BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company…

RICHARD WOLFF: Our system capitalism, which we finally have to debate now that it’s so dysfunctional. Our system isn’t working. It isn’t producing for the mass of people. And an economic system that is only as acceptable or should be as it’s performance.


SARU JAYARAMAN: It’s an incredible irony that the people that who put food on our tables use food stamps at twice the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce. Meaning that the people who put food on our tables can’t afford to put food on their own family’s tables,

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BILL MOYERS: Welcome. There’s hardly a sentient grown-up in this country who isn’t aware that our economy is no longer working for vast numbers of everyday people. The rich and powerful have more wealth and power than ever; everyone else keeps losing ground. Between 2009 and 2011 alone, income fell for the 99 percent, while it rose eleven percent for the top One Percent. Since the worst of the financial crisis, that top One Percent has captured the increases in income while the rest of the country has floundered. Stunning, isn’t it? The behavior of many of those One Percenters brought on the financial crisis in the first place. We turned around and rescued them, and now their wealth is skyrocketing once again. At the bottom, working people are practically flat on their back. President Obama has finally recognized they need help. In his State of the Union, he proposed an increase in the minimum wage:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to nine dollars an hour.

BILL MOYERS: But as the economist Dean Baker points out this week, “If the minimum wage had risen in step with productivity growth it would be over $16.50 an hour today.” We talk a lot about what’s happening to the middle class, but the American Dream’s really become a nightmare for the poor. Just about everyone has an opinion about the trouble we’re in – the blame game is at fever pitch in Washington, where obstinate Republicans and hapless Democrats once again play kick-the-can with the problems we face. You wish they would just stop and listen to Richard Wolff.

An attentive and systematic observer of capitalism and democracy, he taught economics for 25 years at the University of Massachusetts and has published books such as “Democracy at Work,” “Occupy the Economy,” and “Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do about It.” He’s now visiting professor at The New School University here in New York City where he’s teaching a special course on the financial crash. Welcome, Richard Wolff.

RICHARD WOLFF: Thank you, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: Last night, I watched for the second time the popular lecture that is on this DVD, “Capitalism Hits the Fan.” Tell us why you say capitalism has hit the fan?

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, the classic defense of capitalism as a system from much of its history has been, okay, it has this or that flaw. But it quote, unquote, "delivers the goods.'"

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, for most everybody.


BILL MOYERS: That was the argument.

RICHARD WOLFF: And so you may not get the most, but it'll trickle down to you, all the different ways—

BILL MOYERS: The yachts will rise.

RICHARD WOLFF: That's right. The ocean will lift all the boats. The reality is that for at least 30 years now, that isn't true. For the majority of people, capitalism is not delivering the goods. It is delivering, arguably, the bads. And so we have this disparity getting wider and wider between those for whom capitalism continues to deliver the goods by all means, but a growing majority in this society which isn't getting the benefit, is in fact, facing harder and harder times. And that's what provokes some of us to begin to say, "It's a systemic problem."

BILL MOYERS: So we put together some recent headlines. The merger of American and US Airlines, giving us only four major airlines and less competition. Comcast buying NBC Universal, also reducing competition. The very wealthy getting a trivial increase in taxes while the payroll tax of working people will go from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent. Colossal salaries escalating again, many subsidized by tax breaks and loopholes. The postal service ending service on Saturday. What's the picture you get from that montage of headlines?

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, for me it is captured by the European word "austerity." We're basically saying that even though the widening gap between rich and poor built us up, many of the factors that plunged us into a crisis, instead of dealing with them and fixing that problem, we're actually allowing the crisis to make the inequality worse.

The latest research from the leading two economists, Saez from the University of California in Berkeley, and Piketty in France confirms that even over the last five years of the crisis, through 2012, the inequality of wealth and income has gotten worse, as though we are determined not to deal with it. All of those headlines you talked about are more of that.

I mean, the astonishing capacity to make it harder for people to have a delivery of their mail on Saturday, to save what is in a larger picture, a trivial amount of money, but that will really impact-- thousands of people will lose their jobs, everyone will lose a service that is important, particularly in smaller places around the United States that are not served by anything comparable to the Post Office.

And then as you pointed out, and I have to say a word about it, this amazing display in which we raise the top income tax on the richest people from 35 percent to 39.6 percent only for those over $450,000 a year, while for the 150 million Americans who get a weekly or a monthly check, their payroll tax went up a whopping 48 percent from 4.2 to-- this is so grotesque an inequality that you're watching a process that is sort of spinning out of control in which those at the top have no limits, don't recognize any constraint on how far they can take it.

BILL MOYERS: If workers at the bottom get the increase in the minimum wage that President Obama proposed in his State of the Union message, they will still be faring less well than their counterparts did 50 years ago.

RICHARD WOLFF: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: What does that say to you?

RICHARD WOLFF: The peak for the minimum wage in terms of its real purchasing power was 1968. It's been basically declining with a couple of ups and downs ever since. So that if you adjust for the current price, the minimum wage was about $10.50 roughly, back in 1968 in terms of what it could buy.

And it's $7.25 today in terms of what it can buy. So 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. What kind of a society does this? And then the arguments have come out, which are in my profession, a major staple for many careers, are arguments that, "Gee, if you raise the minimum wage, a few people who might've otherwise gotten a job won't get it because the employer doesn't want to pay the higher wage."

Well, if that logic is really going to play in your mind, then you should keep lowering the wage. Because if you only made it four dollars an hour, just think how many more people could get a job. But a job under conditions that make life impossible.

BILL MOYERS: Who decided that workers at the bottom should fall behind?

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, in the end, it's the society of the whole that tolerates it. But it was Congress's decision and Congress's power to raise the minimum wage, as has happened from time to time.

Even this time, not to be too critical of our president, but when he was running for office, he proposed a $9.50 minimum wage. Here we are in the beginning of his second term, and something has happened to make him only propose a nine dollar minimum wage. So even he is scaling down, perhaps for political reasons, what he thinks he can accomplish. When, if we just wanted to get it back to what it was in 1968, it would have to be $10 or $11 an hour.

BILL MOYERS: Many economists say, "We just can't do that because it would be devastating."

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, the truth of the matter is that there's an immense economics literature, I'm a professional economics person, so I've read it. And the literature goes like this. On the one hand, there may be some jobs that are lost because an employer having to pay a higher minimum wage, will not hire people or will hire fewer. That will happen in some cases. But against that, you have to weigh something else. If the 15 million, that's the estimate of the White House, the 15 million American workers whose wages will go up if we raise the minimum wage, we have to count also, the question, those people will now have a higher income.

They will spend more money. And when they spend more money on goods and services, that will create jobs for people to produce those goods and services. In order to understand the effect of raising the minimum wage, you can't only look at what will be done by some employers in the face of a higher wage in lowering the employment. You have to look at all the other effects.

And when economists have done that, economist from a wide range of political perspectives, you know what they end up with? There's not much effect. In other words, the two things net each other out and so there isn't much of a change in the employment situation overall. To which my response is, "Okay, let's assume that's correct. At the very least though, we have transformed the lives of 15 million American working people and their families from one of impossible to get most of what America offers, to a situation where at least you're closer to a decent minimum life."

BILL MOYERS: Are you suggesting then that there is no economic reason why those at the bottom should not share in the gains of economic growth?

RICHARD WOLFF: Absolutely. There is no economic reason. And in fact, I would go further. We know, for example, that the lower the income of a family, the more likely it is to cut corners on the education of their children because they don't have the resources. So here's an unmeasurable question about the minimum wage.

How many young people who are born into a minimum wage family, that is it's so low as we have it today, will never get the kind of educational opportunities, the kinds of educational supports, to be able to realize their own capabilities and to contribute to our society? That alone is a reason, whether you think of it in terms of the long-term benefit of the country, or you just approach it as a moral question or an ethical question. By what right do you condemn a whole generation of young people to be born into families whose financial circumstances make so much of what they need to become real citizens impossible?

BILL MOYERS: You remind me of something that President Obama said in his second inaugural address.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We are true to our creed when a little girl born in the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American. She is free and she is equal. Not just in the eyes of God, but also in our own.

BILL MOYERS: That's eloquent, but hardly true.

RICHARD WOLFF: That's right. And it's painful for some of us to hear that, because it is so obviously untrue. It is so obviously contradicted by the realities, not just of those who work at the minimum wage, but all of those who work at or even at 50% above what we call the poverty level. Because when you look at what families like that can actually afford, they have to deny huge parts of the American dream to their children and to themselves as a necessary consequence of where they are put.

And I don't need to be an economist to put it as starkly as I know how. We can read every day that in the major cities of the United States, apartments are changing hands for $10 million, $20 million, $30 million, $40 million. People have enormous yachts that they cruise -- we all see it. We all know it. We even celebrate it as a nation. How does that square with millions of people in a position where they can't provide even the most basic services and opportunities?

We don't have equality of opportunity. Because there is no shortcut. If you want equality of opportunity, you're going to have to create equality of income and wealth much closer to a genuine equality than anything-- we're going in the other direction. And so I agree with you. It's stark if our president talks about something so divergent from the reality.

BILL MOYERS: When study after study has exposed the myth that this is a land of opportunity, how does the myth keep getting perpetuated?

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, my wife is a psychotherapist. And so I ask her that question often. And here's what she says to me. Often, people cling all the harder to an idea precisely because the reality is so different and becoming more different. In other words, I would answer the myth of equal opportunity is more attractive, more beautiful, more something people want to hold on, the more they know it's slipping away. And they would like to believe that this president or any president who says it, might somehow bring it back.

BILL MOYERS: When you say that there's no economic argument that people should be kept at the-- should not share in the gains of economic growth, the response is, "Well, that's what the market bears.”

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, you know, in the history of economics, which is my profession, it's a standard play on words. Instead of talking about how the economy is shaped by the actions of consumers in one way, workers in another way, corporate executives in another way, we abstract from all of that and we create a myth or a mystique. It's called the market.

That way you're absolving everybody from responsibility. It isn't that you're doing this, making that decision in this way, it's rather this thing called the market that makes things happen. Well, every corporate executive I know, knows that half of his or her job is to tweak, manipulate, shift, and change the market.

No corporate executive takes the market as given. That may happen in the classroom, but not in the world of real business. That's what advertising is. You try to create the demand, if there isn't enough of it to make money without doing that. You change everything you can. So the reference to a market, I think, is an evasion.

It's an attempt to make abstract the real workings of the economy so nobody can question what this one or that one is doing. But let me take it another way. To say that it's the market is another way of saying, "It's our economic system that works that way." That is a very dangerous defense move to take.


RICHARD WOLFF: Because it plays into the hands of those like me who are critical of the system. If indeed it isn't this one or that one, it isn't this company's strategy or that product's maneuver, but it is the market, the totality of the system, that is producing unconscionable results, multi-million-dollar apartments next door to abject poverty, then you're saying that the system is at fault for these results.

I agree with that. But I'm not sure that those who push this notion of "the market makes it happen," have thought through where the logic of that defense makes them very vulnerable to a much more profound critique than they will be comfortable with.

BILL MOYERS: You graduated from Harvard.


BILL MOYERS: Then Stanford.




BILL MOYERS: Was this the economy you were taught at those three elite institutions to celebrate?

RICHARD WOLFF: No. No, this is the economy that I came to understand is the reality. For me, and I learn things at all those institutions, it's not that. I came to understand that in America, economics is a split, almost a schizophrenic kind of pursuit. And let me explain. On the one hand, there are the departments of economics in colleges and universities across America.

But side by side with them is an entire other establishment that also teaches economics. You don't have that in other disciplines. There aren't two history departments or two anthropology departments, or two philo-- so what is this? I looked into this. It's because there are two separate functions performed by the economics departments and then by the other ones.

And the other ones are called business schools and business departments. In fact, in most universities, in all those I've been at, the economics department is in one set of buildings, and across the campus in another is the business school. And there's actually tension in the university about who teaches the basic courses to students that they're required to take and so on.

Here's what I discovered. The job of economics, to be blunt but honest, is to rationalize, justify, and celebrate the system. To develop abstract theories of how economics works to make it all like it's a stable, equilibrium that meets people's needs in an optimal way. These kinds of words are used. But that's useless to people who want to learn how to run a business, because it's a fantasy.

So they are shunted someplace else. If you want to learn about marketing, or promotion, or advertising, or administration, or personnel, go over there. Those people teach you how the economy actually works and how you'll have to make decisions if you're going to run a business. Over there, you learn about how beautiful it all is when you think abstractly about its basic principles.

BILL MOYERS: The invisible hand.


BILL MOYERS: The market.

RICHARD WOLFF: All of that. So for me, I began to realize, "Okay, I'm an economist. I'm in that one. But I want to understand how the real economy works." And then I discovered that I needed to reeducate myself. I had to go learn things that I was never assigned to read.

BILL MOYERS: After Harvard? After Stanford? And after Yale?

RICHARD WOLFF: It actually happened while I was there. I was already, there were a few people--

BILL MOYERS: --as heretics.

RICHARD WOLFF: Yes, they do.


RICHARD WOLFF: You know, but you know, capitalism-- I like to say to people, capitalism, like all systems, when it comes into being, is born a few hundred years ago in Europe and spreads around the world, like other systems before it. It has always produced those who admire and celebrate it and those who are critical of it.

I used to say to my students, "If you want to understand the family who lives down the street, suppose there's mama, papa, two children. And one of the children thinks it's the greatest family there ever was, and the other one is quite critical. If you want to understand the family, do you choose only one child to interview, or do you think it might be wise to interview both of them?"

For me, I began to interview the critics of capitalism, because I thought, "Let's see what they have to say." And that for me opened an immense door of critical insights that I found invaluable. And I've never forgiven my teachers for not having exposed me to that.

BILL MOYERS: But so few have done that. As you know, as you've written, as you have said, we've not had much of a debate in this country for, I don't know, since the Great Depression over the nature of the system, the endemic crisis of capitalism that is built into the system. We have simply not had that kind of debate. Why do you think that is?

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, I think we have had it from time to time. We have had some of the greatest economists in the tradition, for example, Thorstein Veblen, at the beginning of the 20th century, a great American economist, very critical of the system. Someone who taught me, Paul Sweezy, another Harvard graduate. These are people who have been around and at various times in our history, the beginning of the 20th century, during the 1930’s, again in the 1960’s, there was intense debate.

There has been that kind of thing in our history. I mean, we as Americans, after all, we take a certain pride, which I think is justified, we criticize our school system. We just spent two years criticizing our health delivery system in this country. We criticize our energy system, our transportation system.

And we want to believe, and I think it's true, that to criticize this system, to have an honest debate, exposes flaws, makes it possible to repair or improve them, and then our society benefits. But then how do you explain, and that's your question, that we don't do that for our economic system?

For 50 years, when capitalism is raised, you have two allowable responses: celebration, cheerleading. Okay, that's very nice. But that means you have freed that system from all criticism, from all real debate. It can indulge its worst tendencies without fear of exposure and attack. Because when you begin to criticize capitalism, you're either told that you're ignorant and don't understand things, or with more dark implications, you're somehow disloyal. You're somehow a person who doesn't like America or something.

BILL MOYERS: That emerged, as you know, in the Cold War. That emerged when to criticize the American system was to play into the hands of the enemies of America, the Communists. And so it became disreputable and treasonous to do what you're doing today.

RICHARD WOLFF: And for my colleagues, it became dangerous to your career. If you went in that direction, you would cut off your chances of getting a university position or being promoted and getting your works published in journals and books, the things that academics need to do for their jobs. So yes, it was shut down and shut off. And I think we're living the results. You know, if I were--

BILL MOYERS: Of the silence? Of--

RICHARD WOLFF: Yes. Of the lack of debate. We're living in an economic system that isn't working. So I guess I'm a little bit like one of those folks in the 12-step programs. Before you can solve a problem, you have to admit you got one. And before we're going to fix an economic system that's working this way, and producing such tensions and inequalities and strains on our community, we have to face the real scope of the problem we have. And that's with the system as a whole and at the very least, we have to open up a national debate about it. And at the most, I think we have to think long and hard about alternative systems that might work better for us.

BILL MOYERS: I was intrigued to hear you say elsewhere that this is not just about evil and greed. And yet you went on to say capitalists and the rich are determined not to bear the costs of the recent bailouts or the crisis itself. You even go so far as to suggest, as to question their patriotism, and that they may not have the country's interest at heart. If that's not greed, what is it?

RICHARD WOLFF: Oh, I think it isn't greed. It's-- and let me explain why. Yes, I'm critical of corporations and the rich because they do call the shots in our society, and so that brings on them a certain amount of criticism, even though they don't like it. So I will do that. But beyond that, let me absolve them in the following way. Bankers do what this system goads them to do.

If you talk to a banker, he or she will explain to you, "These are the things that will advance the interests of my bank. These are the problems I have to overcome. And that's what I try to do." And my understanding, and I've looked at this in great de-- is that-- that's correct. They're not telling a story. They're doing. They're following the rules. They do the things that advance their interests and they avoid the things that would damage their interests.

That's what they're hired to do as executives or as leaders of their institutions. And that's what they do to the best of their ability. So for example, I'm not enthused about arresting these people or punishing them in this or that way. And the reason is simple, if we get, I won't mention any names, but we get some banker and we haul him up in front of a court, and we find out he's done some things that are not good.

And we substitute the next one. He gets arrested though, he gets fined, he gets removed. The next one is subject to the same rewards and punishments. The same inducements. The same conditions. If we don't change the system, we're not going to change the behavior of the people in it. So in a sense, I do absolve them even when they are greedy, because they're doing what this system tells them to do. And if we don't change the system, substituting a new crop will not solve our problem.

BILL MOYERS: You're also not enthused about regulation, which is what so many liberals and others are calling for now. Is there some parallel reason for that?

RICHARD WOLFF: Yes. I find it astonishing to hear folks talk about regulation. We regulated after every one of our great panics in the 19th century. By the way, in those years, we were more honest. We didn't refer to a "Great Recession." We used much more colorful language, "The panic of 1857." I mean, that describes what people felt. Anyway, after every one of our panics, crises, recessions, depressions, we have regulated. And the regulations were always defended, first by lower-level officials and eventually by the president and the highest authorities, usually on two grounds. "With this regulation, not only will we get out of the crisis we're in, but," and there was a pregnant pause, "we will prevent a recurrence of this terrible economic dilemma." It never worked. The regulations never delivered on that promise. We're in a terrible crisis now. So all the previous promises about all the previous regulations didn't work. And they didn't work for two reasons.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, why?

RICHARD WOLFF: Either the regulations that were passed were then undone, or they were evaded. And that's the history of every regulation. During the Great Depression, it was decided, as it has happened again now, that banks behaved in an unfortunate way that contributed to the crisis.

So in the Great Depression, a bill was passed, a regulation called the Glass-Steagall Act, 1933 Banking Act, which basically said, "There has to be two kinds of banks, the banks that takes deposits cannot make risky investments. For that we need something separate called an investment bank. The first thing will be a commercial bank, takes deposits, and we'll make a wall between them."

Okay. The bill was passed. For the banks, this was trouble. This was a problem. They didn't like this. So they spent the first 30 years, 20 to 30 years evading it in a hundred different stratagems. Meanwhile, they began to realize that with some work with politicians, they could weaken it.

And after a while, they decided that even better than evading and weakening, why don't we just get rid of it? And so in the 1990s, they mobilized, led by some of our biggest banks, whose names everybody knows, and they finally succeeded. The Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, and President Bill Clinton signed the repeal.

BILL MOYERS: It was a bipartisan repeal.

RICHARD WOLFF: Right. It's a joke. That allowed the banks to make risky bets with their depositor’s money. Eight years later, our financial system collapsed. It's like a joke. This is a system that creates in the private enterprise a core mechanism and a logic that makes them do the very things that need regulation and then makes them evade or undo those regulations.

BILL MOYERS: You probably saw the recent story that Facebook, which made more than one billion dollars in profits last year, didn't pay taxes on that profit. And actually got a $429 million rebate from you and me and all those other taxpayers out there. GE, Verizon, Boeing, 27 other corporations made a combined $205 billion in profits between 2008 and 2011 and 26 paid no federal corporate income tax. What will ultimately happen, Richard if the big winners from capitalism opt out of participating in the strengthening, nurturing, and financial support of a fair and functioning society?

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, the worst example I just learned about a few days ago. And I got it actually from Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont. That during the very years 2009, '10, '11, that the federal government was basically bailing out the biggest banks in the United States, they were busily establishing or operating subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, in the Caribbean, in order to evade taxes.

And it's a wonderful vignette in which the very government pouring money to salvage these private capitalist institutions is discovering its own revenue from them being undone by their evasion of the regulations about income tax by moving to Cayman Islands where the corporate tax is zero instead of paying their corporate tax in New York or wherever they're based.

BILL MOYERS: Your assumption that runs through your books, through your teaching, through this very interesting DVD, is that democracy, theoretically if not practically, but you hope practically, acts as a brake, B-R-A-K-E, a brake on private power and greed. And it's clear that that brake doesn't work anymore. That it's not slowing down the growth of power to the capitalist class.

RICHARD WOLFF: Right. And I think it's very poetic here in the United States. In the 1930s, when we after all had a crisis even worse than the one we had now by most measures, higher unemployment, and greater incidents of poverty and so on, we did still have a political system that allowed pressure from below to be articulated politically.

We had the greatest unionizing drive in the history of the United States, the CIO. We had strong socialist and communist parties that work with the CIO, that mobilized tens of millions of people into unions who had never been in unions before. And they went to the power structure at the time, President Roosevelt as its emblem.

And they said, "You have to do something for us. You just have to. Because if you don't, then the system itself will become our problem. And you don't want that. And many of us in the union movement don't want it either." Although some of the Socialists and Communists might have been quite happy to go that direction. And I think Roosevelt was a genius politician at that time.

