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Archive for February, 2011

Jim Stanford’s Economics for Everyone

This book is a great, comprehensive, and accessible overview of the economics of capitalism.

Two things I learned from this book:

The purpose of a corporation is to protect the individual wealth of the corporation’s investors and owners.

The fundamental conflict between employers and workers. Employers pay the workers to do a task; they are buying task completion. But workers aren’t selling task completion, they are selling their time.

Notes on Panitch and Swartz From Consent to Coercion

From Consent to Coercion: The Assault on Trade Union Freedoms originally published in 1985 and with this third edition published in 2003 is essentially reading in the study of labour in Canada. The book traces the history of free collective bargaining in Canada, from its origins in 1944 (Privy Council Order ___ ), through the era of the Fordist accord, and through the period of neoliberalism and monetarism. ‘Free collective bargaining’ is the ability for a group of workers to as a group negotiate the terms of their work with their employer without fear of repression or coercion (e.g. being jailed, beaten-up, fired, etc.). The authors caution on the use of the word ‘free’:

The use of the word free does have a crucial double meaning. It suggests that a balance of power exists between capital and labour, that they face each other as equals, otherwise any bargain struck could scarcely be viewed as one which was freely achieved. It also suggests that the state’s role is akin to that of an umpire who works to be involved in applying, interpreting, and adjusting impartial rules. In the case of the first meaning, the structural inequality between capital and labour is obscured; in the second, the use of the state’s coercive powers on behalf of capital falls from view. (13) (more…)

What is neoliberalism?

Neoliberalism is a word that is used to describe a wide variety of processes and practices that began to gain prominence in the 1970s following the economic slow downs that occurred during that decade. The word neoliberalism is obviously derived from the conjoining of ‘neo’ with ‘liberalism’, i.e. some form of new liberalism. What then is liberalism, and what is new about neoliberalism?

The development of liberalism as a political idea is closely conjoined with the end of feudalism and the beginnings of capitalist modes of production. Besides the social aspects of liberalism, like support for individual rights, fair treatment under the law, and democracy, liberalism is also fundamentally about the sanctity of private property and the superiority of the so-called free market as a means of organizing economic exchanges. Neoliberalism is a reinvigoration of the economic aspects of liberalism, drawing upon the branches of economic theory known as neoclassical economics and monetarism. (more…)