Listen now (94 mins) | In a jam-packed program full of abundant insight, Ralph first welcomes back Dahr Jamail to discuss his work “We Are the Middle of Forever: Indigenous Voices from Turtle Island on the Changing Earth” about what we can learn from indigenous people who have survived incredible disruptions to the climate to their families and to their way of life. Then Karen Friedman from the Pension Rights Center gives us an update on how they are fighting to save our hard-earned money. And finally, Cal Berkeley grad students, Sandra Oseguera and Jesus Gutierrez explain the university’s “inverted priorities” as it spends millions of dollars on football coaches’ salaries and real estate while shutting down campus libraries.
The situation at UC-Berkeley is an interesting one. Mr. Nader is absolutely correct when he essentially says that college athletics does not generate profit for universities and their academic programs. The media likes to talk about the large revenue generated from television contracts and such with the implication that this is highly profitable for universities, but revenue is simply revenue. The money brought in by athletics goes right back into trying to maintain/expand the success of the sporting teams. Those who donate to the athletics program demand results and the arms race nature of big-time college athletics means that schools need to combine athletics donations with general funds/student funds to try to find success in athletics. Creative bookkeeping might lead to PR stunts such as the athletics department donating a million dollars to the library, but that is after the athletics department took many millions from general funds which could have gone to the library directly.
Now, I can’t say the situation discussed on the show is caused by a greedy athletics department. That will need further analysis, but I will say that a seminal book about higher education was written by a Berkeley graduate and former instructor at Berkeley and Indiana University, Murray Sperber. Sperber wrote the popular book published in 2000, ‘Beer & Circus: How Big-Time College Sports is Crippling Undergraduate Education’. This book gained a lot of attention when it came out and C-SPAN has an archived ‘Booknotes’ episode online from 2000 where Sperber goes into detail about the book: https://www.c-span.org/video/?160240-1/beer-circus-big-time-college-sports
While the book might seem like a book about sports culture, it’s really a book about the changing nature of higher education at big public institutions such as Indiana University and UC-Berkeley. Sperber describes a mentality where faculty desire to focus on their research while students desire to maximize fun. Thus, faculty and students form an informal pact where schools allow, and encourage, a party-like atmosphere as long as the students do not expect too much from the faculty. The faculty, in turn, does not expect too much from the students.
Sperber’s book focuses on undergraduate students, but I think some of this mentality applies to graduate students as well even if graduate students are not focused on partying. Universities are producing far more Ph.D. graduates than there are academic positions and one can argue that universities are using the large supply of graduate students as highly skilled research and teaching assistants rather than treating graduate students as the future of the institution. With that in mind, it isn’t a surprise that a school like Berkeley would cut the academic support used by graduate students. Graduate students are there to do as they are told and not question the system. Profitable professional school programs which are cheap to operate, such as business schools, are favored over costly arts & sciences programs...especially ones which don’t bring in as much research prestige and funding. Anthropology might fit that description.
Field-specific librarians are a valuable resource as discussed by the two graduate students. Furthermore, having physical books frees the libraries from unscrupulous book publishers and eBook database providers who seemingly keep increasing prices for electronic resources while continuing to further limit digital rights on those resources. Like with streaming services, content comes and goes from databases. This isn’t a problem if a library has the physical books in their collection. So, yes, I think the students are right to fight to save their library and I commend them for risking the reputation of being rebels given the aforementioned issue of there being more Ph.D. graduates than academic positions.
Presumably, Hannah graduated from UC-Berkeley somewhat recently. Perhaps she should read Sperber’s ‘Beer & Circus’ book and see if it describes students from her generation at Berkeley and at other schools. Sperber was at Indiana University at the time he wrote that book so that is probably his greatest frame of reference for the book, but I suspect Hannah will find a lot in common with what was written in 2000. Who knows, maybe Sperber would be a good guest on the RNRH.
Regarding the discussion of Social Security, and government spending more broadly, has Mr. Nader and the RNRH hosts read economist Randy Wray’s testimony in front of the House Budget Committee on November 20, 2019? Link: https://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/tst_11-20-19.pdf
Perhaps Mr. Nader has read Wray’s 2018 book from the Princeton University Press, ‘Why Minsky Matters’, about the economist Hyman Minsky?
Anyway, I know there is an aversion towards economics around this part, but the House Budget Committee is an important read as, if nothing else, it is geared towards members of Congress and so it isn’t a dense theoretical read. This is testimony about the practical impact of informed economic research. Any discussion of Social Security, healthcare reform, demilitarization, a move away from fossil fuels, greater funding of education, full employment, and so forth should start with this economic knowledge.
I don’t know if the RNRH staff has my e-mail address, but I am offering to volunteer to help the RNRH staff develop meaningful questions to ask potential economics guests which will be of practical interest to the listeners. I can’t say I’m expecting to hear anything about this, but I feel the least I can do is to offer my behind the scenes assistance. I recognize that knowing enough to even have a meaningful conversation with an esteemed guest can be a big challenge, but I believe I can help the staff overcome these issues.
The maximum taxable earnings for contributions to Social Security (12.4% of earned income) grew by $41,700 from 2015 to 2023, which is now $160,200. If it's based on earned income, the employee contribution is half, or 6.2%. (Profit is unearned income.) The increases since 2015 are inadequate, yet doubling the increase will not touch the 1%. Taxing wealth must be a part of the solution.
