Department of Now It All Makes Sense
In addition to the House Budget Committee and OMB budget plans and 2016 – 2025 projections fiscal policy followers have also recently been graced with the effort of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) proposing their budget plan and 20 Read more about When Will Congressional Progressive Caucus Ever Learn About Sector Financial Balances?
Nancy Bordier and Joseph M. Firestone
Our thesis is that the violence engulfing the Middle East is driven primarily by political and economic factors. The roots of this violence derive from complex chains of political and economic causes. Prominent among the causes is indigenous populations' lack of civil, political and human rights, and their inability to compel their governments to provide basic necessities, education, job skills, living wage jobs, and wealth creating opportunities providing lifelong financial security.
In addition, Western governments' political, economic and military interventions in the Middle East in support of extractive industries such as oil, when coupled with their alliance with oppressive regimes in the region, compounded the difficulties faced by indigenous populations plagued by systemic injustice and poverty. The failure of efforts to bring peace to the troubled relationships between Palestinians and Israelis added an inflammatory mix of religious, communal and tribal tensions to the political and economic roots of the violence.
While the recent popular uprising in the Middle East known as the "Arab Spring" initially appeared to pave the way to the political and economic enfranchisement of indigenous populations, the rigidity of traditional political institutions prevented the development of a consensus among the protagonists about how to translate popular discontent into broad-based consensus-building and democratic decision-making processes. The result was a rapid restoration of the prior political status quo, as in the case of Egypt, while elsewhere anarchy prevailed and failed states unable to maintain law and order emerged, such as in Libya. Read more about Politically and Economically Driven Middle East Violence: How the Web Can Stop It
This is the last post in my analysis and commentary on Bruce Bartlett's testimony to the Senate Budget Committee. There's one very significant issue left to discuss, and that is the issue of fiscal gap and generational accounting and whether it should be institutionalized in legislation. I'll begin this post with that discussion and then end the series with my overall evaluation of his effort.
Fiscal Gap and Generational Accounting
15. Generational accounting exaggerates the burden of debt. Intergenerational accounting attempts to assess financial burdens through time, especially with a view to claiming that financial decisions taken in one generation can impose burdens on another. But this argument refuses to count as real assets the infrastructure and other national assets that the current generation will leave for future generations, and it does not understand that federal government debt never needs to be retired. In real terms, there obviously are no intergenerational transfers, except for the knowledge, the physical assets and the larger environment, which the present leaves to the future. The real goods produced in 2050 will be distributed to those alive in 2050, regardless of the public debt in existence at that time. Meanwhile, the U.S. government can always meet its payments when they come due. . . .
This is the fourth in a series of commentaries on Bruce Bartlett's recent testimony to the Senate Budget Committee. I appreciated his testimony and his critical evaluation of the idea that there is a public “debt crisis” in the United States. I also agree that there is no debt crisis. However, I was disappointed that his views, for the most part, did not show the across the board relevance to most aspects of the “debt crisis” of the fact that the United States is a fiat currency sovereign.
In the previous three posts, I've outlined the many contexts in which the fiat currency sovereignty of the United States is relevant to showing that the idea that the United States has or can have a debt crisis is just bunk. In this post, I'll continue my discussion of Bruce Bartlett's testimony in the same way. Read more about The “Debt Crisis” According to Bruce Bartlett: Debt Thresholds, and Wars
In the first two parts of this series of commentaries on Bruce Bartlett's testimony to the Senate Budget Committee, I've reviewed the first 8 paragraphs in his statement. These points debunked various concerns of those who think the United States has a serious “debt crisis” it must handle before it takes on trivial problems such as its unprecedentedly high level of wealth inequality, lack of true full employment at a living wage, roughly 30 million people still lacking health insurance, one of the worst infrastructure systems in the developed world, transitioning from fossil fuels and ending climate change, creating a first class public educational system from pre-K through graduate school, ending the student loan crisis, creating a single standard of law for all, including the various categories of violators categorized as too big to prosecute by recent Administrations, and ending the student loan debt crisis, just to name a few.
However, what was noticeably missing from the variety of arguments given in his eight paragraphs was a recognition that the United States is a fiat sovereign nation and that this fact has serious implications for most of the subject matter Bruce Bartlett covers in his statement. In this post I'll continue my analysis of his statement to explore the extent to which his views correspond to Modern Money Theory (MMT). Read more about The “Debt Crisis” According to Bruce Bartlett: Household Analogy, Inflation, Savings, and Taxes
The “Debt Crisis” According to Bruce Bartlett: Capital Investment, the “Debt Burden,” Fiat Currency, and the Debt Limit
This is the second in a blog series of commentaries on Bruce Bartlett's recent statement to the Senate Budget Committee. The first post in the series discussed a number of his comments on aspects of the “debt crisis,” a crisis he and I both believe doesn't exist. I discussed a number of his reasons for doubting the severity of any debt problem and related each of them to the capabilities of the United States as a fiat sovereign.
