Ask Prof. Wolff

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Making the left an organized affair centered around reclamation of the workplace again.

Dear Professor Wolff, I have 2 questions and was hoping you would answer one or the other, if not both (one can only dream). 1) Has "western Marxist" theory veered away from traditional class analysis, what has the effect been on the labor movement and might that have had anything to do with American intelligence agencies post-ww2 anti-soviet activity, or the influence of the Frankfurt school on the western left, as it too veered towards anti-soviet discourse priming over the importance of anti-capitalism? I ask this because of the known and documented ties between founding member fo the Frankfurt school and the upper echelons of the OSS which as you probably know, got the name change and charter to become the CIA in 1947- 2) Would you talk about little bit about the antagonisms between the working classes and the unemployed in their respective points of conflict and how we might bridge them in pursuit of a new labor movement? Sincerely, Josquin Dejean from Class Action Praxis, the collective behind the currently running "Anti-Trump Girl Takes Punch For Labor" GoFundMe campaign. https://www.facebook.com/ClassActionPraxis/ https://www.gofundme.com/3nj1iqg http://www.socialmatter.net/2016/08/25/frankfurt-school-not-cause-progressivism/ https://nithgrim.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/marcuse-and-the-deep-state/

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Comparing universal income with part-time work?

No matter what solution we chose, I cannot see any way to escape the fact that the population growth and automation will eventually produce a situation where there's simply not enough jobs for everyone who want to work. And then what? If we move everyone to universal income, what influence would it have on production of goods and the circulation of money? In other words, if a large part of the population doesn't work, where will the money come from? If we move everyone to part-time work, how would we earn enough to maintain our current lifestyle? After all, we cannot expect employers to pay full wages for part-time work. Wouldn't we require some sort of government support anyway then, just to survive?

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H.R. 1918: Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) reintroduced earlier this month

I wrote this when it was first introduced: The NICA Act, or the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act, is aimed at improving the election process in Nicaragua. It was first introduced to the US House of Representatives in 2016, but was unable to stay relevant because of the 2016 election. This week, it has been reintroduced.

Nicaragua recently elected president Daniel Ortega of the FSLN. There were no foreign observers allowed, and right-wing liberal opposition parties have claimed that Ortega would be president regardless of what people voted for—that the election was rigged by and for the FSLN.

As a result, the United States has threatened to revoke all future investments to the Nicaraguan Government until they have what the US government will consider "free, fair, and transparent" elections. These investments would be, unless revoked, going towards Nicaragua's subsidized food and transit for low wage workers, free education, free health care, and other incredibly important pieces of Nicaraguan leftist programs.

Every single political party in Nicaragua, the OAS, global trade unions, and ALBA have voiced their opposition to this. This includes the political parties who were complaining about election rigging in the first place. The Sandinistas, the other socialist parties, the Nicaraguan Opposition Union (coalition of mostly right-wing and fascist parties, but also Nicaragua's Marxist-Leninist party) have all opposed it.

This will only negatively impact the Nicaraguan proletariat. And in the words of the OAS representative for Nicaragua, "impoverishing a country will not bring democracy."

Here are some resources for it:

There are some other news sources talking about it, but they are all in Spanish, and I'm not sure you speak/read Spanish.

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Dear Prof. Wolff:

Dear Prof. Wolff: I’ve been a KPFK volunteer (and sometime radio personality) for some forty years, and am anxious to meet you this evening in Los Angeles. I’d appreciate your touching on these (related) issues, during your talk: 1. How, in modern history, American currency has been based on debt (such as banking “acceptances”), rather than on actual assets. 2. How, the banks and the “Fed” create money “out of thin air,” an odd, and arguably dramatically inflationary, practice (sometimes amounting to $ Billions or even Trillions). 3. How “Founder,” Alexander Hamilton may—in financial terms--not have been a friend of the new United States of American, and how his policies were strongly opposed by figures like Jefferson and Jackson. 4. How England’s prohibition of the American colonies issuing its own paper currency may have been a more important issue that “taxation w/o representation.” 5. How, the quasi-governmental entity, Federal Reserve Board, may have played a very egregious—even dangerous—role through American history, including connections with international bankers, and how the American public is forced to pay interest on any currency which is issued by that body. Cordially, DrTCH

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Could you expand on US labor movement by talking about the IWW?

Hello Professor Wolff, I am subscriber to the democracy at work YouTube channel. Her I've been washing enthusiastically every week for the past about six months. I was Saul the most recent video with your colleague who is talking about US labor movement history. He mentioned specifically The CIO and the Teamsters. And then you summarized by saying that generally the strategies of the labor movement in the US have failed over the past half century. ( Full disclosure I am a member of the IWW here in the triangle--Raleigh/Durham-- of North Carolina) and then you called for new strategies and more radical and militant labor movement. What would fit nicely to expand on this is to talk about the history of the IWW and some of us wins for example like the eight hour workday and the fact that it was the first all inclusive union to include people of all races in the US. Our local branch has grown very rapidly and suddenly over the past year and especially within the past six months. And when talking to people from other branches the sense that we get is that that phenomenon is countrywide at least . So in summary my ask of you is just basically a brief mention of the IWW history and our state in mission him as the one big union, a union for all workers, that believes in organizing industrially. And then just someway to say basically that we're back and we're growing. In solidarity, Grant Frisbee From Durham, NC

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Created by ex-Microsoft CEO Ballmer, can you draw real conclusions from this data?

