British Labour seems to think that HM Treasury can dominate the elected politicians

It is Wednesday in Australia and my usual blog-light day to give me more time to write other things. Although, today (in Europe as I type) I had a long flight from Athens to Paris where I am speaking to the French Senate Commission at a reception this evening. I also had to leave Athens early, so when I reached Paris and found my hotel, I took off to the Jardin du Luxembourg for a 10kms run (laps of the grounds). My trip to Athens was very successful and I will be in a position to talk about that in the weeks to come once some work has been finalised and the plan developed. But today, I want to briefly comment on a story from the Guardian’s Larry Elliot (February 14, 2020) – PM’s Treasury power grab doomed to fail, warn former insiders – which reported that some Labour Party ‘insiders’ (aka gutless morons who won’t publicly take responsibility for spreading rumours) had determined that the current government ministers would not be able to win a power struggle against the powerful H.M. Treasury, who would withhold crucial information from the government to maintain their hegemony. What? The inference was that “the Treasury’s independence” – that is, in other, more accurate words, the right of unelected and unaccountable technocrats to impose their right-wing, neoliberal austerity ideology on the democratically-elected government – was a Labour ideal that should be preserved and that those awful Tories were trying to assert democratic control of its public service institutions.

At the same time, ex-Labour Party advisors, who had shoehorned the Party into accepting and propagating the disastrous Fiscal Credibility Rule, were opining (if you can call it that) that “Labour may need to start worrying about the deficit”, as reference to the Tory plan to introduce a stimulus to attenuate the post-Brexit dislocation.

Other so-called progressives, who supported Remain and the FCR chimed in by way of support.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party are running a ‘star chamber’ to purge anyone who dares to criticise, for example, the illegal occupation of Palestinian land and the subsequent human rights abuses that that occupation has involved.

You really cannot make this stuff up.

And then we get to the Womens’ Refuge battle within Labour that threatens to consume all reason and those it involves.

I have views on the Womens’ matter but they will have to wait until Thomas Fazi and I publish the sequel to our book – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, September 2017) – sometime later in 2020.

I will make some comments on the planned sequel next week.

On the latest update on the ‘Star Chamber’, this article by academic Haim Bresheeth is worth considering – My life’s work as an anti-racist and anti-Zionist activist makes me an antisemite according to Labour.

A few weeks ago, I saw a Tweet from an avowed Marxist, cum Labour Party ‘advisor’ (from afar) that appeared to be preaching the virtues of Thatcher-style austerity.

Here it is:

“Fiscal discipline” is now a defining feature of the Labour narrative rather than full employment, equity, public infrastructure, public education, public health and climate action – all of which require fiscal policy to ignore deficits and balance spending with the real capacity of the economy.

Think about Treasury for a moment.

1. It told the British people that there would be an immediate recession if the June 2016 Referendum resulted in a Leave majority.

2. It has repeatedly updated those estimates as each prediction of disaster fails to materialise as part of a biased anti-Brexit – read, anti-Democratic – campaign to maintain the UK in the corporatist, neoliberal cabal that is the EU.

3. We are really back to the 1930s, in a different context where the British Treasury introduced deflationary policies (wage cuts etc) as a response to the collapsing British economy during the early stages of the Great Depression.

The contribution of Keynes (and the economists working with him) was to explain why things deteriorated even further after the H.M. Treasury was set loose on the economy and to show a different path.

Their contribution provided a categorical rejection of the mainstream theory that the Treasury technocrats held as an ideological position rather than any valid representation of reality.

We are back to that sort of issue.

The British Treasury officials in the 1930 had no idea of how the economy operated.

The current crop is no better.

In my view, the British government should sack all the senior Treasury staff and clear the decks of these neoliberal New Keynesian ideologues.

If anyone else in the Treasury decides to withhold data then they should go too.

If there is a shortage of qualified economists in the UK to provide sensible advice then that is just an indictment of the Economics Departments in that country who persist in teaching a fictional world and spend hours “counting angels on tops of pinheads”.

I wrote about the struggle between Keynes and the British Treasury in this blog post – These were not Keynesian stimulus packages (April 15, 2011).

Here is a write up of an interview I did for Radio New Zealand (July 30, 2017) – ‘There’s no such thing as fair austerity’ – where I noted that these economists have been “torturing the minds of our youth with lies and ideology made to look like eternal truths”

To think that Labour would prioritise the technocrats over the democratically-elected politicians shows how far down the neoliberal rabbit hole they have gone.

