BILL MOYERS: It’s not only our banking system that remains questionable and shaky – it’s the whole of our economy – that complex mix master of capital and labor, prices and production, goods and services, rewards and punishments, largely driven by private decisions in what has been defined, mythologically, as “the free market.” Which brings us back to Richard Wolff. I say “back” because as many of you will recall, this provocative and imaginative economist was here just about a month ago to lay out, in his words, how “capitalism has hit the fan.” Here’s the centerpiece of his argument:

RICHARD WOLFF on Moyers & Company: 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: My conversation with Richard Wolff opened such a world of ideas that on the spot I asked him to return – and I asked you to send us the questions you’d like to put to him. Your response was as overwhelming as it was smart and informed. Just take a look at some of the letters we printed out from our website, Thanks to everyone who wrote. We’ll get to some of these in just a minute – and to even more of them with Richard Wolff in a live chat next Tuesday at our website,

Richard Wolff taught economics for 35 years at the University of Massachusetts and is now a visiting professor at the New School University here in New York City teaching a special course on the economic meltdown. His books include Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism and Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It. Welcome back, Richard.

RICHARD WOLFF: Thank you Bill.

BILL MOYERS: Let's move on to questions from the viewers who tuned into our conversation three weeks ago, hundreds of them responded.

Here’s Michael from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

MICHAEL: Professor Wolff, what can we as individuals in communities do to regain control of our economic destiny?

RICHARD WOLFF: We have an old tradition in the United States of doing things in a cooperative way. We celebrate it with phrases like team spirit or team effort. It's the idea that a project will be better done if everybody has an equal stake and an equal say in the decisions that will determine the outcome. I like that idea, I believe it has a lot to do with our commitment to democracy.

So my answer to the question is we ought to have much more democratic enterprise. We ought to have stores, factories and offices in which all the people who have to live with the results of what happens to that enterprise participate in deciding how it works.

BILL MOYERS: That's the subject of your book, “Democracy At Work: A Cure for Capitalism.” And we will come back to it in a few minutes. Here is Jose from Naples, Florida and Kristin from Joplin, Missouri.

JOSE: Professor Wolff. On the last show you mentioned how you were against regulation. I agree with you on the most part that regulation has been a failure. What would be your alternative to regulation?

KRISTIN: Without regulation how do we respond to widening economic disparity in our society?

BILL MOYERS: You said last time you were skeptical about regulation because the regulated found ways to evade, overcome or negate it.

RICHARD WOLFF: Yes, skepticism is the politest way I know how to say this. I think that we have now learned in our society that regulating big corporations and regulating wealthy folks is an exercise in futility. It'll work for a while, but those folks have the incentive and the resources to work around it, to evade them.

BILL MOYERS: The hearings last week. JPMorgan--

RICHARD WOLFF: Morgan, yeah.

BILL MOYERS: --Chase continuing to--


BILL MOYERS: --take these risks.

RICHARD WOLFF: Stunning. It's as if the whole meltdown of 2008 and '09 hadn't happened, as if all the risk-taking can continue and all the massaging of the internal rules of the banks can be manipulated, all of that. It seems to me we've learned the lesson that regulation is usually coming too late after, in a sense, the disaster has happened. And then it is evaded and avoided and watered down. It doesn't work. And we have to learn the lesson.

So I would respond by saying, we have to make a more basic change. Instead of constantly coming too late to the regulation activity let's change the way decisions are made so we don't have to be constantly after people regulating them in this kind of sad effort that never quite succeeds. Let's change the basic decisions.

BILL MOYERS: I thought Glass-Steagall worked fairly well from the time it was enacted in the depression with Roosevelt to 1999 when Bill Clinton and Congress repealed it.

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, I don't want to get into a dispute with you, Bill. I think--

BILL MOYERS: Go right ahead, everybody else does.

RICHARD WOLFF: I think there was a long history of evasion. In other words ways were found in the '60s and '70s long before the repeal, ways were found by banks setting up investment banks, setting up new financial institutions to get around if not the letter then certainly the intent of that kind of regulation.

When it was found possible politically first to weaken Glass-Steagall and then eventually to repeal it, well, that was even better. But basically the minute the regulation was set the regulated industries took it as a problem to be solved. Then they hired the economists like me, the accountants, the lawyers and all the other specialists to figure out how to get around it.

BILL MOYERS: And armies of lobbyists, let's face it.

RICHARD WOLFF: Armies of lobbyists to make sure that the laws get massaged and the rules get adjusted so that they can get around it. That's why we keep having financial scandal after financial scandal, hearings after hearings. After a while when you keep doing this you realize that even if you get some benefit (and I see your point), from a regulation for a while, it's only a matter of time. And now that the corporations have gotten really good at getting around it the time for them has been reduced and so we're back to the question isn't there a better way than letting them do their thing and coming late to the table with another regulation?

BILL MOYERS: Okay, here's Martha from Natick, Massachusetts.

MARTHA: I see a perfect storm coming. Capitalism is predicated on unlimited growth, but we live in a finite environment and we seem to have a dysfunctional democracy unable to resolve that contradiction. How do you see climate change and our diminishing natural resources such as fossil fuels and water impacting this crisis in capitalism?

RICHARD WOLFF: Capitalism is a system geared up to doing three things on the part of business: get more profits, grow your company and get a larger market share. Those are the driving bottom line issues. Corporations are successful or not if they succeed in getting these objectives met. That's what their boards of directors are chosen to do, that's what their shareholders expect. That's the way the system works.

If along the way they have to sacrifice either the well-being of their workers or the well-being of the planet or the environmental conditions, they may feel very bad about it, and I know plenty of them who do. But they have no choice. And they will explain if they're honest that that's the way this system works. So we have despoiled our environment in a classic way. That's why we have huge cleanup funds, that why we have so many problems. That's why we have to impose all kinds of costs on companies now to deal with this problem.

So I'm not very hopeful. I don't think this is a system that has a place in it for us to seriously deal with the limits to growth, with the need to preserve our environment, to take care of our health as a people because we have a system that pushes forward with a kind of intensity that pushes those issues to the side.

BILL MOYERS: Janet from Woolwich, Maine.

JANET: If you could be president with a cooperative Congress, what are the three most critical things you would do to ensure that we have a healthy economy that is sustainable, particularly in light of a growing aging population? Thank you.

RICHARD WOLFF: I would pick the following three. Number one, solve the unemployment problem. In a sense it's the most urgent one we have. If the private sector-- and here I'm paraphrasing Franklin Roosevelt in the '30s.

If the private sector either cannot or will not provide the work for millions of Americans who want the work, then it's the job of the government to do it because no one else is. And if I were president, I would follow Roosevelt and immediately create and fill millions, millions-- I'm talking 15 to 20 million jobs in the United States right away.

Number two, I would make it would some have called a “green New Deal,” that is the major thing these people would be doing would be to deal with the environmental crisis that we have, to change the way we use energy. For example (just to give one), to give us the proper mass transportation system that advanced countries in other parts of the world already have that we ought to have.

