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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10 films that shook the world.

10 early Soviet films are being aired monthly at the L.A. worker's center. Radio spot was short and the best online resource for further information is: www.hollywoodprogressive.com With the 100 anniversary of the russian revolution these classic films are a inspiration and opportunity to meet other likeminded people.

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$15 Minimum Wage

How would a minimum wage of $15 impact New York's economy? Would this deliver a fatal blow to mom & pop shops that are already struggling to keep pace with corporate America? Are there better ways of minimizing economic inequality?

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1917 Bolshevik Revolution

To what extent was the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution financed / orchestrated by American bankers? Was this revolution more of a revolt of serfs against feudal landlords or alternatively, the use of brutality, terrorism, and mass murder in order to forcefully subjugate a population to a system of rule against their own will?

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2014 Bank Of England Report on Money Creation

Hi Professor Wolff, I apologize in advance if you've previously covered this topic, but I have found it immensely interesting for quite some time, and yet I feel like nobody talks about the banking system in its true form. I'd love to get your take on it as your explanatory skills are second to none. The 2014 report released by the Bank of England (link below) outlines how banks no longer use deposits made by customers as a basis to then loan out to others. Instead, when a bank makes a loan, it simply creates the credit out of thin air, and with the newly created credit it also makes a matching debt. The conclusion is therefore that banks are responsible for the total money supply of a given economy - the more people borrow from banks, the greater the money supply. As people pay off their debts, then the money supply shrinks. To my mind, this unrestrained method of money creation is directly responsible for the incredible volatility of the market and the severity of the last financial crisis (economic bubbles and bursts are much easier to fuel and come down with more force when money creation has no limit). There is also the interrelationship between commercial banks and the central bank - the issuing of central bank reserves etc, which I find a little more confusing. Could you please elaborate on this topic in your monthly updates/weekly podcasts, and on any other negative consequences of such a system of money creation? Is the alternative to this unaccountable banking system an interest free, nationalized banking system (like the one in Syria) that works as a general service rather than a profit seeking institution? Without taking much more of your time, I would also like to link this topic of money creation with the financing of government debts (link that may be helpful included below). You've previously mentioned that the wealthy, and the investment institutions of the world are now seeking safer investments in government bonds, instead of investments in productive capital that would (in a perfect world) create jobs and growth for the middle and lower classes. The governments on the other hand, are desperately seeking these loans since they are struggling for revenue that would normally come via taxes and fees. But since capitalism undermines itself by cutting wages, by creating unemployment, and because our politicians are bought and will not tax the wealthy, our governments are forced to borrow to fund services. But by borrowing from the most powerful cliques in our society, the governments now face a strict obligation to compensate their debts - which means austerity around the globe. My question is, why can't governments fund their expenses the same way that private institutions or private persons would - by "creating" credit and an equal debt via the central bank? Would this not give governments breathing space to at least lessen some of the devastating effects of austerity - and not rely directly on wealthy investors/institutions? Thanks! FINANCING GOV DEBTS http://positivemoney.org/how-money-works/advanced/what-about-the-national-debt/ OFFICIAL BANK OF ENGLAND REPORT ON MONEY CREATION http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/quarterlybulletin/2014/qb14q102.pdf NEWS REPORT ON BANKING SYSTEM EXPOSE https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/18/truth-money-iou-bank-of-england-austerity

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30 hour work week, full employment, universal basic income

i was wondering if you could go more in depth into universal income, shorter work week, and guaranteed jobs. for the guaranteed jobs you could look at china where they had state owned enterprises that aimed to employ every one and they were unproductive, where you had 3 people doing the job of one person. when china opened up and private companies joined, the state owned enterprises found themselves unable to compete.how can full employment be realized in a practical way. as for shorter work weeks, i believe it was you that went over how a few cities in denmark shortened the work week to 30 hours but kept the same pay and still managed to be competitive, if you could go into detail on that it would be extremely helpful. and also the number, science, whatever you wanna call it, how is it achieved. and what are the pros and cons of it

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50 State Solution for New Coops

Dr. Wolff: I propose you work with BCorp (https://www.bcorporation.net/) who have a legal lab developing state by state code fragments for charters and such. Bcorp can bring to the DNA of any new coop a triple-bottom-line style of doing business. In the charter and membership agreements are language that indemnify the Board and CEO for decisions that benefit society or the environment but have an impact on the financial bottom line. Armed with such protections a CEO of a triple-bottom-line (financial, societal, & environmental) coop is free to make decisions that benefit society as well as the company. I want to further suggest that you and BCorp develop a cookie-cutter charter for all 50 states in order to streamline the coop creation process even further. If you can produce a set of PDF files people can download and take to a lawyer - this process of spreading the triple-bottom-line coop can proceed much faster. BCorp provides a five point audit of coops so they can tell how they are doing on the triple-bottom-line. Also, there needs to be a funding body for new coops. Despite the solid numbers coops produce - it is difficult to get seed funding from banks. There needs to be a national funding group new coops can rely on for cheap capital to get started with. Thank you for your time, G. Gibson mistergibson@gmail.com

