BTS 1/7/11: The Face of Decline, America, California, UK and Europe

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The jobless rate has fallen slightly, yet we continue the downward slope of decline with inadequate political solutions. We begin tonight talking to Harold Meyerson who described the face of American decline in his recent Washington Post column, concluding that our economic woes are not cyclical or structural -- they are mainly institutional, the consequence of U.S. corporate behavior that has plunged us into a downward cycle and Harold insists the solutions must be similarly institutional, or there will be no real prospects for reversing America's downward mobility. We talk to Harold about the political responses we can expect from the Obama administration now that the Republicans dominate the House and refuse to address the real problems we face, as well as Harold's hopes for California under a Brown governorship.

We then talk to Richard Walker, UC Berkeley geographer, in this extended discussion on decline: he has an article in the latest New Left Review on the dimensions of California’s crisis—housing bubble, fiscal woes, rising inequality and whether the Golden State offers a preview of what lies in store for the Global North. Richard also just led the successful petition drive at UC against the top administrators who refused to accept a pension cap. We’ll ask him about strategies to save public higher education in California.

Hillel Ticktin, Professor Emeritus from Glasgow University brings us the view of decline from the UK and Eurozone. He looks at the ways capitalism has changed and how the system has seized up. Corporations are sitting on mountains of cash they are not investing (at least in industry in the developed world) so the cash can't be converted to capital. Finance and corporations hold money and object to governments taxing it to use for real investment, while governments lead the attack on labor and living standards seemingly to reassure capital so it can invest.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Harold Meyerson is the Wednesday Washington Post op-ed columnist and Editor-at-Large of The American Prospect . His is generally viewed as the most liberal voice on the Post op-ed page. Meyerson was also Columnist-at-Large for the L.A. Weekly, the nation's largest metropolitan weekly, where he served as executive editor from 1989 through 2001.

2. Richard Walker is Professor of Geography at UC Berkeley. His research is focused on economic geography, regional development, capitalism and politics, cities and urbanism, resources and environment, California, class and race. Professor Walker’s best known work is in economic geography, especially The Capitalist Imperative: Territory, Technology and Industrial Growth (Blackwell, 1989), with Michael Storper - one of the most cited books in the field. He is also the author of The Conquest of Bread: 150 Years of Agribusiness in California (New Press, 2004) and The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area (University of Washington Press, 2007).

3. Hillel Ticktin is editor of Critique, author of hundreds of articles on the political economy of Russia and the former Soviet Union, the history of socialism, the nature of finance capital, Marx, Trotsky and more. He is Professor Emeritus of the Centre for the Study of Socialist Theory and Movements and the Institute of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Glasgow.