When progressives become neo-liberals and create a Trump

When you have a madman sounding, well “presidential” (according to the obsequious US press) what would you expect a Democrat politician to say in response? Yes I am talking about the Democratic response to the speech given by the US President on February 28, 2017 to the joint session of the United States Congress. The last thing I would want is for the response to begin with a report card on how the responder was fiscally responsible because he had achieved fiscal surpluses during the GFC. But then this is the Democratic Party circa 2016 we are talking about. The Party that lost an unlosable election to a showman who is sparing of the truth. This is the Democratic Party that having just lost an election because its candidate was seen as part of the neo-liberal establishment that has brought grief on millions of Americans, decides to replace its administrative head with another neo-liberal corporatist. But this problem is not uniquely American, although Americans do like to think they are unique. All around the world, political parties who should be defending workers and the poor have morphed into right-wing look-a-likes preaching fiscal rectitude (they would do it fairer) and cuts to public services and all the rest of it. They have so let down their natural constituents that real right-wingers preaching hate against immigrants and refugees and the like have seized the political initiative and taking votes from them. Trump is a sort of hybrid of that. Until the Left abandons its notions that fiscal responsibility does not mean running fiscal surpluses as a matter of course, it will continue to lose ground. And, we will all be worse off as a consequence.

Remember back to December 3, 2009, when the last US president delivered an address to his Jobs and Economic Growth Forum.

The Speech has been removed by the new administration – not archived which is standard practice when administrations change – but just plain deleted. That, alone, should tell you something.

After repeating his sense of urgency on how bad unemployment was (in 2009), President Obma then made this most extraordinary comment:

But I want to be clear – while I believe that government has a critical role in creating the conditions for economic growth, ultimately true economic recovery is only going to come from the private sector. We don’t have enough public dollars to fill the hole of private dollars that was created as a consequence of the crisis. It is only when the private sector starts to reinvest again, only when our businesses start hiring again and people start spending again and families start seeing improvement in their own lives again that we’re going to have the kind of economy that we want. That’s the measure of a real economic recovery.

We don’t have enough public dollars … when ‘we’ being the government (central bank and treasury) has all the dollars one would need to buy all the real resources available for sale, including labour that cannot find another buyer (the unemployed and underemployed).

And the government is the only buyer in the economy that has that capacity. The private sector certainly doesn’t have that capacity and that is why recessions occur.

The statement “We don’t have enough public dollars to fill the hole of private dollars that was created as a consequence of the crisis” was preposterous.

The speech writer should have been dismissed and Obama signalled his lack of fitness for office by repeating the comments.

Keyboard operators within the US Government could type 1,000,000 billion or 1,000,000,000 billion into their computer when making one of the electronic transactions we call government spending and the funds would show up as increased reserves in the banking system.

It might be undesirable that the higher amount actually was injected into the spending stream (depending on the available real capacity of the economy) but that is a separate issue.

The point is that the US Government can spend as much as it likes as long as there are goods and services available for sale.

This was a Democrat President … paving the way for the mania that is the Trump Republican Presidency.

And then in response to the new US President outlining a plan to revitisalise the economy with government spending (albeit on rockets and other armaments), the Democrats wheel out an ex-State governor Steve Beshear, who after saying who he was and how long he had been married, lays out his credentials:

By being fiscally responsible — I even cut my own pay — we balanced our budget and turned deficits into surpluses without raising taxes.

Fiscally responsible = balanced budget = deficits into surpluses.

Now, to cut him some slack, he was a State governor, a user of the US currency. But, he was talking about the US President in this response.

The Democratic Party seems to have completely lost the plot, while the Republicans under Trump are carving out an agenda according to his speech of restoring a “new national pride” and ensuring that US “children will grow up in a nation of miracles”.

It was all about big things – nation building, massive infrastructure projects – $US1 trillion worth (never mind he is going to sublet the public assets to Wall Street under his PPP schemes), new jobs and a future!

