Ask Prof. Wolff

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Professor Wolff receives hundreds of questions per week covering a wide array of topics, from economics and politics, to historical movements and current events. While Professor Wolff does his best to reply to some questions on Economic Update with Richard D. Wolff, he's received more questions than can be answered individually. Prof. Wolff will now provide video answers to his favorite questions on this page.
 
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What is the best historical record that describes FDR's dialogue with 1930s financial elites?

Dr. Wolff, You often speak of the conversation, or dialogue, that FDR had with the financial elites of his time, especially regarding the taxation necessary to pay for New Deal programs. Approximately 1/2 of the elites agreed and gave him the needed support to pass a number of New Deal programs to rescue middle class and working people from poverty. The other 1/2 of the elites, as you have said, always disagreed, and we see their descendents today in the form of the very anti-Progressive Koch Brothers, and others. Is there a biography or other historical record that documented this FDR-elite dialogue, which was at least partially-successful in realizing the New Deal? This dialogue, IMO, is very important today, as we have some Progressives talking of a new version of the New Deal for today. This dialogue with wealthy elites is going to have to be continued, with many elites being convinced to help, if this current Progressive vision is to be realized. HOW did FDR persuade the elites who agreed, which ones went along, and why? What is the best account of this you know of?

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Non-profit university seeks to sell off entire college to international for-profit educational group

In 1991, Westminster Choir College, a small independent music school in Princeton, NJ was in financial trouble. To solve their problems, they chose to merge with Rider College, now Rider University, a larger institution in Lawrenceville, NJ a few miles away. Westminster retained its 23-acre campus in the heart of Princeton and its identity as one of the top schools for training choral musicians. Over the past 26 years the two institutions have grown together for mutual benefit. The new university president is seeking to sell the entire music school and its valuable land to an unnamed international for-profit educational group with no previous experience in higher education. http://www.centraljersey.com/news/professor-prospective-westminster-buyer-has-no-higher-education-experience/article_07b79dca-adec-11e7-bf92-e3d49234601a.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share For background information and legal filings: https://www.savewestminster.org/ http://www.theridernews.com/2017/10/18/letter-to-the-editor-professor-questions-administrations-accounting/ http://www.rideraaup.net/how-a-for-profit-company-might-ruin-westminster.html http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/faculty-union-at-rider-u-votes-no-confidence-in-universitys-president/117854

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Dear Prof.Wolff Please change back your introduction music to what it was before.

Dear Professor Wolff Please please please change back your introduction and outro music to what it was before. I loved it and it fit perfectly your message and concept to your wonderful amazingly informative show economic update. Ps. What happened? Why did you change it? Curious . Thanks kindly, KwaMega. The great song was by John Lee Hooker & Carlos Santana "Things gonna change". Thanks again for any reply. Peace, Kwame.

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Tell what you think about Silvio Gesell and Natural economic order ?

Tell what you think about Silvio Gesell and Natural economic order ?

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Why give to OCW?

