Your Turn: Got a Question for Richard Wolff?

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Richard Wolff on jobs and the minimum wage
On this week’s broadcast, Bill invites economist Richard Wolff to return to Moyers & Company on a future program to answer your questions about the American dream, capitalism and what an alternative economic system might look like.

What would you like to know? Share your thoughts in the comments section. We’ll ask Richard Wolff to weigh in.

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  • JonThomas

    The tax system can no longer be ‘citizen based.’ The laws that create policy, establish regulations, and provide an atmosphere for daily living, are molded for, and written by business interests.

    Taxes now need to be derived solely from corporate and business sources. If it comes from citizens, it needs to be a percentage of “profit,” not income. Income, for the vast majority in our society, is a necessity.

    Infrastructure today serves business interests more than it does citizens. A passenger car causes little wear and tear to roads and bridges, Trucks on the other hand, do cause damage.

    Land that provides homes and food should be tax free. Most of the garbage, pollution, and services which rely on taxes(even the politicians wages) are created by, and through this business atmosphere. Do you throw out any garbage that you actually produce at home? It’s all products of business.

    We tossed off the rule of the King, now it’s time to toss off the rule off all Lords, including land lords. A person should have a staked piece of land. For the sake of brevity, I’ll stop, but if we do not make vast changes in the way we structure our society, make it citizen based, equal in having a say…regardless of income or monetary influence… we soon will become serfs once again.

    The idea of “jobs,” only propels us toward serfdom. It enriches business and investment, yet further strips power(both personal, and societal power) from the those who become servants of those who do retain/gain power.

    We as a society, need to recapture control over our lives. We need to stop lending our power to those who don’t feel we deserve a living wage. We sleep 1/3 of our lives(8 hours.) We are being asked to work at least 1/3 of our lives(8 hours.) The last 1/3 of our lives is spent taking care of the things we need to live.

    We have regulated ‘enjoyment’ of our lives to weekends, the hour before bed, and a week or 2 per year on vacations. The rest of the time, our lives are spent serving business in one way or another. This is unacceptable.

    I’m not saying business should be outlawed. I’m not saying these conditions were purposefully established or constructed. I am saying that the lesson we need to learn from the recession, bailouts, and unaccountability for business actions which threw millions into financial instability, is that if we do not begin to regain power, we will soon find ourselves and our children in a completely powerless position, worse than where we are now. The paradigm must change!

  • Paul Littleq

    Dear Dr. Wolff: I am a big fan of John Maynard Keynes and I hope you are, also! One of his most famous comments that appeared in an investment book I read some years ago is this, “There is not a greater folly than a rational investment policy in an irrational world.”
    I bring this around because as you had talked with Mr. Moyers you talked about the belief in the “market.” that everyone fervently believes in; even those who are being disenfranchised by the, “market.”
    How does one get people out of their “mass hypnosis” that perhaps is generated by the Cable News Networks such as HGTV, Fox and CNN and back to a collective reality that the system is not working and that the “rational thought” produced by the so called experts on these programs is actually irrational.
    As a corollary, Mr. Moyers had a program on PBS some many years ago entitled, “The Power of Myth.” I say this also to Mr. Moyers, to bring forth the historical record that he showed in that series as to how peoples whether they be us, the Aztecs or the British have believed so much in myth concerning the economic system that it eventually crashed!
    Paul Little

  • Ernest J.P. Muhly

    Argentina, Iceland and in similar approaches Bolivia and Ecuador and other Southern hemisphere countries have shown quite well what not playing by the neo-liberal globalization rules can accomplish. Now the people of Greece and Spain are beginning to show what rejection of austerity might look like, before it turns totally violent.

    What will it take for the in denial corporations and governments to accept that neo-liberal capitalism and globalization is an ecocidal and genocidal war they can not win, and then begin to turn things around?

  • Beacon

    It seems to me that creating economic equality requires undermining and then rebuilding the foundation of societies as we know them. If you are talking systemic, the root of our capitalism is in rendering all things into commodities to be exploited. Will you please comment on how 5000+ years of civilization has been built by the advent of the elite in human society and how we must rethink our processes of manufacturing and harnessing goods in a hierarchal manner?

  • Marshall McComb

    It’s not the basic economic system that’s changed over the past 35 years, except for the phenomena of off-shoring jobs and computer automation which have markedly increased “productivity” by reducing the number of jobs needed. It’s the political system – particularly taxation and regulation – that has fallen prey to wealth and right-wing ideology.

    But if we fixed it before under FDR, we can do it again, and we will. Sharply higher taxation of the wealthy will give us the ability to re-re-distribute the wealth that belonged to the middle class in the ‘50s and ‘60s before it was transferred to the top one percent. Three conditions appear necessary: international agreements to prevent movement of wealth to avoid taxes, reducing the advantage of money in political campaigns, and recognizing that additional tax subsidies or other mechanisms will likely be needed to counter the diminishing number of jobs needed in an age of increasing computer automation and robotics.

  • Cindy

    One point Richard Wolff made tonight was the debt we owe to the federal government in the form of financial aid. As a whole we owe over a trillion dollars in student aid. I made the mistake of finishing my college education later in life. I now have been out of school for four years with no hope of finding a job. It does not however stop the hounding from my lender. There are millions of us in this boat and maybe we need to band together and sue the federal government for their terrible judgement which put us in this situation.

  • Graciela de la Rosa

    This video conference is outstanding. He is not only a brilliant man but also a man with common sense and honesty. Thanks very much, this video put up the spirit of all the ones that share the point of view that the system is not working, that is, capitalism. I live in a border city between the United States and Mexico, this has been a place where corporations have come, taking jobs from the US, looking for cheap labor. They certainly find them, because this country has 64 millions of poor people.

  • MaRio Verde

    I second:

    the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their
    first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and the corporations
    which grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until
    their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers
    conquered.” Thomas Jefferson

  • Anonymous

    Bill Moyers discusses the inequalities in America from the standpoint of someone who has made it in this warped democratic America. Bill voices great empathy, real sincerity, yet the missing element is how he values himself as being worth so much more than the least among us. Bill and his well placed kids, pull in a few grand a year, right? Bill in his well fitting clothes, coiffed hair and enthusing his niche marketing persona: I feel for the unfairly treated. Bill is like the priest at confession. He hears the evil that is being done, but it is all those other people who are doing the evil. The idea that the birth advantage has value persists because we enforce it BILL. Therein lies the crux of the problem. A kid who works though college for 3 years of festive labor, is valued more than the wastrel guy collecting the trash at 4am every day, because of what? He had crap parents, crap peers, crap role models. Someone somewhere decided that one minute of the trash collectors life was worth less. Why? The people who have the job they want and enjoy most, get paid more….what’s wrong with that notion? Someone decided that lawyers have value: successful reporters have value, even if they only interview other reporters; money managers have value: the people who make nothing have more value than farmers. One day without electricity makes people consider their value: a week without electricity makes people evaluate their value: a year without electricity makes people realize their worth.

  • gail topping

    Mr. Wolff, do you have guidance for any individual to begin to move toward change. What do you suggest a retired person do, a teen, a two salaried household, a single parent, a

    young 20 year old. What? Which power system should I target? What steps toward releasing my outrage makes sense now? Can be effective now?

  • Craig

    What would happen if banks stopped giving out consumer credit and people could only spend what they have in their pockets? What would happen if consumers began to boycott the market by pooling resources and living with less “stuff”? Why doesn’t the government eliminate fed income tax and go to a flat sales tax so everyone who participates in the market pays the same amount in tax?

  • Martyn strong

    Is it time to end work. Have one group of people that partake of entertanement and another group that does research and produces entertainment. We need a system that provedes a base income to all and collects a tax that will pay the base income. How is this to be done?

  • mike beard

    here are a couple of questions for richard wolff. 1 you mentioned social security when it started gave a check to people until they died. what percent pf the population lived to collect social security when it started and how many now do. 2 What percent of social security payments now go to people before they reach 62? (SSDI) 3 Unions at one time made things here in america. Now I can buy a better car made by a japanese company built here in america at a better price in a non union plant,What is wrong with that? 4 You said that regulations that the goverment created that over the years corporation found a way to go around these regulation. Science and technology advance making old regulation obsolete. Should the goverment stop technology so regulation don’t have to change? Now to add a comment I’m watching your show and I’m wondering Why dosen’t Bill ask these obvious questions and many more and he Just sits there and smiles and agrees with the quest where are the tough and obvious questions that should be asked

  • Craig

    Mr. Wolff: Some people think privatizing education is a good Idea; I disagree. I think privatizing education would be a giant leap backwards in society to a time when only the wealthy had access to education. What do you think Mr Wolff?

  • Greg Iverson

    How can we avoid armed violence once the armed middle class loses
    hope? Who will they shoot and who will oppose them? If they threaten the power
    brokers they will simply migrate to safety. Leaving the rest of us and a likely enhanced police state created in anticipation of armed violence to deal with the problem.

  • Anonymous

    It seems to me that we have more problems than the failure of democracy and capitalism run wild. 1. Global corporations have weakened national governments by playing one nation against another for jobs…. If you want jobs, then you eliminate taxes, eliminate regulations, give us all we want, then maybe we’ll give you low wage jobs for your people. If you don’t do this, we’ll go elsewhere. 2. Automation is increasingly eliminating the need for human workers. Human workers are seen as an expense, while new technology that replaces human workers is seen as an investment. 3. Technology is changing so rapidly that human beings can’t keep up. Employers are not interested in giving workers time to keep up. Instead, they’ll get new technology and the new employees to go with it… and eliminate the employees that have fallen behind… leaving it up to them to re-educate themselves. Will a career become increasingly shorter, to be interrupted every 5 years or so to return to school for a year or more at person’s own expense? Is this a viable way to have a secure livelihood? A way to have a home and family? Will a person have to constantly move to chase jobs that may or may not be there? 4. All of the above is reliant on safe, rapid, cheap transportation of goods and people… secure exchange of digital information… and a cheap, reliable source of energy (one would hope clean energy). All of this means that it is an extremely fragile system – vulnerable to real sea-going piracy or informational piracy…. vulnerable to cyberwarfare – vulnerable to energy costs and energy shortages – and, of course, potentially greatly affected by climate change – droughts – famines – sea level changes – opening of new sea lanes. I’d love to hear any or all of the above addressed.

  • Rusty Knutz

    In 1776 the dominance of banks was an escapable situation, it’s a completely different story now, their dominance is worldwide and stronger than ever. The banks have had five hundred years or more to gain their power, I see no reasonable way of changing this situation, they are too well established and nothing whatsoever can force them to relinquish their grip. You can Tea Party against the democrats all you want, you can protest Wall Street till the day you die, none of this will change a damn thing concerning improving the situation, efforts such as this only serve to create choices such as the following: would you rather have your left hand chopped off or your right hand. We’re doomed.

  • Dzaik

    My question for Richard Wolf is this: Now that Citizens United (and possibly also the Shaun McCutcheon case about to be in front of the Supreme Court, I believe) are making it increasingly difficult to put the facts in front of the American people, how can you be confident that the message regarding the failure of our brand of capitalism will be heard by “the masses?”

  • Caroline Larson

    1)A few years back there was a movement of corporate social responsibility that seemed to have some acceptance in corporate America, much of the emphasis was in other countries and less in the U S. There were books written and lectures along with higher education teaching corporate social responsibility. There were CEOs and some corporate boards that embraced social justice. What has happened? 2) I find it ironic that many of the teaparty folks state they don’t want big government and government intervention but some of this people have 2 retirement payments from the government that they are entitled to, social security and government/military and when a disaster happens want FEMA to be available immediately. 3) How does the common good and social justice fit in to economic development and decision making by CEOs and corporate boards? It seems the current capitalism has no room for these. 4) OK, let us turn things upside down by forming an assessment on the one per cent rich or those companies not paying income taxes whic would be designated for basic needs of those not earning a minimum wage. 5) Will the special interests that are financing election and actions of the legislators take down capitalism or the democracy as we know it?

  • Russell Spears

    I dearly respect Richard Wolff’s work on our economy, but his view that a Free Online University will only sully and cheapen the educational system, is contradictory to his own experience and his own work: You see after investing a lot of money in elite schools he had egregious omissions in his own education. Moreover, his own videos and online interviews are truly educating people on the real effects of our economy on all of our lives.

    While many universities have built distance learning programs for profit at a cost of 40 to 80 million, our government could divert 100 million from the 940 billion we currently spend on brick and mortar schools to build a Free Online University-the affects can be revolutionary!

    So with this in mind, I would like to directly ask Mr Wolff if he would consider well the effects a Free Online University would have for the plight of the working poor. And I would beg your audience to imagine waking up one day with the potential to begin any intellectual journey they wish to follow and know that at any time in their lives they have access to the jobs of the future.

    If our working poor are going to have a chance to participate in the new economy, they need more than the financial access to brick and mortar schools, they need the time to learn at their own pace and truly engage the complex ideas that compose every subject of interests. The working poor are already motivated to learn and willing to take responsibility for their own education and engage learning materials-no matter the unique challenge this might mean for them. Rather than suffer the financial burdens, time constraints and pedagogical Hubris of the Educational Monopoly, I offer Mr Wolfs own experience as fact that learning to ask questions and follow your own questioning is the only way to learn-a process that distance learning encourages and the traditional schools discourage.

  • Betty

    Mr Wolff commented that prosecuting those in the banking system (Wall St) was not a good option because the system needed to be changed first. I do not completely agree with this opinion. Yes, the system needs to be changed BUT, I do think there are those who committed crimes who should be prosecuted. There was fraud with the LIBOR rate at USB that has gone unpunished as well as money laundering with drug money by HSBC. The “fines” they paid amounted to a slap on the wrist. How can you excuse this? To quote Matt Taibbi, this creates a two tiered justice system. There are those that must be prosecuted. How can you excuse their wrong doing??? Prosecute them AND change the system. And while we’re changing the system, let’s change the “prison industrial complex” !

  • gininitaly

    The psychological benefits would be heartening to say the least.

  • Ed Adams

    What is the role of big money’s influence on elections in degrading our political and economic system? Is it a significant factor? How can it be curbed?

  • Steven Luther Gilkey

    Let me first say “thank you” for this show! “Thank you!”

    Here are some questions for Professor Wolff.

    1.) My first questions concern the effects of raising the minimum wage on
    inflation. I’ve lived long enough to see a few increases in the minimum
    wage in the past; and each increase seemed to be followed by a gradual,
    commensurate increase in the cost of basic necessities (i.e. food,
    gasoline, etc.). Within about three months, the cost of these basics was
    so much higher that the benefit of the minimum wage increase was
    essentially wiped out.


    What would you suggest as a way to counter this inflation in the cost of basics?

    What do you think of adding a C.O.L.A. (Cost Of Living Adjustment) rule to
    minimum wage law, similar to the C.O.L.A. of Social Security, thereby
    giving automatic minimum wage increases each year?

    2.) In a related vein, my next question concerns those whose wages are slightly
    above a future minimum wage. For example: if the minimum wage is raised
    in the future to $9 per hour, then this question concerns those who are
    CURRENTLY (pre-increase) paid, say, $10 per hour.

    With a present minimum wage of $7.50 per hour, it typically takes several months to a
    couple of years of work and dedication for a worker to get enough pay
    raises to reach $10 per hour. Through hard effort, the worker has earned
    a buying power 1/3 greater than that of new employees.

    However, if the minimum wage is suddenly increased from $7.50 per hour to $9 per
    hour, then the worker has struggled for many months to reach the $10 per
    hour level will have his or her buying power effectively cut from 1/3
    greater that that of new employees to only 1/9 greater. As mentioned
    above, prices for the basics of life will soon rise in response to the
    increased minimum wage.

    IN EFFECT, the $10 per hour worker will be PENALIZED by a minimum wage increase, since even though the NOMINAL pay of the worker may not change, the BUYING POWER of that worker will be very significantly reduced. The hard efforts of the worker to attain a higher rate of pay will be seriously undermined.


    What would you suggest as a counter to this penalty?

    Do you think ALL wages (or perhaps all wages below a threshold) should be
    increased by some percentage when the minimum wage is increased?

    3.) Professor Wolff, you spoke about the rising anger in America as people
    come to the realization that they have been deceived with regards to the
    attainability of the “American Dream”. I am curious to know your
    personal thoughts on how this anger might be related to the current gun
    law issues in this country.

    In particular, many people are reminding others of the Second Amendment’s
    historical role as a safeguard against “tyrannical” government.


    In your opinion, to what extent are people who are acting in a strongly
    “pro-gun” fashion doing so because of disillusionment over the presently
    defunct “American Dream”?

    4.) Much of the American government (although certainly not all of it) has become decidedly “anti-gun”. Obviously, there has been a great deal of recent discussion of various gun bans, especially since the tragic shooting in Newtown; and even some
    serious consideration of gun confiscation.

    However, even before the events at Newtown, the government (particularly the
    federal government) had begun purchasing ENORMOUS quantities of
    weaponry, PARTICULARLY gun ammunition (in the BILLIONS of rounds). The
    purchases have been so large that gun shops across the nation have
    resorted to rationing of the very limited ammunition that they are

    As a result, even in this time of intense buying of firearms by civilians, many people find that they are unable to purchase ammunition for the weapons.


    Given that you, and many others, foresee a coming upwelling of tremendous
    anger in America over the failure of the “American Dream”, do you think
    that the American government has also foreseen this, and perhaps
    identified it as a potential threat?

    If so, do you think it is possible that the government’s ammunition and weapons
    purchases are in anticipation of such a potential threat?

    I hope these questions will meet with your approval, Professor Wolff: I would truly like to know your answers, and I think many other people would be interested as well.

    Once again, thank you for the show this time!

  • GautamFoster

    First I’d like to say thank you Bill and Richard Wolff for the courage to start such a conversation in an environment that is so hostile to criticism to capitalism. Here is my question:

    Is Mr. Wolff familiar with the Progressive Utilisation Theory proposed by P.R. Sarkar? ( ) Could he please comment on the concepts of cooperative enterprise as an alternative to traditional buisiness models and the transition to local control of economic power? How can we take action to move society in this direction (or any alternative direcitno) in a capitalist system that is so entrenched and unhearing of proposals for improvment?

    Thanks again for all the fantastic work, Bill! I’m a big fan and watch every week online (I live in germany and can only view this way). Liebe Grüße!!

  • Peggy McDow

    What can the American people do to help themselves because the rich having all the influence with congress, The congress does not care what the people want, they only care about staying in office. They have health care, a large pension and do very little work. It must be an easy job because they try to stay there for life.

  • Beth Waterhouse

    Ques for Richard Wolff: Another major factor in all discussions on economy should be the Earth– basic limits of this planet re clean air and water, oil, etc. Please weave this in to your next discussion. Economics is only as true as the resources we have and can use.

  • Phillip Lundberg

    What about the “third way” – not capitalism and not socialism but a “Three-fold Social Order” where the 3 realms are Kept Separate >> Namely:

    Realm of Freedom – Culture, Education, Art, etc

    Realm of Brotherhood – ECONOMICS – !!

    Realm of Equality – Politics – 1 man/woman, 1 vote;

    There is extensive literature about this movement in Germany during the late 20’s but

    people don’t seem intelligent enough to understand that these principles CAN be made

    to work although it would take a great deal of effort. THE PRINCIPLES ARE WHAT HAVE TO COME FIRST – base our society around the right principles and you will get the right society!

  • Mallory

    Follow the Money: PONZI DEMOGRAPHICS? – Our question for Richard Wolff involves the dependence of international corporatism (and Wall Street financial sectors, for example) on unending population growth as fuel for what amounts to a demographic Ponzi scheme. (An article commenting on this by Joseph Chamie, former Director of the U.N. population division, is accessible at

    The business plans of too many sectors of unfettered capitalist economies depend almost entirely on non-stop and unending infusions of population growth. If world population were to somehow magically stabilize later today, their business bubble would burst. Do they anguish over reduced fertility and slowing population growth because they love people? Or is it because Ponzi demography is the number one fuel that they depend upon to enrich themselves even further?

    For transnational corporatism, worldwide population growth is at the heart of a business model designed to deliver private profits that requires and is dependent upon endless population growth that they need in order to generate more consumers, more consumption, more roads, and more subdivisions, more power plants, more condominiums, more hydroelectric projects, more logging, more oil, more consumption, more shopping centers, more automobiles, more bank loans, more credit cards in circulation, more millions upon millions of daily stock trades and ATM transactions (which means millions more daily transaction fees), more borrowing, more lending, more interest charges, more trade, more shipping, and more investment portfolios, Thus, “follow the money.” (Can you say “Ponzi scheme?”)

    With world population on a trajectory toward 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, or 15.8 billion by the end of this century, perhaps it is time for anyone who wants to save the planet AND bring corporate greed to its knees to deprive the psychopathically-greedy corporate and financial elites of the runaway population growth that fuels their power and their addiction.

  • Luis

    I was very pleased with Richard Wolff’s interview. Perhaps one missing item in his analysis is the way the US has been able to “acquire” (through military, or political means) resources/wealth from other countries, particularly in Latin America. It is arguable that the rise of “American” capitalism had a underlying support system a.k.a. Imperialism. I cannot imagine the rise of the US without the lands taken from Mexico, the control over the Caribbean and Central America, and so on. In other words, the rise of the Robber Barons had a lot to do to with the imperial rise of the US. Thus following Prof. Wolff’s own dictum, you cannot solve a problem if you don’t recognize it. Could it be that as the US imperial controls decline, its economic elites are joining other elites across the globe, and no longer should be considered American?

  • JB

    Richard Wolff and his HALF TRUTHS has a hidden agenda – i.e., to DESTROY SOCIAL SECURITY. He says.. ‘payroll’ – social-security – tax went up a whopping blah, blah, blah from 4.2 to 6.2 percent – but he DOESN’T tell you that it went ‘BACK’ TO WHERE IT WAS after being reduced in 2011 from 6.2 to 4.2% ( ) a quantity that has kept this nationalized insurance for the elderly amazingly healthy w/ a surplus of $2.6 trillion.. and crying wolff in the past that it was in trouble – with that surplus – didn’t convince us, so they dropped it to 4.2 and now, they send these blood-sucking liars like Wolff out to deceive the American people – SHAME ON YOU BILL MOYERS FOR NOT CALLING HIM ON IT. Who really owns Wolff and who is he REALLY?

    They think we won’t remember – I’ve seen the same in Israel.. we scream at the high prices; they drop them for a few months.. and then raise them higher to tire us out and steal MORE from us. Wolff!! Wolff!!!

  • rick gilpatrick

    I am no expert but Glass -Seagall served us well since 1933. It’s repeal was not based on it’s having outlived it”s usefulness but that it was an impediment to the 1 per cent. They put their resources and their mouthpieces to work and zapped it. So,why would today’s Bankers lend money to businesses for modest returns when they can invest in derivatives and make obscene profits?

  • Jerry S. Juskie

    What about the argument that the rich will
    (1) move out to other countries (although there are not that many decent ones with lower taxes) or
    (2)move their businesses abroad – here the danger is more real, and actually from the global point of view it may be beneficial, after all others also deserve better living conditions and may be less inclined towards destruction if they have a stake?

  • Anonymous

    Being a long time fan of Dr. Wolff, I would go for the low hanging fruit and ask him to reflect on his thoughts concerning Worker Self-Directed Enterprises. Rather than fighting a losing battle against the forces of Capitalism in an effort to make massive changes in the existing system, why not change the structure of the system replacing the existing leadership structure of a CEO, a board of directors, and a small group of major investors who make all the decisions and who receive the bulk of the rewards. Dr. Wolff suggests that we consider a system of employee owners that participate in all the decision making and receive a more equitable share of the profits. There are already real world examples of this system in this country and Europe with the largest headquartered in Mondragon Spain that has a fifty year record and hires over one hundred thousand employees. As Dr. Wolff says, it’s doubtful that the employees of such an enterprise would ever vote to send their jobs to China or accept the use of a cheaper but toxic manufacturing process that would adversely effect their families and their community’s well being !

  • Dave

    One of your best guests ever! This guy knows his stuff. Keep having him on!

  • mdlclass

    I, too, see our current economic system as becoming untenable, but I don’t share Richard Wolff’s faith that a grass roots movement will rise up in revolution against it. What about the fact that the capitalist system has infiltrated our democracy, corrupting it and rigging it to favor the rich and powerful? Wall Street bankers weren’t prosecuted because Wall Street money has woven itself into the very existence and well-being of our Congress. I’d like Mr. Wolff to address this issue.

  • JB

    HALF TRUTHS and lies!!!
    Bill Moyers did not call the Wolff on either his Social Security lie (poll tax was not increased to 6.2 percent but dropped in 2011 to 4.2 and then returned to 6.2 – which is what kept Social Security tax solvent w/ a $26 trillion surplus – ) or on his regulation lie – that that regulations don’t work (The Glass Steagall Act WORKED until it was repealed in 11/1999). Lies!!!
    Obviously, NEITHER Wolff nor Moyers (who didn’t call him on either issue) – can be trusted. This devious Wolff HID his lies among truths we all know so we would trust his BS.

  • Anonymous

    Dr. Wolff has given Keynes his credit due, I think there are many who agree with the Keynes theory of increased economic stimulation during an economic slow down, only the Austrian Economist and their many followers on the Right will tend to disagree. Dr. Wolff is an advocate of Marx and is quick to point out that Marx has unjustly receive massive condemnation for his support of a Socialist system which couldn’t be farther from the truth according to Dr. Wolff. He says you have to read all of Marx’s writings to understand that he really cared little about obscure economic concepts like Socialism and Communism but he was mainly concerned and was compelled to write almost exclusively concerning the disparities of capitalism, the dominant economic system then and now. Marx was more concerned about the disparities in the distribution of wealth in a Capitalist system, a problem we are now forced to confront daily !

  • Anonymous

    I hear what your saying, I’m a long time fan of Doctor Wolff but I too had some problems with his attack on distance learning and on-line universities which he has voiced in previous presentations. Like you say, a bit of hypocrisy when he condemns his former elite institutions of learning for giving him an incomplete education !

  • Reformer1

    Mr. Wolff, What do you think of FDR’s “Economic Bill of Rights?”

    The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

    The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

    The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

    The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

    The right of every family to a decent home;

    The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

    The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

    The right to a good education.

  • Nelle Fastman Pingree

    If you listened, his comment about regulations was that they only work until some finds a way to weaken the regulation and/or do away with it and that is the nature of our system. So it works until the system finds a way to break the regulation, which is exactly what happened to Glass-Stegall. It was outsmarted.

  • Carolyn

    Q for Richard Wolff: Isn’t reform of the campaign finance system a sine qua non to whatever plan or alternative you might propose to capitalism, or the kind of capitalism we’ve devolved into? And therefore isn’t it step one? And perhaps in itself the most vital corrective to our current economic injustices? I refer to full public financing of all campaigns.

    I share most of your take on what’s wrong and would have no problem with being labeled a Marxist myself, given that I know it has nothing to do with the Communism it got tagged with, but I’m of your generation and I lived, albeit a child, through the “Red Scare” era that we see still do its fearmongering, even resurgently, in this era of very reactionary throwback politics by a potent minority (Tea Party et al.) and I hope your alternatives address what is realistically changeable in this nation’s psyche that must precede any ability to change its system. For myself, not wedded to any one economic system per se but rather how it is implemented, I have come to think of what’s realistic in this nation, given its particular irrationalities, would be something I’d call “conscientious capitalism” rather than an attempted overthrow of capitalism in all its regards. That goal would strike me as tilting at windmills at this point.

    More productive, imho, would be determining the most effective message to convince a majority that their taxes are ultimately far better spent on full public financing of all campaigns — and with a level of conviction that would also persuade SCOTUS to uphold such a change — a change that would mean undoing their perverse decisions that “money is speech” and all such decisions that have misunderstood public financing of campaigns as having any bearing at all on the first amendment.

    To my mind, this is related to the one conclusion you draw, Mr. Wolff, that made me disagree – more with your stated absolutism than with what i think is the intention underlying it: When you say “Regulations are not the answer,” your own case suggests that what you’re really saying is the regulations themselves (Glass-Steagel et al) were actually appropriate and fine, but you see them as being subverted either sneakily or overtly. Thus, to my mind the problem is enforcement – and the reason such laws got subverted is because the powerful influence of money (by, principally, corporations seeking evasion of the law) resulted in lax enforcement and eventually in blind and deaf overthrow of the law. With full public financing taking money out of its influence on both legislators and enforcers, wouldn’t regulations indeed be a key part of the ‘answer’ to what ails us?

    So isn’t it fixing the corrupt influence of money on campaigns that could change everything? and make possible a “conscientious capitalism” whereby the rigorous enforcement of conscientiousness — since we’ve seen that power and money in the private sector will subvert conscientiousness if it’s not enforced by law — and if it’s made truly irrelevant to the public sector because public financing takes profiteering via campaigns out of the sector? Look at the case of Jesse Jackson Jr. I suspect that if public financing had been in effect, a potentially conscientious public servant would have maintained his morals and conscience, no temptation being placed in his path to do otherwise. And he’s but one of the hundreds on both sides of the aisle who arguably and quite probably would have maintained a conscience to their politics (heavens, arguably even Tom DeLay) had they not been lured by the “most toys wins” corruption and subversion of our campaign finance system. Public elected officials by the scores have been undone by the insidiousness of our campaign finance system.

    Why can’t we come up nationally with a message – preferably persuasive enough to even capture the ‘mic’ of the bully pulpit available to Pres. Obama – that could put a dead-end to the single biggest disease (money buying power) that keeps us from having regulation with both teeth and spine – permanent teeth and permanent spine?

    A few lifetimes ago, I worked with and then for Common Cause in its early days – and came to know its founder John Gardner personally and profoundly, a man with both a noble vision for a national corrective and with the fine humble, genuine character to match his vision – and it has both saddened and confounded me that even Common Cause, far too soon, shelved its commitment to full public financing as its raison d’etre. The piecemeal legislation it wound up striving for, largely rationalized as the only realizable chunks it could get at the time, became fodder for claiming the whole mission was flawed or subject to SCOTUS subversion and thereby deemed unrealistic. That’s where I believe we – and the nation and our economic system – sold out, lost the forest for the trees. The case was never ever fully made to the nation, “red scare fears” notwithstanding, for why full public financing was in everyone’s best interest – including the greedy sharks envisioning personal or corporate gain from campaign finance corruption. As you yourself noted, they shoot themselves in the foot – ultimately – by blindly, stupidly biting the hand that feeds them – either by drying up purchasing power in “the market’ for all but the 1% of their cronies or potentially (as I hear you – and your wife, psychotherapist like myself, predicting) by a degree of untenable and restless injustice that leads to revolt.

    In sum, again, why isn’t full public financing of campaigns the essential first step that could make capitalism as workable as any other system – by making it finally and consistently reined in by enforced conscientiousness?

  • Nelle Fastman Pingree

    I’d like to ask What Dr. Wolff thinks about the growing trend in small cities like Asheville, NC toward self sustaining communities (local farms, dairies, crafts and services), without as much reliance on the corporate presence in the community?

  • Anonymous

    Up until the mid to late 1970s incomes of all the income groups grew together…then the top started to climb alone, leaving middle income and low income behind. I’d like Richard Wolff to give us his explanation of the factors that caused the divergence, with the top racing ahead and everyone else left behind.

  • CharlyAndy

    For me, the most startling thought that Professor Wolff shared was that regulation hasn’t and can’t work as a final solution. It seems to be part of what one could call a metasystem, that is, regulation can’t be made a part of the system itself. What is there to be done then? Must we abandon all hope of a reasonable solution and just expect a violent upheaval like, for example, the French Revolution? Even in a case such as that, the system would just be reset to continue its bestial function from the new initial conditions?

  • bbates13

    Humanity has always had a problem with slavery. Physical slavery exists in places even today in the 21st century, but not so much as before and not out in the open. It has been replaced with economic and psychological slavery. Deer in the headlights is an appropriate metaphor for what happens initially when we subconsciously realize that we’ve been had, but what keeps us in the headlights (remember, the deer will eventually run away given the opportunity) is economic and psychological slavery.

    It’s hard to realize that I am a slave, but that’s the truth. I owe, I owe, so off to work I go….and then the feeling kicks in that I have neither the time (from all the hours worked plus the travel time back and forth) nor the network or resources to alter the situation. But, I also know what one man can do given the grace of the divine and the right place and right time. Unfortunately, not everyone can be that one person, but we can do what we can as we can. Even Gandhi, though not directly, used psychological pressures to expand the truth of his moment, and so it is not something that unusual for humans, but it can be bad and harmful when used to control others for greed or personal purposes and that is what Americans have at the moment for our operating system of economics.

    Slavery of any sort must end in America, now… one should be able to “control” others for profit or from greed…..if your personal operating gestalt is to allow capitalism to work through its problems or to self-fix itself (invisible hand), then you are a lord among other lords to think the same and you are a willing participant in slavery and control of others

    The 12 step program metaphor Mr. Wolff mentioned is also appropriate in that we must acknowledge our situation before we can begin the process of fixing it. I hope that are some really smart people out there that can turn off the headlights and lead us towards a hybrid form of governance that allows freedom while also cherishing equality – both ideals that Americans hold dear, and have and will die for…..