Compare that ‘vision’ to the Democrats. Bleeding from the way they hacked into Bernie Sanders during the primary process, they hardly said boo when Trump parades his cast of henchpersons for Congressional approval (how can someone who wants to privatise all public education being installed as the person responsible for public education).

And then, most recently, they installed a neo-liberal corporatist as the new head and wheel out the likes Mr Fiscal Surplus Beshear to respond to Trump’s address to Congress.

That tells you everything about why the progressive side of politics has lost out to these morons.

Relatedly, the UK Guardian article by Ken Loach (February 28, 2017) – Don’t blame Corbyn for the sins of Blair, Brown and New Labour – was also telling.

The likes of Tony Blair and his sycophants who remain as Labour Party MPs have been continually calling for Jeremy Corbyn’s head. This has become almost hysterical in recent days after the Labour Party lost the byelection in Stoke-on-Trent and Copeland.

As an aside, the most credible candidate for the Stoke-on-Trent byelection appeared to me – on the most cursory analysis – to be The Incredible Flying Brick who represents the Official Monster Raving Loony Party. Leadership qualities I would have thought. Upon closer analysis he/she received only 127 votes (0.6 per cent).

Labour has held Copeland (which is in Cumbria) since the 1980s and lost the seat to the Conservatives – a shocking result to say the least.

But there was a 6.69 per cent swing to the Tories away from Labour, which has seen it lose the seat (Tories 44.25 per cent, Labour 37.34 per cent). It is a seat that the Tories should never win.

The last time a sitting member in the Opposition has lost to government at a byelection was in 1982.

In the Stoke-on-Trent election, there was a swing of 2.14 per cent from Labour to UKIP, but Labour still held the seat with 37.09 per cent of the vote. UKIP gained 24.72 per cent and the Tories 24.35 per cent.

But it was seen as a bad result for Labour.

Corbyn said “our message was not enough to win through in Copeland”.

Ken Loach’s Guardian article offers some very interesting insights into the outcome. Just before the poll, he visited both electorates on a tour screening his new movie “I, Daniel Blake” (arranged by Momentum).

He writes:

We went to Labour clubs in neglected areas, old estates away from the centre.

And found packed audiences – the “discussions were passionate, informed and invigorating, a world away from the tired cliches of the public discourse. This was not a marketing exercise but a real engagement with people and their concerns.”

He notes that in Stoke, for example, poverty, food shortages and debt defaults are significant issues. UKIP (the loony far right) is seizing on this suffering and making political headway at the expense of Labour.

He says it is a similar story in Copeland – lost jobs, closed mines, steel works etc

But “Labour is seen to be as culpable as the Tories” – the anti-establishment vote that emerged reflects the fact that “Labour is the local establishment”.

The by-election came about because the sitting member (Jamie Reed) resigned. He was a Blairite and extremely critical of Jeremy Corbyn.

Reed wrote a cynical letter in the New Statesmen (March 14, 2016) – Memo to Mark Serwotka – where he railed against those who were calling for the deselection of candidates disloyal to Corbyn.

He wrote about the “aims and values” of the Labour Party and extolled the virtues of Blair’s period in office.

New Labour – neo-liberal central.

Remember the “light-touch regulation” that Gordon Brown was so proud of, which allowed the banks to go crazy and descent into greed and criminality – and then go broke only to put out their hands for public assistance.

Remember trickle down theory – aka “make the already obscenely wealthier wealthy and it will eventually eke down to the poor”.

Remember the pernicious anti-union laws.

Remember the privatisation and user-pays public service delivery.

Remember the PFIs

Remember the decimination of Britain’s national education system (tuition fees, academies etc).

And remember Blair lying when taking Britain into Iraq – with the obvious negative consequences that have followed. Even Trump acknowledges that the massive US intervention (and spending) in the Middle East has made the world a more unsafe place.

Reed wrote on January 30, 2015 – The Last Word: A Blairite writes … – that he was “proud of the record of the last Labour government” and that he had been a “front-bench Blairite”.

