Ask Prof. Wolff

rdw_speaking.png
 
Have a question for Professor Wolff? Want to suggest a topic or article? Post it here! Professor Wolff receives hundreds of questions per week covering a wide array of topics, from economics and socialism, to historical movements and current events. While Professor Wolff does his best to reply to some questions on Economic Updatewe receive more questions than we can handle! Ask Prof. Wolff allows his fans to ask questions publicly and also vote and respond to others questions.
 
Select "Most Recent" to view recently submitted questions. You must be logged in to submit your own.
Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

Relevant Articles

Dr. Wolff I thought that You might find these two articles, which I just discovered today, to present interesting topics to be mentioned and explored for future discussion, in addition to perhaps being groups who may be interested in collaborating with the d@w project. http://www.geo.coop/story/how-urban-governments-are-promoting-worker-co-ops http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/07/01/1104943/-Anti-Capitalist-Meetup-The-Cooperative-Movement-and-the-Big-Tent-Approach Thank You SO MUCH for all that You do! In Solidarity, Your devoted fan and supporter Joel S Roberts dem_at_work@mustknowinfo.org (still under construction :-) )

posted an official response

Thank you for your interest and message!  I will be sure to read them.

2 comments Share

Regulations

A lot of people seem to blame the recessions and problems with capitalism on the government "regulating" them. How do you reply to people who suggest capitalism is basically flowers and roses without government regulations? What do you think about capping corporate profits? Or the idea of limiting absurd amounts of wealth beyond reason? Finally, what is all of this wealth doing at the top 0.1%? Is it merely stagnant, or is it just being shuffled between other people in that wealth bracket?

1 comment Share

Lease Economy

The current model is NOT fixable from the standpoint of long-term sustainability! We are all now witnessing the accelerating death of a very bad designed model. There are no more good ways to get life improvement for all out of it. More and more we are seeing inequality on the rise as those with the power take from the less powerful. We are all wasting our time and jeopardizing our kids and grandkid's futures trying to fix this old model. It was doomed from the start because it was created based on too many negative concepts: 1) unlimited natural resources; 2) insufficiency for all; 3) leadership based on I'm more powerful than you; 4) corruption is OK; 5) concentrated power is the only thing that works; etc. What we need more than anything else right now is a new found sense of hope for the possibility of improvement in the future. I give you for consideration one possible new model. I call it the Lease Economy. It looks very different than our present model. Probably best to shift into sci-fi digestion mode. But within I hope you can see the promise of these radically different concepts. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1C7mVIpGaPoxTU_u4jvgJ-hWhImPXih8LXDWLZiSxsFA/edit?usp=sharing This is just a starting place for our collective imagination. It is by no means "The solution." My objective is to get everyone to shift effort away from trying to fix what is not fixable and instead put concerted effort into building toward something that promises real future improvement. Anything GREAT always starts within our imaginations, especially improvement possibility. I invite you to work with me to imagine and morph improvement into this Lease Economy model story. Let's together co-create a smooth (non-violent) transition plan from our present model to something that guarantees continuity of "great lives for all" into the long-term future.

1 comment Share

Guaranteed Income

Given the encroachment of automation in the workplace and the decline of full-time jobs in all sectors of the economy, millions of people will be unable to obtain employment. Entrepreneurship and the shadow economy won't be able to take up the slack. Is it time to consider establishing a government-guaranteed income for all citizens?

posted an official response

Either that or else a government run program of full employment producing all the socially useful projects a democratic national discussion could establish: e.g. greening the economy, rebuilding deteriorated infrastructure, providing quality childcare across the board, programs for an aging population and so much more. Might be better to go this route than splitting society into parts that earn by working and parts that earn without working.

2 comments Share

BDS and economics

Hi, I'm wondering about arguments surrounding BDS, that is, Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement that targets West Bank and Gaza businesses to force Israel to discontinue its occupation of those territories. Some opponents of BDS say that it would be harmful to the Palestinian economy, since Israel is Palestine's major trade partner. Others say that the economic reality of the occupation is already terrible, and therefore BDS is justified in lifting the occupation. Can you elucidate?

1 comment Share

How is productivity measured?

On recent weekly update, you talked about how productivity has gone up since the recession, but wages stayed the same. I’m wondering how productivity is calculated. From my own experience, I’m not sure people are being more productive. I think it may be that quality is declining. I can give you a couple of examples. Our school district has a program for speech therapy for students which my son was in. It really helped him in elementary school. After the school budget was cut, they cut the number of speech therapists. There was much less individual attention given by the therapists because their workloads increased. I know some kids made less progress because of it. On paper, it would look like the program is the same, serving the same number of students. My own employer, a large nonprofit, cut about 30% of its staff. We did cut some programs, but other programs continued and people left were just scrambling to keep things going at a minimum. So I’m wondering how productivity numbers are measured. Is productivity even applicable for schools and nonprofits?

1 comment Share

Rise of facsism

What do you think of the rise of racism and facism i europe and america? Could it have something to do with the crashing of capitalism?

