Richard Wolff on Raising the U.S. Minimum Wage

February 21, 2013

Economist Richard Wolff explains how the current minimum wage offers less advantage for workers than it did decades ago, and how an increase would benefit not only low-wage employees, but the overall American economy.

“You’ve taken the folks at the bottom — the people who work hard, full-time jobs — and you’ve made their economic condition worse over a 50-year period, while wealth has accumulated at the top,” Wolff tells Bill. “What kind of a society does this?”

A professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, and currently visiting professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School, Wolff has written many books on the effects of rampant capitalism, including Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It.

Watch the full conversation between Wolff and Bill Moyers on this weekend’s Moyers & Company.

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  • NewsyReader

    Because today’s employers are not willing to hire more people, raising the minimum wage means more people will be earning more. The more a person earns the more “Uncle Sam” can remove from their paychecks. In affect raising the minimum wage creates a larger tax base. Is that not what we need to help bring down the deficit?

  • Naujas Ideja

    I agree with raising the wage. As for it creating jobs in America due to spending, I doubt that. Most of the poor buy from Walmart and other places that sell the cheapest products. If you want to help America raise the minimum wage and get Mexico to raise its minimum wage and get Walmart to shift 50% of it China-sourced products to production sites in Mexico. Help Mexico and you help America. Help China and you just help the corporation owners or the super wealthy. Operation 2013: Bring it closer to home. It might just help the environment as well with more production in our region.

  • Anonymous

    “What kind of a society does this?” It is a society that is in the paradigm that wages and earnings are the only legitimate way to live a worthwhile life. To be alive and caring and helping others and making things with others, building things and growing things is not enough. In this society it is not enough to make money, you need to make profit. Magically turn a product into a profit that somewhere between production and consumption is skimmed off.

    Another paradigm is one that begins with everyone having the kind of home and diet and healthcare that our level of civilization makes possible. Instead of wages you earn the right to live in our civilization by doing any number of things that make our civilization better. Being with children and raising them is of itself beneficial to our whole society.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jane.beavis1 Jane Beavis

    I hope economists also consider the effect raising the minimum wage has on the social services “safety net”. If the minimum wage is raised and the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is not raised then people who had been eligible to full scope Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid) with a zero share of cost will now either be ineligible or will have to pay a portion of their medical expenses each month (the difference between their monthly income and the FPL). In addition their food stamps benefit will be lowered. Does this encourage employment? Does this encourage getting off welfare? Will Government save money because not so many people are on “welfare”?Think about walking in those shoes before you decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing and who benefits most.

  • Michele

    The minimum wage should be equal to a liveable wage which today would be $21.97. When busineses like Wal-Mart & Papa Johns pay their employees the bare minimum plus cut their hours, they are in essence paying less than minimum wage. Time for all businesses to pony up, employ people with a fair, honest wage and reasonable hours. This is why unions have been valuable in the past and should be a permanent part of our working environment. They keep businesses in check.

  • Tres English

    Richard Wolff suggests that people are numbed by the current situation but may eventually become enraged, if things don’t change. True, but I wonder if he understands that the economists’ usual answer – growth – can’t work.

    You can’t have un-ending growth in any material way in a finite world. With Global Climate Change and much more, our attempts to achieve continuous growth will result in ever-worsening global (and local) consequences, until we are spending more on repairs and recovery and defense that the benefits of growth.

    Question for Richard Wolff: What happens if the total economic activity of the plant, and all parts of it, don’t continue? If we keep getting more productive, but can’t expand the economy, then there will be fewer and fewer people employed at lower and lower real incomes.

  • Carol E. Lawson

    A question for both Mr. Wolfe and his wife: our young see the economic situation, which isolates each person in their own suffering, as one of personal failure — they have struggled to do it right, get an education, as in my family, and there is no opportunity, lots of frustration, and crushing debt for that illusory leg up of an education coming down on them — how do we motivate them beyond the personal and into the public realm??? With no 4-term presidency to cause the powers that be to cower, we only have a slick advertising campaign to harness, without success, to cause real change.

  • Mike

    This all begs the age old question to be asked though. IF you raise the minimum wage to 9.50 or whatever, will there not be a corresponding rise in prices that will offset the rise in wages to the point where everybody will be the losers, with the exception of the Government who will, as stated above, reap more tax monies. So, it appears to be a “lose – lose” situation instead of a “win – win” situation. Without price controls, nothing will change, it will all be an appearance of change with no real substance.

  • Dharma101

    Skimmed off is right–by incompetent CEOs and middle managers–thieves, really.

  • Mina R.

    Unlike Richard Wolff, I am not optimistic about the future. I think we have reached the tipping point and there’s no likelihood of a reversal. So much money is in politics that most of our Congresspeople, Senators are beholden to corporations, huge donors, pressure groups, etc. The peoples’ interests are no longer represented and Congres cannot really be pressured into voting against their financial backers. I am thoroughly discouraged!

  • Milt Freedom

    Thank you for bringing up Mexico. I too make an effort to “buy Mexico” when given the option – everything from food to vacuums.

    I find Mr. Wolff’s comments about the minimum wage lacking in any consideration for illegal workers and the pressures of a global economy since 1968. In the decades following WWII the US had a productivity advantage over most of the world that began to shift in the 1970′s.

    I believe Mr. Wolff’s analysis is flawed in that it seems to assume an economic vacuum exists where the US can force an increase in the minimum wage that will not draw in more illegal workers and/or result in inflation. Also, a federal minimum (or “livable”) wage fails to address the vast difference between the costs of living from state to state or even city to city.

  • Anonymous

    It is interesting that “pro business” people say that if the minimum wage goes up it will kill business. IF going up is so bad then wouldn’t lowering it help businesses. Why don’t they work so hard at helping to lower the minimum wage – and if it should be lower – what should it be? If you can’t answer the “low” value then how can you answer the “hi” value? Obviously living wages vary from area to area so a national rate would need to be different based on prevailing wages – as with many large companies – so I believe there should be some local input here. There seems to be no problem with paying the wealthy more – and they just keep asking to keep more of increasing amount that they earn. It is interesting how “pro businesses” politics want to limit the powerless, but won’t touch those with the most power, and I dear say the least use for a 5% increase in pay and/or benefits.

    As a programmer I always like to test systems at maximum and minimum amounts. It is amazing how few people test their, or others, ideas that way.

  • Anonymous

    Having only listened to the interview with B Moyers I don’t know if Mexico is in Mr. Wolff’s calculations, I thing though it is less of an issue than the overall economy in the US, and you can always pick at specific issues. We moved a manufacturing plant to Mexico (2000) – which was quickly (2 years) moved to China as once your production is mobile you have no allegiance to any location – only to profit. One of the fun facts was that we ripped all the safety and environmental protections off the equipment – many thousands of man hours of work when we moved it to Mexicali…. infuriating.

