Our children never hand real output back in time

There was an interesting conference in Tokyo last week which featured academic Eisuke Sakakibara, the former Japanese government vice minister of finance who is characteristically known as “Mr Yen” given his knowledge of banking and world financial markets. Sakakibara predicted a prolonged recession lasting until 2015 because fiscal deficits are being deliberately withdrawn by misguided governments. The neo-liberals are claiming that public debt ratios have to be cut to reduce the “future tax burden on our children”. The reality is that intergenerational burdens work in exactly the opposite way in a fiat monetary system to what the mainstream neo-liberal claim. The misguided fiscal policy direction the neo-liberals are pushing will impose real burdens on our children. They will be less educated, less skilled, less experienced, and have lower income as a whole as a result of the fiscal austerity. Their future possibilities will be reduced as a consequence. In fact, the whole anti-budget deficit argument is just a ploy to seek ways whereby the elites can get more real income now and more real income later for their own enjoyment. Spreading the real output more widely through fiscal interventions frustrates that aspiration. Significantly, our children never hand real output back in time to pay for the public debt incurred at a previous time.

The Tokyo conference – The 2nd Japan-US Joint Public Policy Forum (December 8-9) which was co-organized by Sasakawa Peace Foundation and The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars – was entitled “Looking Ahead: Japan-US Economic Partnership in the Post-Lehman World”. The speech given by Eisuke Sakakibara – The Possibility of World Recession – was important given his on-going influence in policy circles.

In an April 2009 Interview, Sakakibara said in response to what needs to be done:

… this is probably a once-in-a-century crisis that the world is suffering jointly. And it will be very deep and prolonged. We need to recognize that. It’s quite possible that we will have a continual recession for 4 or 5 years. Coordinated action on the part of the developed countries will be necessary, and what is left at this moment is fiscal policy. Of course, coordination of fiscal policy is always very difficult because politics is involved in the formation and implementation of those policies. But that probably will be necessary to recover from this deep and prolonged worldwide recession.

In his speech in Tokyo last week, Sakakibara maintained the same theme and predicted that the global recession “may last up to eight years as the U.S. heads toward a “lost decade” similar to Japan’s slowdown in the 1990s” (Source).

His predictions were covered in an article in the Melbourne Age (December 13, 2010) – World recession until 2018? – by Bloomberg writer William Pesek.

Sakakibara reportedly said that:

… the world is set for a long-term structural slump reminiscent of the 1870s – when average global annual growth was about 1 per cent …

Because “governments are putting fiscal austerity ahead of restoring stable growth” and they “should increase bond issuance to support stimulus spending”.

Pesek notes that “recent data in the US and Japan and financial turbulence in Europe suggest a fresh global recession is a distinct possibility in 2011″ and “what levers are realistically available to revive demand?”. With monetary policy unable to move in a stimulatory direction (“interest rates are already at, or close to, zero”) then:

That leaves increased government spending as the only real way to stabilize things.

The rest of Pesek’s argument is consistent with his deficit terrorist leanings – talking about “loads of public debt” (Bill: so what? Exactly what does loads mean?) and that “too much debt is wreaking havoc in Europe, where Ireland was the latest domino to fall” (Bill: the havoc in Europe is a result of their flawed monetary system not the public debt outstanding).

With the sage message of Sakakibara resonating I then reflected on an article in the UK Guardian last Monday (December 6, 2010) – The left must tackle the baby boomers’ timebomb – and mused about how some people (the Guardian writer) are not on the same planet as the rest of us.

The by-line of that article was that “the gains made by the baby boomers – generous pensions, overpriced properties – will leave the younger generations with a legacy of debt”.

Bill: no they won’t!

The portent of the article is that public cuts are necessary to save the future generations and that the left (meaning those who oppose the cuts to public spending) had better realise this and ensure the cuts are “equity inducing”.

Bill: what the f#&k!

The British debate is being fuelled at present by nonsensical offerings from the right-wing propaganda machine – the Adam Smith Institute – which released a report in late November entitled – On Borrowed Time – subtitled “Avoiding fiscal catastrophe by transforming the state’s intergenerational responsibilities”.

I hope they only produced an electronic copy of this report because not a single tree should have been sacrificed in rendering this rubbish for the public eye. It is 44 pages of unmitigated drivel.

