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When you’ve got friends like this – Part 10

In wishing us all happy new year, Jared Bernstein also pounded his readers with a confused macroeconomic logic, that if applied, would in all likelihood make their new year (collectively) worse. His article (December 29, 2012) – My Views on Spending Cuts and Entitlements – is another one of those cases when friendly fire shoots the progressive movement in the foot. You can read the previous editions of this theme – When you’ve got friends like this – to see what the problem is. In fact, I think I am being rather reasonable in only having this series extend to Part 10 so far. Given what is out there parading as progressive macroeconomic thinking the series might have been much longer than that by now. The simple point is that a truly progressive social agenda has to be grounded in solid macroeconomic principles. Trying to carve out a progressive agenda within a mainstream macroeconomic framework undermines the credibility of the former and plays straight into the hands of the conservatives.

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When you’ve got friends like this – Part 9

The progressive side of politics is at the best of times, fragmented. The conservatives are much more organised and fund various “think tanks” very generously. These think tanks then provide the arguments upon which the conservative attack on government intervention is justified. Various multilateral agencies – such as the IMF and the OECD – are co-opted into this conservative putsch. But occasionally there is some major piece of work that is hailed as the progressive manifesto. A 2011 offering – Crisis, Slump, Superstition and Recovery: Thinking and acting beyond vulgar Keynesianism – is now being held out as a model for British Labour to follow. However on closer examination it becomes obvious that this offering is another one of cases when friendly fire shoots the progressive movement in the foot. You can read the previous editions of this theme – When you’ve got friends like this – to see what the problem is. The simple point is that a truly progressive social agenda has to be grounded in solid macroeconomic principles. Trying to carve out a progressive agenda within a mainstream macroeconomic framework undermines the credibility of the former and plays straight into the hands of the conservatives.

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When you’ve got friends like this – Part 8

I noted a proposal overnight from so-called progressive American economist Dean Baker on Al Jazeera (November 28, 2011) – Time for the Fed to take over in Europe – which suggests that the US Federal Reserve Banks should insulate the US economy from the bumbling leadership crisis and “step in if the European Central Bank fails to deal with the debt crisis”. The proposal is that the US central bank should fund EMU nation deficits. This is another one of cases when friendly fire shoots the progressive movement in the foot. You can read the previous editions When you’ve got friends like this to see what the problem is. The simple point that far from protecting the US economy this proposal would likely cause a collapse in the currency and an inflationary surge that would divert attention of the US government away from creating employment, undermine the real standard of living of workers, and provide new ammunition for those who want to implement damaging austerity. For all that, the US government would only put the EMU nations into a holding pattern anyway.

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When you’ve got friends like this – Part 7 – aka we need Plan C

The UK Observer Editorial yesterday (October 30, 2011) – The economy: we need Plan B and we need it now – was focuses on a so-called Plan B that has surfaced as the progressive democratic alternative to the now failed Plan A which the British government has been ideologically ramming down the throats of its citizens since it was elected in May 2010. Plan B was put together by the UK Compass Organisation and apparently (in the words of that organisation) represents where “where is the left on the economy”. My reaction is that if that is what goes for “left” these days then what do we call “right”. If this is what goes for progressive economic analysis then what happened to progressive. Today’s blog thus continues my theme – When you’ve got friends like this – and constitutes Part 7 of that sequence. The main thing I find problematic about these “progressive agendas” seem to be falling for the myth that the financial markets are now the de facto governments of our nations which becomes a self-reinforcing perspective and will only deepen the malaise facing the world. The essence is if Plan A has failed and Plan B is as outlined by Compass then the world desperately needs Plan C.

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When you’ve got friends like this … Part 6

Today I continue my theme “When you’ve got friends like this” which focuses on how limiting the so-called progressive policy input has become in the modern debate about deficits and public debt. Today is a continuation of that theme. The earlier blogs – When you’ve got friends like thisPart 0Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 and Part 5 – serve as background. The theme indicates that what goes for progressive argument these days is really a softer edged neo-liberalism. The main thing I find problematic about these “progressive agendas” is that they are based on faulty understandings of the way the monetary system operates and the opportunities that a sovereign government has to advance well-being. Progressives today seem to be falling for the myth that the financial markets are now the de facto governments of our nations and what they want they should get. It becomes a self-reinforcing perspective and will only deepen the malaise facing the world.