1 comment Share

Have you seen this?

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/10/27/panama-the-hidden-trillions/

1 comment Share

Wikileaks HRC paid emails

Wikileaks has just released excerpts from Mrs. Clinton's paid Wall Street speeches. There are some interesting economic tidbits that I would like for you to comment on. This includes her vision of a "Hemispheric Common Market, With Open Trade And Open Markets" and her endorsement of the "Simpson-Bowles Framework". I'll link to the page - see the attachments for the full doc. Thanks for your work! https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/927

1 comment Share

Data on Corporate profits

Please help me make sense of the Economic Policy Institute data that you mentioned in the most recent Economic Update. In 1952, corporate profits were 5.5 percent of GDP and corporate taxes were 6 percent. Does this mean that all corporate profits were eaten up by taxes in 1952? That doesn't seem possible. Today, corporate profits are 8.5 percent of GDP. If those profits were spread out among the millions of workers in the US, it doesn't seem like it would be of much benefit to them. In other words, 8 percent doesn't fit with the concept of the corporation making huge profits and screwing the workers. My bigger question is, apart from the obvious improvement of making economic institutions democratic, would having workers decide what to do with the surplus really generate a substantial increase in pay for the workers?

1 comment Share

Dick Morris???

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWDRNH67Ql8 this is a weird one. i mean maybe it shouldn't be surprising, but this guy oddly is sounding a lot like Wolff

2 comments Share

Reason for the failure of the 3-hour workday to appear

Increased productivity and mechanisation was supposed to free us from labour. Instead we work longer and longer hours, and the "real economy" of important workers, such as health care workers, teachers, transit operators, et al., are relentlessly attacked, while the ballooning "bullshit economy" (pardon the term) of useless jobs like managers, finance capital, administrators, PR consultants, et al., is increasingly insulated from erosion, attack, or even criticism. Why? An interesting article from an anthropologist on the matter: http://evonomics.com/why-capitalism-creates-pointless-jobs-david-graeber/

1 comment Share

Left Party in Germany

Dear Richard, I listened to your Economic Update: Higher Ed Class Struggles of Sept. 26. You mentioned the success of the Left Party (Die Linke) in Berlin. Unfortunately in the rest of Germany the results of this party in the elections are decreasing. Instead a new right wing party (AFD - Alternative fuer Deutschland) is getting votes north of 10 %. The reason for this are the refugees that are coming to Germany. Many people of the middle class and such that are in precarious jobs are scared about this. The capitalists use the immigrants to put pressure on the working to keep the wages down. The AFD even wants to abolish the minimum wages and to cut taxes for the rich and the companies. But this has no negative effect on their success in elections. The left party has the problem that in the opinion of most germans they are the successors of the SED (Socialist Party of the former GDR). After 1990 the other parties in Germany were able to demonize socialism as something bad by pointing on the GDR, that collapsed in 1989. Germans think that socialists want to controll everything and everybody. This kind of brainwash was really successfull. Even the SPD (Socialdemocratic Party) cancelled the word socialism in their party program. You are currently not able to get a 30 % vote for a politic that is advantageous for 80 % of the people in Germany.. We have to do a lot of work here in our country to convince the people that it is crazy that 1 % has as much money as the lower 50 %. The OECD stated that the chances for kids of industry workers in Germany to enter a college are the worst in all of Europe. Let us try to change this. Bill

1 comment Share

Losing Interest

I was getting into Democracy At Work's videos for a while, but it no longer makes sense to me. "Cooperate within the business" (so that these cooperative units can then compete with one another.) It won't be as bad as what we have now, but is still far from a moral scenario. Once a few likeminded crooks get together, they can cut corners and act as mini-mcdonaldses. A cooperative workplace is just an impediment on the havoc that can be wreaked but in no way a deterrent. Just as the "democracy" we have now politically doesn't translate outside of politics. Having even real democracy in the work place would have no reason to translate outside of that particular business. They could still fuck over the environment, the consumer, and one another just as businesses do today, albeit to a lesser extent: this is nothing to get too excited about. I do believe in cooperation, but what we need to ask is cooperation for what. The goal in this case is going to be the same as in the capitalism we have now. Make as much money as possible so we can worry less about waking up with nothing. Even if measures are taken to prevent single employees losing their jobs, if the business fails, everybody loses their job. And in order to not fail, they're going to want to make stuff or provide services at the lowest cost possible to the business and highest to the customer. This save the changes of a greater feeling of investment and say in the company and benefits of those is business as usual. People under this system will be working together in small groups. But the groups and virtually everything that is around them will not be working together. Please correct me if I am wrong here, I would very much like to be.

1 comment Share

We have to do something in Germany too

Dear Richard, I am located in Germany and recently signed in at your website. I heared several of your statements and I truly tell you that this is excactly my opinion. Do you already have something going in Germany? You mentioned that many americans are earning less than 15 $ an hour. In Germany about 12 million working people are earning less than 10 $ an hour. I really would like to establish democracy at work in Germany. Best regards, Bill Schulte

1 comment Share

connect

get updates