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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.

RICHARD WOLFF: Right.

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.

BILL MOYERS: Why?

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.

RICHARD WOLFF: Right.

BILL MOYERS: Then Stanford.

RICHARD WOLFF: Right.

BILL MOYERS: Then Yale.

RICHARD WOLFF: That's it.

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.

RICHARD WOLFF: Yeah.

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.

BILL MOYERS: A few.

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.

RICHARD WOLFF: Right.

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.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah.

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.

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, I'll--

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.

Richard Wolff on Fighting for Economic Justice and Fair Wages

February 22, 2013

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.

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

Extra: Richard Wolff returned to our studio to answer some of the questions you sent in to Moyers & Company. Watch now »

Interview Producer: Gina Kim. Editor: Sikay Tang.
Intro Producer: Lena Shemel. Editor: Paul Desjarlais.

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  • A Qui Tam Relator

    I’ll never look at the Iraq War the same way again.
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YZBO0fJPg3Y

  • A Qui Tam Relator

    Trickle-Down Economics was never intended to work, and Ronald Reagan and the “Meese Crowd.”

  • A Qui Tam Relator

    Bill Moyers, you said we can ask questions for Richard Wolffs next visit, I have one.

    Why is it that no one at all talks about the 1978 Supreme Courts “Marquette Decision” allowing all of the banks to move their corporate headquarters to South Dakota and Delaware the only two states at that time that had little to no Usary Laws allowing the banks to have free reign to charge as much as they want on interest rates and allowing across the board interest rate hikes when one payment is missed or late on any money borrowed by the said person paying a late payment.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a long time follower of Dr. Wolff’s and his discussion with Bill only highlights his thought’s on how we can improve the condition’s of life for average citizens in this country. Dr. Wolff gives a monthly live update to a number of advid followers that is now available on video along with his weekly radio show on WBAI radio in New York City and on the Internet. His most recent monthly update video can be viewed at; http://www.rdwolff.com/content/global-capitalism-monthly-update-discussion-february-2013

    A warning that some of his thoughts on the future of our economy may be disturbing but, as he essentially said in this interview, it’s going to take a shock to get most Americans to rethink the status quo and resolve some basic problems that threaten the long term existence of this once great society !

  • http://bonalibro.us/ Tim Chambers

    When Dr. Wolff says that paying a higher minimum wage would collectively raise spending power and thereby create jobs in production, he is forgetting that much of what lower wage workers want to buy is now produced overseas, so those production jobs would be created overseas. There would therefore be a negligible multiplier effect from raising wages.

    We have basically screwed ourselves, as a society, by allowing so many companies to offshore their production capability.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marshall-McComb/100002441173294 Marshall McComb

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

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

  • Tom

    This interview ranks next to the one with Andrew Bacevich.

  • Ces

    I disagree Marshall. It is the very nature of our economic system that created this mess.

    I believe that the large middle class was largely an aberration. It occurred during a time when the US was rebuilding the world. As soon as competition showed up it all fell apart, the top 1% saw their profits soar as more countries were desperate to become like the US and were willing to work for very little. All those workers that created the wealth for those Corporations were just left out to dry. All those communities? Sorry.

    This is one of the ways Capital moves is it not? Cheap labor is great, it needs to drink that surplus to survive. It does not care about the destruction it leaves behind.

    Capitalism is failing right before our eyes, this country needs to have a serious discussion about it’s failings.

  • Margaret

    I look forward to Richard Wolff’s explanation of why regulation doesn’t work. We know it isn’t perfect. It is subject to manipulation and evasion. And repeal. But doesn’t a civilized society require a government that oversees the country? And aren’t laws the vehicle (or one of them) that we depend on to make sure that we all (more or less) are in line with moral and ethical practices, especially when it has to do with critical issues of social and economic welfare? If that is not the case, isn’t it logical to think we should toss out the FDA which watches over our food supply and pharmaceuticals, the EPA on which we depend to oversee the quality of our air, land and water, and all the other agencies that were created for the commonweal (to the extent that Congress hasn’t rendered them toothless by reducing their size and budgets)?

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

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

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

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

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Bennett/1400567455 James Bennett

    In 40 years the right will be telling the story about how the progressives spit on the bankers coming back from the Cayman Islands…

  • Anonymous

    There’s no reason we can’t afford to give everyone a human teacher and a building set aside for learning. Also, education isn’t actually the key to reducing poverty or improving incomes. I think education is good in and of itself, but high school graduation rates have gone from less than 70% 40 years ago to close to 90%, the number of degree holding adults went from 12% to around 30% in the same time period, and yet wages have gone down and poverty up.

  • Anonymous

    The poor spend the highest share of their income on housing and food, both of which are mostly produced here. Manufactured consumer goods are largely produced overseas, and that includes the products that rich, working class and poor all buy. Its ridiculous to claim that the manufactured goods poor people buy are more likely to be made overseas. Think of Ipads and Ferraris. The rich waste a disproportionate amount of their income on market speculation, property markets, and in the stock market, none of which contribute to the productive economy (no, money put into the stock market doesn’t go to productive uses, that’s a myth Wall Street likes to keep around).

  • http://bonalibro.us/ Tim Chambers

    I don’t disagree with anything to say. I have long held that the minimum wage should buy what it did in 1968, and account for improved productivity, so I’m all for $16.50 an hour. But he did say there would be more jobs for production workers, and that is wrong.

  • Anonymous

    we are just in the post industrial world now globally
    they can not create enough jobs for highschool graduates let alone the people who left the job market who need jobs

    the world either has two ways of going- a socialist society like star trek

    or a libertarian world like- beyond thunderdome

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bryna-Hellmann/1257914906 Bryna Hellmann

    Ritmit: I agree with 100% of your comment but I can’t help noticing the one mistake you make in your otherwise perfect English. The apostrophe has wandered where it doesn’t belong in many other intelligent posts. May I remind you that it’s: ‘a follower of Wolff’ and ‘his thoughts’ and ‘their conditions’ (both plurals). Please don’t reply asking me whether I’m a member of the grammar police. I’m just an English teacher 85 years old and mourning any attacks on our beautiful language.

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

    Education is a necessary, but I agree it is not sufficient condition for employment. Richard Wolff clearly addresses the other side of the equation: Which is worker self-directed enterprises. The worker does not need to wait for a boss to decide they are worthy of their exploitation to do productive work.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Bryna, I’ll take all the help I can get. It’s been fifty years since I was in school and if I had been fortunate enough to have English teachers as beautiful as you (Facebook Photo), I’m sure that I would have been compelled to excel at English composition !

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

    Bryana, can you consider my post since your experienced in teaching, you might be able to offer a more critical perspective.

  • Sandra Gregory

    Thank you for teaching me a new word. I, being older, am getting lot of internet education.

  • http://twitter.com/jeg2010sag Sandy Gregory

    Wonderful discussion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lori.dockendorf Lori Dockendorf

    “The Price of Inequality” by the economist Joseph Stiglitz.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MKarnakz Gina de Miranda

    Since those countries don’t want to take dollars anymore….because it is a corrupt currency…those jobs will have to come back to the only country that still stupidly believes in them–the USA. I am sure that in the absence of a catastrophe, those jobs will come back. They have to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MKarnakz Gina de Miranda

    AMEN!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/MKarnakz Gina de Miranda

    I share your feelings. Lose and loose are making me crazy at present.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MKarnakz Gina de Miranda

    Our educational system is analogous to that in 1984…marginal at best.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MKarnakz Gina de Miranda

    A civilization whose regulation is not grounded on a ubiquitous set of MORAL and ETHICAL values is doomed to failure.

  • http://twitter.com/phstrat phstrat

    Regulation would work if it was allowed to but if you listen to Prof. Wollf’s arguement, then you’ll see how the system is corrupt in that the industry or large corporations that are regulated, eventually find a way to “loophole” around them,

    Yes, regulation is necessary if were allowed to work, but the crux of the situation is that the system is corrupted by allowing the regulatees to worm their way into the political process by lobbying, kickbacks, and other underhanded means and the result is a corporatocracy, oligarchy, plutocracy, or crony capitalism…whatever you want to call it..

  • http://www.facebook.com/MKarnakz Gina de Miranda

    Love him!

  • http://www.facebook.com/MKarnakz Gina de Miranda

    There are alternatives. We can create something new and different. Our ability to create paradigms did not die with the bankster’s takeover. They have done it before and we came back from that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Becky123456789 Becky Gl

    perhaps you have a point but it is unlikely that everything that is bought with the extra money is produced overseas. We have to get rid of this all or nothing mentality. Clearly many things are still going to be bought that are made here. Perhaps they can go out to eat and to the movies and such more often. Those are all local. Quit focusing on only the negative

  • JasonB

    Is ‘Capitalism’ to blame for our situation? As if the government didn’t regulate and help to cause this mess also? This guy makes it sound like FDR’s socialist policies were a good thing. As far as this psychological delusion we are in he’s correct. In science it’s called the Paradigm. Unfortunately, Mr. Wolff seems to be a victim of it himself. Moyers should know better than anyone since he is fully aware of Louis Kelso’s Binary Economics and Capital Homesteading! FDR and Keynesian economics, which is what we are doing right now (there is no austerity), is only making things worse. Productivity growth is NOT LABOR, it’s CAPITAL!!! Raising the minimum wage doesn’t solve any problem it makes it worse. The only answer to help people be more productive in a modern capital intensive economy is OWNERSHIP! Only Capital Homesteading does this! Look up CESJ.org, or http://www.kelsoinstitute.org/lectures.html.

  • Anonymous

    Wolff admits that the regulations installed by FDR worked. They worked until the bankers conspired to get rid of them, whereupon, the economy promptly started its inevitable crash.
    He, also, treats criminal fraud as some sort of unfortunate, inherent part of doing business, nothing to be alarmed nor concerned about.
    I believe capitalism is working as it should, except for the government. The government has failed to meet its requirement to provide for the general welfare. And, not just in America. All capitalist governments are realizing that they have been screwed over by market manipulators and tax dodgers.

  • Mary Sage

    OK, what if Mitt Romney had become president – where would we be then, considering that he was surrounding himself with the Bush/Cheney neocons.

    This is just another blip in our democracy and with people like Bill Moyers, PBS and Richard Wolff at the helm, I am most hopeful!!!

  • Anonymous

    The failure to regulate and properly tax capitalism is to blame for our, and the world’s, situation.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Wolff cites the shock that Americans are currently in as something that will, eventually, turn into actionable remedies, but, he ignores the fact that Americans have always assumed that they live in a nation of laws and that people who violate the rules will be expelled from the game. The problem, again, is our government, for whatever reason, is not enforcing the rules.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent! Usury, the practice of lending money at an exorbitant rate, doesn’t even have any practical meaning anymore, since, there are no laws prohibiting it.

  • Snegri

    The Richard Wolff interview was provocative and informative. I hope you are able to provide similar discussions for many years to come.

  • http://profiles.google.com/grousefeather Grouse Feather

    Capitalism is immoral.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.rittenour.543 David Rittenour

    To Wolff;

    I’ve been reading “Keynes, The Return of the Master” and I have to say, a lot of what’s in that book and what you’ve said is right in line with my own thinking and feelings on all of this for a very long time now.

    I have to take issue with one thing though – and that is absolving the banks and CEOs for their abhorrent greed and neglect for society. You’re right in that it’s largely the fault of the system itself, however you can’t simply just absolve those who abused it, especially the Politicians who overwrote the rules (I’m looking at YOU Clinton). To that regard mind you, it’s also society’s responsibility as well to stay well informed on this. That is to say, people should have known repealing Glass-Steagal was a very bad idea and let their representatives in Congress know this.

    But then that brings me to my overall point that society benefits most when we endeavor as a whole. Ford understood this well when he paid his employees well enough to purchase the very cars they were making.

    So, long story short, what are your own feelings on John Maynard Keynes’ views of economics and why is it so hard to get across the simple yet proven concept that if the middle class has more money (starting with caps on Executive pay?), and serious efforts are made to reduce or (dare I dream) eliminate poverty, that will benefit corporate america, and society as a whole (for the record I live in Canada but I follow things south of the border very closely) far greater than the ludicrous sums of money these CEOs pay themselves while simultaneously cutting wages and hours for ordinary workers.

    This whole notion of supply side economics has GOT to go. Obama sadly isn’t another FDR; he’s more Issenhower really, and the country is in bad need of a 2nd Rosevelt right now in my opinion. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if the general populace has more money and is less stressed out (Americans don’t even get mandatory paid vacation, what a crime…) then said people are far more likely to go out and spend their money on the very goods and services that drive these corporations. WHY IS THIS SO BLOODY HARD TO UNDERSTAND?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/SaintMichaelangelo Michael Cruise

    This could not have happened were it not for policies that allowed it to happen. There was nothing organic about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SaintMichaelangelo Michael Cruise

    Spend an hour in Walmart and report back on what percentage of the goods for sale are imported from China.

    The reality is that Walmart is the marketplace for the majority of low income and poor Americans.

  • http://bonalibro.us/ Tim Chambers

    But can you live on the wages they will pay?

  • Anonymous

    What kind of society is this? It is a society that values profits over fairness and in my opinion it isn’t ethical. It is not enough for a person to earn money in exchange for work. Their must also be a profit made for an ‘owner’. If wages go up prices will go up. How about wages go up, prices stay the same and profits go down. What is wrong with that. To my mind the real arguement we should be having is what are maximum profits to be made. How much better all our lives would be if prices were adjusted so that their was just some profit made, not profit maximized?

  • Anonymous

    Also, it’s not just American’s but all civilized people that need to rethink and respond to a failed economic system.

  • http://bonalibro.us/ Tim Chambers

    A system reliant on exploitation of labor and debt peonage will crash when labor is exhausted and debts can no longer be paid. That is what has happened to us. Denying it, because you still want to extract rents from it, is not going to revive it. The cow is milked out. It’s over. It’s time to develop a new system that works for everyone not just a few.

  • Guest

    Like so many others, I am Independent because of the
    state of our country and politics; I am among many other college graduates
    whose American Dream has been met with the American reality of long-term
    unemployment. As a young black man, statistics of this “American Reality”
    demonstrates to have fared only worse in comparison to other national
    estimates. Post-graduation, though unemployed, decided to use my academic
    training to begin to apply what I learned in studying a diverse set of other
    topics; I sought out to understand why we, as a country, are in the situation
    we are in—why am I in this situation I am in? After considering the contexts
    and relationships of world, western, and American history, philosophy, ethics,
    economics, politics, and culture, I am of the impression that the way, not only
    to restore the American Dream, but to advance it, is to completely abolish the legal
    institutional/corporate personhood. Any legally acknowledged “person” that is
    actually non-human, appears likely to be withholding economic, political, and
    social powers of opportunity, prosperity, and progress, innately within their
    artificial construct. Among institutional persons, the most regressive and
    destructive is the corporation. The corporate construct is synonymous with the
    free-market, yet I find it appears that this said construct, in its intrinsic
    properties and functions of existence, are antithetical to a peaceable ebb and
    flow unto national prosperity and progress. The apparent prevailing trend is
    that as corporations get larger (i.e., Too-Big-To-Fail), regulations become
    increased, and governments become larger because of it. Republicans and
    Democrats each are correct in their political philosophies in some way, but
    only in parts as it seems. The result of such a proposition appears to enable
    the reduction of government to optimal size and power as the market,
    electorate, and community reach optimal power. This may likely enable truer,
    more natural equity of economic prosperity as well as increased civic
    participation, both of which are led and guided by the Invisible Hand. This
    appears to be a bipartisan proposition, as it diminishes the need of increased
    government, while enabling the unleashing of the power and security of the
    economy and country—the people. The rich are especially among the corporate
    CEOs who receive hyper-exaggerated salaries and bonuses, and those who reap
    dividends from such corporations, which are taxed lower than normal income tax
    rates. As it was a Creator that gave the unalienable rights of life, liberty,
    and pursuit of happiness to divinely-instituted natural persons, the
    legally-instituted artificial person surely is not guaranteed such rights. The
    big government-small government rhetoric is the kind of education I received as
    a Political Science major; I have taken social justice ethics classes. I was
    basically prepared to engage in the hyperpartisan battle of the Culture War we
    are continuing in, to further societal destruction. The Tea Party and Occupy
    Wall Street—many other Americans recognize that there is something wrong with
    our country though they are not sure. The corporation is the force that
    corrupts good capitalism into evil capitalism which is crony capitalism; the corporate
    model has become a pre-21st century, antiquated model. Capitalism is economic
    freedom; democracy is political freedom. Sole proprietorships are about 70-75%
    of all business-types; corporations are about 20%, yet are the most profitable—the
    rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the Democrats “grow”
    government, the Republicans “shrink” government. The way out of this
    endless cycle of downward cycling stupidity is to break it. We spend federally
    about a 1/3 more than we can afford; tax cuts would not be sufficient and tax
    increases would have to fall largely on the rich to pay for such a gap. The
    reality of hyperpartisan politics is that would likely be shifted onto the
    middle-income and low-income. Cutting public entitlement programs or education
    would set a precedent that is surely unsustainable. Sole proprietors are
    basically business machines that function under law; corporations are business
    “persons” that function within the law. Corporations are basically
    legally immortal and, as profit-seeking institutions, are able and surely do
    use that profit to effectively transcend the law. Human society is a sum human
    equation that can only function humanely when the primary contributing factors
    are human—not corrosive artificial constructs. It appears the construct of the
    corporation is an institution that functionally is in love with money, and the
    power of that money flows to, where any real or artificial person legally
    partakes in politics, social and cultural aspects of society. With the
    understanding that the love of money is the root of all evil, the ebb and flow
    of such effect is not guided as it should be “under the law,” but
    instead functions independently “within the law” into social aspects
    that affect the psychology of the human person and politics which corrupts the
    decisive and conclusive moral judgments that are processed through the
    legislative branch. It may likely be the case that the unethical or immoral
    behaviors of Congress are also connected with those of youth such as myself. As
    we are the future, what we currently are set to reap, based upon what elder
    generations have sewn, is an unethical and immoral future. The only
    transformative course of action I can discern that will restore the American
    Dream, the power of love, marriage, community, bring us into an aspired Beloved
    Community and bring the Kingdom of God nearer, is to fully dissolve legal
    institutional personhood. As corporate personhood is long-standing judicial
    precedent, it appears simple legislative action would be the most effective and
    necessary action to take, even more than cutting entitlement programs. What I
    have in mind appears to unite liberal and conservative, secular and religious,
    Democrat and Republican interests during times when we are surely divided; it
    appears sustainable and sound. President Obama did not mention Citizens United,
    lobbyists or corporations in his State of the Union speech, but has called for
    the formation of a nonpartisan voting commission, if I recall correctly. There
    are many liberty and moral issues conservatives mobilize for; there are many
    equity and welfare issues liberals mobilize for. This proposition appears to
    comport to cultural heritage of a largely historical Christian past,
    constitutional intent of establishing a more perfect Union, and the
    multiethnic, multiracial, multicultural present that is projected to only
    increase. The United States is a country unlike any other in human history;
    this next century is to be with the U.S. as the forerunner for some time, as
    there are no other countries with comparable military size, innovative capacity,
    or ethical values and leadership like ours; global leadership is combination of
    political, economic, and moral power that come from within the heart of the
    nation. The “Rise of the Rest” is happening, but there are no other countries
    currently capable of replacing us; we are the archetype of the Constitutional
    Democracy that other countries imitate; our military bases, corporations, and
    media are surely the most global. We are in a day and age, unlike any other
    time in global history, with the Internet, social media, mobile phones, and
    wireless technologies that create global interconnectedness at the personal
    level. Even terrorism is personally empowered where one can go online to Google
    or Youtube how to produce dirty bombs and so on. (The artificial products of
    corporations appear also linked with the relationship between formation of
    mental instability and extremism that causes one to be moved into terrorism.) As
    others have copied the modern nation-state model, where in adopting democratic
    and capitalistic reforms, they have also adopted corporate ideas from us as
    well; though many countries do so within their cultural context and philosophy,
    many countries watch and learn from us. Technology in past recessions has been
    synonymous with employment; now technology, productivity, and efficiency
    increase without that trend simply because technology is replacing us. However,
    with the Internet, social media, and peer-sharing technologies, newspapers,
    television, music, movies, and many other conventional multimedia platforms and
    mass media, are being weakened; I perceive we are in a paradigm shift where
    there is a literally undermining the conventionality of monopoly and profit;
    the future is in personal power and the individual human person. The truth of
    the electorate, market, and community is the human individual; I am firmly
    persuaded that nothing less than full dissolution of legal institutional
    personhood and explicit legislation that, in effect, states that only humans
    are persons and citizens is the foremost answer to our present, dynamic
    national problem of global scale. It is by doing so, we will take a leap out of
    our current troubles and even further ahead of other countries, and by doing
    so, lead the country forward in this century to sound, sustainable practices of
    perpetual prosperity and integrity. The human being is the center and most
    fundamental unit of the family, community, society, the market, the
    electorate/body politic, and the Creator is the One with the Invisible Hand
    that will lead and guide us unto sustainably sound political-economic,
    socioeconomic, sociocultural, and psychospiritual freedom at global scale, in
    perpetuity. Our national destiny is calling us, but the question is: will we
    answer?

