3 minutes | Jul 8, 2016
WIN SHORT: Cleveland's 'Revitalizatoin'
TRANSCRIPT This is special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work. I am looking at a history of the economic system here in the United States that is having greater and greater difficulties. And nowhere is that more obvious than in our big cities. Many of them, like Detroit, are in extreme states of decline. The one I want to talk about today which teaches us more lessons is the City of Cleveland in Ohio. Recent reports have spoken about Cleveland being revitalized, Cleveland is having a renaissance, Cleveland is back in business. What’s this all about? Well it is mostly a fakery and it’s a fakery that is repeated in other cities so it is worth talking about. The dilapidated city of Cleveland, because that is what it is, let me give you just a few statistics. The household income of Cleveland is half that of the national average. The rate of poverty in the United States, the people living under the poverty line is 14.5%, in Cleveland, 33%. And perhaps the most damning statistic of all, in 1960 the population of Cleveland was about 900,000, last year it was 388,000 they drove the majority of their people out of their city. It’s a collapsed economic disaster zone, that’s why people left. Making a few pretty hotels downtown and restaurants and a few other things for travelers to stay in a hotel and ritzy apartments for the few who can afford them, that’s not an adequate response, that doesn’t deal with the majority of people. It isn’t a democratic response to the real need which is for jobs and job security and job benefits. That’s where the money should go. Not to prettify a tiny corner of a disastrous city. But that is not what’s happening. We are supposed to focus on that downtown, on the pretty trees and the banks and all of that and pretend that it is a revitalized city. It isn’t, and that has to be faced. The only thing worse than that is the news that the money for downtown Hilton hotel is public money from the surrounding county. Shame on the claim that this is revitalized. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work, and a special feature for Workers Independent News.
3 minutes | Jul 8, 2016
WIN SHORT: The Minimum Wage, Battles Won
TRANSCRIPT: This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work with a special feature for Workers Independent News. On July 1st 2016, 14 US cities states and counties, plus the District of Columbia raised their minimum wage. They raised it from everthing from 10.50 and hour all the way up to 15.00 an hour. Some raises go into effect immediately others are stretched out over the next 2 or 3 years. They deserve our acknowledgement. They have responded, or that is, their leaderships have, to the demand of working people over the last several years for 15.00 an hour minimums so let me mention them to you. Two of them are states, Maryland and Oregon. One of them is capital of our country, Washington D.C. One of them is a county, Los Angeles county in California. And the other 11 are cities. They include Chicago, 8 cities in California, and 2 in Kentucky. Congratulations, you have done something that should have been done long ago, you have made a decent income at least within reach of most of your people, you have maintained the promise that the United States makes to people of giving them something in the way of a job about which they can entertain the so called ‘American Dream’. But the congratulations for the few who have responded to the pressure from the below has to be matched by a criticism of those who haven’t, first and foremost the Federal Government. The minimum wage as the Federal level remains 7.25 an hour. It hasn’t changed since 2009, even though every year since then the cost of living has gone up, but in fact our leaders, conservative Republicans alongside conservative Democrats haven’t seen fit to take the minimum step of increasing the minimum wage at the Federal level just to keep up with the standard in living. It is an outrage to get 14,500 a year if you do 40 hours of work a week for 50 weeks at $7.25. It’s a scandal, it’s a shame it is long overdue for a change. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work, and a special project for Workers Independent News.