The depoliticisation of economic policy decisions is a hallmark of the neoliberal era as politicians sought to defray the blame for austerity they wished to inflict on their economies by claiming some external force was involved – whether it be a so-called ‘independent’ central bank, an external multilateral body like the IMF, or some technocrats in Treasury departments.

Solidarity with Athens

In the spirit of my visit to Athens this week (details of the outcomes will emerge in the coming months), I thought some Greek reggae was a good idea.

This is from the Moca Revolutionaries, which is a cooperative of musicians in Greece who describe themselves as the “Jah children in Greece” who play the “the raw street sound of reggae in Greece”.

The particular track is from Exo – Kάποια Mέρα

Amidst the devastation of their country, there is still salvation in these beautiful sounds.

Current calendar

Today I am in Paris for a presentation to the French Treasury.

Upcoming events:

  • Wednesday, February 19, 2020 – Presentation to the French Treasury, Closed event. 9:00 to 12:00. Afternoon – press interviews.
  • Thursday, February 20, 2020 – Paris, Presentation to French Senate Commission, Palace of Luxembourg – 8:30-10:30.
  • Thursday, February 20, 2020 – London, GIMMS presentation, MMT education – afternoon – Details.
  • Friday, February 21, 2020 – Manchester, GIMMS presentation, The Harwood Room in the Barnes Wallis Building, University of Manchester, Details.
  • Saturday, February 22, 2020 – MMTed Masterclass Workshop, London, for Details and Tickets. Limited spaces available.
  • Sunday, February 23, 2020 – Amsterdam – private meetings.

I encourage you to support these public events in the UK:

1. February 20, 2020 – I will speaking in London about the recent political events in the UK and how an understanding of MMT is essential to rebuild a progressive political force in Britain. Criminologist Steve Hall will also talk and will focus on the current rise of populism in the West.

The event will be at the Unite the Union (Diskus Theatre) in central London and will run from 13:30 to 17:00.

For – Details.

2. February 21, 2020 – The same show moves to Manchester.

The event will be at the Barnes Wallis Building (The Harwood Room) at the University of Manchester and will run from 13:30 to 16:30.

For – Details.

3. February 22, 2020 – MMTed – with help from – GIMMS – will hold a three-hour MMT Masterclass in London between 14:00 and 17:00.

This is a teaching seminar exclusively and will suit those who want to build their understanding of macroeconomics from an MMT perspective.

For more details – MMT Masterclass, London.

There are still vacancies available.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2020 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Things are indeed bad within Labour and after the crushing of Corbyn there is now not much hope for the Left here and the antisemitism witch hunting (let’s remember: the Tories exploited this to their gain) is an utter absurdity with many Jews accused of being antisemitic as Bill points out.

    But before we start praising the Tories too much let’s remember:

    1. We’ve just had a Government appointed 1930’s style eugenicist who thinks that enforced contraception for the poor could be a good idea, rather like the ideas of Thomas Nixon Carver. He resigned yesterday. Johnson hid behind silence (a technique used to effect in the G.E.)
    2. House prices are rising fast and there is no plan by the Tories to deal with this by providing enough social housing, or making sure developers have to do so whilst limiting land prices to present, rather than ‘hope value’.
    3. Benefit claimants are still marginalised with severely disabled people who win in the courts being repeatedly challenged by the Government. Whilst the new Attorney General wants to limit judicial review-accusing that of overturning democracy. The attack on benefit claimants keeps reinforcing the already negative stereotyping that the Tories have embedded in the national( lack) of consciousness.
    4. They still maintain that cuts will have to be made elsewhere to ‘pay’ for the new spending to keep people up north happy. So they are still keeping the mainstream myths going. Ministers in the present Government who now feel spending is possible were vociferously defending austerity that killed thousands, have refused to apologise for it and therefore maintain the myth that it was necessary.
    5. There is still zero policy for social care, despite an appalling crisis at a time when the age dependency ration is climbing rapidly.
    6. Despite pollution concerns of alarming proportions. Rail travel is atrociously expensive with recent rail fair hikes. Again, no policy to deal with this.
    7. There are clear signs from Cummings (the eminence grise of the Tories) that policies based on evolutionary psychology (many of which are NOT settled scientific matters) are to influence policy making. This should be worrying but for some reason isn.t.