  • Jim

    Great show last night! Brought up the question that haunts me and is never addressed on Capital Hill: How do we get the tax code changed so the big corporations, like Facebook, GE, Boeing, etc. – who have paid ZERO taxes for years – to pay their fair, share of taxes for doing the majority of their business in the USA?

  • Dianne Walter

    Thank you for a most interesting discussion. I also watched “When Capitalism hits the fan” which was an excellent synopsis of the last 50-60 years of our country. However, the result leaves me very discouraged. What constructive steps can we, the few thousands who are trying to pay attention, take to avoid the terrible future that Richard Wolff implies? I don’t see that a few entrepreneurial local employee start ups are going to change anything. The system is already so lopsided in favor of the powerful special interests, how can any significant policy changes such as mandated profit sharing, mandated minimum income requirements get through government? Where do we start?

  • Dave Rogers

    Until the mid-1800’s, corporations in the US were strictly limited in the scope of their activities, as defined in state-granted charters. They could not influence elections, public policy, or pursue business outside of their stated purposes. (ref When that control was removed in the US, corporate wealth and influence ballooned and helped create the attitudes and mess we now have.
    Questions: Are there any countries today that limit and enforce corporate power? If so, I wonder if the people in those countries suffered fewer corporate “evils” like worker exploitation, environmental damage and interference with open democracy?

  • Dave Rogers

    Great conversation, but also unsettling. My question for Professor Wolff relates to the early days of US democracy, when corporations were closely limited in their scope of activity to what was defined in state-granted charters. (ref They were prohibited from influencing elections or public policy. Corporations had limited lifetime, and they could not expand their business outside of their purpose for existence. If they violated any of that, their charter was revoked, the corporation was dissolved, and assets were returned to investors (actual people). All of that changed in the late 1800’s when corporations obtained “personhood” rights at the federal level, and those rights have led to the power and influence mess we have now.
    Questions: Are there any governments today that carefully limit the definition and activities of corporations? If yes, have those countries been successful in avoiding corporate evils such as widespread poverty wages, exploitation of workers, corrupting the political process and avoiding responsibility for things like environmental destruction?

  • Maureen

    I would like to ask Mr. Wolff what underlying principles should be, in his opinion, for the transformation of capitalism? Is it possible that one of those principles could be the principle of sharing of resources equitably?

  • Chip

    Rather than raise minimum wage, would a more effective way of helping the working poor be to eliminate income tax (or raise the personal exemption to $18,000) on earnings under $18,000? This would not cause employers to reduce jobs or hours, and would increase the incentive of low wage and part time employees to reach $18,000, people who otherwise might be unmotivated to work more b/c of the small increase in take-home pay they currently experience.

    The loss of revenue to the government could be made up by an increase (whatever needed to offset) in the tax rate of the richest .5%. How could this combination not
    strengthen the economy?

  • Tony

    Thank you for an engaging interview. I would like to hear Mr. Wolff talk about a Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI), sometimes known as a Negative Income Tax. The idea takes President Obama’s remarks about ending poverty for full time workers a step further: end poverty for all, permanently. In a country as wealthy as the United States, isn’t there enough to guarantee that everyone’s basic needs–food, shelter, security, education, and transportation–be met?

    I am more familiar with the arguments for and against a GAI in my country, Canada, but I understand that even the likes of Richard Nixon and Milton Friedman were in favor of such a thing in the United States. My own perspective is that it is inconsistent to proclaim a citizen’s material prosperity as an expression his society’s virtue without equally denouncing another’s poverty as an expression of his society’s vice.

    I would gratefully appreciate your thoughts. Thank you.

  • Steve H

    Having streamed this week’s Bill Moyers show, followed by viewing Richard Wolff’s “Capitalism Hits the Fan” lecture, where, at the end of that lecture, the professor briefly outlines how to begin restructuring corporate ownership through a workers’ cooperative approach, my question concerns the process of achieving such an approach with multinational corporations. Specifically, given the numerous Supreme Court Decisions that have bestowed Fourteenth Amendment rights, privileges and immunities on for-profit and non-profit chartered corporations, and especially for publicly traded corporations, how would a worker cooperative ownership process work?

  • Catherine Mason

    Q for Richard Wolff: You stated that the current construct of direction of industries by boards of directors invites the types of bad outcomes we currently are functioning under. What kinds of changes would you suggest and how could those be brought about? I know you mentioned new kinds of organizations growing up like those in silicon valley, but is there a method for converting the boards of directors already in existence to something more responsive to both employees and clients and other stakeholders as well as shareholders and upper management? Could government regulation play a part in that?

  • Steve H

    View Richard Wolff’s lecture “Capitalism Hits the Fan” available on until February 29th. You can use this TinyURL:

  • Anonymous

    Trust me. Many, many, many low paid or volunteer teaching assistants, and adjuncts, are far better educators than “fully qualified professors.”

    Academia is first and foremost a political system. They nitpick and fight over petty perks, just like any government bureaucrat.

    This guy went to elite institutions but doesn’t want all of us to have access to his allegedly elite education, free and online. H”mmmmm, why? If he did he’d be crucified. Not very brave, eh?

    If we all had the freedom to pursue online education at our own pace, the droning institutions would collapse. Many of us would finish a 4-year program in 12-18 months. The trickle trickle of bits of knowledge, sloooooowwwwwly, only serves the petrified obsolete institutions (jobs for govt. bureaucrats with fat benefits). This guy is not going to put his head on the block by exposing this.

    He’s advocating full-blown equal outcome, not equal opportunity. So, work hard or work not at all, and get the same outcome. The only folks who want that are the slackers, and of course they want that. Naturally those at the very top—the political class and its cronies—will still be at the top. They want equal outcomes for the rest, not for themselves.

  • Anonymous

    They PAY for MC and SS. There is no “irony” whatsoever. They have no choice, as their money is confiscated to force them into those programs. If I buy stock in a corporation, I expect it to maximize its value. If it doesn’t, it will go under and nobody will invest. Why is that difficult for you?

  • Tom Kochan

    I think a point was missed when you talked about Roosevelt’s help to get us out of depression. Germany & Japan’s infrastructure was destroyed leaving the U.S. for the most part as the only game in town producing goods, which gave us a huge economic advantage. Now we have another MAJOR actor….China, along with Japan and Germany. Thank your for you informative insight!

  • Anonymous

    Socialism and Communism are not in any way obscure economic concepts. Marx wanted to redistribute, e.g., from me to his own bank account, and then to throw crumbs at the masses.

  • Lawrence

    What is your explanation for why there are not more (and more prominent/successful) worker owned businesses and cooperatives in the USA?

  • John Mclaughlin

    Mr. Wolff I will eagerly await your next appearance. The question, How to awaken or raise the publics awareness of their predicament. For myself I think I will find a way to work for election reform, thanks for the wake up call.

  • mcav

    I am eager to hear your alternatives Mr. Wolff and hope they include harnessing the optimism and the ingenuity and the fresh perspective of the young, bright young people aware of global warming and demanding public transportation, who have moved beyond racial classifications and who bring the blessings of diversity to the streets. Without creating conventional jobs in a broken system for them, how can we create incentives and venues for them to create “conscious capitalism”, nurture sustainable alternatives they want and need, and allow the status quo to be upset without a revolution?

  • Tom Kochan

    Luis, there are many wars and injustices in America. To focus on one misses the point. Latin America would not even have an economy if it wasn’t for America forming a country. As evil as some of our history is it has brought a-lot of Latin Americas out of poverty. A more worldly problem now is over population for a planet that has limited resources. We have to focus on problems that are not so Nationalistic.

  • Richard Hamann

    Q for Richard Wolff: Why is our congress so dysfunctional and what should be done to get it out of the rut it is in. I thoroughly enjoy your clear thinking and your ability to size things up. Do you think Donald Trump would make a good president?

  • Bob

    All the talk about the deficit and balancing the budget
    seems disingenuous at best. All U.S currency has been borrowed into existence,
    and to pay off the national debt would take all the money out of circulation
    because the Federal Reserve loans money into existence. I don’t know if you
    know this, or why I’ve never heard a politician, except Ron Paul, Dennis
    Kucinich, even mention anything about how the Federal Reserve creates money
    from nothing. Both the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, and the companion 16th
    amendment that imposes income tax, for the specific purpose of paying the
    interest on the money that the government borrows from a private corporation,
    the Federal Reserve, need to be abolished, and the government needs to create
    its own tax free money supply. Why is this not part of the discussion? The only
    conclusion is, is that the US government is run by private bankers and
    corporations, bought and paid for, plain and simple. The smokescreen American’s
    have come to believe, that the Federal Reserve is part of the government, needs
    to end. The government could start to pay off the debt by issuing tax free US
    greenbacks. Have you read Web of Debt by Ellen Hodgson Brown? I’ve read it
    twice and have checked the facts.

    Of course the Fed is only part of the problem. Fractional
    Reserve Banking multiplies the counterfeit money the Fed creates using the 10%
    reserve requirement. Only the principle is created, not the interest. Which
    means that money lent out at 5% interest, 100% of the pricipal will be paid
    back to the bank in 14 years and a couple of months, which means that all money
    gets created in the banks, and ends up back in the banks, causing the borrower
    to chase scarce dollars created by other loans to pay off the interest
    portion of the debt. This system only
    works if an endless number of debt dollars are created, but is impossible
    because it necessitates infinite growth in a finite world. The government
    should be spending money into circulation on the goods and services we all now
    pay for in taxes. Spending the money would not cause inflation because it is
    backed up by an equal amount of goods and services. It makes no sense to have
    idle teachers who could be teaching, just because of money, crumbling roads and
    bridges, and unemployed people who could have the jobs needed to rebuild our
    infrastructure. The government should create the money supply for what we now
    pay for with our taxes.

  • Julia Ryden

    I taught, until a couple of years ago, at a community college, and I know the anger is growing. I hope it swells into street marches and protests, but I like you worry that it will spill into physical violence.

  • Anonymous

    I believe Jesse Jackson Jr.’s bipolar disorder was the root of the lavish personal spending. In the mania phase victims can and often do ruin themselves economically. Perhaps this should not be moral judgement.

  • Erica Etelson

    Wolff is informative and enlightening about the interaction b/w capital and labor, but what about resource constraints? Our economy as we know it exists to the extent that our planet still contains enough natural resources to produce goods (oil, gas, metals, water, trees, seafood, etc.). Given the reality of dwindling natural resources and climate chaos in the medium to long term, what is Wolff’s prescription for an economic system that is not only socially fair and just, but sustainable? My concern, in other words, is that we won’t all get a fair share of the pie if there’s no pie.

  • Julia Ryden

    The BBC had an interesting program on the group of countries meeting to discuss the fact that multi-national corporations are able to pay little or no taxes by moving assets around, declaring profits in low tax regions and evading other assessments.

    I’m curious as to what Mr. Wolff’s ideas might be on how to make multi-nationals pay their fair share of taxes in every country where they operate.

  • Greg

    I would like Mr. Wolff to address the topic of usury. Our Founding Fathers addressed it by writing in the Constitution that only Congress has the power to coin money and set the value thereof. How different things would be if states and worthy causes had the ability to borrow money free of interest. It’s also interesting to note that for a long time usury was considered a mortal sin. Refer to the recent book by Michael Hoffman titled, The Mortal Sin that was and Now is Not.’

  • Anonymous

    My question is When budding articulate nonviolent movements such as Occupy are crushed and criminalized, what is the way forward? What do we do when Corporate police in full riot gear and spying on citizens seem to be institutionalized, along with arrests for protesting peacefully, teargas, bullets rubber and lethal, and so-called “free speech zones”?

    In my opinion the Tea Party is now a tool for the right wing billionaires promoting their corporate agenda. It should not be mentioned in the same sentence as Occupy and is not comparable.

  • Joe

    enjoyed the interview, but logic behind his dismissal of regulation based on
    the Glass-Steagall example escapes me. It seems that he says it worked well
    until a few years after its repeal when the economy collapsed. Why doesn’t this
    demonstrate that the regulation was functioning and that it was the subsequent
    removal of the regulation contributed to the disaster?

  • Stan

    That’s why Revelation 19:11-21 was written. Don’t know if any here are persons of faith (most today seem to assume we have only ourselves to solve our predicaments, no matter how bloody that gets), but for those who are convinced that our existence is not an accident and that the Source of life is good, we ‘lift our heads up, for our deliverance is near.’ Hasn’t happened yet, the skeptics snort. But it only is to happen once. Study it all out carefully, it makes sense. The moral code that scripture advocates would have prevented the ‘economy’ that is stumbling toward collapse today. But scripture also says few will listen, hence the rough solution depicted in the Revelation.

  • Debora

    Is Mr Wolff familiar with the way Iceland dealt with the banking fraud in it’s country, and how the country is now in better economic shape than most of the world? Why does he not recommend holding these bankers responsible?

  • Dmitriy

    Mr Wolff, How do we change the system? It seems the flaws in the system can be directly tied to human nature, specifically greed. How do we change the people so that they choose to do the right thing that is best for everyone and not just themselves? I don’t see it as a problem with the system when millionaires don’t pay taxes, I see it as a choice. A millionaire by itself is not a business that has to answer to shareholders, but a person. And there were 7000 millionaires in 2011 who chose to pay 0 in taxes.

  • Evan

    Question for Richard Wolff: Would a repeal of the 1986 Tax Reform Act coupled with an increase in the top marginal income tax rate help to bring about a more equal society?

  • Jodster

    Mr. Wolff’s ideas were great – except we’ve heard them all hundreds of times before. We KNOW the capitalist system isn’t working – we live it! We have already reached the state of rage – that’s where Occupy and the Tea Party came from. What we don’t know are any alternatives to Capitalism. Americans reject Socialism and Marxism and all the other isms that have or do exist so we don’t know what an alternative would look like. Please, tell us what altetrnative there is and we’ll jump on it like a bug on — well, you know!
    Please, no more wasting time telling us how bad it is – tell us how to fix it!!!

  • Radu

    Great show as always Mr. Moyers. You seem unafraid to ask important questions that challenge. I have taken every opportunity to listen, watch and read Mr. Wolff speak on Link TV, CSPAN, Pacifica and among other outlets including yours now. My questions for Prof. Wolff are the following. To start with a critical one, how much blame can we place on the failure of Russia that pursued imperialistic endeavors in the name of Communism or Socialism for the inability today to genuinely mount political opposition to our cut-throat Capitalism?

    Secondly, I agree that taxes should be much higher, progressive and even capped as you have mentioned. Is it true that in England income is capped at $250k or $300k? England is still around even with a maximum income.

    Thirdly, how do we get ‘the best’ in all fields to start democratically structured businesses? I find that one of the arguments for pure capitalism is that of giving the maximum reward to ‘the best'; the ‘cream rises to the top’. How do we encourage leadership by example rather than ‘the best’ lining only their own pockets?

    Finally, there is the argument that funneling goods through the state in the form of Communism or Socialism is really another way of saying that a good is owned but by the state. One of the arguments propping up pure Capitalism is that ‘ownership by the state is worse than ownership by individuals’ even if the ownership is by an oligarchy as we have today. In the meanwhile corporations and those running them retain the power to destroy lives with financial leverage by the few over many. Doesn’t a type of Capitalism comprising of primarily democratic business structures provide a better way to address ownership while alleviating the maximum number of people from being trapped under the constraints power?

    In all of this I’d like to see a reasonable world where decent people that strongly outnumber those that sacrifice humanity for profit have a tool to create a better world than one through exploitation. I applaud your efforts and the current business climate is brittle and dry, and poised to catch fire lit by flames of democratic change.

  • Damian Fortieth

    Dear Prof. Wolff, in your positive economic-correction faith, I wonder if a critical dimension is left out of your equation and cognizance. It seems to me that the police powers of the state in FDR’s time was far more puny than they are today–that the public really did theoretically possess revolutionary power to forcibly overthrow the gov’t if the public were sufficiently organized and motivated. and could thus scare the banking class into working out a deal with FDR to avoid such unrest. There was no national security state to prevent public movements in FDR’s time.

    However, with the violent crackdown on OWS as a primary example, doesn’t the current, unprecedented powers of our newly-emergent national security state, with the ability to– deny the guarantees in our Bill of Rights to avail the public of the ability to petition our gov’t for redress of grievances, to peaceably assemble, to be protected from search and seizure, loss of life and liberty without due process, etc., with a national security state so large, crowd-control and surveillance technology and gov’t weapons so powerful, ability to control the media so complete, prison sentences so harsh and now possessing the largest and most crowded prison complexes in the world–bring anything to bear on your prognosis? I wonder whether the banking class has to fear any kind of public backlash now. With the unprecedented ability of the gov’t to politically ignore and forcibly silence the public, how can there be any hope in this country of economic correction, of political or economic justice in the near term, if ever?

    -Damian Cuffel
    Houston, TX

  • Russ P

    Is it time to institute tariffs on foreign imports similar to those in place through the mid-20th century?

  • Bill

    If history has proved anything, it is that nothing lasts forever. Yes perhaps under capitalism any progress which is made in a society is fleeting. But hasn’t that been the case with all economic and social structures? Can you really say confidently that there can be an economic or social structure which can sustain progress for thousands of years?

  • Geoff Proust

    Q for Mr. Wolff re his lack of cynicism regarding the future: Congress is described as working two days per week and fundraising the other five days per week, primarily from well-heeled donors. In addition, citizens become members of Congress without a demonstration of economic expertise and often without any desire to truly understand economic reality beyond the doctrine to which they already subscribe. With that reality in Washington, what likelihood is there that any upward democratic pressure would result in Congressional solutions other than temporary patches, continued homage to the wealthy, and fraudulent cover-ups?

  • Anthony Bruce

    To slightly configure the words of an old song, many of us who work day in and day out knowing we support both the rich and the poor who don’t or won’t work live by the old adage, “If you can’t live the life you love, honey, love the life you live.” How bad do you believe the middle class quality of life would have to become before it could overcome it’s own political differences and congeal to once again place democracy, instead of capitalism, as the driving force behind of the United States present culture?

  • Russell Spears

    The worker does not need to wait for a boss to decide they are worthy of their exploitation to do productive work. In fact productive work is counter to traditional schooling: A majority of the teacher’s time is consumed with
    a lecture that some students are either not ready for or are bored about-the hope is that the majority will be able to follow. After this, a possible test is given on previous material and yet we know how useful
    this is really is. Ideas take a longer than that to cement and for people to come out with degrees with little understanding is a complete failure. Some teachers don’t know enough about their subject to teach, some should never give a lecture and some don’t have the aptitude to help people who are struggling with material and others no matter how good can’t control a class of passive learners.

    Playing to the strengths of the teachers and encouraging self-directed learning works and can revolutionize this century old model of schooling.

    The numbers you gave represent a growing anxiety over a competitive job
    market, not educational success-the solution is in the latter paragraph.

    Not every teacher needs a classroom. For a free Online University to work,
    we need our best thinkers creating content, we need our best teachers to
    translate this into rich content and the best educators in the schools
    helping our children and adults when they reach an impasse to an
    extended time and to guide the learning process towards successful
    learning outcomes.

    Waiting for a school to hire new teachers is playing into the Educational Monopoly: You need to realize that creating and offering new learning experiences can be the next big industry and unemployed teachers can have a shot at creating their own jobs doing just that-this is the future.

  • Gary Bradley

    A classic free market is one where a principal role of government is to prevent the wealthiest players in a market sector from using their financial clout to disadvantage
    smaller competitors by using fraudulent or otherwise anti-competitive practices to distort the marketplace (disseminate false information). This was a position that was actually championed by the Republican Party about a hundred years ago. America in the twenty-first century is about as far from a classic free market as one can get while still convincing a significant portion of the people that it is still capitalism. Health care, finance, and education are mostly provided by cartels where government officials effectively choose the winners and losers. Nearly every other market sector falls under an ever-increasing variety of regulations clandestinely designed to favor the players with the best political connections. Capitalism is supposed to be a system where the major economic role of government is to keep the playing field of the free market a level one. One can reasonably argue whether that role is sufficient to ameliorate the externalities and short time frame deficiencies inherent in classic capitalism, but without government as unbiased referee, any system fails to meet the basic definition of classic capitalism. When you aggressively condemn “capitalism” to the economically uninformed, you fail to disclose that what we have in America ain’t even close to real capitalism.

  • Russell Spears

    I dearly respect Richard Wolff’s work on our economy, but his view that a Free Online University will only sully and cheapen the educational system, is contradictory to his own experience and his own work: You see after investing a lot of money in elite schools he had egregious omissions in his own education. Moreover, his own videos and online interviews are truly educating people on the real effects of our economy on all of our lives.
    So with this in mind, I would like to directly ask Mr Wolff if he would consider well the effects a Free Online University would have for the plight of the working poor. And I would beg your audience to imagine waking up one day with the potential to begin any dream they wish to follow and know that at any time in their lives they have access to the jobs of the future.

  • Carolyn

    To clarify my meaning: I don’t presume to judge what was the root of what in a case I have no personal knowledge of. My reference to “morals and conscience” intended to refer only to his admission to criminal misuse of campaign funds. Certainly bipolar manic phases can lead to economic ruin, but such bipolar excess doesn’t necessarily cross over into felony fraud. From an admitted armchair distance, I believe this was a case where a bipolar condition was compounded by a campaign finance system like ours (that already betrays our public good, immersing all Congresspersons into a nonstop pursuit of power-and-influence-seeking funds). Alas it’s a rare person we send to Congress who doesn’t wind up either selling his/her vote to the highest campaign-donation bidder and voting against public interest, undoing needed regulations, etc. — the key point of my question urging public funding — or being tempted into criminal abuse of campaign funds such that it winds up undoing their career — or both. If members of Congress would admit to their potential for corruptibility (and prison time) that occurs without needing to be bipolar, I meant to suggest they might be more likely to see the wisdom (self-interest) of voting for public financing.

  • SmilingAhab

    Why does Mr. Wolff believe that the creation of the system we live in is independent of those who dominate through it, and why does he think that exsanguination of the lower and middle classes will spell the end of the upper class, when it is precisely this bipolar economic dictatorship – aristocratic feudalism – that has defined most of humanity’s history?

  • SmilingAhab

    The biggest downside to online courses is that they betray what university is actually for – dialogue and dialectic, and to be taught in an environment that (is supposed to be, but hasn’t for the next reason) that fosters learning, in order to produce capable citizens who can participate with a greater understanding in democratic affairs – to produce an homme-du-monde. Online universities are the victory of neoliberalism over Enlightenment principles – now all school exists for is to train workers for upgrades in work. There’s no community, there’s no camaraderie, there’s no networking, like there is on a campus. While technical training online is understandable, it is not how one properly cultures a member of civilization.

  • SmilingAhab

    The three ways I’ve seen so far are: a county, municipality or union buys a controlling share of a company and ensures it operates by better principles; a massive cooperative like MONDRAGON buys the business outright, or a union or association of workers crowdfunds the purchase of liquidated physical and financial assets.

    Unfortunately this fails more often than not, simply because the merchant princes have had their medieval power restored. The American shift to pure, outright aristocratic feudalism is inevitable.

  • SmilingAhab

    Nixon and Friedman are considered dangerous leftists in the US today. Or their leftist ideas are just ignored. There’s an article about the American conservative narrative of a “culture of poverty” wherein poverty exists because the underclass are shiftless, worthless subhumans deserving of their suffering. It’s all very medieval.

  • SmilingAhab

    Those “employee start-ups” make up about an 8th of Earth’s economy, and about 9% of the USA’s economy. Don’t be so quick to write them off. There’s a reason the UN declared all of 2012 to be the “Year of the Cooperative”.

  • SmilingAhab

    Step one is to allow the U.S. government to nationalize a part of the financial market. Joseph Siglitz came to some conclusions that may inform your inquest through his interpretation of why Communist Hungary fell even after introducing some market reforms. I forget the name of the dissertation, but the nutshell version is that capital markets and firm autonomy are the blood of capitalism, not rules, so democratic control of significant capital and use of that control to form better behaviors is to control capitalism.

  • SmilingAhab

    And seeing as 666 is Jewish gematria for Caesar Nero, Rome was commonly known as the “city of seven hills”, and there were 6 emperors before Nero and one after, a cult of state worship built up under Nero, and a persecution of Christians as a scapegoat for imperial corpulence, how can Revelation be interpreted as anything other than the fall of the Roman Empire? The Rapture already happened.

  • SmilingAhab

    In don’t see how it’s vulnerable, as we lived under this system for nearly 10,000 years; it’s called aristocratic feudalism.

  • SmilingAhab

    And when economic capital and political capital are so easily interchangeable, as anyone who has studied history knows, and a system is championed that preternaturally concentrates wealth in the hands of the few, what can be the only conclusion of a free market? Those who abandon the non-aggression principle are those that ‘win the market game’. And if the were no government to establish, legitimize and protect the new aristocracy borne of supposed merit, then all that money would go to make one.

  • SmilingAhab

    Most of human civilization lived in conditions that makes Brazilian favela look posh for most of history. I’d say that there is no bottom tolerance so long as people remain convinced it’s what they deserve or that there’s nothing wrong with it.

  • Walt Lund

    Isn’t Fox News a big part of the problem?

  • Harriet Fasenfest

    Question: As more and more men and women choose to work less in the marketplace, work more in their home (thereby reclaiming their labor and time), putting that time towards growing their food in urban backyards and community gardens and/or supporting small farmers, cooking, living collectively, eschewing debt, practicing thrift, sharing expenses and creating, in the words of Jane Jacobs “import replacements” so they may trade those goods and services in transactions outside traditional currency system, could you speak about the concept of a Home Economy. What does it mean and could it offer some of the solutions we seek? In other words, forget Betty Crocker and bring back the radical homemakers and householders who know this life isn’t about making jam or country comfort but a re-envisioning of what it means to run a functional and equitable economy. If “they” won’t do it (the banks, government, etc. etc.) why not do it ourselves? I always wonder why the home-makers are never invited into these academic conversation. They ARE coming up with amazing solutions to a world of diminishing returns.

  • Tony

    In Rhode Island, we hear often–most recently from the Governor– that increasing taxes on the rich will cause them to bolt and take their money with them. But the rich have benefitted from tax breaks here for years, and it didn’t keep RI from being hit hard by the recession. Is there any hard evidence that like corporations wealthy individuals move to states with beneficial tax laws, and is that any reason to give them tax breaks at the expense of other income classes?

  • Angela

    Use the system still in place by Obama’s grass roots election campaign to contact people
    like me to collect signatures for an amendment to change tax rates on the richest one %.
    Mr. Wolff- could that work?

  • chrisnfolsom

    Mr. Wolff – while I agree with much of what you say I don’t agree that regulations should not be used, or that abusers should not be punished until the “system” is fixed – as that can never truly be known and while I know the “system” was the fault there are people in very privileged and powerful positions who should be less powerful and perhaps have the same financial security as many of their “victims” – it’s a shame that small time criminals have their lives ruined for trivial crimes next to what some of these people and institutions have committed.

    Also, regarding wages, we can’t just give money away and less powerful unions and disorganized labor weakened the workers and is just a symptom of them not being needed in today’s economy. We had a captive labor market in the 50’s through the 90’s. Employers will only pay what they have to and to a certain degree should not pay more, but with an international labor market general/manufacturing labor is just not competitive in America – some will come back yes, but in an information society you don’t need as many laborers per dollar earned – look at Apples per employee profits as compared to GM in it’s heyday. I don’t see an answer although I am optimistic about the future…

  • chrisnfolsom

    Unfortunately if true unrest happened I think it would be catastrophic as just stopping money from flowing would stop food, fuel and whatever else we rely on for our current lifestyles. Talking about armed revolt is another issue – unless organized people would be too busy protecting themselves from each other to mount any kind of protest – and the joke would be on the gun owner as even an assault rifle will not protect against much, or many in a war zone and the 2nd amendment will be more valuable as toilet paper to then….the only “salvation” is to be organized, compromise and work together to create the best life we can…

  • Robin LW

    Occupy is still here, many ready to do what can be done to move people into places of tolerance, peace, and comfort. People are looking to living without money, or very little, and some are doing it. However, money represents resources, and resources (land, water) that are held in common (state and national parks) or are locked into parcels, are really not commonly accessible. Knowing that people want time to do what they love, and a way to eat and stay healthy, what options and methods are available to begin this work towards stopping the insane consumptive system, and creating one better in harmony with our environment? Those on the edges have already lost faith in our democratic process, and see no future there.

  • JJH

    Question for Mr. Wolff: You speak of the ‘deer-in-headlights’ phenomenon of Americans internalizing the true state of affairs and of the Tea-party and Occupy movements as ones that may re-emerge…for what you apparently believe will be an eventual positive reversal of the current system. Don’t you also believe that the status-quo sees this coming and hence the current militarization of domestic police forces? You give examples of protests in other countries, but all I see are militarized states containing any hope of change for them. Why would a U.S. situation be different?

  • Todd Smekens

    Great program. As a progressive messenger in the heart of the Midwest, Bill and Mr. Wolff were spot on regarding the criticisms of those still in denial of the collapse of the American system. Most of our neighbors see the rise of the Tea Party as a solution, but haven’t walked through the unintended consequences of their absurd policy recommendations. Most of the states who rely heavily on the federal government for support have a strong Tea Party base. They cannot see that the programs cut in a depression will send their states into a more precarious set of circumstances.

    We started a progressive media source in the Midwest ( mainly to carry the message that Mr. Wolff describes in detail, and I can tell you it has come at a price professionally and personally, because the corporate media giant Gannett owns most of the newspaper outlets in the region and keeps the masses uninformed of the problems. So while the more open minded geographic areas of the east and west coast’s might be looking for solutions, the Midwest is lagging behind and sees Mr. Wolff’s ideas, and our ideas, as socialist and communistic.

    Therefore, we would like to know from Mr. Wolff about the best way for media, the carriers of information, to tap into the more progressive beliefs he conveyed, and share them with a populace who are not quite ready for solutions since they have not accepted that our system has failed us. They still think that the right politics will solve our problems and are still blaming one party or another.

    To follow through with Mr. Wolff’s analogy with a 12 step program, not everyone has accepted our problem is systemic.

    How do we help them, and with the destruction of unions and other mass networks of mobilizing people, how do we connect to share a common message about the problem, and proposed solutions? Based on my own experience, it needs to be simple and supported with irrefutable facts. Capitalism is the problem and these facts support why it is a problem.

    As a graduate of Gonzaga’s organizational leadership program, we read Paulo Freire’s, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and Mr. Wolff’s assessment of how the people are going to respond to being held down is accurate.

  • Ernest Scarano

    In the end, it really doesn’t matter if God exists….it only matters if people BELIEVE that God exists. Ultimately the exercise of a just society depends on what its members believe. Many in our country have no religious belief and therefore NO religious practice. Why, then, is it so hard to understand the greed and “I’ve got mine” attitude of those who have the power to make “the big grab”? We can sit around all day and discuss the “gutting” of Glass-Steagall (which was good legislation, BTW) but the REAL turning point was the first day of school in September 1963, when students were told that there would no longer be prayer at the beginning of the class day. Across the country, on that day, God (and the conduct that was the hallmark of faith in God) was rendered irrelevant. And yet we puzzle over the causes of an amoral society. How wonderfully obtuse. Bank CEOs plunder the wealth of our country, correction departments warehouse 2.2 million prisoners, the environment is subjected to daily destruction and desecration, teenagers obtain weapons and go on killing sprees and we wonder why? It reminds me of the “Star Trek” episode when two science probes crash into each other. The prime directive of gathering biological samples was merged with the sterilization of imperfect soil samples. The result was a nearly omnipotent force marauding though the galaxy sterilizing imperfect biological life. The probe mistakes Kirk for its creator and out of respect for what it considers “the supreme being” does not destroy him. At one point, Kirk tells the probe…..”I’m a biological creature and I created you”. Spock, looking more than slightly alarmed, tells Kirk…..”I don’t think telling the probe that you are imperfect was a prudent action” Our society has produced many brilliant and gifted people. Two outstanding examples are Lawrence Kohlberg and Camille Paglia. Kohlberg’s work concludes that only 20% of adults are capable of making the 5 steps that lead to an “informed” decision…..the other 80% just want to be “told how to act” (my paraphrase). Paglia has publicly stated that, as an academic, she was willing to base her entire career on this statement……”the IDEA of God was the most significant idea human beings ever came up with. While I’m willing to admit “that faith is a gift; you either have it or you don’t”,I also espouse the suggestive premise….”act as if you have faith, and faith will be given to you” Before we can overhaul Capitalism, it seems to me, we might want to overhaul ourselves…..just a bit. As Woody Allen once observed…..”don’t knock shame and guilt, they can keep people from doing a lot of terrible things”

  • Mark

    Q for Richard Wolff: Have you read Progress and Poverty by Henry George? Can you comment on the economic reform proposed by
    Henry George?

