Tag: Richard Wolff

Aug 15

Controlling Capitalism

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In an interview with economist Richard Wolff, Bill Moyers discusses discuss the fight for economic justice, including a fair minimum wage and how to tame capitalism run wild.

“We have this disparity getting wider and wider between those for whom capitalism continues to deliver the goods by all means, [and] a growing majority in this society facing harder and harder times,” Wolff tells Bill. “And that’s what provokes some of us to say it’s a systemic problem.”



The transcript can be read here

Mar 28

Curing Capitalism

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Economist Richard Wolff discusses how austerity is making economic problems worse and the cure for these economic woes.

Capitalism in Crisis: Richard Wolff Urges End to Austerity, New Jobs Program, Democratizing Work

As Washington lawmakers pushes new austerity measures, economist Richard Wolff calls for a radical restructuring of the U.S. economic and financial systems. We talk about the $85 billion budget cuts as part of the sequester, banks too big to fail, Congress’ failure to learn the lessons of the 2008 economic collapse, and his new book, “Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism.” Wolff also gives Fox News host Bill O’Reilly a lesson in economics 101.



Full transcript here

   AMY GOODMAN: Professor Wolff, before we end, I want to turn back to the crisis in Cyprus and relate it to what’s happening here. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News warned his audience last week that Cyprus and other European countries are facing economic hardships because they’re so-called “nanny states.”

       BILL O’REILLY: Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, now Cyprus, all broke. And other European nations are close. Why? Because they’re nanny states, and there are not enough workers to support all the entitlements these progressive paradises are handing out.

   AMY GOODMAN: That’s Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Richard?

   RICHARD WOLFF: You know, he gets away with saying things which no undergraduate in the United States with a responsible economic professor could ever get away with. If you want to refer to things as nanny states, then the place you go in Europe is not the southern tier-Portugal, Spain and Italy; the place you go are Germany and Scandinavia, because they provide more social services to their people than anybody else. And guess what: Not only are they not in trouble economically, they are the winners of the current situation. The unemployment rate in Germany is now below 5 percent. Ours is pushing between 7 and 8 percent. So, please, get your facts right, Mr. O’Reilly.

   The nanny state, you call it, the program of countries like Germany and Scandinavia, who tax their people heavily, by all means, but who provide them with social services that would be the envy of the United States-a national health program that takes care of you, whether you’re employed or not, and gives you proper healthcare. In France, for example, the law says when you go to work, you get five weeks’ paid vacation. That’s not an option; that’s the law. You get support when you’re a new parent for your child care and so forth. They provide services. And they are successful in Germany and Scandinavia, much more than we are in the United States and much more than those countries in the south.

   So they’re not broken, the south, because they’re nanny states, since the nanny states, par excellence, are doing better than everyone. The actual truth of Mr. O’Reilly is the opposite of what he says. The more you do nanny state, the better off you are during a crisis and to minimize the cost of the crisis. That’s what the European economic situation actually teaches. He’s just making it up as he goes along to conform to an ideological position that is harder and harder for folks like him to sustain, so he has to reach further and further into fantasy.

H/t Heather at Crooks and Liars

Capitalism efficient? We can do so much better

by Richard Wolff, The Guardian

For all its vaunted efficiency, capitalism has foisted wasteful inequality and environmental ruin on us. There is an alternative

What’s efficiency got to do with capitalism? The short answer is little or nothing. Economic and social collapses in Detroit, Cleveland and many other US cities did not happen because production was inefficient there. Efficiency problems did not cause the longer-term economic declines troubling the US and western Europe.

Capitalist corporations decided to relocate production: first, away from such cities, and now, away from those regions. It has done so to serve the priorities of their major shareholders and boards of directors. Higher profits, business growth, and market share drive those decisions. As I say, efficiency has little or nothing to do with it.

Many goods and services once made in the US and western Europe for those markets are now produced elsewhere and transported back to them. That wastes resources spent on the costly relocation and consequent return transportation. The pollution (of air, sea and soil) associated with vast transportation networks – and the eventual cleaning up of that pollution – only enlarges that waste.

Feb 27

The Failure of Capitalism: The Rich Get Richer

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Richard Wolff joined Bill Moyers for a look behind the disaster left in capitalism’s wake and a discussion of economic justice and a fair minimum wage:

“We have this disparity getting wider and wider between those for whom capitalism continues to deliver the goods by all means, [and] a growing majority in this society facing harder and harder times,” Wolff tells Bill. “And that’s what provokes some of us to begin to say it’s a systemic problem.”

A caveat from Yves Smith at naked capitalism:

Wolff pooh poohs financial regulation, peculiarly dismissing the fact that it worked well for two generations. And what broke it was not bank lobbying but the high and volatile interest rates of the 1970s, which resulted from imperial overreach (Johnson refusing to raise taxes when the economy was already at full employment; he deficit financed the combo plate of the space race, the war in Vietnam, and the war on poverty. And Vietnam was the reason for not raising taxes; the war was already unpopular, and a tax increase would have made it more so). At one point, Moyers brings up oligopolies as another driver of increased concentration of wealth, and Wolff misses the opportunity to take up the idea (the failure to enforce anti-trust regulations is a not-sufficienlty well recognized contributor to rising income inequality).

Minimum wage hike would benefit millions

Moyers opened the segment by saying that even if the country increases the minimum wage to the $9 per hour proposed by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union speech, workers will still be worse off than their counterparts were fifty years ago.