3 minutes | Jun 29, 2016
WIN SHORT: Product Recalls and Capitalist Enterprises
TRANSCRIPT: Product Recalls and Capitalist Enterprises This is special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, that a body is Washington, is about to announce that it is going to be doing a number of things that are supposed to help us as consumers. One of them is to be a little more careful in identifying bad products, products that need to be recalled because they endanger our health or our safety. They are now happening at about one a day. They cover everything from food and medicine to automobiles and clothing, pretty much everything. Turns out that the corporations that produce these things are, I’ll be polite now, less than as careful as they might be to not sell us something that may be profitable for them but very bad for us. And as this process goes forward there is more and more attention because there are all these recalls. And one story that is being told is a story that I want to argue against. The story is, ‘well this is just human mistakes, they happen, everything can go wrong somewhere , these are honest mistakes and when the recall is announced by the government the companies generally agree and recall the product’. That is a very nice story but, it is often not true and that is what I want to get at. We have enormous examples, from the cigarettes that we now know are cancer producing and the cigarette companies knew it years before the recalls were demanded and the end of cigarette production was required, at least to a large extent. We recently had example of the automobile companies who knew years ago that either seatbelts were not adequate or ignition systems were not safe or pollution control elements were faulty. Yes, there are human mistakes but there are also decisions made by corporations, seeking to make money, that are holding back safety. That has to be faced. It is not just about a recall, it is about a system that puts profits ahead of people’s needs. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work, and a special project for Workers Independent News.
3 minutes | Jun 16, 2016
WIN SHORT: Sweden, Less Work, More Productivity
This is special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work. I want to report to you today about an experiment made in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden by a work of workers supervised by the city council in that city. Under the pressure of a left wing political party that has seats on that city council, the experiment was as follows. The argument was made that workers in Sweden who have for 40 years had a 40 hour work week, that workers in Sweden were reporting in sick more and more often and were increasingly taking early retirement and felt that was because work exhausted them. So the left wing party made a proposal that the city council expected. ‘Let us try and take a group of workers reduce their work week from 40 hours a week to 30. And the way this worked was each workday, five days a week, would be 6 hours long and not 8 hours long. Well the experiment was done and as reported in the New York Times on May 21st, here are the results. Workers were much, much happier; workers were sick much less often; workers felt no need to retire early; and workers were more productive, so much so that the supervisors and employers in question felt that they gained more in the extra productivity in workers than they lost in the time. Yes, that’s right. An initiative from below, something opposed by the employer turned out to be better for everyone, even the employer, who opposed it. Just think what an economic system would be like that enabled, empowered and encouraged workers to have the initiative because they stood to gain from making conditions better for themselves. It is an important lesson This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work, a special feature for Workers Independent News.
2 minutes | May 27, 2016
WIN SHORT: Illegal Computerized Wage Theft
This is special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work. I want to talk to you today about something that happens very often and isn’t caught. But, it has been caught now in a couple of places and I want to talk to you about it because it so much more widespread than where it was caught. Well, what am I talking about? I am talking about using computers to figure out and pay workers their wages and salaries but, using them in such a way that money is taken away illegally from workers’ wages, from their deductions from their tips in this case and the company in question you all know, Dominos Pizza. And the New York Attorney General Eric Scheiderman in a number of lawsuits, from basically cheating their workers, that is a nice way to put it, they have agreed to pay to various sums of money in the millions of dollars by the way over years now, for having cheated underpaid their workers. This is a serious problem, nor is Dominos the only one; Papa Johns is another one at least in the New York area having to pay millions of dollars and so on. What’s going on here is all too familiar. It’s the process in which automation and the big business way of paying salaries becomes smokescreen for an age old effort to shortchange workers what they are paid. The bottom line of it is, if workers don’t pay attention, their unions don’t pay attention; they are going to get screwed out of money that they are entitled to that is supposed to be paid to them. It also means government statistics for what workers are earning, which rely on these numbers, are in fact relying on numbers that overstate what the real story is, it may be worse, in other words, than what we are told. It shouldn’t be, to have an economy that is working like this, it shouldn’t be, a system of employers ripping us off, but it is the case and it requires vigilance so long as this system survives. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work, a special feature for Workers Independent News.
