Economic Update: A Socialist Politician Wins

Economic Update: A Socialist Politician Wins



welcome friends to another edition of economic update a weekly program devoted to the economic dimensions of our lives jobs debts incomes our own and those of our kids I'm your host Richard wolf and I try to bring these weekly economic updates to you as a window different kind of window on what's happening in our economic surroundings every now and then I encounter a statistic that tells so much in so few words or numbers that I want to bring it to your attention and this time I take it from Harper's Magazine the June 2019 edition and here's a simple statistic people have compared the average amount spent on a pupils education per year in white schools across America as compared to non white schools predominantly in terms of the school population the difference is two thousand two hundred and twenty six dollars per year now if you wanted to do something about inequality between white and non-white people in this society you wouldn't possibly be able to justify such a difference means that young people are not starting out on an equal playing field it means that you're systematically disenfranchising the education that might be a way forward towards something a little bit less unequal there is no justification for it and the number tells us a lot about why we have the different incomes the different jobs the different life situation of these two parts of the American population the next economic update I want to bring to your attention comes from the Consumer Reports on health of july 2019 and that issue of that important health news letter is also making use of an earlier bit research reported in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics here in the United States the story the research is about comparing 1986 and 2017 in terms of the quality of fast food here in the United States what has happened to it in the last 3040 years this is a period of time during which we have as a nation become we say more health-conscious more concerned about epidemics of obesity more concerned about the general health of our population so what has happened to the fast food that so many of us spend so much of our lives putting into our bodies well you can guess why I brought it to your attention the following three qualities of fast food have all gone up ready calories sodium and the size of the portion here are the numbers for us to think about desserts whether they're provided at a McDonald's or a Burger King or a Pizza Hut or whatever desserts on average went from 392 calories per back in the 80s and early 90s to in the last year 572 it's an increase of 46 percent in terms of the calories entrees major parts of fast food lunches and dinners things like burgers went from an average of 430 to an average of 480 calories a 12% increase in calories and finally side dishes went from an average of 238 to 287 821 cent increase comparable numbers are about sodium and portions to make this Hall blunt and clear profit is what drives the definition of a fast-food meal not health we may talk about health we may read about health doctors may talk to us about health the government may have sessions and conferences about else but the business community controls what we actually get and for them profits were greater by upping the sodium upping the calories and upping the portions so that's what the American people get and when you let profit govern your food industry that's the outcome the parallel is the creation of a two class system in food generally those who can afford it buy organic at a higher price and those who can't the vast majority buy the food that those with money go out of their way to avoid putting into their bodies what kind of a system works like this next update I want to give a shout out take my hat off if I were wearing one to the hundreds of workers at the Wayfarer furniture company a short time ago they had a big demonstration in downtown Boston protesting the Wayfarer furniture companies selling of furniture to Detention Center's housing are being polite here immigrants at our borders in Texas and the South the workers said they didn't want the fruit of their labor to be used in so awful and inhumane away they didn't want it and they weren't gonna continue to produce furniture if it was going to be used for such immoral purposes the shoutout I want to stress is what an interesting idea that workers not just bosses and managers and owners should decide what is done with the fruits of the labor of working people they want to say in it they actually want their morality to be part of the decision about what their work life amounts to of course their bosses didn't want to didn't like it said they wouldn't listen for them apparently the morality of what you do doesn't count or maybe we should put it differently they want their morality the morality of a minority to govern what happens not the morality of a majority the protest against that is a recognition by workers that they have power that they have responsibility that they want to be in on the decisions of the workplace and not have it dictated to them by a small minority whose morality especially in relationship to immigration is something that the workers don't agree with and are not going to be shut up about remarkable initiative worthy of other people copying and thinking about then there was a story about the immigrants themselves so grotesque I felt I had to talk about it an official in charge of the immigration Fiasco at the border at our southern border was called upon by the press to respond to that remarkable photo you know the one you saw – of a father and his daughter lying dead at the edges of a river separating Mexico from Texas they had failed to make it across and the official in the Trump administration took time out when the press asked about this to blame the father