Ask Prof. Wolff

rdw_speaking.png
 
Have a question for Professor Wolff? Want to suggest a topic or article? UPVOTE your favorite questions or submit your own. Top suggestions will be given a video answer on YouTube.
 
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.
 
Select "upvote" or "downvote" to promote certain questions. You must be logged in to vote or submit your own.
Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

TED talk "When workers own companies, the economy is more resilient"

A TED talk about creating a cooperative getting a majority of down votes. But whilst we could just dismiss the negative downvoting bias and the comments about Cuba, Venezuela, Communism etc as merely 'trolls’ they are obviously frustrating, at the same time perhaps this is in fact a sign that the cooperative movement is having an impact? As I believe M. Gahndi said "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" https://youtu.be/dkmpRQdJslI

1 comment Share

Can you please discuss the history of Social Democracy in the other Industrialized countries?

The history of social policies, e.g, minimum wage, social security, weekends, vacations, et al, are quite easy to research as an English speaker for the US and UK. FDR, Churchill and labor/labour unions and the roles they played are quite evident. One can find, e.g., the German vacation law, Bundesurlaubsgesetz, online, but there is little history to its evolution. The higher functioning Social Democracies have commonalities in regards to minimum wage, paid vacation, social welfare, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave et al, that the US does not. In many countries, there are very few people that work more than 35-40 hours a week as well. I was wondering how and when these and other high living standard laws became implemented.

I really feel that, aside from some kind of post economic society, the unpeeling of the disinfo propaganda of Social Democracy needs to play a crucial role in saving our planet or is at least a step toward a post economic society. I would encourage you to associate the first world living standard with Social Democracy. The word didn't exist, nor did a middle class society sans a plague or other disaster, prior to New Deal politics. It's so frustratingly ironic that there is so much anti-Social Democracy propaganda, yet the time when people think America was at its greatest was its time of strong Social Democratic policies and as they have been dismantled, we are slowly but surely returning to pre-New Deal disparity and a third world living standard again, like America was prior to the New Deal.

I wrote to Sanders at the beginning of his primary urging him not to reference Denmark or Scandinavia to illustrate his policies. Most America can't find Scandinavia on a map, let alone know what life is like there. Even Hillary doesn't seem to know what the rest of the world is like. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVBTFhhX6DM&feature=youtu.be&t=30s

I encouraged him, rather, to be the make America Great candidate, before Trump started saying it. After all, America used to have non-profit health care (like Germany), free or affordable university and four weeks paid vacation per year like most the rest of the world. Why not appeal to and inform people that America used to be great not because of minorities, but because of social policy?

Please go into detail about countries in Europe, Canada, Australia, NZ, Japan, et al and how and when they all seemed to adopt these policies. What movements occurred, what organizing factors played a role, which parties enabled these laws, and how these policies became popular and thus demanded. Aside from examples like healthcare under Bismark and 19 century minimum wage in NZ, it seems the really strong social laws in Europe didn't really start taking off until the 60s. It's as if as they started to adopt America and England's social policies, America and the UK started dismantling theirs. How did Denmark end up with 90% + union membership and thus a world high 80% middle class society? In America, thanks largely to you, it is easy to see the history of organizing, the Haymarket affair, CLU and Knights of Labor parade in NY, and the pressure of the CIO, Socialist and Communist parties. Ironically, the rest of the world seemed to surpass America in social legislation, yet there is little information to be found on how they organized and succeeded in passing said policy.  Is there anything that can be learned from their victories in these and other areas?

Best Regards

P.S. Since the rest of the world seems to be such an abstract to Americans, I'm starting a Youtube channel. I live in Germany as a US expat. I'm attempting to de-spin the deep seated propaganda of Americans and help warn others not to go the same path. As soon as I get a descent camera, I will start interviewing and showing everyday life here. It seems, for the most part, all you get is tourism videos from abroad, but not a look at the ordinary living experience of the people.

I will be going on a journey of discovery to find out questions like I have just asked and find out how these policies began and why they are not eroded like they were in America. I am also starting documentary type educational videos to show what live was like before and after the New Deal, and it's unfortunate demise, in order to correct the mass amnesia America seems to be suffering. I am not going for a "singing to the choir" approach as most youtubers and alternative media do, rather a, reach the uninitiated, more emotional approach. As Chris Hedges has explained, people aren't politically motivated by intellect, rather emotion. We've been informing for decades, it's time to reach people, not just the wonks, emotionally. We need to redirect the dissatisfaction to it's real cause and that is the fact that America no longer invests in it's society and thus has lost its middle class.

There is also little knowledge of the schism of the left in America. MLK focused equally on social and labor issues, but the hippy left seemed to throw out the baby of organized labor of their parents with the bathwater of conformity, materialism and lack of social justice. I'll be addressing tactics that haven't been working yet are still tried over and over and offering alternative ways of organizing and reaching not just other wonks, but the politically uninitiated. 

The one video that I completed used a clip from one of your speeches. Please let me know if you would rather I not use it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI9IirfAEsM

1 comment Share

Please discuss blockchain and bitcoin

1 comment Share


What would you scream?