  • Anonymous

    The “American Dream” as sold to us is that you can work and have a life – as in Obama’s speech it’s pretty bad when you work full time and can barely create a life for yourself, and as Mr. Wolff states we have traded working MORE hours and working TWO parents to have even less (especially measured as quality of life) then a person working a rather menial job in the 50′s and 60′s. The FACT is that businesses will only pay as much as they have to and in the 50′s – 80′s there were much fewer people than needed to do the work and thus the middle class was created – now people are NOT needed – and those educated, and white collar workers are feeling the walls closing in while the people at the top of the heap make increasingly more and more money. I am not sure of the solution although I am somewhat optimistic as long as we don’t have inflation and can get money as cheap as we currently can….

  • http://www.facebook.com/DAngelo136 Angelo Darden

    Carol, Professor Wolff is a Marxist economist. He sees that capitalism as presently constituted unable or unwilling to deliver the standard of living that promotes equality and fairness to it’s citizens. While I agree with Prof.Wolff on many of his observations, I cannot do him justice here. Why don’t you see for yourself at his website http://www.rdwolff.com and draw your own conclusions about his arguments.

  • jack@ap.org

    it trun to be truth thast their no mpney for workers at all

  • Mark Foote

    First of all, I’d like to thank Bill Moyers, for continuing to host the folks who have some analysis of what’s going on, and for his efforts to tease a little light out of our darkness. Thanks, Bill, from the bottom of my heart!

    I too would like to hear Prof. Wolff’s impression of the role that globalization has played on our current situation; I also assumed that what was happening in this country was the result of our descent into second-world status as the rest of the planet ascended from the third-world rank.

    I would like to mention that the great hope I have lies in the fact that we are in the age of information, and that there is a potential for a greater understanding of the wisdom traditions of the world in the language of science, at the same time that there is an arrival in the language of science at some of the basic tenets of the wisdom traditions of the world. Does this bear on the solution to our economic and cultural crisis?- only to the extent that sustainability must rely on an inner happiness instead of an external one, but in my eyes this is the task and the course of civilization since the dawn of humankind, and we are only now in a position to collect and disseminate the true wealth of human history.

    Thanks again for the candle in the darkness, in so many ways!

  • Samuel Shotts

    Why do you think the economic system of forced labor camps and mass murder practiced by the former USSR failed. Why doesn’t the ideas of Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek receive equal time.

  • bob

    If the poor are not taken care of how can we save the rich? I am poor. One of the ways I cope is to cut back on things I do not need. Electricity $40 budget pay. Used 339 kWh last month. The gas is $20 budget pay. Outside temperature today is 12 degrees. The front door is open but the inside temperature is 68. I spent $27 at Walmart and left with 5 bags of groceries. Yearly mileage on the car is about 3000 miles for the past 4 years. The point is people can live on very little of what the rich people are selling. How are the rich going to stay rich. All thru this show I was saying to myself “sounds like we have a constricted money supply.” I also like to paraphrase quotes of former presidents.

  • Kerry Ruff

    I enjoyed and learned a great deal from listening to your
    interview with Mr. Wolff. Thank you, Mr. Moyer for your in-depth reporting, insights and professionalism. Because of you, I am a truly informed
    citizen.

  • Renee

    Thank you for airing these programs. It’s a breath of fresh air. I watched the show with Richard Wolff and was depressed and motivated. I really loved the frank format. It was refreshing to be talked to as an adult and not a child that can’t help them selves. We have to get a grip on our future and maybe in the process lower our standards and be happy with what we have. I do fear that the younger generation doesn’t have the backbone to go forward. I dare say my generation is lossing theirs. I am a baby boomer and is constantly stunned at the inability we have to fight for what is right. I think we have been beaten down and our selves are tired. To me the latest blow was the Banks that stole from us and go on as nothing has happened. Actions like those tear at the fabric that we share.
    Great going and keep this program going.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.j.crawford Robert J. Crawford

    At the end of the interview, you asked for questions for a subsequent Wolff interview. I assume I can pose it here.

    Economic growth appears to be slowing overall in the West, whereas anyone who has been to Asia sees that the dynamism has clearly passed to there. What, if anything, can be done to bring the dynamism back here?

    Middle class consumers in the West, it seems, are essentially sated – their basic demands have been met. THere are no major new products on the horizon that will drive the West to the ever-higher levels we expect, like the car or the successive telecom/computer revolutions, both of which stimulated many other areas of the economy in the so-called “virtuous circle”. The overall sense is one of lassitude and political gridlock.

    In contrast, Asian consumers are extremely hungry for basic goods, much as Americans and Europeans were after World War II, when we had to reconstruct and satisfy pent-up demand. You can feel their bursting excitement in Hong Kong, Shanghai, or Bangkok. They are too busy working and consuming to worry all that much about politics, freedom, etc. (though that may come later…)

    Do we in the West need to get used to lower growth rates? Is this some fundamental turning point? Did it arrive with the oil crisis (which is really when our productivity gains ended)? I am baffled that so few economists address these issues. When you listen to the debate in the US, it is like all we need is X policy and we will return to the growth we experienced between 1945 and 1973.

  • Tony

    I so agree with Richard Wolff’s explanation, but one of the other problems of capitalism that it seldom talked about is that Capitalism depends upon continued growth. How can this happen when we are limited with finite resources. Sure you may have to look at the issues at hand but this does no good unless the long term problems are considered also.

  • Rex Beckstead

    Could you please provide a list the studies on the effects increases in the minimum wage have in general. I have visited the Dean Baker comments and found an older study by Card and Krueger (who I think is one of Pres. Obama’s economic advisors). But, I need help finding more.

  • Jeff

    I agree $7.25 is unreasonable but the other side of the equation is that everyone needs to be willing to pay more for what they buy at Wal-Mart and Papa Johns. Are you willing to pay double what you are currently paying for a pizza?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t thing “double” is a realistic amount – the Papa Johns owner said Obamacare might ad $.19 cents to a pizza – for health care – what a deal! Adding $1.00 to be able to pay people a living wage – and even better deal. The issue is if it is out of his/their profits, or in an increase in costs and that is the debate we need to have. If you look at small franchise businesses their is no money until you get to the top – no manager of Papa Johns is making huge amounts of money, much less their employees. I really think the first step before any of this IS health care, and while I don’t think anyone thinks “Obamacare” is perfect (even Obama), it is a great step in the right direction – I’ll pay $.50 cents a pizza for that.

  • CraigInFlorida

    It’s simply outrageous that the US Minimum Wage is a staggeringly low $7.25/hr, and insanely low $2.13/hr for restaurant workers that also earn tips. Any increase in minimum wage will be 100% spent boosting the economy. Any potential decrease in job offerings due to increased wages will be offset by greater economic activity, thus eventually causing employers to hire more workers…basically it’s a wash…and everyone benefits! How simple is that! Also, for those fast food and other restaurants that pay their employees $2.13/hr and those people must rely on tips, if we can post food nutrition levels, they should be required to post pay scale levels in a conspicuous place too! And for those cheaters that fail to guarantee a $2.13/hr employee a supplement to bring them up to the $7.25 minimum wage if their tips do not exceed this wage floor–they should be fined at double the minimum wage for their cheating!

