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Shirley Svorny writes: “Speak Your Mind” program more aptly named “Speak Your Anti-Capitalist Mind”

Dear CSUN Students, Faculty and Staff:

I’m writing because the speakers selected for the CSUN 2008-09 Speak Your Mind series, “Consumerism, the Economy, and Debt” (http://usu.csun.edu/events/speakyourmind.php) do not credibly speak about consumerism, the economy or debt.

As Chair of the Department of Economics, I encourage you to view/read some of the following material. In particular, the article by Balco is critical of one of the Speak Your Mind speakers, Anya Kamenetz, author of the book “Generation Debt.”

If you would like to be part of a discussion group on these topics, perhaps for several consecutive Tuesdays at 3:30, I’m happy to lead it. Just send me a message and if there is enough interest, we’ll plow through and discuss some of this material.

Drew Carey Video: “Living Large: America’s Middle Class,” The Drew Carey Project: http://reason.tv/video/show/61.html

Radley Balko on college debt: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6529

Neal McCluskey on the student loan crisis: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9345

Michael J. Boskin on capitalism: http://www.hoover.org/publications/digest/3513241.html

Thomas Sowell on the cure for poverty: http://www.hoover.org/publications/digest/4559297.html

Aparna Mathur (with co-authors) on conspicuous consumption and debt: http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.24942/pub_detail.asp

and http://www.american.com/archive/2007/june-0607/maxing-out-on-debt-hysteria

Robert Rector on poverty in America: http://www.heritage.org/Press/Commentary/ed083107b.cfm?RenderforPrint=1

Myths Of Rich And Poor: Why We’re Better Off Than We Think (Paperback) by Michael W. Cox (Author), Richard Alm (Author): http://www.amazon.com/Myths-Rich-Poor-Better-Think/dp/0465047831/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1209688823&sr=8-1

And, finally, here is some material I’ve put together critical of Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Nickel and Dimed:


Shirley Svorny

Chair, Economics

2 Responses to “Shirley Svorny writes: “Speak Your Mind” program more aptly named “Speak Your Anti-Capitalist Mind””

  1. Ashwani Vasishth Says:
    On September 2nd, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Capitalism is hardly a singularity. It can legitimately mean quite different things to different people, and it is at least as questionable to posit that some one definitional perspective has sole claims to authenticity as it is to claim that all points of view are equally valid.

    Besides, this is a forum, and I am certain students would benefit from exposure to the particular point of view represented by the references in Dr. Svorny’s post.

    If nothing else, alternative speakers can surely be proposed. In a 2006 Press Release, Dr. Spero Bowman is quoted as saying that the intention is to be provocative. What could be more provocative than the assertion that capitalism and democracy can fruitfully coexist?

    Ashwani Vasishth

  2. David Klein Says:
    On September 2nd, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    All in all, I think the “Speak your mind series” is very good. I only wish that its mischaracterization as “Speak your anti-capitalist mind” had more validity. That would make it first rate. With the exception of Naomi Klein (an excellent choice), it looks to me like the speakers aren’t really challenging capitalism directly, only describing a few hideous parts of it, and perhaps giving tips to how to survive in it. A good addition to the links the Svorny gives is:

    “Why Socialism?” by Albert Einstein (yes, the famous physicist), published in the Monthly Review in 1949. It is well written and remains appropriate in the present era. You can read it here:


    David Klein
    Math Dept.