Author Archives: Editor

Globalization, Precarity and the Role of the Nation State

By Devika Dutt

On April 13, Verizon workers began a strike to demand that Verizon give them a fair contract. The workers were on strike for about six-and-a-half weeks, despite losing their health insurance. They demanded that, among other things, Verizon keep more jobs in the country instead of outsourcing them to save on labor costs, especially since Verizon is a company that makes billions of dollars in profits annually and can afford to do so.

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Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong. (Source: Wikipedia)

This sentiment has become a growing concern among workers in the United States as is evidenced by the strength of the presidential campaigns of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump (with widely differing degrees of racism and xenophobia, of course). Read more

Forests, Trees, and the Limits of Moral Reasoning from the Belly of Capitalism

By Jonathan Donald Jenner

 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/50/The_quadrupeds_of_North_America_%28Plate_LXVIII%29_%287748312420%29.jpg/528px-The_quadrupeds_of_North_America_%28Plate_LXVIII%29_%287748312420%29.jpg

Capitalism is all around us. And because of that, we easily forget about it, in the way that a squirrel might be thrown by the concept of ‘forest.’ Of course, if prompted, we know it’s there (it’s on our citizenship exam!). It’s one of the amazing things about capitalism: as it lives in our minds, it’s both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. We contribute to this omnipresence/invisibility when we posit the capitalist process as natural, or as the inevitable end of history, or collapse the particular social institutions of capitalism into the generic and universal term ‘the economy.’ That is, we push capitalism into the background and inhibit our ability to use capitalism as an analytical category in our moral reasoning. This erasure, then, weakens our moral reasoning and hinders our ability to liberate ourselves.

When we look around the world, we see things we don’t like: poverty in the midst of plenty, persistent unemployment, long standing and widening disparities between groups, and environmental ruin. To engage in adequate moral reasoning about the things we don’t like, we need to understand what their causes are. Here by way of assertion, but worked out elsewhere in detail: many of the things we don’t like are caused by capitalism. But since the culprit – capitalism – is pushed from our field of view, our moral reasoning is rendered inadequate by extension. Read more

Limited liability – Only for a Limited Few

 

By Kartik Misra

The Limited Liability Act of 1855 allowed British corporations to separate their firm’s financial liabilities from the assets and wealth of their owners. This was expected to encourage entrepreneurship and investment which in turn would generate employment, prosperity and lead to greater innovation. If a limited liability firm goes belly up, it’s investors are not required to liquidate their assets. However, if the firm’s owner is a sole proprietor, as is generally the case with small businesses, then there is unlimited liability and debts have to be repaid at all costs. Today most countries have some form of limited liability clause in their rule books, but only for a select few citizens. This disparity has consequences: wealthy entrepreneurs can take chances risk free, petty entrepreneurs live in danger, and governments are made subject to the will of lenders.

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“Jack and the Giant Joint-Stock”, a cartoon in Town Talk (1858) satirizing the ‘monster’ joint-stock economy that came into being after the Joint Stock Companies Act 1844. (Source: Wikipedia)

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Are Billionaires Fat Cats or Deserving Entrepreneurs?

By Didier Jacobs

The 62 richest people in the world own as much wealth as half of humanity. Such extreme wealth conjures images of both fat cats and deserving entrepreneurs. So where did so much money come from?

It turns out, three-fourths of extreme wealth in the US falls on the fat cat side.

A key empirical question in the inequality debate is to what extent rich people derive their wealth from “rents”, which is windfall income they did not produce, as opposed to activities creating true economic benefit.

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Source: Oxfam

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