Showing posts with label framing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label framing. Show all posts

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lambert Strether — MMT on a Postcard

Let me just go point by point. (I’m going to be linking mostly to the MMT Primer[1] at New Economic Perspectives, but also to this trenchant article from Professor Paul Davidson, and transcripts from the 2010 Fiscal Sustainability Conference
Naked Capitalism
MMT on a Postcard
Lambert Strether

Monday, May 19, 2014

David F. Ruccio — Languages of economics

Wallace-Wells appears to be concerned that economics language is squeezing out other languages and ways of viewing the world. My concern is a bit different: it’s that the hegemony of one economic language serves to marginalize other economic languages. Because that’s the point: there is not a single language of economics, but rather multiple languages. And when the language of mainstream economics is predominant, the ways of looking at and intervening to change the world are confined to a small box.
Occasional Links & Commentary
Languages of economics
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics University of Notre Dame Notre Dame

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Peter Cooper — Effect on the Mind of the Words "Spending" and "Investing"

The example of the effect on the human mind of the words "spending" and "investing" is reminiscent of an interesting passage in volume 2 of Capital (ch.19, section II.4):
The labourer sells his commodity -- labor-power -- to the capitalist; the money with which the capitalist buys it is from his point of view money invested for the production of surplus-value, hence money-capital; it is not spent but advanced. (This is the real meaning of "advance" -- theavance of the physiocrats -- no matter where the capitalist gets the money. Every value which the capitalist pays out for the purposes of the productive process is advanced from his point of view, regardless of whether this takes place before or post festum; it is advanced to the process of production itself.) The same takes place here as in every other sale of commodities: The seller gives away a use-value (in this case his labour-power) and receives its value (realises its price) in money; the buyer gives away his money and receives in return the commodity itself -- in this case labour-power.
Effect on the Mind of the Words "Spending" and "Investing"
Peter Cooper

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bill Mitchell — The Job Guarantee is a progressive vehicle for change

In my search for new terminology and descriptors I am no longer going to use “minimum wage” to describe the wage that a currency-issuing government should pay when implementing a Job Guarantee (JG). In the past I have written that to avoid disturbing private sector wage structure and to ensure the JG is consistent with stable inflation, the JG wage rate is best set at the minimum wage level. I have also indicated that the minimum wage should not be determined by the capacity to pay of the private sector, but should, rather be an expression of the aspiration of the society of the lowest acceptable standard of living. My view is that any private operators who cannot “afford” to pay the minimum should exit the economy. I also have proposed that the JG wage should be supplemented with a wide range of social wage expenditures, including adequate levels of public education, health, child care, and access to legal aid.
Finally, I have stressed for many years that the JG does not replace conventional use of fiscal policy to achieve appropriate social and economic outcomes. In general, the JG would be accompanied by higher levels of public sector spending on public goods and infrastructure. I have written several times, in various outlets (academic, Op Ed, blog), that I see the JG as part of a fundamental transformative agenda to broaden the concept of work and to allow all people to receive a dignified and appropriate access to the distribution system. That message doesn’t seem to get through. So from now on the JG wage will be referred to as the living wage. Further, recent discussions of the JG reveal that commentators who criticise it do so from a standpoint of ignorance – a problem that is engendered by the blogosphere, which should be a liberating force, but in my view seems to unfortunately spawn narrow-mindedness and an anti-intellectual approach to policy debates.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
The Job Guarantee is a progressive vehicle for change
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory, Australia

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Daniel Little — Is ontology an apriori field of knowledge?

The question I am raising here is one of philosophical methodology: what kind of epistemic basis is available for formulating and defending a theory of ontology? How can we claim to know various truths about the nature of reality?

There seem to be three possibilities.