  • Guest

    Like so many others, I am Independent because of the state of our country and politics; I am among many other college graduates whose American Dream has been met with the American reality of long-term unemployment. As a young black man, statistics of this “American Reality” demonstrates to have fared only worse in comparison to other national estimates. Post-graduation, though unemployed, decided to use my academic training to begin to apply what I learned in studying a diverse set of other topics; I sought out to understand why we, as a country, are in the situation we are in—why am I in this situation I am in? After considering the contexts and relationships of world, western, and American history, philosophy, ethics, economics, politics, and culture, I am of the impression that the way, not only to restore the American Dream, but to advance it, is to completely abolish the legal institutional/corporate personhood. Any legally acknowledged “person” that is actually non-human, appears likely to be withholding economic, political, and social powers of opportunity, prosperity, and progress, innately within their artificial construct. Among institutional persons, the most regressive and destructive is the corporation. The corporate construct is synonymous with the free-market, yet I find it appears that this said construct, in its intrinsic properties and functions of existence, are antithetical to a peaceable ebb and flow unto national prosperity and progress. The apparent prevailing trend is that as corporations get larger (i.e., Too-Big-To-Fail), regulations become increased, and governments become larger because of it. Republicans and Democrats each are correct in their political philosophies in some way, but only in parts as it seems. The result of such a proposition appears to enable the reduction of government to optimal size and power as the market, electorate, and community reach optimal power. This may likely enable truer, more natural equity of economic prosperity as well as increased civic participation, both of which are led and guided by the Invisible Hand. This appears to be a bipartisan proposition, as it diminishes the need of increased government, while enabling the unleashing of the power and security of the economy and country—the people. The rich are especially among the corporate CEOs who receive hyper-exaggerated salaries and bonuses, and those who reap dividends from such corporations, which are taxed lower than normal income tax rates. As it was a Creator that gave the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness to divinely-instituted natural persons, the
    legally-instituted artificial person surely is not guaranteed such rights. The big government-small government rhetoric is the kind of education I received as a Political Science major; I have taken social justice ethics classes. I was basically prepared to engage in the hyperpartisan battle of the Culture War we
    are continuing in, to further societal destruction. The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street—many other Americans recognize that there is something wrong with our country though they are not sure. The corporation is the force that corrupts good capitalism into evil capitalism which is crony capitalism; the corporate model has become a pre-21st century, antiquated model. Capitalism is economic freedom; democracy is political freedom. Sole proprietorships are about 70-75% of all business-types; corporations are about 20%, yet are the most profitable—the
    rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the Democrats “grow” government, the Republicans “shrink” government. The way out of this endless cycle of downward cycling stupidity is to break it. We spend federally about a 1/3 more than we can afford; tax cuts would not be sufficient and tax increases would have to fall largely on the rich to pay for such a gap. The
    reality of hyperpartisan politics is that would likely be shifted onto the middle-income and low-income. Cutting public entitlement programs or education
    would set a precedent that is surely unsustainable. Sole proprietors are basically business machines that function under law; corporations are business
    “persons” that function within the law. Corporations are basically legally immortal and, as profit-seeking institutions, are able and surely do use that profit to effectively transcend the law. Human society is a sum human equation that can only function humanely when the primary contributing factors are human—not corrosive artificial constructs. It appears the construct of the corporation is an institution that functionally is in love with money, and the power of that money flows to, where any real or artificial person legally partakes in politics, social and cultural aspects of society. With the
    understanding that the love of money is the root of all evil, the ebb and flow of such effect is not guided as it should be “under the law,” but instead functions independently “within the law” into social aspects
    that affect the psychology of the human person and politics which corrupts the decisive and conclusive moral judgments that are processed through the
    legislative branch. It may likely be the case that the unethical or immoral behaviors of Congress are also connected with those of youth such as myself. As
    we are the future, what we currently are set to reap, based upon what elder generations have sewn, is an unethical and immoral future. The only transformative course of action I can discern that will restore the American Dream, the power of love, marriage, community, bring us into an aspired Beloved
    Community and bring the Kingdom of God nearer, is to fully dissolve legal institutional personhood. As corporate personhood is long-standing judicial
    precedent, it appears simple legislative action would be the most effective and necessary action to take, even more than cutting entitlement programs. What I
    have in mind appears to unite liberal and conservative, secular and religious, Democrat and Republican interests during times when we are surely divided; it appears sustainable and sound. President Obama did not mention Citizens United, lobbyists or corporations in his State of the Union speech, but has called for the formation of a nonpartisan voting commission, if I recall correctly. There are many liberty and moral issues conservatives mobilize for; there are many equity and welfare issues liberals mobilize for. This proposition appears to comport to cultural heritage of a largely historical Christian past, constitutional intent of establishing a more perfect Union, and the multiethnic, multiracial, multicultural present that is projected to only increase. The United States is a country unlike any other in human history;
    this next century is to be with the U.S. as the forerunner for some time, as there are no other countries with comparable military size, innovative capacity, or ethical values and leadership like ours; global leadership is combination of political, economic, and moral power that come from within the heart of the
    nation. The “Rise of the Rest” is happening, but there are no other countries currently capable of replacing us; we are the archetype of the Constitutional Democracy that other countries imitate; our military bases, corporations, and media are surely the most global. We are in a day and age, unlike any other
    time in global history, with the Internet, social media, mobile phones, and wireless technologies that create global interconnectedness at the personal level. Even terrorism is personally empowered where one can go online to Google or Youtube how to produce dirty bombs and so on. (The diverse artificial products of
    corporations appear also linked with the relationship between formation of mental instability and extremism that causes one to be moved into terrorism.) As
    others have copied the modern nation-state model, where in adopting democratic and capitalistic reforms, they have also adopted corporate ideas from us as
    well; though many countries do so within their cultural context and philosophy, many countries watch and learn from us. Technology in past recessions has been
    synonymous with employment; now technology, productivity, and efficiency increase without that trend simply because technology is replacing us. However,
    with the Internet, social media, and peer-sharing technologies, newspapers, television, music, movies, and many other conventional multimedia platforms and
    mass media, are being weakened; I perceive we are in a paradigm shift where there is a literally undermining the conventionality of monopoly and profit; the future is in personal power and the individual human person. The truth of the electorate, market, and community is the human individual; I am firmly persuaded that nothing less than full dissolution of legal institutional
    personhood and explicit legislation that, in effect, states that only humans are persons and citizens is the foremost answer to our present, dynamic national problem of global scale. It is by doing so, we will take a leap out of our current troubles and even further ahead of other countries, and by doing so, lead the country forward in this century to sound, sustainable practices of perpetual prosperity and integrity. The human being is the center and most fundamental unit of the family, community, society, the market, the electorate/body politic, and the Creator is the One with the Invisible Hand that will lead and guide us unto sustainably sound political-economic, socioeconomic, sociocultural, and psychospiritual freedom at global scale, in perpetuity. Our national destiny is calling us, but the question is: will we answer?

  • http://www.facebook.com/hamzah.muhammad.167 Hamzah Muhammad

    Like so many others, I am Independent because of the state of our country and politics; I am among many other college graduates whose American Dream has been met with the American reality of long-term unemployment. As a young black man, statistics of this “American Reality” demonstrates to have fared only worse in comparison to other national estimates. Post-graduation, though unemployed, decided to use my academic training to begin to apply what I learned in studying a diverse set of other topics; I sought out to understand why we, as a country, are in the situation we are in—why am I in this situation I am in? After considering the contexts and relationships of world, western, and American history, philosophy, ethics, economics, politics, and culture, I am of the impression that the way, not only to restore the American Dream, but to advance it, is to completely abolish the legal institutional/corporate personhood. Any legally acknowledged “person” that is actually non-human, appears likely to be withholding economic, political, and social powers of opportunity, prosperity, and progress, innately within their artificial construct. Among institutional persons, the most regressive and destructive is the corporation. The corporate construct is synonymous with the free-market, yet I find it appears that this said construct, in its intrinsic properties and functions of existence, are antithetical to a peaceable ebb and flow unto national prosperity and progress. The apparent prevailing trend is that as corporations get larger (i.e., Too-Big-To-Fail), regulations become increased, and governments become larger because of it. Republicans and Democrats each are correct in their political philosophies in some way, but only in parts as it seems. The result of such a proposition appears to enable the reduction of government to optimal size and power as the market, electorate, and community reach optimal power. This may likely enable truer, more natural equity of economic prosperity as well as increased civic participation, both of which are led and guided by the Invisible Hand. This appears to be a bipartisan proposition, as it diminishes the need of increased government, while enabling the unleashing of the power and security of the economy and country—the people. The rich are especially among the corporate CEOs who receive hyper-exaggerated salaries and bonuses, and those who reap dividends from such corporations, which are taxed lower than normal income tax rates. As it was a Creator that gave the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness to divinely-instituted natural persons, the legally-instituted artificial person surely is not guaranteed such rights. The big government-small government rhetoric is the kind of education I received as a Political Science major; I have taken social justice ethics classes. I was basically prepared to engage in the hyperpartisan battle of the Culture War we are continuing in, to further societal destruction. The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street—many other Americans recognize that there is something wrong with our country though they are not sure. The corporation is the force that corrupts good capitalism into evil capitalism which is crony capitalism; the corporate model has become a pre-21st century, antiquated model. Capitalism is economic freedom; democracy is political freedom. Sole proprietorships are about 70-75% of all business-types; corporations are about 20%, yet are the most profitable—the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the Democrats “grow” government, the Republicans “shrink” government. The way out of this endless cycle of downward cycling stupidity is to break it. We spend federally about a 1/3 more than we can afford; tax cuts would not be sufficient and tax increases would have to fall largely on the rich to pay for such a gap. The reality of hyperpartisan politics is that would likely be shifted onto the middle-income and low-income. Cutting public entitlement programs or education would set a precedent that is surely unsustainable. Sole proprietors are basically business machines that function under law; corporations are business “persons” that function within the law. Corporations are basically legally immortal and, as profit-seeking institutions, are able and surely do use that profit to effectively transcend the law. Human society is a sum human equation that can only function humanely when the primary contributing factors are human—not corrosive artificial constructs. It appears the construct of the corporation is an institution that functionally is in love with money, and the power of that money flows to, where any real or artificial person legally partakes in politics, social and cultural aspects of society. With the understanding that the love of money is the root of all evil, the ebb and flow of such effect is not guided as it should be “under the law,” but instead functions independently “within the law” into social aspects that affect the psychology of the human person and politics which corrupts the decisive and conclusive moral judgments that are processed through the legislative branch. It may likely be the case that the unethical or immoral behaviors of Congress are also connected with those of youth such as myself. As we are the future, what we currently are set to reap, based upon what elder generations have sewn, is an unethical and immoral future. The only transformative course of action I can discern that will restore the American Dream, the power of love, marriage, community, bring us into an aspired Beloved Community and bring the Kingdom of God nearer, is to fully dissolve legal institutional personhood. As corporate personhood is long-standing judicial precedent, it appears simple legislative action would be the most effective and necessary action to take, even more than cutting entitlement programs. What I have in mind appears to unite liberal and conservative, secular and religious, Democrat and Republican interests during times when we are surely divided; it appears sustainable and sound. President Obama did not mention Citizens United, lobbyists or corporations in his State of the Union speech, but has called for the formation of a nonpartisan voting commission, if I recall correctly. There are many liberty and moral issues conservatives mobilize for; there are many equity and welfare issues liberals mobilize for. This proposition appears to comport to cultural heritage of a largely historical Christian past, constitutional intent of establishing a more perfect Union, and the multiethnic, multiracial, multicultural present that is projected to only increase. The United States is a country unlike any other in human history; this next century is to be with the U.S. as the forerunner for some time, as there are no other countries with comparable military size, innovative capacity, or ethical values and leadership like ours; global leadership is combination of political, economic, and moral power that come from within the heart of the nation. The “Rise of the Rest” is happening, but there are no other countries currently capable of replacing us; we are the archetype of the Constitutional Democracy that other countries imitate; our military bases, corporations, and media are surely the most global. We are in a day and age, unlike any other time in global history, with the Internet, social media, mobile phones, and wireless technologies that create global interconnectedness at the personal level. Even terrorism is personally empowered where one can go online to Google or Youtube how to produce dirty bombs and so on. (The diverse artificial products of corporations appear also linked with the relationship between formation of mental instability and extremism that causes one to be moved into terrorism.) As others have copied the modern nation-state model, where in adopting democratic and capitalistic reforms, they have also adopted corporate ideas from us as well; though many countries do so within their cultural context and philosophy, many countries watch and learn from us. Technology in past recessions has been synonymous with employment; now technology, productivity, and efficiency increase without that trend simply because technology is replacing us. However, with the Internet, social media, and peer-sharing technologies, newspapers, television, music, movies, and many other conventional multimedia platforms and mass media, are being weakened; I perceive we are in a paradigm shift where there is a literally undermining the conventionality of monopoly and profit; the future is in personal power and the individual human person. The truth of the electorate, market, and community is the human individual; I am firmly persuaded that nothing less than full dissolution of legal institutional personhood and explicit legislation that, in effect, states that only humans are persons and citizens is the foremost answer to our present, dynamic national problem of global scale. It is by doing so, we will take a leap out of our current troubles and even further ahead of other countries, and by doing so, lead the country forward in this century to sound, sustainable practices of perpetual prosperity and integrity. The human being is the center and most fundamental unit of the family, community, society, the market, the electorate/body politic, and the Creator is the One with the Invisible Hand that will lead and guide us unto sustainably sound political-economic, socioeconomic, sociocultural, and psychospiritual freedom at global scale, in perpetuity. Our national destiny is calling us, but the question is: will we answer?

  • Guest

    Corporations grow larger; regulations increase; governments grow larger.
    The love of money is the root of all evil; corporations are the
    legally-instituted embodiment of this principle. Human societies are sum
    equations, if you will, that appear only able to work when human inputs
    are entered–artificial persons corrupt this equation. Regulation in
    the improper context is a rather fruitless, endless downward spiral as
    we are in now. We live in a society that is the increasingly secular,
    multiethnic, multiracial, and multicultural that values social justice.
    What fulfills the ethical law we adhere to now, is love; complete
    abolition of the corporation, “love-of-love” social focus, and
    philosophy-science-centered curriculum appear to be of the right
    temperament to unify the liberal-conservative, secular-religious,
    Democrat-Republican divisions we are currently experiencing and witnessing. This
    appears to be what will restore the American Dream, fulfill our claim as
    a Nation on a Hill, enable transition into what some call the Beloved
    Community, and bring the biblical Kingdom of God unto greater
    manifestation.

  • Alan D Smith

    “How can We conceive and talk about an alternative system?” That is what democracy will be, when it manifests. Democracy is supposed to be a transparent, publicly owned system designed to define and fulfill the will of the People. But, what We have only fulfills the will of the one percent at our expense. And, rather than define our will, they malign it.

    Let’s call this mockery of democracy deMockery! Earth has never had a real democracy, but it’s high time we did.

    Democracy isn’t two wolves and a sheep deciding on lunch. It’s billions of sheep peacefully deciding the fate of the wolves in sheep’s clothing from their easy chairs in their spare time. Only the People can rule sanely and benevolently, because only We will always have our best interests at heart and can’t be bought off.

    I designed such a system at MajorityVoice.org, called The Issue Forum System. It’s fully capable of having a global democratic conversation about the kind of government and society We want, to make Our will be done, at long last.

    But, (here’s the bad part) you’d have to go to an old archived (fully functional) website, sign up for a free membership, read the turorials, read the forums, participate and talk to your friends about it, and that would probably eat into your other electronic entertainment time. Sounds like too much trouble to go to just for Posterity’s prosperity. So, maybe we better just forget all about it, surrender to the banksters and learn to love the New World Order’s austerity. Maybe we could make it fashionable or make a game show out of it? Or, better yet, why not make a global game show out of democracy? Winning solutions get a grillion bucks? And, whistle blowers get two?
    I

  • Geoffrey Culkin

    Mr. Moyers,
    I enjoy your program and can’t thank you enough for lending your voice to our societal problems. As for questions for Richard Wolff, I would like to ask him how we can correct a system that has become so corrupted by money from large corporations. Between Citizens United and the revolving door between lobbyists and Congress, is there a way to fix our broken system?

  • Doc

    Thanks for having Dr. Wolff on! Looking forward to hearing more of what he knows. One of the problems we now face, is that the political parties no longer represent the people. The people belong to the religion that is now the party. That is something that was not

    as prevalent until the propaganda of social media. For example, Democrats want to protect the environment and destroy the country, and the Republicans as long as you don’t threaten their guns, don’t care how bad corporations screw them. There is a balance somewhere. How do we resolve anything, when everything is now digital. We win or we lose.

  • http://twitter.com/mark_D_jordan Mark Jordan

    One very major thing was said by Dr. Wolff. “Study the critics of Capitalism”. If you want to understand economics, how to discuss it and how to better argue if it is right or wrong, then you MUST study Capitalism and as importantly, or more, the critics. Far too many people are simply assuming what they were taught usually by friends and family must be true, when the subject is Capitalism.

  • Bob

    It seems that in a trickle-down economy, most of us become the pee-ons. :-b

  • mrtractor

    Overall, Dr. Wolff had some insights that I found to be quite interesting. However, I strongly differ with his assertion that bankers were merely working within the system they were given, and therefore do not deserve (I assume) investigation and prosecution.

    We now know there was criminal activity beyond the very loose “system” the banking sector does indeed have. To say the least, these folks were committing fraud: We know for sure – i.e. fact – that thousands of fake mortgages and other documents were deliberately created, signatures forged, falsely witnessed, and then passed off as legitimate – to say nothing of the news this week that we have over 1 million foreclosures that banks never followed through on in order to save paying property taxes, etc. (These are called, appropriately, zombie mortgages.) Not wanting to prosecute the major players in this situation because it was “the system” – not the people in it – as Dr. Wolff states is beyond idiotic.

    Frankly, this exoneration of the perpetrators almost without choice in “the (US banking) system” calls to mind another system – Nazi Germany. In that case, the Nazi Party came to power, and swiftly created their own “system,” as well, which among many other things, redefined German citizenship, and then used the civil and military authorities to seize assets of, displace, indeed even kill newly defined “non-German citizens” – my Greek Catholic family members being among them. One wonders whether Dr. Wolff’s idea of blaming “the system” further extends to the logical conclusion here: That in the case of post-war Nazi Germany, the Nuremberg Trials would be rendered by him an historical mistake. After all, were not all the soldiers merely working within the system? And we did we force trials of and even execute a few of the top Nazis for leading that regime and the evil it did? Apparently, applying Wolff’s logic, this was an over reach.

    While mine is a harsh example, I use it to demonstrate how stupid this position is. I, for one, do not think it is too much to ask that the heads of banks, their boards, and anyone involved in the creation, orchestration, and implementation of policies and (for lack of a better word), fraudulent tricks banks used in this debacle be investigated, subsequently prosecuted, and if possible, banned from working in the same field for life. Ordinary Americans lost over $22 trillion in assets. A few hundred or even thousand white collar (I presume) criminals can be tried and put in another system we have – the state and federal penitentiaries – for causing this to happen.
    Implying it is “fair game” (my words paraphrasing Wolff’s position) because they worked within the parameters of their system is no better than leading people from their native villages and homes to internment camps. In fact, banks have been doing something strikingly analogous for 6 years now. The time is long overdue that we lead a few thousand banksters up the granite steps of the nearest courthouse for trial in our “system.” At least there the documents will be properly notarized.

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

    If it were not for the disparity of wealth capitalism creates, they would not be able to buy our politicians and get the laws enacted which they also had a hand in writing.

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

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

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

  • Ces

    Who pushed for those policies? It wasn’t the 1% was it? Capital is social power, those who have it, wield it.

  • Anonymous

    You’re thinking about tupperware and forgetting where the whole food section comes from.