Social Security and Medicare are targeted because they work better than the free market.
Support Social Security Works! and IWW! and DSA! and Sunrise! and Public Citizen!
Those interviews are interesting but the existential impact of animal agriculture rises above what might just be yet another interesting story. Ironically the one and only essential solution to climate change reversal is within the power of individuals - no high tech, no major changes in standard of living.
Since the UN Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO) 2006 report, "Livestock's Long Shadow" https://www.fao.org/3/a0701e/a0701e.pdf which concluded that world animal agriculture contributes more greenhouse gas than the entire transportation sector, there have be a string of peer-reviewed research studies that reach similar dire conclusions (aside from industry-biased rebuttals). This latest research out of UC Berkeley,
concludes that unless there is a major world shift away from animal agriculture, reversing climate chaos will not be possible, regardless of technological innovations and reduction in fossil fuel usage.
Any mention of climate change that doesn't remind listeners of the essential role our eating choices play in climate catastrophe is incomplete and misdirected. I would strongly suggest that Ralph interview the Berkeley researchers, Michael Eisen and Patrick Brown who can explain to your listeners how humankind's steady deforestation in favor of grazing and animal feed has led us to this critical state. As the good witch, Glinda told Dorothy, " You've alway had the power all along, my dear."
The simple shift to your "rights" are my "obligation" really would change the direction of our culture. And vice versa of course.
I read The End Of Ice and it persuaded me we have a problem of apocryphal proportions. It's going to take something like this to shake us out of our consumption and domination way of life, which is the good news. But the danger looms we will find extinction instead.
So, we're going to need some luck and grace.
On the rough topic of library rights and ebooks, has anyone heard about the Hachette v. Internet Archive case being heard in the Southern District of New York? Some of the largest book publishers in the US are suing the Internet Archive and their Open Library over the ability for libraries to scan books they own and be able to check out those books digitally. This link has more details on the situation: https://www.theverge.com/2023/3/20/23641457/internet-archive-hachette-lawsuit-court-copyright-fair-use
This is the first I've heard of this lawsuit, but I am quite troubled by the potential problems that might be caused if the publishers win this case. Has Public Citizen or Mr. Nader given their opinion on this matter? I do see that the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a well-known organization which fights for digital rights, has spoken against the lawsuit: https://www.eff.org/cases/hachette-v-internet-archive
The URL for the website Anthropology graduate student Jesús Gutiérrez mentioned in the transcript is incorrect. It is saveucblibraries.org
Jamail is correct it's not 'post' but PERSISTENT colonial stress disorder.
In my county for 2022 which contains an Indian Reservation:
American Indian/Alaska Native average lifespan: 59.2
White average lifespan: 77.5
That comes from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps website. I gave a presentation this week to mostly Native Americans about how corporate corruption is the root of it all and cited many RNRH featured books, transcripts, and guests and they loved it. Thank you for this show!
Great idea to make a demand that Congress stop not doing things.
But here's the thing about demands, there has to be consequences when those demands are not met. Otherwise they are requests and not demands.
Congress has consistently not done the things we want and have already told us by taking big money to run their campaigns before any demand that they will continue to not do the things we want. Congress has suffered no consequences because citizens keep voting for them anyway.
Congress can abrogate their responsibilities because citizens enable Congress by voting for them when Congress does not do the things we want.
Polls have consistently shown that 80% of citizens want the big money out of politics.
The reason citizens want the big money out of politics is that citizens know that politicians that take big money will not do the things we want because the politicians take big money.
If we want the politicians to do the things we want citizens must make the demand that politicians do not take big money and enforce that demand with our votes.
While I could again demand that you, Ralph, put me on your program to discuss One Demand that can provide a vehicle for citizens to make this demand as you said you would do on Washington Journal (10-24-2018) I have no control over the consequences if you do not, so it has to be a request.
You could choose to help lead citizens to make this demand or choose not to and suffer the consequences of a Congress that will continue to not do what we want because the politicians are beholden to the big money interests that finance their campaigns.
Great interview on Indigenous Voices! Sadly even we on the left have a “convenient” blind spot that even my hero, Ralph Nader, will not address. I am saddened but not surprised that the voice of the indigenous is also mute. The largest single industrial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is animal agriculture. The tens of thousands of plant calories a cow requires each day is taken away from feeding the world. Forests are devastated and clear-cut to grow animal feed instead of human food. The oceans are decimated through the normalization of unjustified eating habits. As dozens of scientific studies have born out, reversing climate catastrophe is impossible without moving away from animal agriculture.
As leftists we like to claim the high ground with regards to compassion, yet we look the other way when we hire proxies to do the dirty work in order satisfy our cravings.
Ralph’s mantra is for each of us to take action, yet when the notion of changing our habits is raised, it is dismissed with the claim that individual actions are ineffective. Boycotts don’t work and fizzle out, and expensive lifestyle changes are elitist and burdensome on the average citizen. Changing one’s eating habits on the other hand, is effortless and powerful. What’s so hard about switching to delicious Lebanese food that doesn’t exploit other creatures nor rape the ecosphere?
Sadly I don’t expect this to be explored, even on such a powerful moral voice as the Ralph Nader show. But there’s always hope.
In every war, the library is the first to suffer, of course.
Destruction of ecosystems without scientific discussions in which many different professions should participate!! And the reason to live more comfortably?