Apparently:

Britain faces a fiscal emergency along Irish lines in the near future, even after current spending reforms … the coalition’s sums will not add up until the state radically changes its involvement in the economy. This means changing our approach to spending which economists call ‘age-related’ or intergenerational’. Activity which once defined the welfare state now undermines its fiscal sustainability and threatens its legitimacy. It also makes individuals reluctant to
assume new civic duties, with the state ‘crowding out’ private charity and voluntarism.

Apparently, Britain faces “fiscal turmoil by 2019″ and because life expectancy is longer and people are more educated the old role played by the state of “insurer of first resort” is no longer justified and people should look after themselves – to “plot their own courses through life”

Okay, that is a philosophical consideration and should be debated at that level. It is not relevant to invoke faux financial stories (like “the government will run out of money” or “taxes will become onerous” etc) to provide some “authority” to justify your ideological position.

Furthermore, there is no macroeconomic understanding conveyed here – where will the spending come from? The tired old mainstream views of crowding out, Ricardian agents etc are all underpinning the Report without any recognition that there is no empirical support from these propositions (in fact, the empirical evidence refutes the mainstream claims) – and the theories used to support the views are deeply flawed.

The Report has a lot of simulations – which might or might not be accurate – probably the latter – but the actual point is not the accuracy but the relevance. These simulations do not address any issue that matters.

There is not one attempt to simulate what the British economy will make available over the simulated years in real output except they forecast a “compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.5% over the period from 2010 to 2060″ which is about the “trend rate of growth based on the historical performance of the UK economy since the industrial revolution”. That might or might not occur.

But the question is what does that real output growth mean in terms of the actual distribution of products and what productivity growth rate will underpin it. As the age demography changes the types of public goods that are required also change. Less primary schools and more aged care homes. The Report doesn’t model these transitions at all.

The real issue is whether the political debate will allow smooth transitions between competing uses of real resources although given the British economy is likely to be a long-term recession or close to it (as in the Sakakibara projections), even the notion of opportunity cost (using a resource in one way means you cannot use it in another) is flawed.

Various debt scenarios with fancy (sexist) names (“straw man”, “iron man”) are modelled based on different public spending cut profiles and the assertion is that by 2019 even the most optimistic (defined by their bias as lower ratios), the UK economy will be at “a tipping point now seen in Ireland”.

Then bond markets stop funding the British government. Even if that was remotely true the British government can always maintain its spending in sterling and the Bank of England can always control yields at appropriate debt maturities. There is no fiscal crisis ahead for the reasons given.

The only crisis ahead will be a real one with millions left in a state of unemployment and unable to save or risk manage their own futures. Further, cutting spending on research and education is a sure way to reduce the future potential growth path and worsen the real impacts of the rising dependency ratio (as a result of the ageing population).

All the proposals advanced by the ASI amount to privatisation. The question that has to be asked is whether privatisation will see more “real” resources available in 2019 than would be the case if the British government used its fiscal capacity to ensure higher rates of growth were maintained over this time horizon.

The fiscal austerity measures will undermine growth and reduce the capacity of the economy to provide the requisite real resources. There is no magic pudding whereby the privatisation of the public functions (national health care, pensions etc) will expand availability. The reality is clear – the withdrawal of the public spending will likely undermine existing private spending and the economy will go backwards.

The only lesson that Britain needs to take from Ireland (different monetary systems notwithstanding) is that spending equals income and increased income means increased saving, lower public debt ratios and lower budget deficits. The opposite – being the Irish dilemma is also true – cut spending and you cut income and reduce overall saving, increase public debt ratios and increase the budget deficits.

Anyway, the UK Guardian article noted above seems to have been influenced by the ASI Report. It says that the ASI director said:

We cannot keep voting ourselves generous pensions, healthcare and other benefits and vainly hope that our children will happily pick up the bill.

So not only will the bond markets punish governments which don’t implement fiscal austerity but, according to the Guardian, protecting current spending “would be irresponsible, if not downright immoral, to leave our recently accumulated debts to our children and grandchildren”

The UK Guardian article acknowledges that the “co-ordinated response by business leaders, right-wing think-tanks and Tory politicians is enough to make any Labour supporter concerned about a conspiracy” but that:

… there is a serious point here, one that has caused disarray on the left. It is well documented that baby boomers have accumulated much of the nation’s wealth and pose a problem for the future.

So are the baby boomers saddling their kids and grandchildren with debts and being selfish? Answer: it is not sensible or applicable in a modern monetary economy to construct these issues in this way.

The UK Guardian article claims that settling health care availability and pension promises through the market “price system” is the only way to avoid the “burden for the public purse”.

First, there is no debt burden borne by the future generations. That is a total myth.

