We CAN Have Nice Things!

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.”
– John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Feb. 1936

Dear Reader,

We CAN have nice things. We can provide a well-paying job for anyone who wants one. Medicare-for-All. Child care. Tuition-free public college and excellent public schools. Modern infrastructure including high-speed rail from city to city. We CAN have nice things that make all our lives better.

We can (and must) implement a Green New Deal to de-carbonize the economy and address the climate crisis. We can (and must) mount large scale efforts to survive the COVID19 pandemic and recover from its economic effects.

  • Because the US government issues its own currency, it can’t “run out of money” or go bankrupt. That means “We the People” can — and should — allocate the resources, including the funds we need, on what we as a society want and need without worrying about “how to pay for it.”
  • So long as there is production capacity, people and natural resources to apply, we can pay for things by issuing money via Congressional instruction to our Treasury.
  • Our spending limit is inflation; we mustn’t exceed the time, materials and human resources available to produce what we fund.

Our national budget conversations should be about our spending priorities, not arbitrary spending limits. Yes, there are limits. But those limits are not the limits that come to mind from simplistic explanations of a “family budget” that is decided “around the kitchen table.”

Academics and economists describe how this works. They call their description “Modern Monetary Theory” (MMT), but their explanations and their findings represent a paradigm shift from the orthodoxy we have been taught. This site compiles links to research, proposals, explainers and commentary, text, graphics, video and audio files that bridge the gap between the complicated explanations and what the public needs to know. The basics are straightforward and appeal greatly to common sense.

We rely upon experts who continue to build a body of knowledge and lead us through the decades-in-the-making thicket of misinformation and disinformation that can inhibit our understanding of how the money systems of sovereign governments actually work. And so we have a growing compilation of links to their writing and presentations for their colleagues, their students and for the general public.

Our aim is to amplify these voices so the ideas become more widespread; that more people will read and comment and that more sites — devoted to other issue areas — will begin to explore these ideas, connect the dots and feature posts from an MMT-literate perspective.

Basic explainers are here.

DJ and SR

For a brief introduction and explanation of MMT, you might start with Congress can give every American a pony (if it breeds enough ponies), by Stephanie Kelton, in the LA Times, 9/29/2017. From her op-ed:

“What if it turned out that the government really could give everyone a pony — and a chicken and car? That is, so long as we could breed enough ponies and chickens and manufacture enough cars. The cars and the food have to come from somewhere; the money is conjured out of thin air, more or less.

Let me explain.

[. . .]

Whoa, cowboy! Are you telling me that the government can just make money appear out of nowhere, like magic? Absolutely. Congress has special powers: It’s the patent-holder on the U.S. dollar. No one else is legally allowed to create it. This means that Congress can always afford the pony because it can always create the money to pay for it.”