Background Briefing: September 1, 2019
The Gig Economy Turns Us Into a Nation of Rickshaw Drivers
On this Labor Day weekend we begin and speak with Stacy Mitchell, the Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self Reliance, who recently testified before the United States House Judiciary Committee at a hearing about the monopoly power of dominant tech platforms. She joins us to give her account on how our politicians might finally be coming to the realization that if monopolies like Facebook and Amazon are not reined in with antitrust action, the United States will soon end up a nation of jesters in the court of the platform kings. With the new gig economy promising to turn America into a nation of rickshaw drivers, we discuss the new signs of hope from the Presidential candidates running in 2020 who seem to be starting to reckon with the mistakes of financial deregulation and deference to billionaires who have shown an utter contempt for workers and unions. Will Democratic voters play it safe with Biden, or take a bold stance with Sanders or Warren to enact progressive agendas that empower working Americans and reinvigorate Labor Unions? With the Republicans committed to busting Unions and distributing even more wealth to the top 1%, can Democrats be at least as bold as FDR?
The State of Working America
Then we speak with Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist and co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the University of California, Berkeley. She has co-authored several editions of The State of Working America, and she joins us to discuss how most working Americans have not had a raise since the 1970’s and many have to work two or more jobs to make ends meet. And with over 40% of Americans just one $400 emergency expense away from penury, the constant refrain from Trump about his great economy should ring hollow and be a central issue for whichever of the many Democrats end up challenging him for the presidency.
Will Democracy Save Plutocracy?
Then finally we examine the broader national and global landscape of economic inequality and assess whether democracy can survive plutocracy, as the country and the world drift further and further into a new gilded age. Jeffrey Winters, an historian and the author of Oligarchy, joins us to discuss the ascent of a new faux economic populism trumpeted by the oligarchy’s lapdogs on the right such as Tucker Carlson and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, who have been ginning up a phony class war against what they define as “cosmopolitan elites” in order to deflect working Americans away from the real plutocratic purveyors of economic inequality as Fox News manufactures anxiety about white men becoming a persecuted minority in the United States.