Student loans

Readings: Huffington Post / The Ones We Lost: Student Loan Debt Suicides People’s Policy Project / New Fed Data: The Rise of Student Debt (1989-2016) Demos / Why Education Does Not Fix Poverty Before anything else, we need to remember that a lot of people never go to college, that you don’t need to go […]

No Shortcuts by Jane McAlevey

Why you should read this book: McAlevey covers a fascinating history of the CIO under George Meany. Meany was notoriously anti-communist, yet he relied heavily on American communists when organizing workplaces. He did so because they were successful; when Meany hired communist organizers, the unionization drive always succeeded. But whenever he hired non-communist organizers, the […]

Prices and efficient allocation of goods

Reading: Current Affairs, Do Economists Actually Know What Money Is? Economics is separated from other social sciences by its use of models. Whereas other social sciences try to gather evidence from the past and present to understand what might occur in the future, economics creates mathematical models to try to show what is likely to […]

Efficient equilibrium in economics

The Economics for socialists series looks at the intellectual basis of the economics field. Reading: Harvard Business Review, There is No Invisible Hand Economics is separated from other social sciences by its use of models. Whereas other social sciences try to gather evidence from the past and present to understand what might occur in the […]

Intellectual property and the arts

At the January 28 general meeting, we discussed issues of intellectual property and the arts. Articles: The Comics Journal, Who owns the Man of Steel? Priceonomics, How Mickey Mouse Evades the Public Domain   Summary: Under capitalism, people can own capital, or things that can be used to make money. Often, the role of intellectual […]

Universal public job retraining program

Readings: Matt Bruenig on Active Labor Force Management Policy in Denmark The government of Finland / Universal job training benefits for unemployed workers The government of Norway / Universal job training benefits for unemployed workers The government of Norway / Universal job placement benefits for unemployed workers   This topic–public programs to provide job retraining […]

Mindful listening

Today’s education topic teaches a basic organizing skill. Instead of readings, members were asked to come up with: Something negative that happened to them that they don’t mind sharing. This could be something that happened in kindergarten, or something from yesterday; something embarrassing or unpleasant to something tragic. Whatever you’re comfortable sharing. Something they are […]

The 20-hour workweek

Today’s education topic centers around the possibility of organizing our economy around goals other than profits. Readings: https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/01/for-a-luxury-leftism https://mronline.org/2009/12/16/whats-wrong-with-a-30-hour-work-week/ https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/01/blizzard-snow-storm-northeast-socialism-capitalism/ Discussion outline: Leader starts by talking about a hobby or what they’d do if they had more free time. Maybe you have a really cool hobby, would like to learn a language, learn an instrument, […]

Social change through elected office

Our reading for this topic is an extremely insightful analysis of the election to Seattle City Council of Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant. By all accounts, Sawant has been an excellent elected official. SA has been able to work constructively with Democrats where they agree, as well as move ideas leftward. SA has also been able […]

Poor People’s Movements

The title of today’s topic is taken from Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward’s book, Poor People’s Movements. At that time, social sciences scholarship focused on the role of elites in influencing policy. Piven and Cloward instead focused on movements that were driven by ordinary people. A key argument is that ordinary people’s ability to influence […]