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How to create a divided society

I am travelling a lot today and using my spare time to catch up on things. I have two major end-of-February deadlines impending for publishers – my book with Thomas Fazi, which will be published by Pluto Press and launched in London in late September (more details soon); and our new Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) textbook (with Randy Wray and Martin Watts) which will be published by Macmillan later in 2017. Both manuscripts have to be delivered by the end of this month. So busy busy. Today’s blog is thus a little different and considerably shorter than usual. It loses nothing in its brevity. The main text is from a friend of mine (who wishes for professional reasons to remain anonymous) but succinctly captures the anger and angst that many progressive thinkers are feeling about how things are turning out. The culmination of several decades of neo-liberalism has been an eroding of material well-being for workers, a massive financial then economic crisis, which the world is still enduring, and, then Donald Trump as President of the United States. And the progressive political voices have been largely complicit in all of this. Sure enough, they sprout about child care, gay rights, inequality, and all the rest of it, but at the core, they have embraced the neo-liberal economic lies and gone along with or even initiated and overseen fiscal austerity, privatisation, welfare cuts, deregulation – it is just, we are told, they do all that in a more moderate and fairer manner. They don’t stop for a second to think that they also have become captive to capital. Something big has to happen to stop all this. History tells us that it will. And the longer the progressive political voices remain complicit, the probability that that ‘something’ will be violent, increases.

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The public macroeconomic mind map matters

I am currently in Darwin, which is in the Northern Territory of Australia (see map below). I will report on developments here in due course. But knowing that I would not have time to write a blog personally today (meetings and travel oblige!) I asked Victor Quirk, our guest blogger to offer some of his ideas on matters economic. He very kind obliged with the following essay which I think you will find very interesting. So thanks to Victor. I will be back tomorrow talking about turncoats who turn out to be nothing of the sort. Over to Victor …

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Oh for a decent public employment service!

I am away today with a full day of commitments from an early flight to the late evening. So I called up Victor and to see if he would write another blog which I know are of great interest. Today he is writing about some of the early manifestations of the neo-liberal onslaught on sound government services – in this case our former public employment service which was abolished and the services privatised. This is one of the examples in which the neo-liberals have not only converted unemployment from being a target of policy (to keep it low) into a tool of policy (to discipline inflation) but it also is one aspect of what I call the “unemployment industry” which sprung up to deal with entrenched joblessness that deficient approach to macroeconomic policy generated. It was amazing how the outsourcing and privatising of government services created a bevy of private profit-seekers who sought the booty on offer. In 2001 the OECD held out our privatised labour services as the exemplar of its Jobs Study agenda. What they were extolling was a corrupt, inefficient and ineffective system of shuffling the unemployed between various (mostly) meaningless training programs and work-for-the-dole compliance placements. But then the OECD has hardly had high standards so we shouldn’t have been surprised about that. Anyway, enough from me – the plane is ready … over to Victor.

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Challenging a paradigm

In my travels today, I have hour-to-hour commitments (sort of like wall-to-wall) and so I have called in our guest blogger, Victor Quirk to provide some further fuel for debate in my absence. I will be back in my office on Monday although the Saturday quiz will appear tomorrow sometime. So today Victor is talking about how we go about challenging a paradigm from his perspective as a political sociologist. Over to him.

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Advocating full employment

Today I am travelling all day and have no time to write anything. So I asked our guest blogger Victor Quirk who has just completed a PhD on the political constraints to full employment to fill the gap. As usual, he more than fills it. In this blog he shares some of his doctoral research which I had the pleasure of being the supervisor. The depth of documentary enquiry that Victor engaged in was something else. And the final product was an incisive and very challenging critique of the mainstream orthodoxy that erects artificial barriers to the achievement of human potential (in the form of unemployment) to advance its ideology urgency which ultimately is about extracting an ever greater share of real national income. I will be back tomorrow.

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Job Guarantees and social democracy

Today is my last day in London and I am tied up all day with meetings and activities and then later I am travelling back to Australia. So I invoked the guest blogger facility and asked Victor Quirk to share his views on employment guarantees. Victor has just finished a doctoral dissertation and has produced one of the most compelling research efforts I have had the pleasure to supervise. He chose a very challenging topic overall – the political constraints on full employment – and compiled a very rich argument based on a substantial interrogation of an extensive array of primary documents which he sourced from various national archives in Australia, Britain and the US. Now that Victor has finished his work I hope he will share more of it as a guest blogger. So … over to Victor.

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A light on the hill the Labor Party prefers to leave off

Today’s guest blog, while I am away, is from Victor Quirk who has been tracing some early modern monetary resonances (from the 1930s). He argues that this month (September) marks the 90th anniversary of one of the proudest episodes in the history of the Australian Labor Party (the current Federal government), but one that, he ventures, will not be acknowledged by the present owners of the ALP franchise. It involved the first serious attempt by an Australian Government to establish full employment, the celebration of which would only serve to highlight the distance to which the ALP has moved from serving the interests of working people. I will be back writing tomorrow.

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Why don’t mainstream economists get modern money if it is right?

Today, I am in Sydney giving a talk at the ACTU Jobs Summit and pretty short of time. I was also motivated by the Temporary Leader of the Opposition who announced on his Twitter site yesterday that his dog, Mellie had just updated her Blog. Yes Malcolm’s dogs blog keeps us up to date with all their goings on including watching the Tour de France. So if he can do it so can I except I don’t like pets. So I thought I would introduce a Guest Blogger spot so that whenever someone I know, who doesn’t want to create their own infrastructure has something interesting to say, they will be able to say it. So today’s guest blogger is Victor Quirk. This is what he has to say. I’ll be back tomorrow.

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