Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bill Mitchell — The way forward for progressives

Today’s blog represents the notes that make up the conclusion of my upcoming book with Italian journalist Thomas Fazi which will be entitled – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World – and is due to be launched by Pluto Press in London on September 26, 2017. More details of that event and the promotion tour that will follow in due course. We have just about finalised the events through Europe and hope to see as many of you as is possible. As previously noted, this work traces the way the Left fell prey to what we call the globalisation myth and formed the view that the state has become powerless (or severely constrained) in the face of the transnational movements of goods and services and capital flows. Social democratic politicians frequently opine that national economic policy must be acceptable to the global financial markets and, as a result, champion right-wing policies that compromise the well-being of their citizens. The book traces both the history of this decline into neo-liberalism by the Left and also presents what might be called a ‘Progressive Manifesto’ to guide policy design and policy choices for progressive governments. We hope that the ‘Manifesto’ will empower community groups by demonstrating that the TINA mantra, where these alleged goals of the amorphous global financial markets are prioritised over real goals like full employment, renewable energy and revitalised manufacturing sectors is bereft and a range of policy options, now taboo in this neo-liberal world are available. In today’s blog I present some notes that will form the conclusion of the book. The manuscript is now at the publishers and it will be available for purchase in a few months.…
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
The way forward for progressives
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

46 comments:

Noah Way said...

" the way the Left fell prey " = $$$$

The only color that really matters is green.

Tom Hickey said...

It's a problem, but one can't blame politicians when campaigns are so expensive and candidates are chosen based on their fundraising capability. Then, as soon as they are elected, they have to raise funds for the next election, leaving their staff to do the governing. Where does the congressional staff come from and who do they represent? Obviously, if the politician is to raise $,they have to come from and represent the donors.

It's a corrupt system with only the façade of democracy.

MRW said...

Can't tell you how much I hate the word "progressive." And there is nothing progressive about the side that uses it to describe itself. What did Obama "progress?" Where is the progress in our educational system? And we certainly made a great deal of progress on the economy/recovery in the eight years following the Great Recession, didn't we?

The fact that MMT continues to tie its ankles to the Progressive movement is the reason why it's not taken off, in my humble opinion. If MMT had done what Donald Trump did in recognizing the hurting average worker and great unemployed, if it had appealed to the Glenn Becks and Hannitys and the AARP and NRA crowds, it would have caught on half a decade ago. But no, too “touch me not” to be common, down-to-earth, and essential.

Every time Bill Mitchell writes one of these screeds to the Progressive movement, I cringe. All he’s doing is putting another nail in MMT.

Warren stressed over and over that what he was saying was operational, and that what you did with it depends on your politics. No one listened. Hell, Warren has run as a Republican, a Tea-Partier, a Democrat, and an Independent. Don't know what he’s running as now in his bid for the Governorship.

Neil Wilson said...

"The fact that MMT continues to tie its ankles to the Progressive movement"

There's a world of difference between Progressive and progressive

The capital P makes all the difference.

At the moment there is a realignment going on and the globalists and regressives are in the process of being ejected. The political game of the last 30 years is over - ignore the poor working class and pander to the fickle footloose middle class who think they own the place.

Quite what will arise I can't say at the moment. Given the money requirement, probably a corporate hegemony

MRW said...

At the moment there is a realignment going on and the globalists and regressives are in the process of being ejected. In my view, thank god.

[BWT, I meant “Can't tell you how much I hate the word "Progressive.”] Capital P.

Still, it references progress, the whole ‘for the benefit of mankind, all mankind’ thing. Hence, the small P.

I spend a lot of time on right-wing or right-wingish sites explaining MMT, where the “Fed is a private corporation controlled by a cabal in the City of London” crowd decry Keynes (whom they haven’t read), and attribute everything bad to socialism, which they don’t understand: it’s just that day’s blanket response to what’s wrong with why the free-market isn’t working.

I never, NOT EVER, treat these people or their politics with derision or disrespect. I was a non-believer in MMT myself, after all, in 2009.

I’m initially treated with complete derision. Foaming derision. But I’ve found over time I’ve sowed doubt. And it is the respectful approach that has done it. That and links to the Daily Treasury Statement (DTS), and a suggestion they do what I did (WHICH I DID): call/email the Fed and US Treasury and verify.