If you, Thom Hartmann, Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, Lee Camp and Donald Trump were all seated at a demented dinner table where only the person who screamed the loudest could be heard, what would you scream?

1 comment Share

Many of us are interested in how stock markets work as well as history of their development.

... are stocks & stock markets beneficial or not & for whom, as well as history of development. Considering Peter Josephs thoughts/work I feel vindicated in my long held belief that stock markets, banks, wars, even gov't, etc., are primarily tools of the 1% etc. to promote the uphill flow of cash to the money-hoarders. I use the term money-hoarders now for several years since what many/most people have in community, family, friends, home, etc. is true wealth, we just have a lot less money then the "1%" who use they time to learn how to collect/hoard money... thus they are money-hoarders. https://youtu.be/xdEeqLt5Yl0 Likely you have already done a talk about how stock markets work... if so please post link to video, etc... ... as you know, to learn how to change or repair something, one needs to know how it works, so we can think about how to change it. In this case we think we need to subvert and end this capitalistic mayhem of making money without producing anything and without work. And... If/when the capitalistic system ends what happens to the stock market and all the investments of the average person will lose. How do we protect ourselves? Considering that the 1% own about 83% of the entire market they have more to lose, amount wise, but we have more to lose in that we have no reserves. They can "weather storms," we cannot. Does that really matter since we could, likely will, rebuild via worker-owned business & localized economies. In a more socialized economy based on local worker-owned business it there a place for stock markets, i.e. current workers moving current investment to local business? reasonable, irrelevant? Do you have investments in stocks? in general... perhaps as we learn to prepare for capitalism's collapse we should move 401k and other stock investments to local municipal bonds, local business, etc., invest in startup worker-owned business? What would you do? What are you doing? Where, in general, if any, are your investments? We very much appreciate your time and effort in teaching us!!! Keep up the good work!

3 comments Share

Workers face job loss for evacuating in Florida

This isn't a corporation, it's a government job, demanding workers, not even first responders, remain in place during Irma. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/09/07/some-workers-risk-being-fired-if-they-evacuate-hurricane-irma/644588001/

1 comment Share


Can you do a story on the Georgian Democratic Republic?

There's a fascinating book out called "The Experiment Georgia's Forgotten Revolution 1918-1921" that details the short lived Marxist Georgian government that was ruled by Mensheviks, not Bolsheviks, and while Marxist, allowed for free multi-party elections, merged peasant and workers into a single bloc peacefully under their party (the Social Democratic Party) and were creating the groundwork to base their economy on worker cooperatives and labor union control. It was Lenin and Stalin who invaded and destroyed this experiment in democratic socialism. Was wondering if you could give some insight into this and if this could be a model to explore for future socialists?

2 comments Share

Worker Cooperatives and the Procyclical / Countercyclical tweeking of the Business Cycle

I was wondering whether the restructuring of some critical number of businesses into worker cooperatives would have any influence on the business cycle? If, however, the business cycle is as natural to any economic system as the tide, are government Procyclical / Coutnercyclical policies only sensible?

1 comment Share

WalMart anti-union "employee training video"

So much fodder here for you and your show. Sickening.... https://youtu.be/ONKkoiszVSs

3 comments Share

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41160748

Even the Archbishop of Canterbury is on the right track. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41160748

1 comment Share

Theresa May Critiques "Unacceptable Face of Capitalism."

Hi. Theresa May, the leader of the Tory party in the United Kingdom, recently condemned big businesses which pay senior executives extortionate salaries, claiming it is a reflection of the: "unacceptable face of capitalism." To me, this appeared to be a sharp u-turn in rhetoric, and I was wondering what you thought about this issue? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41065485

1 comment Share

Tennessee is the first state to offer free community college

Hello. I am a regular listener of your well thought/well presented programs. I thought the following might be interesting for you. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/05/12/tuition-free-community-college-become-norm-tennessee/319384001/ https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/19/tennessee-is-the-first-state-to-offer-free-community-college.html

1 comment Share

Is there room for a "Georgist" critique in contemporary socialism?

I enjoyed very much the recent interview with Michael Hudson- so great to hear two extremely intelligent and articulate people in dialogue. From my reading of Mr. Hudson's work, I find a lot of citation of Henry George. Mr. Hudson has done a great deal of research into early Mesopotamian cultures, specifically the periodic elimination of debt in regards to land tenure- this work seems to support some of the conclusions of George as well, in terms of identifying monopolization of land value as a prime driver of inequality. I know that in their day, George and Marx were highly critical of each other and even though George was extraordinarily influential in his time, the ascendancy of Marx has drowned out the Georgist perspective as an alternate-alternative to finance capitalism. Is Georgism still relevant? Is there room under the "socialist tent" for alternative forms of socialism other than Marx? Was Marx correct in labeling "Land" as just another form of Capital? Or is it still useful to view "Land" as a unique factor of production? Many thanks!

4 comments Share

connect

get updates