Please read my blog – Will we really pay higher taxes? and Will we really pay higher interest rates? – for an introduction to this issue.

The only reasonable conclusion when you understand how the monetary system functions is that burdens can only be considered in terms of real resources. In that context, the level of public debt that is carried through time has no bearing on what each generation is able to consume (or produce). The next generation will be able to consume the outputs of their labour in the same way that the current generation is potentially able.

Clearly, governments bent on fiscal austerity deliberately deny successive generations the ability to consume and produce but that is not an intrinsic function of the level of public debt outstanding. It is rather a wrongful policy direction driven by an irrational fear (and ignorance) of what the public debt means.

The mainstream belief is based on the erroneous conflation of a household and government budget. So when a household/firm borrows now to increase current consumption (or build productive capacity) there is a clear understanding that future income will have to be sacrificed to repay the loan with interest. This result follows because spending by the non-government body (household and/or firm) is financially constrained.

A household must finance its spending either by earning income, running down saving, borrowing and/or selling previously accumulated assets. There is no other way. Borrowing has to be repaid via access to the other sources of spending capacity but by implication such repayments reduce the future capacity to spend.

This is translated (erroneously) into the public sphere with the claim that governments have to pay the debt back in the future by increasing taxes. The consumption benefits of the higher spending now are enjoyed by us and our children pay for our joy by facing higher tax burdens. That is the nub of the mainstream argument.

But do our children forego real consumption in this way? Answer: no!

If our children produce $x billion in real GDP in 2020 all of that flow of real goods and services (and income) will be available for consumption should they choose to do that. They probably will save some of it (especially if the government runs a deficit of sufficient magnitude to fill the spending gap left by the desire to save by the non-government sector).

But the important point is that real GDP is not a reverse-time traveller. There is no government agency collecting real output to “pay back past debts”.

Moreover, running fiscal deficits which support aggregate demand at levels where everybody who wants a job can get one maximises employment and output each year and provides each demographic with the best opportunities to expand their real consumption possibilities.

Fiscal austerity – in the misguided hope that the public debt ratio will fall – undermines growth over time and the resulting unemployment erodes the capacity of our children to consume in the future. Potential output (expanded by investment) and productivity growth are cyclical in the sense that if an economy is in recession or stagnating investment falters and future growth potential is reduced. Similarly, productivity growth lags when aggregate levels of activity falter.

So the best way to increase the opportunity set for our children is to keep (environmentally-sustainable) economic growth strong and fiscal austerity will typically work against that reality.

The public debt ratio has no bearing on any of this. The only possible burden on our children relates to my term “environmentally-sustainable” which includes consuming through time within the limits of real resource availability.

If the current generation cruels the world’s environment and exhausts finite resources then unless technology changes dramatically (for example, to use different energy sources for transport, etc) then our children will not enjoy the same lifestyle that we enjoy (using enjoy liberally!). But that conclusion relates to competing uses of real resources.

The public debt ratio has nothing to do with that possibility.

Public policy should be aiming to promote material prosperity across time that allows the available real resources to be shared across generations and prorated according to a sense of public purpose. Using the “price system” only prorates according to “dollar votes” and intertemporal considerations are subjugated.

Once you understand that there are no real consumption burdens to be borne by our children as a result of the public debt ratios, you then can trace the origin of this myth to the false government/household analogy.

A sovereign government is never revenue constrained because it is the monopoly issuer of the currency. A household is always financially constrained because it is the user of the currency.

This distinction means that the implications of a government budget is not even remotely like that of a household. When the government spends it credits bank accounts. The funds come from nowhere! When it taxes it debits bank accounts. The funds go nowhere!

Please read my blog – Deficit spending 101 – Part 1Deficit spending 101 – Part 2Deficit spending 101 – Part 3 – for more discussion on this point.

These blogs tell you that government debt is just an interest-bearing manifestation of non-government saving and the funds “borrowed” by the government are just come from what it has spent anyway.

Governments pay back debt (upon maturity) and service the interest payments just like it spends more generally. It moves funds from an account at the central bank to the commercial banking system. There is no “financing” constraint involved.

There are clearly distributional issues involved in issuing and servicing public debt. The poor typically do not have savings which are can be used to purchase the debt and hence do not enjoy the income flows arising from servicing the debt. While these issues are important and should be considered they have no bearing on the legitimacy of the “debt burden” argument.

That argument is plain wrong.

