Economic Update: Addiction, Capitalism and 12 Steps

welcome friends to another edition of economic update weekly program devoted to the economic dimensions of our lives jobs incomes debts those of our children and those looming down the road I'm your host Richard wolf I've been a professor of economics all my adult life and I currently teach at the new school University in New York City I need to begin today's program which I apologize for with a few announcements the first is that you can now hear this program every week on I heart radio that's all one word I Heart Radio comm just go to their website all over the United States type in economic update and presto you will have our program and an archive of past programs if you cannot get the program on a local radio station I Heart Radio comm is an easy alternative I also want to remind you that if you wish to see this program as they video as a TV program just go to patreon UN slash economic update again it's very simple and you will be able to see the program as a video as a TV in that way finally we have arranged democracy at work has for us to work with a speaker Bureau located in California we're very proud about it if any of you or any organization you are involved with would like to bring me out for a speaking engagement please get in touch with the speaking Bureau which handles this activity for me and for us the name of the organization is appropriately speak out now dot org that's all one word speak out now dot o-r-g if you wish to communicate with them their email address for anything in the way of an inquiry about having me speak is simply info at speak out now dot o-r-g info at speak out now dot-org finally I want to invite all of you that either live in the Greater New York area or might be visiting on July 12th that that is the resumption of our monthly presentations at the Judson Memorial Church in New York City and it begins at 7:30 the second Wednesday of every month so this coming July 12th will be the second Wednesday so please if you're in town consider yourself invited to come and join us at the Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square very historic Church in New York City July 12th 7:30 p.m. so now we can jump into the economic updates well I want to talk to you to start with about automobiles and cars and car loans in particular in order to explain something first the raw data which I think you will find very interesting we had a record this last month June of 2017 the record is for the longest car loan period in the history of the automobile business in other words people are borrowing money for longer periods of time to buy a car than they ever have before precisely sixty nine point three months that's a very long time nearly six years and it means that for most people they will be paying for a car for a good number of months or even years where the loan they have to pay is larger than what that car is then worth it's called sometimes upside down indebtedness around the car industry average car buyers were taking out a loan of $31,000 for their car why so much because what happens is when you buy a car on a long term loan and it comes time to trade it in you still owe a ton of money in terms of trading it in more money that you you owe then that car is worth for the trade-in so you're building up your indebtedness which is why it is so high I mentioned this not only because it's a wonderful piece of evidence that the recovery we've been hearing about is a mirage that underneath the glowing statistics about people having jobs by the way jobs that are less secure have fewer benefits and a lower pay but behind that statistic is a reality such as you're in deeper and deeper debt to have a car you have to have a car because in most American of America there's no other way to solve your problem of getting to and from work getting your shopping done and all the rest of it we are in a situation where it's becoming so difficult to pay for a car that that's behind the other final statistic which is that we have now had six months of declining automobile sales people simply can't afford to buy cars the way they did one of the ways they did was by borrowing heavily which I just explained to you more money for longer periods of time now that becomes unsustainable because they owe too much and they can't do it so now the car sales collapse it's interesting that our neighbor to the north Canada which doesn't have that history of loans is having record year of car sales just as we are going down and laying off people in the car business because of it it's not a system that works real well is it my next update is very personal it has to do with airline service I would put the word service in quotation marks but I don't think most of you need that I am responding as I say to something personal a couple of weeks ago I returned from Paris France on a flight on United Airlines I want everyone to know who it was and it came from Paris to new work New Jersey I can easily say to you it was the worst flight I have ever had in my life and I'd been on many it begins on the day that we were supposed to leave Paris at 9:30 in the morning and we were informed around 7:15 on our way to the airport that the flight would be delayed at first we were told it would be delayed until 5:00 in the afternoon then sometime later we were told it would be delayed until 6:00 or 6:30 in the evening and then a little while later while we were standing online trying to figure out how United Airlines would get us home we were told with another text message that the flight had simply been canceled now back to the line the line was an ensign filled up a whole corridor in the airport in Paris why because even though there were six or seven stations for people to occupy at the United Airlines counter only two people were there serving us who got there for the right to stand in line for hours I won't go through the rest of it horrific we were up for 18 hours that day before we got home we had to stop in Ireland on the way it was supposed to be a direct flight non-stop at every turn the lines were long at every turn the tempers were short and the basic reason everyone should be clear is that it saves money for United Airlines to have too few people I don't even know why the plane was canceled we were never given the same straight story twice partly because people were so hassled who were working there that they couldn't possibly have taken the time to figure this out they make more money by saving on personnel we suffered we the people for whom the airline is supposed to be providing get ready a service well they didn't their profits at our expense I and the other people flying had our lives disrupted had our work interrupted were exhausted physically and mentally by an experience of this sort and it could have been handled a thousand ways more conveniently but it would have cost United Airlines some money and they are letting us know profit first you last did they learn something having been exposed earlier