  • DGH

    I’ve never been to this website before. I am stunned by the level of civility and thoughtfulness shown on this comment board! Usually, I avoid the comments sections on any website because it’s all “%$#@ you” and “you’re an idiot.” What a breath of fresh air!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comment ! Considering that all economies have been driven to relocate exclusively to the lowest wage countries with authoritarian systems of government, I couldn’t agree with you more !

  • Anonymous

    The real wealth producers are gone to low wage sweat shop countries along with the corporations that own them that now pay no U.S. Income Tax, Period ! These so called service jobs like restaurant servers, bar tenders, and dish washers are actually excluded from the paltry $7.25 Minimum Wage prescribed by the government as they have been restricted to a maximum wage of $2.13 an hour for the past 23 years ! A virtual race to the bottom and third world status !

  • Anonymous

    It’s primarily the two way revolving door between government and private industry and their lobbying arms. Legal limitations passed by Congress are a joke and do little to limit the immediate transition from government to their new highly paid private positions in a matter of weeks. During the George W. Bush administration, many of these former legislators were back on the floor of Congress in a matter of weeks blatantly handing out checks to their former colleagues for services rendered promoting the passage of legislation that was of vital importance to certain private interests !

  • Glen Rasmussen

    Where do we go from here ? From the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence…..” That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the RIGHT of the people to alter it or abolish it, and it institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness” Start getting the job done or look out Washington, DC.

  • Anonymous

    I followed everything that Mr. Wolffs said but failed to see why to have any optimism that anything will change.

  • Anonymous

    The Right Wing Blue Dog Southern Democrats who left the party in 1968 are back and are being openly welcomed by a Neo-Liberal leadership that is Right of most in the GOP. Not hard to understand if you just look at Obama’s flip flops over the past four + years that have consistently benefitted the cause of Wall Street Bankers and the Corporate power brokers ! Time to split the Democrat Party and relegate the fractured GOP to the regional status it deserves !

  • Mark

    A few questions for Mr. Wolff;
    Regarding the bigger picture of capitalism; How much does climate change and globalized overpopulation/overconsumption play a part in the rising cost of commodities, leading to American declining standards of living? How much does American sprawl society and the cost of maintaining it affect the elusiveness of the American Dream? How much is China and other developing countries rise in consumer cultures affecting America? Can the Earth sustain the hyper-competition of 7 billion people competing for a middle class standard of livimg? These are all things i have studied as well – and i see neo-feudalism coming to America.

  • Is This Thing On!

    Can a non-profit organization be created to hire all people under the poverty line and issue stock to these people rather than taxable income to avoid and use the system of regulations the same way other corporation do? What the hell does take stock mean if we can’t?

  • Anonymous

    Mr Moyers says he wants to solicit questions. Here’s a couple. It seems that low cap gains rates and low top marginal rates have destroyed our manufacturing base. Cap gains are so low today, that an old notion, “depreciation” has become an archaic term. Depreciation rewards those who use capital to produce what a firm produces, these are classically manufactures.

    The alternative to capital intensive producers are what I term “cap lite producers” These are people who produce nothing, professionals, financiers, and the like. They don’t hire very many people, and since they produce anything that can be resold, their activities are an economic sink. This sector of production adds little if anything to GDP; whereas their counterparts, cap intensive producers multiply GDP, as their goods can often be resold, or add value to the economy.

    Anyway, our low tax policies favor cap lite producers. Higher tax rates would indeed tax them, as they have few deductible avenues to sink gross profits into. Whereas, capital intensive producers have a plethora of deductible sinks, employee benefits, training, pensions (once, when these rates were at their highest) R&D, capital investment, or maintenance, advertising all become MORE ATTRACTIVE the HIGHER THE TAX RATE!

    The only real objection I’ve heard from those who know enough to understand, but who are opposed to the notion is some argument that it’s immoral to have high tax rates. Funny argument from the caveat emptor crowd. Another is that we’ll never collect those rates. See how these are self contradictory? The effective rates WON’T change with higher rates. So, there is no moral quandary, and, the fact that (more productive) deductible avenues will be exploited is the very goal I’m seeking.

    Rather, firm behavior and investments will change. Depreciation will be a factor in investments, read longer time horizons will be rewarded. Speculation and liquidation of and on capital is taxed and thus discouraged. This should lower the costs of commodities and be a boon to the economy. An efficient regulator, that isn’t biased, co-opted, nor a command economy.

    Some might worry that firms will flee our shores if their tax rates rise. That’s non-sense. We have all the customers, so firms will want to be here. If their taxes on those sales/gross profits rise, they won’t leave; they’ll double down. They’ll seek to increase, or shift their expenses here, so that they off-set their profits. Production will be more lucrative through the tax credit depreciation offers, and higher tax rates will encourage firms to lower their net profits. They might decentralize their firms, as they did under higher rates. This would mean more middle management, another entity to pull in profits under the top marginal rates.

    So, a stimulated economy, more domestic manufacturing, higher employee benefits/pay, more private training, domestic R&D facilities, less speculation, an inherent bubble deterrent are all the rational rewards for higher top marginal tax rates and higher capital gains rates. Why aren’t the democrats making this argument?

    Further, please notice the sophism in the low tax argument. They conflate net and gross profits, and effective and nominal tax rates. Further, there is no benefit to flattening effective and nominal rates, unless you’re a cap lite producer, with no deductions. The spread in rates is a de-facto incentive for firms to invest. Call it the investment discount increment. Why on earth would we want to lower the spread? If I write off deductions at a high rate, and only pay taxes at a lower rate, my investments are incentivized by that spread in the rates.

  • Anonymous

    most all states allow payday lending. So, by now the states prohibiting usury are the minority.

  • Anonymous

    The other great issue facing our country other than tax rates, is the notion of utilities and professional markets as distinct and unique markets. Libertarians and opportunists are pushing for deregulation of utilities and that is another road to corporate welfare.

    Utilities are special markets with limited suppliers/competition where there is no real alternative–this is different from a monopoly in that these markets are inelastic–if coke were the only cola, big deal, we don’t need cola, but water, sewage, electricity, phone, roads, national defense are utilities. I’d argue oil, gas, commercial banking and major healthcare are too. But, if you’ll reflect, there’s a remarkable consistency to the customer service experience in these markets, (crummy) versus the free market, where the customer is always right.

    But, it’s alternatives and competition that put all the power in the hands of the customer. In fact, in utilities you’re not a “customer” but a “consumer” reflecting the predictable nature of your demand. One other market comes from this competitors and alternatives perspective, that’s professional markets.

    The old cliche is that the customer is always right. But, in the professional market, you’re buying expertise, so, you’re not smart enough to know if you were well served. You’re left trusting the professional. This relationship is known as the fiduciary duty, or “fiduciary law.” It’s a forgotten feature of our government that the courts are to serve as regulators. Tort reform has intruded on venerable Common Law that defines utilities, fiduciary law and the like.

    Now, I’d argue that there are two Professional Utilities, major healthcare and commercial banking. They should be regulated as utilities, they require gov’t assistance to exist like utilities. They pervert the fiduciary model, by the inherent fact that the patient isn’t paying his bill; and the bank, or the borrower can go bankrupts, throwing on the FDIC or federal bankruptcy protection the obligations. When you separate the professional’s client from the payer, fiduciary roles get complicated.

    Deregulation of utilities and failure to see major healthcare and banking as utilities are the cause of vast gov’t outlays, abuses of customers and an inflationary menace for the middle class. So, ultimately, it’s economic ignorance that leaves us goats before the slaughter. Low tax rates, low capital gains, ignorance of the role of utilities has made us too stupid to know what’s really going on. And, the media, with it’s bullpen of sophistic economists who are secret advocates for whom, we never learn. When an accursed lawyer speaks, at least we know who’s paying him to speak, the same isn’t true of the media’s “experts.” These vast areas of economics that haven’t been mentioned or explained in the media in decades is evidence of that.

  • Anonymous

    It’s our low tax rates. Raise taxes, and firms will be looking to make those expenses off-set their putative tax burden. Higher rates equals more productivity. We have all the customers, so they can’t leave. Low taxes lets them leave.

  • Anonymous

    Read my post above. He’s a bit mistaken on how it happens. Higher rates don’t change effective rates, it causes firms to increase domestic expenses to lower their tax exposure. Those off shore expenses are harder to write down, there’s no depreciation on their foreign factories–higher cap gains would make domestic depreciation more lucrative for cap intensive producers.

    What our tax code rewards today is cap lite production, professionals who produce nothing. It discourages depreciation and capital intensive production, which are inherently more able to exploit standard business deductions than cap lite-rs.

  • Anonymous

    raise cap gains, it punishes liquidation and speculation, while rewarding depreciation for cap intensive producers.

  • Anonymous

    dishwashers, cooks, bartenders are NOT part of that pay scale, never were. Waiters only, not greeters, hosts, bus boys and the like.

  • Anonymous

    You’re an idiot. Our ten year t-bill is still under 2%.

  • Anonymous

    if there are more qualified workers, then their pay should fall. Greater supply equals less demand.

  • Anonymous

    Why have the gov’t make their screwy curriculum when it’s happening already via many different actors?

  • Anonymous

    what regulation? What markets? He doesn’t say. THere are utilities markets and those MUST be regulated if not wholly socialized. Free markets, where competition and alternatives create a climate where the customer has all the power, shouldn’t be regulated. Simple. Professional markets must be adjudicated by fiduciary law. There are two special markets, that are professional utilities, major healthcare and commercial banking. Fiduciary law would improve banking and treating major healthcare like a utility would fix it.

    Conventional regulation of utilities means capping profits at 8-10%, forecasting and allowing for future demand, and suppressing rates beyond that. We’re not doing that. If we were, that would discourage much of the lobbying for loopholes and the like. The problem is us, and our lack of economic literacy.

  • Anonymous

    “It is our RIGHT, verily our DUTY…”

  • Richard B.

    Empires… never see it coming.

  • Anonymous

    what gets me is that we’re no longer “capitalistic” but a financial something or other. Capitalism would prefer higher cap gains, as cap intensive producers are rewarded through “depreciation” But, we’re financiers anymore. They’re the ones who confuse capital with cash. Capital is the tools of production that cash buys. The financiers are speculators, liquidators and gamblers. Higher cap gains, higher top marginal rates won’t increase revenues, but it will divert gross profits to more productive use.

  • Sophia

    Dear Mr Wolff:

    It would be wonderful if you could teach your course on capitalism in one of those free platforms as well, such as Coursera. There are millions of people around the world who would love to hear what you have to say about it.

    Many thanks, it was an incredible show! :-)

  • Anonymous

    a greater effect is the Commodities Futures Modernization Trading act that took the CFTC off the beat. Also, low capital gains encourages liquidation and speculation rather than real investment in capital, or long term rewards. It’s an instant culture. Speculation is a terrible tax on the economy, and has corrupted our media.

    For instance, global oil demand is down. The West, US and Europe are down 3-5 million barrels a week off peak demand. While Asia and the rest are only up 2 million barrels per week. You’ll read that demand in Asia is up. But not by as much as it’s down here. These guys are allowed to make fact free assertions in the media all the time, and no one calls them on it.

  • Anonymous

    you need to read my post above. Higher tax rates would do more to stimulate the economy than anything else. Stop comparing our economy to economic backwaters like Vietnam. They HAVE to have low taxes to attract businesses, they have no customers. We have all the customers, if we have higher taxes, firms won’t/can’t leave. They’ll concentrate production costs domestically, while cutting foreign production. That’s what happens in Germany. Only, we have a vastly greater consumer base than the Krauts.

  • Naples Florida

    Question for Mr. Wolff’s next visit: Does he think setting term limits for Congress would curtail the influence of big money on Congress, and does he think that it is possible, given the fact that Congressmen would have to vote themselves out of lucrative and powerful positions?

  • xaxtarr

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

    Also, thrift stores, flea markets, dollar stores, what used to be called “5 and dimes” seem to also be increasing as a response to the same economic factors.

    The question is: how would these factors enter into Mr. Wolff’s real-world economics? On the lighter side, see: Rodney Dangerfield in business class in “Back to School.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/thomas.hroncich Thomas Hroncich

    Since the Rich are getting exponentially Richer and the r e s t of us are poorer and there are more poooor and there are many Madoffs out there and companies avoid paying taxes, whatever their fair share is so that an ordinary American can succeed and own a home, raise a family, can go on vacation, have 2 cars, educate their children and, yes, afford to retire . What has to happen? With the debt? With the gridlock in Congress, with the the lack of Presidential leadership, with financial regulation of Banks, Hedge Funders,world competition,with the attitude I got mine; How does the Ship get RIGHTED? Or is Democracy, Capitalism lost its’ value,

  • Reformer1

    Mr. Wolff,

    What do you think of FDR’s Second Bill of Rights, and would it be possible to attain these rights within a 10 year time frame?

    Here is a excerpt of FDR’s speech:
    It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
    This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
    As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
    We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.”[3] People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
    In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
    Among these are:
    The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
    The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
    The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
    The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
    The right of every family to a decent home;
    The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
    The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
    The right to a good eduction.

  • Lawrence

    Very insightful and instructive interview with Mr Wolff. He makes excellent sense and communicates very well. I hope the message gets out so we can pull ourselves out of this painful economic mess before the austerity explodes and tests people’s limits as a result of the denial and growing inequality.
    With over 30 years in the financial services industry in senior executive ranks, I do have question. I believe that we are walking away from “principled” capitalisim. We now bail out banks and leave the leadership largely in place as they pat themselves on the back and collect over 500 times the average annual wage.
    How do we correct the massive distortions that have been inflicted on our system by the bailouts and Fed liquidity moves that has resulted in ultra low interest rates and created a world where savers, pensionsers, people on fixed incomes, pension plans, insurance companies all subsidizing the banks and debtors? By my estimation in the US there is conservatively about 10 trillion dollars in savings vehicles, and experts have estimated that interest rates have been artificially reduce by about 300 basis points (or 3 full percentage points). This would represent a massive 300 billion dollar transfer in wealth each year from one group in society to another. All designed to help the banks and debtors stay afloat… It is laughable when the authorities and bankers declare victory and say TARP has been repaid with interest and that the government made money on the deal…Nowhere do they speak to these ongoing distortions and tranfers as well as the huge number of people still out of work or underemployed and struggling.
    We are increasingly living in a world where only a few benefit and continuing to promote a dangerous culture of “borrow to spendand survive” versus “save and borrow to invest” which is key to principled capitalism..
    We are leaving massive debts for the youth and the unborn to deal with and institutionalizing slow growth and job creation.
    And the wealthiest and top bankers are self proclaimed heroes and rock stars and at time the media does not dig deep and report what is actually taking place.
    Something is very wrong. The hubris, unethical thinking, unchecked greed among those that helped create the problems and now continue to benefit from the bailout actions is destroying principled capitalism and perpetuating a culture that essentially steals growth from the future (which has been going on for some time now).
    How do we turn this around without creating social and political unrest? How do you get most people to see and understand what is going on versus just feeling the frustration and acting on it?
    Great show Bill….glad I found you. I will be watching.
    Look forward to Mr Wolff insights….he needs more air time and exposure to get the message out. Only through education and understanding of the problem can we get there.

  • applepie

    The Richard Wolff story on the predatory Capitalist system was riveting. It explains the dilemma faced by taxpaying American families. My own daughter must move back to her childhood home because she cannot support herself on a substitute teachers salary. She has a business degree and a masters in teaching. Now $30,000 in education debt, she has been unable to find a full-time teaching position. Our representatives in Washington should hang their heads in shame for begetting this economic nightmare.

  • http://www.facebook.com/erik.lomas Erik Lomas

    Great interview today with Richard Wolff. Some interesting conclusions: Well-intentioned Regulation Doesn’t Work; Politicians aren’t accountable to those by whom they were elected; corporate personalities make decisions, based on the motivations of the system/position into which they’re placed. So what options are left, besides a systemic overhaul?

    Making better-informed purchasing decisions as individuals is the only option I really see, if I accept Wolff’s main conclusions. It’s the most practical power we have left, provided we can still afford to make those decisions… Given the paradigm of social media and easy communication, it seems it should be relatively easy to inform & unofficially organize the masses to give our consumer demand real power against organizations that would consciously continue to widen the wealth gap in the USA. What are Richard Wolff’s thoughts on this approach? Are there any great examples of organizations already doing this in a way that makes it easy for the masses to participate?

  • Lloyd Palfreman

    Tip credit policy allows all positions that interact with the public to be paid $2.13/hr. Many national chains pay their hosts, bussers and bartenders this wage. They then require their servers payout tipshare to these positions so that the wage is brought up to or surpasses the $7.25/hr. If it does not, then make-up pay must be applied.

  • Dee

    I’ve been an avid consumer of Bill Moyers programs since I discovered them serendipitously a number of years ago.

    I’m amazed at the spiral of hopeless I image we’re all left to feel after watching Mr Moyers programs each week. I’m no economist, scholar or intellectual. I’m left many a nights to my own deliberations in an attempt to find a plausible an rational solution. I’ve come up with maybe a very simple solution.

    A single pay grade(Lets say $10.50/hr.) regardless of stature, lineage, academic accomplishment , ethnicity, or nationality. True unaldulterated equality. I’ve floated the concept but it gets dismissed as impractical and absurd. Until I pose the question. How much is someone elses life worth? More than yours?

  • Al

    All the things said by Mr. Wolff are true but they ignore the overall picture. He talks about how Pres. Roosevelt was able to tax the rich for the sake of the country, but fails to note that the rich were being threatened by the rise of Nazi Germany and impending WWII. They needed a strong nation to go to war to save their scrawny necks. But we don’t have that situation now. The rich feel very comfortable now that they can wage all the war they want from the convience of an easy chair in front of a computer controlled drone. They don’t need boots in uniforms to sacrifice for their safety.
    While Mr. Wolff presents a moral issue, the bottom line is where the decisions are made.

  • Al

    Casptialism has its faults. So does Communism and Socialism. There is no system that can’t and won’t be corrupted.

  • FlorAL

    Just saw your show, Great way to understand the interdependence effect of current aspects of our economic system, Thank you.

    My question for Richard Wolff is the following: If the problems we face are structural and will take at least a generation or two to solve, how is it that as a society we are embracing the status quo, how is it that we are not able to engage the system and its decision makers in a practical way and forcing change, and create a different reality base on the data you and others have compiled? Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street are reactions to the system, they are the beginning of the dialogue, they do not yet address the possible solutions.

  • James K

    Wow.

    So many great tangential perspectives here.

    Yes, Mr. Wolff surely seems to have mathematically formulated one hell of a banana cream pie for the greedmasters’ collective face.

    What troubles me though, is that the greedmasters are so poorly regulated a la the lobbying system, and so intoxicated and giddy over the compounding of their nouveau riche successes, that there no longer appears to any incentive for them to relent.

    Therefore I feel it is up to the elites of all sectors to modulate the respective extents to which they reward the activity of consolidation as one antithetical manifestation of competitiveness.

    What ever happened to the anti trust laws does anyone know?

  • http://bonalibro.us/ Tim Chambers

    Too many people’s pensions are dependent on long term capital gains. Raising rates to over 50% on short term gains would help a lot, however.

    The quick kill is a zero sum game that is little better than larceny. And high speed trading is larceny. Speculators should be forced to get rich slowly, like everyone else.

  • Older American

    Excellent program. Straight forward, intelligent, and logical. This is the kind of practical plain-speak America needs. Thank you both.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1148243004 Dave Yuhas

    The “fight” is over. The capitalists captured the government, all 3 branches.

  • http://cynicalpharmacist.blogspot.com The Cynical Pharmacist

    Excellent show. Best simple explanation of our disintegrating Republic that I’ve seen yet.

  • Helene

    The economic issue I and many more will suffer being let go because of their age.

    The corporation I worked for 19+years and having just turned 61 was told I could take a “package and go” or “just go”

    86 of the others that left at the same time. The company got rid of a large number of younger people. When the hire someone new, s/he will be young.

    The bottom line is that everyone who has had to deal with this situation are now part of the middle class poor, or for me, the poor.

    My solution after 3 years of is to move to another country, where I will be able to survive on my soc.sec.,where ,after I become a resident ( takes 3 months) I am eligible to participate in their health care…for free

    I grieve that I have to leave my country.

