Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ellis Winningham — If You Can Deliberately Restrain Federal Spending, You Can Deliberately Expand It

On a daily basis, we are unwittingly inundated with extreme nonsense; outright lies is a better way to put it, regarding federal spending. Politicians, with the help of these so-called “economists” and the media, craft tales of pure fantasy concerning federal deficit spending that are always frightening, dismal and hopeless. The tales are then bound and published in the form of annual budgets. The resulting fiscal policy stance reverberates throughout the economy and society to be permanently ensconced within the collective mind of the public, left and right and those in between, as “common knowledge”. The so-called “common knowledge” is, in fact, common anti-knowledge purposefully constructed and disseminated to restructure both the economy and society for the benefit of the few who, over the last forty years, have been the greatest beneficiaries of federal deficit spending. It’s no conspiracy. It is just business and the wealthy using their influence to make government see things their way, just like you do when you vote. Your vote is influence. The only difference here being that for business and the wealthy, their money is more influential to politicians than your vote.
Ellis Winningham — MMT and Modern Macroeconomics
If You Can Deliberately Restrain Federal Spending, You Can Deliberately Expand It
Ellis Winningham

12 comments:

André said...

"If You Can Deliberately Restrain Federal Spending, You Can Deliberately Expand It"

Bad logic, although its true specifically for the federal government

peterc said...

Ellis has a real flair. Enjoyed his post for the way it is written as well as for the economic content. (I tend to be leery of patriotic or nationalistic sentiments, although it probably plays well to the intended audience.)

The title seems to be designed to get the reader wondering what is meant by it. The logic, if this is not misinterpreting, is that we need to take democratic control of policy by mounting and sustaining strong pressure from below on government. If policy can be used for bad, it can also be used for good. It's ultimately up to us.

To go off on something of a tangent, there is clearly a divide on the left when it comes to neoliberalism. One side criticizes so-called "identity politics" and prioritizes a move toward or beyond social democracy. The other side prioritizes what is being derided as "identity politics" over economics to the point that they see neoliberalism as less threat than a social democracy that comes with any hint of red-brown collaboration. Part of this, too, is that this side often regards capitalism as being irredeemable economically, and so regards little as achievable on the economic front prior to a revolution.

One side sees solidarity as built upon economic foundations (inclusion, etc.). The other sees the "identity politics" as a precondition for solidarity.

Personally, I find myself in neither camp in the sense that I am all for the "identity politics", am leery of any whiff of nationalism or even patriotism, but also see neoliberal economic policies as immensely socially destructive. In addition, a big attraction of MMT, from a left perspective, is that it shows how we can use hopefully socially transformative policy to transcend capitalism.

An ongoing difficulty seems to be achieving the collectivism without the social chauvinism that, in the past, has often come with it. Economically, there were good things about the "golden age", relative to today, but who on the left really wants to return to the bigotry and authoritarianism of that era?

Neil Wilson said...

How is "identity politics" anything other than nationalism and patriotism dressed up in different clothes? You've just decided to draw the borders differently.

There is no more justification for the groupings espoused in "identity politics" than there is for groupings of nations. It's nothing more than a way of avoiding the "rich" and "poor" groupings that otherwise would spring up. Hence we get a 'gender pay gap' argument in the UK about a set of people earning 10 or 20 times the median wage - neatly avoiding the main issue. Why the hell are these people getting paid so much in the first place?

The clear intent is to try and manipulate minds to try and get poor individuals to identify as a grouping with rich individuals so the rich can stay rich and in power.

peterc said...

"Identity politics" is the term of critics. That's the reason for the scare quotes.

Matt Franko said...

The millenials have been heavily trained in identity politics by the boomers...

Matt Franko said...

Alt-right are just advocates for white identity as all the millenials have been trained to think in this identitarian type of way...

Matt Franko said...

Neil at least over here with the identity politics people they are not nationalists...

You guys might still look at "labor" and "capital" as identities due to your training in Marx but no one looks at those identities any more in millenials... it's all about race and gender identities...

Matt Franko said...

No millenial would have a clue why the one major party in UK is called "labour" ...

MRW said...

Thanks for introducing me to Ellis Winningham. Never heard of him before? Is he British? Australian? What?

Steve D said...

@ MRW: EW=Oz

Calgacus said...

Peterc:Economically, there were good things about the "golden age", relative to today, but who on the left really wants to return to the bigotry and authoritarianism of that era?

Well, since in many respects - and quite arguably overall - it was less bigoted and authoritarian than now, it is not "unleft" to wish to return to that (lower degree) of authoritarianism and bigotry. I don't think that it can be seriously argued that the "golden age" saw consistent movement in the right direction, and my argument gets stronger the later in that age one looks at. And as for the neoliberal age, at the very best it saw a slowdown in progress, concentrated in matters of form rather than substance - and in many respects a regression.

E.g. there really was period in the USA after the old Jim Crow & before the new one. The bad guys are good at writing such things out of history & their version often becomes accepted.

peterc said...

Surprised you'd think that, Calgacus. Maybe the US experience has been different. In Australia indigenous Australians didn't even have the vote till well into the 1960s.

To me it seems clear that socially things have improved markedly, whereas economically things have regressed steadily and in some places catastrophically under neoliberalism.

Or maybe you mean the creeping police state. I'd agree with that.