    Also do you know Fred Foldvary? Fred Foldvary is a
    lecturer in economics at Santa Clara University, California, and a research fellow at
    The Independent Institute. He is also a commentator and senior editor for the
    online journal The Progress Report and an associate editor of the online journal Econ Journal Watch. He lives in Berkeley, California.

    In 1998 he predicted there would be a real estate-related
    recession in 2008. In 2007 Foldvary published a
    booklet entitled The Depression of 2008.

    I would like to recommend that Bill invite Fred
    Foldvary as a guest on a future Moyers & Company program.

  • Judy Greene

    In response to Mr. Moyers’ question re why aren’t we the people rising up in protest and demanding change, Mr. Wolff said that we are like deer caught in headlights. He added that once our eyes adjust to those headlights and we can take a good look around we will realize the American Dream is now a delusion and demand changes. I think this is only half the picture and that there is far less cause for optimism. We are not only deer caught in headlights, we are “zombiefied” by all the entertainment we have put ourselves in hock to buy, as well as information overload and the overwhelming sense that nothing makes sense. By the time one might expect the light bulbs to turn on, we will have a couple of generations who know nothing different. In other words, a new norm has been established that will allow the capitalists of the conservative right to finally realize THEIR American Dream. Not knowing how to think, feeling stressed if urged to think, becoming used to our role as Golden Goose for the rich, and being stupefied from amusing ourselves to death (nod to Neil Postman) we will simply march on as long as we can squeeze some comfort from inside our stalls.

    Question: what about the gerrymandering that Republicans are still pursuing? We the people don’t hear about this in the popular news. With the ballot boxes even more rigged to their favor, what chance do we have of any political change?

    Thank you for one of the best programs I’ve seen in a long time.

    ;o) Judy Greene

  • debora
  • Russell Spears

    Personally I think 90% of the those who looked towards the seats of power and massive wealth are sociopaths. This can go further than any other explanation in understanding our republic and the behavior of CEO’s.

  • Pole

    My thesis is quite simple. Capitalism is based on money; its acquisition and ability to influence the larger environment. I subscribe to the Hebrew prophets and the Tanakh as reinforced by Jesus the man. Amos heralded three activities he said would bring down his nation: Greed, Deceit and Cruelty. Capitalism encourages all three with it competitive posture (instead of cooperative). Greed drives the engine. Deceit oils the outcome, and Cruelty examples the results. The Tanakh states that the love of money is the root of all evil. Jesus also heralded this point of view. The Buddha said that wealth itself is not bad, but the attachment to wealth which leads to destruction. How can you or any righteous person or person with ethical standards say nothing in the face of this power grab by the rich, corporate leaders and Republicans to destroy our nation for the sake of a relatively few? The Buddha also said that everyone and everything is related, inter-related and interconnected. That is the nature of reality in its totality. Favoring one class of wealth creators over the larger number of wealth providers leads to destruction.

  • Russell Spears

    JB, obviously having focused on statistics, you could not attack his main points.

    Which is that our economic system can’t provide workers the minimal support for a decent life. That it always drifts into this plutocratic rule. That, as a system, it is very unstable and disruptive to productive working conditions. And that Worker Self Directed enterprises can and should be the locus of laboring efforts.

  • timbal 1

    When do we come to the realization, that the corporations, 1%’s and government (politicians) are a dysfunctional family that stick together no matter what. The people, hard working ?%’s, must engage in an peaceful revolution, by way of a national work stoppage and a halt to consuming. What has been done since Roosevelt, for the advancement and well being of common man/woman, to combat the greed, corruption, hypocrisy and misrepresentation that exist in our government? It’s time for all effected, to snap out of delusion and individualism and rise-up to action and fizzle out like the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

  • John Harding

    An oustanding program that really helped to understand our economic predicament. So regulation is not the answer. I am dying to hear what remedies you have to sug

  • doug

    As someone wanting to pursue a masters in global economics because I want to understand how things work on a global level as well as understand the human concerns associated with economics, I so appreciate what Richard has to say. The two questions that come to mind after seeing his interview with Bill Moyers today is, one, what was his motivation for going to Stanford, Harvard and Yale while he was doing it? Was it for purely acacemic reasons of wanting to learn more and more from the perceived best schools in America? Did, as one of the motivations I mentioned, done because he wanted to learn how things work and felt he needed all three schools to get where he wanted to be knowledge wise? Or was there some other motivation, like he started out blindly pursuing what he was told was knowledge only to arrive at a deeper perception of it, as he seems to have had.
    And finally, his discussion and point of view seems to be soley focused on the outer influences or circumstances imposed on humans from unfair economic situations, yet does not seem to talk or address the need to see, or balance out a spiritual perspective as well. We often hear spiritualists say, we need not change the world we see as much as we need to change how we see it. Or good economic prosperity comes from living a balanced spiritual life from within. How does he weave a bigger whole into what he is saying? Surely he doesn’t think economics is the begininng and end to all our problems does he? I guess I would like to see him expand on this discussion a little.

  • Carla

    A question for Mr. Wolff:
    There are more people in the middle and lower income levels than in the upper. Why can’t we make or why haven’t we made our representatives do the right thing? It seems as if the only movements organized are those based on dislike for for some other group. Little hate groups thrive while the rest of us wonder what happened.

  • Lisa Selvia Johnson

    I’ve often thought that ushering in real change in Capitalism has got to start with doing away with the idea of the career politician. As long as congressional leaders are more concerned with reelection than they are with being a true public servant, how can we possibly achieve true reform? Supporting the holy party becomes the entirety of their usefullness. I’d be interested to hear what Richard Wolf thinks an out this.

  • Steve

    Question for Mr. Wolff:
    Out of economic necessity the generation currently coming of age is being required to redefine the American Dream. It seems as though they have lost confidence in the myth that the pursuit of wealth and upward social mobility will provide happiness. Do you believe we might be at the dawning of a society that more directly pursues and measures happiness via the model set by Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness index as opposed to our GNP?

  • Nemso

    It seems to me what is absent right now in movements is a charasmatic leader such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Where can we get someone to step forward and get the overworked, beaten down masses to do something about the failures of our current system of capitalism? President Obama is not the one, in my opinion.

  • RL

    Does the fact that the largest US corporations are, in fact, multinational in every sense contribute to their lack of desire to identify their goals with those of the average American?

  • Anonymous


    Thanks, as always, for a great show! I would ask Dr. Wolff to expand on the subject of debt and the fears that are encumbered by it.

    He said,” But beware, if my psychiatrist wife is right, as she usually is, what happens after that period of stasis, of shock, is a boiling over of anger, as you kind of confront what has happened.” It was that sort of boiling over that has led students around the world to lead in promoting social change but it appears that the people Ike warned us about, the M-I complex, also recognized that those were the people they had the most to fear from.

    Dr.Wolff went on to say,” …the American people can and will find ways to push for the kinds of changes that can get us out of this dilemma.” Unfortunately, unlike the in ’60s, most students today are enslaved to the loans they took, often without fully reading, or maybe without fully understanding what they’d read and were signing. Unless there has been a recent change, student loans can be called when the student is arrested for participating in a demonstration. While that doesn’t keep the most passionately concerned students from demonstrating, it certainly gives cause for fear and thereby keeps many who may well be ‘boiling over with anger’ from taking to the barricades. And, couldn’t it be assumed that the same fears about financial obligations have minimized the protests from all segments of the population?

    More than one bit of media has suggested that DEBT, as seen by the leadership of the corporate/financial community, is a useful tool to minimize dissent. Does Dr. Wolff see any reason not to believe that suggestion? Is there any way to release us from those fears? Or, are we simply doomed to the world of Mad Max?

  • Anonymous


    1. Globalization Following WWII Is a New Normal—Deeply Structural

    In the good old days following WWII the U.S. was in the best geopolitical and physical position to support its own and the world’s economic growth with jobs in the full spectrum of the labor market. Isn’t it possible that the post war period that eventually saw gradual deterioration was the anomalous circumstance and that as the rest of the world recovered from the War’s ravage, a kind of flattening normalization took place because the world’s labor pool became closer to one entity, the exceptional position of America’s ordinary workers following the War eroded naturally with the growth of globalization? Pimco’s Bill Gross and Mohamed El-Erian’s “new normal” may be settling in for a long stay and changing it will be exceptionally difficult. If dwindled hopes, expectations and domestic projections are the quick sand of a thriving economy, how can we buoy up so many discouraged and worried people? Who is going to tell the truth to the people that we probably aren’t going to generate the GDP to dig out of the debt and invigorate the lives of the many down trodden? There really are no signs of a 3.5% to 5% GDP growth, necessary to power our way out of this.

    2. Growing Versus Distributing Wealth

    Rising tide and boats is the metaphor that raises one of the most perplexing and contentious views about the nature of wealth itself. Inferred, assumed, leveraged, manipulated, merited, earned, entitled and stolen are all attitudes toward the attainment of wealth. They comprise a tangled web of massively cross purposed assumptions whereby the people in our democracy feel anything from heartened and encouraged to cynical and cheated about how wealth is distributed. Furthermore, growing and distributing are inherently intertwined and interacted. How can we somehow more precisely nail down with a greater agreement what our social contract is? If everybody is thinking a different social contract about growing and distributing wealth, as an ideal or an inevitable reality, how can we ever get the monkey wrench out of the machine to attain greater uniformity of goals, functions and purposes? Can Obama be what you say FDR was to his era?

    3. High Tech Export Economy

    Ray Kurzweil and others, especially those from silicon valley are personally thriving on exponential technological and scientific change. DARPA and other places in the military industrial complex is another center of a unique special advantage America possesses in the global economy. In the commercialization of this accelerating technical change that is, I assume, more difficult to off-shore, there seems to be a possible pathway to broaden domestic worker engagement. President Obama seems to especially be thinking along these lines. Are there political strategies and activities that could be enacted, such as education, communication and capital allocation that the will of the people through government could use to activate a more broadly distributed, export focused well-paying jobs base?

  • Guy S. Michael

    How can the investment in public sercurities of a company be tied more closely to the success of the company instead, as now, only to the price someone else will pay for it, a price that fluctuates at Wall Street’s control rather than the actual performance of the business? Does Mr. Wolff agree that the inflated power now vested in the securities industry should be diminished, and that one way to do that would be to return that business into merely the brokerage house it once was? Wouldn’t this allow workers to have a real vested interest in corporate profits by providing them with shares that rose or fell with corporate profit instead of Wall Street manipulation? Wouldn’t it eliminate the creation of the type of synthetic investment “products” that gave rise to the recent economic crisis?

  • tony

    With what I feel, that the major majority of the working class feels that with the corruption at the top, it can not be stopped at the bottom. At the expense of hard working Americans
    paying the most,giving the most and indirectly being slaughtered by the rich by not paying fair wages, paying taxes on the exorbitant about of profit, taking benefits away from seniors that put into the system during their lifetime is billion percent wrong. The wages and benefits congress receives for the work that they do is ridiculous. The working class of people do not trust each other to really stop this insanity. I feel that the American people, all of us stop working, stop paying bills, stop buying gas, stop all at one time for about three months. I live close to Atlantic City, N.J. where the casino operators bilked the casinos dry, laid off or fired workers, put in slot machines that do not require any human
    element. If they would revert back to lounge entertainment as they had in the 80’s and
    early 90’s they would have the business to survive and make big profits. Also I feel that
    Wall Street speculators should be stopped, .I also feel that the lobbyist for the multi rich

    should be barred from the White House and pork barrel spending be stopped.

  • Lauren

    Mr Wolff wants to replace our current form of Capitalism with WSDE’s yet our current Capitalism is the most productive system ever devised. Why not, instead, focus on the political corruption which allows Capitalism to unjustly enrich itself? Why not repeal Citizen’s United, impose real political contribution limits, reenact Glass-Steagall, and institute public funding of campaigns? If something doesn’t work quite right, fix it, don’t throw it out.

  • Judy

    Re: Richard Wolff: I tuned in late, but don’t think it was mentioned (it usually isn’t).

    While in our Legislature in early 90s, FREE TRADE came in, and I said to all I knew,”There go our jobs!”. Surprise? Corporations, millionaires and billionaires benefit, we and the workers in China and elsewhere get screwed. (I suppose that much of Europe’s problems are also related.) Get out of it? Ha!

  • David Robinson

    Comment and Question for Bill and Mr. Wolff: First let me say how much I respect your work, Mr. Moyers. In my first career I was a print journalist and I was mentored by fearless, informed, and fair newspeople who spoke truth to power. It was a time before corporate funded j-schools and electronic disco- journalism ruled the day. It was a respected craft and you learned from craftsmen. You and people at places like Democracy Now are the last of the breed of journalists I respect and admire. Mr. Wolff, your lucid and logical analysis of the state of our country is both frightening and compelling. I intend to consume your works immediately. You pointed out that most Americans are suffering from a form of shock as they try to accept the sober realities of the theft of the American dream
    by the powerful. Your faith that people will eventually gather themselves and demand change is something I also believe. As a student of history, it is inevetible. It can be within the constructs of our Democratic experiment, or it can erupt like a third-world revolt with violence and madness. Either way, it must come. We saw a glimpse of it during the 99 percent surge. I knew it couldn’t last because it didn’t ask the rest of us to engage in any meaningful way so when the tents and cameras went away so did the momentum. I also knew it wouldn’t result in any significant policy change because the power elite have the resources to wait it out. They did, and it’s essentially gone. I have an idea, though, that could possibly have real impact and that nearly anyone can do–nothing. Let me explain. If those with access to the major media, along with social media mavens asked everyone in the country who isn’t rich to spend no money what-so-ever for just one agreed upon day–no gas, no groceries, no diapers, no fast food, no cigarettes, nothing–I believe we could scare the heck out of the power elite. The logic is that if the power elite worship money, then we as consumers, who are the engines of the economy, withhold the one thing that drives the system, we can therefore shake up the system and demand significant change. If we could demonstrate such collective power for just one day, I’d be interested to know Mr. Wolff, what impact such an event might actually have on the economy. Of course everyone wouldn’t join, but let’s just say 25% of the population joined in, what economic impact would that have? 50%? I think the fact that people can involve themselves by simply doing nothing is compelling and possible. What do you think?

  • Steve Lipman

    I applaud you ability articulate this issue that has been looming for decades. I am a 65 year old that has seen this unfolding for years. Whenever I articulate that the capitalistic system is failing, the reactionary label of communist, or socialist muddy the waters of a frank, serious discussion. It appears that those lobbyist that have positioned themselves in the halls of political power have manged to achieve their purpose of acquiring the income of the American public so that their is nothing left to support Main Street USA. I totally get the problem, what would you suggest are the practical steps to changing the capital system as we know it today? Do you see any political leaders that really have the insight and guts to address this issue head on? If not, than how can we unite to find such a leader and not be distracted by incoherent rhetoric that only serves to alienate our population? Is revolution inevitably what we will be faced with? The Golden Rule, “those with all the gold rule” is so well entrenched in every aspect of our economic and political lives that there there seems to be little hope to lift us out of this great malaise of the American spirit.

  • Hardtimes Don

    Professor Wolff needs to address the Media’s lack of investigation & factual presentations. Instead, Americans have been BRAINWASHED to accept a failing system.

  • Joe

    What is Mr Wolf’s position on the policy of the Federal Reserve and/or the legality or even the need for the FED ?

  • PatinVT

    I just turned 64 and am still working because I cannot seriously contemplate retirement financially nor without healthcare coverage. I have a BA in Economics and a Masters in Administration, both of which were achieved while working full time. My great job begun in 1973 was lost to a corporate raid in 1986 along with my defined benefit retirement and health care plan. The next 30 years my wages were modestly rising, but essentially flat. I’ve been de-regulated, corporate-raided, off-shored and beaten by the 401k risk trap and the loss of home equity to the latest banking debacle. I am neither ignorant, nor lazy nor incompetent but there it is…facing an uncertain future and the prospects of a very bleak retirement or none at all. I’d like to know what Dr. Wolff’s thoughts are about the cuts to Social Security and Medicare that the masters of the universe would have us believe are the only path to fiscal redemption? How do the policy advocates think the burgeoning senior population is going to survive with no pensions, small savings, and lost home equity? I’d really like to know?

  • PatinVT

    I worry about this too because half the people are watching Fox and listening to Limbaugh rather than Moyers and Co. and have an entirely different concept of the the identify of their enemy.

  • Leonard Wolf

    I believe Mr. Wolff’s analysis is spot on. So let’s hear Mr. Wolff’s solutions. What system would work better and how can we implement the change?

  • xaxtarr

    One result of lowered earnings is the rise of the underground economy, what used to be called the black market, as a way for people to cope. Racketeering during prohibition was an example of this. The drug wars, bootleg products, most crime and rising incarceration rates seems to be directly related to the underground economy and to socio-economic pressures.

    The question is: how would these factors enter into Dr. Wolff’s real-world economics and why are the easing of economic pressures on “the masses” not seen as a first step in the solution to crime and economic desperation?

  • ChuckR

    Fantastic Show. While I agree with much of what Mr. Wolff said, I don’t see a practical way in an increasingly “global” economy, for American workers to demand higher wages and benefits without the real possibility of moving even more jobs to other countries. It seems that most Americans want “livable wages” but want also to pay as little as possible for goods and services.

    How can we resolve this huge dilemna?

  • Michael in Richmond CA

    I do: What has been the result of the “free trade agreements” economic decisions in the past and those in the works with Asia and Europe, and what might be the potential for forcing our economy to be re-focused on our domestic market of 300 million consumers, instead of globalization of production and wages?

  • Robert G. Stepanovich


    How deep did you have to dig to find that socialist who takes his advise from Bernie Sanders? Capitalism is not the enemy of Democracy. He has it perfectly backwards. When the masses who have no stake in the means of production realize they can vote themselves largesse from the public purse Capitalism is perverted. We have no free market. Capitalism and the free market have been under relentless attack from the big bankers and the Progressives since the days of TR and JP Morgan. Both “too big to fail” and the minimum wage are killing the golden goose of Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand. Ask him what new distortions he wants to impose on a beautiful system.

    Robert G. Stepanovich
    A Libertarian in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.

  • Kevan Crawford, PhD

    Dr. Wolff asserts that repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999 led to the accumulation of toxic assets in particular investment banks, establishing one of the conditions that led to the 2008 economic downturn. This assertion can only be true if toxic assets did not accumulate in investment banks prior to 1999.

    Given Dr. Wolff’s assumption that toxic assets did not accumulate in certain investment banks prior to 1999, how does Dr. Wolff explain the accumulation of toxic assets in certain investment banks in 1998, prior to the 1999 repeal, as reported by PBS’s FRONTLINE report titled THE WARNING:

    If Dr. Wolff asserts that Glass-Steagall exerted limited control over the concentration of toxic assets, thereby explaining the 1998 near disaster, then how does Dr. Wolff explain the necessity of the federal executive to act to avert a collapse of the American banking system in 1998?

    In other words, extent of industry control, and magnitude of disaster are not an explanation for Glass-Steagall being a contributing cause of the 2008 downturn. Repeal was either a contributing factor or it was not, since a trigger condition does not differentiate between magnitudes. FRONTLINE proved that the contributing condition existed before the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall.

  • JJH

    I will expand on it for you, via Chris Hedges who experienced Ivy league education–The Ivys attract better students to begin with, and then proceed to numb them into corporate shrills. The reason to go in the 1st place is individual marketability which makes Wolff suspect to begin with…

  • C. Kukis

    It is my understanding that the insurance industry ,in particular , the health insurance industry is not regulated by the “Sherman antitrust act” or any regulatory body that restricts the companies from a collusion of setting fees, terms or any type of contractual obligations to their purchasers. If this is true, then why not? And , possibly this lack of oversight has lead to their unrelenting profits without any obligation of providing a fair and just product. It seems to me, after a career in the health industry, that the insurance companies can set any interpretation of their contract obligations as long as it is profitable for them. Plus, they have no responsibility towards the HUMAN BEINGS that they impact. What can be done?

  • Bruce Van Dieten

    Excellent show!
    We are told that the old paradigm of classic capitalism has been perverted by the elites ability to move capital so freely, that we can no longer tax at “noncompetitive” rates (whatever that mythical low rate is) as this will cause high earning individuals and corporations to move their capital elsewhere. Roosevelt didn’t have this pressure to contend with. Where does this fit in your thesis?

  • Jorge

    Toward the very end of the interview

    “The most insistent question is __what do we do…?__ Where do we go…?__if regulation isn’t the solution…”

    My question is: why include in the conversation that regulation is not a possibility…?

    Some countries around the world have proven that regulation is the way to go to begin to create a fair distribution of wealth. It seems a bit like putting the cart before the horse and conditioning the audience to believe that “regulation” should not be part of the solution.

  • Gordon Graham

    Just finished watching a rerun of your interview with Richard Wolff. I agree with his premise, that if our inequality of opportunity and income isn’t resolved thoughtfully, revolution and the adoption of some other system is probable. What adds real force, anger and righteous rage to that revolution will come from confronting the consequences of the poisoning of our planet. The vilification of the 1%, here in the US, will broaden to include all of US, European, Christian & Whites for the damage we have done to all of the non-white peoples of the planet and to the life support systems upon which we can no longer rely. That’s the piece I see so many unwilling, or unable, to admit to if we are to begin our global 12-step process. How best might we do that?

  • Chris Smith

    Hi, Mr. Wolff- I very much enjoyed listening to your comments last night. While I didn’t quite agree with everything you said, I learned much, for which I am grateful. I do have a question: You said that bankers and CEOs do what they do because the system tells them to do those things. Are not (at least some) regulations designed to change that system in order to tell those people to do different (hopefully better) things?

  • owen

    Mr Wolff never mentioned as a possibility that a small business owner may not have the money to pay his employees at the new rate for minimum wage.He only stated that the small business may not want to pay the raised rate.Another reason economies fail is excessive debt, historical examples include Rome,16th century Spain,post world war1Germany there are many others.Facts should not be excluded when they do not support our desired conclusion.

  • Kevan Crawford, PhD

    While referring to the accumulation of toxic assets in certain investments banks leading to the 2008 economic downturn, Dr. Wolff avoids examining the source of the creation of those same toxic assets.

    The toxic assets in question are a euphemism for bad mortgage loans created as a result of loosened mortgage credit. The loosened mortgage credit was a result of regulations implemented in 1996 by a Democratic executive to purchase the presidential election. The loosened mortgage regulations were made possible only by the Community Re-investment Act (CRA) of 1977 passed under a Democratic legislature and executive.

    Toxic assets, made up of bad mortgage loans traced directly to actions of the Clinton and Carter administrations, immediately began to concentrate in certain investment banks in 1997, with disaster proportion being reached in 1998. A Democratic executive moved to avert the collapse of the banking industry in 1998 (see FRONTLINE report titled THE WARNING) without leading legislation to prevent the creation and concentration of toxic assets. (Note: FRONTLINE proved Glass-Steagall repeal was irrelevant.)

    How does Dr. Wolff explain how American voters can ignore governmental responsibility for the creation and concentration of toxic assets here in the US that resulted in the 2008 worldwide economic downturn, wasted unfathomable amounts of financial resources, lost innumerable jobs, and destabilized numerous markets and governments?

  • S Fox

    WOW Mr. Wolff I am so grateful for your perspective and hard work over the years to wake us all up. Nor what we can see Capitalism has hit the fan, what can we collectively do to make a difference?

  • Anonymous

    The floodgates for crony capitalism opened up big time with the Citizens United ruling came down in 2010. This decision deserved to be this era’s equivalent of the Dred Scott decision which helped spawn our Civil War. But the widening gulf between rich and poor goes back further than is commonly thought–back three decades to the time when Reagan’s actions considerably weakened unions and other efforts at promoting genuine middle class prosperity. And it doesn’t help that seemingly endless wars are being fought in distant lands which, among other things, distract us from tackling such challenging issues here on the home front.

  • Anonymous

    You may remember that China adopted a one child per family policy in order to curb out of control population growth. And the demographics here in the US and no doubt other advanced societies is leveling off. Most of this undoubtedly is due to the expenses involved in raising children. But, as your last paragraph suggests, do we collectively have the will to do what it takes to bring corporate greed to its knees? I doubt it, or at the very least haven’t figured out what to do yet.

  • Anonymous

    This DOES make one wonder whether the Christopher Dorner rampage was just a prelude to things to come. These days those fortunate enough to still have jobs literally check their rights at the door once they enter the workplace. One way in which Dorner was luckier than most is that at least was granted appeals, which he ultimately lost. We need to empower our workers more in order to prevent future such episodes and offer some form of recourse to those who feel they lost their jobs unfairly who don’t have union or some other contracts. We need to move from a strict at-will toward a just-cause system.

  • Joel Banks

    Mr. Wolff noted the receding of the stereotypical American Dream for millions of people and also the cutting of corners on education that many families are doing to survive. These are facts. But, disappointingly, Mr. Wolff did not address thecontributory factor of excessively high house prices which has been nurtured by the loose money monetary policy of the Federal Reserve.
    Inflation in house prices and the absurd notion of saving via house equity have contributed much to the indebtedness and concomitant impoverishment of millions of Americans. The academic economics and business schools have been big promoters of both house price inflation and house equity borrowing. Mr. Wolff should address these issues if his discourse for social justice is to be credible.

  • Anonymous

    You began to get your wish when the Occupy movement began, but either it has fizzled or the media just isn’t covering it. We don’t seem to have the same type of collective spirit as we did in the days of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war protests. If we did, we probably would be further along the way toward correcting some of today’s injustices. I believe there are plans underway for a 50th anniversary March on Washington this summer, and this time it needs to be for economic justice as well as racial.

  • Anonymous

    What has transpired over the past three decades is the opposite of what many pundits originally expected. They assumed that new technology would shorten average workweeks and give most of us more time to spend with family, friends, or doing what we please. Instead, we clearly went in the other direction, and I bet that the forefathers who shed blood for the eight-hour day are turning over in their graves. But on the other hand those who can’t find work have all the time on their hands but can’t do much with it except look for a hoped-for new job. It seems as if the only choices are becoming overwork or out of work.

  • Karen

    Dear Prof. Wolff, You mention in your interview that regulation (of the financial sector) doesn’t work. What do you propose as an alternative for reining in really egregious behavior that puts all of us at risk? Really enjoyed your interview, by the way.

  • AbqGirl

    Does Mr. Wolfe think campaign finance reform is important? And if it is, how in the world do we get politicians to put some real limits on themselves?
    It seems to me our politicians are bought and paid for by big money. Getting the corporate money, the private money, out of funding our elections and having only publicly funded elections has got to be the first step of making our democracy work for us, the people. Short of publicly funded elections, only real transparency in campaign financing could help.

  • OMJerry J. Johansen

    Mr. Wolf, If I understand things right the U.S. Constitution, Gives the
    Government the right to press Coin, and the paper money is regulated by
    the Government but is owned by the Banks. Question: What if the
    definition of the Penny, is made at a value of 2 1/2 % of the dollar?
    Would the value of the Government monetary assets increase over all?
    Thanks for your insights. Your E-Pal OMJerry J Johansen.

  • Patrizia

    Mr. Wolff discussed the impact of high student loans and lowered expectations on younger workers, but what about the economic impact of older workers who have used their savings to go back to school to improve their skills, incurred large debt, and cannot find work that pays enough to pay off the loans. In the recent recession, a lot of Baby Boomers took this route and are now saddled with student loan debt, no savings, and reduced prospects for work; some even drawing on Social Security early to pay off student loans because the only jobs available were low-paying. Student loan debt seems to me to be the next big financial crisis.

  • Alex

    The key to success for changing the system is to change the way political campaigns are financed. We can not continue to have our leaders campaign for election or re-election with funds supplied by lobbyists and their corporations. Do you think we can indeed reform our campaign financing system to one that is funded by taxpayers or is it too late?

  • Liane Giambalvo

    Where can we get the CD “Capitalism hits the fan”? It would be great to have a link to the site for purchase or download. Thank you very much for all the wonderful interviews each week. Liane Giambalvo, Scarborough ME

  • Oratorio

    You are both right. But to give an antibiotic to someone whose health is bankrupt is NOT going to change the way of life that causes the problems. No change in the Capitalistic system will bring only further problems.

  • Brian Benson

    Mr Wolff,
    I don’t often watch Mr. Moyers’ show. However, I was riveted during your discussion. I heard the ‘dire’ message, and I concur. In my view, your hints about ‘the anger boiling over’ reminds me of some of what I read in ‘The Long Emergency’ by William Howard Kunstler. In other words, a virtual meltdown of our society (yes, I know, albeit for different reasons, but not that different).
    I have two adult children, their spouses, and two grandchildren. All beautiful, of course. How do I keep from believing that there is no hope for them? What can be done to prevent us from going the way of the Roman Empire?

  • Michael H

    In the absence of politicians legislating for the “greater good” due to the power of money, and the decline of unions, the only resource left to articulate peacefully the need and desires of the 99% is the media, especially journalists, but where are they? Other than Bill Moyers and some blogs, where are the loud voices that can catch the attention of the 99%?

  • Paul Jersey City

    Thank you, very much, for this program. For all of them, yes, but this one really hits home – The voice that Richard Wolff has for us is so important. So important, a discussion that’s almost never seriously explored in the major media – and that leads to my next comment – I called an old friend, teacher, mentor, just after the program and his first comment was – “Don’t you think it’s interesting/amazing that this was allowed to be shown?” – Thank you Bill Moyers and thank you PBS for not bowing into whatever pressures there must certainly be upon to NOT show these interviews. And please keep them coming. We desperately need this discussion.

  • David from Cincinnati Ohio

    Mr. Wolff seems to disagree with the notion of regulation. He went through and discussed how corporations worked around and finally had the Glass-Steagall Act repealed but the the worst recession since the great depression occurred because of the repeal. His logic seems flawed since the repeal led to the this terrible recession. Mr. Wolff wants to change the culture through protest but it appears to me we need some sort of regulation to control the foolish impulses of those in power. Also, how do you cause change when the rich clearly buy and control most of the politicans?

  • Jack

    In tonight’s show, Richard Wolff seemed to refer to my son. He was speaking of those 20-somethings who did everything society taught them to do – do well in school, work hard, go to college – and a good paying job would be waiting. My son did that, and in a field that had excellent job prospects. The economic crash and government cutbacks have eliminated any chance he has of employment in his field. Six years out of school and a series of temp jobs on his resume later, and the American dream seems all but impossible for him. Now what? Yet another degree? More debt? What does Dr. Woff see as the answer for the legion of young Americans stuck in this rut?

  • Scott Dennis Fields Ricci

    I have come to the conclusion, too, that the system will only change from the ground up. What do you think of a strategy of more people opting out of the system? By this I mean, re-evaluating what we spend our money on and what we truly need to survive and be happy. Hit them where it counts….their wallets!

  • D. E. Biesiadecki

    We live in a 2200 sq ft home. It’s not too big and its fairly easy to clean. We’re even thinking of downsizing. Other houses in my neighborhood are about the same size. Then all of a sudden larger and larger houses were being built. Families weren’t bigger, just the size of the idea of what it was to be american got bigger. When the housing market collapsed I thought builders might think of smaller houses; less engergy used, less trees destroyed, etc. but it didn’t happen. I guess I don’t understand why bigger is better. Is there some way to show americans that a moderate lifestyle is completely fine. I’m so tired of seeing kids say they want to grow up to be doctors or lawyers or stock market brokers. What they’re really saying is I WANT TO MAKE LOTS OF MONEY. How do we get rid of the greed? How did we get so greedy?

    I grew up in a household where my father worked and my mother didn’t. There were four children and we never got everything we wanted and my parents didn’t apologize for it. They never said go to college so you can have a better life. If we did we did and paid for much of it ourselves. We thought our life was just fine. There were many people in the trades who could make decent lives. The proporation of CEO to worker pays were not so out of proportion.

    I read somewhere that after WWII the CEOs who fought with men of all levels of society saw that there was worth in every man’s life no matter the background and were more willing to create jobs and share the wealth with fellow americans. Without cross pollinization of social classes we seemed to have lost our empathy. How do we get that back?

    I have so much to ask. Like how does the government determine inflation? It seems like every six months it costs more at the super market. The price may not rise but the quantities have diminished. Isn’t that still inflation? I’m going to have to be buy more to get the same quantity.

  • Lynda

    Is there a way for several news outlets to cover this information at once and over and over again? The more people to hear this message, the better. I am particularly interested in “WHAT WE CAN DO?” I am using a collective WE because WE are all affected by this system of inequality.

  • Ray

    All of the economic one time tricks have pretty much been used by the Federal Reserve and the Government to keep our economy out of a severe recession/depression. The last of these tricks of bringing down Interest rates to historical levels and the Federal
    Reserve purchasing the government’s own bonds (quantitative easing) have almost
    run their course. The result of these policies ending leaves the final most insidious weapon for a government to use, inflation. There are already too many U.S. dollars in the world economy, we are just lucky that most of the excess dollars are in China. When will the government be forced to use inflation as their last tool to balance the federal budget and what will be the consequences to the middle class?

