Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

New Frontiers of Corporate Synergy

The buyout shops are purchasing hospitals, no doubt in a charitable effort to make health care more available. Cerberus Capital Management went one step further striking a deal to acquire Caritas Christi Health Care, a large Massachusetts hospital chain. To ensure that the hospital chain will have an opportunity to treat more people, Cerberus also owns Freedom Group Inc., one of the world’s largest makers of firearms and ammunition.

Way to go, capitalism!

Constant Capital and the Crisis in Contemporary Capitalism

Constant Capital and the Crisis in Contemporary Capitalism

Echoes from the Late Nineteenth Century

Introduction: Constant Capital and Crises

An understanding of constant capital is an overlooked, but necessary component of crisis theory.  This paper uses the experience of the 19th century U.S. economy illustrate the relationship between constant capital and economic crises.  The rapid technological advances of the time led to a lethal combination for capital.  Investment in constant capital suffered rapid devalorization, while growing productivity saturated markets, creating what was then known as The Great Depression.

Constant Capital and Labor, Living and Dead

Read complete paper


Educational Chutzpah

The Wall Street Journal, always on the lookout for good humor, outdid itself today with an essay by Chester E. Finn Jr., advocating keeping schools open on Saturday. The author acknowledges that strapped districts are shortening the school week to four days.  Others are considering eliminating the 12th grade.

Presumably, the idea would be for teachers to increase their days of work in return for reductions in salary.  Sadly, the problem is a teachers’ union, which is also responsible for the bad weather during the winter.

In the words of the author, “This issue brings out the teacher unions, too, demanding more pay for extra hours, hence fatter school-system budgets in a lean fiscal time.  Little wonder that taxpayers are legitimately wary.”

And who says that the Wall Street Journal does not have a good sense of humor?

Finn, Chester E. Jr. 2010. “The Case for Saturday School.” Wall Street Journal (20 March): p. W 1.

Economics as a Moral Science?

I am quickly dashing off the text for lecture for the Campus Peace Institute.  What I have is a bit rough, but I would appreciate any feedback.


China’s Economic Nationalism?

Today’s Wall Street Journal expresses shock that China is resorting to economic nationalism, which is supposed to be the exclusive right of the U.S. After all, China’s economy seems to be performing better than the U.S. — at least until a possible real estate bubble bursts. In addition, China does seem to be reining in its expansionary monetary policy, something the U.S. did not do as its bubble grew. Anyway, here are my extracts from the relevant articles. Continue reading

Manufacturing Discontent

I was asked to write something up about my book, Manufacturing Discontent. I thought that I would share it with you. Any comments would be be appreciated.

Of all my books, Manufacturing Discontent may seem to have the least links with Marxism. After I published The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy and the Secret History of Primitive Accumulation, some people argued that the subject was purely historical and had no contemporary relevance. Of course, the seizure of property continues throughout the world, even in the United States, where government can take property through the law of eminent domain and then turn it over to private interests.

Here is the entire commentary.manufacturing

The Art of Political Lying

In 1712, John Arbuthnot, chiefly known as a satirist, considered second only to Jonathan Swift, was also the Queen Anne’s doctor and a Fellow of the Royal Society, proposed the publication of a book with two volumes, titled, The Art of Political Lying. Sadly, the book never appeared although it would be more relevant than ever today. Arbuthnot praised, “the noble and useful art of political lying, which in this last age having been enriched with several new discoveries” (p. 8). Continue reading

Brief Thoughts about Chico’s Education Protest

I was thrilled to see the large outpouring of emotion from the demonstration protesting the evisceration of the University. I have not seen anything like this since the Vietnam protests of the early 70s.

In Chico, before I came, people were so disgusted with the apathy about the war, that they carried out what may perhaps have been the world’s only grovel-in.

The organizers did an outstanding job of preparation and execution; they did so with considerable maturity.

Still, I wished that they had a broader perspective. For example, I did not have any sense of a connection with the local community college or with K-12 education. Continue reading

Enough Already: Venting Over Four Decades of Right-Wing Activism

Today, Richard Nixon would be considered a flaming liberal. In Nixon’s day, Barack Obama would have passed as a typical conservative; except, if you remove considerations of civil rights from consideration, he might even be a fairly hard line conservative.

The Bill of Rights is pretty well shredded. Freedom of speech is fast becoming the special privilege of corporations. Economic pressures, fueled by greedy shareholders, have eviscerated the press, leaving freedom the press virtually meaningless.

The most important part of the Fifth Amendment is probably the takings clause, which is interpreted to restrict the right of the government to regulate property.

Perhaps, the Second Amendment is the most important amendment, giving people the right to arm themselves with anything short of a nuclear weapon. Continue reading

Lobbyists and Crises

Is anybody familiar with this study?

“The International Monetary Fund recently found that banks that spent more to influence policy over the last decade were more likely to take more securitization risks, have larger loan defaults and experience sharper stock falls during crucial points of the crisis.”

Cyran, Robert and James Pethokoukis. 2010. “Formidable Lobbyists.” New York Times (3 March): p. B 2.