Senator Bernie Sanders renewing calls
for a single-payer health care system as the GOP fails to replace and repair
Obamacare. Listen to Senator Sanders: [TAPPER] Are you going to introduce single-payer?
[SANDERS] Absolutely, of course we are. We’re just tweaking the final points
of the bill and we’re figuring out how we can mount a national campaign to bring people together. [VARNEY] Ah, Socialism. Here it comes. We’re joined now by Richard Wolff, Visiting Professor at the New School. By the way, this is the good
Professor. The New York Times says this man is “America’s most famous Marxist Economist” and his name is Richard Wolff. Professor, welcome. [WOLFF] Thank you very much.
[VARNEY] Look, I’m a child of the 1960s. I went to the London School of Economics – which in those days was pure Marxism – then Marxism came, went out of fashion, the word “socialism” went out of fashion…but I think it’s back. Why is it back? [WOLFF] You know, it’s an old story. Socialism is in a way the shadow of capitalism. Nothing guarantees the future of socialism so much as capitalism because socialism is capitalism self-criticism. You know, every economic system has had the people who love it, and the people who don’t. And they’d had a debate. And we would have had that over the last 30 years if there weren’t the taboo – the
Cold War and all of that – and so we’re just getting back to kind of where we
should have been: let’s have a debate. Strengths and weaknesses of capitalism,
strengths and weaknesses of socialism. [VARNEY] When I was studying Marxism – and we did back in the 1960s – there was the long- [WOLFF] You survived. [VARNEY] Yeah, I survived…laws, the dynamic, the dialectic of history which propelled us towards the
inevitable proletarian revolution. You’re a Marxist economists. Do you think, do you really think that a proletarian revolution it’s just around the corner
in America? [WOLFF] No, an inevitability has never been my strong suit. I don’t know what
the future is going to bring any more than anybody else does. I think when you
have people who are struggling – and it’s hard, and they’re trying to make a change,
and it doesn’t come easily – there’s a temptation to believe that somehow it’s
in the works. It’ll happen for sure; maybe not right now but in the future;
it’s an indulgence, but it’s not a serious idea. I think the question of socialism is up for grabs, as is the question of capitalism, too. Every other system has been born, changed and died…capitalism, too. [VARNEY] Give me the reason why you, a very nice guy with a smile on your face,
should be a commie pinko bed-wetter. Why do you think that socialism is so
good for America now? Why? [WOLFF] Because capitalism isn’t doing a real good job for most Americans. We have a level of inequality that is extreme, going back…I
mean, you’re group in England – if I can call you partly British –
Oxfam, did a study recently that said the richest hundred or so people
have more wealth combined than the bottom half of the population of the
planet. That’s a level of inequality that you have to go back to the ancient
Pharaohs to see. We’ve also had two collapses of this capitalism in the last
75 years: one in the 30s and now another one in 2008. Most Americans are not back to where they were in 2007 in terms of their real incomes. Their jobs are less
secure, they have fewer benefits…I think you’re seeing a return to socialism not
so much because people like socialism. That may come – I don’t think it’s there
yet. If people who don’t like what they got, and what they see, and what they see
for their kids. [VARNEY] I think we are on the European road. I think we in America are
moving down that collectivist Road. How long do you think before we become like
a Denmark, or a France, or something like that? [WOLFF] I don’t think anyone knows. I certainly don’t. I think that’s going to be a question of what we on the Left
call struggles. [VARNEY] Do you want it? Do you really want it? [WOLFF] Oh yes, I want a society of much less
inequality, of much more security for people…I think we’re better to each
other as human beings that way. [VARNEY] I like the individual freedom and the vigor…
[WOLFF] It’s not either-or. [VARNEY] …the dynamism that America has. [WOLFF] You can give all kinds of freedom and dynamism to individuals. I love that. But that doesn’t require that you allow that
individualism and dynamism to produce an inequality that extinguishes the freedom
of all those who don’t have the resources. [VARNEY] So you’re gonna tax entrepreneurs to death? [WOLFF] No.
[VARNEY] Okay, know, what would you do with Jeff Bezos? He is now the
richest person in the world, bar none. 91 billion dollars I think his worth. [WOLFF] He’s outdone Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Here’s what I would do: I don’t believe in
taxes on people who do hard work and earn their money. I don’t think
that has anything to do with socialism. My concern has been that other way you earn money. Not by what you do- [VARNEY] A capital gain. [WOLFF] -but what you own.
[VARNEY] Well would you tax his 91 billion dollars worth of ownership in Amazon? Would you tax it?
[WOLFF] I would tax the income he gets from his property at a much higher rate than
anything I would tax – and I prefer none at all – for the income he gets by his
work. A socialist is not against paying people for their work.
It’s paying people when they DON’T work- [VARNEY] He’s not going to pay that tax. Look- [WOLFF] In our system you never have to because you can buy the politicians. [VARNEY] No, it’s not that. He’s got ninety billion dollars, he goes to a bank and
says I got 90 billion dollars worth of Amazon stock. Give me a loan. And the
bank says: how much would you like? They give him a loan, he doesn’t have to sell
the stock where he would pay capital gains, no he just gets the loan from the bank. How would you stop him? [WOLFF] I would stop him because I
wouldn’t allow that kind of thing to happen in the first place. There is no
reason on this Good Earth why one human being ought to dispose of 90 billion dollars.
[VARNEY But then how are you’re gonna stop him? [WOLFF] I’m gonna stop him by not letting him accumulate that in the first place. By taxing the income from property and not the income from labor. [VARNEY] He
started the company, he’d built the stock he’s got ownership of the stock, he’s got
the wealth. At what point would you take it off him? [WOLFF] But the wealth he got, the
wealthy accumulated, was mostly not from his work that he got paid for, but from
his property. If you stop that right at the beginning- [VARNEY] What do you mean “property”?
[WOLFF] His ownership. [VARNEY] Ownership of the company? [WOLFF] No, ownership of the stocks. [VARNEY] Alright, ownership of the stock in-
[WOLFF] Owning of the company is matter a speech. [VARNEY] Well, how would you take that off him? Would you not allow him to own that stock? [WOLFF] You know, you would allow him to invest, you would allow him to initiate a business- [VARNEY] That’s big of you.
[WOLFF] Yes. Well, trying to be nice. [VARNEY] But you still haven’t taken it off him.
[WOLFF] No, you haven’t taken it off him because you don’t have a tax on the capital appreciation and the income from his
property. [VARNEY] Thank God, but stay there, please Professor. Keep that smile. [WOLFF] I will.
[VARNEY] What do we got? Right after this, we’re going to talk Venezuela – the collapse of socialism. And the good Professor will stay to hear me out. Back in a second.