Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast (general)

One recent study found that 81% of businesses in the United States have zero employees. That is, they are run by sole proprietors, working for and by themselves, The ideal of self-employment has become dominant in our culture, too. More Americans than ever dream of becoming an entrepreneur, an independent owner, a founder.

But for all of its prevalence in our economy and in our imaginations, the origins of this impulse are a bit hazy. When did so many of us begin to idolize self-employment? What might it reveal about broader shifts in the employment landscape in the 20th and 21st centuries? In his new book, One Day I'll Work for Myself: The Dream and Delusion That Conquered America, Ben Waterhouse answers precisely those questions. He explains how the rise of self-employment dates back to the economic transformations of the 1970s and intensified during the decades of precarity that followed. In our wide-ranging conversation, we touch on everything from franchise jurisprudence to the gig economy to the surprising story behind the Sam Adams beer company.

Direct download: WMC_EPISODE-_March_2024-_Waterhouse.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT

Most scholars would date the origins of neoliberalism to the 1970s, when a range of crises gave rise to new forms of market-oriented governance.

But Brent Cebul, our guest on this month's episode, argues that liberalism’s sharp turn towards neoliberalism wasn’t so sharp after all. In fact, as early as the New Deal, liberals tried to realize their policy goals through market means. And officials in Washington worked hand-in-hand with otherwise conservative business and municipal elites on those development programs. Throughout the entirety of the long twentieth century, liberals have bound their visions of progress to the local needs of capital. In the process, they’ve ended up entrenching the very inequalities that they had set out to solve in the first place.


Direct download: WMC-Feb_24-Cebul.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:18pm EDT

In 2022, roughly one in 10 suburban residents lived in poverty (9.6%), compared to about one in six in primary cities (16.2%), according to a recent study by the Brookings Institute. The issue of suburban poverty has garnered significant attention, prompting more than a bit of nostalgia for the good ole days of when suburbs were prosperous, living proof of the American dream. This narrative of postwar suburbia as prosperous, if also exclusive places, has been reinforced by historians and other scholars who, over the years, have shown how the federal government via FHA-insured mortgages and other programs facilitated a dramatic rise in suburban homeownership after WWII, while laregely restricting access through covenants and zoning laws to White Americans.

But is this the full story? In this month's episode, Tim Keogh challenges this narrative, demonstrating that for many the postwar American suburban dream was more myth than reality. Alongside exclusive white middle-class communities, Keogh explains how the suburbs have long served as home to low-income residents, whose labor in construction, retail, childcare and a range of other low-wage jobs helped enable suburban prosperity in the absence of a robust welfare state. Along the way, we explore the policy decisions that helped to ensure poverty's persistence alongside prosperity and what we can do today to eliminate poverty wherever it might appear.



Direct download: Hindenburg_Final_Episode_Tim_Keogh.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:23pm EDT

Today, discussions of care are ubiquitous. From employer-programs promoting self-care to the $800 billion healthcare industry, care forms a central part of our lives and the economy. But, are the systems and structures currently in place to care serving those who need it the most? This month's episode, featuring historian and activist Premilla Nadasen, takes a close look at the care economy and its relationship to racial capitalism and the reconfiguration of the welfare state. Along the way, we talk about the rise of the care-industrial-complex, wherein private corporations and non-profits benefit from public investment in care; what it's like for those who work in the care industry; and what a caring society built on radical care, as opposed to care-for-profit, might look like. 

Direct download: Final_Episode_Premilla_Nadasen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:46am EDT

Are you a professional living and working in an English-speaking country? If so, this episode is for you.

Teachers, doctors, nurses, accountants, engineers, lawyers, social workers, the list goes on, professionals play an important role in our society. This wasn't always the case. This episode explores the rise of the professional class in the Anglophone world, including engaging in a decades-old question of whether or not professionals constitute a class. Topics covered include the role that professionals played in the rise of Anglo-settler colonialism; the relationship between the professions and virtue; racial, gendered, and class identities among professionals; and the intensifying battle between professionals and managers. Once seen as allied in administering the global welfare state, professionals and managers, in recent decades, have increasingly found themselves on opposing sides—a conflict made pronounced, in the United States, at least, by a series of recent teachers and nurses strikes, among other examples.

Direct download: Final_Episode_Hannah_Forsyth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:08pm EDT

An iced cold Coca-Cola. A cross-country flight on Delta to visit friends. A much-needed medication overnighted via Fed-Ex. Bulk toilet paper purchased at Wal-Mart. What do these items have in common?  In today’s modern economy, each of these can be purchased from the comfort of the couch, frequently with a credit card pioneered by Bank of America. They are all also from companies headquartered in the American South. In this month's episode, historian Bart Elmore explains how corporations from the American South helped make it possible for us to satisfy our desires from the convenience of our home and/or hometown, no matter how remote, and the environmental costs associated with each.

Direct download: Hindenburg_Final_Episode_Bart_Elmore.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:03pm EDT

This month's episode gives a nod to one of the figures in our logo: the construction worker. Our guest, Mark Erlich has worked in the construction industry as a carpenter and union leader for a half century. In this episode, he shares his insights on the industry's past, present, and future, paying particular attention to the politics and material conditions surrounding construction work. In response to those who argue that today's labor shortages in the construction industry are the result of societal preferences, Erlich points to the decades-long degradation of construction work, including declining pay and protections. Fix those and you'll solve the labor problem.

Direct download: Hindenburg_Final_Episode_Mark_Erlich_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:03pm EDT

In this month's episode, guest Chelsea Schields discusses oil refining and intimacy, illuminating the social ties and affective attachments engendered by oil in the Dutch islands of Aruba and Curaçao. Known today for their gorgeous beaches and sunny weather that attract tourists year-round, during the mid-twentieth century these islands were home to some of the largest oil refineries in the world. Along the way, we cover topics such as  the role of race and gender in structuring labor relations; inter and intra imperial politics; migration; anti-colonial and anti-welfare movements; the 'offshore'; and much much more. 

Direct download: Hindenburg_Final_Episode_Shields.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:53pm EDT

When it was completed in 1914, the Panama Canal nearly halved the travel time between the U.S. West Coast and Europe and revolutionized trade and travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It’s construction, overseen by the U.S. government-Isthmian Canal Commission (ICC), has long been hailed as a marvel of American ingenuity. Less well-known was the project’s dependence on the labor of Black migrant women. In this episode, Joan Flores-Villalobos demonstrates how Black West Indian women’s intimate lives and labor were at the center of the Panama Canal’s construction, explaining how they built a provisioning economy that proved critical to the canal’s development and the maintenance of the West Indian diaspora.