In this post, I'll cover the issues related to capital investment, the debt burden, fiat currency, and the debt limit. I'll begin with Bruce Bartlett's statement on how capital investments ought to be treated in the budget. Read more about The “Debt Crisis” According to Bruce Bartlett: Capital Investment, the “Debt Burden,” Fiat Currency, and the Debt Limit
Today, I'll offer the first of five commentary posts on Bruce Bartlett's recent testimony before the Senate Budget Committee. Bruce Bartlett is a long-time veteran of the fiscal policy wars. He initially became known as a supply-side free market economist working for Ron Paul and then Jack Kemp in the 1970s. Later, he served as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan Administration, and then in the Bush 41 Administration as the deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department. Since then he's worked at conservative think tanks and as a well-known writer on economic policy and politics, becoming increasingly critical, first of the Bush 43 Administration and then of the increasingly rightward trend of the Republican Party. Today I think Bruce Bartlett is best characterized as a fiercely independent voice still respected in conservative circles, and also, among progressives such as Jamie Galbraith and Stephanie Kelton, but never afraid to call balls and strikes on any Administration or Congress as he sees them.
With that brief introduction completed, I'd like to turn now to a commentary on his testimony to the Senate Budget Committee from my own, individual, but Modern Money Theory -informed point of view. This post will discuss the first four points covered in Bruce Bartlett's testimony. Read more about The “Debt Crisis” According to Bruce Bartlett: Fiat Sovereignty
Nancy Bordier and Joseph M. Firestone
Most governments claim they are democracies because they hold popular elections. A large majority of their citizens who cast votes also think their governments are democracies.
But there are other criteria besides elections for determining whether or not a country has a functioning democracy -- or a failing democracy.
A major criterion, possibly the most important one, is whether voters actually control elections and their legislative consequences.
- Can voters decide who runs for office and set the priorities for the legislation their elected representatives pass if they are elected?
- Can voters freely run their own candidates? Or must they vote for candidates run by intermediaries like political parties or special interests?
- Do institutions like the U.S. electoral college and election authorities place limitations on voters' ability to run their own candidates by imposing requirements voters find it difficult or impossible to fulfill, such as collecting massive numbers of signatures, paying unaffordable fees, etc.? Read more about Overcoming Systemic Voter Disempowerment with a System Changing Technology
(Cross-posted with permission of the author from New Economic Perspectives)
Here’s a summary of the plan Bernie Sanders has set out, along with my comments (in italics).
1.) We need a major investment to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. $1 trillion investment to create 13 million decent paying jobs and make this country more efficient and productive.
Agreed, but let’s not settle for a mere 13 million jobs. We need twice that. And, of course, the “price tag” is irrelevant—so long as we create useful jobs that pay living wages, we can “always afford” to pay for them. By creating jobs we are not just investing in infrastructure, but we are also investing in our people, enhancing their participation in our society and providing them with the means to support their families. We can always afford that. Read more about A TWELVE STEP PROGRAM TO RESTORE PROSPERITY: THE BERNIE SANDERS PLAN
James Petras has written an enraging article entitled “The Soaring Profits of the Military-Industrial Complex And the Soaring Costs of Military Casualties”.
Petras contends that there are two major beneficiaries of the major wars launched by the US government: one is domestic and the other is foreign.
The first is the US arms manufacturers. Their investors have been overwhelmed with profits during the past "warring" decade and a half!
My Cautionary Tale about Free Trade Agreements, Healthcare, Presidents, Parties and Lying. Is Everything We've Been Told, Wrong?
[Stickying this because it's important! --lambert]
I'm going to try to write a short piece about a really horrible disconnection that has occurred between the politicians who run the country and its people. The conflict of interest between free trade agreements and the special interests and politicians that enable them, and affordable healthcare. It threatens our country's future and democracy.
Over the last week in several comment threads I've pointed folks to the Nick Skala paper "The potential impact of the World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade in Services on health system reform and regulation in the United States" which I think explains a lot that needs to be known in the US about the goals and amoral value system of the so called "free trade agreements". Read more about My Cautionary Tale about Free Trade Agreements, Healthcare, Presidents, Parties and Lying. Is Everything We've Been Told, Wrong?
What the hell is going on in this country?
Supreme Court Strikes Down Aggregate Limits on Federal Campaign Contributions "The ruling, issued near the start of a campaign season, will change and most likely increase the already large role money plays in American politics." Read more about SCOTUS Strikes Down Aggregate Limits on Federal Campaign Contributions - This is horrible news.