  • Pam

    Reaganomics and the later reform of the Glass Steel act tore apart the economic regulations that held the middle class dream together. If regulations can’t save the economy and the middle class, in your opinion, what are the top three most important solutions to bringing a fair distribution of wealth back to our country?

  • Paul McNaull

    Mr. Wolff, It seems that the nations that build the goods are the nation accrue the wealth and build a highly paid and highly skilled middle class. However in today’s environment the extremely wealthy and corporate owners are only willing to pay the minimum for labor, which has the effect of reducing the size of the market to which they sell. They are also unwilling to support the social programs which expand their markets. How can they generate a profit as they reduce demand?

  • Mary Alice

    I’m looking forward to hearing about Mr. Wolff’s solutions and changes he proposes since regulation has been dismissed. My question is related to this issue because before real change can happen true democracy has to reemerge. How does Wolff think that such a divided citizenry can come together when we are so misinformed by a corporate media that has a stake in maintaining the status quo? There are so many people in the US that don’t even know the basics from American history let alone the real facts from current events. Many of these people I know personally and enjoy their company from time to time (we try to avoid politics as topics of conversation). The myths of “The Welfare Queen” as the lazy economy-destroyer – for lack of a better term – are still very pervasive. As long as a large part of the population blames an invented villain from the same socioeconomic class (or not too far removed) rather than the system and the elites that continue to solidify that system in their favor, we will continue to founder and see our quality of life decline. I hope this will be addressed.

  • Maritza

    Dear Mr. Wolfe, Thank you for your presentation tonight on Bill Moyers and Company. I am a 35 year old American- Latina woman. My parents taught me that in America, I could be anything I want to be and make a good living with a college education. I have a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art. However, museum jobs pay low part-time wages and galleries often hire interns for stipend pay and/or foreigners, to do long-term work for lower wages. People who are overqualified usually end up getting hired too, for little salary. In 2006, I was hired as a full-time Visitor Services staff member at a small museum. Having the position helped me to pay off my college loans (original amount $10,00 dollars) which took a total of ten years to pay off. By the time I paid off my loan, I had paid more than double the original amount. I have only been able to rent a room, since I graduated, here in NYC. One day, the boss that originally hired me left, and the woman that came into the position was promoted from within. She was starting a family, and wished to work remotely from her home. A lot of negligence began to happen. My stress increased, my hours increased, my responsibilities increased, but not my title or wages. Then I had a work accident (within a few months of her hiring) at the museum. I tore both of my shoulders filling in for absent staff in the coat check room on Christmas in 2008. Months after sustaining my injury, I was fired after I requested an accommodation at work. I have been out of work for 3 years. Most of that time, I was being treated for my injuries, but now, I do not get job offers because I have not worked in 3 years and the circumstances regarding my termination are delicate to discuss during a job interview. I was awarded lost wages by the worker’s compensation judge, but the museum’s insurance company is making it impossible for me to obtain the award. I have amassed the same amount of debt (even more) that I was so happy to have paid off (college loans) and I am looking at low wage part-time work opportunities now and am competing with immigrants and young college graduates who are willing to accept lower pay for them. I am very disillusioned by the “American Dream”. I do want to protest many of the injustices that I am being put through, could you please recommend an organization or venue which I can add my cause to? Do you have any suggestions for me and any others like me? Thank you.

  • Wes

    Is a moneyless society a possibility? I’m not speaking of a barter society. I’m speaking of a society without money because nothing has been assigned a value. Satisfaction of human need would be society’s only purpose. It seems to me that every obstacle preventing progress on X or Y is money – either too much of it paying off an opponent, or too little to buy what is needed. Your work inspires me and I hope to be able to contribute to a change in the system the US and the world uses so we can move forward in equality and peace. Thank you for your work!

  • NLM

    Q for Mr. Wulff: Why not a universal, flat tax — same tax rate no matter the person’s socioeconomic status or age, same exact tax rate for every investor, for capital gains, for virtually every corporation and every business, for every type of income. No offshore tax havens allowed, no loopholes for anyone or any special interest. Period. Aside from eliminating a much-disliked federal agency (IRS) thus saving money, it’s pretty hard to gripe if everybody is expected to put in their fair share!

  • Michal

    Bill– Ask harder questions because the analysis is good but the remedy what the ruling class loves — general. No REG-U-LAT-SHUN S– because they do not work. Well they did work a lot and that is why there “were” a lot of unions. And the best way to get political power is to take back the law making and have good and better real
    REG-U_Lat_SHUns — that work.
    Earlier in a lecture he proposed no regs about union formation, but that people could just “work for self” in their garage. Right. Sure. That will work. This proposing
    self employment and general protest — is easy to trounce. This is establishment talk.
    Unions, minimum wage, SS, etc. need yes REGULATIONS – coming from laws that are passed by a Congress working for US, the people. Not bought off.
    The upperclass just laughs and gives this guy a promotion when he advocates
    against what is real power — the law — the reg-u-lat-shuns- WE NEED.

  • Rob

    would like to ask Richard Wolff. Because congress who we all depend on
    to protect and defend are all bribed by the people who we are trying to
    rein in on,corporate America, just how do you propose we create a
    congress to do the people’s will and rein in the corporations? Since
    campain finance reform requires the very votes from the members of
    congress who are being bribed we cannot effect “Real Change” how do we
    effect the system of bribing that occurs?

  • Rob

    I would like to ask Richard Wolff. Because congress who we all depend on
    to protect and defend are all bribed by the people who we are trying to
    rein in on,corporate America, just how do you propose we create a
    congress to do the people’s will and rein in the corporations? Since
    campain finance reform requires the very votes from the members of
    congress who are being bribed we cannot effect “Real Change” how do we
    effect the system of bribing that occurs?

  • David Lagerman

    Q. for Mr. Wolff: Have you comments on Charles Eisenstein and his ideas in “Sacred Economics?” He seems to get to the root of our long-standing problems, turning our assumptions about society, spirit, money and economics on their heads. Particularly, I’d like your comments on social credit theory or “Basic Income guarantee,” BIG, and the idea of “free money,” which would have a declining value and therefore an incentive to increase the velocity of money. How does that reconcile with the role of money as a storage medium, i.e., savings? It all seems to come down to getting away from eternal, and therefore impossible, continued growth, and the notion that interest being steeper than the productivity available in investments leads to more and more debt: a debt “bomb” and eventual repudiation or collapse. The continued monetization of everything, “turning the commons into money,” is the road to disaster, Eisenstein says, and the answer is for we humans to realize our connection to everything, in contrast to the present attitude of separation, competition and domination.

  • Paul McNaull

    The fall of Rome was a complex confluence of events and decisions that began with the Emperor Diocletian, and concluded with the usurpation of Augustulus Romulus in 476. The collapse of the economy in the Iberian peninsula can be attributed to the repression caused by the Inquisition. The structure of the Paris talks that established the reparations in currency was the problem with Germany at the conclusion of WWI. These too are only part of the equation that caused the difficulties within the countries to which you refer. To ascribe the problems with only an economic cause is to deny that economics operates within a more complex social system.

  • EC

    In ‘Capitalism Hits the Fan,’ you describe the working class as
    “desperate and exhausted…wanting and needing and measuring itself in
    terms of its consumption.” I’m troubled by our habits of consumption and
    by our defining ourselves based on what we consume, and I’m wondering: is
    it possible to strengthen and maintain a growing economy that provides fair wages with a population that
    measures itself by something other than consumption?

  • scon

    Mr. Wolff.

    After watching the designed decline of the American middle class for decades, I have concluded that only a revolution, social or otherwise, will stem the course of the decline. Capitalism and altruism are opposing concepts. A predator does not give up its prey for the benefit of pack until it has fulfilled its own requirements.

    What events or actions are necessary to prevent this country from engaging in further class warfare and another American revolution? As the heirachy of human needs increasingly are not being met in this society, what can ‘we the people’ do to restructure the society or must it first be demolished by a revolution to be rebuilt?

    I have believed for decades that a revolution is the only and devastating answer to the suppression of the middle class in this country. Nothing in the last fifty years has occurred to alter my perception.

  • michael

    Vote Democratic > Bill Clinton,, Obama,,, and NOTHING HAPPENS (Wall Street wins BIG)
    Why keep believing the rhetoric ? The Party of FDR>” Fair Deal” has been destroyed !

  • JudyC:

    Q. I am currently reading Howard Zinn’s “The People History of the United Stated,” In reading about the late 1880s-90s and the labor uprizings. The political and economical climate seems very similar but we have in 2013 and absence of the people protesting. Do you see an economic parallel between these times? And do you see this as a potential reason for gun control, preventing a replay of history?

  • scon

    For decades, I have had the same thought. Wonder why tests for personality disorders, et al are not required to run for public office. Term limits could be of help in stemming the profits gained by a politician’s self interests.

  • Doc

    Considering how the political parties have become religions (attack and ridicule the one opposite of yours to prove yours is best, and don’t question your own). Dr. Wolff, do you think the time is ripe for a third party, or popular voice of the middle to appear? Or do you think social media (and the manipulation of the people through that) will prolong or effect how long it is before a real recovery happens? The protect the rich attitude is very similar to the thinking right before the French Revolution.

  • scon

    I don’t think we are going to ‘figure out what to do’ until we have reached the point of no return. Science fiction is only fiction until it becomes a reality.

  • Katie

    Question for Richard Wolff: First, I agree and support all that he says (although I could never articulate it as such!). Second, could he address this question/situation: How can we respond to the “spin” that all these businesses and jobs are leaving CA for Texas, AZ, wherever, because CA voters dared to pass Prop 30? On one hand some are screaming that the exodus is due to Prop 30 (taxes–horrors!), but on the other hand, they’re saying the move is due to regulations (Translation: We can’t do whatever we want to the environment and leave a mess for others to clean up.) I’m not sure the stats support this mass exodus, and even if it did, some of us would relish a reduced population. Can he articulate this “spanking” effect when the voters finally took a small step to level the economic inequalities?

  • Cindy

    Mr. Wolff, what can a middle income person in Republican Kansas (where the legislature is working to limit the rights of workers and diminish the school system) do to help turn the “American Nightmare” back into the “American Dream”?

  • scon

    Prior to the American Revolution, the British attempted to disarm the American colonists. Therefore, the our forefathers wrote the Second Amendment into the Constitution hopefully to preclude the possibility of a future police state. History does repeat itself.

  • scon

    I question how difficult it may be now to organize with the Patriot Act, Homeland Security agency, et al surveillance of American and foreign citizens. As far as the media is concerned, it sold out to the powers that be decades ago.

  • scon

    In part, we can thank the ‘union busting’ by Ronald Regan and his cronies for the lack of worker power, progress or a living wage today.

  • William Harris

    Mr Wolff the American dream should be somewhat like Australia already has. High incomes for people like the U.S. should have for it’s lower middle class and poor people, like $16.00 an hour or more and that is for all retired and disabled people also. Australia is an example. I see very little poverty here and everyone is out spending money. The turn-out is a booming economy because of demand for things that takes money which all people need things. In the U.S. as a result of a large poverty population, all people cannot have many of the things they need.

  • Jaime Yarbrough

    Could the changes set forth by Ron Paul actually work? Do we really need Central Banking. Because you addressed Glass-Stiegal why do all but the ‘conspiracy folk’ avoid “The Monster from Jekyll Island?”

  • Potomac Oracle

    Prof. Wolff, like most of America’s economists, fails to cover the one event in our lifetimes that ushered in a paradigm shift in how the public sector could conduct monetary and fiscal policy based on national monetary sovereignty. The Professor’s arguments overlook this shift and in so doing severely limits fiscal policy options available to the Executive and the Congress.

    The event was triggered by budget deficits which devalued the dollar and forced the U.S. to honor its promise to convert dollars to gold. The rush to gold, particularly by France, was rejected by Nixon (Aug., 15, 1971) and he defaulted on convertibility. That act abandoned the gold standard as formulated under the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944. The chief features of which were an obligation for each country to adopt a monetary policy that maintained the exchange rate by tying its currency to the dollar. With growing deficits under a fixed exchange rate system, dollars were devalued.

    Abandoning B-W created fiat currency regimes and flexible exchange rates replaced fixed, balanced budgets and relatively low budget deficits were no longer constraints on spending. After all a monetarily sovereign nation issuing its own currency only risked inflation, solvency would no longer be a concern unless politically imposed through Congressional actions. The implications of these events are brushed aside by Professor Wolff and many others. For instance a monetarily sovereign nation would no longer be dependent on tax and borrowing revenue to spend. Why would it when it is the monopoly issuer of its own currency and must first issue that currency before it can tax or buy securities. The dollar cannot be produced, legally, by States, firms or households and that’s why analogies concluding that the U.S. Gov should manage its financial affairs like these entities are specious.

    Understanding the policy potential of a government no longer required to tax its population to pay for its expenditures defies everything we’ve been taught about government and a citizens responsibility to contribute to the maintenance of that government. But there it was. Monetary sovereignty, no gold, silver, wampum backing the dollar or constraining its value. It’s value would be what ever the Government declared it to be and whatever price others were willing to pay to acquire that dollar.

    Unfortunately, These important attributes of a fiat currency system were closely held by Nixon Administration officials, the very rich and most economists until L. Randall Wray and Warren Mosler examined not only monetary theory but monetary operations and the day-to-day processes the U.S. government uses to control inflation and maintain stable interest rates. Their analyses has been labeled Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), Modern Monetary Operations, 21st Century Chartalism.

    It’s easier to show Americans how to oppose taxation as currently levied than it is to show them a new system replacing capitalism. What were talking about are issues where money is central to the functioning of a society. Control of that money determines how the society will be structured and managed. Americans must understand that, today, taxation serves three fundamental purposes; (1) forces us to want to acquire the dollar so that we can pay our taxes, (2) manages aggregate demand, stemming inflation/deflation, (3) serves as a tool to impact distributional issues. Tax revenue is not collected to spend on government expenditures.

    Again, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve can create by fiat, by computer key strokes, all the dollars needed to pay any obligation denominated in dollars. Did the Federal Reserve go to Congress for authority/appropriations to bail out the financial industry and others to the tune of $23 TRILLION? No, it simply used its computers to mark checking accounts up or down. No one was taxed to create these $23 TRILLION.

    And no, the tax payer was not on the hook if banks defaulted. This massive fraud simply created thin air money and made the public believe they were part of the effort to bailout otherwise insolvent banks, many of which remain insolvent today and therefore, the reason for QE I, II, III, and IV.

    Professor Wolff may want to revisit the issue of monetary sovereignty which holds the real key to America’s future. The issue is not affordability. The issue is a Congress steeped in the abandoned premises of the gold standard. Believing we can run out of money and that our budget deficit must be reduced to avoid bankruptcy or some other

    fiscal calamity. Accounting 101 should tell Congress Critters that where there’s a deficit there’s a surplus. And in our three sector economy; public, private and, foreign,

    if one or two sectors run deficits the other(s) must by definition run surplus(es). Ergo, when our public and trade sectors or running a deficit the private sector must run a surplus. That surplus after taxation represent net financial assets in that sector. If we reduce the deficit in the public sector we do the same for net financial assets in the private sector. This was the case during the Clinton public surplus years when the private sector went heavily into debt and that debt stymied investment and growth leading to the 2000-2002 recession.

    It can be proven that the payroll tax (FICA) is a fraud since it does not pay for Social Security or Medicare benefits. That’s when Americans will demand its elimination. Where did the money come from to pay for the 2011, 2% suspension of the payroll tax? It came from the same place all Treasury checks come from, the Treasury’s General Fund Account which pays for all of America’s obligations no matter what the level of balances in Trust Funds. Treasury simply creates the money by fiat because Treasury checks never bounce.

    So let’s start with the issues closest to the hearts of all Americans…taxes. We are taxed too much for an economy screaming for more demand to induce more investment to call out more labor and consumer spending.

    In today’s world economies, no matter how defined, survive on sales. Taxation reduces spendable income and therefore is counterproductive to our economic survival in the absence of inflation.

    Reform, revolt, yes indeed. But do it the smart way. Start with the issues that impact Americans who work for a living, the 99%.

  • Austin

    Are there other western countries that avoid the roller coaster economic cycles that we go through? If so what have they done right?
    What effect have our wars had on our economic cycles?
    Our parents were asked to make economic sacrifices during times of war .During our wars of the last 22 years there was no request for those of us at home to pay extra or to get by with less. Do you see changes in our approach to overseas conflicts?

  • James Newlin

    How do we address climate change if our system only works if we have ever increasing growth? And if we stop growing, what happens to the debt?

  • Philip J. Byler

    Rather than debating whether or not we should have the federal government borrow money from the Federal Reserve, thereby increasing the federal deficit, in order to invest in the economy, why are we not discussing nationalizing the issuance of currency and investing directly in productive activity?

  • Sherry

    I agree with you. Unfortunately, crimes committed by the mentally ill are still crimes. Evidently, he either wasn’t diagnosed or wasn’t cooperating with treatment.

  • sherry

    That would not be legal. It’s an invasion of privacy since those things are deemed health/medical issues.

  • sherry

    It seems like the parliamentary systems are more effective than our divisive Presidential/Congressional system. If we called a constitutional convention, could we ever change to a parliamentary government system?

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Moyers, I have a question for Mr. Wolff….

    ….would you please ask Mr. Wolff when he and others, like Mr. Krugman, are going to sit down and design the American people a new economic model and system that will solve most or all of our economic problems?

    ….most of us have plenty of experience and knowledge of the shortcomings and problems with our current failed economic model….what will our new economic system look like and how will it work?

  • Steve

    I find myself deeply concerned as i observe the trail from what Mr. Wolff calls “shock” as a reason for non action to “eruption of anger” as a means of motivation for a call to change “the system”. I wonder how Mr. Wolff truly envisions the “eruption of anger” and how he sees “the system” reacting. I truly hope for the best while fearing the worst as i watch our democratic processes dissolve in the face of increasing power and greed. As I work for a positive change in personal consciousness essential for a proper release of this “eruption of anger” I worry that more time is needed and is yet unavailable. I am truly concerned for our nation and for the suffering that seems to await.

  • Nathaniel Alcock

    How do we transform traditional private firms into workers’ self-directed enterprises?

  • liberalinlove

    For all those “friends”, who have consistently blamed President Obama for our current economic woes, what is the best way to explain who or what is at fault? These people “hate” him for everything from making their health insurance go up, to giving all their tax dollars away to welfare recipients. There is no common sense, no fact checking and no appealing to them to look at “facts!” I’m pretty sure it has to be broken down into simple sentences with meaningful bites of information. Is there a reference where they won’t automatically ignore it as liberal, Obama propaganda?

  • Saint Jude

    I’m always surprised to see that no one is openly talking about the wealth disparity between white men and everyone else in our society. Women still only have 36% of the wealth in this country, and 52% of our single women with children live in poverty. As for me, I am one of those silly girls who believed after being told I would never be put in a supervisory position without a college degree that investing in education would be a sure foot up into financial and professional security. What a lie! I graduated with honors from a major university, spent three more years getting a Master’s degree, studied and worked abroad during my college years, and am now learning a third language. I thought I had done everything I could to ensure my stability and make strong contributions in this society. But since my re-entry into the workforce in 2001, despite my references and awards, I’ve experienced such instability in employment that my student loans are eating me alive. Conversely, I have seen first hand how unethical, lazy, and inept people in our society seem to thrive. I am very disappointed in “the American way” and I don’t see how so many people are still so oblivious to how quality in the products we produce has plummeted, which makes us look bad on the international stage and will ultimately be our undoing. I have been a single mother since age 21, and quite honestly, at age 55 rushing toward me, I feel overwhelmed by hopelessness having now been unemployed for about 16 months. I have sent thousands of resumes with only two month-long temporary jobs in the interim. Despite my credentials, I have had few interviews–perhaps a dozen phone interviews, but no in-person interviews. Hearing from experts that there is rampant age discrimination going on doesn’t make me feel any better–doesn’t anyone enforce the rules? What about the equal opportunity HR is supposed to enforce? Also, although I have great sympathy for the military contingent that is returning to America, with the OPM bragging a placement of military into 26% of the new federal government positions in 2011, that is another agenda that discriminates against women since only about 15% of the regular military is female and only 19% female reserves. Very soon, I will have the privilege of paying taxes as a single person, which of course, are higher and pay for all those other people’s kids–I only had one. It feels like everything is working against me in this society. I know people have money to put people like me back to work, but the rich no longer want to invest in America. New salaries are low and are a meager investment in inexperienced, uneducated people who will babysit a desk for less–and yes, I’ve been applying for jobs at half what I was making before I was laid off, but still no success. A woman at the workforce center told me I should “dumb down” my resume. The government won’t let me file bankruptcy against my student loans, which are accumulating 7.35% interest, which the lady said was really low and was a steal at the time I consolidated and would never go lower. Any suggestions? I want to leave this country and go where people have governments that provide a good education and more social support, fairness, and quality of life. I wish grandpa had stayed in Sweden. I see no happy ending to my situation, and this is a big surprise coming from a girl who completely believed in the dream.

  • Cheri Jones

    I wonder if Mr. Wolff knows the depth of resignation, distrust of our institutions, and changes in the way we are living has become. Many of us are stepping off grid, forming community families, bargaining for services, growing our own food, and leaving the dead dream of the American promise in the past. We do know that the system is completely broken, and that the plutocrats own our government, and that means both sides of the aisle, along with the courts. We also know that the Tea Party Christian coalition is spending billions of dollars to pass legislation that is stripping away women’s civil liberties, and freedom of choice over their health care. They are privatizing everything they possibly can (prisons, public schools/colleges) for profit, are shutting down liberal arts bachelor programs at public colleges, killing the unions, and waging war on the middle class because of their greed. Left unchecked, these people are going to turn our country into a religious, fascist state.

  • marc niola

    First I would like to thank both Bill and Richard for bringing this vitally important subject to the fore for debate. Bill you continue to enrich my life from interviews with Joesph Campbell to Richard Wolff, thanks again.

    My question for Richard:
    Will a sliding (based on amount of purchase and specific tax bracket) consumption tax on spending help even out the inequality in the USA?

    Please provide details why or why not you would support such a proposal and how to implement if you agree.

  • Colin M. Grant

    The episode with Mr Wolff was excellent – I did not find any issues with his advice & comments. I did note that he was reluctant to talk about or even predict what the people would ultimately “do” if this capitalistic / economics system continues on the catastrophic path its taking. He is no historian, but will he tell us what has happened in history? please, go back 2 hundred years if necessary to relate what horrific events have taken place when the rich & powerful continue unrestrained. One example I can think of is the revolution of 1917 on the streets of Moscow etc. History is a great way to accurately predict behaviour in both individuals & masses. Please, be blunt about it!!! Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    I have had two people in the position of hiring, one for the department of defense and one for Wells Fargo, tell me that they hire immigrants, with visas, because they are better educated and are willing to work harder than Americans. How do we fix that problem. I know teachers who agree that American students are not motivated to work hard.

  • Paso Robles

    Debt money and its creation by bankers. It must end. So few even understand it as a recent unconstitutional development, and almost none its essential attribute, the power to enslave a people.

    If a man is compelled by force of law to denominate the productivity of his life in a scrip a select few have the right to create, expand and contract as it profits them, that man is a slave. This is foundational, and roundly ignored, mostly out of fear, I believe. To address it is to take one’s professional life in one’s hands.

    Systemic reform is meaningless until this currency regime ends.

    I’m interested in Prof Wolff’s comments.

  • Retired Couple in California

    For Richard Wolfe: What is the effect of immigration on the economy? More specifically, is taking more people at the bottom of the economy exacerbating income inequality? If the American Dream is gone, why are people still coming here?

  • Brian Schatz

    Dr Wolff, you say in Italy that the newly unemployed can get together with nine or so other newly unemployed to pool their lump sum unemployment benefits to create a worker self directed enterprise, well I say, how did this come about and how can we get this going in the US?

  • Ron Misek

    Consider this

    When belief defines truth the existence of conflicting beliefs make truth meaningless

    When someone doesn’t value the truth what could they possibly have to say that anyone needs to hear

    I need to talk to people who understand the truth

    Rob Misek

  • LaGumbo

    Why is the interest rate so low that we have no use forbanks anymore?

  • Justin

    Mr. Wolff, What sorts of “system changes” are *not* regulation changes? Isn’t it regulations – that define what the system is, and what the system is not?

  • carltonlloyd

    Great show! I again have to applaud Mr. Moyers for his courage. We need to recognize the 21st century ammunition. It has changed from clever, heartfelt slogans on the inside of pizza boxes and marches on Washington to money. That is the only ‘bullet’ that our system fears/reveres. A baby step approach would be to send a signal to corporate America by a simple boycott. A simple slogan – “99’s Hope Boycott Coke.” A hiccup in Coke sales would muscle our cause. In the fall of ’08 many mention that our economic meltdown was a result of the sub-prime morass. Many are unaware that this only represented 6% of the clock-work mortgages that you and I faithfully donate each month. If ‘they’ do not respond to 1). eliminating lobbying from our political process 2). Stop viewing our government as a profit/loss entity 3)…4)…25) then we withhold our monthly mortgages, student loans, credit card payments, payday loans (can you believe those?). That will get them to the bargaining table – and if not…we need to convince the 99% to keep our engine going/working – food delivery, oil refinery. Not hard as the 1% have no idea how to do any of this – only know how to pick up a phone and tell the 99% to do it. Peace – to all those you love.

  • Dr.F.

    Mr. Wolff presents this problem as an “economic” one, yet my students usually equate democracy with capitalism. They cannot even imagine something different. To me, capitalism is not just economic – it tells us what we believe about people. How can we change this perception – to truly understand the meaning of democracy?

  • carltonlloyd

    Great show! I again have to applaud Mr. Moyers for his courage. We need
    to recognize the 21st century ammunition. It has changed from clever,
    heartfelt slogans on the inside of pizza boxes and marches on Washington
    to money. That is the only ‘bullet’ that our system fears/reveres. A
    baby step approach would be to send a signal to corporate America by a
    simple boycott. A simple slogan – “99’s Hope Boycott Coke.” A hiccup in
    Coke sales would muscle our cause. In the fall of ’08 many mention that
    our economic meltdown was a result of the sub-prime morass. Many are
    unaware that this only represented 6% of the clock-work mortgages that
    you and I faithfully donate each month. If ‘they’ do not respond to 1).
    eliminating lobbying from our political process 2). Stop viewing our
    government as a profit/loss entity 3)…4)…25) then we withhold our
    monthly mortgages, student loans, credit card payments, payday loans
    (can you believe those?). That will get them to the bargaining table –
    and if not…we need to convince the 99% to keep our engine
    going/working – food delivery, oil refinery. Not hard as the 1% have no
    idea how to do any of this – only know how to pick up a phone and tell
    the 99% to do it. Peace – to all those you love.

  • carltonlloyd

    Great show! I again have to applaud Mr. Moyers for his courage. We need
    to recognize the 21st century ammunition. It has changed from clever,
    heartfelt slogans on the inside of pizza boxes and marches on Washington
    to money. That is the only ‘bullet’ that our system fears/reveres. A
    baby step approach would be to send a signal to corporate America by a
    simple boycott. A simple slogan – “99’s Hope Boycott Coke.” A hiccup in
    Coke sales would muscle our cause. In the fall of ’08 many mention that
    our economic meltdown was a result of the sub-prime morass. Many are
    unaware that this only represented 6% of the clock-work mortgages that
    you and I faithfully donate each month. If ‘they’ do not respond to 1).
    eliminating lobbying from our political process 2). Stop viewing our
    government as a profit/loss entity 3)…4)…25) then we withhold our
    monthly mortgages, student loans, credit card payments, payday loans
    (can you believe those?). That will get them to the bargaining table –
    and if not…we need to convince the 99% to keep our engine
    going/working – food delivery, oil refinery. Not hard as the 1% have no
    idea how to do any of this – only know how to pick up a phone and tell
    the 99% to do it. Peace – to all those you love.

  • carltonlloyd

    Great show! I again have to applaud Mr. Moyers for his courage. We need
    to recognize the 21st century ammunition. It has changed from clever,
    heartfelt slogans on the inside of pizza boxes and marches on Washington
    to money. That is the only ‘bullet’ that our system fears/reveres. A
    baby step approach would be to send a signal to corporate America by a
    simple boycott. A simple slogan – “99’s Hope Boycott Coke.” A hiccup in
    Coke sales would muscle our cause. In the fall of ’08 many mention that
    our economic meltdown was a result of the sub-prime morass. Many are
    unaware that this only represented 6% of the clock-work mortgages that
    you and I faithfully donate each month. If ‘they’ do not respond to 1).
    eliminating lobbying from our political process 2). Stop viewing our
    government as a profit/loss entity 3)…4)…25) then we withhold our
    monthly mortgages, student loans, credit card payments, payday loans
    (can you believe those?). That will get them to the bargaining table –
    and if not…we need to convince the 99% to keep our engine
    going/working – food delivery, oil refinery. Not hard as the 1% have no
    idea how to do any of this – only know how to pick up a phone and tell
    the 99% to do it. Peace – to all those you love.

  • Melwoolf

    Mr Wolff will I’m sure second this. I live in the UK which is sadly more similar to US but still there are safety nets and rules that keep a broadly decent social contract between the politicians, wealthy and the rest of us. Although this is being pushed back by the multinationals to a ridiculous degree with much resentment by the population (not paying taxes – again!).
    Back to Australia and maybe Canada: There is this lovely social cohesion and contract which exists in the two countries that the US seems unable to believe is important anymore. Americans only look after No. 1 because that is the rhetoric that continues to be “advertised”. Obama speaks the speak but does not walk the walk. How, Mr. Wolff, can we really change such a broken system? I do not want to return to live in the US and I fear for the future. I have two grown children who work in London (dual citizenship) and I would never advise going to the US even with good job prospects because of these serious failings. My Medicaire generation expects the government to help in old age yet hates government(!), but what is going to happen with the young of today? I think they will come to hate and resent what our generation did to their future. Will the US be able to give them satisfactory answers? No. Only the children of the rich and upper middle class will be able to access the better universities (oh, and bright immigrants). How sad I am.

  • Charles Arthur Soule

    The answer is the Independent Party, as started in Maine; by Charles A. Soule; of Lewiston, Maine. Profiteering is an art form is the USA>

  • Doug

    At one point in the interview, Mr. Wolff says that the idea of the market is an abstraction that draws attention away from the people inside the system who shape and mold it. Later, he says that he wouldn’t call bankers greedy. They just do what the system encourages them to do, a sort of “the devil made me do it” defense. So, in the one case, the market is an abstraction that distracts, and in the next it’s an abstraction that absolves. Would he clarify this for me?

    Also, I’d very much like Mr. Wolff to further explain why regulation doesn’t work. He seemed to say that people always find a way around regulation, so what’s the point? Glass-Steagall was specifically mentioned. Did Glass-Steagall not protect us all those years before it was repealed? Wouldn’t regulation help to reform the system? How does Mr. Wolff propose we reform the system without new regulations and guidelines?


  • Trellis Smith

    The gold standard was an absurd limitation that never reflected the true wealth of the nation’s productivity. I agree however that the nation’s sovereignty is impaired by the few who profit from the spun sugar which is our financial and monetary systems. A far better model was advanced by Douglas Hyde’s social credit system
    ( ) banks are stripped of their investment agency and the fruits of the nations productivity is restored to the true creators of wealth and not bankers. I wonder if Mr Wolff could address a social credit remedy?

  • R.F.Fisher

    If we are heading to the point where 150 super Corporations OWN everything we use, eat and wear, and have complete control of who is Elected to our Government (not just in America), how are we going to BREAK that cycle and take back control of our own governments and elect people that are NOT Professional Politicians that are all BEHOLDEN to these Corporations? It seams insurmountable as Corporate power and control just keeps escalating faster and faster as the numbers of the poor, just keep growing and growing!
    We must find a way to restore ‘Income Equality’ as you have said but,, these rich Corporations and their CEO’s will not give up their wealth easily.

  • Judy Zitko

    Mr. Wolff said that these bankers were simply operating in their own best interests within the law, but I don’t recall his saying that they are the ones who pushed for those very laws and even then they go beyond them, constantly. He did, however, mention that such banks as Citigroup were instrumental in getting Glass-Steagall repealed, which had kept the wolves at bay since 1933 and then it took just 8 years to crash the system, again. This was a repeat of the 1920’s when the same thing happened and then, as now it only took about 8 years to crash the system. The Conservative answer is to wash, rinse and repeat the same systems that created this “crisis”. Regulations and tax codes affect behaviour and the Conservatives push for less of both while the Progressives push for more regulation and higher taxes on the wealthy.

  • Bob Muenchausen

    I agree. Two different issues. Keeping those who have committed crimes in positions of power not only sends the wrong message as far as enforcement is concerned, but simply prolongs the time that those persons have influence within the systems and organizations they inhabit and control. You cannot ignore inertia in any form, and leaving folks who are bad for a situation in that situation but complaining about them is just bellyaching. Sometimes, to change people (or institutions) you have to CHANGE people, and in cases like these, they need to be changed out by prosecution.