Direct download: Final_Episode_Joan_Flores-Villalobos_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:04am EDT

In this month's episode, Christy Thornton discusses the surprising influence of post-revolutionary Mexico on some of the twentieth century's most important international economic institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Triangulating between archives in Mexico, the United States, and Great Britain, Thornton traces how Mexican officials repeatedly led the charge among Third World nations campaigning for greater representation within and redistribution through multilateral institutions created to promote international development and finance. In doing so, she recovers the crucial role played by Mexican economists, diplomats, and politicians in shaping global economic governance and U.S. hegemony during the mid-twentieth century.

Direct download: Final_Episode_Thornton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:44pm EDT

This month, we welcomed Jennifer Mittelstadt back to the show, joined by Mark Wilson, to discuss their new edited volume, The Military and the Market. Moving beyond familiar topics like defense spending, the volume takes an expansive approach to examining military-market relations in a wide range of contexts--from family business in the Civil War to managing post-World War II housing construction for U.S. soldiers and their families, and much more. Alongside Jennifer and Mark, listeners will hear from Kara Dixon Vuic, whose chapter explores the U.S. military's managment of markets for sex. Taken together, The Military and the Market challenges scholars and military policymakers alike to really grapple with the breadth and complexity of U.S. military-market relations over the course of two centuries.

Direct download: Final_Episode_Military_and_the_Market.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:36pm EDT

In this episode, historian Allan Lumba explores how the United States wielded monetary authority in the colonial Philippines, including the role of money as a tool for countering decolonization, entrenching racial and class hierarchies, and directing the profits of colonialism towards the U.S. and Wall Street, in particular, with long-lasting consequences for Filipinos and Americans still dealing with the aftermath of what Lumba calls conditional decolonization.

Direct download: Final_Episode_Allan_Lumba.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:46pm EDT

This month’s episode takes listeners back in time to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a time of significant labor unrest. At the time, employers, often with government support, went to great lengths to put down dissent, including employing violent tactics such as whippings, kidnappings, shootings, and imprisonment. Among those that helped to spear-head this violent suppression of workers and their allies were groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Law & Order Leagues, and Citizens Alliances. Though usually discussed separately, all of these groups used similar language to tar their lower-class challengers as menacing villains and deployed comparable tactics to suppress them. Calling into question a narrative of business management in this period centered on the adoption of scientific management principles and welfare capitalism, Pearson illuminates the repressive, and often terrifying, tactics undergirding industrial-labor relations at the turn of the 20th century.

Direct download: Final_Episode_Chad_Pearson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:57pm EDT

This month’s episode picks up on a theme previously explored on the podcast: international finance.  Drawing on a broad range of German, English, Japanese, and Chinese sources, Ghassan Moazzin traces the rise of foreign banking in China during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a period that saw a dramatic increase in international trade and investment in the country. Particular attention is paid to the role of foreign banks in integrating China into global financial markets, including marketing China's sovereign debt, and their involvement in the 1911 Revolution and other events in modern Chinese history.

Direct download: Ghassan_Moazzin_Final_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:40pm EDT

In this month's episode, Claire Dunning explains how and why non-profits came to play such an important role in U.S. cities after World War II. In doing so, she explores the emergence of non-profit neighborhoods amid various changes in urban policy, starting with urban renewal and continuing through the War on Poverty and the rise of community development corporations. While acknowledging all of the important work done by non-profits, the book also draws attention to a central paradox of our reliance on non-profits to address a range of social issues: the dramatic expansion in non-profits has coincided with rising poverty and inequality, rather than their eradication. 

Direct download: Claire_Dunning_Final_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:58am EDT

In this episode, Mircea Raianu traces the rise of the Tata Group, one of India's largest and oldest companies, from its early days involved in cotton and opium trading to multinational conglomerate invested in everything from salt to software, and, notably, steel. Among the topics discussed, include Tata’s involvement with colonial and anti-colonial developments; international networks of finance capital and scientific management; and Cold War geopolitics. Ultimately, Raianu offers a model for how to study global capitalism in the global South, explicating Tata’s connections to the world and India, while also avoiding the traps of exoticism and over generalization.

Direct download: Mircea_Raianu_Final_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:10pm EDT

This month's episode centers Samoa, including the Pacific islands comprising the present-day independent country of Samoa and American Samoa, examining capitalism, globalization, and coconut colonialism at the turn of the 20th century. In doing so, it pays close attention to the lives of workers, including plantation laborers, ethnographic edutainers, and service workers, revealing how Samoans navigated colonialism and capitalism, contesting exploitative labor conditions, while, at the same time, articulating their own forms of Oceanian globality.

Direct download: Holger_Droessler_Hindenburg_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:47am EDT

In 2020, George Floyd was killed by police outside a store in Minneapolis known as “the best place to buy menthols.” Of Black Americans who smoke, eighty-percent smoke menthol cigarettes. In this episode, Keith Wailoo explores the history of menthol cigarettes and their marketing to Black Americans. In doing so, he ties together the history of tobacco companies and the disproportionate number of Black deaths at the hands of police violence, COVID-19, and other forms of racial violence and exploitation, giving new meaning to the cry: “I can’t breathe.” 

Direct download: Hindenburg_-_Final_Episode_-_Keith_Wailoo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:26pm EDT

This month's episode takes a deep dive into the history of work and automation in the post-World War II era. It traces the discourse around automation from its origins in the factory to its wide-ranging implications in political and social life. Countering automation's proponents, who prophesize that robots will soon replace human labor, Jason Resnikoff reveals how the automation discourse has tended to obscure the human beings who continue to labor, often in sped up and intensified manners, alongside machines.

Direct download: Hindenburg_Final_Episode_Jason_Resnikoff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01am EDT

This month's episode focuses on a popular commodity, namely rubber. Despite consuming a large share of the world's rubber supply, the United States has long relied on the global market to meet American demand for rubber. During the early twentieth-century, this dependence on foreign rubber led the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company to the West African nation of Liberia, where the company built one of the largest rubber plantations in the world. What follows is a tale of land expropriation, medical racism, and corporate power that stretches from the 1920s to the 2020s.

Direct download: Hindenburg_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00pm EDT

Indebtedness, like inequality, has become a ubiquitous condition in and beyond the United States. Yet few have probed American cities’ dependence on municipal debt. Focusing on San Francisco, this month's guest, Destin Jenkins, traces the evolving relationship between cities, bondholders, banks, and municipal debt from the Great Depression to the 1980s. In doing so, he sheds new light on the power arrangement at the center of municipal finance, and offers some suggestions on how to contest it.