  • Rob

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

  • Anonymous

    I worry that our extreme right wing elites are not only willfully blind to their narcissism, but that they also really believe that the security state they foisted on all of us should now be used to entrench their position, over the will of the majority. That’s not sustainable and there is a certain madness to it. As Wolff points out, profound reform came under FDR because half the moneyed elites were fearful of another American Revolution and took compromise instead. (I expect many of them thought it was the right thing to do too. Who needs such a huge pile of money?) But the other half, the extreme right wing, also fought that approach. Power and wealth is now so concentrated and enmeshed among a tiny corporate-military-financial-media elite and their enablers that it’s a ticking time bomb, as the human condition is such that absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is inevitable, which is why democracy is key. In my more worried moments, it feels like “24″ and “Zero Dark Thirty” (such numerical, objective, absurd names for the branding of nihilism) are try-ons, seeing if anyone will object to showing us torture as policy, testing how easily we’ll all get used to the idea. And then what? That all said, this was a great review of America’s economic history (a topic which is usually hidden from view) and I will share widely knowing full well that few of my fellow professionals will watch or think there is anything at all to be concerned about. It seems these are dark times to be a thinking and feeling human being, but I share Wolff’s optimism that the foundational ideals and common sense of the American people will reassert themselves as the crisis is absorbed. Most troubling is that this hasn’t happened more fully yet and I think the corporate takeover of media has a lot to do with that. I feel it’s important to try to restart citizen dialogue, not in a left or right way but a fresh way and this piece certainly does that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Katherine-Shanahan-Carlson/1314790180 Katherine Shanahan Carlson

    how does anyone live on minimum wage?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Katherine-Shanahan-Carlson/1314790180 Katherine Shanahan Carlson

    “there is no equality of opportunity”

  • Anonymous

    Can’t say that capitalism has failed America if
    society/government has failed to prepare its citizens for the economic structural changes that have occurred. Workers with a max of a high school level education are now devoid of the skills necessary
    to keep up the transition to a knowledge/digital based economy as manufacturing jobs become harder and harder to get. Even sectors of the service industry are demanding more skill. Instead of adjusting, we decided it was all good to continue allowing kids to drop out of high school and continue the rising trend of raising kids in a single parent household.

    Bad news: Current day America has seen a million kids drop out of high school per year. Staggering,
    and of course never discussed in the popular media.
    http://www.americaspromise.org/Our-Work/Grad-Nation/Dropout-Facts.aspx

    More bad news: Single parent homes are increasing – this is a major factor driving long term increase
    in child poverty in the U.S.
    http://www.prb.org/Publications/PolicyBriefs/singlemotherfamilies.aspx

    These are society/cultural issues. Its easy to focus on the “failures” of capitalism, the evils of the 1%, bad behavior by banks, etc, and tempting to have government come in on a white horse and fix everything. But those are superficial thoughts avoiding the true issues of society. We have the power to change our behavior for the better as long as we accept the fact that our actions today have long term and sever consequences.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Katherine-Shanahan-Carlson/1314790180 Katherine Shanahan Carlson

    Revolution vs Compromise – FDR made it work

  • Julia Moore

    During the 60′s, I read an article re increasing the min wage in which it was pointed out that % increases in income in any vast segment of the populace (ie min wage earners, govt workers, etc) is accompanied by an equal % increase in rents and food (by middle-class property and business owners) as well as an equal % increase in the cost of utilities ( by mega wealthy corporations). Hence, unless an increase in the min wage is accompanied by legislative restraints on concurrent rises in the cost of shelter, food, etc, it benefits wealthy corporations and the middle-class middlemen at the EXPENSE of the workers for whom the increase is intended. Notice that this behavior stagnates the rate at which workers can earn their way into the middle class and ultimately fosters its breakdown. No successful alternative way of making the system serve the citizenry can ignore this issue! Please incl it in your next discussion.

  • Anonymous

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

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

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

  • Elwood Anderson

    Richard Wolff says the American people are in shock and that’s the reason they don’t contest their predicament. Not so. The basic dynamic that is happening is as follows.

    Minorities and the downtrodden have no voice in the system. They accept their lot. They work hard, or use lawful or unlawful means to survive. If they tried to revolt in any way, the police are strong enough to contain any revolt because they have the support of the majority of the people who are not in dire circumstances.

    The Tea Party consists primarily of older white males who have done reasonably well or who are retired on their savings and social security. They don’t resent the wealthy. They resent the downtrodden because they think they are using welfare or unlawful means to survive, and there is ample propaganda from wealthy

    sources to stoke this resentment.

    For any significant support for a change in the system to occur, it will require that more of the middle class be driven into the poverty class through further reductions in wages and benefits. Only when people now in the Tea Party and in rural America’s middle class start dropping into the poverty class and wake up to their plight will there be enough Democratic support to cause a change in the system. This contingent is not used to being treated as expendable and they have a voice and they vote. When organizations like the AARP start hearing from them and become strongly Democratic the prospects for change will improve.

  • Anonymous

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

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

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

  • Anonymous

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

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

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/acomforta Arlen Comfort

    I appreciate what Mr. Wolf had to say.
    (1) I would like to have him speak on the subject of climate change/global warming (droughts) and how that may effect the economy.
    (NNR) Non Renewable Resource.
    (2) How does NNR depletion, including oil, effect the economy? It is now taking more and more resources, energy (money) to extract the same amount of resources.
    (3) Is there any changes to the economic system that would handle the above problems better?

  • kenlv

    I think regulations are necessary and can work. After all, traffic laws are regulations that work even though some are violated, diliberatly or accidentally. What is needed is more complete disclosure of activities designed to circumvent regulations. Every member of congress should be required to post weekly every lobbyist he or his staff has been in contact with.including who the lobbyist was representing. Perhaps enough people would pay attention.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ron-Shook/1492658712 Ron Shook

    Mr. Moyers, I read Richard Wolff’s words every chance I get and was amazed by this interview. Normally it’s not the case, but the articulation and passion evinced in the skills of both of you in this interview was better than a read.

    The question I have for the next go-round is whether you-all could delve into the question of whether capitalism or even socialism for that matter can survive in this century of climate change, resource depletion and economic contraction. Capitalism and socialism as an answer to capitalism’s excesses both derived from the exponential growth of cheap fossil fuel energy of the last few centuries. Now that this energy is no longer cheap and plentiful there is no growth to pay the interest on investment or the entitlements of social welfare. Where does Prof. Wolff think that we go from here? Is Jeff Rubin the only economist of note to get this? It shouldn’t take a physicist to tell us that the party is over and that peak everything is here, to borrow two phrases from Richard Heinberg.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ron-Shook/1492658712 Ron Shook

    Lawrence, Thanks for your perspective. We don’t see enough of its ilk.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ron-Shook/1492658712 Ron Shook

    Mr. Spears, I’m glad you brought this up. I kind of agree with spartan2600 that real human face to face interaction is necessary for a workable education, But that doesn’t mean that a free federal comprehensive, curriculum based knowledge and data base wouldn’t be the cat’s meow for both teachers and students, so that education by anyone could be gained using a more limited classroom experience coupled with self learning and testing. Things change so fast that education ain’t a kid thing any more, but a lifelong necessity..

  • Anonymous

    Two committed lovers of Big Government extolling the virtues of central planning (FDR) and the need for
    an all-powerful government, working with of course, special interests to bring about a glorious utopia.

    Apparently, they skimmed over the chapters in their history books about the Soviet Union, Cambodia,
    Mao’s China, Cuba and North Korea (to name just a few).
    These two leftists have tragically impaired vision- they see all the evils of capitalism, but are blind to the
    evils of government-corporate cronyism.

    They miss the part that none of these evils would exist without the aid and active assistance of the government.
    Social Security a success?- are you kidding me? It has been the largest theft by the government
    perpetrated on the working class that these guys claim to champion.
    And Mr. Wolff apparently missed seeing the most oppressive force in our history against the middle
    class- the destruction of our U.S. dollar by the Fed.

    This hurts the lower middle class and saving
    elderly much more than some alleged “right-wing conspiracy”- and it’s out in the open if Mr. Wolff only
    had eyes to see it. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Mr. Obama, whom they idolize, has been a
    willing and active accomplice to the destruction of the dollar, and the destruction of the middle class, with his
    support of Mr. Bernanke and his reckless debts in the federal budget.

    The truth is that a handful of so-called “capitalists” have colluded closely with a too-big, too-powerful
    and too-corrupt government to give us the anti-middle class system we have today. These guys see
    only half the equation, therefore, their solutions are ineffective and half-baked.
    They cannot see the difference between fascism-government cronyism and honest capitalism.
    Capitalism with fair and honest (and small) government works better than any other system conceived of by mankind.

  • d+led

    The overall problem with this interview is far too much “view” and not nearly enough “inter.” If I were Bill Moyers (and I am most certainly not), here are a few of Richard Wolff’s broad assumptions I would challenge:

    1) Minimum Wage: if Richard thinks $9.00 or $9.50 per hour is not sufficient, why stop at $16.50 (1960′s wage adjusted for inflation)? Why not raise the Federal Minimum Wage to $100 per hour? By Wolff’s logic, this would indeed stimulate the economy. But the problem is, there will simply be more dollars chasing the same finite amount of goods and prices would rise due to 1) increased demand and 2) increased costs in employing all these workers. In many industries with narrow profit margins and unskilled labor pools (agriculture, service sector, primary manufacturing industries), the labor costs are very fixed and thus the employer could pay $100 hourly to ten people or to one person. Could that one person be ten times more efficient? And would those other nine people prefer to have a lower-paying job than none at all?

    2) Economics: Richard is fond of reminding us that he is an economist, but fails to qualify what exactly his expertise in this made-up science is supposed to confer upon him. The basis for Austrian Economics, for example, is that the interactions of the marketplace are extremely complex and the notion that human action can be fully understood and even managed by central planning is deeply flawed. Economics as a profession was created during an era in which other REAL sciences like physics were being expanded – thus economists wanted their profession to have “laws” and theories with similarly predictive powers as the hard physical sciences. Psychology is the same way. The end result is an educated class of people whose primary role is to generate obtuse academic models and scholarship which has little bearing to the everyday realities of the marketplace. Professor Wolff acknowledges as much with his distinction between academic economics departments and business schools that practice pragmatic entrepreneurial skill, yet he never returns to address why anyone with strictly theoretical training such as himself has any real insight into an economy. The remainder of his points demonstrates that he really does not.

    3) Democracy as theft: the legacy of FDR’s New Deal is invoked with admiration and nostalgia, recalling the term-unlimited president’s threat to wealthy Americans that they must “pay up” or the social unrest of the lower classes would upend their living standards through violent revolution. Yet Wolff doesn’t call a spade a spade; theft by the wealthy using government and theft by the poor using government both remain theft nonetheless. A 100% tax rate on income above a certain amount, for example, provides absolutely no individual incentive to work beyond that threshold and is essentially a form of progressive-era slavery; to claim ownership of all (or most) of one’s income is to claim ownership of all (or most) of one’s labor. To voluntarily contribute to any cause is a fine act of economy liberty; to be forced by government to pay through taxation is indeed an act of economic slavery. This was among the primary reasons for the Revolutionary War, yet the inexorable growth of government has caused a growing demand for many new forms of taxation to pay for all the promises the state makes.

    4) Interest rates and inflation: Professor Wolff alludes to the credit crisis of 2007 and the rising cost of living, yet he is curiously silent as to its cause. This is perhaps because the underlying acts of central banks controlling interest rates and inflationary monetary policy are fundamental tenants of Keynesian economics – an ideology to which Wolff is a likely student. The words “Federal Reserve” are never so much as mentioned in this 45 minute interview, nor is the Gold Standard upon which the purchasing power of the dollar remained steady for over 100 years. Wolff talks about Americans borrowing massive amounts of credit without mentioning that the Fed (under chairmans Greenspan and Bernanke) have kept interest rates artificially low (near zero for years now) which has distorted the true value of money. The only reason the purchasing power of the dollar decreases and the need for any adjustment to a minimum wage is necessary is BECAUSE inflationary monetary policy has forced prices steadily upward over the past 100 years since the creation of the Fed and particularly after the gold window was officially closed on the US dollar in 1971 – leaving it backed by nothing but the credit of an increasingly indebted federal government. The moral hazard created by government-mandated housing programs fueled the predatory lending practices and irresponsible lending standards of the housing bubble and this catastrophe only continues to this day with the Fed’s commitment for Quantitative Easing to infinity with the monthly purchase of $40 billion mortgage-backed securities and the “twist” of Treasury Bond yields. Perhaps this is all too technical for Wolff to discuss with Moyers, yet the result is a tragically misinformed indictment of “capitalism” when in fact the problem has been not enough free market capitalism and far too much government-backed corporatism all along.

    The saying goes: if the shoe fits, it was created by capitalism. Wolff is free to distort and malign a free market system he either does not understand or cannot distinguish from the corporate cronyism of today. In either case, there is something worth mentioning here. During the Cold War, the popular board game Monopoly was banned in the Communist USSR. While the game was meant to be a critique of capitalism, those living under Soviet-enforced socialism nonetheless smuggled or outright fabricated their own copies of Monopoly because the appeal of free markets and economy liberty was far greater than the “each according to his own need” model of central government economics.

  • Dave

    So, in the next installment of this Leftist propaganda staged by our “friends” at PBS, Wolff and Moyers are actually going to do their best to convince the gullible that Marxist economics joined with democratic (ie, mob) rule will bring real prosperity to the middle class; displacing the undeserving “rich 1%ers. I can’t wait!!

  • quonexus

    When we demand one person, one vote, and the majority rule, we will realize democracy. It’s not always pretty, and there is sometimes tyranny, but the majority of people are good, hard working people, who care about each other and their communities. With power in their own hands, they will have only themselves to hold accountable, and will cluster in communities based on values and compatible neighbors.

    We now have the technology to secure the one person, one vote electronically. The systems exist and can be tied together to allow people to educate themselves on issues that are important to them, debate problems and solutions, and vote for their choices.

    Governments become the technicians of this digital democracy. Most government as we now know it, including elected or volunteer representatives now have the sole purpose of converting a list of individual decisions into a coherent program with a direction forward.

    This new way of governing replaces corporations from ruling our government and thus our economy. Corporations are not people, so they only exist as a different way to organize the will of our people to build something or deliver a service. They will become democratic as well, with the employees contributing and getting a fair share of the return on their contributions.

  • Bengt Cyniker

    Should be 16 dollars minimum wage? That is about the minimum wages we have in my country, Sweden.

  • Dave

    Maybe next time they’ll call it what it really is (ie, “Corporatism” or “Crony Capitalism”) instead of Capitalism. Also, it would add real interest to interject into the “conversation” exactly where Moyers and Wolff have received their (no doubt) lucrative compensation over the years–either through PBS or the university system and their supporting foundations–and ask why (all of a sudden) they are calling for an end to the economic system which has made both of them very comfortable…but, no, that won’t happen.

  • Anonymous

    it seems to me term limits empowers the institution and lobbyists. The neophytes would be lambs to the slaughter. When my proposals aren’t verboten, when simply discussing raising rates isn’t barred from polite conversation, then we can start to reform.

  • Nathan S.

    I didn’t have time to listen to all 44 minutes of this because I have a job and have to work, but one thing that they never addressed is our monetary policy and MATH. #1 – If you raise the minimum wage, employers will raise their prices. There’s no way around that. If a business has an increase in expenses–i.e. wages–they must raise prices to compensate–INFLATION. #2 – Our massive entitlements structure in our government, massive debt, and massive printing of money is continually DEVALUING THE DOLLAR. This has as much or more to do with the true value of the minimum wage, than anything these guys talked about. Hell, why not make the minimum wage $20/hr, or $50 or $100? Because there are other consequences that these guys never even addressed. They talked about “feel good politics” but gave no practical information or math behind the larger impact of raising the minimum wage or tackling the real problem of our monetary policy.

  • Anonymous

    low cap gains make it cheaper to sell/liquidate factories. Low top marginal tax rates mean execs get to reward themselves for finding that capital to liquidate.

    Check the timeline, before NAFTA, came the lower tax rates which encouraged executive profligacy. Then came lower cap gains, which sealed the deal and made “depreciation” an archaic term. Depreciation was “a stream of income” for cap intensive manufactures, we killed that stream, and domestic production.

    It’s low tax rates that has encouraged that race to the bottom. Germany still produces in house, and their relatively higher rates are to thank.

  • Anonymous

    what you’d find is that employee costs are some fraction of a businesses expenses. The raise in wages, is some fraction of that. So, a 10% raise in a business that pays 20% of it’s costs to labor, would see a 2% inflation to their bottom line. So, the 10% raise is a greater benefit than the 2% inflation.

    Further, our 10yr t-bill is selling at less than 2%, what you fear is no where on the horizon. Frankly, a bit of inflation is precisely what economists want right now.

  • Anonymous

    A $100 is absurd, and is a strawman. Austrian economics doesn’t say what you think it does. It’s been misrepresented to you. Hayek supported national healthcare, utilities are not free markets, nor are professional markets. This is the deficiency of libertarian economics. As to your 3rd point, we had 94% top tax rates, the economy ran far better on those rates than it would on 6% top rate. So, your attempt to reduce to the absurd is met. Higher tax rates are stimulative, and they leave the flight to whichever deductible avenue up to the entrepreneur/firm. What’s wrong with that? Your (lack of)accounting competence and experience running a capital intensive firm is your deficiency.

    Despite being on the Gold standard, our economy went through troughs and cycles at 3 yr intervals. The economy was far less stable with a hard currency. The original Great Depression and the Long Depression both occur between the Civil War and Turn of the Century. And, I’ll note that once we deregulated banks, cut tax rates and cap gains, we’ve seen finance consume 40% of the economy and two major banking collapses, something that never happened during the high post WW2 rates.

    We have and need a blended system. Privatizing utilities won’t make them better nor more efficient. Gov’t likewise should stay out of the free market. You’ve not created a rubric to discern the difference. You can’t ignore fiduciary law and utilities they predate Adam Smith, are codified in Common Law and are wholly ignored by libertarians. It’s alternatives and competition that makes the free market a place where the customer is king. When there’s no alternative, and no competition, there’s no freedom.

  • Anonymous

    The biggest theft in history is whomever deprived you of a good education. You’ve created a black and white world where none exists. Free markets are different from professional markets are different from utilities. There are two professional utilities, banking and major healthcare. IF you conflate these markets, you will be forever flummoxed. There’s a reason the water company, the bank, cell phone, electric company, post office are all similar experiences, even though they’re owned differently, they’re all utilities. You HAVE to use them. That’s a far cry from markets where you’re always right, when there’s an issue, it may well be “comp-ed” and where both parties are glad they did business. After dealing with utilities, you just wish you had some lube and got a thank you kiss.

  • Anonymous

    no it’s not. Labor is but a fraction of the cost of business. The increase is a fraction of that fraction. So, the worker gets a 20% boost. If labor is 20% of the firm’s costs, and they pay a 20% increase, that’s 4% increase in costs to the firm, and a 20% increase in absolute income for the worker.

  • Anonymous

    Non-sense, we’re better educated than ever. There are millions with liberal arts degrees that haven’t used those skills. Firms are being too picky, and they’re outsourcing their employee training–to us and the gov’t. Raise their tax rates, and firms will suddenly want to apply their gross profits to deductible expenses, like employee training, expansion, benefits, R&D, advertising. Raising taxes doesn’t increase direct tax revenues, but it does stimulate the economy. That second level of stimulus actually increases revenues, while the effective rates stay essentially the same.

  • DaveKay

    As I watched Bill Moyers, another channel carried the Academy Awards. I thought, here’s another piece of the puzzle . . . We laud and swoon over these people. The news stations and entertainment shows laud and swoon . . . yet these people are also part of the super rich who are pulling away from us. They are somehow exempt from our scorn. I’ve never seen an Occupy Hollywood. Athletes are also part of the puzzle. Society doesn’t like or want the 1% but they’ll rubber neck to see them and chase them for an autograph. I’m bemused

  • Nathan S

    Not true, Scott. For most service industry businesses–which employ the greatest percentage of minimum wage workers– wages represent about 50% of their expenses.

  • Anonymous

    Your snarky comment aside (I have two doctorates, for what it’s worth), based on your reply, I have no idea what your thesis is. Let me be clear in my response and you try the same. 1) If you re-read my comment, you won’t see any mention of things being black and white. You will find guiding principles that people are impoverished and markets are inefficient the more you have expansive government and crony capitalism. 2) All of the markets you listed can and have functioned well as free markets, where buyers and sellers can transparently advertise and provide services at whatever prices they choose. The Post Office? I think the success of UPS and FedEx (and email) put to rest your idea that the Post Office is a utility and you HAVE to use them. 3) I recommend you read the U.S. Constitution, and take the Hillsdale College online course on the ideas and debates underpinning the writing of the Constitution. The founding fathers did a very good job of outlining what the government is really necessarily the last resort to provide. All the other stuff (misguided and harmful minimum wage laws, Social Security, Medicare, social programs) have impoverished this great people and put shackles on our ability to achieve our personal greatness and confiscated through taxes our resources that a moral people would otherwise to free to use to provide aid our neighbors, via our own giving and our charitable organizations, who truly needed assistance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Grothe/1327825080 Peter Grothe

    Bill’s discussion with Mr. Wolff DID NOT include any thoughts on how to improve anything. The discussion was a bucket of fear dumped on everybody’s balding head – Okay Bill, we get it. We’re all effed. Fear mongering is the tactic of the right- Let’s keep the discussion practical. Bill is getting old and trying to frighten everybody- I can watch Fox News for that. Bring back the poets.

