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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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How much is a lack of leisure time a factor in mass retail store closings?

The abrupt closing recently of 63 Sam's Club stores by Walmart is just one of many examples of the rapid decline of physical retail stores in the United States. In your discussions of the thousands of annuals closings of retails stores, you rightly point to the declining purchasing power of Americans. But to what degree is a lack of leisure time for Americans fortunate enough to have full time work a factor in the decline of the physical store retail sector? You've pointed out the trend of workers in the U.S. not taking vacation time that they are entitled to as part of their compensation. People on vacation tend to shop while doing so. Going to shop at stores is a time consuming task. Especially in the U.S. with its lack of public transportation. Then there is the time spent finding items to purchase and time spent waiting in line at the store check out. Given that most Americans have to work multiple jobs just to get by, where is the time to go to a mall and patronize the stores? It's so much easier to get on your computer or mobile device and use your Amazon or Ebay app and make purchases in minutes. One could argue that the retail sector is committing a slow suicide. This industry, along with restaurants, has always been in the lead in arguing that employers simply can't afford to pay their workers more. They helped to create an underpaid, over worked labor force that has little or no leisure time anymore. Now they are paying for it with the closure of their businesses. One can argue that they killed the goose that lays the golden egg, namely, the mass of people with the means and time to shop in physical retail stores.

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How long will the US put up with the degradation of social services in favor of tax cuts?

The answer to the question is, as long as people are afraid or unable to act. Many simply are either too afraid, or too hemmed in by their lives to do anything but 9-5, take care of their families, and get depressed by listening to the news. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent, well educated person, and I feel powerless to do anything about any of this. I, like many, am literally fenced in by my life each day. I am responsible for looking after 3 young kids, myself, and my elderly mother. When do people like myself find time to march?! And the spirit of the American worker for mass protest is largely broken, from what I can see. Especially since the current administration thumbs their noses at such displays. They simply don't care. So, people are scared, and they don't want to lose what they have, and they want someone else to step up and take care of it. I've even heard people intimating that, if we organize, Trump will declare martial law, which will them give him his final reason to blame the immigrants and start setting up confinement camps, and knowing his crazy ass, he'd do it - and the Republicans, stoking fear of rioting (read peaceful demonstrations) would support him, while the Democrats stick one thumb up their ass, and wave the other one lamely in the air and say they're against it. And then, yes, go out for a beer, with Republicans. To celebrate the successful on-going, fiction. So, under these circumstances, how do the American People...organize, with any hope of having any effect to change the government that was originally founded to be, "for the people" and "by the people?" It certainly doesn't represent "The People" now.

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How can a Socialist State pay public services without taking a surplus from the workers?

In one of your lectures you said that one of the economic failures of the USSR was that it didn't implement socialism as they took a surplus from the workers. But, how can a socialist State pay the public services if it doesn't take a surplus from the workers. Moreover, the surplus taken from the workers is reinvested on them so it isn't a theft, contrary to what the bourgeois does.

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How can a Socialist State pay public services without taking a surplus from the workers?

In one of your lectures you said that one of the economic failures of the USSR was that it didn't implement socialism as they took a surplus from the workers. But, how can a socialist State pay the public services if it doesn't take a surplus from the workers. Moreover,

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Im interested in understanding how to convert a business to a worker cooperative.

I'm planning an oyster farm start-up, and would like to convert it into a worker cooperative after approximately 5 years.

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Im interested in understanding how to convert a business to a worker cooperative.

I'm planning an oyster farm start-up, and would like to convert it into a worker cooperative after approximately 5 years.

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You did not mention that UEBER got a slap on theyr hands in Europe.

They say that Uber is a taxi/transportation Service and have to work finally under the same rules then all the other taxi companys. Finally someone who wakes up Chris

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How would hiring and firing work at a worker co-op?

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Could reducing executive by 1 or 2% pay for the cost of raising wages for low-income workers?

Why are employers unwilling to raise wages? I realize it is impossible to force executives to reduce their pay in order to raise wages for other workers, but I think it would be helpful to illustrate that a small reduction in executive compensation could easily cover the cost of raising wages. Is this true? Thank you.

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Advice for Future Workers

Hey Dr. Wolff, I am in my Junior year of Highschool in the United States, which means I will soon be facing the mess of this economy as a young adult soon, including the inevitable crash. I am not sure if this question is well developed, especially since you do not know my life completely, but are there advice or anything that I should know so that I can fair better in the future in our current economy? Similarly, is there anything that you can tell me that could help me react better to an economic crash?

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Advice for Aspiring Marxian Economists

Hi Dr. Wolff, I recently graduated with an undergraduate degree in economics. During my studies I was frustrated by the dominance of neoclassical theories and ideas in my courses. I have recently considered applying to graduate school for economics, but I am uncertain about whether it is the best use of my efforts. Do you have any advice for aspiring Marxian economists? Are there any particular schools or programs that are known for having more intellectual diversity within the economics discipline? Thank you, Nora Fergany

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Please explain the rental crisis across the West Coast.

Dear Dr. Wolff. My rent just went up again by $70 after only 6 months. Even more than it did for the first six months. And if I choose not to sign a lease, it will go up by $400. In addition, I can no longer find apartment complexes that will pay for any utilities. Can you please explain what is going on with the rental crisis up and down the West Coast, from Los Angeles to Seattle? Is it really an issue of supply and demand? Or is there more to it? My rent continues to increase despite any new apartment constructions that surround me. And most of these constructions begin at the high end of the market. I read that rent prices here in southern CA have risen by twice the rate of inflation in recent years. Seriously, it's killing me. I'm not prepared to buy a house, and I don't know where to move to escape this. I'm an educated professional who makes a fairly decent living -- but apparently not enough to keep a roof over my head. What is happening? And what are your thoughts on rent control measures? Will they address the source of the problem? Here are some articles that thoroughly confused me. Thanks. http://beta.latimes.com/business/la-fi-costa-hawkins-repeal-20170314-story.html https://www.ocregister.com/2017/08/17/southern-california-rent-costs-soaring-twice-as-fast-as-inflation/ http://www.laweekly.com/news/will-rent-control-come-to-pasadena-long-beach-inglewood-and-glendale-8879562

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what do you think about criptocurrency as an alternative to banks ?

is criptocurrency an interesting resource for working people? is private money anyway. von hayek dreamed with private money. do you think banks are afraid of criptocurrency?

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"By 2053, Black households will have a median wealth of zero." - Forbes

Greetings Prof. Wolff ! Are worker cooperatives the best solution for African Americans? I can find no answer to how to close the wealth gap. Could sections of cities like Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore with abandoned homes and warehouses be turned into a proverbial Mondragons in order to begin to close the wealth gap? Coupled with community land trusts, do you believe the concept seems doable? And if so, how long could it possibly take to execute. Alternatively, could entire communities of energy-efficient housing and a commercial sector be developed from scratch and use the worker cooperative model to be self-sustained? http://www.blackenterprise.com/baltimore-sell-homes-1/ http://nashvillepublicradio.org/post/nashville-creates-community-land-trust-stem-gentrification#stream/0

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Depression=Alienation. Cure: Worker co-ops

Dr Wolff: I think it would be supremely useful to everyone who listens to your show for you to have Johann Hari on for an interview, preferably with you and Dr Fraad together. Depression is the result of human needs unmet, not chemical or pathological. J.Hari's new book describes depression as basically alienation, prescribes worker coops as part of cure https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/07/is-everything-you-think-you-know-about-depression-wrong-johann-hari-lost-connections

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