JMK Writings Project

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DECEMBER 8, 2016.

THE CLOSING DATE FOR THE CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN FOR THE JMK WRITINGS PROJECT.

I thank, from the bottom of my heart, all those who have backed the campaign, with donations ranging from USD5 to USD1,000.  Almost everyone has said complimentary things about the proposed edition (‘great idea’, ‘wonderful project’,   ‘best of luck’ etc), but far fewer have followed up with contributions.

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A Walk in the Forest after the Election

By J.D. ALT

On November 8, I happened to be complacently immersed in one of the important books now available to the human species—The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben.  On the morning of November 9, I realized that what I was reading not only offered a perfectly analogous explanation of what “happened” in the U.S. Presidential election, but also laid out instructive insights about what’s to come next.

To provide a highly simplified overview (please bear with me for a moment), forests of trees are highly integrated communities composed basically of three parts: the canopy, the ground, and the root-and-fungi structures below ground. The community grows and evolves very slowly, and once it is established certain inherent dynamics provide a long-term stability that is measured in centuries. One of the most crucial dynamics is the fact that the mature canopy, during the growing season, absorbs something like 97% of the sunlight falling on it. This means at the ground level, new trees—growing from the seeds dropped from above—receive essentially no sunlight for photosynthesis (which they need in order to produce sugars for growth). These baby trees are, in fact, “nursed” by the root systems of the parent trees around them. The nursing trees grow very slowly, biding their time until one of the parent trees dies and collapses. This leaves a gap in the canopy where sunlight suddenly streams through, and those baby trees fortuitously located below the gap begin to produce their own sugar like mad—and grow very rapidly upward toward adolescence. At the same time, in a healthy forest, the mature trees adjacent to the gap extend their own branches and leaves to fill the open space. Before this process is complete, the adolescent trees have several years of rapid growth, but when the canopy is re-closed, they have to stop and bide their time again. Once more, they are fed by the root systems of the parental forest. It isn’t until another parent collapses to the forest floor, that the late adolescent tree finally has the opportunity to rapidly grow into the gap of the canopy and become a mature member of the community.

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THE ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF DONALD TRUMP

Pavlina R. Tcherneva

Economic consequences

A lot has been said already. For me, this was the culmination of a decades-long process where the Democrats sold out their progressive agenda and happily embraced the Republican’s neoliberal economic policies. For some of the best analysis, see here, here, here and here.

My own view is that the Democrats have not had an economic policy of their own for nearly half a century, just an ‘inferior’ version of what Republicans usually champion—tax cuts on the wealthy, dismantling the public safety-net, ‘fighting’ inflation by creating unemployment, market liberalization and deregulation across the board, which among other things brought us a colossal financial sector that has cannibalized the productive economy.

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The Liberals Didn’t Listen: The Immense Cost of Ignoring Tom Frank’s Warnings

By William K. Black
November 8, 2016     Kansas City, MO

I am writing this article late on election night in my office at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, about a mile from the home in which Tom Frank grew up just over the state line in Kansas.  Beginning with his famous book, What’s the Matter with Kansas, first published in 2004, Tom Frank has been warning the Democratic Party of the increasing cost it was paying by abandoning and even attacking the working class, particularly the white working class.  Some political scientists tried to savage his work, pointing to Bill Clinton’s electoral success and arguing that the disaffected members of the working class were also less likely to vote.  Frank returned to the theme just in time for this election with a new book – Listen, Liberal – that documents in damning, lively narrative the New Democrats’ war on the New Deal, their disdain for organized labor, and their antipathy for what they viewed as retrograde white working class attitudes.

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Theoclassical Economists’ Dogmatic Hate for Only One Form of Unfair Competition

By William K. Black
November 2, 2016     Kansas City, MO

The uber-right wing economist Tyler Cowen, has written a column entitled “TPP Is Exciting. Let’s Make the Case for It.”  Cowen’s column is remarkable for his inability to even get himself excited about TPP, much less his readers.  He begins with what should be an important warning – there will be a major effort by President Obama and the largest corporations to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the lame duck session after the election.

Cowen’s effort to excite his readers to support TPP is so weak that I will comment on only a few points.  First, he says that Americans should be overjoyed that TPP would produce 18,000 tax cuts – for corporations!

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Wray on Minsky on “Hopping Mad”

On Monday, 31 October 2016, Dr. L. Randall Wray was on the radio program and podcast, Hopping Mad with Will McLeod & Arliss Bunny. The focus of the interview was Wray’s newest book, Why Minsky Matters:  An Introduction to the Work of a Maverick Economist. The interview was more than an hour long so Wray was able to give lengthy answers without being pressured for time.

Dr. Wray’s book, Why Minsky Matters can be found on the Princeton University Press website and on Amazon where it is is available as both a hardcopy and download.

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Wall Street’s Apologist-in-Chief Mansplains Regulation to Senator Warren

By William K. Black
October 30, 2016      Bloomington, MN

When last I wrote of Roger Lowenstein he was complaining that the Wall Street felons were being criticized – not jailed – criticized.  Lowenstein is Wall Street’s self-appointed apologist-in-chief.  Naturally, he despises Senator Warren, the most effective elected official in exposing Wall Street’s elite frauds.  The New York Times granted him an op ed in which he sought to mansplain financial regulation to Senator Warren.

Lowenstein does not like women that he considers too loud, gratuitously complaining that Senator Warren is “high-decibel” supporter of regulation.  Coming from someone who has spent his journalistic career shilling for Wall Street, this sexist trope is painfully embarrassing.  Wall Street is infamous for raging males who believe that screaming at subordinates who can’t fight back proves their virility.

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Paid Leave and Daycare: Luxuries of the Wealthy

Originally published in The Minskys by Lara Merling

The U.S. trails the rest of the world in benefits available to families. Currently, the only industrialized country that does not guarantee paid maternity leave for new mothers is the United States. While other countries offer generous paid parental leave and some form of childcare subsidies, the U.S. does not. This lack of policies to support working families widens economic inequality and limits opportunities of children not born in wealthy households.

smalldaycare

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Debt Derangement Syndrome: Saving Our Grandkids from Wall Street

By William K. Black
October 24, 2016     Quito, Ecuador

Pete Peterson is back, and his message and rhetoric are always the same.  The federal budget deficit is a disaster and – any day now – will produce massive inflation.  Peterson has written his 20,000th version of this fantasy in the NYT with Paul Volcker.  The first rhetorical game that Peterson plays is to assert that it is bad for a sovereign nation to run budgetary deficits because they are not “sound and sustainable.”  Except that the U.S. has run deficits for most of its existence without ever suffering hyper-inflation.  For a nation like the U.S. with a sovereign currency, a federal budgetary deficit is not unsound and it is not unsustainable.  Federal budget deficits can, depending on the circumstances, be the very definition of “sound” fiscal policy – a policy that is often essential for “sustainable” recovery and growth of the economy.

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Hillary: The “Good News” is That China is “Forcing Down Wages”

By William K. Black
October 23, 2016     Kansas City, MO

The general media has been treating the WikiLeaks disclosures of the Clinton campaign documents, particularly the transcripts of her lucrative talks with Goldman Sachs as much ado about nothing.  I have not found any article about the disclosures, however, that reported on the extraordinary statements she made in her talk with Goldman Sachs on June 4, 2013.

Hillary told the Vampire Squid that the “good news” was that China was removing workers’ (meager) legal protections so that their employers could “forc[e] down wages” in order to increase corporate profits.  She used China’s (pathetically weak) legal protections for workers as her exemplar of China’s “structural economic problems.”

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