3 minutes | May 20, 2016
WIN SHORT: Iowa Farm Cartoonist Fired For Drawing The Truth
TRANSCRIPT: This is special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work. I want to tell a story that is about America today but it is not about workers and factories or offices or stores. It’s about farmers and they are workers too and there news is important for us and never more than at this moment. I want to tell a story about Rick Friday. He is a cartoonist; he makes cartoons for the Farm News, a news services that goes to many, many farmers in the state of Iowa, very famous there. He has been a cartoonist for that services, for that news paper, for 21 years. He started in 1995, he is very well liked very well admired, very much a fixture for Iowa farmers. Well on the 29th of Aprils the paper published a cartoon that he had made. And I am going to tell you what the cartoon said and then tell you what happened to Mr. Friday. But, maybe to wet your appetite I’ll tell you what happened to Mr. Friday, he got fired. Here was his cartoon, it showed two farmers in overalls wearing baseball caps chatting at a fence. The first one said, “I wish there was more profit in farming”. The second one replies, “There is in the year 2015 the CEOs of Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer and John Deer Tractor combined to make more money than 2129 Iowa farmers.” Somebody complained to the management and the next day Rick Friday was fired after 21 years. It seems that in Iowa as in so much of the United States, if you say the truth, if you say what everybody who is paying attention knows is the truth, you have violated some unspoken rule that we are supposed to pretend an economy and society falling apart, because of the gap between the rich and poor, is actually not doing anything of the sort. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work with and for Workers Independent News
2 minutes | May 13, 2016
WIN SHORT: Budweiser, The 'Un-American' Beer
TRANSCRIPT: This is special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work. I want to talk today about an example of jobs lost, business loss, economic changes made by a tiny number of people that affect everybody else. It will be a story a little bit different from what we usually do. This is all about Budweiser beer, but actually let me be self-correcting here; it used to be called Budweiser beer. But, a few years ago Budweiser Corporation, based in St. Louis, decided it was more profitable for the few people who owned it and for the people who managed it, to sell out, and they sold to a Belgium company. Inbev, is the name of the company, based in Brussels, Belgium who now own the Budweiser brand. It is a Belgium beer not an American beer. But, in order to, how should we say this politely, persuade the American people to keep drinking this beer, which isn’t American anymore, were all the decisions are made in Belgium. What to produce, how to produce, the recipe, everything about it. In order to fool, excuse me, persuade Americans the name of the beer is going to be changed from May 23rd 2016 through the November election the beer will no longer say Budweiser on the can it will, “America”, I kid you not. Instead of the slogan ‘king of beers’ on the can will be “E Pluribus Unum,” the same phrase that appears on our currency. And instead of recipe for making the beer we are going to have, are you ready, the star spangled banners lyrics printed on the can. Trying to make it as American as possible so that American drinkers will continue to drink an American beer, who’s only detail of interest is that it is not American anymore. If this sounds like a hustle, you’ve got it right. The decisions are made by a tiny number of people. They don’t have any loyalty to America, that’s why they sold it. They are not busy with it anymore. Our job is keep paying for it and drinking it. It’s something to think about. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work with and for Workers Independent News.
3 minutes | May 13, 2016
WIN SHORT: Robin Hood In Reverse, Yale And New Haven
TRANSCRIPT: This is special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work. Today I want to speak to you about a fight going on in New Haven, Connecticut. On the one side is the 3rd or 4th richest university in the world, Yale University, with an endowment, like a savings account if you’d like, a wealth account, of over 25 billion dollars. On the other side is New Haven, a city of 120,000 people that ranks among the 10 poorest cities in America because a hunger number of its families live below the poverty line, and that is why they are in that list. What is the fight about? Yale is hiding behind its status as an educational institution and is insisting that it not pay taxes. New haven, a desperate city much larger of course in number of people than Yale, says that it is a desperate economic situation and needs to tax what is its riches resident, Yale university. Let’s be clear, Yale has enormous wealth New Haven doesn’t. Yale has never paid taxes on its educational property, which is most of its property. Yale does lots of things that have nothing to do with education, that have to do with trips its students take to the golf course it maintains, with the commercial activities of professors as consultants. It ought to be paying taxes on all of those non educational [activities], it is just hiding behind them. But, what’s more important is here is another example in America today of enormous wealth on one side, squeezing the mass of people by not even paying a minimum of taxes like everybody else, including the poor half of the city of New Haven. It is an example of Robin Hood in reverse. The Yale University gets police services, fire department services, its children are educated in the public schools of New Haven. New Haven pays to deliver free services to its richest client who pays no taxes. The poor subsidize the rich. It’s the opposite of Robin Hood, it’s outrageous and it should be something that American’s understand. It affects many communities; this is something that has to change. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at and this has been a special feature for Workers Independent News.