Millions of people could go to work producing that system and give us a way to move our goods and move our people around the society using less oil and gas with less damage of injury and death the way our car-driven system has, with less pollution of our environment. Here's a way to benefit people on many scales while we put to work those who want to work with the raw materials and tools that are available.

And the third thing I would do is take a page from Italy, yes, Italy who passed a law in 1985 called the Marcora Law which said the following wonderful thing. If you want employment you have a choice in Italy. You don't just have to collect your weekly unemployment check the way we do here in the United States, you have an option.

If you get together with ten other unemployed workers and you agree to do the following thing, the government will give you three years of your unemployment payments upfront, right now, in a lump sum. What you have to agree to is that together with at least ten other people you're going to start your own cooperative business which you all together work.

The feeling in Italy was if you give people a chance to own and operate their own business collectively they'll be more committed to it, more invested in it, more likely to make a go of it than simply collecting a check. And meanwhile they'll be producing things and they'll feel better about themselves. And they'll have a more productive role in the community. If you give everybody a vested interest in their enterprise, they work harder, they work better, because it’s theirs. They’re not just working for the man, they’re working for themselves, which is a dream Americans have had, way back from the beginning.

Sixty years ago the United States was less unequal than the capitalisms in Europe. Now we are more unequal. So yes, it is possible to have capitalism with a much more human face than the ones we have here in the United States and in Britain particularly where we have allowed things to go in a very different direction.

BILL MOYERS: But isn't Italy in a mess today? We all know about the euro crisis. Those governments are in trouble, austerity's being imposed throughout the Mediterranean area. We had this explosion with Cyprus-- explosion of fear with Cyprus being bailed out and the depositors in the banks having to contribute to the cost of bailing out. A tiny island threatens to bring the euro system down again.

RICHARD WOLFF: Absolutely, and that Cyprus story is extremely important. Even though it's a very small country and people might not pay attention because it is small. Here is the austerity program of raising taxes and cutting government spending, taking a qualitative new step to help bail out a capitalism that hasn't worked in Europe and that has crippled this little country of Cyprus.

The step taken to try to fix the problem is to literally reach into the private, insured bank accounts of people in the local banks in Cyprus and take money out of it to pay for fixing this broken system. For all working people, and not just in Europe, here in the United States, too, this should be a wakeup call if you still need one that we're in a situation where the most dire, unexpected, unimaginable steps are being taken to fix a system that keeps resisting being fixed so that we are required now to dip into people's checking accounts and literally take the money away.

BILL MOYERS: Richard, one of our viewers, Antonia Murrero asks, "Student loan debts are overwhelming me and many others. What does Professor Wolff think would happen to the economy if those debts could be forgiven in personal bankruptcy? Is that even possible?" he asks.

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, the law in the United States specifically prevents you from using bankruptcy to erase your student loans. Bankruptcy does allow you to erase other kinds of debts if you can't pay them. But the student loan system was set up to prevent that. So students are in a very specially bad place by virtue of this.

We've never before done this. In our history as a nation we've never before required college students to take anything remotely like this level of debt. We're still-- we're requiring students to accumulate huge amounts of debt to get bachelor’s degree, let alone more advanced degrees, at the same time that we offer the graduates the poorest job market and prospects in a generation. That's a one-two punch.

You have to borrow more than you can afford to face a job which will not allow you to ever pay it off, hence this person's very intelligent question. How is this going to work? We've solved a problem in our society, how to educate the next generation. And let me tell you, this is an important matter. We economists believe that the single most important factor shaping the future of any economy in the world including the United States is the quality and the quantity of the educated trained labor force it produces.

College and universities are where we do that. If we're crippling an entire generation with debts they cannot support and jobs that will not encourage them to continue in their studies we are as a nation shooting ourselves in the foot going forward. It's a demonstration of the dysfunctionality of our system.

And then the question comes could we forgive the students' debts? Well, it's an interesting idea. But how then do you go to the people who can't afford their credit card debts or their home debts or their mortgage debts-- they're all hurting. And the students have a special claim, I give them that. And we need those students, I understand it.

But we have to go at the root of a society which allows unspeakable wealth to accumulate in the hands of a tiny minority while condemning an entire generation of students to a set of burdens. We don't want them to have those burdens. We need what they can produce for us as a society.

BILL MOYERS: But what does this young woman do who says she's overwhelmed by her debt?

RICHARD WOLFF: Many students are not aware that they actually have some ways to help them. But the more broad answer I would give you is you need a social movement. If there were masses of students saying, "This is intolerable," and saying it loudly and saying it publicly, peacefully for sure, but making it clear, then the powers that be would begin to realize that there are millions of students, upward of 15, 16 million people go to colleges and universities in the United States. You're talking about a very well educated constituency. If they were organized and mobilized you would begin to get the response of dealing with their crises much more effectively than what we have now.

BILL MOYERS: Here's a synopsis, Richard, of a lot of similar questions that bring us to your book, Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism. A viewer who identifies himself as a longtime fan of Dr. Wolff writes, "You're passionate about workers’ self-directed enterprises. Can you explain briefly why you think these are the way to save capitalism? Critics say your alternative may work in theory but not in practice."

RICHARD WOLFF: My point is that workers ought to be-- all of us who work in an office, a factory or a store—ought to be in the position of participating in the decisions governing that enterprise. And I do that not only because I believe in democracy. And let me say that if you do believe in democracy, it's always been a mystery to me why that democracy that you believe in doesn't apply to the place where you work. After all, five out of seven days of every week, most of your adult life, you're at work.

So if democracy's an important value it ought to be at your job because that's where you are most of the time. And democracy at the job means the following. If you have to live with the decisions that are made in a job, what you're producing, what technology's being used, what the health conditions of your workplace are, what's done with the fruits of your labor, literally whether your factor or your office continues, since you have to live with those decisions you ought to participate, the basic idea of democracy.

So I like the idea of cooperative enterprises because it fulfills my value commitment to democracy. Whereas a capitalist enterprise doesn't because it keeps all the decision making in a tiny minority. We all who go to work have to live with their decisions, but we don't participate in them, not even to speak of the community that has to live with the decisions.

But the second reason is I see concrete results coming from an enterprise that was run by the workers collectively, and let me give you a few examples. First, most of us believe that if the workers themselves made a decision that they would close the enterprise and move it to China, I don't think so.

I think that the whole running away of enterprises out of the United States was made possible because the decisions to close enterprises here and to open them in another part of the world where you could get away with paying workers much less was a decision that was very good for the folks who make the decisions, but not for the average workers there.

So if we had decision making made by the workers in place they wouldn't undo their own jobs and they wouldn't move. And that would make a very different economic system from the one we have today. Second example, suppose a technology was being considered by the corporate heads who make the decision, the board of directors, and it was one that wasn't safe, it created too much noise, too much air pollution, despoiled the water, whatever. If it's a bottom line decision of the typical sort the board of directors and the shareholders seeing profit using that technology might go ahead and use it because it's profitable and that's what they're called upon to do, make profits.