for the death of both of them he shouldn't have tried to get across the river as thousands of people have done he shouldn't have it's on him that of his daughter he killed her said the Trump official and it's because we have open borders you see he explained which our good president is closing but the difficulty that Democrats are putting in the way of closing the border means the border is open and people like that endanger their children to get here this is wrong on so many levels it kind of takes your breath away but first let me explain people don't become refugees simply because there's an attractive new place to live if you believe that you'd have a hard time explaining why the open borders of the United States didn't produce waves of immigrants twenty years ago ten years ago like the ones now what's really happening is that there are conditions pushing people to leave their countries of origin their families of origin the languages of origin their communities of origin the push factor is always bigger than the pull factor because so much is uncertain about the new place you're going and so much is lost from the place you're leaving the United States has real responsibility for the climate change for the warfare for the economic underdevelopment of the countries being abandoned by these people we're not pure Watchers the same corporations that make money here are making money there and under conditions that drive large numbers of people to leave and come here and to imagine that that father made a bizarre decision shows a level of ignorance and again I'm being polite what should he have done tried the legal route that lends up in having your parents separated from the children or the risk of it or encounters nasty vigilantes willing to do all kinds of things and not interested in the details of your family relationship he should take the legal road you've made the legal road very risky very dangerous and very uncertain which are the very conditions from which that father and his daughter were trying to flee blaming the dead father and his dead daughter a special moment in the history of the American society celebrating a fourth of July recently and a Statue of Liberty that says we're the nation that welcomes with open arms the huddled masses yearning to be free and then my final update for today has to do with the tax cut the Trump tax cut of December 2017 you may recall that mr. Trump and the Republicans gathered the promises of major corporations about how this tax cut if only they would get it would lead to job creation and bonuses and wage increases for millions of Americans wonderful story of what was in store if only you cut the taxes of corporations leading the charge was the AT&T telephone company which promised that if it got the cut in its profits taxes from 35 to 21% which is what that tax bill gave them it would be a windfall and wages would go up here's the statistics as of the latest count keeping track of what actually happened AT&T since the tax cut has eliminated twenty three thousand three hundred and twenty eight jobs that's right the big tax cut reduced the jobs they forgot to mention that whether or not a tax cut affects the jobs will be shaped in part by automation by new technology by new situation in the market by all the things that always determine how many people have a job they forgot to tell you that they wanted you to believe that if you only cut taxes a miracle will happen and we will all be better off what percentage of workers have gotten a wage increase a one-time bonus or a wage increase based on the tax cut 4.3 percent of the workers how many 6.8 million workers out of an American labor force of a hundred and fifty seven million trivial corporations are getting 11 times as much in tax cuts as they are giving to workers in one-time bonuses or wage increases corporations are spending a hundred and fifty four times as much on buying back their own stock which is good for people who own shares in this stock as what they are giving to workers and please remember the basic statistic ten percent of the shareholders in America owned eighty four percent of the shares so when the stock market goes up it's really good for the top ten percent we've come to the end of the first half of our show please stay with us for a remarkable interview coming up don't go away I think you'll find it equally interesting welcome back friends to the second half of economic update before jumping into our interview for today I wanted to remind you please to subscribe to our YouTube channel to follow us on social media Facebook Twitter Instagram and finally as always a special thanks to our patreon community for their support well I'm very pleased today to bring back to our microphones and our cameras Lee Carter he is the current representative representing Virginia's 50th district in the States House of Delegates their legislature his district includes the city of Manassas and Western Prince William County he was inspired to run for office and he is a Democrat and the Socialist when he had an injury and was very badly mistreated by the worker compensation system of Virginia and decided to do something about it he won his first race in November 2017 served in the legislature the Democratic Party decided to primary him and regretted having made that decision when he defeated his challenger in June of 2019 so that he will go on to run for re-election in the fall of this year welcome back Lee thank you so much for having me it's always good to be here good well the most important thing about you politically speaking is that you are who you are and you are what you are and that you have stayed there and now you have fended off a challenger I think it's a testimony to what's possible in the United States today what other people like you and me could be thinking about and thinking about realistically not purely as an imaginary