He understood the issue. He went to the rich and the corporations of America, the top, who had become very wealthy at that time, and he basically said to them, "You must give me, the president, the money to meet at least the basic demands of the massive people to be massively helped in an economic crisis. Because if you don't, then the goose that lays your golden egg will disappear."

And he split the corporations and the rich. Half of them were not persuaded. And I believe they represent the right wing of the Republican Party to this day. But the other half were. And they made the deal. And so we had this amazing thing. Politics, the threat of the mass of people from below to politically act to change the system led us to see something we've almost unimaginable today.

A president, who in the depths of the Depression, creates the Social Security System, giving every American who's worked a lifetime of 65 years a check for the rest of their life every month. He created unemployment compensation to give those millions of unemployed a check every week. And then to top it off, he created and filled 12.5 million federal jobs because he said, "The private sector either can't or won't do it."

So in the midst of a terrible depression, when every level of government says, "There's no money," Mr. Roosevelt proved there is the money. It's just a question of whether you have the political will and support to go get it. And when people listen to me explain this history, and it's always amazing to me how many Americans kind of never got that part--

BILL MOYERS: Don't know it.

RICHARD WOLFF: But when I do that, and they say, "Well, that's a very risky thing for a politician to do, support the mass of people by taxing the rich, unthinkable." And then I remind them, Roosevelt is the most popular and successful president in American history. Nobody had ever been elected four times in a row before that.

And it was so upsetting to the Republicans that after Mr. Roosevelt died, they pushed that law through that gives us a term limit of two presidential terms. So it wasn't the end of his political career, it made him the most powerful popular president we've ever had. There must be a lesson here somewhere.

BILL MOYERS: Well, it was one of the few times in history in which the political elite and a few financial elite formed an alliance for the people.


BILL MOYERS: And yet, Richard, it still took the war the create the spending that pulled us out of the depression, right?

RICHARD WOLFF: Right. Because they were always large groups of corporations and the rich who were angry at all of this, like they are today, who didn't want to pay higher taxes, much higher than corporations pay today, who didn't want to pay high personal income tax rates, much higher than they are today. But they had to. Right, people don't remember in 1943, President Roosevelt proposed a top income tax bracket of 100 percent.


RICHARD WOLFF: His bill that he sent to the Congress, a proposal, was that anyone who earns over $25,000, which would be roughly $350,000 a year now, in current dollars, would have to give every nickel of it, beyond the $25,000, to the government, 100 percent. That's maximum income. The President of the United States, with massive popular support. And when the Republicans said, "No, we can't do that." They fought. And the compromise was a 94 percent top rate.

RICHARD WOLFF: Compared to the 39 percent, and .6 percent that we have today. I mean, you can see there that that-- that was a lesson. That I believe the corporations and the rich in America have learned. They saw that they were forced between two choices. A real revolutionary possibility, or a compromise. They voted for the compromise. They gave the mass of people real support, far better than anything they're getting now.

And they did that because politics was a real possibility to undo their economic system. After the war, I think our history is the history of a destruction of the Communist and Socialist parties first and foremost, and of the labor movement shortly thereafter. So that we now have a crisis without the mechanism of pressure from below. And that may look to those on top as an advantage because they don't have that problem.

They don't have a C.I.O. They don't have Socialists and Communists, the way they do in Europe. But I think it's a Pyrrhic victory, because what you're teaching the mass of the American people is that politics, debate, and struggle, is a dead end. And if you think people are just going to sink into resignation, that's wishful thinking. They're going to find other ways to protest against the system like this, because the pressures are building in that direction. I think this is a capitalism that I would say has lost its sense of its social conditions, its social limits. It's killing the mass support without which it cannot survive.

So it is creating tensions and hostilities that will take left wing, right wing, a variety of forms. But it's producing its own undoing and doesn't imagine it because it focuses so much on making more money in a normal way of business that it somehow occludes from itself. It doesn't see the larger social conditions and what its behavior is doing to them.

BILL MOYERS: For a moment, wasn't there kind of quirky or eccentric symbiosis between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street? That, 'cause in their own different ways, they were reacting to the colossus that was coming apart all around them. And upending their lives.

RICHARD WOLFF: Absolutely. I think in country after country going through this crisis, you're seeing more or less the same thing. A upsurge of right wing agony and hostility and opposition to what's happening in this capitalist system and a left wing one. But only difference from country to country is the balance between the two.

And I think the Tea Party comes first because being a right wing party in this country's much easier, much more socially acceptable to form, and there's the old roots of it, anyway, in the John Birch societies and all the rest in American history. So we have a Tea Party resurgence.

Then echoed a couple years later by the Occupy Wall Street, which is a left wing response to all of this. And I don't think we've seen the end of either of these. I think these were the first explosions of this process, the first reflections and signs of a society coming apart because capitalism can't deliver the kind of society and results that people want. And I think we're going to see more of it and there may be difficult forms of it. But it is part of a system that has come, I think, closer and closer to its historical if not end, then a severe crisis.

BILL MOYERS: But there is no agitation here. People seem not to know what to do here.

RICHARD WOLFF: I think Americans are a little bit like deer caught in the proverbial headlights. They thought that they were in a society that kind of guaranteed that each generation lives better than the one before.

That the American dream gets better and better and is available. They promised when they got married to one another to provide the American dream to each other. And then they promised their children to provide it to them, that the children would have a good education, that children would have the opportunity. They can't quite believe that it's not there anymore.

You know, for 30 years, as the wages in America stopped rising since the 1970s, Americans reacted by doing two things. Because they couldn't give up the idea that they were going to get the American dream. How do you buy the American dream, which becomes ever more expensive, if your wages don't go up, per worker, per hour? Which they haven't since the '70s.

The first thing you do is send more and more people out to work. The women went out in vast numbers. Older people came out of retirement. Teenagers did more and more work. Here's a statistic. The OECD, leading agency gathering data on the world's developed economy shows that the average number of hours worked per year by an American worker is larger than that of any other developed country on this planet.

We work ourselves like crazy. That's what you do if the wages per worker don't go up. You send out more people from the family in order to be able to get that American dream. But of course if you do that, everybody's physically exhausted.

The stresses in your family become more powerful. What's happened to American families is a well-known result over the last 30 years. But the other interesting thing, to hold onto the American dream that Americans did when their wages didn't go up anymore, was to borrow money like it's going out of style.

You cannot keep borrowing more and more if your underlying wage is not going up. Because in the end, it's the wage that enables you to pay off what you've borrowed. And it was only a matter of time, and 2007 happened to be that time, when you couldn't do it anymore. You couldn't borrow anymore because you couldn't pay it back.

And so you stopped your mortgage or you stopped your credit card payment or you couldn't make your car payments. And this is a situation that explodes the expectations of a good life. And I think Americans are stunned. And they haven't yet kind of gotten their heads and their arms around the reality they face. And so what-- we see people in shock, if you like. I mean, I'm stretching the metaphor, but--

BILL MOYERS: That's all right.

RICHARD WOLFF: The American dream that they thought they could access, that they were told they could access, if they just worked hard or went to school or both of the-- it's not there. A whole generation of young people is learning that in order to get the education, without which the American dream is not possible, you have to borrow so much money that your whole situation is put in a terrible vice.

Then you discover, at the end of your four years and you have your bachelor's degree, that the job you had thought you were then entitled to and the income you thought would go with it, they're not there. And yet you have the debt, the effects of this on our society, not just for the young people confronting it daily, but for the parents who helped them, who led them to expect something, that is producing a kind of stasis, immobility, shock.

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. And that you were deceived and betrayed in your expectations, your hopes. And then the question is, where does that go?

BILL MOYERS: I'm struck by the fact that you give a fairly dire-- not fairly, a dire analysis of what's happened to us in the last several years. But at the end of both your book and of your lecture, you don't wind up cynical or pessimistic. You--

RICHARD WOLFF: Not at all.

BILL MOYERS: You sound like you're saying, "Let's take to the barricades."

RICHARD WOLFF: Yeah. I think there's a wonderful tradition here in the United States of people feeling that they have a right, even if they don't exercise it a lot, to intervene, to control. There is that democratic impulse. And I put a lot of stock in the hope that if this is explained, if the conditions are presented, that the American people can and will find ways to push for the kinds of changes that can get us out of this dilemma. Even if the political leaders who've inherited this situation seem stymied and unable to do so.

BILL MOYERS: Richard, I want you to come back in a few weeks. Before you come back, I want to alert our of readers of our website, have them submit some questions. You've opened so much of it, I know they'll have some questions.


BILL MOYERS: But I'll bring them here and we'll deal with this. 'Cause I know you have some alternatives, that you've given a lot of thought to the critique, but you've also given a lot of thought to the correcting of our system. And will you do that?

RICHARD WOLFF: I would love to, because one of the things that has happened to me in the last two years is as we've developed the criticism and people see the process of how we got here, the most insistent questions is, "What do we do? Where do we go? If regulation isn't the solution and if punishing this one-- if it is a systemic process, how can we conceive and talk about an alternative system?"

BILL MOYERS: Richard Wolff, I've really enjoyed this conversation. The DVD is "Capitalism Hits the Fan." And the book is "Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism." Thank you for being with me.

RICHARD WOLFF: Thank you, Bill, for the opportunity.

BILL MOYERS: You heard Richard Wolff say there are very good reasons to be angry at capitalism’s takeover of democracy, but, he went on to say, don’t write off the democratic impulse that is at the heart of the American promise. It can break out anytime, anywhere.

Here’s an example. The day after President Obama’s State of the Union, restaurant employees marched on Capitol Hill in support of a fair deal for workers who live by customer tips.

PROTESTERS: What we want, is justice in our industry!

BILL MOYERS: Although those tips are often meager or non-existent, for the past 22 years, these workers have been stuck at a federal minimum wage of $2.13 an hour.

PROTESTERS: Hey Hey, Ho Ho, $2.13 has got to go!

BILL MOYERS : At the head of the march, Saru Jayaraman.


BILL MOYERS : The organization she co-founded, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, is fighting to improve wages and working conditions for the people who cook and serve the food we eat at restaurants and then clean up when we’re done.

SARU JAYARAMAN: Because restaurant workers they serve us and they should be able to put food on their own tables…

BILL MOYERS : Outside the Capitol, she and the protesters are joined by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut…

REP. ROSA DeLAURO: Storm that Hill, make the difference.

BILL MOYERS: Inside, the activists are greeted by Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland, who, with DeLauro, has introduced legislation raising the minimum wage for tipped workers.

REP. DONNA EDWARDS: I know that when I waited tables, I didn’t just do it because I needed some extra change. I did it because I had to pay my rent. I did it because I had to make sure that I had food in my refrigerator. I did it because I needed transportation to get back and forth to school. It was a job.

BILL MOYERS: Saru Jayaraman’s new book “Behind the Kitchen Door” is an insider’s expose of what it’s really like to work at the lowest rungs of the restaurant industry.

SARU JAYARAMAN: There are actually now over 10 million restaurant workers in the United States. So seven of the ten lowest paying jobs in America are restaurant jobs, and the two absolute lowest paying jobs in America are restaurant: dishwashers and fast food preps and cooks are the two absolute lowest paying jobs in America. These workers earn poverty wages because the minimum wage for tipped workers at the federal level has been frozen for 22 years at $2.13 an hour, and it’s the reason that food servers use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce, and have a poverty rate of three times the rest of the U.S. workforce.

We got to this place because of the power of the National Restaurant Association; we call it the other NRA. They’ve been named the tenth most powerful lobbying group in Congress and back in 1996 when Herman Cain was the head of the National Restaurant Association, he struck a deal with Congress saying that, “We will not oppose the overall minimum wage continuing to rise as long as the minimum wage for tipped workers stays frozen forever,” and so it has for the last 22 years

Now sure, some of them earn tips on top of those wages, but there are plenty of workers, particularly imagine your average server in an IHOP in Texas earning $2.13 an hour, graveyard shift, no tips. The company’s supposed to make up the difference between $2.13 and $7.25 but time and time again that doesn’t happen.

They live on tips, and when slow night happens and you don’t earn anything or very little in tips you often can’t pay the rent. And I guarantee you in every restaurant in America there’s at least one person who’s on the verge of homelessness or being evicted or going through some kind of instability.

It’s an incredible irony that the people that who put food on our tables use food stamps at twice the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce. Meaning that the people who put food on our tables can’t afford to put food on their own family’s tables, and they don’t use food stamps because they want to, they use food stamps because their wages are so low and they face higher levels of what’s called food insecurity than other workers. So they can’t afford to eat!

The other key issue that we find that workers face is the lack of paid sick days and healthcare benefits; two-thirds of all workers report cooking, preparing, and serving food when they’re ill, with the flu or other sicknesses. And with a wage as little as $2.13, so reliant on tips for their wages, these workers simply cannot afford to take a day off when sick, let alone risk losing their jobs.

Ninety percent of foodborne illnesses in the United States, can be traced back to sick restaurant workers. So, you know, it’s common sense, it’s a public health issue, it’s good for the workers, the families, and the small businesses, because our research has shown that when small business actually pays better, provides these benefits, we’ve found they have less turnover, higher productivity, higher profitability.

The majority of workers are adults; many are parents and single parents, single mothers, using the restaurant job as their main source of income, and by the way taking great pride in restaurant work. Really loving being a restaurant worker, hospitality is something people take great pride in and so we need to make this industry professional, the way that other careers are professional. This is not a job that you move on to something else, this is a career for many, many people who stay in this industry for their lifetimes. So people need the opportunity to move up the ladder, to move to better jobs, to be treated like professionals, given a paid sick day, given a wage that they can sustain their families on.

We partner with more than a hundred small business owners around the country who are doing the right thing, providing good, decent wages, better working conditions, paid sick days, benefits, opportunities for advancement. These employers don’t charge exorbitant amounts to their customers, their prices are very comparable to everybody else but they’ve worked it into their business plan and we have them organized into a restaurant industry roundtable and offer assistance, advice, both from them and from us about how any restaurant owner could do better, could provide better wages and not have exorbitant prices. So I think that’s the first thing I would say to a small business owner is, “Look, there are tons of people who are already doing it. We’re here to help you, they’re here to help you try this new way of doing business.”

PROTESTERS: We’re workers united, we can’t be defeated. We’re workers united, we can’t be defeated…

BILL MOYERS: Acting on that democratic impulse, Saru Jayaraman and the protesting workers march from Capitol Hill to the Capital Grille steakhouse, owned by one of the biggest restaurant chains in America…

SARU JAYARAMAN: Eighty-six thousand customers of yours have signed a petition calling on you to pay a minimum of at least five dollars an hour to your workers…cause $2.13 is just not enough to live on. So here you go.



BILL MOYERS: A final thought: Watching those workers, it occurs to me that a capitalist system that no longer meets most people’s needs simply cannot last. It may survive for a time by fraud, farce or force, but once the capacity or the will for self-correction has been lost, so, too, is lost its reason to be, except to enrich the few at the expense of the many. Sooner or later the oppressive thumb of the One Percent has to be lifted -- either voluntarily removed, or severed by public anger and popular will. For the moment, those restaurant workers still believe in democracy -- still believe they can undo politically what predatory capitalism has done to them economically; still believe their cry for justice will be heard. And if it isn’t, what then are their choices? What would you do?

Tell us at our website, You’ll also find more about Saru Jayaraman and her call to take action for fair pay and better conditions for restaurant workers. And, send us your questions for Richard Wolff.

That’s all at I’ll see you there, and I’ll see you here, next time.


Watch By Segment

  • Saru Jayaraman on Justice for Restaurant Workers

    Economist Richard Wolff and Restaurant Worker Advocate Saru Jayaraman talk about battling rampant capitalism, and fighting for economic justice.

    Air Date: February 22, 2013
    Saru Jayaraman
    Saru Jayaraman on Justice for Restaurant Workers
  • Richard Wolff on Fighting for Economic Justice and Fair Wages

    Economist Richard Wolff and Restaurant Worker Advocate Saru Jayaraman talk about battling rampant capitalism, and fighting for economic justice.

    Air Date: February 22, 2013
    Richard Wolff on Fighting for Economic Justice and Fair Wages

Taming Capitalism Run Wild

February 22, 2013

Even as President Obama’s talking points champion the middle class and condemn how our economy caters to the very rich, modern American capitalism is a story of continued inequality and hardship. Even a modest increase in the minimum wage — as suggested by the president — faces opposition from those who seem to show allegiance first and foremost to America’s wealthy and powerful.

Yet some aren’t just wringing their hands about our economic crisis; they’re fighting back. Economist Richard Wolff joins Bill to shine light on the disaster left behind in capitalism’s wake, and to discuss the fight for economic justice, including a fair minimum wage. 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.

Also on the broadcast, activist and author Saru Jayaraman marches on Washington with restaurant workers struggling to make ends meet, and talks about how we can best support their right to a fair wage. Jayaraman is the co-founder and co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which works to improve pay and working conditions for America’s 10 million-plus restaurant workers. She is also the author of Behind the Kitchen Door, a new exposé of the restaurant industry.

Learn more about the production team behind Moyers & Company.

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  • Chris Erwin

    I have worked in restaurants extensively and can tell you the system is not fixable. Capitalism must be brought down, but this doesn’t have to be a chaotic transition to something better. Combining the ideas of Jacque Fresco with the renewable technologies and design practices of today can help us transition into a much higher quality of life for everyone. For instance, aquaponics and aeroponics can provide each family with their own food, completely decentralizing the food industry while enhancing ecological sustainability. For energy kite, micro wind, solar, geothermal, micro hydro, pumped storage, and basic conservation can solve our energy needs. These two concepts alone would allow each family to be food and energy independent. The key to a better way of life is decentralizing power and promoting more direct democracy alongside more economic independence.

  • wendilea

    The people who feed us so lovingly in restaurants (if the truth be known) are the minimum wage workers who only want the minimum best for themselves and their families. They deserve better and we should say so, and if it makes their capitalist bosses uncomfortable, that is a small price to pay for social justice. Good idea to question and challenge!

  • Margie

    Interesting post. Getting people to LEARN what you describe is the hurdle.

  • Christina

    Thank you Mr. Wolff for telling it like it is. Finally, someone who gets it and speaks out. Those of us who work for hourly wage, do our jobs well, and take care of wealthy families often cannot afford basic necessities for ourselves. This factor along with no health insurance, or paid time off is a formula for chronic depression. You must be very creative to come home from demoralizing conditions and make some kind of recreation for yourself to make life worth living. Continue the great work Mr. Moyers and Ms. Jayaraman. Your articulate explanations and, I hope, some answers are what we need to keep going and find pleasure in life.

  • Anonymous

    Richard Wolff analysis of the capitalistic system was most interesting..After all the criticism of its faults I did not hear him offer any changes the system needs.. The NY Times Magazine called him “America’s most prominent Marxist economist”. By his own admission he is no fan of the GOP or Corporations. His questioning the working of the free market revealed his lack of confidence of the market. Its not a perfect system considering we have corrupt govt who does not enforce it own regulations. Jack Amoff, the lobbyist, revealed the corrupt system with politicans & their staffs. Two economist who I agree with allot are Adam Smith & Milton Friedman. These men believed in the free market system.. unlike theMarist system in USSR, N. Korea and Cuba who’s systems have failed. I look at Socialism in Europe & a see systems which do not inspire a healthy viborant soceity.. Only cradle to grave mentality with a dull way of life in between. Mr Wolff liked FDR & stated he was our greatest Pres..I would put Washington & Lincoln way ahead of him & his socialistic ways.. The war got us out of the depression not FDR. Capitalist need to be regulated by a honest govt..However we do not have that today.. That does not make the idea wrong..The housing crisis is owned by congress, Fannie & Freddie & the regulators.. What would have happened if the credit rating agencies had done their job.. No crisis.. It would have been stopped cold.. S&P, Moodys & others were corrupt because the govt was backing the mortgages..But after all these comments & the fact the working parts of the system failed us I do not see another better system.. Fix what we got & no look to Marxism as an answer.. Where has that succeeded . ??? Thank You

  • johncement

    Data that catches my attention is the percentage of GDP attributable to wages. That is a number that has declined from around 50% 25-30 years ago to only 43% recently. Permanently unemployed and unemployable people may become a rolling economic disease.


    your response is replete with incorrect information.

  • Szbug

    The gauzy guesses of what was going on behind the Wizard’s curtain became clearer while listening to Dr. Wolff. I Look forward to hearing him again and I will do some research before his next appearance on your show. When a hard worker with a college degree struggles at age 57 to get new knees because a job loss in 2009 took away medical insurance — it doesn’t seem like the American dream I imagined. We have to take control of the out of control government.

  • tlc in msp

    Saru Jayaraman rocks, more power to you!

  • DonR

    Two elements exist to our failing economic paradigm: how it’s broken and what viable alternatives exist. We heard the first part described in detail by Richard Wolff. A few of his statements will elicit an argument from some, but any pursuant discussions are health–a point made by Mr. Wolff.

    Although I’ve read some of his work, I look forward to hearing a breakdown of the alternative economic models Richard Wolff believes provide the best lasting potential for American workers, and ultimately every American.

    For those who doubt that accentuated inequality translates into societal breakdown, the seminal work of Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (potential future guests) entitled The Spirit Level lays out the shocking results in great detail.

    Another great show. Thanks Bill for your continuing efforts to supply news and opinions not seen on mainstream media.

  • edie

    Richard Wolff brings a refreshing understanding of our failing economy and failing capitalism for the 99% of Americans. He puts the grass roots back into taking responsibility for our drastic inequality by speaking out re. injustice. Please continue to dialogue with him on your show to motivate every citizen to get involved in the issues.

  • pammyams

    Bill, why don’t other journalists and news programs have these people on their programs to enlighten and inform the public? It’s so painful to see there are only 11 comments here when this is, in my opinion, the best, fairest, most honest radio show on the wires. It is agonizing to hear how the system in the U.S. is failing its people. I will be on the alert for ways to get involved and make a difference. thank you Bill Moyers!

