In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama called economic inequality the “defining issue of our time.” Indeed, America's middle class is stagnating by many measures, but even the President acknowledges that some of the driving forces – such as globalization – are beyond the government’s control. Furthermore, many of these same trends are leading to a decline in global inequality. Nonetheless, Obama is pushing an aggressive agenda for reducing domestic inequality under the banner of so-called “inclusive capitalism.” Part of his proposal is to increase federal spending by more than one trillion dollars over the next ten years, financed by new taxes on the wealthy. Some will see this as the return of “soak the rich,” but others see too much money in the hands of the few as a problem in and of itself. Among the latter group is Sean McElwee, a prolific young journalist and research assistant for Demos, a leading progressive media outlet. In articles for The Atlantic, The New Republic, The Washington Post and Rolling Stone, McElwee has boldly made the case for the progressives' tax-and-spend agenda. He argues that such policies can be effective not only for reducing inequality, but also in boosting U.S. job growth and productivity, and making our democracy more functional. Sean joins Bob to kick off a multiple-part series on a critical question: does inclusive capitalism represent a fix for a broken system or is it merely the same old socialist agenda dressed up in new language?
No one can deny the plight of Third World sweatshop workers, who endure long, uncomfortable shifts in exchange for meager pay by American standards. In response, some onlookers promote economic sanctions on countries with lax workplace regulations, while others stir up boycotts against multinational enterprises that utilize sweatshop labor. According to Professor Benjamin Powell, such activism may actually harm the very workers who need sweatshops the most. Bob is joined by Professor Powell, who is the Director of the Free Market Institute, a Senior Fellow with the Oakland-based Independent Institute, and the author of a new book, “Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy.” Don’t miss their conversation on the unintended consequences of anti-sweatshop activism, and the real recipe for escaping poverty.
In the last half hour, Bob turns his attention to other forms of so-called “economic exploitation” such as price gouging and the minimum wage.