He was unpopular in Copeland which had suffered a lot as a result of New Labour. His predecessor (Jack Cunningham had similar credentials).

Ken Loach writes that when organising these public meetings (and film screenings):

In both constituencies the Labour candidates, neither from the left of the party, were invited, but both candidates ignored the meetings. With coverage on television, radio and the press, this is bizarre. Could it be because Momentum were the organisers? We were there to support Labour. There was not even the courtesy of a reply.

The disdain they showed is why Labour lost in Copeland and went backwards in Stoke-on-Trent.

The engagement that the likes of Trump made with the losers of neo-liberalism is why he is now President. Hillary Clinton was seen as another neo-liberal hack – part of the establishment that has created these problems.

Ken Loach wrote:

The problems are well rehearsed but rarely related to the leadership question. A vulnerable working class that knows job insecurity, low wages, bogus “self-employment”, poverty for many including those in work, whole regions left to rot: these are the consequences of both Tory and New Labour’s free market economics. Employers’ “flexibility” is workers’ exploitation. Public services are being dismembered, outsourced, closed down, the source of profit for a few and an impoverished society for the many. The central fact is blindingly obvious: the Blair, Brown and Peter Mandelson years were central to this degeneration. That is why Labour members voted for Jeremy Corbyn.

And Trump. And Brexit. And why Marine Le Pen is high in the polls. And the rest of the politicians that are appealing to these concerns rather than mouthing tired rhetoric that they will run fiscal surpluses.

The people know that these neo-liberal aspirations are part of the problem, even if they might not know why.

And amongst all those politicians that are making headway at present – very few come from the Left traditions. The Right are taking up the votes and they mix better economic sense (like Marine Le Pen vowing to Frexit) with sordid policies regarding immigration, gays etc (although these hate type policies are not uniform across all the Right popularists).

While Ken Loach considers Corbyn’s choice of John McDonnell as the Shadow Chancellor to be sound, I think otherwise. Note, that I am saying nothing about the person as a person.

But John McDonnell as the Shadow Chancellor talks about the “deficit deniers” and how he would deliver fiscal surpluses quicker than (at the time) George Osborne.

I wrote about him (in his role not as a person) in these blogs:

1. British Labour Party surrenders … back to its Monetarist roots.

2. British Labour Party – U-turning towards oblivion.

3. British Labour Party is mad to sign up to the ‘Charter of Budget Responsibility’.

4. Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘New Politics’ must not include lying about fiscal deficits.

5. Corbyn should stop saying he will eliminate the deficit.

It is the same old story – progressives trying to appear reasonable by being more neo-liberal than those with neo-liberalism in their DNA (the Tories).

And things are just as bad in Australia. For our sins, we have the Australian Labor Party, the so-called workers’ party, founded out of the trade union movement to give it a political voice.

It is currently in opposition and it should stay there unless it is willing to abandon the same pretense to fiscal responsibility that talks about the urgency of fiscal surpluses.

Its Shadow Treasurer, one Chris Bowen is constantly claiming that if returned to office it will restore the surplus. The surplus he is talking about was achieved in 10 out of 11 years of conservative government (1996 to 2007) on the back of massive growth in non-government indebtedness (to record levels), a negative household saving ratio, and elevated levels of labour underutilisation.

Without the private debt buildup, which is now a serious problem, there would not have been any fiscal surpluses.

On August 24, 2016, Labor’s Shadow Treasurer released a press statement – Labor’s Budget Repair Package – which talked about making “significant structural improvements to the budget worth $8.1 billion” which will be a “a significant down-payment on Budget repair that is fair, urgent and achievable”.

Aah, the fair austerity line. This is what the so-called progressives have morphed into – the merchants of austerity lite – we will cut hard but fairly.

Meanwhile more than 18 per cent of the labour force (or near labour force) are unemployed, underemployed or hidden unemployed.

The language is off-putting from the start.

