Ask Prof. Wolff

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Would world wide monopolistic democratic/workplaces of many different fields enhance word peace?

One might think that equal owner/workers would be reluctant to go to war with equal owner/workers that were members of the same organization and industry but of different national states. Might countries come one day to be considered obsolete organizations? If countries did not exist they could not have a war.

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Why are property "rights" and ownership never emphasized enough in your analysis?

Your economic analysis as well as that of Karl Marx emphasize labor, jobs, and income inequality. While this analysis is indeed correct, it leaves out a more fundamental issue. The issue of property “rights” and how they are determined. While we can all concur that life, liberty, clean air, clean water are basic rights for all of us. I don’t think property is a “right” of anyone, but rather a “claim” to said property by said individuals or organizations. The society collectively then looks at the validity of the claim, and if so determines that the claim is morally and ethically just and valid, “honors” the property “claim”, but is never a “right”, and in most cases the property “claim”’s validity should not be permanent but for a reasonable span of time. By property I mean in the broadest general meaning, not just land and real estate. Indeed we must include anything tangible or intangible (intellectual) that without man made boundaries would by nature be the common domain for all of society. Much of the private property claims today are of questionable validity and are in fact theft. Just some of the many examples: Non-consensual taking of property by force such as the land that native peoples have occupied for millennia, and property (money) taken by forced labor. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) essentially gave away huge sections of the broadcast “rights” of the electromagnetic spectrum to special interests in 1996. The patent office grants monopolies to individuals and organizations without the collective consent of the population. In fact I posit that much of the problem of health care costs can be solved by re-examining the laws regarding intellectual property claims, the scope of the claims, the ethical and moral validity of the claims, and examined whether or not society should side step the free market to protect special interest profits. The worker coops are a good solution where the labor owns the company. If we can show that many of the property “claims” of the capitalist class are in fact unjust, invalid, and expired then the morally just and valid claims of the coops would naturally take hold. Without the society in general honoring the property claims of the capital class, the wealth and income inequality dilemma would be a self-solving problem

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Episode of 'The Inquiry' from BBC World Service, 'Is inequality about to get unimaginably worse?'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p050kvnz

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Perhaps you would have Mr. Mears as a guest on your show?

Dear Professor Wolff, The article below speaks about a subject that I have heard you refer to often on your show. Mr. Mears is a teacher who understands these issues and is working to revitalize the Teachers' Union. He can bring to light how this all plays into the current administration and their goals around education. Thank you for your consideration and for the great service you do by sharing your deep and profound knowledge of economic systems and related issues. Education Reformers Lowered Teachers’ Salaries, While Promising to Raise Them by ERIK MEARS, http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/24/education-reformers-lowered-teachers-salaries-while-promising-to-raise-them/

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Understanding EL + LL = TL

Prof. Wolff, Before I ask my question, I'd like to express gratitude. Your lectures are fantastic and, as a Political Science student, I find them to be very enriching and enlightening. I'm pretty sure I've watched every one... multiple times. I'm not joking. I feel as though they capture the spirit of the age; the dissatisfaction of neoliberalism and the Byzantine, reform-averse, under-democratized American political structure that enables it. The system is unraveling. Anyhoo, my question concerns your lecture on the 25th of April where you spoke of embodied labor, living labor, total labor, and surplus. My question is this: If one were to transpose the balance sheet and its basic elements (assets, liabilities, costs, etc.) to conform to that equation you laid out, what would that look like? Is total labor total revenue? Would dividends be part of the surplus just like profits are? Are assets and embodied labor one in the same? It seems as if the equation you laid out was an easily understandable template for the means of production. I've always understood, however, that the means of production were calculated and understood within the elements of a balance sheet. Is this a misguided comparison? Maybe I could look at how worker co-ops perform their accounting. Thank you and keep up the lectures! You rock! -P Bourke

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Drug prices?

Professor Wolff, Here's something weird. When my wife and I return to the US from Mexico every couple of years we check-in with doctors. (Medicare doesn't cover you when you are outside of the US.) The doc prescribed generic Flow Maxx. ( At your age you may already know what this is for.) So as I was dealing with the paperwork on the way out I saw a little sign and a stack of cards about something called GOODRx which advised me to take a card and take it to my pharmacy when I had my prescription filled and I would save some money. So I did. I don't usually fall for stuff like this but in this case I was glad I did. To make a long story short, before I mentioned the card at the drug store the charge for my prescription was $86. But after consulting with someone or something online the clerk reduced the cost to $27. Anyone who didn't know about this would have paid the full $86 and known no better. Furthermore, after I checked out the GOODRx app I learned that at another nearby pharmacy I could have gotten the same quantity of the same drug for $15! What the hell is going on? I'm sure CVS is still making a nice profit at $27. If you have time look into it. Thanks for your hard and diligent work. Keep it up! Kenneth Hunt

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Marginal product of labor?