  • Sally Wright

    Capitalism needs a 12 Step Program, which is probably the best example of Democracy we have today. Oh to bring the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street TOGETHER for constructive/productive ACTION. Mr. Moyers, I cannot wait for Mr. Wolff’s return in two weeks to share solutions to the economic catastrophe he so wisely and kindly and clearly delineates. Thank you also sir, for your very kind and thoughtful and patriotic liberalism. Facebook was as big a blessing this morning as any good book I have ever read. If I had a grade B novel in my possession, I would have missed this.

  • lentower

    I would like to hear Richard Wolff speak to how he would fix the US economy when it’s is so interlinked with the global economy.

    One of the reasons given for the repeal in Clinton’s second term, was that without it US banks were at a competitive disadvantage to banks outside the US.

    I also disliked Wolf’s sound bites:

    “regulation isn’t the solution”


    “capitalism is evil”

    especially when he pointed out that the regulated capitalism FDR put in place in the 1930s worked.

    It’s said that the “price of liberty is eternal vigilance”. That is true of the American Dream as well. The American voter has let the “1%” “steal” the dream from them. Hopefully, they will “steal” it back.

  • neal 8815

    It is simply Supply and Demand

  • ks

    Thank you for inviting Richard Wolff onto your show. I’m sure that in your next conversation he will talk about Mondragon Cooperatives and some of the worker-owned and managed enterprises in the U.S., but I would like to hear about the organizational structure of some of these enterprises and how they resolve the conflicts that are bound to arise among people with differing visions and ambitions and strategies. Do they make decisions democratically or defer to democratically elected leaders? Why does Mondragon have an average executive to factory worker salary of 5:1 and how do they decide who becomes an executive? Isn’t a wage hierarchy a problem in the long run? I love the fact that Prof. Wolff is not doctrinaire about what a more just and enriching economy could look like and understands that people will work out the kinks in various ways, but I’m interested in what lessons have been learned so far.

  • Kevin Parcell

    When interviewers, experts, and pundits talk about the “American economy” they are reifying a statistical measure, and this results in the perpetuation of a polemic. In reality, almost all of us live in a single global marketplace because almost all monies are interchangeable.

    In any free marketplace the goods and services flow to the highest bidder. And in fact they flow from all around the world. The flip-side is that work flows to the lowest bidder – all around the world – and the result of this dynamic is an ever-growing wealth gap; and worse: only the affluent are empowered to develop resources, trapping the poor in poverty even as the affluent are trapped into a competition that impels them to develop as irresponsibly/cheaply as possible to obtain short-term price/profit advantage in the global marketplace. Lose-lose.

    When we blame a failing “American economy” on capitalism we are missing the target. The important distinction here is that no national conversations can resolve our global economic problem because our world is too geographically and politically diverse to swallow it. In fact, this political diversity is rooted in a cultural diversity that also eliminates the possibility of a top-down solution delivered by any likely global government or improved education. History doesn’t lie.

    When we understand this we see that the solution to the mess we’re in is rebuilding our global economy from the bottom up – a “reconomy”, if you will – based on upgrading money such that people are empowered to develop and protect their own human resources and the ground beneath their own feet. A world filled with people so empowered could be a prosperous, sustainable world, and perhaps nothing else can be.

    The simple description of the actual change that we understand is necessary when we face reality squarely, as described, is a parallel marketplace that uses money that has value only within the communities issued. This will work because if individuals cannot purchase goods and services from outside the community with this money nor leave with this money to spend somewhere else, then this money can only be spent developing local resources, and then must be spent protecting those local resources to protect itself.

    To make this happen, this new kind of money must be in demand. One way to accomplish this demand is to pay people to develop local renewable energy resources for local consumption, and then significantly discount the electricity produced when purchased with community money. In this way we not only create high demand but provide continuously increasing access to two of the most powerful development tools – energy and money. And what can we produce with this local money and clean energy? Water, food, sanitation, education, housing, local transportation and art, for starters. And more importantly, we can produce communities empowered by local resilience to protect their human and natural resources. And perhaps most importantly, we can produce a world inclined to increasingly value the unique and intrinsic worth of each individual, rather than their diminishing value as interchangeable components in global machines.

    We can do this almost anywhere and everywhere, reaching the hundreds of millions of poorest first and fastest because they most need access to this upgraded energy and money. And we don’t need to change everybody’s minds, we don’t need global consensus, but just a collaboration of enough of us to do it and change the world, and then let the changed world change people’s minds.

    P.s. Please don’t butcher this comment for the sake of brevity.

  • Anonymous

    GREAT interview with Richard. Finally someone who hits the nail on the head. “It’s the SYSTEM!” Couple points:

    One major difference with the Great Depression – today the business and financial elite do NOT need the masses. They make money from money, mostly through speculation rather than investment. Their “investments” made around the world are, for the most part, exploitive rather than helpful to the common good. The industrialists following the Great Depression needed consumers. That is no longer the case, to a large extent.

    South Americans have seen the light after decades of being beaten over the head and are working at an alternative. Oil revenues are allowing them to throw off their chains and begin the process. This may be their salvation, or it may become their curse.

    The solution? Build from the bottom up alternative communities that ignore the “elite”. Don’t fight them, they’ll win every time; ignore them and build. Self-reliant communities: with their own complementary currency; energy – renewable and cheap; food – real, not industrial, organic; housing – local materials; clothing – local; medical services – focus on prevention and less needed because of quality organic food; transportation – walking, bikes and alternative, renewable fueled vehicles; education – focused on building capacities needed to further the evolutionary development of their communities.

    The elite will dodge and weave all around the globe. They won’t be caught. They will block political solutions to the top-down creation of an alternative system. They have to become a bad joke in the popular mind, and people have to recognize, and act on, their ability to build an alternative.

    As a PhD sociologist in retirement, I’ve spent a lot of time studying widely. This is what I now believe to be the case.

  • criticalthink

    Everything Richard Wolff discusses is true and a brilliant explanation to what the US is experiencing economically and why. But if regulation is not a solution what is the solution? Americans need workable solutions or nothing will happen until rage makes the decisions about action. Economists like Richard Wolff need to talk solutions to the problems he so articulately discusses. The American people are not the economists.

  • Rishicash

    I’ve been a fan of Mr. Wolff’s for a few years and I’m really pleased to see my favorite economist with my favorite journalist.

    It was interesting to watch both of them dance around Mr. Wolff’s veiled call for a revolt (not violent of course) as the inevitable and I would say only agent of systemic change.

    Our system of government is systemically corrupted with money to the point where it has metastasized and nothing short of a radical procedure will save it.

    I was delighted to hear Bill end the interview with inviting Mr. Wolff back in the next couple of weeks specifically to discuss Mr. Wolff’s suggestions to affect meaningful change. Btw, My take wasn’t Mr. Wolff saying that regulation isn’t an answer but, rather, that it isn’t THE answer.

  • Rishicash

    Indeed. The “job creators” as that the Right loves to refer to them as are “wealth creators” far more than “job creators” and we currently see what the difference is.

  • John R Costello

    Ive wrked as a waiter and can state – I too – during a slow shift- and wrking 8hrs – went home with 45$

  • Arthur

    Mr. Wolff, I agree w/ you in principle that if you raise the minimum wage, some businesses will fail and others will prosper due to the infusion of cash into the system. The net sum does look to be zero. But what if we agreed to raise wages, allow those businesses to fail that can not or will not compete but at the same time target our infrastructure? Target our efforts instead of just throwing an idea around just because it worked before..(ie.. stimulus) Increase the minimum wage along with technology changes in how we deliver services should move us to a new paradigm. For example: Look outside…you’ll see the same old power lines…that system is so dated…GET RID OF IT! Do something different. Force the utility companies to do something different so we the people can get something different. Change the paradigm. If we change the paradigm we can start over and preach all the advantages of savings, wealth and management. Maybe the next generation will listen.

  • Marshall McComb

    Actually, our capitalistic economic system has been pretty successful in creating wealth over the past 35 years, with the obvious exception of our investment bankers. The main caveat is that off-shoring jobs, computer automation, and union busting have markedly increased “productivity” by reducing the number of U.S. jobs needed and repressing wages. It’s the political system – particularly taxation and regulation – that has failed to respond, falling 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 defined our middle class in the `50s, `60s, and ‘70’s before it started flowing to the top one percent. Three conditions appear necessary: reducing the advantage of big money in political campaigns, 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, and, probably, international agreements to prevent flight of wealth to avoid taxes.

  • Anonymous

    Another useful program–good work, Bill.

    Plato would have loved “the market,” as it’s today’s most prominent Ideal Form. It is as close to the binary opposite of the economy as one can get. It makes necessary other binaries, such as “Wall Street versus Main Street.” That’s because the stock market is not about concrete products with USE‐VALUE. It’s about abstractions with EXCHANGE‐VALUE. On the stock market, toothpaste is not a substance useful for cleaning your teeth. Toothpaste is an abstraction that causes a variable unit of something called “wealth” to flow from one bank account to another. Although toothpaste is bought and sold every day — every minute — on the stock market at a different price every time a transaction is made, you will find no tubes of the stuff on the floor of the stock exchange.

    It’s no mystery that capitalism emerged as a Western invention, for the West lives in a Hellenized world–a world whose favored theology, Christianity, was spun around Platonic metaphysics, Plato’s philosophical dualism that divided the universe into physical and metaphysical realms. It was during the Renaissance–the so-called “recovery” of classical knowledge–that capitalism took root as mercantilism. There was no where else it could go, except in the direction of the “Wall Street versus Main Street” dichotomy.

    Wolf is right when he says that capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction. Marx figured that out, and Nouriel Roubini made headlines by quoting him last year.

  • Anonymous

    What did you find incorrect about my post??? To make a board statement like that does not prove anything. I have been incorrect on occasion & would welcome your factual correction.. Thank you.

  • steve fitt

    A question for Richard Wolff– what do you think of MMT and MMR?

  • Annette Tchelka

    I always enjoy hearing Richard Wolff speak, but I disagree with him about regulation. As long as we had Glass Steagall in place Wall Street did not fail. By overturning it we had the collapse in 2008. The regulation did not fail, lobbying to circumvent it and then overturn it caused the failure. Too much collusion between Washington and Wall Street. Washington needs to do more to protect the rest of us against the depradations of Wall Street.
    Also there’s a terrific book by economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson called “Why Nations Fail”. In it they document that nations fail due to severe income inequality…in other words it becomes an extractive state, like the plantations in the south which used slave labor. The plantation owners got rich at he expense of the slaves. That is clearly what America is turning into today. The greedy few are too blind and smug to see that eventually the system will collapse because it has become unsustainable.

  • Anonymous

    The American people hold the most important office in the nation…Most of them are uninformed when it comes to voting & thus we have politicans who fill us full of BS & a media which is part of it. In our capitalistic system it allows greedy people to fulfill their goals.. wealth creation is not bad in itself.. If one was born in N. Korea what are the opportunities for individual “wealth” or inatitive ?? Mr Wolff has not submitted his ideas on how we correct our condition.. The answer.. educate the voters…IF only they wanted to be educated about who would govern them the best.. Both parties have ignored regulations & members have taken money from special interests.. Should we accept corrupt politicans?? We have..The voting franchise is our only hope.. not socialism, not dictatorship. These govt forms have a ruling elite which are much more corrupt than our free market system

  • Annette Tchelka

    Because virtually all the media in this country–radio, tv and newspapers, magazines are owned by only six mega corporations–as Bill Moyers has previously discussed in another program. We get what the corporate media wants us to hear.

  • Annette Tchelka

    Clearly you have not looked at the Netherlands, Scandanavia, and Germany. These countries have a combination of Socialism and Capitalism which works. In fact the best country for entrepreneurs is considered to be Norway. Why, because they have a strong social safety net. If an entrepreneur fails at first he can go back and start again–he’s not bankrupt for years with a damaging credit rating. These countries also provide free education so their citizens can go as far as they want to in school. Think of what that means as a resource–all these scientists, doctors and engineers giving back to their countries. Here our kids work hard only to be crippled by debt just for a 4-year bachelor’s degree which is now becoming inadequate. The idea that they’re not healthy vibrant countries is nonsense. It doesn’t pay to bury your head in the sand–rather expand your reading and awareness of what’s out there. Even Canada is doing better than us, and yes they have national healthcare, most civilized industrial nations do!

  • Carol Dewey

    I agree with Richard Wolff that capitalism will never accept regulation necessary to protect the public from being exploited by it. Capitalism is the mortal enemy of real democracy and must be replaced by a decentralized and democractized economy, as he describes in his book “Democracy at Work”. The opportunity to make this change has never been better than it is at the present time. Thank you for having Richard Wolff as your guest and I look forward to hearing more about his democratic solutions when he returns in two weeks.
    I am indebted to you, Bill Moyers for mentoring my “awakening” to today’s political realities, as I watched all of your PBS “Journal” offerings for years. Richard Wolff came into my radar about three years ago, just when I was desperately searching for “solutions”. Thanks to both of you, I am now a “changed” person, in thought and in habit; and, am busy helping to build a resilient community here in my hometown to which I retired five years ago.

  • Andrew N.

    Great comments, Annette, and I read “Why Nations Fail” as well. I understand you support regulation, as do I, but who is going to enact and enforce it? As Mr. Moyers’ programs regularly point out, both parties are completely in the thrall of corporate cash. I think what he and Dr. Wolff are suggesting is that the system is not able to be reformed in any conventional way; for example, the party of FDR is long gone. We have two right wings now–one even more craven and corrupt than the other, but still two unacceptable choices. I will be interested to hear the suggested alternatives when Dr. Wolff returns to the program, since it is becoming tougher each day to swallow the effects of the lesser of two evils, lesser yet evil and damaging still.

  • Andrew N.

    Thank you, Mr. Moyers, for again providing a unique platform and perspective. The usual commentary and guests on most stations posit two terrible options and insist that there is no third or fourth option. I thought Dr. Wolff’s mention of his wife’s comment that people hold on more desperately to what is when they sense it changing was very apt. It’s no wonder his wife is a psychotherapist: that psychological desperation is called denial. Denial is not not knowing; it is knowing and desperately trying not to know, not to admit to yourself, much less to others, what you know is true. Both political parties are in such denial, and maybe even the destruction of the planet will not enough to shake them into reality. It’s only a question if our present system will collapse economically before global climate change brings an end. Dr. Wolff is more optimistic than I am that the complacency you spoke of–and the fear he acknowledges–can be transformed into positive action, such is the grip of corporate cash, well-fostered in an atmosphere of myth and denial.

  • lawrence l. mitchell

    dr. wolf is welcomed to the henhose to save us from the foxes…great lecture..good man..

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. Sadly, though, none of those three conditions seems at hand. Each is clear — even obvious to many of us — but each challenges the power of those whose wealth & power have them at the top of the heap. Who can persuade them that they are feeding the means of their own (and our) destruction?
    I’ll be eagerly waiting for Dr. Wolff’s return to the show to address the “what the hell can we do about it” question.

  • Anonymous

    What’s scary is that far too many would respond to you by saying, “Yeah? Well, be glad you have a job!” or “That’s a good entry-level pay, isn’t it?” or “Well, you’d have a better job if you were (educated/white/anglo/male/tall) enough.” Far too few would see your words and say, “How could you live on that?” or “What happened if you became ill?” or “Did you have a family depending on you, too?”
    We have drunk the koolaid that says you earn what you are worth, and it is killing us.

  • Anonymous

    Gee, I didn’t hear that call as veiled at all! Looking forward as you are to their subsequent discussion.

  • Anonymous

    You hit on a point that resonates with me: US corporations once needed the US as their major market customers, labor source, and innovation provider. Today’s corporations no longer have that crucial link: no need to maintain a consumer market within the US because there are hundreds of millions of rising Asians who will become that market in short order — and a cheaper labor source, and a ready source of intellectual capital.

    Given that their self-interest is no longer tied to the US, what leverage do we have?

  • Anonymous

    The commenters may have been discouraged from plowing through your numerous errors in spelling and grammar. Those tend to diminish the willingness of many readers to keep digging for possibly persuasive content. One should at least respect those whom one is trying to persuade. Anger rarely works.

  • Jimmy Sigona

    The part about raising minimum wages that wasn’t discussed is that Americans would not only compete with less jobs, but they would also compete with increased offshoring of jobs.

    The free trade concept does not take into account equal human rights, and that is the major problem with it.

    We should have a minimum bar for human rights in order to trade with other countries. If we impose a minimum wage, how about making it illegal or prohibitively expensive to trade with companies in other countries that do not have a similar minimum wage and enforcement of human rights as the U.S. does?

    Although multinational companies should be more responsible, they cannot be directly blamed for making choices to become more competitive, because often times they could go out of business if they are not as competitive as their peers. This should be regulated by government.

  • John Amenta

    One does wonder how long the economic oppression will continue – and the continuing rise in obscene wealth inequality. Historically – one can look back at the Feudal ages and realize that economic and human injustice can last for quite a long time – decades if not centuries.

    It would seem to that the Occupy movement has sputtered out for the most part. And we saw just how ready the so-called Elites were ready to crack down on even the most peaceful protests – with well organized police forces – like any oppressive third world country.

    And ironically – economic injustice may only be the least of our coming woes. The climate change disaster we are likely now beginning to have the first real hints of. Severe weather changes, melting ice caps, etc. Just how much an impact this will have on us all – go all the way from the doom of humankind as we know it, to perhaps forced adaptability and migration. In any case – no one will escape what appears now to be the inevitable man caused global warning – and the consequences could be more dire than just man’s inhumanity to man via economic exploitation.

    I’m not sure what to make of it. I know that I only have a decade or left before I pass into that mystery of existence that brought me here. The problems this new generation of Americans face now – the Millennials or Y Generation seem overwhelming to me. And it is quite tragic given how much promise America had just a few decades ago – landing on the moon, growing wages and a middle class, the advance of computer technology! So much promise. And so much awaits us out there – out in our own solar system. The energy alone from a few seconds of our Sun – is enough to fuel our energy needs for centuries. And yet here we are – as a society and a species, destroying our own home, robbing our own brother so we can be rich for a day. It seems the very fabric of common sense and good will and the future are being sacrifice – all on the altar of the greed of the few and a capitalistic system gone amok.

  • bricks and mortar

    so if the minimum wag goes up my next worry is… will my rent start going up?. The capital artists are in a fight with eachother for our dollars. People that own property will know they can raise the rates and squeeze the money from us at that point. I dout it will mean that I will have any money to spend. So how does business think? Is it that 50% of the population can afford their business product or service…and that is enough for them.All businesses win when the labor rate is low ?

  • Tom Chechatka

    Disagree with Wolff’s rant against regulation…

    Disagree with his stance against prosecution of criminal wrong doing among financiers…

    Forget about holding bankers to account? No!

    Yet priority #1 is moving to see Greenspan and Bernanke sharing a prison cell with Madoff, as these two so-called “regulators” have enabled the imperial, criminal scam driven by opaque OTC derivatives whose still growing pervasiveness throughout the banking system make Madoff’s Ponzi scheme an innocuous Sunday walk in the park in comparison. Derivatives are at the root of inequity still widening in the U.S. Finally, the “too big to fail” banner (another name for “tyranny”) of financial institutions that are primary derivatives beneficiaries is better seen cover helping the common man identify “enemies of the state.”

  • Susan Humphreys

    I was pleased to hear someone say that the system is broken. I have felt that way for quite some time. I realized a while back that the old saying about power corrupting was only partially correct. I think that “power”
    creates myopia. It is the same for the tyrant as the wall street banker, robberb aron or politician or the “power” brought on by ones convictions—religious, political, economic theory…. Myopia in the sense that it causes one to see only what they want to see and they therefore do what is most expedient because they
    fail to see the long term consequences of their words, their actions, their theories…. I look forward to hearing how he thinks the system should be changed, what sort of a hybrid might be created that uses the best of all
    economic systems to create the outcomes a progressive or stable society needs.

  • Tom Chechatka


    Hyperinflation: A Graphic Presentation

    (Death-dealing hyperinflation is what we are facing, kids. Don’t be confused by quackademics whose misguided views on regulation only serve a finance capital clique in bed with imperialists.)

  • dael

    please increase the volume levels

  • Peter

    Dear Mr. Moyers,

    Would we remove a material cause of the Capitalism Run Wild problem by allowing ONLY natural persons to participate in politics? That is targeted at excluding both corporations and unions, and by “politics”, I mean elections and lobbying.

    Issues to be addressed include, among other things, (1) corporations in the news business editorializing and (2) not-for-profits participating in issue debates. The later includes everything from Kaiser Foundation participating in the health care debate to candidate-aligned PACs claiming they are participating in an issue debate.

  • Carol Bailey

    Although I am not a big fan of Marx, he did point out the contradiction that leads to the accumulation of wealth in a few hands, ultimately crippling the workers who create most of the wealth. The end.

  • dbhowe

    My question is: who profits from austerity?

  • Larry

    Regarding Mr Wolf’s interview: Do you think there is still time and ability to change the system peacefully? I have doubts because “our” government has formed a troika to maintain power with corporations and the media. Or as George Carlin put it, “It’s a club and we’re not in it.” The “Republicrat” system is so strong even wealthy, well connected people like Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, etc are locked out by this troika unless they tow the line. Can we forget Al Gore hurrying black folks that came to Congress to protest their thrown out votes in the 2000 election? As good a man as Al Gore may be, he didn’t want to disturb the “Club” even as it cost him his own election. Now add the Patriot Act to the club and more recently, Obama’s drone policy and we have a government that can arrest you in the middle of the night or kill you without reason given other than “terrorist,” that can, without warrant, hold you as long as they want, anywhere they want, “Interrogate” however they want and you have absolutely no recourse but hope that someone with good connections is willing t o go to bat for you over a long period of time.

