Ask Prof. Wolff

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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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How can local action groups fight established Public Private Partnerships?

I live in Northwest Indiana, and local action groups are working to stop deportations out of our Gary Airport, which has been in a PPP for over a decade. We are also in the Master Plan session, but the process that has been established is structured to have no public input. I have found suggestions on how to prevent a PPP, but what is the best option when trying to dismantle an already established economic development disaster? Even if ending deportations is successful, the airport is still a drain on the working class in the area while wealthy people in NWI and Chicago use it as a private jet parking garage (on tax payers' dime).

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Will comer.org lawsuit in Canada inspire people to take action?

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/03/23/rocco-galati-in-court-to-challenge-how-bank-of-canada-does-business.html https://www.thestar.com/news/2008/05/17/toronto_revolutionary_93_girds_for_one_more_battle.html http://www.comer.org/

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Where is the oversight in higher education expenditure?

Professor Wolff I was wondering if you could address in more detail the funding crisis of public universities, or at least the way the universities spin this crisis. I was a graduate student at the University of Texas, a school with a very handsome endowment, and was shocked at how poor the quality of education and services were for students at all levels. For example, as a student in biomedical research, my lab was stationed in the Dell Pediatric Research Institute, a newer building near the UT campus but on the other side of I-35. A bus that shuttled students from the main campus, where graduate students like myself were to teach and take courses, to the DPRI was cut due to a lack of funds and so-called low ridership. Because the university already cut graduate student parking years ago, there are only a few parking places available in the early morning hours at the main campus. This means for graduate students doing research at the DPRI, leaving to attend classes and/or teach undergraduates on the main campus have no way to get there except by bike, not a fun prospect to cross a major highway in 108 degree heat only to show up drenched in sweat to teach undergraduates. Of course none of this even addresses the tremendous loss of time for a graduate student who is under pressure to produce data to have even the prospect of a career. I find it awfully fishy that there is always money for large-scale construction projects that do not necessarily benefit students while the most basic services that could improve students’ success are completely ignored if not slashed altogether. Where is the oversight in higher education expenditure? That students put up with this is shocking. How is this even legal? Is there any oversight at all on how funds are spent at universities? The students are certainly not benefiting from the way funds are allocated. They aren’t even given the quality lab materials necessary to complete a successful experiment, nor are they given the quality training they need to know how to do a proper experiment. The quality of education is deteriorating in spite of the new shiny buildings, pools, gyms, etc.

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Dear Prof. Wolff:

I live in Brasil. We are facing a huge recession since 2015 and a coup since 2016. There is a plastic artifacts factory in the State of São Paulo, named Flasko, that was occupied by the workers when it got into bankruptcy 12 years ago. This factory was recovered by them and the eletricity bill worth on 1,5 mi. Reais ( almost US $ 500.000) was payed by them. But as the economic situation is very bad they accumulated more debt. In the region much bigger companies are also in debt with the eletricity company, but the only one that had an eletricity cut was Flasko. So they can't work any more. I want to help them and don't know what to do. Do you have any idea? I thought of a loan or a croudfunding to raise the money, but I don't know what to do.I even know people that are being threatned when trying to help. How can they get help?

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Dear Prof. Wolff:

I live in Brasil. We are facing a huge recession since 2015 and a coup since 2016. There is a plastic artifacts factory in the State of São Paulo, named Flasko, that was occupied by the workers when it got into bankruptcy 12 years ago. This factory was recovered by them and the eletricity bill worth on 1,5 mi. Reais ( almost US $ 500.000) was payed by them. But as the economic situation is very bad they accumulated more debt. In the region much bigger companies are also in debt with the eletricity company, but the only one that had an eletricity cut was Flasko. So they can't work any more. I want to help them and don't know what to do. Do you have any idea? I thought of a loan or a croudfunding to raise the money, but I don't know what to do.I even know people that are being threatned when trying to help. How can they get help?

