Archive for March 22, 2010
Progressive Radio: This Week On The Fallon Forum
With the passage of landmark health care reform legislation yesterday, President Obama has delivered on the first of many changes we hoped for when we voted for him.
Today, Monday, we’ll talk with Dr. Bery Engebretsen of Primary Health Care about what these health care changes mean for Iowans.
Tuesday, we talk with newly-elected Des Moines School Board member Margaret Buckton about local education concerns and about the crazy stuff going on in Texas with that state’s Board of Education.
Wednesday, we talk with Angela Clark about the upcoming Natural Living Expo this weekend at the Polk County Convention Center.
Thursday, Ying Sa of Community CPA and Associates joins us to answer your tax and accounting questions. (Note: This will be a regular feature on the fourth Thursday of each month.)
During the second half of the show, Sue Roberts joins us to discuss the work of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network.
So, join us Monday – Thursday from 7:00 – 8:00 pm for the fusion of politics and civility at 98.3 WOW-FM and on-line at www.983wowfm.com. Call (515) 312-0983 or (866) 908-TALK to participate in the conversation. If you miss the show, you can hear it as a podcast. And check out The Bradshaw Show, too, for more progressive talk radio, Monday – Friday from 1:00 – 4:00.
Ed & Lynn Fallon
Labor Update: Book
Review: The Value of Nothing
Book Review: The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and
Redefine Democracy by Raj Patel
So many explanations
about the cause of our economic crisis focus on the excesses of Wall
Street, and rightly so. Be they derivatives, short sales, credit default
swaps, or mortgage bundling, the many financial “products” invented to
create profits out of thin air brought us to the brink of a great
depression, where we still precariously stand.
Patel describes these financial instruments and other follies of the
neo-liberal economic model in his newest book, The Value of Nothing. Citing
such sources as the guru of neo-liberalism himself, Alan Greenspan,
Patel ably deconstructs the myth of Chicago-school economics – the model
that has ruled conventional wisdom and American foreign and domestic
policies over the past fifty years – that deregulation of markets for
the benefit of corporations is the best way to manage the world’s
Early in the book, Patel quotes Alan Greenspan during a
hearing before the House Oversight Committee. Not long after the stock
market lost half its value in the fall of 2008, Greenspan was called to
testify about what went wrong. When prodded by Chairman Henry Waxman
about why the market failed, despite the conventional wisdom that “free
competitive markets are by far the unrivaled way to organize economies,”
Greenspan responded that he “found a flaw in the model that I perceived
is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works,
so to speak”.
Certainly surprised at such a candid admittance,
Waxman reiterated to Greenspan what he thought he heard. “In other
words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not
right, it was not working.” But even more surprising in this exchange
was Greenspan’s agreement with Waxman’s analysis. “Precisely. That is
precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40
years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working
As Patel explains, this was no small
exchange in an obscure hearing room in the Capital. This was the Don
himself, the head of the Federal Reserve admitting that the economic
system that had created the financial bubble, that had dismantled the
American manufacturing sector over a generation, that had dramatically
shifted wealth into fewer and fewer hands was in fact unsustainable and
But more than just review the theories of economists –
including Adam Smith, Eugene Fama, Karl Marx, Milton Friedman, Gary
Becker, Polanyi, Barbara Bergman and John Stuart Mill – The Value of Nothing balances the
strictly economic interpretation of human behavior with a humanist one.
Patel also refers to recent studies by neurologists to help explain
human motivation. He quotes psychologists, sociologists, literary
critics, philosophers – even Shakespeare – to revisit the dominant
ideology that has ruled our modern politics, that deregulation of
markets is the best way to rule human society.
The book title is
taken from an Oscar Wilde quote from
The Picture of Dorian Gray, “Nowadays people know the price of
everything and the value of nothing.” Part one of Patel’s book
thoroughly examines neo-liberal economic flaws that place greater value
on Volkswagens than water. Part two looks at alternative models of
political and economic systems that redefine market society in ways that
value participatory democracy over profits.
Many of these
movements are led by peasants and organized by the poorest of the
earth’s people. They are the majority world after all. Nearly a billion
of them live in shanties on the edges of urban areas, surviving on the
garbage of hyper-consumerism.
Many of the people who are
demanding justice and organizing for their common good are illiterate
and survive a year on what the average American earns in a week. These
movements are not a modern outgrowth of capitalism, but have their
origins in populist and peasant’s rights throughout history, such as the
Charter of the Forest which was the companion to the Magna Carta and
which had provided some basic guarantee of common social and economic
rights to medieval Englanders.
Movements like the Via Campesina,
the Zapatistas, and others also have their foundation in the
International Bill of Human Rights, adopted in 1966 which was actually
two treaties, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
movments organize around ideas that should be quite obvious: the rights
to have rights, the right to stay put, the rights over the land they
occupy, the right to participate actively in the economic decisions that
determine whether they will have food, medicine or even basic shelter.
Value of Nothing is an
important book for our age. As our politicians begin the great debate
over how best to re-regulate an economic and political system gone mad
with greed, none but the most cynical still believes in the invisible
hand of markets. Unfortunately, so many of those in power are cynics.
has been active in the labor movement
for ten years, first as a member of AFSCME 3506, when she taught adult
education classes at the City Colleges of Chicago. She moved to the
Quad Cities in 2007 where she worked as political coordinator with the
Quad City Federation of Labor, and as a caseworker for Congressman
Bruce Braley from 2007 – 2009.
Tracy Kurowski writes a labor update every
Monday on Blog for Iowa