Ask Prof. Wolff

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.
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What is the case for rent stabilization?

Rents are outpacing pay and pay increases. Stiff increases (like the 20% I got, 50% my neighbors received) displace long term residents, including families. I am in the LA area and our school district lost 3 students as a result of my neighbors' rent increases, and other long-time neighbors moved.

posted an official response

The short answer is this. An effective community is a complex and wonderful thing for a neighborhood to achieve. Letting "the market" determine who lives in your neighborhood is a weird way for human beings to construct communities. Rich people can buy into any neighborhood, evict poor people and reconstruct what the neighborhood is around their own notions of community forcing the evicted to forage wherever they can find what they can afford. Bringing differently talented people together in communities with rich, different cultural backgrounds, career aspirations, etc is a skill in no way reducible to "letting the market" dictate gentrification. And if a democratic way to construct communities and neighborhoods means anything, it means NOT allowing rent inflation to dictate who lives somewhere rather than democratic decision-making. The bottom line: creative, democratically organized and run communities are fundamentally incompatible with capitalism and market mechanisms.

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Larry Fink and Public Spending - what about MMT?

On Dr Wolff's latest Economic Update, I became puzzled. The implication was that Larry Fink needed to have private funds mingled with public funds for Trumps trillion dollar infrastructure plans because " we're out of money." According to L Randall Wray, Stephanie Kelton and Warren Mosler federal taxes are not required to fund federal spending. In fact, congress can request any spending required and needed and this spending does not have to depend on anything other than sound spending on sensible projects that are good for our future and the environment's future. Dr Wolff was right that this is a hustle. However, why does Dr Wolff leave out the fact that federal spending does not rely on direct spending into the economy? Can't congress request this spending? Federal taxes do not fund federal spending. Does Dr Wolff agree with this? If not, please explain why Stephanie Kelton, Michael Hudson, L Randall Wray, Warren Mosler, William K Black and all the rest that understand Modern Monetary Theory are wrong

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Regarding your comment on Creative Destruction of Self Driving Cars on 04/13/2017

Dear Professor Wolff, Your suggestion is that self-driving-cars will destroy the economy of truck drivers and professional drivers (about 1.5% of US population); however; the numbers are much greater than that: The computer will reduce the rate of accidents drastically and not only professional drivers will be greeters at Walmart and Starbucks; but ambulance chaser lawyers, their secretaries, their chiropractors, their MRIs consultations will also dwindle to a halt. So... the number of Creative Destruction of computerized vehicles are much greater than you originally spoke. In fact; in my 2014 book "Repursury: How Slavery Evolved into Usury Through Repurchase;" I started the book predicting truck drivers finding the same end as elevator conductors. (I am a fan of your body of work; best wishes. B.Sandy) or

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Weren't there many reason why Clinton lost the election, not just what you and Dr. Fraad discuss?

There were many other reasons why Clinton lost the election. The discussions with Dr. Fraad focus on the issues the white male has had. I don't think I ever heard either you or her say that this was just ONE reason. Obviously, the email scandal, the FBI director, her elitist perception and inability to connect with women, fake news, people hating both candidates, etc. Thanks and LOVE your work.

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You and Dr. Fraad

I admires all of your programs, positions, and writings, but I am curious why you do not disclose your relationship to Dr. Fraad. It doesn't matter, of course, one way or the other to the content and validity of your comments and her comments, but it does seem an odd omission.

posted an official response

Our thought on this is to enable Dr Fraad to present her thinking, based on her clinical practice and psychological research, without any suggestion of extraneous conditions and relationships that might risk some listeners/viewers somehow disregarding what she has to say. Her appearances on the radio/tv program are a response to the remarkable reactions her comments consistently evoke in listeners and viewers who asked repeatedly for more of her insights.

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Dear Mr. Wolff

I am Miroslav from Bulgaria and I want to congratulate you for your all work that you have done and continiue to do to help people to understand what menace is the capitalism. I would like to ask you when lecturing to put some examples for post communist countries such as Bulgaria. After 1989 this country with very well developed industry and social system now is in very bad situation. From 9 milion people population now is 6 milions the industry is ruined and economy relies only to the EU donnations, education now produces functional ilitterate students and the situation is getting worse. You can make a lecture for what the capitalism made with our and the other communist countries tho show the real consequencies of the wild capitalsm. Best regards, Miroslav

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Does RT Television have hidden motives?