  • Nathan S.

    And Scott, in case you haven’t been to the store lately, we’re experiencing significant inflation. The administration is playing with the CPI to keep the inflation rate artificially low. I know for sure my cost of milk, eggs, bread, coffee and other items are significantly higher (10-12%) than they were 18 months ago.

  • Nathan S.

    Like what you said, but you should be more brief. No one will read all of this.

  • Anonymous

    You best get frightened and concerned about a system that has moved the bulk of the wealth to the top one percent over the past thirty years and is shredding the Constitution and all vestiges of personal freedoms as it increasingly bypasses the over sight of an elected Congress to enact authoritarian legislation such as the NDAA that allows the endless detention, imprisonment, and murder of American citizens with no justification to instill irrational fear in a population that is being slowly driven down to a third world existence ! Fascism has always been hiding in the shadows and only a complicit public, that stands by as public institutions are systematically disassembled, will insure it’s full implementation by those who seek total control !

  • http://www.facebook.com/richardclingman Rick Clingman

    You are correct. Of course, the SCOTUS has declared that LEGALLY “Corporations are people” and I fear that the “new government” that caters to their “safety and happiness” is becoming well established. The actual human people have stood by apathetically, like Wolff says, “like deer in the headlights.” I think it’s going to be damned difficult to make this right this time around.

  • ProgressiveOasis

    Sounds like a recycled, repackaged version of Marx’s “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” prescription for economic disaster that has already been shown to fail everywhere it’s been tried. I suppose if you define “income equality/social justice” as everyone except the ruling government class being equally poor, then Richard Wolff is right on the money. Just another in a long line of whining communist academics longing for the days of the WPA and CCC with “the rich” being taxes at 94%…although Wolff got misty eyed over FDR’s proposed 100% tax on any income over what would now be $350,000. I’m sure he truly laments the demise of the American communist party and its fellow travelers…although they appear to be live and well on a weekly basis on the taxpayer funded PBS network with Mr. Moyers. In the end, all you can ask is “Who is John Galt?”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Grothe/1327825080 Peter Grothe

    Don’t tell me to be frightened you wordy, call-for-action peon. Go put your dirty clothes on and march in a park somewhere! Your ‘movement’ is stuck in the bowels of a clinching public. You best run along now- and join some sort of movement- you best go now.

  • Anonymous

    Yet another budding GOP Fascist totally void of any redeming social values, you’ll soon be swept out with the rest of the trash !

  • http://www.facebook.com/timothy.macdowall Timothy MacDowall

    I believe that re-electing the same politicians over and over again leads us to stagnation of thought processes towards what is good for the country over what is good for the Senator or Representative, more than what is good for the citizenry. These two wars, unpaid for, on borrowed money, from the Chinese, by the way, are but one small piece of the problems we face here in America. Deregulation of banks and not re-instating Glass-Stegal was a major mistake.

  • Anonymous

    that’s due to speculation on commodities, not rising labor costs.

  • Anonymous

    that’s an asinine and too broad to have any mean.ing

  • Anonymous

    the posted office is expressly provided form in the Constitution.

  • Jeff

    The top 10% of taxpayers in the U.S. already pay 70% of the taxes. What level of wealth redistribution do you propose to impose upon us? 80%? 90%? 110%? What makes you think we won’t just take our marbles and go home? I’m already sick of the huge amount of taxes I pay, all the while knowing the 47% pay zero yet enjoy the same roads, schools, parks, defense and freedoms that I enjoy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathyborey Kathy Borey

    Oh, no! Those pesky ‘four letter’ words:
    I LOST it. Don’t LOSE it. (Both have four letters each) The hinge is LOOSE (not a four letter word). We are LOSING the game (the four letter base word, drop e add ing)

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

    Ron That is exactly my point. That what ever new challenges a Free Online University has, it is worth it for the people that are self-learners and do not have the time or money to put towards a brick and mortar university. I have a term for all the educators out there that believe this is impossible without a teachers magical helping hand: Pedagogical Hubris.

    The working poor will show everyone that a self-learner can excel and master the skills and learning required of any degree, if given the right conditions. Having free Internet Courses is not enough: it has to lead to accredited degrees and have access to community colleges for skills and lab testing. And so I believe Mr Wolff Should address this for all the people he advocates for in the economy.

    Certified Diplomas are key for access to the jobs of the future and currently Richard Wolff thinks a Free Online University will sully and cheapen education… He could not be more wrong on this point and I use his own experiences as an example. Hi swork has opened my eyes wide, but I have been beating everyone I meet with the revolutionary potential of a Free Online University and at 40 to 80 million to build, it is worth taking a fraction of the 940 billion we throw at the educational system every year.

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

    Yea, a lot of people are doing it (and one day we will have this), but the Educational Monopoly is preventing these Free Content Providers from getting accreditation. The government needs to step up and support this. Obama was going to do exactly this, but the teachers union, through the University of California, killed it in the 2010 budget.

  • Michael from California

    Based on Dr. Wolf’s comments — what would change as to the ability to attain the “American Dream” if the national debt were eliminated? Would a decrease in interest rates and increased availability in funding for government grants (scientific, social programs, etc.) allow for training and increased salaries and create a positive spiral?

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

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

    The working poor will show everyone that a self-learner can excel and master the skills and learning required of any degree, if given the right conditions. What ever new challenges a Free Online University has, it is worth it for the people that want to take responsibility for their own learning and who do not have the time or money to put towards a brick and mortar university.

    Having a free Internet Courses is not enough: it has to lead to accredited degrees and have access to community colleges for skills and lab testing. And so I believe Mr Wolff Should address this for all the people he advocates for in the economy.

    Certified Diplomas are key in accessing the jobs of the future and the revolutionary potential of a Free Online University at 40 to 80 million to build, it is worth taking a fraction of the 940 billion we throw at the educational system every year.

    In short, by leaving education to the monopolies while talking of the economy, Mr Wolff has yet to fully support True Democracy.

  • moderator

    Hi Bryna, Gina, and Kathy,

    Fun stuff, but let’s return to the topic at hand.

    Thanks,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.rankin.940 Jim Rankin

    In your last program, you invited us to share our ideas for possible ways to address this problem. so I conjured up some ideas. However, I couldn’t find any place to deposit them, so I’m leaving them here.

    What continually gets ignored in all governmental decisions is what is
    the long run impact of our decisions: what’s best for our future. I
    believe the 3 most important things to focus for the good of the future
    are the environment & climate change, poverty & the widening gap
    between rich & poor, and our
    exploding debt. On the next level,
    still vitally important, are education, scientific and medical research
    & development, infrastructure, economy & unemployment,
    affordable health care, & violence & the proliferation of
    weapons, both nationally & internationally. Smart policies could
    address more than
    1 of these at the same time. Below are ways to tackle poverty and income disparity, and some would help other problems as well.

    The
    federal government needs to tax income in a very progressive but simple
    enough way for most people to calculate themselves as follows:

    No tax for the 1st $30,000 annual income

    10%
    tax for the next $30,000 up to $60,000 [somebody with $50,000 income
    would pay 10% of $20,000 ($50K - $30K) in taxes, that is $2000)

    20%
    tax for the next $40,000 up to $100,000 [$80,000 income pays 10% on
    $30,000 ($3000) + 20% on $40,000 ($4000) for a total of $7000]. Total
    taxed is
    still under 10% of total annual income at this level.

    30% tax for the next $50,000 up to $150,000 and similarly until any income above $1 million would be taxed at 90%.

    Such
    a tax system would be better for the poorest and least able to pay, and
    would increase considerably much needed revenue to the government, and
    would be easy to calculate without tax tables or help from tax agencies.

    Close
    all tax loopholes, and get rid of subsidies, especially those to Big
    Oil & Big Ag, which everybody’s talked about for years yet nobody’s
    done anything about these subsidies for industries making huge profits,
    which is frankly an embarrassment to our nation.

    Put a $1 per
    gallon national tax on gasoline: we could ease up to it with 25% the 1st
    year, 50% the 2nd year, until we reach $1. Half of the revenue would be
    to
    pay down the debt, and half to build transportation infrastructure,
    especially mass transit. With this plan we’d reduce pollutants in 2
    ways: by discouraging gas consumption and by expanding mass transit,
    while increasing infrastructure, providing more jobs, and gaining much
    needed revenue for the federal government.

    Add a carbon tax
    before sale on every product according to what their carbon footprint
    is: how much energy is used to produce it, transport it, & use
    it.
    It should be high enough to discourage use of high energy-consumptive
    products, where much cleaner alternatives are available: for example,
    leaf blowers & power mowers should be retired in favor of rakes
    & push mowers.

    Homelessness should be a shame for any
    community that has it, and that community should do everything possible
    to eliminate homelessness.

    I think that every county, or similar
    region based on a population center should develop a campus specifically
    designed for homeless people, modeled
    after university campuses. It
    should be designed to house about twice the number of homeless people
    existing in that region, more for fast-growing areas,
    in a dormitory
    like configuration with cafeterias. The domiciles should be arranged
    like dormitories with rooms similar to dorm rooms – larger for families.
    There should be a health center that includes drug rehabilitation and
    mental care along with all other fundamental health care. It should
    contain a gym
    with weights, exercise machines, swimming pool,
    basketball court and pingpong tables, as well as tennis courts, a
    running track, volleyball courts (preferably sand) and a field (for
    soccer, baseball…). It should be
    provided with a library full of
    science books and “how to” books for learning skills. It should contain
    a park at least 1 block wide, full of native plants, if possible. It
    should also contain gardens for which the residents can tend themselves.
    There should be paths to get from here to there by foot or by bike.
    Teachers should be hired to teach classes to the residents, including
    basic ones about how to get along and treat each
    other, the
    environment and the Earth, and to learn fundamental skills, as well as
    science, language, trades and perhaps various arts. The residents will
    learn
    how to exist in an ecologically sound, sustainable way. Some of the
    residents may from the beginning be able to contribute to teaching,
    cooking, building, repairing, keeping up the residence, and others will
    learn to and help out later.

    The campus should be easily
    accessible by public transportation, including monorail or subway if
    they exist. No non-emergency motorized vehicles will be allowed within
    the campus. Parking lot only at the edge of the campus.

    I think
    jails should be built similarly with most of the same facilities, except
    reinforced and protected so that prisoners can’t escape.

    We need to invest in our citizens to make them healthier, independent, employable & self-sufficient.

    I
    have many more ideas in regards to the environment, energy, education,
    immigration, violence in our society, the Israeli-Palestinian problem,
    etc., but that’s for another time. By applying both logic and
    compassion in a thoughtful process to address issues, many of our
    persistent problems could be resolved.

  • Anonymous

    Wrong. The top 2% pays 90% of the income taxes. And yet, the the top 2% makes nowhere near 90% of the income.

  • Anonymous

    Are you serious? TARP was repaid. Lower interest rates are a flow of wealth from one group to another, but not as you describe. It benefits the have nots, at the expense of the haves. Those who actually have money sitting in interest bearing accounts (me), are subsidizing people who do not, (those financing cars and homes.) Now, say thank you.

  • Anonymous

    He also ignores the fact that prices would go up. This would rob spending power. Yes, minimum wage earners would have more, fewer teenagers would be employed, and wage earners would be able to buy fewer items because each item would cost more. Thus fewer items would be made and there would be less need for workers to make those items.

  • Angela M. Oddone LCSW

    As a psychotherapist who sees symptoms of “financial PTSD” resulting from the pervasive trauma Richard Wolff explains, I thank you for providing programming that can help people normalize their experiences, move beyond the shame and silence to be better able to deal with the reality of our lives today. People need to understand so they can speak and act to advocate for themselves, their families and their communities.

  • Anonymous

    Agree, even the founding fathers acknowledged that there was a need for amendments, since they could not see perfectly into the future. As you know, they wrote the Constitution before there was electrification, much less email.
    But they very presciently saw the possibility of arrogant, overreaching politicians and ruling elite trying to take away money and liberty from a free people.

  • Anonymous

    Bill Moyers illustrates everything that’s wrong with mainstream journalism. A love affair with statism with no intellectual curiosity that pro-big government ideas might just possibly have a darker downside. Thoughtful proponents for free-market capitalism such as myself acknowledge the possibilities for corruption and abuse within capitalism, and the need for limited policing of these systems.
    With Mr. Moyers and Mr. Wolff, it’s all government all the time.

  • Jacque Gabrielle

    yes..just tell us how to cope, how to get out from under….other than individual revolt…cause that’s all i see making any difference.

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

    There is something wrong with mainstream journalism-they are owned by a handful of large media corporations. And this non-intellectual pro-corporatists memes is the dark side of all that ails America. You fail to realize the source of corruption, which are big corporations. Your insistent call for weaker government at a time when it can not be more sold out to the plutocrats is a false concerned for the economy and an abject refusal to consider the plight of the majority. This kind of dialogue is like a coin without a face. The time for the conservative meme machine is over and the people that suffer under your illusionary Free Market rules is falling more apathetic ears.

    Bill Moyer and Richard Wolff might very well save this nation from our own ignorance and your blind hegemony.

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

    Wolff’s view is that capitalistic systems are flawed because they will inevitably be corrupted by the wealthy. Regulations simply provide the rational to continue this economic system to the next crisis. We have to reconsider the system, not find another reason to continue it. Look at his idea of Worker Directed Enterprises… You will find more clarity there.

  • Anonymous

    The real hegemony exists as a government-facilitated and operated corporatocracy. I think the more we talked, the more you would realize I am more on your side than against your view. I agree that we have too many big corporations with too much influence controlling too much of our lives, and receiving too much support from the government. The issue is, you focus on the corporations only, and don’t see that they are in bed with and exist at the pleasure of and nourishment by the government. The strong majority of Americans did not want Obamacare, yet the majority of big health care companies did- so we got the monstrosity of Obamacare- an anti-freemarket, pro-big healthcare bill- a perfect example of collusion of big corporations with big government. The left in this country cry out against “Big Oil” and “Big Ag” and “Big Finance” but have no problem with “Big Education” and “Big Labor”. All of these exist because we have allowed government to grow too big and out of control and “manage” and “regulate” these parts of lives. Which boils down to confiscating our money (one of the main vehicles that we the people, you know, the actual consumers, have to pick winners and losers) and instead we allow government bureaucrats to pick winners and losers (with campaign donors mysteriously becoming the winners). And setting up so many laws and regulations that small businesses that have new, great products and great ideas are stifled in favor of the existing Big Government- Big Business “meme”. We see time and time again with a free market, small companies can achieve explosive growth to bring great products and services at great prices, because that is at heart, how capitalism works. Russell, my friend, we need to reform both business and government at the same time. See the other half of the circle.

  • Rob Lingley

    I enjoyed the conversation between Richard and Bill. You asked for questions:

    - What is Richard’s definition of a system? If like me you view the economy as an emergent adaptive system then the core problem of classical economics is its anchoring in equilibrium. (http://robsstrategystudio.org/awfcashp.htm)

    - What would be better than capitalism? Both central planning and libertarian strategies can lead to troubling outcomes (http://robsstrategystudio.org/awfcasli.htm) while the US suffers from parasitism. To me the idea of democracy the framers held (following Locke and Montesquieu ) has been undermined by populist logic that allows the tyranny of the majority.

    - Does Richard accept the arguments of Peter Turchin in War and Peace and War? (http://robsstrategystudio.org/awfcaswg.htm) it seems to me we are currently in a 100 year down cycle as described by Turchin. In that light some key strategies become troubling.

    Many thanks for the interesting discussion.

    Rob

  • james obrien

    o:k heres my question for all of us in america instead of raising retirement my idea is too lower it one time only for 50 and older so that younger people in this country can have our jobs and then they can start there families…i and many of my co-workers would retire now if we could but we now have to wait till age 67 in order to do this and claim social security

  • Anonymous

    A major concern for me is the breakdown of the rule of law for the 1%. We see this with the banks who get off when caught laundering money for drug cartels while the state legal pot grower gets harassed and thrown in jail.

    We also see it with regard to government surveillance: the collection and use of our information (habits, political opinions, etc) without our consent, and often without our knowledge, e.g., the telecoms warrantless wiretapping.

    People are held without charge for inordinate periods of time (Bradley Manning) with no due process; habeas corpus is no longer the law for American citizens; people are silenced and whistleblowers persecuted (Wikileaks, Barrett Brown)[http://whowhatwhy.com/2013/02/21/the-saga-of-barrett-brown/].

    We have, what appears to be, a serious breakdown in the rule of law.

    It appears like our “leaders” are trying to avoid and also are preparing for a situation where the citizens will be no longer as deer in the headlights, as Mr Wolff puts it. How does this factor in to the situation?

  • Peter

    Fear is the last refuge of the ignorant…. or something like that. The only thing we have to fear is- fear itself. You get the idea. Without including any practical solutions during the discussion Bill and Mr. Wolff are playing a trick on the viewers. Getting everyone worked up and then saying we have to stay tuned for the solution is a sophomore media trick. Mr. Wolff should turn his altruistic efforts towards the ivy league institutions that he admits are flawed to the core— Where does he think all of our future business leaders come from?

  • Peter

    Fear is the last refuge of the ignorant…. or something like that.
    The only thing we have to fear is- fear itself. You get the idea.
    Without including any practical solutions during the discussion Bill and
    Mr. Wolff are playing a trick on the viewers. Getting everyone worked
    up and then saying we have to stay tuned for the solution is a sophomore
    media trick. Mr. Wolff should turn his altruistic efforts towards the
    ivy league institutions that he admits are flawed to the core— Where
    does he think all of our future business leaders come from?

  • Anonymous
  • http://www.facebook.com/sandra.cicotta Sandra Cicotta

    ok peeps…its time to get over the “shock” and figure it out..thanks richard for having the balls to say it!

  • LAURA BOWMAN

    sounds like an idiot to me! must be in Obama’s back pocket

  • wineseeker

    To ars2nd: You want thanks for having money in interest bearing accounts because you claim you are subsidizing people who don’t and have to take out loans in order to live their lives. Really? In what way are you subsidizing people who don’t have the money you do? You are giving them nothing. You are producing nothing. Instead you are receiving a paltry amount of interest from your financial institutions which turn around and use your money to make loans and extract higher rates of interest from those who borrow – and pay back – the loans. So if you are subsidizing anyone it is those financial institutions – and I doubt that they thank you.

    And to Jeff and ars2nd (again) 10% of taxpayers pay 70% of taxes or 2% pay 90% – whichever. Really? Where do those numbers come from? In any event, having made your money in this society you threaten to take your marbles and leave. Go ahead. You won’t be missed. Instead of contributing to the search for a solution to obvious problems you whine “poor me” and wring your hands like Scrooge McDuck worried about the treasures in your vault. Making a real as opposed to imaginary contribution to society is the price of continued admission to it. You have taken and don’t want to give anything – not even ideas – back. OK. Good-bye.

  • Barry in San Diego

    Dear Mr. Moyers,

    Love your show. I do have two questions I believe Mr. Wolff needs to be pressed on. If I heard him correct, he dismissed the value of regulations and believed that since big corporations usually find their way around them in some way or another why bother. He posited the Glass-Steagall Act as an example that was finally pushed aside. But then he seemed to defeat his own argument by recounting how the economy went in the tank because of corporate abuse and the lack of regulation. Glass-Steagall worked just fine for 60 plus years. It is not the regulations that failed it was the regulators. And why did the neo-cons finally get the President Clinton to sign its demise? The pressure from below that Prof. Wolff talked about has dissipated since Reagan’s attack on unions, the rise of the neo-con think tanks that give intellectual juice to the right wing, the loss of the middle class and the shift of wealth gradually to the top few percent and hence the increase in power by the 1percenters.