2 minutes | May 6, 2016
WIN SHORT: Lessons From Oil and Gas Industries
TRANSCRIPT: This is special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work. You know the people who run the biggest corporations in the United States are found of of telling the rest of us that we ought to be happy that they control most of what happens in this economy. Because they know what they are doing, they are the big shots they have risen to the top and we are in good hands because the capitalists system they preside over delivers the goods. Well, I don’t believe it. And now we have evidence, if we ever needed it, of a stunning example of how this isn’t true. We are currently seeing the whole sale collapse of oil and gas companies across the United States. To be precise, 59 oil and gas companies are now bankrupt with this last week’s filings. The number of US energy bankruptcies is closing in on the staggering 68 filings that occurred in the telecom industry between 2002 and 2003. And we expect even more. We expect oil and gas to collapse even worse than the tech boom became the tech bubble back then. What went on? Oil companies decided they knew what was to be done and how to do it. They were going to invest in fracking, they were going to destroy parts of this country, pump chemicals into the ground, create earthquakes, but it would all pay off because they would get oil and gas and they would become billionaires and we would be the nation that would save the….. A whole lot of BS. What they did was to forget that if the United States produced a lot more oil and the rest of the world doesn’t need a lot more oil the price of oil is going to collapse. Which is what it did, which is why they are going bankrupt, which is why banks are in trouble because they lent billions to them. Bankers, oil companies, they are not the ones to put our confidence in. They make colossal mistakes. We ought not to have confidence. We ought to see that a better economic system is what we need, sooner, not later. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work with and for Workers Independent News.
3 minutes | Apr 22, 2016
WIN SHORT: Automobile Companies, Profit Over Public Health
TRANSCRIPT: This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Worker Independent News. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work. Well the last few days have been full of reports about two global car companies, VW out of Germany and Mitsubishi out of Japan. These are among the handful of companies dominating the world automobile production process. And both of these companies have been in the news for the same reason. They got caught, cheating on emission tests. Deliberately installing on their machines devices that would fool testers into thinking they weren’t emitting into the air the terrible disease causing particulates, they’re called, that come out of the exhaust pipe of your car or your truck or your bus. Let review quickly, VW it was caught months ago. And the headlines of the last week were about the fact that it is looking to pay $5000 to each person who bought such a defective car and maybe pay for the repairs if the owners want them and so on. They are hoping to pay billions in this way to put this terrible publicity for them, being caught as liars, cheaters, polluters, driven by profit, to really hurt the whole world they live in. Mitsubishi, well they haven’t been in the news before but now they are. They got caught. Doing what? Doing the same thing and they produces a million cars last year. Yup, they put in software that fools the testing equipment so it is not revealed they are pumping dangerous materials into the air we all breathe. Common folks, join with me in recognizing that just as we saw in recent years that the big banks violated the public trust, took us to the cleaners to make money, that is what the car companies are doing. Leaving important industries in the hands of private capitalist like this is damaging for our health. Profit trumps decent behavior and what’s good for the public. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work and this is a special feature of Worker Independent News.
