The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream by Chris Lehmann (2016)
BUY THIS BOOK! I am taking my library copy back and buying it myself.
I am posting this now without further commentary just in case someone needs an idea for a Christmas present (ironically since “Christianity” is part of the problem!) for a progressive friend or family member.
This is a continuation of a really long post posted recently. I have to take the book back to the library but can’t resist sharing some more of the book before tomorrow.
Chapter 4 is titled “You get what you deserve” and encapsulates various justifications for inequality.
He starts with some stats on property and the fact that minimum wage is “below the poverty line for a family of two, let alone a family of four.” It would seem obvious, with companies making massive profits — or even small net profits — that the owner class could afford to pay more than minimum wage. Because like Chris Rock said, the fact that we have to have a minimum wage law at all means employers wouldn’t pay you at all if they could. And by gosh, they are coming after every labor law that ever was passed including or maybe especially minimum wage.
Through the “science” of economism, however, conservatives can “prove” that increasing wages will not reduce poverty, but will increase unemployment. The argument starts out flawed because employees have NO POWER TO SET WAGES unless they are in a union. Even then, employees must be willing to go on strike and try to cost an exploitive employer so much in lost profit that they will agree to pay fair wages. Being on strike requires back up funds, courage, and risk. People who were the original strikers risked their lives and were killed by POLICE for daring to demand living wages. That’s how bad American employers don’t want to pay wages: they would rather kill people that make a nickel less for themselves.
Continue reading Economism part 2 of 2
Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality by James Kwak (2017). Everyone would do well to read this book! Buy it if you like to read good material repeatedly to get the most out of it.
As is stated in the foreword, economics today has become an ideology.
Unfortunately, the ideology it pretends to objectively and neutrally assess ignores reality, supports the “dog eat dog” life experience as the only way the world can work, and basically asserts wealth as a sign of merit, God’s favor, and/or a deserved reward for hard work done ALL BY THEMSELVES with no help from anyone, least of all the government.
Continue reading Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality by James Kwak (1 of 2)
This book, considered a “classic,” frames free city street parking as a hippie delusion. He presents 700+ pages of nonsense to prove his premise without questioning multiple underlying assumptions.
The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup (2011), written by a Yale-educated PhD in ECONOMICS makes the argument OPPOSING FREE PARKING in this book. He claims free parking HURTS POOR PEOPLE.
I used interlibrary loan to read it after reading a reference to it as being ” the definitive” book on parking. I suspected from excerpts I would not agree with what his analysis showed and I don’t.
Continue reading The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup
Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream by Andy Stern (2016)
This is a good book. I am buying this book. I do not agree with everything he says in the book, but the writing is clear and broad in scope. I was reminded of something I knew, that Alaska changed their state constitution to provide a basic income to all resident citizens from the money oil leases and such brought into the state by putting all that money into a dedicated fund to share the wealth. And a Republican governor did it.
I have some doubts about the purported takeover of technology for jobs, but that is probably a prejudice or failure of imagination on my part due to my lack of education and experience (pre-females being allowed to take shop in public schools). It is like watching magic to see a video of the automation that puts car parts together, or the mind blowing details of how the new Bay Bridge was built. Or when I saw the giant machine used to drill out the tunnel under the English channel. For that matter, every day I took the New York subway, especially though the tunnel under the water from Queens or when I drove through the Holland Tunnel and did not drown, well, it just doesn’t seem possible that mere mortals could figure out how to make tools and how to use them to accomplish such feats.
We have people who cannot make change correctly so cash register machines had to be modified to contain a function that simply told workers what the correct change should be. Icons are used instead of words, although I have to say, from a user interface point of view, this actually is a good thing on many levels: multilingual, faster, and more accurate. Translating the abstract concept of FRIES by having a little graphic of french fries in the container eliminates a lot of cross-brain work translating the letter symbols into a word and then punching a value of numbers in the register.
Trust is the number one criteria for people to accept a lot of the mechanization and technology. As a grocery shopped, you select a product based on a posted sign for a particular price. When the item is scanned at the register, can you remember the price of all the items selected to ascertain if the automated system actually priced it as the sale take listed or maybe it added a penny or a dime. Who actually watches the $$ values that are being rung up and are confident enough in their recollection to contest a price? Peer pressure of people standing in line waiting for you, the inability of the register clerk to know anything beyond what the computer tells her is right, having to call a manager over to assess the situation and go back to the shelves to check the sign, all to save 2 cents on a $2.00 purchase. Not a scenario to encourage questioning the accuracy of the technology. Even self-serve registers have this problem, or worse, because you have to do the scanning yourself while watching accuracy and then do the bagging too, again with people standing there impatiently waiting while you try to figure out why your credit card swipe is demanding a pin number you don’t have and it just seems wrong to push the red cancel button to continue.
Continue reading Raising the Floor by Andy Stern