Ask Prof. Wolff

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Have a question for Professor Wolff? Want to suggest a topic or article? UPVOTE your favorite questions or submit your own. Top suggestions will be given a video answer on YouTube.
 
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's the catch, Walmart to allow their employees to take payday advances.

This sounds like a good idea initially, but upon further reflection I can't help but wonder, if Walmart is conceding the financial insecurity of its employees, than why pay these startup companies to facilitate what they are calling Earned Wage Access (EWA), why not just raise your minimum wage? It's hard to read the Bloomberg story (link below) and feel all warm and fuzzy inside when familiar with Walmarts past policies. (Dead peasant's policies on their employees, treatment of employees who've looked into union representation, no notice of store closure to employees, etc., etc.). What is your take on this story? It has to benefit Walmart somehow or they wouldn't be doing it. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-13/wal-mart-to-allow-workers-early-access-to-pay-via-fintech-accord

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In the entrepreneurial world, thought leaders say: self-management works better.

World Economic Forum--https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/12/is-management-era-over/

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Worker Cooperatives & Unemployment

Good day Prof. Wolff My name is Lionel and I am very interested in studying socialism and worker cooperatives and I have read that a criticism of worker cooperatives is that they have a tendency to lead to unemployment, with examples such as Yugoslavia which was said to have a market socialist economy with worker owned-firms. What is your reply to this critique? Can socialist worker cooperatives overcome a potential problem of unemployment? Thank you for taking the time to read my question,

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What is the Relationship Between Capitalism and Growth? Can We Sustainably Shrink Our Economy?

Professor Wolff, Even if the United States and other industrialized countries were able to transition to 100% renewable energy, it seems that having an economy that must grow to sustain itself is ultimately unsustainable. What are the root factors in American Capitalism that necessitate or motivate growth? Is it possible to have an economy that does not grow, or even shrinks, without mass-unemployment and suffering? Thank you for your continued work, Winston Meier Undergraduate Student at Portland State University

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What's stopping anyone from starting a company that operates as Marx envisioned?

Prof. Wolff, I recently watched one of your lectures where you explained that the fundamental principles of Socialism aren't about its history or the various attempts at its implementation (evolutionary / revolutionary), but it's about the basic concept that companies should essentially be equally owned and controlled by its workers. And of course, the success of the company should benefit the workers equally - thus creating liberty, egality and brotherhood in society. I believe this is exactly how you described Marx' original vision of Socialism. There currently exists in the U.S. every mechanism required to make this common place in our society. I can draft an Operating Agreement, Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, and then register an LLC that would create the exact entity that Marx described and envisioned as Socialism. Additionally, we have an existing judicial system that would enforce the provisions of the Operating Agreement, Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws should anyone attempt to breach them. So my questions are: have you ever tried to start or been a part of a company that has been successful at doing this? Do you know of any companies that have been successful at doing this? If not, why not? Why aren't more people doing this? Finally, since the mechanism already exists in the current U.S. economic system to implement Socialism as envisioned by Marx, why aren't you dedicating your time to teaching, consulting and promoting its actual current implementation?

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Emerging economies to replace advanced ones...great article addressing this.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/03/worlds-biggest-economies-in-2017/

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Can Mr. Wolff watch the following press conference ( 12-15-2017 @ 12:00p.m. )???

A UN specialist on poverty and human rights is currently visiting various locations in the United States, I would be very interested in hearing Mr. Wolff discuss the findings of this trip, to be discussed 12-15-2017 at 12:00p.m. at a press conference and later released in print in the spring of 2018. More information on the UN special rapporteur and his itinerary here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22465&LangID=E He's not visiting Pine Ridge, SD or Blackwater, AZ.... Still, I hope his report will bring to light the economic reality, as often discussed by Professor Wolff.

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Can there truly be revolution without violent clashes between the ruling and working classes?

The more I study Marx, currently I am reading Lenin's 'The State and Revolution', it seems that it might not be possible to have revolution without violence. I do not advocate violence at all. Though, if we take the perspective that the state implements different degrees of violence all of the time as a primary way to maintain and sustain the conditions for capitalism, how can that possibly be overturned through reforms alone. It is a disturbing realization to realize that a non violent revolution may not be possible to achieve a truly equitable society. I know this is a complicated and sensitive topic. If you could please comment on how to understand this in a historical and current context that would be very helpful. Thank you so much for all of your work. I have learned so much from you. Regards, Paul

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Economics of Net Neutrality

If you will, address the current and integral issues of Net Neutrality. As we know, the flow of information is cornerstone critical. The following video seems over-the-top complex and leans to deregulation. If you will, comment on Thomas Hazlett's presentation, The Law and Economics of Net Neutrality. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTX6nxfVKs0

BTW: Professor Wolff, thank you for allowing comments. The powers at Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford seem to keep ordinary folks from contributing comments. Surely, their disabling comments is signal that they're pushing an agenda. 

Many thanks

-Patrick

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How corrupt can charities, non for profits and social enterprises become?

Please make a video (or a few!) about charities, non for profits and social enterprises regarding your views on them, how corrupt they can become and whether they would play a bigger or smaller part in a future economy.

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Can you speak to the growth of Bitcoin and other crypto currency?

How do they reflect on the market overall and what would it take for them to become a legitimate currency that could be used for purchases? Thanks Prof. Wolff! From a big fan and and listener for the last few years in Salt Lake City.

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What is the response if a worker co-op votes to change to a top down corporation?

Is there any way to prevent that? Say walmart pays off 51% of the voters/workers of a co-op is there a way to prevent it, or should you follow the votes? Can/should a co-op have senate like rules of 2/3 or 95% etc to do something like that? Another question if I may. Can you setup a loan in such a way that if the above were to happen, could that affect a loan. - specifically, if say a bank gives a low to no interest loan to a co-op and they sell the co-op to a private corporation, can you structure the loan in such a way that all low to no interests terms are no longer valid and the interest goes up. Or another way, can a bank offer a loan with low interest for just co-ops with the stipulation that it is only valid for co-ops?

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Does Prof. Wolff have a response to the CA prisoners used as "voluntary" firefighters?

Perhaps Professor Wolff would like to comment on the report in The Atlantic ("California is Running Out of Inmates to Fight Its Fires." Annika Neklason, Dec 7 2017) . This strikes me as a form of modern American slavery. The inmates supposed "volunteer" for the work. They work 72-shifts. Volunteers may include juvenile inmates. Several inmates have died fighting fires to save the houses of the rich. Do they receive any training in firefighting, or are they just thrown to the flames?

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Any comment on bitcoin going from 1000$ at beginning of the year to 14000$.

I am asking you because you usually find the causality in every action that take place...is this sustainable or it will be another blow to the economy and people

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