Hello Professor Wolff, I really enjoy seeing how RT has given you so much time in their shows and I am glad I can hear you talk about current events (like the United Airlines recent problems and such). I was wondering though, considering how you're talking about the corporations having so much power because they can influence people through media, do you think they have hidden motives for giving you so many chances to speak out against the government? Thank you, A devoted fan

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If you know Michel Collon

Hi I am from Quebec and I listen to this really interesting person Michel Collon and I think if you don't already know him be a good informative source since he share same opinion thanks

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Hi Richard. I was wondering if you could talk a little about housing and negative gearing. Regards.

Here's a link to some audio from TV talk show The Drum, featuring guest's comments in response to Finance Minister Scott Morrison's talk about negative gearing. How I wish Richard was there to respond!

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Would you support a more democratic approach to foreign policy?

Specifically this... I would love to see you cover this as a topic, but even your direct feedback would be much appreciated. Gary Stark

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Your Boeing argument: based on wrong info on effective corporate tax rate?

HELP me win argument with my conservative boss! I argued your point from recent video about Boeing choosing to make airplane parts in European countries, where corp taxes are higher. Doing this because of the benefits of those taxes -- better-educated workers, better infrastructure, etc. But he says it's not true that corp taxes are higher in Europe. And I think he might be right, though I can see from my google search there is a lot of fog on this point. The EPI says effective corp tax rate in US is 27%, in line with most European countries. How do I respond to this? thanks.

posted an official response

More than ever, corporations have learned how to use globalization to evade taxes. This makes good numbers very hard to come by. Here is what we know. The US tax rate on corp profits = 35% but with deductions and exemptions, the EPI and others calculate an average effective rate closer to the mid 20s% which is not very different from calculations of what average Europeans pay. However, averages are deceiving, when corporations from the US relocate to Ireland, Netherlands, etc they can wrangle far, far lower rates or take advantage of public rates that are far lower than mid 20s%. Boeing likely went to Europe for multiple reasons including better tax deals, better relations with final customers in Europe, and so on

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Worker Cooperatives

I believe that your interpretation of worker cooperatives as the starting point towards a transition towards socialism draws heavily from Capital. Particularly, there is a chapter in Volume III where Marx states that worker ownership is a starting point. "The co-operative factories of the laborers themselves represent within the old form the first sprouts of the new, although they naturally reproduce, and must reproduce, everywhere in their actual organization all the shortcomings of the prevailing system"(Marx, Capital Volume 3, Chapter 27) If the aforementioned interpretation is correct, wouldn't cooperatives still suffer from the same cycles that plague a capitalist economic system? Wouldn't the law of value still dominate in the sphere of circulation? Even if co-ops completely resolved the contradictory nature of capital in the production function, one could still be a landlord/usurer/capitalist if private property still exists. I could buy up land or property and rent it out to exploit workers. If you do not agree with this interpretation, do you think Marx was wrong?

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Corporate rules and rulers

This week we saw the forced and rather brutal removal of a doctor from a United Airlines flight, as one of four people mandated to leave so UAL employees could take his seat. If corporations like UAL truly believed in capitalism, shouldn't they be required to have a "reverse auction", with their offer to vacate starting very high ($5000 would get a lot of takers), lowering until there were only four people willing to accept that price? Or are the rules different for them?

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While Trump was bolowing stuff up

Does the passage of; H.R. 1219 Supporting America's Innovators Act of 2017... the morning before blowing up the filibuster rule and blowing up a Syrian Air Base, by a nearly unanimous, bi-partisan vote, signify business as usual for Congress and the 1 % who own them? if I understand correctly, this will enable small vulture capital funds to grow larger without SEC over-sight, under the guise of assistance to small business...

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Undocumented workers

Dr. Wolff, thank you for your efforts to prevent the demonization of immigrants. However, I don't follow the logic in your latest Economic Update. I understand that undocumented immigrants contribute to the economy through rent, and purchases of food, clothes, ... etc.; but isn't this contribution something that would exist without them as well? If an undocumented worker wasn't there to take a job as a dishwasher, for instance, wouldn't it mean that the job would still be performed, a salary still paid, and this money recycled back into the economy as rent and other purchases? In fact, if this dishwasher wasn't undocumented wouldn't we expect his salary and subsequent contribution to the economy to be larger? While I believe undocumented workers currently in the US deserve a pathway to citizenship from a moral standpoint, I don't see an economic argument that further undocumented workers are beneficial given the current difficulty Americans are having finding work. Even admitting that the damage they do through job displacement is mitigated by their economic contribution, don't you think the resentment building among poor Americans and manipulated by politicians is a danger that needs to be addressed by preventing further immigration of undocumented workers?

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