There is a case to be made that the government should stop issuing any debt when it net spends. Such an action is unnecessary in a fiat monetary system and the benefits of the debt issuance do flow to the top-end-of-town more often than not. The other side of the equity argument however is that we should consider who benefits from the net public spending. Both considerations are important aspects of public policy. But the debate is never about the burdens of paying back the debt. There are no burdens.

A few days later (December 9, 2010) there was a letter to the Guardian in reply to its debt burden article from one Professor George Irvin who was quoted in the original article. Irvin contested the notion that debt is inherited by the children of the baby boomers. He said:

… who inherits the debt? The answer is the poor, the jobless, the single parents in unskilled work and increasingly the “squeezed middle”. It is certainly not the rich baby boomers, who will pass on large estates to the next generation.

While I understand the sentiment expressed here it is equally incorrect. No-one inherits the debt. The fact is that the disadvantaged inherit the burdens of the fiscal austerity which is a different point.

Yes, the fiscal austerity is driven by irrational fears about public debt ratios and in that sense there is some link. But to really expose where the policy failing lies requires us to understand the irrational nature of these fears which, in turn, focuses on the lack of legitimacy of the fiscal austerity rather than giving oxygen to the idea that the public debt ratio is problematic and something that we should be the slightest bit concerned about.

It is clear that fiscal austerity burdens those who rely on state aid and the unemployed that lose jobs (in both the private and public sector) as a result of the demand collapse. Their children also carry that disadvantage (burden) into their adult lives.

Persistent unemployment has major intergenerational impacts because the children inherit the disadvantage. The reason has nothing to do with the public debt ratio but everything to do with being excluded from training, work experience and other advantages that accompany secure work. The children learn by demonstration the pathologies that are associated with unemployment and social alienation.

So it is fiscal austerity that is to blame. Even discussing these intergenerational impacts in the context of public debt is misleading and providing the mainstream with a sense of credibility that they do not warrant.

Finally, the UK Guardian article chooses to quote – as an authority – some “private equity boss and business commentator” who not only said the government had to cut back its debt to “avoid saddling our children with debt” but also said that:

… private debt was also a scourge, and said banks should call in loans on small businesses with the slogan “a rolled-over loan gathers no moss”.

Cute I thought – the slogan. The message however is one of total ignorance especially in light of the most recent economic data to come out in Britain (December 9, 2010) from the UK Office for National Statistics which shows that Britain’s trade deficit worsened in October and in seasonally adjusted terms exports fell.

This is a country that is banking its recovery on exports growth. The external sector in Britain is reducing GDP growth. I also note that German exports shrank last month.

So if you understand anything about the National Accounts you will realise that you cannot simultaneously have the government and the private domestic sector reducing its debt levels while the external sector is in deficit.

The most salient National Accounts relationship is that a government deficit (surplus) is exactly equal to a non-government surplus (deficit). If the external sector is in deficit (say constant) then a rising government surplus (or declining deficit) will be mirrored in the private domestic sector by a rising deficit (declining surplus).

You cannot achieve deleveraging of both sectors under these conditions and to claim otherwise is to demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of how the economy and its sectoral relationships work.

Please read the following blogs – Barnaby, better to walk before we runStock-flow consistent macro modelsNorway and sectoral balancesThe OECD is at it again! – for more information about this.

Conclusion

Think back to the prediction made by Eisuke Sakakibara last week – a prolonged recession lasting until 2015 or so because fiscal deficits are being deliberately withdrawn. The destructive impacts of that misguided policy direction – fuelled by the erroneous claims of intergenerational debt burdens – is what will impose real burdens on our children.

They will be less educated, less skilled, less experienced, have lower income etc as a whole (distributional issues abstracted from) as a result of the fiscal austerity. Their future possibilities will be reduced as a consequence.

So in reality the burdens work in exactly the opposite way in a fiat monetary system to what the mainstream neo-liberal claim. In fact, the whole anti-budget deficit argument is just a ploy to seek ways whereby the elites can get more real income now and more real income later for their own enjoyment. Spreading the real output more widely through fiscal interventions frustrates that aspiration.

That is enough for today!

This entry was posted in Economics. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Our children never hand real output back in time

  1. apj says:

    can’t wait to see the remainder of your article, but just the first paragraph got me thinking about something I saw today, and here it is – the unemployment problem amongst the young – http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/employment-population-ratio-young-people-a-potential-lost-generation-of-young-americans/

  2. dnm says:

    Dear Bill,

    What do you mean by ‘real income’, when you say ‘the whole anti-budget deficit argument is just a ploy to seek ways whereby the elites can get more real income now and more real income later…’? Their nominal income will be increased but if the economy is trashed, in the future they will just be getting a larger share of a smaller pie.

