March 21, 2004 April 18, 2004Meeting Report

April 2, 2004

Panel Discussion:
A Humanist Way of Judging Our Economy

Panelists: Leon Lefson and Prof. Marc Tool
Moderator: Ted Webb

This was a really excellent and fascinating discussion. Ted Webb is a HAGSA member and Minister Emeritus of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento. Dr. Marc Tool is Professor Emeritus of Economics at California State University Sacramento, and Leon Lefson is a long-time progressive activist and a retired welfare administrator. Both March and Leon are old friends of Ted.

Leon started the discussion with his Marxist critique of the capitalist system as it is practiced in America. He looks on the system as exploitive of people and resources and operating for the benefit of large multinational corporations. He also looks on it as being supportive of war and preparations for war. He says that 45% of federal expenditures are for current defense spending or for the cost of past wars. He proposes that the welfare of all the people should be the guiding factor for government policy.

Marc Tool supports a mixed economy. The nature of the mix is what is important to him. He looks at commercial and government institutions and studies their interactions. He says that the current administration is trying to destroy the system that has existed since the New Deal, all for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans. He favors democratic determination of public policy, not only as being right, but also as being efficient. He generally disdains “isms” although he does have an institutionalist background himself. A primary value for him is the elimination of invidious distinctions among individuals.

After the two had spoken, there was a lively discussion about democratic government and the relationship between capitalism and democracy.

Report prepared by Wayne Luney, HAGSA Recorder

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March 21, 2004 2004 Meetings April 18, 2004