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Alan Watts on Money, an MMT'er???

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Dallas, TX
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    I reject nothing said in the video and completely endorse what Watts is saying.

    Below is the introduction of Soft Currency Economics, Warren Mosler's 1993 paper, commissioned by Art Laffer on the advice of Donald Rumsfeld, and widely credited with laying down the foundation and glue for what has come to be known as Modern Monetary Theory. This all fits in nicely with what Alan Watts is saying.


    When people and physical capital are employed productively, government spending that shifts those resources to alternative use forces a trade-off. For example, if thousands of young men and women were conscripted into the armed forces the country would receive the benefit of a stronger military force. However, if the new soldiers had been home builders, the nation may suffer a shortage of new homes. This trade-off may reduce the general welfare of the nation if Americans place a greater value on new homes than additional military protection. If, however, the new military manpower comes not from home builders but from individuals who were unemployed, there is no trade-off. The real cost of conscripting home builders for military service is high; the real cost of employing the unemployed is negligible.

    The essence of the political process is coming to terms with the inherent trade-offs we face in a world of limited resources and unlimited wants. The idea that people can improve their lives by depriving themselves of surplus goods and services contradicts both common sense and any respectable economic theory. When there are widespread unemployed resources as there are today in the United States, the trade-off costs are often minimal, yet mistakenly deemed unaffordable.

    When a member of Congress reviews a list of legislative proposals, he currently determines affordability based on how much revenue the federal government wishes to raise, either through taxes or spending cuts. Money is considered an economic resource. Budget deficits and the federal debt have been the focal point of fiscal policy, not real economic costs and benefits. The prevailing view of federal spending as reckless, disastrous and irresponsible, simply because it increases the deficit, prevails.

    Interest groups from both ends of the political spectrum have rallied around various plans designed to reduce the deficit. Popular opinion takes for granted that a balanced budget yields net economic benefits only to be exceeded by paying off the debt. The Clinton administration claims a lower 1994 deficit as one of its highest achievements. All new programs must be paid for with either tax revenue or spending cuts. Revenue neutral has become synonymous with fiscal responsibility.

    The deficit doves and deficit hawks who debate the consequences of fiscal policy both accept traditional perceptions of federal borrowing. Both sides of the argument accept the premise that the federal government borrows money to fund expenditures. They differ only in their analysis of the deficit's effects. For example, doves may argue that since the budget does not discern between capital investment and consumption expenditures, the deficit is overstated. Or, that since we are primarily borrowing from ourselves, the burden is overstated. But even if policy makers are convinced that the current deficit is a relatively minor problem, the possibility that a certain fiscal policy initiative might inadvertently result in a high deficit, or that we may owe the money to foreigners, imposes a high risk. It is believed that federal deficits undermine the financial integrity of the nation.

    Policy makers have been grossly misled by an obsolete and non-applicable fiscal and monetary understanding. Consequently, we face continued economic under-performance."
  • Liberal Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    CBB -- Thanks for continually sharing resources on MMT. As much time as I have spent reading your stuff, it still takes some studying and thinking...not for the casual reader. Here's another source that people might find useful:

    J. D. Alt, New Economic Perspectives, January 2, 2013: The Strange Reality of Fiat Money

    The last section in the article covers, Debt, deficits and the cry for austerity. It is of particular interest to all those Americans that still worry about federal deficit spending by advocating for austerity budgets.

    "Finally, it is clear that constricting sovereign spending—in a confused effort to reduce the sovereign “deficit”—would be the height of irrational behavior on the part of a democracy. As long as there is work that can be done to improve the lives and well-being of the “citizens,” and as long as the labor and sustainable resources are available to accomplish that work in exchange for sovereign fiat dollars, it is a perverse logic that argues the sovereign cannot afford to have the work accomplished."

    You of course have covered this again and again in prior posts, but it doesn't hurt repeating...