for other abuses of their clients no sign of it when I was traveling third item an important meeting taking place 7th and 8th of July some of you will hear this report before the meeting some after it's called the meaning of the g20 the 20 richest countries in the world this is the 12th meeting they've had they started meeting in the crisis of 2008 when it was crystal clear that the system economic system of capitalism which dominates in every one of those countries was in deep trouble so this is the 12th meeting of these 20 richest country it is being hosted by Germany it is taking place July 7th and 8th in Hamburg Germany a large city in the north of that country in addition to the 20 countries eight other country leaders are invited and likewise the leaders of nine major international organizations like the World Bank the International Monetary Fund and several units of the United Nations in the weeks leading up to this meeting there have been protests in Hamburg and across Germany and elsewhere in Europe why are the people protesting because the mass of people the mass of people have been badly damaged by not only the crisis that capitalism brought in 2008 to the whole world but by the response orchestrated and organized by the g20 in the years since 2008 which is roughly now coming on to a full decade the people protesting are angry at the policy that was adopted by the g20 country by country to cope with the crisis that's what they told us in order to get out of this crisis they said we need what came to be called austerity we needed the government to cut back on the money it spent for social programs to cut back on the number of people it employed to tighten our belts and that will get us through the crisis well I'm here to tell you as a professional economist that it was a nice story but it wasn't true what the real agenda was and that has been carried out in every one of those 20 countries was to say let's double down not only is capitalism a system that can bring into crisis the world economy costing hundreds of millions of people their jobs sometimes for years on end but we're a system that is so well organized that we can use the crisis to our advantage to do something in the name of dealing with the crisis that we've been trying to do for 30 years and you know what that is to roll back the gains made in the aftermath of the last capitalist crisis the Great Depression of the 1930s in the wake of that depression we had here in the United States the New Deal in Europe you had the rise of what we call social democracy a system in which the mass of people said we are not going to live in the capitalism that crashes our wages destroys our livelihoods undoes the family values to which they give empty lip service no no we demand to be taken care of with the national health insurance with subsidized education with a welfare program if you can't provide jobs you capitalists then the government that you control is going to have to do it one or the other of you and that worked in the United States and it worked in Europe as well and the business community hated it hated it because they were taxed in part to pay for it hated it because it gave the working class a sense of its own power what it could achieve if it worked together to do so capitalism or no capitalism they didn't like it they wanted to roll it back to undo the New Deal and European social democracy they tried over and over again they weren't able to get very far not in the United States as far as they wanted that's why we had Trump not in Europe as far as they wanted but the crisis their own crisis gave them the chance in the name of getting us out of the crisis capitalism brought us the leaders of the United States and Western Europe came upon austerity and what does austerity mean taking back the social services that have been provided to people cutting them laying off people who do those services who provide them to all of us in the fields of Education in the fields of health in the fields of Social Welfare you name it everywhere the effort undo them not facing the truth of it that we don't want to pay the taxes look at the struggle for example over the Trump GOP health bill it's all about not taxing the super-rich who would have to pay a good part of the extension of Medicaid to people with no insurance at all we're willing to sacrifice 25 billion people in America to save taxes to the richest that's what we're talking about that's austerity whether you call it that or not so the anger at the g20 is not just that they are the countries who embody the capitalism that brought us the crisis it's even more that they have used it to further an agenda of taking away from the mass of people to enrich a minority that's why in every one of those countries the gap between rich and poor has gotten wider freedom of corporations to do what they want has been enhanced as the economic livelihoods of the mass of people have been constricted that's why they have to take six year car loans because they don't have enough income to have a car which they have to have any other way there's one example of it that I can't forego letting you know recent research from UNICEF the United State a nation's program to deal with the problem of the children of the world brings it all home under the austerity programs of the g20 from 2008 to 2012 reports UNICEF the number of children living in poverty in these rich countries has increased by 2.6 million or more and here's the statistic that jumped out of UNICEF to give you an idea of what austerity has meant today an average of one in five children in the 41 highest income countries in the world that's a d20 plus another 21 in five live in poverty what a statement about modern capitalism as to what it has achieved for the people who suffer in and under it well the fourth of July is right behind us and if you will indulge me here's a little bit of history about it fourth of July makes us think about the origins of the United States and when I do that I come back and I see the economics of it and the man who stands out in my mind was one of the great leaders of the American independence movement Thomas Jefferson and he had a very clear idea an idea he had gotten from the British philosopher John Locke who we admired and read and studied and from Locke Jefferson got and advocated that the new United States should be a country of self-employed people small farmers small craftsperson small merchants and that these people who didn't employ anybody else who were their own master their own self-employed persons could and would together democratically run their communities whether it be in a New England town hall setting or in any of the other ways that people roughly equal manage their affairs in the communities where they live and work but there was opposition and Jefferson's vision was never realized Jefferson's hopes were defeated instead we had what Jefferson feared an economic system that wouldn't have everybody equal that would produce a poll of very wealthy