wonderful idea but something that's practically possible and in a way your very presence here testifies to the fact that you've proven that that's true and you've proven it in Virginia enough said all right so let me ask you give us the benefit of what you've learned being a legislator who's openly socialist in Virginia so let's start by saying how has the Republican Party treated you what what comes from them as part of your daily life well you know I am the only socialist elected to the Virginia General Assembly the chamber I'm in has a Republican majority it's the narrowest of Republican majorities it's a 51/49 chamber but what I found is that my name is a party line issue you know every every Republican looks at a bill with Lee Carter's name at the top as an automatic no and every Democrat looks at a bill with Lee Carter's name at the top is a maybe so so I spent a lot of my time convincing fellow members of the Democratic caucus I do caucus with the Democrats that I spend a lot of time convincing them that you know they can do more we can do more to help people you know we don't have to accept the things that are presented to us by the Republican majority we can fight harder and we can deliver more we can force concessions out of the Republicans for now while we're in the minority and we can make big campaign issues out of it later so that we can actually have a solid agenda going forward and it's uh a bit of a tough sell but it happens in Fitz in spurts is there an impact you can sense I know this is a difficult question but is there an impact you're having at least on the Democrats by your being there by them having to deal with a socialist in their midst who doesn't have horns and who has something to say yeah well you know I've been I've been trying to get some time in front of the the full caucus to explain what it means to have a socialist in the caucus so far they just haven't been able to find time for that presentation but but you know on a day to day basis yet there's a huge impact from just having someone who's willing to go and and touch what scene is the third rail and say you know it's not hot you can touch it so you know the things like you know talking about single-payer health care you know I campaigned on a platform of fighting for single-payer health care at the state level in 2017 and I was up front with everybody I said you know we're not gonna do this overnight there's gonna be steps along the way but you know at a time when when the rest of the Virginia Democratic Party was talking about maybe we can expand Medicaid I go in there and I start talking about single-payer health care and what do you know the Republicans could whoa we should probably expand Medicaid we should get that out of the way so now there's 300,000 Virginians who have health insurance today that did not have it two years ago and part of that was by pushing for the single-payer option oh absolutely which I'm still doing you know we got to keep our eyes on the prize we can't we can't settle for the intermediate steps we have to say you know this is the end goal the end goal is making the Commonwealth Virginia the kind of place where everyone can live and work free from worry about how they're going to put food on the table how they're gonna make the rent how they're gonna pay a doctor when they need to how they're gonna put their kids through college and free from all forms of discrimination and exploitation and you know we can talk about that end goal we can talk about the grand vision and also execute on the steps along the way to get there and I feel like that's something that's been really lost in American politics for a long time yeah in part love the way you build the trust that you are serious about the long term is being willing to fight for all the steps along the way and use them to argue why the the long term goal is necessary okay how about the media I'll have the media that you are surrounded by dealt with you as the socialist in the Virginia legislature well that's exactly how they've dealt with me every single headline about me is socialist delegate in Virginia but you know I mean my local newspaper is the Washington Post Virginia section which is owned by Jeff Bezos who is not exactly a fan because you oppose yeah it's their headquarters although he probably wasn't a fan or that but but you know it's it's hard you know just fighting for any coverage in the DC media market when you're you know you've got a media market of six and a half million people and you know I represent 84 thousand of them and so there's literally dozens of other state legislators they want to talk about there's county boards there's any other DC council so it's hard to get any coverage at all would you say that your experience running for office making your socialist commitments clear to people does that imply oh can we infer that other people like you in the state of Virginia could do the same oh absolutely absolutely you know the the single biggest hurdle is people that say oh I would love to but it's just not possible and so you know by going out there and demonstrating that yes it is possible to win on this message went on this message everywhere then you know that's what inspires people to step forward and do it in other places it's also what inspires people to back people who do go out there and talk about these things and you know I'm not just talking about social-democratic programs like like health care and free education I'm talking about you know a transition away from our current economic structure to one that's that's worker owned and operated because you know when you have worker owned and operated businesses we have enterprises where the decisions that are made by the enterprise are made by the people affected by those decisions there's a lot of things that are never gonna happen they're never gonna outsource their own jobs to