    I believe we are heading towards revolution and the corrupted power structure of this Nation is planning for such an event should it come to pass. I do not believe revolution will be a good thing for anybody unless the army either stood by as in the Egyptian revolution or join the rebellion. The only way out I see, so far, is to develop a third and hopefully, fourth political party that truly represents the people. To do this would require time and money to develop a base and perhaps work up from local to National as the Greens did in Germany. This would force the “Republicrats” to enlist these parties to win legislation for their corporate masters who in turn could inject priorities for the people. Of course, this is no guarantee to re-establish Democracy, but I believe it is the only alternative to violent and likely totally chaotic, anarchistic revolution.

  • SmilingAhab

    The situation is pretty simple. There’s rich people and there’s people who want to undo the French Revolution and take us back to the Middle Age dictatorships. They’re aristocrats. And the French revolutionaries taught us how to deal with aristocrats.

    I also gotta disagree with Mr. Wolff on the system itself producing cancerous executives, or that their exsanguination of the lower class will lead to their undoing – they created the system, and they lived for 10,000 years under the system they’ve re-created today. It’s called feudalism. They will survive and thrive, and we will suffer for eternity.

  • Anonymous

    I think we have little or no leverage. That’s why we have to ignore their system and build our system around them. We have the resources and capabilities to do that. We’re the real builders and creators of the future, not the elites. Theirs is a dead end. We needn’t follow them down that route.
    Thanks for the reaction, Helen.

  • James Newlin

    Paul Krugman says we don’t need to worry about the government debt as long as the debt grows more slowly than the tax base. However, groups such as the Club of Rome (also E.F. Schumacher and Morris Berman) say we must accept degrowth now if we are going to have a chance at addressing climate change and consumption. How do we address our national debt, while also drastically reducing our consumption to address climate change?

  • Julia Dalton

    I no longer wish to support our corporate war culture. What will happen to me if/when I refuse to pay my taxes? Our system is so corrupt and rotten. Our government no lounger deserves our faith or our money.

  • Bas Vossen

    all economic activity should be allowed without government interference. At the same time, childbirth has to be controlled as it uses up too much resources. These resources have to be recyclable. Just a few thoughts.

  • Kevin

    I just watched part of the show with Mr. Wolff. Thank you both for a candid look at our country’s economic demise. As a society of working class people we must stand up to better our way of life.

  • Linda Ferland

    How do we get the people to realize that WE outnumber the Washington bunch, the corporate CEO’s and the military, to band together in just one group, to take back our power?

  • DH Fabian

    I know from experience that it isn’t easy to get by on min. wages. The job market for those who aren’t middle classers has increasingly been transformed into pt. time/short term work; when they are laid off, they’re lucky if they do find another job before becoming homeless. (Note to middle class:The min. wage fell so far behind the cost of living that it isn’t possible to put anything into a savings account for a rainy day.) From there — how do you get a job without a home address, phone, clean clothes, bus fare? The longer it takes to get hired, the more likely it is that you’ve reached the end of the road. Employers won’t hire those who have been out of work for a while. We’ve been liberated from the safety net. There’s no way up, no way out. You are not a middle class worker, and therefore have no fundamental civil or human rights. America will get tough on you for “choosing the poverty lifestyle.” Is this really the best that this generation can do? Evidently.

  • DH Fabian

    The options you list require a lot of money and property — something millions of Americans lack.

  • DH Fabian

    “Deregulation” simply means getting rid of rules for the rich, on Reagan’s theory that they would use their freedom and resources to benefit the country. It isn’t the first time in our history that DC chose that strategy, to the great harm of the country. In the past, the poor and middle classes would unite to successfully push back, to the benefit of both. This time, starting in the 1980s, the middle class was pitted against the poor (divide and conquer). Now, what the middle did to the poor, the rich are doing to the middle, and there is no unified push-back. Too bad.

  • DH Fabian

    Annette Tchelka, Updating your comparison of the extractive state to plantations, what we have in its place is workfare labor, prison labor, etc., steadily replacing middle class workers. Employers are able to pay minimum wage or less, and the workers have NO rights or protections. The difference is that there’s a touch of fairness in the sense that the middle class supports the policies that are wiping out the middle class, as long as they imagine that only the poor will suffer.

  • DH Fabian

    We can’t build from the bottom up because the middle class no longer recognizes the bottom as legitimate human beings. The only way we can save the country, however, is from the bottom up. Media/pols have worked for years to divide and conquer the masses, pitting the middle class against the poor. It’s an old analogy, but the US is like an old house — the rich on the top floor, poor in the basement. We all know what will happen when the foundation of a house is crumbling away. If you don’t shore it up, strengthening the basement, that whole house is going to come crashing down. We’re on the verge of collapse now.

  • Bow T. Benit

    Great show this week Mr. Moyers. Thank you!

  • Beetlejuice

    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. Please allow me to refer to the PBS FRONTLINE report titled THE WARNING:
    detailing the events that led to the near banking collapse in 1998 due to accumulation of toxic assets in investment banks. Conclusion: The assertion that repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999 caused the accumulation of toxic assets in certain investment banks in 1998 is inherently FALSE.

  • Jeff

    How can there be a silver lining to the horrors of industrial civilization? Mr Wolff is one of many to show that radical capitalism as we have seen it today is a grave injustice and a system that is corrupt to its core. Yet, he and many other cling to a system, namely “industrial civilization” itself is the source of oppression, serfdom, and violence. The Earth is systematically being destroyed by corporations and governments.The many suffer and scrap to survive so a few can live extravagantly, but it is not the rich that are to blame it is our embrace of exploitation and a civilization. The toxic practices of civilization have flourished while minorities and women have only continued to endure greater atrocities as industry civilization crumbles. I see the means to ends thinking that for me, allows capitalism to do what it does to human beings and treat them and other species as theirs to do with as they please. I see the madness of industrial civilization and how it requires institutions that promote and normalize practices that make people as Hanna Arendt termed it “superfluous” and industrial civilization is a master it.

    I think of a quotes by Upton Sinclair and Goethe, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it” … “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

    There can be no negotiation with profiteers and masters of exploitation. Only the total dismantling of civilization will save humanity from its destruction. We are slaves and corporation are the owners. It is time to revolt and stop the exploitation of the planet and its many creatures.

  • Candy C

    Raising the minimum wage is not the answer. The US does not live in a vacuum. Raising the minimum wage will only cause prices in the US to go up. At $9 an hour, I will be making a nickel more than the minimum wage. The value of my savings will go down. At almost 50 years of age, this is supposed to help older workers such as myself? All the while, this makes the US more attractive to illegal immigrants to come here, then send those dollars they make back home. I’m sure, those countries that export cheap products to us would love to see our wage go up – even less American made products will be sold, as more of theirs are bought… and our wealth, however slim, continues to trickle out of the country.

  • Jeff

    I could not agree more! The time for negotiations are over. Either power is abandoned or we work to overthrow power. There is no time left when the fact are clear: global economies are a giant ponzie scheme; peak oil; environmental degradation; 200 species a day destroyed; a billion plus people living of less than $2 a day; and NO END IN SIGHT!!!!!!

  • Candy C

    Raising the minimum wage is not the answer. The US does not live in a vacuum.
    Raising the minimum wage will only cause prices in the US to go up. At
    $9 an hour, I will be making a nickel more than the minimum wage. The
    value of my savings will go down. At almost 50 years of age, this is
    supposed to help older workers such as myself? All the while, this makes
    the US more attractive to illegal immigrants to come here, then send
    those dollars they make back home. I’m sure, those countries that export
    cheap products to us would love to see our wage go up – even less
    American made products will be sold, as more of theirs are bought… and
    our wealth, however slim, continues to trickle out of the country.

  • Candy C

    LOL not – will never watch this show, again. Disagreed with raising the minimum wage and stated as much, twice, with the reasoning stated. And twice, my comment has been deleted.

  • Jeff

    The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Is it time to abandon this 10,000 year blood bath?

  • Jeff

    It has been unsustainable for 10,000 years.

  • MPay

    Loved this show. A question for Mr. Wolff: How does he see the issue of diminishing resources (especially fossil fuels) and other environmental costs/consequences (eg climate change) impacting this “crisis in capitalism”? It seems to me that a perfect storm is brewing… the myth of “unlimited growth” that capitalism is predicated on is also leading to a crisis in real time, along with our dysfunctional democracy, AND the systemic economic inequality that you spoke about.

  • Wayne

    These are the kinds of discussions that must take place at the consumer level. This information should be talked about at the kitchen table, the cafe’s and coffee house’s across the United States. Everyone can understand these basic ideas and truths when it is delivered in a non-partisan language.

    I find it amazing that in a 45 minute broadcast, the problem is identified and explained, rationalized and solutions, at least partially, identified.

    Thank you Bill Moyers for presenting this information to the masses. Now if only they would listen

  • Jeff

    I have read Berman and he sees withdrawal as the answer, the rise of the new monaste. There is no reconciling this. We cannot sustain this world with finite resources and that fact is denied. Thus, collapse is imminent and saving the planet is the only goal. Civilization must be removed, there is no other alternative…

  • Jeff

    The status quo!

  • Anonymous

    Take to the barricades… better is to take to undoing Citizens United…

  • Big Ben

    You are right. The only problem is: you cannot ignore the so-called elite. They have different means of destruction to wipe everything away if they cannot control over it anymore.

  • Bill Anonymous

    Someone below mentioned, ‘Combining the ideas of Jacque Fresco with the renewable technologies and design practices of today can help us transition into a much higher quality of life’ and I can’t help but think, ‘isn’t that a pipe-dream from an ignorant person?’

    Get real already! Why in the world should President Obama and/or any member of Congress look toward the ideas of Mr. Fresco? If I’m not mistaken the President has two 747’s allowing him to travel anywhere in the world at the snap of the fingers. How many times has he said, “We better take a look at the books to see if we can afford the gas to get to where we are going.”? Not once! Yet something the rest of us in America do on a daily basis.

    Think about it. His daughter’s great-grandchildren will be set for life! Why should he give us change we can believe in?

    Is there a member of the House of Representatives and/or Senate earning less than $50,000/yr? lol I don’t think so. Look at the Honorable Senator McCain with his three vacation houses, cars, planes, trains and whatever other stuff he’s accumulated. Of course he’s earned it by not leaving his buddies behind in that POW camp even with two broken shoulders and whatever else he enjoyed from massive torture beyond human comprehension.

    Look at Obama (and the rest of them) living inside their comfy bubbles surrounded by the top 1% without the slightest clue what is really going on inside America. Why in the world should they give up their coziness to give us change we can believe in?

    This show with Mr. Wolff and Ms. Jayaraman was a breath of fresh air hearing the truth of what is really going on inside America. Now, everyone is sitting on the edge of their seat waiting for Mr. Wolff to return with a solution to this mess America finds herself in. I can’t help but laugh thinking, ‘Mr. Wolff already gave us the solution’ and ‘what more is there to say?’

    Or did I misinterpret what Mr. Wolff said? FDR went to the top 1% for revenue to start Social Security and benefits for the unemployed. There is the solution. BHO must go to the top 1% and kick them in the butts. Problem is, isn’t he among the top 1%? How does one kick oneself in the butt?

    Truly an enjoyable show which deserves a second viewing since I’m sure Mr. Wolff said so much more than my little brain could absorb and I too am on the edge of my seat waiting for his return. Thank you!!

  • fixit

    What would I do if I could ?

    Constitutional amendment that money does not equal free speech (must come from people not congress)

    Flat tax

    Reinstate Glass Steagal in full

    Stop the mergers

    Break-up those that have merged in the past 20years and/or that control more than 20% of their market

    Did I mention I Love Capitalism but with rules that are the same for everyone not just for those that can not afford a get out of jail free card.

    P.S. corporations are not people last time I read the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. So why do we spend so much money defending their interest overseas when they fail to pay for that service?

  • moderator

    Hi Candy,

    None of your comments have been deleted. All three are still on this page.

    thank you,
    sean @ moyers

  • Dave K.

    You asked for questions for when you have Mr. Wolff back on. I would love to know how we can get the Tea Party people to recognize the truth of the situation as he described it and not believe the false manufactured reality pushed by Fox News, etc. I don’t see how we can have any sort of popular uprising in this country while so many people buy into the corporate propaganda.

  • TPearse

    I appreciate the insights of Richard Wolff and agree with many of his comments. I too have been looking at both sides of the argument to try and discern what is true and what is fiction. I would like to know how he would change the structure of the banking system so that regulation is not neccessary. Do we limit too big to fail instituations .. if so, isn’t that a regulation. I believe that the financial industry is corrupt to its core and that if we had followed the rules of capitalism and let them fail and prosecuted those who broke the law that we would be in a different place today. Do we re-create the banks so that they operate more like a utility company? What is the solution to the current system?

    I would like to hear Richard Wolff’s opinion of the Feds’ current zero interest rate policy as well as speak to the monetization of our debt to the tune of $85 billion each month? What will the economy look like in 3-5 years and how does the Fed clear this debt?

    Globilization seems to have created a steady flow of income and revenue out of the US thus reducing the standard of living for most of our citizens. How can we incentivize Americans to buy American made products and keep their hard earned money at the local level. Finally, I would like to point out that France has enacted higher tax rates on the wealthy and the wealthy are moving their businesses and their wealth out of France. It seems to me that as long as there are other countries with better tax policies, the wealthy will continue to evade paying their fair share with no consequences to their actions.

  • pearse

    I appreciate the insights of Richard Wolff and agree with many of his comments. I too have been looking at both sides of the argument to try and discern what is true and what is fiction. I would like to know how he would change the structure of the banking system so that regulation is not neccessary. Do we limit too big to fail instituations .. if so, isn’t that a regulation. I believe that the financial industry is corrupt to its core and that if we had followed the rules of capitalism and let them fail and prosecuted those who broke the law that we would be in a different place today. Do we re-create the banks so that they operate more like a utility company? What is the solution to the current system?

    I would like to hear Richard Wolff’s opinion of the Feds’ current zero interest rate policy as well as speak to the monetization of our debt to the tune of $85 billion each month? What will the economy look like in 3-5 years and how does the Fed clear this debt?

    Globilization seems to have created a steady flow of income and revenue out of the US thus reducing the standard of living for most of our citizens. How can we incentivize Americans to buy American made products and keep their hard earned money at the local level. Finally, I would like to point out that France has enacted higher tax rates on the wealthy and the wealthy are moving their businesses and their wealth out of France. It seems to me that as long as there are other countries with better tax policies, the wealthy will continue to evade paying their fair share with no consequences to their actions.

  • The American Patriot

    I possess two college degrees and the only job available to me is a minimum wage job in a restaurant!!…Thanks to i-do-its in Wachington who do nothing more than lie, cheat, steal and line their own pockects have literally screwed this economy and country into the ground. If you truly believe what you stated, then you can have my $7.25 an hour job…

  • CZ1

    Thank you for having Prof. Wolff on the program. His distinction between Economics classes and Business classes was on-target. Economics classes present the pure theory and math that supports the ideal system; Business classes talk about making money and staying out-of-jail.

    The “invisible hand” of Adam Smith depended on enlightened self-interest that weighed long-term benefits against short-term avarice. Quarterly reports and CEOs with five-year corporate life expectancies aren’t motivated to incur the risks associated with “visionary” commitments. Hence, pure capitalism is little more than a dictionary term.

    The United States has been a mixed economy (government and private investment) since construction of the Erie Canal and the transcontinental railroad. Pure capitalism, like pure communism, tends to breakdown once you get past the boundary of the village market or the monks’ cloister. Battling beneath the Holy Banner of Capitalism makes as much sense as waging war in defense of Santa Claus.

    The tenets of capitalism, fear and greed, stretch back to the age of hunters-gatherers cwhen cave persons decided it was better to trade than to risk getting killed while trying to take what one wanted. The threat of a cracked skull played well into “self-interest.” Capitalism is a very natural state, but not an altruistic or even patriotic one. Profit without pain is the primary goal.

  • Mirah Riben

    How is it that banks and other top ceos moving their mone of shore to beat taxes, NOT greed?

    What does Mr. Wolff think of Pigazzi’s Maximum Wage?

    Is democratic socialism possible in America, and why is it indelibly believed b Americans thatsocialism is evil whie it work so well worldwide? Why is it soingrained that democracy and capitalism – and even freedom – are all one and thsame? How do we undo thos beliefs?

  • Mirah Riben

    Wonder what Mr. Wolff thinks of coporate personhood and it’s effect on the economy.

  • Mirah Riben

    I wonder….
    How is it that banks and other top ceos moving their mone of shore to beat taxes, is NOT greed?

    What does Mr. Wolff think of Pigazzi’s Maximum Wage?

    Is democratic socialism possible in America, and why is it indelibly believed by Americans that socialism is evil while it work so well worldwide? Why is it so ingrained that democracy and capitalism – and even freedom – are all one and the same? How do we undo those beliefs?

  • john

    so glad that bill moyers came back. great guests with a vry attenitive host. tells it the way it is.

  • Surendra Bhana

    Thank you, Mr. Moyers for the in-depth analysis you provide on problems and issues that face us on your program. I was captivated this week by Richard Wolff’s lucid arguments; and by the heroic efforts of Saru Jayaraman for restaurant workers. Wolff’s analysis makes eminent sense to me, but then I am one of the converted. Why is hard for people on the right to see how our predatory capitalism is creating inequality? One such individual is Kansas Gov Sam Brownback, a zealot who acts on behalf of the rich and powerful. I’d love to see him paired with Mr. Wolff for an open debate.

  • Liz

    Question for next week: Is it ethical to provide foodservice and hospitality occupational training in high school for jobs that do not require training (have OTJ) or offer below poverty level wages? Below minimum wage jobs such as wait staff and prep staff –

  • MFWolff
  • Dr. Donald Dodelson

    Question for Mr. Wolff:

    Could an economy based on sustainability be taught, adopted and practiced?

  • Ed Emerson

    I agree. People are addicted to TV shows. Fake “reality” shows, cops and docs dramas, military (fight for freedom) shows, crime and accident news, Fox news, etc. and Clear Channel radio in the car. Protesters look like kooks or traitors – they don’t love America. Then there is the power of the lobby in congress and corporate funding of elections. Sophisticated anti- terrorism and crime techniques can be used against those who would try to destroy “our” way of life. Like Chinese hackers. for our own safety, we will have to put the internet into the hands of the government and media giants.

  • sobe123

    The segment with Richard Wolff spoke volumes to what I’m thinking. Americans are finally coming to the realization that system no longer works for them. Sadly I see a revolution coming. Not the type with people in the streets but one in which Americans will give up on repaying credit, working hard for an employer (thus foiling productivity), and no longer contributing to the country.

  • John Galt

    America has not had a capitalist economy since the early 1900s. The New Deal really put the screws on economic freedom. What you are complaining about are the results of your own ideas. Please stop blaming the failures of your ideas on a strawman capitalism.

  • PRL

    $2.13/hr for restaurant workers ? WHO pays only $2.13/hr? People can’t live on 5X that much…….Who pays that wage?

  • David Eddy

    It was good to hear from an economist who understands what it takes to provide a meaningful and efficient economic system that meets everyone’s needs. Bill Moyers did a great job of enhancing the conversation.

  • Karen Cianci

    The foundation has always been a safe and sound middle class — not the poor. Middle class was the largest class and was so strong that we held up the elite. We are talking about a new order now. We are not building UP from the bottom, we are building a new class without relying on the elite way of doing things. It’s a new paradigm.

  • Karen Cianci

    Agree 100%.

  • Karen Cianci

    Correct but the economy always self-corrected enough to satisfy people. We are past the point of self-correction sadly.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for your comment. The German model seems to work reasonable well. Your evaluation of the Norway I found most interesting. Having traveled their & experienced their economy I found yes they do have a social safety net however after seeing their nursing homes etc I was not impressed. My cousin Bergen teaches economics at the Univ in Bergen & we have had a good discussion about our 2 systems. Norway lost their ship building business due to the high minimium wage law.. it being $14.00 per hr.. This was 5 yrs ago. Had the Intl oil companies not found oil in the North Sea they would be in a terrible financial condition. Tourism is big along with fishing but not enough to make it a healthy economy. I agree with you that our education system is lacking being over priced.. Educators tenure & unions have caused the cost & quality to slip. Even with entrepreneurs getting a free second change that you mention and given this big advantage one does not see big innovations coming from them. No Microsofts, Orcales, Apple etc, while our system no matter how imperfect it maybe seems to encourage & stimulate individual capital investment. How many big new ideas & products have come out of the countries you named??? Had the govt not tried to put folks into houses they could not afford.. if that had not occurred we would be way ahead of Canada. I do not envy them when it comes to health care but their govt does not overspend to the extent the US politicians do.. I have learned over my many years govts do not run anything well vs a private sector .. Thank you

  • Anonymous

    The repeal of Glass Seagall during the Clinton administration was one of many causes of our financial problems. Wouldn’t it be a big plus if Washington would enforce banking laws & trading laws that are on the books. It appears Washington & Wall Street are one. no matter which party is in power.. Taking the Hedge Fund regulation authority away from Brookley Borne did not help the financial situation are well. Alan Greenspan stated that the market would regulate itself. when it come to Hedge funds & direviatives as well a credit default swaps. Has anyone gone to jail over these financial matters?????

  • Anonymous

    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?

  • Rigucci

    It is an excellent show that reveals and explains what I have observed to be true.

  • Brian M Dean

    What I would respond to this guy is that the point he makes in around 23:00 that criticism of the system isn’t allowed is prima facae disproven by the fact of HIS BOOK, and THIS VIDEO.

    I would also like to point out that in other systems, such as communist systems, a guy like this criticizing the system, would quietly disappear and never be heard from again.

    So, where IS this better system he is talking about other than in his fantasy?