  3. Andrew Wilkins says:

    A larger share of a smaller pie gives them greater power. They crave the power that money brings them.

  4. Puzzle says:

    Now they are drafting new constitution in Iceland. They have selected comittee of 25 laymen to the job. Maybe some members of MMT-community would like to inform them about the possibilities available to monetarily sovereign state, like putting an overdraft facility at the icelandic central bank? Sorry, but I can not be bothered.

  5. Dnm, I think Bill is just saying that cuts in government spending now means less tax paid by people currently in work, and that in turn means higher real income for those in work and for the “elite”.

    However, public spending cuts mean a redued GDP, which in turn hardly helps the elite maximise their incomes. Thus it’s debatable as to whether this “ploy to seek….more real income” works for the elite, or whether they are shooting themselves in the foot! I vote for the latter!

  6. GLH says:

    George Irvin “… who inherits the debt? The answer is the poor, the jobless, the single parents in unskilled work and increasingly the “squeezed middle”. It is certainly not the rich baby boomers, who will pass on large estates to the next generation. ”
    I like the way these pompous experts frame a situation. After thirty years of neo-liberal Reagonomics, with tax cuts for the rich while the rest of us had tax hikes, with the assault on wages and benefits, with having to use debt to stay alive, we are now classified as the ‘rich baby boomers’. I have to restrain myself because Mr. Mitchel wouldn’t allow me to really say what I think of Mr. Irvin and his ilk on this blog. I would like to see that ‘man’ in the position of some of the ‘rich baby boomers’ that I know; People who can’t quit working because they owe too much and may even lose their houses because of medical expenses and the way banks have been allowed to scam them over the years. Baby boomers who really live in poverty. Who made people like Mr. Irvin experts anyway? And, who would listen to such a person- I really have to restrain myself. Oh, I know who listens to such people as George Irvin and Glen Beck; the very people who suffer from what they say.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Bill,

    Don’t you think that the reason there is unemployment is because we have used energy to power machines to do things that used to be done by manpower? So, from using fossil fuels, and when they’re gone, there won’t be the oil to power the tractors that replaced the teams of horses and work men etc etc. Where I live, the average farm has 2 workers. Even 20 years ago (when tractors were smaller), the average had 10 or more. When my friend’s father was a young man –he’s now 76 — he used to drive teams of horses. He was one of 12.

    I think your “make work” programmes are all very well, and good for you.

  8. Dismayed says:

    “I think your “make work” programmes are all very well, and good for you.”

    There is plenty of valuable work that needs to be done. Road repair, public transit, modern power grids, fundamental scientific research.

  9. Burk says:

    Hi, Bill-

    I think the way you construct “debt” is a bit misleading. We all recognize that there is no time machine sending dollars back from the grandchildren to the profligate parents. But there is a redistribution scheme contractually foisted on the future generations from the current one. The current generation fails to tax enough, and awards excessive pensions to itself which it insures by some sort of “sacred” contract. Money is borrowed from those rich enough to want to save their money.

    The future comes around, and future workers find that they are not getting the government services they expected, and are not getting the pay they expected, because the prior redistribution commitments cause their taxes to go up to pay for generous pensions and large public debts. Their choice is- either break the commitments (pensions, bonds, etc.) that their forebears made on their own behalf, or accept inflation as a way of getting around them, or accept more or less massive redistribution among current consumers according to the forebear’s wishes to resolve these contractual agreements.

    If the pensions and debts were wisely invested- to create growth, education, and infrastructure, then all this is happily acceptable. But if their use was featherbedding, leafraking, and boondoggling, as you have referred to, then the future generations will be less happy about honoring these obligations. In their wisdom, they may stick the bill to the rich instead of the poor, but that is not always the way it works!

    So the question is not quite whether the “children” as a whole are better or worse off, as you correctly indicate. It is whether the children will be happy with an inherited redistribution scheme, that in the case of bonds, for example, is rather sacrosanct, since you rightly say that public debt of this kind need never (and should never) be defaulted on.

  10. Julienz says:

    Bill,

    Thank you for this section:

    “If the current generation cruels the world’s environment and exhausts finite resources then unless technology changes dramatically (for example, to use different energy sources for transport, etc) then our children will not enjoy the same lifestyle that we enjoy (using enjoy liberally!). But that conclusion relates to competing uses of real resources.

