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Economics Professor Rick Wolff: The Capitalist Crisis
In this interview Professor Rick Wolff focuses on the larger issues beyond finance such as banking, money lending and credit. He says it was a problem in the making for the last 30 years. He describes historic underlying causes such as the end of the wage increase back in 1970. From 1820-1970 the American economy delivered a rising standard of living, wages went up every decade in that time and they used that money to buy more things.
In the last 30 years the wages in the United States did not go up. In order to keep buying things, people worked more hours and borrowed money, exhausting themselves in additional work and taking on more debt. From the workers’ point of view, there is increased anxiety and exhaustion; their lives are strained, pressurized. Meanwhile financial markets and banks compete with each other to profit from the workers’ massive debt.
Bail outs and extreme right anti-immigration moves will not solve underlying problem. A fundamental reorganization of the American economic system will not be done by the people who run the corporations, yet the change has to begin at the Board of Directors, the small groups of people heading corporations who have been making decisions in a classical way for 150 years.
Rick Wolff – Possible Solutions:
- Reorganize the way business works so that the people become there own board of directors.
- Corporations reorganized so that workers collectively become there own boss.
- Mon-Thurs – You come to work and do your job as you always did, less hours, wage increase.
- Friday – Attend meetings all day to assess the impact of the product on the community, what products to make, what to do with profits. Cultivating the community.
“This, instead of a handful of people, ‘the bosses’ set against the employees in a conflicted situation that periodically makes each group behave in antagonistic ways in turn destroying the community – which is where we are now.”
Guest – Rick Wolff, Professor of Economics at University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Rick teaches at the Brecht Forum and the New School in New York City. (Read Rick’s article, “Economic Blues,” in the Monthly Review)
Economic and Political Analysis: Historic Financial Crisis and Bailout
Michael Smith and Michael Ratner host a lively discussion with economist Max Wolff and political science professor and author John Ehrenberg. Max Wolff begins with an anatomy of the financial collapses: “Low wage growth for majority of Americans, meanwhile global capacity for productive enterprise has skyrocketed and the way to make money is to find something to produce for very low wages. This creates a classic problem of insufficient aggregate demand. We can make it cheap, we can find this 11 year old in the rain forest to work in the factory for 39 cents an hour. Not successful if you can’t find a buyer. So, your success breeds a nightmare, the nightmare is resolved by international financial markets and growing debt.”
In the last half hour John Ehrenberg joins in. He says the US needs a new New Deal, and though this is a dangerous time, it could be an opportunity for strong social movements. The Republican vetting of Palin is a major concern – “the sneering contemptuous disdain for serious thought or consideration for deliberation, faux populism that rewards capital and punishes labor and yet coming forward as a party for the common man.”
Guest – Max Fraad Wolff, freelance researcher, strategist, and writer in the areas of international finance and macroeconomics. Max’s work can be seen at the Huffington Post, The AsiaTimes, Prudent Bear, SeekingAlpha and many other outlets.
Guest – John Ehrenberg, author of the book Servants of Wealth: The Right’s Assault on Economic Justice. A professor of political science at Long Island University, in this, his third book, he critically analyzes the rise of an ideologically coherent Right. He dissects their themes of military weakness, moral decay, racial anxiety, and hostility to social welfare to reveal their central organizing objective of protecting wealth and assaulting equality.