A real breakthrough was using your brilliant post, Neil, on federal government spending as “buying,” not “spending.” They initially don’t like the concept because it contributes to the deficit, and I’m accused of wanting to increase it; however, it allows me to return to, and buttress, my argument by telling them to look at the DTS and who the issuer of the currency is.

MRW said...

I do think that no real progress is going to be made societally until the Average Schmo and Joe understands the federal government monetary system.That’s bottom line. Bernie Sanders’ appeal proved that.

MRW said...

And that is why I object to the introduction of politics and causes into MMT. I won't read the New Economic Perspectives blog anymore because they publish that phony, Michael Hoexter (Huckster). I don't think his acceptance on the blog is necessarily Stephanie's doing; he appears to be a friend of the website's moderator. But his insanity and excessive mind-boggling pedantry has driven so many people away.

What has happened on that blog, unfortunately, is that acceptance of Progressive politics, militant Climate Change, and whatever other cause-de-jour the Snowflakes are embracing becomes the entry ticket for a forthright discussion of MMT—try objecting to these political positions on NEP, and your post won’t be approved: fools—which in my view is valuable and necessary to get us beyond the globalists and regressives.

Penguin pop said...

MRW, I appreciate any party involved that gets the word out about MMT, regardless of their political stripes. Your points remind me of how one of the MMT YouTubers sees MMT. He sees MMT is an economic tool first, a very simple one, and at its core, nothing more than that. When he made a video talking about "The Layer Below MMT," looking below the actual deficit, he made it very clear those were his personal views and something different from MMT itself but based from MMT if you catch my drift. I wrote a few comments about this on his channel and expressed my viewpoints:

"Great stuff as always, minethis1. It helps keep my own understanding of MMT in check. I had to argue extensively with some people yesterday on Twitter on this. I kept my cool and told them how I look at this stuff as an economic tool and put people at the center. I made it clear I support a progressive taxation system when it comes to inequality and can separate the politics from the tool, etc. I don't think I changed their minds but I gave it my all and will continue to follow you closely and continue to improve my understanding. I made the biggest point that what this is saying is that we have a consumption-based economy, the debt doomsday people are full of shit, and have to look at things from that mathematical lens and use this as a framework to then develop policy as I would see fit, and make it clear that's different from MMT itself as a tool. These were supposed to be radical leftists, third party and Bernie people I was arguing with BTW, and they didn't get any of this.

Thank you for also debunking this petrodollar bullshit. I've seen new people come into MMT have a lot of questions about it and what would happen if the US wasn't the reserve currency anymore. It's always some new doomsday scenario with people when they have a lack of understanding of the macro."

"Another way I've been thinking about MMT lately is how in programming, if you decide to work with a programming language like Javascript, there are usually specific application frameworks you can choose to work in, like Angular JS or React. There are also specific jobs for Javascript developers where they ask if you specialize in those frameworks. I'm starting to see MMT the same way. It can be the framework for whatever policies you want to implement whether you're a liberal or whatever. The framework itself is the tool you use to help make things easier in the development stage from what I've read. I'm not a programming expert by any means, but when I read up on some email tutorials I got in my inbox, that was the big takeaway I got from it and completely supports your view of MMT as an economic tool first and then when you talked about the layer below MMT, that's the way I can also see that."

The video is here if you're interested.

Penguin pop said...

Part 2 (Blogger wouldn't let me fit this in one comment):

At this point, I would say even though a lot of my personal views would probably be classified as "progressive," I much prefer the term post-partisan. Mike Norman himself prefers to avoid labels at all and speaks the truth. Also I have talked to pretty conservative people before about these concepts. The ones I talked to would be surprisingly open to any healthcare system I proposed as long as their taxes weren't jacked up.

I am also sympathetic to the viewpoint that wasting time fighting tax wars with the GOP over all else and over actually say getting an important infrastructure bill into law is also pretty stupid and assumes that this knee-jerk "soak the rich" mentality needs to ALWAYS come first in the order of operations. Apparently if I say anything like that or agree with people who suggest alternative ways to get laws into practice rather than the standard Democrat way of doing it, assclowns tell me I should really change the "party affiliation" i align with even though in the last election, I voted third party and all Democrats, and in the last midterm, Democrat as well, but in 2012, when I was going through my Ayn Rand right-libertarian Peter Schiffbot phase, all Republican, so that's my journey right there.

