced budgets, sound money and financial discipline — is needed more than ever."
economics  policy  georgewbush  taxes  reagan  reaganomics  republicans  deficits  balancedbudets  budget  2010  money  finance  debt  nationaldebt  texcuts  disparity  wealth  us  government  davidstockman 
august 2010 by robertogreco
YouTube - RSA Animate - Crises of Capitalism
"In this RSA Animate, radical sociologist David Harvey asks if it is time to look beyond capitalism towards a new social order that would allow us to live within a system that really could be responsible, just, and humane?"
davidharvey  capitalism  economics  politics  rsaanimate  homeownership  us  culture  germany  greece  policy  banks  finance  banking  canon  housing  worldbank  imf  neoliberalism  liberalism  alangreenspan  marxism  instability  systemicrisk  capitalaccumulation  crisis  labor  capital  1970s  1980s  unions  offshoring  power  wagerepression  wages  credit  creditcards  debt  personaldebt  2010  limits  greed  profits  industry  london  uk  latinamerica  wealth  india  china  inequality  incomeinequality  wealthinequality  hedgefunds 
june 2010 by robertogreco
I’ve Got a Crush on “Pepe”–Jose Mujica, the President of Uruguay
"1) At 75 years old, he is refreshingly humble and free of the need to impress others with flash or style. (He never wears a suit–not even during his inauguration!) 2) He campaigned on a simple-living platform, traveling around Uruguay using public transportation and carrying a small knapsack. 3) He’s a vegetarian in a country that has beef as its top export. 4) He is a published poet. 5) He has refused the opportunity to live in the President’s Residence, instead choosing to remain in the simple house he shares with his wife on a small flower farm. 6) He recently declared that he has no savings, no debt, and no bank account. The farm is in his wife’s name, and his only valuable possession is an old Volkswagen worth less than $2000. 7) His only income is his presidential salary, most of which he donates to his leftist political party and a public housing program."
josémujica  uruguay  humble  simplicity  simple  slow  politics  presidency  debt  postconsumerism  postmaterialism 
june 2010 by robertogreco
O’DonnellWeb » Newsflash: Higher Ed ain’t what it used to be
"It’s good to know I’m not a helicopter parent :) I hope the work world gets the message soon. The reality is that the reason so many people end up so far in debt to go to college is that employers demand a college degree to even get a foot in the door, even though most of the jobs absolutely do not require any specialized knowledge that you may have picked up at school.
colleges  universities  collapse  markets  money  employment  debt  learning  education  highereducation  highered  economics  sethgodin  decline  tcsnmy  unschooling  deschooling 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Are Old People Bankrupting America? | The Atlantic Wire
"As health care costs balloon, swelling the budget and the deficit, elderly Americans are consistently the biggest consumers. This isn't their fault. They simply require more--and more expensive--treatments. These treatments are billed to Medicare, which hands the bill to the federal government, which needs tax revenue to pay it.
healthcare  us  taxes  age  seniorcitizens  politics  voting  debt  society  generations  selfishness  gotminsoscrewyou  money  policy  spending 
february 2010 by robertogreco
California Budget Crisis Diaries: Less revenue, more borrowing
"“The combined shortfall for the two years has been pegged at about $21 billion — the result of a state economy battered by a steep decline in its housing market, weak consumer spending, widespread layoffs and 12.5 percent unemployment,” stated a Reuters analysis of the report.
california  debt  state  politics  budget  2009 
december 2009 by robertogreco
The Great American Migration Slowdown: Regional and Metropolitan Dimensions - Brookings Institution
"Mired in housing debt and struggling through the Great Recession, more Americans are choosing to stay put rather than uproot themselves and their families. In a new report, William Frey uses Census and IRS data to analyze recent migration trends across the United States showing significant shifts in how frequently, and to where, Americans are moving."
migration  us  demographics  foreclosures  debt  greatrecession  economics 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Joe Bageant: The Devil and Mr. Obama
"But even if Americans understood socialism, they are too terrified to ever admit to its virtues, much less publicly support the cause. And without free and open public participation in some democratic form of socialism, regardless of the name or label given it, there can be no recognition of the people's common welfare and good. And so the most egalitarian social philosophy ever conceived dies within a nation, with very little chance of being reborn because such an ideal, by its definition, cannot exist within the narrow mindset of bankers and oligarchs.
joebageant  barackobama  politics  war  debt  socialism  us  policy  banking  finance  capitalism  journalism  2009  society 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: *The End of Influence*
"Asian export-led growth model must transform itself to domestic consumption & prosperity models. American borrow&import model will also have to shift to a model of consumption-at-the-level-you-produce...the need to keep confidence of those who have the money that their money is well placed in the US serves as a constraint on US policy in a way that it has never been before." ... "authors describe the various stimulus attempts as something that will "buy time," but will not be sufficient to alter this basic trajectory." In the comments: "Our greatest assets are our current inefficiencies: we can tap into cost reduction, such as, reducing military spending (a free good to the rest of the world), reducing the cost of medical care (you may once again, although you do not want to do this, have to participate in managed care), improving energy efficiency (our balance of payments problem is largely due to energy imports). Hey, if you are fat, you don't have to eat as much to get in shape."