  • Preston Walls

    economist (business companies ) look for the researchers to give the the numbers on income for the average to live, and that means if you and me get a average across the board wage , they tell the marketers how much people are willing to pay for cars ,houses, gas, entertainment , trips, garbage, clothing, and on and on , when they are all done with us, we are left still broke. even if the min. wage was $50 hr.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Russell-Spears/722541834 Russell Spears

    Our market is what determines competitive wages today and every employer sets their pay accordingly. Therefore, we need to redress the market for issues of slave labor, prison labor, subsidies, tax intensives and establish a livable wage. Goods and services need to reflect a livable wage, not a minimum, and this needs to be fixed across all trade agreements.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Russell-Spears/722541834 Russell Spears

    WE do not need to be talking about a minimum wage, but a livable wage. Moreover, 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.

  • Dr. Alicia Rodriguez Marroquin

    Dear Mr. Wolff,
    What you are identifying is an “anti-socialism” perspective from those with Power Money. All budget and tax matters should be in the hands of the GAO not in legislators. Americans are already changing and adapting to new ways of living that is also changing the cultural~social nature of this country. We have not lost our dignity, compassion and resourcefulness as human beings. Patrick Moynihan said “nothing changes without it happening at the grassroots” something like that. There is nothing to fear. The 1-2% at the top of the pyramid have gotten so top heavy it is now at the bottom. Power Money blindly affects human reasoning and makes one unfit for leadership. The American Dream is not “to have” but “to be” that is the new sublime change. In the last few years I have become what Cornel West & Tavis Smiley call the ‘new poor’ and I have never felt so free.
    Yours in Truth,
    Dr. Alicia Rodriguez Marroquin PhD

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Maus/100001584083306 Mike Maus

    Bill, you scored a bulls-eye by bringing Richard Wolff on your show tonight. Corporatists have already eaten the goose that laid the Golden Egg, and THEY, not we, are in a state of mental and emotional paralysis. Richard Wolff has it exactly right: corporate America must put their money where their mouth has been and produce the jobs and economic rewards for all of the partners or the whole shebang may collapse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Maus/100001584083306 Mike Maus

    A crime against humanity if you ask me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Maus/100001584083306 Mike Maus

    Of course! You cannot always find a niche market where your product will sell to people who have no disposable income. Tres…you are up against the logical impossibility of perpetual growth. With bankers manipulating our monetary supply for their own benefit (post Glass-Steagall) it is impossible for workers to negotiate their own financial position.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Maus/100001584083306 Mike Maus

    Children are wonderful, but you are making the self-serving point of making reproduction a social, not personal, objective.

  • Anonymous

    The proof of how “brilliant” or business people are – they want to do anything but make things and provide value added services – the crux of capitalism (as it is sold). They move a plant to China to make parts looking at the short term profit thinking they are business geniuses (any idiot could – and did do that) instead of looking at long term goals which now will run flat as they dont invest in R&D and few of their engineers are actually involved in manufacturing any more. And those big box retailers are so busy making money all selling the same crap from the same suppliers and wont invest in knowledgable employees and try to make money selling uneeded insurance, installation, or loans at rates tgat should be illegal. How long can that last before the consumers see that the emporer has no clothes and just bypasses them for the internet or some other cheaper service.

  • Anonymous

    On a micro/personal level children are personal, but on a macro/personal level they are socially very important – you cannot fully separate children from anyone’s responsibility – even if you elect to personally not have them as they are your future, your legacy, your support system even if they are not “yours” genetically as you will not be around that long….

  • Progressive Texas Guy

    I found myself agreeing with almost all of Richard Wolff’s positions on capitalism and modern industrial economies. For a future program on economic options for the US, I would like to see Economic Historian Bruce Bartlett interviewed. His grasp of economic history, policies, and solutions is almost without equal, in my opinion. He is a strong advocate of the US adopting a value added tax (VAT). He could provide many thoughtful insights on our current economic condition.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.martin.92351995 Dan Martin

    Professor Richard Wolff is right on the money regarding the benefits to the economy by workers who earn a higher minimum wage. By why stop there? What workers, unions and others should advance is a living wage regulation accross this nation tied directly to what is costs to house a prisioner in the Federal and State Prisions. In California that cost is $47,000 annually and includes, food, shelter, clothing and medical care. The current mimium wage in California is $8 an hour. That comes out to $15,360. If an employer provides medical and pension benefits we might include an additional $5,000 for a total cost of $20,360, annually for a minimum wage worker.
    Once upon a time, economist used to talk about the opportunity costs of committing crime. That cost is lower when the wage rate is lower. Accordingly, for some, it may be more lucrative to commit crimes than become gainfully employed, one reason our prisions in California are overcrowded and under federal court order for the prision population to be reduced.

    In addition, to calling for a living wage we also need to demand that the anti-slavery provisions of the Thirteenth Amendment are enforced. What we have in this nation is legalized wage slavery with an abundance of sub-living wage jobs. Very simply, the post reconstruction era Civil Rights Statutes, in particular, 42 U.S.C. 1981 need to been enforced so that all workers are under contract just as multi-million dollar entertainers, professional athletes and news anchormen are under contract. Employers, who refuse to sign a collective bargaining agreement with a union would have to sign individual employment contracts with their workers in which a living wage, health and pension benefits are standard provisions.
    Now I know some republicans believe that contract rights only apply to workers for their cell phone and satellite television service rather than extend those rights to employment agreements. But the party that emphasis individual liberty, to defend an unequal distribution of the wealth, in this nation, is misguided.
    Some might label this as socialism, Rush Limbaugh and Tom Sullivan, talk radio hosts, to name a few. But that is nonsense. It is actually captialism at it finest. The fact of the matter is, when consumers have money to spend, aka disposable income, they participate in the economy as buyers, just as the wealthy do. When consumers do not have money to spend, businesses go bankrupt and restaurants close their door. Yes, Congressman Boehner small business suffers the most, not from paying a living wage, but from a lack of customers with money to spend. Ever heard of the ecomonic principle that what goes around comes around. It works that way for the wealthy. The more money they have to spend, the more they spend, save and invest, and more often than not, those investments provide a healthy return. Why that principle is misregarded when it comes to sub-living wage workers is matter of misguided republican political ideology.
    The problem with our political leaders today is that they seldom rely on Divine Providence in making decisions. Instead they are more concern about making decisions based upon how it will assist their wealthy campaign contributors for their next election. Accordingly, loopholes and tax breaks are the norm, for individuals and corporations who want to outsouce employment. One wise broadcaster and journalist, Bill Moyers, once observed: “It is not power that corrupts but the fear of losing it.” The consequence of this corruption is a weaking of our market economy.
    If we are to solve are economic problems today, in our media-generated celebrity culture and caste society, then our leaders must return to a healthy reliance upon Divine Providence where they might acquire some Godly Wisdom to set their paths straight. The current crop of leaders in Congress show their ignorance each and every day. But it is so simple as Biblical Scripture reminds us: “You reap what you sow!”
    This is Dan Martin reporting with news and commentary.

