Our March/April Issue Is Out!

Cover of March/April 2019 issueOur March/April issue is out–sent to e-subscribers last week and en route to print subscribers now.  We have posted the issue’s cover story, Can We Afford a Stable Climate?, by Frank Ackerman.  (Thanks to D&S collective member Jeanne Winner for the cover concept, which perfectly frames the humor in Frank’s title.)

Here is the issue’s editors’ note, including a welcome to our new co-editor, Elizabeth T. Henderson:

Economic Extinction

In early February, The Economist published an article, “A Bold New Plan to Tackle Climate Change Ignores Economic Orthodoxy,” lamenting the fact that the Green New Deal “largely dispenses with cost-benefit analysis.” This issue’s cover story by Frank Ackerman (one of the founders of Dollars & Sense) spells out just why ignoring economic orthodoxy, and cost-benefit analysis in particular, is exactly the right approach for climate policy. When we’re faced with uncertain but extreme risks, as we are with climate change, “policy should be based on the credible worst-case outcome, not the expected or most likely value.” Orthodox economists peddling cost-benefit analysis are like the dinosaurs on this issue’s cover—they should go extinct, as the dinosaurs did as a result of a changing climate. And the rest of us might well go extinct if we let economic orthodoxy determine climate policy.
In our ongoing series on a federal job guarantee, Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg pays tribute to FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights, which turns 75 this year. Goldberg shows how the Green New Deal and related policy proposals could finally realize FDR’s vision and address the climate crisis and economic inequality at the same time. Ackerman also addresses the connections between economic inequality and climate justice in a long sidebar in his cover story.
A second theme of this issue is one of our favorite topics, U.S. imperialism. Arthur MacEwan answers a question that Ryan Cooper, an astute journalist who writes for The Week, posed recently on Twitter: U.S. corporations clearly exploit people in developing countries, but does U.S. prosperity depend on such exploitation? Arthur’s answer introduces a class analysis to address how elites—both in the United States and in the developing countries that corporations exploit—benefit most of all from such exploitation. But so do the rest of us: ordinary people in the United States benefit from low-cost consumer goods, cheap gas, and higher wages trickling down from bosses’ superprofits. Higher living standards have long bought off a “labor aristocracy” that might otherwise have shown solidarity with exploited workers abroad. In the end, there’s no doubt that the exploitation of developing countries is one of the pillars of U.S. prosperity.
U.S. agribusiness is one example of corporate exploitation of the developing world, as the eminent Malaysian economist Jomo shows in his review of the new book by former D&S co-editor, Timothy A. Wise, Eating Tomorrow. Agribusiness corporations influence government policies to favor large farms and industrialized agriculture, with disastrous results for small family farmers and the environment.
And the history of U.S. relations with Mexico provides a perfect case study of U.S. corporate exploitation of the developing world, as James M. Cypher and Mateo Crossa show in their retrospective on NAFTA. The agreement was more about investment than trade, and most of all about corporate access to low-cost labor and resources. If anyone needed more reasons to be skeptical about the Trump administration’s recent saber-rattling at Venezuela—endorsed by too many Democrats—the authors’ long sidebar on how NAFTA fits into the history of U.S. designs on Mexican oil provides plenty. The long history of U.S. interventionism for oil is where the climate crisis and imperialism meet, with oil companies being the central villains. Let’s hope we can make them extinct, too.
Last but not least, we continue our 45th-anniversary celebrations with another excerpt from our archives: from the year that NAFTA was initialized—1992—an article by former D&S staff editor Patricia Horn on the economics of violence against women.

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We at Dollars & Sense are pleased to welcome Elizabeth T. Henderson to our staff as co-editor! Liz previously worked for several years as an editor at the Indypendent in New York City. Her reporting has appeared in Dissent, The Nation, Waging Nonviolence, and the Indypendent. Liz brings extensive editorial, reporting, and fundraising experience to D&S, and her amazing organizational skills are already leaving their mark on the D&S office and our production schedule. Welcome, Liz!

One thought on “Our March/April Issue Is Out!”

  1. The NAFTA article is one of the best pieces I’ve ever read. I lived in Guadalajara in 1996 studying Spanish. The local newspaper carried an article that said half of the households in the city had one adult earning less than $7 a day, and adjusting for inflation today that would be $11.21 a day. The newspaper article featured twin photos of two 10 year old girls, one weighed 110 pounds the other 80, and the incomes of parents were lower 20 to upper 80 percentiles. This D&S article says wage earnings have not increased at the median since 1992, when 53% of the population lived in poverty. Same portion, 53%, live in poverty today. I used some figures from the article and did a guess — in a 2 adult and 2 child family both adults are working, the husband earns 40% of the U.S. minimum wage, $2.87 an hour, the wife earns 20% of US minimum, about $1.33 an hour. The Mexican minimum wage is $5 a day or $0.62 an hour. Together at the median the four person household earns about $34 a day, and $8,880 a year, as the article points out (each individual has income of $2,220 a year at the median). Mexico has nearly the highest inequality gini of all OECD countries. The OECD says this, “Income inequality in OECD countries is at its highest level for the past half century. The average income of the richest 10% of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10% across the OECD, up from seven times 25 years ago. Only in Turkey, Chile, and Mexico has inequality fallen, but in the latter two countries the incomes of the richest are still more than 25 times those of the poorest.” The household income gap in the U.S., 10th percentile to 90th, is 12.5 times ($14,280 to $178,793, dqydj.org). Mexico ranks 87th among all nations in the UN Human Development Index Adjusted for Inequality, near Ecuador, Peru, Jamaica, Jordan, Philippines, Thailand, and slightly below China. The U.S. ranks #25th, even though by average per capita income we are richest. I noted that AMLO wrote a book in 2010, “La Mafia que se adueno de Mexico” — The Mafia that owned itself of Mexico, rough translation, “The Mafia that took over ownership of Mexico”. His most common description of Mexican economy is in one word, corrupcion. The entire issue is high quality.

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