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It is a pity that he doesn’t know the answer himself

We are deep into hard-disk crash trauma at CofFEE today with 2 volumes dying at the same time on Friday and a backup drive going down too. At least it was a sympathetic act on their behalf. Combine that with I lost a HDD on an iMAC after only 2 weeks since it was new a few weeks ago – after finally convincing myself that OS X was the way forward with virtual machines. Further another colleague’s back-up HDD crashed last week. It leaves one wondering what is going on. Backup is now a oft-spoken word around here today. But there is one thing I do know the answer to – Greg Mankiw’s latest Examination Question. It is a pity that he doesn’t know the answer himself. Further, it is a pity that one of the higher profiled “progressives” in the US buys into the same nonsense.

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Ineluctably compromised

Today I was reflecting on the role of students in social change. I was a student activist and took that role very seriously when I was a full-time student. I did have a sense of entitlement that it was our future and we had to rock the boat to make it work in the way we wanted. I probably proposed things without fully understanding them – that is the nature of being a student – enthusiasm gets ahead of judgement. But I also was lucky to have a few really great mentors in my earlier days who helped me. It is the role of the mentors and teachers to steer that youthful zeal to develop mature, knowledge-based assessments and informed action. I find my profession to be seriously defective in that sense because they indulge more in propaganda than they do in educating the students who want to learn economics. I do not think the average economics program to be of much educative value. But I understand the conservative nature of my profession and the reasons they behave in that way. What is more objectionable is when a self-styled progressive organisation engages in the same sort of exercise with students yet denies that they are doing it. The problem then is the beautiful enthusiasm of our youth becomes manipulated by their mentors and what should have been an educative process becomes a compromise ideological exercise serving the top-end-of-town. So today – continuing my truth theme – I am writing about processes and organisations that become ineluctably compromised.

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When you’ve got friends like this … Part 5

Today I continue my theme “When you’ve got friends like this” which focuses on how limiting the so-called progressive policy input has become in the modern debate about deficits and public debt. Today is a continuation of that theme. The earlier blogs – When you’ve got friends like thisPart 0Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4 – serve as background. The theme indicates that what goes for progressive argument these days is really a softer edged neo-liberalism. The main thing I find problematic about these “progressive agendas” is that they are based on faulty understandings of the way the monetary system operates and the opportunities that a sovereign government has to advance well-being. Progressives today seem to be falling for the myth that the financial markets are now the de facto governments of our nations and what they want they should get. It becomes a self-reinforcing perspective and will only deepen the malaise facing the world. Today I focus on the Peoples’ Budget proposal recently released by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) in the US.

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When you’ve got friends like this … Part 4

Some time ago I started a theme “When you’ve got friends like this” which focuses on how limiting the so-called progressive policy input has become in the modern debate about deficits and public debt. Today is a continuation of that theme. The earlier blogs – When you’ve got friends like thisPart 0Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 – serve as background. The theme indicates that what goes for progressive argument these days is really a softer edged neo-liberalism. The main thing I find problematic about these “progressive agendas” is that they are based on faulty understandings of the way the monetary system operates and the opportunities that a sovereign government has to advance well-being. Progressives today seem to be falling for the myth that the financial markets are now the de facto governments of our nations and what they want they should get. It becomes a self-reinforcing perspective and will only deepen the malaise facing the world.

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When you’ve got friends like this … Part 3

Today is a continuation of the theme developed in these past blogs – The enemies from within and When you’ve got friends like this … Part 1 and When you’ve got friends like this … Part 2 – which focuses on how limiting the so-called progressive policy input has become. One could characterise it as submissive and defeatist. But the main thing I find problematic is that its compliance is based on faulty understandings of the way the monetary system operates and the opportunities that a sovereign government has to advance well-being. Progressives today seem to be falling for the myth that the financial markets are now the de facto governments of our nations and what they want they should get. It becomes a self-reinforcing perspective and will only deepen the malaise facing the world.

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