Hi Rick, This article from the NYT touches on many items you discuss frequently. Would a worker co-op be able to compete with a capitalist organisation address the problem addressed in this article? What advantages would a capitalist have over a worker co-op when addressing the increasing automation of production? THANKS. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/upshot/maybe-weve-been-thinking-about-the-productivity-slump-all-wrong.html?nytmobile=0
Nancy MacLean's new book, "Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America" must have struck a chord. She is now being targeted by people and organizations believed to have ties with dark money, a label coined by New Yorker writer and author Jane Mayer in her book by the same name. Think Koch brothers. MacLean's book and the attack it provoked have attracted a string of criticisms and alleged inaccuracies and accusations of outright libel in her book. Much of this criticism has been expressed in a blog on the Washington Post website. I understand she has even appealed for support through her Facebook page. I cannot verify this last because I do not have a Facebook account. A good discussion of the conflict can be found here: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/07/12/historian-alleges-coordinated-criticism-her-latest-book-which-critical-radical-right. You can also hear Prof. MacLean interviewed about her book in this podcast: http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/e/2/ae2ef571cd9af7ba/Nancy_MacLean_on_the_Radical_Right_and_James_Buchanan.m4a?c_id=15889177&destination_id=195421&expiration=1501090510&hwt=b6ed7b1551f8f0316ffa50aa1e4f0595. For an earful of the kind of attacks being directed at Prof. MacLean, check out this podcast on Reason.com: http://reason.com/blog/2017/07/24/maclean-freedom-fest-panopticon. By the way, everyone should be aware that the very same radical right is now just six states short of calling for a constitutional convention to propose a revised constitution written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as described here: http://inthesetimes.com/article/18940/alec-balanced-budget-corporate-constitutional-convention
Professor Wolff, Your D@W site is helping me to learn a lot more about worker co-ops, something that I have been interested in ever since seeing you on a Q & A panel supporting the release of the book that you were involved with “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA”. I’m hoping that you would be able to lend me your thoughts on something that isn’t really covered on the site. I’m a Data Science major (undergrad at this point) in the University of Michigan, minoring in the study of “complex systems”, and hoping to apply these skills to modeling (I mean computer modeling, of course – my job prospects in other kinds of modeling would be serious cause for concern). I’m interested in how models can be used to promote outcomes related to social justice. As for what specific outcomes, and what scale I want to focus on, well, I’m still trying to figure that out. I believe, though, that cooperative enterprise is something that would promote social justice in many ways; greater economic stability in communities, less poverty, less racism/classism/etc, even improved health outcomes. I’m sure there are more. Anyways, this leads to my question… In what ways would someone like me be able to get involved? In supporting co-ops, encouraging the adoption of co-op structure, advocating for more favorable legal environments for co-ops – whatever. I would like to use the skills that I am developing in school (agent-based modeling, analysis of large data sets, mapping system dynamics, etc) but other than that I am pretty open. If you have any ideas, or directions in which I could do further research, I would truly appreciate hearing about them. Thank you so much for your time, Professor!
Dear Professor Wolff, On social media, there's a group that calls itself "Real Progressives". It is led by Steven Grumbine. Mr. Grumbine frequently posts videos claiming that, since the US has monetary sovereignty, it can just print unlimited amounts of money to pay for any government program it likes (healthcare, education,...). He pretty much implies that the national dept is irrelevant and that we are being lied to when it comes to economics and that we don't know anything about economics. Another favorite line of his is "Taxes don't pay for spending". I'd very much like to get your viewpoint on this, because 1. this seems to be too fantastical to be true and 2. Mr. Grumbine has quite an influence in the progressive movement in the US. I greatly appreciate your way of explaining economics. Thank you. An example video can be found here: "MMT, Monetary Sovereignty and Why it Should Matter to ALL Progressives..." https://www.facebook.com/RealProgressive/videos/1597074277288663/ Another bold video, where he gets kinda agressive about it: "Warning: this video contains an economic throat punch of a rant... fit for cable not public TV... Hillary Clinton, goldbug fanatics and the hyper inflation hyperventilators who are guilty of economic treason against the nation." https://www.facebook.com/RealProgressive/videos/1616237938705630/
I live in California. Engineer. Your guest, John Summa, elicited no sympathy from me. Third-rate non-academic who tried to carve out a place for himself at a university with his 'hands-on' working experience: steel worker, oil worker? I think he claimed in the KPFK broadcasted interview near the end that he was a 'hedge fund manager'?... Give me a break.
