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great things happened in USA in 1944, in USSR in 1917 and later in china..etc..compare!

Is it possible to comapre the economic situations of the people as to at which point the status quo became unbearable in tems of income and wealth inequalities, peoples' pain, national debt etc.....this will tell us where we are now!

posted an official response

We can, I believe, draw very useful parallels and thus lessons from those moments when huge changes were produced. But we need also to be attentive to the uniqueness of each moment. A great political leader once said: "For decades nothing seems to happen, and then, suddenly, in a few weeks, decades happen." That is one lesson to keep in mind. Grievances accumulate slowly into a state of intolerability. Likewise those aggrieved have to be able to see, top identify some social force that at least has a chance to really change the situation. If the see such a force but it fails them, they will likely be all the more reticent about trying again. Thats why it all takes those long decades when "nothing seems to happen." But if there are alert folks who participate all along and evaluate the situation continuously, then you may have that magic combination of (1) an intolerable situation, (2) loss of confidence in existing leaders and institutions, and (3) reasonable hope in alternative leaders and alternative institutions - that enables those great historic turning points.

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Hi Professor,

Hi Professor, I'd like to have your take on something lots of people say, that only finance capitalism is bad and productive industrial capitalism created lots of good things; that if we could go back to regulated capitalism, the kind that existed from 1945 to 1975 ( coined as the Glorious thirty in France), we wouldn't have the problems of inequality we experience today.

Thank you.

posted an official response

This is indeed and old argument. I recognize that it is tempting to distinguish among capitalisms so that opposition can be focused on only one type rather than on the system across its types. Finance versus industrial capitalism is one such differentiation among types. Here are some others: high-wage versus low-wage capitalism, foreign versus domestic capitalism, small versus large capitalism. For me, such differentiations can be useful to understand periods within capitalism's historical duration, but they are not useful in terms of countering the criticisms of capitalism as a system. There it is a little like distinguishing between slaveries that treat slaves better versus those that treat them worse, serfdoms that crush serfs versus those that leave them alone, and so on. While the differences may be important for understanding how they work, who suffers more or less in them, etc., none of them go to the heart of the problem with the system per se.

Capitalism as a system always tends toward greater inequality (unless stopped by mass worker counteraction), suffers from debilitating instability (business cycles) that affect the working class and poor more than others, and is manifestly undemocratic (it gives a tiny minority - major share-holders and the boards of directors they select) - all the economic power and most of the wealth while excluding the majority (workers) from participation in enterprise decision-making and much else. Industrial capitalism was as prone to all these negative qualities as finance capitalism. So I am not sympathetic to making a big deal of the differences among capitalisms; the task now is to move beyond all types of capitalism to a better system.

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Finance under Socialism?

I conclude that we would not have a stock market in a socialist (co-op) economy as "shares" in the enterprise would presumably not be bought & sold as they are under capitalism. But various kinds of financing would still be necessary, i.e. loans of various sorts & arguably bonds. For small scale I can see credit unions functioning well. But what about major investments such as pubic infrastructure? Local governments may not be able to raise the tax revenue. Is pubic banking the answer? We would still need a finance sector of some sort, but what might it look like? Thank you.

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Method in their madness!

Obviously, the rich and corporate tycoons are attacking the middle class....why? because these were the people who formed unions, and built parties like socialists and communists that made them pay their fair share ,,,but they think since they already destroyed the troublesome ones, if they are squeezed further they will still be unable to do anything about it......until only poor and rich are left and the only possible stepping stone between them will be non existant. Then they get back to their business of LEADING the rest of the world to the same conditions. This way there will never be a challenge to white man's superiority.....This calls for immediate action...Thus urgency need to come out more forcefully in Mr. Wolff's talks, videos etc. ...will you please do it or depend on american's desire to fight back or close their eyes?

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New Economy Roundup Co--Op Artcles

Go to neweconomy.net/blog. Listing on 8/17/2017.

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What if we intentionally shrank the labor pool?

My idea is to spread a theory that a population reducing its need for income would create a need for workers in the society. It would in essence try to recreate a labor shortage. The money and bills targeted would be the most wasteful costs (and traditions) that produce the fewest jobs, and it would support the creation of efficient social systems to meet people's needs. The people, working half as many hours, would be scarce and worth more. Is this even a valid argument to make in a modern capitalist labor market (in the U.S.)? By that I mean, have we come too far from being scarce to have an effect? Also, does this theory have a name?

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Another example of state incentivized tax-payer funded, low paying jobs

Prof. Wolff, you mentioned a couple examples of this in a recent Economic Update so I thought I'd give you another example. Iowa is one of a few states that is trying to woo Toyota into building a factory in their state by offering various tax-payer funded incentives. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/business/2017/08/15/toyota-plant-could-cost-iowa-hundreds-millions-incentives/556224001/

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From Reddit, regarding Blackwater's desire to privatize Afg. War using E. Ind. Co. as a model.