at one end and a mass of people barely getting by at the other it's what he feared that's what came to pass and that's the capitalism that we have now when most people have little property and even less power that's the system that's capitalism and there's a history here that needs to be spoken American capitalism was born and developed in that revolution let's remember the revolution of 1774 5 6 and so on it was a violent revolution not against this or that law not against this or that regulation not even against this or that politician it was a revolution against the system the system at that time that we revolted against was colonialism in particular British colonialism the u.s. was a colony and was being abusively treated as colonies usually are by the imperial power at the top in that case Britain and to exemplify to illustrate the awfulness of it there was a kind of clownish king at the time King George the 3rd and he epitomized everything that was wrong with having a person like that running a colony 3,000 miles away so we made a revolution against the system and here's the irony centuries later the independent capitalist economy has come to much the same situation it has produced the very capitalism the Thomas Jefferson feared it has brought people to a level of anger and resentment and bitterness and suffering that makes more and more of them say we face the same problem it isn't the Republicans or the Democrats or this law or that law or this politician or it's a system this time it's not imperialism and colonialism this time it's the capitalist system and isn't that interesting that as we discover that the capitalist system is the problem the spirit of Thomas Jefferson who kind of figured that out a long time ago finds its way back into relevance on this 4th of July the next update has to do with Seattle sort of but it goes beyond Seattle a recent study by a group of economists in Seattle at the University of Washington reignited a very old and to my mind rather boring debate it asks the question when you raise the minimum wage of workers that is you raise the wage of people at the bottom of the economy let's remember the federal minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour lower than that in any European country and lower by a lot okay let's look the University of Washington economists said their research showed that when you raise the minimum wage there will be a loss of jobs that is unemployment will go up not a great deal but that was enough liberal economists horrified by this result reignited the they want everyone to believe and so they rediscovered some recent research by a group of economics professors at the University of California in Berkeley which shows the opposite namely that when you raise the minimum wage there is little or no impact on jobs so back and forth we go liberals saying you should raise the minimum wage because it doesn't lose some people their jobs and conservatives saying you shouldn't raise the minimum wage or at least if you do you should be aware you're hurting people at a low wage and what's the reason for this very simple very basic economics if you raise the wage you make work more expensive for the employer and in a free economy like ours free capitalism the employer is free to take the job away from the worker if he's unwilling to pay them the higher minimum wage so here we have it one side in this old debate saying don't worry you can raise the minimum wage because the employers won't lay off low-income workers and the Conservatives suddenly demonstrating a concern for poor workers that they never show otherwise or say no no you mustn't raise the minimum wage because there will be poor workers who lose their jobs besides the disingenuous mess of people basically on both sides let me remind you again of a little history about a hundred years ago there was a similar debate it had to do with child labor should it be allowed for capitalists the hire little kids as young as five years of age paid them very little and take advantage of them because they can pay them so little to get a lot of work done the Conservatives said yes that's a great thing you should allow that because poor families can barely get by and they need to be able to send their children out here again conservatives showing a sudden concern for the poor the Liberals came back and said though that's terrible child labor shouldn't be allowed and we don't want it and then they felt awkward because the Conservatives said you're hurting poor families because they need to be able to send their kids out to work guess what the anti child labor folks won you can't employ people five years old anymore in the United States the way you once good and the way thousands of capitalists did did capitalism fall apart as the conservative said if you do that did poor families rise up and revolt and demand the return of child labor of course not child labor was outlawed just as paying human beings $7.25 an hour can and should be outlawed now economists shouldn't be debating as if the employer has the right to say I either pay you a low wage or I won't pay you any wage at all we should raise the minimum wage because that's what an economy owes its people and we should give every adult healthy person a job because that's also what a decent economy owes people and if capitalism in America can't do it that's an argument to change systems but as long as we don't face that and we have our intelligent economists debating gee do we dare raise the minimum wage or gee maybe we shouldn't so that poor people don't lose their jobs you know what this is like this is like being accosted in a dark alley by a person who says I'm gonna give you freedom of choice you can either have me stab you and take your money or hit you over the head with a hammer and take your money a rational person says I don't like the choice he doesn't stand there and say gee which one is a better way for me to go we are being held hostage by capitalism when we are told either accept a miserable low wage or the employer will be free to lay you off and you'll have no wage at all a system that offers that choice that has intelligent economies debating back and forth rather than saying how do we've developed an economy that gives people a decent wage and a job which is what they should be doing that's a comment on a system that has spun out of control that is not serving the mass of people not well at all we've come to the end of the first half of economic update for today we will be right back after a short interlude please stay with us you sure you don't want some it's chamomile you are extremely terrifying just the scariest undead subhuman thing on TV and I really mean that but I am worried that you could give my kids nightmares if they see you so I'm going to have to block you so that's it oh and until the zombies are there block 2 [Applause] so same time next week well of course put away a few bucks feel like a million bucks for free tips to help you save go to feed it's okay when