    The public debt ratio has nothing to do with that possibility.”

    It explains an issue that has been puzzling me for some months. If I read you correctly then the issue of “limits to growth” is a matter societies may need to address but “fiscal austerity” is a way not addressing it in any meaningful way.

    If it is conceivable that future growth is not a possibility then we need to be considering how we can establish an equitable steady state economy going forward.

  11. Greg says:

    That “private equity boss and business commentator” misquoted the common bon mot amongst banking insiders, it should have been: “A rolling loan gathers no loss”…which is cleverer…but not exactly apposite to his point in that formulation….

    -G

  12. Andrew Wilkins says:

    Burk says:
    Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 5:51

    “there is a redistribution scheme contractually foisted on the future generations from the current one.”

    The current generation fails to tax enough, and awards excessive pensions to itself which it insures by some sort of “sacred” contract.

    Big echo from me! I have identified a “sacred” place on the anatomy into which we can insert the aforesaid mentioned sacred contracts.

  13. Grigory Graborenko says:

    Burk:

    “or accept inflation as a way of getting around them”

    That’s really the key failing of your argument. Inflation is nowhere near that linear. The trade-off between (well targeted) spending without debt issuance and inflation is non-existent when you have such high levels of unemployment.

    In other words, we *can* afford, in every sense of the word, to have everyone work!

    Elizabeth:
    The proposition that technology is putting people out of work is false. We have had steadily increasing technology of that sort since the industrial revolution, and yet during the post war years we had an amazing economic boom with less than 2% unemployment. Don’t tell the the fifties and sixties weren’t a time of great invention and innovation – they certainly were. Yet there was always something to do!

    For example, the original Luddites complained that automating textile manufacture would put them out of a job. A decade later and far more people were employed by textiles than before (even in relation to population growth). Counter-intuitive, yes, but true.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Grigory,

    Didn’t the British machined-manufactured goods put lots of European manual-workers out of work? Their goods were more expensive than the British imports.
    I think the original Luddites had a point.
    We live in a finite world. Infinite growth is not possible. The factory workers in the fifties and sixties weren’t “happy workers”; they
    were unhealthy, underpaid, over-worked in dangerous conditions.

    The Luddites complained about textile manufacture. Have you seen the hellish factories they were moved to? It was the beginning of the end.

  15. Neil Wilson says:

    Elizabeth,

    The problem is that a ‘job’ is linked with ‘income’, ie a claim on real resources. If you can find a way of breaking the claim link then you can use more machines to produce what we need with minimal inputs and maximum productivity.

    The Luddites had a point, but it wasn’t the machines that were the problem. It was the real resource distribution system.

  16. Grigory Graborenko says:

    Elizabeth:

    We have had steadily improving workplace health and safety. Turns out that it improves productivity through raised worker morale and decreased waste due to medical leave. Increased safety and conditions do NOT create unemployment.

    The fact that still remains is that, despite working conditions, during the post war years we… had… full… employment. It wasn’t make work digging ditches and filling them in again either. Huge amounts of infrastructure was built in that era. Yet it was a time of great technological change. Sure, workers could have been treated better, but this would have simply raised productivity, not increased unemployment from 2% to 10%.

    How does this fit into your “technology is the cause of unemployment” thesis?

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Neil, I think I agree. Resource distribution is the perhaps the answer.

    Grigory – did I say technology is the cause of unemployment? I didn’t mean to. That’s a bit simplistic, even
    for a neophyte!
    I think I am becoming anti-Capitalist /Marxist.
    It’s not the technology per se, but the advantage taken of it by the capitalists.

  18. Grigory Graborenko says:

    Elizabeth:

    Apologies, shouldn’t have set up a straw-person like that.

    I think the greatest irony of MMT is that, despite coming from Marxist roots, it could be the very thing to rescue capitalism. If things keep going in the Irish and British direction, with cuts chasing deficits in an ever increasingly destructive spiral, it could be the seeds of a revolution. A good dose of MMT understanding could save the situation.

    I like capitalism – when it’s well run :) On the other hand, the sheer blandness of political discourse nowadays demands some radical left voices just to open things up a bit.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Grigory,

    Thanks for the comment. I really don’t know too much about this, and in fact, I think I’ll
    just shut up from now on. You chaps and your debates are interesting to watch and I learn a
    lot.

    Best wishes,
    Elizabeth

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

*
To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the answer to the math equation shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the equation.
Click to hear an audio file of the anti-spam equation