If the workers collectively made the decision knowing that they had to breathe that air, they had to hear that noise, they had to live with that water and so did their spouses and their children and their neighbors, I bet you you'd get a different decision because they would weigh the costs and benefits of that decision differently. And my third example, although I could give you many, Bill, if you want them.

The third example, when it comes to deciding what to do with the profits, suppose instead the workers themselves made that decision democratically, how do we divide the profits?

You think they would give a handful of top officials wild sums of money to buy $40 million apartments on Fifth Avenue while everybody else was having to borrow money to get their kids through school? I don't think so. I think that people collectively would distribute the wealth more to some than others for all kinds of reasons, but they would do it in a much less unequal way than we have in a capitalist system.

So I challenge all of those who are concerned with a more equal system, with less inequality, to come up with a better way of achieving it than having workers be in a position to make the decisions as to how we divide the profits because that is the single most important determinant of the inequality of income in our society.

BILL MOYERS: But how do you answer this viewer? "In 1994 when United Airlines was on the brink of financial collapse a deal was made creating the biggest employee-owned company in the US. In 2002 the airline filed for bankruptcy."

RICHARD WOLFF: My answer is the following and it's very important. For workers to own something is one thing. For workers to become the directors of their own enterprise is something else. Worker ownership means for example, and we have lots of examples both in the United States and around the world, that the workers become in a sense shareholders. They are the technical owners.

But if the workers who become owners, and I'm not against that, but if the workers who become owners don't change the way the enterprise is operated it remains a capitalist enterprise. It still has a board of directors, a handful of people who make all the decisions. It's true that the workers may vote for who those people are, but they've left the structure of the enterprise in the old form, hierarchical, top-down. That's what was done in United Airlines. I was involved in that. I actually know.


RICHARD WOLFF: They called me in at a couple points to participate in some of the discussions, the International Association of Machinists, which was the union that was part of that. So they left the old capitalist structure, they weren't willing to go beyond saying, "We, the workers, become owners, but we leave the running of the enterprise, the directing of it, the day to day decisions in the old form made by the old experts." Part of a movement away from capitalism to a cooperative enterprise requires that the people of the United States stop believing that the folks at the top have some magical entitlement to give them that position.

BILL MOYERS: I think most of them have, if journalism and the social science surveys are reporting what's actually going on out there.

RICHARD WOLFF: Yeah, and I think that there has to be a change. I think most Americans have to recognize that the folks who run our enterprises, they had to learn how to do that. And we can all learn how to do that. It's the old argument in a sense that comes out of our history.

BILL MOYERS: Here's a viewer named Jeff chiming in. "Dr. Wolff, can you please give a concrete, not academic or theoretical explanation, of how you would apply your employee-run business model to a McDonald's, Wal-Mart, a hospital or JPMorgan Chase?"

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, the answer is best given not as a hypothetical but to describe an enterprise which is large like all of those are, which has done this.

BILL MOYERS: There's a film called Shift Change, about the cooperative efforts. And we'll provide a link to that.

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, the example I'm going to give is a company in Spain. It's called Mondragon, the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation. And a little history may interest folks. It was started in the middle of the 1950s by a Catholic priest in the north of Spain in the Basque area just south of the Pyrenees Mountains.

It was a time of terrible privation in Spain after the World War II and the Spanish Civil War. There was terrible unemployment in this area and the Catholic priest decided that one way to deal with unemployment was not to wait for a capitalist employer to come in and hire people but to set up cooperatives. And he began with six parishioners in his Roman Catholic church to start a co-op.

Okay, this is 1956. Let's fast forward to 2013. That corporation now has over 100,000 employees. It has been a success story of gargantuan proportions. It is a family of co-ops, within this large corporation. In most of these co-ops the workers make the decisions of how this cooperative works.

So let me give you an idea of how successful they've been. They partner with Microsoft and General Motors in their research labs because Microsoft and General Motors want to tap into their creative way of running a business. They have a rule that nobody can get more than six times what the lowest paid worker in an enterprise gets.

The typical situation in a major American corporation is that the top executives gets 300 or 400 times what their lowest paid worker does. So they have solved the equality problem in a dramatic way for 120, roughly, thousand people. There's a concrete example of how you can make a cooperative democratically run enterprise successful, growing and becoming a powerful community force.

There is Arizmendi, the name of that priest in Spain, there's the Arizmendi Bakeries, six of them in the Bay Area that are all run as cooperatives. And they run it as a worker-directed enterprise. They've been very successful. Their commitment, number one, is not profit. Their commitment, number one, is not growth. Their commitment, number one, is to their people.

BILL MOYERS: Which brings me to a question from another viewer. "How do you move to this alternative you're talking about and writing about without strong unions? Union membership is down to its lowest level since 1936 when Franklin Roosevelt was president. And can you do this without increased strength among unions?"

RICHARD WOLFF: A union in its negotiations with an employer currently is limited in most cases to asking for better wages, better working conditions. Imagine with me for a moment what it would mean if the unions developed a new strategy. Let's call it a two-track strategy.

On the one hand you continue bargaining with your workers for better conditions from your employer. But on the other hand you do something else. You begin to train workers to become able to run their own enterprises and to have a whole new bargaining chip when you confront an employer. Many unions over the last 30 years have been confronted by a company that basically comes and says the following. "We're thinking of leaving Cincinnati, Sheboygan, Detroit, whatever. We need to get some concessions from you.

"We won't leave if you give us wage give backs, lower benefits, all the usual things, or else we'll leave." The union doesn't know what to do, is terrified, doesn't want to call the bluff because not sure it is a bluff, et cetera, et cetera, so eventually the union caves. That has been the history over and over again.

Imagine a union that had been able to say to these folks, "Okay, if you leave rather than coming to a reasonable accommodation with us, we are going to set up an enterprise right here. The factory you leave we will occupy. The jobs you don't pay us to do we will do for ourselves. And you will be located in China bringing goods back here, but we'll continue to produce goods here and let's see which goods the American working people will buy."

BILL MOYERS: But they will need capital to do that.

RICHARD WOLFF: Yes. And the question is where would the capital come from?

BILL MOYERS: The question is where will the capital come from?

RICHARD WOLFF: Good. The answer is, where the capital come from, there are several possibilities. The first possibility is the United States government. The United States government has the money, needs to do something for our unemployment problem and here's a way to do it because as the Marcora Law in Italy that I mentioned earlier illustrates there's a governmental and a social interest in doing this. This is a better way to solve the unemployment problem than giving people a dole for months or years at a time during which time they lose their job connections, they often lose their skills.

This is a much better solution, giving them the startup money to begin small, medium size enterprises that they will have a great interest in making successful because it's their future, it's their wellbeing that's at stake and it's their collectively owned and operated enterprise.