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From the GoFundMe team for the girl who got assaulted in the Berkeley protests

Questions for professor Wolff: 1) Has "western Marxist" theory veered away from traditional class analysis, what has the effect been on the labor movement and might that have had anything to do with its origins working with American intelligence agencies post-ww2? Particularly the Frankfurt School. 2) Would you talk about little bit about the antagonisms between the working classes and the unemployed in their respective points of conflict and how we might bridge them in pursuit of a new labor movement? Also, if our gofundme collective could get a mention on the next economic update, it would be greatly appreciated. https://www.gofundme.com/3nj1iqg Thank you for your time!

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Making the left an organized affair centered around reclamation of the workplace again.

Dear Professor Wolff, I have 2 questions and was hoping you would answer one or the other, if not both (one can only dream). 1) Has "western Marxist" theory veered away from traditional class analysis, what has the effect been on the labor movement and might that have had anything to do with American intelligence agencies post-ww2 anti-soviet activity, or the influence of the Frankfurt school on the western left, as it too veered towards anti-soviet discourse priming over the importance of anti-capitalism? I ask this because of the known and documented ties between founding member fo the Frankfurt school and the upper echelons of the OSS which as you probably know, got the name change and charter to become the CIA in 1947- 2) Would you talk about little bit about the antagonisms between the working classes and the unemployed in their respective points of conflict and how we might bridge them in pursuit of a new labor movement? Sincerely, Josquin Dejean from Class Action Praxis, the collective behind the currently running "Anti-Trump Girl Takes Punch For Labor" GoFundMe campaign. https://www.facebook.com/ClassActionPraxis/ https://www.gofundme.com/3nj1iqg http://www.socialmatter.net/2016/08/25/frankfurt-school-not-cause-progressivism/ https://nithgrim.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/marcuse-and-the-deep-state/

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Comparing universal income with part-time work?

No matter what solution we chose, I cannot see any way to escape the fact that the population growth and automation will eventually produce a situation where there's simply not enough jobs for everyone who want to work. And then what? If we move everyone to universal income, what influence would it have on production of goods and the circulation of money? In other words, if a large part of the population doesn't work, where will the money come from? If we move everyone to part-time work, how would we earn enough to maintain our current lifestyle? After all, we cannot expect employers to pay full wages for part-time work. Wouldn't we require some sort of government support anyway then, just to survive?

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H.R. 1918: Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) reintroduced earlier this month

I wrote this when it was first introduced: The NICA Act, or the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act, is aimed at improving the election process in Nicaragua. It was first introduced to the US House of Representatives in 2016, but was unable to stay relevant because of the 2016 election. This week, it has been reintroduced.

Nicaragua recently elected president Daniel Ortega of the FSLN. There were no foreign observers allowed, and right-wing liberal opposition parties have claimed that Ortega would be president regardless of what people voted for—that the election was rigged by and for the FSLN.

As a result, the United States has threatened to revoke all future investments to the Nicaraguan Government until they have what the US government will consider "free, fair, and transparent" elections. These investments would be, unless revoked, going towards Nicaragua's subsidized food and transit for low wage workers, free education, free health care, and other incredibly important pieces of Nicaraguan leftist programs.

Every single political party in Nicaragua, the OAS, global trade unions, and ALBA have voiced their opposition to this. This includes the political parties who were complaining about election rigging in the first place. The Sandinistas, the other socialist parties, the Nicaraguan Opposition Union (coalition of mostly right-wing and fascist parties, but also Nicaragua's Marxist-Leninist party) have all opposed it.

This will only negatively impact the Nicaraguan proletariat. And in the words of the OAS representative for Nicaragua, "impoverishing a country will not bring democracy."

Here are some resources for it:

There are some other news sources talking about it, but they are all in Spanish, and I'm not sure you speak/read Spanish.

