Ask Prof. Wolff

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Economic Calculation Problem

Forgive me if this has already been covered, but I'm wondering if Dr. Wolff is familiar with the economic calculation problem put forward by Mises (et. al.) that allegedly undermines the soundness of any other economic system besides capitalism.

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Hi Prof Woolf: The Tampa Bay Times has printed several letters stating that Venezuela's current economic problems are due to socialist policies. Is this true? And if not, can you expound on what exactly happened. Many thanks, Pete E.

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Policy Suggestions for the local and city level.

Could you speak more about specific economic policy suggestions for people who might be looking to run for office on the local level according to Marxian economics? I see a lot of people who are very interested in building socialism from the bottom up and I am trying to do research on exactly what sort of policies would be best to focus on.

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Fees to Join the Revolution

I wanted to know your thoughts on organizations (even those that you agree with) asking for donations. Living my entire life in the ugly capitalistic society of the USA, my immediate default reaction to anyone asking for money is to put up my fists. There are so many corporate scams and even charitable organizations with fat salaries for their leadership, that I am very turned off by appeals for donations even from groups I like. One example of this is the increasing number of emails from groups like DFA (democracy for America) with a nice message and a button: “donate to sign the petition and support the cause”. One vulgar example of this was the DFA email during the recent “sit in” by Democratic congress members. It stated that you could click to donate to support the congressional members who were sitting in. I thought; why do I have to donate money to get members of Congress to do their job and make their voices heard on progressive issues? I consider myself a budding socialist and I am interested in groups like Socialist Alternative or Democratic Socialists of America (and of course D@W) but I am hesitant to join anything with membership fees. I understand the free rider problem. In addition, how court decisions denying unions the right to collect dues have in effect crippled labor unions efficacy. However, in our dog eat dog society, I have trouble overcoming skepticism regarding donations or membership dues. I realize that I am probably this way because the American culture suppresses collectivism.

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Asset-Recyling in Canada

I was glad to hear you cover the Canadian postal worker's situation. I thought you might be interested in another Canadian economics issue: so called "asset-recycling," which is described in this blog-post ( by a Canadian economist as: "Asset recycling is an obscure code word for selling our public goods for private profit. It’s privatization by another name. Don’t have the taxes to pay for new buses? It’s okay, you can sell your electricity utility to pay for them instead. " The author describes the Canadian Liberal Party's dedication to this admixture of neoliberalism and social democracy as being on the cutting edge, in that asset-recycling is now being promoted by the IMF. As he writes: "Canada’s Liberal Party is really at the forefront of this policy shift by elites." If this is true, then perhaps this phenomena is something that will soon be seen outside of Canada. I mean, the Liberal Party won our last election through a combination of lionizing the middle-class and promising to fund infrastructure spending; and I noticed that these same themes were touched on repeatedly at the DNC. Do you see "asset-recycling" coming to the US? And is this new hybrid of "neoliberalism and social democracy" a completely bad thing?

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Carrying Capital to Other Worker Cooperatives

Hi Prof Wolff, I recently watched Yanis Varoufakis' TED talk (, at the end of which he speaks of his utopian economic ideas. He mentions a system worker cooperatives where individuals can carry the capital accumulated from one co-op to the next. One major criticism I get when trying to explain worker coops is that a worker might not want to stay with the same company for life - that they might want to change jobs. This transfer of capital would solve that. But how would it work in practice? Would it be as simple as selling the portion of the co-op to remaining workers (for cash), and buying into the next?

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The Road To Serfdom

I was wondering if you would speak about The Road To Serfdom (Hayek), and whether or not that economic thought process, or theory, poses a challenge to Marx. How do we sort out these differing theories and views of how to organize people, resources, capital, etc.?? Thanks!

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Jill Stein and Student Debt

I'm wondering if you could speak to the viability of Jill Stein's plan for the cancellation of student debt and comment on the accuracy of her statements regarding this plan ( In particular: To what extent is her claim that Wall Street debt was canceled through the use of quantitative easing a valid statement? How likely is it that, if she were elected president, she'd be able to make Federal Reserve appointments in such a way as to ensure her plan gets put into practice, and what kind of time frame would this involve? Would each individual's forgiven debt inevitably be taxed as income? Any insight you could offer into these questions would be welcome. Thanks.

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Emilio Romanga vs Mondragon

Hello, Professor Wolff, I highly enjoy your work, and, by now, we've all heard you speak fondly of the Mondragon Corporation in the Basque region of Spain. I have yet, however, to hear you speak of the economic situation in the Italian state of Emilio Romagna. (And, if you have, I apologize for missing or forgetting about it.) Could you, perhaps, discuss (compare/contrast) these two situations; and, more importantly, which do you find better represents your ideals on democratizing the economy and why. Thanks, Nick

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Bernie Sanders as Director of Finance

Is it possible if he we appointed Director of Finance by Hillary if she is elected that he could break up the big banks and by holding Wall Street accountable for the bailout take that money to energize free school, healthcare, pay down the deficit and secure social security as were his plans?

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Video about negative interest rates

Could you do a video on negative interest rates and what affect they might have on the economy. Have we seen negative interest rates in the past? I remember seeing a video about how in medieval times local people would store their grain and get a tally stick. As the grain grew older it was worth less and therefore encouraged spending. Is this true and is this similar to negative interest rates? Could they actually be a good thing?

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Roosevelt "ReWriting the Rules" white paper

Hi, I enjoy your weekly radio talk. I'm a Robert Reich liberal who is losing the faith. I'd be very interested to hear a socialist critique of the joe stiglitz report ( Fair to have questions whether it would ever pass congress, but beyond that? Thanks, Chris Lee, Kenwood, CA

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tell us Your opinion please

Ichak Adizes : Industrial Democracy: Yugoslav Style – English edition First published in 1971, this book presents case studies of two Yugoslav companies which were observed in operation during the spring of 1967. In an attempt to analyze several aspects of organizational behavior by studying its relationship to a dynamic environment, the study describes the process of decision-making on the company level after the Yugoslav reform of 1965. A comparison of the environmental forces and their effect in organizational structures is made in this book.

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D@ W

Ichak Adizes : Self-Management: New Dimensions to Democracy First Published in 1975, this book was developed from a seminar at the center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, in Santa Barbara, California, which focused on the participation of workers in decision-making as a means to democratize society, provide for economic growth, and improve the quality of life.

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