  • Anonymous

    You are correct also. The elite are powerful and will try hard to stop any competition. That’s why one has to be smart. In the beginning those who try to go around them will be few. People talk, but few act. Those few can pick parts of the country far from the mainstream — I used to live in Decatur County, Iowa, for example. I think it would be possible to incorporate a town there and build. A town can do a great deal that other forms of organization can not. (Just a first idea)
    We have to get over the fear of the elite and change our way of conceptualizing things to leave their mindset behind. You have to conceive the world differently. That’s the power of the initial communities. People lack a vision of what’s possible. Once they begin to see, things can happen. A book is also needed. This is another way of helping people to “see” alternatives.
    This is not an easy or simple solution. Hard, even when you want to, to break out of old ways of thinking.
    The horizontalists are still doing it in Argentina after ten years. The Zapatistas in Mexico are working at it. Some in Greece are being forced into it. Alternatives are being explored in various places. Much of South America has broken, in large measure, with the North, and the IMF and World Bank. Interesting things are happening there.
    I have faith in the human spirit longing to be free and creative.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Bill Moyer for providing an open and informative show. It was so refreshing to hear Mr. Wolf give an honest assement of our situation. If we had honest politicians that have not been bought out by Super Pacs and lobbyist, and had Mr. Wolf’s thinking, we would not be in this situation. I know I am dreaming, but sadly I see America going away. It may take a revoultion to bring us back to our senses. I have said along, that when you have millionares as politicians, they just cannot think on the same level as the middle and lower class out ther each day trying to make a living.

  • Anonymous

    Captialism itself is not the bad guy here. It is the unregulated, run amuck greed of Wall Street, Banks and Corporations. These enities have been allowed to be greedy by lack of oversight by elected officals who are bought out by lobbyist who really do not have the interest of the taxpayer.

  • Tim Wilson

    Question for Richard Wolff:

    Isn’t it true that capitalism, by its very nature, creates inequality? If the business class takes a cut (profit) of every transaction, their wealth will begin to accumulate until there isn’t any left in the general population. At that point, the economy grinds to a halt. Isn’t this the basic problem that has happened over and over since the beginning of history? Seems like the only way to prevent economic collapse is to have a variable progressive tax code that would automatically get more or less progressive depending upon the rate of wealth accumulation by the upper class.

  • Anonymous

    Monday’s New York Times presents an article entitled “A World Without Work” by Ross Douthat. His concise article presents the topic as being a social trend that’s not so bad as a person might think. The commenters also are exceptionally prescient about the topic. It meshes nicely with Richard Wolff’s thoughts. Whether we need a work ethic, long lauded as a hallmark of western society, may be a cultural revolution we are missing. At another pole is the fulfillment and belonging need in our social specie. Participating and feeling appreciated may be what bothers people more that the formal dollar transfer part of our social contract. The dearth that Dr. Wolff worries about may be more about the real pain created by unfulfilled expectations than about basic needs.

  • JackWW

    Hi Bill,
    Glad to Hear That Richard Wolff is coming back! Capitalism is surely in question and needs refinement in principle but I think that a large part of addressing a long range solution starts at early childhood education. For a students first 16 years of education; Finlands emphasis is on equity in education and not on demanding top of the line excellence and performance by all students and teachers. Put the emphasis on cooperation and working together in the early childhood years and not on intense competition and excellent performance. We as a country have gone over the top! Life is to be enjoyed not endured!

  • MikeD

    The excesses of capitalism have been with us from Day 1 – basic human nature – but it has metastasized into something quite different called techno-capitalism. I look at things like flash trading, some of the Apps on Cell Phones now coming to your glasses, and the zombies walking the street heads bent down over their devices, and clearly this is a complete morphing of human into mindless consumer.

  • Donna M. Roberts


    I have no PhD yet I live and share with as many others who will listen, “WE ARE self-sabotaging our qualities of life with our mass consumption and unhealthy lifestyles. The 1% may be handing us the nooses, but it is WE who are choosing to put them around our necks.

  • David Eddy

    Why do Economists ignore the fact that economic systems are created by people to provide for the exchange of goods and services and that it is not a game of monopoly winner takes all?
    Why do so many Economist ignore the fact that when economic systems fail that it leads to poverty and conflict?
    Why is it not understood by Economists that money is intended to be the means to produce and exchange goods and services; it is not intended to be a means to cripple nations.
    Why is it so difficult to understand that the demand side of economics must have the means to support the supply side of economics and everything else the nation does or the economy will collapse because that is the only way it can happen?
    Life as we know it cannot survive without an efficient and stable system of economics that meets people’s needs. Nations must have a monetary system that provides for all of the transactions necessary to have a quality nation based on the equitable distribution of wealth.

  • Donna M. Roberts

    It is WE middle classes and poor who are Choosing to allow the media and politicians to pit us against each other.

    WE, whether middle class or poor, have to take MORE Personal Responsibility for where we are or aren’t in our lives and then the
    elite (financially) cannot ignore our complaints (e.g., a family vacation when there is $0.00 in a Rainy Day Fund). We middle class
    and poor (as a whole) are not being completely honest about our
    contribution to this economic meltdown.

  • John Amenta

    Nonsense. And fanatical nonsense to boot.

  • Peter

    Dr. Wolff, I listen to you radia show talk, which I enjoyed immencely. Thank you for you dedication and social conscience, but even in the midst of a revolution the CEOs are not going to allow employees an equal vote against the interests of the plutocrates becasuse that would be a constratiion in terms. The elite are not going to give up their adavantage! But with enough social pressure some kind of compromise is possible. It would seem that whatever form that solutions takes it must include the establisment of middle class, jobs, i.e., living wage jobs, but I read an article in The Atlantic which talked about G.E. insourcing jobs back, but these jobs will be paying 28% less than they once did. So, if we generalized this insourcing that would mean the middle class will be 28% poorer if in fact the majority of companies started to insource jobs on a major scale. It is to soon to tell how many companies will start insourcing. My question to you Dr. Wolff, how much soical pressure will it take to compel the plutocrates to take a pregnant pause which will at least slow down their momentum?

  • Chris Erwin

    Not really actually. An aquaponics system that feeds a family of four costs $3200 full equipped and can sit in a space of 240 sq ft. The renewable energy options would cost about $4000. The most bang for your buck is conservation of energy and if done right you can lessen the expense for renewable energy equipment. I don’t have it all figured out but many people today do in fact live successfully off grid so it is possible to do and still lead a normal life. The trick is going to be getting that into the urban space and get people to work better together.

  • John Amenta

    Agree. Corporations have become the new era of slave owners. Wages for many now are barely enough to survive on, while the corporate “plantation” owners are living like feudal lords. And so true: the propaganda spread by the 1% “Owners” has somehow convinced the wage slaves with the nutty belief they are free. It is astonishing how the propaganda has been so effective – the wage slaves ignore even the reality of their every day back breaking labor – the fruits of which if they knew – they are only receiving bread crumbs for, while the lion’s share goes to a reckless casino on Wallstreet and to 1% percenters like one single family – the Walton family, who now owns more wealth than the bottom 120+ million Americans combined.

    And I think we are really beginning to see the consequences of such blatant economic injustice. Anyone who is a student of human history – of economic exploitation – of human slavery – knows what will inevitably follow. We know about Spartacus during the Roman times. We know throughout human history – the slaves do and will rebel. We know that if you take too much from your fellow man – you will be perceived and uncovered for the slime you truly are – as is now taking place with the Koch brothers and Murdoch and the rest of the greedy bastards.

    Oppression is what we have here. And I think it’s becoming more and more clear to the masses. The 1% plutocracy trying its damndest to direct that anger against our own democratic government. A government Of and For the People – the only thing that stands between the final corporate takeover of America by obscenely wealthy hoodlums and the bankster crooks on Wallstreet. They may very well succeed.

  • Uncle Geo

    Here’s my question for Part II:

    Richard Wolffe mentioned that inaction by the mass of citizens may be due to shock that the American dream now seems unattainable; that this has kept the torches and pitchforks in the shed.

    What part does the ongoing and well funded conservative propaganda campaign play? Despite the monumental failure of trickle down and the Great Recession, a significant chunk of the the population still seems to believe an unfettered free market is inherently benevolent! Yet this propaganda campaign by the right is seldom mentioned and is certainly taboo in mainstream media. Surely it’s effects can’t be minor.

  • Uncle Geo

    Rather than evil, it’s amoral. The market has no mechanism to ensure right over wrong or even a full accounting of costs. It does, however, inherently offer incentives for greed.

  • John Amenta

    I’m not so sure it will be so easy to avoid the plantation owners. Homelessness is being criminalized. The US safety net is in tatters.

    What is more likely to happen is instead of a free prospering society of Americans – we will have a growing society based on of increasing fear – increasing human callousness towards those who have fallen into the abyss of poverty – increased crime and incarceration, more oppression: wage oppression, education oppression, human rights oppression. More violence.

    As Ghandi once said, “Poverty is the worst form of violence.”

  • George F. Greene

    “THIS VIDEO” is on PBS, which conservatives periodically try to shut down precisely because living treasures like Bill Moyers and his guests critique the system. You wouldn’t hear about THIS VIDEO or HIS BOOK on mainstream media and certainly never on Fox, unless they could find some bozo to continually interrupt and belittle Mr Wolff to prevent him from completing a thought.

  • Bob Rundle

    This will likely be one of your best shows if Richard follows through in his next program with ideas about how we can change the system. My ? for him: what do you think of David Korten’s strategies for changing our economy outlined in the 2nd edition of his “Agenda for a New Economy”? Both authors are Harvard grads who became aware of the need for system change after some years of work in our present failed economic system. From my reading in recent years Korten presents the most practical long term ways to change our economy. But I have not read any of Wolff’s work yet.

  • Topher Dean

    Yes, your right on all accounts there. Here in Hawaii many people are working on just that. We know that if “the ships stop coming” we’re screwed. At least we have a year round growing season and don’t need fossil fuel to survive in the winter. Good luck out there and as my dear ol Dad says, “cheer up, the worst has yet to come.”

  • Topher Dean

    One thing, I’m not sure about this but, banks controle our MORTgages. That’s a serious tool of oppression for them.

  • Topher Dean

    Yes, the fourth branch of government, like all other branches, has been taken over by corporations. Thomas Jefferson wanted to overthrow the government again in 1779 because he said, “The corporations were corrupting the system.” If he could only see what has become of their noble intentions.

  • Topher Dean

    Yes, me too.

  • Topher Dean

    I think the left needs to correct Carl Roves strategy to pervert the english language into “double speak”. May I suggest that “trickle down” economics now be referred to as, “Shove it up” capitalism.

  • Topher Dean

    Sadly it actually has to get much worse before we rise up. Don’t forget how horrible it was when Rockefeller mowed down all those workers at Ludlow.

  • Topher Dean

    I saw an interview with now Senator Elizabeth Warren where she spoke of a conversation she had with Greenspan and he apparently said to her, “I suppose you think corporate criminals should be punished.” Later after the Bush Administration collaps he was quoted as saying that he was shocked that he had been wrong about the “free market self correcting.” It’s amazing to me that so many people have embraced Ann Rand’s deluded science fiction novels as a legitimate economic theory. In Atlas shrugged she suggest that the capitalist escape to some secret utopia leaving us all behind to suffer. She doesn’t explain who built, serviced, and maintained this secret utopia.

  • Topher Dean

    Wow, did I write that? You’re not alone out there. See my first comment about Lake Mead.

  • Topher Dean

    Yes, it is hard to believe the level of denial.

  • Topher Dean

    “Shove it up” economics. First, fire half the work force and force them to work twice as long and twice as hard for half the money. They’ll do it because they’ll be so scared that they’ll be next on the chopping block. Then automate. Then out source.

  • Topher Dean

    The corporate elite think they can supres any violent revolt using the overpowering technology of the US military. They’re wrong about that, just look at what the Taliban are doing and they have nothing. I hope it doesn’t come to that but it might. We’ll see how much we can endure and how hard they’ll suppress. I call and email the President almost everyday as well as my representatives and the Speaker and others, none of my like minded friends will join me though, because they’re too shy or to busy, another subtle form of oppression.

  • Topher Dean

    Don’t worry, Afganistan shows what can be done with nothing. It happens time and time again. The power elite think they have military authority and then a rag tag bunch of colonist rise up and overthrow them. Of course the Native Americans didn’t fare as well, but they’re still here and I know they’ll join us.

  • Jeff

    Can you please share the name of the restaurant where you are fed “lovingly”? I’m used to much more reserved waitresses.

  • Jeff

    What are your two degrees? I’m tired of hearing about college graduates who can’t find a job only to learn that they majored in subjects like sociology, botony or art history for which there is almost zero demand. Why is your bad educational decision the fault of Washington? I majored in accounting and have had steady employment for years.

  • Topher Dean

    They are actually job destroyers. As it is their obligation by law to increase the profit margin for their shareholders. Of course, the best and practically the only wat to do that is cut labor costs.

  • Mark Willsie

    Great show , finally the truth is coming out!

    Something happened towards the end of the video cutting it off.

  • Paul Quesnell

    Bill said:
    The rich and powerful have more wealth and power than ever; everyone else keeps losing ground. Between 2009 and 2011 alone, income fell for the 99 percent, while it rose eleven percent for the top One Percent. Since the worst of the financial crisis, that top One Percent has captured the increases in income while the rest of the country has floundered. Stunning, isn’t it?

    I’d like to quote this, but I’d like the source of this statistic?

  • Joop Even

    Basic income for all is necassary. We outgrow old Keynesian patterns. Learn from the past en adapt to the current situation. Next step in evolution of mankind.

  • Johanna

    One addition. Mr. Moyers asks the question as to why — in the face of such obvious economic inequality — the majority of Americans still believe that everyone has an equal chance to succeed — Mr. Wolff responds that people tend to cling to an idea – especially when it is being scaled back. I would respectfully disagree and reference Noam Chomsky’s “manufacturing consent” here. Unrelenting commercials, movies, ads — get this false message across through extremely smart and seductive media. The consumer society where “freedom” is represented as “freedom to buy” has morphed the meaning of the word itself. Freedom to buy is not democratic freedom. Vast numbers of Americans are immersed in 24/7 advertising coming at them from corporations in every possible medium that has translated quality of life to mean consumerism.

  • Sukh Hayre

    I think the $9 has a lot more to with perception management. This wage is “topped up” with very low income tax levels on minimum wage earners. It is probably also “subsidized” through the foodstamps program.

    This allow the minimum wage to be kept below “poverty levels” and this makes those that make more than minimum wage, but not a lot more than $12 per hour feel a bit better about themselves and the wage they earn.

    Those earning minimum wage are “trained” to accept that they need to accept minimum wage because their’s is a job that “anybody could do”. Nevermind the fact that nobody WANTS to do these jobs. Minimum wage earners are also “trained” do blame themselves for not having done better in school, and almost feel happy about the fact that they are getting something for nothing because the pay no income tax and get foodstamps to boot.

    “Trained” isn’t the right word, but I hope you know what I a trying to say.

    “Covert” means are used to make the system as a whole, acceptable to the large majority that live paycheck to paycheck, and those in the middle-class that need to feel that they are getting further ahead than all those people who are only “qualifed” to earn minimum wage.

    This is what it takes to keep society civil.

    I’ve got a whole theory on why the wealth gap was allowed to expand over the last 30 years:

    When you are an importer of manufactured goods and oil are running huge trade deficits, and those providing you the goods and oil are willing to accept IOU’s in return, it actually makes sense to keep wages suppressed for the majority and let wealth become concentrated in a very small percentage of the population because this limits what the majority of your citizens can afford to pay for imported goods and oil.

    Had the wealth been more equally spread, all that would have meant is that everyone would have been able to pay more for goods that the Chinese were exporting and the oil that the Middle East was exporting.

    When the maximum benefit of this strategy has been squeezed out, then you can begin to implement policy that is more progressive and allows the domestic economy to grow again.

    This is also when you see that the U.S. somehow miraculously become energy independent when the reality is, they were delaying development of their own energy resources for as long as they could deplete the rest of the world’s natural resources. Not only does the U.S. become energy independent, but their energy costs are significantly lower than the rest of the world’s which gives them a huge competitive advantage.

    Sadly this advantage is blown due to the fact that urban sprawl and the driving it requires eats up much of this benefit. Also the fact that people have become to see being able to afford to drive as a birthright. This is slowly changing, and will continue to do so.

    I’m guessing that gas prices will become high enough that driving habits will change significantly, and many people will be forced to learn to do without a car because that is no longer a luxury that every U.S. citizen can afford now tht the end of U.S. hegemony is at hand.

    Charles Ferguson explains political duopoly in the first part of this YouTube video and, in the second part of the video, I explain (with the help of W) why the housing bubble fraud was actually good for America.

    Robert Skidelsky – What Keynes Got Right and What He Got Wrong:

  • Topher Dean

    Thank you Dr. Wolff for working so hard to bring justice to the working class. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by all of us. I would like to point out one thing though. You, like all economist, have left out the most important input in our economic models. The environmental costs never get factored into the equations. I just read a 2008 paper by Tim Barnett and David Pierce of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography titled: When Will Lake Mead Run Dry. The ten year study estimates that there’s a 50% chance that lake Mead and Powell wil drop below functional levels by 2021. This study does not factor in the disastrous drought of 2012 or the fact that NOAA has predicted, “The drought will continue or intensify in 2013.” I’m not sure what the economic impact will be of abandoning Las Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Reno, and all the other cities of the south west, but I’m guessing it will lead to a collapse of the entire global economy. If you’re thinking some sort of engineering solution will avert this from happening, think again. All the water in the US is already spoken for and demand is already out pacing supply in all areas. A 50% chance may not seem like much if you’re trying to decide which hand it’s in, but if you put three rounds in a six shot revolver and put it to your head, suddenly a 50% chance doesn’t seem so good. While this catastrophe slowly and silently draws near, we’ll be suffering from dozens of other disasters, all happening at the same time. Who ever is running the Federal Reserve Bank wont be able to push a button on his lap top and add 8 trillion dollars to the economy and avert all these disasters. Do you have an economic model to reverse a century of total disrespect for all of creation?
    Here’s a funny thing though. The Republicans love to point out that the top ten percent pay 70% of the total annual Federal budget. I heard this from one of your guest Bill, but I’ve heard it before many times. They never take it a step further though. The top ten does this while paying a 15% tax rate on a bottom line that has already stripped away most of their profits, on paper that is. The fact is, they have so much money, that they could pay down the entire US debt in less than ten years and not sacrifice their standard of living at all.

    Good luck out there, love, Topher

  • Topher Dean

    Of course they are going to try to stop you from breaking away by preventing you from purchasing the land. Land ownership and mort-gages have long been the tool of the wealthy to prevent people from being self sufficient.

  • MBrecker

    While Woff has valid points and needs to be heard, he also needs to avoid becoming a MSM “creation” (for lack of a better phrase). The Guardian (many say it’s the only liberal UK paper?) did a profile on him, and most of it read like a TMZ celeb expose. His phone never stops ringing! He’s hot! He’s in demand! While that may be true (and if it is, who’s his agent?), what’s the point? To see “The Marxist Economist”? Or, to actually learn something and then do something about it?

  • Topher Dean

    I call the President every day and ask for the Glass Steagall act to be reinstated. If everyone who thinks like us did that I think we would see change. Democracy can still work but it wont if we don’t do our job, call, email, write.

  • Topher Dean

    it all doesn’t matter because the environment is in tatters and no one is even talking about it.

  • Topher Dean

    yes that’s a good idea why don’t we do that? Oh ya we’re slaves.

  • David Eddy

    This was a very reassuring broadcast. It is nice to know that there is an economist that understands our current situation and can suggest means of getting our economics back on course. I hope economist Richard Wolff will be able to get his message across to those who do not understand what it takes to have a successful economic system that provides everyone’s needs not just the .001 % affluent wealthy.

  • Topher Dean

    I’m remembering an interview with Ronald Reagan, “The actor?!” When a reporter asked him, “what makes America great?” He thought for a moment and then said, Well, I think it’s the ability to become filthy rich.” then he left. I thought it was the right to vote or something.

  • Topher Dean

    communism might have worked if they didn’t ban religion.

  • john rosso

    Wrong. Capitalism inherently puts profits before people, the country and the environment — because it is run by people with money whose only interest is to accumulate more wealth. Greed is not only allowed, but is promoted as moral and even progressive. Cartels to monopolies and ransom pricing is inherent in the system and inevitable. There is no good in capitalism — everything is based on greed and self-interest. This can be seen in almost everything that Richard Wolf stated plus a lot more.

  • Topher Dean

    I’m glad a conservative is watching. Actually you’re right, war did lift us out of poverty. The mistake you’re making is FDR mandated all the American corporations to stop making civilian products and make weapons and so forth. The only problem is we never stopped. Our war based economy drains our wealth. We could lift ourselves out of poverty again, just like FDR did with WW2. All we need is another war to put everyone back to work and I have a good one. The war against climate crisis. If Obama took FDR’s lead and declared a state of emergency, which it is, everyone would be back to work and unified against our greatest foe. Fossil fuel. Then the markets would stabilize with a reliable and inexhaustible source of energy and some of us might survive this century. The solar hydrogen grid is easily done all we need is leadership. It’s up to us to demand it.

  • Topher Dean

    All we have to do is overcome Fox news which puts out a steady stream of fear. “you commie pinko socialist bastard!” They harness the fear of the religious right when they liken socialist principles to the Godless communist regimes. Poor little sheep they are.

  • john rosso

    No, one just gets demoted or fired in capitalist society. Neither free speech no democracy is wanted by the wealthy ruling class — coming soon to your neighborhood (via Patriot and Homeland acts as soon as uprisings increase).

  • Topher Dean

    I think he mentioned Germany, a world leader in inovation. They take long luxury vacations here in Hawaii. Every industrialized nation in the world has government run health care. We’re the only one. Read Time Magazine’s Bitter Pill and you’ll see your glorious free market.

  • Topher Dean

    Thank you Mr. Greene

  • Topher Dean

    John Galt? Your not a fan of Ann Rand are you? See my previous quote to understand why she’s deluded.

