Economic Update: The Economics Lesson Taught by the Pandemic


Democracy At Work has the last episode of Economic Update: The Economics Lesson Taught by the Pandemic

On this week’s show, Professor Wolff explains where the government is respected and empowered, nations have effectively contained the Covid-19 pandemic. He gives examples including New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and China. Alternately, where the government is demonized, disrespected, distrusted, the pandemic has been devastating. Examples of this include the UK and the US. Wolff argues that a rational economy includes both less and more government-regulated private enterprises plus state-owned and operated enterprises according to which performs best to meet society’s needs. No fundamentalist “either/or” arguments are justified. Finally, he says how private and government enterprises are internally organized – hierarchical or alternatively democratic worker-co-op – is equally important.


My goodness, I think Richard Wolff is a closet “what worksist”. This is the closest I have seen him come to admitting that a mixed economy is probably best. Of course that doesn’t stop him from promoting his latest book “The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself” where he demonizes capitalism. He also has to end by touting his panacea of democracy at work. I like it best when he talks about “what worksism”. That gives you the freedom to think about what will actually work and how a system should evolve and adapt to circumstances.

When we were facing WW II, we needed to get strictly organized to fight a war. After the war, it wasn’t useful to maintain those strict organizing controls. When facing a pandemic there are some drastic actions we need to take that are not appropriate when we are not facing a pandemic.

When we are ideologically wedded to one “ism” or another, it hinders our ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

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