Direct download: Hindenburg_Final_Episode_Destin_Jenkins_-_smallest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:10pm EDT

It is no secret that the United States is facing a crisis with regards to higher education. In this month's episode, historian Elizabeth Tandy Shermer explains the long history that gave rise to the current situation in which many institutions are struggling financially, while students and their parents are often the ones left to pay the bill with the help of loans.

Direct download: Elizabeth_Tandy_Shermer_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:54am EDT

Building on and complicating recent scholarship on slavery and capitalism, Justene Hill Edwards takes listeners on a journey through the slaves' economy. From bustling urban marketplaces to back-country roads, she highlights the myriad ways enslaved people participated in South Carolina's economy from colonialism to the Civil War. In doing so, she never loses sight of the limitations of the slaves’ economy, revealing how enslaved peoples’ investments in capitalism, while providing temporary relief, ultimately benefited the very people who denied them freedom.

Direct download: Hindenburg_Final_Episode_Justene_Hill_Edwards.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52pm EDT

For many Americans, the question--What is a dollar worth?--may sound bizarre, if not redundant. Fluctuating international exchange rates, highly volatile crypto-currencies, counterfeit money, these are all things the average American hears about on the news, but rarely thinks about on a day-to-day basis. Even the most enthusiastic Bitcoin supporters will likely readily admit they prefer to conduct the majority of their daily transactions in a currency whose value is relatively stable, and backed by the government. And while fewer and fewer of those transactions take place using actual paper money, the fact is, the U.S. dollar remains the primary currency in which goods are quoted, traded, and payments settled across not only in the United States, but around the globe.

This was not the case two-hundred years ago when Americans were obliged to live and transact in a world filled with upwards of 10,000 unique bank notes tied to different banks of various trustworthiness. This number does not even include the plethora of counterfeit bills and countless shinplasters issued by un-regulated merchants, firms, and municipalities. In this month’s episode, our guest, Joshua Greenberg explains the incredible amount of monetary knowledge required of Americans to participate in this highly volatile and chaotic market economy. An extensive monetary knowledge was necessary not just for financiers, merchants, and others operating at a high-level of economic activity, but also those who may never have had the occasion to step foot inside a bank themselves, but, nevertheless were compelled to constantly evaluate for themselves the value and authenticity of the paper money being handed to them or risk losing out.

Direct download: Hindenburg_Final_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:05pm EDT

Today, healthcare workers account for the largest percentage of U.S. workers. Yet, their power pales in comparison to the unionized industrial workforce that preceded them, and whom it is their job now to care for. In this episode, Gabriel Winant explains how these two worlds--the post-war industrial economy and the post-industrial service economy--came together in 'Steel City, USA,' where during the late twentieth century the healthcare economy emerged to take advantage of the social hierarchies engendered by the American welfare state.

Direct download: Winant_Hindenburg_File_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:27pm EDT

Despite the rising cost of tuition and a recent slump in college enrollment, many Americans continue to look to education to improve their social and economic status. Yet, more and more degrees have not led to reduced levels of inequality. Rather, quite the opposite. Inequality remains the highest its been in decades. In this episode, Cristina Groeger delves into the history of this seeming contradiction, explaining how education came to be seen as a panacea even as it paved the way for deepening inequality. Starting in the late 19th century—at time when few Americans attended college, let alone high school—she explores how schooling came to be associated with work. For some, especially women and immigrants, education offered new pathways into jobs previously held by white, native-born men. The idea that more education should be the primary means of reducing inequality, however, fails adequately account for the experience of many Americans and indeed is, Groeger argues, a dangerous policy trap. If we want a more equitable society, we should not just prescribe more time in the classroom, but fight for justice in the workplace.

Direct download: Hindenburg_Working_File_Groeger_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:57pm EDT

In this episode, labor historian Ronald Schatz speaks about the National War Labor Board. Recruited by the government to help resolve union-management conflicts during World War II, many of the labor board vets went on to have long and illustrious careers negotiating conflicts in a wide-range of sectors from the steel industry to public sector unionism. Some were recruited to mitigate unrest on college and university campuses in response to student unrest. While not a traditional labor history, the history of the labor board vets is one worth paying attention to both for what it tells us about past efforts to arbitrate labor-management conflicts, and what could be in store amid future conflicts. 

Direct download: Hindenburg_File_Ron_Schatz_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38pm EDT

The history of red-lining is one increasingly well-known within and beyond the academy. In the 1930s, as part of an attempt to shore up the struggling economy by underwriting home mortgages, the government’s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC), developed a series of guidelines and criteria for assessing the risk of lending in urban areas. HOLC criteria drew heavily on the racial logics employed by lenders, developers, and real estate appraisers. Thus, “A-rated” neighborhoods, those associated with the least risk for banks and mortgage lenders, tended to be exclusively white. While, “D”-rated areas, deemed the most-risky, included large numbers of black and/or other non-white residents. These neighborhoods were color-coded red on HOLC maps, hence the term red-lining. They were often denied home loans.

HOLC and redlining had a dramatic effect on American cities with consequences lasting to the present day. Yet, the image of the HOLC’s color-coded maps suggests a more static relationship between lending and urban America than actually existed. In today’s episode, Rebecca Marchiel tells a more complex and nuanced story of white and black community activists who engaged with the federal government and banks in an effort to expose redlining—in its multiple forms—and imprint their own “financial common sense” on banking. In doing so, she undercuts notions that the reality depicted in HOLC’s maps was set in stone by the 1960s, when residents in Chicago’s West Side first became suspicious that they had become victims of red-lining, while at the same time revealing the alternative models of financing proposed by community activists in the urban reinvestment movement.

Direct download: Hindenburg_File_Rebecca_Marchiel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:17pm EDT

It is common these days to bemoan the amount of personal information companies like Amazon, Facebook, and other modern telecommunications goliaths collect about us. For many, this invasion of privacy exists as a necessary consequence of our growing dependence on the internet. With every click of the mouse—making it possible to have products manufactured half-way around the world delivered to our doorstep—there is a reluctant awareness of the risk that our private lives might be made public.

That sense of the potential of our private lives being made public is all the more real when we acknowledge the human beings at the center of these information networks. Our modern service economy relies on people whose jobs involve an intimate awareness of our daily lives—the Amazon delivery person who brings us toilet paper, the barista who procures for us our morning coffee and knows whether we prefer cream or almond milk; the data analyst who knows what new titillating show we’re watching  and uses that information to sell us on the latest product. Our desire for on-demand services is satisfied through these people having access to information about us, all the more so amid the ongoing pandemic. Katie Hindmarch-Watson has spent many years thinking about the human labor involved in making a service economy. In Serving a Wired World: London's Telecommunication Workers and the Making of an Information Capital, she shows how concerns about privacy and information were at the center Victorian-era London’s telecommunications industry centered around the telegraph and telephone: the internet of its day. In doing so, she takes us on a journey involving telegraph boys ensnared in homosexual scandal and wicked telephone girls suspected of interrupting connections, all the while revealing the intimate and bodied labor that made (an) information capital.

