“Yes on 97” campaign relying on socialist endorser

The Yes on 97 campaign is featuring Martin Hart-Landsberg, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Lewis & Clark College, in its advertisements, assuming that an economist will be a persuasive voice of authority to the general public.


Martin Hart-Landsberg

Economists support Measure 97

But what does the public know about Hart-Landsberg? Here’s some background on his views.

     About Martin Hart-Landsberg

“…seriously if I hear (in his class) how capitalism is bad, socialism is good one more time I might vomit.”

“(Class) mainly focuses on how capitalism is bad and socialism is good. You don’t learn very much else.”

Rate my Professors at Lewis & Clark College


“…it is capitalism (as a dynamic and exploitative system), rather than neoliberalism (as a set of policies), that must be challenged and overcome.”

“…therefore, as participants in the resistance, …we can illuminate the common capitalist roots of the problems we face and the importance of building movements committed to radical social transformation and (international) solidarity.”

Neoliberalism: Myths and Reality by Martin Hart-Landsberg


“…capitalist globalization is largely responsible for creating or intensifying many of our most serious economic and social problems.”

“…even a “robust” capitalism is now an obstacle to human progress.”

From the Claw to the Lion: A Critical Look at Capitalist Globalization, by Martin Hart-        Landsberg


“The major obstacle to development is capitalism itself, and our efforts must be directed towards advancing new visions of democratic and sustainable development.”

Challenging Neoliberal Myths: A Critical Look at the Mexican Experience by Martin Hart-Landsberg


“If we want socialism for the twenty-first century, we need to understand why the ‘real’ socialisms of the last century so often ended in capitalism.”

Praise for “The contradictions of ‘real socialism’ by Martin Hart-Landsberg


“For Hart-Landsberg and Burkett, a socialist program in China or elsewhere—which they identify with the confusionist formula of a “worker-community-centered economy”—must have little or no commerce with the corrupting evils of the world capitalist market.”

“Despite their professed Marxism, Hart-Landsberg and Burkett’s outlook amounts to a form of anarcho-populism.”

China’s “Market Reforms”: A Trotskyist Analysis, Workers Vanguard


“…far from undermining the relevance of Marxism, the Chinese experience highlights its critical importance as a framework for understanding and overcoming the dynamics of contemporary capitalism.”

Thinking About China: Capitalism, Socialism and Class Struggle, By Paul Burkett and Martin Hart-Landsberg, Socialist Viewpoint


Enough said?

Down with capitalism! The IWW and Burgerville

Down with capitalism!

That’s the message from Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) as it tries to unionize Burgerville workers.


“It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism,” says the Preamble to the IWW Constitution. “The army of production must be organized, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown.”

The IWW says its long-term goal is for the “working class” to “take possession of the means of production (and) abolish the wage system”. If you were a company owner, would you welcome a union with these ultimate goals?

Citing as their inspiration garment workers in Cambodia, factory workers in China, and other fast food workers across the United States, Burgerville employees pushing for a union have a list of demands, including:

  • an immediate $5 an hour raise for all hourly workers
  • affordable, quality healthcare
  • paid maternity/paternity leave
  • free childcare and transportation stipends

The employees involved in the organizing effort say a typical Burgerville worker makes $9.60 an hour and is scheduled 26 hours a week, generating a monthly income of about $990 a month before taxes.

Burgerville has said the average hourly pay company-wide is $11.36 per hour and in Oregon the average is $10.89 per hour.

Whoever’s figures are used, the IWW’s demands, if implemented, would put the wages of Burgerville’s hourly workers far above the levels in the minimum wage law signed by Governor Brown in March 2016.

Under that law, the minimum wage within the Portland urban growth boundary is now $9.75 and will increase as follows:

July 1, 2017: $11.25

July 1, 2018: $12.00

July 1, 2019: $12.50

July 1, 2020: $13.25

July 1, 2021: $14.00

July 1, 2022: $14.75

Add in healthcare coverage, paid maternity/paternity leave, free childcare and transportation stipends and the cost of hourly workers would go through the roof for Burgerville.

In arguing its case for a Burgerville union, the IWW quotes a Burgerville worker: “Most people can’t even afford to have an apartment. In Portland, everyone knows that the cost of living is insane. It basically took me a second job to be able to have a place of my own. I couldn’t afford it with what Burgerville pays me.”

I get it. It’s hard to live on an hourly wage of a typical Burgerville worker, but most of these jobs are not expected to be family-wage jobs, nor are they intended to be lifetime careers.

Burgerville says, for example, that and over half of its hourly employees are age 22 or younger. If they expect their hourly jobs to ever generate enough income to support a family they are delusional.

And if a Burgerville union succeeded in pushing the company to meet its demands, it’s likely that this would disproportionally hurt the very people the union organizers say they want to help, less-educated low-skilled workers.

A broadly cited study by David Neumark, an economics professor at the University of California at Irvine, and William Wascher, deputy director of research and statistics at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, examined the literature on this issue and found “the weight of the evidence points to” lower employment effects.

That’s of considerable concern to people like Craig Garthwaite, an assistant professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

“That’s troubling, because I think it’s important for people to get into the labor market,” Garthwaite said. “Even if these aren’t great jobs, they lead to better jobs as your skills improve. That’s the idea. I don’t think we should be doing anything to dissuade people from entering the job market right now.”

Minimum wages are intended to be commensurate with a worker’s skills, education and productivity at that point in time, enable them to develop higher skills and work their way out of minimum wage and up the pay scale.

It’s clear that the IWW and the Burgerville workers demanding expensive wages and benefits just don’t get it.