Well, why in the world don't we have a cooperative business administration providing startup money and technical help so that these kinds of enterprise, particularly helping unemployed people, could begin not only to help them and to help our economy but again to provide that freedom of choice for Americans so we can all see how these enterprises work and make a collective decision whether we'd rather have an economy more of them than of the old capitalist type. And again I think that the capitalists would be surprised by how many of us would choose that other route. And that would be a way to get it going.

BILL MOYERS: This is all very provocative and very controversial. And very imaginative. We'll have you back at this table before the season is over. But in the meantime I look forward to our live chat on this coming Tuesday at 1:00pm Eastern Time.

RICHARD WOLFF: Good. I look forward to it as well.

Richard Wolff on Curing Capitalism

Richard Wolff’s smart, blunt talk about the crisis of capitalism on his first Moyers & Company appearance was so compelling and provocative, we asked him to return. This time, the economics expert answers questions sent in by our viewers, diving further into economic inequality, the limitations of industry regulation, and the widening gap between a booming stock market and a population that increasingly lives in poverty.

“We ought to have much more democratic enterprise,” Wolff tells Bill, in response to a question from a viewer in Oklahoma. “We ought to have stores, factories and offices in which all the people who have to live with the results of what happens to that enterprise participate in deciding how it works.”

Addressing a question about capitalism and climate change, Wolff says, “Capitalism is a system geared up to doing three things on the part of business: get more profits, grow your company and get a larger market share… If along the way they have to sacrifice either the well-being of their workers or the well-being of the planet or the environmental conditions, they may feel very bad about it — and I know plenty who do — but they have no choice.”

Wolff taught economics for 35 years at the University of Massachusetts and is now visiting professor at The New School University in New York City. His books include Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism and Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It.

Interview Producer: Gina Kim. Editor: Sikay Tang. Associate Producer: Lena Shemel.

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  • Anonymous

    Anyone interested in these ideas should watch *The Take*, a very interesting film by Avi Lewis and spouse Naomi Klein who were in Argentina at the time of the collapse, the flight of multinational investment, and the beginning of a recovery by the workers who’d been abandoned:

  • jjq

    Mr. Wolf, your philosophy sounds like socialism. It was difficult to even listen to your interview with Bill Moyers. Do you not notice some of the street people, or those who are indoors but dependent on entitlement when you are in the center of any big city? Many are not intelligent enough to function in enterprise because they have never been motivated, nor do they want to get any type of education or training, and they often times are abusive of substance, and are utterly incompetent, and as a result to not want to work. Sure these individuals want part of what you are advocating that being getting something for nothing. Additionally to not differentiate and compensate our leaders because they have taken the initiative to become specialists is unjust. Your concept here is bordering on Communism. It does not belong in the same sentence as market economy, and giving a hand out rather than a hand up is not the definition of ownership. For those of us who work hard, and have advanced in our community either in the workplace, and/or by continuous education I have to ask you the following question: Do we look like a meal ticket? Capitalism is alive and well, and I would rather fall on a pencil and stab myself then be party to your ideals!!!! I feel I am now more stupid for having sat through Moyers’s show with you as guest.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, that is the most ignorant statement I have read on the internet in a really LONG time. I don’t even know where to begin on a rebuttal. There are so many different ways to attack your argument, it blows the mind, so I’ll only do it if you want to. If you take 5 minutes in deep thought, I’m sure you’ll already start to realize what I’m saying.

  • HueLong123

    Love Richard Wolff…GREAT show

  • Coleman McFarland

    Great show. Love seeing Richard Wolff speak.

  • tigerfire75

    Why don’t they have Fredrich Hayek or Milton Friedman on? I bet either of those guys could destroy Richard Wolf in a debate. Yes I know both of them are dead but they already heard all of Wolff’s arguements from others just like him.
    Nothing against cooperatives. I mean but why should the government give the people the money to start them? I could list tons of companies that the government didn’t give money to start that are capitalism.

  • David Woo

    So, without economic democracy our political democracy is off balance. Cooperative enterprise then, is a way to build workplace democracy. Joining a Food Co-op’s storefront, moving money to a Credit Union, using the services of a Worker Co-op or even starting one can help to keep more of the wealth and value we create, everyday, in our communities.

  • kirby

    Utter claptrap with which I do not want to engage!

  • Valerie R. Federoff

    I am a highly educated, underemployed substitute teacher like many other highly educated underemployed teachers working as subs or in other jobs or both. If I wanted to start a worker owned coperative, how would I go about doint it?

  • Anonymous

    This is the first time that I have heard Dr. Wolff talk about his involvement in the United Airlines transition to a worker owned enterprise. I remember when that occurred but I never saw any reporting on the eventual outcome of that relationship. I suspected that the employees had kept the existing top down management structure in place which doomed this experiment to be an exercise in futility. Dr. Wolff has spoken on the need to re-educate the workers in this country who have been indoctrinated since birth to accept the short comings of a Capitalist top down management structure. Considering the complete destruction of the labor unions in this country over recent years, the only system that has long struggled to give working Americans some level of Democratic equality at the work place, a transition to a worker owned and managed enterprise is really the only remaining path for the workers of this country who are facing individual competition in a third world labor market where the lowest cost is the order of the day !

  • Anonymous

    Eleven Recessions and two Depressions in this Capitalist run economy over the past 80 years and you want to keep this system going ?

  • ABB

    Great conversation! Thanks to Richard Wolff. And may I urge you to bring Marjorie Kelly and the insights of her new book, Owning Our Future, The Emerging Ownership Revolution, Journeys to a Generative Economy into the discussion.

    After Richard Wolff makes the profound statement that our current system pushes catastrophic issues like climate change to the side and therefore he has little hope for it addressing this huge crisis, the discussion quickly moves on to green jobs and cooperatives. Wait. Why and how does our existing system push something as mind-boggling as climate change to the side?

    Because we have, Marjorie Kelly points out, an extractive economy. “Industrial-age civilization was powered by the twin extractions of fossil fuels from the earth and financial wealth from the economy.” That
    was its purpose. The cost to labor has long been known. The cost to the planet is becoming more shockingly apparent every day.

    Mostly agreeing with Richard Wolff about regulation,
    Marjorie Kelly says, “You can’t change a system effectively with rules applied from the outside. Adding rules that are fundamentally at odds with a system’s own internal guidance system is like putting a picket fence in front of a speeding locomotive. The
    fence doesn’t change the nature of the machine.”

    On top of that, Marjorie Kelly says, “we are schooled . . to think there are only two choices for the design of an economy: capitalism and communism, private ownership and state ownership, but these are dusty 19th century categories.”

    David Korten notes that “both capitalism (private ownership) and socialism/communism (public ownership) support a concentration of the power of ownership in the hands of an oligarchy.” Oligarchy is not what we need, in either guise.