• Apriori philosophical argument: derive conclusions about the necessary structure of the world from apriori philosophical principles. This is traditional metaphysics, and few philosophers would advocate for it today. (foundationalist theory) 
• Transcendental philosophical argument: arrive at conclusions about what the world must consist of, in order to make sense of our cognitive abilities. This is Kantian metaphysics, which attempts to do without foundational assumptions and to derive conclusions from the prerequisites of epistemic achievements we are known to have. (internalist theory)
• Generalized empirical theorizing: all substantive representations of the world are hypothetical, justified by the contribution they make to our ability to formulate good, empirically supported scientific theories. This is the approach taken by naturalistic philosophers, who maintain that there are no apriori truths and the only vehicle we have for discovering the nature of the world is through scientific imagination and observation. (coherence theory)

Ontology appears to be about the world; but equally it might be considered to be about a set of particularly fundamental concepts and conceptual structures. The question, "What does the world consist of?" can also be presented as the question, "What concepts serve best to represent the hypothetical structure of the world underlying observations?" Concepts are the intellectual tools or schemes through which we analyze the world; and if they refer to unobservable entities, they are unavoidably hypothetical constructs.
As "knowing beings", it has been necessary for human beings to use their imaginations to come up with concepts in terms of which to analyze the world. Some conceptual systems are defective because they lead to expectations about the world that are not born out; other systems are more complex than necessary; yet others postulate entities or processes that we may have reason to want to avoid: magical forces, divine intervention, action-at-a-distance. And when we arrive at a conceptual scheme that appears to serve well as a durable basis for a range of scientific theories, we may want to conclude that the world actually has the properties attributed to it by the scheme....  [emphasis added] 
The philosophical debate is not over such approaches but also the final sentence quoted above. When if ever is it justified to conclude that reality has the characteristics attributed to it in a conceptual model? This involves criteria and unless criteria can be adduced that transcend conceptual modeling, how could such criteria be used to decide questions involving more than one model? In essence this is asking whether there are absolute criteria that are universally compelling? But then would not some other criteria be needed to justify the supposedly absolute criteria? Logically, this leads to either an infinite regress, a vicious circle, or postulating.

If the postulation is not to be arbitrary, however, it must be justified. The rationale is a philosophical position. The foundations of knowledge in general are not only at stake but that in various disciplines. Thus, there is a philosophy of each discipline that examines the foundations.

Economics is no exception, although most conventional economists dismiss both philosophy of economics and the study of methodology as already "decided" by the mainstream, since they take their conceptual framework as most suited to economic realities and their preferred methods as best adapted to the subject matter. Here the criterion is agreement, especially among the dominant members of the field.

Those not agreeing are deemed heterodox. And within heterodoxy, there are different foundational assumptions and methodological approaches.

Understanding Society
Is ontology an apriori field of knowledge?
Daniel Little | chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor of Philosophy at UM-Dearborn and Professor of Sociology at UM-Ann Arbor

This may appear a bit wonkish if philosophy has not been your thing. But it's worthwhile working through this stuff if you want to understand the foundational nature of the much of the debate on key issues in other fields, including politics and policy. It's also fundamental to understanding framing.

Lambert Strether — Modern Monetary Theory Meets George Lakoff

In Mitchell and Connors’ Figure 3, Step 2 is not “?????”. Appropriate actions must be present! So perhaps there is hope for this MMT research program in political economy; the MMTers are linking metaphor to policy much more directly than Democrats do, which MMT enables them to do. (More hope than simply waiting for all the fresh- and saltwater economists to die off, which is sometimes the only way that a paradigm shift can occur.) We might also take hope from straws in the wind like Warren Mosler publishing in U.S. News, the success of #mintthecoin, and even Obama’s taking The Coin more seriously than people thought at the time. After all, you lose until you win.
So, I can see this research program getting decent traction in our famously free press, but will that translate into traction with policy makers? Time will tell, but the eternal question — Are the elites stupid or evil? — will surely have as great an effect on the outcome as proper framing. And then there’s the public, and their notion of public purpose….
NOTE *** Apparently, in Australia, it’s still possible to use the word progressive without irony. I envy them.
Naked Capitalism
Modern Monetary Theory Meets George Lakoff
Lambert Strether | Corrente

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bill Mitchell — Framing Modern Monetary Theory