2 minutes | Apr 8, 2016
WIN SHORT: The Panama Papers
TRANSCRIPT: This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Worker Independent News. This is Richard Wolff from Democracy at Work. This last week has been a bombshell. Something called the Panama Papers is all over the news. What’s it about? A law firm exists in Panama that basically creates phony companies called shell companies that enable rich corporations around the world and wealthy individuals to hide their wealth to make sure other people don’t know about it, to make sure governments don’t know about it, to make sure they don’t have to pay taxes on it. For lots of reasons, legal and illegal, it’s a place to hide money. How big is it? Well, the answer is, its worth trillions of dollars. Let me say that again, trillions of dollars. And here is the point. A professor at the University of California, in Berkley, Named Gabriel Zucman, has calculated 7-8 trillion dollars of money being hidden by the wealthy so they don’t have to pay taxes. And why is it important? Because we are being told by politicians across the United States and around the world that they have to impose an austerity on us, raise taxes on our jobs and incomes, lower the services they can provide to us, lay off public employees that provide those services. Why? Because there isn’t the money, the taxes aren’t being paid, the government doesn’t have the wealth. But of course it does. It always did. And the revelations around the Panama Papers prove it all, as if we really needed it. The money is there, it’s hidden, but we know where it’s hidden. That’s what these revelations enable us to see. It’s long past due that the politicians stop with the fake excuses that they can’t provide the services and the public sector jobs that this country needs. Go after the people we know are hiding it and evading the taxes. Do what you should have been doing for the mass of people all along. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work and for Worker Independent News.
2 minutes | Mar 31, 2016
WIN SHORT: Companies Move Abroad, Coops Are An Alternative
TRANSCRIPT: This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Worker Independent News. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work. Well once again, as happens so often in America, two states, Massachusetts and Indiana, are struggling with companies that have announced they’re leaving. And they are moving to Mexico to take advantage of the much cheaper wages they can get away with paying there. In Massachusetts it is the Polar Tech company, they make that kind of material that goes into sports and winter clothing. Three hundred and fifty workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts are going to lose their jobs, devastating that community and indeed that part of the state. In Indiana it is the Carrier Corporation making air conditioners and ventilation equipment. There it is twenty one hundred workers, mostly in Indianapolis but also in Huntington, and they are threatening too. In both cases the Unions, Unite Here and the politicians, Mayors and Governors are promising to fight it, to slow it down, begging in their various ways to make it less of a burden than it is already going to be on those communities, and they are promising to give workers some retraining etc. It is very sad because the response of the unions and politicians really only softens a heavy blow. Here is an alternative that ought to be considered. Let the unions, together with the politicians say, ‘there is an alternative way’. We can take over these factories using eminent domain, the law is already there, and we can make them into worker co-ops, helping, through the government and through the union to make sustainable alternatives to the companies that are leaving. Going to their customers and saying, ‘hey you can buy from the company that abandoned us or you can buy from the worker co-op that is still there. That preserves the jobs, that preserves the community, that preserves the tax revenues going to the city and the state. It’s a much better way to go. And it makes for a better solution to this problem. We would be in a different place here in America if we were doing this over the past fifty years. Let’s start it now. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work and Worker Independent News.
2 minutes | Mar 25, 2016
WIN SHORT: CEO Compensation at 6 Largest US Banks
TRANSCRIPT: This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Worker Independent News. This is Richard Wolff from Democracy at Work. Well, one of the dimensions of our economic system that makes most reasonable people shake their head was given yet another illustration these last couple of weeks and I want to bring it to you and talk about what it means. According to Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal and so on, the top big banks in the United States, the six biggest banks, announced what they pay their CEOs, their Chief Executive Officers for the year 2015, the year just completed. And I wanted to share the news with you and talk about it. Good news for them, not so much for the rest of us. The six largest US banks together, paid their chief officers, these six men, a total of $122.8 million dollars. That’s an average for each of them of over 21 million dollars. The one who got the most, Jamie Diamond of J.P. Morgan, he got 27 million. I did a little calculation because I thought it would give me something to share with you. I took the average for the six biggest bank’s CEOs and then I divided it by fifty two to figure out what on average what these six guys got per week. Fifty two weeks of last year, whether they were on vacation or not, whether they worked all week or not, what they got. Okay, here we go; $391,000 a week, that’s right $391,000 a week. I have to say it twice so nobody misses it. Millions and millions of Americans have to borrow so their kids can go to school, millions don’t have food on the table and we pay some people $391,000 per week. It’s obscene, it’s unnecessary, it’s unfair. It’s an economic system that works for the one percent but not for the rest of us. And there is no way out of that reality to be faced, if we are going to change it. This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Worker Independent News.