    What we need, Marjorie Kelly says, is a different design, a generative economy where the very
    purpose of the economy is “aimed at generating the conditions where all life can thrive; where the architecture tends to create beneficial rather than
    harmful outcomes; a living economy that has a built-in tendency to be socially fair and ecologically sustainable; that is about generating and preserving
    real, living wealth and helping families enjoy secure homes, creating jobs, preserving forests, generating nourishment out of waste, generating broad well-being.”

    What does this new, generative economy look like? It certainly includes some of what Richard Wolff is talking about—employee-owned, employee-operated cooperatives — but with additional key factors built into the design (and documents) of these enterprises: a “living” purpose; governance by the “mission” of the enterprise rather than by finance on steroids; capital as a tool for the mission rather than as the master of all involved (casino finance); operating in networks that support social and ecological norms rather than trading goods based solely on price.

    The new economy is “profit-making, but not profit
    maximizing,” and it is emerging “as a natural process versus competition of two ideologies vying for dominance (capitalism vs. communism).”

    “The whole notion of property as dominion—the idea of turning every molecule of the earth into financial capital, using that capital to create more capital, trying to amass limitless amounts so as to exalt the
    self over all others . . . [is] a kind of remnant from an earlier age. What’s coming next—the generative economy—is rising all around us.”

    I hope you will further enrich this conversation with the
    insights of Marjorie Kelly.

  • susanpub

    I see apoplectic conservatives (IF any of them are watching, of course) all over the floor!

    Live chat on Tuesday in the middle of the day – for unemployed people. Working a regular job? SOL.

  • susanpub

    How I wish we had a genuine food co-op here in Tulsa where I’m stuck. The previous 2 places I lived had them & I miss them. It’s just not like that here.

  • susanpub

    While I don’t agree with jjq, & his point of view
    doesn’t surprise me, I have to say you haven’t been reading some of the internet sites I’ve been on lately! He has competition.

  • Solarman Jd

    If you go back in the History of the USA before 1900
    you will see that 90% of the employment was mom and pop sole proprietorships and 10% were corporations…
    basically what we could use a good dose of in 2013…

  • client1958

    Richard Wolff’s Ideas might work if we were
    under communism or socialism. But Wolffs ideas would take a complete change
    over of our political system.

  • Enopoletus Harding

    As long as there exists government endorsement of fractional reserve banking, such things will always happen. Not the free market’s fault.

  • Yochai Gal

    Firstly, There are plenty of Austrian school economists he could bring on. The majority of them do not fit with Moyers current theme, however: rebuilding the American capitalist model. In fact, many of them prefer strengthening some of the more “free market” approaches that Moyers (and many others) believe created the current crisis.

    Governments should provide funding options to cooperatives the same as they do traditional businesses – through SBA Loans, guarantees on credit, etc. They already do this, in fact. What they really need to do is standardize co-op law around the country. Very few states even recognize worker co-ops as a business entity.
    Source: I’ve started two worker co-ops.

  • Ricardo Morelli

    Mr. Wolff made me think that a cooperative agricultural enterprise might not approve many of Monsanto’s poison to feed their own families…

  • Anonymous

    I don’t agree. In the free market today, it is far too easy to churn the money that is made by people into financing for debt. This is the free market at its worst. The free market itself is largely fine, but having such a free market in the realm of finance capital is downright dangerous.

  • rltmlt

    I think we all can agree with your concluding statement !

  • Rob

    can you give us the name of the company in Spain or Switzerland you cited as a working model. I did not catch it.

  • Carl Landsness

    Do we need a mission/vision/values foundation (to build on)?

    And a national business plan?

  • Enopoletus Harding

    The FDIC exists. The Federal Reserve exists. Bailouts exist. All these encourage risk. The market in the realm of finance isn’t anywhere near “free”.

  • Brad Sherwood

    I have been studying the worker cooperative movement and thinking about the lack of democracy in our society. Is it possible that while Congress does vote on bills, that the political parties, in their drive to control the contents of bills and the selection of bills to vote on, have abandoned the democratic process and created instead chaos? Is this why they are so ineffective and unrepresentative?

  • Farm Guy

    Mr. Moyer, great Show and couple questions for Professor Wolff:

    Professor Wolff; Would it help our Nation if we had some basic changes in the structure of our Government and how it conducts daily business?
    Such as TERM limits (say two years for all Federally Elected Officials – 1 TERM for President/VP)? NO closed door meetings or discussions with Lobbyists, ALL Lobbyists must do open PUBLIC Forum type presentations to invited parties (who may or may not attend), but again, in a set time and public forum basis? And would it help to have a Flat Tax basis in the US where everyone (no alternatives or credits for anything) pay the same Tax? (Say in a 9% to 12% range would I think would bring in more taxpayer $$ than the system we have today; even at these levels!)
    Thank you for your insight and consideration of these basic change questions.

  • JLD vt

    As usual, one of the best shows, certainly food for thought.
    BUT: As happens so often, Free Trade, and what it has done to our jobs, was not a real part of the discussion. When it came in in the early ’90s, I said to all: “There go our jobs!”. Of course! Corporations make huge profits at the expense of the unemployed here and elsewhere, and the middle class and others are on a slippery slope, to say the least.

  • Beorn Borg

    If you live in the Southeast you may have shopped at Publix. I recently heard they were employee owned

  • Beorn Borg
  • Stephanie

    OH ! What an oasis-in-a desert of an idea for integrating democracy into the workplace and into our communities – cooperatives – with the plausible promise of at least balancing the economic classes of our society as well! What a fine presentation of operationalizing this concept !

  • ibe

    the problem is there are very few co-ops to use. We need more of them, a lot more.
    Question; would you trust a Wall St brokerage co-op?

  • ibe

    What your “Capitalism has done was buy of congress through lobbyist to whittle away at Glass-Steagal Act of the 1930’sand finally repeal in 1999. It only took 10 short years to get us right back to the depression it was enacted to prevent. The partnership of “your Capitalist” of today, and the government is the closest thing to “Communism” without quite meeting the exact definition there is.!

  • ibe

    Lobbyists need to be outlawed! It is legalized bribery. Anyone guilty of it should go to jail including those that accept it!

  • ibe

    In short…corrupt

  • Deborah Morera

    Not everyone works 9a-5p. And maybe the unemployed people need to hear this.

  • Deborah Morera

    Lobbying isn’t the problem, not all lobbyists use bribery, some even represent the interest of the citizenry at large. What should be passed is a law that keeps lobbyists from being elected or appointed to any government position for a certain amount of time (5+ years) and vice versa (no one in gov’t can be a lobbyist for that amount of time).

  • guest

    this idea hit me.. i dont like the struggle to get in on the top group.. my gene is helping.. how does democratic coop answer the differences in individuality, and more unspoken of, the outcasting of unlike minds.

  • Tom from L.A.

    Brilliant argument for how to realistically solve the very serious issue of apathy and unemployment, a.k.a. disenfranchisement in our country. Good. Glad he is on my side.


    How do we persuade the forces holding themselves down to behave differently?

    From whence is that cataclysmic spark to come?