Direct download: Katie_Hindmarch-Watson_Final_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:05pm EDT

In this episode, Shennette Garrett-Scott explores black financial innovation and its transformative impact on U.S. capitalism through the story of the St. Luke Bank in Richmond, Virginia: the first and only bank run by black women. Garrett-Scott chronicles both the bank’s success and the challenges this success wrought, including shedding light on the bureaucratic violence that targeted St. Luke's and other black banks. Through the St. Luke Bank, Garrett-Scott gives black women in finance the attention they deserve.

Direct download: Episode_Shennette_Garret-Scott-Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:55am EDT

The history of capitalism in Egypt has long been synonymous with cotton cultivation and dependent development. In Egypt's Occupation: Colonial Economism and the Crisis of Capitalism, Aaron Jakes challenges longstanding conceptions of Egypt as peripheral to global capitalism through revealing the country's role as a laboratory for colonial economism and financial innovation amid the turn of the twentieth-century boom and bust. In doing so, Jakes offers a sweeping reinterpretation of both the historical geography of capitalism in Egypt and the role of political-economic thought during Britain's occupation of Egypt. 

Direct download: Aaron_Jakes_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:46am EDT

The history of globalization is one that has often been told as a story of elites. There are a number of truths to this narrative. Yet, as Casey Lurtz shows, it also ignores some things. In From the Grounds Up: Building an Export Economy in Southern Mexico, Lurtz tells the history of how a border region, the Soconusco, became  Mexico’s leading coffee exporter. She does so not by focusing on the Mexican politicians and foreign capitalists who came to the Soconusco with dreams of grandeur. Rather, as the title suggest, Lurtz digs below the surface of these visions to reveal the role played by local people in the dual projects of economic liberalism and globalization.

Direct download: Hindenburg_File_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:08pm EDT

Thanks to the work of activists and intellectuals like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jamelle Bouie, Black peoples’ demand for reparations have garnered growing attention among politicians, business leaders, university officials, and journalists. For those that argue that reparations are not possible or that too much time has passed, today’s guest has an important story to tell about a formerly enslaved woman named Henrietta Wood who sued for restitution in 1870 and won; paid $2,500, what is likely the largest sum ever awarded by a court in the United States in restitution for slavery. Wood’s story, which crosses multiple boundaries between lower and upper South, the antebellum and postbellum period, blurring the distinctions between, offers us valuable lessons about the history of slavery and freedom, and the lengths that different people went to in order to achieve both. More importantly, Henrietta Wood raises the question once again on people’s lips: what is owed to the formerly enslaved and their descendants? And demonstrates that such restitution is long overdue.

Direct download: Hindenburg_File_MP3_File.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:36am EDT

Many of us are familiar with the negative health effects of coffee, which include insomnia, nervousness, upset stomach, and increased heart rate. Yet, this hasn’t seemed to stop many Americans from reaching for a cup, or two or three, of coffee to help them make it through the day. One estimate puts coffee consumption in the United States at 400 million cups of coffee a day, or more than 140 billion cups a year, making the United States the world’s leading consumer of coffee. Yet, for all the coffee we consumer, we spend little time thinking about how this reliance affects the people who make it.

Augustine Sedgewick seeks to change that with his new book, Coffeeland: One Man’s Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug. Starting with coffee’s origins in the Middle East, he reveals how coffee spread to Europe and the New World alongside European imperialism, transforming whole societies in the process. Moving forward in time, he explains how the United States used its status as a consumer of coffee to expand its influence in the hemisphere. All in all, the story told here is about much more than coffee, integrating histories of labor, food, business, and imperialism to reveal how global capitalism creates disconnections, as well as connections.

Direct download: Hindenburg_File_Sedgewick.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:21pm EDT

It will come as little surprise to most listeners that America’s metropolitan areas are racially segregated and unequal. While the suburbs surrounding American cities tend to be relatively affluent and white, many urban areas, especially those with large non-white populations, remain under-resourced and under-served in comparison to their white suburban counterparts. Even as gentrification and other forces have increasingly forced poorer non-white residents to seek housing on the city’s periphery, suburbs continue to be associated with wealth and whiteness.

Existing explanations for this political geography tend to focus on governmental policies and consumer behavior during the time period spanning the New Deal through World War II and the immediate post-war period. Once considered obscure academic parlance, terms like red-lining, white flight, and government-backed mortgages now regularly appear as part of popular discussions of housing inequality. While not refuting the importance of these events, Paige Glotzer situates American suburbs in a longer history of exclusionary practices dating back to the 19th century. In doing so, she also ties the American suburb to a broader history of racial capitalism and white settler colonialism.

Paige Glotzer is Assistant Professor & John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Chair in the History of American Politics, Institutions, and Political Economy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of How the Suburbs Were Segregated: Developers and the Business of Exclusionary Housing 1890-1960

Direct download: WMC_Paige_Glotzer_Final_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:34pm EDT

We’ve all heard the statistics regarding Americans and fast food. According to the National Health and Nutrition Survey, one third of Americans consumed fast food on any given day. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the fast food industry employed nearly 3.8 million Americans, many in minimum wage jobs. Not everyone has the same relationship with fast food. In this episode, we speak with Marcia Chatelain about  the dramatic impact one fast food company, McDonald’s, has had on black communities and black politics over the last half century. In doing so, she provides us with fresh insight on the relationship between fast food, race, and American capitalism.

Marcia Chatelain is a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor of history and African American studies at Georgetown University. She is the author of Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America.

Direct download: Marcia_Chatelain_MP3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:33am EDT

David and Alex are retiring from the show! But a new host is joining to take the reins. Listen to hear the founding co-hosts reflect on the past six years of the show and to meet our new host, Jessica Levy.

Direct download: TransitionEpisode.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:50pm EDT

Today, we have a special episode. We speak to Zach Carter about COVID-19 and Keyesnianism. Zach is the author of the upcoming book The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes. 

On Wednesday March 18th, he published an op-ed on Keynes's ideas for today.

