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For those who tolerate extreme economics wonkery, there's also another recent MMT publication: J.D. Alt's Paying Ourselves to Save the Planet: A Layman's Explanation of Modern Money Theory. This is a bit less readable, and discusses the actual "plumbing" of currency issuance...a topic that holds a limited amount of interest, at least for me. What is useful in Alt's book, however, is his estimate of the problems issuing money could solve.

Heterodox Economics

Here is a summary of Alt's estimate of what the public sector needs to spend:

  • $30 trillion -- Universal health care
  • $2 trillion -- Pay off student debt
  • $1 trillion -- Child care centers
  • $1 trillion -- Affordable housing for all
  • $4 trillion -- Infrastructure rehabilitation\
  • $60 trillion -- De-carbonizing and mitigating damage from our climate catastrophe

If you think riots and pandemics are no fun, steel yourself for more of the same if the austerity mavens of conventional, neoclassical economics have their way.

Total: $98 trillion (Note, this book's publication preceded the current pandemic, so add a few trillion for that, too.)

This figure is completely impossible for conventional economists to imagine government collecting in taxes, much less spending, but not for MMT.

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If conventional economists have their way, we'll just have to deal with the catastrophe not addressing the above will cause. If you think riots and pandemics are no fun, steel yourself for more of the same if the austerity mavens of conventional, neoclassical economics have their way.

One final comment about Alt's calculations: His health care cost estimate figures none of the cost savings that are fairly uncontroversial. The U.S.' current system costs about double what single payer systems worldwide cost. How can we possibly afford something that's half as expensive? Gosh! I wonder!

Meanwhile, in a recent Heterodox Economics class one student asked me "How do we change history?"

The enormity of this question flustered me then. I answered "I don't know" immediately, rather than cleverly asking "You mean beside attending a Heterodox Economics class?"... But the questions is a good one, and as I've thought of it, one of most thought-provoking.

First of all, imagine what it took to ask it. The student lifted her gaze from her daily concerns to consider the fate of humanity. It was as though she envisioned herself on a bus with the rest of mankind, saw the bus driving toward a less-than-optimum destination, and asked the sensible question: "Where's the steering wheel on this thing?" It takes an advanced consciousness to even frame such a question.

Anyway, I don't have any wise answer for the way to change history, but the question has staying power. Napolean says it's families that read who will change the world. There are even people who speculate there are "laws" to the progress of history. In any case, that thought-provoking question, and others like it are why I continue to offer the Heterodox Economics class for CSUS Renaissance Society.

defunding the police is a start

Mark Dempsey
It's Simpler Than It Looks

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