Another Woman Lifts the Curtain on Big Money Wizards

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I just finished reading Democracy in Chains by historian Nancy MacLean, a book colored, she says, by a transformation of politics in North Carolina, where she teaches at Duke University. MacLean discovered an abandoned trove of documents on school vouchers, belonging to a little known economist named James McGill Buchanan. Promoting theories he misleadingly named “public choice,” Buchanan first rose to prominence at the Univ. of Virginia, while actually working for minority rule by the wealthy. He also eventually won the “almost-Nobel prize” in Economics that I expose in my book, Screwnomics.

I write about a similar mean-spirited change in my home state of Michigan, and critique prize-winner Milton Friedman’s damage—but had no knowledge of Friedman’s friend, until MacLean’s book. That’s how Buchanan wanted it. He and his colleagues, well funded by wealthy donors like Scaife, Volker, and the Koch brothers, provided economic arguments to oppose the civil rights movement, social security, public schools, Medicare and Medicaid. Eventually he and the Kochs set up influential centers at Virginia’s George Mason University, closer to Washington D.C.

All along the way, Buchanan’s autocratic moves trumped academic freedom. MacLean doesn’t note the hyper-masculinity of their true-believer culture, but it surely was male-dominated by male dominators. Backed by big male money, Buchanan’s rationales transformed law schools and state legislatures, favoring the corporate elite, not us less powerful plebes. In their new orthodoxy, only personal responsibility of the so-called “makers” counted—and income taxes or Medicare or Social Security taxes that sensibly redistributed wealth was robbery of the rich.

Interestingly, Buchanan and his tribe knew they needed to cloak their real intents, and did so, using code to avoid extremist and racist terms. They considered women a problem. Why? Women, who’d only won the vote in 1920, and who largely remain less wealthy, were more readily open to governmental “collective action,” they said, or democracy in action.

That’s to be celebrated. We can be glad that females can now go to school, a relatively new phenomenon, and still far from universal.  (The University of Virginia accepted its first black male student in 1955—but did not admit women until 1970.) Together with two other courageous women’s books, Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine and Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains pulls back the curtain on a fake money wizardry that has not only impoverished our US Treasury, but threatens to bankrupt our American ideals.


The Kochs and their billionaire network are not the first to aspire to a kingdom—but corruption like theirs never ends well. A sizeable number of American men have been so seduced by an ideology with chest-pounding Alpha baboon traits, that perhaps only American women can awaken a larger, more essential context of mutual exchanges—ones more productive, humane, and sustainable than constant male battles for dominance.


Why an #EconoMeToo Movement Matters

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Ten years ago, Tarana Burke began encouraging women to share their stories with each other. She knew they weren’t easy stories to tell. She herself had experienced sexual assault, and seeing how common it was, and how often women blamed themselves, she began #MeToo. Women learned they weren’t alone. Far from it. When they united, they became survivors and stronger. They could support one another to make change.

My book Screwnomics, more than ten years in the making, puts forward a similar idea. Screwing is not a woman’s word. It is a male vernacular made common in the world of money. It describes someone cheated, humiliated, and dominated. Most often we laugh it off.  But whatever your gender, or sexual preference, to be screwed means essentially to be made "female," or used against your will by a more powerful someone, who demonstrates he cares nothing about you. The use of this metaphor is now so common, we seldom think about its gendered nature.

Like Tarana, I encourage women to share their story with other women. Money tales are also difficult to confide. Money’s our last taboo, as loaded and shameful as sex—and often connected to sexual messaging and racial and gender identity. But together women can face what so often is painful and infuriating—and can be changed when we end our silence. Because of Screwnomics and  its workbook, Where Can I Get Some Change?, designed to help women claim their own economic story, women often confide in me. In the past month, I’ve heard diverse but similar tales. When asked if I can share them, they're afraid, and say no. They don’t want to go public, or be recognized. It feels too dangerous—and probably is. Until we unite.

That’s why we’ve introduced our new blog spot: AnonymousSpeaks. It’s an easy way to tell your story, which we promise to share in confidence, without using your name, unless you tell us you want to make specifics public on our website. How’s it work?

Just go to: https://www.screwnomics.org/ and you’ll see: What Is Your Economic Story? A big red button says: Click here to share!

We’ll respond and get your confirmation to make sure it’s really you. We may also request style edits, and reserve the right to publish only stories that our editors believe will be helpful to others. Feel free to share any solutions that worked for you, also. We’ll share it with our followers on Facebook and on Twitter, using #Screwnomics #EconoMeToo. Together, we are powerful.


Women's Economic Status


The International Finance Corporation with the World Bank estimates that women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, produce 50 percent of its food, but earn just 10 percent of global income. 

Women comprise two-thirds of the world’s illiterate people, and one-third of the world’s girls are married before age eighteen. 

Women own 30 percent of registered businesses worldwide, but only 1 percent of property.

Say what?!