    So I’d say it’s a pretty disastrous show all round,

  2. Yes, Simon, in America (where I live) as well as in the UK, things look pretty disastrous, especially if Bernie gets Corbyned. This same sense of disaster has spread across the globe with only a few bright spots, one of the brightest being the emergence of MMT and the renewed space for public agency it creates. I remain amazed by Bill’s drive and energy in preaching the MMT gospel to any even partially receptive audience, reminiscent of Paul’s relentless spreading of another liberating message (before it became institutionalized and ossified). A while back, I stumbled upon a framework in which hope can again find a footing, especially when it appears so close to being extinguished. If Bill will permit the link (which goes rather far afield of macroeconomics), I will share it with you and with all of the readers of this most excellent and unusual blog:

  3. “We’ve just had a Government appointed 1930’s style eugenicist who thinks that enforced contraception for the poor could be a good idea”

    Did we, or did you jump to that conclusion before working out what the discussion was, and whether views have changed and evolved over time.

    I used to believe in Santa. I’m glad I wasn’t able to tweet that up when I was younger. Imagine believing some old bloke breaks into your house once a year and comes into your bedroom to do strange things. And then saying you look forward to it.

    What we had was a universal character assassination from “Offence Archeologists” using comments from years ago out of context. Or as it used to be called “a witch hunt”. The very definition of prejudice.

    Anybody supporting this sort of political behaviour really had better make sure they are squeaky clean themselves.

    Because nobody is.

    Is it any wonder that people walk away from public life and public discussion and comment when they are under constant assault from self-appointed Witchfinder Generals.

    Always remember “when the facts change I change my mind”. Provide the new facts and change minds.

  4. Hi Neil,

    Those comments from Sabisky weren’t from years ago unless by ‘year’s ago’ you meant more than one year and I mistakenly took ‘year’s ago’ to mean ‘quite a long time ago.

    No, I’m not ‘squeaky’ clean but the rise of cod evolutionary psychology being spread by people like Cummings and Sabisky (sic?) does concern me because a lot of these issues are still contested. A cursory read of the famous 1998 debate between Pinker and Rose clearly shows there are very contrasting views about evolutionary psychology and culture. We’re often not dealing with ‘facts’ here but widely contrasting interpretations of data. A Biology professor friend of mine recently told me that ‘I tell my students that the data are facts but not their interpretation.’

    There are also interesting debates between Pinker and Chomsky which show serious divergences of view.

    Interestingly, Steven Rose (one of our leading evolutionary biologists) weighed in on the issue of Cummings and his influence:

    ‘Stefan Collini’s trawl through Dominic Cummings’ writings (The long read, 6 February) is a helpful insight into the mind of a maverick. However, in giving credence to Cummings’ enthusiastic embrace of (natural) science, Collini, as a literary critic and historian, risks falling victim to his own critique of those who speak outside their disciplinary comfort zone. Cummings’ understanding of modern genetics, IQ, evolutionary psychology, child development and neuroscience, as evidenced by his blog and advice to Michael Gove when education minister, is a mishmash of half-understood, controversial, and sometimes just plain wrong assertions.

    As Cummings argues, politicians need advice from experts, but his deference to the physical and life sciences excludes evidence from the social sciences to its peril (as witness the free school debacle). Beware the autodidact bringing gifts; truly, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.’

    Rose has been writing and researching for decades and with Richard Lewontin formed a sort of Left leaning counterweight to the Dawkins/Pinker axis.

  5. @ Neil Wilson,

    I’ll accept your proclamation that you’ve now changed your mind about Santa, but is there any evidence that Cummings’ appointee has changed his mind about eugenics? Or forcibly drugging children with anti-narcoleptics? Or that the fertility of the unemployed, compared to those with jobs, should be reduced via the benefits system?

    He was between the ages of 21-23 when he wrote some of his silly and provocative rubbish from 2014 to 2016; I presume you’d given up on your Santa fantasies by then?

    Best, Mr. S

  6. Neil the problem with that is this isn’t ancient the bloke is 27 and said he was quoted out of context.

    No he wasn’t he was blatant about it. Now if he had turned around and said look I was a stupid then and fair enough but he didn’t.

    No I am far from squeaky clean and I have admitted it time and time again. I ended up over in Kent due to a rather nasty cocaine habit as I was running from my ‘friends’ 2 of who died.. hows that for an admisson but my habit wasn’t taken out of context it was what it was and started almost back to when this bloke was born.

  7. Bill, the Guardian’s editorial today is not a tale of “fiscal discipline”, but a call for ‘full employment’ and saying that Johnson ought to get on with “shovel-ready projects in distressed areas” rather than vacuous claims of investment and showy tax cuts. As well as pushing for deficit spending investment.