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Dear Prof. Wolff:

Dear Prof. Wolff: I’ve been a KPFK volunteer (and sometime radio personality) for some forty years, and am anxious to meet you this evening in Los Angeles. I’d appreciate your touching on these (related) issues, during your talk: 1. How, in modern history, American currency has been based on debt (such as banking “acceptances”), rather than on actual assets. 2. How, the banks and the “Fed” create money “out of thin air,” an odd, and arguably dramatically inflationary, practice (sometimes amounting to $ Billions or even Trillions). 3. How “Founder,” Alexander Hamilton may—in financial terms--not have been a friend of the new United States of American, and how his policies were strongly opposed by figures like Jefferson and Jackson. 4. How England’s prohibition of the American colonies issuing its own paper currency may have been a more important issue that “taxation w/o representation.” 5. How, the quasi-governmental entity, Federal Reserve Board, may have played a very egregious—even dangerous—role through American history, including connections with international bankers, and how the American public is forced to pay interest on any currency which is issued by that body. Cordially, DrTCH

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Could you expand on US labor movement by talking about the IWW?

Hello Professor Wolff, I am subscriber to the democracy at work YouTube channel. Her I've been washing enthusiastically every week for the past about six months. I was Saul the most recent video with your colleague who is talking about US labor movement history. He mentioned specifically The CIO and the Teamsters. And then you summarized by saying that generally the strategies of the labor movement in the US have failed over the past half century. ( Full disclosure I am a member of the IWW here in the triangle--Raleigh/Durham-- of North Carolina) and then you called for new strategies and more radical and militant labor movement. What would fit nicely to expand on this is to talk about the history of the IWW and some of us wins for example like the eight hour workday and the fact that it was the first all inclusive union to include people of all races in the US. Our local branch has grown very rapidly and suddenly over the past year and especially within the past six months. And when talking to people from other branches the sense that we get is that that phenomenon is countrywide at least . So in summary my ask of you is just basically a brief mention of the IWW history and our state in mission him as the one big union, a union for all workers, that believes in organizing industrially. And then just someway to say basically that we're back and we're growing. In solidarity, Grant Frisbee From Durham, NC

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Created by ex-Microsoft CEO Ballmer, can you draw real conclusions from this data?

Mr Ballmer has spent millions to make it easier to understand US government spending with his personal project USAfacts.org. But all this data is government data, some (or all) of which come with their own restrictions (i.e. unemployed people that are counted as unemployed are those actively looking for work - and don't include those who've given up searching.) Keeping that in mind, what are your thoughts on the objective usefulness of this system and the conclusions you can draw from it? Of course it isn't presenting the whole story, but from what it does present, how best can it be used if at all? https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-07/steve-ballmer-s-plan-to-make-america-great-involves-excel-spreadsheets

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Old economics vs New economics - new book looks very important

"Doughnut Economics" by Kate Raworth, Sr. Research Associate, Oxford University; She addresses the same issues as Dr. Wolff, has a very refreshing, interesting approach. Here is a link to an excellent interview: https://youtu.be/l4FOTzG8nM4 This article from The Guardian gives a good synopsis: Old economics is based on false ‘laws of physics’ – new economics can save us https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/apr/06/kate-raworth-doughnut-economics-new-economics?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Copy_to_clipboard

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Outcompete Capitalism

Dear prof Wolff, in one of your recent videos you raised the question if coops can compete with capitalist enterprises and you said they can. I would go even further here: they must! As long as cooperatives are founded only for the purpose of sustaining oneself or your own local community, nothing will fundamentally change. Capitalism can only be truly beaten, if we outcompete it. We have to win the game for which they have written the rules. Only then, capitalists will have to admit that capitalism is pointless. Although this is hard and requires a lot of know how and strategy, I think we don't deserve socialism if we can't do this.

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Captioning a must!!!

There are 40 million deaf and hearing impaired people in the US. Many millions more world wide. Please Mr. Wolff, add captioning to your TV broadcasts so we too can follow your programs.

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