New Issue!


Our November/December 2016 issue is out!  I just posted the cover story, Jerry Friedman’s Nativism: As American as (Rotten) Apple Pie.

Here is this issue’s editorial note:

Liberty in a Time of Crisis

It is both apt and ironic. The most “American” symbol of liberty is an immigrant.

The Statue of Liberty—or, as it is formally known, “Liberty Enlightening the World”—stood assembled in France (see photo this page) before packing, shipping across the Atlantic, and reassembly at its permanent home in New York Harbor. Of course, the pedestal also bears the famous lines:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

The irony should be evident in today’s vile frenzy of nativism—the fulminations against Mexican immigrants, the fantasies of border walls and mass deportations, the disturbing calls for a ban on Muslim immigration and registration of those already here. From economic historian (and regular D&S columnist) Gerald Friedman, we have a historical account of America’s long history of anti-immigrant outbursts—from Benjamin Franklin before the United States even existed to the KKK of the 1920s (which, in addition to its white supremacism, gave voice to the ugliest anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic, and anti-immigrant impulses). He explains how present-day nativism fits the patterns.

The aptness may not seem so obvious, but Friedman’s account also belies a view of U.S. history as one of unrelenting xenophobia. Between episodes of nativist rage, there were periods of openness to immigration; during the high tides of anti-immigrant sentiment, also noble defenses of equal rights and civil liberties; in their wake, an eventual reopening, and a reaffirmation of belief in this as an “immigrant nation.” Even today, the vocal anti-immigrant minority notwithstanding, most U.S. residents express positive views about immigrants and what they bring to the country.

Of course, the nativist eruption is only part of a wider turmoil gripping the United States and the world. Polly Cleveland reviews Arlie Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land, the sociologist’s account of her foray into Louisiana Tea Party country. Hochschild’s attempt to understand and empathize with Tea Party supporters, Cleveland argues, reveals people jealously defending their place in the social pecking order—as is typical of high-inequality and low-mobility societies.

Biola Jeje’s “Active Culture” turns our attention to the Movement for Black Lives. This is a country, she reminds us, where Black people’s personhood has often been acknowledged more grudgingly than that of capitalist corporations. Activists are confronting a reality of police violence and mass incarceration, crises of housing and education, inadequate infrastructure and environmental degradation—all of which disproportionately impact African Americans. The disparities, of course, are not new. The movement’s bold vision confronting racism and neoliberalism today is an encouraging development.

Crossing the Atlantic, we see another continent where the future is uncertain.

Alejandro Reuss continues his series on the eurozone crisis and European social democracy. In this installment, he addresses the rise of “Third Way” figures—who turned their backs on class-struggle politics and counseled reconciliation with neoliberalism—to leadership of the social democratic parties in the largest European countries.
Two other articles on Europe explore similar themes. William Saas,

Jorge Amar, David Glotzer, and Scott Ferguson consider the economic program of Spain’s leftist Podemos party, and ways in which it has failed to embrace the changes necessary to pull Spain out of its current crisis. The authors point to the necessity of a universal job guarantee, a “left exit” (or “lexit”) from the euro, and an understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) in transcending conventional balanced-budget thinking.

Nina Eichacker, meanwhile, considers the ramifications of this past summer’s Brexit vote on the UK economy and especially its financial sector. She weighs factors pointing both toward stability and toward instability. Pro-Brexit voters, she concludes, might not get the populist outcome they hoped for, in an economy heavily reliant on finance and with a state committed to protecting financial interests.

The cover image for this issue shows Liberty under construction. (It is actually a model, on display at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris.) That is an apt metaphor, in the United States, in Europe, and the world over. The version of “liberty” offered by those in power has been, at best, incomplete; at worst, a cruel hoax.

It’s high time for a redesign.

D&S Left Forum panels, plus: Friedman Responds on Single-Payer

Dollars & Sense will be at this year’s Left Forum conference in New York City, this afternoon through Sunday afternoon. Come visit D&S co-editor at the book exhibit table!  We are also sponsoring two panels:

Bernie v. The Greens: What Can the Government Actually Do to Fix Our Economic Mess?, with Gerald Friedman, Jill Stein, and Sean Sweeny, moderated by Abby Scher.  Sun noon to 2pm, Room L2.85.

Finance Capital and Fraud: Evidence and Discussion of Rigging & Predatory Behavior, with Jason Hecht, John Summa, and Haim Bodek, moderated by John Sarich. Sun noon to 2pm, Room 1.105.

Besides appearing on one of our panels at Left Forum, Jerry Friedman has worked up a response to the Urban Institute’s study on the costs of Sanders’ single-payer plan, The Sanders Single-Payer Health Care Plan: The Effect on National Health Expenditures and Federal and Private Spending, which led to all kinds of breathless reporting at the usual anti-Sanders outlets like Vox (Bernie’s plan costs twice as much as he says it would!) and WashPo (“Sorry, Bernie fans!” His plan will cost $18 trillion!), claiming that it had been shown that (FAIR/Extra!’s great analyst Adam Johnson pointed out that WashPo managed to wring out four anti-Sanders stories from this one study in the space of seven hours.)  The spectacle of Democratic Party think-tanks like the Urban Institute and the Tax Policy Center taking on the role of dampening people’s social democratic expectations is something to behold.

Anyhow, here is the beginning of Jerry’s take-down of the Urban Institute study:

The Urban Institute’s evaluation of the Sanders single-payer plan is based on dubious assumptions, questionable estimates, and some opaque arithmetic. By assuming unprecedented increases in utilization and discounting the program’s likely savings, the Urban Institute’s study produces extreme estimates about the cost of the Sanders program. The study then magnifies the impact of these costs on the Federal budget by also assuming the complete disappearance of state and local health spending, not only on Medicaid but on all other public health programs funded on the state and local level. Next, the study appears to ignore over a trillion dollars in savings that it does concede to the Sanders program, dropping these from its bottom line.

Read the rest of Jerry’s rebuttal here.

Hope to see some D&S blog readers and magazine subscribers at Left Forum this weekend!