    It seems to me that like in the U.S. all the falling employment and rising wages statistics (what does GDP tell us anyway?) are worthless crap reflecting a growth of nothing more than, for want of a better term: shitty jobs. Low-paid, insecure, on-call hours jobs. Or jobs stripped of rights and benefits. The fact the Brexiteers ran a false doomsday campaign does not mean it has been disproved by a positive post-Brexit economic outcome. Anyone peddling that is getting on for being as bad as the doomsday Brexiters in my book.

    I see a disproportionate hammering of ‘British Labour’ here. It baffles me sometimes. Doubtless the Labour Party is still riddled with ‘tax & spend’ merchants and identity politics and Blairite residue calling for fiscal rectitude, but do you know what? So is the Tory Party and the rest of the parties. In the UK in the US in the EU… on one side or the other. We both know that if Labour were actually in government they too would be defaulting to putting a fiscal stimulus in place. It’s a great pity McDonnell & co failed to take expert advice, but is the punishment to be a constant flaying of ‘British Labour’ (which is actually not one homogenous school of thought) for being especially moronic among all the other economic morons?

  8. @ Ferdinand
    “The fact the Brexiteers ran a false doomsday campaign does not mean it has been disproved by a positive post-Brexit economic outcome. Anyone peddling that is getting on for being as bad as the doomsday Brexiters in my book”.

    Haven’t you confused yourself somewhere along the line, and managed to get that back-to-front?
    AFAIK (and Bill’s account confirms it) it was the Remainers who ran a false doomsday campaign.

    “… but is the punishment to be a constant flaying of ‘British Labour'”

    Why not? Unless/until they see the error of their ways. There’s been no sign of that yet. Politics is not a Sunday-school picnic: by and large, gross errors get the punishment they deserve.

  9. Yes, I mistakenly wrote ‘Brexiters’ instead of Remainers. However, once that is corrected, the rest still stands.

    Insisting upon some kind of instant turn to economic ideas contradicting the mainstream, within any current government anywhere, is rather fantastical. How many years did it take Milton Friedman & co going about propagandising until monetarist ideas fully filtered through? And he had a big platform. And so foaming at the mouth about it not yet happening is a bit pointless. Our esteemed host here has been at this for over 20 years, so I grasp the deep irritation at the failure of ‘progressives’ to actually accept economic theory which would in their favour (it’s a lens, yes I know).

    Paul Mason is a journalist with a music degree, not an economist; most of these people are just commentators not economists. For sure he and others are leading a lot of people up a blind alley, but that sort are always going to be about. Their tune will change when the people actually implementing policy as governments finally clamber over the paradigm barrier right? That’s going to be ragged and messy and will happen in a watershed moment once things come to some head. Things have only just got going in terms of wider dissemination and some acceptance of MMT truths. Expect resistence for some time yet. Don’t be fooled that Brexit is some fast-track to economic competence now the UK is free from EU neolibs, because the UK has also been run by pioneer neolibs for 40 years.

  10. Ferdinand
    Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 7:24

    Don’t be fooled that Brexit is some fast-track to economic competence now the UK is free from EU neolibs, because the UK has also been run by pioneer neolibs for 40 years.

    I doubt if many, if any, regular readers here will have been fooled into thinking that. And Bill has never said anything like that. Rather, Brexit, is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for future prosperity. We needed a Lexit, not a Tory Brexit, and a Lexit that was driven by a Left that was MMT-aware. As we know, that was not to be. And I doubt if many, if any, regular readers here are fooled by Johnson apparently spending like a drunken sailor, because, as Simon Cohen points out, he will be giving with one hand and taking with another. He’ll be double-counting, and he’ll be lying through his teeth, one of the things he does best. So it’s an uphill struggle for the Labour Party, or perhaps another party of the Left in due course. Many good Labour people are working in the right direction.

    But the Leadership process is not exactly encouraging. One of the candidates today was reported as saying that she wanted a referendum on the monarchy. Not, I would suggest, a priority for a country that is suffering floods, unemployment, and underemployment, with people forced to use food banks. I think it was the same candidate who claimed that babies are born without any sex. Whether they actually believe that, or were just saying it because of being terrified of being branded a transphobe, I am not sure. But possibly right to be terrified, because we know of other good MPs who have been hounded out of the party after being unfairly branded as another kind of -phobe. The Labour Party now seems to be obsessed with who it wants to drive out, rather than include. Not, I would suggest, a recipe for future growth.

