Economic Update: Transition Beyond Capitalism



welcome friends to another edition of economic update a weekly program devoted to the economic dimensions of our lives jobs incomes debts those for our children and those looming down the road facing us I'm your host Richard wolf I've been a professor of economics all my adult life and I'm trying to use that history to bring this program to you in a way that keeps you up to date about what's happening in the economy we live in and depend on let me jump right in by telling you a story about the New York Times and it's receipt of a leaked document this happens a lot when government officials upset by what their own government is doing decide it's time for the public to know and they find a friendly reporter and give him or her the documents in question so that we all get to see and hear what's going on and what happened recently was that a agency inside the Trump government was commissioned to look at the costs and benefits of letting refugees and immigrants into the United States over the last 10 years the report shows krystal clearly that these folks over the last ten years contributed 63 billion dollars they even came up with a number like that more in the productivity of their labor in the taxes they paid and so on then they cost the United States so they were clearly a net economic gain this of course is not the message that Trump administration wishes to propose so immediately they denounced the leak rather than dealing with the substance of the issue and in particular a close advisor to mr. Trump one Stephen Miller went so far as to offer alternative facts reminding me that whilst Atisha statistics don't lie statisticians can and do here we go what did mr. Miller propose he said we should be looking at the difference in cost to the American economy of new immigrants refugees on the one hand and Native Americans who are courage in agreeance but just live here and work here on the other hand this is silly always refugees and immigrants to the first two or three or four years that they're here cost all kinds of things because that's the time it takes to adjust to a new language a new culture a new home a new region a new job and all the rest so the appropriate comparison isn't the first three or four years of an immigrant or a refugee but it's a question of a long term situation in which yes there are costs in the beginning as with all investments and then payoffs over time as with all investments but you know if you want to make a point and you don't want to be too careful about how you support it you do what mr. Miller and the Trump administration have done when you're embarrassed by a document that shows that indeed letting folks into the country which United States has done from its earliest days is a long-term economic payoff well I want to add a few points because this issue of immigration does not go away mr. Trump is determined to use it as a scapegoat issue a distraction to face a hard reality he cannot afford to tax wealthy people and corporations because they are the only financial support he and his candidacy and his presidency have so he needs to pander to them he cannot raise the taxes on corporations and the rich despite the fact that they have done the best over the last 40 years compared with the 99% of the rest of us so if he isn't going to do something about that having run on the presumption that he might scapegoats are useful and immigrants is a way to focus people on issues that take them away but that has I'm not talking about the moral of the political costs it is after all bizarre in the world we live in today to have a country the United States bombing six or seven other countries but not be willing to take the refugees who run away from the bombing and feel some obligation in this situation it's it's rather odd but I'm not gonna talk about that well I want to talk about the economics of it and there are several millions of people coming in here creates a demand for housing for schooling for goods and services that boost an economy we're losing that if we get rid of these people that has to be faced and there are many other costs if I had more time I would go into them a recent report indicates that California's agriculture is seriously impacted by a shortage of Labor they can't get the people to harvest the vegetables they can't get the people to do the hard work and here comes something that should surprise nobody Americans are not Native Americans I'm talking about are not that eager to have jobs that pay as poorly as those agricultural jobs do and we're facing higher food prices we're facing higher food imports which may make this country dependent on food we have all kinds of consequences that are not being taken into account because it's politically expedient to make immigrants a scapegoat I want to turn next to the issue of the BRICS countries be our ICS if you're not familiar let me tell you what that stands for B is for Brazil R is for Russia I is for India C is for China and S is for South Africa these five countries are now kind of Middle economically developing countries they're not quite as rich yet as North America Western Europe and Japan but they're rapidly catching up and in some cases overtaking those parts of the world they are a very important blow of Nations and they have all kinds of agreements amongst themselves and they're welding all kinds of diplomatic relationships I want to put into context how important they've become and then tell you why it matters so I'm going to compare over the last 20 years so I'm comparing 1997 with 2017 that's a 20-year gap and I want to talk about the share of global output of goods and services that word achieved by the United States in 1997 compared to what the contribution was of all five of the BRICS nations in 1997 the United States accounted for 23 percent of world output of goods and services and the BRICS altogether 15 point 4 percent so the United States alone was a much bigger player in the world economy in 1997 than all five of the BRICS countries what has happened in the 20 years to our 2017 the United States share of the world economy 18.2% it's dropped three percentage points from what it was 20 years ago and the BRICS they are now 30.4% those five countries doubled their importance in the world economy well here's why it matters sooner or later the bigger the chunk of the world economy you account for the bigger your footprint on what happens in the world the bigger your influence the bigger your power the power of the United States is shrinking and the power of alternatives alternative countries alternative blocks of countries and above all of the BRICS is zooming now most of that is accounted for by China but nonetheless it is something that binds those five countries together and it tells you something about how the world is changing after all 300 years ago when capitalism took off in England North Western Europe North America and so on those parts of the world which were relatively minor players in world history became the dominant players the British Empire the American Empire and so on and that's when their share of global output