  • robert

    Isn’t the attitude that bankers only “do what the system requires” the same as nazis who were “only following orders ?

  • Anonymous

    Dear Dr. Wolff,

    I enjoyed your visit to the Bill Moyers Show, agreeing with most of what you said; however, there’s one position you take that I totally do not understand. Your willingness to let the bankers escape justice for their reckless, immoral, and I believe, illegal, behavior doesn’t seem to fit with other things you say.

    On the one hand, you attach moral judgment to the fact that the minimum wage has been frozen for decades, denying many families necessary goods and services, but on the other hand, you see no moral aspect to a bunch of elite bankers who destroyed the Glass Steagel Act and colluded with other bankers and government officials, actions that you believe led to economic collapse, which subsequently destroyed the pensions of thousands and threw countless families into the street.

    When institutions become corrupt, it’s because of the
    behavior of individuals, as I’m sure you’d agree, and no matter where it occurs – in police departments, congress, the FBI, corporations, and banks – it is mandatory that society seek justice. Need I remind you that, dozens of books and documentaries, by some excellent reporters, concerning the 2008 collapse, have produced much evidence that bankers did indeed break the law. Haven’t you read/seen any of these?

    You say that the action of the bankers should not be called greed, explaining that their behavior was in keeping with the way the system works, only doing for their banks what they believe needed to be done. What about their salaries? What about their bonuses? What about their use of government funding for their selfish gratifications? Please give us an example of what you think greed is.

    Let me remind you of historical events that have proven that people who act criminally, albeit within a framework of a corrupt institution, are still criminally at fault for their behavior. The actions of their colleagues do not justify their own criminality. Need I cite examples? Even better, living in a culture of crime and greed that you took part in creating does not exonerate you.

    Can you please explain a little better what you have in mind here. For some reason, your position here somehow makes me wonder just what you’re trying to accomplish.

  • John Hepworth

    Dear Bill,
    Great, great interview!……….where to begin……a question for Richard Woolf……”have you read Albert Camus’ “The Plague” and if so, do you feel it has relevance to our situation today ?” …

    I ask this because it seems to me that Camus’ poetic and allegorical novel can now easily be seen as the central narrative of our time ……..Camus was active in the French Resistance against the Vichy regime in France, so he certainly understood something about the nature of the decidedly “uphill battles” which History occasionally chooses to visit upon our
    unsuspecting, though not entirely innocent, species ……Thomas Merton has written a series of wonderful and – for us today, positively fascinating essays on Albert Camus which are eerily prescient of the dismaying-in-the-extreme, downright apoplexy-inducing times we find ourselves in !! ……….so think Camus, Merton and the Economy…….Nuns-on-the-Bus take on Milton Friedman……….do the math….it computes !!

    So many, many blessings (viewer blessings….which surely have power too) to both you and Richard Woolf for your exemplary work .

    I would also like to ask Richard whether or not he would agree with a paraphrase I recently came up with of what Churchill famously said about the RAF during the war…….

    “ Never was so much owed by so many to so few.”

    “Never have so few been so wrong about so much with such catastrophic results for so many !”

    In such a reading, the economic movers-and-shakers of today’s corporations and the economic elites whose agendas they so zealously serve are nothing short of a Royal Air Force from hell !!!…… as our increasingly alarmed environmentalists and climate scientists keep telling us, it would take about ANOTHER DOZEN PLANET EARTHS to sustain the grandiose, King Canutesque designs of these wannabe elites !! ……History seems to be tapping us on the shoulder and telling us in such uncertain terms that our “wiggle room“ is all used up that the title of the William Burroughs novel comes to mind “The Ticket That Exploded”.

    …I heartily agree with Richard Woolf`s conclusion that once the our cultural anaesthetics wear off and denial is no longer a possibility, the very painfulness of the plight of the 99% will trigger demonstrations and demands for action similar to those we’ve been witnessing in Europe and that we saw in the Occupy Wall Street movement…….All the king’s horses and all the king’s (yes) men are NOT going to be able to put the Consumer Paradise Fantasy World back together again. ……

    I would like to thank you and thank Richard Woolf for a thoroughly delightful, Mirage-Busting, REALITY-CHECKING, SANITY-RESTORING discussion.
    Yours truly
    John Hepworth

  • Stephen Feher

    I listened to Richard Wolff’s and your conversation last Sunday on the program, and yesterday listened to the lecture Richard Wolff gave that was available on this site, regarding when capitalism hits the fan. I appreciate Dr. Wolff’s presenting information from a much broader perspective than most people, looking at the system of capitalism we have as an underlying cause of the current economic problems, but looking at it systemically rather than using the politicians’ short view symptomatic approach to dealing with something that is caused by issues far from the temporal view of the moment.

    While Dr. Wolff’s approach may seem radical, bringing up the possibility of changing the capitalistic system we currently and historically have had, I find it not nearly radical enough. Not taken into consideration directly but certainly alluded to in talking about the boon for business that flat wages while profits soared produced, are the factors that we don’t want to look at. These are the fundamental issues of greed, ambition, competition, the “I’ll get mine and you get yours” mentality that has always been there, but was partially held in check by some temporary balance of power that existed as a result of the workers having some influence through collective bargaining. That is gone, and although Dr. Wolff is aware there is no motivation at all for business to change its ways, what has seeped into the consciousness of the public is the acceptability of greed and ambition of individuals without regard to the cost to the whole society of actions based on that motivation. To be sure, greed and ambition have always been present, but not to the exclusion of any consideration of all other people’s needs.

    So until we are individually willing to look in the mirror and see the ugly truth that our values are false, the understanding of which alone will bring about significant transformation, no systemic approach will have any chance of any impact on a system rampantly out of control.

    The problems have to do with an issue that has been around for a very long time, the question of whether one can achieve right ends with wrong means. Tweaking a fundamentally flawed system created by fundamentally flawed individuals will never work. Only if individually we are willing to undertake what is a painful self-examination, a fundamental transformation of our approach to life, which I see as “right means,” can we possibly ever arrive at “right ends.”

    S. Feher

  • steven sanders

    Elite Deviance – “a sociological term for a condition in a society in which the elite in the society come to believe that the rules no longer apply to them.”

  • Anonymous

    You cant just point fingers at “elites” as we all succumb to our own ego’s. Absolute power corrupts and all. The study I like the most showed that the longer a successful businessperson succedded the less they credited the people around them and the more they credited their innate abilities (and perhaps those of their progeny). Its our culture that needs to change and give credit not only to those who succeed, but all of those who could have. Americas success was in alowing those who worked hard a chance to create and profit, and even fail and still be able to succeed. Unfortunately we have “graduated” to allow those with delusions of superiority to corner the market rather than invest in it and the other 99%.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brenda.reed.7505 Brenda Reed

    The program that worked for ALL classes in the FDR administration could work for THIS ONE as well. Let’s contact our politicians toward “making it happen”!!!!!

  • Larry

    Where do we go from here? Are there other models, other countries, that are finding a better way to “deliver the goods”? Are we too caught up in American Exceptionalism to admit that we might be able to learn from others?