    The second comment that stunned me was his assertion that there is no need to put people who run these corrupt corporate practices in jail because the corporations will find someone just like them to take their place. After listening to Matt Taibbi on your show a few weeks ago describe the federal crimes of HSBC bank including money laundering for drug cartels, terrorists and other unsavory characters, and the fact that the no individual was sent to jail also stunned me. HSBC operated like a crime syndicate and yet the the government (the US Attorney General) accepted a settlement that was a fine that amounted something like a few weeks of profit for the bank. I thought Wolff could have been pushed on this also. As a lawyer, it is my experience that criminal punishment can be a deterrent when it comes to white collar crime. Once again Prof. Wolff says that why put them in jail because others of the same ilk will replace them. I say put them in jail and if the next group engages in the same corruption put them in jail. Sooner or later they will get the message. Why has the DOJ become so passive. No pressure from below, power resides with the 1 percent and the Assistant Attorney General Breuer is headed back to Wall Street. An additional problem is that corporations fund political campaigns.

    Prof. Wolff says fix the system. I agree. But part of the system is our collective sense of justice as a society and the chaos from below, that he warned about, will only get worse as our society slips apart because of unequal justice, economic disparity, social stagnation and no hope for the future.

    Thanks for all you do. Please keep doing it.

    Best,

    Barry

  • Gian

    Question – What is the difference between the Market and the System? Paraphrasing – Mr. Wolff stated that the Market was an abstract, that it was actually peoples actions creating the market, then when talking about bankers – it was the System that was driving their actions – isn’t there people driving the System?? He lets bankers off the hook by stating they are just following the system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.mac.752 Dennis Mac

    To ever get a living wage law passed, we need to get those on the right to see how low wage jobs affect them negatively.

    For example, a low wage worker NEEDS help either with food, healthcare, housing, or utilities just to stay alive. Since we are a nation that doesn’t like to see working people living(or dying) in the street, the rest of us end up paying higher taxes for social programs that are much larger than they would be if wages were higher.

    A higher wage would give greater incentive to people to work as compared to unemployment, or even retirement.

    Medicaid, SNAP, LIHEAP, etc. are all programs that are used by working people. This amounts to a subsidy paid for by all other workers and employers. If dependency on those programs was reduced, taxes could be lowered. Because companies like Walmart, McDonalds, and others are allowed to use taxpayer subsidized labor, every other employer and employee pays higher taxes. Walmart gets to profit more while the average american pays higher taxes. That is a direct(indirect?) transfer of wealth from the average American to Walmart.

    We might lose some low wage jobs due to a livable wage, but the lower costs to other Americans from lower taxes would offset that through higher demand.
    It is not just the minimum wage earners that would benefit. There may be 5 million minimum wage workers, but there are probably double that number earning between minimum and what is a livable wage. So it is closer to 10 million who would get a raise than 5 million. And since those workers will still not have enough to save, everyone of the extra dollars paid in wages would be cycled back into the economy.

    Between the lower demand for gov’t assistance allowing lower tax rates, and the increased consumer demand, the economy would grow. You would think that the right would be demanding higher wages as basic to their ideals.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.mac.752 Dennis Mac

    I agree. Higher tax rates incentivizes reinvestment(spending) into the business to avoid taxes. Low tax rates incentivize consumption or the removal of earnings from a business.

    Given a choice between paying 70% on income in taxes, or putting that money back into the business where it adds to the net value of the business, a wise business owner would elect to add to his net worth by investing 100% into the business vs taking 30% out as profit, provided that his basic needs were already met.

    Low taxes add to the speculation and lead to a shorter term outlook when combined with even low inflation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.mac.752 Dennis Mac

    Anyone who works pays 15.3% in employment taxes, including the employers share, which is really deducted from what the employee would otherwise earn, and anyone who lives anywhere pays property tax either directly or through their rent. This doesn’t even account for sales taxes, utility taxes, etc. So get off your 47% nonsense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.mac.752 Dennis Mac

    But they own about 90% of the countries total assets.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.mac.752 Dennis Mac

    But the poor who were hurt never had the same access to a bailout. Millions lost homes through absoluteley no fault of their own. They also lost jobs, cars, retirement savings, pensions, etc. No one offered them a bailout.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.mac.752 Dennis Mac

    The poor have no extra money. Even with a raise in income, the most that would happen is that their dependency on gov’t assistance would evaporate. They would end up paying their own way, as it should be. The right should be all for a higher minimum as it would decrease dependency and force low paying companies to pay the full cost of their workers’ needs. Today, all taxpaying people and companies are subsidizing labor for the low wage paying companies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.mac.752 Dennis Mac

    It isn’t only those earning the minimum that would get a raise. Everyone earning between today’s minimum and the new minimum would get a raise, so the net amount of spending power would be much greater.

    Those earning between $7.25 and say $10 would all be spending more, and every cent of that increase would be immediately plowed back into the economy. Even $10 an hour doesn’t allow for saving. All that would happen would be a greatly reduced demand for social programs. $10 an hour for a single person puts them above the maximum income for things like medicaid, SNAP, section 8 housing aid, etc.
    Instead of spending taxpayer dollars, they would be spending Walmart’s dollars to live on, and that is how it should be. We should not all be paying higher taxes so Walmart can pay lower wages.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.mac.752 Dennis Mac

    But your definition of a utility is not the same as mine. Maybe I feel that since gasoline is a requirement to live, it should be nationalized, or socialized as you put it. Same with basic food and housing. Everyone puts the line at a different point, and even if we got a majority to agree today, in ten years, that will change.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.mac.752 Dennis Mac

    And when the labor supply get too high, due to offshoring jobs, and automation, or computerization, companies should be allowed to pay almost nothing.

    But that would put increased demand on those with jobs, since we are not a nation that will allow it’s citizens to die in great numbers for lack of food or shelter. So that company paying low wages puts a burden directly on the taxpayers.

    So allowing companies to pay whatever the market will bear is ‘unbearable’ if you truly feel any empathy for your fellow man. If you feel no empathy, you are a sociopath.

    So supply and demand requires some intervention through regulation. We as a people have decided, for the most part that children should not suffer, and that children are in most cases better off with their parents. And we all know that there are those who are unhirable(?). We all see those homeless who may be physically able to work, but do you want to hire them? Do we just let them die?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.mac.752 Dennis Mac

    gov’t help- which is really a form of subsidizing the labor for companies like Walmart. Every time one of their employees need food stamps(SNAP), we the taxpayer are providing Walmart employees the energy to work. Walmart is profiting off the labor we are feeding.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.mac.752 Dennis Mac

    Instead of stating the problem of low wages in liberal terms, it needs to be stated in terms the right understands. Low wages leads to increased demand for social services, thus higher taxes.

    Low wages put the cost of providing labor on the taxpayer instead of the user of that labor. We the taxpayers are paying costs that Walmart should bear. Companies that pay decent wages need to step up and complain that those low wage payers step up. If social programs could be reduced when wages are increased, tax rates could be reduced.

    Programs like medicaid, SNAP, and others go largely to the working poor. Companies that use the labor should be paying the full cost of maintaining that labor.

    When we taxpayers help support Walmart workers with SNAP or by providing even minimal health care, it is as if we taxpayers are being held responsible for maintaining Walmarts delivery trucks, or stores, or any other asset of theirs.

    Why am I required to help pay the cost of labor for Walmart?

    We as a society need to calculate the total cost of labor- from childhood education through high school,and the cost of living beyond that to retirement age, and require that companies who want to use that resource pay the full cost instead of shunting those costs onto the taxpayer.

    Anything past a high school education should be compensated according to market demand above and beyond the minimum based on total minimum true cost of providing labor.

  • Anonymous

    These definitions aren’t arbitrary. They relate generally to distribution constraints, but an inherent demand on gov’t aide is common. Gas stations aren’t monopolies, the monopoly is in the refining (which is regulated) and in the international access provided by the dept of defense. Pipelines require eminent domain as far as those are concerned. So oil’s a sticky wicket. Other utilities are more clear. We may never come to full agreement, but we could narrow the gap. Nor do I believe that a utility is necessarily fixed, some market may become a utility (internet connectivity perhaps) and may develop such alternatives to provide the consumers with substantially different alternatives.

    Housing most definitely doesn’t fit the utility model, there are many forms of housing, many producers and many terms on which to secure that housing. But I’ll throw banking and major healthcare out as utilities. How those are structured and/or regulated is another matter of discussion

  • Anonymous

    I wasn’t advocating

  • Anonymous

    too often we look at the workers getting help as the deadbeats, but the you correctly identify that it’s the real subsidy is for the employers.

  • Anonymous

    major healthcare is a utility. You insist on privatizing utilities and then complain about their gov’t involvement. Gov’t indeed intrudes into non-utility markets, and that is wrong. But, it have a very appropriate role in utilities, like banking as well. I’d rather clear reliance on fiduciary law rather than regulation.

  • Anonymous

    so, a 20% increase means a 10% increase in their overhead expenses. Yet, their customers will have 20% increased demand.

  • Anonymous

    The post office provides services that Fed Ex/UPS and others aren’t willing to provide. Most of their issues are due to an acceleration of their pension obligations, not according to actuarial standards, but a pernicious requirement to “pre-fund” them in a way no other firm does.

  • Anonymous

    I think they should be indexed like income taxes. This would allow depreciation to pay off for big cap intensive firms, while punishing financialization.

  • Anonymous

    you’re about the first person that’s ever affirmed that. I’ve challenged many people, and they say it’s “immoral” Funny from the caveat emptor crowd. Anyway, thanks. My grandfather ran a Fortune 100 firm, and I asked him, “how am I mistaken?” I think he disowned me. He said I was wrong to waste my time with this stuff, again, funny for a man who spent 20 hours a week chasing a white ball around a field.

    I feel like this is the ONLY truly capitalistic argument, that what we have now is something else, something that’s little more than froth.

  • Anonymous

    Dennis Mac,
    Your Obamaesque false strawman that those on the right don’t see that low wage earners may need help is an example of the lack of critical thinking, many years of media and educational system-encouraged propaganda or willful ignorance that is endemic in our country.
    “The Right” is composed of vast numbers of hard-working folk who love their neighbors and have a great deal of sensitivity to suffering. We have an acute understanding that there is poverty and suffering with low wages.
    The difference is in the answer. You, Mr. Moyers, Mr. Wolff think that government confiscating vast sums of money from taxpayers and squeezing it through a system that is at the best very inefficient i.e. wastes up to half of those resources, and at the worst, and unfortunately very often, becomes highly corrupt in that all that confiscated money sloshing around seems to attract people that like to skim, waste money, get kickbacks for contracts in pay-to-play scandals, also use the money to funnel to their own personal causes, the list is long.
    The Right believes that a moral nation can and should help each other person to person. We have been able to do that when we were a far more self actualizing and more confident group of people. Churches, civic groups, Rotary Clubs, neighbors can help best because they know intimately who needs what help, and can provide it instantly and without any overhead. Conversely, the recipients realize that these monies were coming from actual people, not from some magical money tree. This relationship should encourage gratitude and responsibility on the part of the recipient to do their best to take charge of their life.
    The other side of your argument is false in that it assumes that every wage earner has to make enough to support a family of five in an upscale neighborhood. Many people have started in low wage jobs and gotten help from family and friends for food and shelter until their fortunes improved. That is the American way, not a cradle to grave handout system which sucks individual pride and accomplishment out of one’s soul.
    The final flaw in your argument is that prices are so high for health care etc so the government has to step in. Prices are so high BECAUSE the government has been stepping in. All of the things you listed get massive subsidies from the U.S. government. By taking money from taxpayers and giving it (with waste and corruptions) to big agricultural corporations, housing developers, health insurance companies, the list goes on. People would be amazed at how cheap things would be if markets were allowed to be free to offer the best quality goods at the lowest price. It would be the renaissance of the Western World.

  • Anonymous

    Healthcare is in a category all its own. It may be that everyone needs some a basic level of some it, but it is like calling transportation a need, without acknowledging the difference between roads, which everyone needs, and inexpensive cars, motorcyles, bicycles, Lamborghinis, which everyone does not necessarily need, and has a huge range of services and costs. For the record, I support a small but strong role for government in the form of regulating products (inspections for contamination), and gathering and presenting information that the entire country so the people can use as they see fit.

  • Anonymous

    Scott, I’m not campaigning to close the post office. I would like it to be managed in a way that their budget is balanced. They must adapt to the world as it is. I don’t know about your “pre-funding” comment. A chronic problem is that government workers make more than the average American and their benefits are higher than the average American’s.

  • Anonymous

    That is an absurd statement. The middle class owns a tremendous amount of assets. All of the cars, homes, boats, land, 401k’s, direct stock investments, mutual funds, pensions, life insurance policies, diamonds, small businesses, televisions, furniture, stereos, motorcycles, etc., etc. I haven’t even begun to talk about corporations and the assets they own. Do you really think that corporations are owned 90% by the top 2%? Crazy!

    Now, let’s ignore what we know to be true and pretend you were correct. So what? It is an INCOME TAX not a tax on wealth.

  • Anonymous

    What are you talking about? Millions lost homes through no fault of their own? Are you serious? Who do you think caused the financial crisis? It was exactly those irresponsible people who bought houses that the could not afford. They signed promissory notes to repay. They did not. The defaults were so widespread it caused huge problems for banks and financial entities, that it threatened our entire financial system. Most of the TARP loans were needed to re-establish reserves that are required by banking laws. It was a liquidity crisis, but without those reserves it was illegal to stay in business.

    The bailout of GM did NOT benefit anyone except the unions. You do realize that GM went into bankruptcy just as Romney said he would have allowed. The only difference is that bankruptcy laws were ignored and the unions were kept whole, while the bond holders were screwed. So the “poor people” were helped and the investors w ere illegally screwed.

    I’m not sure what you are talking about with respect to the poor getting hurt nor what bailout you would propose for them. I’m sure you don’t include the 2year reduction in payroll taxes, the lower tax rates, the extended unemployment benefits, the food stamp program, the mortgage modification plans, etc as help for the poor (absolutely none of which has to be repaid, unlike TARP).

  • Anonymous

    I think you spend too much time listening to MSNBC. 10 bucks an hour for minimum wage isn’t going to get very many people off of those benefits. What so many people don’t understand is that the minimum wage was never intended to be the lifelong wage. It was thought to be an entry level wage, one that you would increase from, through experience. The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is the starting point for many of those handouts you mentioned. The FPL for 2013 is $11,490 for a household of 1. For a family of 3 it is $19,530. Eligibility ends at around 133% of FPL in some states, but in NY and California it is 200%. So, a full time employee earning $10 an hour would make $20,800 per year, assuming no missed shifts that were not paid. So. In most states, they would still qualify. Second, we are assuming full time hours. Under Obamacare, employers are encouraged to limit their workers to under 30 hours per week. So, the $20,800 just became $15,600. Oops!
    Third, do you really think raising the minimum wage will have no impact on costs of products? Very naive. Either a portion of the employees will be layed off and the remaining employees will have to be more productive or costs will go up. Walmart will not be less prfitable because of an increase in the minimum wage. The increased costs of Walmart products will hurt these people the most.

  • Anonymous

    Be careful for what you wish. I just looked up Tenet Healthcare’s financials. Over the last 3 reported years (2010, 2011 & 2012), their Income from Continuing Operations before income taxes averaged approximately 5% of their investment in property, plant and equipment. Under your scenario, they should increase prices substantially!

  • Anonymous

    I’ll only comment on your statements regarding refining. The US refines about 14.5 million barrels of crude oil per day in 148 refineries. No refiner has a monopoly and they are not regulated from that standpoint nor are the prices. Their is so much competition, the market is highly liquid and transparent, it is not necessary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pam.rieli Pam Rieli

    Bill – You asked “What would you do?” in regard to the collapse of capitalism. As a member of a team that is educating people about the incredible potential of global Democratic Economics, I offer four do-able solutions:
    1. Immediately instate a graduated income tax. – Use government revenues obtained from the rich to create Personal Industries.
    2. Disengage from big biz/government & move to a Democratic Economy where the lower half of the pyramid drives job creation, trade & local growth.
    3. Shift manufacturing & all business to individuals & small shops that form the foundation of global Democratic Economies.
    4. Pull together into self-governing & sustainable intentional communities that truly provide an alternative pathway to success.
    We discovered in the 1970′s that in Switzerland it was illegal to be poor, homeless or to beg on the streets. They actually set people up in places to live at that time! – This is the true function of government: to provide for both the common defense & the general welfare.
    Up here in Michigan’s upper peninsula, people have a history of creating economic stability on the low-end of society. It’s now a matter of building a new economy on that stability. – For our part, we are restructuring our company to empower personal industries with free & low-cost detailed technical plans: renewable power generating turbines, personal vehicles & more.
    There are 7 billion solution-generators on this planet that need to become responsible for their own destinies. That means a complete overhaul & overthrow of greed-centric governments & industries that cling to the last fragments of a failed economic model.

  • Anonymous

    Their emissions are indeed regulated, in utilities the scale means that externalities must be regulated and hopefully funded by the user/consumers. The pipelines, the pricing in Cushing OK, also make this like a utility, though you make some fair points. It’s the financial speculation that offends me regarding oil. The market works fairly well otherwise.

  • Anonymous

    actually, their tax burden would decrease under higher cap gains as their depreciation would offer a greater tax credit.

  • Anonymous

    Medicine is profession first off. But major healthcare is a utility. The fact that Medicare covers everyone, on average, as we all live to 70 something and die on their watch. Further, when the payer and the client are not the same, the professional/fiduciary model is compromised. At all levels, major healthcare is premised on this divide existing–actually being a cash payer is not something there are standard rules to handle. There is indeed competition in autos, you can buy new, used, not at all. But, major healthcare doesn’t allow us to shop. Note I keep saying “major healthcare,” simple professional models attain for elective surgeries and your personal relationship with your own doctor, but that is meaningless when a major incident occurs.

  • Anonymous

    What????? Utilities always used the longest depreciation method available. They would capitalize an office trash can, because their rates were based on capital invested. Thus, their rates would include 8% of the remaining undepreciated value of that trash can year in and year out. 2nd. Corporations don’t have a special capital gains rate. 3rd. I was talking about their pre-tax income, usually the measure used by public utility commissions in deetermining rate cases for utilities. 4th. Even when corporations did have a lower rate for capital gains, any “gain” attrributable to depreciation, was recaptured at ordinary rates. Rapid or slow depreication rates was merely a timing issue, not a rate isssue.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t take my comment above wrong. Refineries in specific, and oil activities in general, are some of the most highly regulated and taxed industries in the country. But your comment made it sound like you were saying refineries were regulated because they were monopolies, and gas stations were not. They are BOTH heavily regulated but not because either is a monopoly.

  • Anonymous

    Why is it no one asks questions about the enormous debt created by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?

  • Will Anderson

    If I can post a question.
    Raul Castro propsed the relaxing of the Cuban government’s stance against business ownership, but not wanting to adopt capitalism the government plans on granting busines charters for co-ops ina variety of industries. If this becomes and expanded program how would a systematic transferring of power from the state (or the board of directors in a private capitalist context) to workers in a one-person-one-vote co-op function as a model to see if your model of worker self-directed enterprises can function on a large scale.

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

    Cuba is well ahead in this idea and Professor Wolff has covered it well in his Economic Update Program.

    This is well worth covering and it does seem to be a perfect balance of ownership and responsibility to community. We do not need to be concerned over the particular economic systems, if the people that work own the businesses that profit from that work. Argentina has been doing this for some time now as well and many business are beginning in the US too… The media smog we call US news has prevented many people from knowing about this growing trend. The UN, last year, called 2012 the year of the CoOp…..

    Basically, Mr. Wolff is preaching the near future and one-if all you do is listen to the Major News, you will not know about until you bump into one when your out shopping.

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

    Real Wealth producers are the working people. Hyper inflate the many currencies and ensure every worker gets a livable wage. The rich can keep their big accounts and paper money-worth nothing at that point and the workers can restart their lives by using their 2 million/hr jobs to pay off all their debt on the first day at work. Then let the super rich figure out how to buy a loaf of bread for once.

    Once the debt is fully relieved we can look at settling the commodity mess that would result-yea crazy idea, but it would be interesting to watch.

  • Antonio B Martin

    Yes, fair minimum wage… but only in States?… Perhaps an universal minimum wage around the world, linked to productivity or income per capita?…

  • 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?

    Perhaps Mr. Wolff isn’t the champion he’s being made out to be.