mushroomed now that their share is shrinking and that of other players is what's mushrooming then the future looks like it belongs to them and that puts into a very scary context but my job is not to make believe for that you can watch other programs but to make it harsh and clear it is therefore interesting that the United States is busy around the world militarily and makes one wonder are we flashing our military power and predominance because the economic foundation isn't there for it anymore something to think about when we confront military adventures abroad my next update is a very little story but in a way a monstrous one it has to do with the closing or the privatization we have both of them of public libraries in cities and towns across the United States it is becoming a scary comment it's another kind of shrinking of your economic footprint when you don't have the resources or to be more accurate you don't make available the resources so that every city in town has what for a hundred years we've prided ourselves having a place where young people and old people can go and get books and tapes and avail themselves of the cultural products of this society in a free public library what's happening is the following cities and towns are strapped for money that goes back to what I said before unwillingness politically to tax the wealth where it is and to tax the high incomes where they are now that we have one of the most unequal economic systems in the world today we can't seem to get that tax support from those who have it most those from whom if it were taken would affect their lives the least so we have to cut back because we don't tax and one place we seem to think it's appropriate is the Public Library so recently what came to my mind was Escondido California little town I read in the San Diego union-tribune back in August the struggle of that village in town to hold on to its public library there had been an effort to shift it to a private company quite notorious called library systems and services LS and s sometimes called LSSI it now runs about 80 public libraries across the United States where it has succeeded by going into the town and saying well you don't want to spend money on your public library because you don't have the money you don't have the taxes you're unwilling or unable to go get the taxes from the people who could give it to you so here's what you do let us run the library you won't have to pay for it and we'll run it and we will make a profit off of it because we're so terribly efficient well this is the old story of what we call privatization this endless effort of private companies to make money by taking over what the community what the public authorities have been doing for us often quite nicely thank you for a hundred plus years as for example public libraries it turns out and there's lots of information about this particularly again the New York Times has been very useful in revealing this they've been stories in The Huffington Post and elsewhere what they do is they get rid of unionized employees and hire non-union employees paying them much less they're not accountable to the community because it's now a private enterprise that runs the library the hours get caught this services get reduced you know making money the bottom line and all the rest of it and the hope is nothing happens because the town leaders are so happy they don't have to pay for public libraries it's a movement that's happening across the country it takes such extremes that in San Juan Texas the community did it and then after a few years undid it and found it was better off staying with the public library than with the private one it's an extraordinary comment you know it's a kind of fundamentalism and economics to believe that doing something with private enterprise is always unnecessarily more efficient than doing it with public enterprise there's absolutely no evidence from the economics profession which studies this question that that's true for every example and there are where a private enterprise has done something more efficiently than a public one there's a counter example of the reverse and there you are you're stuck with it turns out it's probably a better idea to wonder and look at whether any particular activity that a community wants is better handled in a public way or a private way there are good reasons why we don't have anything other than a public fire department and public schools and well we used to have public schools madam Davos is trying to undo that but don't look like she's gonna make it we have all kinds of public services our parks our army our police it's very interesting we've decided to do it but we seem to need to give lip service to the idea that the private is somehow better every day the newspapers are full of what private entrepreneurs have done and they've done a lot of criminal activity a lot of stealing a lot of misrepresentation let's remember all the things we've read in the last 12 months about car companies and banks and all the rest of it to think that a private enterprise is the way to go always and that is a kind of unthinking promotion of the private sector I don't mind you promoting it but don't pretend that there's much else that's before I turn to the next economic update I want to remind you that we maintain two websites that are available all the time 24/7 at no charge whatsoever where you can find out about these stories and many more where our TV interviews and whole courses are offered again no charge whatsoever please make use of them that's why we maintain them to partner with you and make this available all the work that we do on this program to you the first one is our D wolf with two FS comm and the second one is democracy at work dot info please remember that these are available for you make use of them through them you can communicate to us what you like and don't about this program you can follow us with a click of the mouse on Twitter Facebook and Instagram these are services for you make use of them 24/7 no charge if you are interested in seeing a video version a television program in effect of this program you can find that on patreon.com patr aon patreon.com for a televised version of this same program ok let's turn back the International Labour Organization a product of the United Nations that's been around now since that time after World War 2 together with the walk free foundation and the International Organization for Migration has just completed a study in September of this year of slavery in the world it was the response to discoveries by news and other organizations that there are plenty of examples of slavery in the world today long after the world thought it had abolished this system in the world and so they've released studies these year this year studies were released during the United Nations General Assembly back in September and they show that for million people around the world are victims of modern slavery in the year 2016 they also added because they thought people would be interested the estimate that approximately 152 million children aged between 5 and 17 years of age were subject to