The Politics Of The Green New Deal: We Can’t Pay For That

Posts in this series:

The Green New Deal Challenges The Domination of Capital

Part 1 on Labor

The Politics of the Green New Deal: Part 2 on Capital

The Politics of The Green New Deal: The Opposition Of The Rich

The Green New Deal: OMG It’s Socialism!

Seriously. How on earth will we pay for the damage done by climate change? Water rising along the coasts and flooding huge parts of our oil and gas refining infrastructure? Resettling millions away from new floodplains in Nebraska and Florida? Food shortages? Dirty water? Hurricane and tornado damage? Storm costs already are running over $240 billion per year at least. The costs of three hurricanes and 76 wildfires last year alone ran to something like $300 billion. The National Climate Assessment identifies several areas of enormous concern: extreme heat, lost labor, infectious diseases, droughts and floods, decreased food production, and failing water and sewage systems.

We have a good current example in the recent floods in Nebraska. Flood water is running into the Missouri, where it overwhelmed the sewage treatment system in Omaha, dumping an estimated 65 million gallons of raw sewage. That fetid stream of filth is expected to continue for two to three months. Cities downstream will have to treat their water against unnamed pollutants, presumably e. coli among others.

Even without Omaha’s sewage, the floodwaters would not be safe because of human waste from septic tanks, animal waste and chemicals from farm fields, along with chemicals from urban and suburban parking lots and industrial sites, experts say.

That sewage and the related flood water is headed to the Mississippi through New Orleans. and the delta, washing out more of Louisiana on its way, and into the Gulf where the Red Tide from last year finally disappeared in February after a sixteen month bloom.

The floods are also causing serious problems for farmers. This story in the New York Times quotes farmers who are unable to get to their fields which are drowned by recent floods. The Kearney Hub of Kearney Nebraska says planting will be delayed; and adds fascinating details on how farmers should cope with wet fields. Eventually they may be driven off their farms. We can guess that capitalists will buy up the farms at foreclosure or otherwise. This will gradually concentrate food production in fewer and fewer hands, which leads to higher prices for food consumers.

But we never talk about how to pay for climate catastrophe. The financing talk is always about how to pay for efforts to cope with it. That’s apparently going to be a big part of Republican strategy, along with their other scare tactics. You have to admire the chutzpah of Republicans complaining about the cost of the Green New Deal after handing trillions in unfunded tax cuts to their donors. They are joined by plenty of moderate Democrats, and cost is one of the reasons.

It’s astonishing that no defenders of the Green New Deal ask their opponents how they plan to pay for climate disaster. Instead, they struggle to answer their detractors. Many advocates of the Green New Deal have turned to MMT because it makes it clear that we can do everything in the Green New Deal and more, subject to resource constraints such as adequate and trained labor, natural resources, technical knowledge and entrepreneurial skills. Here’s a good discussion from the excellent Stephanie Kelton.

I’ve read Randy Wray’s book, Modern Money Theory: A Primer on Macroeconomics for Sovereign Monetary Systems. I’ve also read some mainstream economics, some of which I discussed here at Emptywheel. For me, MMT is superior. Mainstream economics has a number of normative ideals at its heart, as we saw in my discussion of the theory of marginal utility of William Stanley Jevons (for example, here). As I see it, mainstream economics privileges the concerns of the individual over the well-being of the society in which the individual lives and works. On the other hand MMT gives a descriptive account of the economy, with no obvious normative implications. As Wray says in §7.10:

On one level, the MMT approach is descriptive: it explains how a sovereign currency works. When we talk about government spending by keystrokes and argue that the issuer of a sovereign currency cannot run out of them, that is descriptive. When we say that sovereign governments do not borrow their own currency, that is descriptive. Our classification of bond sales as part of monetary policy, to help the central bank hit its interest rate target, is also descriptive. And finally, when we argue that a floating exchange rate provides the most domestic policy space, that is also descriptive.

