[lbo-talk] Significance of MMT for Progressives and the Left
davegreen84 at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 18 08:07:47 PDT 2014
I haven't clicked on the links, but I have been reading and listening to a lot about MMT in recent weeks. I think that its conceptual foundations regarding the nature of money/fiat currency offer important insights for the left from a non-Marxist, "heterodox" perspective. The basics are available at the website of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) and on many other websites. There is a series of Youtube videos of forums at Columbia from (I believe) early 2012.
While Dean Baker is sympathetic to these perspectives, he has also claimed that he can't really see the difference with Keynesianism, with which he identifies. From my lay perspective, the differences have to do with being more honest about the idea that when there is labor to be employed, the government can print (not only tax or borrow) money to employ it. Whatever the political problems, there is no technical problem in doing that, as long as it's done responsibly.
Readers are probably familiar with Michael Hudson and Bill Black at the University of Missouri Kansas City. They are joined by very credible individuals like Randall Wray and Stephanie Kelton. Central to MMT is the notion of a Job Guarantee (as opposed to a Guaranteed Income). The differences make for productive discussion. MMT isn't part of the left debate, obviously because it doesn't address labor/class/power in the manner of David Harvey, etc. But those on the left, I feel, should be incorporating an MMT understanding of money/finance/government into their strategies for political analysis and organizing.
Proponents of MMT are hoping that they have laid a theoretical foundation for significant political reform. But it's up to the left to actually incorporate their views, and others, into a strategy that has broadly popular rather than just technocratic legs. I would love to see Doug do an interview with one of MMT's proponents along these lines, if he already hasn't. I think that that would have the potential to be very enlightening.
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