For us value is created only as a result of human labour. Price is a different thing which by and large fluctuates around value. The fruit of financial magic is money. It is something that has price but no value. Commodities (shares, bonds, prepackaged debt, etc.) are being bought and sold. The money is disconnected from labour. How do we account for this? (In terms of labour theory of value)
Hi Richard, after analyzing economics for decades I feel there is a key narrative that is not being taken up that would help everyone (likely even many elites) to far better understand our modern economic crisis through the following very simple analysis: Especially now that money has become little more that imaginary electronic blips on computer hard drives, constantly increasing very high incomes and corporate profits (beyond inflation) and the endless expanding money creation through debt creation which fuels these endlessly increasing elite incomes and profits, can be very simply seen as nothing more complicated than a legalized form of counterfeiting. Seen in this light, it becomes a lot more clear why endless debt money creation and arbitrarily increasing elite incomes and profits, are so bad for the economy. This is because it is pretty easy for anyone to understand why physically printing endless private money supplies on paper is an economically destructive act. So why aren't we simply discussing debt money creation and arbitrarily and vastly increasing incomes and profits, as counterfeiting, and that the obvious needed correction to that counterfeiting is to remove all of that excess money through 90% to 100% taxes on high incomes and profits so that wealth disparity and inflation caused by this legal counterfeiting are strongly corrected; and disparities (as well as lack of investment in infrastructure, education, welfare, etc) are also corrected through redistribution? Let's open up this more simple way of looking at this problem. thanks Eric Brooks San Francisco, CA
Dr. Wolff, I thoroughly agree that worker co-ops have the potential for spreading the wealth, and opportunity for people in the work place, but can you comment on the history of work co-ops, and the resulting "people politics" that eventually comes to the surface, as a result of everyone having a say in how the system is run? I find it interesting, that while you and others keep recommending co-ops as an alternative to Capitalism, NO ONE talks about the inevitable...politics, that will come up. Why is that? I lived on a farm co-op once, and most of the 30 or so families that lived there had full time jobs away from the community, but we all ran the property like a co-op. Meaning, everyone had a vote on important things that needed to get done/added/removed/modified within the community, and, if one family out of the 30 *disagreed*, we all had to find a way to solve that family's concerns, before we could put a resolution to bed, and begin the task. And I will tell you, we didn't always agree. Sometimes it took weeks or months to decide. And that was on a farming co-op. I have also talked with managers who work in work-place co-ops, and I've been told there are a, "lot of family (their choice of words!) politics that come up," as a result of everyone having a vote, and that it is often much harder, just to decide what they're going to do with, how the system is run, where it's run, and what to do with the profits. It's easy to see why people would automatically default to wanting a small group of people, and a single CEO, 2000 miles away to just make the decisions, because quite often, people in groups...can't! Now magnify that to the scale of Mondragon. How the heck does a company that large, survive for this long, and not have political explosions in its decision making process, with that many people, having to *all* decide...together? You've been there, so can you please comment on this? Is it cultural? Is it group pressure? Are they all smoking a wacky weed we need to be aware of? How do they do it???
I was wondering if there are studies on co-op who decided to buy machine or automated tasks and so did they decide to keep everyone at the same salary but work less hours a week or did they decide to fire workers and make more profit? Do co-op take decisions that tends to look more after the well being of every workers or do they still tends to look at profit first. After all we could imagine result of voting decision 51% against 49% and getting rid of the 49%. Is there any studies of the decision and their rational in co-op, so far?
Right now in the U.S. everyone, including myself until recently, thinks Venezuela is facing a collapse of socialism. But after watching a video by Abby Martin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUYWrPiUeWY&t=2s) it appears as though an "economic war" being waged on socialist policies.
Here's a link to a study by a team of economists at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst that shows how the state-wide single-payer healthcare system now under consideration in California could be implemented and financed. Where the federal government has been failing us for decades, California just might have the size and clout to show us how it can be done. https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/996-economic-analysis-of-the-healthy-california-single-payer-health-care-proposal-sb-562
As a man who has worked as a factory supervisor, I have seen men at work first hand and managed them and their environment to keep the factory running smoothly. I tend to agree with you that a co-operative way of organising and running a factory could produce some benefits both to the company and the workers, but I disagree that the workers would not agree to moving production off shore if they had the chance. It is my experience that men come to work to have the easiest and most pleasant eight hours possible, and will shove the work onto someone else if the opportunity arises and they think they can get away with it. Consequently, if a factory staffed and run as a co-operative decides that the product they make can be made cheaper overseas, what would then stop the co-operative from doing this? Nothing seems to stop the capitalists from doing it, and I can’t see anything that would stop the co-operatives from doing it either. Itis mu opinion that they would have few qualms about doing it, if none of them lost their jobs as a consequence and their profit levels remained at least the same. They would then come to the workplace merely to distribute the imported goods, and to collect the money. If it is profitable for a commercial enterprise to do this, then it would be profitable for the co-operative to do this as well. Am I missing something here or is there something in the model you are using to set up the co-operative in such a way as to prevent this from happening?