child labor this is extraordinary in this day and age and I wanted to tell you a little bit about it the new estimates show that women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery accounting for almost 29 million or 71 percent of the overall total of slaves women represent 99 percent of the victims of forced labor in the commercial sex industry and 84 percent of forced marriages indeed sex work and forced marriages are the form that slavery takes more than anything any other single thing child labor remains concentrated primarily in agriculture 71 percent one in five child laborers work in the service sector and twelve percent of child laborers work in industry a number of companies were identified in recent news reports as using slavery often called by other names and one of them struck me because of American history the phrase indentured immigrant indentured servant this is an old thing that was very important in the colonial history of the United States a person who wanted to leave Europe and come to the United States but lack the money to pay for the cost of the trip would engage in the following in exchange for getting the money or a ticket to travel on a boat to come to the Western Hemisphere they would agree to work for seven years typically for an employer the person who fronted the money to pay for the ticket in the course of working for seven years effectively as a slave you could not escape from this contract you were effectively forced to work off many times the cost of that ticket it was a ripoff akin to and close enough to slavery to be included well it turns out that for example the tie in Thailand the Thai food giant's EP foods which is a major producer and deliverer of prawns and shrimps around the world was identified by the national by the Guardian newspaper in England as having been a primary supplier to among other companies Walmart so if you think you're not touched by slavery in the world today think again next time you eat that shrimp cocktail it is something that we have a world in which we see a variety of problems that we claim to be addressing but this one remains far below the radar unless and until it's talked about publicly and openly which is the point and purpose of what I have brought to your attention this morning and this afternoon depending on when you hear or see this program the next update has to do with an enormous issue which deserves much more time than what I can give to it at this particular moment but I wanted to bring to your attention a story in The Financial Times a major global economic newspaper that I use quite often and this recent story was about the so called gig economy this lovely phrase that makes it sound almost exciting this new way of arranging work contracts where instead of coming to work 9:00 to 5:00 every week under a contract for a year of your labor or several years of your labor where you know what you're going to be doing and you know when it's gonna be and you know the conditions and that's been agreed to by you or your union on the one hand and the employer on the other instead of all that we have work that is temporary work that is precarious work that is maybe there or maybe not maybe two hours today and 6:00 tomorrow and maybe three on Saturday but maybe not maybe Friday will tell you we don't need you on Saturday but you need you on Sunday all of the rest and of course major players in this gig economy are things like uber and deliver Roo and many of these other companies that specialize in an arrangement that does what well it does many things but the one I want to focus on today is in a way a very old issue it turns out that uber drivers and Deliver rule workers and many others in the so-called gig economy are spending many many hours working way beyond the eight-hour day that generations of workers in the history of capitalism fought for the limit to the working day because of the intrinsic way in which capitalists competing with one another see the profit in getting workers to work another half hour in getting the length of the lunch break to be reduced in getting the number of breaks to go to the bathroom to be limited in other words to lengthen the working day for those of you who don't remember back in the 18th and 19th centuries the early centuries of capitalism the length of the working-day for most people was 16 hours it was a fight to get it to 14 then to 12 the history of England is inseparable from what was there called the struggle for the 10 hour day and here in our own country the struggle was for the eight-hour day and we've never gotten beyond that we have even now in the United States on the books a law that says it's an eight-hour day and if you require a worker to stay longer a it has to be voluntary and B you have to pay the worker time and a half you have to pay more for more than eight hours because eight hours was what it was assumed to be minimally healthy for a human being physically healthy psychologically healthy not to be made to work immense long hours of the day an early joke in British capitalism back in the 18th century was that in Britain with a new capitalism that was taking over the beds and never get warm you know what that meant it meant that the exhausted worker coming home after 14 to 16 hours of labour fell into the bed that was previously occupied by another member of the family who was leaving to go do that kind of a shift of work my point is it was a struggle for a hundred to two hundred years under capitalism to limit the length of the working-day what the gig economy does is to undo those limits under the heading of everybody should be free to do all of this language by the way the old language of bit of capitalists was you shouldn't limit our working day because what we as capitalists do is the efficient way to organize things and it'll hurt our profits and that will hurt our ability to offer jobs you get the old picture it's really the same stuff recycled all over again well that was ignored by the mass of people after years of suffering back-breaking labor for unbelievable number of hours we fought as a nation for the laws that now exist limiting us to an eight-hour day what the gig economy does is give capitalists a new way to go backwards historically to once again see people working 12 10 12 14 16 hours a day in order to make a living under the conditions being provided the basic message the gig economy is an attempt to get around the limits of an eight-hour working day without having to pay the price or even to face the music that that's what you're doing fancy words fancy words it reminds me of a few years ago when Americans beginning to feel the pinch of a declining capitalist economy found it harder and harder to afford hamburger meat and so capitalism introduced us to Hamburger Helper green what poor people around the world eat but we were going to consider it the helper to the now absent hamburger and we're supposed to feel somehow compensated we've come to the end of the first half of economic update I hope you found these discussions interesting please stay with us we will be right back after a very short musical interruption you




