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

Austerity & bankers’ coups: the NYC precedent

With the displacement of Greece’s elected government by Eurocrats acting in the interest of the country’s creditors, I thought this would be a good time to reprise the section of my 1997 book Wall Street that covers the New York City fiscal crisis of 1975, which was something of a dress rehearsal for the neoliberal austerity agenda that would go global in the 1980s. Certain celebrity academics are constantly cited for making this argument, but I was there first. You can download Wall Street for free by clicking here: Wall Street. This chapter, and this book, has… Read More

New radio product

Freshly posted to my radio archives: July 23, 2011 James Galbraith on deficit hysteria and the single-volume collection of four books by his father, John Kenneth Galbraith, published by the Library of Amerca July 16, 2011 Amber Hollibaugh, interim director of Queers for Economic Justice, on the limits of same-sex marriage (see here for more) • Jeff Madrick, author of The Age of Greed, on the emergence of today’s icky economic order July 2, 2011 Christian Parenti, author of Tropic of Chaos, talks about the effects of climate change amidst state collapse, plentiful weaponry, and neoliberalism

The Economist, a “newspaper,” weighs in

Although for some reason I still subscribe to the thing, I’ve mostly stopped reading The Economist. If you read a good daily newspaper or three—I know, so old-fashioned—who needs all that attitude? I was reminded of why I don’t read the thing by reading a post from one “W.W.,” responding to the great Yglesias-Henwood debate, as excellently amended by Henry Farrell. It includes this remarkable observation: [F]rom my point of view the problem with jobs programmes, as compared to textbook monetary policy, is not that they increase the power of labour relative… Read More

Yglesias & neoliberalism

Matthew Yglesias regrets that his original commentary on monetary policy, and my disagreement with it, got hijacked by Henry Farrell and turned into an analysis of the limits of neoliberalism. (I also stand corrected that Yglesias hasn’t written in favor of a jobs program in the past—apparently he has, though there was no evidence of it in the piece I responded to.) I like what Farrell has to say, and agree with him: there’s a kind of liberal, or neoliberal technocratic approach to politics that boils down to, as Adolph Reed once put it,… Read More

De mortuis: Teddy Kennedy & dereg

According to just about everybody, Teddy Kennedy represented the “soul” of the Democratic party, which presumably refers to his long-professed concern the poor and the weak. Now that that soul is safely buried, the Dems can move on to the important stuff, like preserving Wall Street power and escalating the war in Afghanistan. Let’s inspect that soul a little more closely though. I’ve never been inclined to hold my tongue about the recently departed. Well, yes, in personal life, but certainly not public life—especially in the midst of one of these orchestrated… Read More

Radio commentary, Febuary 21, 2009

[WBAI is still fundraising, so this ran on KPFA only.] Earlier this week, we learned that builders started construction on just 466,000 housing units in January (at a seasonally adjusted annual rate), and just 347,000 single-family houses. These are both down by more than 50% over the year, and at record lows by a considerable margin. And the earlier records—earlier than the recent collapse, that is—we set in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, when the U.S. population was 25–30% lower than it is now. The single-family figure is down by more than 80% from… Read More