Functional finance then provides a framework for prescriptive policy.*

I don’t think mainstream economics will ever be merely descriptive in this sense. It isn’t even capable of getting rid of obviously bad ideas, like austerity or the Philips Curve, both of which are suffused with normative implications. There are still politicians who think we should have a constitutional balanced budget amendment. Stephen Moore, Trump’s nominee to the Fed, has argued for a return to the gold standard.

But you don’t have to accept MMT to see that the Green New Deal is affordable. Here’s a well-written paper by J.W. Mason of the Roosevelt Institute. I think Mason considers himself to be a heterodox economist, as opposed to a mainstream economist. He justifies financing important public projects like the Green New Deal in mainstream Keynesian terms.

In the end, someone is going to pay. We either pay to ameliorate the problem, or we pay to cope with the horrifying costs of surviving.

=====
*Quoted from this post.

Edited to correct name of Kearney, Nebraska and typos.

image_print
104 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    You wrote: “mainstream economics privileges the concerns of the individual over the well-being of the society in which the individual lives and works.”

    I disagree, somewhat.

    Mainstream economics struggles to integrate micro and macro economics. Microeconomics focuses on individual decisionmaking, while macro works to understand how the economy as a whole functions. A macro theory that cannot be supported by a coherent understanding of microeconomics is untenable; a micro theory of economic behavior that does not somehow lead to a coherent macro model is similarly problematic.

    Accounting for “the well-being of the society” is the tricky part in integrating micro and macro, but is by no means ignored — at least not by decent economists. Ken Arrow’s classic paper on the economics of health care is the perfect example of this. Because of the mix of actors (patients, doctors, employers, insurers, public health officials, etc.) and the mix of competing motives (better individual health, saving/earning money, social health concerns, free rider issues), Arrow concludes that simple market pressures will never lead to the best outcomes when it come to health and health care policy.

    You see the same things in labor economics, welfare economics, and urban economics. These subdisciplines may not get the same media visibility as big macro theories, but within the field of economics they do exactly what you are looking for.

  2. Bobby Gladd says:

    “…or we pay to cope with the horrifying costs of surviving.”

    Likely (unhappily so) the latter. (“Four Futures”) Frase’s 4th quadrant. Hierarchy + Scarcity = Exterminism.

  3. Watson says:

    A discussion of Modern Money Theory can get weedy. At the risk of over-simplification, MMT proponents proceed from the eminently reasonable Keynesian assumption that government policy can be funded by deficit spending. The key requirements are a productive economy and a stable government which inspires confidence in its currency.

    Pro-austerity deficit hawks lack credibility because:
    1. They invoke their balanced-budget shibboleth selectively – always against popular projects such as Medicare for all or a Green New Deal; never against right-wing schemes such as tax cuts for the rich, or Trump spending his weekends at Mar-a-Lago rather than at Camp David.
    2. Although supporting public projects by borrowing and issuing currency has its limits because it does tend to be inflationary; the good news is that everyone recognizes this, and runaway inflation almost never happens.

      • Jonf says:

        That particular blog is from 2011 and has been refuted a number of times. The comments to it have some of the counter arguments and references. Randall Wray is included in the reference. It is mostly a nonsense blog.

    • Alan K says:

      Shiller has a very good article on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). It makes sense up to a point, and it is a modern rehash of some old (and good) ideas. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/29/business/modern-monetary-theory-shiller.html. My personal opinion on the Green New Deal (GND) is that it included too much and got the conversation off on the wrong foot. Full employment are “fighting words” for both left and right. Abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement is another fighting phrase.

      Personally, I think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes can be a once-a-century political figure – a potential force for good on the scale of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But if I was advising her, I would have suggested GND be pushed as an infrastructure, government-as-investor-of-last-resort. She could even have got the Donald on board with that.

      • Rayne says:

        WRT suggesting “GND be pushed as an infrastructure, government-as-investor-of-last-resort,” I think this only allows the continuation of neoliberal justification of any work as investment with an expected return, as well as providing a foothold for profiteering early on and a rationale for funding Trump’s “fucken’ wall.”