2 minutes | Mar 18, 2016
WIN SHORT: The US Auto Industry, The Untold Story
TRANSCRIPT: This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News. This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work. 2015 was a banner year for the United States automobile industry. They sold more cars than they ever have, and they have been boasting about what a great industry come-back this story is. The truth however is really quite different. The reality is that the big three, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, are making tragic mistakes to boost their sales. I am going to tell you what they are. They serve as an illustration, that leaving the big decisions that affect us all in the hands of a few profit driven corporations, is unwise for this country and always has been. Let’s look at the details. First, what Detroit sells is light trucks, what the rest of world’s car producers sell is cars. The reason that Detroit did well is that lots of light trucks were sold and that’s because the price of oil went down so the gas guzzling trucks aren’t as big of a burden. Okay, the nice news is that you sold a lot of cars, that bad news is that you are concentrating on something that will stop being bought once the price of oil comes back, which everyone expects it to do and not that long into the future. Not a wise move. Even worse, to boost the sales, everybody has been lending money to what are now called “sub-prime borrowers” in the automobile market. That’s right, millions who have bad credit, who have been lent money to buy a car and who will not be able to make the payments on that car and will lose it. And when that happens there will be an explosion of used cars out there that will compete with new car sales and will go down into the basement again. These are bad decisions that make for an upside down activity. They are good for the immediate profits of the executives and major shareholders. They are not good for the stability of an industry that millions depend on. This is not a system that is working well. This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News.
2 minutes | Feb 12, 2016
WIN SHORT: Drug Shortages in the US
TRANSCRIPT This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Worker Independent News. This is Richard Wolff of Democracy at Work. Reports across the United States in recent months have indicated that we are having a mounting problem of drug shortages. Clinics, hospitals, doctors around the country, both those treating minor illnesses and those treating life threatening diseases such as cancer, are reporting that drugs are in short supply. There are even some hospitals that have developed chemistry labs in the hospital to make medicines that are too difficult to acquire. I looked into why these drug shortages are occurring since obviously the life, the health of our people, is a paramount concern. And if we know the drugs that will work and we do in these cases, and we know how to produce them, and we do in these cases, then why aren’t they there? The answer is several factors play a role here but, one of them and the one I am concerned with today, is profit. What do I mean? I mean that drug companies decide not to produce drugs if they aren’t profitable. If for whatever reason they cannot charge a price high enough to get a profit, above the cost of producing it, they choose not to do it. Maybe they don’t want bad publicity from charging a high price, maybe they’re afraid an insurance company won’t cover, maybe they’re afraid that people who have to pay out of their own pocket won’t afford it. Whatever the reason, profit dictates that drugs are not being produced that are matters of life and death and health and illness in this country. That’s not an acceptable arrangement. We should not make our health subject to profit calculations. Drugs should be produced at cost and made available at cost. That’s the way to get the whole profit question out. Drugs should be produced by reliable producers under supervision of the government, sold at cost in a regular supply that isn’t made subject to profit. This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News.
2 minutes | Feb 5, 2016
WIN SHORT: Oil Markets, Should They Be Planned?
