Richard Freeman on Economic Feudalism

June 5th, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I’ve been meaning to post this great presentation on economic inequality and its corrosive impact on democracy by esteemed economist Richard Freeman.  I recommend listening to the mp3 while exercising, thus learning while burning.

You might not hear much you haven’t heard before, and some will be put off by the section where he insists on figuring out whether the historically large profits of the top 1% and up are due to their productivity or “rent seeking” (the power to claim profits beyond what you’ve produced).  But that’s what you gotta do in economic settings.

What’s notable is the fact that Richard himself is so plainly and boldly calling it like it is.  He’s a long-time Harvard economist and establishment figure at the National Bureau of Economic Research.  Those who’ve followed his work, and I’m a disciple, won’t be surprised…he’s always included power, distribution, and political economy in his analysis.

But in this lecture he is particularly outspoken and on target.

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3 comments in reply to "Richard Freeman on Economic Feudalism"

  1. Dustin says:

    Excellent suggestion. headed for the gym now.


  2. perplexed says:

    “But in this lecture he is particularly outspoken and on target.”

    The honesty in this lecture is extremely refreshing; its good to know that not all are in denial. I only wish Dr. Freeman could have discussed the role of monopoly profits in these rents payments and the role of the almost complete abdication of the duties of a free press in a democracy that was needed (and duly supplied) to get us into this situation.

    Unfortunately, if the only thing standing between us and economic feudalism are the solutions Dr. Freeman points to, we’d better brace ourselves; the most dire consequences of plutocracy are yet to come.


  3. Misaki says:

    >on figuring out whether the historically large profits of the top 1% and up are due to their productivity or “rent seeking”

    “Perfect competition”. Productivity is supposed to be irrelevant to profits, remember?

    Monopolies: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanmac/2012/06/07/ten-lessons-from-peter-thiels-class-on-startups/

    Job creation without government spending, inflation, or trade barriers: http://jobcreationplan.blogspot.com/


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