    Will our government double-down on its own citizens or the relatively few elite?

    Professor Wolff is the Harriet Beecher Stowe of the evolving economic character of the United States.

  • Anonymous

    I agree Friedman would enlighten Mr Wolff on his idealistic approach to a cooperative society.. Seems that its been tried in USSR & those cooperatives did not fend to well. My exposure to coops in this country found many of them fail due to corrupt managers even tho they have a great tax advantage.over regular corporations. No matter which system we use the big unlying human problem is greed & power..IF our govt would enforce regulations that are on the books & the Justice Dept put some folks in jail we’d have a better change per Sheila Bair. Jon Corzine is still working free with his corrupt even brought to trial..He did bundle 900,000 dollars for the Pres reelection however.. Capitalism is far from perfect but I not seen a better system to spur growth & innovative… Henry Ford & Steve Jobs success come out of a cooperative system. The USSR system was so corrupt & unstimulating that it collapsed under its own weight.

  • Anonymous

    We do have a chance if we can vote the bums out which one can not do under Communism..

  • Anonymous

    We over those past 80 yrs have fared far better than any other type of economic system in the world with all its faults & corrupt politicians…but it need a house cleaning in DC

  • Adrian

    i was wondering what your take is on us having loose credit available over the last couple of decades. Is it possible that there is a relation between the declining purchasing power of the people and the attempt to save capitalism by encouraging consumerism to continue at any cost.

  • William Grab

    Let’s face it, The American Dream is badly broken. The capitalistic system we have now is fast turning this country into a 3rd world country. Of course if you’re one of ‘the haves’ in our society it’s easy to think that’s not so bad.

    In my view, unfettered capitalism gives free rein to our worst basic instincts: greed and power. I believe that cooperative ownership by employees stands a much better chance of keeping those instincts in check.

    I think Dr. Wolff’s prescription stands a far better chance of restoring the American Dream and making this country what it can and what it was meant to be.

  • Chris

    “all the people who have to live with the results of what happens to that enterprise participate in deciding how it works.” To decide how it works do you think the Constitution should have one more article to “empower the people to express their will” on all issues? and 2.
    To have full employment do you think the industries, corporation etc. by cutting working days from 5 to 4 days to relief the pressure of those being unemployment
    will provide some solution?

  • Anonymous

    before I saw the draft which was of $4939, I didn’t believe that my sister woz like they say truley earning money part-time on-line.. there friend brother started doing this 4 only and resantly repaid the morgage on their condo and purchased a new Acura. this is where I went, jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  • Daniel

    His example around 11:34… Where does he suppose Italy gets the funds to pay up front this advance of 3 years for a co-operative business? And what happens if they are unemployed after that? Do they get second chances?

    This assumption that we can borrow from our future generations while having no unintended consequences is flawed and dangerous.

    Read about Austrian economics and the business cycle… oh and here’s a link referring to the true great depression of 1921.

  • Anonymous

    I tried to start a business.

    By the time that I got through all the investigation and sorted out the red tape, I would have to cough up just over a million dollars in taxes and fees not counting the huge amount that I would have to give the IRS on earnings they said that I should make. I also would have to put in a paved road for the county, construct a four acre public park, and contribute to the library rebuilding and book stocking fund…

    The company was never started…..

  • Anonymous

    ‘Other people’s money’ is free…just ask the bankers……

  • Enopoletus Harding


  • David Gaian

    “Mr. Wolf, your philosophy sounds like socialism.”. As if that word merits any less of a kneejerk pejorative connotation than “capitalism”?

  • David Gaian

    The core presumptions that underlie the pro-capitalism argument are themselves deeply flawed. To name a few:
    1) the legitimacy of the idea (and codification) of ownership (rather than, say, more enlightened concepts of “stewardship”),
    2) the presumption that every exchange must produce a profit (our planet has no further “wild west” to go settle, so if ideas of economics based on growth, growth, growth ever did have validity – those days are long behind us),
    3) the existence of externalities and the false us/them dichotomy between producer and consumer, ruler and ruled, (its a spherical living planet floating through an icy inky vacuum of frozen space, not some endlessly lush and abundant infinite plane, but we act like ravaging monkeys with endless room to pillage, pollute, and move on),
    4) the illusion that government is “them” and we are “us”, the governed (in a more awake society, like in any small civic group self-regulating with integrity, empathy, and fraternity, government is populated by intellectually qualified and morally worthy SERVANTS of the common good).

    Core questions at hand:
    1. Whether this vision of a more idea future or some other – equally worthy, can we agree on where we’re going?
    2. If we can agree on where we’re headed, can we agree on how to get there? (strategic disengagement of current dysfunctionalities, progressive embrace of the new)?

  • Fred Becker

    iam so angry at KBTC here in Seattle for not airing this show. I want so much to see it live.! anyone from KBTC you should be ashamed!

  • DonJon Vonavich

  • George T. Karnezis

    I’d be interested in Professor Wolff’s suggestions on campaign finance reform. A large part of our problem is the influence of money and how much is needed to get elected. The amounts are scandalous. How can we prevent this enrichment of the media and consultants while our public discourse deteriorates? How can we undermine the Plutocracy that our democracy has become?

  • Treme Gray

    Bill,have you seen the movie,Zetgeist and Zeitgeist Addendum. It tells you more about our economy than all of your guests combined!

  • Bibi

    For all the defenders of our capitalistic system, get real: IT’S NOT WORKING!!!!

  • Zappu

    Did you ever live in the USSR. Do you have first hand experience with their corruption? Or are you just parroting the standard line?

  • zappu

    Austrian economics – the rich get richer, and everyone else gets poorer.

  • nameless

    Why not to pick congress by lottery. Since elections have no sence because candidates promise different things and do different and because there is no way to prevent bribery ( lobbist can give money or jobs to familly members ), so the best way is to salect congress by lottery with every citzen eligable, only for one term in lifetime of one year. President would be elected by congress from mambers of congrress for one year term one time in lifetime. A little bit like to serve in court jury.

  • Nameless

    Dr. Wolff I think that the most important thing for cooperatives is financing. Mondragon was saccesfull because when they had only 400 employees they started they own bank Caja Laborar now $65bln assets and this bank was the reason why they could expand in manufacturing that requires a lot of capital. Without own bank cooperative can do only retail and services because they do not need much capital. Does American banking law alow workers cooperative to own a bank?