Cars that have problems need repair. A roof on a house that leaks needs repair. But a fiscal balance? The terminology is totally inappropriate and inapplicable.

Repair to these characters means moving to surplus. Why is that a fix? We fix a car because it won’t drive anymore. But a fiscal deficit is doing its job of supporting demand and income generation in the non-government sector.

Further, what might “improvements to the budget” constitute? Well for these faux-progressives, it means a smaller fiscal balance. Cuts to spending and increases in taxes.

The conservatives and the faux-progressives (the old Left) argue relentlessly about whether the ‘repair’ should come from tax hikes or spending cuts. But while they duel about this irrelevance they fail to see that they are really about the same thing – perpetuating myths about the capacities of governments and the meaning of fiscal balances.

A 10 per cent deficit to GDP might be perfect as might a deficit of 1 per cent of GDP or a surplus of 2 per cent of GDP. Perfect in relation to what?

Answer: the saving and spending decisions of the non-government sector and the levels of capacity utilisation (labour and capital) in the economy.

It might be that the appropriate fiscal stance is to invoke discretionary cuts in spending and/or increases in taxes to bring the government commmand over real resources back in line with the politically-defined balance between public and private.

But, equally, it might be appropriate to increase the fiscal deficit given real resource usage in the economy.

In other words, the numbers that appear under the heading fiscal balance or public debt are irrelevant in their own right. They only have meaning if they are understood in the context of the real economy – how close it is to full employment.

Merely claiming the fiscal situation has to be ‘fixed’ if there is an outstanding deficit – and fixed means reduced – is mindless.

Especially, as I note above the Australian labour market is very weak and around 2 million people want more work but cannot find it (both in jobs per se and hours of work).

Let a central bank sort through all this nonsense

In this context, I was reminded this week of an article that was published in The Regional Economist (October 2011) – Why Health Care Matters and the Current Debt Does Not.

This is the journal of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the authors are economists there.

They were writing at a time when the hysteria about the US government fiscal deficit and the increase in the public debt to GDP ratio was raging. Not long after the President had declared the US government had run out of money.

There were claims by economists that the US would experience rampant inflation and accelerating interest rates and that China would stop ‘funding’ the deficit.

These were made on an almost daily basis.

Commentators who still parade around as experts on these matters were predicting dreadful outcomes – including the bankruptcy of the social security system.

History tells us they were all wrong. And it is no accident that their predictions have come to nought.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis economists knew they would come to nought.

They wrote:

The fresh sense of urgency that this has ignited to solve the debt situation, however, obscures the fact that U.S. government spending was no more sustainable prior to the Great Recession than it is now. Put another way, the recent large deficits change almost nothing about the long-term fiscal prospects of the United States.

This, of course, is a basic insight that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) has expounded for many years, long before the GFC and long before all these commentators came out of the scum.

Deficits are flows of net spending (spending over taxes and transfers) and the US government, or any currency-issuing government can make these flows anytime they want (from a financial perspective).

The Bank’s analysis is somewhat blurred though because they talk about the “unsustainable” nature of US health care expenditure without any reference to the real resources that might or might not be involved.

While we can have a debate about why “Health care spending in the U.S. far exceeds that of other high-income countries” (Source) and why this level of spending delivers inferior health outcomes.

The data shows that (in 2013):

… the U.S. spent 17.1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care in 2013. This was almost 50 percent more than the next-highest spender (France, 11.6% of GDP) and almost double what was spent in the U.K. (8.8%). U.S. spending per person was equivalent to $9,086 (not adjusted for inflation).

It also shows that mortality rates in the US (from heart disease) are up the second highest (using OECD Health Data), lower extremity amputations as a result of diabetes third highest, and so it goes.

So there are clear questions for the US to answer as to why they spend so much being so sick! The answer will lie in eliminating rent-seeking private health providers, cutting back on food portions in cafes, exercising more and all the other things that are indicated.

But none of them impinge on the financial viability of the US government.