        Nothing we have done to date relying on neoliberal arguments has worked to reduce our exposure to climate change. We have to start fresh. GND’s going to sound like rock and roll did to the generation of the Great Depression but we know how that turned out.

        • Alan K says:

          No, this is not neoliberal. It is basic Keynes (who was hated by the neoliberals, eg Hayek, because, well, Keynes was right about the Great Depression and they weren’t). And MMT is in fact exactly the government-as-investor-of-last-resort.

          Capitalism (not just neoliberals) cannot deal with climate change, because carbon exhaust is an externality. The system needs government intervention exactly like GND in order to get over the hump. Carbon taxes are not the answer (and that is a neoliberal proposal) because the burden falls mainly on people who can’t afford to pay more taxes.

        • Rayne says:

          Language matters. As soon as the words “investor” “investment” are used, the neoliberals will expect a return on investment.

          Externalities must be internalized by taxes. Find some other way to place the cost of prevention and remediation of climate change closer to the origin of damage — like increasing taxes on fossil fuel vehicles, increasing federal gas tax combined with elimination of subsidies to fossil fuel producers, increase taxes on anything in the production process which uses more fossil fuels.

          The people who can least afford to pay taxes are already paying more than their share for climate change. We need to shift the costs back far enough that it is embedded before consumption. If a business can’t make a profit selling a product relying on fossil fuels or their by-products like plastics after subsidies have been removed and the true social and environmental costs have been added into the cost of goods sold, then that business needs to evolve or die.

        • Jonf says:

          And that is what will make the GND very unpopular with the elite and investing class as well as with AOC and MMT, but quite necessary. And it also leads to the many other proposals packaged with the GND, like the job guarantee, Medicare,for all. It is, after all, a new deal.

        • Rayne says:

          Fuck the elite. We’re in this mess because r>g and it’s time to stop listening to the 2000 of them whine about how any change will hurt their precioussss r.

          There’s only so many yachts skinny rich bitches can ride at one time. Any more than one will make fine housing for the Pacific Islanders whose homes will be lost to the sea.

  4. Hops says:

    I’d recommend to all authors the practice of introducing acronyms before their use — e.g., for a Three Letter Acronym (TLA), spell it out and put the acronym in parentheses. I got snagged on MMT in this article, but read on and figured out it was Modern Money Theory.

    Anyway, our children will be the ones to pay for the mess that’s been made of the planet.

    • rip says:

      I got snagged also but enjoyed my trip down several rabbit holes trying to understand at an elementary level WTF with all this economic theory (having taken Econ 101 many years ago.)

    • Leading Edge Boomer says:

      I agree completely. In fact, I have always thought that was the proper way to handle acronyms. Not everyone is an insider.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Michael Hudson continues to contribute to challenging the views of dominant neoliberal economics. The cite refers to an interview in which he summarizes the second book in his intended trilogy on “the long history of the tyranny of debt.”

    The first volume, “…and forgive them their debts: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year,” came out last November. Don’t be put off by the title: the information and analyses are fresh and entirely relevant to today’s economics and how they’ve gone so wrong for most people on the planet, but not for rentier extractors for whom they were developed.

    [https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/04/the-delphic-oracle-was-their-davos-a-four-part-interview-with-michael-hudson-about-his-forthcoming-book-the-collapse-of-antiquity-part-1.html]

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      An excerpt of a dialogue between Michael Hudson and interviewer John Simon:

      MH: [Republican] Rome was turned into an oligarchy, an autocracy of the senatorial families. Their “liberty” was …. to destroy everybody else’s liberty so they could grab whatever they could, enslave the debtors and create the polarized society that Rome became. [What the right doesn’t want to change when it says “we” can’t afford to change.]

      JS: OK, but this program worked. The Republic grew and grew and conquered everyone else for century after century….

      MH: It worked by looting and stripping other societies…. Once there were no more kingdoms for Rome to destroy, it collapsed from within…. Essentially, Rome was a financial rentier state.

      Rentiers don’t create production. They live off existing production….

      JS: This has all been forgotten….