TRANSCRIPT This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News. This is Richard Wolff of Democracy at Work. I want to speak briefly with you today about the oil industry. It is, to be real blunt about it, a disaster. Tens of thousands of workers, in and around the oil fields of the Midwest, have lost their jobs. Companies are going out of business. Banks are in trouble because they lent money to the oil business. All of these people, these “business leaders”, who have told us for decades that we should trust them, that a profit making business is the way to control and run our oil system, they have really done a terrible job. They seemed to have imagined that if they increased the amount of oil that they bring out of the earth, no matter what damage they do to our environment, they will be able to sell it at a profit and we will all be rich. Well, what they did instead was produce oil that was so excessive in terms of the demand for it in the world, that the price of oil has collapsed, from a hundred dollars a barrel, barely a year ago, to 30 dollars a barrel now, and that is causing disaster. The question that is raised for us and must be raised is really simple. Can we afford, to leave something as basic to our economy as oil, as energy in the hands of profit making companies that really do such a horrific job of misestimating, mis-investing, mis-pricing, a commodity essential to all of us. I think the answer to that question is, no we can’t, we shouldn’t have. Oil, like air and water, is something fundamental and should be planned and organized to be available to us at an affordable price. That could have been done with planning and preparation but, we leave it to the private market and the end result is the catastrophe we are now living with. Before it was prices to high, now it is prices to low. This is chaos. Oil can and should be handled differently. For more information on this topic please go to democracyatwork.info This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Worker Independent News. This is Richard Wolff of Democracy at Work.
2 minutes | Jan 28, 2016
WIN SHORT: Protests in France, Black Friday
TRANSCRIPT: This is Richard Wolff from Democracy at Work. I want to talk about a strike, Black Tuesday it was called in France, at the end of January. It was a strike of public employees that shook the French nation. Air traffic controllers, hospital workers, school teachers, taxi drivers. They all went out on strike, did job actions. And what was it about? It was against austerity. It was against a whole host of government programs in France that are shifting the burden of the problems of capitalism, the ongoing crisis since the collapse of 2008, to shift the burden onto working people, by stiffing them in terms of wage increases that have been promised, by changing work rules that hurt their income and hurt their job promotion options . The workers say, ‘oh no you don’t, this is a problem of the capitalist system in our society and indeed of global capitalism. We understand it is hard times and difficult times. But, we didn’t bring this crisis on to this system and we are not going to be the fall guys. We are not going to pay the price for a system that doesn’t work. You can’t take it out on us! It won’t work. We will not permit business as usual’. And they are saying to their government, by the way a socialist government, which runs France right now, ‘we will not allow it. And we are going to disrupt life until a better, fairer burden for dealing with this difficult situation is shared among everybody’. That’s a very interesting decision and it’s a very important lesson for working people everywhere to learn. The unions in France are willing to embarrass the socialist government. They voted them in but, they are not going to permit them to violate the needs of working people. This special feature was produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News. For more follow us at democracyatwork.info.
3 minutes | Jan 28, 2016
WIN SHORT: Tax Inversions and Johnson Controls
This special feature was produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News This is Richard Wolff from Democracy at Work. I want to talk to you briefly today about Johnson Controls, a very important, large, American Corporation producing auto parts, batteries, ventilation systems, and so on. It was in the news recently because of something called an inversion, fancy word for a simple plan. They are merging with an Irish company named TYCO, based in Cork, Ireland. They are closing their headquarters in Milwaukee, that is Johnson Controls headquarters, and moving to Ireland. That means that they are going to save a hundred and fifty million dollars in taxes that they used to pay to the federal government and to the government of Wisconsin. They are going to save another five hundred million in jobs that they can get rid of. This is good for the profits of Johnson, it is terrible for the American workers who lose their jobs but, it’s terrible for all Americans. Because, with a hundred and fifty million less dollars flowing to the tax coffers of the federal government and Wisconsin, it plunges those governments, federal and state, into a dilemma. What are they going to do? They have really two choices. Number once, they can tax more out of the rest of us, in order to make up what Johnson is getting out of paying. Or, with less of the money coming in because Johnson doesn’t pay, they can cut public services even more than they already have. Wow! What a set of alternatives. And why is it happening? Because Johnson Controls wants to make more money at the expense of everyone else. It is long past due in this country for working people to say, ‘No we won’t have it. If you want to leave you have to make good the damage you caused.’ If you want to leave and it is only to evade taxes, may we shouldn’t have that, maybe we shouldn’t allow it. Maybe there should be an agreement between countries to not allow corporations to play one country against another to get the lowest tax rate. In the end, that’s good for companies and all countries lose. This is an outrage and shouldn’t be allowed. This special feature was produced by Democracy at Work for Workers Independent News. For more follow us on democracyatwork.info.
