Thursday, June 09, 2005

Non-Annoying Boy Of The Week: Doug Henwood

What makes the Sad Billionaire happy? Well, besides romantic country walks with Femme Feral, and the beautiful plinky-plonk music of Derek Bailey , my top-ten list would definitely include the one-man political-economy-demystification-machine known as Doug Henwood.

First let me say that my life has been immeasurably better since I started subscribing to Henwood's Left Business Observer newsletter. I am always so happy when the self-published socialist tipsheet appears in the mailbox. It is no exaggeration to say that LBO got me through the galling idiocy of the last election season. Henwood explains complex topics, like petroleum macroeconomics, the meaning of monthly employment statistics, and the evolving landscape of globalization. Amazingly, he does it in a manner that is both technically sophisticated and user-friendly.

Henwood's refusal to indulge in the satisfactions of wonkish obscurantism is really inspiring. Like other non-annoying boys of the week of decades past, such as Karl Marx, E.P. Thompson and Ralph Miliband, Henwood actually thinks that intellectuals who understand the complexities of capitalism (and can read a graph or chart without having their eyes glaze over like a Krispy Kreme donut) have an obligation to try to explain it to the rest of us.

The good news is that Henwood is super-generous with his writings. He put his awesome book about the contours of modern-day Wall Street on the web for free after Verso decided not to reprint it (!): Print it out and read it, and you will be able to rationalize your desire to throw hot coffee at the television whenever "Kudlow and Cramer" and Suze Ormand start their insipid yapping. Not to deny the validity of the unreasonable, primal, dinosaur-brain impulse to take a Louisville Slugger to the TV every time these odious lackeys of the Dow Jones corporation come into view.

Henwood does a radio show on the WBAI radio station. He updates often with recent shows, and has an incredible archive of programs in several formats, going back a few years: Be sure to find the now classic interview with Slovenian mad genius Slavoj Zizek... it's like a quintuple-espresso in audio form.

Finally, Henwood is always giving props to his wife, Liza Featherstone, who has written an extremely timely and important book about horribleevil Wal-Mart and women workers: Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Worker's Rights at Wal-Mart.

We love cool married couples! We hate the free enterprise system!


Doug Henwood said...

Hey, this made some very nice reading this morning. Thanks! Who is this sad billionaire, and why doesn't all that money make you happy? I thought happiness rose with the log of income or something.

the sad billionaire said...

The sad billionaire lives in Texas and has made his billions selling Karlheinz Stockhausen Verlag bootlegs and kettle corn on the streets of Beijing.

Why have the billions not brought happiness, you ask? I wonder about that, too! The free enterprise system is so totally awesome, and yet I feel empty. Do I need to change my meds?