Fun read. Excellent example of framing through metaphor. Definitely take a look if you are interested in a popularized and simplified presentation of a rather abstruse MMT point that works.
Read it at Naked Capitalism
Anonymous: The Fable of “Moral Arithmetic”
Originally published at Global Economic Intersections
(h/t paul in the comments)
I don't think that moral arguments can be dismissed out of hand. They are powerful arguments that influence the views of a whole lot of people in that they are norms that define the boundary conditions of a world view by providing criteria for evaluation.
George Lakoff makes the point that conservatives, especially, are driven by morality, and they often either ignore, deny, or misrepresent facts that contradict their moral principles. This is also true of radicals at the left extreme of the political spectrum. It is a sign of an ideologically driven mindset, along with the rejection of reasoning as decisive. Ultra-conservative rejection of the scientific enterprise is a case in point, as it the ultra-radical rejection of capitalism as having any value at all, which even Marx saw as extreme, admitting that the capitalism of his day was responsible for many people living a better life than previously in history.
According to Lakoff the center is constituted of people who are "bi-conceptual," their moral allegiance divided between left and right, holding some positions that are liberal and others conservative. People scoring toward the center of the political compass test are bi-conceptual. These are people that can be persuaded by moral arguments coupled with factual premises that argue for a moral position that fits the facts.
This is the challenge that popularizing MMT solutions presents. Many of these solutions, like a job guarantee, are deeply distastefully morally to many people, often because of conceptual biases. The challenge is to show how the solution is not only economically efficient and effective, which MMT does in terms of an operational description and the macro theory, but also the moral solution as well.
It should not be too difficult to argue against blaming people for their own unemployment for moral reasons when there are ten dogs and only nine bones, or blaming homeowners faced with default when 105 marbles are owed and there are only 100 marbles in the game. How can people be held morally responsible for circumstances beyond their control?