If you like this episode, please donate to Mariame Kaba's redistribution, mutual aid fund: https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8npOgwIczH

Zach Carter is a senior reporter at HuffPost, where he covers Congress, the White House, and economic policy. He is a frequent guest on cable news and news radio, and his written work has also appeared in The New Republic, The Nation, and The American Prospect, among other outlets. His story, “Swiped: Banks, Merchants and Why Washington Doesn’t Work for You” was included in the Columbia Journalism Review’s compilation Best Business Writing. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Direct download: Zach_Carter_on_Keynesianism_and_COVID_19.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:37pm EDT

Dara Orenstein on the Economic Geography of Warehouses

If you’re like many people throughout the country and world, you’ve purchased something on Amazon. As a result, you’ve been incorporated into a set of supply chain relationships that inevitably pass through warehouses. On this episode, we return to topic we’ve discussed in past episodes—how logistics shapes capitalism. We speak to Dara Orenstein about the history of bonded warehouses specifically and foreign trade zones. We consider how taxes, tariffs, and legal locations have been a critical component in many of the products we buy and make.

Dara Orenstein is an Associate Professor of American Studies at George Washington University. She is author of Out of Stock: The Warehouse in the History of Capitalism 

Direct download: Dara_Orenstein_on_Warehouses.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:46pm EDT

Often, analyses of the intersections between race and capitalism consider how capitalism harms dispossessed communities of color because excluding or neglecting them is profitable. But what if serving those communities could be both very profitable and very damaging to the people in them? We speak with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor about what she calls “predatory inclusion,” in which financial institutions and real estate interests sought to build black homeownership. In the process, they reaped tremendous profits and devastated the lives of black homeowners.

Direct download: Keeanga_Yamhatta_Taylor.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:58pm EDT

Eileen Boris on the Construct of the Woman Worker

What is work? Who are workers? Which activities are considered work, and which ones are excluded? These questions are some of the most critical questions in political and economic analysis. And how they are answered—both personally and by political institutions—is vital to how people spend their time and thus their lives.

On this episode, we investigate this question specifically through the international debates about the “woman worker” as a unique kind of worker. To do this, Eileen Boris looks at the International Labor Organization—the international body, now housed in the United Nations—that sets global labor standards. She investigates how the ILO has considered this issue across their 100 year history.

Eileen Boris is the Hull Professor and Distinguished Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. She is author of Making the Woman Worker Precarious Labor and the Fight for Global Standards, 1919-2019.

Direct download: Eileen_Boris_on_Making_the_Woman_Worker.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:23pm EDT

Students in U.S. history surveys come away from their lessons on World War I with one conflict fresh in their minds: How could Woodrow Wilson, a president who advocated segregation and famously screened the racist film Birth of a Nation in the White House, also have been an architect of the League of Nations and a champion of the self-determination of colonized people in Africa and Asia?

In this episode, we speak with Adom Getachew, who casts Wilson in a different light. She argues that the people who developed ideas of self-determination were instead anti-colonial elites from colonized nations. Wilson worked against their aims and tried to reestablish racial hierarchies and white dominance. These anti-colonial thinkers fought for decolonization as a means to fight global white supremacy and capitalist exploitation of the global South


Direct download: Adom_Getachew.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 9:04pm EDT

Nan Enstad on Multinational Cigarette Corporations and Jim Crow Capitalism


The multinational corporation is a pervasive institution. For example, it’s nearly impossible to listen to this show without interacting with one. But what is the history of this thing we call the multinational corporation? And who gets to count as its constituents?


Today, we investigate this topic and how it has been shaped by cigarettes—from the workers who grew the tobacco to those who governed the tobacco companies. And we discuss what this history can tell us about race, gender, region and geography.


Our guest is Nan Enstad. Nan is the Robinson Edwards Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, an affiliate of the Gender and Women’s Studies Department and the Afro-American Studies Department, and the current Director of the UW Food Studies Network. She is. the author of Cigarettes Inc.: An Intimate History of Corporate Imperialism.

When we talk about the 1973 energy crisis, we tend to cast it as a moment when Americans questioned assumptions about how the domestic economy worked and the U.S. role in the global economy. We don’t always spend as much time thinking about why the crisis happened, or what it represented in the Global South. OPEC’s decision to cut production and raise prices stemmed from a longer history of anti-colonial activists demanding a fundamental change in how the global economy operated. As countries with oil reserves pushed out colonial powers, local elites demanded sovereignty over their new nation’s political life but also over their natural resources.

Today we speak with Chris Dietrich, who tells us about the longer history of anti-colonial elite thinking about oil, which culminated in what we in the U.S. tend to call the 1973 “energy crisis.”

Direct download: ChrisDietrich.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 10:58am EDT

We’ve just ended pride month and both the victories and limits of GLBT politics were on view. In San Francisco, protesters engaged in civil disobedience action against the growing corporatization of pride. Activists in San Francisco and elsewhere questioned the role of police in pride, emphasizing that “Stonewall was a riot.”


Our guest today traverses these debates by emphasizing the politics of LGBT families. She documents the rapidly changing political landscape over the past two decades and what this has to do with the history of capitalism during this period.


Liz Montegary is an Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Stony Brook University in New York. She is the author of Familiar Perversions

The Racial, Sexual, and Economic Politics of LGBT Families.

Direct download: Liz_Monetagry_on_the_Political_Economy_of_LGBT_Families.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:06pm EDT

We talk a lot about logistics on this show – the industries, like Amazon or FedEx, that have made fortunes managing the movement of goods from one place to another. Logistics companies undergird the globalized economy, making it possible for companies to benefit from low wages and labor abuses in the global South by moving finished products quickly and cheaply to markets all over the world. Our guest today explains how dock workers have been another force enabling the global economy to function and examines the power they wield even in the era of the container ship.

Direct download: PeterCole.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 2:33pm EDT

The Me Too movement has brought much needed attention to sexual violence and harassment both in and outside the workplace. It has challenged patriarchal norms and practices and illuminated entrenched power hierarchies. It also drew strength from longer struggles against the many manifestations of patriarchal power.


On this month’s show, we speak to Bernice Yeung about how some of the U.S.’s most precarious workers experienced and have fought back against workplace sexual violence. She takes us into office buildings and farm fields. And she shares lessons about what can be done to overcome the epidemic of sexual violence across our society.


Bernice Yeung is an award-winning journalist for Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. She was a 2015–2016 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Mother Jones, and The Guardian, as well as on KQED Public Radio and PBS Frontline, and she is the author of In a Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers. She lives in Berkeley, California.

Amazon's withdrawal from New York City has sparked big conversations about companies' impact on urban space, but less attention has been paid to the fact that, as logistics companies, corporations like Amazon have a particular spatial impact. Juan De Lara discusses how the logistics economy has remade urban regions and racial politics since the 1980s. 