  • lashlarue

    Unfortunately, Mr Wolf is just soft pedaling the same old stuff that does not work. By doing this he will still be in demand and people can still feel warm and cozy about their precarious security: the almighty dollar. There is no fix. The institution of taxation on everything is crushing the wage slave and makes us complicit in one of the most horrific terrorist groups on earth. As long as half of every tax dollar goes to the military we will remain so. Small businesses are being crushed by regulation, permits, fees, insurances, taxes… The myth of sustainable is just more rhetoric; mining rare metals in the Congo, or anywhere, is not environmentally green . More public transportation isn’t going to solve anything for the wage slaves. Corporations are pushing mankind over the edge and there is no coming back. Institutions are not interested in the individual or their dignity. They are only interested in themselves. Like the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, any war, will fail. Millions of people have died from cigarettes without one shot being fired–no war here folks. The desires and insecurities of 7 billion people will always be exploited to benefit the rich and powerful. I don’t think Mr Wolf is a bad guy, he probably has a lot of bills like most people trying to live the American Dream: career, home, cars, cabin, vacations, comfortable retirement, college for the kids, good insurance, plus, plus, plus.The reality is this isn’t a sustainable model and thats the last thing the middle class wants to hear.

  • Anonymous

    The Russian mafia is well thorough out the world.. one need not travel there to recognize it. .A friend traveled there on business & described the big black cars of the mafia & the corrupt banking system they had.. He Had to carry cash over there to pay his people employed by his employer as they could not trust the banks He had to bribe the customs agents to get past them.. One even took his cap. What a country!!!!

  • Schmoe

    I thought the reason we had financial scandal after scandal and evasions of regulations was because human beings by nature are cheaters and liars. We all cheat and lie when money is at hand, it doesn’t matter who is in charge. Make the best of the system we’ve got and you’ll be fine. There are still plenty of Americans who begin as immigrants with little and grow to have great financial lives. This show and Wolff are huge fodder for severely idealistic folks out of touch with human nature.

  • Schmoe

    Wolff gives the average human being too much credit especially this idea of a democratic work environment- constructs humans as being more intelligent and even experts on the conditions and products. Wolff obviously has no contact with the average working class human being – the average person doesn’t want to work or think about what they’re doing, they want to work as little as possible and go home and relax.

  • Danielle

    I thoroughly enjoyed this discussion, and it was personally timely. My sister is another young American that is saddled with an unfair amount of student loan debt. She has a full-time job (and it is a “good job”), yet she has not had a pay raise in six years. Because her student loans are so large, she is now moving in with my husband, baby, and me. We DO NOT have the space to help her, and yet it’s better than her car (which was the other option). I hope that you do a show about the policies that are causing this situation, and others like it. The student loan industry has teamed up with colleges to prey upon the hopes of the young and create a new class of indentured servants. In some ways, debtor’s prison would be more humane, because at least a person could do his/her time and be done with it (and they would have housing in the process).

  • GeosUser

    There’s one thing Professor Wolff didn’t or won’t talk about openly and that is, where is all the money going to come from to fund all these new “democratic” collectivist enterprises or the 15-20 million new Federal jobs he would immediately create? I suspect as he hints around the edges that he’s going use the police power of the government to seize it from anyone he thinks has “too much” all in the name of the greater good. This is a clear demonstration of the cancer that is progressive philosophy…which is facist to its core.

  • Anonymous

    Blah, Blah, Blah… Lets get to the real fix, ELIMINATE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS of corporations, and non living entities. Money is the root of all evil in our government and has poisoned the democracy so it no longer represents it citizens but only business entities with money to spend. This is what needs to be done, effectively replace capitalism with democracy again in our government. Capitalism hijacked and took over our government.

  • WhoIsJacopoBelbo

    As opposed to our current corporate kleptocracy which isn’t at all facist? Give me a break. Today’s America is already a facist state, with the reigns of facist power clearly and firmly in the hands of corporations and the 1%. Anything to take that wealth and power out of those hands and put it into the hands of the masses is fine by me … even if that means by force and wholesale slaughter. unfortunately it would take eliminating the vast pool of ignorance (the 40% that think the earth is 6K years old) which the 1% and corporations yoke and harness nefariously to achieve their ends. it is facism built on the backs of and with the complicity of the half of the population that is so vastly ignorant they have allowed themselves to be manipulated into putting themselves into their own shackles.

  • WhoIsJacopoBelbo

    regulations are there to try (unsuccessfully mostly) reign in the barbarity an corruption and evil of large corporations. unfortunately small business gets caught by mistake. a small restaurant doesn’t need “regulation” because if they make somebody sick they go out of business whereas McDonalds just throws millions and laywers and PR at the problem and it goes away.

    it is time for small business to side with regular people AGAINST corporations. it is time for a cap on the size of business and a cap on the size of their market share and a return to actual capitalism where good companies thrive (and then split into new companies when they get too big) and ones that try to screw customers or workers or the environment fail. if a business is to big they can fail their customers and employees and communities and the environment with impunity and still never “fail” … their size and money and thus influence in government allows them to manipulate laws and destroy any “competition”.

  • Anonymous

    Political greed has a lot to do with things also. Sometime back, we had a mayor that was of the ‘nanny’ type and also wanted to fill the cities coffers with as much money that could be garnered. Not only did several large businesses that originally planned to build here decide to go elsewhere, many businesses including small firms picked up and left or just quit. After many businesses left and a great number of people lost jobs, the mayor was voted out.

    The irony came when after losing the mayoral seat, the ex-mayor decided to go into business. It was a dismal failure. Not only did the ex-mayor make public statements about the absurd costs and fees just to start a business, the ex-mayor went to the city council to get exemptions from the very laws, rules, and regulations that was implemented while the ex-mayor was in office. The council refused to allow the exemptions, she finally went bankrupt.

    She still writes an occasional op-ed about the lack of fairness of the laws concerning businesses…the fact that most of those laws were pushed by her goes over her head…

  • Daniel Hirtz

    what Dr. Wolff is pointing out here really blows my mind… I have been thinking about this for some time now: how come that we have allowed for a small, small group of people to hold us hostage in almost all areas of our lives now? As soon as we wake up we have all the tools we would ever need to create an economy that works for many more of us… but I think we all are responsible… our own misconceptions of what freedom, prosperity and independence means has lead to this…
    For as long as we think that their are winners and losers all of us will loose.

  • Daniel Hirtz

    We already have credit unions… of course we can own our own bank

  • Daniel Hirtz

    I agree that those movies are very good but we need to get away from this black and white consciousness. It’s not either or but it’s this as well as that…

  • David

    good point… that is why during our education years we should be taught about what this is all about, so we act proactively and not reactive. Work could some day be more valuable to many, instead of check to check.

  • JR

    yes we wouldn’t want to deprive the $60 million ayear CEOs of their hard earned dollars, or close off-shore tax shelters that allow GE, Exxon etc to pay NO corporate taxes, or cut the war machine down to size…

    Conservatives consistently use the “oh how are we going to pay for it” line only when it doesn’t suit their ideology.

  • Stateless

    In regards to the question posed to Prof. Wolff where he was asked for an alternative to regulation since he stated the he did not favor regulation.

    Prof. Wolff’s answer was rather disappointing. His credibility went down a notch as far as I’m concerned. His answer was based mostly on utopian desires than real world realities. Bill sort of challenged Wolff on this by bringing up Glass-Steagall to which the Prof responded that he did not wish to get into an argument with Bill, an argument that the Prof. was bound to lose IMHO. Glass-Steagall worked reasonable for about 60 years. To not be in favor of regulation because there are elements in our society that oppose it and eventually repeal it seems to be self-defeating.

