Show 564: Economic Inequality & the Problem with Work

Economic Inequality & the Problem with Work w/Kathi Weeks and Michael D. Yates

Many secular humanists traditionally focused on the so-called hard sciences and religion in their analyses but this is clearly not enough. In time, many also address the social sciences and key political issues from Human Rights to Separation of Church and State to the crises of Climate Change. However, the willingness to apply the scientific method, healthy skepticism, and humanistic ethics to our more central political structures has been very lacking…even the willingness to take on the illusion of “free will” gets more traction with humanist in America. This is why we try to cover these issues when we can on this show. Today we will address our economic system and what it means to be a contributor within its boundaries…as well as what is at the core of one of our greatest problems today, massive inequality.

Capitalism can be, and has been, described in a great many ways. From the Austrian and Chicago Schools of economic thought to the Keynesian models to the Marxist and Anarchist analyses. Among those who do the academic work required to grapple with all of this, we will find sometimes complex, often contradictory, and always passionate points-of-view on what we should do about capitalism here in the 21st Century. Among the general populous in the United States, on the other hand, we find confusion, misapplied labels, dogmatism and not a little anger.

We’ve talked about this from different angles and tried to make sense of it all via political science, history, social science, and even evolutionary biology and neuroscience. After all, Capitalism didn’t spring up out of nowhere, and it doesn’t exist in vacuum – being value-neutral as some might want to believe. So today we are going to look at the capitalist condition from both overarching and under-arching perspectives…The former being the huge inequality problem we now face, and the latter being what is at the core of the capitalist system…Work. To do this, we will be speaking with two special guests: Kathi Weeks and Michael D. Yates.

Audio can be found here!

Show 321: The Transition Town Movement!

{{UPDATE 6/23 — Still working on the extended interview, will have up by Friday morning…thanks for listening! -Michael O.}}

The Transition Town Movement!

With a “volcano of oil” plaguing the Gulf Coast and this week’s speech from President Obama stating that “we have known for decades that the days of easily accessible oil are numbered”, how can we imagine a society without cheap fossil fuels?

The Transition Town movement, founded in the UK and growing in America, offers a solution to meet our needs and increase community resilience. Applying lessons from permaculture and sustainable design to towns and cities, “Transition” maps out the positive changes needed from households to urban infrastructure to reduce our consumption and create real value at every opportunity. At the same time, the Transition movement aims to empower communities through innovative collective brainstorming and decision-making systems.

In the face of Peak Oil and Climate Change, do we have an opportunity to refashion society at a more *human* scale, with a higher quality of life, than transnational consumerism could ever provide? Michael ONeil will talk to Tina Clarke, a Transition Town educator, to find out what humanity will have to re-learn to overcome the challenges ahead.

Show 270: The Big Religion Problems…Solved!

“The Big Religion Problems…Solved!” w/Gregory S. Paul

As an interesting follow-up to our October/November two-part program with Ronald Inglehart and David S. Wilson – found here and here – we will discuss with scholar Gregory S. Paul the big questions of religion (not theology) – mainly, why was religion invented, why does it still exist in the 21st century, and what is the future for the religious impulse?  A short summary of Paul’s “answers” to these questions found in his essay – Religion, the Big Questions Finally Solved (Free Inquiry; Dec. 2008/Jan. 2009) – goes as follows:

“(The threats to religion today include) the contribution by naturalistic science, socioeconomic security, and corporate-consumer culture, (all of which) combine to form the ‘Triple-Threat Hypothesis of Democratic Secularization … Religion is-a superficial, primitive, and dysfunctional condition … Religious belief and activity are-superficial coping mechanism(s) that (are) easily cast off when the majority of a given society enjoy democratic governance, and a secure, comfortable middle-class lifestyle.”

Gregory S. Paul is a paleontologist, artist and author. In 2005 he made headlines with his studies indicating that religious societies are worse off than secular ones.

Show 268: A Prescription for Real Social Change

1-Hour Special: A Prescription for Real Social Change

In this previously aired (albeit with poor sound quality), political philosopher Takis Fotopoulos presented his case for an alternative libratory model for reaching a healthier, happier, freer, and more humanistic future society. Fotopoulos’ model is called Inclusive Democracy, which according to him, “is derived from a synthesis of two major historical traditions: the classical democratic, and the socialist.  It also encompasses radical green, feminist, indigenous and liberation movements in the South.”

The crux of Fotopoulos’ ideas amount to, “communities run on the basis of direct political democracy, as well as economic democracy (beyond the confines of the market economy and statist planning), democracy in the social realm, and ecological democracy.”  Accordingly, in an inclusive democracy, “politics is no longer a technique for holding and exercising power, but the self-management of society by its members.”

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Show 217: “ParEcon, ParPolity & the Future of the Left” with Robin Hahnel and Steven Shalom

“ParEcon, ParPolity & the Future of the Left” with Robin Hahnel and Steven Shalom”

What is ParEcon?

Participatory economics is a proposed economic system that uses participatory decision making as an economic mechanism to guide the production, consumption and allocation of resources in a given society. Proposed as an alternative to contemporary capitalist market economies and also an alternative to centrally planned socialism or coordinatorism, it is described as “an anarchistic economic vision.” It emerged from the work of activist and political theorist Michael Albert and that of radical economist Robin Hahnel, beginning in the 1980s and 1990s.

Albert and Hahnel stress that parecon is only meant to address an alternative economic theory and that it must be accompanied by equally important alternative visions in the fields of politics, culture and kinship.

What is ParPolity?

Stephen R. Shalom has begun work on a participatory political vision he calls “parpolity”. Elements of anarchism in the field of politics, polyculturalism in the field of culture, and feminism in the field of family and gender relations are also discussed by the authors as being possible foundations for future alternative visions in these other spheres of society.

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Show 212: Michael Perelman – “Markets, Competition and Economics”

About Michael Perelman:

Although I earned a degree in agricultural economics from the University
of California, Berkeley, I never could bring myself to accept the
ideological framework of conventional economics. When I looked more deeply into the environmental, social, and economic costs of the current agricultural
system, I discovered how the profit-oriented agricultural system created hunger, pollution, serious public health consequences, and environmental disruption, while throwing millions of people off the land.

“Why do those whose work is most essential, such as farm workers, earn the least? Why are natural resources exploited in ways that do not take account of their scarcity? These are the disarmingly straightforward questions that dissident economist Michael Perelman directs at the discipline of economics–exploring the whole history of its development in his search for answers. In the process he has created one of the most revealing and accessible critiques of the narrow mind-set that constitutes conventional economics.
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