Direct download: JuanDeLara.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In major cities across the country, skyrocketing rents and housing prices have pushed out workers and everyday people who are no longer able to afford the cost of living. In Los Angeles, this has led to a spike in homelessness and the increased precarity that comes from living on the streets. Since 2017, at least 1200 homeless people in LA have died, many from treatable illnesses like cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, and diabetes. What are some of the causes and solutions to this housing crisis?


On today’s episode we speak to Randy Shaw about his new book Generation Priced Out. In this book, Randy poses the question: “who gets to live in the new urban America? He takes us through the political, economic, and generational dynamics of the struggle for housing, both how it is, and how it could be better.


Randy Shaw is Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, San Francisco’s leading provider of housing for homeless single adults. His previous books include The Activist’s Handbook: Winning Social Change in the 21st Century; Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century; and The Tenderloin: Sex, Crime, and Resistance in the Heart of San Francisco.

Direct download: Randy_Shaw_on_the_Housing_Affordability_Crisis.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:28pm EDT

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.

Direct download: Gavin_Banke_on_Enron_and_the_Neoliberal_Era.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:17pm EDT

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.

Direct download: LouisHyman.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:23pm EDT

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.

Direct download: DevinFergus_-_10318_11.16_PM.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:35am EDT

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.


We’re grateful to the UCSD Black Studies Project, Scholars for Social Justice, and all the people who worked on the events, especially Dayo Gore, Sarah Haley, and Prudence Cumberbatch.

Direct download: Special_Episode_on_Intersectionality_and_Capitalism.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:42pm EDT

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.

Direct download: LeZotte_-_72618_2.12_PM.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:06am EDT

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

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.

Direct download: 7_Cheap_Things.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 11:07pm EDT

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 EDT

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.

Direct download: Malcolm_Harris_-_4118_4.44_PM.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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 EDT

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.

Direct download: MelindaCooper_-_2618_5.38_PM.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:44pm EDT

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:

A Tragic Story of Cheap Food, Cheap Government, and Cheap Lives.

Direct download: Bryant_Simon_on_the_Hamlet_Fire_and_the_Politics_of_Chicken.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:20pm EDT

Popular discussions of U.S. politics often distinguish "social" issues from "economic" issues. Laura Briggs shows us how looking at recent U.S. history through the lens of reproductive politics challenges this division.

Direct download: LauraBriggs.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:09am EDT

Since the most recent election, we’ve heard a lot of news about the so-called working class. But all too often, this term seems to refer to white men instead of the diverse group of people who actually comprise the working class. Similarly, in the years since the 2008 recession, more and more attention has been given economic inequality that has grown ever larger over the past few decades. On today’s show, we speak with Lane Windham about union organizing in the 1970s and how these efforts reveal necessary context to understanding the many struggles of the actual working class, and what this history can reveal about the growth of economic inequality since the 1970s.


Lane Windham is Associate Director of Georgetown University's Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor and co-director of WILL Empower (Women Innovating Labor Leadership). She is the author of Knocking on Labor’s Door: Union Organizing in the 1970s and the Roots of a New Economic Divide.

Direct download: Lane_Windham__on_Union_Organizing_in_the_1970s.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:09pm EDT

Before Amazon bought Whole Foods, the shopping chain got its start as an activist business more focused on politics than profits. Join us to discuss the rise and fall of activist small business in last third of the twentieth century.

Direct download: JoshDavis.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 2:32pm EDT

It has become well known that none of those most responsible for the 2008 recession have faced significant prosecutions or gone to prison for their actions. But one bank did face a severe prosecution in the wake of the recession. On today’s show, we speak to Steve James, the director of a new film about Abacus bank—a small bank that serves New York’s Chinatown community, and how they found themselves facing a harsh prosecution, and how they fought back.  

Direct download: Steve_James_on_Abacus_Bank.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:10pm EDT

We often talk about "economic conservatism" and "social conservatism," as if they're entirely divorced topics. Emily Hobson tells us about gay and lesbian activists from the 1960s through the 1990s who understood sexuality and anti-capitalism to be inextricably linked.

Direct download: Hobson.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30pm EDT

In Nancy MacLean’s new book—Democracy in Chainsshe unveils a long history of efforts by right-wing officials and intellectuals to undermine democracy. She foregrounds the importance of the economist James Buchanan to this story. She shows us the historical context of how Buchanan came to be a key intellectual for those opposing school desegregation, unionization of workers, and much more.


Nancy MacLean is the William Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University and the award-winning author of Behind the Mask of Chivalry and Freedom is Not Enough.

Direct download: Nancy_MacLean_on_the_Radical_Right_and_James_Buchanan.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT

Why do budgetary crises tend to lead to politicians and business leaders calling for governments to tighten their purse strings? How can we understand austerity as politics, not just common business sense? This week, we welcome back Kim Phillips-Fein to discuss her new book, Fear City, on the fiscal crisis in New York City in the 1970s. 

Direct download: PhillipsFeinFINAL.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 7:21am EDT

The name John Maynard Keynes is an important one in the history of economic thought. Keynes’s ideas became popular between during the interwar period, between World War I and II, as many sought to navigate the tumult of social and political upheaval elicited by World War I and the Great Depression. But our guest today, traces a longer tradition of a Keynesian sensibility—characterized by the need to maintain society—that goes back more than 100 years before this period to the French Revolution.

We speak to Geoff Mann about his new book, that considers what this Keynesian sensibility might be able to tell us about our current moment, the rise of Donald Trump, and the potential for revolutionary struggles. Geoff also wants us to understand the importance for Keynesian thinking for the dual crises afflicting so many today: economic inequality and climate change.


Geoff Mann is Director of the Centre for Global Political Economy, Simon Fraser University. He is the author of Disassembly Required: A Field Guide to Actually Existing Capitalism and Our Daily Bread: Wages, Workers and the Political Economy of the American West, and In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Keynesianism, Political Economy, and Revolution.

In our first interview with a novelist, we speak with Jennifer Haigh about Heat & Light, her novel about fracking in rural Pennsylvania.

Direct download: JenniferHaigh.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:36pm EDT

The 1980s were a time of transformation for workers across the U.S., and flight attendants were on the front line of the struggles of the era, as they saw the impacts of deregulation, the breaking of the air-traffic controllers union, and the rising power of stockholders over everyday management of firms.

Our guest today, Ryan Murphy, shows how all of the elements coalesced with broader changes in sexual and gender relations. Murphy’s history of flight attendant activism shows how important it is to see all these elements working together. Both workers and bosses had different conceptions of the family, which each group tried to utilize to achieve their goals.

