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Your example of a boss acquiring a new technology.

If a boss lets everyone work 20% less when a new tech is acquired, do the workers also earn 20% less? Thank you. I guess they could get a part time job if they needed one.

posted an official response

No, the point of the example was this: if a new machine enabled the same output with 20% less labor, the typical capitalist would fire 20% of workers, sell the same output as before the net machine at the same price yielding the same total revenue. But instead of paying the 20% fired workers' wages, he would now pocket that part of the total revenue for himself as expanded profits. The profits of the capitalist thus come NOT from the technology but rather from how the technology is used in the business. Now consider the alternative: no one is fired; instead the new machine enables all workers to do 20% less work (Fridays are now made par of the weekend) while getting the same pay. The capitalist gets the same revenue and the same profit as before the machine was installed. The winners in this alternative are the workers who all get a 20% reduction in labor. If worker coops replaced capitalist enterprises, the alternative would be far more likely how technology is used than the typical capitalist way.

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Re: Marxian Economics: An Intensive Introduction - Session 1

I have 2 mention a reading list that was on this site ( but I can't find it. Can you point me to it? Also, it seems that you are oversimplifying the beginnings of the Soviet Union and workers control...I believe your point was the workers never had control of their factories from the beginning. From my reading, that is not correct...the soviets were started by workers and they actually ran the may be fair to say that the Bolsheviks took over and the workers lost is also fair to say that the militant workers were brought into the is also fair to say that many of the militant class conscious workers died defending the nascent workers state from the capitalist invaders. It also seems that they were having problems keeping the production up to get the supplies needed to the front for the fighters. They opted to use managers to run the factories to keep things going. Getting from "here" to "there" even if you have the best marxist analysis is not simple... I am looking forward to the other "episodes" in the lecture series. I am sure you cover this more in your book: Class Theory and History: Capitalism and Communism in the USSR but it is about $40 ...looking forward to your comments.

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Is Renewable Energy acually good for society?

Professor Wolff; Thank you for the information you impart each week. On the 02Feb2017 podcast I learned more about the Vermont brewery and the thoughts of Hegel. The latter is important as he seems to be a favorite of my son's, who is currently in grad school studying philosophy. I understand very little of what my boy says these days. As with many who write you, I do disagree in one area. Renewable Energy. While climate change is certainly a serious issue, and I'm glad that many of the aspects of climate change are entering popular discussions, the proposed solutions are invariably non-solutions designed merely to make the populace feel good about doing something. If I might explain. RE is mostly large hydro power with some geothermal, wind, solar, and maybe tidal. Most people focus on wind & solar, and there is lots of installed capacity, but W&S tend to greatly under-produce energy capacity. This is not mentioned often enough. Wind produces about 30% of potential capacity and solar even less. Yes there is lots of wind and sun energy available, but we shouldn't have to eliminate most of the natural environment for the sake of using lots of W&S – that's backwards thinking! I would also mention that many of the best spots for wind are already taken (or protected), so future builds will be in less efficient locations. W&S can be useful, but not as a primary energy source. The major issue with W&S as currently used is that it supports the top 1% more than it assists the general population. This is your area of expertise, Prof. Wolff. Federal subsidies for RE takes many forms. There's the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires utilities to take energy from W&S – regardless of whether the grid can actually use that power. Then there are more subsidies for manufacturing or installation. Every few years I have heard that “we must pass legislation to support solar/wind or the industry will grind to a standstill”. Good riddance to welfare industries is my response, but the legislation invariably passes. One other type of subsidy is the Production Tax Credit (PTC) – this is perhaps the most heinous. W&S producers connect to the grid and get paid directly by the govt for what they produce, then the grid also pays them for what it must take from the producer (remember the RPS?), ...and so it goes. Do you know many who are both rate-payers & tax-payers? However when there is an abundance of sun and wind, things get interesting! The grid doesn't need the energy, but W&S producers want that PTC payment... so they begin to pay the grid to take the energy is doesn't need – like a bribe! This invariably leads to negative wholesale prices (there are 5 minute auctions between utilities and power producers throughout the day & night). Yes, the owners of wind and solar farms get so much in subsidies that they pay the utilities to take energy that isn't needed! Otherwise they would have to curtail production and the govt would not pay out the lucrative PTC. Now if these installations were owned by common people this would be a slightly different story. But these are generally owned by the richest in our society – so this whole issue of RE energy (IMHO) has become a smokescreen for welfare to the wealthy. And the common people, led by green environmental groups (who do take money from fossil-fuel interests), cheer on. “Intermittent renewables get much of their money from subsidies of various types, not from the grid. Therefore, they can bid into the grid at artificially low costs for their power, even bid in at negative numbers (we will PAY you to take our power!).   This lowers the power price on the grid, and particularly hurts plants that make a lot of power, like base load plants.  As base load plants retire because they can't make enough money to keep operating, the amount of capacity available diminishes, capacity payments go up, and peaker plants get proportionately more money.  Peaker plants always get a higher percentage of their money from capacity payments, but when base load plants retire, they get even more money from capacity payments.” If you wish to pursue this further you might contact a fellow Stanford alum, Dr. Alex Cannara. He has left his office address & phone number littered around the internet. One other talk given at an energy conference was by Andrew Dodson, I do realize that RE is something pushed by your partner-in-media, Truth-Out. Many of their articles are quite good on social issues. The same can be said for most media outlets. A phrase I've used in the past couple years is “Truth-Out is out of truth”, at least for STEM issues. I'm merely asking you to look a little further into the issue, and perhaps be a bit more cautious about hyping RE in the future. Yes it has it's place, but connecting large-scale RE to the grid is proving disastrous for our society. I hope you can understand my concerns. Please, have yourself a wonderful week – in spite of headlines and such! Respectfully; Christopher Bergan Iowa City

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Soviet Union and North Korea

Why did the Soviet Union fall? Why in satellite photos are there no lights in North Korea, yet South Korea is full of lights?

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