Mr. Wolff, Capitalist critiques often refer to laborers as wage slaves. That is, producing X units for some arbitrary wage which is not dependent upon what is actually produced. In this system, do we have any kind of ratio that tells us an average MPL for the capitalist owner? If I earn a wage of $500 per week, can we estimate how much I have actually economically produced for my company's owners?

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The Capitalist Papers

Hello Mr. Wolff, Now, I understand that you are a busy man, but I have found a compilation of essays that purport to have refuted Marxism as a whole. They seem to have misinterpreted Marx on many levels, but, however, I am not as proficient in Marxian economics as you are. So, my request is this, will you perhaps analyze and make a response to these essays? -Thomas https://docs.google.com/document/d/1N8opNE-3Nj5W_7w_2vx6grfvoidmcMsTWli2EBXcZsM

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MMT. clarify, compare and contrast, your position on MMT. .

I really love your presentations. I am in the early stages of learning MMT. Your recent show stirred up some heated discussion in Modern Monetary Theory for Real Progressives on Facebook. I would love it if you could clarify, compare and contrast, your position on MMT.

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Is there any validity to claims that the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression?

I've recently read several free market economists who claim that FDR, in implementing New Deal policies, actually hurt the economically vulnerable and prolonged the depression by several years. A typical report making this claim, like one from the Cato Institute, references "mounting evidence" that enterprising free market scholars have uncovered, with the assumption seeming to be that they've finally rid the subject of ideology and come out with an objective analysis. I'm wary of economists making these kinds of assertions. I'm a young and budding scholar of music history and not of economics, so I'd like some guidance on how to navigate this complex topic. Information and suggested reading on this would be very helpful. Thanks! https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/how-fdrs-new-deal-harmed-millions-poor-people

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How can local action groups fight established Public Private Partnerships?

I live in Northwest Indiana, and local action groups are working to stop deportations out of our Gary Airport, which has been in a PPP for over a decade. We are also in the Master Plan session, but the process that has been established is structured to have no public input. I have found suggestions on how to prevent a PPP, but what is the best option when trying to dismantle an already established economic development disaster? Even if ending deportations is successful, the airport is still a drain on the working class in the area while wealthy people in NWI and Chicago use it as a private jet parking garage (on tax payers' dime).

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Will comer.org lawsuit in Canada inspire people to take action?

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/03/23/rocco-galati-in-court-to-challenge-how-bank-of-canada-does-business.html https://www.thestar.com/news/2008/05/17/toronto_revolutionary_93_girds_for_one_more_battle.html http://www.comer.org/

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Where is the oversight in higher education expenditure?

Professor Wolff I was wondering if you could address in more detail the funding crisis of public universities, or at least the way the universities spin this crisis. I was a graduate student at the University of Texas, a school with a very handsome endowment, and was shocked at how poor the quality of education and services were for students at all levels. For example, as a student in biomedical research, my lab was stationed in the Dell Pediatric Research Institute, a newer building near the UT campus but on the other side of I-35. A bus that shuttled students from the main campus, where graduate students like myself were to teach and take courses, to the DPRI was cut due to a lack of funds and so-called low ridership. Because the university already cut graduate student parking years ago, there are only a few parking places available in the early morning hours at the main campus. This means for graduate students doing research at the DPRI, leaving to attend classes and/or teach undergraduates on the main campus have no way to get there except by bike, not a fun prospect to cross a major highway in 108 degree heat only to show up drenched in sweat to teach undergraduates. Of course none of this even addresses the tremendous loss of time for a graduate student who is under pressure to produce data to have even the prospect of a career. I find it awfully fishy that there is always money for large-scale construction projects that do not necessarily benefit students while the most basic services that could improve students’ success are completely ignored if not slashed altogether. Where is the oversight in higher education expenditure? That students put up with this is shocking. How is this even legal? Is there any oversight at all on how funds are spent at universities? The students are certainly not benefiting from the way funds are allocated. They aren’t even given the quality lab materials necessary to complete a successful experiment, nor are they given the quality training they need to know how to do a proper experiment. The quality of education is deteriorating in spite of the new shiny buildings, pools, gyms, etc.

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Dear Prof. Wolff:

I live in Brasil. We are facing a huge recession since 2015 and a coup since 2016. There is a plastic artifacts factory in the State of São Paulo, named Flasko, that was occupied by the workers when it got into bankruptcy 12 years ago. This factory was recovered by them and the eletricity bill worth on 1,5 mi. Reais ( almost US $ 500.000) was payed by them. But as the economic situation is very bad they accumulated more debt. In the region much bigger companies are also in debt with the eletricity company, but the only one that had an eletricity cut was Flasko. So they can't work any more. I want to help them and don't know what to do. Do you have any idea? I thought of a loan or a croudfunding to raise the money, but I don't know what to do.I even know people that are being threatned when trying to help. How can they get help?

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