MITPENCOURSEWARE sent me an e-mail pleading for money. I checked MIT's Endowments. From what the Internet told me , their endowment is 14.8 billion dollars. Can you explain to me how they got so poor that they need money from me? Thomas Please support OCW and give today. View this email in your browser MIT OpenCourseWare “When I was in high school I had close to a 4.0 GPA, and I had planned to go to college. Unfortunately tragedy struck when my father died one year before I would have graduated, and consequently I was not even able to finish high school (I later got a GED). After that happened, life got away from me, and the prospects of my going to college disappeared. Nearly ten years later, in spite of my busy schedule, I was finally able to learn Calculus I thanks to these great lectures and course materials that are online. I feel that a previously closed door has been reopened to me.” – Carl, USA “I have a mental disorder, and I cannot study in a traditional university setting. MIT OCW made it possible for me to follow university courses despite of my disorder. I am really grateful for this. It gave me back some part of my life that I had not expected to experience anymore.” – Monika, Hungary “It’s great having online courses available to every person from one of the best universities of the world. MIT has always been very focused towards its goal of providing education to all sections of the society and I hope this reaches bigger heights. I am currently going through Quantum Physics I (8.04) and Introduction to Computer Science (6.00SC). My school doesn't provide any such courses or classes on these topics. I always wanted to be a physicist and computer scientist. And MIT OCW is helping me greatly achieve my goals in life. Again, from my deepest sense of gratitude, I thank all of MIT for their years of teaching excellence.” – Satya, India Dear Friend of OCW, MIT OpenCourseWare will always be free and open. This means OCW will forever make it possible for anyone who has access to the Internet to learn just about everything taught at MIT—never for a fee. We know education has the power to change peoples’ lives for the better, and we are humbled by the many people from around the world who write in to tell us how OCW resources have done just that. These stories reinforce how vital OCW’s open and free educational resources are to people who are eager to learn and who have few resources at hand. The Cost of Being Free Please give to OCW today. Over the past year, OCW has worked assiduously to increase our efficiency while decreasing our publication expenses. We’ve reduced last year’s budget of $3.7M by 25%, to $2.7M. MIT remains our financial mainstay by committing funds to support half of our costs. The rest must be supported by corporate underwriters and donations from people like you. We are grateful to all 3,626 donors who provided more than $320,000 in gifts to OCW in the last year. There is no greater testament to the value and importance of OCW than their support. But publishing new course materials and other resources like video lectures and educator interviews, and hosting a vast array of free content from MIT’s curriculum, and sharing it all openly so that it is available for reuse, remixing, and re-distribution, requires substantial funding. How You Can Help The vast majority of the 37,000 learners who use our site every day can’t afford to donate. Our mission is to offer access to these people and to others motivated to learn and improve their knowledge and circumstances. If you are able to donate $25, $50, $100, or whatever amount feels right, you can make a huge impact. Your donation helps OCW support not just the publication but improvements to the usability of our website, so people can more easily find what they need. To help even more people, we need support making our materials mobile friendly so that those who don’t have a computer can take steps to improve their own learning and teaching. Please be assured your donation will be put to good use. Help us continue to support the millions of people who use our materials every month—visit our site to make your donation now. Sincerely, Joe Joseph Pickett Director of Publishing MIT OpenCourseWare Share Tweet Forward to Friend +1 Share Pin You are receiving this email because you've subscribed to the MIT OpenCourseWare newsletter. Our mailing address is: MIT OpenCourseWare 77 Massachusetts Avenue, NE49 Cambridge, MA 02139 Add us to your address book unsubscribe from this list update subscription preferences

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Bombardier and the new Muslim ban

The gvt of Quebec gave a billion dollars (in the province with the worst austerity budget in the country) to Bombardier to save it from going under. Then Trump slapped a 300% tariff on planes Bombardier was going to be making and selling to the US. So Bombardier just *gave* a majority stake to Airbus in exchange for access to its manufacturing plants in Alabama. The business press is falling over themselves in praise. Stock in Bombardier rose 26%, despite the fact that Airbus has an option to completely buy out the company now, and Quebec stands a very real chance of losing the corporation entirely to the US. To distract from this egregious behaviour, the Liberal gvt of Quebec has just passed a likely-unconstitutional law prohibiting people from covering their faces when accessing public services, like taking a bus. I am so disgusted by this obvious attack on Muslim women that I am going to start wearing a scarf everywhere I go now, and they will have to forcibly evict me from the bus. It's cold in Canada in the winter.

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The Role of Working Artists in Democratic Socialism

I've been a long time listener to your Economic Updates and I've been curious to ask you about something that relates personally to me. What would fields like editorial illustration look like in a socialist economy? Would the artisan be considered among the group of workers? It's the illustrator and the art director/creative director's combined efforts that decide the look of a magazine/book ext. Even with media moving towards digital, there will always be a need for imagery, but the illustrator has moved from in-house to on-call freelance (if they are lucky enough). Democratic socialism is based on the majority vote, and illustrators are an economic minority. Will working artists receive a better quality of life than we see now?

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Where to get transcript of "Advanced Marxian Economics"

I saw the videos but some parts were not very well heard as my hearing is not very good. Even closed captioning was mostly unavailable. I especially need session 4 in a written form or article.

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propety price bobling up why and what's will happen future for housing and more,thxx

I need to write about housing price which s grow up with out season and why in capitalist system today they try to make house and property rice up and what bad impact has on future and what do say maxim but they do not do it in the even communist countries so what you think please tell us thanks you wilandjes4@gmail.com please send a mail or any

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Why Americans work themselves to death (and why Europeans don't)