economics  money  us  asia  china  future  policy  exports  imports  books  military  healthcare  2009  marginalrevolution  debt  borrowing  change  consumption 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Matt Hern » Blog Archive » WALKING AWAY UNDERWATER
"intrigued by the story originating in the LA Times that got wide play this we. Brent White, a University of Arizona law school professor, authored a study that urges ‘underwater’ homeowners (those who owe more than their house is worth) to just walk away from the house and cut their losses ... So aside from the tsunami of social and economic repercussions if half of homeowners are in a position where abandoning their homes is the smart thing to do, another thought came to mind. What happens when the US deficit crosses the 100% threshold of GDP? ... Homeower debt. Credit card debt. National debt. Ecological debt. All of it relies implicitly and explicitly on mythologies of endless growth. Sooner, rather than later, or maybe now, the insanity of it comes clear and people rightly just walk away from the house.
debt  economics  crisis  us  policy  deficit  housing  homes  mortgages  foreclosures 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Student Loans are the New Indentured Servitude - The Atlantic Business Channel
“College student-loan debt has revived the spirit of indenture for a sizable proportion of contemporary Americans...not a minor threshold that young people entering adult society & work, or those returning to college seeking enhanced credentials, might pass through easily...major constraint that looms over the lives of those so contracted, binding individuals for a significant part of their future work lives. Although it has more varied application, less direct effects, & less severe conditions than colonial indenture did...& it does not bind one to a particular job, student debt permeates everyday experience w/ concern over the monthly chit & encumbers job & life choices. It also takes a page from indenture in extensive brokerage system it has bred, from which more than 4000 banks take profit. At core, student debt is a labor issue, as colonial indenture was, subsisting off the desire of those less privileged to gain better opportunities & enforcing a control on their future labor.”
education  economics  slavery  studentloans  academia  capitalism  debt  credit  finance  colleges  universities 
october 2009 by robertogreco
‘We still have the same disease' - The Globe and Mail
"Central bankers have no clue...financial crisis was not a black swan...They ignored the phenomenal buildup in leverage since 1980...After finishing The Black Swan, I realized there was a cancer...huge buildup of risk-taking based on lack of understanding of reality...second problem is hidden risk w/ new financial products...third is interdependence among financial institutions...we still have same amount of debt, but it belongs to governments. Normally debt would get destroyed & turn to air...Are you saying the U.S. shouldn't have done all those bailouts? What was alternative? Blood, sweat & tears. A lot of growth of past few years was fake growth from debt. So swallow losses, be dignified & move on. Suck it up. I gather you're not too impressed with the folks in Washington who are handling this crisis. Ben Bernanke saved nothing! He shouldn't be allowed in Washington...The first thing I would tell Chinese officials is, how can you buy U.S. bonds as long as Larry Summers is there?"
nassimtaleb  culture  finance  banking  collapse  blackswans  crisis  government  bailouts  debt  capitalism  economics 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Eurozine - Debt: The first five thousand years - David Graeber
"Throughout its 5000 year history, debt has always involved institutions – whether Mesopotamian sacred kingship, Mosaic jubilees, Sharia or Canon Law – that place controls on debt's potentially catastrophic social consequences. It is only in the current era, writes anthropologist David Graeber, that we have begun to see the creation of the first effective planetary administrative system largely in order to protect the interests of creditors."
debt  economics  credit  history  society  culture  politics  creditcrunch  anarchy  money  finance  crisis  capitalism  via:javierarbona  middleages  ancienthistory  anarchism 
september 2009 by robertogreco
The Housing Bubble Blog » The Addiction To Fake Wealth
"when Reagan was running for president...average joe had [no] idea what was about to come...unleashing of monstrous culture of debt...for 25 years...next 25 years will...[not be] repeat of past 25...At no other time in our history could somebody achieve “prosperity” w/out education, hard work, creativity, honesty & integrity...look to days of my youth...70s...By today’s standards...we would [not] be...middle-class...not enough stuff...my experience...similar to vast majority of Americans at time...was sustainable...so different from...today...before massive swamps of credit allowed people to act like millionaires...everything [is] a status symbol...preceded instant gratification of Reagan years...easy debt made everything...attainable...spending next generation’s lifestyle to avoid last generation’s lifestyle...waste of resources...lifestyle I knew as kid will [not] be reserved for families w/ 7 kids...addiction to fake wealth will not be voluntarily kicked..."