The last day of the 14th Path to Full Employment Conference/19th National Unemployment Conference was held in Newcastle today. Given I host this conference I had very little spare time today. I have uploaded a video of our presentation on Framing Modern Monetary Theory and the slide show with audio narration.
You can access the draft – Framing Modern Monetary Theory
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory, Australia

Bill Mitchell — Framing Modern Monetary Theory [Video of conference presentation]

Framing Modern Monetary Theory - Professor Bill Mitchell

Monday, November 25, 2013

George Lakoff — The New York Times Uncovers Conservative Attacks and Then Prints One; Both Are on the Front Page

As the great linguist Charles Fillmore discovered in 1975, all words are cognitively defined relative to conceptual "frames" -- structures we all use to think all the time. Frames don't float in the air; they are neural circuits in our brains. Frames in politics are not neutral; they reflect an underlying value system. That means that language in politics is not neutral. Political words do not just pick out something in the world. They reflect value-based frames. If you successfully frame public discourse, you win the debate. 
A common neuroscience estimate is that about 98 percent of thought is unconscious and automatic, carried out by the neural system. Daniel Kahneman has since brought frame-based unconscious thought into the public arena in what he has called "System 1 thinking." Since frames carry value-based inferences with them, successfully framing public discourse means getting the public to adopt your values, and hence winning over the public by unconscious brain change, not by open discussion of the values inherent in the frames and the values that undergird the frames....
The reason that those of us in the cognitive and brain sciences write so passionately about framing issues is that unconscious thought and framing are not generally understood -- especially in progressive circles. Most progressives who went to college studied what is called Enlightenment reason, a theory of reason coming from Descartes around 1650 -- and which was historically important in 1650. The Cartesian theory of how reason works has since been largely disproved in the cognitive and brain sciences.
The Cartesian theory assumes that all thought is conscious, that it is literal (that is, it fits the world directly and uses no frame-based or metaphorical thought), that reason uses a form of mathematical logic (not frame-based logic or metaphorical logic), and that words are neutral and fit the world directly. Many liberal economists have been trained in this mode of thought and assume that the language used in economic theory is neutral and just fits the world as it is. They are usually not trained in frame semantics, cognitive linguistics, and related fields. The same is often true of liberal journalists as well. Both often miss the fact that conservatives have successfully reframed economic terms to fit their values, and that the economic terms in public discourse no longer mean what they do in economics classes.
Part of what the Cartesian theory of reason misses is the real brain mechanism that allows the conservative communication theory to be effective. By framing language to fit conservative values and by getting their framing of the language to dominate public debate, conservatives change the public's brains by the following mechanism. When a frame circuit is activated in the brain, its synapses are strengthened. This means that the probability of future activation is raised and probability of the frame becoming permanent in the brain is raised. Whenever a word defined by that frame is used, the frame is activated and strengthened. When conservatives successfully reframe a word in public discourse, that word activates conservative frames and with those frames, the conservative value system on which the frames are based. When progressives naively use conservatively reframed words, they help the conservative cause by strengthening the conservative value system in the brains of the public.
Liberals, in adhering to the old Cartesian theory of reason, will not be aware of their own unconscious values, will take then for granted, and will think that all they have to do is state the facts and the public will be convinced rationally. The facts are crucial, but they need to framed in moral terms to make moral sense and a moral impact....
The word at issue is "redistribution." The subject matter is the flow of wealth in the society and what it should be. This is a fundamentally moral issue, and the major political framings reflect two different moral views of democracy itself....
The Huffington Post
The New York Times Uncovers Conservative Attacks and Then Prints One; Both Are on the Front Page
George Lakoff | Goldman Distinguished Professor Of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at UC Berkeley

It used to be called "brainwashing" in the Fifties. Now it is called public relations and marketing & advertising.

Marc Saxer — What We Need To Learn From Neoliberal Discourse

More on framing.

