Left Forum 2017 – Economy & Psychology: A Tale of Two Depressions

Most Americans have never recovered from the recession of 2008 and the outsourcing, mechanizing, robotizing and computerizing of their jobs. Men’s salaries and working conditions have been deteriorating since the mid 1970s. Women’s salaries have increased to 77% of men’s low salaries. Americans are emotionally depressed. We consume 50% of the world’s psych meds and 80% of the world’s heroin. Suicides addiction obesity and other social ills have increased. Too many are in despair. This panel explains what happened, why it happened and what to do about it.

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Some Toughts (5)

  1. Avatar
    added on 14 Jun, 2017

    Franklin D. Roosevelt declared an "economic bill of rights" to guarantee these specific rights: employment, food, clothing, and leisure with enough income to support them, a fair income, freedom from unfair competition and monopolies, housing, medical care, social security, education. —  An important insight for the 1940s. But the real solution for all our problems will be: extending democracy to the workplace!  New technologies like the Internet and social media have not only revolutionized the way we work, but also the way we think. They have provided access to information and resources to everybody and so increased democracy. It is ironical that IT and automation, the source of so much good, will eventually be the ruin, through loss of jobs, for the majority of people. There seems to be no solution and we are all doomed. Or are we? Enter the wonders of democracy at work. Read up on the workings of the Mondragón Cooperative Corporation, the world's largest worker cooperative, and follow Prof. Richard D. Wolff's teachings. Instead of letting big business decide in which kind of society we should live, driving one part of the population into poverty while exploiting the other and driving them to exhaustion, the state should help introduce democracy at the workplace in all companies and furthermore encourage employees to take over businesses as worker cooperatives, by providing them with cheap loans, for example. There are several reasons for this: First, a job and meaningful work are crucial for a healthy life. Second, there is a practice today, to not employ much needed workers and to increase the remaining employees' workload instead. This practice has to stop. Third, only employees who manage their own businesses will guarantee a just and fair workplace. At the same time, this will give a powerful incentive to improve the workings of the companies. Profits will be equally shared among workers and a manager will not earn more than ten times the lowest salary. Automation will be used to improve the working conditions and reduce the workload of employees. And last but not least: if we really believe in democracy as the system that provides just and fair solutions for everybody, we should be serious about introducing democratic structures in the workplace, where we spend a great part of our waking hours.

  2. Avatar
    added on 17 Jun, 2017

    USA has invented original solution for depressed uneffective workers – 3strikes . You spit thre times to the floor plus aggravating circumstance of your black skin, an you got life prison where you wil work for much less much longer without depression. Real democracy and no slavery any more at all, on paper, its all your fault.

  3. Avatar
    added on 11 Aug, 2017

    Dr. Fraad is exactly right in that the society is in Total Denial… of the real problems in this demoralized decline of our society caused by Capitalism… but of course Capitalism is the Elephant in the room that everybody has been instructed and socialized NOT to ever blame! … it's as if it's blessed by all and it will never fail… well IT has failed and Will fail again…

  4. Avatar
    added on 23 Mar, 2018

    I see Nestles and Starbucks represented there… But seriously, I hope that every week there are fewer and fewer people for whom this is news. I would finally like to be able to talk about these issues without getting the usual 'blame the poor' sneering followed by 'I don't want to pay taxes to pay for their (fill in the blank)'. It would be nice to be able to get to the point of conversing about solutions instead of having to listen to diatribes against taxes and social programs, which depresses me because it means they support capitalism still. Please send some New York sense out to the West Coast. Thank you for your good work.

  5. Avatar
    added on 11 Nov, 2019

    Oh, I don't think its all that dismal…and there is a solution…can't sit on our tush as time is running short, Americans are simply not aware they are positioned in connection to their particular class struggle in the form of their productivity that the other social classes are dependent and squabble over. This is your answer, take back productivity=surplus-value and that appears in the fantastic form of America's complex social institutions. Americans are not used to seeing, envisioning, imagining, conceiving, their social and political institutions as a product of their own labor in order to take a collective action in defense against the abuses of American productivity and labor. The ony people who can stop the abuses of the mass of wealth America creates are the people who own the productivity that produces the wealth. Productivity and its power crystallized in a mass movement of working people is a legitimate claim against the other more reactionary social classes who deny that claim out of desperation. The state will never do what Dr. Wolff suggests, the state is surplus-value itself, also a product of American labor in the fantastic form of a state, a very complicated social structure and over politicized state, is also dependent on the productivity of labor in society. State will never free the hand that feeds it, productivity can only be an independent power outside of the American worker, free to exploit by capital, in a labor-process where people work not where they Iive where that power is absent!
    The state only interferes where people work when work kills people and, even then, there is no guarantee. Besides coming up short on social criticism modern academia in their inadequacies in scientific thought, examine the labor-process and deal with surplus-value too lightly, a case in point is the book: "Labor and Monopoly Capital", by Harry Bravermann, it's a modern empirical look at the labor-process yet it cannot be considered a classic piece of Marxist scholarship. Such is the case in the whole range of academia that dismisses the class struggle between workers and capitalists, and dismisses the developments integral to that stuggle of the productive forces of society, and dismisses time versus free time from work. Lacking in this panel is not intelligence, lacking is a lust for life, the urge to take control of the economic surplus, productivity, and the emotional conviction of revolutionizing thought and action to penetrate and change the world with it.

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