And so, after the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis was warning the readers about the unsustainability of public health care spending, I was surprised when I read under the commentary of the “Current Situation” that:

… it is important to remember that the government differs critically from businesses and individuals.

As the sole manufacturer of dollars, whose debt is denominated in dollars, the U.S. government can never become insolvent, i.e., unable to pay its bills … In this sense, the government is not dependent on credit markets to remain operational. Moreover, there will always be a market for U.S. government debt at homebecause the U.S. government has the only means of creating risk-free dollar-denominated assets …

Pull up the stumps folks, the game is over! (cricket analogy for those non-cricket type readers meaning, in this context, that your cover is blown).

The obsequious media

Ken Loach noted in his article that the newspapers:

… that present themselves as radical have been revealed to be nothing of the sort. The Guardian and Mirror have become cheerleaders for the old Labour establishment. Column after column demands that Corbyn should go. Extinct volcanoes from New Labour are quoted with glee. A big headline for Mandelson: “I work every single day to oust Corbyn.” Mandelson had to resign twice from the cabinet in disgrace. Why give him such prominence, except to add to the anti-Corbyn mood music? …

… during the campaign for Corbyn’s re-election the BBC chose twice as many interviewees who were hostile to Corbyn as were supportive.

The media’s response to Trump is also pathetic. Somehow this buffoon is being called “Presidential”.

I think Jon Stewart’s sudden reappearance on the Late Show on Monday said it all about the media and is a good way to close.


So next time you hear a so-called progressive politician claiming they have to balance budgets, or that it is fiscally responsible to run surpluses (and destroy non-government wealth), or that fiscal repair is a high priority (remembering that cars need repair) just reflect back on those few words from the economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

And then tell the politician you are refusing to vote for them in any election, including branch pre-selection processes, until they stop lying to the public about matters they know nothing about (obviously).

Tell them that they are dead in the water if they refuse to embrace MMT insights and push for better public services and full employment.

And tell them you don’t want to hear them try to garner ‘progressive cred’ by claiming they will ‘tax the rich to pay for it’ (it being some progressive spending target like a public school etc).

Sort them out before it is too late.

Administrative note – Travel

I have a long flight to Brussels tonight and so for the next 24 hours at least I will not be able to closely monitor the comments section of my blog.

So if your comment has a link in it please be patient and I will get to it in due course.

I will be in London (Friday and Saturday) and will meet up with some disenchanted Labour Party members among other commitments. Then I head over to the real Europe on Sunday for various events and functions. More about which later.

The Weekend Quiz will appear at the same time as usual.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2017 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

This Post Has 27 Comments

  1. Can anyone name a US politician comparable to Jeremy Corbyn? I can’t think of one. And don’t say E Warren because I recall her disgraceful backing of Kilary in order to become VP. The problem of voting for trump was TINA. I can’t help but thinking that had Kilary won we would be preparing for war right now. And there is another thing, on the “news” last night they discussed where the US could come up with a trillion dollars to finance Trump’s infrastructure plan, had we been planning for WWIII does anyone think they would have been discussing how we would finance it?

  2. “The disdain they showed is why Labour lost in Copeland and went backwards in Stoke-on-Trent.”

    Eventually Labour will realise that it is not the front man that is the problem; it’s the repertoire.

  3. Agree that the repertoire is the problem, but the Copeland election was heavily influenced by the fact that the atomic industry is one of the few large employers left (Cunningham was not known as ‘Nuclear Jack’ for nothing), one which the tories are more wholeheartedly behind.
    Losing an election, or having his tie badly knotted, seems to be the only way Jeremy gets in the news since his re-election.

  4. Loach is one perspective. Owen Jones has another, somewhat different take, on the situation: “Jeremy Corbyn says he’s staying. That’s not good enough”, which appeared in the Guardian on Wednesday, 1 March. Basically, he says that Corbyn has failed to capture control of the narrative, what Neil calls the repertoire. He doesn’t say why, but Bill has clearly set out the reasons why this is so a number of times.