  11. Bill said,

    In my view, the British government should sack all the senior Treasury staff and clear the decks of these neoliberal New Keynesian ideologues.

    If anyone else in the Treasury decides to withhold data then they should go too.

    If there is a shortage of qualified economists in the UK to provide sensible advice then that is just an indictment of the Economics Departments in that country who persist in teaching a fictional world and spend hours “counting angels on tops of pinheads”.

    We know that the UK Treasury has, and always has had, its own agenda. Keynes had problems with them, as you write. So did Harold Wilson in the 1960s (one reason why he set up an independent Department of Economic affairs, ultimately, not very successful). So did Wilson again in the 1970s, and then so did Callaghan and Healey. The reason Healey went to the IMF (which you so criticise him for) was because the Treasury gave him what turned out to be incorrect forecasts. (These were “corrected” a few months later, but the damage was done. Healey has written that he’d never have gone to the IMF if he’d had the correct figures).

    Wilson (an economist) probably would not have been so easily bamboozled by the Treasury, but he resigned in 1976, and neither Callaghan nor Healey were economists. In fact, UK politicians rarely are. Even Gordon Brown, Blair’s “Iron Chancellor” was originally a historian.

    So, if we get rid of the senior Treasury people, and there are no decent economics advisors from outside available, and most UK politicians are not, or are not good, economists, what do we do?
    Whether you consider the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, a good economist, is a moot point (Oxford PPE, Stanford MBA, followed by Goldman Sachs, then Hedge Funds).

    The author of this Guardian article (14 Feb 2020) from which this is a quotation seems to think that Treasury power is now broken. I would not be so sure:

    Rishi Sunak has won the Treasury, but its long-fabled power is now broken
    Tom Kibasi

    The reality, however, is that Sunak is now merely Cummings’ deputy. With the most powerful economic policymaker now an unelected adviser, this could be the turning point for both economic strategy and for the long-fabled power of the Treasury. Unlike many in the Tory party, Cummings has no fetish for eliminating the deficit. He is not bound by the ideological straitjacket of Treasury thinking. And he cannot be criticised for lacking vision.

    The government now talks of nationalisation, significant increases in public investment in research and development and infrastructure, and the introduction of wealth taxes. Margaret Thatcher famously described Tony Blair as her greatest legacy. If this new “national conservative” agenda succeeds, perhaps in time John McDonnell will say the same of Cummings.

    • Tom Kibasi is a writer and researcher on politics and economics

  12. I have just come from a Labour Party meeting where 3 young members (one only 17) stood up to take on important roles. This constituency has the highest proportion of retired people in the country, is one of the safest tory seats and has one of the most disgusting tory MPs. He actually sent solititors letters to our (great) parliamentary candidate about a campaign leaflet which merely listed his voting record. This old girl felt some lifting of the gloom experienced since December.

  13. Mike Elwood

    Do you, or anyone, remember when Michael Foot tried to keep the Labour Party together and not to split e.g. the Social Democrats. (Michael Foot may not ultimately have been the best leader, but it was his intent here I am emphasizing. Also note that if he had succeeded, Thatcher might not have won again) There was no talk then such as “if you don’t like it, then join the Tories” (or maye Social Democrats in those days). Labour, today, well certainly under Corbyn, pushes exclusivity in terms of who is “true” Labour, whilst at the same time arguing they are the party of inclusivity – certainly some form of performative contradiction or at least hypocrisy – a charge more difficult to make against the Tories, since we, well I imagine most of us here, have zero belief that they are really a party of inclusivity.

    Trying to decide who to vote for as Leader and Deputy Leader, I do not think I have ever seen such a poor quality set of candidates in terms of intellect, intelligence , erudition, charisma and presence. What has happened? Is this the result of this “one, true Labour” attitude pushing out all those who no longer fit in what used to be a broad church?

    I wish someone would create a new anti-neoliberal social democratic party.

  14. “This constituency has the highest proportion of retired people in the country”,

    As a long-retired person myself, I’m not sure what that label is supposed to betoken. I should have thought that retired people were likely to be as diverse in their outlook as any other demographic cohort, and perhaps more so than the very youthful – whom it’s all too easy to sentimentalise alas.

    As Leszek Kolakowski (a renowned scholar of impressive sagacity and erudition) said of himself:-
    “I do not remember having ever refused a discussion with people who were
    ready to have it, the trouble is that some were not, and this precisely
    because of their omniscience, which I lacked. True, I was almost
    omniscient (yet not entirely) when I was 20 years old but, as you know,
    people grow stupid when they grow older, and so, I was much less
    omniscient when I was 28 and still less now.”

