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Activist #MMT - podcast

May 14, 2020

Welcome to episode 28 of Activist #MMT. Today I talk with tenth-year MMT activist and Ireland resident Mike Hall. For the past three years, Mike has served as an administrator of the popular Facebook groups Modern Monetary Theory for Real Progressives, and MMT for the British People. Mike and I first talk about how the manufacturing collapse in Ireland in the years preceding the 2008 housing crisis, is what led to his being "made redundant," and was the catalyst for his discovering MMT.

The heart of our conversation is an in depth discussion on the job guarantee and – in normal times outside of our now-raging global pandemic – the absurdity of the UBI, or Universal Basic Income, program. I personally conclude that even moderately seasoned MMT activists should probably avoid discussing both topics in public, entirely. This is primarily due to the massive amount of background and common language required to start the discussion. It’s also because it too often turns to sensitive political and decidedly microeconomic topics, such as the unfounded concerns that the job guarantee encourages pointless work and requires individuals to "work or starve."

On the other hand, the potential negatives of the UBI program are plentiful. This includes:

  1. UBI encourages passiveness, especially in our giving up our last vestiges of political power for the false promise of total personal freedom.
  2. The idea of total automation, in addition to being fantastic science fiction, means that human energy will largely no longer be required. This implies an even greater need for fossil fuels or alternative energy in order to power the robots.
  3. total automation eliminates the need for workers entirely. The only ones that remain, at least until SkyNet comes online, are those who build, design, market, ship, maintain – and supposedly protect us from – the robots.
  4. At the same time, it gives those handing out the checks an excuse to shame the recipients, because you’re getting a check.

(To be clear, the federal job guarantee and UBI programs are not mutually exclusive alternatives or competitors. They are designed to address different goals.)

In the last third of our conversation, Mike then shares his views on why the Labor Party and Jeremy Corbyn lost the election in December of 2019. We compare it to Bernie Sanders’ then-rocket-like ascendancy, following his blowout victory in the Nevada Democratic caucus. We end with a brief discussion comparing Medicare For All and the National Health Service (or NHS), and the unrealistic concern by a coworker of mine, that daring to implement Medicare For All in the United States would be a disaster because of how, in her incorrect view, the NHS works so poorly in the U.K., and how it has been sabotaged and underfunded for decades.

A final note: This was the last interview I recorded before the coronavirus outbreak and quarantine.


For an overview of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) with many reliable sources to learn more, here is a good place to start:

  • On the web: My layperson intro with many expert sources listed at the bottom.
  • On Twitter: My massive pinned tweet with expert sources and layperson tutorials.
  • On Facebook: Follow this podcast :) The pinned post contains the above web-article. Also, the pinned post on Modern Monetary for Real Progressives contains a wealth of information.

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