Still Making Sense

We have been negligent today posting to the blog, partly from watching the inauguration. We’ve also been busy putting together a full update of the website for the January/February issue of the magazine and to tweak the site somewhat to match the magazine’s new design.

In lieu of our regular volume of posts, here is the editorial note from the Jan/Feb issue. When we came up with the headline for the note, we noticed the allusion to the Talking Heads, and Wikipedia told us that the band was founded in 1974—just like Dollars & Sense. Was that a good year, or what?

Just a few months ago, we worried on this page that the $700 billion bailout of the financial services industry Congress enacted last September would suck up so much money—and increase the federal deficit so much—that it would be impossible to pass the massive public investment program that would be necessary to keep the recession from turning into a depression.

It appears we were wrong. Congress and the Obama administration are working on a stimulus package whose size may range upwards of $1 trillion. The shift to a “deficits be damned” view across much of the political spectrum reflects just how rapidly the economy has deteriorated since the fall. The pace of events is dizzying; the economist-pundits often seem to be just as much at a loss as their non-economist counterparts when it comes to understanding what is happening, let alone making accurate forecasts.

This is a key moment to broaden a critical understanding of how the economy works. It’s good to know what a collateralized debt obligation is, but it’s much more important to recognize how three decades of stagnating real wages for a majority of U.S. households contributed to the explosion in debt that is now sending shrapnel around the globe.

If this sounds like a pitch for the importance of Dollars & Sense—well, it is. And there’s a reason we’re making that pitch now: D&S turns 35 this year! Thirty-five years ago, a small group of young economists founded a magazine to challenge both mainstream coverage of the economy and the orthodoxy of academic economics. They wanted to provide activists (as many of them were) with information about the economic underpinnings of a wide range of political and cultural issues.

Dollars & Sense has changed in many ways since then, but it’s still making economic facts and analysis accessible to the people. In addition to the magazine, D&S textbooks and classroom anthologies are now educating thousands of college students—and even some high-schoolers. And the website receives tens of thousands of unique visitors every month.

In 2009, collectively organized, non-profit, progressive publishing companies are hard to find. As D&S celebrates the first 35 years, we need to shore up its foundation so it can continue growing and making a difference for the next 35. So D&S is announcing a one-year “Anti-Capital Campaign” to reduce our debt and secure the future. If you’d like to learn more about how you can help, call development director Linda Pinkow at (617) 447-2177 x204.

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