Feb 26, 2021
Welcome to episode 69 of Activist #MMT. Today is part two of my two-part conversation with Dirk Ehnts and Asker Voldsgaard. It’s also part four of a larger four-part series on the relationship between neoclassical or mainstream economics and MMT. Parts two and three were with Sam Levey on the core assumptions of mainstream economics. Part one with Dirk and Asker was on the 2020 paper they wrote responding to a 2019 paper by a mainstream economist, expressing the common concern for the long-term fiscal sustainability of government spending and its corresponding debt and interest. The conversation inspired me to write a post which you can find a link to in the show notes: The long-term fiscal sustainability of government spending (is a non-issue)
In today’s episode, we take a step back to discuss the larger context in which all these topics exist. For the first half-hour we discuss the monster we truly face, both as MMTers and human beings, as painstakingly and powerfully detailed in the 2017 book Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean.
For the rest of the show, we talk about what must be done to change our economics and economics education, the latter of which is largely based on the 2014 book, Econocracy. Econocracy was written by three members of Rethinking Economics, which is an international organization of economics students promoting pluralism in the classroom. Asker serves as the vice chair of Rethinking Economics, Denmark.
We face multiple catastrophic problems, which Asker summarizes as a financial crisis, inequality, and a climate crisis. These are the big problems that must be addressed with bold solutions. But solutions are not possible until the problem is fully understood – which is not possible until those problems are acknowledged to exist in the first place. Most unfortunately, the powerful have little incentive to stop these crises at all, since they are likely to be the last and least harmed, and in important ways, may even benefit from their happening. As Dirk says, quoting Keynes, “in the long run, it is the ideas that matter.“ The only question is how many of us suffer between now and then.
All we can do is take a breath and continue to show people how the economy actually works, to realize that we can decide to use it differently, and that it is time to either make our leaders into better decision makers, or for us to replace those leaders – or become those leaders. There are simply no other options.
You will find links to several important figures, books, and sources mentioned by Dirk and Asker, in the show notes. But for now, onto my conversation with Dirk Ehnts and Asker Voldsgaard.