Category Archives: In The News

Occupy Debt

Occupy Wall Street

Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

This article appeared in the Guardian yesterday about Rolling Jubilee – Occupy’s Strike Debt project. The way the project works is simple: Collect donations. Use the donations to buy debt for pennies on the dollar through the secondary debt market. Abolish the debt. Repeat.

I find the project very interesting. According the Guardian piece, Rolling Jubilee has, to date, bought and freed $14 million worth of consumer debt – mainly medical bills. Practical implications aside, the project is a wonderful way to raise awareness about debt as a commodity and to empower people to take a stand against Wall Street.

US Military in Africa

AfricaMilitaryMapLegend630

Map from Nick Turse’s MJ piece

Nick Turse from TomDispatch.com put out this excellent piece on Mother Jones about a month ago. It’s one of a number of articles he’s written about the dramatic increase in US military actions on the African continent since the early 2000s. Turse details not only the startling rate of increasing military operations, but also the near absolute silence from AFRICOM and the Obama administration about its activities on the continent.

The growing presence of the US military in Africa raises important questions about the role of the US as ‘global policeman’ and the relationship between global capitalism and military expansion. The Left usually explains this relationship in one of two ways: One, the military is a kind of ‘primitive accumulation’ tool used by capital to grab resources like African farmland, oil, minerals, etc.; or two, the US military is not a tool for capital, and should be seen more simply as the ‘coercive apparatus’ of the US state, keeping order in an unruly and chaotic world.

Obviously not everyone on the Left thinking about the military and capitalism can be lumped into these two ‘camps’, but I would argue that most analyses that broach the connection between the military and capitalism fall into one of these frameworks. I’ve raised this issue before, but perhaps not as explicitly as I should. I think it is imperative that we think harder about the relationship between the military, capitalism and state power. What does it mean that the US state is rapidly ramping up its military presence in Africa?  Why is the expansion of global capitalism coupled so tightly with the expansion of military capacity? How can we map the connections between the endlessly expansive ‘War on Terror’ and the efforts of the US state to superintend the global economy? Does the military play an intrinsic role in capital accumulation?  I don’t have answers to these questions, but they deserve more attention.

Fast-Food Strikes

Fast Food group with banner

http://www.labornotes.org/2012/11/new-york-fast-food-workers-walk-job

We have something to celebrate this Labor Day. Fast food and retail workers are taking to the streets again today to demand a living wage and the right to unionize. I’m admittedly a little giddy as I scroll through the Twitter updates of workers walking out in cities across the US.

Things started heating up last summer following the heroic efforts of C.J.’s Seafood workers in June. Actions by Walmart warehouse and retail workers followed, and then New York City fast food workers walked out in late 2012, paving the way for an upsurge this spring and summer. And the actions keep spreading. Big cities like New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and Seattle are leading the march, while workers in new places like Denver, Boston, New Orleans and Atlanta are joining the fight today.

There is serious energy and dynamism behind this movement, and business is starting to freak out. The Employment Policies Institute put out another full-page, scare ad today – this time in the Wall Street Journal:

EPI_MinimumWageRobot_WSJ_finalv2

I wrote a piece about the movement. It’s coming out next week in Dollars and Sense.

As they’re saying in Detroit: Hold the burgers! Hold the fries! Make our wages supersize!

First Post: Pre-blog Pieces

Here are a few pieces I published elsewhere:

This piece for AlterNet relates the 2009 restructuring/bailout of GM and Chrysler to Detroit’s July 18 Chapter 9 filing.

This piece talks about Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch’s new book, The Making of Global Capitalism.

Here is another piece I wrote for Jacobin on Chrysler’s ‘Imported From Detroit’ ad campaign.  aschoff

Illustration by Maxwell Holyoke-Hirsch

I wrote this piece, Vultures in the ER, a while back for Dollars and Sense. It talks about private equity firms and healthcare.