crisis  economics  lifestyle  us  future  wealth  debt  cv  1970s  sustainability  simplicity  extravagance  ronaldreagan  trickledowneconomics  wherewewentwrong  endofanera  generations 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Edge: Economics is not Natural Science: Douglas Rushkoff
"We must stop perpetuating the fiction that existence itself is dictated by the immutable laws of economics. These so-called laws are, in actuality, the economic mechanisms of 13th Century monarchs. Some of us analyzing digital culture and its impact on business must reveal economics as the artificial construction it really is. Although it may be subjected to the scientific method and mathematical scrutiny, it is not a natural science; it is game theory, with a set of underlying assumptions that have little to do with anything resembling genetics, neurology, evolution, or natural systems."
economics  douglasrushkoff  science  crowdsourcing  change  reform  markets  local  debt  gametheory  stevenjohnson  sustainability  human  physics  power  networks  history  edge  renaissance  middleages  medieval  systems  crisis  theory 
august 2009 by robertogreco
FT.com / Comment / Opinion - Debt is capitalism’s dirty little secret
"Just why is there so much debt in the Anglo-Saxon world? Bankers and regulators know well that it is in nobody’s long-term interests to have allowed borrowing to escalate to a position where the US now owes far more, as a multiple of the economy, than at the start of the Great Depression.
society  economics  money  neoliberalism  meltdown  bubble  crisis  recession  capitalism  wealth  disparity  debt 
july 2009 by robertogreco
YouTube - The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class
"Distinguished law scholar Elizabeth Warren teaches contract law, bankruptcy, and commercial law at Harvard Law School. She is an outspoken critic of America's credit economy, which she has linked to the continuing rise in bankruptcy among the middle-class."
elizabethwarren  economics  middleclass  bankruptcy  collapse  statistics  health  money  finance  credit  debt  families  crisis  history  politics  culture  society  us  income  class 
may 2009 by robertogreco
From Margaret Atwood, a Dose of Reality - NYTimes.com
“‘Debt is part of the human condition,’ she said in an interview. ‘Civilization is based on exchanges — on gifts, trades, loans — and the revenges and insults that come when they are not paid back.’ … Ms. Atwood’s most frightening scenes are of what happens when man’s greed causes nature to go awry. She applies the same theory to nature as she does to financial debt: Humankind will doom itself by taking more than it gives back. ‘Our technology has become so clever that it can chew things up much faster than we can replace them,’ she said.”
debt  society  culture  2009  finance  relationships  environment  sustainability  technology  nature  human 
april 2009 by robertogreco
The Geithnerconomy and the New Cold War - Umair Haque - HarvardBusiness.org
"Welcome to Looting 2.0. What does that financial system look like? In it, everything is a hedge fund. The Geithner economy is Milton Friedman's revenge from beyond the grave: it is one that puts the allocation of public resources in a very small number of almost totally hidden private hands. The Geithnerconomy is a kind of financial Frankenstein: run by hedge funds, leveraged by the public, whose interests overlap by only 20%. The problem of toxic incentives hasn't gone away: in fact, the Geithner plan institutionalizes and explodes it, like a biological weapon infecting an entire country."
corruption  economics  umairhaque  meltdown  recession  banking  democracy  fraud  debt  goldmansachs  timgeithner  bailout  crisis  2009  feudalism  disincentives  moralhazard 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Desmond Lachman -- Welcome to America, the World's Scariest Emerging Market - washingtonpost.com
"Like Argentina in its worst moments, we never seem to question whether it is reasonable to expect foreigners to keep financing our extravagance, and we forget the bad things that happen to the Argentinas or Hungarys of the world when foreigners stop financing their excesses. So instead of laying out a realistic plan for increasing our national savings, we choose not to face up to the Social Security and Medicare crises that lie ahead, embarking instead on massive spending programs that -- whatever their long-run merits might be -- we simply cannot afford."
us  argentina  finance  economics  meltdown  debt  collapse  crisis  politics  russia  imf  government  2009 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Rethinking the American Dream | vanityfair.com
"what about outmoded proposition that each successive generation in US must live better than one that preceded it?...no longer applicable to an American middle class that lives more comfortably than any...before...I’m no champion of downward mobility, but time has come to consider the idea of simple continuity: perpetuation of a contented, sustainable middle-class way of life, where standard of living remains happily constant from one generation to next. American Dream should require hard work...not require 80-hour workweeks & parents who never see kids from across dinner table...should entail first-rate education for every child not an education that leaves no extra time for actual enjoyment of childhood...should accommodate goal of home ownership without imposing lifelong burden of unmeetable debt. Above all...should be embraced as unique sense of possibility that this country gives its citizens—the decent chance, as Moss Hart would say, to scale the walls & achieve what you wish."
