Economic Problems Discussion Issues: Economic Inequality & Poverty Mooney et al., C



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Economic Problems Discussion Issues:

1. Economic Inequality & Poverty (Mooney et al., Ch. 6) How much wealth inequality is there in US and on global scale? Is this harmful for society in any way? How does US measure Poverty, and what are poverty rates for key groups? What are the “working poor”? What are the consequences of poverty & economic Inequalityin health, hunger, housing, legal system, education, family problems, etc.? What are some of solutions proposed ? What are key US public Assistance programs? What are key myths vs. reality of US welfare system (lack work ethic, large families, extent of fraud, immigrant burden? What is “living wage’ vs. ‘Minimum wage”? How might tax reforms help reduce inequality? What is the Occupy Wall Street Movement, what is their main grievance?

2. How much of a decline & inequality have workers experienced in 21st century – and by education, race, & why? What has been trend in worker wages compared to income for wealthy, and for poverty in recent years, and taxes paid by corporations & wealthy vs. everyone else? (Tankersley et al. web rdg.)

3. Work & Unemployment (Mooney et al., Ch. 7) What are roots of recent Economic Recession? What is difference between Capitalism & Socialism? How was bank bailout socialism? What is Post-Industrial economy? What is McDonaldization of work? What is globalization and what are Free trade Agreements? Who benefits most and who does not? What are Transnational / Multinational Corporations, and how do they affect society & work, through off-shoring and outsourcing jobs, through taxes paid or not, & size /influence in world economy? How is unemployment measured & what underemployment, and what is US rate? What are main causes of Unemployment? What are effects of UE on people and families? What is employment like for recent college grads in recent years (wages, types of jobs, etc.)? What is Sweatshop labor, abroad and in US, & how common is it? What are health & safety concerns at work? How much does work death cost company? What is work-life conflict? Why are US workers generally less protected (labor laws, unions, etc.)? What are strategies to end sweatshop labor and child labor and improve jobs, role of legislation?

4. Theories / Explanations for Inequality, Work, and the Economy (Mooney et al., Chs. 6 & 7) – What is Functionalist Perspective -- Economy as Institution & functions of, some dysfuctions tho, Functions of poverty, of inequality. Conflict Theory – Workers vs. Owners, role of $ in politics / corporatocracy, Corporate Welfare and Wealthfare (vs welfare for poor). Symbolic Interactionism—Importance of economic labels and meanings of work & poverty

5. What are the 2 main explanations for poverty -- Cultural/Behavioral Theories & Structural/Economic Theories-- key ideas & strengths & weaknesses in each? (Rodgers #8 in C&V)

6. Current Economic Crisis: Why did the US govt. bail out AIG? Where did govt. $ to AIG go? What risky & unethical (& illegal) practices did Goldman Sachs & AIG & others engage in that caused economic problems? (Nocera et al web rdg.)

7. What has been role of financial sector elites in causing economic crisis? How much did they profit & how do they exercise influence in govt.? What is role of govt. regulation (or lack of) in current econ. crisis? What does Johnson suggest as solution to bank-led economic crisis – what should be done with banks that are “too big to fail” ? (Johnson web rdg.)



8. Why did Apple move production to China? What are labor conditions like in China for workers making Apple products & other consumer electronics—wages, safety & health & working conditions, hours, etc.—how widespread are labor violations? (Duhigg et al. web rdg.) How might Apple be compelled to change its labor practices in China –like Nike & Gap were (Duhigg et al.)


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