some people struggle with their mortgage payments they become frozen but the people who take action are far more likely to get the most positive outcome call this free government program for the option that's right for you welcome back friends to the second half of economic update for this part of July and because it's the early part of July as we do with the first program of each month I have as my guest dr. Harriet fraud I wanted first of all to spell her name because it's a little unusual and some of you clearly in your emails to us aren't clear about how that's done first name h a RR ie T Harriet and the second name fraud F is in Frank R double a D Harriet fraud she is a mental health counselor and a hypnotherapist with a practice in New York City she speaks and writes about the intersection between economics politics and the psychology of personal life she publishes widely and her work can be found at Harriet fraud or one word Harriet fraud dot-com I want to welcome her as we do each month to the program thank you I'm glad to be here okay our topic for today has to do with the relationship between capitalism as an economic system on the one hand and the problem of addiction addiction to alcohol but addiction to a whole lot of other things as dr. fraud will explain to introduce the topic let me just point out that capitalism as a system as we often discuss it on this program is given too extreme instability business cycles bouncing up and down every few years laying off millions of workers around the world booming up booming down it's an unstable system imposed on people lives and that the other quality of capitalism that's relevant here is the inequality that it breeds the polarization between ever fewer people with more and ever more people with less this kind of instability and inequality has certainly worsened if not created all by itself the problems of addiction addiction to alcohol narcotics gambling as dr. frogg will explain later of course capitalism isn't the only cause but capitalism is a complicated system that not only provokes the need people have for the escape that addiction provides but it also produces industries profiting off of that providing the alcohol providing the narcotics providing the gambling centers and so on it even profits off of programs that help people get out of the addictions that this system so systematically fosters and it is stunning to recognize that these addictions are global wherever capitalism is and that capitalism by its own admission has been singularly unsuccessful by and large in dealing with this problem and certainly not in a rally eradicating it so I want to begin by asking dr. fraud to tell us what is it about capitalism's instability and inequality that makes an addiction in some sense a way people have of coping with the problems one of the worst things that's happened which has made addiction an epidemic in the United States the biggest cause of accidental death now is heroin overdose and by opioid which is a human-made form of heroin or opiates or opiates which are a poppy grown of course the opioids are easier to make because they're made with human created substances but when you have gross inequalities between people you have huge loneliness the people at the top in order to sustain their privilege have to feel disconnected with the people at the bottom who they for whom they can't afford compassion or they would wonder wait a minute that's not fair the people at the bottom particularly in American culture which is the worst in this aspect feel what did I do wrong if I was smart maybe I'd be rich I'm not rich it must be my fault and there's something wrong with me and then there are a million little humiliations I'm not having enough not having enough food not having which one in five children experiences food scarcity otherwise known as hunger and that I don't have the kind of nice sneakers that other kids do or that I can't afford nice clothes as a as a person then what is wrong with me and they start feeling inferior and disconnected and ashamed of themselves because there's a lot of shame attached to poverty so the isolation breeds addiction my friends if you're an inequality breeds isolation I remember a teenager that I dealt with from a very fancy school district telling me how proud she was then she could afford drugs her teachers couldn't even afford that they were chosen class which is really quite amazing that there's a separation out of people from one another and connection is the basis of that all the 12-step programs and connection is a basis of mental health connection with close people connection with friends connection connection with social organizations and connection with the wider world all of those things are hurt and how do those with inequality yet how do those aspects of a capitalist economy then lead to an addiction as a way people why is addiction or how is addiction away people cope with the very isolation and inequality you just described in of course many ways I'll tell you about two big ways one is it makes you feel good you feel for a while that everything's okay even when it's not when you're a rich kid and you feel isolated from other people and you feel terribly lonely and you can afford everything but you're still not happy it makes you feel happier it going here the returns you get a substance you feel better for poor people you also feel better you feel less inferior you feel less disconnected and so that that will connect you know repairing the damage to connection is one thing that drugs do and of course there are different drugs for different deficits that you feel like–okay and get you all hyped up so you feel powerful and not inferior every drug has its own particular kind of manifestation however it's about comforting you that you're disconnected and alone it also is very predictable if you take in a life that's precarious because your job is precarious you could lose it at anytime because your life is precarious you don't have for the majority the five hundred dollars you need in case of an emergency or a person on whom you can count for help in an emergency that's one out of four Americans has no one to turn to no matter how what the disaster in their personal life but there you can count on the drug you can count on that they'll make you feel good it's something solid in a shaking universe of both economic precarity and shaking and personal shaking which are very closely related to one another if I've understood you those are very powerful for telephone and so we can kind of understand the next place I'd like to talk to you about which is not just that capitalism as a system has reproduced fostered this for a long time but it's even more striking to me that this these addictions while on the one hand they're profitable for capitalism the alcohol industry the drug industry both illegal drugs and the illegal drugs are places where employers and employees have been making big business for a long time then at the same time addiction is very