Last saturday, there was a meeting of heterodox economists (a group called 'makroskop', see http://makroskop.eu/ ) in Germany. One of them, schumpeterian economist Alfred Kleinknecht, compared some interesting figures from Europe and the US. He took 1960 (so that you cannot explain differences with rebuilding efforts after the war) as base year and compared what happened after that. He found that GDP growth was more or less the same on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, but in the US, the total amount of hours worked has gone up by a factor of 1.4, while in Europe, we only work 95% what we worked in 1960 (and if you take into account that nowadays more people have a job than in 1960 - in particular woman - and you compare how much individuals worked back then and how much they work now, the effect is even more astonishing). This can be directly linked to automation. In Europe, automation went way faster, productivity per hour increased much more. The interesting point now is what caused that Europe automated faster than the US. Kleinknecht (and others) explain that with how wages are negotiated. In the US, wages are largely negotiated individually or at best between a company and a union. In Europe, wages are (or rather: were) negotiated between unions and entire branches in entire regions. Thereby, companies with low productivity had to catch up with their productivity or they went bankrupt, while in the US, less productive companies could just pay the workers lower wages and stay competetive. Thereby, employers in Europe had much more incentives to automate than American employers. On the other hand, Europe was not particularly good at distributing the jobs that weren't automated away to everyone. Kleinknecht says that the American model leads to lower unemployment which leads him to the conclusion that a low rate of unemployment shouldn't be the main goal. This view was not shared by others at the meeting, as they pointed out that unemployment was largely caused by monetarist central bank policies (NAIRU!) and flawed exchange rate policies that made some countries systematically more competitive than others (and in particular screwed Mitterand's attempt to build a mixed system between socialism and capitalism in France that was in some ways even more ambitious than what Corbyn wants to do in the UK). (a source where at least some of Kleinknechts views are summarized: https://archiv.wirtschaftsdienst.eu/jahr/2017/13/angebotsoekonomie-wenig-innovation-viele-jobs/ ) So, what do you think about this? Do we really have to choose between rapid automation or full employment? Do you agree that collective bargaining makes a difference? What's your opinion on the role of central banks, particularly when you consider the (well known) concept of NAIRU? And what do you have to say about Mitterand's failed socialist experiment in France?

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A Cure for Capitalism?

Democracy At Work's slogan, "A Cure for Capitalism," caught my attention. The word "cure" suggests that the system is open to significant reform, that its most destructive qualities can be eliminated, making it better serve the interests of the vast majority. This is Robert Reich's thesis in his book "Saving Capitalism—For the Many, not the Few". However, isn't the only "cure" for capitalism to get rid of it permanently, surgically remove it from the body politic? Marx showed, I think conclusively, that the nature of capitalism guarantees that it can not be restructured to make it equally beneficial to "all of us". In this week's EU, you depicted the transition to a system based on WSDE's as a largely steady and peaceful process whereby workers abandoned their jobs in capitalist enterprises and formed or joined cooperatives. Eventually, the replacement of capitalist enterprises with one structured around  worker ownership of the means of production and, as importantly, upon democratic  self-management. (I might point out that a number of people who do not want to work for an employer choose, if they're able, to form their own capitalist enterprises.) I question how peaceful or gradual this process would likely be. Lenin made the point that no economic system has ever been supplanted by another without the assist of a bloody revolution. As I survey the world today, I would bet heavily that the capitalist ruling class would not meekly fade away. If cooperatives came to to pose a genuine threat to their dominance, what do you think they'd do? Instruct their paid-off politicians to vote for subsidies for WSDE's. Not likely. The struggle to end capitalism, if I may predict the future (which I know you frown upon…severely) won't be gentlemanly or ladylike or bloodless. The working class will have to mobilize and fight. What form that struggle will take, whether it be an armed insurrection or based on non-violent civil disobedience, as Chris Hedges prefers, it will involve sacrifice and, tragically, loss of life.  Such grand historical changes always have.

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What is this new currency that Trump is suppose to put into effect.

and how does it impact the little savings I have. I am 75 and for the first time in my life I am very unsure about my beloved America

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Good people, good institutions?

I am far from decided about what a good system of economics, because I am exploring the role of the individual that is imbued with free choice. Institutions are made up of people and its people that make decisions with consequences. What is these individuals made good choices for the benefit of people rather than the profit motive which I do not see as mutually exclusive, therefore the institutions in effect see good. Even if the people were fired, if there were enough people not to go a long with certain business practises, they would end. So do we not want to create an economic system that does not coerce any one to do anything but rather to focus on developing people to make moral choices with courage wealth be damned or rewarded? Would the ills of capitalism be dissipated and have a true free enterprise system where people are free to associate and organize as they please and as they see fit with their morals, even if it means less wealth? What is your view on individual agency and morality of the individual?

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