  • Chris

    I have 3 questions for Richard Wolff:
    1) Is hitting the financial bottom inevitable or can we learn from history and be proactive to avoid such an extreme situation?,
    2) What is the difference in blaming abstract terms: “the market” and “the system”? As I understand it, Wolff implies that blaming the market is a cop-out whereas talking about the system, another abstraction, isn’t., and
    3) Do we have the same set of factors as existed in the 1930′s-early 1940′s to achieve the results that will transform the system as Wolff hopes at the end of his interview?

  • baaaa

    Bestiality – “a sociological term for a condition in which steven sanders makes sweet love with a goat”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack-Closson/1060955352 Jack Closson

    A plane crashes and only a physicist, chemist, and economist survive. There is canned food for them, but no can opener. The physicist tries to open it using laws of physics with no success. Chemist tries using elements in the area, same result.
    The economist looks at them and shakes his head. Gentlemen, you are going about this all wrong. First, let’s assume we have a can opener.
    That is how economists think.

  • http://www.andersonbooks.net/ David G Anderson

    Why don’t you just form your own company and pay as much as you want force others to do? Go for it!

  • Anonymous

    That is what made the American middle class – Laissez-faire government… No, taxes were much higher leading up to the “Great Generation”. You can’t have it both ways. So is the answer to reduce the tax on the rich completely so they can lavish their charity on the poor? I am not for “giving it all away” either, but you can’t expect to have a middle class if no one is making any money and the economy has changed and we need another solution.

  • jimbowski

    Love this guy! I learn from him! Hell, I love both guys! I learn from both of them!

  • Irate low paid worker

    …Companies have slowly raising prices now for years and I have not seen people’s wages go up. CEOs just wan to make sure that their wages and bonuses don’t take the hit for employee wage increases. I work for 2 companies that increased their prices over the years but my wage has not increased and also I have a boss that everyday threw in my face saying she gets bonus checks. She was a horrible manager she would cheat the customer play favorites with employees and disreguard legitimate complaints from employees and should ave been on probation if not fired but no the company promoted her this is what idiots with power do promote more idiots.I am a single father of three and have been mistreated for years from upper management but I’m stuck for now and can’t quit because I want to do what’s best for my children

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000594710381 Jack Jones

    Prices have continually gone up, without an increase in minimum wage. Really, wages have fallen be behind the price increases. The real issue is that businesses claim they must increase prices to compensate, but they have been doing it without wage increases. So why? Why would you increase prices, but not want to also increase wages? Greed, that’s why. Those in charge don’t want to crimp their lifestyles, but it is ok for them to crimp yours. Solution is, raise wages so more can buy and afford to buy. Increasing prices when consumer money is tight, is not going to get you more business. You are just charging more to those who can afford to buy. Or (corporate) taxing those who can buy to make up for the losses of those who can’t buy.

  • http://twitter.com/markcassello Mark Cassello

    I address aspects of this conversation in my Huffington Post piece. We need compensation beyond wages–profit sharing programs, employee stock options, tuition benefits, childcare and transportation credits, etc. Employees need to share in the success of their employers. Inflating wages get consumed in the inflationary economy. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-cassello/obamas-lip-service-to-the_b_2821554.html

  • chrisnfolsom

    This is one of the crazy aspects of this “new economy”. This “freedom” we have to change jobs and make it on our own means we have no pension, no increasing vacation time or sick time and no job security – all for the chance to mske it big when with all these emplyees fighting for the good job – undercut each other (and themselves) while shockingly executives get even more representation through headhunters and such to market themselves and make more.

    How many Billions have been released into company hands by not having to pay pensions, the millions of weeks of vacation, sick time and such that have been lost due to job hopping – not to mention the contract working scam. What we have is job outsourcing, H1b visas and businesses looking to make more money shuffling rescour es around then making good products st reasonable prices at a reasonable profit – how many executives actually touch their products – who cares?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000594710381 Jack Jones

    The welfare system as it is, benefits the haves, just as much as the have not-s. When a family gets welfare, they go to the grocery store, pay utilities, rent etc. Retailers gain from that spending. Welfare is also a government subsidizing for business, indirectly. If those have not-s didn’t have the welfare, they can’t spend. Put money into their hands and they will spend it at the retailer of their choice. Welfare benefits grocery stores, Wal-mart, family Dollar, Dollar General etc just as it does the recipient.

  • http://www.facebook.com/curtwelch Curt Welch

    Consumer prices don’t rise due to greed by the store owners. They rise due to money inflation by the government.

    Wages haven’t been dropping due to greed. They have been dropping due to automation. The more automated the work becomes, the fewer workers are needed in these low end jobs and the skill levels drop at the same time.

    We have a glut of low skill workers fighting over a shrinking job pool driving middle class wages down and a lack of high skill workers creating new automation and new businesses causing high end wages and corporate profits to soar.

    All of this adds up to growing wealth inequality in society. Rising minimum wage isn’t enough to fix this though it’s worth a try.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000594710381 Jack Jones

    Good point. Unemployed and under-paid people means less tax base. Corporations could solve this by stepping up to the plate rather than allow government intervention. They won’t, so government gets involved.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000594710381 Jack Jones

    It would be an unjust rise in prices because they have been raising prices without any increase in minimum wage. They would defeat the purpose of it and then complain they aren’t getting any business. Well, if you do that, you price yourself right out of business eventually.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000594710381 Jack Jones

    I too have witnessed the same sort of thing. Companies also do what they call cost reductions and quality engineering. What that means is that they find ways to build the product cheaper and still fall within warranty quality standards. usually it means the consumer pays the same price if not more, for less. Food manufacturers do it too. Pay close attention and you will see that the price may remain the same, but you get less or it will increase at the same time you get less. We are being fleeced!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000594710381 Jack Jones

    A P-38 works just fine. I kept mine when I was in the Army. I hear duct tape always worked for MacGyver

  • http://www.facebook.com/curtwelch Curt Welch

    The problem is much worse than just a question of minimum wage. Raising minimum wage won’t fix the real problem, though it’s worth doing anyway.

    The problem is automation and technology. Automation kills or makes trivial, the low end jobs, but creates opportunity at the high end. As we have been adding automation the work force needs to trade up to higher skill work. They must move from the assembly line, to becoming robotics engineers. Or they must learn to use the new technologies to start their own small high tech companies. The needed skills and education to stay well employed keeps creeping up as technology advances.

    We have reached a point in time where average people just can’t keep up with this skills creep anymore. We don’t have enough super smart people in society, to meet demand, and we have too many average people who are falling off the skill-creep bandwagon and finding themselves stuck at the bottom, competing in an over crowded market for the simple low wage jobs. This drives high end wages up, and middle class and low end wages down. Many average good hard working people, are finding it very difficult to find a good jobs.

    Over the past 30 years or so this effect has causes high end wages and corporate profits to soar, where as middle class and low end work has been stagnant or in decline.