  • Becca

    One only needs to play the game
    of monopoly to realize that Capitalism is designed to fail and fail it will. As
    a wide awake person so to speak I see our system for what it is a major FAIL. Rules
    and laws only apply to me; those with money have a different set of rules and
    laws ones that do not involve the criminal justice system, however my laws are
    overly harsh and life threatening. You only have to look at the militarization
    of our police departments to see how that is true. So much wrong so overwhelming I get depressed
    thinking about how much those 1%ers are getting away with literally murder of
    the rest of us. If you can’t pay to live you die… They are stealing our money
    our health our job our ability to earn a living our education, our food, our
    housing, our dignity and then blaming us for not working hard enough. It’s a
    game I know but still it irks me to hear this idiocy from idiots. Our politicians
    are bought and paid for by those who can afford them. They have no interest in
    what is happening to us they are only interested in the almighty $$$. Let’s
    just burn all the money in the world and make all the earth’s resources common heritage
    to each and every person on this planet. Then each and every one of us will
    have all the necessities required to live a healthy happy life no more no
    less…. I think Richard Wolf is right this is the calm before the storm. I also think we will be converging on our
    local municipalities in massive numbers as Washington has fallen into such a
    state of chaos they cannot be reached, we just need to rescue the few worthy
    ones stranded there and push the rest off. .
    The tide is turning and it’s so important to have shows like this to
    start the conversation so people know they are not alone in this struggle that
    they have the power to change things for the better. Thank you Richard, you are very much needed
    voice in the mist of bedlam.

  • Don Graham

    After watching the interview and viral video, I dug out an old textbook of selected works by Marx & Engels to see what they said about precipitating events for revolution – starvation. Limits To Growth anticipated that as well, but from our pollution poisoning our soils, seas, air, water & food. That change is happening on a global level. My fear is that to the rest of the world, Americans & whites, will be considered the 1%. Their revolution may reduce the earth’s surplus population, but not the poisoning of our planet and extreme weather events.

  • Albert

    If there’s still occasion to ask a question, I have one: GK Chesterton wrote that “Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.” Would Prof. Wolff direct his critique more toward capitalist market theory, or rather toward a political system that lacks adequate controls, allowing it to be captured by narrow interests that distort the market in their own favor?

  • john rosso

    Some people are saying that the problems of today is NOT capitalism. Unfortunately, it is capitalism and is working as it should according to its ideology — that societal development is solely by private interests (capitalists) which puts self-interest, greed and individualism first — ahead of the public interest, the country and the environment. And there is no solution by just imprisoning the corrupt — because the problems are systemic. By replacing the corrupt who are caught, only results in a new corrupt person taking place who will act the same according to capitalist principles and incentives and the same problems will re-occur. Hence the logical solution is to change the system which is increasingly leading us down the road to peonage and third-world conditions.

    Regulations are near worthless in capitalist societies in that loopholes are designed and are not accidental. Replacing crooked bankers etc. and sending prison is justified — but it won’t solve the problem of corruption because of the system which promotes such practices which benefit the business community and the wealthy (who mostly did not bring themselves up “by their bootstraps”.

    And with capitalist governments, such regulations are unwanted as they cut into profits. Hence, politicians and bureaucrats allow regulations to be ignored, unenforced, underfunded (all the the behest of corporate lobbyists, the wealthy and the corporate-owned media), while and the regulatory agencies are pressured to ignore regulations which hinder corporate profits.

    Corruption in capitalism is normal — for it is solely based upon self-interest, unlimited greed and non-concern of the worker interests. This amounts to pro-business legislation and to hell with human concerns.

    Karl Marx recognized what capitalism was all about in the mid 1850s or so saying capitalism is in the form of

    “a new aristocracy of finance, a new sort of parasites in the shape of promoters, speculators, and merely nominal directors; a whole new system of swindling and cheating by means of corporate juggling, and
    stock speculation”.

    This criticism was mostly about the business and wealthy elite. All the other problems of contradictions and injustices in capitalist society are just normal procedures of capitalist beliefs — that’s what capitalism is all about.
    JJR

  • Charles Hilton

    In a sane society with its priorities straight, sociology, art history, and especially education, would be more marketable than counting money.

  • Charles Hilton

    Probably the biggest factor in the current malaise is that the financial sector now makes up 47% of our economy, compared to only 7% before the repeal of Glass-Steagall. We have Bill Clinton to thank for that and for NAFTA, showing that today’s Democrats are barely distinguishable from the Republicans. We have become a de facto one-party nation.

  • Ed Jones Jr.

    We should have voted for Ross Perot. Maybe then we would have avoided the “giant sucking” of jobs.

  • AZLance

    The banks are the anti-christ. They received a fatal blow and were resurrected. They are working hard to create a one-world monetary system and a single currency that requires no coins or paper.

    We need to remove any resemblance of a monetary system and move toward a resource-based economy. Nothing else will work.

  • Anonymous

    A great deal of what Prof. Wolff says is true, and is certainly guided by justice, but I believe one great reason we’re stuck politically is that the dominant argument against the economic plutocracy — the argument of the left, generally — is stuck in the wrong frame. It’s the argument against what it calls “the capitalist system,” a frame agreed upon by both left and right and so widely accepted that hardly anyone questions it. But our society is neither capitalist nor a system, because capitalism is not a system but a guiding ideology. Its most powerful members are capitalists, but that’s an important distinction from saying the whole society is capitalist, because capitalism, by definition, makes the increase of capital the great aim and purpose above all others — which is to say, it is, in principle, sociopathic. And because it is so plainly sociopathic, if we stop to fully consider it, we insulate ourselves from such aims by dressing our commercial activities as corporations LEGALLY BOUND to be completely self-serving in the private accumulation of wealth.

    But the the word “system” in the phrase and frame “capitalist system” also makes no sense because a system implies something more or lest predictable, governable and stable –something that by corporate capitalist design we don’t have at all. What we have is better described as a state of instability and even chaos — expressed by the ideology of laissez-faire and libertarianism favored by, serving and maintained by those who seek and gain benefit from instability, unpredictability and chaos, i.e., the very LACK of any system. While most people are fundamentally conservative in reaction to such an unstable and threatening state, the “anti-capitalist” left only offers more instability — the great promise of CHANGE and even revolution and, eventually, a new “system”. What we need is a paradigm whose great end and purpose is life, not capital, and that seeks stability and cohesion of local communities — organic social conditions that offer meaningful economic and political engagement, security, stability and true vitality much better than the mechanistic state implied the word “system” that might govern any society, call it capitalist, socialist or what have you. And longings for these conditions are heard and seen across the political spectrum, even though a coherent and compelling paradigm to articulate and direct those longings escapes us.

    Thankfully, few of us — and certainly not the society or nation taken as a whole or as a “system” –are genuinely capitalist (although capitalism certainly corrupts nearly everyone’s more humane instincts and ethics). Therein lies the hope. But we desperately need something other than the “anti-capitalist system” paradigm. And we desperately need fresh leadership to articulate the paradigm. I wish articulate leaders like Mr Wolff could see their way out of the obsolete and inadequate language that frames our politics.

  • susanpub

    Love Bernie Sanders!

    Bill says, “People seem not to know
    what to do here.”
    Even if I knew what to do, I wouldn’t have the time or the energy to do it. I wear myself out working my badly underpaying job & fretting about how long I’ll have to live on this, or if indeed, I can live on this indefinitely. My schedule is different every day & my
    hours are different every week. Life is a yo-yo.

  • susanpub

    Even people who liked Perot probably didn’t vote for him because the voters here only vote for someone “who can win” & not someone they believe in.

  • susanpub

    Guess those who oppose “entitlements” don’t really
    want people off the dole if it cuts into the profits of their employers even a
    little.

  • susanpub

    What happens to those of us who don’t have enough money to retire & want to keep working to avoid living in poverty?

  • susanpub

    “… leaf blowers & power mowers should be retired in favor of rakes & push mowers.” Woo-hoo! I’m for that.

    “I think that every county, or similar region based on a population center should develop a campus specifically designed for homeless
    people, modeled after university campuses.”

    Lovely idea – how are we going to pay for it? These folks would have a better life than
    many with homes… it might encourage homelessness-by-choice.

  • susanpub

    But Americans don’t want to pay the kind of taxes you do – even if they are making much more money than now. They don’t see what you get for your taxes, they just see their money going out.

  • susanpub

    I tried, but fell short – too hungry, maybe.

  • Joyce

    The content is mind blowing and filled with such truth about the economic wrongs and rights.

  • Guest

    I have considered how we got to where we are in this country for some time now. The answer I have come to is to abolish legal corporate/institutional personhood. government regulates corporations. Nonprofits basically deal with the ill effects of corporations. unions are formed as a result of corporations. Corporations and profits appear to lead to the rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer phenomenon that is observable in this nation as well as in others. Not only corporations, but government as well, with faulty justifications for national security at the expense of civil liberties. Ultimately, the current state of our country is: “we, the institution” as opposed to “we, the people.” Institutional personhood appears to be based upon judicial interpretation and not concrete law. If I am not mistaken, all it would take is a simple form of legislation, as opposed to a constitutional amendment, to manifest a reality, where, “we, the people” are the ones with the concentrated civil power in society. Until then, it appears we will continue to live in a reality where our personal and social power is ransomed away in the institutions of government, corporation, and so on.

  • Hamzah Muhammad

    I have considered how we got to where we are in this country for some
    time now. The answer I have come to is to abolish legal
    corporate/institutional personhood. Government regulates corporations.
    Nonprofits basically deal with the ill effects of corporations. Unions
    are formed as a result of corporations. Corporations and profits appear
    to lead to the rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer phenomenon that is
    observable in this nation as well as in others. Not only corporations,
    but government as well, with faulty justifications for national security
    at the expense of civil liberties. Ultimately, the current state of our
    country is: “we, the institution” as opposed to “we, the people.”
    Institutional personhood appears to be based upon judicial
    interpretation and not concrete law. If I am not mistaken, all it would
    take is passage of a regular, simple form of legislation, as opposed to a constitutional
    amendment, to manifest such a reality, where, “we, the people” are the ones
    with the concentrated civil power in society. Until then, it appears we
    will continue to live in a reality where our personal and social power
    is ransomed away in the institutions of government, corporation, and so
    on.

  • Mikeguru

    This interview should be required for every household in the USA.

    I worked, before retiring, in the Financial Services business for nearly 15 years. Prior to that, I worked for over 30 years for Fortune 10 company whose Wall Street Banker took over as CEO and walked away with $2.4 Billion, becoming one of the Richest 400, while over 150,000 of us lost our jobs in 9 years and half our Defined Benefit Pensions like the 44 million who did, paid now via the PBGC (supplemented by the Tax Payers).

    When I “re-invented myself” with a degree in Marketing and Business, I studied for the last 25 years, Corporations from a Political and Financial Perspective. They are connected to the hip and evolved over the last 30 years, resulting in the Rich getting Richer, and the Middle Class sliding into Poverty, legislated through Congress and the Courts.

    I will just try to give highlights that support Mr. Wolff.

    1) Corporate Executives(1% plus of all corporations) circumventing ordinary income tax rates, paid 90% in stock, taxed at Capital Gains rates, with a loophole that allows stock shares to be modified quarterly to meet year end corporate Executive Compensation. 50% of Richest Point 1% of households, about 70,000 are former and current Corporate Executives.

    2. Minimum Wage – I visited Australia recently. They have a “Graduated Minimum wage” $7.65 at age 16 and $15.96 at age 21, and if self employed $19.75 an hour. A Big Mac Combo costs a little less in Australia than here in the USA. Kids leave their parents homes early, travel, and are happier.

    3. There are no Wal-Marts in Australia, but the same products sold at Wal-Mart are sold in hundreds of small businesses at the same “Falling Prices”. More people own their own business and pay their employees well unlike Big Box Stores.

    4. The Second Amendment says ” Well Regulated Militia” notice the word “Regulated”. We need Regulations for the benefit of the Masses as Capitalism without Regulation have resulted in what Glass-Steagall prevented for 70 years.

    5. Former CEO of Goldman Sachs and staff member of Richard Nixon,in 24 months US Treasurer Henry Poulson got all the bankers, 12 at the time, 6 today, with 80% of the Assets of America in the same club and became “To Big to Fail and Jail”. Hence the “Risk Reward” of the Fraud prior to 2008 continues and we will repeat another crisis, soon.

    6. We have 11 Right Wing Fox and Limbaugh Radio Stations in our area broadcasting almost treasonous messages every day, hour after hour. We lost the fairness doctrine and reminds me of History, what happened in Germany prior to Hitler taking control of the Country prior to 1933.

    7. I participated with Occupy Wall Street, and I talked with young people who were “visited by Homeland Security” and all participants were “photographed” with big cameras for obvious Facial Recognition to be put in NSA along with other Data Mined information. One young man, said he was not afraid anymore of his government – but his nervousness gave him away. Reminded me of the “Brown Shirts” who took people away at 2AM in 1933 Germany. That has not happened, yet in the USA.

    8. National Security Letters, the Patriot Act, Data Mining of All electronic Communications of everyone is being used, like the visits to the young man, a student, with huge debt, and no job. What bothers me, who and why are they collecting the information besides the “terrorist paranoia”.

    9. Taxes, that Congress establishes for our safety and welfare – have been written by Corporations, Wall Street and Corporations (ALEC), Billionaires with Money backed Candidates, and the Bribes flowing into Congress influencing our tax laws resulting in the shift of running the country financially to the 99%, the Middle Class and Poor.

    10. The Courts, where 100,000 defined benefit Pension plans of Babyboomers disappeared since 1981, with schemes of Merger and Acquisitions, Leveraged Buyouts, Downsizing, usually a five year plan to force companies taken over, old corporate Executives (largest shareholders), layoffs of key employees, debt piled on (debt controlled by takeover group aka shareholders), after 60 months results in bankruptcy, Pension Plan funds of Employees used to pay off debt to the shareholders, Corporate Executives and the Wall Street bankers, what is left over is thrown over to PBGC and employees lose their jobs and half their pensions.
    $7 Trillion disappeared from DB plans in 30 years.

    ie Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs buys a Company for $85 million, drives the company to bankruptcy and profits $250 million – money came from the Pension Funds of the former employees not from furniture and buildings.

    The US Post Office is being set up for the same “drive into bankruptcy scheme to steal the DB Pensions of the 500,000 Postal employees” with the Legislation that came from Congress requiring annual $5 Billion put into the DB pension fund, that will be used to “pay off the debt of the takeover coup like Bain and Goldman Sachs”. The $5 Billion annual deposits are just “future debt payoff funds when the post office is put into bankruptcy”.

    11. The Price Fixing of Medical Services by the Health Care Monopoly, Insurance Companies and their subsidiaries of “Billing Services” doubling health care costs every 10 years 7% annually and not anti-trust – over one million families losing their homes and financial security with medical bills and 78% have health insurance that does not pay enough. There is no Competition in health care just nationwide Price Fixing via a Computer Network nationwide that “ticks” up costs 7% annually and no Anti-trust invoked. Every family in the USA is one major Illness away from Bankruptcy from Medical Bills unless you are a Federal Employee, over 65, or a Congressman.

    Friends of mine who have never been unemployed follow the Fox and Limbaugh radio. When I explain that with the current minimum wage, a family of four with two working spouses and two kids, qualifies the family for Food Stamps. They just reply, “they deserve it” They subscribe to “dog eat dog” and “Winner take All”. But in reality, are Naïve to the fact that we, the American People, over the past 30 plus years, have been Manipulated by the Banks, Wall Street, Corporations, and Billionaires like the Koch Brothers Tea Party (not 501(c)4 qualified).

    I agree with Mr. Wolff, we need to become Outraged enough from the ground up, nothing will change. What worries me is this change, similar boiling a frog “turning up the heat slowly so the frog will not jump out to save it self but winds up dead” will not be abated quickly enough to where people become pissed off enough to change the system outside of politics that has caused this calamity.

    I hope not but I am seeing it in bits and pieces, people driving 20 year old pick up trucks with an arsenal of two AR-15′s and thousands of rounds of Ammunition prepared to take on their tyrannical government.

    I no longer listen to the 11 Fox and Limbaugh radio but have found the Internet radio and Social Networks and other publications like the Nation, Progressive, and others who “shine a different light” that we used to get on local radio stations and no longer do.
    Thanks Bill and Mr. Wolff, don’t give up getting the word out, I do what I can and I think, some, who used to swallow what Fox and Limbaugh mis-information spewed 24 hours a day, are wising up but we have to change the mindset and that won’t be easy as we have had over 30 years of “brainwashing” for the benefit of Wall Street, the Banks, Corporations, and Billionaires like the Koch Brothers.

  • Candace

    Malthus.

  • createsjg

    I agree that minimum wage should be raised. He makes Fair Tax look good. No matter where the money is banked the business should be taxed on their income and if things look fishy they should be audited.

  • PGreen

    What you say is not necessarily at odds with Professor Wolf, as I understand his words. I think he is arguing that prosecution alone will not fix the problem since the economic system is structured to encourage, even mandate, unethical behavior. He seems to feel ambivalent in knowing that these people are only “maximizing profit” as they are told/trained to do, BAMN. It may not excuse someone, the following of an immoral law, but it suggests that the priority should be changing the system–and not simply reforming it. That should be the essence of our public debate.

    I think that we should concentrate on reforming the system, as Wolf says, but STILL throw the worst offenders in jail, maybe the ones who went beyond even our current, amost non-existent regulations–but such prosecution may generate a lot of opposition. A Marxist class war is possibile result, especially if prosecution happens alongside a major systemic change–not a lukewarm, Democratic Party reform.

  • PGreen

    I read # 3, at least part of which I don’t find credible. Remember that, first, the rich are a tiny minority population, and second that they would have had (under FDR’s proposal) the same taxes applied to the lower portions of their income as everyone else. Nothing unfair about it–they weren’t being singled out. It is the duty of democratic society to create an economic structure to benefit the greatest number of people– as this FDR proposal clearly helped do.

    Incidently, the government pays out more in corporate welfare and military programs than all combined social programs. if we are going to cut back on government obligations, that is where we should start.

    High top tax rates isn’t slavery, or even close: that is disrespectful to the descendants of those who suffered enslavement. Personally, I don’t beleive that the country loses much of the incentive of its top earners in a higher tax system. We certainly didn’t in the 1950s when the top rate was 94%. I’d certainly be willing to return to more tax brackets, culminating in a 94% top rate– just as a start until we can develop a better economic system. I suspect that most Americans have similar inclinations.

  • Mikeguru

    I attended a city council meeting where the “Cash Store” was being challenged as a new business.
    There loan terms are 140 days at 580% interest if you pay with debit or cash. If you pay by cash only the interest rate is 720%.
    Go to the Cash Store dot com to see the loan shark business. FYI, banks like Wells Fargo are the owners of some of these Loan Shark Cash stores by another name (hidden from view).

  • Hamzah Muhammad

    A prevailing pattern: Bigger corporations causes more demand for greater
    regulation causes more demand for bigger government. Corporations are basically the legally instituted personification of the love of money.
    Another way to construe the pattern: greater sin causes more demand of
    greater legalism causes more demand for greater authority. Abolish legal
    corporate personhood and it is likely that much of this country’s
    issues will be resolved from the social, cultural, political, and legal problems institutions cause directly and indirectly. From restoring the
    American Dream, improving our capitalistic and democratic functions, to
    creating a larger middle class, possibly than ever before seen, to
    mitigating the problems of retiring baby boomers. As legal corporate
    personhood is a judicial interpretation and not concrete law, it would
    probably require–not a constitutional amendment, but a simple
    legislative bill that, in principle, will establish the fundamental
    truth that “only humans are people and citizens.” Corporations are construed as people through the first and fourteenth amendment. They are
    roughly 20% of all business-types, whereas, sole proprietorships are about 70%. From military to prison industrial complex, we suffer from an
    industrial complex overall. This proposition would centralize all
    private civil power into the human individual. It appears to be
    biblically, culturally, constitutionally, and declarationally justified.
    The viability of such a political campaign is both applicable to people
    of faith as it is coherent, with the will of God and secular people,
    with the will of the people. To stand against a proposition would be
    political suicide. Given the state of today’s politics, hardball is the
    only play that works.

  • Russell Spears

    I happen to agree with all of your points.. I rarely do so, since it comes across as unconsidered. But I think this is what Worker Self-Directed Enterprises will do in effect. The outcomes of changing corporate laws or supplanting corporatist with worker-owned enterprises will work fine since the end result will be the same. Also, all of these laws has been a response to malice at the level of corporations. I believe if you have over 1000 workers you should be automatically converted to a 50/50 worker to owner controlled enterprise.

  • Russell Scott Day

    Interesting theory, the 1,000 flip to 50/50. Where has it been done?

  • Anonymous

    So reasonable living wage is communism? The oil companies made billions, paid no taxes, then got millions in tax refunds out of the pockets of the people whom they were gouging for high gas and oil prices. Capitalism without controls will burn this country to a crisp. Look back to the Industrial Revolution when industry could take worse advantage of the workers. The country could not thrive until government put controls on management. Living wages do not foretell the coming of communism.