    Further support for Bill’s reasoning about why the progressives are losing is Thomas Frank’s Guardian article that appeared on 1 March — “The intolerance of the left: Trump’s win as seen from Walt Disney’s hometown”. His report comes from the Midwest, Missouri. He talked to older guys who voted for Trump but are not infatuated with him. While Frank has been castigating the Democrats for their unprogressive stance for years, they have never deviated from their preferred narrative, even though it disadvantages their constituents.

  5. I should have added that Jones likes Corbyn and would like him to prevail, contrary to some other Guardian journos. He just doesn’t think he can, for the reasons given in his article.

  6. Trump seems to have grasped one MMT principle – “spending equals income” with his proposed trillion dollar spending on infrastructure and defence.
    Steve Wager

  7. Steve, what Trump can’t be trusted. In May of last year, he said that the US government could never not pay its debts because it printed the money. Afterwards, he began to waffle about this. I am not certain exactly what his position is on federal spending.

  8. Dear Bill

    Hillary Clinton lost the election only because of the Electoral College. In any other country with a presidential system, she would have become president because she outperformed Trump by 3 million votes. Trump did worse than Mitt Romney, 46% of the votes cast versus 47%. The real story in the last American election is that the support for third parties increased from 2% to 6%. That is probably what insured the defeat of Clinton. If the US had runoff elections, and if half of those who voted for third parties had voted for Clinton in the second round, then Hillary would have won by 51% against 49%. Trump owes his election to the Electoral College, not to overwhelming popular support.

    Regards. JS

  9. Dear Bill,

    Are any of your London commitments public events? I would be interested to attend, if so.

    I went to a great talk you gave in London back in Autumn 2015, when Corbyn/McDonnell had not long been in post, and the political atmosphere seemed so positive and hopeful at that point.

    McDonnell should really have been there, as clearly he could learn more than a thing or two from you about how the narrative (or, as Neil Wilson puts it, the “repertoire”) needs to change.

    I do hope the disenchanted Labour Party members you are meeting are influential enough to propose your involvement in some capacity with the leadership… before it’s too late!

  10. I am beginning to think that Corbyn needs a different Chancellor. The y are good friends and have mutual trust, but it will not help Corbyn if McDonnell says stupid things like “there is no magic money tree”, and we must make millionaires make their taxes public, and we will listen to Mandelson. I despair of him. He does not seem to be congruent with Corbyns 10 point plan which inlcludes 500bn of investment. Either that or he thinks that pretending to go along with “allowed” economics will stop the Blairites from mounting a coup. No that can’t be right either….

  11. @ Steve Wager says:
    Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 21:50

    Unfortunately that cuts both ways. Obviously the war hawks have whispered in Trumps ear and the funding will accelerate for perpetual war but that is the trend irrespective of the President.
    Meanwhile the plan for public infrastructure looks more like PPP (private public partnership). Lots of incentive for banks to expand balance sheets and build ‘user pays’ infrastructure at interest rates and solvency constraints they choose. From a household balance sheet perspective its going to be Zero sum or negative on their ability to acquires assets/save money.
    eg: Recently it struck me that the ‘Joint Strike Fighter’ project cannot fail, its like a rolling distribution of computer software instead of traditional software development (where you get definite versions: v1, v2, v3 etc). Its just the military industrial complex running development of its jet fighter in parallel with its operational use because after all its not limited by keystrokes, just all manner of physical resources.

    Though not following UK Corbyn politics with a high degree of granularity, Corbyn in theory can just do what every politician does with the deficit/surplus debate, preach a tepid version of the ‘New’ Keynesian flat-earth dogma let the deficit increase doing all the welfare state policies meanwhile secretly having no intention of ‘balancing’ the fiscal position at all, but saying he will go back to ‘balance’ in the year 2084 or something 😉 *would rather he re-orient the politics and drop the masquerade though its this stuff that keeps killing the left*

    Anyway Bill is on his way over there to sort them out hopefully!