Mr Ballmer has spent millions to make it easier to understand US government spending with his personal project USAfacts.org. But all this data is government data, some (or all) of which come with their own restrictions (i.e. unemployed people that are counted as unemployed are those actively looking for work - and don't include those who've given up searching.) Keeping that in mind, what are your thoughts on the objective usefulness of this system and the conclusions you can draw from it? Of course it isn't presenting the whole story, but from what it does present, how best can it be used if at all? https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-07/steve-ballmer-s-plan-to-make-america-great-involves-excel-spreadsheets

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Old economics vs New economics - new book looks very important

"Doughnut Economics" by Kate Raworth, Sr. Research Associate, Oxford University; She addresses the same issues as Dr. Wolff, has a very refreshing, interesting approach. Here is a link to an excellent interview: https://youtu.be/l4FOTzG8nM4 This article from The Guardian gives a good synopsis: Old economics is based on false ‘laws of physics’ – new economics can save us https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/apr/06/kate-raworth-doughnut-economics-new-economics?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Copy_to_clipboard

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Outcompete Capitalism

Dear prof Wolff, in one of your recent videos you raised the question if coops can compete with capitalist enterprises and you said they can. I would go even further here: they must! As long as cooperatives are founded only for the purpose of sustaining oneself or your own local community, nothing will fundamentally change. Capitalism can only be truly beaten, if we outcompete it. We have to win the game for which they have written the rules. Only then, capitalists will have to admit that capitalism is pointless. Although this is hard and requires a lot of know how and strategy, I think we don't deserve socialism if we can't do this.

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Captioning a must!!!

There are 40 million deaf and hearing impaired people in the US. Many millions more world wide. Please Mr. Wolff, add captioning to your TV broadcasts so we too can follow your programs.

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Commodity subscriptions in a failing retail market

Why do all these old cat ladies have to spend taxi money to buy kitty litter? Why not sign them up for a subscription service and deliver it to their door? There is no need to make trips to the grocery story for items that never change - there are no decisions to be made. Here we can draw the line between regular commodity purchases and impulse buys. Subscriptions can be handled in a 'Just-in-time' logistics model to avoid investment in new equipment. Rent a U-Haul just for the day my neighbours want their food delivered and empty it the same day. Eventually, the friendly neighbourhood fashion consultant will choose clothes from the internet, delivered in the same U-Haul. In this way, we can turn Walmart into a convenience store.

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There is a big left wing reason for Brexit, did you know this?

Here in Norway the No-camp against the EU is comprised of mainly leftists, the most radical opponents of membership is SV and Rødt, which is the former communist party. The reason for this is the ever more intrusive legislation coming from Brussels to impose neo-liberalism on us. Many of theese legislations are camoflaged to be protecting workers or protecting environment, but when Union lawyers go through them the so-called protections are more laxed then our existing legislation. And Brussels law supercedes national law. Unions here in norway and the rest of the EU are fed up with the corruption in Brussels, the EU commision has almost all the power yet the members are not elected by the people. The open borders policy of the Shengen agreement is deeply problematic as it leads employers to hire cheaper eastern european people from Romania, Poland and the baltic states. Often theese people are leased through several intermediaries and there has been several reports of workers with more than one work contract. One that is legal in Norway and one that they actually work under. They are also difficult to recruit into unions as they are only temporary, and are thus expendable. All of this is destroying unions, good paying jobs and the thee-part coopertation. (Workers unions, Employers unions and government. This is only a few of the reasons the left in Norway want OUT of the EEC and prevent full membership of the union

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Comparing Private and Public Education

I was listening to your Economic Update podcast from February 17th, when I heard you discussing a study which revealed that Public Education, when adjusted for demographics, was more beneficial than Private education. When I searched for the study, (https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/studies/2006461.asp) I found that it seems to Be just the opposite. According to that report, Private schools in general performed better than Public schools. I was wondering which source you used to make this claim, because as a student, knowing what education is best for me is something I'd like to be knowledgeable about. It's a quick read, but it would help to get your opinion.

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Suggested 'Play the Star Spangled Banner' Topic

'Private Prisons': Aurora, CO: "Your choice, PURELY your choice; WORK 8 hours per day @ $1.00 per DAY *AND* you get to SHARE A CELL with a CELLMATE. If you DON'T want to work (8 hours a day for 5 days a week for $1.00 per DAY, WE have a SPECIAL TREAT for you - you will get a 'Private Room' all to yourself - a CELL in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. PURELY YOUR CHOICE. DON'T FEEL ANY PRESSURE AT ALL!" Richard - your country's USE of PRIVATE, FOR PROFIT PRISONS is NOT simply a National Disgrace, it is a GLOBAL DISGRACE! Here's a link: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/03/geo-forced-labor-lawsuit Grant Madison (Winnipeg, MB, Canada) GM27CAP@MTS.Net

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Could you touch on the implications of the Balanced Budget Amendment

There is only 5 more states that need to pass this piece of legislature before congress wll have a Constitutional Convention. If it passes the convention it will add the right wings Balanced Budget Amendment to our constitution. How severe do you think this would damage our economy? http://www.balanceourbudget.com/

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Moving from the word Socialism

I understand a lot of your ideas stem from Marxian theory or, Socialism, but due to the red scare it is very difficult to talk about. Do you think it would be beneficial to change the word which we use to describe your economic goals instead of fighting tooth and nail over the meaning of the word? Reason I bring this up is because often I fight over the definition of Socialism without hardly touching on the substantive discussion (I don't normally use the world socialism because of this).

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