  • Topher Dean


  • john rosso

    Better look up the definition of capitalism before you show more ignorance. Suggest you take Goethe’s advice: “Better to keep mouth closed and expose possible ignorance, than open mouth and remove all doubt.” (para-phrased)
    Real capitalism is “third world” standards and injustice — who in their right mind wants that?

  • Topher Dean

    Too bad the “free” market allowed us to burn 87 million barrels of oil a day and 22 million tons of coal a day for decades because no one factors in environmental cost. I’d like to see the free market correct total annihilation.

  • john rosso

    Poor deluded lass, totally brain-washed by the government and the corporate-owned media. Hitler and Goebells would have loved to have such a deluded follower.


  • Anonymous

    Thank you for your comments.. I agree leadership is in short supply in Wash. We’ve ended up with weak power hungary politicians & no one of stateman level.. How sad.

  • Topher Dean

    I agree, but perhaps a blend of socialism and capitalism with strictly enforced regulations is the answer. Just how do we get there in a country that can’t even switch to the metric system.

  • Topher Dean

    again, it’s fear of the state taking away our right to pray to our God. Which it did in the soviet union and china. The conservative right can’t distinguish socialism from communism. And they’re ignorant and scared. Carl Rove exploited that and it’s working damn well. Also abortion and gay rights puts a lot of them off. That’s why they think liberals are evil.

  • Topher Dean

    not much i’m sure

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for your comment. Having spent a good deal of time at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Mn you learn that foreigners come to appreciate are advanced medicine.. even folks from Canada..Many inpretators are needed to assist the staff. I gave up on Time Mag years ago..It seems the free market still is attractive as folks line up to come to this country to try their hand at it. It’s biggest problem is weak central govt who fails to enact the laws on the books regulating the free market i.e huge mergers.. banking; oils etc.. Wash. has never seen a merger they haven’t liked thus you have 4-5 firms in Wall St & Oil .. Oligopy is I believe is what its called. I’ll not blame the idea only the regulatory agencies. Capitalist are greedy.. that’s a given.. but politicians do not have to take their bribes..

  • Topher Dean

    If corporations move out then we should put a tarif on them. Then someone will take there place at home.

  • Topher Dean

    That’s true but, we still have the same old underlying message. If you work hard enough and save your money and make savvy business investments and get lucky, you might win the lottery and get rich. Unfortunately the narrative never mentions that someone has to build and maintain our infrastructure, that rich people use just like us. No child left behind? What does that mean? who’s going to dig our holes and weld our steel and all the other things that make civilization possible? Mexicans? We don’t want those people, they have slightly darker skin and speak spanish. Yuck.

  • Topher Dean

    Oh, I’m new to this. I wasn’t sure how to respond. The Mayo Clinic. Well, I was a patient there a few years ago and after running dozens of test and charging my insurance company 50,000 dollars they sent me home with a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. Turns out I have a vestibular disorder, which they never checked for, caused by a head injury. I had all the hallmark symptoms. They also didn’t do an eeg which a neurologist here did and discovered that I’m also suffering from micro seizures. Because he prescribed medicine I’m able to write this to you. A lot of people also immigrate to other countries, especially in Europe. If you don’t like Time Magazine, which I don’t blame you, then watch I’m sorry I can’t remember where I saw the interview. I thought it was on a previous show but I’m not sure. Still having trouble. With the medical system, it’s not the quality of the care its the availability. I was lucky to have hundreds of thousands of dollars in net worth to stave off homelessness, unfortunately I lost my entire life savings and my wife left me. If I didn’t have insurance or money, which I did earn through hard work
    and discipline I would really be in trouble. As it is I’m lucky to have family who care about me and have stepped up to help me through this nightmare that still continues today, but many people in this country aren’t as lucky as me. Those are the people I feel bad for.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    We do not have capitalism, so reflexively blaming current economic conditions on capitalism is invalid on its face.

    Where we see the largest failures today: financial system, banking, health care, education, are the most regulated and controlled industries in the world. They are basically an arm of government. This is not capitalism!

  • john rosso

    “The voting franchise is our only hope.. not socialism, not dictatorship.”
    Several points need to be made. 1) Voting is useless if only one side of the issue is promoted as in the US with the Demos and Republicans.

    2) Socialism means more equality, and putting the public good ahead of private interests. It is a mixed economy type of system which allows government to operate key industries such as banks, transportation, utilities and providing education, medical services etc. all the necessities of life by the State, while allowing private enterprise to run the non-essential private industries.
    Under Capitalism production is solely by private interests Communism as so far practiced, is production solely by the State state outlawing all capitalist methods.

    In short, both capitalism (which includes eventual dictatorship due to its natural workings of the system), and state socialism which are replete with injustices, lack of freedoms and what the majority of the people really want.

    The practical solution, if anyone does a little research on it, is Democratic Socialism as it theoretically puts the public interest ahead of private interests. It in short, gives people a real say in society, greater equality, security, particularly in old age, and the choice of what type of government the people really want.

    Accordingly, the only practical solution

  • john rosso

    Yes, that is Democratic Socialism — a mixture of private enterprise and government enterprise — but acting within the scope of putting the public interest ahead of private interests.

    There will be no progress until the people become sufficiently impoverished. This is now occurring but still insufficient to create uprisings and revolt. This however is coming due to:
    — free trade concept which destroys jobs as corporations move to lower cost countries;
    — loss their medical coverage;
    — lose their investments and saving by the legalized crooks on wall street,

    — lose their homes as they no longer can keep up payments;
    — have their families break up
    — workers then become depressed, commit suicide or revolt as they have nothing more to lose.
    — the government then applies its fascist legislation (Patriot, Homeland, FBI and the Military and local police) to put down revolts. As the people suffer more and more, local revolts turn into nationwide uprisings resulting is the long-predicted “blood on the streets” — which is already happening as seen by the treatment of the Occupy Movements some of whom are still in solitary confinement. Within a short time, this violence will be coming to your town — as the ruling wealthy elite have no mercy or compassion. It’s either challenge the “neo-fascist” authorities or worsening standards of living and impoverishment for the 99 percenters.

  • Jill Branson

    Thank you for the perhaps “inconvenient,” but altogether necessary mention of climate change! We have such a short leash on the time and means to proactively, even aggressively, take on the preservation of our planet that I firmly believe it is in the forefront of the many issues that need to be tackled; otherwise, I fear, we are simply rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

  • Anonymous

    Eye opening, to say the least. Thank you Bill Moyers and Richard Wolff!! Idealistically speaking, In my humble opinion, our country and its leaders need a kind of fundamental wake-up intervention, need to find and adopt a more holistic attitude and approach (in all endeavors) that take into account the unity of all– what affects one affects all. Moreover, this kind of exalted road-less-traveled way of being and conducting all business would require no less than illuminated guidelines which naturally flow from transcedent hearts and minds that have moved far beyond concentrated self-interests.

  • Ryan

    Rosso: Capitalism is an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

    I think John Galt understands this better than you, or you wouldn’t have called the economic system that freed half the world from the rule of tyrants “third world” standards

  • FAJ

    A year-and-a-half ago I met with an academic advisor–a faculty member–in the business department at Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis to discuss my plan to major in accounting so I could earn a decent living for myself. The very first thing she said to me was, “An accounting degree is no guarantee of a job. There are plenty of out-of-work accountants.” I think we all are aware at this point in time that a college degree in ANY field is of questionable benefit.

  • Topher Dean

    Good morning John,

    Yes, we’ve seen in before. This time is different. The planet is in tatters, it’s so sick that it wont matter what we do politically.
    No politician on any level any party has the courage to even say the words environmental protection. Unless it’s the republicans that want to get rid of the epa. I’ve decided to go down kicking ans screaming. I call the White House everyday. Or email. 212-456-1111 I suggest picking one or more of the critical environmental problems. I think global climate crisis is the most urgent. Good luck and let em have it!

  • Leonard Scott

    The critical problem in America today is that it has developed two nearly antithetical ideologies: free market capitalism and welfare capitalism. (See my book the Smackdown of the American Worker for a description of how this came about.) The former calls for limited government, low inflation, slow growth in GDP and employment, corporate ascendency, a declining Middle Class, and a limited social safety net; the latter for a robust government with steady GDP and employment growth, average to above average inflation, corporate regulation, a growing Middle Class, and a substantial social safety net. There really is little middle ground between these two economic systems. The operative analogy is the religious wars in the Holy Roman Empire in the 16th century that were ended with the Treat of Augsburg and the principle of “Cuius regio, eius religio, whose realm, his religion. Since America cannot be divided by economic ideological preference, there will be continued political “warfare” until one ideology or the other prevails. The future in America looks dim. The political “wars” will continue for some time. The demographic changes in the country auger for welfare capitalism to win in the long run. However, that may be decades into the future. So as the Hollywood saying goes “hang on it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

  • John Amenta

    A deregulated Wallstreet was the main contributor to the 2007 crash and why taxpayers ended up bailing the big bank robbers out.

    What is reflexive is refusing to acknowledge the power and exploitation of corporations and Wallstreet, and blaming it all on the government. Just like they want the uninformed to do.

  • Silence Dogood II

    Another fine show illuminating inequality and injustice. Richard Wolff also does an excellent job presenting in straight-talking down-to-earth language the situation and possible dire repercussions of maintaining the status quo. What all of this tells me, however, is that capitalism is working as designed. Or is it better said it working as engineered?

  • Anonymous

    Deregulated? Where? The financial sector is the most regulated industry in the world. The largest bank (the central bank) is a government monopoly over the entire money supply and lesser banks have something like 10 full-time regulators on staff. They are basically an arm of the government.

    Google: “the financial crisis and the bank deregulation myth” and read John Allison’s paper. Also google: “Why the Glass-Steagall myth persists”

  • Dan Nowman Niswander

    This is outstanding! Everyone deserves a decent living wage and at least a more fair society to live in especially in the so-called greatest and wealthiest country in the history of the world! When I hear some people say ‘life just isn’t fair,’ common sense should tell us that human beings do know how to make it less fair as well as more fair. I have a lot of experience moving around.. being the new kid in town.. In the first 18 years of my life, my family moved approximately every year and a half and have done my best to minimize that as much as I could as an adult since. I have moved cross country 8 times, and I don’t know exactly how many times state to state and town to town, etc. Since I became an adult I have experienced that our society is and its’
    opportunities are more about who you know, or who knows you than what you know. It doesn’t seem to matter what our excellence is if we don’t know the right person for the job, so-to-speak. This is insane let alone the corruption of the system which is insane… I do think there is a connection to that, too. I think it is also interesting that Mr. Wolffe’s wife is a psycho-therapist. What great insight that is into his economic evaluations! I look forward to seeing Mr. Wolffe when he re-schedules a trip to L.A. Mr. Moyers, I would love to meet you as well. My father was a minister and as you are, was very compassionate and that is the most important thing in this human experience. Thank you also for doing what you do! I look forward to engaging more in this dialogue.

  • David Eddy

    What do you think happens when “supply side of economics” has all of the means of the exchange of goods and services (money) and the “demand side of economics” has none of the means of the exchange of goods and services (money)?
    Answer; There are very long lines of people everywhere bartering goods and services and a whole lot of people starving to death that do not have anything for bartering not to mention lots of prostitution in many ways.

  • David Eddy

    Raising the minimum wage is the only way to prevent people from not being able to support their family or the stability of the nation.
    Slave labor is an abomination and takes the human out of humanity.
    Would you like to be an ity?

  • freeborn6

    That sounds like Comunes and or Kibbutzim. That solution is too out there. We need a morre relasitic solution

  • Anonymous

    I totally disagree with Mr. Wolff on two counts: 1) Regulation doesn‘t work and 2) Bringing the banksters to justice is futile.

    Obviously Mr. Wolff has been schooled by the ruling class as to what constitutes crime and what doesn’t. A bank robber must serve time. But a banskter must not. Even when the money involved is petty on the former crime and billions of dollars on the latter. Nice sleigh of hand. The way this foreclosure scam went down was nothing short of theft. People were allowed and encouraged to take out loans which they could not afford. The mortgage lenders knew the loans were destined to fail. They insured the loans knowing they were going to fail. They then demanded the government to make them whole. I think Wolff should spend a week in jail with people who robbed a slice of pizza. The banksters were involved in fundamental fraud.

    Wolff claims that it is not the individual to be blamed, it is the system that requires the CEO to maximize profits. Fair enough, but it is the system that condemns people to poverty which forces them to rob banks, so let the poor go ahead and rob, “the system made me do it.” Anatole France comes to mind: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” (Anatole France, The Red Lily, 1894, chapter 7.) I’ve never heard a more stupid claim for amnesty than the one Wolff doles out.

    I will wager with Mr. Wolff, (is he a wolf for Capitalism?) that if a number of CEOs were sent to jail for their criminal acts, their personal fortune seriously eroded by penalties, their companies hit by enormous penalties such as equal to their illegal gains or treble their illegal gains, I bet this whole nonsense would stop.

    2) Regulation doesn’t work. Are you joking? Glass-Stegall did keep the banks from getting involved in Casino investment. Strange coincidence, repeal Glass-Stegall, few years later: Catastrophe. By this logic, get rid of speed limits, common sense will prevail. No wonder Harvard, Yale and Stanford are nothing more than training grounds for Viceroys of the empire.

    In short, Mr. Wolff is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. No wonder he gets published, there is always a silly rainbow at the end of his analysis. Wolff never outgrew his masters, sort of a Stockholm syndrome with him. He did stretch the leash, but never broke it. Nice try.

  • Anonymous

    And this is the best we can do to champion reform? We are doomed. The lack of a Marxist perspective will prove the total collapse of the USA. Just as Rome did, from a tepid Democracy to a full-blown imperial oligarchy. And all on the slide to decadence and ruin.

  • hruhs

    Unfortunately the positive parallels available differ remarkably from the situation in todays America. In the past, and virtually everywhere else in the world today, people were remarkably politically sophisticated. The workers in ’30s America or the workers in contemporary Europe had other than official sources to inform them. Our situation is turning into something much more reminiscent of post-WWI Germany. A population systematically misinformed and manipulated by a state propaganda establishment. I agree that there are rising movements on the left and the right. So it was in Germany before the right wing forces destroyed the left and the German population, similar to the US population now, were happy to go to work making weapons and then war.

    Moral reasoning is a developmental capacity that can be easily derailed at infantile levels by dysfunctional cultures.

    Herb Ruhs, MD
    Boonville, CA

  • Anonymous

    John Thank you for your comments. Your first point is correct.. .we vote for what type of capitalism we want… Your second point on equality.. The only equality I feel that exist is under God..In the world I find inequality in all forms of govt. We all have different God given talents & hopefully we can expand them to improve ourselves..How many new products & services have been developed in cottage businesses..I fear this is not encouraged in a democratic socialist system.. Capitalism is solely a private interest undertaking…which means the public.. shareholders, owners & partners. This creates wealth & employment. In all these years I have not seen a Capitalist state go to a dictatorship.. more likely it will fail when big business controls the folks in office. Adam Smith, the economist, warns us of that happening. This than leads to a capitalistic socialist govt.. The question to me is what should govt do?? Lincoln stated it should only do what the people can not do for themselves.. ..standing armies,, roads & bridges. The American people are the most charitable folks on the planet.. We feel good with a since of community by giving to various charities & needy folks. I do not get that feeling sending money to Wash & watch what they do with it. Back to the question … What should govt do.. I do not know the answer to that.. but I feel they are over stepping their bounds with Obamacare..The system needed to be fixed by not this way.. The majority of seniors polled do not approve of it..mainly we’ve witnessed too many times govt fail at running programs..LBJ said Medicare would cost 12-14 billion over 500 billion & growing because basic costs are out of control.. John I appreciate & respect your thougnts.

  • Anonymous

    I totally disagree with Mr. Wolff on two counts: 1) Regulation doesn‘t work and 2) Bringing the banksters to justice is futile.

    Obviously Mr. Wolff has been schooled by the ruling class as to what constitutes crime and what doesn’t. A bank robber must serve time. But a banskter must not. Even when the money involved is petty on the former crime and billions of dollars on the latter. Nice sleigh of hand. The way this foreclosure scam went down was nothing short of theft. People were allowed and encouraged to take out loans which they could not afford. The mortgage lenders knew the loans were destined to fail. They insured the loans knowing they were going to fail. They then demanded the government to make them whole. I think Wolff should spend a week in jail with people who robbed a slice of pizza. The banksters were involved in fundamental fraud.

    Wolff claims that it is not the individual to be blamed, it is the system that requires the CEO to maximize profits. Fair enough, but it is the system that condemns people to poverty which forces them to rob banks, so let the poor go ahead and rob, “the system made me do it.” Anatole France comes to mind: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” (Anatole France, The Red Lily, 1894, chapter 7.) I’ve never heard a more stupid claim for amnesty than the one Wolff doles out.

    I will wager with Mr. Wolff, (is he a wolf for Capitalism?) that if a number of CEOs were sent to jail for their criminal acts, their personal fortune seriously eroded by penalties, their companies hit by enormous penalties such as equal to their illegal gains or treble their illegal gains, I bet this whole nonsense would stop.

    2) Regulation doesn’t work. Are you joking? Glass-Stegall did keep the banks from getting involved in Casino investment. Strange coincidence, repeal Glass-Stegall, few years later: Catastrophe. By this logic, get rid of speed limits, common sense will prevail. No wonder Harvard, Yale and Stanford are nothing more than training grounds for Viceroys of the empire.

    In short, Mr. Wolff is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. No wonder he gets published, there is always a silly rainbow at the end of his analysis. Wolff never outgrew his masters, sort of a Stockholm syndrome with him. He did stretch the leash, but never broke it. Nice try.

  • Anonymous

    If this is what passes for a critique of Capitalism, we are doomed. Wollf is someone who streched the leash of Harvard, Yale and Stanford (Stand for the Empire), you know, those hot beds of social rest, (HC’s quote) but never dared to break the leash, Nice try, but without a true Marxist critique, we are doomed no matter what Mr. Sunshine claims—his happy ending,otherwise he would not get published. One must always, in the USA, rearrange the deck chairs in the Titanic.

  • Publius Ceasar

    What is the alternative to Capitalism as it is currently practiced? A form of more regulated Capitalism? How about a world without money? I have a lack of imagination in this department.

  • dennis

    capitalism is a cancer that needs 2 be removed.

  • john rosso

    Again you should have taken Geothe’s advice — keep you mouth shut unless you know what you’re talking about..

    The “third world” (more than half the people in the world) is a euphemism for capitalism at its purest form. This somehow is supposed to eliminate the reason for their poverty as being due to their own character — ignoring it history of colonialism and more recently the history of US involvement all over the world in overthrowing democracies and supporting dictators and other bribed governments.

    Worse, capitalist greed results in imperialism — invading other countries for its wealth — dozens by the US since the end of WWII (see Blum’s book, Killing Hope)..
    US involvement is not accidental — it is inherent in capitalism when it has the power — and the US has used it to the maximum. It invades countries at will — fooling the American citizens by concocting lies by the dozens to invade countries for its wealth (not liberty as stated by Ryan). Iraq was invaded for its oil and to stop the trend of selling oil in another currency, (The US is now is now setting the stage to invade Iran (the CIA did the job previously in 1953 which then installed the Shah as dictator for almost 30 years).

    US imperialism is now destroying the US — partially revealed by Richard Wolff in last week’s Bill Moyer’s PBS program.

    In reality it is easier to “jump to the moon” than to prove US capitalism in not an evil and failing system. American citizens will soon see the repercussions of US capitalism when it’s standard of living drops dramatically drops in the next couple years when its currency is no longer accepted as a credible currency at the current rate of exchange — even at all.

  • john rosso

    All the restraints of FDR have long been abolished — Bill Clinton did the last job — removing Glass-Steagal — and causing the near breakdown of the global financial system — including making the citizens lose half their wealth — by stock market involvement and the mortgage schemes — and further showing the injustice of the American system as none of l these bangsters and criminals in government have gone to jail.

  • john rosso

    Substitute Reply for Mr. Wolf

    Not under capitalist ideology — profits supersedes humanity, the people and the country. It’s always “profits before people.”

    It’s totally useless in trying to convert capitalists to act in the public good — just as useless as it was when the Abolitionists tried to convert the slave-owners (and the Lincoln government) to abolish slavery (the US government did abolish slavery for other reasons, but not for the sake of slavery).

  • john rosso

    The economic system (capitalism) is what made the the colonies — militarily defeating the weak non-aggressive countries, murdering their leaders and people and forcing them to work as slaves (a good example is in the Belgium Congo in which King Leopold in Belgium cut off the people’s hands if they refused to work — murdering some 8 million indiginants).

    Capitalist rule did not set the people free but enslaved them (see Blum’s book: Killing Hope– or in the US see Howard Zinn’s book: A People’s History of the United states and see how capitalists treated indigenous people here in America) — something you should read for your future will be highly affected by revival of “wild west capitalism”.

  • drawtogether

    Have you heard this phrase, “Oh, there will always be poor people!” It is often stated when the discussion turns to questioning the Capitalist system.

  • Barry Considine

    I spent the early part of my adult life in the hospitality industry first as a cook, next as a chef, then a waiter/bartender, and finally as a manager. Earlier today I shared a story in the New York Times entitled “Lessons of a Line Cook.” In it the author writes about staff meals being eaten together before opening. I’m here to tell you that across the board that is an exception not the rule as it once was. Now employees are lucky if they a 50% discount on their meal and in corporate restaurants that is ever more only a 10 or 20 %discount. We do need to recognize these people as professionals and pay them a fair wage.

  • pat

    thank you for bringing in Richard Wolf, something I suggested months ago, the next guest to consider should be Norman Finkelstein. There is also an interesting book called “reflection” by John Guzziferno.

  • Bob’s Your Uncle

    I’ve been through it all; my solution was self-employment, credit unions instead of banks, bartering, gardening, bicycling, passive solar, in other words taking responsibility. We can stop consuming cable, movies, soda, Kentucky Fried McBurger and instead enjoy our children, friends, pets and environment.