  • Peter McNamee

    Grad to hear Richard Wolff will be back to talk about solutions. Two questions haunt me: First, Wolff makes the case people will wake up and they will force policymakers to fix the fundamental inequities and failings of capitalism, but that will take time maybe decades. Given the pace of environmental degradation do we have that time? Second, “fixing” the failings of capitalism has to require that we clearly catalog its failings, reach popular consensus on solutions, and then act with massive effect to “manage ” economic solutions – in effect we embrace a planned & managed economy. What are the fundamental foundations and pillars of that economy and what will it look like to average Americans?

  • Megan

    I am wondering what would cause the dollar to rise against world currencies. Seems like the highish price of oil is tied to the low dollar and wondering if oil will fall when and if the dollar rises.

  • Janet Mancini BIllson

    Question: How would you define a “healthy” U.S. economy and, if you were President, please prioritize the TOP THREE policy changes or initiatives that you would institute in order to create and sustain that healthy economy? (Assumes that both parties would be supportive of your solutions!)

  • Rod-Miami

    Dr Wolff, it seems to me that the problem here is political, not economic. Our economy is (appropriately, I think) controlled by politics and the essential ingredient in a functioning democracy is intelligent voting by the citizenry…voting motivated by choosing what is best for the country first, and self-interest second. But forming a responsible opinion requires intelligence and knowledge, and as our society grows more complex, voting gets more difficult…e.g. is it better to buy Saudi oil or build the Keystone pipeline? And new technologies facilitate brainwashing and propaganda so that the truth, or “knowledge”, gets increasingly hard to discern.

    I think that democracy itself (but not civil rights) needs to be reconfigured for our increasingly complex and interconnected world. 300 years ago, your opinion about a medical treatment was probably just as good as your doctor’s, and if your village took a vote on your treatment that would probably be a rational option! In today’s world, half the population make irrational voting choices, but nobody would advocate a popular vote on whether chemotherapy is advisable for a specific patient. Perhaps we need a “voter qualification” test!

  • Doug

    Is Prof. Wolff aware of the Employment Policies Institute (EmPI) “study” Minimum Wages: Evaluating New Evidence on Employment Effects?

    Note that Kevin Connor, of the Public Accountability Initiative and Little Sis blog
    posted a comment about the Neumark and Salas article–


  • csillery

    If the ‘inner-city-gangs’ ever got ‘politicized’ (à la The Black Panthers) Congress would pass gun control laws so fast it would make your head spin.

  • Bruno Rzeznik

    How do you combat FOX News Bias and the perceptions that unions are a criminal enterprise.

  • Jim Hubbell

    Why cant we have a flat tax on every dime of income, earned, dividend, fees for manipulating spreadsheets, everything. Give everyone, corporate “people” too, one deduction for the first 5,000 or 10,000 per person and tax every remaining dime at whatever rate is necessary to pay for government activities. You want a tax expenditure for creating jobs? Fine. Create the job first, here in the US and then we will talk.

  • Russell Spears

    Well just like you don’t give a sociopath access to guns, you should not give them access to the power of our governments.

  • iowa ed

    Mr. Wolff, you express optimism that Americans will unite and turn the tide, per se. However, what is different this go round is the control the plutocrats and the GOP have of the media, primarily FOX News and AM talk radio. With nearly half the people in this country subscribing to their views and entrenched in them, calling unions evil and demonizing food stamps and the minimum wage, did you include this factor in your optimism?

  • mike9

    I believe that nothing will change until it is in their best interests for it to change. How do we make it in their best interest for them to share the wealth? Sadly, as a father of three, I see conflict on the horizon and fear for what my children may suffer. Will a non-violent leader like a Gandhi or a Mandela emerge or will we be led by a Hitler or a Stalin?

  • Russell Spears

    Let me try to unpack your thinking a bit… Your basically saying that Distance learning betrays the face to face dialogue, dialectic and environment of learning. It adversely affects the Capability of Citizens to participate in Democratic Affairs and prevents members from being civilized because they represent a victory of neoliberalism over Enlightenment principles” WOW. Not sure I can respond in a paragraph but I will try.

    First the very foundation of education is based on writing not an individual teacher who pretends to understand all the great thinkers-even at a college level, most are not familiar with unorthodox writing. For a dialectic to work you need an antithesis and only a self-educated student can be ready to challenge the ideas your educators are selling you. Moreover, typical lectures are nothing like dialogues: what you pay for is inefficient use of class time recapping what you read and robbing you of a chance to consider the material in a self-directed manner. Also, topical discussions are not unique to the classroom and the dialogue quite often runs off point.

    Now I want to point out what is missing from traditional schooling….After years of passive learning in the classroom, many individuals do not know how to engage the materials on their own. This is an important feature that many students simply do develop. They actually learn to follow Authority in an unquestionable manner. And this aptitude towards authority is the very basis of a non-democratic society.

    Your remarks about neoliberalism is simply unfounded, since the very nature of our universities represent conservative thinking and classical economics, from which you have to escape fully in order to reach anything like enlightenment principals such as “Think for yourself”. But even this will not save you if you venture into Postmodern Theory a bit.

  • Rick Clingman

    Richard Wolff, Many believe that the first step towards taming capitalism is forcing money out of politics. What are your thoughts?

  • Rob Misek

    A middle-class non violent revolution is required

    We must make the truth a human right and telling lies a violation

    Then we can use technology personal video and audio recording a human right

    Then it will be in everyone’s best interest to tell the truth pulling the rug out from under all corruption

    Then the middle class will demand proportional pay for proportional work in the elite won’t make 500 times the average income

    Money is after all only easily transferable work

  • Raymond R. Givonetti

    February 25, 2013

    A superb
    presentation of the current state of Capitalism as related to the gross social

    Question # 1:

    conclusion that Public will react under sufficient pressure is to be
    expected. The complex, mystic nature of current
    Capitalism will most likely lead to a movement for change, without specific
    unified articulation. This will provide the opportunity for upcoming
    Politicians to appeal to the Public.
    This is analogous to the idea of replacing the financial executives with
    different ones; this will not change the System. The second approach mentioned is a national
    debate; is this realizable given the polarization in the major Parties, the
    Media and the Public. There must be
    another solution.

    Question # 2:

    and Democracy in America
    are insoluble like oil and water. To mix
    water and oil a solvent or detergent is needed; to mix Capitalism with
    Democracy, regulation is required.
    Regulation should not be discounted because we have not focused on why
    it has failed in the past. There is a
    very strong interdependence between the Capitalistic sources and elections
    especially at the federal level. A
    democracy requires compromise but there are good and bad compromises. Bad compromises, which are the majority, are
    influenced by this interdependence that circumvents regulation for election
    money. It is clear that the failure in our
    Capitalistic System is not an independent problem to accept and resolve, but
    rather it is a subset to a much bigger problem: our broken Political
    System. Members of Congress are people
    that most concerned about their families and job security. Political survival is a natural incentive to
    take advantage of the rules just like people in the financial sector. Should we not be focusing on how to eliminate
    long term political careers, campaign reform and the removal of major Party/s
    literal integration into our Government (Party leadership, Party committees and
    Party statutes)?

    Raymond R. Givonetti

    Author of “Can Political Trust in American Democracy be

  • Randy Whitaker

    What deterrent effect will the high rate of incarceration, high level of punitive civil laws and related fines,the high level of surveillance technologies (network robots used in cell phone and any internet environments) and centralization of media messaging that is current and rapidly growing in the USA have on the ability of masses to rise up and resist and demand that economic inequalities be addressed? Do we now truly live in a Plutocracy that is deliberately marketed as a Democracy?

    An example being:

    The FBI having surveillance on MLK and the NAACP. But taking it to the next level and under the name of national security having covert disruptive or silencing programs against any real organized movements and entities that challenge the status quo. It seems the Occupy movement faded rapidly

    This theory of Democracy by elite’s was addressed in the 1970 work by Thomas Dye & Harmon Ziegler in their still popular work The Irony of Democracy, which keeps getting more real decade by decade, but the issue of keeping the masses fat and happy is currently not being addressed as a positively as their works imply it should.

  • Russell Spears

    Love it… Someone that shows good thinking skills. Too many people want a teacher to hold their hands like drooling children. I almost got kicked out of a philosophy class because the teacher could not manage a distinction between ontology and metaphysics-and she had tenure. And a communications teacher snapped from my questioning. Foucault was right on when it comes to power and knowledge and the Educational Monopoly is a grand example…..

  • Rick Clingman

    Carolyn you are very eloquent. I believe we need to go beyond just public financing of campaigns because that still leaves the elected subject to the poison of big money once in office. I recall an article that told how committee members are not appointed because of their expertise in the specialty, rather, they are appointed if they are able to raise the most money for their party. This has GOT to stop. We also have to figure out a way to kill the ugly influence of the “revolving door” which makes government insiders pawns for the powerful even without money changing hands! It all seems pretty overwhelming. The degree to which this is out of control is exasperating.

  • Phil Loyd

    Thank you, Mr. Wolff. You have clearly and articulately expressed what I’ve been trying to tell friends for some time. The system WILL change, but I don’t see how it will be peaceful without an engaged democracy, which seems very unlikely in such a large and diverse population. I’ll buy your book, and look forward to your “solutions.”

    Again, thank you,

    Phil Loyd

  • Lou Ross

    I want to thank Bill for airing”Taming Capitalism” with Dr. Wolff, and I can’t wait to view Part 2. There are many comments here about how corporate personhood effects our democracy, politics and economy. I work with the grassroots organization Move To Amend (MTA) in Kansas City and strongly support the position that “corporations are not people” and “money is not free speech.” On February 11, 2013, Rep Rick Nolan and Rep. Mark Pocan introduced ‘We the People’, a constitutional amendment drafted by Move to Amend. My question for Dr. Wolff: If this Amendment was passed by the American People, how do you envision its effect on the economy, both in the terms of today’s capitalism and in the alternative economic system you propose?

  • Dr. T

    Can any meaningful positive change be realized without significant modification of our lobbying–including but not limited to campaign financing–system? Given the fact that one’s right to lobby (i.e., petition the government for the redress of grievance) is both constitutionally and vigorously protected, is there then any hope for meaningful positive change?

  • bnumantius

    I saw the excellent show with Prof Wolff, and it made me again ponder an old question I have. The elephant in the room that was all but named in that show is the movement to a totalitarian state that can occur when the social justice of a system, in this case capitalism, is lacking for a large part of the society. Certainly, this must have been clearly in the minds of those business leaders who agreed with Roosevelt’s programs in the the 1930s; Fascism in all it’s myriad international incarnations and the totalitarian socialism of the Soviet Union were certainly feared at that time by (small d) democratic people everywhere. So my question is this: is there a threshold of “baseness” that must be exceeded for a society to engage in a movement toward a totalitarian solution? Put another way, is there a threshold of social justice (or perhaps meeting a minimum of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) below which a society will engage in a, possibly violent, movement toward the totalitarian solution? It’s a philosophical question, that Prof Wolff would seem eminently qualified to answer, not the least reason for which is that he is married to an apparently knowledgeable psychiatrist. Simply put (perhaps too much so), when does a society pick up the gun?

  • Robert William Masters

    I have read some of Mr. Wolff’s writings and viewed many of his videos and I appreciate them all.

    Expanding upon Mr. Wolff’s comments and moving more down the road of solutions/approaches beyond what Mr. Wolffs offers, I would suggest viewing the following video on “State of the New Economy” presented Bob Massie, Executive Director of New Economic Institute, soon to become the New Economic Coalition.

    It begins to move you to be less concentrated on the realties of our current system which will always be important to continue to assess, and moves you the very creative and innovative approaches that are occurring all over the United States …. and the framing of all the issues Mr. Wolff’s brings up and many other issues presented by other guests on your show.

    Hope it is helpful.

    Robert William Masters


  • Patty

    Can Richard Wolff speak to the impact of unions on the income disparity? It seems like they were/are one of the forces that the lower 99% has to make any gains, yet people seem to be against them.

  • Paul Sendak

    Questions for Professor Wolff:

    1) Main-stream economists largely ignore the field of behavioral economics. Research in behavioral economics has decisively debunked many myths taken as base
    principles in economic theory such as rational Homo economicus. As some
    author recently said, and I paraphrase, economics went off the cliff when it
    started thinking economics was physics, with evermore complicated mathematical
    formulas to “explain” how the economy works. These mathematical models of course rely on tenuous assumptions; therefore, can the arguments based on them be any more than dubious?

    2) The same question could be asked of environmental/ecological economics.
    Another sub-field of economics that offers important insight for economic policy but is again largely ignored by main-stream economics. Why?

    3) What happened to the field of Industrial Organization? It seemed an important
    field of study in economics when I was in college in the 1960s (remember Prof.
    Joe Bain?). In a nutshell, an industry’s performance was compared to a purely competitive industry. If it performed badly by comparison, anti-trust laws could be applied in an attempt to improve the outcome. You hardly hear of anti-trust laws today, yet more and more output is concentrated in fewer and larger players in more and
    more industries.

    4) The problem with regulation as I see it is that it is static. Once a regulation is passed
    it is assumed that it will solve the problem behavior forever. As you pointed out, as soon as it is passed cadres of lawyers, accountants, and other experts set to work to get around the regulations. Is it not possible to create regulations that evolve like bacteria mutate to outwit an antibiotic?

  • Don

    Question for Mr. Wolff: Near the end of your lecture “Capitalism Hits the Fan”, you state the the solution to the problems you so elequently describe is employee ownership and management of the corporation. You even go so far as to describe this as being Maxist or communist but it could also be described as a cooperative or mutual corporate structure. Your example is a small startup with only a few employees who work very closely together to function as both labor and management. While this may work well for a company of 10 people, how can you make it work for a company of 10,000 people? Does the history of cooperative and mutual corporations show that this structure does not work well when the company grows to the point that it has to hire professional managers? At that point the interests of the managers diverges from the interests of the workers because each worker has only a very small share of the ownership and control of the company.

  • jrs

    Richard, would you be willing to appear with Chris Hedges? His appearance changed my thinking forever, as did yours. You’re both describing the same problem from different perspectives.

  • Frank Nuciforo

    Dr. Richard Wollf presented an incredibly precise and insightful view of the current state of capitalism (Thank you Bill Moyers). Dr. Wollf is, without a doubt, the most interesting economist I’ve heard and he somehow manages to get past the typical econo-speak that glazes the eyes. The one question I would like to pose for Dr. Wollf is that we’ve heard for so many years how capitalism is by definition a “zero sum game”, and that there must be winners and losers. Are there present day examples of capitalism being fairer to all income strata?

  • Gayle Neville Muskus

    As with some of the other comments .. I feel you let off both the banks and Wall Street for their numberous lethal activities far too easy. Almost apologistically so. The multiple huge scandals of the past few years and the devastation they caused to this country, and worse, to the citizens of this country are far too serious to be washed over with blaming it on the “system”. I agree the systems needs changing dramatically but if you think these men who perpertrated these acts did not know what they were doing or were simply reacting within the system, I think you are grossly misguided. One bank was caught money laundering drug money for decades for some of the most violent drug cartels in the world for God’s sake. Our laws favor wealth enough in this country. To the point that we already have a somewhat two tiered society, especially in terms of opportunity but to allow or brush off obviously illegal activities with the puny excuse that they were just working within their system is an insult to the other larger part of our society who were the victims of this horrid actviity, as if we count for nothing. No, sorry. The men who perpertrated these acts should go to jail if there is any hope of the majority of citizens to believe there is any justice at all left in this country we call home.


    testing, where do you want the email address ?


    Why not alleviate the on-going economic crisis, Not entirely via across-the-board all-USA legislation, but piece-by-piece Beginning with what Most affects our capabilities for managing our destiny(s) — at the SUPPORT SYSTEM of INNOVATIVE kind of COLLEGE TOWN & CAMPUS ? As population grows, we could build NEW KINDS of colleges in new towns instead of Expanding existing ones; this sidesteps difficulties of converting / fixing / convincing to change, while creating experimental community for testing the Design from ground, up, in a breakaway parallel economy.
    That’s right : hybridize the economic system. After all, colleges are naturally socialist while capitalism is the way to appeal to basic instincts.
    If Mr. Wolff were my Thesis Advisor, I’d sign up for Grad.Sch. to edit my manuscript-manual (2500 pages needing condensing –“but Where?” is what conferencing helps determine). Else, do recommend how to assuredly start a Regular Conference Group that will challenge my specific details & principles for such a DESIGN, so to incite strengthening it As we realize how to fill in details &/or how to better convince of their viability. (They require editing, are mostly on CDs/pdf already. I can put up an Introductory website as a 150-pages Guide…but to build on it and respond over Internet, I want people ready to consult with me as it develops. Let us decide the most effective responses Together, so this does not lose interest in the general public.) If you want Superior Learning Environments, you must remove from some colleges their capitalism business-vampire tentacles and obviate the university’s Best Mission, which is Not that of feeding the jobs-marketeering monster. To do this, the school’s economy must be made subservient to the educational methods…in such ways as to perform research and develop skills and foster curiosity As Part Of the college town’s means of supplying its programs. (Rather than making ecoomics deals with manufacturers, distributers, etc.)

  • KeNYC2030

    A question for Mr. Wolff: How is a meaningful challenge to our current system possible given that the Supreme Court has opened the floodgates for campaign spending by corporations; the corporate-controlled media continues to spin the fantasy that the American Dream is still possible while distracting us with tranquilizing entertainment; and, unlike during the ’30s, there is no looming threat of an alternative economic system?

  • Pure Michigan

    My question relates to the subject of regulations in the United States. Mr. Wolff stated that they don’t work because they are evaded or repealed. So is that the end game? Are we only going to survive in a psuedo laissez faire economy where Bear Sterns gets a bailout but Lehman Brothers fails?

  • Douglas Hakes

    Why did Mr Wolfe not address the policies of Ronald Reagan and his dogged adherence to the theory of trickle down economics and vulture capitalism. That he opened the door, along with corporations and venture capitalists and their, bought and corrupted, politicians to the eventual formation of the Tea Party whose membership has little understanding of the purposes of the constitution beyond a vague understanding of the concept of liberty. Most of whom seem to get bogged down beyond their devotion to God, guns and pickup trucks. That, not only were the Reagan years rife with assaults on labor but on laborers whose jobs could be done with a greater profit margin in China (etc) than in the US. Reagan stole, from the people, their government.

  • Sue Hulme-Lowe

    I was relieved to hear the hopeful, optimistic note on which Professor Wolff’s interview ended, because his discussion had echoed so many of my own thoughts and yet I continue to have little hope for a good outcome. I look forward to understanding the source of his optimism as I read his works. However, much of my reading of authors like Christopher Hedges and Susan Jacobi fills me with fear for the future of our children, our country and the world at large.

    Like many people who have already commented, I believe the root of our problems in the US (and perhaps globally) is the corruption of our representatives in government by corporations and the rich. We need political campaign finance reform and control of influence by lobbyists, so that our politicians can truly represent the people who vote them into power. The ‘Citizens United’ decision of our Supreme Court was perhaps the greatest travesty in this sphere. It’s a great shame that the judges did not consider the relevant point that “people vote” in determining their decision. Exxon
    Mobil cannot vote and is therefore not a person.

    As to Richard Wolff’s analogy to liken the people of America to a deer caught in the headlights, it falls down because in that situation the headlights pass, freeing the deer from its temporary stasis. That is not the case here. The lack of agitation in the population remarked upon by Bill Moyers is ongoing, and not fleeting as the headlights of a car. Not only do many people feel resigned to the state of the country, believing there’s nothing to be done except make their personal best of a bad situation, many feel – with some justification – that they have “employed” the services of their politicians to do that job for them. After all, most of us have a job elsewhere which requires our near-constant attention if we’re to keep it.

    Added to this, the corporations which control our media, be it in print, on TV or on the web, do a splendid job of numbing our minds with reality shows and social networking, when they are not scaring the wits out of us with threats of terrorist attacks, pandemic diseases or food-chain infections. With all of this going on, how likely is it that people across the country – with their myriad political and religious beliefs and the diverse
    pressures of everyday life – can ever come together to oppose the control of those at the top? How can we provoke sufficient numbers of our fellow Americans to become involved in such a campaign? And – how can we be sure that such a movement would not resort to violence, in such a violent society as ours?

  • Peter Grothe

    Why doesn’t Mr. Wolff turn is ivy league vocabulary towards the very institutions that gave him and his wife their golden careers? He has admitted that our most prestigious universities are split to the core. These are the same places making our most successful leaders, law-makers, and business people of the future. Instead of selling his DVDs and books to the ignorant public why doesn’t Mr, Wolff use his eloquent vocabulary to fix our universities? Or is fixing ‘capitalism’ the easier task? Also, if I can’t use the ‘nebulous’ term “market” when speaking to Mr. Wolff about economics then how should one speak to him about the ‘market’?

  • Anonymous

    I logged in, then looked down: my question is essentially the same as Betty’s – laws against fraud have not been repealed. When a large institution commits such huge crimes, it’s because someone with real power has not merely permitted it but has made it official policy. As a N.Y. judge pointed out in the case of Citi – these banks are serial offenders.

    If memory serves, HSBC is no exception. Talk about adding insult to injury! It’s illegal to possess or sell certain “drugs”, and people go to prison for that. A man has even been imprisoned for sending money to his family in Iraq to help them survive. DoJ prosecuted him although the government admitted that there was no evidence that the money ever supported any terrorist organizations. HSBC can’t make the same claim, but their executives are safe in the bubble of impunity.

    What about complicity on the part of others? Again, if memory serves, Timothy Geithner was aware of LIBOR manipulation while he was head of the FRBNY and did little beyond issue some memos to those banks saying they really ought not do that. Why did it take 10 years before the DoJ decided a crime was being committed?

    The issue extends beyond the financial sector. Just as the neoliberal model begs the question(s): “What is the purpose of an economic system? Who ought to be served by an economic system?” The behavior of the Obama administration in particular, by codifying into law the ad hoc behaviors of the previous administration, now beg the questions, “What is the purpose of government? Is it only to punish those who have the temerity to question its legitimacy and authority? Is it to reward “legal corporate persons” at the expense of the overwhelming majority of its citizens?”

    In the current climate, the DoJ only pursues “soft targets”: anyone who does not have a bevy of expensive Wall Street attorneys from elite law firms on speed dial. John Kiriakou, a former employee of the C.I.A. will serve 30 months for blowing the whistle on the use of torture. No one who committed torture will see the inside of a jail cell. Apparently the fig leaf of the Bybee memo carries more weight than the Geneva Convention (who knew?). Then there’s Adam Schwartz, who did not believe that academic research should be held hostage behind pay-walls. JSTOR, the website from whose server Schwartz is said to have downloaded documents, declined to prosecute. DoJ felt differently. On the flimsiest of excuses (smaller than a fig-leaf) they searched his home, although DoJ had no reason to think the drive with the evidence was there (it wasn’t). Schwartz was facing 35 years and DoJ was determined to make an example of him. After having spent all his money in legal fees and unable to face prison, he took his own life.

    I’m sorry to have blathered on (can you tell this has been bothering me?).

    My question to Dr. Wolff is: I’m familiar with your example of worker cooperatives. I wonder whether such organizations would be allowed to thrive (or even survive) unmolested by frivolous lawsuits from corporations demanding “restraint of trade” because of some real or imagined infringement on the paramount right of the vertical corporate structure (whether alone or in combination – like auto makers) to dominate any particular sector? (Or would that be a question better asked of a business major? I’m only kidding – I thought your observation on that point was excellent and couldn’t resist.) :-)

    Thank you, Mr. Moyers and staff for bringing Dr. Wolff in from the “cold” of “lefty-tv” where few people have the opportunity to hear his ideas. (I saw “Capitalism Hits the Fan” on LinkTV, an excellent viewer-supported station. )

    Thank you, Dr. Wolff, for generously sharing your ideas.

    Kind regards,

  • Bradford Nelson Bray

    Seems to me you are supporting “critical thinking” as essential to learning. I agree. But “critical thinking” is also a learned way of understanding. My problem with on-line learning is that 80% of all human communication is through body language. That’s a fact. Ask any Psychotherapist! On-line distance learning eliminates 80% of communication in effect. There are some courses and subjects that may not suffer as much through on-line, but I would rather be in person, eye ball to eye ball, than sitting behind a screen every day of the week.

  • Bradford Nelson Bray

    Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” clearly defines much of what you are talking about. Highly recommend this book. A classic.

  • Bradford Nelson Bray

    The BIG difference between FDR and today’s government is that today’s government is all but OWNED and populated by multinational corporations and banks!!! Unlike the 1930’s and 40’s, there is virtually no one or no group available in our corporate government who will “compromise” and help the disadvantaged. Therefore, my question to Dr. Wolfe is: How do we change a “Corporate” government that has revolving doors between “public servants” who leave office to work for these same banking/corporate entities?

  • Bradford Nelson Bray

    My question to Dr. Wolfe is: How do we change a “Corporate/Banking” government/system that has revolving doors between “public servants” who leave office to work (or visa versa) for these same banking/corporate entities? Why would a corporate/banking government take up “public financing” of elections and term limits when they benefit from the present “system” as it is? For those who benefit, the system works just fine! Rich get richer… and the “public servants” get lifetime benefits and other kick backs from those who hire them ( i.e. finance their campaigns)! I don’t see ANY changes coming from WITHIN the corporate/banking government we have now.

  • Bradford Nelson Bray

    It’s fairly well known in America that big money goes a long way to keep one from having to be responsible to laws and deal with any consequences of breaking any laws. Their is justice for the monied class and then justice for the rest….

  • Jeff

    Dr. Wolff:

    Can you please give a concrete, not academic or theoretical, explanation of how you would apply your employee run business model to a McDonald’s, Wal-Mart or a hospital or bank? Do you genuinely believe the example you cite of a Silicon Valley start-up run by highly educated, highly motivated software engineers in Bermuda shorts will work with an uneducated, unmotivated work force focused on the short term.

  • Bradford Nelson Bray

    In America as we know it, these “rights’ exists only for those who can afford it!!! In my opinion, this “bill of rights” is right up there with some of the greatest literature ever written.

  • Bradford Nelson Bray

    AGREE!!! Wall Street and Corporate Multinationals are one in the same with our “elected officials”!!! I would like to hear his response as to what WE, The People, can realistically do to change this Corporatocracy/Oligarchy?

  • lgfromillinois

    I did not hear the words ‘monoploy’ or ‘oligopoly’ in your conversation. You used the term ‘capitalism’, but assumed a meaning only of the myth of ‘Adam Smith’ capitalism. Today’s ‘capitalist’ conspire with politicians to perserve corporate power. Do you think the acquisition by corporate America of monopolistic and oligopolistic powers can be reversed in our political system that ‘capitalism’ may be saved? Will we forever be chained to an economy that benefits only the 1%?

  • Joseph Malgeri

    Mr. Wolff, you painted a glowing picture of FDR’s abilities to bring along about half of the super rich to agree to taxes of 94% on income over $25 thousand ($350,000 in today’s dollars). You did not mention the impact of retired Marine General Smedley Butler’s disclosure that he was offered money and means to overthrow FDR, a revelation that led to a congressional hearings which, by and large, could have led to charges of treason for many of the super rich. Did his bold actions not result in providing FDR with significant leverage against the half who resisted his proposals?

  • Matt

    The assumption in Richard Wolff’s critique of current American economic injustice is that more capacity to materially consume should be restored to the working and middle classes by increasing real income levels. But given the limits to material growth imposed by climate change how can we conclude that increasing consumption and material standard of living is a viable or ethical pathway for the planet?

  • Jeff

    Dr. Wolff:

    According to IRS statistics, the top 10% of taxpayers in the U.S. pay 70% of the income taxes and the bottom 50% pay only 2.5% of the income taxes yet you claim that capitalism isn’t working for most people. It seems that capitalism is working very well for the 50% who enjoy the benefits of our society without ever receiving a bill. It’s those of us picking up their tab for whom our government strangled capitalism is failing. At what level of wealth redistribution do you think most people will be happy? When the top earners pay 80% of the taxes; 90%; 100%?

  • Jeff

    Short answer; the American Dream is just that, a dream. America is about equality of opportunity not equality of outcomes. Post WWII prosperity in America was an aberration not experienced before or nor is it likely to occur in the future. Historical experience is not a guarantee of future results.

  • Jeff

    Dr. Wolff:

    Much media and Internet coverage is devoted to the role of banks, the Federal Reserve, FNMA and the repeal of Glass-Stegal in the housing crisis yet rarely is it noted that at the foundation of the whole mess people borrowed money they could not afford to pay back and then defaulted on the contractual obligations in to which they freely entered. Do you place no blame on the eroding moral fiber of Americans? When I was growing up someone who did not pay their debts was a deadbeat or a bum. Today, that same person is a victim absolved of any wrongdoing.

  • Michael

    My question for Richard regards the middle class, to which my wife and I would be considered members. We both graduated from college a few years ago and both got decent jobs right out of school; I am an economist and she an accountant. The top 1% hasn’t stopped us from achieving our goals thus far, the American dream if you will. Keeping in mind that no ancestor from either of our families has ever lived as good as we are now, what should we be on the watch for in terms of political and economic change that would indicate our dreams are in jeopardy?

  • Randy Whitaker

    What deterrent effect will the high rate of incarceration, high level of punitive civil laws and related fines,the high level of surveillance technologies (network robots used in cell phone and any internet environments) and centralization of media messaging that is current and rapidly growing in the USA have on the ability of masses to rise up and resist and demand that economic inequalities be addressed? Do we now truly live in a Plutocracy that is deliberately marketed as a Democracy?

    An example being:

    The FBI having surveillance on MLK and the NAACP. But taking it to the next level and under the name of national security having covert disruptive or silencing programs against any real organized movements and entities that challenge the status quo. It seems the Occupy movement faded rapidly

    This theory of Democracy by elite’s was addressed in the 1970 work by Thomas Dye & Harmon Ziegler in their still popular work The Irony of Democracy, which keeps getting more real decade by decade, but the issue of keeping the masses fat and happy is currently not being addressed as a positively as their works imply it should.

  • JLo

    Historically, the United States has relied on slave and
    immigrant labor to build its infrastructure and huge fortunes for individuals
    and their families. At times, statesmen and public officials have used the tools of government and law to mitigate practices that were harmful to citizens and the nation. Has the increased power of the global corporations shifted this paradigm by simply redirecting the money to where the labor is, thus contributing to the devaluation of a sense of nationalism reducing the roles of statesmen to that of politicians in service to corporate interests and limiting the government’s ability to protect the welfare of U.S. citizens? Can the U.S. solve the current crises alone or will solutions require a global effort?

  • Ken

    As most people who watch Moyers great show, I agree with most of what Mr. Wolff said on Feb 21 broadcast.
    However I believe if regulation was done right that is 1) with enough laws and funds to enforce regulatory laws 2) with regulators that are not beholding to the industry being regulated (i.e. no more revolving doors) 3) with a vigorous review and oversight format
    and with a media focus and concern on those breaking or evading the regulatory laws;
    Then I believe Capitalism can work as most of us believe it should.

    I don’t what Mr. Wolff’s replacement economic system would look like but I think there is still maybe time to modify what we have rather than start over.


  • Gladys

    Well…mostly we agree…now what? Where is the force/group that can create a strong civic movement with some basic principles that do not wander all over the place trying to incorporate every cure for every ill. Occupy Wall Street was a start. And there are other groups that all seem headed in the same direction but have no galvanizing theme.
    Our seed is being scattered. The wide spectrum that could be our new middle class is languishing in confususion instead of being concentrated into a powerful movement.

  • Russell Spears

    Mr Wolff, has said in other podcasts that a free Online university will
    sully and cheapen education. I use his own experiences as an example:
    The rich education he got had huge holes in it that he addressed as a
    self-learner. In fact his own work on the economy is a testimony to how
    effective online content can educated others.

    What ever new challenges a Free Online University has, it is worth it
    for the people that want to take responsibility for their own learning
    and who do not have the time or money to put towards a brick and mortar
    university. And so I believe Mr Wolff Should address this
    for all the people he advocates for in the economy. by leaving education to the monopolies while talking of the economy, Mr Wolff has yet to fully support True Democracy.

  • Russell Spears

    Thanks very much Bradford, I feel like I am the only one that fights for this idea. The media will not cover it. I will be surprised if Bill Moyers asks Richard Wolff directly what a Free Online University can accomplish for the working poor. What ever the challenges may be, I am certain the poor will master both the skills and material needed for any diploma.

    The wealthy sit protected through the exclusion not inclusion of access for the working poor in the Educational Monopoly. Once the poor have full access to accredited diplomas and they understand worker directed enterprises, not only will we fire the bosses, we will be ready in no time with leaders and lawyers of the poor for the poor.

  • Russell Spears

    I will be surprised if Bill Moyers asks Richard Wolff directly what a Free Online University can accomplish for the working poor. What ever the challenges may be, I am certain the poor will master both the skills and material needed for any diploma. In fact I believe the poorest amongst us will raise the bar for mastery.