    The Prof does make it a point to refer to Marx quite a bit and I am admirer of Marx for his spot on analysis of Capital where he breaks down capitalism to its most elementary basic level. Whether the Prof. is a declared Marxists or not doesn’t matter. It seems that the Prof. has fallen into the profile that most Marxists fall into. That is, an accurate analysis of the problem and then offer irrational and utopian solutions that are basically unworkable. The solutions that Prof. Wolff offers can only be made workable with regulatory incentives, in other words regulations which he states he is opposed to.

    Prof. Wolff’s answer on regulation reminded me more of Adam’s Smith invisible hand analogy only this time it would be another invisible hand that would guide us. I for my part have had enough of invisible hands and consider them more of an invisible foot kicking me in the butt. So let’s leave the analysis to the Marxists and the solutions to the Socialists.

  • Stateless

    Then there is also the totalitarian enterprises existing whithin our “free market” which are run like mini-fascist states: WalMart, Home Depot, Staples, etc. Slavery and indentured servitude in disguise imposed through the use of indirect institutional coercion.

  • Sandy Olson

    why didn’t he share his ideas for change?

  • Barbara Anderson

    You know nothing about the average human being. Educate yourself, you will find out that people want to work, it is part of the human condition. What they don’t want is the be a slave. Human beings, labor, do not reap a reward for their labor in our festering capatilism. Just barely living above the poverty level, in some cases well below, on minimum wage is not benefiting from your own labor, no matter how hard you work. Most people just want to work, they don’t want responsibility/ownership. If you did understand human beings, you would know that 99% of those of us who labor, just want to know what is expected of them, to get paid a living wage, to have a future, to see their kids do better than they have done, and they will work their butts off, to do the job the very best they can. Don’t speak, unless you understand the subject. Obvisousy you don’t.

  • Barbara Anderson

    It never ceases to amaze me how little people understand.

  • Barbara Anderson

    Don’t judge every human being by yourself or those people who are running this country right now. I can see why you are so jaded, so pessimistic. Yes there are people who come to this country and are great successes. And there is something we could all learn from them. They have a founding in cultures that are totally different from ours. As first generation, they don’t watch our TV and they don’t listen to the advertising mega structure that has convinced our children it is better to have the crap we don’t need and live from pay check to pay check, than it is to save. And they want to be owners. Good for them. I agree with Wolff, if the individuals that labor for a company, and if their lives are affected by the decisions the owners make, then labor should have a say. They fact we have let you destroy our unions is our fault. When we are willing to start dying for the right to have a decent life again, then maybe things will change.

  • Barbara Anderson

    How do you know it doesn’t work. We have never tried it in this country. The closest we have come to it is Labor Unions when they had some power. That is how we got the Child Labor Laws Passed, minimum wage, 5 day work week, 8 hour work day. You understand the problems unfettered capitalism has created. We just quit fighting before we were finished. Until we realize that the financial risk of the owners is no more valuable than the financial risk of labor, we will fail as a country.

  • Citizen 4 411

    Right on the mark! Until true CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM happens, nothing of substance can/will change. Period. Who in office dares talk about it in the public square anymore?

  • Doug in CA

    What I believe needs to happen as we transition into a service provider society is that a discussion about exempt vs. nonexempt employment status needs to take place again. I have many colleagues and friends that are classified as “exempt” but work upwards of 20 to 30 hours per week (sometimes more) above the normal 40 hour work week and, because of their “exempt” status, never receive a penny for the extra time worked and can never truly take a meaningful “vacation” other than a day or two here or there. Even then, they are never truly disengaged from the job for that day or two.

    Also, most public companies, especially the legacy ones (HP, IBM, etc) have become so bloated that recently, a legacy electronics manufacturer that, through acquisitions, provides business services in addition to manufacturing electronics will be furloughing a number of their c-suite executives at the end of the month in order to meet the unrealistic 2nd quarter expectations set by the shareholders and the wall street analysts. Now, have public companies become so desperate that resorting to gimmicks like furloughs in a supposed “improving economy” is the only way to meet the numbers? If so, we do need to re-evaluate what is and what isn’t important. Have these non-bank companies become “too big to fail” just like the banks?

    I found Professor Wolff’s comments intriguing yet with no real solution provided. However, the strains on the entire economic system, as it is constructed today, will likely become too much that the push back from the masses, as he mentioned, will likely happen soon than later.

  • Citizen91q

    I guess Wolff wants us to buy his book to find his ideas. Go figure? Also, I don’t buy his attonement for bankers and CEOs knowingly being morally and socially ‘evil’ in dishonest and fraudulent business practices that hurt the country but benefit a business. Everybody has a concience to deal with. Get another job, no amount of money is worth selling your self respect, piece of mind or soul.

  • luca

    cooperation of all for the benefit of each….(R.Owen)

    Always a good suggestion.

    Best wishes from Italy

    Luca Riciputi

  • Keith Rose

    movetoamend dot org. Amend the constitution to get the money out of politics. Listen to and read Lawrence Lessig.

  • Marco

    Wolf makes the same incorrect assumption all academics do when imagining what worker management would be like. He fails to understand the difference between the basic nature of worker, manager and owner personalities. Entrepreneurs go to work without a paycheck until and if one finally arrives. Labor is mercenary and runs out as soon as the money does.
    We do need regulation and enforcement to make capitalism sustainable. Capital must be forced by law to fairly reward labor. A middle class where the average worker can afford a home of their own and secondary education for a reasonable number of children is the crowning achievement of capitalism. It must be equally realized that labors’ legitimate claims have limits. Just as capital, left unchecked might enforce slavery so might labor neglect to invest in R&D and modernizing industrial infrastructure.

  • RevPhil Manke

    That may be how you see most people, but Wolff also indicates that people must get to that awareness, if not already there. The egos of this world have an immense capacity for complacency, pain and suffering along with an ability to project its cause elsewhere, BUT it is not without limit!……. Thank you Bill, for this very stimulating guest.

  • RevPhil Manke

    Another way to see it is that we have great knowledge along with an ability to deny what we know.

  • RevPhil Manke

    Wm Grab; ….meant to be?? That is illusion. It is meant to be what you mean it to be. The American dream is nothing more than that; a politicians tool for spinning yarns.

  • RevPhil Manke

    One could easily describe both major parrties as “the corporate party”. Merely a pretense at governing while making chaos for their own brand of saving; for themselves and their corporate supporters. A third party may well be the only hope here.

  • Refund

    Please bring Professor Wolff back for more interviews. Really great interviewer and interviewee.

  • Jerry Squarey

    I agree. Also laws are meant to apply to “everyone”, the minute one corporate entity, one government employee, or one individual is allowed to break a law, it ceases to be a law. Like politicians using non-public information to buy or sell stocks or selling the information to expert networks working for hedge fund managers.