  12. The shifting of national wealth to the 1% is busily underway here just as in the US – giving One Nation, our very own Trumpian movement, all the help it needs. No better example than our very own AusPost with Directors appointed by government, awarding the executives 50% of the profits (measured in multi-millions) while I get a letter from the CEO pleading hard times – we have to charge a dollar a letter and mind you, if you want it delivered in under 6 days it will cost another 35cents. And why I ask, should AusPost be making a profit when it is a public service? Like our electricity supply – public utility services are in a death spiral – the more they charge, the less the public will use them.

  13. Labour won in Stoke on Trent! I went to a public meeting in Leeds of Jeremy Corbyn. It was brilliant. It’s the sad end of the Labour Party who has got it in for Jeremy. He has got a Labour Party of 600,000 strong. The biggest party in Europe. He’s not getting much presence on television – I wonder why?

  14. James Schipper; Trump won by the rules, end of story. The popular vote with 3 million in favour of HRC, were all in California [more than 4 million there in fact, which means Trump did better than Hillary in the rest of the country] That state alone could not have altered the result. Remember the recount? Trump gained not lost votes. For me Trump was a vastly better candidate [bad as he is].

  15. Bernie Sanders gave a good response to Trump’s speech. Even though he doesn’t frame it the way MMT would prefer, he points out that an additional 82 billion dollars spent on the military is a trade off from spending that on education or other social goals. I believe he is correct on that.

  16. Dear Mr Shigemitsu (at 2017/03/03 at 1:18 am)

    Unfortunately, the meetings etc I have this time around are private events.

    However, I will be speaking at the British Labour Party Annual Conference in late September and our new book will be launched in London on September 26 (or thereabouts). I will also be speaking in Brussels, Madrid, Milan, Rome, Helsinki (and maybe Berlin) during the next visit in September and early October.

    I will provide full details of the events once they are fully determined.

    best wishes and thanks for your interest.


  17. Agree with all you say in this blog but Corbyn has been a useless antidote
    to the neo liberal narrative.Unfortunately any counter narrative has been set back
    by ineptitude.

  18. This is a follow-up to my earlier reply. It appears that McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, is as you say, merely quoting words that a follower of neo-liberal economics would say (as quoted in the Morning Star, dated today the 3rd March 2017.) I am just writing to say that I hope that maybe my wife is correct when she says that maybe McDonnell is keeping it simple, because the voters of today are nowhere near understanding Central Banks et ali. Or the fact that a Labour government could provide sufficient funds to make the NHS living and breathing. Not in danger of falling under the sword of the Tory government. Until Corbyn can grasp the nettle (that’s a British plant with poisonous barbs!) of trying to introduce MMT thinking into ordinary people’s knowledge, I think we are on to a loser. Even the Morning Star seems to be largely unaware of the concept of MMT, but it is a certainty that the editors are aware of the concept.

  19. Jerry, Bernie is correct that making trade-offs is what Trump will do, but his macroeconomics isn’t quite right. This isn’t what Trump needs to do.

  20. I’m pleased the talk at the Labour Party Conference has been reiterated – it seemed to fall off the radar. I have been checking the Labour Party website and as far as I can make out you have to be a member to attend, but it doesn’t say how long you have to have been a member – it’s six months to vote in a leadership election.

  21. ‘Corbyn has been a useless antidote
    to the neo liberal narrative.’

    Kevin, I understand how you can say this and I partly agree. But at last summer’s Labour conference Corbyn said ‘austerity is an ideology, not a necessity.’ O.K he doesn’t have the macroeconomic knowledge to flesh this out but even a politician saying that was like a ray of hope in the now 40 year neo-liberal darkness. Think of what Corbyn has to contend with:

    1) The media mis-representing him about 75% of the time
    2) The dominance of economic myths that have been rooted in peoples’ minds for decades.
    3) Spin and P.R politics that relies on image and soundbite
    4) A Party where he has only about 50 M.P’s behind him with about 170 stabbing him in the back.
    5) Continuously ridiculed by the press.
    6) No coherently formed macro economic arguments ; and even if they were, they would be rubbished by the media.