Penguin pop said...

One idiot tried to imply if I didn't hold his very strict, narrow views even though I made it quite clear at the beginning of the conversation I personally support progressive taxation to minimize rent seeking behavior, he tried to pigeonhole me into a political corner the other day, not knowing anything about where my personal political views lie, and jumped to conclusions and tried to tell me to change my political affiliation to the right-wing blah blah blah. This kind of stupidity came from a supposed radical leftist who has voted third party before.

It was just an endless conversation with the guy constantly strawmanning everything I was trying to tell him, so eventually I just calmly moved on. He also misrepresented my point about how surprisingly, it's a lot of people on the left I'd have to fight unfortunately rather than that whole spectrum being united against the right and their austerity.

Also reminds me of the time I talked to a Bernie supporter and he had a lot of cognitive dissonance about MMT, trying to claim it's a scam yet AGREEing with me that austerity is bad. Lmfao.

It's the same shit i got when i talked to a Jill Stein supporter on youtube once about Post-Keynesian economics and linked to some posts on Lord Keynes's blog too, they particularly got hung up on this taxation idea and viewing this as a separate issue from everything else. I really don't think any of these people have taken any kind of accounting or finance classes before honestly.

Bob said...

What would Paul Ryan do differently if he were to grasp MMT?
Would his beliefs and values be affected?

Radically minded people do not need MMT in the way that reformers do. If you are a progressive, you tend to look for incremental change. Baby steps if you will, for which MMT inspired policies might be useful. Radicals are willing to take great leaps forward/backward/sideways regardless of whether a descriptive framework is in place.

Penguin pop said...

I think Paul Ryan is too stupid to even understand any of this to begin with. To even say he could grasp any of this stuff would imply that he has a brain cell somewhere in that empty, ideological, Ayn Rand bullshit filled head of his. You'd have better luck convincing Steve Mnuchin, the guy who admitted the debt ceiling was nonsense, than a pure ideologue like Ryan IMO.

For me, it took quite a long time before I really came around to MMT. If it weren't for people out there exposing Peter Schiff and talking about this stuff in their content, I would have never heard of MMT to begin with.

Matt Franko said...

MRW, the top end of the MMT town are really left politicians not technicians... they communicate in concepts and constructs which is not how technical people are trained to communicate...

So when you approach it this way MMT is just another concept out there same as all the others...

Matt Franko said...

"ideological, Ayn Rand bullshit filled head"

Well Ryan could just say "ideological, MMT bullshit filled head" ... two different concepts ....

Matt Franko said...

If the MMT people were investigating a Airline plane crash and what caused the accident was engine mounting bolts were under specified and sheared under a unique load condition , the MMT people when asked what caused the crash would say "capitalism!" or some shit....

Matt Franko said...

They are not technically qualified....

Penguin pop said...

"Well Ryan could just say "ideological, MMT bullshit filled head" ... two different concepts..."

The conversation really wouldn't change that much then. Either that, or he'd call the people who would go to him about these matters "Magic Money Tree Terrorists!" or some new insult like that, or resort to calling even people like you "libtards."

Matt Franko said...

That's how politics is done... Ryan is trained in Political Science... same as Chris Chritie's Title 7 hire for the GW Bridge Authority now on way to jail....

MRW said...

Matt, from Wiki Paul Ryan has a bachelor's degree in economics and political science from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio,[30] where he became interested in the writings of Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman.[22] He often visited the office of libertarian professor Richard Hart to discuss the theories of these economists and of Ayn Rand." He thinks he's an economic genius. He couldn't even grasp what Wooly-Mouth Greenspan was trying to tell him about SS.

MRW said...

I believe his principal BA degree was in Economics, with a minor in Political Science. Read that somewhere.

Matt Franko said...

Even worse!!!!!! Bachelor Degree cocktail from hell....

Penguin pop said...

Wow, it's bullshit stacked on vomit stacked on even more bullshit of a degree. No wonder Paul Ryan is so crazy.

MRW said...

OT, but not really, I extracted the Appendix from Paul Davidson's 2009/2010 book The Keynes solution..etc. As someone wrote in the Amazon comments, the book is worth the price of the Appendix alone.