    I don’t think the point I’m trying (and probably failing) to get across could conceivably be put better or with more exquisite precision than that.

  15. There is one element of omniscience (knowledge, awareness) that defeats both the young and the old – it is the concept of a balanced budget (as in a household budget).

    We spend hour upon hour describing the theoretical basis of a fiat economy and its idiosyncrasies, yet the public’s perception of the link between taxation and funding (ie running out of money) is so immovable it is sacrosanct.

    It will be interesting to see whether a Tory government can bridge that funding dogma by pouring (creating) a fiscal boost into an economy that needs re-balancing (re-structuring).

    If that was to succeed I guess Bill would be willing to acknowledge that MMT principles can be applied by right-wing governments ( or should we anyway refer to chief adviser Dom Cummings as a Marxist, given his usual regalia)

  16. “… or should we anyway refer to chief adviser Dom Cummings as a Marxist, given his usual regalia)”

    Cited by Rose (quoted @ Simon Cohen Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 5:02, above), this article:- “Stefan Collini’s trawl through Dominic Cummings’ writings (The long read, 6 February)” describes Cummings as a Leninist. The trait Collini seems to have in mind is justification of means by their ends.

    I have a hunch that Cummings’s career may end like Icarus’s. We shall see.

  17. @ Gogs
    “Bill would be willing to acknowledge that MMT principles can be applied by right-wing governments”.

    Bill already has – several times – whilst always being careful to stress that that fact casts no obloquy (by false association) on the lens which is MMT, because *perception* of the underlying reality precedes and is separate from deciding how one wishes to apply the insight thus gained. And has never made any bones about what his own choices would be were he in (or advising) government.

  18. @Martin Freedman,

    “Labour, today, well certainly under Corbyn, pushes exclusivity in terms of who is “true” Labour, whilst at the same time arguing they are the party of inclusivity …”

    Excuse me, but wasn’t it Lord (Andrew) Adonis, from the Labour right, who stated that: “”If you’re a Brexiter, I hope that you won’t vote for the Labour Party because the Labour Party is moving increasingly against Brexit… I’m saying if what you want is Brexit delivered, you should vote for the party that is going to deliver Brexit, which I’m afraid is the Conservatives.”

    There’s exclusivity for you, and to what cost?

    Everyone knows it was Labour’s Brexit stance that lost them the 2019 General Election.

    Corbyn’s failure lay in trying to be *too* inclusive – and not calling out, or expelling, the Blairite faction in his party when he had the chance.

  19. This appears to be a redux of the 1972nUS election where the people’s choice nominee for the Democrats was sabotaged by his own party at every turn and lost in a landslide. This effectively negated any sort of progressive challenge to the neoliberal orthodoxy that runs the Democratic National Committee. That is until Bernie Sanders arrived. It looks as if the owners of the Democrats are preparing another in house lynching for Sanders should he be the nominee that they are unable to stop.

  20. What would politicians do all day if everyone understood MMT, and, that MMT was the only correct way to evaluate macroeconomics policy proposals?

  21. Let’s look on the bright side. At least the candidate who thinks that Labour should “get down on our hands and knees” and ask the Jewish community for forgiveness” is no longer in the leadership contest, and the Guardian shows signs of crawling in a very muddled way toward the necessity of fiscal dominance. By muddled I can refer to the same editorial article which made reference to the ‘need for shovel ready projects in distressed areas’ and agreed with a Dartford College professor of economics that “there is little evidence … that [the UK labour market is] anywhere close to full employment’ but can still write that ‘Mr Johnson might opt for broader tax cuts, but the cash is likely to be used by firms and households to reduce high debt levels.’ as if that was not a necessity and a sign of insufficient spend. Clearly they didn’t bother to read or didn’t agree with Professor Mitchell’s blog the day before. A wholesale clearout is overdue there as well as at HM Treasury.

  22. @Mr Shigemitsu,

    Talking of Adonis, he was tweeting the other day, saying that the sooner Corbyn (and Cummings) was history the better. He wanted a return to Social Democracy. (I checked his history, and he started out as an SDP councillor in Oxford, so that figures; I note that he has never won a Parliamentary election, while Corbyn has won loads, and also achieved a substantial Labour popular vote in 2017, and a not too shabby one in 2019 (pity it didn’t translate to seats; but compare that and 2017 to the Labour popular votes in 2005, 2010, and 2015, under Blairite leaders). Adonis clearly worships Blair (after all he owes him his peerage), but Blair was no Social Democrat, but a pale blue Thatcherite.