posted an official response
The movement for B Corps in the US represented an important step in the critique of and the going beyond capitalism as it has been organized and operated for the last 2-3 centuries. Its premise was that the capitalist enterprise's "bottom line" should not be profit rate but rather a collection of social and natural objectives (what you refer to as the triple-bottom-line). There was always an immense and irrational arrogance in the insistence of capitalism's devotees (and in its codification qua "science" in mainstream neoclassical economics) that what capitalism imposed on the capitalist (profit as the unique, singular bottom line) would somehow, magically be the optimum bottom line for society as a whole (a variation on the usual interpretation of Adam Smith's "invisible hand"). B Corps exploded that irrational arrogance and that is a major contribution. 
However, a key problem remains for the B Corporation: namely, WHO determines/interprets and pursues the "triple-bottom-line"? The same minority of capitalists (major share holders and the boards of directors they select) who own and operate the capitalist enterprises who pursued profit rate maximization as the single bottom line? Can they be entrusted to interpret and pursue the B Corp idea of triple bottom line? I dont think so. If a broad social/natural set of objectives are to guide enterprise decisions, then a broad social, inclusive, participatory body of persons should debate and democratically determine how best to interpret and pursue the triple-bottom-line. In other words, to complete the movement beyond capitalism in which the B Corporation marks a step requires the transformation of the enterprise from hierarchical, top-down capitalist enterprise to democratically run workers cooperative.
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60 Minutes segment on H-1B visas

Hello again Professor Wolff. I think you'll find this segment from tonight's 60 Minutes interesting: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/are-u-s-jobs-vulnerable-to-workers-with-h-1b-visas/?ftag=CNM-00-10aab7d&linkId=35629150

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AA comments inaccurate

Unfortunately, because I love this show, commentary about AA was seriously flawed. "Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety." This is why the AA program has succeeded for the decades it has existed. Also what is called "13th stepping" in AA is not a term you want to use on your radio program ever again for any reason. Very derogatory. Every group should (and do) pay rent. AA declines outside contributions from anyone/anything as it would interfere with the primary purpose. The reason it is successful is because it is focused on helping people that need help. If those people go on to do something that helps society, that's fantastic. AA should never be derailed from its primary purpose as it would harm the program and ruin so many lives. The Traditions associated with the AA program where established through trial and error because many people had similar thoughts to yours in the early days. That's why they need to be followed strictly. I love this show and this was really disheartening commentary.

posted an official response

I am grateful that you appreciate the show. I am not clear on your criticism, however. The point Dr Fraad sought to make was not in any way to challenge the focus of AA and other AA-type programs on sobriety. It was rather, first, to appreciate that and its relative success versus other efforts to deal with the addiction problems of modern capitalism. Only secondarily did Dr Fraad seek to offer an additional way that AA and AA-type programs could help achieve sobriety: namely by including social changes that could also help to achieve that same goal. I regret that this point of hers somehow disheartened you.

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About Jee Main 2018 Entrance Exam

As per the notification from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the examination for the UG Admissions will conduct for academic session 2018. So the eligible candidates who are all prepared to apply can work on application submission before the scheduled date to apply. The JEE Main 2018 will be held in many cities like Odisha, Nagaland, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttrakhand. So the candidates who are all seeking to pursue their studies in these cities can give their entrance examination as per the source. To get admission, they have asked to fill the JEE Main Application Form 2018 before the last date.

The aspiring candidates can fill their application form for JEE Entrance Exam. Based on the eligible score, the candidates will schedule for the counselling sessions to take part in the institutions like IIT/ISM. So the applicants have requested to visit the official website to fill your JEE Main Online Application and submit. They can handle the application form with full focus because the JEE (Advanced) and JEE (Main) are different. Once the process will be done, you should check out the eligibility details to continue your JEE Application submission. For getting the application, candidates should follow the website www.jeemain.nic.in.

How to Apply Online for JEE Main 2018

It is one of the main things that you need to follow before applying for the examination. Based on the registration process, the applicants will allow to download admit and to attend the examination. The thing is while applying for the application; many applicants will struggle to continue with the registration process. For those people here we are providing some steps to carry the process effortlessly. 

  1. The qualified candidates should enter the official website of JEE Main.
  2. Now check out all the details regarding the examination in the application form.
  3. Candidates will start to fill the required valid information and click the submit button to proceed further.
  4. Upload the application fee for the registration process before the final submission date.
  5. Finally, you can take the print out sheet of application form for further future reference.

JEE Main 2018 Application Fee

Based on the criteria the application fee will differ in online mode. The submission of application fee is important for the candidates to participate in the entrance examination.

  • For General/OBS category: Rs.500/-
  • For SC/ST/PWD/Female candidates: Rs.250/-

Exam Fee For both paper 1 and paper 2

  • For General/OBS category: 1300/-
  • For SC/ST/PWD/Female candidates: 650/-

These are the application fee that based on the category. For more details, candidates can check official website at any time.

JEE Main 2018 Application Form:- https://onlineentrancesexam.co.in/jee-main-application-form/

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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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Addiction and capitalism

Here is a great article from Bruce Alexander, the psychologist who did the Rat Park experiments: http://www.brucekalexander.com/articles-speeches/283-addiction,-environmental-crisis,-and-global-capitalism Could provide several shows' worth of insight! :)

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adical political economy texts such as you might assign

Dr Wolff would yo please send a syllabus of introductory radical political economy texts such as you might assign to those with no awareness or a shaky understanding of the subject. Also, please ask Dr Fraad if she can do the same to help me understand mental health issues from a radical point of view as well. If the listeners or contributors to your show can help that's fine also thank you Larry Buchalter Berkeley California

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Adidas to crank out 800K t-shirts per day using "sewbots".

I guess paying Jamaicans their relatively new minimum wage of $51/week is too much... Adidas is moving into low-rent Arkansas with machines that can cut fabric and piece together t-shirts in four minutes, human-free. You can be they'll label them "made in America". http://www.innovationintextiles.com/technology-machinery-equipment/automated-sewbot-to-make-800000-adidas-tshirts-daily/

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