Aug 13, 2020
Welcome to episode 41 of activist #MMT, which is another in my ongoing conversation with PhD. political scientist, author, and MMTer, Joe Firestone. Today, in part one of our two-part conversation, Joe and I talk about Joe: his background and how he worked his way to MMT in late 2009, when he discovered Warren Mosler's book, The Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds Of Economic Policy. Only a few months later, Joe originated the idea for, and, with others, organized The Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In Counter Conference, which was held at The George Washington University on the same day as the first "Fiscal Summit" organized with much fanfare and financial support by the Pete Peterson foundation. The conference included presenters Bill Mitchell, Stephanie Kelton, Warren Mosler, Marshall Auerback, Pavlina Tcherneva, and Randy Wray.
A link to the videos and transcripts from the conference can be found In the show notes.
After graduating from Michigan State University with his PhD in comparative politics, and international relations, Joe worked for nearly a decade and a half in operations research, as a political science professor, and as a policy analysis consultant. In 1979, his life began to switch gears dramatically, when he opened a business building microcomputers. When the Reagan administration shut down his research outlet completely, he focused his energies full-time onto his business.
Over the next ten years, Joe's company ended up building well over 10,000 machines for private and governmental agencies in the DC area. He recalls how representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency, one step removed from a currency issuer, would come to his office and count out cash in front of him, in order to pay for his company's services in advance. Finally, in 1988, Joe says that the "the fiscal hawks got control of everything" which, among other factors, resulted in a one third reduction in his business in a single month. Unfortunately, Joe could not bring himself to cut as many people as was necessary, and soon after, the company went under.
After returning to another career in Database Marketing and Knowledge Management research and consulting for several more years, he slowly discovered the realities of federal finance. This journey began in the mid-1990s when he read three books that served, for him, as precursors to Modern Monetary Theory, or MMT. Although it took until late 2009 for Warren Mosler's book to help him put the pieces together, these three books recognized that conventional views on the macro-economy and public finance were fundamentally flawed. Links to the books can be found in the show notes.
Please support Joe and his work by watching his regular livestreams on Facebook (on this page), following him on Twitter and YouTube, purchasing one of his many books, and becoming a monthly patron on his Patreon account.
For an overview of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) with many reliable sources to learn more, here is a good place to start:
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