Davidson describes the real history of Keynes in this country and how it has never been taught in American universities. It's a stunning and revelatory read, imo. If you guys haven't read it, I urge you to. I uploaded it here: http://s000.tinyupload.com/?file_id=20508179278629699856. Dont know how long it will stay there. grab it now.

It is also why it is 100% incorrect to say that Keynes’ ideas forged The New Deal. 100% false. That prize goes to Marriner Eccles, the Republican Mormon banker from Utah who didn’t graduate from high school and who introduced what Keynes would only publish three years later.

MRW said...

According to Eccles' nephew in a WSJ or The Economist interview a couple of years ago, until the Great Depression Eccles was a laissez-faire capitalist who believed in free markets, etc. Eccles started working ar the age of 8, was a millionaire by the time he was 22. His ownership of companies was extensive (he built the Boulder Dam). His nephew said he had "an epiphany" watching his banking clients go thru the Great Depression. (He was also astute enough to save his own banks from ruin and runs.) Eccles made the march to Washington in 1932 to convince the federal government in spectacular Senate testimony to get off the gold standard and use its counter-cyclical powers to end the misery. And, oh, BTW, Eccles and Keynes despised each other.

MRW said...

Eccles' nephew said Eccles never read Keynes, couldn't be bothered.

Penguin pop said...

I'll check it out. Been wanting to improve my knowledge of Keynes. It's been a long time since I touched General Theory too.

MRW said...

I upload the WSJ article on Eccles' nephew here: http://s000.tinyupload.com/?file_id=78782851135962938075 because it is behind a paywall. It was from Sept, 2014. And it wasn't "an epiphany." It was an "economic conversion."

MRW said...

It's entertaining too, penguin.

Greg said...

I would imagine, just knowing the times and the fact that Eccles was a Mormon, one big reason Eccles couldn't stand Keynes was because he was gay.

Ive always found Eccles to be an interesting guy and he needs enormous credit for coming around and understanding the counter cyclical powers a national govt can wield, especially given his early business roots. Not many guys form his background have the kind of epiphany he had.

MRW said...

You're right, Greg: Not many guys form his background have the kind of epiphany he had. First, you have to care.

MRW said...

I've read most of his congressional testimony, Senate and House. If anyone exemplifies public purpose, it's Eccles. He had a humble nobility.

djrichard said...


Does globalization make our lives more precarious? Yes? From the perspective of a politician, is this a bad thing?

Just look at the national debt. In the private discourse of Dick Cheney, "the deficit doesn't matter". Yet when it comes to publicly voiced opinion meant for our consumption, the deficit always matters. Nobody at their level tries to challenge that thinking. Nobody. They all abide it. All the democrats too. It equips them with a weapon; to empower them to pick winners and more to the point, to pick losers.

djrichard said...

In other words, think of politicians as dysfunctional parents. Which position do dysfunctional parents want their kids to be in? Empowered? Or compliant and submissive?

Matt Franko said...

dr, Cheney said that meaning politically, "Reagan shwowed us the deficit doesn't matter politically "

But the Peterson people have been working ever since then to change the narrative and now it DOES matter politically...

Matt Franko said...

Cheney said t hat in 2002, it's been 15 years and times have changed...

And btw according to MMT elites the deficit Does mater and right now it is too small according to them...

MRW said...

And btw according to MMT elites the deficit Does mater and right now it is too small according to them...Well, it’s obvious the federal government needs to be fixing up the joint (roads, airports, tunnels, schools) and upgrading our transportation and telecommunication systems.

We don’t have a national Maglev train system or national 5G wireless service in every inch of the country? Jesus.

Anti-deluvian.

We need to drop $5T, like yesterday, to feather everyone’s nest, not just hand it over to the emigré from South Africa (Musk) to do it for us so we can ooh and ahh at how he’s figured out to game our system.

MRW said...

Give me a break with sneering at our national federal government buying ability.

MRW said...

Give me a break with sneering at our national federal government buying ability.

And the gain to the public purpose. Your hauteur is growing lame.

Penguin pop said...

MRW, I listened to a livestream yesterday by one of the people taking MMT to the streets. He may identify as a progressive and admires Bernie Sanders a lot, but understands fully damn well he needs to talk to people of all varieties on this, Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, Greens, etc, even people that he despises like Debbie Wasserman Schultz about MMT and not push them aside. It was one of the best streams I've heard him do. He's so sick of people getting caught up in ideology and their own script that they can't see what he's trying to say. He's all about the public purpose and spreading that message around, just like you've been going to conservative forums and talking about MMT.