Social Europe Journal
What We Need To Learn From Neoliberal Discourse
Marc Saxer | Director of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Bangkok office

See also Vivien A. Schmidt and Mark Thatcher, Why Are Neo-liberal Ideas So Resilient?
Neo-liberalism entails belief in competitive markets enhanced by global free trade and capital mobility, backed up by a pro-market, limited state that promotes labor market flexibility and seeks to reduce welfare dependence while marketizing the provision of public goods. The watchwords for such neo-liberalism are liberalization, privatization, deregulation, and delegation to non-majoritarian institutions such as ‘independent’ regulatory agencies and central banks. The touchstones highlight the importance of individual responsibility, the value of competition, and the centrality of market allocation. The neo-liberal mantra presents the state as the perennial problem, the market as the solution – even today, despite the fact that the crisis was caused by the markets, not the state.
So why, in light of the crisis, has there been no major shift in ideas, either back to the neo-Keynesianism that brought the postwar ‘Golden Era’ or forward to something new? How do we explain the fact that neo-liberalism continues to permeate how people think and talk about state and market? We propose five lines of analysis to explain such resilience: the flexibility of neo-liberalism’s core principles; the gaps between neo-liberal rhetoric and reality; the strength of neo-liberal discourse in debates; the power of interests in the strategic use of ideas; and the force of institutions in the embedding of neo-liberal ideas.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bill Mitchell — How to discuss Modern Monetary Theory

Important post by Bill today.
I have been travelling a lot today (nearly 6 hours starting early) and so haven’t much time for blog writing. I am working on a paper at present on the use of metaphors in economics and how Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) might usefully frame its offering to overcome some of the obvious prejudices that prevent, what are basic concepts, penetrating the public psyche. Here are some notes on that theme. The blog is just a rough sketch and will be refined over the coming weeks. There is a section at the end that encourages reader feedback – lets see what you think.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
How to discuss Modern Monetary Theory
William F. (Bill) Mitchell |Professor of Economics at Charles Darwin University, Professor of Economics at the University of Newcastle, and inaugural director of CofFEE

Friday, October 4, 2013

Thom Hartmann — The Libertarian Billionaire Agenda Propelling the Tea Party Monster That Has Shut Down Congress

The Tea Party's astroturf roots should have been obvious to anyone paying attention to their rallies....
But as the smoke cleared, it became clear that the Tea Party was far from a democratic grassroots movement and even far from reflecting traditional American values. In fact, it was the very opposite of grassroots and democratic. It was the creation of billionaires intent on destroying our government, preventing Americans from getting access to healthcare, and sabotaging any attempt to regulate Wall Street or the oil industry.
The small handful of oil and Wall Street groups behind the Tea Party, groups like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, were all front organizations for the billionaire oil tycoons and banksters who wrecked the economy. 
And if you need any more proof of whose interests the Tea Party actually represents, consider this: Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks actually began as parts of the group Citizens for a Sound Economy, which was created in 1984 to defend the interests of big tobacco companies. They even started something they called a "tea party" in the 1980s so that smokers could have a "smokers' rights" group.  
The billionaires behind these groups weren't trying to save democracy, they were trying to hijack it, and they were rich and powerful enough to be able to essentially buy their own politicians and dupe a few thousand "American" activists to do their bidding.
AlterNet — Tea Party And The Right
The Libertarian Billionaire Agenda Propelling the Tea Party Monster That Has Shut Down Congress
Thom Hartmann / The Big Picture

Chris Dillow — Mistaking Power For Virtue

Adam Smith: "We frequently see the respectful attentions of the world more strongly directed towards the rich and the great, than towards the wise and the virtuous. We see frequently the vices and follies of the powerful much less despised than the poverty and weakness of the innocent." (Theory of Moral Sentiments,I.III.29)
Stumbling and Mumbling
Mistaking Power For Virtue
Chris Dillow | Investors Chronicle (UK)

Confusion of power and success with wisdom and virtue is a key assumption of an acquisitive society, and it is typified in the philosophy of economic liberalism put forward in the political works of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, Murray Rothbard, Milton Friedman, and Ayn Rand. It also lies at the basis of Jeremy Bentham's utilitarianism based on a utility calculus in which the units are expressed in terms of material satisfaction.

Dillow: "One way of correcting this framing is to ask ourselves of a political speech or newspaper article: what would we think of this if it were a blog? I suspect we'd overlook Osborne'sthoughts as juvenile cliches."