    @Martin Freedman,

    You may have a point about exclusivity, not regarding Corbyn but perhaps regarding some of his lieutenants and supporters. You may be, and I hope others will be, interested listening to the following interview with the one and only Tony Benn, from 2006:

    Especially interesting to me was the part between about 32 minutes and 36 minutes, where he describes the problems Jim Callaghan had which led to them going to the IMF. TB agrees with Bill in that monetarism didn’t start with Thatcher, but with Callaghan (and Healey) in the 1970s. TB liked Jim as a person, but says he just got it wrong here. Paraphrasing TB: “The Treasury couldn’t get us to make the cuts they wanted, so they went to the IMF and brought them in, and the government [of Callaghan] capitulated. [Ultimately, this led to the cuts which led to the winter of discontent].

    Interestingly again, TB says he served in right wing cabinets and said it was the right thing to do. You don’t resign because you lose on an issue. You stay there and keep making your case. (You only resign on major issues, like wars, like Robin Cook). By the same token, you don’t insist that people who don’t agree with you resign, either. You have to just try to work together.

  23. Geopolitics is the only game in town. The cold war never ended.

    The game being, the liberal left and liberal right hold the power and we stay on the right wing spectrum so when we vote there is very little choice between the two.

    America calls the shots and have done since the Berlin Wall. Why Goldman Sachs and other big banks provide the HR for all the important jobs in government.

    Only way it changes is if Bernie or someone to the left of Bernie wins in the US. Which will not happen in my life time. When it does, those with real power will either cause another crises or the big banks will get together and decide not to give out loans. Making sure the whole system moves to the right again and that the left can’t be trusted.

    Fantasy ?

    Been as clear as day everywhere you look over the last 40 years. Regardless of which continent you are looking at. It is lazy thinking just calling these people stupid. They have shown time and time again they know how it works as they rig the system in their favour.

  24. Populists think they are winning. Changing things breaking away from the status quo.

    Never going to happen, unless there is real lasting change in the US. It has to happen in America first.

    Otherwise, the power brokers in countries who are called the West. Just call the Whitehouse and say don’t worry your grand plan is safe with us.They know fine well how to keep moving the populists to the right. They will control them so that lasting change never happens.

    They do not care about the economic benefits that Brexit could bring. At the moment behind the scenes, they are trying to limit the geopolitical damage brexit could cause. There is a world of difference between the two. Whatever it looks like by the end of the day it will only benefit ” The West ” and the banks that drive the geopolitical economic model.

  25. “What would politicians do all day if everyone understood MMT, and, that MMT was the only correct way to evaluate macroeconomics policy proposals?”

    Argue about what precisely needs taxing to free up the resources necessary for their grand proposals. If you need roofers you’d tax users of roofers to free up roofers. Not random rich people whose roofs are perfectly fine. They can’t give you any roofers.

    Beyond that it would be how big or small government should be. How much should it do and how much can be allowed to remain in the land of competion.

    And finally, because the Job Guarantee removes the “what about the jobs” argument *and* solves the accumulation of capital problem, the politicians could *increase* the intensity of capitalism and competition. No more bailouts. No more lobbying. No more special interest pleading. Just a neat economic operating system that cleans up the resources and returns them to the pool when a business ‘Seg Faults’.

    I’m in London on Saturday btw at Bill’s gig – weather and fading British train systems willing.

  26. I’m sure many devotees of Bill’s blog will make a point of acquainting themselves with Neil on Saturday – the last few months have seemed like a case of the man we used to see walking the dog every morning suddenly and inexplicably disappearing.

    They may even tackle him about his reference to “intensity of capitalism” because in historic terms lobbying seems an inherent part of economic upheavals, whether they concern private industry or nationalized concerns (in the latter case I am particularly thinking of the Beeching railway closures and the mining shutdowns during the Scargill era.

    Where employment is affected on such a scale it is understandable to seek some means of offsetting capitalistic turmoil on society. I have always harboured a sneaking suspicion that the abstract repercussions of the competitive market have been conceded as a mollifying influence in such cases.

    A neat economic system still seems a little implausible in reality.