  • Anonymous

    Obama said, “We are true to our creed when a little girl can. . . ” When or if are interchangeable they way he said it. So he was stating an ideal, not life as it is, rather life as it should be if we hold on to our beliefs.

  • Russell Scott Day

    The economic laws now enacted have been reported to have mimicked criminal business methods made legal. President Obama tried to complain to the US ally Great Britain about banking systems in the Caymens and The Cook Islands. He didn’t get very far. The ACLU might consider hiring mercenaries to bomb those islands. (just kidding)

  • turtlemother

    …the international corps. do not care, they have no loyalties, they have no countries that they belong to; so if U.S. population becomes poor, they don’t care, truly.

  • Anonymous

    It would be better if you would talk to small business owners and realize that labor costs are the biggest part of their budgets. You can scream for higher wages all you want, but please realize the true costs of any busness owner. Labor, utilities (electricity, water, sewer, garbage), taxes (fed, state and munincipality), rent of building, cost of goods to sell, more taxes, If you want to put up an arguement about higher wages, give the whole story of the costs of owning, running and having a business…. ,

  • Goodcrow

    If you think it’s bad now you only have to wait a few more years (aprox. 10 more years) and you will see the total erosion and perversion of our Constitution. You will see a two level cast system and in case the people rise up they (the 1%) have their bunkers (paid for with taxpayer dollars) all over the US and even the world. They will go into them and go into lock down with anyone that has the brain trust to start over. However before they do they will release a plague on mankind to “clear the land” and when they come out in two or three years there will be nobody left taking up space and they can build their Utopian society (NWO) totally unimpeded! I am sure there will be those who say I am a conspiracy theorist or anarchist or fear monger. I assure you I am not I am a realist and it’s not a matter of IF it happens it’s a matter of WHEN! I pray everyone has a plan and a place to go and limit’s their number of close friends they let into their bug out location. Remember one thing… It only takes ONE person to give away the whole group so know your friends and family. I may not like what is coming but I plan on helping the intended victims who are wise enough to survive the culling!

  • Marlyse Gaberel Whitaker

    Keep them barefoot, pregnant, uneducated, overworked = perfect recipe for total control. Where? America, slowly spreading it’s capitalism (greed) to the rest of the world. Can it be stopped ?I don’t think so! At least not yet- nature will rebel before we do – it adapts much faster than we ever will – I am a humanist but, my mother a sincerely religious person , stated eons ago that God should have created another breed of dogs instead of human beings – I used to chuckle but what a profound statement – Bil,l you mean well but not many are listening or have the courage to speak up!

  • Ron

    Mikeguru, you are spot on with every point made in your statement and I too believe this interview should be a must see for every household. Thank you for putting this 45 minute interview in to an easy to understand written summation. Both your and the video versions are a clear affirmation of what is wrong in this country. I have often thought how nice it must be for the elitists to have your own private revolving door to keep them flowing in and out of the highest positions of government and finance regardless of any party affiliation. I have little interest in mainstream media and search for interviews and reports that get into the intricate issues that present a much better view of reality. I hope a positive change will come sooner rather than later. However, that requires participation by all but, pessimism seems to have a stranglehold on most of the people in this country. Concerned, interested voters is what’s needed but, they too seem to be in short supply. Capitalism, Business, Economics, Politics. Where do we start?

  • Miklos Halasz

    When it comes to the reality it is more fair in the usa than in my former home country hungary.at least talking about and finaly even arested those crooks
    guilty of the economic downturn milions of unemployed and misery after all it was their greed . saw it how copied the us systenm and did fraud in hungary and stolen from hundreds of thusends of Citizens their Life savings. riped the of put them on the streets .and the families too with childrens too.

  • Anonymous

    More and more people do NOT have full time jobs anymore. Bob Evans restaurants are cutting their employees back to 25 to 29 hours a week. They make $2.13 and hour which on a 29 hour week is a paycheck of $61.77 plus whatever tips he can garner. Bob Evans is not and upscale restaurant and I know that tips are not a high priority for diners making that “plus tips” not a very encouraging. When I asked why Bob Evans manager why this was happening he parroted what his server had told me. That it was “mandated” under the Affordable Care Act and was industry-wide in the restaurant industry and that they had no choice in that. When I asked him if that is what is being put forth by the Corporate office, he told me that it was and he could do nothing about it. I sent an email to Bob Evans corporate office however I have not – nor do I expect – to receive an answer. Truly sad for our country and a boon to the corporatists.

  • John

    The problem with Wolff is that he thinks Marx’s discredited combination
    of early 1800′s Ricardian economics and bizarre historical metaphysics
    is a legitimate view of reality. It is sad that so many on the left
    cling to one of two pseudo-intellectual ideologies: neoclassical
    economics or Marxism.

  • Zennia

    We have had a family business for almost forty years and within the last ten years, taxes have surpassed wages as out greatest expense. I would rather give our employees the cash than the government.

  • Albert Elijah

    This is the Topic. Richard Wolff is GREAT !! Bill, you are the only one with the guts to talk about the TRUE issue that is behind our fallen economy and devistation that has hit the American People.

  • Albert Elijah

    Whatever the minute details are behind Richard is irrelevant. REINSTATE GLASS-STEAGAL !!!! Big Corporations PAY TAXES !!! This is the message.

  • Anonymous

    On a transect of Alameda county, California in my car I listened to Bill speak with RIchard Wolff. Their discussion of the1% (and even the 0.1%) was boldly illustrated.

    I had to pick up a key from a contractor in a working class community and spoke briefly with his neighbor who was having a yard sale of mostly items a few years old belonging to a teenage boy. The rent payment is coming soon. Her son was now on his second tour in Afghanistan, an airframe and powerplant mechanic in the Air Force, but close enough to a front to write about annoying rocket attacks. She said he planned to use his GI Bill for college – the same plan as my son in active duty service. My son’s deployment to Afghanistan appears to have been cancelled for what we hope will be another 2 years when his tour is up.

    I then stopped at the Home Depot to copy the key, where a dozen undocumented workers waited on the sidewalk entrances. Real estate is back, but prices in this working class area are still under water. The store was bustling but everyone was buying small repair items, unlike 2004. In 2009 this store was a ghost town, so there is improvement.

    Traveling past the Oakland Airport North Field I notice large areas of vacant asphalt. I used to be a private pilot here before the recession, many dozens if not hundreds of planes were here. Now there seem to be dozens more private jets, but only a small fraction of the Cessnas and Pipers we had a decade ago.

    At this point Mr. Wolff was pointing out that the recession has hollowed out the middle class and working classes, while the very rich are even richer. The personal hangar of the Getty family literally held an air force. One very nice Gulfstream IV belongs to a hedge fund trader from Dallas, perhaps visiting for yesterdays’ NFL football game.

    The evidence is there, but perhaps Mr Wolff’s wife observations bear review.

  • Margaret

    Maggie
    *
    *
    *Do unto those downstream*
    * as you would have those upstream*
    * do unto you.**
    *
    *
    *
    *Wendell Berry*

  • Anonymous

    Well “John”… it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in Economics to “see” that the 1% (or 0.1%) are screwing us all real bad regardless of left/right “pseudo-intellectual ideologies”…

  • Anonymous

    “ibeeducky”… your rationale is flawed, at best.
    e-v-e-r-y- business in the World!!! wants to be profitable.
    In 1927 Henry Ford wanted each worker who put together a Ford to be able to afford a car on a year’s salary.
    THAT IS empowerment. THAT yields to good quality, responsible, proud production. THAT is a win-win strategy; THAT yields to a sustainable life style; THAT follows good market competition and market share.
    NOT what you propose, NOT what we currently have. Evidently.

  • Anonymous

    It is time for Bill Moyers to break his silence on the H-1B visa fraud!

    The H-1B visa is one of many work visas that the White House and Congress grant to their corporate campaign contributors that those corporate contributors use to replace US STEM workers with workers from low cost labor centers, primarily India and Communist China, for the purpose of 1) reducing labor costs domestically and 2) moving US technology, industry, and jobs to the same low cost labor centers, primarily India and Communist China.

    Bill Moyers and the rest of the corporate press has been silent on this corruption. It is time for Bill Moyers and the rest of the corporate press to break their silence on this fraud.

  • Anonymous

    Campaign Finance corruption is the root of all evil in our Democracy where Democracy has been replaced by Capitalism. Now we have capitalism for a government in the U.S. and anywhere else the IMF can loan shark.
    We need to protect our government from these corporate and banking loan sharks.

  • fadista

    I like Wolff but I don’t like a couple points he made. First he said he doesn’t want to hold individual banksters responsible for only doing what is in their interest systematically. Then he says regulations don’t work because bankers evade the regulation or change the regulation (via lobbying). OK Dick, you can’t have it both ways. When individual bankers get caught breaking laws they need to be held accountable–period. That means tough sentences as a warning to other banksters & will make them think twice about breaking laws. Also, you can’t say that banksters are only acting in their interest by playing by the rules of the system when they are the ones lobbying politicians to create the rules that favor them. Yes, the system needs to change but individuals also need to be held accountable in the meantime.

  • Robert Provenzano

    I have been one of the people Wolff takes about, when he said, people that bring up the issues, are told by many that they do not know what they are talking about, and dismissed by many that don’t understand economic issues.

    I have sent the same message to around six different people like Bill, that have done exposes on these issues, and non will even acknowledge any of my points. I believe that they are all to scared to really bring the issues to the table, and only do these shows to make it look like some care, and that things are being looked into. When nothing gets done, and you have people like Wolff who think people should not be singled out and prosecuted. Then what it looks like to me is people just making their money off a story that will never have any effect on the problem, because they don’t have the guts to go after the people that should be prosecuted.

  • Sureshid

    Zennia, you can do that. Just pay your employees more and you’ll be paying less taxes :)

  • Angelo

    If you wanted to change or reform the system, you have to also, get rid of all the bad seeds in those systems. In addition, a severe prison terms punishment with seizures of their illegal made wealth. It’s ashamed that the Madoff scandal has never been resolved. That’s meant hundred of Millions of dollars has never been recovered.

  • Optimism

    Hello, evil top 1%’er here (not a banker–whew!). My parents were immigrants from poverty stricken southern Italy. They arrived in 1960 with nothing, not even English language. I was born in 1968 (for context), which encompasses the last, economically suspect, 30 years the professor describes. Parents worked minimum wage jobs to start and worked their way up, eventually owning a construction business. They raised 5 boys. I attended a community college (got two year degree), then attended a state school (S.U.N.Y. B.A.). I worked my ass off and paid my own way. I graduated undergrad (magna cum laude…lots of studying!) into the teeth of the 1990-91 recession. Only crap work available. After two years, I went to grad school at NYU (took on huge debt and paid it personally). The last 18 years I worked in professional services. Became partner after 7 years. THE AMERICAN SYSTEM IS AWESOME. Works exactly how it’s supposed to work. For those who get educated and work hard and HUSTLE. The world has gone global — new skills are required. The professor should talk about that, not attack the system with the greatest social mobility on earth. See you at the yacht club.

  • Anonymous

    just as Alfred said I am alarmed that someone can profit $9279 in four weeks on the computer. have you read this link w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  • Anonymous

    just as Alfred said I am alarmed that someone can profit $9279 in four weeks on the computer. have you read this link w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  • Alice Han

    Most refreshing discussion, like a lightening hit the head, he nailed it. Wake up, America!
    Every one should watch the video or read the transcript.

  • occupythecrisis

    Unfortunately that “great social mobility” is today in a *downward* direction. As Moyers said: “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.”

  • William Scot Ellis

    We all know it has been happening all these years and we try to vote the right people in but THEY have the money and power. Where do we go from here before the first gates are torn down and anarchists take over ?

  • Dudley Underdahl Duel

    It’s why I walked away from Wall Street and the rat race in the first place. The win at all costs philosophy destroys the soul, the mind and the environment.

  • Anonymous

    Today France has more upward social mobility than the U.S. does. If you were born under those same circumstances today, your parents’ minimum wage jobs likely wouldn’t have earned them enough to start that business- unless you think they could’ve afforded to do so with a 30% pay cut from the 1968 rate. And that schooling you got? Those costs have skyrocketed at the same time that wages have been falling. So I kind of agree- the American system WAS awesome. The system you grew up in is NOT the system we have today.

  • Anonymous

    Capitalism is far from perfect but improved regulation can make it far less inequitable. Reinstate Glass-Steagall in toto, reinstate the 1908 antibucket shop law which will outlaw naked CDSs in all their forms
    Have the sovereign nations declare all existing naked CDS contracts null and void; seller refunds half the payments received. Naked short selling is illegal for good reasons that apply to derivatives.

    All derivatives must clear through a clearinghouse no exceptions!! Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wa) was right
    on that point.

    Adam Smith was clear about the mischief banks cause and asserted that they should be kept small and tightly regulated. Too bad people who refer to him have not read what he said

    Bury elected officials in emails & calls. I donate (modrstly) to officials I cannot vote for based on their positions on matters I care about & the positions of power. Support advocacy orgamizations whose positions I agree with.

  • John Champagne

    Such a lengthy interview on the topic of the shortcomings of the market and disparity of wealth, yet no mention is made of ‘market failure’ or ‘economic externalities’ in an attempt to name the systemic flaws. There is no mention of the idea that natural wealth should be shared equally, yet such sharing would make poverty and disparity of wealth *much* smaller social problems.

    (Raising a minimum wage is a marginal adjustment, not a systemic change.)

    Minimum Wage vs. Minimum Income:
    http://gaiabrain.blogspot.com/2012/09/equal-ownership-of-natural-resource.html

  • Betty D Hamilton

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if those at the bottom received an equivalent (ratio) raise every time those at the top received an increase in pay!?!

  • DavidW

    The ownership economy has been co-opted by the monied elites. It looks like economic totalitarianism, when the few with enough money to buy institutions are calling the shots. All the symptoms gathered together and fixed will not complete the circle that will allow those on the bottom to secure the means to productively, participate in this society. in this current economy we own nothing to very little and have no economic justice and have been actively discouraged by the system from effectively making our voices heard.

    We need to grow market share of cooperatively owned enterprise, to implement the 1844 Rochdale plan written down by those pioneers who were looking to insure that they could control their own food supply at the dawn of the industrial revolution. Merchants then diluted flour with plaster, oats with sand and occasionally would sneak a thumb upon the scale to inflate their profit.

    We become our own employers, our own board of directors, our own owners of businesses that are developed to meet our social, economic, cultural, needs. We take market share away from the current owners and then we get their attention. Until then we have no power, no influence, no say in our futures.

  • Brian Carlson

    I am not an economist, I am a human rights artist. I paint images of the wreckage of economic programs fielded by the Latin American dictators who were installed or at least bolstered by the US….for US economic agendas. Specifically I am painting portraits of thousands of victims (this will take years) of the state terrorism in Argentina. It would be interesting to see a show, with an economist tying Friedman style economic warfare to the history of Operation Condor… put the faces to the abstractions in economic warfare. I have sent Kissinger photos of my portraits of victims his policies helped torture and disappear…but he doest respond. August 30th, a two month long exhibit of my memorial (450 portraits at this point) goes onaParecidos19 display at Argentina’s largest human rights museum, El Espacio de Memoria y Derechos Humanos (esESMA), a former military college used as a torture and disappearance center in the late seventies and eighties. This coincides with the International Day of the Disappeared. Point is, real people are ground underfoot by US economic policies. Economic warfare meets state terrorism…or terrorism in general. Ideologic genocide.
    aparecidospainting.com

  • Anonymous

    Maybe more people will finally begin to see that Republican obstructionism isn’t about stopping all things Obama, but to preserve the stepped up momentum that started under Bush of consolidating all power into the hands of the few, a dream realized in their own lifetime beyond their wildest imagination before then. As Jefferson put it, the mindless of the GOP base, driven by their own prejudice/bigotry, are “ willing dupes in forging their own chains.”

  • Domenico D’Alessandro

    In my professional work, I am proposing a change from centralized systems to local systems in energy, food production and job creation. What if we in large part took our savings and investments out of banks and bankrolled community based projects such as alternative energy and food co-ops and hire neighbors to do the required work. What if neighborhoods and municipal entities became energy co-ops and the grid was no longer needed. I believe that the new technologies, which are not being subsidized by government and in fact blocked in may cases by the powerful, were to become our new investment strategy, they could hold the key to change. I see two sectors in particular that hold too much sway over our politics-energy which at this time is tied to fossil fuels, that often leads to military interventions and food production and distribution that at this time is controlled in most part by the chemical corporations such as Monsanto and Nestle. If these two stables could become the common good and the environmental concerns could be a driving consideration of our actions, would it not be a more gentler and democratic way of living?

  • Boomer Dormody

    What does Mr. Wolf think of a widespread tax revolt in the USA taking place in the USA?

  • Marilynn

    I believe this is a re-run, but we have enjoyed your presentation both times. We love your insightfulness and your brilliance! Thanks for your voice!

  • Jeff L.

    I haven’t heard much about another option in the work place. If wages were to continue as they have with little upward momentum there is another choice –that of PROFIT SHARING. There could be quarterly payments.( This may or may not be related to worker ownership.) In a corporation such as Wallmart this could make a life changing difference for the employees. Wallmart could lead us into a more equitable future with that and employee health care.

  • Doug

  • Anonymous

    Walmart should do all that AND pay a living wage. There is no need for Walmart workers to
    be subsidizing their incomes with food stamps.
    That is shameful and the Walmart owners haven’t the intelligence to be embarrassed.

  • Anonymous

    How did ObamaCare affect workers making full time 30 hours or more? Many places have cut full time workers from 40 hrs to 291/2 so they lose healthcare benefits! Have you found that also? Start with Subway….

  • scat

    This has been going on for a long time. Employers have always know that part-time workers are less expensive than full-time workers.

  • scat

    What makes you think Walmart would do this if they don’t have to? They are all about the bottom line profit.

  • scat

    The fact that you are a member of a small minority demonstrates that the system as it now stands is not doing much for most of the population. And don’t kid yourself that all it takes is a lot of hard work. Many hard-working people laid the groundwork long before you arrived on the scene.

  • scat

    This trend has been going on for a long time. Employers are blaming what they have been doing on legislation that has not yet even gone into effect yet. They are just trying to deflect the criticism they are getting for paying such low wages.

  • Stephen Stillwell

    I’m interested in the creation of a universal basic income, to improve anything.

    If this planet and its resources are assumed to be the property of all its inhabitants, and we agree that the planet has value, we can use this value as basis for an international fiat currency, to be evenly distributed to each, and secured by the various states in permanent local trust accounts providing a regular dividend.

    This places the states in debt to the people for the use of their capital, the people invested in society and securely enfranchised in the economic system, without interfering with any government or collecting any taxes.

    This personal sovereignty is essential for the proper function of a market society, and addresses socialist desire for equal treatment, and unconditional protection by society.

    http://anotherangryvoice.blogs... : this is the best explanation of the benefits of a basic income I have read.

  • Stephen Stillwell

    If you would, please tell me if you think a basic income would likely improve the function of our market system?

    I’m persuaded that if this planet and its resources are assumed to be the property of all its inhabitants, and we agree that the planet has value, we can use this value as basis for an international fiat currency, to be evenly distributed to each, and secured by the various states in permanent local trust accounts providing a regular dividend.

    This places the states in debt to the people for the use of their capital, the people invested in society and securely enfranchised in the economic system, without interfering with any government or collecting any taxes, and significantly diluting the capital, and thus the power of those currently in.

    This personal sovereignty is essential for the proper function of a market society, and addresses socialist desire for equal treatment, and unconditional protection by society.

    http://anotherangryvoice.blogs...
    : this is the best explanation of the benefits of a basic income I have read.

  • Utopia Myopia

    Richard Wolff is good at pointing out the failings of our current crisis which is the co-opting of representative government by corporate and economic elites. However, embracing worker-owned enterprises and rejecting reform is naive and ignores the long arc of American history which evidences our government’s proven capacity to protect the general welfare of its citizens. Campaign finance reform is vital to restore the balance of influence in Washington. Such reform would lead to fair taxation of corporations and relieve the great stress on the middle class and poor. It would end corporate welfare and perhaps even eliminate corporate personhood as a legal construct which protects corporate officers from going to jail for crimes committed under the mantel of corporate identity. Today, a corporation can be found guilty of a felony and no individual corporate officer is held liable for criminal conduct. A Marxist world is not a democratic world. It is naive to assume that “worker elites” would not replace current elites. Capitalism will be replaced only when technology makes the struggle over resources obsolete. Thus far, capitalism has raised the living standards of more people then any other system. Of course, laissez faires capitalism is not an option and humane government policies cannot be co-opted by corporate malefactors influencing our elected officials.