Because this view is juvenile, typical of the way adolescents feel.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Randy Wray — A New Meme For Money: the EEA presentation

We need a new meme for money.
...We need a social metaphor, a public interest alternative to the private maximization calculus. We need to focus on the positive role played by government, and its use of money to serve us well.
Economonitor — Great Leap Forward
A New Meme For Money: the EEA presentation
L. Randall Wray | Professor of Economics, UMKC

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Trudy Lieberman — The Frank Luntz script for Congressional Republicans

“Bad language is costly,” Luntz wrote. Whatever the GOP’s message has been, said Luntz, it must change. He talked about the Republican’s image problem, advising House and Senate Republicans to “stop bickering and start talking differently.” The party needs “a new language to communicate their ideas effectively,” he said. For starters, it must abandon “ugly phrases,” such as describing budget negotiations as “a hostage you might take a chance at shooting,” or using the non-urgent-sounding phrase, “kick the can down the road” or “committing fiscal child abuse” (per Luntz, “insulting”) when discussing fixing or not fixing the debt. Luntz recommended a “more powerful metaphor” like “piling debt on our children” or “mortgaging the American dream.”
Columbia Journalism Review
The Frank Luntz script for Congressional Republicans
Trudy Lieberman | Fellow at the Center for Advancing Health
(h/t Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rodger Mitchell — Why MMT frustrates the hell out of me

Well, I guess Mike Norman would agree with you, Rodger. Time to take the gloves off.

But it seem to me that at least some the MMT economists are pretty edgy for academics, and I don't know how much farther Randy Wray, Bill Mitchell, and Stephanie Kelton can go. UMKC profs Bill Black and Michael Hudson are also at the front line. Jamie Galbraith, too. They are prolific enough, and I don't detect a lack of passion for the cause. They are just not getting media coverage yet, although it is growing.

My own feeling is that concerted action by as many economists and financial professionals as possible, from whatever school of thought, is needed, instead of arguing with each other over finer points, while the neoliberal establishment is burning down the house.

It should be possible to some simple framing on the big issues like the damaging effect of deficit hysteria and public debt reduction, while calling for a demand-based solution instead of supply-side.

Monetary Sovereignty
Why MMT frustrates the hell out of me
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Saturday, December 15, 2012

More on framing

1. Spending Cuts Spur Growth
2. Only Private-Sector Job Growth Matters
3. Public Employees Are a Problem
4. Education and Training Restore Family-Supporting Wages to Dislocated Workers
5. The “Skills Gap”
6. American Corporate Taxes Are Among the Highest in the World
6 Republican Economic Myths Obama and Dems Must Stop Repeating
Roger Bybee

So we have another gap between what is “true” in the conservative media bubble and the objective facts. In the real world, we spend about $25 per day on the needy. But, according to Fox News, the figure is $168.
How an Astounding New Right-Wing Lie About the Economy Is Born
Joshua Holland | Senior Writer

Friday, December 14, 2012

Randy Wray — Alternative Framing of Money: Coda

Randy concluded his series on reframing "money" yesterday, but has added another post in response to comments and also a post by George Lakoff yesterday, which was linked to here at MNE.

New Economic Perspectives

Alternative Framing of Money: Coda
L. Randall Wray | Professor of Economics, UMKC

Randy called attention to these comments today:
Schofield | December 14, 2012 at 8:26 am

To paraphrase David Sloan Wilson in his article “The New Fable of the Bees” conservatives “demonically strive to widen their slice of the pie while remaining oblivious to the size of the pie.” Wilson calls this the fundamental problem of social life. The principal motive for MMT’s development is the recognition it can make the pie bigger and, therefore, how a society can best make the pie bigger should be a goal of “framing” arguments.
The New Fable Of The Bees: Multilevel Selection, Adaptive Societies, And The Concept Of Self Interest
Schofield | December 14, 2012 at 9:07 am