    The wealthy sit protected through a system of exclusion, not inclusion, of the working poor to the Educational Monopoly. Once the poor have full access to accredited diplomas and they understand worker directed enterprises, not only will we build our own businesses without bosses, we will be ready in no time with leaders and lawyers of the poor for the poor.

  • Russell Spears

    Great, it sounds like traditional schooling works for you. I am simply making the case for the 90% of Americans that have been effectively excluded from accredited degrees-priced out in most cases. A free online university will have its challenges, but we owe it to the working poor who do not have the time or the money to attend brick and mortar schools.

  • Russell Spears

    This is why I see any new legislation that puts people in jail as an attack on the poor. The rich have never suffered at the hands of a poor victim.

  • Mrs DLB

    Mr. Wolff, I would like to hear your thoughts on the Supreme Court’s ruling that established corporate personhood.

  • Guest

    he has see his podcast Economic Update.

  • Tim Wilson

    Question for Mr. Wolff:

    If one person in the room takes a cut of every transaction, sooner or later he will have all the cash and everyone else will be broke. At that point, all economic activity will stop. This, it seems to me, is the naturally occurring outcome of any unregulated free market system. Why isn’t this simple fact driven home over and over to the citizenry until it becomes clear?

    If you leave the morality out of it, and you don’t want your economic system to grind to a halt, it’s just a simple problem of finding a way to redistribute the wealth. Everyone who’s ever played Monopoly knows that. Instead of putting the taxes and fees back into the bank like the game’s designers intended, you pile them up in the middle of the board and give the cash to the lucky individual who lands on free parking. It’s a great way to prolong the game before all the losers have to go to the poorhouse.

    We need to maintain a steeply progressive tax code that prevents the over accumulation of wealth, and spend the money on things that help the middle and lower classes.

  • Joe G

    To save the planet we have to consume less, but to consume less would mean hurting
    the world economies…is there a way to have a sustainable future environmentally as well economically?

  • Ben Champion

    What if human beings were truly free? What if each of us was allowed to contribute to society based solely on what we thought our fair share is rather than someone else coercing us to contribute what s/he thinks is our fair share? What if everyone, not just Americans but ALL the world’s people, had access to clean water, nutrient-rich food, decent housing, health care, and education? What if we lived in harmony with Mother Nature rather than trying to beat and shape Her to comply with our whims? What if there was no middle class, no upper class, and no lower class—just one class: the human class? What if money and the monetary system didn’t exist? What if it was replaced with, not barter but, well, kindness? What if we decided that cooperation is better than competition and we simply depended on each other to fulfill our needs and wants—sort of an “all for one and one for all” type of world? What if no one owned anything but everyone
    had equal access to everything, whether natural or manmade?

    Hunger: GONE!
    Poverty: GONE!
    Homelessness: GONE!
    Unemployment: GONE!

    Sounds both utopian and insane, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought when these ideas first
    came to mind. But I’ve had years to sort through them and now I can’t figure why we, as a species, aren’t moving toward the world I just described.

    The monetary system is in shambles. This idea, this notion of money that we all so fervently seek has no intrinsic value and has been reduced to numbers on a computer screen. It’s a joke. The “civilized” world spends immeasurable hours playing tug-of-war with the stuff—hours that could be spent growing food for the hungry, constructing shelter for the homeless, or some other meaningful purpose. My mind is stymied when I consider the centuries of “wisdom” from which to draw and we have yet to learn that people are our greatest resource. How many more Mozarts, Einsteins, and Shakespeares will be sacrificed to hunger and poverty because ‘we can’t afford them’? The time has come for humankind to seek higher ground.

    Though this short note barely scratches the surface of all to be considered in such a radical shift, my question, Dr. Wolf, is this: In your opinion, what is the feasibility of, over
    a period of several years, a grassroots-led transition from our current monetary-based
    system to one characterized by the principles outlined above? Since you are an economist and your wife is a student of human behavior, I would be interested to hear your combined thoughts.

  • Jenelle Anderson

    I’ve been in numerous university settings, and in numerous work settings. I assure you there is little chance for dialog, even in break out labs led by teaching assistants when there are (yes, even in the university setting) 300 people in the lecture hall. Adult lectures and university courses on any number of subjects (archaeology, early Christians, programming languages, for example) are not necessarily collegiate. Open Source programming sites lend wonderful supports–developer wikis tend to devolve into an unwieldy information network–even in the CORPORATE environment (witness, for example, Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista….each of which, when you go down one level display the SAME dialogs from the first release of NT. The “pretty packaging” is only skin deep. The rush for release to manufacturing is all too often just a new set of APIs that don’t REALLY optimize anything other than a meager stab at “looking like” a recent innovation.

    That’s my 2 cents about not just educational monopoly, but corporate monopoly. The infighting in various groups in a corporate environment give the customer a dis-integrated product.

  • Jenelle Anderson

    My question TOO!!!

  • Russell Spears

    Distance learning saves many time time they need and the resources they can not afford-especially now. The rich multimedia content that can result can indeed be used in traditional schooling (see Khan Academy). This can be a whole industry that can employ the unemployed teachers, creating lesson plans and creating rich learning experiences.

  • Russell Spears

    We need to have another people’s trial and get back taxes collected from all the years going back. Just as a consensus exists that enable this behavior, so can a consensus create an order to pay.

  • Sid Madison

    Based on the program with Richard Wolff, I have not yet read his book, I assume that he expects to correct the imbalance of power between the US version of capitalism and our democracy. It is my belief that the current version of democracy, poor as it is based on growing inequities and the lack of the political class to address unemployment, slow growth, increasing debt and deficits, still needs to address climate change via national climate legislation before – note before – the systemic problems are addressed or solved. The reason is that national climate legislation can not wait for those solutions to be implemented – the time table of cliamte change is set by Mother Nature; physics and chemistry. According to Theda Skocpol in “Naming the Problem” (January 2013, last sentence on page 117):
    “In the end, members of the House and Senate will decide to support new laws and regulations to help nudge the economy in climate friendly directions only when they think that articulate leaders and well-organized voters back in their home states and districts really want them to act.”
    Does Mr Wolff think this is likely based on his analysis of our system?

  • Jim Rice

    Social Justice is an enlightened idea. If you look at the evolution of mankind from survival at any cost to the the compartmentalized urban civilization we have today, social justice has been forced on the oppressors by those that had the opportunity or inner drive to reach that state of enlightenment. Few people come by true social justice on their own. If you believe that it (social justice) comes from outside of ourselves or is awakened inside us by others, then shouldn’t that type of education be the objective of our society.

    As far as the right to a just wage or a fair minimum wage, Mr. Wolff fails to include the effects of globalization on every corporation that markets to the world. Are those corporations obligated to prop up the incomes of their employees so that they may maintain a comfortable “middle class lifestyle.” It seems to me that their obligation is to remain competitive so that their employees and investors can remain viable. Being competitve means meeting the competitors at the marketplace at a similar price for similar quality. This almost always involves unit cost (read labor cost). I don’t think the real issue is what the corporations need to pay in wages, it’s that they are operating with a deficient model no matter how it is viewed by Wall St. I refer you to Jack Stack, the thought leader behind “Open Book Management.” His stunning success put the broken corporate model in stark relief. His companies are probably some of the most cost knowledgeable and cost efficient of any company in America, yet he provides ever increasing opportunity to his employees, customers, investors, and managers through “gain sharing” (read profit sharing based on meeting pre-set goals)that is distributed based on fair apportionment to each group of stakeholders instead of the select few.

    Mr. Wolff’s favor of the union movement, again, fails to call out the unions for their massive deriliction as they obstruct the progress of well meaning business entities, protect the worst of their members, and enrich those at the top of the union structure. Look at the sorry state of the teachers’ union. It is nearly impossible to rid the school system of bad teachers and they impose their political weight to further block the possibility of improving the overall education system. I say this from first hand experience. As a union member for three years I watched productivity actively dampened and the worst employees protected from any meaningful corrective action. I ackowledge the role early union activity did to improve the position of the American worker-it’s that kind of activity that needs to be utilized to fix the broken institutions around us.

    In my more pessimistic moments I think that we ought to rework our treason laws to prosecute those that are undermining the fabric of this great country, but, seeing more clearly, I realize that those laws would have to be rewritten by many of the guiltiest parties.

  • David E

    “The General Welfare” (in the same clauses as the Common Defense) in the Constitution was not a mistake. Remember, it was in the Articles of Confederation also. It seems that was why corporations originally could only be granted charters by the state, with restrictions, of course for which there are basically none today. The general welfare clause could be applied to corporations, superseding what state governments have done. Remember, the 10th Amendment says federal “delegated powers”, not “enumerated powers”. Before industrialization, the general welfare may not have been as much of a concern because of slavery and an agriculture, family-based farming economy. Of course, anybody can find in the 1040 tax booklet (if they look) that with Social Security and Medicare being 36% of the federal budget, defense-related expenditures being 24%, welfare (food stamps, TANF, Medicaid and SSI) being 16%, unemployment compensation (funded by payroll taxes), health research and public health programs, assisted housing, and social services being 9%, physical, human, and community development being 7%, interest on the debt being 6%, and law enforcement and general government being 2%–with Social Security and Medicare funded by payroll tax, the only around 16% for basic welfare equals the 15% borrowing to cover the deficit we had until the real economic problems started in 2008, for which the borrowing now has been 37%. That 15% borrowing used to be $200-300 billion, which could have been made up by better handling of the general welfare having to do with corporations and jobs, and having the tax structure we previously had in the 90’s or so. So there actually is not much that is not already funded by payroll tax, other than defense and welfare.

  • Kurt Nunn

    Richard Wolff is able to crystallize
    much of what has been conflicting for me since I started taking economics
    classes when I first started college in the early 80’s.

    Back then, Milton Friedman’s book,
    Free to Choose, was a major part of the curriculum in my microeconomics class.
    The concept of Free Markets has always been problematic for me. To me, it would
    never to graduate past the third world produce market he used as his example
    because it relies on a level playing field or it will deteriorate. In most
    arenas that situation does not exist because businesses are in the business of
    tilting or skewing the playing field in order to dominate, or corner a market.
    I would think Friedman would cheer for regulations to maintain a competitive
    market rather than decry them.

    This is why I am having a tough time with Richard’s view on regulations. Glass
    Steagall was a regulation which worked for a long time until it was undermined
    politically. It seems to me, our commitment to regulations (the ones which
    work); until they become culturally ingrained might be a possible course.

    What does Richard propose? In
    what environment would the problems of the banks, corporations and our political
    corruption holistically fail to thrive?

  • Topher Dean

    The top ten percent pay only a 15% tax rate since their annual income is directly put into investments then they live of the money they make on capital gains from those investment later. Before they put in their earned income they deduct most of their money in bogus shelters the rest they move off shore. Some companies pay no tax what so ever. Facebook’s getting a 450 million dollar refund. That means by your estimates the top ten percent could pay off the entire national debt in less than 10 years and not sacrifice their standard of living one bit just by raising their tax rat to 30%. You just don’t understand how much money they have. One family, the Walmart family has more wealth than the entire bottom 60% of America.

  • Topher Dean

    Are you Senator Brian Schatz?

  • Topher Dean

    Sadly you underestimate the number of people who only think of themselves. Just look at how this country was founded. We lied cheated, murdered and then stole the land from the Native Americans. Then we kidnapped people from Africa and beat them and tortured them into slavery for hundreds of years. Then the traitors to America attacked us to preserve their obscene economy on the basis that the federal Government was trampaling on their freedom to own slaves. This caused the death of over 600,000 Americans. Then they used the law and economic oppression to continue slavery for another 150 years. these same ignorant sociopaths are in our congress right now and members of the Tea Party. The southern states still worship their confederate heros and resent liberal progressives for taking away their slave economy. Obama’s election isn’t a sign of the end of racism it’s only revealed how pervasive it is underneath. Southerners need to come to terms with what they did and apologize to all of us. Just as the Germans have done after they came to grips with what they did. Confess your sins and make amends or there can be no peace for them or us. That’s the core of the devision in our country now. We all need to apologize to the Native Americans and make amends to them as well. The government needs to be the vehicle for that healing as it was the instrument that was used to commit the heinous crimes and it should be the vehicle for our voice as well, or at least it should be. We also have to apologize to the Hawaiians and make amends to them. I realize that its unrealistic for us all to go back to the land of our ancestors, but we can lift these people up out of their poverty, which is the worst of all of us. We also need to address the cruelty and total disrespect we’ve wielded against nature and make reparations to God for our sins. I’m sorry, but due to our morbidly obese egos, there’s just no hope of any of that happening. But don’t worry, scientist now estimate there are over 16 billion Earth sized planets in our galaxy alone. The Universe is teeming with life, it’s just too bad we blew it here.

  • Rainy_dayy

    Over all the USA education is political and a hoax! Free education is little to no education as you can see and visualize in the urban communities and some suburban. We are to learn but not be taught. Free online education is just like giving a free education in public school. Millions of dollars go into these school so the may be free but these children receive little to no education at all. They build new schools that look great and have better equipment but inside these kids are learning nothing. Its sad because in other communities and in other countries there are a lot of kids learning so much more. Personally free education is no education. I just feel as though if your going to talk about education talk about it as a whole, start from the root!!! I was in pre-k and Kindergarten over 22 years ago and the children are learning less now then back then. Why is that? Especially when technology has grown over the last decade. Leaves me confused and devastated.

  • Russell Spears

    My personal view is that Just as the many US corporations who build their wealth upon the backs of slaves, have no legitimate right to the wealth they
    created, so too, we look at almost every big corporations today and see
    that they too have no legitimate claim to their wealth. The majority
    needs to to consider reparations for the working poor and criminal
    proceedings for the companies that have broken established laws now and in the past 100 years.

  • Russell Spears

    Anyone that has broken a law need to be prosecuted, we do not give clemency to rapists, murderers and so we should not give economic slave holders a days pass as an exception. But I think Mr. Wolff is talking about the many actors in the culture of greed-which is not a criminal offense. Bu there they did break laws-going back as far as there are direct victims there should be finical settlements.

  • Gail Hartman

    On the one hand you have masses of people who have been betrayed by the American Dream, and who have no political parties or unions to advocate for them as in the 30’s. On the other hand you have indefinite detention without charge or trial, electronic eavesdropping without warrants, the potential domestic use of drones for surveillance, the increasing militarization of local police forces, crackdowns on NSA whistleblowers & attempts to limit our Internet freedom to communicate through covert trade agreements such as the TPP (TransPacific Partnership). The rationale is to keep our country safe from “terrorists,” but what if the definition of “terrorist” is loosened or broadened to include anyone who is deemed anti-capitalist? That may not be as far fetched as it seems, since the Dept. of Homeland Security labelled the Occupy movement as “potential domestic terror threats.” To Richard Wolff: Who do you think stands a chance against such forces?

  • Dan Mueller

    Thank you for this show and topic. It’s long overdue to be talking about the excesses of capitalism and its damage to society, and that capitalism, itself, is the problem. My questions Richard Wolff are: What economic system would you have replace Capitalism? Without regulating capitalism, how can it be effectively modified to prevent the problems it causes. How to stop and reverse income inequality? Why is putting a cap on personal income such a forbidden topic and how can that be put on the table?

  • Gail

    I wait breathlessly to hear your solution to fix our non-functional economic system!

  • Topher Dean

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXThank you Mr. Wolff, for working so hard to bring justice to America. We’re all grateful for your contributions. I would like to point out that, like all other economist, you haven’t added the costs of environmental damage to the equation. While we fret about this and that, dozens of critical environmental catastrophes silently, steadily approach. It seems that they’ll all come to a culmination at around the same time, which will leave us unable to cope with any of them. I would like to bring your attention to a 2008 paper by Tim Barnett and Dave Pierce of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Titled: When Will Lake Mead Run Dry. In this ten year study from 1997-2007 they estimate that there’s a 50% chance that Lake Mead and Powell will drop below functional levels by 2021. This study was completed before the disastrous drought of 2012. NOAA has predicted, “The drought will continue or intensify in 2013.” My friend who works at Squaw Valley ski resort told me the other day that it hasn’t snowed since December 25th. I’m not sure what the economic consequences of abandoning Las Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Reno, and all the cities of the south west will be but, I’m guessing it will lead to a catastrophic, global, economic collapse. The loss of half our GDP. Trillions of dollars worth of infrastructure useless, our largest port abandoned, and a significant amount of our food supply wiped out. If you’re thinking that engineering will avert the disaster, think again. All the water in America is spoken for and demand is out pacing supply. A 50% chance may not seem too bad if your playing cards, but put three rounds into a six shot revolver and put it to your head and suddenly a 50% chance doesn’t seem so good. No one in the government or the private sector wants to talk about environmental issues since they think it will mean a loss of income. Putting our fingers in our ears and going la,la,la,la,la wont make it go away. We could try to do something about it. FDR had his public works project, but as the Republicans love to point out, it was the war that brought prosperity to America. What they don’t say is that it was FDR’s mandate for all corporations to stop making civilian products and start manufacturing weapons that caused the economic boom, putting everyone back to work for a decent wage. We were united in a common goal. The only problem is, we never transitioned back to a peace time economy which predicates the necessity for more wars, that’s why we have the perpetual war against terror. Our war based economy is now crushing us with tax burden. Ironically, what we need is another war and I have a good one. The war against global warming. If Obama declared a state of emergency, which it is, then we could engage in the largest civil works project in history, putting everyone back to work with an urgent purpose. There’s enough existing roof space in America to collect three times the amount of energy we need. The excess energy we collect during the day can be used in massive hydrogen production facilities that can drive our economy at night and power the transportation sector. This will permanently stabilize the markets, as solar energy is 100% reliable and inexhaustible. If we act expeditiously, we may be able to build desalinization plants. In the future we will be able to do anything we want because we’ll have unlimited clean energy. Of course we need to put the planet into a negative population curve until we reach a billion or less and then stabilize there. Those people will have all the minerals they need. All they have to do is recycle what has already been mined by us. The result will be thousand of square miles of wilderness for our fellow inhabitants. Climate stabilizes, oceans restored, no more pollution, no more poverty, no more war, (since all wars are about natural resource acquisition), robots will do all our work while we enjoy life and develop technology to move out into the stars with peace and respect for all of God’s creation. . . or we can die.

  • Topher Dean

    see my idea above.

  • Topher Dean

    sounds good, but we still need people to build, maintain, and repair our infrastructure and people to serve us, like doctors and waiters and so forth. Maybe robots will do all our work in the future. Then we’ll have to come up with a totally new economic model, since everyone will be out of work.

  • Topher Dean

    The diversity of our seed is powerful. I call the President everyday 212-456-1111 or you can email @ Call your reps. I have unlimited long distance but email is just as good or use a stamp. I sometimes write letters. If we all did that it would save the postal system. If everyone who thinks like us launched a barrage of letters to the government, it would work.

  • Topher Dean

    it’s possible but I think Mr. Wolff’s point about regulations not working is that corporations always find a way to game the system by controlling all four sectors of the government. Usually by some form of bribery (campaign contributions and so forth) Corporations were shock to lose the election this year. Obviously, Romney would have been ideal for controlling the executive branch. They already have a grip on the house but I think it’s slipping. We have a slight edge on the Senate and it just got significantly stronger with Elizabeth Warren on the finance committee. If we can hold onto the Presidency long enough we can swing the tide in the judicial branch. Then all we need to do is take back the fourth branch, the media. That’s the hardest part, but if we keep democrats in office, at least we’ll still have national treasures like Bill Moyers. Others are standing up. Have you seen Breaking the Set? Abby Martin is pissed off and putting it out there. Assange is risking his life, battling the system’s attempts to imprison him. We can do it, but can we do it in time. Environmental collapse in imminent. I’m going down kicking and screaming. I call the White House everyday, 212-456-1111 email, twitter, facebook, use a stamp and save the post office. Call your representitives and ask for a phone meeting. Keep pestering them. If we all did our civic duty we could make it happen. The speakers and everyones number is online. I’ve left countless messages on the speakers phone. Everyone is polite and helpful and grateful that I’m doing my civic duty by calling them. If everyone who thinks like us did that it would happen faster than you think.

  • Russell Spears

    Well I have to agree Education in the US is a Hoax, but I think the one we personally pay for is the worst deal. Look the educational system suffers from two critical flaws, First, it does not encourage active self-learning. Secondly, it is not focused on getting students excited about learning.

    Teachers give tests and based on the results they make the next one hard or easy, in order to keep the appearance of progress in the classroom. Also the quality of their teaching is judged based on the results (too many children fail a test and the teacher is too hard, too many pass and the teacher is too soft). There are tons of overt ways to manipulate the test to achieve a bell curve result. This is not learning and the results speak for themselves even if we continue to pump more into the educational system.

    I am self taught in my field and I have created the test at my job uses to assess seasonal applicants. I rarely have one college graduate-with no less than $30,000 in student debt and most of these people I can not recommend for a seasonal job, because they do not know how to work on industry standard programs.

    Yea, we need to rethink education, but the future is for the people that understand the value of their own education and wish to act on that knowledge alone. For many of these people, typically the working poor, the one thing that can change their chances of succeeding is a Free Online University. As for all the rest of the people who have yet to appreciate the importance of learning, they can take their sweet time since a Free Online University will be there when they are ready. We spend 940 billion on traditional schooling, an investment of 40 or 80 million will make the world of difference. Rest assured everyone learns the importance of education, I just want everyone at any age to be able to actualize their dreams without having to mortgage their children’s future.

  • Greg DeMarco

    I would like to forward Richard Wolff a question from my 11 year old daughter, Emilee. “If we’re the richest nation in the world why are we borrowing money from China?” I told her that the rich in our country have kept most of the money. I’m sure there’s more to than that such as the deficit spending on our huge military budget for what I consider needless wars. How should I answer Emilee’s question?

  • Greg DeMarco

    Mr. Wolff my daughter asked me: “If we’re the richest nation in the world why are we borrowing money from China?” How should I answer her?

  • Jay Parker

    Wolff is as clear and concise as Milton Friedman was in the last century. The question is where do we go from here? What do we do? The answer is a gigantic class action lawsuit against all of the perpetrators (AIG, Goldman, S&P, Countrywide, even the complicit Federal Government) to seek damages for the financial pain caused to millions of us through no fault of our own. The judgement will not be to prosecute the guilty; that puts no money back into my pocket – and I am not seeking wealth transfer from the rich to the 99 percenters – i want the Fed to print the money (as they are doing as we speak) and directly pump it deep into the bowels of the economy; i.e., into the pockets of those affected by bankruptcy, foreclosure, loss of job, etc. I call this Monetary Fracking. The use of very liquid assets in massive amounts forced into the economy to release the great economic engine of commerce.

  • Russell Spears

    Did you quote me here? If not, we think exactly the same…..

  • Ben Champion

    Mr. Dean,

    Thank you for your consideration. This is one of the most common responses I
    get when I talk about the moneyless concept—“It’ll never work because people are too mean-spirited and self-centered.” I’ll present to you the same scenario that I have many other folks: Suppose someone shows you a kindness, not because s/he owes you anything, but simply because you have a need and the person fulfills it. Do you think you would be more inclined to do harm to this person or want to be of service in some way? Without exception, everyone to whom I have asked this question has responded with something on the order of “Return kindness with kindness.”

    While I don’t disagree with anything you’ve written, and though history is riddled with proof of Man’s inhumanity to Man, there is most certainly an element of brotherhood residing in every human heart. We’ve all reached out to someone in need expecting nothing in return—helped jump-start a car, hugged a crying child, helped an elderly person pick up packages s/he dropped—and that feeling of “being there” can’t be purchased at any price. Here’s a 2½ minute example someone sent to me just earlier today:

    We’re bombarded daily with examples of cruelties that we inflict on each other. Capitalism itself has an inherent adversarial aspect as it warns “let the buyer beware.” Being immersed in such a culture understandably results in a citizenry who is ever vigilant, wondering if s/he will be the next victim. However, I’ve found that the vast majority of people simply want to get from birth to death with as little pain and suffering as possible and are glad to lend a helping hand when they can.

    Rather than focusing on the hatred and wrongdoings in the world, chose to dwell on the good that’s around us. It’s a simple enough idea to shift from a “watch your back” mindset to one that asks “how can I help?” Simple to conceive. . .not so simple to achieve. We’ll have to work on it together.

  • Topher Dean

    Hi Ben,

    I hear what your saying and I think we’re in the same group of people who are grateful for all the gifts we’ve been given and feel true joy in being able to help another person in need. I can’t be sure about this, but I’m afraid that we, like most people, surround ourselves with like minded people. That means that the majority of people that you and I
    have experiences with are empathetic and caring which may give us a false impression of the overall picture. I mean, how long could you hang out with Rush and Ann coulter? If the majority of people were like John Muir, the devastation of our natural world would have never happened. Even if there was a modest percentage of people that thought like him we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now. I live in Hawaii and sometimes I hear people who have that “doomsday prepper” mind set but I always disagree because I think that the overwhelming majority of people here would work together in a spirit of cooperation. But, this state is a very liberal and progressive state. Aloha is the predominant mindset. Unfortunately I think we’ll find out soon enough, but I fear that fear and ignorance may win out again, as it has so often in the past. Thanks for writing, I can tell you’re one of the good ones. Don’t forget to do your civic duty and contact our government as often as possible. Aloha, TD

  • Topher Dean

    that just gave me a thought. After the French revolution the power elites tried a new plan. Give the masses enough and they’ll leave you alone. Now it seems that they may be thinking, well, we don’t have to give them that much and not everyone needs the bare minimum, some people can die in the street and the others will just be grateful it’s not them, and continue to be our servants.

  • Topher Dean

    Well, I had nearly a million dollars in assets and then my surfboard hit me in the face. Four years later and it’s all gone. So there’s that. Of course that senario can happen a thousand different ways, and does.

  • Claude Garrod

    Dear Professor Wolff

    I’ve enjoyed listening to your talks on TV (as much as one can “enjoy” a vivid description of disaster) and agree with your proposal for strongly encouraging cooperative enterprises. I’m not an economic historian (actually I’m a retired physics professor) so I don’t really know the history of such enterprises, nor why they aren’t more common than they are. However, I have a suspicion that the majority of the past ones fell into two groups: 1. failing ones that, like failing private businesses, went bust and disappeared and 2. successful ones that, because of their success, became quite valuable and were sold to investors and thus disappeared as cooperative businesses. I hope that I’m wrong – am I?

    Claude Garrod

  • M Pender

    Our form of capitalism appears to make a commodity of anything tangible and intangible.

    Capitalism appears to put prices on everything from natural resources such as water to even the airwaves for radio and TV. It has created prices on tall building spaces, even on the amount of polluted air and water. They have created prices on patents for plant seeds, human heretical genes, certain words and names, as well as particular coding of computer software.

    All new medical discoveries are now on the auctioning block. Capitalism is now destroying several natural planet species such as rhinoceros and elephant by selling their horns and tusks for medicine.

    Capitalized economics has made butter shipped 5,600 miles from New Zealand to Chile cheaper than butter produced in Chile. It has created intangible assets called Derivatives and Credit Default Swaps and have sold them around the world. This same type of capitalism and business decisions is polluting our rivers and air with toxins because corporations are beholding to their stockholders and required to provide the highest profits with the lowest cost. Some would even say the laws in America have a price.

    How can this type of destructive capitalism ever be stopped before we loose our humanity and destroy the planet?

  • Anonymous

    Question for Dr. Wolff:
    You touched on how you are against regulation. I agree with you in your analysis on the failure of regulation. What would be the alternative to regulation?

  • Fritz Korte

    Q1; what is the cure for media complicity, duplicity, propogandizing and general lack of credibility during this massive transition?
    Q2: how does democracy shed the shackles of groupthink, mobbehavior,and wildfire ignorance bending ever farther away from the pursuit of truth under the weight of popular, albeit misguided, dogma, rumor, appeals to baser instincts and the like?
    Q3: understanding now how simply capitalism can be corrupted, isn’t it about time we determined, as a species, to dispose of the brittle concept of trade and evolve toward the concept of share as we seek to distribute limited world resources among virtually unlimited demand for them?
    Q4: where/when is our Tahrir Square moment, our Berlin Wall moment?
    Q5: what in the name of anything Holy makes you believe that this population has the capacity to absolutely reverse virtually every fundamental component in this system without rampant violence (even if the government doesn’t declare martial law)? It’s just pure, blind, deep and abiding faith, isn’t it?

  • Grady

    When a government prints more money, what is the mechanism whereby “the economy” detects/knows that a country’s currency has lost value?

  • jared powell

    Bill/Dr. Wolff,

    Really enjoyed the show, but I have a hard time being as optimistic and Dr. Wolff about the likelihood that things can change for the better. The left (i.e. those who believe in redistribution, want to hold the business community accountable, want a MUCH smaller military, and demand the return of the civil liberties lost since 9/11) lack political representation in this representative democracy of ours. Democratic politicians have implicitly embraced ‘austerity’ and the violent expression of American exceptionalism abroad they once criticized under Bush II. Democratic voters refuse to hold them accountable for this, and somehow hold Obama up as a progressive hero. Where will the changes needed come from?

  • Bradford Nelson Bray

    Personally, I think higher education should be subsidized like it is in Europe. They pay virtually nothing compared to the ungodly cost here.

  • Topher Dean

    Why is banking legal? It’s just a giant ponzi scheme. If too many people want their money back it’s not there. Why don’t I start a pyramid and if some of the investors want their money back I’ll just get the FDIC to pay them. Fine, if you want to base our economy on this, go ahead, it’s worked for hundreds of years. Never mind that there’s not enough gold or silver or even paper dollars to add up to the amount of money there is in the global pool. During the Bush collaps, Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve Bank just pushed a button and created 8 trillion dollars out of thin air. There’s no paper or anything behind it. Just electrons. Then he gives it to the banks at 0.01%. Is the money compounded monthly? Is it amortized? Do they ever have to pay it back? Do they wire the interest payments back to the Federal Reserve?

    All I know is that the practice of amortizing is a perverse, unjustifiable, scheme. First, they stick you with as high an interest rate as they can. The poorer you are the higher the interest rate. Then for the first five years it’s pure profit. 100% return on their investment, since practically no principle is payed. Then they start hitting you with, “why don’t you refinance at a lower rate?” “You can decrease your monthly payment.” This is about as far as most people get in their understanding of the scheme. The loan gets reset and you’re paying 100% pure profit to the bank again, while your principle remains untouched. The only way out of this nightmare is to stay with your original loan all the way to the end. This is the worst case senario for them, as most of your payment is pure principle at the end. In this case the banks only walk away with a million dollars on a $200,000 loan. Boo hoo. The best case senario is you keep selling your house every three years and buying a more expensive house each time. Then they’ll always keep getting a 100% return on their investment. That’s why tax incentives only kick in if you buy a house more expensive than the previous one.

    How dare Jamie Diamon say that he thought the housing prices would never stop going up. The cost of living wasn’t doubling every three years. Wages weren’t doubling every three years. By his reckoning, a $200,000 house would be a $800,000 house in ten years. Then 1.6 million, eventually the same modest little three bedroom house would cost 3 million dollars. They were killing it until suddenly we all realized that no one could afford any house to live in. People were just using houses as a way to stash their cash and keep flipping forever. Nobody lived in a lot of these houses. They just sat their waiting for the market to go up. But this is exactly what the banks were hoping for. This is the scheme they set up to keep amortization in perpetual motion. Keep selling your houses every three years to keep the 100% return rate going. Never paying down any of your principle, eternal debt, that’s the goal. Why doesn’t any one call them on this? Perhaps Elizabeth Warren will. So far everyone says, “They’re not breaking any laws.” Well, it’s mighty convenient when your paying the people who make the laws. As I keep saying every Sunday, “GO, BILL, GO!!!”

  • Chris

    I don’t understand Mr. Wolff’s reasoning behind not wanting to hold bankers accountable for their actions: Does he think if he supported actions against the bankers and more regulation he would be seen as upholding the “system”? I understand that capitalism is faulted, but according to his thinking one could also say we should not convict murderers since their actions too are just a symptom of a much bigger problem…..
    Mr. Wolff’s explanation for why we don’t need more regulation is lacking. The fact that corporations are too smart for the regulations doesn’t mean regulation they can’t work, they just need to be enforced. Having corporations (ie former-ceo’s in the government) police themselves will never work…. please, Mr. Wolff, come up with better reasoning…

  • charles Arthur Soule

    If a women concents to sex with a man (contract) does he give up the right 2 an abortion, YES.

  • anotherquestion

    I wish Richard Wolff or another guest would talk about H-1B visas, the claimed “skills gap,” and the claimed shortage of graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Peter Cappelli at UPenn, Norman Matloff at UCal-Davis, and journalist Hedrick Smith all publish on these issues, but rarely get much coverage.

  • John PQT

    If people were to take back control of the government, what large-scale policy changes should the government undertake to encourage the growth of cooperatives?

