Buy Prints of the Comic Strips of Neoliberalism

neolibtitle--165x188

To celebrate the 45th anniversary of Dollars & Sense, the organization that maintains Triple Crisis blog, former D&S art director Nick Thorkelson has made full-color prints of his amazing “Comic Strip of Neoliberalism” series published in the magazine in the early 2000s.  The series was a collaboration with former D&S co-editor Alejandro Reuss.  (For more info on the series, click here.)

There are three paired sets of 13” x 17” prints: “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Neoliberalism vs. History,” and “Megadreams of Hyperdevelopment.” (Scroll down to see all three sets. Click to enlarge.)

We are offering signed prints for $45 per set or $100 for all three sets. (Prices include shipping within the United States.)  To place orders, visit this page.

You can also support Dollars & Sense and Triple Crisis with a donation.  Contact us by email (dollars at dollarsandsense.org) about how to contribute to our 45th-Anniversary Sustainability Fund.

Read the rest of this entry »

Neoliberalism and Climate Change

By Juliet Schor (guest post)

This is the text of a speech that Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College, gave at the 45th anniversary celebration for Dollars & Sense, which maintains Triple Crisis blog, on November 14 at the Nonprofit Center in Boston, Mass. Schor was a D&S collective member in its early years.  This is the first in a series of posts on neoliberalism that we’ll be posting at Triple Crisis. 

We are in the midst of a terrifying climate emergency. Whether it’s the record-challenging cold of this week, devastating wildfires, Category 5 hurricanes, flooding on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester, Mass., when it’s not raining, the permanent disappearance of glaciers, intensifying drought and climate migration, or the relentless upward march of average temperatures, signs of climate disruption are all around us. This is partly due to the power of neoliberal economics.  Naomi Klein has made an interesting observation about the relation between the two, which is that it was bad luck that neoliberalism surged just as we figured out the need to do something about greenhouse gas emissions. I’m not convinced that the fossil fuel industry wouldn’t have done just what it did and been as successful even if we were still, in the famous words of Richard Nixon, “all Keynesians now” but that’s something we’ll never know. In any case, evidence of the ability of a now discredited economic approach (neoliberalism) to hang on long past its sell-by date is all around us.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rome Summit Takes Bold Step Toward Agroecology

By Timothy A. Wise

This was originally published at Common Dreams.

The Climate Action Summit at the UN last month was widely considered a disappointment, failing to garner the kinds of government actions needed to address the climate crisis. Sadly, the same can be said for actions on agriculture and climate change, despite a well-publicized commitment of $790 million to “to enhance resilience of over 300 million small-scale food producers in the face of mounting climate impacts.”

That is not because the investment isn’t needed. It is, desperately. Small-scale farmers in developing countries are already bearing the brunt of climate change yet they have received little of the promised funding to help them adapt to drought, flooding, heat, and other climate changes.

These new initiatives won’t bridge that gap. Just as government actions to date are proving far too weak to address the climate emergency, these agriculture programs support familiar measures that have thus far failed to help small-scale farmers. Some measures have left them even more vulnerable to climate change.

Read the rest of this entry »

Official Reforms and India’s Real Economy, Pt. 3

By Sunanda Sen, guest blogger

Part three of a three-part series, a version of which was published in Economic and Political Weekly on September 21, 2019.  Find Part 1 here and Part 2 here

Part 3: Pattern of stagnation in India’s real economy

As already emphasised in the preceding sections of this commentary, a country’s GDP growth alone hardly indicates the country’s level of development, which include employment, social security and absence of poverty. Recognising above is important in the context of the ailing Indian economy that is currently subject to concerns more pressing than the plunging financial sector.

Mention can be made here of the structural changes in the Indian economy, with changing relative contributions of its three major sectors.Those include the share for services moving up to 50% and above since the early 1990s and the respective industry and agriculture shares stalling around 25% and 19% or less since then.

The employment situation as currently prevail in the Indian economy include 90% or more people struggling to eke out a survival in the informal sector while the organised formal sectors within industry and services offer 10% or less of jobs, thus pushing the majority of the working population to the dark terrains of the unorganised and informal jobs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Official Reforms and India’s Real Economy, Pt. 2

By Sunanda Sen, guest blooger

Part two of a three-part series, a version of which was published in Economic and Political Weekly on September 21, 2019.  Find Pt. 1 here.

Pt. 2: How effective to revive the economy?