If David Sloan Wilson is implying that conservatives are not open to new ideas about increasing the size of the pie because they are obsessive about increasing their slice of the pie then it follows that they are unlikely to be open to expanding their understanding of a fundamental aspect of money’s nature. They will struggle to understand that money like our DNA coding mechanism is a “conceptual communication system,” that it allows labor to be instructed to use resources to produce goods and services including the social exchange of goods already produced or indeed benefit from the social effects of services already funded (e.g. improved policing). This failure leads to not seeing that a healthy economy requires an optimal of money of money for both active spending and prudent saving. Accordingly the lack of conservatives “openness” has to be framed by progressives as detrimental to advancing an economy just as obsessiveness with part of the pie rather than the whole pie is too.

LRWray | December 14, 2012 at 9:23 am
Schofield: I like the wilson point on the pie–it has always been the conservative approach to “distribution”: a fixed pie so if I get more, you get less. I also like your analogy to DNA–could be something important there for developing the alternative framing.

Schofield | December 14, 2012 at 9:47 am
The phrase “conceptual communication system” for one aspect of money’s utility is a straight lift from the following article:- seemed to fit since I was interested in exploring what we know about any rational argument concerning the origin of cooperation at the molecular and cell level of life. Precious little it would appear. But since money is a social technology that helps us to cooperate with each other to meet our needs then so is DNA coding to help cells survive and meet their objectives. 
Schofield | December 14, 2012 at 10:27 am 
To paraphrase Trevors and Abel in their article referenced about the property of “value” in money relates to the operation of a “linear digital algorithmic program.” So a simply coded program would incorporate the understanding that if too much money is injected into an economy relative to resources availability “value” will tend to fall and vice-versa. Additional coding, for example, could support Steve Keen’s observation about economic performance being related to income and the quantity of increase or decrease in private debt but it obviously also impinges on money’s “value.” A good algorithmic program would obviously help determine the parameters affecting “value” and clearly this relates to Wynne Godley’s life-time’s work on Sectoral Accounting Balances. So money is like DNA it’s subject to algorithmic programming.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

George Lakoff on Michigan's Corporate Servitude Law

Language works so that the conservative name "right to work" evokes the conservative political ideology in the brains of those who hear it without wincing. The more an idea is activated in the brain the stronger it gets. Thus, the use of the conservative name strengthens the conservative ideology in the brains of the public.

The press is not being neutral in using the Republican name for the law. Journalists too, in just using the name, are supporting both the Republican framing of the law and conservative ideology. The press is not being balanced -- which is what journalists typically claim to be. Balance would be to use both the names "corporate servitude law" and "right to work law" and to explain the differences in the progressive and conservative understanding of what the law is and does.

Of course, to do so would change a false view of language that journalists too often internalize, namely, that language is neutral. To see that it isn't, just try speaking or writing of "Michigan's corporate servitude law" and listen to conservatives scream bloody murder over a truth that does fit their view of democracy. And listen to them keep screaming because it is important to keep repeating the true name of the law if the public is to understand what the law really does.
The Huffington Post
Michigan's New Corporate Servitude Law: It Takes Away Worker Rights
George Lakoff | Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley

Randy Wray — An Alternative Meme for Money: Conclusion

The monetary system is a wonderful creation. It allows for individual choice while giving government access to resources needed to allow it work for us to achieve a just society.
The monetary system spurs entrepreneurial initiative. It finances, organizes, and distributes much of the nation’s output. It is one of the primary mechanisms used by government to accomplish the public purpose.
There could be a better way to organize production and distribution. There could be a better way to allocate resources between public and private. There could be a better way to induce the private to serve not only its own interest but also the public interest. But if so, we have not yet seen it—at least not since the end of tribal society, and I’m not sure I want to go back there.
Until that better system comes along, we need a progressive meme for the monetary system we’ve got. Progressives have been in retreat for the past three or four decades. Yes, they’ve won some battles—mostly in the social sphere. They’ve lost almost all economic battles, however. At least some of those losses are due to adoption of the wrong meme for money.
New Economic Perspectives
An Alternative Meme for Money: Conclusion
L. Randall Wray | Professor of Economics, UMKC