Wolff agreed, “The peak for the minimum wage in terms of its purchasing power,” he said, “was 1968. It’s basically been declining, with a couple of ups and downs, ever since.”

“So, you’ve taken the people who work at the bottom, full time job,” he continued, “and you’ve made their economic condition worse over a 50 year period while wealth has accumulated at the top. What kind of a society does this?”

“Who decided that workers at the bottom should fall behind?” Moyers asked.

“Well, in the end,” said Wolff, “it’s the society as a whole that tolerates it. But, it’s Congress’ decision and Congress’ power to raise the minimum wage.”

Oct 30

Austerity Fatigue: “Are we Equipped To Have The Debate That Will Follow The Elections?”

Laura Flanders of GRITtv talks with political economist Professsor Richard Wolff about economic collapse, austerity programs, and the recent and growing anger and popular uprisings and street actions in Europe that we may soon be seeing spreading to North America:

“It’s a bizarre idea to fix a global capitalist crisis by breaking a long-term promise,” notes Richard Wolff, economist and author of Capitalism Hits the Fan of the “austerity” measures rocking Europe’s social democracies at the moment. Governments across Europe are implementing drastic cuts to social safety nets, raising retirement ages, all in the name of fiscal responsibility, and people have taken to the streets–in France, between 1.3 and 2.9 million people have come out in protest, a percentage that Wolff notes would be equivalent to between 6.5 and 14.4 million [in the U.S.].

So what’s going on in Europe, and what are the lessons we can learn from the European left? Wolff joins us along with Inez McCormack, Chair of the Participation and the Practice of Rights Project in Ireland, to talk us through the crisis, the lessons, and the ongoing struggle.



Austerity Fatigue and Action in Europe – GRITtv – October 29, 2010

Oct 06

People Power: European Activism & Constitutional Crises

All across Europe recently there have been wave after wave of co-ordinated general strikes and massive demonstrations showing a solidarity and a unity across unions representing different kinds of workers in different countries, different levels of skill, against austerity proposals by governments, that put to shame the levels of public street activism in the US and Canada.

Fresh off a summer lecturing in Greece and France, economist, author, and Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Richard D. Wolff, well-known for his work on Marxian economics, economic methodology and class analysis, Yale University Ph.D. in Economics, and Professor at The New School University in New York City, gives his analysis on the massive European mobilizations and strikes. He also compares the US movement to the European one, and find the European workers to be much more advanced in their struggle.

This extraordinary unity is all built around a central demand which can be conveyed by their chief slogan: we are the working people who produce the profits, the goods, and the service of the capitalist economy; we are not going to pay for its crisis. And that’s really the central demand, that if the banks and the corporations and the speculations produced a crisis that working people had no role in-and I want to remind viewers that in Europe they didn’t even have the mortgage kind of crisis in European countries that we had here; it was a crisis of the banking sector, the financial, large corporations, and so on-the demand of the people is, we are not going to be made to pay. You’re not going to solve this economic crisis by having the government borrow money, throw the money at the banks and the big corporations, bail them out, and then make the mass of people pay by cutting government payrolls, by cutting government services, all those things called austerity.



Real News Network – October 05, 2010

European Workers Distance from US Through Action

Richard Wolff: European workers say they won’t pay for crisis while US counterparts talk of ‘One Nation

(transcript below)

Jul 31

U.S. Health Care: Mobilize Or Accept The Status Quo

Crossposted from Antemedius

Economist, Author, and Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Richard D. Wolff, well-known for his work on Marxian economics, economic methodology and class analysis, Yale University Ph.D. in Economics, and Professor at The New School University in New York City, talks with Real News CEO Paul Jay about the current health care debate and the challenges or barriers standing in the way of a national U.S. single payer plan.

Wolff suggests keeping in mind some basic facts – the U.S. spends far more for far less health care “product” than any other advanced country in the world, and suggests a return to the the old American prideful mindset of “if we’re not producing the best quality at the lowest price we should go and find out who’s doing that and replicate their experience“, and points out that the number one thing standing in the way of doing this is the lack of will to challenge the status quo and to do what everyone already knows needs to be done: spend less to get more.

In other words, Wolff opines, Obama must “mobilize or accept the status quo” and “make his party vote for real health care reform“, instead of making the lame this is the best we can get excuses that may very well destroy his presidency along with screwing millions of Americans out of proper health care.

May 03

Auto Industry: Too Big To Fail, Too Big To Be Privately Owned

Richard Wolff, American Economist well-known for his work on Marxian economics, economic methodology and class analysis, Yale University Ph.D. in Economics, and Professor at The New School University in New York City, talks with Real News CEO Paul Jay about the reform needed to pull the United States out of economic crisis.

“If we say something is too important to let it die, too big to fail, then we’re saying it’s so important to the society as a whole, but if it’s that important, it can’t be in the hands of a few people in the first place. If you’re too big to fail, your too big to be in private hands.” He goes on to suggest that if there is chaos in the US economy, the rest of the world will have chaos as well. “We have an unknown situation, the outcome of which could be very bad, we actually have a vision of that already, Mexico, it’s a society in free fall.”



Real News Network – May 2, 2009

Too big to fail, too big to be privately owned

Auto industry affects the whole society, it’s too significant for private ownership