By J.D. Alt
Recently I came across a passage from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath: One of the Joad-clan migrant farmer characters, upon learning that “there’s a newspaper fella near the coast, got a million acres,” replies—“If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it ‘cause he feels awful poor inside hisself.”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard or read a more succinct description of the underlying reality of the income-inequity issue that has moved to the front page of our national dialog. As part of that dialog, I keep trying to frame a case for radical change that the status quo will actively embrace—for the simple reason that if that were to happen, the radical change itself would be more likely to occur—but also, I realize now, because the status quo “feels so awful poor inside hisself”, it will never embrace radical change unless it believes the change will make it feel richer—and, finally, because from my perspective MMT uniquely makes this paradoxical set of relationships possible.
(Updated – slides added)
Stephanie Kelton’s keynote address to the students, faculty, and visitors at Augustana College’s (Sioux Falls, SD) Undergraduate Research Symposium on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 10am. Stephanie begins at 2:40. The topic of the keynote is Debt and Deficits in the Modern Economy. The slides are available below the video.
By J.D. Alt
The Washington Post recently reported that Day Care now costs more—in 31 U.S. states—than a college education. In a fit of logic rarely exhibited in today’s journalism, the article explains that since it takes the average family eighteen years to save enough for a child’s college education, that same child now needs to start saving for his or her own children’s Day Care beginning at age eight. The article didn’t mention—I suppose because they thought it was obvious—that this necessity is against America’s child labor laws. And, of course, Little League Baseball would be devastated.
What gives money its value? PBS explores. You can check it out here.
By L. Randall Wray
I recently did an interview for Euro Truffa on six topics related to Modern Money – MMT.
They are transcribing my interview to Italian and putting up the videos (I think that only two are up so far). However, they have also posted all of the videos to YouTube.
As you can tell, I did not realize they were recording the video—I might have tried to sit still if I had known. Also, the coffee had not quite kicked in so I was not entirely awake. Here are the links with just a brief indication of the topic for each.
By J.D. ALT
In an earlier essay I suggested we just forget the 1%. This was an idea not entirely supported by the commentary that followed. On reflection, I’ve decided it isn’t the right approach after all. What we really need to do is rescue the 1%.
They may seem like the last people who need rescuing, but when you consider the facts it becomes clear they really do need to be tossed a life-preserver. The problem is their basic business model is self-annihilating. This is not a new observation in history, but it is worth thinking through again. CEOs and board members are required by fiduciary law to maximize profits for their shareholders. If they fail to aggressively pursue this goal with every business decision, they might actually get sued by an angry shareholder deprived of his maximum return on investment. So maximizing profits is the order-of-the-day—every day. This imperative has been dramatically reinforced (and distorted) over the past three decades—as explained and illustrated by William K. Black—by evolving corporate compensation rules awarding huge bonuses to upper level managers based on the short-term profits their business and “accounting” strategies are able to generate.
Euro Truffa (eurotruffa.it) interviews Randy Wray about MMT in this video from March 13, 2014. After the Introduction which is presented in Italian, the questions are presented in English with Italian subtitles.
By J.D. Alt
All this talk about the 99% versus the 1%? I say the easiest—and likely the most useful—thing to do is just forget the 1%. Write them off. Let them have their gated communities, their mega-yachts, their island retreats and off-shore bank accounts. What do we need them for?
For one thing, we DON’T need their money. Even if we could get it—which we can’t because they steadfastly refuse to use it for anything other than casino gambling in their private and secretive financial networks. We wonder why we have a “jobless recovery”? Does it have anything to do with the fact that such a large percentage of our “capital” has, for all practical purposes, been removed from the economy?
By L. Randall Wray
To Fix or To Float, that is the question.
MMT argues that a sovereign government that issues its own “nonconvertible” currency cannot become insolvent in terms of its own currency. It cannot be forced into involuntary default on its obligations denominated in its own currency. It can “afford” to buy anything for sale that is priced in its own currency. It might be able to buy things for sale in foreign currency by offering up its own currency in exchange—but that is not certain.
If, instead, it promises to convert its currency at a fixed price to something else (gold, foreign currency) then it might not be able to keep that promise. Insolvency and involuntary default become possible.