Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work!
On this week's show, Prof. Wolff discusses Bernie Madoff's $ 82 billion swindles and capitalism's incentives for swindling, the economics of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, US government's racist housing policies, and refuting the defense of capitalism as "lifting people out of poverty." On the second half of the show, Wolff is joined by Professor Nina Banks to talk about economics and correcting the undervaluing of community building work by women of color.
Wolff: “Why am I stressing that the system has incentives for corruption and crookedness on a grand scale? Because so many people seem to need to defend capitalism with the idea 'Well, whatever its flaws it has incentives. There are rewards given to entrepreneurs who start a new business." Well, there's some truth in that. But it needs to be balanced with an understanding that this system has a set of incentives that produce disastrous results: corruptions that ruin large numbers of people, that misallocate huge amounts of resources that could have and should have gone somewhere else."
America's Children are the source of omnipresent sentimental solicitude. At the same time, they are in fact massively neglected and in trouble. Dr. Fraad explores the suffering of American children and what can be done to change that trouble and restore joy to children, and their parents as well.
Fraad: "Every human being needs checks and balances. We can never leave anyone with absolute power... Why are our children so neglected? One reason is we don't have the kind of protections that other countries have... We don't have universal, public child care. That's one of the reasons the children have been in such trouble during the pandemic, because no one notices when they're in terrible shape."
In this episode of All Things Co-op, Kevin, Cinar and Larry talk about some of the most common criticisms of co-ops that they've heard over the years and respond to them.
Cinar: "[In a co-op] you've got workers basically who own an enterprise but at the same time are accountable to the work that's being done there. So it seems to me in those circumstances where people are actually vested in the work they do, they're vested in the work they're producing or whatever products and services they're producing at the end of the day. I think in those instances you actually have much more of an incentive to innovate, to create things that make your life a little bit easier, and make your colleagues life a little bit easier, but also serve kind of a public good with whatever you're trying to produce."
In this month's lecture, “Biden’s Economic Plans and Likely Results,” Prof. Wolff discusses the following changes in government spending and taxing, the similarities and differences between Joe Biden and Franklin Roosevelt, and the reality vs denial of the historic decline of US capitalism.
Wolff: “Both Biden and Roosevelt were centrists and both went further once they got in and took the full measure of how bad the crash of capitalism was… [But] nothing Mr Biden is proposing has the scope, the size and the social impact of what Roosevelt did.”
A patron of Economic Update asks: "What are the contradictions in capitalism that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed and laid bare?"
This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “The capitalist system drove those companies that could have produced what we needed for the virus to find more profitable investments doing something else. Yep. The capitalist system of profit-driven decisions produced the failure to prepare for, and therefore cope with, the virus. Capitalism’s profit-making system was in contradiction to capitalism's profit-making system. That kind of internal contradiction plagues capitalism all over the place. What the pandemic did was expose it as starkly as imaginable because it involved, literally, life and death. Yes, capitalism is an internally contradictory system whose contradictions hobble it and hurt the people living in it over and over again.”
A patron of Economic Update asks: "Econ 101 taught me that some level of unemployment is necessary, in part, to prevent a wage and inflation upward “spiral”. Is it true that an economy with wide spread worker-owned enterprises would not face the same “threat” of wage inflation? Would asking for a raise be akin to decreasing one’s own profits in a co-op economy and act as a check on runaway demand-pull inflation?"
This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “Because of the private enterprise system, capitalists do not want anyone interfering in their freedom to raise and lower prices as they see fit. That's how they maximize their profits, so they resist any social control over prices, which means if they're believing that price rises will enhance their profits, they want the freedom to do that. They do not want any responsibility for the consequences of their freedom, which is always a very dangerous sign for any hope of democracy.”
In this Wolff Responds, Prof. Wolff comments on the latest hype about shortages of labor in the US and explains what is really behind these headlines.
Wolff: “They think they can rebound/recover from the crush of the last capitalist crisis, plus pandemic. They want lots of people to come back to work without raising their wages. That's all labor shortage means- that the demand to hire is greater than what's willing to be provided, in the way of labor, at the offered wage. If you want to get rid of the labor shortage, raise the wages.”
Learn more about Prof Wolff's latest book, The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself.
Now also available as an eBook!