My Debate With Richard Wolff

From: Ben Veal

Sent: Saturday, December 05, 2020 12:49 PM

To: [email protected]

Subject: Counter-arguments you could have made in your debate with Richard Wolff

Dear Prof Block,

I watched with interest your online debate with Richard Wolff:

Sorry if this is teaching grandma to suck eggs, but I was a bit irked that you didn’t pick Prof Wolff up on a couple of things:

At one point Prof Wolff was arguing that the employer has far more power over the employee in any wage negotiation, and your counter argument was that this is not always the case, and the employee is always free to leave the job and look elsewhere for employment. To which he responded that it’s almost always the case that the employer has more power than the employee, even if there are a few exceptions.

A point that I think you should have made, is that it’s also almost always the case that there are many more employees than employers, and the employer is subject to the aggregate negotiating power of ALL the people she/he wants to employ; if the working conditions are too poor, or wages are too low, then nobody will want to work for the employer, and he/she will go out of business.

Another argument that I think you missed was a counter to Prof Wolff’s argument about the rich getting rich at the expense of the poor. This line of thought seems to be based on relative rather than absolute wealth, i.e. when somebody gets richer it’s automatically the case that other people become relatively poorer in comparison. But in terms of human well being (envy aside) what really matters is absolute wealth, which seems to increase faster (across all classes) in capitalist economies.

Once again, I realise that you’re probably aware of those points, but I just wanted to make sure, in case you are in any more debates like this in the future.


Dr. Veal (econometrician).

From: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Sent: Saturday, December 05, 2020 2:20 PM

To: ‘Ben Veal’

Subject: RE: Counter-arguments you could have made in your debate with Richard Wolff

Dear Ben (if I may):

Excellent points. I’ll try to do better in future, thanks to you.

Best regards,



3:55 pm on April 16, 2021