In many of my courses taught over eight years at UVM between 2009 and 2017 (before I was removed from teaching post by a Chair I argue was bent on making sure I would never get reappointed), I frequently showed a film to students titled The End of Poverty?, which explores the issue of causes of worldwide poverty, arguing it is not natural, but man-made historically. At an event led by a student screening a libertarian inspired film about the poverty business I was given a chance to screen some clips and give a short talk about the issues as they relate to global poverty. I asked: “Why so much poverty that we even need a ‘poverty business’ — this is a question begging for an answer”).
The film about the poverty business was shown in Williams auditorium and was open to the public. I will never forget it because two senior Economics Dept. faculty walked out of the lecture hall just when I was to speak and show the film clips below, a rather rude display of displeasure with my Marxian political economy approach. The Chair remained, however. To me, she looked annoyed by my video clips (see below) and my take on global poverty.
Later, the Chair would write in an email to a faculty member (obtained through a Vermont Public Records Act request, that my class “content is really why we are out of patience and not willing to let him continue“. The content below was just some of the content that I believe irked many in the department, now dominated by neoclassicals. Later, during her deposition, the Chair tried to claim “content” referred to how I was teaching, not what I was teaching, a lame attempt that stretches credulity and is inconsistent with other comments in her email, such as referring to poorly rated faculty in the department who she excuses because they are teaching “good” economics and get good peer reviews from their neoclassical colleagues.
The following year I was “targeted” ( a former UVM dean’s written description of what he believed happened to me) for removal and officially not reappointed (although my case is now before the Vermont Supreme Court). As we approach the second anniversary of my purge from UVM by a Chair bent on removing me (with support from some right-wing and even “leftist” senior faculty), we should not forget what was censored from the classroom by the brazen act of purging me for not teaching “good” economics — perspectives the students will now never be exposed to, and which allowed the students to access an alternative paradigm of economic thought. From the Chair’s narrow-minded Harvard-trained mainstream perspective, this was probably not her idea of “good” economics (and I was thus not a good economist).
But, as everybody in economics knows, your “good” economics is my “bad” economics and vice versa. The Chair claims it was not what I was teaching but how I was teaching it, not “fully and fairly,” that led to my removal. This claim, however, I believe I fully debunked in front of the Vermont Labor Relations Board. I argued it represents a not-so-clever pretext for removal of a popular-with-students, radical Marxian political economist. In fact, I was the third Marxian political economist to be removed from the Department of Economics at the University of Vermont (UVM).
Have a look, and remember this is no longer presented to students:
The Global Economic System as the Problem – Poverty as By-Product of Global Capitalist Accumulation
Film Overview – 2:37 mins
1. Legacy of 500 Years of Colonial Plunder – 42 secs. (Eric Toussant)
2. Neo-Colonialism/Modern Corporate Plunder – 1:27 mins. (John Perkins)
3. Liberalization of Markets/Trade – 37 secs. (Joe Stiglitz)
4. Privatization of State Assets to TNCs – 27 secs. (Oscar Olivera)
5. Wage Slavery and Degradation of Labor– 51 secs. (Maria Luisa Mendonca)
6. Global Wealth Transfer through Debt Markets – 1:05 mins. (Susan George)
7. Unsustainable Economics -1:06 mins. (Serge La Touche)