damaging not just to the addict and to the alux family which we know those stories but to capitalism itself an addicted worker may not come to work an addicted worker may not be as productive as he or she could otherwise be if they weren't addicted and suffering all the physical and mental consequences so I'm struck and I would like your opinion how do you account for the fact that capitalism fosters and suffers at the same time from an addiction which you can't seem to cope with well there's another first I want to add it with another damage which is as drugs get more expensive people go from prescribed drugs to the same drugs on the market and they go from heroin to things like fentanyl made in China which are 10 times more powerful and more deadly because they need the money they turn to crime and so that you also have a huge number of crimes perpetrated because drugs are illegal and you have a very very lucrative illegal drug industry which accomplishes its power through physically punishing people who don't go along with it and also stealing getting people money into people's hands in a country like Portugal where drugs were legalized crime went way down and wrist and drug addiction went down 75% but here you have a huge cost of the society of crime fueled by expensive drugs because the capitalist system operates as a drug market not only the legal ones and the psychological farm and pharmaceuticals that are some of the most profitable drugs in the United States but also the illegal drug industry so that maybe the argument is that it's so profitable to capitalism on the one hand that even though it undermines profitability elsewhere it can the system can't figure out how to how to solve this problem the system never looks at the social costs they look at the profits to the top they don't look at the social costs from those profits anywhere that's capitalism right but they there are some costs to the top if your worker is less product absolutely worker it has too much absenteeism if you get robbed if you get robbed so the system profits suffers but can't work that out because I guess the profit side of that equation dominates and so we don't get a solution and yet and this is the most important part of what I want to ask you about one kind of program one tight has seen to work much better than all the others that is in this sea of a failure to deal with these problems of addiction that have become so widespread I mean today's newspapers are full of the latest particular form the so-called opioid epidemic but we really have an alcohol epidemic and all the rest of it tell us about what the one program is that seems they have been more successful and tell us why you think it has been the one that's more success well the most successful programs that are by far the most successful in every little town in America where there's no other organization there's an a a an Alcoholics Anonymous at least and in larger places there are many many programs that are all 12-step programs modeled on modeled on the original one which was Alcoholics Anonymous but they're all Anonymous programs to do now they are free and I want to tell you why I think they know before you do tell us about some of the others so we're all made aware alcohol okay there are three kinds of 12-step programs the first is a program to help you get off of an addictive substance narcotics of all sorts alcohol or you may have a food addiction there are Overeaters Anonymous and food addict Anonymous because you know the food then is the cheapest that you can get to comfort yourself and the most available another is something to help and support you to get over addictive behavior so it's not substances it's behaviors behaviors like gambling addictive spending sex addictions and also starving oneself anorexia bulimia and so on the others are getting over emotional addictions like codependency you have to have people depend on you and so you surround yourself with people who can't give you anything but constantly take from you and depend on you or the behavior of cluttering every place you have this clutter errs Anonymous there are under achievers that are emotionally constrained overachievers there are workaholics that are constrained and addicted to constantly keeping busy working and then there are 12 steps to get over the damage caused by child abuse by sex abuse by child sex abuse by parents who are alcoholics so there's three kind substances behaviors and recovery of others from others behavior there are one of the great great things about the 12-step programs is they're free anyone can come and ironically enough they are the refuge in the capitalist system because they utterly reject capitalist values they have the 12 steps and the 12 traditions and they completely reject self gain greed money people who serve in a a have a chance to serve they are not paid the people who lead the meetings are not paid the only thing you have to pay for is if you send away for literature so monies are rejected in the traditions the first one is our common welfare should come first personal recovery depends on unity that the voices of people together are much are the most important they also have rules there can be no superheroes no person can identify him or herself to the press by a last name because we don't want superheroes we want unity among all of us as equals now that is opposite of the star culture in which person who's a head of the corporation speaks and gets a lot of money everybody else doesn't have a voice and that there can be no money and no ego and no person employs another person no person employs another person no person can take money as a person everything is the organization and the unity of the group and each person's voice is equally important to be heard and everyone listens and everyone learns and the healing of unity the healing of listening the healing of being part of a group a unified group that cares is the opposite of capitalism with its competition with its greed and its hierarchies and so people look to a 12-step program that costs no money and involves no money and involves no hierarchy and involves no greed and involves no ego to calm the damage that they've suffered so the irony of ironies for me is a critic of capitalism is that capitalism produces a serious addiction problem throughout its history wherever it lands can't figure out how to solve it and that the most successful efforts so far more successful than all the others in helping people caught up in these addictions is a system that without saying it in it is embodied the negation of everything that the capitalist system is no money nobody employing anybody else nobody profiting off the next person or the next person's labor no egoism of that kind no inequality built into the organization it's extraordinary that the salvation of an addiction within a capitalist system turns to the negation of capitalism as its way out that's right because capitalism as Poquette II and millions of others have said breeds