    Raising minimum wage is not going to fix it. It’s a problem much larger than just minimum wage.

    In face of automation, raising minimum wage has another danger. It will motivate businesses to add even greater amounts of automation, and replace even more workers. When they can hire a human at $8/hr, then they won’t replace them until the machines cost less than $8 an hour. When if they have to pay people $20/hr, then they can justify buying far more expensive machines if it means they can cut back their work force by one or two people. It only accelerates the problem.

    Addressing education issues, helps, but in the end, even that is pointless, because more and more, if you don’t have an IQ of 150, then the high end jobs are just our of reach for half the population.

    We have a situation in society where the smartest people, are taking the jobs and wages away from the average people, by automation, and they are getting rich doing it. The average people are left with no ability to make a good living. This will never get better – it will only continue to get worse.

    The only long term solution, is to create a Basic Income Guarantee where everyone in society gets to share some of the wealth, created by the “smart” people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Russell-Spears/722541834 Russell Spears

    The only way to address the problem of what is essentially a need to support life time learning for all working people is to support a Free Online University. Another key problem that needs to be pointed out is Re-Education. I was asked to submit this question as a video last week. I hope it gets asked and Mr Wolff will take seriously this problem we both are pointing out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Russell-Spears/722541834 Russell Spears

    A focus on Minimum wage will only further affect families that currently qualify for help they need. I can bet the decision to raise minimum wage will come down to this simple factor. How much do they raise minimum wage to recover welfare benefits. The real thing to do is to begin a conversation on removing all these safely nets and clearly defining a Livable Wage as a protected human Right.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Russell-Spears/722541834 Russell Spears

    For the most part a government that supports Worker Directed Enterprises and provides a Free Online University will solve many of your concerns.

  • chrisnfolsom

    Theives perhaps, but the populace has the means to try and correct this – if they understood or cared, but feed us with sugar and entertainment which fattrns the body and dims the wit and we wont do a damn thing until its too late.

  • chrisnfolsom

    Are we really basing this on innate human intelligence? Education is the issue – a large percentage of us are undereducated, and education is just getting more expensive – those without education are not that way because they are not capable…. they just were not educated early – they are a product of our society that penalized a child for their parents issues, or their “village”. America was successful because we allowed people to rise to the level they could get to – it was “what do you do” not “who are you – what family do you come from” as in the rest of the world (and most of its history). Now with barriers in education and with Jobs getting impossible to keep and succeed/grow in its has excluded another 20-40 percent of the population from making a life for for themselves and their families. Remember though it was not planning that got us the large middle class it was a large amount of factors that led to too much work and not enough employees through the 50′s – 70′s for even the most basic jobs (manufacturing workers ) – not anymore…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Russell-Spears/722541834 Russell Spears

    You can’t because of the market pressure to keep wages low. We have to address the problems of low wages, prison labor and outright slavery throughout the markets we have trade agreements. In short the market reflect economic slavery and that has to changed. By supporting Worker Directed Enterprises we save money on all the layer of supervision and bosses. There is where workers can begin to save money!

  • http://www.facebook.com/iam.you.uri Iam You

    While I mostly agree, it is also important to consider that bringing production to our region will also invite all the environmental factors that are attributed with rampant production. As we are all too familiar with China’s case.

  • Skyking

    The minimum wage is not meant to be a livable wage. It is an entry level wage which allows a young person to be able to gain working skills and learn to be a reliable worker, so the have experience to move on to a better paying livable wage job. Raising the minimum wage too far will cut out these young people from gaining valuable work experience, because employers such as McDonalds and Papa John’s will no longer be competitive and will close down.

  • Anonymous

    uptil I saw the draft that said $9191, I have faith …that…my friends brother could realy bringing home money parttime from their computer.. there great aunt has done this for under 17 months and by now paid for the loans on there mini mansion and got a gorgeous Acura. go to, jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  • http://www.facebook.com/Adamiscoolerthanyou Adam Knapp

    If their business model is so unsustainable that they can’t support operations without substandard wages for their employees while also cutting costs on their food, then good riddance.

  • Anonymous

    If you look now though we as a nation are not really supporting education in that it getting more and more expensive. Also, we are allowing more and easier to get loans – it reminds me of the old days (although common still in other countries) where you created indentured servants by charging them for the essentials of life at exorbitant rates they could never pay back for the “right” to work.

  • DrLearnALot

    Your McDonald’s or Papa John’s might close down, or they might get more customers, because more people could afford to eat there.

  • DrLearnALot

    The problem is that all the benefits of increased “productivity” have gone to those at the top. “Productivity” is a code word for fewer people working harder for less and more people going hungry. If everyone was benefiting, it would mean a comfortable living for one-paycheck families and more family/leisure/mental health time for average workers.

  • Russell Spears

    But this is why we need a Free Online University for all… they cost between 40 to 80 million to build and in the case of Khanacademy.org this guy just replaced the full math curriculum in a few states and it was just him and a computer.

    We spend upward of $940 billion each year for education in our country. But spending one thousandth of that amount to secure education for all for a full lifetime is not on the board.

    And worst, it is a conversation Mr Wolff, Bill Moyers, PBS and every other person in the media is unwilling to raise..

  • Russell Spears

    This is why we need a Free Online University for all… they cost between 40 to 80 million to build and in the case of Khanacademy.org (Khan produced video instruction that successfully replaced the full math curriculum in a few states and it was just him and a computer) Today we spend upward of $940 billion each year for education in our country. But spending 1/1000th of that amount can secure education for all for a full lifetime: Why is this not on the board.

    And worst, this is a conversation Mr Wolff, Bill Moyers, PBS and every other person in the media is unwilling to raise. By not raising this as a viable alternative for the working poor who do not have the money or the time to attend regular universities, we are effectively shutting out our working people from the jobs of the future.

  • Russell Spears

    WOW….. I can only imagine the loss of valuable work experience when Papa Johns shuts down. This has to be a national issue, we have to raise the alarm!!!!

    Good thing we have college graduates and retired people running things at these jobs now.

  • Cary Costner

    What if the real truth was that we have finally reached the Malthusian natural limits to real growth while our population continues to grow exponentially, especially among the most poor amongst us? All the paper wealth has gone to the top because there really is not enough oil, water and productive land to give everyone a comfortable standard of living. The Powers That Be might be holding off on pay raises for the masses because there is not enough real stuff left for them to buy. We just don’t have enough water and material to build larger new homes for everyone. Grim reality, but we have seen this coming for quite some time.

  • Anonymous

    There’s no such thing as increasing a wage by government fiat. If you change a $5 job to a $7 job, you simply destroy one job and replace it (maybe) with a completely different one. In this new job, the employer will not hire the same sort of employee with the same education level. At the higher price, he can get someone he likes better: better educated, more experienced, or perhaps, of a skin color he likes better, or someone who knows his cousin. There are no grocery sackers in France. Period. If the restrictions are egregious enough, you end up with an apartheid economy, where one group of people gets and holds on to the sweet jobs with the artificially high salaries (kind of like people hold on to rent-controlled apartments in NY), and another group remains terminally unemployed, which is why the French have had 10% unemployment for decades while we call 10% unemployment “The Great Recession”. This, btw, is also the real reason why dark-skinned arabs in the Parisian suburb remain unemployed for years and years and occasionally riot burning cars in the streets.