    Corbyn represents a small incremental nudge-given the weight behind neo-liberalism can we expect more at this stage, frustrating as it is? over the last 40 years, people have lost (without knowing it) the feeling for democracy, which is why Colin Crouch refers to a ‘Post-Democracy.’ Corbyn is a small voice in the neo-liberal scorched earth wilderness and even if he were fluent in MMT he wouldn’t be listened to him. Even Bill, who has worked for some decades trying to bring some light to his profession admitted that his own work was pixel-sized against the neo-lib monster.

  22. Simon I joined the Labour Party when Corbyn won the first time and all in all I agree
    with him more than any labour since Michael Foot but.
    No doubt the hand he has been dealt is difficult .Media antagonism to the left is a given
    and always will be.The lack of support amongst Mp’s was always going to be a problem
    the leadership challenge was the latest terrible judgement from a parliamentary party
    whose judgement has been historically terrible(Iraq and financial deregulation to name the obvious)
    The EU question is a real bind for him .Two thirds of labour voters support EU membership
    two thirds of labour constituencies voted out- a real minefield. Even his own supporters tend to
    be EU enthusiasts.As Bill has noted before people go with their gut- Heursitic effect .
    ‘ Progressives’ gut is for internationalism and hostile to any sign of xenophobia.Much of the
    working class gut is for May (her words are impressive ,with out any policies to build the meritocracy
    she declares for) and not for Corbyn.
    It is not just the media, Trump has become president of the USA in open battle with the mainstream
    media.It is not just that Corbyn has a difficult hand to play he has played it badly.He avoids rather
    than confronts the media .Yes he seems to have no coherent macro economic argument and platform.
    Not confronting the household analogy head on will always present a back for the rod which ,media
    and political opponents will relentlessly wield!
    It seems the popular right will have its time in the Uk ,USA and elsewhere let us hope they are
    different than the 30’s brand( I suspect they are). But I am afraid that Corbyn seems incapable of
    furthering the cause of an alternative populist left .
    A generation of neo liberalism has left a mark which will take a long time to turn around both in
    the political discourse and in government policies if any real alternatives do claim power.But the
    reality certainly in the UK and I suspect throughout the EU is there is little traction for a left alternative
    (the French Corbyn is likely to come 4th in the French presidential election first round behind the
    nationalist right,the French Thatcher and a mainstream centrist)
    I am more hopeful in the USA that opposition to Trump may follow the Sanders lead if the Democrats
    are to recapture the rust belt states.

  23. I’ll bet that less than 1 per cent of the British population have ever heard of a “Central Bank” !

  24. I remember saying at the time of Corbyn’s election in 2015 that the Labour party had been hollowed out from the inside, it’s become an intellectual dead zone of triangulation, identity politics and neoliberalism. As bad as Corbyn is, he was far and away the best of what was on offer in both leadership elections.
    The party however is still in thrall to macroeconomic neoliberalism, it threatens to break the apron strings but just can’t quite manage it and keeps running back to mama.
    I happened to be listening to BBC 5 live on the radio in the car on the way home last week, and the usual exchange took place between interviewer and generic member of the shadow cabinet (I think it was shadow for police). The MP mounted a full fronted confident charge at government police policy, bayonets drawn, rightly hurling damnation for cuts to services only to be retreating in disarray two minutes later when skewered by ‘how will you pay for it”.
    It was the sound of a fish floundering on the side of the dock, gasping for life. It was pathetic.

    I’m not sure there is an MP in the house who understands this problem or has the intellect to explain it, I really hope there is, but I’m sceptical to say the least.
    Bill’s visit will be important in September, it’ll be interesting to see what level of support there is. There’s usually an exhibition hall at these things with various companies and organisations showcasing their wares……..maybe we could crowdfund an MMT one….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top