inequality and in 12-step programs everyone has an equal voice and when you take responsibility to lead a meeting it is an opportunity for service nobody gets paid very important that it leads the world of money and yet as so many critics and cynics have not been willing to admit a program in which nobody gets paid is able to be active in virtually every community in the United States having people who keep it going who go to the meetings who make sure that they happen will make sure that this coffee or a cookie or whatever or that people in fact in a capitalist society will regularly for decades sustain an organization that embodies collectivities community it is remarkable it is remarkable and it is remarkable because people in their search for comfort and kindness have to look for an antidote to the capitalist competition and cruelty and humiliation and money system in which they live and the more societies are unequal then the more addiction they create and people look for solace in unity with other people as equals outside the money system it leads me to ask you a question even though I have another point I want to get at there are many victims of capitalism who don't turn to addiction obviously but in those who are addicted or finding their way out of that problem of capitalism maybe people who aren't addicted would find a way to live a better life if they change the society so it was more like what AAA has achieved and what these programs have achieved in the way of a community of a unity of a collectivity that nurtures people rather than one in which everybody is out for themselves in other words there's a kind of model almost here for what a movement to change society might want to take seriously precisely because of how it has worked as the best program to handle one of capitalism's victims namely the addicted population as I wrote a list I wrote an article twelve steps to a revolution talking about how by using the 12 steps in a political way so that in a a and all the other 12 steps you have to take a serious moral inventory of yourself and be honest well as Americans we also have to take a serious moral inventory look at how our country is built on the genocide of Native Americans how we've had slavery how we also have wonderful liberation tendencies even though the Constitution only gave the right to vote of six percent of the population it still had some checks and balances of which we can be proud and so on that there are for every step there's an equivalent in a secular organization that you can look up to that you can connect on and the unity is most important and although in the 12 steps they talk about God all the time the God they referred to can be any God you want the bottom line is the life loving spirit of the child that gets crushed adjusting to a cruel society in their family and in the outside world let me in conclusion because we're running out of time let me ask you about one particular aspect of the 12 steps that has always struck me the argument is made that they there should not be discussion of the larger society and how it has caused or contributed to whatever your addiction happens to be and the argument is that's copping out on your own personal responsibility how you your life your family your choices contributed to the addiction yet everything you have said seems to me to argue that the larger society is indeed a major player how do you react to this insistence of the 12 steps to exclude the social causes of addiction as a cop-out on your personal responsibility well I react in two ways one is that it's expedient because the 12-step programs get free services all over the place churches community centers and so on if they were interrogating the capitalist systems profiteering they probably would get many fewer donations places help of all sorts but I do feel that there needs to be a thirteenth step what are the social conditions and social forces that have led to the addiction so you'd have to look at the alcohol lobby for alcoholism you'd have to look at psycho the psycho pharmacies and adds that this tranquilizer and that upper will make you feel better you have to look for the behavioral addictions at the insistence that you work harder harder and harder and harder on speed up you'd have to look at the hierarchical nature in which let's say the the surgeon who's sitting on the shoulders of the nurse who hands the implements the people who clean the hospital the orderlies that all that will the patients around but somehow he's the king and makes a million dollars a year whereas they're at minimum wage you'd have to look at the hierarchies and say no we're all in it together each one of us does his or her part to make something work for us and that's an anti-capitalist notion that's a communal notion that's a co-op notion of how to run a hospital for example in one example would you say for example that just as the 12-step program says you shouldn't cop out on your own responsibility because that's part of the story it is you could answer if I'm hearing you that you agree with that don't you agree that it's equally another kind of cop-out not to face the social causes the economic contribute contributions to your problem you shouldn't cop out on the part you yourself play but you also shouldn't cop out on the part of the society pays plays in all of this because a solution then would require not only changing yourself but changing this society absolutely right that's why it would be the thirteenth step that you would look at how have I colluded with these capitalist values and why did I have to what is our economic system that pushes me to this and you'd have to look at psycho Pharma for example with its relentless advertising that of drugs direct to people which is not allowed in any other country in the world you'd have to look at the alcohol lobby and how it pushes college students to have beer runs where you run and then you stop at a beer station and down beers or pushes it at fraternity part you'd have to look at so much of the addictive quality of our society and say no we want relaxation we want unity we want kindness with one another as usual I want not only to thank you for coming but I want to invite the audience if this program is interesting if this kind of a dialogue is something you would like to see let us know go to our two websites our DeWulf with two F's calm and democracy at work or one word democracy at work dot info those two websites give you all the means to communicate with us to follow us on Facebook Twitter Instagram and so on I want to thank you for that remarkable independent source of news and analysis that partners with us if you're particularly interested in the way doctor fraud and I interact I should mention that we will be speaking in Montreal at the American Sociological Association annual meetings on August 11th in the self and society seminar that is part of those a si meetings thank you very much for being with us and I look forward to speaking with you again next week