Comments
  1. The one thing the lefties drop the ball on, is going at the meat of the housing shortage. They wanna talk about dozens of other issues before they every even mention the #1 issue that affects most people. From young to old. On so many levels and facets. Because they can't solve the problem that's why!!! Nancy Pelosi & Elizabeth Warren and all their buddies are getting rich off real estate!!! As we wallow in muddy filth, lapping up their false promises like bacon drippings off the floor.

  2. The argument you make about illegal immigrants, lets use that logic on housing: eliminate all safety standards and regulations to drive prices down for substandard product. How about everything else too? How ghetto do you wanna make this country? And you fail to acknowledge most of the points against an invasion of illegals, namely sexual assault issues and the fact that they contribute greatly to the housing shortage because natives can't compete against people who have 15 roommates. Not to mention, these illegal SLAVES don't know how to speak up for themselves when it comes to the govt and corps screwing us in the asshole. They just take it.

  3. The gig economy would make sense if the pay was about double. Sometimes I wonder if capitalism is working or if we are just suckers getting ripped off. Why can capitalism fail to produce lower end starter housing, which the market is demanding???

  4. I feel that if you would spend your time figuring out how to make the transition you think should happen and less time demonizing people for what has already happened you would sound a lot more rational.

  5. Many do not think they can change this system they think they are trapped in, the problem is not thinking outside the box they put you in, yes you can, you can even do this without becoming a target, not being pepper sprayed, you can do it in a way they do not expect or are ready for, the only problem would be just a few doing it, if you get atleast 60% to 70% you could change everything within a few weeks or a few months, you just have to prepare to ride it out, save your next 3 tax refunds, do not spend it, save it, but cheap survival foods that will last you, after an agreed time, you do nothing different, you keep going to work, you buy nothing except your gas, rent and utilities, save the rest, when the stock market hits bottom, buy stock pennies on the dollar for the company you work for, you will drain the system from both ends if you do this, you can be in control, but do not stop till your demands are met, if employees own the most stock you are in the end the boss!

  6. The point made about the U.S. military build up at the same time as economic decline is very interesting. I'm curious if you see parallels between the United States now Soviet Union during their decline as they also increased military spend at the expense of social, consumer, and economic programs?

  7. " …African countries and their politics are often used and weaponized when making points about imperialism, or China, but never in conversation about the country itself. The lessons we can learn from them and the need to bring attention to their plight are seen as less important, placed lower on the hierarchy of oppression." …… This is from "Truthout" ….. We hope that D. Wolff would pay some attention to Africa and third world economics and their impact on western economics & politics .

  8. Richard Wolff's work is immensely important now more than ever. His employment of common speech in lieu of academic jargon is renders his work accessible to the mass of people. I would love to see Wolff author a primer on Marxian economics for common folks. Thank you Professor Wolff and the Economic Update and Democracy at Work Team.

