Syllabus for Progressive Capitalism: A Possible Model for A Renewed America


Midcoast Senior College


Winter 2022 Mondays from 9:30-11:00 January 17-February 7 via Zoom


Course Description: Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Prize in Economics 2001) is concerned our divided society endangers our future.  His People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism For An Age of Discontent provides a possible model for reuniting us and restoring a broad commitment to our common good while rescuing capitalism from its current excesses.  He maintains markets are shaped by public policy, and that our markets are not truly competitive because of our public policies.  We will read and discuss his recipe for restoring our society considering how his recommendations for new public policies might foster recommitment to our common good while limiting both exploitation and market power thus restoring competition. 


It should be noted that I am not a trained economist—I’ve never even had a course in economics.  I have extensively studied political and social philosophy, however, and have a good deal of experience with economics and markets as an investor for over 50 years, and with public policy as a political activist throughout that time.  I read Stiglitz’ book earlier this year and found his proposals very interesting.  I decided to teach the course because I want to better understand his proposal (teaching something is a wonderful way of coming to better understand it), and because I hope to discuss his proposal with others of diverse political and economic perspectives. 


Text: Joseph Stiglitz, People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism For An Age of Discontent (NY: W.W. Norton, 2019).  Kindle, $9.17 Paperback: 978-0393358339 $9.65

Class Forum:  <---click to enter the discussion board for students in the class


January 15 Economist article---> "The new interventionism: After a long liberalizing era, the state has bounced back.  That is not a good thing," by Jan Piotrowski [it will open in a new window]


Announcement: whereas Chapters 2-5 provide Stiglitz’ account of where our economy has gone wrong, Chapter 6 "The Challenge of New Technologies' raises the claim that mismanagement of globalization is an additional cause of our malaise.  He devotes so much space to what might be done to better regulate new technologies that this chapter could itself take a course to cover.  I am going to opt to skip discussion of it as there just isn‘t enough time in this four week course to take it up. 


First Class January 17: Introduction: Overview and Wealth vs. Riches:


Preface to the Kindle Edition.  For students who purchased the print edition! 


Supplement for First Class of Progressive Capitalism

     The four supplements are intended to facilitate understanding of his views and may be read before, and/or after the class.  The first one’s introduction is well underway, but it is still under construction (and the others have not yet been started). 


 Second Class January 24: Public Policy and Structuring the Economy to Benefit the Rich:  


Supplement for Second Class of Progressive Capitalism 


Third Class January 31: A Decent Life For All: Reclaiming America, Restoring Democracy, and Restoring Our Economy 


Supplement for Third Class of Progressive Capitalism 



For the final class I want to encourage you to look at a piece on my website titled “Relativism, Objectivism, and Judging” and two readings I ask those reading the piece to do: Readings: Ambrose Beirce's "A Horseman In The Sky" and Jonathan Bennett's "The Conscience of Huckleberry Finn)".  I hope to use them to discuss how we might deal with the assessment of differing values, and political public policy proposals. 


Fourth Class February 7:


     Supplement for Fourth Class


     Critical Considerations:


     might his recommendations for new public policies limit both exploitation and market power, restore competition, and foster recommitment to our common good?  


     are they practicable--could they be put into place, would that "cost too much? and


     would they strengthen our democracy or tear it asunder? 



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File revised on 02/04/22