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Economic Update LUMPENPROLETARIATDr. Richard Wolff takes to the free speech airwaves once again to discuss the sundry economic dimensions of our lives, including answering various questions from the audience and starting a multi-part series of lectures defining, comparing, and contrasting capitalism and socialism.  Listen (and/or download) here.



ECONOMIC UPDATE—[1 JAN 2016] Economics Professor Richard D. Wolff and guests discuss the current state of the economy, locally and globally. The program explores alternative ways to organize, markets, and government policies.

Learn more at ECONOMIC UPDATE.


[Transcript Excerpts by Messina]

Economic Update broadcast for Friday, 1 JAN 2016:

INTRODUCTION by Dr. Wolff:  “Welcome friends to another edition of Economic Update, a weekly programme devoted to the incomes, the jobs, the debts, the futures for our kids, economically-speaking, everything having to do with the production and distribution of goods and services because that’s really what the economy is.  I’m your host, Richard Wolff.  I’ve been a professor of economics all my adult life.  And I currently teach at the New School University in New York City.

“This being the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, I want, very briefly to thank all of the people who work with me:  []  (c. 2:25)  I also wanna thank Truth Out.  []  (c. 4:35)

FIRST HALF:  [complete broadcast summary pending]

Economics News Briefs (c.5:38):

“I’m gonna be talking about two states, in particular:  Nevada, in the west, and Massachusetts, in the east.  []

Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, and Democratic Versus Anti-Democratic Control of Newspapers

“The first update for today has to do with Las Vegas, Nevada, more particularly Las Vegas’ number one newspaper in all of Nevada.  It’s called the Las Vegas Review Journal.  And it got into the news because of an economic transaction.  (c. 5:59)  []

(c. 22:07) On worker co-ops, but notably no mention of the Pacifica Radio Network and its listener ownership

On private vs. public education:  Nevada plan promoted by the Republican Party favors funneling money to private schools, court challenge underway


[complete broadcast summary pending]

On Inflation:  (c. 30:00)

On Income Strain in the working class:  Medical Costs for the Elderly, Student Loan Debt.  But Americans making over x dollars spent their excess income on entertainment and leisure.

Harvard and Yale evade taxes, as they evade their commitment to public education

[]  (c. 53:10)


(c. 53:10)  “We don’t have enough time, but I’m gonna begin a discussion parallel to last week’s.  I spent some time last week talking about:  What is socialism?  And many of you, rightly, said:  You know?  We need that to have a conversation about: What is capitalism?  So, I’m gonna start it today.  And we’re gonna continue it next week.

“Let me answer this way.  The single-most important thing to understand about capitalism as an economic system has to do with the relationships between people in the process of producing the goods and services we all depend on.  Capitalism is the name for an economic systemWhat is economics about?  The production and distribution of goods and services.  That’s what an economy is.

“So, the particular nature of an economic system has to do with how people relate to one another, as they go about producing the goods and services we all need.  Let me give you simple examples.  (c. 54:20)

“There once was an economic system, largely disappeared nowadays around the world, although there are some examples of it still left, we called it slavery.  It’s a different economic system.  The relationship among people producing goods and services was the relationship called master and slave.  In that relationship, a very peculiar one, one person—the master—gave all the orders, made all the basic decisions, decided what to produce, how to produce, where to produce, and decided what to do with everything that was produced.  The master had the right to take a portion of what was produced and give it to the slave, whom he made work.  The slave did the work, all the hard workThe master, well, he supervised.  Didn’t he?  He made the decisions.  He did what supervisors do.  Master-Slave, not only had this sort of relationship, but the slave was the property of the masterOne person working was the owned object of the other, sort of like an animal, a horse, or a tool, like a plow.  (c. 55:53)

“Here’s another one:  feudalism, the name of another economic system.  It’s not capitalism.  It’s not slavery.  What was the relationship there?  Lord and serf.  The serf went with the land—a piece of land.  The lord presided over the land.  The serf wasn’t the property of the lordIt wasn’t slavery.  The serf did what the lord said because he lived on the land presided over by the lord.

Capitalism is different from both of those because in capitalism the relationship is employer to employee.  The employee isn’t owned and doesn’t go with the land.  Now, we’re gonna pick up next week with the difference between an employer-employee system—capitalism—and the alternatives, that are slavery, feudalism, and some others, that we will talk about next week.

“Thank you, as always, for listening to this programme, for doing that all this year, as so many of you have done.  I look forward to 2016 when all of the people working on this programme will get together, as we always have to produce these programmes, the updates, the research necessary to provide you with the kind of insight and analysis that you’ve come to expect and that we’re proud—really proud—to deliver.  So, thanks to all of you, to the team, that works with me.  Please make use of our websites:  RDWolff.com, and DemocracyAtWork.  Get in touch with us.  Send us your comments.  Talk to us about possible trips out there where I could speak to you, radio programme connections you can make.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  Share what we do with other people that might be interested.  Partner with us.  We certainly want to partner with you.  ‘Til next week, this is Richard Wolff, looking forward to our next conversation.”

[Transcript by Messina]


[Last modified at 13:01 PDT on 7 JAN 2016]