  1. I've exhausted your vids from 2018 & 19….so I came upon this. I WAS offered courses in Marxism in university in USA in the 1970's, yes, you heard me right. At Loyola Marymount University. It changed my life. After, Marxism et al faded into the ether of obscurity through the decades, I was despairing and confused; and full of doubt. Until I found you. You're an excellent teacher (and I know because I have tortured quite a few of them). You are uniquely qualified to help real, normal people understand what is happening to them, in such a simple and profound style. Thank you so much for explaining the ideas of Marx and their relevance today to ALL of us. It is pure pleasure to listen to you. The time is now and you are the man. I am deeply grateful.

  2. I don't like the religious aspect of most 12 steps programs – but I agree with the community and equality aspects of such organizations. Working in large companies for all my life – it has lead to me feeling like a slave and depressed. And over the past 5 years I have done volunteer work – which is operated with cooperation of the local government and is outside of the monetary system. And I tell everyone – to gain a sense of community and self purpose – find a volunteer group where you do for others – you serve a purpose within the community. And this volunteer group doesn't have to be anything spectacular – as long as it serves others.

    And if you run a business – you could setup a part of the business for serving others – outside of the profit motive. Like a pizza place that sells dollar slices – so poor people can afford to buy a slice and other people can pre-purchase a slice for a homeless person that cannot afford the dollar. Or have a table that serves a free meal. Or you can have an entire restaurant that serves meals – free of charge to customers with a meal voucher (which someone can purchase for them) – and some customers pay for the meals – and if you cannot pay – you have to volunteer in the restaurant to pay for the meal. Now you may think the last idea is crazy… but Jon Bon Jovi does it with his "Soul Kitchen". He calls it a community kitchen. And there is Rosa's Pizza that has served over 8 thousand free slices of pizza to the needy and homeless.

    So I think the most important thing to staying sane is being a part of a community where you can serves others – absent of competition and profit for profits alone.

  3. I really like and respect Ms. Fraad. She is stunningly wrong About AA's effectiveness, and blind to see how capitalists are making 100's of millions off AA each year!!! The AA model is indeed free. So, the rehabs don't pay for it. But, then, they charge thousands of dollars. The criminal justice system pumps alcoholics into rehabs. The rehabs make millions. Then, the addicts relapse and go back to jail, fueling court systems, who receive even more "needed" money from the government. AA is shown to only work for 3-6% of those who continue to attend!!!! The stats for AA's effectiveness are easily available. No! AA is the method by which the capitalists make money off addiction. It's a lucrative SCAM.

  4. I love this show! Richard's great! But, facts are facts- AA Twelve Step programs are FAILURES. Only, maybe 3-5% of those who attend remain sober. And, the Capitalistic system has made 100's of millions in the recovery industry, by which AA is the spearhead. AA sucks. There are bettter, scientific methods to recovery. Ms. Fraad isn't as smart as I thought she was.

  5. A brilliant analysis from Prof. Wolff and Dr. Fraad. It's wonderful to be able to hear things put into words that I have believed and thought all my life.

  6. Good way to approach social problems through giving examples to which most relate and see in their daily lives. The more simplified and concrete your presentations, the more impact it will likely to have on listeners. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

  7. An abstinence model can be very limiting… for example services that adhere to this model require stability to engage; often unstable people are ejected… this way they tick the right government boxes and seem succesful when infact 80% of people in need are left to die with no help.
    Also many people who participate in 12 step groups are far from being anti-capitalist. They also have a tendency to be anti-services, which is what people need… and investment is needed in these models. I agree with about 95% of what's been said here, however harm reduction has to be included, and holistic full time community hubs focused around staffed services of both professionals and peers, has been proven to work (it's why I'm alive!)

  8. Peer-led Recovery communities are a massively underconsidered model by the left. I'm in Recovery and we even got Unite, the UK's biggest union, involved in supporting service-users.

  9. There will a crash at some point and maybe then the working people will finally realize what we have to do(refuse to settle anymore). Try and realize it's not a nation by nation thing – yes, some nations have it worse. But what happens in the long term to countries with public health care(for example) when unemployment is high and the rich aren't paying any taxes? You know in Greece many cancer patients can't get chemotherapy because of lack of money. This can happen to other countries too. We need to challenge the system at large – offering moral support and solidarity to our international counter parts may help us to believe we can do it. There is enough medicine, there are enough homes, enough cars.

