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  • Richie 5:58 pm on 2015-12-12 Permalink  

    I liked how the units were broken into larger chunks to be digested over two week periods. Looking at larger blocks of time I feel helped see what technological innovations, resources and political struggles drove or defined an era. The three textbooks also had very different approaches which I found to compliment each other.
    I liked the layout of the course. The larger windows for completing each unit were helpful with my schedule. I enjoyed participating in the commons discussions. I also enjoyed the book project, reading the book and making the site, more than I would have expected. Overall really enjoyed the class and have been impressed by what’s been done outside of the D2L system and have found it for the most part fairly straight forward and easy to use.

     
  • Richie 9:28 pm on 2015-11-24 Permalink  

    “the Webbs, authors and social critics, also promoted the idea that major institutional forces in the industrial age- capital, government, and labor organizations- all had important roles to play in maintaining a semblance of balance. In Industrial Democracy, published in 1897, the Webbs described unions as entities that would check the excesses of impersonal, large-scale capitalism. They coined the term “collective bargaining” to designate the method by which industry and labor would together rectify their relationship’s inherent inequalities.” pg.227 There is Power in a Union, Philip Dray
    Sorry for the long quote but that to me is a really important idea. I really do think the relationship between capital and labor is inherently unequal. For one purely logistically it’s a lot easier for capital to act in concert as it’s typically concentrated in one person or a small group of people. The fact there isn’t a second term ‘organized capital’ attests to this. Secondly, what is capital? It’s money! If in the course of a dispute, if it needs to capital can use some of its funds on political activities as opposed to economic ones. So capital has labor naturally beat on resources and organization.
    Left unchecked, what does capital do? Well, the core struggle between capital and labor is how to divy up the profits. So more will go to capital, less to labor. This leads to a society with greater stratification of wealth. Societies with greater stratification of wealth have less stable economies, and more violent business cycles. That sounds scary. It also sounds like our world now. Society, the economy is global now. But what about that picture from earlier, where capital, government and labor organization all play a role in maintaining balance? Well capital by nature had a pretty easy transition to operating on a global scale. But there is no global government with the authority to be a mediator in capital/labor disputes. And far from growing in the age of globalization, organized labor has been put on the retreat by it. So capital is unchecked. And what do we see? Stratification of wealth.

     
  • Richie 2:04 am on 2015-11-24 Permalink  

    Philip Dray really does an incredible job in There is Power in a Union in drawing parallels between different labor conflict throughout the decades. One of the patters I’ve been noticing is there various ways labor agitators have been painted to color public perception against them. Was just reading about how in the 1870’s immigrant mine workers were painted as ‘Irish terrorists’ in order to get people to think of union members as criminals.

     
  • Richie 7:31 pm on 2015-11-10 Permalink  

    It’s interesting to think of the Marshall plan not just as humanitarian aid but also as a sort of opening salvo of the cold war against communism. Get western Europe up and running again and a part of the global capitalist economy and have the resulting prosperity be it’s own propaganda. In even more immediate utilitarian terms it’s good economics for the sates because having massive production capabilities isn’t going to do us a lot if other nations can’t afford to buy what we’re selling.

     
  • Richie 9:05 pm on 2015-11-08 Permalink  

    From reading There is Power in a Union, the picture for modern organized labor does not look optimistic. The 1999 protests of the WTO and the 2009 efforts of the Students Against Sweatshops were significant, but more is needed. The economy is very much global now and while Capital has adapted well to this it will be a very different organizational challenge for Labor. Sympathy strikes across borders and international cooperation will be absolutely necessary but for a whole host of other historical reasons that will be a difficult sell to laborers themselves. Not to mention, while it is fantastic that the standard of living for so money has risen so much over that last century, it does make the need for workers to organize feel less urgent. People may well be deserving of a greater share of the profits but when it’s not a matter of whether or not you can put bread on the table many are happy enough to settle for job security rather than try to bargain, strike or hold out for more.

     
  • Richie 4:57 pm on 2015-10-30 Permalink  

    Responding to tatef I think what they’re trying to say with that bit about ‘The Indian’s interest in European goods’ is that the native american’s are entering in to the marketplace in order to engage in a commodity in exchange for currency in exchange for a different commodity type circulation (C-M-C) which would be trade for the sake of trade (taking advantage of comparative advantage), as opposed to using money to purchase a commodity (stock, labor, a good abundant in one place and scarce in another) with the expectation of utilizing that commodity to get back their original outlay and realize a profit (M-C-M), which would be participating in trade purely for the accumulation of wealth. Also you can be rich in love but I’ve never heard of wealthy in love so I think wealth is meant to refer to currency.
    note: bit about M-C-M is Marx’s General Formula for Capital

     
  • Richie 6:32 pm on 2015-10-27 Permalink  

    I think one of the big economic lessons from the great depression is how something like that can snowball on itself. Economic downturn -> people lose their jobs -> as a consequence of reduced income (or no income) people spend less -> because people aren’t buying as much, businesses suffer, and have less need for labor, more people are lose their jobs -> less spending etc etc. More learned this from my macro class but it’s interesting how programs like Unemployment payments or Social Security kind of help stop things from spiraling out of control like that by giving people money to spend even when they lose their jobs. I always understood the function of those programs on an individual level but I never realized that they are why the business cycles of today are less violent.

     
  • Richie 6:13 pm on 2015-10-27 Permalink  

    I never knew just how well the US made out from World War I. Massive increase in demand for industrial goods from Europe, and we were selling to both sides. Providing so much finance to the nations embroiled in conflict we went from being net debtors to net creditors. And then even after the war competitively we’re looking way better compared with Europe as the War wasn’t waged on our land resulting in the destruction of out factories and resource and though we did send troops our labor force didn’t take nearly as big of a hit.

     
  • Richie 5:51 pm on 2015-10-27 Permalink  

    1929, the great depression kicks off, 1933 the new deal is enacted, government and stimulus and deficits help the economy start to recover, 1936 Keynes & Co advocate government deficit spending to help bounce back from recessions, policy makers don’t listen and in 1937 FDR actually starts to cut back on government spending resulting in another slump. Then in 1939 World War II kicks off and the government massively increases spending in preparation for and then on the war and Keynesian theory gets it’s ultimate validation as the economy rapidly returns to full employment. I wouldn’t exactly call World War II a ‘happy little accident’ in this respect but it is interesting that so soon after Keynes theory was published it got such a massive experiment-test-case whose results showed it to be pretty on the mark.

     
  • Richie 6:49 pm on 2015-10-15 Permalink  

    Reading about the hard money-soft money debate is interesting. Weird that there were people in favor of deflation. I get how it can work out for certain individuals but from a societal level just seems harmful. Seems to me inflation is an impetus to put your money to work and invest it. If currency accrues value just sitting there people will be more likely to sit on it. Money under a mattress isn’t going to do anyone any good.

     
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