‘Global Capitalism: A Monthly Update’ published on May 15, 2013
Economics Professor Richard Wolff publishes these monthly updates on developments relevant to capitalism around the world. His analysis is really on point. It’s long but it’s worth watching, listening to & learning from.
“When capitalism got going, say in England in the 18th and 19th century. It produced horrible conditions for people, paid them horrible wages, they lived in horrible slums. You know how we know that? Because we all read, or I hope we did, the novels of Charles Dickens because that’s what he wrote about..The descriptions of Charles Dickens are absolutely spot on for Dhaka, Bangladesh. So here’s the irony, we live in the 21st century of modern capitalism, and the success is rendered by the fact that the bulk of the working men and women producing for 21st century capitalism are living in 19th century conditions in third world countries around the world. And you know what was a typical feature of 19th century british workshops, if you read Dickens? Fires. Fires, because they’re all old wooden structures and they couldn’t cope with the risks and dangers of machine production so they had fires in which working men and women died in huge numbers. The exact same…it’s as if, not that capitalism has changed. It hasn’t. What’s changed is the idea, in the minds of Americans particularly, that we don’t have a system that works that way. Even though it’s been working that way for two hundred years, three hundred years.”
That’s a great one. I could quote the whole thing, but that’s a really good one. Please watch & reblog.
There’s something unsavory about the government agreeing to a deal with a white-collar criminal just to avoid “further litigation,” especially when the defendant already lost an appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. That’s especially true when he’s one of the precious few executives whom the justice system succeeded in making into an example.
Petrocelli told me that the virtue of the sentencing deal is that it “brings certainty and finality to this long, painful process, and gives Jeff the chance to get back a meaningful part of his life.”
Should we care, as long as there are Enron investors alive who haven’t recovered, and may never recover, from the results of Skilling’s machinations?
Skilling has maintained he was unaware of any subterfuges “to conceal liabilities or overstate earnings.” But he was a top dog at Enron, the company’s CEO. If he didn’t know, he should have known; that’s what it means to be the person in charge and to be held responsible. If there’s a white-collar defendant in the U.S. today less deserving of even a small break, it’s him.
|—||Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times|
My plan was to write a portrait of Phil Jackson after basketball: to capture the full mundanity of his post-N.B.A. existence. It became clear very quickly, however, that such a thing was impossible. There is no Phil Jackson after basketball.
“What’s Harvard’s biggest threat?” King began. He was wearing a black suit with a diagonally striped tie, and he stood a little gawkily, in a room trimmed with oil paintings and the busts of great men. “I think the biggest threat to Harvard by far is the rise of for-profit universities.” The University of Phoenix, he explained, spent a hundred million dollars on research and development for teaching. Meanwhile, seventy per cent of Americans don’t get a college degree. “You might say, ‘Oh, that’s really bad.’ Or you might say, ‘Oh, that’s a different clientele.’ But what it really is is a revenue source. It’s an enormous revenue source for these private corporations.”
King rattled off three premises that were crucial to understanding the future of education: “social connections motivate,” “teaching teaches the teacher,” and “instant feedback improves learning.” He’d been trying to “flip” his own classroom. He took the entire archive of the course Listserv and had it converted into a searchable database, so that students could see whether what they thought was only their “dumb question” had been asked before, and by whom.
With compilation tools like this, online education turns from a dissemination method to a precious data-gathering resource. Traditionally, it has been hard to assess and compare how well different teaching approaches work. King explained that this could change online through “large-scale measurement and analysis,” often known as big data. He said, “We could do this at Harvard. We could not only innovate in our own classes—which is what we’re doing—but we could instrument every student, every classroom, every administrative office, every house, every recreational activity, every security officer, everything. We could basically get the information about everything that goes on here, and we could use it for the students.”
A giant, detailed data pool of all activity on the campus of a school like Harvard, he said, might help students resolve a lot of ambiguities in college life. “Right now, if a student wants to learn What should I do if I want to become an M.D.?—well, what do they do?” he asked. “They talk to their adviser. They talk to some previous students. They get some advice. But, instead of talking to some previous students, how about they talk to ten thousand previous students?” With enough data over a long enough period, you could crunch inputs and probabilities and tell students, with a high degree of accuracy, exactly which choices and turns to make to get where they wanted to go in life. He went on, “Every time you go to Amazon.com, you are the subject of a randomized experiment. Every time you search on Google, you are the subject of an experiment. Why not every time a student here does something?”
|—||Nathan Heller from his article Laptop U in the New Yorker|
Prepare yourself for a sobering Truth Bomb.
Class of 2013,
No one else is going to tell you this, so I might as well.
You sit here today, $30,000 or $40,000 in debt, as the latest victims of what may well be the biggest conspiracy in U.S. history. It is a conspiracy so big and powerful that Dan Brown won’t even touch it. It’s a conspiracy so insidious that you will rarely hear its name.
Move over, Illuminati. Stand down, Wall Street. Area 51? Pah. It’s nothing.
The biggest conspiracy of all? The College-Industrial Complex.
If you turn to the pages of any newspaper, you will read a lot of hand-wringing about this. You will hear attacks on “predatory” student-loan companies and “predatory … for-profit colleges.” You will hear about cutbacks in Pell Grants and federal aid and proposals to lower the interest rate on subsidized federal loans. But all of these comments ignore one basic problem.
It’s the cost, stupid.
This is the most entertaining read I’ve come across in a long time.
In Slovakia I had begun to learn that every absolute I had ever taken for granted, every common standard of behavior and basketball norm — norms that had rarely varied from country to country, from basic personal morality to basketball practice attire — had to be reassessed almost daily. What was true one day was not true the next, what was right was wrong and what was wrong was right.
Living in the central European country of nearly 5.5 million people was like peeling back the layers of some strange fruit, each revealing some new part, sometimes ripe and beautiful, other times dark and rotting, but always something unique. At times, however, I learned it was best to just leave the fruit alone.