Ezra Klein thinks constructively about Walmart

Neoliberal über-dweeb Ezra Klein just unleashed one of those “balanced” efforts on the controversies of the day that are so characteristic of his species: “Has Wal-Mart been good or bad?” The conclusion, it might not surprise you to learn: it’s “a complicated question to frame and a devilishly tough one to answer.” Drawing on—I’m not kidding—Reason editor “Peter Suderman’s 17-part Twitter defense of Wal-Mart,” Klein asserts that Walmart’s low prices are a gift to low-income consumers. (They’ve dropped the hyphen/star, folks; here’s the official timeline.) The Bentonville behemoth’s wages may be low, but not “when compared… Read More

Responding to Mike Konczal’s response

Mike Konczal responds to my criticisms of the Rolling Jubilee by rejecting arguments I don’t really make, though he runs some of them through a caricature machine, and then brings up other “more important” worries that bear no small resemblance to mine. I can’t even make sense of some of the things he says. For example, I’m not sure what this even means, much less how it fairly represents anything I said: Doug Henwood, for instance, believes that this is generated by activists’ uncritical populism, or the anarchist anthrology of David Graeber’s Debt, or the reification of Bowles-Simpson’s… Read More

The debt obsession

As I was electronically discussing my comments on the Rolling Jubilee yesterday, I got an email from Fix The Debt, the deficit-obsessed austerian group founded by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. Bowles and Simpson are, of course, the deficit scolds who led the failed commission created by Barack Obama in 2010 whose mission was to lead the U.S. back to the path of fiscal rectitude. And though the StrikeDebt! people have little in common with that gang of ghouls who want to cut Social Security and Medicare, they do share one feature: an obsession with debt…. Read More

Rolling Jubilee: PS

Some follow-ups to yesterday’s Rolling Jubilee post (“Rolling where?”): • A correction: they’re not buying credit card debt—they’re buying medical debt to start with. Several RJ people complained about this bit of misinformation, saying that it was “widely known.” It’s not on their rather sparse website though, so it’s not clear how this widely disseminated information has been disseminated. • There were also quite a few complaints about my missing how the campaign did indeed point to a larger strategy, including a wider conversation about debt as a symptom of a larger disease rather… Read More

Rolling where?

Rolling Jubilee (RJ) has certainly gotten a lot of attention in the few days since it was launched. An initiative of Strike Debt!, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, the Jubilee describes itself as a…project that buys debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, abolishes it. Together we can liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal. Debt resistance is just the beginning. Join us as we imagine and create a new world based on the common good, not Wall Street profits…. Read More

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archives: November 8, 2012 Sarah Jaffe on Occupy Sandy • Anne Elizabeth Moore, author of Hip Hop Apsara, on Cambodia No show last week, alas: blown off course by Hurricane Sandy.