Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Campaigning against 'toxic' economics

In the ‘90s college students taught their elders in academia that sweatshops were an evil in which the schools were complicit by selling sweatshop-made products in their own bookstores. Will this generation of college students again teach their elders, this time to the fact that the economic textbooks commonly used in their classrooms are promoting dangerously “toxic” economic policies?

“Toxic textbooks helped cause the economic meltdown,” states a petition being circulated worldwide to press for reforming what it calls the “mass miseducation” of millions of students each year “in a quaint ideology...cunningly disguised as a science.”

The campaign is aimed particularly at students because reform by the profession itself won’t happen “without massive pressure from the student body,” writes Steve Keen, an economist at the University of Western Sydney, Australia.

Textbook reforms are blocked by “vested interests,” including economic departments whose reputations are intertwined with the textbooks they use, endorse, and (in some cases) write. A new Website, Toxic Textbooks, and a Facebook group with the same name, Toxic Textbooks, have been created to help mobilize people, especially students, “to overcome these vested interests.”

So far the campaign has not made a recommendation on alternative textbooks. The Website has a question mark under a section titled “non-toxic textbooks.”

Here is what I posted to the Facebook discussion of “What and where are the alternatives?”:

It is probably impossible quickly to find a full-blown alternative text book, or create a single Website that formulates the key points of an alternative economic paradigm. We will have to make do with pluralism in textbooks and Websites. Patch work? Well, it's a good way to start.

I would like to point to two of my own contributions to this initiative:

1. My newly published JUSTICE AT WORK: GLOBALIZATION AND THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF WORKERS. Its main theme: the present unbalanced global economy, especially its trade and investment regime, protects the rights and interests of business and business organizations, to the exclusion of the rights and interests of workers and worker organizations. Check it out at .

2. My Weblog, Human Rights for Workers, at http://humanrightsforworkers.blogspot.com, which deals mostly with the main theme of the book.
This is a continuing real-life drama. Why not join it?

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