  • Bob’s Your Uncle

    It’s a Wonderful Life all over again, “all our enemies aren’t in …istan”

  • Carolab

    I would like to know what Richard thinks of the solutions put forth by Ellen Brown at WebofDebt.

  • David Peterson

    The theme of this interview reminds me of the poetry of William Butler Yeats, “things fall apart, the center does not hold.”

  • Topher Dean

    I just watched Abby Martin on Breaking the Set. She covers a lot of stories that get suppressed here. This one outlined Iceland’s democratic overthrow of their government. Thousands of protesters camped outside until the government caved in. This all happend as a result of the banking collaps there. Unlike here, Iceland’s government didn’t have enough to cover the banks losses which were ten times that of the countries total GDP. The chairman of the central bank was told to step down but he refused, so the new government rewrote the laws and booted his ass out the door. The new government drew up a new constitution and gave journalist unprecedented protections. They also enacted strict regulations and oversight to their banks. I wonder if Mr. Wolff could elaborate on this surprising democratic revolution. I think he may have to come back for a third show from the looks of things. There’s a lot of good observations and questions in this blog.

  • Topher Dean

    One of the ways the corporate power structure prevents us from building anything from the ground up or having the poor and middle class participating in democracy is by crushing them with debt and suppressed wages. People are so exhausted they just don’t have the energy or time to fight. Their education has been suppressed too, which makes it much more difficult to participate in democracy or simply participate in this discussion we’re having now. There’s many other ways too, like controlling the media. Most people don’t watch Bill’s show. Even if you sat them down and showed them Bill’s show they wouldn’t like it, because it would just go right over their heads. They would just be bored and confused. They’re exhausted physically and mentally from their grinding jobs and all they want to do is watch American idol and relax. That’s right where they want them, on the tread mill.

  • Topher Dean

    I love your vision. How do you get around land ownership and mortgages?

  • Anonymous

    Good questions. A group of interested people willing to commit themselves need to get-together, study, discuss, argue and arrive at a plan forward. As one option that I think can be done, I would look into incorporating a town. Everyone thinks about incorporating a company. Why not a town? I think that could open a number of doors.
    There’s a book about an eco-village outside Syracuse, NY, doing some nice things. Zapatistas in Mexico. Horizontalists in Argentina. Rural community development projects in India and Pakistan. Tapiola, Finland. Lots of things are happening at the edges of current society. There isn’t one model, but I think there is a direction in relatively self-sufficient, self-reliant communities.
    I’ve recently seen the power of complimentary currencies as a powerful tool. Lots of work to do: thinking and acting. One only really learns in reflective practice.

  • Richard Ohlrogge

    Passionate and clearly stated analysis of the dilemma we are faced with. At times when I reach the lowest levels of hope for the goodness of humanity I fantasize about packing up and heading elsewhere (???) to escape the reality we are faced with. Combine this with the ideological roadblocks that exist in Congress then what is there to give us hope!! Well one area that appears to be gearing up to fight this battle comes from the modern philosophical area of integral theory and an organization that has been formed to promote the types of change needed is the Institute for Cultural Evolution. I’m curious if Richard Wolff has investigated this approach and the upcoming debates that are scheduled in the near term. See these sites for details – and

  • IT Greybeard

    Concentration of wealth in the market has accelerated and will continue to accelerate due to what I’ll coin “The a3 Principle”: In chronological order they are “Aggregation, Analysis and Action.” Fast networks and even faster computing platforms allow for information to be aggregated, analyzed and acted upon in fractions of a second — so quickly that other market participants are left in the dust.

    In the past the wealth was spread more broadly because the inefficiencies around market information allowed all sorts of local and slow-time investors to get ahead of the others, even if for something small, and thereby participate in profits of the market.

    But a gap is growing between participants made possible by extraordinary concentration and superior deployment of digital communications and multi-processor platforms of enormous computing ability.

    With these technologies so adeptly in play, minute (very small) discrepancies in prices and trends across markets and globes are concentrated, computed and commanded in what could reasonably be called the speed of light.

    The benefits of these technologies accrue to the few firms and individuals at the spearhead of their usage. The race is to the swift.


  • Topher Dean

    I think I’ve heard of people incorporating towns already, but again they must have purchased the land. Land Lords have been using land ownership as a means of slavery for centuries. There was a big push ten years ago by the banks to convince people that it’s better to own property than to rent, because they had this idea to burry everyone in debt that they could never get out from under. It worked too well and that’s why the global economy collapsed. Unless you’re wealthy enough to own property outright and the law remains on the side of the corporations, enforced with fear of financial and physical violence or incarceration, then it’s difficult to see how we’ll ever get out from under this pressure. Really, the only way I can see out of this is, is through a monumental revolution. We would literally have to overthrow the US Government and rewrite the constitution, which is what Iceland is in the middle of doing. There country has less than a million people, and I’m not sure there’s even a gun on that Island, let alone a massive armed force with nuclear subs and predator drones and so forth and so on. They were able to have a successful and peaceful overthrow of their government and rewrote their constitution so that the government had the right to fire the head of their centralized bank. I just can’t see that happening here with out a horrific battle. Not to mention liberals and right wing radicals going to war, like they did in 1861. Can you immagine the civil war happening today? Oh my God, it would be unimaginable horror.

  • David Schnur

    Unfortunately we have just re-invented a new form of slavery, and the corporations and wall street share holders are the slave masters.

  • Topher Dean

    it is happening here in Hawaii. A shopping mall just covered it’s entire roof with solar pannes. Eliminating over 200,000 dollars of electric bills. The Republicans fight to block any measures to promote the switch to the solar hydrogen grid. Leading politicians like Mit Romney to make ignorant statements like, “Barak Obama thinks he can put a windmill on his car.” Saudi Arabia and the tar sands in Canada have enough oil to keep this going for a long time yet. I hope that Obama has the courage to block the destructive tar sands projects in Canada from using our country as an easement to export their filthy oil to other countries. Personal off the grid energy is a great step but we really need to get the whole grid off oil and coal, so we can smelt our steal and aluminum and so forth with energy from the sun, which engineers have already concluded can easily done. On paper of course.

  • Michael

    I’m probably part of a minority in this country of ours, but I firmly believe that, given the unbelievable inequality we have created, the moment a viable revolutionary theoritician/philosopher arrives on the scene there will be millions upon millions of people who will take to the streets to demand change. I don’t believe that it will be possible to contain the anger that has been growing in the hearts of people who have seen their chances for prosperity crushed by the privileged and government-protected few. This is not something any rational person wishes for, but the fact is the people are increasingly feeling at the end of their rope. Something has to give. The Republicans and the Democrats are apparently not the answer since they are, by and large, captive of the very system that needs to be changed. A mere adjustment will not do. The situation has festered for such a long time that only a massive overturning of the status quo will make a difference in the minds of people who have been repeatedly “shafted” by the powers that be. There have already been some rumblings–Tea Party, Occupy, more and more registered “Independents” and so on. I fear the rumblings will become like earthquakes and the system we have witnessed tearing apart the fabric of the American experiment, at least since the days of the late Ronald Reagan, will crash down around us. The signs are there for anyone to see.Perhaps a leader with some sense who has the ability to rein in the rapacious greed of the so-called one-percenters will arise to save the day. I don’t have much hope for that outcome, desirable though it may be.

  • Keith Piper

    Just think what run-away capitalism does to the cost of medicine and the impact on Senior Citizens. What most of us on Social Security have is a “Used Chevy budget when all that we are offered is a Lamborghini.

  • Anonymous

    I agree, my fear is who will the person be? A libertarian who speaks of freedom about drugs and anti war rhetoric, although the Ayn Rand philosophy at the heart of the libertarian movement is anti government and regulations. It could be a nationalist movement mixed with Christianity. Europe only became a social democracy after the entire continent was turned to rubble during WW II.
    I fear dark days are coming.

    Just think the support President Obama would have if he had broken up the too big to fail banks, strong armed the Wallsteet gang into a accepting a small financial transaction tax and sent some banksters to jail. He would be an FDR and respected by struggling Americans in red and blue states.

  • A. R. Jameson

    I really thank Richard Wolff for giving life to what I have been thinking for the last 30 years, but did not have the background nor brain-power to put together. It was such an enlightening experience. There is a reason, after all, for socialist democracies, and I hope we can learn it fast enough to prevent a lot of pain or worse.

  • GP

    Coming to this country at age 8 from communist Soviet socialism, I find the program misleading and destructive!
    My father, who was college educated in Europe, worked menial jobs. With opportunity, he took chances and invested. He worked hard! We borrowed and paid for my education ( Phi Beta Kappa in college) and medical school. I was motivated, family oriented, hard working, and not influenced by local gang- losers. With all these liberal programs, the economically lower half of this country has the educational opportunity, but does not have the family structure,, fortitude, nor motivation. They are not encouraged to take some responsibility nor blame.

    Unfortunately, they are not capable nor motivated to seize it! No mega trillions of dollars to them will motivate them to achieve this. Capitalism is a convenient culprit. But it is more complicated and deeper than that! We have to restructure the bottom half of this country, eliminate teen gangs and crime, and give them a goal. We must help them achieve this and hold them responsible. As the Gospel teaches, you reap what you sew. No matter what your economic status, one must be accountable and responsible. That is lacking in this country.

  • Anti-Jeff

    Botany happens to be a useful branch of society, and while the demand for art historians is justifiably small, as it is a difficult field to contribute anything commercial to, I think you underestimate the value of sociology as well. If sociologists receive a proper grounding in economics, one thing they may learn to question is how much bean counters, who admittedly are needed, actually contribute to the wealth of the nation, and to what extent the bloating of a managerial caste which has shown little loyalty to domestic production has contributed to the economic demise of the country. Not everyone can pass the CPA or become an engineer and the only alternative available shouldn’t be a McJob waiting on a Brahmin like you. And what you personally happen to be tired of is more of an issue for your therapist if you have one than a contribution to a theoretical discussion. First, you can’t even spell botany correctly, so no wonder you ignore its importance in biology. Secondly, you probably hold the humanities in contempt because you think the questions they raise are either not ones worth considering or ones to which you have all the answers.

  • Anti-Jeff

    *branch of science

  • lynngo

    Could Professor Wolff please comment on what economic system is used in Norway and Denmark for example where they have much more equal systems than we do here in the USA. How have they achieved this and can we do it here?

  • Capt. Jack

    I agree, don’t max out your credit card and live by a realistic budget that fits your income and maybe a whole lot of Americans would not be in the pickle they’re in. I keep hearing that capitalism is such a bad system, yet I don’t hear a better solution. Certainly not a socialist system.

  • Sharon Ellis

    The things that worry me the most about this are that fiat currency doesn’t exist without a functioning government and that, historically, when all the money is taken by those at the top, the society has to change, or it collapses.

  • Jerome Stoll

    I am 71 and remember the picture of Benito Mussolini handing from a tree in Malan and I think the 1% should consider that picture and think of themselves hanging from a similar tree. Once the students who have thousands of dollars in debt training themfor jobs that do not exist in the real world and once those BA and MA graduates after having their parents sign off all their wealth to support the cost ofhigher education for people who will never have the income to pay off those loans; should consider Benito hanging from that tree. I am too old to see it, but those people will challenge capitalism in a way that will make the civil rights movement look
    tame. They may be behaving like deer in
    the headlights now, but once they understand it was all a fraud, watch out.

  • jerome stoll


  • jerome stoll

    No! If history shows us anything is that the elit will do all they can but risk their financial necks. There is a point that even the elite will pay pay attention.

  • That Woman

    I found the discussion with Richard Wolf fascinating and look forward to hearing what he sees are possible solutions. There was one point however, that I do not understand – at the same time that we uproot our system of capitalism why can we not also hold those to account who have done so much toward the destruction of our country? Each of us has free will to decide whether we will take that which is not ours which is exactly what these bankers and politicians have done in collusion with one another. Just the particular crime of taking billions of our tax money and keeping it for themselves should be enough to land them in jail for life. Justice must be meted out to everyone, not just to the little people.

    Also, we need more than systemic change of capitalism but a complete uprooting of our system of government which, not mincing words, is now a completely fascist enterprise (the marriage between government and corporations has taken place).

  • Working stiff

    Mr. Moyers and Mr. Wolff,
    Your criticism was seriously blunted when you opened by comparing the rise in the income tax rate to the cancellation of the “temporary” 2% reduction in the payroll tax rate, which reduced funds available for Social Security. That reduction was enacted by President Obama to supposedly “stimulate” the economy, expecting people to go out and spend it. I suspect the vast majority instead applied that 2% to their credit cards or their retirement accounts. It was never intended to be permanent. It makes no sense to suggest that Social Security is in trouble (which I question) and then turn around and reduce its’ funding source by 16%. Mr. Wolff’s description of the re-instatement of the 2% as a tax “increase” of 48% was incredibly deceptive and dishonest. People managed prior to the reduction, and would have been fine without it. More money would have been put into the economy by increasing the minimum wage significantly, but of course the politicians took the easy way out.
    One point that I will agree with wholeheartedly is that income disparity has reached an obscene and unsustainable level. If the wealthy know what’s good for them they will curb their appetites. Does Marie Antoinette ring a bell?

  • mr__bad

    An economist telling it like it is….RARE. There’s a book on called The New Bill of Rights…it talks about completely changing our system with Rights for workers…You guys should check it out.

  • fadista

    I’m usually in general agreement with Richard Wolff but there are 3 points he made I would challenge:

    1. “Regulations never work.”

    Glass-Steagall worked just fine from 1933 until its repeal in 1999. To say that because regulations are subject to repeal we should take that particular tool out of the equation is to limit ourselves unnecessarily.

    2. Not in favor of prosecuting bankers, Wall Street, vis-a-vis the market crash in 2008.

    The justice department rightly prosecuted the criminals responsible for the savings & loan crisis of the 80s. Obama’s justice dept should have done the same with the 08 crisis. If laws were broken, it’s crucial that the “big fish” get jail time. To have such an obvious two-tiered justice system is tyranny. Our entire market system depends on the trust of our institutions. We should be jealous of our own reputation.

    3. The banks aren’t greedy…

    They damn well are greedy! The banks lobby politicians to write laws in their favor (out of greed) and then you don’t blame them for simply doing what’s in their interest? Hello! Anybody home!? That analysis, Mr. Wolff, would not pass high school level standards! Come on, man you’re better than that–aren’t you?

  • fadista

    It isn’t a matter of Americans willingly putting nooses around their necks. That is a “blame the victim” analysis. While it’s true that no one is putting guns to their heads to force them to live beyond their means, you might be surprised what constitutes “means” these days.

    Also, it isn’t a matter of Capitalism or Socialism. This is what the Right wingers would have us think. The real bones of contention are between what is private and public, what should be rights, entitlements or not, Keynesian economics (govt regulated) and free market (no govt reg).
    No country has pure Capitalism or pure Socialism, just different mixes. Look at the mixes that are providing the best standard of living for the highest number of people (mostly Scandinavian countries) and which has the greatest income disparity among the industrialized Western countries (US). Is this what we want? If not, then we can change the mix. It is up to us, not just the system working autonomously.

  • fadista

    I’m not sure where you’re going with your analogy. If the house collapses, then we start over, maybe a fairer system. This was the debate during the 08 crash. To bail or not to bail? The consequences would have been disastrous for everyone, especially those in the basement. But maybe better in the long run? The Communists/Socialists want to tear the Capitalist playhouse down. They aren’t entirely wrong, but systematic change on that level that is not incremental, in today’s world, might mean a cure worse than the disease.
    So, it’s the elite, the financial institutions, Wall Street, that are forcing the economy into, what Naomi Klein refers to as, a shock doctrine of operation.
    I don’t think we’re on the verge of a financial collapse, we’re on the verge of a social collapse because the government is not living up to its responsibility to care for the interests of its citizens. As Wolff said, the rich should be worried, and they are. That’s why they fund the hell out of the Tea Party & Right Wing wackos–science deniers, reality deniers, pets of the plutocrats–to keep their bubble afloat. It’s that bubble that must collapse–or at least some of the hot air let out of it.

  • fadista

    If you’re saying that the typical Right wing Fox-watching nut job is not thinking in terms of WE but ME, I would agree. But what can we expect in a system so contradictory and dualistic as ours? Our mythology is all about the individual but look at the reality that underlies it. It’s really a story of community and how that allowed the individual to succeed. But that isn’t as glamorous as glorifying the story of the individual. Changing mythologies is not easy. We celebrate the individual hero in popular media constantly. It is ground in. It is even harder to root out of those who need to believe that their own success or fortune (even if inherited) is due to themselves alone.

    Our parents and grandparents (depending on your age) built the infrastructure of this country for its children & grandchildren. However, wasn’t created to run autonomously without maintenance indefinitely. What are the current generation leaving to their kids? infrastructure in need of dire repair, everything from bridges & roads to education & environment. it’s a scandal! The Right wing whines about govt spending but its own solutions are even worse, to dismantle the social infrastructure, to return us to the pre-New Deal era that was so wonderful for the few.

    Ironically, it is class conscious Europe, that has less class distinction now than America, though we deny it. America is the playground and the laboratory for the experiment of the plutocrats to see how far they can push their laissez faire economic system. They’ve made great strides here since the 70s, Now they want to push it on to Europe.

    Unfortunately, much of our mythology is working against us. Wolff said his psychologist wife believes that when people are beaten down they eventually get angry & do something. Yes. But we also have a tendency to blame our selves. When you’re told that the Dream is yours for the taking as long as you get an education & work hard. So when it doesn’t happen, and we also see people succeeding, driving new cars, etc. we tend to think that we failed as individuals. It is important to contradict the “blame the victim” myth & see the underlying reality of a broken and corrupt system that is working against most of us.

  • fadista

    You’re right that we need a more comprehensive solution for the masses but don’t discount the small scale innovations that are successful and providing alternative models to consider.

  • The Zen Carpenter

    If I assume you are serious, then you are just another taker.

  • Angela Hibbard

    This interview was so spectacular. I can’t wait until Richard Wolff comes back for another conversation. Here are my questions:
    – is there any economic system tha tdoesn’t depend on human acquisitiveness to make it go ’round? We live on a planet with only so much stuff to take out of the ground, only so much water, etc., and the path we’re on is utterly unsustainable. Is there any such thing as an Economy of Enough — and could it work properly? Do we have to have advertisers convincing us to purchase stuff we don’t need in order to keep the system going? If we take the long view, this seems like a dead end.

  • Mikel Gravez


  • Topher Dean

    Are you a carpenter? I have 26 years of remodeling behind me. I have my own company and I’ve provided a very high standard of living for my family. I have never taken any money from the federal government!! You’re just going to throw insults at people when your totally ignorant of the facts? Typical conservative.

  • Scott Blackett

    i thought your feb 22 show was pretty interesting.

    here is a question for richard wolff when you have him back: what do you think of the “resource based economy” idea that is proposed by the venus project and the zeitgeist movement as a replacement for our current economic system.
    zeitgeist: addendum……0.0…1ac.1.pScZawNbodE

    also, here’s something else (along economic lines) for ya’ll to chew on:

    all wars are bankers wars…

  • Ronald Helfrich

    As a number of historians, including Max Weber, note there have been, empirically speaking, a variety of capitalisms. Booty capitalism, for instance, is pirate capitalism. Booty capitalists or privateers steal that which makes them wealthier. What we have today is mass capitalism, a mass capitalism that has inherent centralising tendencies (monopolies, cartels, vertical and horizontal integration) and is inherently rapacious (it spreads around the globe and will spread into outer space after it gobbles up everything on this planet including the very planet itself).

    By the way the devotion (I use this term intentionally) of those for this type of capitalism and the justifications and rationalisations for it amongst its cheerleaders makes most economists in the US akin to theologians. On that note I will just point out that no one was more of a theologian, an apologist, a polemicist,of capitalism irony of ironies, than that gobshite Rand.

  • Ronald Helfrich

    Geography matters. If the US was like the Sahara it would be, well you fill in the blank.

    And yes, there are wage variations across the universe, but are you saying that Norwegian wages should be brought down to Chinese levels?

    Doesn’t Norway have one of the highest per capita GDP’s in the universe?

  • Ronald Helfrich

    What we need to do is exorcise the demons from all those people at the bottom, those demonic restaurant workers who are making $2.50 an hour because its all their fault. Come on take responsibility for your low wages dudes and dudettes. Signed Ebenezer Jesus Scrooge.

  • Vicente Roybal

    WOW! Thank you Mr. Moyers! and Thank you Richard Wolff for your critical and timely work!!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Heifrich for you comments..When you speak about Geography I gather you are referring to economic geography..which is a good example of inequality in the world.. Economic growth happens where natural resources exist.. i.e. Norway’s GDP would be drastically affected if they did not have North Sea Oil. Of course I;m not saying Norway should lower their minimiun wage but there are consequences to not being able to compete in the world labor market..
    They are a sovereign nation & so be it.. Inequality exists in many forms thru out the world, the US is not exempt.

  • Anonymous

    Might capitalism have been better served If the regulators such as the FTC & Robinson Patman Act been properly inforced?? Any economic system will fail if governing bodies let cartels & Olyogopies etc become too strong.. thus no free enterprise.. the market fails.. But does this mean Capitalism is bad?? I would submit govts are equally as bad.. Allot of folks feel our financial crisis happened due to the housing bubble trying to place everyone in a home..The FHA, Fannie & Freddie, govt backed agencies underwrote the bad mortgages with tax dollars backing them up… This was caused by Congress & Fed Reserve..A perfect case of poor govt.

  • Mason

    People don’t understand, that capitalism without progressive taxation, doesn’t work.

  • abbeysbooks

    Intentional communities: East Wind (Tecumseh MO); Dancing Rabbit(north of Columbia MO); Dreamtime (Wi an hour or so from Madison); thousands all over the world each different with different emphases. Great place to raise children as the children I have met are remarkable.