  27. I ‘ ve been playing about with an idea of trying a different approach.

    I have been trying to write a book/ A4 envelope which will be smaller than Warren’ s roughly between 25 to 30 pages which focuses on Scotland and the Madness that is happening North of the Border. Currently, I have 403 friends/ volunteers/ old acquaintance’ s who are willing to give up a few weekends to deliver this book through letter boxes. Could probably get more people involved once it is up and running.

    Starting from the borders and then move North. Arriving in buses and delivering to every letter box in these towns and villages. Populations are small and you could easily reach Dumfries in a few weekends and covered most of the South of Scotland. 20, A4 envelopes each and a few weekends rinse and repeat would do it.

    Then keep moving North until you hit Glasgow and Edinburgh. Then take stock and see what we can achieve after that. Leaving the big cities to last making sure the town’s and villages has had one through their door North of Glasgow and Edinburgh until you hit Inverness.

    When we go to MMT events in the UK it is all the same faces and I fear we are just creating echo chambers. Unless that has changed ? I dunno. The names never seen to change from when we first started out.

    I have no idea if this new approach will work, but I feel we have to try something different and think outside the box. I am not sure if meeting up with smiles on the same old faces every few months is working or not.

    We have to reach our more and there are better ways of doing that than just using social media. Speedo Mick is a great example of that and how to generate interest.

    Maybe Andy Blatch and Ralph Musgrave could get can get their Green MMT Speedo’ s on and March from Truro to to Lowestoft for the cause 🙂

    We could bet on who ends up in the English Channel first.

  28. And as an afterthought, it would be enlightening to hear Steve Hall differentiating between the criminology associated with the alienation of communities arising from mass employment disruption (ostensibly generated by commercial judgements ) and criminology associated with the growth of consumer orientated societies amid growing societal inequalities; that cannot adequately be redressed through taxation and other re-distributional policies.

  29. Derek writes:
    “When we go to MMT events in the UK it is all the same faces and I fear we are just creating echo chambers”

    I agree.

    I was particularly disappointed when informed that one of Bill’s former students is a deputy governor of the RBA.

    Surely, this person would want to or could organise a weekly letter to the media, outlining the alternative MMT approach to the mainstream approach as followed by governor Philip Lowe….

    Would his job be on the line? Must the truth be hidden from the public?
    (Just as certain scripture – Koranic or biblical – cannot be exposed, because – as one (moderate Muslim) delegate I spoke to at a Labor conference said – “you can’t say to people their Book is not true” (ie not the Word of God)”….

  30. Well, it will be interesting to learn what Steve Hall said yesterday because he obviously sees a cast iron link between the rise in consumerism and its impact on society’s morals.

    As I noted yesterday, I am particularly interested in identifying the causes of the criminology that Steve refers to (Criminology and Consumerism Simon Winlow, Stephen Hall Publish Year: 2016) – because he clearly believes much of society’s troubles are correlated to the growth of worldwide materialism.

    The symptoms of this malaise are easy to see in the prolific desires of an acquisitive mammal, fueled, as Steve emphasizes, by an advertising industry with few moral constraints. The alienation that this produces is personal and often cumulative.

    I am willing to acknowledge what Steve is suggesting but wonder to what extent it is a permanent disability generated largely by consumerism. That is why I was interested to learn how Steve differentiated between cultural alienation associated with the disruption of mass employment and that caused by the insidious role of consumer avarice.

    In the case of mass unemployment (or its threat) there is a welling up of widespread resentment that might lead to crime and societal upheaval. But it is different in nature to the alienation created by consumerism. Furthermore, mass employment disruption will generate a communal defensive reaction that is absent from the repercussions of consumerism; where a sense of stigma is felt by those excluded.

    But I think Steve needs to be careful how far he extends the essence of consumer morality into the argument. The desire of individuals to outshine their brethren has always been with us (back to the days of barter and arable dependence).

    Competition can be a very stimulating process – what is currently unworthy of its credibility is the attendant debt supporting it. We are all aware of the limitations of competition and Steve is right to highlight the devious roles of the advertising and financial industry in creating a consumer society that betrays the virtues of a sustainable economy.

    Steve’s association with Centre for Realist Criminology only adds to my interest.

  31. I’m disappointed now that I didn’t go today because I might have got to meet Neil. I don’t know when he stopped commenting – I’ve been reading blog for just over a year and hadn’t noticed him. I haven’t understood most of what he’s said but am wowed by today’s comment. “Argue about what precisely needs taxing to free up the resources necessary”. “Beyond that it would be how big or small government should be”. And the rest. I’m going to write an article for the Morning Star on just these issues. I would welcome a dialogue, Neil.

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