Laura: Hi, I'm Laura Flanders. Capitalism's crisis deepens. To many people, it looks more ascendant than ever. The coming to power of a billionaire without even the façade of public service backed by hedge funders and war profiteers. To a lot of people, the rise of Donald Trump and Trump-ism represents the ascendancy galore of capitalism, not its crisis. Economics professor Richard Wolff respectfully disagrees. Wolff is the founder of Democracy at Work, and the host of Economic Update, a weekly podcast, as well as the author of many books, most recently, Capitalism's Crisis Deepens.
In this week's conversation, he's joining Farah Tanis who also believes in building authentic, alternative livelihoods. It's the only way that many communities, especially communities of color, have every survived periods of repression, and it's the way to build the world we want to live in in the future, regardless of who is in the White House. Farah is the co-founder and executive director of Black Women's Blueprint, which recently chaired the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission of black women and sexual assault in the United States. Welcome, both. I couldn't be happier than to be sharing the beginning of this challenging year with the two of you.
Richard Wolff: Thank you.
Laura Flanders: Let's start with some descriptions. Farah, how do you describe the situation that we're in? How do you see it?
Farah Tanis: I can only speak with the hundreds and the thousands, if not the millions, of voices of people of African descent throughout this country who are fearful. Extremely fearful. Fearful about their own present, their economic security, fearful about whether or not their right to make a living, their right to have access to education, their right to not be burdened by debt, you know, even this dream or any vision that they had for themselves, there is this dissipation, there is this disappearing of this hope that we had before, that we could ever, ever get anywhere, even under the Obama presidency. The loss of jobs, it's become more real than ever. The student loan debt has become more real than ever. The lack of access to healthcare, even under Obamacare, has become more real than ever. Whatever little bits that we had, we now feel that we're going to lose. There is, I will be honest in saying this, sheer panic.
Laura: I don't suppose it came up at that dinner because you were probably being very polite. But there are policy changes that would help businesses like yours. Can you talk about some of them? Because some of the people who might be watching might be people who are in government or who are in position to actually make some policy change. Rush Limbaugh wasn't right in saying there's money flowing to lesbian farmers.
Laura: But there could be.
Serafina: There could be, yes. Certainly. I think that our experience is limited. We've only been in the industry for 3 and a half years. I can't speak to it as an expert by any means.
Laura: But there are presumably things that could've been easier for you.
Serafina: Access to capital for rural businesses. That's where we actually did access our, the VC money came through a program that Secretary Vilsack created. We're very fortunate to have that access stream. There's a lot of people in rural communities, in agricultural communities that don't have access to those kinds of resources that's greatly needed.
Just even some of the regulations around the access to kill facilities and poultry processing and how that's ... Folks want to do things locally, and there's not an ability to do it. There's a huge need for changes and shifts for how people can create meat and poultry products on a local basis. It's kind of a globalized industry right now. It's very expensive to get into it.
When we started, we were like well how hard can it be, we'll make some chicken fingers. Then we learned about the USDA ...
Jen: We did a Kickstarter for $25,000. That's it. We're good. We're done.
Serafina: No. We needed millions.
Jen: That was less than a drop in the bucket.
Serafina: You need a huge access to capital to get into this particular industry.
Jen: Owning your own meat company is extremely expensive. We didn't know, and I'm shocked we're still here today.
Laura: Talk a little bit more about the sexism in the business. I think we all, clearly, if this election has taught us anything, need to talk more about the sexism that we're up against.