Oct 14, 2020
Welcome to episode 50 of Activist #MMT. Today is part two of my five-part conversation with one of the original developers of MMT, Mathew Forstater. Mat is a professor of economics at the University of Missouri Kansas City, or UMKC which, according to Sam Levey, who was my first-ever guest and is also UMKC economics PhD. student, is where MMT was born. Mat is also research director for the Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity and research associate for the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College.
(Here is a link to part one.)
Today Mat starts by describing the difficulties endured by women and people of color throughout the economics discipline, whether heterodox or mainstream.
We spend the bulk of our time, however, discussing the sad reality of unemployment statistics in the United States. This begins with the overly rosy and highly unrealistic U-3 measurement by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. The less unrealistic measurement by the BLS is called U-6. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it "better," but it is less bad. What both leave out is the millions upon millions of Americans who simply do not exist as far as those statistics are concerned. Not only are they not counted in the report, this flaw is not even recognized or acknowledged as a flaw. The non-acknowledgment is perpetuated by media, the general public, and finally, lawmakers.
As Mat describes in his chapter in the 2013 Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, called "Unemployment and Underemployment," those who are disappeared from the employment statistics include, among others, the homeless and phone-less, simply because the survey is conducted by phone. Further, because of the realities of our society, including de facto racism and slavery, such as the war on drugs and the 13th Amendment, black Americans are much more likely to end up in prison. This is because, since our federal representatives do not prevent mass suffering when they clearly could, many citizens choose to enter the military because it provides good pay and benefits, in exchange for the risk of being blown up.
Of course, those who enter the military or are put in jail are usually among the most disadvantaged in society. In other words, these millions don’t just magically disappear from the labor pool, they are actively pushed out.