Taken from the 'World News' subreddit: **This guy is one of the smart people on this thr... https://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/6tvmif/blackwater_founder_erik_prince_cites_east_india/dlo586k

posted an official response

Thanks for alerting me to that reddit discussion. It contains a valuable and spot-on reminder that however much we may demonize the perpetrators of profit-increasing decisions by corporate leaders, they are responding to the existing capitalist system's structure of rewards and punishments. To end the social costs of their behavior requires changing the system so they or those who replace them, facing different rewards and punishments, will behave differently. Indeed, our fascination with mobsters, crime stories, etc is a deeply psychological recognition that they are explicitly what most business leaders are implicitly, mobsters get caught (at least in the fiction) while "banksters" dont or at least dont get punished. And if we did try and imprison bank leaders, because those who replace them face the same basic rewards and punishments will behave similarly. We have lived through this countless times. No matter how much people hope that the easier tasks of calling out the bad guys for moral turpitude, passing a reform law, or changing political leaders from establishment parties will suffice, they dont. The harder task of system change awaits and is probably better to get to that sooner rather than later.

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What is the economics of the alt right ,and what exactly gives them the grounds to thrive ?

What are the economic measure public officials must implement to make sure the menance is stopped This is not a question to hear praise about the neo nazis but I would like you tell us what makes them strong and what makes them weak .What economic measures should people push for to stop their horrible agenda.

posted an official response

Economic distress (insecure, low-paid jobs; poor public services; poor prospects for improvement anytime soon; clear pictures of fellow Americans enjoying luxuries) is a major fuel for alt right. An economic program that really, quickly, and substantially benefited them would win over most of them (something at least as good as FDR's New Deal in the 1930s). If Bernie Sanders won and did that, it would have weakened them severely. Why?Because the alt right offers them scapegoats for their anger at their situation and scapegoats are an important alternative to either self-blame or a sense of resigned impotence. Scapegoats wont change the economic suffering of alt-right folks but it will temporarily relieve it via distraction. It will make those who were suffering much less likely to be drawn to right-wing ideologues pushing the scapegating.

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A recent bit from " Conservative Home " in the U.K.

https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2017/08/j-p-floru-how-to-inoculate-your-children-against-socialism.html

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Honda radio commercials feature being "Helpful" to America's struggling middle class.

Over the last year or so, on recent radio stations, Honda Motors has run a whole series of advertisements featuring the "Helpful Honda People", who demonstrate the helpfulness of Honda's personnel and company by assisting struggling people and families with various needs they cannot financially afford to meet. It might be vet care for a cat, or a trip to summer sports camp for a child, or fixing a key item in someone's house. It's nice that the company does this, even though it is for advertisement purposes. But it makes me wonder----How many others are out there, who WON"T be getting help? I always think of America's suffering middle class and working class families when I hear one of these ads. I don't think it would be a bad thing if maybe some other folks did as well. JMO.

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I thought you might want to see this

Book Title: Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist In Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, Kate Raworth of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute reminds us that economic growth was not, at first, intended to signify wellbeing. Simon Kuznets, who standardised the measurement of growth, warned: “The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income.” Economic growth, he pointed out, measured only annual flow, rather than stocks of wealth and their distribution. Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06X9C63SX/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

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Any comment on Roosevelt Institute "What Recovery"

http://rooseveltinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Monetary-Policy-Report.pdf Thanks as always for your dedication and insight, Joe

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I believe capitalism is evolving from employer-employee to employer-contractor

When contractors were specialists and could demand premium rates, it was one thing. Now I see a number of contractors who are seeking contract jobs because they don't have employment. I believe these contractors earn less than they did when they were employed. I would also like to know how many employee jobs have become part-time. It's one thing to have a full-time job paying $15 an hour, which is bad enough, and quite another to have a part-time job paying $15 an hour with an average work week of 20-30 hours.

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Worker Cooperatives and Planned Obsolescence

I am curious if there is any sort of quantifiable difference between the prevalence of planned obsolescence of products in worker cooperatives versus capitalist businesses. It is clear that there is a difference at least between markets and planning if you look at products like long-lasting light bulbs and refrigerators in the centrally-planned economies of places like East Germany. Do you know if there is any literature or studies that have been performed on this topic? Perhaps there is an incentive in worker cooperatives to produce longer-lasting quality products or perhaps an incentive even to make MORE regularly-replaced disposable products? I would assume the answer is probably "no difference", but I would like to know if anyone has ever actually endeavored to investigate this topic.

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