Ryan Patrick Murphy—a former San Francisco-based flight attendant for United Airlines and Council Representative for Association of Flight Attendants-CWA Council 11—is Assistant Professor of History and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. He is author of Deregulating Desire.

Direct download: Ryan_Murphy_on_Flight_Attendant_Activism.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:08pm EDT

How does the fact that banks do not have to make their services accessible for all of us impact ordinary people? Why should we see banks as institutions that must be accountable to the public, and what would change in American life if we did? Listen to find out!

Direct download: MehrsaBaradaran.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:08pm EDT

In April, the high volume leak of the Panama Papers revealed an often unseen world of money and power. The leak of 11.5 million files came from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which helps facilitate movement of money across accounts and borders, frequently with the goal of evading taxation and legal judgments. The leak placed the financial dealings of global celebrities and politicians, including Simon Cowell and Pedro Almodovar, under scrutiny. Vladimir Putin, though unnamed in the leak was connected to upwards of $2 billion of assets. And the revelations provoked such controversy for the Prime Minister of Iceland that he was forced to resign.

While the celebrity names got a good deal of the headlines, firms like Mossack Fonseca are instrumental to the creation of offshore tax havens. Our guest today, Brooke Harrington, set out to understand this world and the people who make it possible. She studied to become a wealth manager, so as to learn about the world of the global elite and how this labor force has contributed to global inequality. This study took her to 18 countries. And it offers a rare insight into the processes by which a small set of people control a good deal of the world’s assets. Like the Panama Papers, this research documents a world that is, as Brooke puts it, technically legal, but socially illegitimate.

Brooke Harrington is Associate Professor of Sociology at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. You can find out more about Capital without Borders here.

Direct download: Brooke_Harrington_on_Wealth_Managers_and_the_1.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:59pm EDT

Why is health care in the United States so expensive? Why does the United States find it so difficult to provide quality, affordable health care to most of its citizens? What is the relationship among the government, doctors, and insurance companies? Christy Chapin explains how insurance companies became so central to the provision of health care in the United States.

Direct download: ChristyChapin.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 10:29pm EDT

The recent years since the 2008 recession have seen a growth of protest movements. Sarah Jaffe’s book, Necessary Trouble, describes how people have been fighting back against bank bailouts, budget cuts, police brutality, and much more. Today, we reflect on this recent history of capitalism and what it might indicate about the future.

Sarah Jaffe is a Nation Institute fellow and an independent journalist covering labor, economic justice, social movements, politics, gender, and pop culture. Her work has appeared in The Nation, Salon, the Week, the American Prospect, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and many other publications. She is the co-host, with Michelle Chen, of Dissent magazine’s Belabored podcast, as well as an editorial board member at Dissent and a columnist at New Labor Forum. Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt is her first book.

Direct download: Sarah_Jaffe_on_Social_Movements.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:22pm EDT

LaShawn Harris discusses how black women in the early twentieth century engaged in the informal economy - performing work that wasn't entirely legal - to get by and get ahead.

Direct download: LaShawnHarris.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Who owns the U.S. public debt? Why is it such an important commodity in global capitalism? Why does public debt provoke such intense political debate? And how can the quantitative data on the ownership structure of public debt provide insights into these topics? Our guest today, Sandy Hager reveals answers to all of these questions and more.

Sandy Brian Hager is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. He is author of Public Debt, Inequality, and Power: The Making of a Modern Debt State.

Direct download: Sandy_Hager_on_Public_Debt_and_Inequality.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 11:20am EDT

Direct download: Amsterdam.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 9:39pm EDT

Neoliberalism. It is a vexing term, especially for many in the United States. But it means to call attention to the policies that emphasized so-called free markets as well as the increased market regulation of society since the 1970s. Few texts have been as important for popularizing the analysis of the politics and economics of neoliberalism as David Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Published a little more than decade ago, we decided to speak with him about his important book and his reflections about the past decade’s political economy, and what has changed and what has not since the great recession.

David Harvey is a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), and the Director of Research at the Center for Place, Culture and Politics.

Direct download: David_Harvey_on_a_Brief_History_of_Neoliberalism.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm EDT

The history of nursing is inextricable from the history of capitalism and imperialism. Our guest today, Sujani Reddy, helps us understand the history of nursing through the lives and experiences nurses who migrated to the U.S. from India, and what this reveals about gender, religion, and corporate philanthropy.


Sujani Reddy is Associate Professor of American Studies at SUNY Old Westbury. She is author of Nursing and Empire: Gendered Labor and Migration from India to the United States.

Direct download: Sujani_Reddy_Nursing_and_Empire.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:21pm EDT

Historian Sherene Seikaly uncovered a group of elite Palestinian men in 1930s and 1940s who articulated a national economic vision for Palestine before the founding of Israel. Listen to learn more about how debates about Palestinian independence from British rule hinged on pan-Arab ideas about class, trade, and profit during these decades in a story that moves beyond our contemporary understanding of Israel and Palestine.

Direct download: SeikalyFinal.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 11:10pm EDT

Few social justice struggles have captivated recent political history like the broad Black Lives Matter movement. From the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore to campaign rally interruptions of leading politicians, we have seen people speak up in outrage about injustices of policing, racist violence, wealth inequality and much more. What does this cycle of struggle have to do with the history of capitalism?

In addition to these questions, our guest today, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, asks "Can the conditions created by institutional racism be transformed within the existing capitalist order?”.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. Her book, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, was recently published by Haymarket Books.

Direct download: Keeanga-Yamahtta_Taylor_on_Black_Lives_Matter_and_Black_Liberation.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:18pm EDT

We've been hearing a lot about economist John Maynard Keynes' midcentury economic plans for the U.S. since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008. Are the measures that Keynes and FDR took to combat the Depression in 2008 relevant to the present? What is the difference between fiscal and monetary policy, and how might changing our national approach to the monetary supply help our economic circumstances? Listen to find out!

Direct download: Rauchway.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00pm EDT

What stories do we tell about finance? How does financial print culture shape our lives? Our guest today explores the narratives we have been told, and tell, about finance. A literary scholar, Leigh Claire La Berge writes about the representations of finance in years after 1979 and how many of the stories we tell about finance—that it is abstract and exceedingly complicated—took hold in this era.

Leigh Claire La Berge is Assistant Professor of English in the Department of English at BMCC CUNY. Her book Scandals and Abstraction: Financial Fiction of the Long 1980s was recently published by Oxford University Press. You can read more about her work here.