Sops as above as tax relief—to portfolio as well as corporate investors within and outside the country—while effective in temporarily stimulating the secondary stock market, may not work to reverse the tendencies for the stagnation, even in the financial sector and let alone in the real economy. Contrary to what was expected, the initial response of the stock market continued to be rather non-committal over nearly a month between August 23 and September 20 when the big tax bonanza package was announced. It is possibly too early (and nearly impossible) to project the stock market movements in future. Still more doubtful is an expected positive impact of all above policy moves on capacity creation via the market for initial primary offers (IPOs)—short of which there can be no expansion in the real economy of output, investment and employment.

Official Reforms and India’s Real Economy, Pt. 1

By Sunanda Sen, guest blogger

Part one of a three-part series, a version of which was published in Economic and Political Weekly on September 21, 2019. 

That the Indian economy is currently experiencing a slowdown is more than evident, both with the deliberations in different private circles and with official statements signalling a series of remedial measures, mostly focussed on the ailing financial sector. However, as we point out, the ailing Indian economy has concerns that go beyond flagging GDP growth and the ailing financial sector.

Downturn in the economy

As for the downturn, the country’s GDP growth rate has plunged into a low of 5% in the first quarter of the current financial year 2019–2020. The drop has been accompanied by sharp decelerations in the manufacturing output and a sluggish growth of output in agriculture. Matching both, ‘consumption growth’ has also been weak.

A fact which remains less highlighted in current official concerns includes unemployment, at 7.1% of the labour force during September–December 2018 as reported in the Labour Force Periodic Review. Unemployment has been even higher for urban youth during the period, at 23.4%. Information as is available indicates on-going spread of job cuts in different manufacturing units and wide-ranging distress in rural areas with farmer suicides, which causes added concern.

We’re All in the Same Lifeboat Now, Pt. 2

Climate change comes for farmers – from Mozambique to Iowa

By Timothy A. Wise

Originally published at  Medium, as a contribution to Climate Media Week as people the world over strike for climate action and justice.  Find Part 1 here

Part 2: Iowa: implicated in climate change

As Amnesty International’s secretary general Kumi Naidoo told the BBC, “There is one inescapable and burning injustice we cannot stress enough. The people of Mozambique are paying the price for dangerous climate change when they have done next to nothing to cause this crisis.”

You can’t say the same about Iowa. Every part of Iowa’s industrial model of agriculture is implicated and threatened by climate change. Implicated because industrial agriculture is a major emitter of greenhouse gasses; 14 percent are attributed directly to agriculture. That jumps to 23 percent, according to a recent UN report, when deforestation from agriculture-induced land-use changes, is taken into account. High rates of nitrogen-fertilizer applied to Iowa’s corn fields contribute to emissions of nitrous oxide, more potent than carbon dioxide. The state’s factory farms add to the problem when concentrated manure is sprayed on farmers’ fields.

Threatened because the evil twins of climate change are coming for Iowa’s farmers too. NASA modeling for Iowa shows a high probability of more intense storms, like the recent cyclone, with a growing threat of long droughts. Rising temperatures are making nights too warm for optimal production, and high daytime temperatures are drying out the plants in soil no longer rich enough in organic matter to retain much moisture. Summer rains are less consistent; farmers can’t count on rain in that critical two-week period after the corn tassels.

Many years it is now just too hot and too dry, depressing yields. A University of Minnesota study estimated that by 2075 Iowa corn yields could be 20-50% lower than they are today.

Like their Mozambican counterparts, some Iowa farmers could face the loss of two years of production to the recent flooding. Many lost this year’s crop to late planting, and some lost last year’s as they watched storm waters destroy last year’s stored crops to water damage. They hadn’t sold their corn and beans because prices were so low and President Trump’s trade war had destroyed the export markets they have come to depend on.

Many farmers now fear losing their farms. Debt levels are rising and farm prices remain low despite the flooding. Most vulnerable are those who owe on mortgages or farm equipment, purchased in the boom years when ethanol drove crop prices to unprecedented highs. Those who rent land are also struggling, and more than half of Iowa’s farmland is now rented. Many expect the floodwaters will add to a wave of consolidation as large landowners and outside investors buy up distressed farms at auction, further hollowing out rural areas.

Read the rest of this entry »

September 30, 2019 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Comments Closed

We’re All in the Same Lifeboat Now

Climate change comes for farmers – from Mozambique to Iowa

By Timothy A. Wise

Originally published at  Medium, as a contribution to Climate Media Week as people the world over strike for climate action and justice.