  • Anonymous

    You were doing quite well until you said this: “This, btw, is also the real reason why dark-skinned arabs in the Parisian suburb remain unemployed for years and years and occasionally riot burning cars in the streets.”

  • Anonymous

    Why is that? Do you doubt that chronic, structural unemployment among immigrant groups in the banlieu’s of Paris was a key motivation behind the riots?

  • Anonymous

    Not only this, but global economics has had and accelerating factor as jobs that used to take skill now don’t, and can be outsourced using less skill and thus lower cost labor – our politics. Now on the flip side to stop efficiency or technological progress to stop this process is also wrong, and to not let any of the profits go to the top would also be wrong, but what “profits” are enough, and with other countries willing to not “tax” profits you are trapped as you will loose business if you limit the profits…. there has to be a happy balance, but unless you can create worldwide agreements and limits I don’t see how you can enforce taxes and profiteering when the different countries of the world are willing to undercut each other and companies are able to do international business – this is evident all over the world.

  • Anonymous

    I am all for making education available, although if everyone is educated (theoretically) then what will differentiate us all? Education is not a panacea – you have to have good interpersonal skills, work ethic and experience we already see a flood of students who cannot get good work and I think we are hitting limits in America.

    The real power of an economy is bringing in money from other markets. We can only sell enough to each other – we really need to provide products and services to other countries which we have problems with as Americans are behind in language and we are quite insular in our knowledge of other countries – which is a great reason to bring immigrants here…

  • Anonymous

    I agree although part of this is adjusting to the world economy – someone in many other countries may make 30% of what you do – although generally it is also cheaper to live in that country. If you believe this is true then you/we need to push this through our political structure, talk about it and make some changes – there are solutions, but we can only do it by working together – everyone is scared, and if we all just complain and are disorganized then those in control who are organized – CEO’s and “the rich” will keep doing what they have been doing. Again, I have NO problems with people making and keeping money, but the recent changes in profits between rich/poor are a pretty sad situation and soon we will start to see 3rd world problems coming back here as we already have with ER’s moving out of many impoverished communities and HS graduations below 50% for some demographics – nothing to be proud of, and the trends are in the wrong direction.

  • Anonymous

    These are issues as many here say that “The Rich” are making more and average Americans are making less – well, average Americans were making obscene amounts of money for what they were (are) doing compared to the rest of the world. I am sure most people can understand that and yet most of us didn’t care very much – we did spend billions on other countries trying to help, but we all know that giving money to a country with no infrastructure, rule of law, democracy, or many of the other things we take for grated just makes a few rich elites and a large majority of disenfranchised – as in any poor country “rich” in oil is now – Nigeria for example, or even China as the “trickle down” there is not getting better.

    Again, the ONLY thing that brings up wages for those at the bottom is a lack or alternative labor sources (the US in the 40′s-70′s), skills (diminished by technology), or some form of socialism.

  • Anonymous

    The ONLY thing that brings up wages for those at
    the bottom is a lack or alternative labor sources (the US in the 40′s-70′s), skills (diminished dramatically by technology today) or some form of socialism. So let’s start talking and figure something out….IF this discussion could be a prime time show that would be incredible.

  • Russell Spears

    What will distinguish people will be their commitment to their education and skill set, not the money their parents have in their pockets.

    The social skills argument is a poor construction as an issue, we are all very well socialized. I am not looking to replace current education, I only wish that the well motivated working poor have access to accredited degrees without loosing their future financial security.

  • Russell Spears

    The real power of an economy is the worker who creates the real wealth. I put my hat in with Alternate currency and new democratic markets rooted in the concerns of the working poor and Worker owned and directed businesses (Co Ops).

  • Anonymous

    Well, socialization has many aspects – especially in innovation as if you are not able to assemble the people together to make something work – it won’t happen, if you are not able to inspire (by many means) you will not get them to work. Education is important as a way of life – this forum here is educating – much more than a classroom at times. I have an issue with education in that when you only use education as a litmus test you loose the opportunity to work with outstanding people who have not “played the game”. There are many instances of people rising above their education and experience to make things move – a limiting factor of many other economies is that they rely on education and “rank” and people will prop themselves on it which can stifle a business.

  • Anonymous

    Remember the old “deal” that if you worked hard – for your company – things would work out – THAT has changed as we are now all free agents, and it amazes me that a CEO/CFO get’s representation from headhunters and lawyers – a person who is much more capable to negotiate his job offer/contract, yet when they hire people down the rungs on the ladder they expect them to represent themselves – and those people have much less knowledge of negotiation, contracts, their job and such – seems more about taking advantage of people more that creating a fair equitable working arrangement.

  • Anonymous

    Few will be CEO’s from Khanacademy – there is still an educational elite who are not creating, but purchasing, hedging and manipulating technology, patents and such – rather that spending the time and effort n R&D to create from within – the great companies of the past come out with new products, spent more on R&D, hired from within. Few of the great products of the passed came from a board room and if you don’t work in the core technologies you won’t have the chance for something new to happen. It seems more companies are worried about brand and advertising then creating the nuts and bolts of products – there are fewer people in America who can actually build products now anyway as when you ship production elsewhere you eventually loose the ability to build it – hopefully the tides will switch and things will come back to US, but we have lost so much in this radical experiment in off-shoring so much so quickly. – not even a generation – I digress….

  • Russell Spears

    Well I expected more opposing views here, good thing we agree on many points you make here. However, all of these points you make are supportive of a new economic system and are useful as a critique of the current capitalists system:

    First motivating people to do collective work efforts: Capitalists spend a vast amount of money and waste resources on supervisors and management positions, precisely because the workers have no motivation to work harder. In a new economy based on worker ownership and collective decision making the motivation to earn and be more productive comes down to the same people’s interests.

    Education is a way of life and people that feel the need to attend expensive brick and mortar schools are wasting their productive lives chasing that paper diploma. But access to jobs are still based on the diploma and the educational monopoly is using that to charge a premium. A free Online University can break this Education Monopoly and free the working poor to pursue what ever goals they may have.

  • Anonymous

    I agree, and as the world has changed so will many or our systems/institutions.

    Regarding Capitalism – it is changing and is worth many other long heated discussions – which I again wish were more important to most Americans than the latest celebrity reality show…

    Regarding education I agree online needs to be expanded, but I also think (and have witnessed growing up in the Bay Area) that the brick and mortar institutions are one of the saving graces of our economy and Nation and without Stanford and Berkley, specifically, there would be no Silicon Valley, much fewer immigrants who are the relatively unsung heroes of the American economy. We need both, and if just some of the money that the Schools generate was able to go back to the schools – not just targeted at specific grants, but to general support of the schools then our schools would have fewer problems funding themselves – although belt tightening is very important too.