  • abbeysbooks

    University education is not a prep school nor an employment factory. Tech schools are for that.

  • abbeysbooks

    Trickle-down is alive and well. What has trickled down is the loss of integrity, among other things.

  • abbeysbooks

    During the great confinement i Europe this is what they did. It didn’t work. But stupid Americans must relearn everything with each generation.

  • abbeysbooks

    All Glass-Seagall did was slow down the process. It’s in free-fall now.

  • abbeysbooks

    You are misreading Rand as are all her followers. Zizek gets her in his JARS article. DeLillo gets her in his novel Cosmopolis (not Cronenberg in his film tho). Eric Packer can be read through Francisco d’Anconia in Atlas as he destroys cyber-Capitalism in one day as DeLillo intended him to be seen. A visionary following Nietzsche and Baudrillard.

  • abbeysbooks

    Yes. It is irreversible as Marx himself said in his Grundisse before he wrote Capital.

  • abbeysbooks

    Yes. But this is why The Hunger Games is such a now movie.

  • Mark

    there’s a great variety of min wages per state

  • Mark

    Really like the idea of minimum wage being raised to $16.50 an hour. We should also go back to a 94% tax bracket for those making over $350,000 along with splitting the banks and limiting their use of real property.

  • Randy

    I would be interested in both Bill & Richard’s opinion of Resource-Based Economic Model and their approach to monetary reform using the scientific method.

  • JoeyP

    Right on. Why must it be one or the other? Why can’t capitalism and socialism co-exist?

  • Susan Hildinger Hoerner

    Jimmy Carter lost his re-election bid because he said, the people of the US must learn to live with less. That consumerism was destroying the country. Here we are in 2013 and he definitely was right. Consumerism is why the credit card debt went through the roof, and society became a two-earner culture. And, those small bankruptcies snowballed into bigger and bigger failures. As people have said, we have lost our chance because we allowed corporations to go elsewhere for labor. rasierw: Even speculation has labor attached to it somewhere. But we US citizens continue to consume, even when we are unemployed, which is why prices are not falling right now. (For instance, food stamp recipients buying Apple i5 phones) We have to stop consuming if we are to get the corporations’ attention. THAT is our golden goose.

  • The Zen Carpenter

    I have not seen that movie. What is it about and how does it relate?

  • The Zen Carpenter

    I am a carpenter, but not a conservative and certainly not ignorant of the facts pertaining to your post. The agenda you outlined in your comment is what is leading to the downfall of working men and women in this country. Whether you know it or not, you are part of the problem not the solution.

  • moderator

    Hey Everyone,

    I think you have all made your points quite clearly, let’s be careful to avoid personal attacks.

    Thank You,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • Topher Dean

    That’s fine, you’re welcome to your opinion about that, but you directly insulted ME when you called me a “taker”. I’m not sure what you mean by a taker, but it’s clear that I am not one. I volunteer my services to the people of my community who can not afford and are unable to, stave off entropy themselves. You were making a sweeping generalization about me personally and in that way you were ignorant, since you knew nothing about me, although that is slowly changing at this moment, i hope. I think we’re done here, unless you want to apologize to me for calling me a taker. Aloha, TD

  • abbeysbooks

    It’s futuristic but not too far there. Confinement in districts, a capitol that is in Simulated Reality. Children that train to kill each other in the annual games.

  • The Zen Carpenter


    Thank You, I apologize if I have violated any of your posting guidelines, that was not my intention.

    Thanks David Schnur

  • The Zen Carpenter

    I will have to admit that I am confused by your philosophy. The points you outlined in your original post don’t reflect someone with a generous nature. An agenda to fire half the workforce, force them to work twice as long for half the money….etc. You may well be a generous person, but by espousing beliefs as harsh as these people could be easily misled. I have come to accept this philosophical bi-polarity in today’s modern debate. All the same, good luck to you.

  • Topher Dean

    Oh, that’s funny. I couldn’t understand why you said you weren’t a conservative. There has been a huge misunderstanding between you and me. I’m not suggesting that ANYONE implement that ideology. The above post was in reference to someone else’s previous post. What I’m saying is: That’s Mit Romney and the Republican partie’s platform. Those are the techniques used by Bain Capitol. My term, “shove it up capitalism is what I’m hoping to replace Reagan’s term “trickle down” with, as it more accurately describes that philosophy. A terrible case of “friendly fire I’m afraid” I’m just glad no one got hurt.
    Carry on Zen master.

  • Rachel Ventura

    We need change in so many areas of our country and I do believe it starts with what is best for most and not for the few. Capitalism is so far from that thought. I am ready for change and am willing to do my part to make it happen!

  • Gary

    Outstanding interview. One of the best descriptions of what is ailing us. Now…how to fix? Here’s my question for your next interview with him. –How much do you think the global economy has been the cause of the middle class decline? What could we have done or what can we do now to lessen the impact?
    Thanks and keep up the great work.

  • Timothy Sullivan

    I like Richard Wolff, I understand his points because of my studies in economics over the years. I have no problem with trying to help people, but raising the minimum wage has consequences on the economy. For example, my company does light manufacturing in America, a key component of our costs are minimum wage labor. We are competing against low priced goods coming rom China. At current labor rates, we are able to roughly match Chinese prices and get orders because of our service and quality. A rise in labor costs will put us in a dangerous position competitively!

  • William Falberg

    To me, the solution to political corruption is about the same as the solution to corporate corruption: keep them away from each other, for they can’t help corrupting each other. It’s no less natural for politicians to pursue money than it is for businessmen to pursue power. Our Founders separated church from state because, as Jefferson states: they tend to corrupt each other. (Would it not be fair to consider Capitalism with another form of “religion”?) Likewise, there needs to be a firewall between money and politics at the fundamental, core, constitutional level of federal law: an amendment.
    The solution is as simple as signing a petition and voting “Yes” to ratify:

    28th Amendment
    “Corporations are not persons in any sense of the word and shall be granted only those rights and privileges that Congress deems necessary for the well-being of the People. Congress shall provide legislation defining the terms and conditions of corporate charters according to their purpose; which shall include, but are not limited to: 1, prohibitions against any corporation becoming so large its failure would pose a threat to national security or harm the general economy; 2, prohibitions against any form of interference in the affairs of government, education, and news media; and 3, provisions for civil and criminal penalties to be paid by corporate executives for violation of the terms of a corporate charter.”

  • Madame DeFarge

    Will you marry me?

  • Nefer MedJ

    richard wolff has the time come when the Federal Reserve system should be dismantled? USA will never pay back the debt it has incurred over the past half century or so. If possible, will each state be responsible for printing its own currency? Since the Civil Rights movement, people have been paying into a system that hasn’t shown results except for the creation of a BIG FAT BIG (whigs)–which they want to trim down.

  • Preston

    Very eye opening program. I relate to many of Richard’s economic principles, especially that is easier for government to regulate than tax, even though the consequences may produce the opposite effect in the end. I submit that now is the time to take seriously many of the economic ‘principles’ and combine them with the unraveling situation of our environment and look at taxing resource depletion. As I remember for Econ 101 you never tax a good, only negative externalities. What if we abolish income tax (a good) and tax resource depletion, in our time when our environment is being stressed and resource extraction is ruining our environment? By taxing resource depletion (corporations are also included) it forces consumers to make smarter choices and business to be more efficient (hint: green). Of course you would still need sales tax and luxury tax on goods (and services!) but income would not be taxed. What are Richard’s thoughts on this concept? I see that as sort of a putting America on a special diet program for consumption and rethinking how we view taxation and regulation on truly negative externalities of our environment.

  • sneferu

    The laws allowing corporate greed need to be amended–enough is enough. Fed Reserve is printing money with no collateral to back the money up–robotic capitalism?

  • Art M.

    Right on TARGET!
    Should Team-up w/Mike Moore or Ken Burns to bring a Video Documentary to EVERYONE Interested.
    Create awareness of what NEEDS to be DONE!

  • LAMP1776

    The system that is broken is not Capitalism, its The Federal Reserve System. The change that needs to take place is to rid this country of the FED, make the US government the bank of issue, as intended in the Constitution, allow our government to spend money into circulation instead of having to either borrow or tax the citizens. This change will take place when the citizens of this country realize the true nature of our distress and tell those in D.C. to either repeal the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and all its amendments or face recall. Look up quotes from Jefferson and Lincoln regarding the creation and issue of money. What we need now are LAMPs, Like American Minded Patriots. And if Paul Revere was riding tonight, he would not be calling out that the British were coming, he would be calling out that “The Bankers are Here.”

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Wolff’s opposition to both prosecuting the wrongdoers & to regulation takes away a lot of his credibility. Apply his “reasoning” to other criminals – don’t prosecute them & abolish laws re: criminal conduct. Doesn’t sound reasonable, does it?

  • Publicana

    Richard Wolff mentioned that after shock comes anger. We may not be as vocal as others, but it is starting to happen. On MHP today there was a discussion re gun control. Those who have been affected are not going to lose their voice. It is the first time I have been confident change will come. It may be slow, but it is coming.

  • Sunil K. Sharma

    Kudos to Bill Moyers for featuring radical voices like Richard Wolff!

  • bmiller

    We don’t need to “fix” the debt. It’s absurd from the outset that the federal government should be in debt at all. Here’s how it might otherwise work:

    1) Stop borrowing money at interest from the Fed Reserve and central banking system (a private, for-profit corporation), take money-creation powers back into the Treasury, and start issuing money to the nation as credit. (The first could be done by gradually instituting “full reserve banking”.)

    2) Stop treating money as an asset to be hoarded – money today is “fiat” currency with no intrinsic value. Start viewing it for what it is – a public utility, like roads and bridges, provided to enable the nation to conduct its business.

    3) … use half of this new money to “hire” all adult citizens as “venture capitalists” whose job it is to “invest” in the tens of thousands of the country’s businesses (through normal commerce). Citizens would receive a periodic allotment of funds. (This is not “welfare” but simply taking rights formerly given exclusively to bankers, now granted to millions of citizens. Who would you better trust to do what’s right for the country at large?)

    4) … use the other half to fund federal and state programs – thus largely eliminating the need for taxes. (Doesn’t it strike anyone as odd that, if the government is the source of money, that it should then have to shake down the citizenry in order to fund its programs? Where’s the disconnect here?)

    5) Control inflation by imposing a negative interest rate (a.k.a. “demurrage”) on long-term savings. Or simply place a one percent per month charge/fee on all held cash. Effectively, this puts an expiration date on issued money which encourages use. Money is supposed to be circulating and doing work, not being hoarded unproductively.
    So long as we keep using debt-based money, there will always be a widening gap between an expanding population of owe-ers and a consolidating group of the owed. The current system is structurally unsustainable, but constant “growth” has enabled us to avoid the consequences so far. Yet unless you believe we can grow to infinity on a finite
    planet, we will inevitably meet the fate of all houses of cards.

  • Namless

    The Fed Reserve every year gives to banks a lot of money on prime rate, now 0% rate. instead to banks Fed Reserve should lend this money to the average people on 0% prime rate, for purpose to create somebodies own business. I think it is against American constitution to give money on prime rate only to the banks and nobody else!

  • Teng Teng

    CHANGE !!! The only thing that is permanent in this universe is the fact that everything changes ….. !!! Time to upgrade …

  • S Pritchard

    The Federal Reserve Note, hence all debt, is collateralized by the assets of the citizens of the United States. That means YOUR house, car, 401(k), etc. The guys that set up The Fed, and later to move to fiat currency were VERY savvy in their long term plans…

  • bmiller

    Right on, regarding nos. 2 and 3. Regarding regulation, I cite a design principle promoted in the “green” technology world: “The need for regulation is the sign of a badly designed system.”

    Our debt-based, private banking system-controlled currency is the basis of many if not most economic and social woes. Can’t fix it through regulation. We need a fundamentally different system.

  • Anonymous

    Whatever the Wall Street banks and the 1% are doing, it is not capitalism and we should not refer to it as such. Failure of the government to properly tax the wealthy has resulted in a system that cannot continue to function. Failure to bust monopolies has resulted in a system of corporatism. Failure to enforce regulations has resulted in a government that is dangerous and untrustworthy.

  • Anonymous

    As Thom Hartman points out, America is just as socialist as any European nation, except, our socialism goes to wealthy corporations. Also, please don’t call our current “market”, capitalist. It isn’t. Where we are and where we are heading more closely resembles corporatist or feudalism.

  • LAMP1776

    Get rid of the FED, let the national government spend money into circulation and eventually this country will only have to levy a tax to take any excess money out of circulation to prevent inflation. Get rid of the FED and we won’t have to worry about who is getting taxed.

  • LAMP1776

    You say it bmiller. My comments to your well written piece are as follows:

    1. Yes, spend money into circulation without borrowing or taxing. I totally agree.

    2. I agree, Fiat currency is not the problem. The problem with Fiat currency is when the source of issue and the control of the supply is in the hands of private, for profit banks. When the source and supply are controlled by the American people for the benefit of the American people, we will have not debt and our economy will run just fine.

    5. Inflation is too much money in the supply and too much unpayable interest owed. And when an economy is forced to operate with a monetary system where money is created from debt, there will always be more debt than money, so someone, somewhere will have to keep borrowing.

    To end this nightmare, people must wake up, educate themselves to the true distress in this system, motivate themselves to learn about solutions to the problem and then activate to implement the solutions. One solution – people, tell your elected employee in the House to repeal the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and all its amendments or face a recall. When We The People take back the House we with take back the government and become We The Governed. That is, the citizen owners of this country and not the servants of elected employees, the slaves of central bankers or the subjects of an overreaching oppressive central government.

  • fred v.

    if we could figure a way to feed everyone in need at public parks real food i would call for a nation wide boycott of all food and beverage/hospitality industry staff.

  • Cynthia

    Socialism never works because you run out of the richest money!

  • john rosso

    Capitalism never works because eventually it forms monopolies/oligopolies, cartels and free trade concepts which kills domestic production and destroys jobs, industries and the environment, because it puts “profits before people, the public good and the country” and indebts the country to such an extent that it eventually collapses — coming soon to your town in the not so “land of the free”. .

  • Heidi

    I would like to add my voice to the chorus of cheers for Bill Moyers’ brave and insightful shows. The interview with Richard Wolff taught me a few things I hadn’t known at all as well as reinforcing some suspicions of our capitalist system I’ve held for some time now. In a recent conversation about this last show with a highly educated young man he said that “communism was even worse”. Hence the real need to see Richard Wolff back on the show to discuss alternatives!

  • bmiller

    Right on, Lamp1776, and thanks for your response!

  • Lisa Argento Martell

    At the end of this show you’d said you would collect questions and have Richard back on to answer them. I would like to submit a question:
    We all want a different system that puts the needs of the planet and social welfare as the central purpose for global community market. But, the people who hold the current structure in place are threatened by this notion. How is it possible that we’ll be able to bring down this current model? They are armed to the teeth and seem to have plenty of guards surrounding their gates. I cannot see any way around this either peacefully or by force.

  • Rick Kiray

    great interview. I hope people wake up

  • Ed Mitchell

    Excellent show on capitalism. A question I have for Richard Wolff is this: how can the “income” side of the economy be increased? All the talk is about doing whatever is necessary to reduce the deficit and balance the budget by cutting expenses. Another way to balance a budget is to increase income. We need another Al Gore to “invent” a new technical wonder, health breakthrough, or whatever it may be, that creates new income streams.

  • Robert Butler

    What a great interview. I became unemployed Friday, my company went bk & I am not looking forward to my prospects in acquiring a new job. I’m 61 I have never seen things this bad for the average american like myself.

  • rick reinhard

    I’ve never been so enlightened by an episode. I ordered Richard Wolf’s DVD.

  • Anonymous

    Wolff blew it by focusing on the saturday closings of Post Offices. The world has come a long way toward electronic transmission of information, hello, Richard. And needs to move faster in that direction. Save trees, save fuel, and human labor. There are other MAJOR imbalances in this interview. Living in NY-WashDC I suppose it’s harder to see them.

  • Pawel Rzeczkowski

    The startup community, the immense growth of entrepreneurial spirit in US and around the world is doing exactly that, building an alternative system. It is already happening, it is well under way.

  • Pawel Rzeczkowski

    Don’t live on credit is a great advice! Unless you are trying to get education in USA.

  • john furman

    This is a socialistic idea which I do not think is a bad Idea but the word socialism has been vilified by those that appose it for many reasons. It will be a very hard sell when money and power has the largest voice.

  • john furman

    He said that he liked the model that said the lowest paid should not be more than six times lower than the highest paid of a company. His conclusion was that labor would buy the product of the domestic market when confronted with what that import represents to its own well being as labor.

  • Chong Kee

    Besides hoping that the politicians will listen and do something about it (a prospect that is looking less and less likely), we can also build a different system ourselves. There are hundreds if not thousands of community currency popping up around the world. One of them is Bay Bucks in the Bay Area:

  • Joel Applegate

    important – a most cogent argument for what I have been observing for a
    couple of decades: We have allowed Capitalism to run rough-shod over
    our Democracy.

  • Janice in Indiana.

    I learn a lot just by reading the comments after watching the the shows. They help me understand better and I see different views to the subjects being discussed. So keep up the good work Mr. Moyers. And thanks to all those who take time to comment on these articles.

  • dyazbek

    Richard Wolff’s biggest failing is his belief that regulating Wall Street is a waist of time. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion up until that point, then became so angry at such an absurd statement, I lost interest. I was also frustrated that Bill Moyers didn’t press him on that point. I also didn’t understand why there was no discussion about campaign finance reform or prosecuting fraudulent bankers.

  • Michael D’Angelo

    Exacerbation of wealth and income disparities foments society’s growing unrest.


  • David Destin

    to answer Bill’s final question- after 20 yrs cooking like a slave I have given up and now live in the woods under a tarp. I live like an animal but I am no longer a slave. a shame really, I used to be so proud of my work ethic. I see now I was just another sucker to be used till I am used up.

  • steve fredman

    the obvious way to stabilize the safety net (social security and medical care.– Uncap the payroll tax.

  • AnntheMan

    I have no interest in a person who criticizes capitalism without providing a provably superior substitute. People earn what they are worth generally speaking and that works. Get an education if you don’t like it, that is until Mr. Obama came into power with probably just the kind of system that our “learned” economist would advocate. My children skipped going to college. They have been out of work for 4 1/2 years now. They deserve the problems they now have. They are white. To get money is simple – you earn it, either by working hard, or denying yourself the good things of life so you can invest your savings, or excelling yourself at college. MOYERS NEVER HAS ANYONE ON HIS SHOW TO DEBUNK THE NONSENSE HE GETS FROM HIS INTERVIEWEES and it’s obvious from the general responses here that you are satisfied with comfort food for the brain which will only make you more fatheaded than you already seem to be.

  • AnntheMan

    It’s not because of capitalism but the lack of it. Right now Obama is bleeding this country with taxes instead of allowing employers to hire people with the same money. Business people are careful with their own money. Obama throws their money away on failed business and unneeded landing fields for pet politicians. What happened to all those bridges Obama was gong to repair?

  • Anonymous

    An approach is to change the rules. There is nothing in economic theory that says you cannot or should not have rules. Rules ensure free and fair competition without fraud or deception. Even that icon of economics unfettered Milton Friedman were clear about that.

    The pickle we are in relates directly to lack of free & fair competition and rife with fraud and deception. In the current investigation into violations by foreign banks of agreements to not do banking with banned countries or organizations i sincerely hope that regulators just pull their US banking privileges. It was a huge mistake not to yank the UBS license when they were found to have been involved inoney laundering (extended years and after multiple warnings) via their Swiss parent.

    If adults (regulators) don’t set boundaries and enforce them the children never learn self control or respect for the rules of the game.

    Yes they will have to spin off or sell off their US business – well so what! They’ll manage. Sending a few senior executives to jail and using RICO to extract real economic penalties – corporate & personal – will send a message.

  • Anonymous

    A real first step would be to break up the big financial institutions into parts so that conflicts of interest no longer exist. None of the Jamie Dimonds & Loyd Blankfeins are creators of anything – they are just employees who worked their way up. But, the behemouths they can’t manage exist because folks that we elected were conned or bribed into changing rules that diminished free & fair competition and created one with rampant fraud and deceit.

    People like Zuckerman, Musk, Gates, Jobs, etc – they created real value. Dimon, et al just vampire squids and that is giving squids a bad rap.

    Commercial banking, investment banking, brokerage services, insurance and commodities brokering/speculation are separate busineses and should never be allowed under the same corporate umbrella at any level.

  • Anonymous

    Milton Freidman was called a free market capitalism proponent. But, he believed that there had to be “..rules of the game…” so that competition would be free and fair with out fraud or deception.

    He would never have supported shadow banking or unregulatrd derivatives, especially naked CDSs. He would have objected to the level of fraud & deception that was & continues to run amuck.

    Our elected officials need to be buried in communications telling them to shut it down. We attract capital because our environment is relatively transparent and rule driven. The more transparent & rule-driven the more capital will come hete.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone in this country can, and via their IRA’s, 401Ks, pensions, etc, do own companies via stock. Something Marx, et al could not have imagined.

    Read the Preamble to the Constitution – our Mission statement as a nation. Helping each other out is embedded in that mission.

  • Anonymous

    And they built the infrastructure of physical assets, sensible regulation & intellectual capital through government expenditures. Everyone kicks in some, via taxes & fees, everybody benefits.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Bill and Richard for a thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking interview. I would question, though why Richard feels that bankers should not be held to the same set of rules as the rest of society – i.e. criminal behaviour begets jail-time? Also regulation with teeth – and no revolving door allowable between banks and regulators – is surely common sense. No enforceable regulation=Capitalism Gone Wild?

  • Actual Socialist

    Socialism has nothing to do with taking people’s money. It has to do with worker’s control of their own workplace.