2 minutes | Jan 22, 2016
WIN SHORT: Walmart Closes Stores Nation Wide
TRANSCRIPT: This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Worker Independent News. I’m Richard Wolff, your host from Democracy at Work. Today we are going to talk about Wal-mart. Why? Because recently Wal-mart announced a stunning fact; it’s closing 269 of its stores, most of them here in the United States. A total of 16,000 people have their jobs in question, 10,000 of them here in the United States. What’s going on? Let’s first of all face the democratic crisis this represents. Who makes the decision to close stores at Wal-mart? It’s the board of directors and senior managers. We are talking 25-30 people maximum. They make the decision, completely on their own and in secret, that impacts the lives, first of all, of 16,000 people and their families. They don’t know if they are going to have a job, what kind of job they are going to have, what they are going to earn, where they are going to work, nothing. But beyond that, shoppers, who count on Wal-mart, will not find a Wal-mart where it closed. Communities counting on the taxes that Wal-mart pays won’t find them paying those taxes. How are they going to pay for schools and fire departments and police and all the rest of their public services? We’re allowing a tiny group of people to make decisions that impact tens of thousands. That’s not democracy. Democracy means is that if you are impacted by a decision you participate in it. The mass of people affected by Wal-mart dont participate in the decision, and that’s extraordinary. Wal-mart admits that the small stores being closed, Wal-mart expressed, were an experiment they made in 2011. Wow, they made an experiment. It turned out to be a bad one, they made a mistake. Well how do we know they are not making a mistake now? We don’t. That’s what it means to have decisions made secretly in private by a small number of people in private. This is not an appropriate way to run an economic system and we are paying the price watching this happen. It is something to think about. This is Richard Wolff from Democracy at Work. Follow us at democracyatwork.info
2 minutes | Jan 15, 2016
WIN SHORT: Sugar, The FDA and Food Companies
TRANSCRIPT This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Worker’s Independent News. I’m Richard Wolff of Democracy at Work. I want to talk with you today about sugar. And about a struggle over sugar between the Food and Drug Administration in Washington and food corporation here in the United States, and it is an important struggle. First, it has to do with two epidemics ravaging America; obesity and diabetes. Obesity,[is] when you are extremely overweight and diabetes, a disease that destroys many parts of your body and kills large numbers of people. We know, from countless studies, that when food makers add sugar, empty calories, teaspoons of sugar, in one form or another, to food, that really contributes to obesity and diabetes. And for that reason the Food and Drug Administration is now requiring food makers to clearly indicate how much sugar they have added. We are not talking about the sugar that is naturally in fruits and vegetables, milk and other products. That comes with many nutrients associated with it. No, what we are talking about are so called, “empty calories,” sugar that is simply added to make the stuff sweet, to pander to the sweet-tooth, to make more money for the food making companies by adding sugar, and they don’t want it. Let me give you an idea of the importance. You are not supposed to have more than 12 teaspoons of sugar a day. Once can of Coca-Cola has 9 teaspoons. You drink two cans you are already in danger. So we are talking important information. The Food and Drug Administration wants food makers to put it on there but, they don’t want to. They don’t want an informed public because you will stop buying this sweetened stuff because your health depends on it. There’s the point. There is a struggle between the bottom line, profits for food making corporations on the one side and the mass health of the American people on the other. Which should prevail? The FDA, or the private companies? Think about it. This is a special report. It was produced by Democracy at Work for Worker’s Independent News. For more information, please go to democracyatwork.info.