us  americandream  capitalism  sustainability  debt  education  happiness  well-being  society  culture  economics  history  money  identity  ideology  sociology  crisis  markets  families  homeownership  generations  upwardmobility  freedom  success  aspiration  credit  creditcards 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Goodbye Dubai | Smashing Telly - A hand picked TV channel
"Short of opening a Radio Shack in an Amish town, Dubai is the world’s worst business idea, and there isn’t even any oil. Imagine proposing to build Vegas in a place where sex and drugs and rock and roll are an anathema. This is effectively the proposition that created Dubai - it was a stupid idea before the crash, and now it is dangerous.
via:kottke  dubai  collapse  crisis  economics  realestate  architecture  culture  design  cities  planning  debt  bubbles 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Driven down by debt, Dubai expats give new meaning to long-stay car park - Times Online
"For many expatriate workers in Dubai it was the ultimate symbol of their tax-free wealth: a luxurious car that few could have afforded on the money they earned at home. Now, faced with crippling debts as a result of their high living and Dubai’s fading fortunes, many expatriates are abandoning their cars at the airport and fleeing home rather than risk jail for defaulting on loans. Police have found more than 3,000 cars outside Dubai’s international airport in recent months. Most of the cars – four-wheel drives, saloons and “a few” Mercedes – had keys left in the ignition. Some had used-to-the-limit credit cards in the glove box. Others had notes of apology attached to the windscreen."
economics  debt  dubai  bubble  immigration  migration  crisis  2009  finance  peakoil  tourism  expats 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Why College Is A Waste of Money - The Daily Beast
"In theory, this is the job of college admissions officers, who are supposed to act as the gatekeepers. But there are plenty of four-year colleges willing to take the money of anyone who can pony up -- whether that money comes from parents, the government, or that student's paychecks until he’s old enough to buy a discounted movie ticket. These colleges have seats to fill and bills to pay, and sure, they'd all love to be Harvard, but they'll take what they can get. And student lenders? They have absolutely no incentive to encourage responsible borrowing because they will get paid back -- you can file for bankruptcy 400 times, and your student loans will still be there, with interest and penalties accruing daily."
colleges  universities  admission  education  learning  economics  finance  lcproject  debt 
december 2008 by robertogreco
The Financialization of Capital and the Crisis - Monthly Review [see also: http://links.org.au/node/794]
"radically different economic view...suggests normal path of mature capitalist economies...US, major Western European countries & Japan, is one of stagnation rather than rapid growth. In this perspective, today’s periodic crises...point to serious & growing long-term constraints on capital accumulation." ... "The hard truth of the matter is that the regime of monopoly-finance capital is designed to benefit a tiny group of oligopolists who dominate both production and finance. A relatively small number of individuals and corporations control huge pools of capital and find no other way to continue to make money on the required scale than through a heavy reliance on finance and speculation. This is a deep-seated contradiction intrinsic to the development of capitalism itself. If the goal is to advance the needs of humanity as a whole, the world will sooner or later have to embrace an alternative system. There is no other way."
via:javierarbona  capitalism  corporations  investment  financialization  johnbellamyfoster  banking  finance  crisis  economics  collapse  debt  leverage  capital  class  us  bubbles  greatdepression 
december 2008 by robertogreco
The Worst Is Yet To Come: Anonymous Banker Weighs In On The Coming Credit Card Debacle - Executive Suite Blog - NYTimes.com
"Today, we are bailing out the banks because of their greedy and deceptive lending practices in the mortgage industry. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. More is coming, I’m sorry to say. Layoffs are being announced nationwide in the tens of thousands. As people begin to lose their jobs, they will not be able to pay their credit card bills either. And the banks will be back for more handouts."
creditcrunch  credit  creditcards  bailout  banking  recession  crisis  2008  finance  economics  business  money  debt 
december 2008 by robertogreco
The Frontal Cortex : Credit
"one of the reasons credit cards are such a popular form of debt is that they take advantage of some innate flaws in the brain. When we buy something with cash, the purchase involves an actual loss - our wallet is literally lighter. Credit cards, however, make the transaction abstract, so that we don't really feel the downside of spending money...Perhaps the real goal of the Paulson plan is precisely that: encourage people to use credit cards as a way to jump start retail spending. Because we've got a shiny new Visa card, we'll be less sensitive to the fact that our 401(k) is down 40 percent, the value of our home is down 20 percent and the unemployment rate shows no sign of stabilizing anytime soon. Call me crazy, but ludicrously expensive debt (rates of 25 percent or more aren't uncommon on credit cards) hardly sounds like a sound long-term solution."
psychology  via:adamgreenfield  money  credit  debt  cognition  brain  bailout  economics  tylercowen  crisis  2008  policy 
november 2008 by robertogreco
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