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Travelling to the land of the long white cloud today

I am travelling for most of today to New Zealand (Wellington) to honour some engagements promoting a new political movement that is keen to use Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) as a basis for a progressive political agenda in a nation that has been in the throes of a neo-liberal infestation for several decades now. In fact, New Zealand was one of the first to sink into neo-liberal oblivion. I wrote about the devastating consequences of this policy shift in this blog – The comeback of conservative ideology. It was a very sorry tale indeed. The sociopaths took over. You can see a rich portrayal of how the neo-liberals set about wrecking the social fabric of this wonderful nation by watching the documentary film – In a Land of Plenty – which runs for 1 hour and 44 minutes. It is compelling and worth the investment of your time. You will get angry. But maybe getting angry is the first step towards getting active and joining collective movements to do something about this nonsense. Indeed, that is what I am up to over the next few days – helping a new political movement develop narratives to counter the insidious dominance of the neo-liberals. Building a true oppositional Left is the imperative now for all activists.

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Blog goes on holiday today …

Today is a public holiday (ANZAC Day) where we remember the efforts of our past generations who fought in wars. I am not very enamoured by the hype that surrounds these days – commercialisation reigns and the black/white nature of the narrative (we were good they were evil) obscures the reality of war and the political machinations that typically accompany it. In Australia’s case our involvement in several wars has been the product of unnecessary colonial master-servant type arrangements (us being the servant) and/or ridiculous alliances with the war mongering US. But the soldiers certainly did it tough and I have sympathy with that – and personal association with my parents. But for me, I am travelling a lot today and am taking the work time to continue working on the completion of our Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) textbook, which is now in its final stages (2 weeks away). I expect it to be published later this year now through Macmillan. I will post specific information when it is available. While I am working today, I am listening to this …

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Travelling today so enjoy the music

I am travelling a lot today – from London to Brussels and then onto Maastricht. I have had some meetings in London and then tonight (Europe time) I will present the Third Joan Muysken Lecture at the University of Maastricht, which honours their foundation professor in macroeconomics (and one of my co-authors). The talk will outline why the Eurozone should be dissolved forthwith. I don’t expect a sympathetic crowd. Tomorrow, I am giving a talk at the University on why mainstream economics has contributed nothing to the advancement of societal well-being. Rather, it has been a blight on progress. I expect a even less than sympathetic audience. Should be fun! I will try to post audio (at least) of these events. But for now … here is some music.

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Performing artists bear the brunt of austerity under neo-liberalism

A regular reader (thanks Sam) sent me some information about the cancellation of performing arts festivals in France as a result of austerity. This accelerating trend, which is worldwide, brings into focus the two pronged attack on workers by neo-liberalism. First, governments have been pressured or acceded to cutting public spending which has created higher unemployment, higher underemployment, casualisation and suppressed wages. Then, second, there has been a massive attack on income support systems with claims that they have become nonviable because of the increased demand for state support arising from the rising unemployment. The worker cannot win – which, of course, is the object of the exercise. Performing artists are among the most disadvantaged workers in the labour market and face particular problems – precarious, multi-employer jobs with variable pay interspersed with long periods of non-pay (although they are still working – rehearsal etc). The French developed a unique scheme to cope with this precarious existence, recognising the massive cultural and economic benefits that the arts industry generates. But even that scheme of income support is under attack as job opportunities decline even further in the face of public spending cuts. A Job Guarantee would go a long way to redressing these problems for musicians and other artists. It is a superior way to achieve progressive social change about the meaning of work and productivity.

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Happy something …

I am travelling for a fair part of today and also taking a day off writing (well blogs at least). I have been pushing forward on the final manuscript for our next version of the Modern Monetary Theory textbook, which will come out in 2017 sometime. Anyway, until tomorrow I will leave you with some music that I have been listening to this morning before taking off for the day. Back on to the hard stuff tomorrow.

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Austerity hacks into our cultural heritage

As I noted last Friday, the Australian government has announced it will be cutting a massive part of the budgets of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), both publicly-owned national media organisations as part of its mindless fiscal austerity push. The Minister claims there is plenty of fat in these organisations but the ABC news report (November 24, 2014) – ABC cuts: Managing director Mark Scott announces more than 400 jobs to go – tells us that nearly 1 in 10 staff will be sacked and programs scrapped to meet the funding cuts. The ABC and SBS are jewels in Australian cultural life. They support local filmmakers, musicians, artists, and advance a more sophisticated understanding of what is going on around us. I am very critical of the way they have succumbed to neo-liberal economics, but in general, the alternative is a mind-numbing Fox-type flow of game and reality shows and sensationalist news. The only thing that is worth watching on commercial TV is the coverage of AFL football and even then one has to turn the sound off and have the ABC radio commentary accompanying the TV coverage to ensure a quality experience.

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LP gone but plays on all over the place

Les Paul died yesterday at the age of 94. He was one of the biggest innovators in modern music having invented one of the two great guitar designs in the 1950s that have not been bettered since. So many people still want to play the LP custom that the invention will live on into the future.

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Peter Green playing again

Peter Green was the best electric guitar player of all time (that’s my view anyway) and I loved his sound and phrasing. His Gibson Les Paul (1959 model) was accidentally modified (he put the magnets back in upside down) and he discovered in the middle position he got an out-of-phase tone that honked so strongly that the mod remained. Unfortunately he took too much acid and had a disposition to mental illness and spent most of time since the 1970s in various states of ill health occasionally re-appearing to play again. Never regaining the dominance of the 1960s though. But once again he is playing again and this time he is sounding better.

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