another country because it's cheaper for the investors they're never gonna disregard the environmental consequences of what they do because it's the limit yeah it's their families that are breathing that air and drinking that water so you know you can go out there and you can talk about the grand vision of the better world that is possible and the biggest hurdle is getting people who would be your allies to believe that it's possible and having you win an election is a step in that direction it's definitely a step but you know it's it's not the be-all end-all you know my job in Richmond is is not to build socialism from the top down my job is to sort of create a framework where working people can build socialist enterprises on their own at a mass scale and to get others like you to be doing that to helping from from below everywhere I know enough about American politics and many of the people watching and listening to this program do too to know that it's a game in which usually small numbers of people build the team build a machine whatever word you want to go out there and to do the work during the off season that culminates in the election you're having one and then now you're having defeated a primary challenge is an indication that you've built such a team tell us about it because the ability to do that is part of what makes it possible to believe in doing it elsewhere yeah you know the the fundamental thing is building that coalition of folks who would be allies and convincing them that you know it's possible to get everything that they're fighting for you know it's it's it's talking to organized labor and saying hey you know we can not only have unionized workplaces we can have union owned workplaces you know it's it's talking – it's talking to women's health care groups and saying you know it's not only is it possible to fight against the rights attacks on on abortion rights it's possible to expand them to codify them into law and you know make sure that they are protected in case the supreme court overturns roe v wade it's talking about you know talking to environmentalists and saying you know not only can we fight against this one pipeline that you're actively fighting against we can transition away from the fossil fuel economy entirely and you know a lot of those folks have had that the idea the very concept of thinking big beaten out of them for 40 or 50 years and you know it's it's about going out there and putting in the groundwork to demonstrate that oh you can win on these things because these are things that are probably popular right I mean I just want to pull out of you a bit you can assemble a team of people the kind of people who go door to door who will be the link between these ideas and these programs and the individual mother father cousin uncle in the house or in the workplace that your team reaches oh yeah having that core of people seems crucial particularly American politics yeah and it's it's you know it's piecing together those those groups of activists and getting them fired up that that enables you to spread the word out to the massive working folks because you know if you look at the 2016 presidential election if none of the above was a candidate he won 44 states so you know there's there's overwhelming there's people by the tens of millions out there who have checked out of the political process hi early because they just don't feel like anything's gonna change and you have to be able to deliver that to them you have to do it frankly where they are you know on their front doorstep and the irony is having had politics defined in this country as a Republican or Democrat and having everyone learned slowly the lesson that there's not that big a difference there is a difference but not that big one for you to come along as a socialist in a way immediately broadcast up this is different but I think maybe people will listen because that's different they know yeah that there's something special about that because it's outside the norm um is it the state legislature in America changing are you you're trying to change it is it changing it's not gonna change on its own I mean these are you know there's around Capitol Square in Richmond and I assume in the other 49 states there's this anti reality force field you know corporate lobbyists go in and bad decisions come out because you know our state legislatures are so far removed from the people that they're supposed to serve and so you know we need we need people going in there and talking about the issues that working folks face and saying hey you know more jobs is not gonna solve the problem of housing affordability because you know the problem of housing affordability is you're trying to cram too many jobs into an area you know so you've got you've got people with two and three jobs that can't make rent a fourth one's not gonna help they need one job that's gonna pay the bills you know it's things like that and and you know by talking about those things in in a forceful way and and not accepting the the conventional framework of these discussions you're really able to get people to break out of that sort of anti reality bubble it's slow work it's it's put a really slow work but it's it's happening yes and you're proof that it's doable it's sustainable and you can win against even the efforts to undo it having shown what's possible I wish we had more time as always leave but we will bring you back so you keep giving us a report of how this is working absolutely and to all of you I hope you will take the kind of inspiration that I do from what Lee has accomplished and what he is accomplishing and the model it presents to all of you around the country thinking about what's happening in this country the need for change and seeing the change is genuinely possible thanks again for watching and listening and I look forward to speaking with you again next week