Direct download: 18_Episode_Leigh_Claire_La_Berge.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm EDT

Have you seen those Facebook memes floating around, arguing that we shouldn't support a $15 minimum wage for service sector workers because the military doesn't earn a living wage? Jennifer Mittelstadt tells us how these stark lines were drawn between the military and the civilian economy - and on how military welfare affects us all.

Direct download: JenniferMittelstadt.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32pm EDT

On this month’s episode, we talk to the journalist Mike Elk about a new group called Media Workers Unite and their “Louisville Statement of Media Workers Rights.” Media Workers Unite are creating a public conversation about the labor conditions of contemporary journalists, with an eye towards bettering these conditions.

Direct download: Mike_Elk_on_Media_Workers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:22pm EDT

Today’s guest discusses the history of sexuality in the workplace through the lens of male flight attendants. We speak with Phil Tiemeyer about the shifts and changes in the airline industry across the 20th century. Phil steers us through this history and reveals the importance and difficulty of braiding together race, gender, and sexuality in a study of the labor and capitalism.




Phil Tiemeyer is Associate Professor of History at Philadelphia University. He is author of Plane Queer: Labor, Sexuality, and AIDS in the History of Male Flight Attendants. You can read more about his work here.


Direct download: Phil_Tiemeyer-Podcast.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:01pm EDT

In July, we joined our friends from Dissent magazine's Belabored podcast to discuss the history of capitalism and how journalists and academics writing about labor and business can work together. Listen to the live recording of our show at 61 Local in Brooklyn, New York!

Direct download: LiveShow.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:39pm EDT

Today’s guest discusses the history of the coca leaf and the U.S. drug control regime. Amongst other topics, we discuss the importance of coca to both Coca-Cola and Merck and the pharmaceutical industry. For Suzanna Reiss, this provides a way to interpret the history of capitalism across the mid-twentieth century and after.




Suzanna Reiss is Associate Professor of History at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. She is author of We Sell Drugs: The Alchemy of US Empire. You can read more about her work here.




For our New York area listeners, we will be having a live conversation with our friends from Dissent Magazine’s Belabored Podcast.


On July 7th at 7 PM at 61 Local in Brooklyn (61 Bergen St.) we’ll be speaking with Belabored hosts Sarah Jaffe and Michelle Chen about the histories of labor and capitalism.


Direct download: Suzanna_Reiss_Podcast.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:01pm EDT

Today's guest discusses the history of aviation and how this provides a lens to interpret the history of capitalism and U.S. foreign relations across the twentieth century. Amongst other topics, Jenifer Van Vleck tells us how the airline industry helped solve various political and logistical challenges for the U.S. government during World War II and how the airlines relied on the government and vice-versa.


Jenifer Van Vleck is Assistant Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University. She is author of Empire of the Air: Aviation and the American Ascendancy. You can read more about her work here.


Direct download: Jenifer_Van_Vleck_Podcast.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:20pm EDT

Our guest today tells us that the seemingly straightforward field of logistics lies at the heart of contemporary globalization, imperialism, and economic inequality. Listen to Deb Cowen discuss how the field of logistics reshaped global capitalism, undermined worker power, and even transformed how we think about life and death.

Direct download: DebCowen.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 2:47pm EDT

Kim Phillips-Fein discusses her book Invisible Hands: The Businessmen's Crusade Against the New Deal.

Today we'll focus on the history of resistance to the New Deal. Kim Phillips-Fein details how many of the most prominent elites had their ideas and practices shaped by groups that were part of organized resistance to the New Deal. She argues that this history helps revise common understandings of the rise of conservatism in the 1970s and after.






Direct download: Kim_Phillips-Fein_Podcast.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 4:59pm EDT

Ever wonder what the Fed does and why? How are interest rates connected to how hard it is for you to find a job? We chat with economist Thomas Palley about how the Fed is a political institution that has betrayed its mandate to provide the highest possible rates of employment to American workers since the 1970s.

Direct download: ThomasPalley.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:54pm EDT

Christina Hanhardt discusses her book Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence.

Today we’ll focus on how the history of quality of life policing connects to the history of gay neighborhood politics. By looking at the gay neighborhoods in San Francisco and New York City, Christina Hanhardt will also shed light on what focusing on real estate, housing, violence, and the politics of place have to do with the history of capitalism.

Direct download: Christina_Hanhardt_med_quality.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am EDT

Ellie Shermer discusses her book Sunbelt Capitalism: Phoenix and the Transformation of American Politics.

On this episode, we speak to Ellie Shermer about how local elites in Phoenix crafted a "business climate" that made Pheonix hospitable to industry and shaped both the modern sunbelt and contemporary politics.

Direct download: Ellie_Shermer_podcast_-_12514_4.47_PM.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 5:07pm EDT

Andrew Needham discusses his new book, Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest

Power Lines shows that we can't think of the modern southwest without the energy that makes such places possible. Through this, he knits together a metropolitan geography that connects Phoenix with the places where it got its electricity--most prominently, coal from the Navajo Nation.

Direct download: Andrew_Needham_podcast_128_-_11_3_14.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 3:02pm EDT

N.D.B. Connolly discusses how examining the ownership of real estate in Miami changes our perspective on the history of capitalism and African American history in the twentieth century.

Ever wondered how real estate factors into American history? Curious about the impact of landlord-tenant struggles on the history of race in America? Listen to find out.

Direct download: NathanConnolly.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:43am EDT

David Huyssen discusses how examining encounters between the wealthy and the working class in Progressive Era New York City challenges our perception of the period's reform.

Ever wondered what to make of the now-common argument that we're living in a "new Gilded Age," characterized by tremendous gaps between rich and poor? Curious how the Progressive Era might be a cautionary tale for the present? Listen to find out.

Direct download: DavidHuyssenFINAL.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 8:10am EDT

Sarah Nicolazzo discusses how studying literature can shed light on the history of capitalism – and how the 18th century cultural and legal category of vagrancy shaped the development of labor markets.

Ever wondered about the longer history of police programs to push certain people out of public space - like L.A.'s Safer Cities Initiative or New York City's stop and frisk policy?  Curious how literature can shed light on the history of capitalism?  Want to know what Adam Smith has to do with the concept of vagrancy?  Listen to find out.

Direct download: SarahNicolazzoFINAL.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 6:24pm EDT

Julia Ott discusses how the majority of Americans came to be stock owners.

Ever wondered how stockowners came to be some of the most important players in American capitalism?  Why do so many Americans own stocks and bonds, and how did we all come to be investors?  Who benefits and who loses in our system of investment?  How does our system of "investor democracy" shape American lives?  Listen to find out.

Direct download: JuliaOtt.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 10:25pm EDT