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Activist #MMT - podcast

Dec 12, 2021

Welcome to episode 101 of Activist #MMT. Today I talk with Derek Ross on the basics of Georgism and its relationship to MMT. Derek's a Nova Scotia resident who's been a chorus member in theatrical productions for four decades, in shows such as "The Pirates of Penzance" by Gilbert and Sullivan. He and his wife also run a bed and breakfast. He was especially helpful in providing feedback for an introductory presentation I developed early this year. Unfortunately, it never came together, but it has many valuable concepts and analogies I still use today. I met Derek in the Facebook group Intro to MMT, which is very busy and has more than 6,000 people, and for which I am a moderator.

(Here's a link to part two.)

Derek first discovered Georgism and later the work of Steve Keen, which ultimately led him to MMT. A main insight of Georgism is that taxing land is a much more elegant way to make a system that's both fair and more difficult to exploit. Although humans can manipulate and destroy buildings, they can't eliminate the land those buildings are on. As an example, I have a friend who's a general contractor. He tore down an old house and built a new one for his daughter. However, he left one wall in the old building standing, which prevented it from being legally considered as new construction, thereby avoiding extra fees and newer regulations.

Land as defined by Georgism is not just the Earth but conceptual, like internet URLs, and the bandwidth for television, radio, and cell-phones. Taxes, or rents on that land can be paid with money, such as interest for a bank loan and taxes for living in a country. They can also be paid with not money, such as by having to provide a certain amount of labor to the king each year, or a percentage of the harvest.

Going beyond Georgism, Physics makes it clear that the most fundamental resource is energy. Resources – and we – are, essentially, forms of energy. In addition, all energy requires energy to find, gather, and process it. Three examples:

  • Food must be grown, transported, stored, cooked, served, consumed, and cleaned up from. This requires energy
  • Gold must be dug up from one hole and then put in another, such as a box or vault, so it can be protected forever. This requires energy
  • Labor must be fed, sheltered, clothed, educated, protected, paid, entertained, etc. This requires energy

Derek has provided several resources for those interested in learning more. You can find links in the show notes.

Before the heart of our conversation, however, the first half of today's episode, part one, is about the non-economic topics of music and musical theater (I'm a classically trained singer), and then solar panels and electric cars. Part two, next week, is entirely academic.

If you like what you hear, then I hope you might consider becoming a monthly patron of Activist #MMT. Patrons get super-early access to almost every episode. Patrons also get the opportunity to ask my academic guests questions, and they support the development of my large and growing collection of learn MMT resources. To become a patron, you can start by going to Every little bit helps a little bit, and it all adds up to a lot. Thanks.

And now, onto my conversation with Derek Ross. Enjoy.