Part 1: Mozambique

It felt ominous when I was in Iowa in March that both Iowa and Mozambique were underwater from cyclone-induced flooding widely attributed to climate change. I’d studied and written about both places in my recent book. These farming communities are as distant from one another – geographically and developmentally – as they could be, yet there they were in the same metaphorical lifeboat trying to save their families and farms from the floods.

I saw the devastation in central Mozambique in June – houses still missing their roofs, schools barely functioning, and farmers without seeds for the coming rainy season. The March cyclone wiped out crops that were nearly ready for harvest, leaving communities dependent for the present on food aid and without seeds for this year’s planting.

Parts of Iowa were underwater when I was there in March, and today Iowa and much of the Midwest is still suffering periodic flooding from the wettest year on record. Many farmers couldn’t plant because the ground was too wet, or they got their crops in late, reducing yields. There were only three reported deaths from the flooding; Iowa had the lifeboats to get people out of danger. But they are not out of the destructive path of climate change, and I sensed a new awareness of that danger, suddenly clear and present.

With farmers on opposite sides of the globe suffering the same types of severe storms provoked by a changing climate, I imagined them all in the same lifeboat. They would have a lot to learn from one another. The Mozambicans might tell their Iowan boat-mates that U.S. farmers, with their greenhouse-gas-emitting industrial-scale farms, bore at least some of the responsibility for the rising waves of climate catastrophe. But those African peasants might also share their secret to surviving climate change, one that could help reverse Iowa’s own self-destructive agricultural path. Listen closely, Iowa, can you hear it? Diversidade, whisper the Mozambicans. Diversity. It may just be the key to climate resilience, from Africa to Iowa.

Read the rest of this entry »

September 27, 2019 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Comments Closed

Local Responsibility for a Global Problem: Juliana v. the U.S.

The following is the text of the speech that Liz Stanton gave at Wednesday night’s event at Tufts University celebrating the life and work of Frank Ackerman, who died in late July. Frank was one of the founders of Dollars & Sense, which maintains Triple Crisis blog, and was a frequent contributor to Triple Crisis. Cross-posted at the Dollars & Sense blog.

I’d like to talk about some very recent work of Frank’s.

Frank wrote an expert report wrote last year and made a deposition in that same case. Some of you may have heard of it.

Twenty-one kids are suing the U.S. government for knowingly failing to protect them from climate change. It’s Juliana v. the United States, filed in 2015. It’s been tossed back and forth between courts, included the U.S. Supreme Court for going on four years and has yet to see an actual hearing, a day in court for those kids, some of whom are now young adults.

In his expert report on behalf of Kelsey Juliana and her 20 co-plaintiffs, Frank explains that the conventional methods of economic analysis employed by the federal government in its decision making undervalue or dismiss altogether serious risks of climate damage. He writes about some pretty wonky, esoteric topics: the discount rate, fat-tailed distributions, contingent valuation, and credible worst-case risk assessment. He was one of quite a few witnesses offered by the plaintiffs. But it’s his testimony—full of formal economic theory, moral philosophy, and a chapter on pricing the priceless—it’s that testimony on which the judgment in this case may well hinge, if it ever gets that day in court.

September 20, 2019 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Comments Closed

In Memoriam, Frank Ackerman

It is with great sadness that we announce that Frank Ackerman, a frequent contributor to Triple Crisis blog and one of the founders of Dollars & Sense (which maintains Triple Crisis), died on July 25th of this year.

Frank contributed five posts to Triple Crisis earlier this year; the fifth was Inequality, Sunk Costs, and Climate Policy (and the other four are linked at the top of that post). Frank revised the first three of those posts into the cover feature for the March/April issue of D&S, Can We Afford a Stable Climate.

Last September, at the 50th-anniversary celebration for the Union for Radical Political Economics, Frank spoke on a panel with two other D&S founders, Ann Davis and Arthur MacEwan, and D&S co-editor Chris Sturr, on the early history of D&S.  You can listen to Frank’s remarks here.  (The article about the history of D&S that Frank mentions at the beginning of his remarks can be found here.) Thanks to D&S collective member Cadwell Turnbull for recording and editing the talk.

There will be an event honoring Frank tomorrow at Tufts University.  The event begins at 4:30 in the Alumnae Lounge at the Aidekman Center on Tufts’ Medford campus.  Several speakers will discuss Frank’s research on climate change, environmental regulation, and economic modeling. The presentations will go on until about 6:00, and a reception will follow.

September 17, 2019 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Comments Closed