Jul 11, 2021
Welcome to episode 84 of Activist #MMT. Today’s part two of my two-part conversation with 10th-year MMT activist, Andy Berkeley. Andy has a PhD in marine sedimentology, and is a marine scientist and oceanographer by trade. He's also the co-author of the 2020 paper, An Accounting Model of the U.K. Exchequer, which is published by The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies (or GIMMS). This episode is also part three of a larger seven-part series on the paper and it's three co-authors. The first five are with each individual author, in the final two with all three, jointly, where we discuss the paper in depth.
(A link to all seven parts can be found here.)
Last week, in part one of my conversation with Andy, we spoke about two very non-economic topics: the first half dedicated to the fifty-year-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the second half, to the drastically different and lighter subject of music.
Today in part two, Andy describes his life and thinking before knowing about MMT. He tells the story about how he discovered it from an actual stranger on a train, who he now knows as Chris Cook. While talking with a friend, the person sitting across from him, Chris, interrupted and interjected the fateful words: "Banks don't lend deposits, and governments don't spend taxes." Confirming the former came rather quickly for Andy. The latter, however, that governments don't spend taxes, took years to fully grasp. After learning more about the concept, it made the entire puzzle appear to make sense. However, only after completing his 2020 paper many years later, did he finally confirm that what was mere economic theory – to him, toning more than a thought experiment – actually applies to the world in which we live.
Two important events that Andy believes prepared him to accept MMT years later, were, first, the 2003 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, and the subsequent invasion of Iraq by the US and its allies. The second was a brief and largely out-of-place montage in the Michael Moore documentary, Bowling for Columbine. The montage shows how the United States’s invasion of Iraq was merely the tip of an iceberg demonstrating its decades-long imperialism, and the U.K.’s support of it. These two things called into question the idea of the US and UK as being 100% forces for good and made him realize that what we are told may in fact be contrary with reality, with the goal of keeping the powerful powerful and everyone else in the dark.
(As an aside, It’s both shocking and not shocking that YouTube will not allow you to share that montage at all. It won’t even allow you to copy the link.)
Finally, a minor correction: the UK is 800 years old.
And now, let's get right back to my conversation with Andy Berkeley.