This essay was first posted at www.realprogressivesusa.com
I keep reading the big challenge Democrats face in the 2018/2020 elections is that they have moved too far left, proposing a platform that includes “free” universal health care, “free” college tuition, “free” pre-school day-care—and a national infrastructure building and repair program paid for, not by the states, but by the federal government (i.e. “free infrastructure”). Progressives seem to genuinely wonder why mainstream Americans would object to these proposals. Why would American voters be put off by proposals they’d obviously gain so much real—and in many cases personal—benefit from?
What decides whether something is undertaken in America is the “market.” The way the market decides what is to be done is by determining whether people are willing to pay to benefit from the undertaking, how many people are willing to pay, how much they are willing to pay, and all this is then compared with the cost of the undertaking. If nobody is willing to pay for the benefit (no customers), the undertaking will not happen. If the number of people willing to pay, multiplied by the amount they are willing to pay, equals a dollar value less than the cost of the undertaking, the undertaking will not happen. If, in fact, that calculated dollar value is not some specified percentage GREATER than the cost of the undertaking (profit), the undertaking will not happen either. If the calculated profit is determined to be adequate, the undertaking will move forward and the cost of doing so will be invested in anticipation of harvesting the profit. These are the basic rules and dynamics of a Market Economy which is—for many good reasons—the chosen, championed, and cherished American economic model.
This essay was first published at www.realprogressivesusa.com
There is a lot more riding on our understanding of modern fiat money than we typically consider or discuss. Human society is now confronted with three epoch-defining challenges and, in each case, the understanding and strategic use of modern fiat money holds out the ONLY real possibility for constructively engaging the them.
The challenges are:
Climate change & ecological collapse
Assault on Democracy
In each case, the challenges are, first, aggravated, amplified, and intertwined by our ignorant, unimaginative clinging to the old rules and norms of “commodity” money. These old rules and norms tell us, basically, that money is (a) a finite resource that people must compete to have a share of; and (b) that a sovereign democracy must collect some portion of its citizens’ “finite” money-share (as taxes) for democracy to have money to spend for its collective goals and needs.
The history of medieval coinage is full of dramas. Debasements, changes in official value, chronic lack of coins, use of foreign coins in domestic transactions, free minting, coins with a floating denomination, clipping, metalism vs. nominalism, among others, make for a colorful and fascinating monetary history. Recent developments in metal markets have recreated one of the conditions that led to a disappearance of the coinage in the Middle Ages. The post explains the monetary relevance of the recent developments in metal markets, and compares and contrasts their consequences with what happened in the Middle Age.
It would be a shocking scandal if it came to light that the professions of medical science had, for decades, known about an easy to treat, underlying cause of cancer—but conspired to obfuscate and suppress the information to protect their participation in a medical industry raking in hundreds of billions a year to treat the disease. Professional standings, tenures, licenses would be in tatters. Lawsuits would abound. Outrage would march on every city hospital and medical college in the nation—would it not?
Austerity didn’t produce recovery in Latvia, it produced the semblance of recovery, says NEP’s Bill Black on The Real News. It also led to rampant criminal activity in the banking sector, such as money laundering, taking bribes, and violating sanctions against North Korea. You can view here with a transcript.
During his State of the Union speech, Trump touted the recent stock market boom as proof of how well the U.S. is doing. However, as NEP’s Bill Black explains, the boom has nothing to do with new investment. You can view with a transcript here.
Before it disappears forever from our experience—which the rapid adoption of smart-phone commerce suggests might happen within the next decade—we should examine, take stock of, and fully understand what this piece of paper is that we call a U.S. dollar. Or maybe a five-dollar bill, which is what I happen to have pulled from my wallet in preparation for writing this essay. It doesn’t matter which bill we choose: they all have the same basic informational clues indelibly printed onto their durably woven, cotton-linen fabric. The point is this: if, and when, we can no longer pull this particular piece of “paper” out of our pocket and actually examine it, we’ll have lost our chance to understand what a U.S. dollar actually is—which is something we very much need to understand if we hope to eventually create a successful, progressive, democratic economy. So, while it is still conveniently in our pockets, let’s take it out and consider what we’re really looking at—and what that means for our modern society going forward.
Using private debt-collection firms to collect debt from low-income Americans is not only morally reprehensible, but it’s also terrible business, says NEP’s Bill Black in his latest appearance on The Real News Network. You can view here with transcript.
A few days ago, Jared Bernstein posed some Questions for the MMTers in order to gain a “better understanding [of our] arguments.” We appreciate his interest in our ideas and, especially, his direct appeal for clarification of our views. He raised four big questions, which our Australian counterpart, Bill Mitchell, has already answered in his own three-part series. What follows is a response from two North American MMTers.