    This of course could be funded in many ways – a 2% corporate tax directly to school budgets. Corporations have been screaming for years about the labor pool, but as they don’t like to invest in their employees as much as they used to, and they are paying so little tax. Perhaps a more graduated Corporate Tax? Anyway we need more funding for schools as a bottom line, and we need to get the most brilliant minds we have spending more money on science and teaching and less on funding.

  • Russell Spears

    We already spend 940 Billion each year-more money is not needed. Most every university has built their online programs at 40 to 80 million. Half of any degree can be completely replaced with distance learning classes.

    The government can build a Free Online University for all people available throughout one’s lifetime and make them work through community colleges for skills testing and lab work.

    Again corporatist do not have an interest in the welfare or education of their employees given the pool of workers they have to choose from today. Worker Owners can offer an inherent self-interest in educating themselves for more productive means. We have to look beyond capitalism…

  • Anonymous

    c’mon Moyers, “who decided that workers at the bottom should fall behind?” entry level jobs are just that, your entitlement mentality is the PROBLEM with you lib news folks, sucking up to your audience, no care for economic realities. do broadcasting schools teach anything more than makeup and voice lessons? pls get a clue

  • Anonymous

    and btw, opportunist “economists” like wolff need you libs to sell their BS books. pls try to get dr wolff to ‘splain how well his socialist economic ideals have worked in practice i.e., look at Europe right now, plenty of examples of FAILURE. follow the MONEY, this guy’s a FRAUD

  • Anonymous

    Again, we agree on many points, although I still think that brick and mortar schools are way to important – wasteful or not (all creativity wastes) an engine and should be one of the things we make sure to keep as they attract foreign workers, keep us at the top technologically, and way too many businesses rely on them for basic research.

    Now, online schools are great for many things, but I still think that interaction is vitally important to a complete education and has to be right up there with the three “R’s”. Not saying online is not great, and is obviously the way to go for new technologies – I enjoy lynda.com quite a bit. Having tiered education system that creates a lower caste of educated workers while enabling for some creates a limit for others – we should find ways to bridge the two worlds.

    Reg Capitalism – there has never been pure capitalism as we are a social beast by definition and take the social outcomes of decisions into account continually. The “good old boys” network, or passing companies to family or friends – social constructs not always in the best interest of the company – no matter what they say. At least with computers “the masses’ hopefully have a chance to see some of these things and might have a chair at the table and hopefully be part of the solution – perhaps.

  • Russell Spears

    England has had Open University for years now and many in that country consider that a better education given the fact that students must directly engage the material and adopt the vastly important skills involved with self-learning. Traditional schooling as failed to adapt to the needs of the modern student. Any institution that is absorbing almost one trillion in taxpayer wealth needs to be considered well and while everyone is looking to make traditional schools better, they should at minimum be willing to support an effort that can, at least for now, enable everyone lifetime access to accredited degrees-especially if the costs is 1/10000 what we currently spend to educate a few.

    Our current educational monopoly is the very basis of our class system in America: it excludes many more than it includes to education and places artificial and financial limits on the working class.

  • Anonymous

    If you build it off shore, but the creativity is home, soon the creativity moves off shore as well.

  • Anonymous

    Productivity has increased, but not wages, so it is just more profit for the top.

  • Anonymous

    I would imagine that worker would no longer have that defeated underdog look, so this might just increase sales.

  • Anonymous

    Look at WalMart and the Waltons at the top making billions in yearly profits. They pay their workers so poorly that they sign up their new hires for food stamps at orientation. That only puts the burden of the difference between minimum wage and living wage on the taxpayer.
    That leaves two choices to remedy the problem. First charge WalMart back for the food stamps, or better yet, just raise the minimum wage.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, although the problem is that most “business” does not create, it manages, and many times that management is not based on an understanding of the whole process needed to actually create – you can’t always buy your next profitable widget… A friend of mine was in a meeting with some exec’s and they thought moving things over seas was great – all upside, money and they don’t have to manage all those employees and payroll and stuff – just profit….and they were business geniuses because they could take advantage of a labor cost advantage…

    But can they create new products and services from scratch from conception to delivery to profit? I guess that isn’t important if you can turn a quick buck and leave for the next opportunity…

  • Dragantraces

    Really?
    Where does the law state that it is meant for entry level workers? And how does that square with people who have been with a company for many years with no increase in pay except that mandated by minimum wage increases? Where does the law say that minimum wage intended for positions which exist to teach you how to be employed?

    This is a ill-informed, poorly thought out, specious, and all too commonly invoked argument that has no basis in the reality of either the intent of minimum wage law nor of the reality of the lives of minimum wage workers.

    Raising minimum wage can in large part be done without the mythical duo-spectres of job loss and sky-rocketing prices. Neither of those things are necessarily concomitant with increased wages and have yet to happen with an increase in mandated minimum wages.

    If prices soar, look to the idea that the folks who have chosen to gamble their money demand not simply a share of the profits but a percentage of the earnings. Raise the prices exclusively for increased wages and the price rise in minimal. A small number of jobs may be lost, but they are replaced by more, better paying jobs created when more people have more money to spend.

    Damn, I’m tired of the Old Regressive Blues.

  • Anonymous

    I like to look at anything as a system, or function – now if raising the minimum wage $1 will ruin the ability to businesses to employ people, why not lower it $1? Is it perfect? Is there evidence that raising it 25 cents would be different?

    If you can’t say lowering the minimum wage would increase employees and business health then you can’t say increasing it would take away jobs, and to assume that the current amount is the “perfect” balance is also ridiculous.

    Also, the supposed median age is 28 for minimum wage earners – no one 28 is working “for extra money” they are working to pay rent, and hopefully a family.

    We haven’t even gotten to the way businesses are increasing their profits by employing more workers on split shifts and “on demand” to get rid of all those extra dollars spent when employees are not needed – of course this limits the hours employees work, and also stops many from working a second job as they are on demand and cannot refuse shifts or they will be fired. So it’s not just the money, but how employees are being used.

  • msironic

    “Education is the issue – a large percentage of us are undereducated”. Agreed-but the key is not JUST being educated, but being educated toward the goal of being employable. How many college educated ppl do you know that are underemployed? Plenty never use their degree at all, and it’s because of the mismatch of education with the skill sets needed to get a good job today, much less tomorrow.! I’m sorry, but equating the problems (which I feel is largely caused by automation and off-shoring) leading to no growth in your profession and stagnant wages with a person’s IQ is insulting in the extreme.

  • Anonymous

    You are correct – you need the jobs. Unfortunately we are so efficient we don’t need nearly as many people anymore and we have priced ourselves out of the manufacturing market…unless we get socialistic and protect them.

    I would even add that things are worse in that millions of the jobs we have today could be replaced through efficiency – many of the middle income jobs, management, support and such that are buffered by large corporations and governments – although they are trying….

    For instance we have millions of people involved in processing taxes – in business and government – that really are dealing with a problem that we created and if we streamlined the tax system they would be out of a job….. to me one of the largest wastes of employment in the U.S., besides perhaps the prison industry.