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Money Talks 2001

The Economy for Dummies

Dates

2001

Location

The Cooper Union, New York City
Money
A series of roundtables feature panelists who helped us critically unpack the workings of contemporary economics—local, national and global— and its effects on the fabric and evolution of our culture. Hosted in 2001 and again in 2003, Money Talks also looked at some of the economic influences on the state of the approaching war and diminishing civil liberties.

Connected Ideas

Dialogue 1: Cracking the Code / Reading the News

With Seth Ackerman & Michael Zweig
Moderated by Alisa Solomon & Marilyn Neimarkk

“From 1972 until 1996, the real wages of American working people went down 25 percent. Meanwhile, worker’s output and productivity kept going up. Workers were producing more and getting less, so where was it going? To capital, it was going to employers, it was going to businesses. We’ve seen a big increase in inequality in the US economy. In 1980, the standard CEO made 40 times what a worker made, in 1993 it was 141 times, in 1998 it was 419 times, last year it was over 500 times.”  –Michael Zweig

By taking random articles about the economy from the daily newspaper, an economist and a media critic helped us to parse some of the basic terms and principles of the domestic economy: the stock market, the “middle class”, national debt, gross domestic product, unemployment, etc. and the ways mainstream media presents these concepts to the general public.

Michael Zweig is professor of Economics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, where he has received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.  He is on the state executive board of United University Professions, Local 2190, American Federation of Teachers, representing 22,000 faculty and professional staff throughout SUNY.  His books include The Working Class Majority: America’s Best Kept Secret, Religion and Economic Justice and The Idea of a World University.

Seth Ackerman is a media analyst at FAIR, the national media watchdog group. He has written for Harper’s, The Nation Magazine, In These Times, Left Business Observer, the Journal of Palestinian Studies and the Washington Times. He lives in New York City.

 

Dialogue 2: Understanding the Global Marketplace

With Seth Ackerman & Robert Naiman
Moderated by Alisa Solomon & Marilyn Neimark

“Globalization’– the term – doesn’t really mean what it sounds like it means. It’s been accompanied over the last twenty years by a tremendous movement towards free-market, deregulatory, pro-business policies in the domestic countries involved… the destruction of unions and the elimination of labor laws and labor regulations and, in most countries, a huge upward redistribution of wealth and an increase in profits.” – Seth Ackerman

In this meeting, an economist, media critic and a cultural critic defined the basic principles and the turbulent history of globalization. Topics discussed included third world debt, free and fair trade, and the implications of human rights on international labor.

Robert Naiman is Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. Formerly he was Senior Researcher at Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. He serves on the steering committee of the 50 Years is Enough Network. He has a Master’s Degree in Mathematics from the University of Illinois, where he has done graduate work in Economics and Public Policy. His research interests include Globalization, Effects of International Financial Institutions and Trade and Investment Agreements on Living Standards and Democracy, Impact of Speculative Capital Flows, and the Impact of U.S. Foreign Aid. He writes a biweekly column for the Sunday Journal newspapers (Metro DC).  Last February, his culinary contretemps in Bangkok with outgoing IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus beat out press coverage of the death of cartoonist Charles Schulz in European newspapers.

 

Dialogue 3: Productive Areas of Intervention

Panelists:   Naomi Klein & Kevin Danaher

“What emerged on the streets of Seattle and Washington was an activist model that mirrors the organic, decentralized, interlinked pathways of the Internet—the Internet come to life.  And out of these miniature formations is an emerging consensus that building community-based decision-making power—whether through unions, neighborhoods, farms, villages, anarchist collectives or aboriginal self-government—is essential to countering the might of multinational corporations.” – Naomi Klein

Activist and author Naomi Klein and Kevin Danaher, co-founder of Global Exchange, explore with us some of the active resistance and current reform experiments –  including the protests in Seattle and Washington D.C., the boycott of “American” merchandise produced in international “sweatshops,” and smaller—but no less significant—practices of intervention that people make in their everyday lives.

 

NAOMI KLEIN – Born in Montreal in 1970, Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and author of the best-selling book, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies. The NY Times called No Logo “a movement bible,” and the Guardian Newspaper short-listed it for their First Book Award. Her articles have appeared in The Nation, The New Statesman, Newsweek International, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Ms., The Baffler, and Saturday Night. She writes a weekly column in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s National Newspaper. For the past 5 years, Klein has traveled throughout North America, Asia, and Europe, tracking the rise of anti-corporate activism. She is a frequent media commentator and has guest lectured at Harvard, Yale and New York University. She lives in Toronto.

KEVIN DANAHER – Author, activist, speaker and The Director of Public Education for GLOBAL EXCHANGE which he co-founded. He is the author of 11 books, including his latest, Democratizing the Global Economy, and others such as, Corporations are Gonna Get Your Mama and 50 Years is Enough: The Case Against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He is currently writing a book on the history of the corporate accountability movement. Dr. Danaher has traveled widely in Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, North America and Ireland. He is familiar with the problems and prospects of economic development in many developing countries. His articles have appeared in The LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The International Herald Tribune, The Financial Times of Zimbabwe, Africa News, TransAfrica Forum, Harvard Educational Review, The Progressive among others. He currently lives in San Francisco with his wife, Medea Benjamin, and his two daughters, Arlen and Maya.