Saturday, October 3, 2015

Keynes or Marx? Ask Hardcastle.

"[I]t was Keynes, not Marx, who cracked the code of crisis economics and explained how recessions and depressions can happen." (Paul Krugman)
Edgar Hardcastle. Source: MIA

Although Whack-a-Krugman (with or without reason) has become a popular past-time among the Internet experts, I'm not reproducing the quote above (from "Why Aren't We All Keynesians Yet"; Fortune, August 17, 1998: link) to pick on Paul Krugman, or any other notable in particular.

Instead, my intention is to give a clear example of an unjustified triumphalism common not only among the multitude of commentators of unknown and/or questionable credentials (to say nothing of intellectual honesty and ability to read) populating comment threads and the Twittersphere, but even among mainstream bona fide Keynesian scholars (like Krugman). [*]

In both cases, I suspect, the comment is nothing more than an uncritical/confused endorsement of some previous authority's pronouncements (btw, I could give at least one good example, as good as the quote above, including a high-profile academic's candid admission, but I rather avoid hurting feelings).


Edgar Hardcastle (1900-1995) -- and many others after him -- have abundantly written about the largely unacknowledged debt Keynesian economics owes Marx. From his June 1971 article "Marx and Keynes on Unemployment" for the Socialist Standard:
"Keynes was given the credit of having demolished the theories of 19th century economists who had taught that, if left to its own devices, capitalism would always and of its own accord tend towards full employment. What was little noticed was that most of the ground covered by him had been treated in detail by Marx three-quarters of a century earlier. Keynes was quite contemptuous of Marx, describing Capital as "an obsolete textbook which I know to be not only scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world" (A Short View of Russia, 1925) and he never seems to have appreciated that his own criticisms of earlier economists were much like those of Marx."
Read the rest here.


That's not to say that Marxism and Keynesianism are fully compatible. For my own critique of a particular aspect of Keynesianism, start here.

[*] Incidentally, at the drop of a hat, many of the feral commentators do not hesitate in turning their tantrum from Marx to -- ironically enough -- people like Krugman.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Revealed: How 7-Eleven is Ripping Off its Workers.

This post's title borrows from an interactive report -- made public today -- summarising the Fairfax Media's journalists Adele Ferguson and Sarah Danckert and the ABC's Four Corners investigation on the underpayment of wages to staff (largely foreign students) working for the convenience store chain 7-Eleven Australia.

The screen capture above are the words of one of the 7-Eleven workers.

From the interactive report:
"The lot of the average 7-Eleven worker in Australia is as simple as it is bleak: you get paid half the $24.50 an hour award rate -- or less -- and if you complain your boss threatens you with deportation." (here)

Today, 7-Eleven chairman Russ Withers and CEO Warren Wilmot resigned to their positions. Chairman Withers admitted the "abhorrent behaviour", and last Thursday, before a Senate Committee meeting held in Melbourne, vowed to refund all exploited workers (here).

Michael Smith (former iiNet chairman) and Bob Baily will replace Withers and Wilmot, with the mandate to solve the situation of workers and franchisees.

It was also revealed that -- apart from the wages underpayment issue -- some franchisees extorted the foreign students between $30,000 and $70,000 to sponsor their visas. (here)


As a Marxist socialist and -- above all -- a worker, I must express my gratitude and admiration to the ABC's Four Corners and very especially to Adele Ferguson, Sarah Danckert, Klaus Toft and all the team from Fairfax Media, for their work. Michael Fraser, consumer rights advocate, should not be forgotten: his friendship -- as a middle-class man -- for a 7-Eleven worker, a proletarian, made a difference.


The truth of exploitation -- revealed here only in its most evident aspect: when labour laws are breached -- cannot be ignored, in spite of all the lies concocted to deceive us workers. I've been following the case -- extensively reported by Fairfax Media, the ABC and other media -- and shall have more to write about it.

Further Information:

Original Four Corners' report by Adele Ferguson and Klaus Toft (broadcast Sep. 2), with video, transcript and background information, including 7-Eleven Australia statements.
7-Eleven: The Price of Convenience

From The Washington Post's Daniel J. Galvin (Sep. 6), a related story from the U.S. here (h/t Corey Robin)

Monday, September 28, 2015

NASA vs Econosophers: Inference in Science.

"There is something there. But just because your theory is good does not mean that the entities in your theory are 'really there', whatever that might mean ..." (here)

(source, Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)