  • Russell Spears

    Having a free online university is more than having access to schooling, it is offering people a chance to learn at their own pace and with a few hours here ot there that they have available. But sure, we should make all education fee, However, we can not simply keep an education system that excludes people from a classroom who do not find it easy to travel to a classroom, or the long commuting time. Hell, I might have time for one 45 min lecture today and I can’t spend the gases money/buss fair to take up that same time in traffic jams.

    People simply forget the working poor when they talk of education!!!!


    Some radio broadcasts call for Systemic Change, yet how can we get right to it, start a conference group that brings attention to experts ? Why not realize our generation is at that stage where we need and can build a new hybrid economy by unifying innovative college learning activities with a college’s support system ? For this, stop calling it an “economic system” and stop calling it a “higher learning educational system”, replacing these by “leaning environment” and “its support system”. (I do not speak for how to help what goes on outside of colleges, because that is just sustaining, not advancing.) It will “create more jobs” by eliminating need of career work and so-called jobs. (Details are already available.)

  • Don P.

    You comment on the fact that as parents, we encouraged our children to go to college. Yet today, as you say, they are faced with trying to pay off many forms of debt, (due a decreasing growth in the economy) debt due to college loans, debt on credit cards, home mortgages that exceed their abilities to ever pay them off…then the crash by many of our children that resulted in loosing their homes, car loans, etc. or walking away from them.

    Cognitively and psychologically, as you point out, our children today are somewhat shocked and locked in denial of the issues, even polarized in their views, and stagnant to even know what action to take. What advice would you give to today’s current parents (my children’s families) with say 2-3 children (ages 0-16), and future parents who are in college or at work, to address these issues. If this system is so broken, how and in what ways do they take action to resolve these issues…does voting truly help….does outright protesting produce effective results (like the times during the 60’s and the Vietnam War)…withdrawal?… or ?????

  • PKFram

    Mr. Moyers,

    You program with Professor Wolff was one I have been waiting for some media outlet to produce for years. Thank you for the excellent interview.

    Please ask Prof. Wolff to discuss how our society can adjust it’s current, misaligned capitalist economy without relying on institutions that are beholden to the elite 1%. The elite control the government, corporations, and many other institutions.

    Do we need a movement with massive, nonviolent direct action? Do we need to recreate the political force of the civil rights and women’s rights movements?

    What can an average American, who is fed up with the status quo, do to effect change?

    The Occupy movement fizzled when it failed to allow any leaders to emerge and sustain the movement. What other models might create positive change?

    Thank you.

    Paul Kenney

    Framingham, MA

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure I’m following the thread of these comments. I had a question for Dr. Wolff:

    If regulation isn’t the way to get Wall Street to conform or at least assume some moral or law-abiding position in society, how do we get them to contribute to society rather than prey on it?

  • Joe H

    I would like a discussion from Richard Wolff, or from any number of Moyers’ other guests over the last few months who have discussed the serious discrepancies between the 1% and the 99%, not about what is causing these effects but what can realistically be done to change them now. Not just a hope that the middle class will be able to collectively put pressure on congress to act but some real actions that would cause change.

  • Jim R.

    Mr. Wolff,

    What is your response to the typical point republicans and liberal economists make in terms of thrift. Specifically, that of living through sacrifice and hard work, while making smart decisions, one will be able to become successful, even in this current economic system.

    Jim R.

  • Lou Hoffman

    I just watched Mr. Wolff’s lecture that thankfully is provided on Mr. Moyer’s website. I plan on purchasing a copy of the lecture to share.

    Given Mr. Wolff’s summation in the lecture suggesting that the employees need to be more involved in a company’s management and that re-regulation is not the answer to our problems, would he concede that the decline of labor unions in the past 30 years is tied to our current economic mess? If he deems that premise to be accurate, would he recommend that a short term fix might possibly be the new support of unions to counteract the swing of power to CEO’s and managements to restore the middle class?

    Thank you, Lou Hoffman in San Antonio, TX

  • Spencer

    I found this Time article interesting and wonder what actions Mr. Wolff can suggest we take to rid our selves of the health care greed? At Kaiser Hospital, their employees get free health care, but, treat the paying patients as if we are the ones draining their system.

  • Brad

    Is there room for poor personal financial decisions in the current US Economic System? Will an individual have to suffer the consequences and be subjected to a life of poverty?

  • Anonymous

    Hi Dr. Wolff — I’m an early purchaser of your “Capitalism Hits The Fan” DVD, I also met you in Palo Alto recently. I adore your work. My question is about Mises, Hayek, and the gold standard. The concepts of Mises & Hayek have become deeply embedded in the (small “t”) tea party movement. And I think people on the Left don’t know how to effectively engage (or counter) them, especially since the Left shares with the tea party a sense that central banking systems are screwing everyone. So my question is, how do you see Mises, Hayek, and the gold standard? What does the Left need to understand about them so that we can engage (or effectively inform) our tea party compatriots?

  • Anonymous

    Russell – See what you think of It’s a free university, and a fantastic opportunity for anyone with self-motivation but no funds.

  • thefox

    don’t these wonderful little companies starting in the silicon valley you mention in the lecture become part of the corporate world with boards of directors and isn’t this what they been working towards

  • Russell Spears

    Thanks, I keep track of the many free courses over the web. The information is already out there on the web. However, the key to any Free Online University is accreditation. I love learning, but this will not end with a degree without paying thousands for one. The educational Monopoly has been able to keep this process exclusive to themselves. We really need one outlet. I see the future and it is going to happen one day soon, I would love to see that day and the security it will offer everyone, who can stop and consider any dream as possible. UK has the Open University and it is considered a superior education for many since you have to be a disciplined self learner. You will not hear of a Free Online University in the media for a reason. This is why I hope Moyer will have it in him to ask this question directly to an economist like Richard wolff.

  • Denise LaRossa

    I would like to hear Wolff propose some solutions to the seemingly intractable problems he discussed. Please don’t say that when people get fed up, they will vote politicians out of office because there are too many problems with our election system: gerrymandered districts, vote suppression, the possibility that some states (like PA, where the popular vote was for Obama but where the GOP-led statehouse wants to change the way its electoral votes are counted) and the potential that electronic voting tabulations can be hacked (and we do not have any safeguards in place, like random automatic audits, that would detect it).

  • Dleffler

    Campaign reform is a must for a democratic solution.

  • Anonymous

    I think you are still putting too much faith in the system. Saylor is put together by university instructors and supported by Bill Gates, who, remember, does not have a college degree himself. I myself am 56 and just finally finished my bachelors two years ago, WITH NO DEBT, and only because I was able to find an alternative college that would let me put all my past credits and experiences together. But not having an accredited degree in no way stopped me from learning or being creative with assembling my work experience, a portfolio, and a score of recommendations, and getting hired at a good salary. I have been paid to teach English in classrooms, to both children and adults, without a degree. I have designed additions to homes without a degree. In fact, I’ve been told by many (and I mean many) hiring managers that they prefer someone with the creative chutzpah to put their “package” of experience and recommendations together, over someone who just sits back on a degree and thinks it should magically open doors all by itself. It’s a long-time, well-known fact that entrepreneurs and business owners bemoan the qualifications of college graduates. University teachers and staff typically know almost nothing about industry. The only professions that need an accredited education are those which require licenses — like doctors, nurses, structural engineers, etc. Beyond that, in my experience, the requirement of a degree MYTH that higher education industry sells. Consider, in the past several decades, prices for most things have risen, and fallen — but not for college. The price for college ALWAYS rises. And let’s not mention the regents, who make $millions in their role and “work” maybe 2-4 hours a week, if that?? No, what we need are creative, motivated people who are willing to think outside the box and SHOW IT. Outside the fields that require licensing, if you are relying on, and paying a high price for others to “bless” your education, you are, in large part, abdicating your own responsibility. You are accepting the role of sheep. Your education belongs to you, no one else, and you should not have to pay a fortune for it. You should ALSO not have to sit through required classes with abusive, mindless teachers, just because the institution requires that in the curriculum. You can design your own curriculum!! Engage your passion!! Learn what you want to learn!! No one is stopping you!! Saylor, it should be noted, does give certificates, and ONLY if you pass a test in the material (I think it’s a proctored test? I haven’t looked in awhile). So yes, you don’t have accreditation, but you have a certificate that you could not just buy in a corner stationery shop, you HAD TO EARN IT. And your certificate SHOWS that you earned it. Believe me, hiring managers will notice and applaud your initiative — unless of course you prefer to sit back and pay a lot of money to do the minimum amount of work in an accredited school. You can of course do that, but I know if I were hiring someone, I would prefer a go-getter over someone who rests on a laurel.

  • Russell Spears

    Some companies are already working with universities, to put together programs, which on competition, allow the applicants to be considered for employment. I can see something like this working. Over time businesses need to have extended Guest, Mentoring, Apprenticeships and Internship programs that allow potential students time to evaluate their interests and talents.

    I too have managed to self-educate and work my way into my field. I created the testing our company uses as well as the video training. So I would agree a diploma is over rated. But only for the diploma’s we have today which our children forced to pay 150k to obtain. Real educational reform can change that paper into the only true thing of value we can have-real education and true democracy.

    I agree, fully, that creativity is the key to thinking differently and innovating, but did you know that by the age of 3-4, a child in our educational system is 90% less successful with creative tasks. Even more regimented educational systems are now suffering with creativity-like in China.

    But many businesses still look at that paper as a sign of accomplishment, and I would have liked to have access to the education system when I was younger-I am now 42 myself (and without a diploma) but the majority of our workforce needs access to education well before they reach our age. I put my money on a self-learner any day-if I was looking to hire someone, but our educational system can do better. I think this all falls on a lack of imagination and bad faith: Think of how revolutionary it would be to have the top twenty thinkers on any given topic create a video lecture that every student can study.… Imagine the best multimedia (audio, video, 3D, Lectures, Discussion Groups, Web conferencing, Webinars, Expos, Industry related seminars, touring labs, Experimental Learning Experiences, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Tutoring Businesses, Etc) along with a whole new educational economy and classroom experience. One where teachers no longer give boring lectures (not every teacher has that excitement), but helps guide students and only when they seem stuck for a number of weeks on one topic. Instead, teachers can work directly with each student helping the ones that have difficulties but giving them all just the guidance they need to learn how to self learn. For the ones that are not interested this is where we need to open up the idea of what a school covers: Every vocation should be available for the child to explore: Deep Sea research to farming-every core subject in schools today can be encountered throughout the many differing interest a child could ever have.

    We already know we can do this but we would rather spend our money building drones and achieving even greater military superiority-why? I am no safer from my tyrannical government as I would be from a terrorists group in the Middle East-which If we were not killing everyone they know for two decades, might not have cared enough to think about America.

    Now you acknowledged that some professions need accredited educations that require require licenses — like doctors, nurses, structural engineers, etc. Why do we have such important roles with huge financial obstacles attached like being a lawyer… Well these jobs pay well and the average child can only dream of this if they do not have the resources and yes a diploma. Why can’t every person alive today, begin a 4 or ten year educational journey towards these jobs….. What if in the few years after a Free Online University the poor had a legion of lawyers, Doctors, Nurses, Engineers, Software Designers, and the like.

    This is the social change everyone needs and why Richard Wolff should consider the impact of a Free Online University that works with businesses, organizations and Community Colleges to rescue the working class for good.

  • Russell Spears

    Really guys I will debate every argument thrown at me… I have been doing this for years now.

    The only way to ensure that all diplomas are valuable is to require
    higher grading marks (90% or even 95% passing mark) for every topic of
    importance within a course. While it is only a test they can take it
    over next week. Here we will fill the many gaps we see in today’s
    graduates. Only a free online university can offer this option to tests over and over until a passing grade is achieved. Traditional schools must leave these students behind.

    But the best argument for a Free Online University-that works with businesses and community colleges, is that this alone will ensure every citizen has access to accredited diplomas and the jobs of the future without mortgaging the money or precious little time they have.

    Moreover, the disparity of wealth is well guarded by this educational monopoly: When the health field, legal system, science facilities and other key fields are all guarded by the high tuition fees that only the wealth can ignore and the majority can afford. This is what maintains the wealth disparity in our many countries.

    I pray that foundations like the Bill Gates Foundation or the United Negro College Fund who both have billions to invest, will can choose to support education initiatives that builds a free online university for all. They have the means to accomplish this within a year!!! UNCF alone gets $238 million each year and has a total wealth of half a billion and has an operating cost of $150,922,598.00 each year this amount can cover 2 to 3 new Free Universities. And I just can’t imagine the money Bill Gates has put aside for education… In short, why do we not have the money to create a free online University when every college is building one for 40 to 80 million? Even local state and city governments have that amount to invest, but choose not to. I believe the answer is just obvious, our society would change within 3 years after giving everyone access to accredited degrees in every field. The current system is held together by the educational Monopoly that has for some time now guarded the wealth disparities we endure today.

    True democracy is where everyone has a chance to participate in the building of our state, and Richard Wolff fails to see how the current college system is about exclusion, not inclusion of the working poor.

  • Duane A. McDonald

    Thank you Mr. Moyers and professor Wolff for giving me this opportunity to participate in this conversation, one that I believe is vital to the health and well being of America and to the Democracy we all cherish. Ever since the collapse of the economy in the fall of 2008, there has been a firestorm of criticism and contempt unleashed on what many believe to be the inherent folly of unregulated capitalism in general and particularly on the role that the banks have played in creating this financial crisis. Throughout history banking and more precisely the practice of usury has been a controversial subject to say the least and our current dilemma of deficits, debt and unemployment seems to have rekindled the old debate of private vs. public banking. There have been many excellent books and articles written in recent years expounding on the merits of a public banking system over that of our present privately owned Federal Reserve system. My question to professor Wolff is: Could you explain briefly the differences between these two competing ideologies and more to the point; how is it that the creation and control of the nations money supply,which is the life blood of any economy, was turned over to private banking interests through the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 rather than leaving that responsibility solely in the domain of the Congress as is specifically stated in our Constitution. And how, if at all, has this systemic process contributed to our current economic problems? Thank you once again for the good work you are doing. Sincerely; Duane A. McDonald


    What is the worst-case-scenario that will happen if the system does not change and the economic base collapses.Does he foresee a far-right defacto dictatorship?

  • Helen Schiff

    I sure would like to get my hands on some health care. It certainly would be a relief. What are Wolff’s opinions on this?

  • Johnmario

    Good heavens, reading these comments has been so depressing. I had expectations that people who watched the interview with Richard Wolff, might have some ideas. Capitalism works for 1% per cent of the population globally. If I need ideas on how to rearrange the titanic deck chairs, ill be Bach.

  • Brian Finn

    Some questions for Professor Wolff: If you don’t think strengthening regulation will is a viable answer to our current economic problems, what should be done? I saw you elsewhere cite employee-owned start-ups as a better form of structure for private companies – but isn’t that essentially how many of today’s large corporations started? What will stop small enterprises begun in someone’s garage from evolving into the same conglomerates that are undermining our democracy? Won’t it require some form of regulations to control this process?

  • Russell Spears

    What can I say…. You and I see everything the same. The only thing that appears to be misunderstood is that I am ok with the current educational system. I think it can be much better: But the most important thing is having A free Online Educational System. Khan academy is a great example of how online education can work, but it means nothing if they do not have accreditation. So there is the the eather-or. Eather we get a free online university, or we have just another content provider along with the billion other web sites.

  • Texan in Arkansas

    I just watched the “Capitalism Hits The Fan” lecture. At age 70, I lived through all of the post WW2 history. I was amazed at employers in Texas who preached to us about loyalty while laying off people every time a dark (economic) cloud passed over. I worked longer and harder, but made little progress and my kids are doing the same.The presentation has the ring of truth.
    So, we are headed for an economic and social disaster in America. What is it going to take to even begin to seriously consider changing this system? Is there a political entity that is open to this discussion?

  • Tony

    I agree with most of Mr. Wolff’s comments, but I’m stunned by his brushing-off of regulations as a solution to certain problems. For one thing, regulations are laws; they’re what forbid corporations, and in particular, banks, from engaging in certain activities. That corporations try to “evade” them isn’t the fault of regulations; it’s just another flaw in the system.

    More than that, and more specifically, there was little to nothing wrong with the Glass-Steagall Act. Before its passage, financial crises occurred every 20 years, almost like clockwork. After its passage, such crises went away until the special-interests groups were able to whittle away at it to the point of elimination. If we were to revive it, it would effectively eliminate a broad class of destructive acts and abuses in which financial institutions would otherwise be prone to engage. The fault lies not in our regulations but in ourselves … well, in the elites and special-interest lobbyists among us?

    My question, I guess, is this: What would you have us do, if not regulate the actions and behaviors of these corporations?

  • Antonia Marrero

    Thank you for this platform, Mr. Moyers & Mr. Wolff. Student loan debt is overwhelming me and many others. What would happen to the economy if student loan debt could be forgiven in personal bankruptcy? It was discharged in personal bankruptcy before President Clinton’s tenure. Any chance this could be reinstated? Or is it beyond hope for those drowing in student loan debt?

  • Bob Rundle

    This is a revised question for Richard (original sent 2-25-13). How do the strategies for creating a new economy presented by David Korten in the 2nd ed. of “Agenda for a New Economy” compare to your ideas for changing our economic system.

  • Ellen

    Fabulous. My thoughts entirely. Community, camaraderie is totally missing. I am a liberal, but do not support this. Dialogue and debate are key to Enlightenment principles. What is the solution?

  • Ellen Anders

    For Mr. Wolff, How do we combine business practices with value of human life? If business is numbers and products go to the highest bidder, then how do we support family values that target healthcare? There is a difference between what the free market tools provide to us and human life. It is good to have inventions that save lives, but that does not assure that the same inventor will prevent it from reaching all who need it. The same politicians keep getting elected time and time again, that support wall street and big corporations that keep human values from entering the market place. They say that they provide benefits for all, but in reality there are plenty of people suffering due to lack of care.

    What to do? Solution please.


    Ellen Anders

  • Russell Spears

    Really Ellen, this kind of “Argument” is amazing to me-and one Richard Wolff makes.

    You see not only is it a Red Herring argument since it hardly addresses the real point this idea makes….. because…Nothing stops you from going to a golden school with the best teachers and the best climbing walls and Football Teams, etc… Good get the best you can afford and enjoy “A Community Experience” if that is what you find vital to your learning.

    But to say you don’t support this, you are in fact saying your belief (a false and uninformed belief ) that traditional schooling is ether superior or offers a richer Community experience is irrelevant. You can still support the greater value of ensuring every person in the world the best education we can for free today.

    As bad as you my find self-learning or no matter how invested you are in this Educational System of Exclusion, you might find it in yourself a bit of humility and confidence in the individualist . The Working Poor who are excluded from and suffer loss opportunity because of people like you who “Do Not Support” a free University For all.

    To consider the vast majority of people that can not attend the universities-do to time and/or money available, as an acceptable situation is sick and pathological.

    People that make this argument make two really offensive assumptions: One, that traditional schooling is better (Pedagogical Hubris) and two, that the working poor ether not unworthy of educational access or unable to overcome the “Challenges” it might have, are simply SICK & WRONG.

  • moderator

    Once again, I want to point out that we have a strict policy about personal attacks. Please read our comment policy, it is quite clear.

    Thank You,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • Russell Spears

    Ok I will change how it is written.

  • Russell Spears

    It is not updating…..what is wrong.

  • Russell Spears

    Please delete my last comment…so I can re-write it. it is showing up as guest and not me.

  • Russell Spears

    Really this kind of “Argument” is amazing to me.

    You see it is a Red Herring argument because it hardly addresses the real point this idea makes. To not “support this idea” because traditional schooling is ether superior or offers a richer Community experience is irrelevant. We can still support the greater value of ensuring every person in the world the best education we can offer today for free.

    As bad as one may find self-learning or how invested one is in this Educational System of Exclusion, people might find it in themselves a bit of humility and confidence in the individualist. The Working Poor who are excluded from and suffer loss opportunity because people “Do Not Support” a free University for all is an unacceptable situation.

    People that make this argument, make two really offensive assumptions: One, that traditional schooling is better (Pedagogical Hubris). Two that the working poor are ether unworthy or unable to overcome the particular Challenges Distance learning has. This is simply wrong.

  • TD

    Great program LOVE Richard Wolff . Without getting Wall St out of Main St is it realistic to believe there be a change in the banking world’s approach. The basic concept of putting away monies for future concerns goes out the window when banks are giving no interest for your deposits. We are not all financially savy to invest or have the knowledge to do so. Please answer me this: how do we stop the assault on the teaching profession and it’s union and the attacks on all unions, remember unions helped level the playing field for workers. I truly believe we need another Mike Quill to awken a lot of us!

  • Andreas Giannakou

    Dear Bill,
    Thank you. I would like to ask Dr.Wolff what country he thinks has struck a good balance between capitalism and fostering a reasonably just society, and what could Americans learn from this country that we could apply here?

  • Mike Petrelli

    What does Richard Wolff think of this idea? Revise the Wage and Hour laws to do away with the exempt/non-exempt distinction. Require that all workers making less than $100K be paid time and one half after 40 hours of work. Also, require that anyone making between $100K and $200K be paid overtime at one times their rate after 50 hours of work. I feel this would help with the exploitation of current exempt employees and will probably create jobs, especially for new college grads, as companies will wish to avoid the overtime costs. An exception could be made for small employers where the CEO makes less than $100K. Then the current laws could continue to apply.

  • Peggy Wireman

    does Richard Wolff suggest we change the conversation to honor all
    workers demanding that they be paid a living wage. Even nine dollars an
    hour, $18,720 annually, is not a living wage. It would not support
    even one person adequately. The Wider Opportunities for Women developed
    a self-sufficiency standard that would enable a worker to have
    sufficient food, housing, health care, child care and a car (used only
    to go to work and for one shopping trip a week.). For one person it was
    $20,800 in 2008, 28,000 for two and $35,200 for three.

    are concerned that that safety net programs create dependency. But the
    need for the safety nets programs is a result of low wages and limited
    benefits. We need to aim not to raise people above the poverty level
    but at least to the self-sufficiency standard. It is about twice the
    poverty level.

    Most of the fastest growing jobs will not support even a small family at the self-sufficiency level. Fifty
    per cent of the growth between 2008 and 2018 was expected to come from
    33 jobs. Twenty-three of them will not pay enough to support even a
    small family, a worker with a wife and one child. For details see

    “The options are: raise the minimum wage to a living wage level,
    provide workers in those industries supplemental income through an
    Earned Income Tax Credit, or accept the fact that whoever works in those
    jobs must anticipate a life of poverty or, at least, constant financial
    struggle. This applies to workers married to someone doing a similar
    job.” p. 217-218 Peggy Wireman, Connecting the Dots: Government,
    Community and Family (Transaction Publishers)

    How does Richard Wolff suggest mobilizing the country to address this problem?

  • Russell Spears

    I think Mr Wolff would say that any country that is supporting Worker Directed Enterprises is on the right track.

  • Joanna Rudenborg

    Mr. Wolff: I am a grassroots labor organizer at my retail job in Chicago. After two years of employment and stellar reviews, I make $9.15/hour. I have no sick days, I have a wildly different schedule every week, and despite full availability, I am kept intentionally part time by a company that deliberately over-hires, partially due to a self-fulfilling fear of high turnover. One of my organizing committee’s current primary objectives is the
    re-education of brainwashed coworkers and the public, many of whom have passively absorbed toxic phrases such as “transitional job” and “unskilled labor,” which have led to unquestioning acceptance of an absurdly imbalanced system in which our CEO makes 100 times the salary of the average retail worker.

    I am fascinated by how little even self-identified liberals question the inevitability of this system. I am interested to know how you envision the progression towards a more just economy. 100% top income tax rate that FDR proposed? Executive salary caps tied to the wage of the lowest paid worker in the company? Implementation of a geographical living wage vs. a national minimum wage? I come from a staunchly libertarian background, and when I go home I receive sympathetic acknowledgment of my concerns, coupled with an unwavering belief that a return to the gold standard, a radical redefinition of the institution of a corporation, and the dissolution of the Federal Reserve are more to the point in solving this problem. Not to mention, of course, a monumental shrinking of the federal government, which is, of course, largely bogged down in crony capitalism.

    In your first interview you mentioned the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. I have frequently found the far left and the far right to have more in common than either want to admit, if only because both are more radical thinkers than many in the middle.

    My two questions are:

    1. Does the creation of a more just economic system involve a combination of what we currently think of as far left and far right ideology?

    2. Whatever the answer to #1, have we reached a point where people are ready to rethink our current version of capitalism, or will we have to sink to 1930s conditions before we’ve hit rock bottom hard enough?

    Aside: does anyone know where I can find the image of the striking workers at 30:52 in the video interview?

  • Don, from Billerica, MA

    I would like you to ask Mr. Wolff why the White House does not seek his counsel, instead of relying on the usual political hacks who have been wrong on many counts.

  • Greg Bryant

    Having lost my job over four years ago, I have had ample time to both read extensively on the conditions that Richard Wolff talks about as well as think about the most important question of all (that no one seems to want to ask / answer) – how this will all end?
    I keep thinking about France in the 18th century, where conditions brought upon frightening consequences for their citizens. I think about our own Great Depression where it literally took a war to put us all back to work. Both totally unsuitable solutions.
    So, the question for Dr. Wolff is SPECIFICALLY how will this end? What will finally happen if the elites (political, conrporate and moneyed) choose to let economic inequality continue to fester? What will happen if they continue to be concerned only with lining their pockets at thge expense of the rest of our society (and the larger world in which we live)?

  • Jason Cherry

    After watching Richard Wolff’s ‘Capitalism Hits the Fan’ lecture and his conversation with Bill Moyers, I’m struck with my own economics education and the way that economics is unable to see production in any way that is not contention between workers and owners. As an example of this In Dr. Wolff’s lecture he speaks about companies which are owned by the people who work in them. I cannot, for the life of me, wrap my economics-educated brain around how this works, and I feel it is a failing of economics in it’s model of labor and production being explicitly separate processes.

    I would have a question for Dr. Wolff in regards to changes that he feels are needed to turn economics from the capitalist cheerleader that he describes it as, to a science that incorporates cases like worker owned organizations, as well as corporate influence which he also discusses, into economic models.

    Also, I have a second, more general question for Dr. Wolff in how he feels that economic externalities translate into real-world economics. My personal opinion is that if producers were properly charged for the cost of all externalities of their product, that there would be no profit in production. I am curious if Dr. Wolff feels the same way.

    I’d be delighted to get feedback from the Moyers audience too.

  • Cheryl Weiss, underemployedPhD

    Cutting to the chase – how can we, as ordinary citizens, change the economic/political system without having the plutocrats either stuff even more money into offshore accounts or send more jobs overseas? How can these obscenely wealthy people get away with becoming expats in foreign countries and renouncing their US citizenship? Isn’t their behavior a form of treason?

  • Vicente Roybal

    Mr. Wolff, Currently we see a “grin and bear it” attitude or complacency from the American people or becoming very slowly aware of how “stretched thin” they actually are. Where is the snap likely to occur in our society as the point where not one more thing could possibly be taken from the injustice being served up. This is the change I was counting on in 2008 and has still not occurred.

  • Jeff W

    You can find that image here.

  • Tom Svoboda

    My question is how do you harness capitalism to allow a social conscience that would create a society that cares for the disadvantaged? Can a tax system be created that might seriously free the working poor from the burden of taxes? What kind of number on the federal level would be an acceptable tax free zone — 20,000, 30,000?

  • LizinOregon

    I would like to ask Mr. Wolff this question. If a young man who was raised in extreme poverty in an unsafe neighborhood with bad schools and few support services joins a gang and becomes a drug dealer, does he believe that man should not be prosecuted because his behavior is really the fault of the “system”? Or should we do both – lock up the criminal AND change the bad incentives in the system.

  • Russell Spears

    My comments from 2008 on a free online university

  • Antonia Marrero

    Professor Wolff, Any chance that student loan forgiveness via personal bankruptcy might make a comeback? Would that be a measure you’d recommend? Is anybody advocating for that? President Clinton signed a bill making it impossible to discharge student loan debts, except under the most extreme circumstances (physical incapacitation), which is terribly discouraging to many people who are deep in student loan debt. Thanks for your work!

  • Tom McAtee

    Mr. Wolff, I read an article published online by Reuters, March 4, 2013 ( The article states Goldman Sachs is developing ways to workaround (circumvent? break?) the Volcker Rule, which has yet to be legislated. Quoting the article, “The Volcker rule — named for former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law — is expected to limit bank investments in private equity funds, but not necessarily private equity-style investments outside of a formal fund structure.” Congress is past its July 2012 target to enact legislation as it struggles to express a sound idea in language palatable to the foxes charged with guarding the chicken coop.

    Further quoting the article, “Members of Goldman’s regulatory reform group — overseen by Harvey Schwartz, who is now chief financial officer, and John Rogers, who is chief of staff — have given presentations to regulators about potential pitfalls of Volcker, and tried to educate the Fed and other regulators on the best way to write the rule, sources have said.

    One source who attended meetings with regulators said that officials seemed receptive to Goldman’s arguments, but cautioned that they worried about banks becoming overexposed to risks in private equity investing.”

    Sir, given the revolving door of “members of Goldman’s regulatory reform group”, federal regulators and members of the federal reserve, how can Wall Street Washington craft any language for legislation that does not make itself the primary benefactor?

  • NH

    Prof. Wolff, up until now, has it been a failure on the part of the economists to provide the masses with a new economic system (other than capitalism, socialism or communism) that is fair and equitable for all?

  • Mike Mathwig

    What happens if “personhood” is taken away from public corporations? Would they be able to be held more accountable to voters? Would they still be able to lobby government as they now do? Why do I never hear anything on this detail of law?

  • Mike Mathwig

    Is it possible that if corporations were not “persons” in a court of law that prosecuting the actual people that work for it would be simpler? A corporation is a “person”, with no physical body. How can you put it in jail? After all, you have to start court proceedings with the person who commited the offense. If the defense is that the corporation is at fault, well then, were’s his body? Maybe the fat cats point thier fingers at the corporation in some way and thus make it impossible to get through all the legal gobbledegook to ever come out the other legal side with a body or “person” to correctly prosecute? Would love to know how this all works and suspect that this is exactly the issue of it all!…………..A “person” with no body,,,,or spirit……Sounds spooky!

  • Brother Bob

    You talk about alternatives to capitalism such as worker collectives, like credit unions. Collective farms in the USSR and China killed millions and were hated by workers. How are modern collectives different?
    Also, what about motivation to work hard? Conservatives have a right to ask why they should give their money to the lazy and ill prepared.

  • Russell Spears

    Driving people out of desperation and poverty is not motivation. Capitalism with Worker Directed Enterprises is a quite different idea from ether Communism or Capitalism alone and is coming to America. Conservatives are running out of talking points that make anyone who is working for a living a believer. So long as people like you can ignore the vast amount of money corporations steal from the public because they are too lazy and ill prepared to earn money in a free market, you make a boring point as best.

  • Shannon Peery

    Questions for Richard Wolff: How might protest and the people force money from its’ powerful place of influence in our politics? This relates specifically to legislation regarding taxation and the enormous need for corporate money in order to effectively run for office. Obama’s rhetoric around campaign finance has morphed disappointingly from seeking to fight the corporate powers to giving it to the political ‘game’ as it is played.
    Secondly, what is the possibility that third party candidates might be able to win national and regional races to effect some of the needed changes you, Mr. Wolff, refer to? And to what extent would the ‘system’ render them either ‘revolutionary’ or, alternately, ‘impotent’?
    I look forward to hearing your answers on these or related questions on the show. Thank you!

  • Shannon Peery

    Very much appreciated your thoughts hear and echoed them, perhaps less effectively, in my own query. I also asked about third party possibilities.

  • ilfark2

    Is it worth pointing out the most successful jump-starting of the US economy was through printing (about 20%), and re-distributing (mostly from banks to corps) via loans? And above all planning?

    That way a parallel, jump started via printed money, worker directed economy, could be more easily sold to the american people. Once a worker-directed, public economy got rolling, the Fed Gov could stop collecting taxes.

    There’s only the small problem of the Plutocrats (Shock Doctrine points recent evidence of this difficulty).

  • Philip Browne, Kennenbunk, ME

    Ideally, to what extent would worker self-directed enterprises make up the jobs market in our culture? Is there still room for the small business owner with a small number of employees who do not share ownership in the business? Do you see WSDEs mostly replacing corperations? When I bring this idea up with friends they like the idea of WSDEs but I am not sure they can wrap their heads around it being the only form of employment or ownership of business. So I am curious, how do you see the transition to WSDEs taking place and to what extent would they make up business ownership in our culture?
    p.s. Bill thank you so much for what you do. Your voice, and your effort to get the voices of people like Richard Wolff’s to the public has never been more important! Thank you for your uncompramising effort to discuss and uncover the truth. I am so grateful you are still working! 😉

  • Russell Spears

    I hope it will be swift and complete…. Many of the WSDE’s seem to put profit back into more WSDE actions. Once people understand the fundamental change this can bring to the working poor and unemployed, we might see it happening quickly as profits dry up with corporations and begin to stay in the communities. This seems inevitable since having wealth only means something when you spend it and if the economy changes in this way there will be no other means of abstracting wealth in an exploitative way…. This is a great question to ask Mr Wolff.

