Fri, 7 December 2018
Gavin Benke on Enron and the Neoliberal Era
Frauds. Grifts. Swindles. Scams. These are hardly new things when it comes to the history of capitalism. But that doesn’t mean they each one don't reflect its specific era of capitalism. Instead they both shape and are shaped by their unique historical moments.
On today’s show, we speak to Gavin Benke about Enron—the energy company that collapsed in 2001 amidst a massive fraud. What does the story of Enron reveal about neoliberalism? Was it a warning of the systemic risk that rocked the world economy in 2008? We talk to Gavin about all this and more.
Gavin Benke teaches in the writing program at Boston University and is author of Risk and Ruin Enron and the Culture of American Capitalism.
Sat, 3 November 2018
We tend to think about the "gig economy" as a new development - brought into being by Uber and our smartphones. But Louis Hyman shows us the deep roots of casualized and contract labor, tracing the centrality of temps, day laborers, and consultants from the post-World War II years through the present.
Louis Hyman is Associate Professor of History at the ILR School of Cornell University and the Director of the Institute for Workplace Studies in New York City. He is the author of Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary. He was previously a guest on the first episode of Who Makes Cents.
Thu, 4 October 2018
Over the past few decades, financial companies have begun charging more and more hidden fees. Devin Fergus explains why Americans pay so many fees and how these fees function to redistribute wealth from ordinary Americans to the wealthy - and how this strategy has especially impacted black Americans.
Sat, 1 September 2018
All too often recently, some have claimed that an analysis that is intersectional militates against one that focuses on class. Well, we’re very excited to bring you a special program this month. Rather than our normal interview format, we’re featuring a panel that took place at the University of California-San Diego. David was able to participate in this exciting symposium on the topic of race, gender and the contradictions of capitalism.
All the speakers also have recently released books. Ula Taylor is Professor and H. Michael and Jeanne Williams Department Chair of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is author of The Promise of Patriarchy: Women and the Nation of Islam. Barbara Ransby is Professor and Director of the Social Justice Initiative at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is author of Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century. And Charlene Carruthers is Charlene Carruthers is a strategist, writer and leading community organizer in today’s movement for Black liberation. She is author of Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements.
Direct download: Special_Episode_on_Intersectionality_and_Capitalism.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:42pm EST
Wed, 1 August 2018
For decades, consumers of second-hand goods have argued that purchasing used items allows buyers to opt out of capitalism, saving money and environmental resources in the process. As one thrifty advice blog puts it, “Buying used goods cuts down on manufacturing demands and keeps more items out of the landfill!” But what exactly is the relationship between the purchase and sale of second-hand goods and capitalism more broadly?
On this episode, Jennifer Le Zotte tells us about the sale and consumption of second-hand clothing in the twentieth century.
Jennifer Le Zotte is Assistant Professor of History and Material Culture at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. She is the author of From Goodwill to Grunge: A History of Secondhand Styles and Alternative Economies.
Tue, 3 July 2018
Just last week in the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the court undermined the power of organized labor in the public sector by making it, for all intents and purposes “right to work.” As our former guest, Sarah Jaffe wrote in the New York Times about the decision: “the corporate class … and its allies on the Supreme Court have dealt labor another body blow.”
On this episode, we speak about the literal violence that can manifest on the job if oppressive workplace conditions are left unaddressed. Jeremy Milloy argues that workplace violence from the 1960s-1980s needs to be considered not only as a private matter, but as a matter of politics and economics.
Jeremy Milloy is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the Frost Centre for Canadian and Indigenous Studies at Trent University. He is author of Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Violence at Work in the North American Auto Industry, 1960-80
Direct download: Jeremy_Milloy_on_the_Political_Economy_of_Workplace_Violence_-_7318_5.28_PM.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 8:53pm EST
Fri, 1 June 2018
When we think about the relationship between capitalism and the environment, it’s all too easy to see them as separate spheres bouncing into one another – capitalism devouring nature, like when a forest is razed for development, or nature threatening capitalist progress, like when a natural disaster later wipes out that development. Raj Patel and Jason Moore see the relationship as much more complicated, while also arguing that the environmental crises we face today are the inherent products of the way that capitalism operates. They trace the relationship between capital and the environment through seven cheap things: nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives.
Wed, 2 May 2018
The racial wealth gap is among the most dire problems in contemporary society. As of 2014, Black households had fewer than seven cents for every dollar owned by white households. This situation of racial wealth inequity is disturbingly similar to the one that existed at the end of slavery.
Today, we welcome back to the show Mehrsa Baradaran, our guest from episode 30. We speak to Mehrsa about her recent book about the history of the racial wealth gap and how Black banks—a solution that is often suggested—have instead operated as a decoy, and distracted from more far-reaching solutions.
Mehrsa Baradaran is author of The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap. She is Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives & J. Alton Hosch Associate Professor of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law.
Direct download: Mehrsa_Baradaran_on_Black_Banks_and_the_Racial_Wealth_Gap.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:13pm EST
Wed, 4 April 2018
Tired of reading endless clickbait articles about which industry millennials are killing today? Our guest Malcolm Harris explains how economic restructuring and the ideology of human capital helped to create the millennial generation - and continue to shape the choices they have in the present.
Sun, 4 March 2018
In the summer of 2014, activists in Ferguson, Missouri helped catalyze a cycle of struggle against racist policing, extractive fines and fees, and myriad other injustices that are rooted in racial capitalism and the state. Decades before this in nearby St. Louis Black women activists propelled another vibrant movement for justice and equity.
On today’s show, however, we speak with Keona Ervin about St Louis’s actually existing working class and the role of Black women activists played in shaping the struggle for economic dignity in the city.
Keona K. Ervin is assistant professor of History at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received her PhD in History from Washington University in St. Louis in 2009. Professor Ervin’s main research and teaching areas are black freedom movement studies, urban history, black women’s history, and US labor and working-class history. She is the author of the forthcoming Gateway to Equality: Black Women and the Struggle for Economic Justice in St. Louis (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky).
Direct download: Keona_Ervin_on_Black_Womens_Activism_in_St._Louis.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:39pm EST
Tue, 6 February 2018
We often think of neoliberalism as operating at odds with the traditional family. Our guest, Melinda Cooper, shows why neoliberals and social conservatives have enjoyed an alliance over the past forty years, and how neoliberalism has long had anxiety about family and morality at its core.
Mon, 1 January 2018
Consider the chicken nugget. Many of us can see its round shape in our minds, and recall its salty taste. But what is its history? And what does this history have to tell us about food and capitalism, and about one of the most devastating industrial accidents in recent U.S. history?
On today’s show, we speak with Bryant Simon about the 1991 fire at a chicken processing factory in Hamlet, North Carolina. For Bryant, this tragic accident has political and economic causes. And it reveals a tremendous amount the last few decades of U.S. and global history.
Bryant Simon is a professor of history at Temple University. He is the author of The Hamlet Fire:
Direct download: Bryant_Simon_on_the_Hamlet_Fire_and_the_Politics_of_Chicken.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:20pm EST