  9. Inheritance Tax Is Good For America!
    Note: to All You brainless followers, poor Republicans and dumb (DUMB!) poor Libertarians: Even a moron can understand that Taxes are simply the price of admission into any civil society!
    Also, Winning the Lottery does not magically entitle You to shirk your patriotic civic duty to pay your fair share of Tax monies needed to maintain Our Great Country. And I certainly don't want to get stuck paying for any stupid Lottery Winner's share of Taxes, even if they use corrupt Lobbyist tricks to make it appear "legal" and corruptly avoid paying their fair share of Our Nation's taxes.
    ** Inheriting a fortune is Not (NOT!) "EARNING" ANYthing; inheriting a fortune is nothing more than winning the genetic Lottery. Why should some self entitled snotty rich brats who may have never worked a day in their lives and win the lottery (inherit a fortune) get a Free Ride at EVERYONE else's expense and be allowed to skip paying their share of Our Nation's taxes? ,

  10. We can't have an agricultural industry that depends on deep poverty and desperate people to function. If the billion dollar corporations who own the farms pay enough they will get workers even if the work is hard. Building an industry that depends on deep poverty is not how any society that claims to be civilized should be doing.

  11. Folks, someone at the "cutting table", the pc used for recording or later for mixing the effects and whatnot, is playing with the mousepointer in the recording. It's buzzing around the screen every now and then. VERY annoying. Get rid of that, please.

  12. Folks, can you please normalize the audio in your videos? The intro music is blaringly loud with my normal volume settings and when I dial it down so my neighbors stop banging the wall I can hardly understand Mr. Wolff a few seconds later.

  13. how can Brazil be part of any group of anything? its a fucked up shithole, I don't care what the fucking graphs and tables show its not real

  14. i love this and watch it every upload. one piece of constructive criticism, im a disabled vet and im hard of hearing, is there anyway you could make this slightly louder…if this is possible i would appreciate it

  15. The end of the US mega military will not come by some war or attack, but by the cost of it. At some point the US economy will shrink so far that it cant support such a huge military anymore. The only reason they can do that now is because everybody else keeps the dollar up. Which is likely the reason why America is so close to the Saudis, imagine the Opec would decide to use the Euro for oil exports instead of the Dollar.

  16. Private Public Libraries – just another scheme like the Charters Schools – designed by and for hedge funds – to transfer wealth to those that benefit from the NMTC – New Markets Tax Credit. Check it out – but sorry this investment is only available to accredited investors (rich people). It's a brilliant skim – investors double their money in 7 years – investment guaranteed by contract through local real estate taxes plus a 39% federal tax credit. Sure the quality of the library will go down because half the towns payments go to investors profit, but by the time the public figures it all out – the investors are made happy as hell.

  17. Thank you Prof. Wolff for this program, it is a valuable part of my efforts to be informed on what is going on in my country and the world.
    I would like to tell you that I live in a country which used to be a social paradise compared to most other countries; Austria. Here we have universal health care, and what is called the social partnership, an agreement between industry, unions and the government. It worked well for many, many years but has, over the past decade or so, been losing ground steadily. Publicly owned institutions, like the Post Office, the trains, water works and energy production have been partly or entirely privatised. Unions weakened by selling off public functions to private corporations and the like. The election yesterday of the conservative "Volkspartei" Kurz,, indicates to me that this wrongheaded policy will continue. Part of their program has been the anti-immgrant rhetoric and the mantra that private is better than public. If I was 20 years younger, I would probably move on, but as it is, I fear I'll be watching the disintegration of Austria in person, while seeing the collapse of America on TV.
    Once again, thank you for all you do to educate and inform the public.

  18. Wow many thanks Pro. Wolff, now we know in old times capitalism were PURE EVIL! Working 16 hours a day for factory workers!!!??? No warm beds??? That's murder!!! God forbids that!!!

  19. "For those of you that don't remember, back in the 18th and 19th century…" Brilliant : ). Thanks once again Mr Wolff for your clear and precise work exposing and against injustice.

  20. You should discover deficit owls on youtube because you seem to think that the governemnt needs to tax in order to spend but it does not need to do this and never does. The government can spend as much as it likes in it's own currency which it can never run out of. as the dollar is a man made social contract..

  21. Thanks for producing this video. Times are tough, and getting tougher, dumb is the new smart and evil is the new good. It is amazing to see Prof. W still spreading wisdom to those willing to listen. The noblest of efforts, however, we saw countries like Nazi Germany go down this path, and there was no way to correct them. I fear America is already spiraling down a bowl that has been flushed hard and repeatedly. Godspeed Americans, our own ignorance has led to our Doom!

  22. Professor Wolff's films and lectures are insightful. The title says 'Transition Beyond Capitalism' but the show does not discuss this at all.

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