The sentence in Ben Shapiro's book preceding the title quote is this: "Discussions of income inequality, after all, aren't about prosperity but about petty spite." I'm sorry Mr. Shapiro, but this is entirely about prosperity. And not at all petty.
These issues are yet again the problem of our age. Their seeming trajectory towards resolution post WWII, with widespread prosperity and a rising middle class, has been undone. What undid them points to the underlying problem: Immediate causes include the spectacular increase in financialization and unearned rents, the lack of and lack of enforcement of progressive taxes, both in turn largely due to a shift in the public's understanding of these issues. What caused this shift in public understanding is the age old problem—power and the lack thereof.
This sixteen-part series, The Souls of the People, will explore these issues and the ideas and economics behind them. The values, origins, economics and philosophy behind the call to "cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub" (Norquist). The creation of think tanks specifically to provide a pseudo-intellectual foundation for inequality, and that along with media convince the middle class to vote against their own interests. The rise, reasons for, and effect of beliefs that markets without law allow for full employment and that wage laws cause unemployment. That competition alone can bring about good working conditions. The rejection of progressive taxes, and of the right to avail ourselves of the power and resources of the country through organizing public goods. And most importantly, how all of these are maintained by laws that impoverish the powerless and enrich the powerful, and thus are self-perpetuating.
The payments system is merely a technical and bookkeeping question, mundane in the end. The idea of operating it with only reserves puts in stark relief a far more important question: What is the point of banks at all?
I have been interested in better economics for years, including MMT.There have been a number of sea changes in recent years. Starting sometime around 2019 came the flurry of high profile criticisms of MMT – always a sign that you are winning. Then of course the well-deserved popular success of Stephanie Kelton's The Deficit Myth … Continue reading Whither MMT?
There are some great mainstream economic podcasts that I enjoy, such as Odd Lots and NPR's Planet Money. They cover interesting topics and are very well done production-wise. However, several times I have wanted to rant about basic mistakes but never bothered. But just listened to this otherwise interesting Planet Money podcast - February 24, … Continue reading Good “Mainstream” Econ Podcasts still get basics wrong, frustrating
Part I, Part II Part III continues with Edmond’s first three examples: New Zealand throughout the 1980sFrance in the early 1980sIsrael mid 1980s hyperinflation France For starters, as in the cases in Part II, we see the twin oil supply inflationary events of the 70s/early 80s. In France, there is a steady and sharp decline … Continue reading Democracy & Profligacy: Will MMT Destroy the World? Part III
Prologue The worry about a "danger" from understanding how government actually functions/spends was already famously stated by Paul Samuelson decades ago: I think there is an element of truth in the view that the superstition that the budget must be balanced at all times...Once it is debunked, [it] takes away one of the bulwarks that … Continue reading Democracy & Profligacy: Will MMT Destroy the World? Part I of III on the Government Spending→Inflation Myth
Any argument that there is a “fiscal policy versus monetary policy” debate that somehow suggests we primarily rely on the latter is misspecified. You cannot not be primarily “doing fiscal,” it is simply not possible. (Whether done well or not is a different issue; the very belief that somehow fiscal takes a backseat is the key reason it has been done poorly for decades).
We have to think not just of the goods, but also think of "productive capacity" & "varied economy" as "real resources" when we make society-wide import/export calculations