  • Leebonz

    I have not read all of the almost 400 posts, but my question to Doctor Wolff would be something like – “What alternatives to our ‘constant growth’ economic system can you envision, or even support?” I always shake my head in disbelief when I hear the economic experts saying that the solution to our economic crisis is MORE GROWTH. Open new markets, or take advantage of expanding markets like Brazil, etc. I would appreciate it if the answer was from the most holistic perspective possible taking into account the finiteness of our natural resources and the fact that our present economic system seems to be a giant poncy scheme requiring more participants all the time. How does campaign reform fit into this as well? Thank you so much for hosting these discussions that need to take place. I so enjoy your show and website.

  • Douglas Hopkins

    I posit that the bulk of the challenges Mr. Wolff aims against Capitalism should more rightly be directed against Cronyism and our political process. The death of citizen representation, which has been replaced by professional politicians who buy and sell influence, has corrupted our system. Our tax and campaign finance policies have interacted to the point where tax lobbying now often offers higher returns on capital investment than investment in productive enterprise – and similarly encourages citizens to invest in asset bubbles in America while shifting productive enterprises offshore.

    That influence has been exacerbated by modern economists who advocate preferential tax treatment of investment income – which I view to be antithetical to Adam Smith’s vision of free competition of both industry and capital. ref:

    I would like to hear Mr. Wolff address whether he believes there is a difference between Capitalism and Cronyism, and what role he thinks politics or warped modern economic theory have played in corrupting fair competition.

  • Russell Spears

    I know Mr Wolff has talked about this issue. In his podcast Economic Update. And I think he sees Worker Owned and operated businesses as having a greater interest in the problems of constant growth and pollution since the workers themselves would be affecting their families and friends as much as themselves.

  • Maria-lee Mar Rodriguez

    How can public schools thrive and compete in a capatalistic market? How can school boards challenge administrators to not take the market as given?

  • Russell Spears

    Demand that a Free Online University is created that works with community colleges and is there for the lifetimes of the individual. We have to see this continual education and Re-education seriously as technology and jobs changes.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Professor Wolff,

    Years ago you created the most dramatic graph of income inequality, it looked like a very skinny and wide margarita glass. Could you please post another, updated version?
    I would expect it now looks quite a bit like a: “T”.

    Great graphics.

  • breathmike

    How do we get Congress to stop selling us out when they.
    1. Never accomplish much while in office except learn how to blame the other side.
    2. Become lobbyists after they leave office and make money instead of using their knowledge to help create balance in our society?

  • Joshua Zucker

    I strongly disagree with his idea that punishing the wrongdoers will do no good, because it’s the system, not the individual wrongdoers, and they’ll just be replaced by new wrongdoers.

    My question, then, is: Isn’t the punishment or lack thereof for bank CEOs and the like part of the system?

  • Paul J Violand

    I would like to know if Mr Wolff has ever started or ran a small business? And if so, how did he finance it, how he paid his employees, etc? Did he get an SBA loan? Thanks

  • George Yates

    Is it possible for a local bank or credit union to set up an account that only works in my town. I would like to set up a system where people,starting small, auto deposit say $10 a week to this account and if a local business accepts this and gives a discount of say 3% or 4% in return the person has to spend that $10 in town within 1 week and for those who don’t the money gets distributed evenly to all participating companies or possibly only the small businesses not the Mcdonalds or CVS. Basically I want recycle money in town several times before it goes away. Possibly find away to track the money using debt cards. since it won’t work with cash. I know what a derivative in calculus but not sure in economics. This is more of an integral keeping money in town longer. Also make a condition the auto deposits have to continue for several weeks before discount is allowed

  • John Rinne

    Dear Professor Wolff –

    I just watched your fine segment on Bill Moyers. In London, we receive an email link through Friday evening for Bill Moyers’ programs generally aired two days later in

    Toward the end of your interview segment, you mentioned again adopting the Italian process for forming worker cooperatives. I suggest that there are many more
    established options including but not limited to the National Cooperative Bank,
    the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC), the SBA who
    embrace worker cooperatives, the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives
    (NoBAWC – pronounced “No Boss”), similar to the latter organizations/networks throughout America, et al.

    When investigating forming a worker cooperative 25 years ago in Wisconsin, the
    regional National Cooperative Bank Minnesota office stated their explicit interests
    1. Second position lender only.
    2. $8m second position credit limit for start-ups.
    3. Successful enterprises never ran out of
    available credit via the National Cooperative Bank.

    I have not attempted herein to update this prior National Cooperative Bank position as to today’s policy, today’s accuracy and today’s credit applications.


    1. For those interested, could you please elaborate other financing methods and supportive advocacy groups for worker cooperative formation and on-going sustenance?

    2. In briefly viewing today the Wikipedia entry for ‘worker cooperatives’, I found it
    weak on American history of the movement. In my prior investigations, American worker cooperatives derived from the Rural Electrification Act of 1936. I
    found that there were limitations to only this purpose in many states and total
    freedom of business purpose in states such as Massachusetts, Minnesota and
    Wisconsin. Can you please comment on states with total freedom of business purpose and for others: ways to overcome states with limited worker cooperative business purpose?

    Kind regards,

    John Rinne

  • Marching Moron

    This is critical. Reading through these comments, I’ve been wondering why these issues are only rarely put in the context of not only globalisation but also technological supplanting of jobs. Responses such as Mr Wolff’s, harking back to the New Deal and some golden age of worker organisation, seem quaintly naive and do not deal with the reality that increasing numbers of us are losing the very means of gaining a livelihood, while new opportunities opened up by technology slow to a trickle. I fear the time when the majority of us will be regarded as merely a blight on the landscape.

    I’d like to suggest that Bill Moyers interview Jaron Lanier on what is happening to work and the value of individual contributions to the economy in a world in which ‘Moore’s Law can make salaries – and social safety nets – seem like unjustifiable luxuries’ (Who Owns the Future?).

  • nsl

    Mr wolff does not talk about the enforcement of Anti Trust Regulations or any regulations to speak of. What is the role of government in breaking up the concentration of wealth?

  • Richard Domke

    Here are two more questions to consider:

    1. What possible benefit will any changes to economic policies have if we leave the Fractional Reserve Banking practices and fiat money at the core of our monetary system? The whole system will remain a “house of cards” doomed to collapse.

    2. How can “accountability” be enforced upon the people at the top of the “pyramid-scheme”, represented by our economy, for their surreptitious, contrived and manipulated abuse of wealth, power and influence to stimulate and sustain economic unrest, political violence, covert military activity and corporate espionage for the ultimate purpose of creating “opportunities to make profit” from both sides of the equation: (that which gets destroyed) = (that which must be rebuilt). Enter…Halliburton!

    I expect some people are too big and powerful to bring to the table.

  • Herb Kline

    Dr. Wolff — the banking system, I think, is key — as Stephen Lendman, in his book “HOW WALL STREET FLEECES AMERICA: Privatitized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War” points out (p. 10): “… the Federal Reserve Act is illegal under the Constitution’s Article 1, Section 8, giving Congress sole power to coin (create) money and regulate the value thereof. In 1935, the US Supreme Court ruled that Congress can’t constitutionally delegate its authority to another group or body (in this case the Federal Reserve). Legislators thus acted unconstitutionally by establing a private for-profit corporation (again, the Federal Reserve) engaged in explotiing the public welfare. As a result, the lawmakers defrauded the public, but got away with it because who would stop them, especially when presidents go along, as Woodrow Wilson did by signing the act. Wilson later admitted his mistake, saying: ‘I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. …'” I think that it can be argued that corporations under Capitalism, in particular banking corporations, are set up to serve Private Greed, not the Public Good — so the solution is simple — instead, let corporations be chartered to serve the Public Good, not Private Greed — Capitalism, as it is currently set up in the U.S. (and world-wide, as well), is clearly not working — or more precisely, it is working all too well for the 1% (or, more precisely, the 0.1%) but not so much, in varying degrees, for everyone else — consider, in particular, the idea of Banking in the Public Interest, as with the Bank of North Dakota — your thoughts, please — thanx, Herb Kline

  • Wilvis

    With Supreme Court deciding corporations are people and repeat offenders give three strikes, how is it possible that banks like UBS are allowed to continue to operate? Equal treatment under the law? Jack Willoughby, Barrons, 3/25/13

  • Bob

    Prof. Wolff:

    I fully support democracy at work — both in concept and in practice. There are reasons however, that this good but old concept has not gotten much traction in the United States. One is that our culture doesn’t actually support this concept in the business world — unlike other cultures which are more open to this. Secondly, this is difficult to implement and as the cooperative becomes larger and larger, it becomes even more difficult. Said another way, this concept, in the US, tends to work better in very small businesses of 5-10 people. When the number of worker/owners gets to 100 or more, there is a danger that the focus on the business and what the business needs to succeed in the marketplace will become less of a priority and that worker self-interests, especially about internal relationships, personalities, personal behavior, etc. will rise to the top of the agenda for the business. It happens, and I have seen it. This can be deadly to the cooperative. What must also be a constant priority is worker selection criteria and worker training. Getting bad apples into the coop and then not training the worker/owners to identify how to put the interests of the coop above their own self-interest — that’s a recipe for problems that can cripple the coop permanently. This is a real, not a hypothetical problem.

    In the long run, this concept is, and will continue to be helpful. Making it work on a big scale is difficult and probably won’t happen in the next 25 years in the United States. It is an important model for very small businesses, and in this weak economy, we need all the support we can get for stimulating new, small businesses.


  • Sentient

    Good Lord, man, listen to Uncle Miltie about there being no such thing as “free”. What’s free for you is costly to everyone (including you). Europe pays for its “free” stuff by having a per-capita GDP markedly lower than ours. They pay for their “free” education with $8 gas (“petrol” for you Europhiles), ambition-stifling tax rates and by a 60 year parasitical dependence on the US defense shield. Don’t give undue credit to your emoting by mislabeling it “thinking”. If you want higher ed to become cheaper (as I do), then we need to STOP subsidizing it. The best way would be for the government to get entirely OUT of the student loan business (including guaranteeing loans) and simultaneously allow student loans to be released in bankruptcy. That would mean that the volume of student loan debt would be cut radically and that colleges and universities would be starved of the revenue that’s allowed them to go on wildly uproductive spending sprees. Think about this: Almost all of the individual inputs to the cost of running a college have inflated merely at the rate of overall inflation: Fuel for heat, electricity, labor to maintain the grounds, food for the refectories, fuel for the lawnmowers, pay for the campus police, etc. Admittedly, healthcare costs have risen more quickly (since those costs, too are “subsidized”). Still, there’s no reason that tuition should have risen at thrice the rate of CPI over the last 30 years. The reason it has is precisely BECAUSE of subsidies. Colleges went on building sprees for no good reason, and routinely overpay mediocre teachers to teach far too few classes in between sabbaticals and self-glorifying publishing efforts. If they were starved of their Ponzi-like student loan funding, schools would finally have to cut back on non-essentials, cut back on vanity programs (and “headliner” professors) and default on any bonds they’d taken out to build the student centers with five-story atria. Tuitions would have to drop and students wouldn’t need so much debt in the first place. Moreover, student loans would only be available to those whose chosen field offered potential remuneration sufficient to repay the debt. Banks and other lenders would care about students’ choice of study and even how well they’re faring in that choice of study. You could still study Nepalese poetry – you just couldn’t get a student loan to do so.

    To lament the ungodly cost of education in the US while failing to understand that it’s the subsidizing that’s ballooned that cost is deeply tragic and betrays a failure to understand the difference between something’s cost and its price. In that misunderstanding you are, unfortunately, joined by most of the country – who think that the problem is “how to pay the high cost of education” when the real problem is “the high cost of education”.

  • Juan Chelzo

    Thanks for the show and interview. I wonder if International accounting could make standard and required, a “labor” entry in the equity section that could by some formula provide a way for employees or applicants for employment to determine if they would choose to work for the particular company?

  • Kelley Smith

    I like the idea of WSDEs. But, since so many market niches are already dominated by monster globe-trotting corporations, it seems difficult for very many WSDEs to survive. I can see how a service-industry WSDE could work…anything from dog grooming to haircuts to medical services to laundry. But, without trade restrictions to protect against imported manufactured goods from polluting, near-slave-condition factories around the world, I’m at a loss to see how we can expect WSDEs to become our dominant business model.

  • Shannon Burns

    im interested in assembling solar panels at our townhome complex in irvine, calif (in our club house) from here i envision putting them on each of our 96 townhomes and club
    house..would i save money or be better off ordering them assembled and then putting them up…i am also interested in wind power for our complex…i want our townhomes to decrease our use of electricity and gas usage dramatically..wht do u think/

  • allen sanford

    Real Estate Crisis Or Government Sanctioned Racketeering? Please read ajsanford-honestyproject. I would like your opinion Mr. Wolff.

  • Napoleon Salvail

    Who are these CEOs really?

    Thank you Dr. Wolff and Bill for your eloquent description of the economic nightmare that has been created by the CEO bankers and politicians in this country. The level of greed and self serving action exhibited by such CEOs as Jamie Diamond is appalling. I was surprised to see that you made no connection to the mess that we are in and the psychopathic characteristics of these personalities. Their lack of empathy for the rest of humanity and the people influenced by their decisions is obvious. The greed exhibited by these people is also appalling. Do you really believe that reasonably normal people would be responsible for raising the salaries of these CEO to their astronomical levels? I would suggest that these actions far exceed what you would expect a normal human to exhibit in the areas of emotions such a greed and self service. In this regard, I would recommend that you read “Political Ponerology” by Andrew Lobeczewski for a better understanding of this type of personality. Until as a society we recognize that these types of aberrant personalities have taken over positions of power ,we will continue to see our country repeat the same mistakes over and over. As you alluded to in your discussion, these CEO personalities always fall back on their actions as reflecting the desires and interests of the shareholders, but fail to mention how it enriches their own personal wealth and power, without consideration of any moral or ethical responsibility to their country or people employed by the company. Do you really think your proposal for employee owned companies will ever come to fruition unless we can recognize these types of psychopathic personalities and make sure that are not placed in positions of power and influence? Please factor in the causitive influence of this type of personality as you formulate your recommended solutions.

  • FPR

    Being a strong union member myself , I wonder about what ideas unions can do/use to turn around the current calculated (it seems), decline of America’s unions . I firmly believe (as seen via the recent U.S. financial fiasco ) , that the Corporate Interest’s have become outrageously gluttonous !

  • michael levy, antioch, CA

    Two questions following tonight’s interview with Bill Moyer’s:

    1. Re: student loan forgiveness, how could the organization/mobilization of
    this well-educated constituency be accomplished? There appears to be no real
    political leadership or structural mechanisms in place at local levels that I
    am aware of.

    2. Re: cooperative economies. Producer & consumer cooperatives have been
    important to the development of the U.S. economy from its agrarian beginnings.
    Yet, there is very little general understanding of cooperatives in popular
    culture. Dr. Wolff’s democratic economic vision is compelling; he provides
    strong examples from Spain and Berkeley/Oakland, California. How is a viable
    wide-spread cooperative movement going to coalesce amidst the dominance of
    corporatized organizational structure and concentrations of wealth that
    characterize the global economy today?

    Please feel free to use my name. Thank you.

    Michael Levy

  • Tom Rhein

    On This American Life this past weekend they ran a show on how the disability roles have blossomed since the move to shift people off of welfare. There were several interesting points but the one that struck me was that disablity is paid by the federal government and welfare paid by the states. Is the real problem in the future for Social Security coming from this expansion of the disability claims paid by Social Security? The numbers given on the program is that there are 14 million people currently on disability. It was also interesting that these individuals show up no where in the unemployment numbers. Would love to hear your thoughts.

  • Bob Thomas

    I will be mobile at 1pm ET., so I probably won’t hear the chat. But I do want to my two cents in, living near Port Huron for the last 30 years. I have tried to put input into this community to get cooperation, so we aren’t the second highest unemployment county in the state. I have even suggested that we have the talent to have a company like what is on my website suggests. Maybe a bit farfetched, but a local newsreporter tried to help me get a couple of people to Mountain View, California. But I guess too many deaf ears, we have to cooperate.

  • MikieG

    Education, education, education…the entire educational
    system is flawed, as it was developed to churn out good little boys and girls
    that do exactly what they are told so that industrial/corporate employers have
    an obedient workforce at their beck-and-call for the sole purpose of making
    senior management drunk with wealth.


    Here’s an “education” anecdote for you to chew on for a bit:

    I recently made a decision to make a tremendous sacrifice as
    a middle-age man to return to the academy to pursue a terminal degree so
    that I would be positioned to devote even more of my talents in scientific
    discovery to helping mankind defeat debilitating illness and disease.

    As a result, I graduated from an Ivy League University with
    a doctoral degree in cell and molecular biology in 2006…

    The reward I received for doing so:

    UNEMPLOYMENT since 2007.

    Ostensibly not one biotechnology, academic, or
    pharmaceutical employer in the country (of which there are thousands) can
    find a singular redeeming quality worthy of even an invitation
    to interview with my 30+ years of biomedical research experience,
    education and training. Not one.

    For a third generation American Citizen with this
    level of education and experience, to be forced to lose everything he
    owns to join the ranks of the homeless, while the Chinese and Indian
    Nationals flood into this country and state unchecked, and immediately into
    the very high-tech positions for which I (and others like me) am (are)
    being excluded due to some form of discrimination – be it
    age-related, nationalism, cronyism or nepotism – is an utter disgrace.
    What happened to meritocracy? It vanished along with this concept once known as
    Democracy, when control of the planet was handed over to the multinational
    corporation – the new world order.

    If corporate America had a moral compass, it would surely
    hide its head in shame when there are Americans such as myself who have done
    everything right in their lives, who pursued education to serve society, only
    to now find themselves on the brink of homelessness because
    they re-entered the job market at the age of fifty, or because
    the multi-billion dollar corporations, obsessed with obscene greed and higher
    profits, want to import cheap Chinese labor, further enhancing their
    profit margins. It’s not enough that they export American jobs overseas for
    cheap labor – they want more – and they will not stop until every decent-paid,
    technology driven American job remaining within this country is filled by a
    mainland Chinese national.

    The next time you think about “education”, just think about
    what today’s society values:

    The people dedicating their lives to finding cures for
    cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc, are barely paid a living wage, and are
    being displaced from jobs almost en masse as government spending on health and scientific
    research dwindles, while an ex-con whose only skill is to bounce a rubber ball
    on a hardwood floor and toss it through a net made from rope reaps many
    millions of dollars as his annual compensation for doing so.

    You tell me what’s wrong with this picture.

    Nothing an asteroid the size of Jupiter couldn’t fix.

  • John Mitchell Van Nuys, CA

    Mr. Wolff,

    What is your opinion of the Feldstein tax plan?

  • Daryl Miller

    What do you think of Peter Joseph’s Zeitgeist Movement?

  • arthur

    Humane or humanistically-oriented, egalitarian cooperation seems to be in order, whot?

  • pseidel

    argument that our current economic system is not working regarding the fair distribution
    of wealth is convincing. But I see another problem, it is dependent on
    perpetually increasing economic growth. There is much evidence that we are
    already well beyond environmental sustainability. What can we do about that?

  • BenTruth

    Mr Wolf: You seem so 100% certain of your positions! It makes me wonder a bit. Would you be able to hear a different view? There are a large % of people wanting to get things from other people in a politically acceptably way. I would suggest that most of these would readily agree with your ideas. Why would that be true? I appreciated your thoughts today and listened carefully. I even agree with many of them but do you believe that most viewers evaluated your ideas or just accepted as feeling good. Look at the one sided opinions below.
    Do you really believe the poor of our country were better off in Roosevelt’s time?
    Do you really believe using the majority to extract from the more successful will build a better country?
    Don’t you see that all the capitalistic countries of the world provide greatly better standards of living for all their citizens?
    Do you really believe that anyone in this country is making the minimum wage? I would vote for a higher minimum wage in a heart beat and it would have no economic effect on our country. Illegals are now making $15/20/hr, students in resturants make multiples of their wages in tips, etc etc. The problem with this kind of debate is the politicians, both sides, don’t want to resolved this. Reps want to looking like supporting small business, Dems looking like fighting for the poor, they don’t want this debate to go away. Why don’t you understand this and put them all to the test instead of fueling bad will between the have and have nots?? Why not Mr Wolf, you are smart, you understand all this, you have too see this, Don’t you?

  • Rider

    The thing with regulation is that the capitalist system will always look for loopholes, e.g. corporations going offshore to avoid taxes, or forming their own foundations to funnel the money elsewhere (e.g. think tanks meant to promote their agenda). This is why the system will always be flawed, because our entire notion of how to measure profit is flawed and needs to be redefined.

  • Russell Spears

    BUY BACK AMERICA: here they are using crowdfunding for worker owners…

    Lets buy back small businesses like Daycare, Groceries, Gas Stations,
    Tax Services, Restaurants, Etc. give them over to the workers to own and
    if they are successful they can pay the money forward to buy another

  • Russell Spears

    BUY BACK AMERICA: here they are using crowdfunding for worker owners…


    Lets buy back small businesses like Daycare, Groceries, Gas Stations,
    Tax Services, Restaurants, Etc. give them over to the workers to own and
    if they are successful they can pay the money forward to buy another

  • ThePope

    Mr. Wolff, could you please touch, even if only briefly, on a flat tax system and how that could or could not work? I have been hearing that this is an “answer/alternative” to raising taxes on the wealthy. Thank you for your time and information.

  • Brenda Reed

    Mr. Wolff, Your presentation on USA’s need for redistribution of wealth was the best I have ever heard. Can you suggest “next steps” for us at the grass roots level toward that goal and that of economic equality? FDR and a few “good” people managed to accomplish that in the early 1900’s. I am sure there are many people of similar motivation and skills that can do the same now. As Marshall Ganz in another Bill Moyers program shared as a “grass roots movement organizer” stated, sometimes David can win. This Must be one of those times.

    Thank you for ALL that you share and do!

  • CASSE3

    While not exclusive to capitalism, economic growth has become our primary national economic policy goal. There is a growing movement, however, that believes economic growth is causing income inequality, as well as numerous other social and environmental problems. What are your thoughts on the wisdom and feasibility of continuing to prioritize economic growth in today’s wealthier countries?

  • Brenda

    You appeal to a thinking, liberal class that you suggest are confused. We are confused because we have invested, financially and socially in the capitalist system and to disengage is to self-destruct. Change will not occur through politics or debate but by disengagement. Yet we cannot dangle in mid air. We need a place to land.

  • RKin

    The scale of economic activity and distribution of the resulting benefits mechanisms of capitalism are completely out of balance today, whether it is lassiez faire, corporate or central government controlled. How can anything but a steady state economy reverse the rising consumption of the planet’s ecological systems from 7B and rising humans? Given the accelerating pace of ecological degradation, how can we move towards a regenerative economy, one that takes care of people, restores planet and also benefits all of us?

  • Russell Spears

    Wolff regularly talks about Worker Self Directed Enterprises (WSDE). You should check out his “Economic Update” podcast. There you should find that he directly answers that question. If i remember correctly, he seems to think that government can set new policies when WSDE’s gain enough economic wealth and influence to supplant Multinational Corporation’s influence on government policy. He seems to have faith in the mentality of the working class since they are personally effected as a group and not isolated as we see the 1% controlling elite.

  • 34nelson

    One should be leery of a 100% certain position & criticizing the capitalistic free market economy is easy with its flaws: greedy corporations; unenforced govt regulations for political gain & power.. Yes we have reason to be critical but where would the innovation & creativity come from if not from capital investment (risk) in new ideas. Govts are poor at this. Al Gore did not invent the internet..Much could be done if govt leaders had the courage to act i e. force the big banks to break up; break up the huge industrials like GE; ExxonMobil.. Neither party has stopped mergers of these giants.. why political power.. I blame the govt for not acting in the nations interests.. The DOJ has not to my knowledge done anthing in this area… because they are too political. Eric Holder is to be the attorney for the people .. that is his job.. One would know that by the way he conducts his office.. The pres has his own attorneys but Holder will do his biding instead of the peoples. Milton Friedman & Tom Sowell would make counter arguments to Wolf.. Having studied under Walter Hellar & a few other economist I come to the conclusion expressed by H Truman on the one arm economist without “on the other hand” Good discussion but I find no absolutes.. Each condition has to be evaluated on its own.. Keyesian fails as you near full employment with spirilling wage inflation. & govt does a poor job of creating jobs with tax dollars

  • Russell Spears

    34Nelson: The private market is stiffing innovation through every area of development. With protracted legal actions, attempts to patent everything and profit motive fueling peace meal innovations.Also running Monopolies everywhere, Apple is a great example here.

    Moreover, you should see how big business has been buying publicly funded research on the cheap and selling it back to us at large premiums, we even hear of big pharmacy paying Generic Drug Companies not to produce drugs that run out of patent protection…..

    These corporate games go on and on. If we actually funded research for the benefit of the people alone we might have a means of comparing what you just said in a fair light.

  • Russell Spears

    Just because our economy and political system functions to disrupt other economies and encourage the use of slave labor abroad and the sale of the cheap goods that result, does not mean we have all we do from some great advantage of Capitalism. It is no more mysterious than the fact that plantation owners lived quite comfortably off the work of the slaves who lived in shacks.

  • Anonymous

    It would be interesting if Moyers would have Tom Sowell on his show to get his views on economics as applies to our society..Why are the capitalistic & even quasicapitalic countries enjoying a better standard of living?? Do we see socialistic economies out performing capitalistic economies..In my many years I have not observed that occurring..After
    WWII we put Germany back on it feet with the Marshal Plan & capitalistic democracy & they seem to be the economic leader in the EU. The PIG economies are highly socialized & failing. We need to look to a regulatory fedl govt to enforce existing laws as they pertain to monopolies & too big to fail.. Attacking corporations for being profitable is counterproductive.. I worked 25 yrs for a corporation who employed 400,000 employees who paid taxes & raised families with the rewards of their work.. I am assumed by folks who attack big corporations & their profits.. Exxon Mobil had sales of 484 billion last yr..How much profit should they keep??? I’ve heard all sorts of answers… they were able to keep 8.5%,,,,, 39 billion…How much tax did they pay???? 41 billion dollars. The govt got more money from them than the corp were able to keep..I agree with the folks that they should not have been allowed to merge but al as long as their is world competition that does not make them a bad corporation. Tax codes are so flawed that GE did not pay any taxes to speak of..But Jeff Emelts is part if the business advisory board to the admin..Again govt dealing out favors..If you clean up govt you would solve allot of our concerns.

  • Anonymous

    The WSDE concept is not new..We’ve called them COOPS who I had dealt with..They receive a tax break & yet they fail..the biggest reason is the corrupt managers..It was hard doing business with them if you did not subscribe to payola which my employer & I would have no part of. . These idealistic views are good but in practice human greed still comes into play…That is human nature.. Changing the form of the organization does not change that…

  • Russell Spears

    The fact that you evoked the use of managers is in fact stating that there are important differences in the two ideas. Richard Wolff, goes out of his way to explain his use of the term Worker Self Directed Enterprises rather than COOPS. Because of the abhorrent use of COOPS in the past-the term does not emphases the worker Self-Directed aspect that even you failed to consider. Human selfish nature is much more constructive in worker organized labor rather than subjecting the workers to that same nature in one person making all the decisions. In fact what we now call the American Economy is a direct result. Your “Idealized” form of Capitalism is deep into another catastrophic failure. And regardless of your opinion, it is working well for many people that are moving ahead and doing it and yea some may fail too, just as 50% of capitalists businesses fail already. The reality your ignoring is that workers are already taking on self ownership and has a lot more going for it than your singular life example purports offer.

  • Russell Spears

    Believing a government can resist the lure of corporatist influence is a pipe dream that people like yourself just kick down the road. The general public will take hundreds of years to make changes that corporatist can overturn in one election cycle. You have to come to terms with the fact that Capitalism is not the way forward and never can be in principal. Why do you think other countries are not enjoying a “better standard of living”. If you look at the reality for many Americans, the basic necessities are not even close to secure: We have a shaky housing situation, more vacant homes than homeless, many are food insecure and one fourth are without medical coverage all of our infrastructure and public transit systems are leaving us behind in the modern economy… Your living in a Capitalists Bubble.

    P.S. a lot has changed in 25 years…

  • Russell Spears

    Believing a government can resist the lure of corporatist influence is a pipe dream that people like yourself just kick down the road. The general public will take hundreds of years to make changes that corporatist can overturn in one election cycle. You have to come to terms with the fact that Capitalism is not the way forward and never can be in principal. Why do you think other countries are not enjoying a “better standard of living”. If you look at the reality for many Americans, the basic necessities are not even close to secure: We have a shaky housing situation, more vacant homes than homeless, many are food insecure and one fourth are without medical coverage all of our infrastructure and public transit systems are leaving us behind in the modern economy… Your living in a Capitalists Bubble.

    P.S. a lot has changed in 25 years…

  • Anonymous

    Your assumption that corporations are the biggest money folks buying influence is flawed.. Check out open secrets. org & you will find who the biggest contributors to politicians.. You did included unions; the bar assocation. association of realtors; govt employee unions; teachers unions..Individuals such as Warren Buffet; Investment banking individuals. Corporations are owned by individuals ..they are just of structure to do business. The WSDE structure you speak of will do the same political activity as any other structure of business Coops are big at lobbying for their members The answer to your concerns is vote the crooks out.. Bring them to trial & jail the guilty..but we have a senate & house ethics committee that is a total joke..The way they define ethics is unfamiliar to most honest folks..China has a social capitalistic form rather than communistic form & an increase of annual GDP of 7-8% .. & they put people in jail for corruption

  • Russell Spears

    My hope is that the workers will move forward and gain control over the wealth they produce and the decisions regarding their own compensation and production. Whatever group controls the means of production will move on to control the government-for that I think we both can agree. With WSDE the power will favor the workers and less the capitalists: For whatever part corporations play in the creation of bills and what to do with public funding, theirs is a very narrow self-interest with a disproportionate influence. The Koch brothers are a great example here as was A.L.E.C. If the mass of people wish to participate in special interests, then by all means this is much better than just Charles and David Koch having that same influence. Many of the special interests groups get funding from big corporations based on their owner’s personal goals.

    I agree, vote the crooks out, but to overlook the source of the corruption is a big mistake indeed. You see every branch of our government is far from broken like you think, it is operating exactly as the corporatist want it to.

  • Anonymous

    One can desire to change the system for a more perfect ideal form of an economic & political system. Yours appears to be big on workers rights & compensation as well as control of the govt.. Mr Spears the is exactly what Carl Marx & Lenin envisioned.. How has that worked out.. Which success story can we sight as a great standard of living & fair to the folks???? What great influence have the Koch Bros had over our country. I submit the NEA (National Education Assoc) Union with its 3.2 million members & annual dues of 393 million dollars to influence our education system & liberal politics.. That is power!! I don’t see the Kochs that powerful.. George Soros is more powerful with his billions of dollars.. By the way Koch Bros company is not a corporation Have you checked out Open Secrets. Org to see who is buying influence?????

  • Russell Spears

    Look if it was not for the Corporatists’ Revisionists history your espousing, I would have you know that what ever standard of living your generation enjoyed, it was not due to the success story of capitalism. The workers (your parents generation no doubt) had to fight and die to wrench a standard of living from corporations or else we would be living in postindustrial shanty towns today. However, we do not need to move too much more down this path before we acknowledge the devastation this economy is leaving in small towns across America today.

    I hope you get your own point above: namely a special interests group of 3.2 million is already more democratic than any vacuous Ann Rand Archetype you might wish to use.

  • Cole Thompson

    Mr. Wolff, do you think that economic growth will need to shift from quantitative increases in scale, such as GDP, to qualitative increases in utility per unit of material input? If so, what might replace percentage increases in GDP as the new holy grail of economic policy?

  • RKB

    There is an abundance of evidence that an economy based on unlimited growth (capitalism) has outlived its usefulness and there are much better alternatives (steady state economics). What will it take for mainstream economists and our leaders to acknowledge this?

  • JRK

    The scale of our global economy is growing in relationship to the
    fixed size of the earth’s natural systems. In the last century, the
    world’s population has increased by four times; GDP per capita has
    increased six times; and the resultant world GDP is up 25 times. Do you
    think it is possible to continue to increase the size our global
    economy while maintaining the ecosystems our economy depends on?

  • rkb

    The conflict between economic growth and environmental protection has been thoroughly documented and demonstrated both theoretically and empirically. Why is this conflict not accepted as a core economic principle? Especially since this idea is supported by the basic Laws of Thermodynamics.

  • Mike S.

    One of the biggest problems with our economic system is the push for growth which
    has exceeded ecological limits. You can’t just blame growth only on capitalism because economic growth was a major policy in the Soviet Union (and now in China). Therefore, isn’t the real problem, at least regarding sustainability, the goal of economic growth and not so much the type of economic system?