  10. Its bc the airports one of the best hires and even in liberal Ma u gotta jump threw hoops to work there drug test back round checks ect. An ut not even the one flying the plane lolz this is in a supposed liberal state 2 and im guessing all this is used 2 jack up pricess on consumers while they cut wages an hours on employees

  11. Regarding what Dr. Fraad says about AA's being egalitarian, fostering unity, etc., there is a certain definable sense of being excluded if one doesn't subscribe to AA's spiritualized metaphysics. It's hard to see how exclusion can be called egalitarianism, etc. This is not to denigrate spirituality–rather, it is to make a point about AA. I would gander that millions don't join AA for this reason. AA being considered the most successful program for getting out of addiction, then, doesn't seem to pass muster. It would have to apply to a greater diversity of ideologies, meaning greater numbers of people. It cannot be an effective nationwide program, therefore. Unfortunately, the state has been forcing people to attend this "voluntary" institution, i.e., AA, for many years now. Furthermore, from the public research that's available (scant according to those seeking actual studies, I have read several times), AA seems to have about a 5% success rate, no greater than any other method. (In fact, most people stop on their own. Of course, AA would then deny them the category of having been "alcoholics," "addicts" etc. in the first place.)

    By the way, I myself have attended AA meetings for about 25 years.

    One more thing: despite our "over-medicated" society, it was Zoloft that got me to stop using. AA never did. Sorry to say that! (No facetiousness intended.)

  12. This is a “professor” at the New School in NYC, a well-known incubation tank of far-left radicals, socialist indoctrination and a flat out communist institution. Just hearing the first example of car buying/finance plus his political pandering toward the left clearly shows, notwithstanding credentials,  that he knows nothing about true capitalism/finance or marketing and has merely set out to advance the classic, twisted philosophies of communism for which his school is well known. 

    Using the 12 Steps, an American institution that could only be spawned in a free capitalist environment is so transparent and unethical — but socialists never seem to have a problem with that. This "professor"  hates America, hates God and all that is good about this country. He’s a classic and well in his element of weirdos at the New School. As for the guest …  holy crap. Pointing fingers, at what she believes to be American elitist culture, for addiction in the US is just knee-slapping funny.

    Blaming drug and alcohol addiction on capitalism is hysterical. To these two misguided intellectuals’, capitalism is destroying the world, is a bane to mankind and must be eradicated.

    I say, "Good luck with that."

    Observing people like these two go thought their angry, theoretic mental gyrations is sometimes hysterical. It's too bad such anger and hatred for America and our way of life exists, but it does. And the freedom to express it openly is wonderful and VERY American. 

    This is one of the funniest things I’ve seen this week on YouTube.

  13. Its not just airports, should see what they do in trucking, thinking drivers will sit hours and hours unpaid so they don't have to pay dock workers, Buses ect all industries. screwing the customer and its been made acceptable because mega corporations control everything. Years ago these people would be out of business. .

  14. Ok you use public opinion as a weapon and lump every person into a group likev20 to 30 year olds that take pills for the high not for pain, Dont JEW ME, you and your programs are mostly tax free foundations and the gov control of policy, my doctor said i am not an addictive person arived at by history and series of questions and tests so now that is established the doctor decided i do not need anything for pain, problem is left knee no patella or kneecap since 1980 and this is 2017 so that is 37 years working asva plumber and knee is bone to bone and add back disk problems and Still work but in pain every day and thanks to your OPIATE agenda my doctor no longer treats pain so i plan to spend all my free time exposing this Marxist bugeyed JEW that has been talking for the last 40 years while i was building new hospitals and schools plumbing and heating systems, that you do not get grandiose awards for like these professional bullshit artists that pretend to save humanity from itself, how could we possibly survive without this Clown explaining how his friends at Goldman sachs need a bailout every 8 years or so.

  15. Thank you professor as usual you give me the information I can disseminate to as many people in my sphere as I can!

  16. Unfortunately the AA-style 12 steps' success record is pretty bad when you look at peer-reviewed studies. See:
    We need a more scientific way forward.

  17. I would love to hear you debate Prager. His defense of capitalism has just entered the phase of defending and explaining profits.

  18. I like the example he gave about the false choice of confronting a thief in a dark alley. Reminds me of Machiavelli words about how you can control a population by giving them the illusion of choice, that way they feel like they are in control.

  19. Re airline profits versus service. Why complain about a minimum service airline? Did you not have the option of paying more for a better service from another provider?

  20. Very interesting. We have a heroin addiction epidemic in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky right now. Your talk makes so much sense to a problem that seems otherwise hopeless.

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