He's had even Republicans and libertarians come to him and say that his message about economic justice and the public purpose really resonate with them. He's actually making this stuff accessible for the common man to understand, no matter how much pushback he gets from all the idiots out there, and people are really starting to catch onto this stuff.

I know he's gotten a some criticism from a YouTube MMT guy who was afraid that people like him were trying to turn MMT into a "movement" and thought people were looking like "free lunchers" but I honestly never got that impression from all the livestreams I've watched w/ the person in them.

He talks about fixing up potholes, high-speed rail, real food so people's brains aren't screwed up, education, universal healthcare, all the things that he wants his kids to have so they can live and how it could be all done TODAY if the political will was there without having to fight YUGE tax wars with the GOP and the Grover Norquists of the world. He frames all these things very emotionally, and chastises the people who spread myths, pro-austerity nonsense, and conspiracy bullshit around as economic terrorists and murderers. Yeah, there might be certain things about progressives you might not agree with and that's okay, but I really think this stuff is finally picking up because normal people are starting to actually hear about it.

He was so pissed about the high school clique bullshit he kept seeing within the movement and wondered why when someone didn't understand economics, people would take more time and be patient with them and their lack of understanding but the minute they talk to X, Y, and Z of a person from the other side, they're branded as a "sellout!" or all these other tribalistic things. Believe it or not, there are plenty of conspiracy people in the progressive movement, people who want to "end the Fed!" and all this stuff too he's been having to deal with.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you this because there are people out there trying to spread this to the common man. It may not be perfect, but they put their money where their mouth is and talk about this stuff all the time, and that alone I can admire.

MRW said...

Thanks, Penguin. I learned a lot from reading Eccles in the Congressional Record, 16 years worth. He was an avowed Republican, yet he was perfectly willing to work under FDR's Democratic government, with a political equanimity that didn't come into consideration as an issue. Because he wanted the people to benefit from what he knew ultimately,. You won't hear that from Mitch McConnell who is a political animal only interested in his own survival. He had an obligation in 2009 when Obama took over to fix what the R's destroyed in the previous decade, but refused to do it, and that is what the D's are doing today with Trump. A pox on both their houses.

MRW said...

Penguin, I live in an area of the country where people are still struggling financially, working two to three part-time jobs to make ends meet. They need their damn government to start spending, or as Neil accurately puts it, BUYING. I dont give a damn about the flows. Whatever it is, it aint flowing to them.

Matt Franko said...

We just reported a surplus of 188b for April.... so even if we would have increased outlays 188b in April we would have still have been balanced in April ... so i don't get how we would think it would be a good idea to be going all around promoting the concept that "the deficit is too small!"...

Penguin pop said...

And the guy I'm talking about who goes by Steve understands this too. His mom is a Republican and a lot of his family are Trump supporters. He also used to be a Republican, got out of it, was a libertarian for a while, then realized how much was wrong with it, became a Democrat and when Bernie got big, decided to leave behind the duopoly as he sees it and never wants to DemEnter but will support people wherever they are if they are willing to learn about MMT. He's told a big story about the hardships he's dealt with in the past and more. In addition to Mike's channel and others, I check up on what Steve is doing too although there are sadly divisions in the MMT commmunity over semantic issues.

He still wants them to live and is doing a lot of this so they can have a good future. He's out in Pennsylvania and in a part of that state who largely voted for Trump. He even said he doesn't give a damn about Trump because people in his own camp can't quite clean up their side of the street and realize the powers that be need to spend on the 99% now and flip the script. He got plenty of shit and had wackos try to misinterpret everything he's trying to say. You know the straw man arguments. Yup, he's railed against the BS and the trolls too. Just like how Mike Norman used to get so much flack for giving people the straight dope.

Penguin pop said...

Semantic issues like "it's not taxes don't fund spending, it's taxes do not pay for spending." "Government does not require taxes to spend but doesn't mean it never uses taxes....." blah blah blah. Things like this or arguing about flows or buying or whatever. I'm saying Main Street joe six pack doesn't care about minor semantic issues. The point remains the same regardless about gov being able to implement the public purpose imho.

MRW said...

GDP at 2% is the issue.

Penguin pop said...

Agreed.