29 thoughts on “Economic Update: A Socialist Politician Wins

  1. Wait until the surplus is gone and people are angered by lowering calorie counts in prepared foods, and higher prices for all foods. (Climate change is going to make the world a very different place)

  2. Good to see lee still at it and doing well! You all should follow him on twitter, he’s a funny and genuine guy.

  3. the Pelosi's the Feinsteins the Schumers do not want change, the corporatists.. blame republicans and blame Trump.. but the real problem has it's roots in Obama corporate centrism.. if your representative won't fight for you.. maybe the problem is you keep voting for them..

  4. Why dont the workers buy shares in the companies an share in the profits. The barriers of entry is super low.

  5. I had to pause on the section about fast food and say something about it. Most of what was said completely misses what makes fast food unhealthy. It's the wheat, sugar, and carbs. The wheat contains phytic acid which prevents the absorption of valuable minerals. The sugars and the carbohydrates increase the glucose levels in the bloodstream which, in turn, will eventually increase insulin insensitivity and cause obesity and diabetes. In addition to the first two problems, it also causes inflammation in the vascular system which allows the cholesterol to become blockages creating cardiovascular diseases. What's worse is that carbs, specifically sugar, suppressing the full sensation which stops us from overeating. Take out the high carb ingredients and it becomes harder to overeat. Replace the soda with water. Replace the bun with a lettuce wrap. Ditch the fries for fresh veggies. Do that and you will find it harder to eat too much and your health will improve.

  6. Begs the question how terrible of a father you have to be for putting your child's life in that amount of danger. Why not follow the rules and enter the country through a port of entry.

  7. We need socialist candidates who can make some noise without drawing fire from the establishment. Bernie vibes, but fresh. #TheAllParty

  8. The workers gets paid to do a job. If they want to have a say into the operations of a business they should buy shares.

  9. ATT knew they would be laying off tens of thousands as they are laying fiber cable that needs less fixing and replacing. They knew this before Trump ever entered the race for president. And as to bonus' did they really get them because of the tax cut or were they just the usual trick to cheat employees out of higher wages?

  10. The disparity in per-pupil expenditures between predominantly white schools and predominantly colored schools is the inevitable result of the fact that public schools are funded by property taxes. Wolff is happy to complain about the 'unfairness', but he does not suggest any possible solution(s) for the problem.

  11. Processed, chemical laced so-called food is the product, under paid employees with out any benefits, no family leave, no child care, no sick care, no normal schedule, need to be available at the managers beacon call. Executives with no connection with the workers, getting paid 1000's of times what the workers make. Never eating the product they are selling. Customers lacking the knowledge of what is going on. Now you should understand, you have been socialized by the education system.

  12. I worked in Prince William Co. For 10 years, Woodbridge. This makes me so happy. LEE LEE LEE LEE !!!! I also lived in Richmond for 5 years and was a worker at the Commonwealth club. Well let me just say I will be saying prayers for you and your just being there already means so much to us. Thank you Dr. Wolff for bringing Lee on the show.

  13. Richard Wolff is just an elitist bubble headed communist lunatic. He is as wrong as Abraham Lincoln was believing in the indivisible Union by force. This fallacy of a could never be more less representative Democracy. California will soon be leading the way towards secession. Secession is the future. This so called United States is over with.

  14. "There will always be poor people, in the land, and the poor with you." – Holy Bible
    No matter how much money you spend, you can't fix stupid people and people of poor circumstance who won't bootstrap themselves. Crabs in a Bucket rules apply.

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