      MH: Let’s say, expurgated from the curriculum.

      • rip says:

        EoH: thanks for the excerpt.

        I’m just now reading Edward J. Watts “Mortal Republic – How Rome Fell Into Tyranny” which details the (mis)steps as the Republic destroyed itself. So many parallels with some other Western empire.

        • Tom says:

          Yes, the role of wealth in buying elections, the senators’ toadying to the Emperor for fear of losing their positions–or worse–and the erosion of norms of established social and political conduct. Hard to miss the comparisons, especially when Trump talks about having the armed forces, the police, and other “tough people” on his side. Almost sounds like Julius Caesar preparing to march on Rome with legions loyal to him rather than the Senate & the Roman people.

    • Sharon says:

      Earl, thanks for the link to the interview with Michael Hudson. I was particularly struck by this:

      Every kind of reform, from Mesopotamia to Greece, was put forth as if it simply restored the way things were in the beginning. There was no concept of linear progress in Antiquity. They thought that there was only one way to do things, so any reform must be the way the world was meant to be in the very beginning. All reformers would say that in the beginning everybody must have been equal. Their reform was aimed at restoring this state of affairs.

      • Sharon says:

        Perhaps a better way to sell a Green New Deal would be to remove the word “new” and sell it as a return to the way things were in the beginning. Make America Green Again on green baseball caps.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        That appeal to ancient origins to justify something new, as Hudson writes, has an ancient pedigree. Older examples include the finding of new biblical books when cleaning the Temple, and ascribing them to ancient authors. The Romans used something like it when characterizing their Caesars, attributing their contemporary godhood to Olympian pedigrees and seemingly impossible, and therefore godlike, virgin births.

        It’s still very much in use today. If I remember correctly, one of Hudson’s modern examples was the so-called originalist movement among American neocon judges. Its most well-known proponent was Antonin Scalia.

        Originalism attempts to clothe new radicalism in ancient garb so as to make it seem less threatening, while making the chaos and destruction those radical decisions bring about seem preordained. Neil Gorsuch’s recent and extraordinarily cruel decision regarding the death penalty is a good example.

        • Tom says:

          Not all the Romans took the idea of their emperors becoming gods seriously. When Augustus died, his widow Livia gave a large cash award to a senator who was prepared to claim that he had seen the spirit of Augustus ascending to the heavens. When Vespasian was lying on his deathbed, he joked to his attendants: “Oh dear, I think I’m becoming a god … ” From Mary Beard’s “S.P.Q.R.: A History of Ancient Rome”. Incidentally, Dr. Beard’s book is the only work of ancient history that I’ve come across that contains the words, “scumbag”, “fuck”, and “cocksucker” — her translations of graffiti found on the walls of Pompeii.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The well-born had greater license to express cynicism of official descriptions of the origins of imperial leaders.

          Like some contemporary politicians, Romans were obsessed with the Phallus, bringer of good luck, pleasure, fecundity, plenty (and their opposites), its symbology was everywhere. Public baths being what they were, well-endowed or its absence were not descriptions of universities and charitable foundations.

          Examples of the Roman obsession with it can be found along Hadrian’s Wall and in the muck of East Anglia and the Netherlands, as well as on the walls of Pompei. The ubiquity of it must have overwhelmed the Victorians, who made an often cruel fetish of rejecting the physicality and excesses of Georgian England (and revolutionary France). If Sigmund Freud had not existed, the Victorians would have needed to invent him.

        • Valley girl says:

          EoH “in the muck of East Anglia” =? Such as… or rather, where? I can’t come up with any thing off hand.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Then you never left the lab, except for the odd pint and a punt. Cambridge is in the middle of it: Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, essentially, the Wash to the Thames, the North Sea to the A1.

        • Valley girl says:

          No, you are wrong about never having left the lab except for a pint or a punt. I can rightly be faulted for not having recognized the evidence of the Roman’s obsession with Phallus in East Anglia. How shameful of me. Except that such may well not be apparent to an untutored eye. I have a very good eye for things visual, and a good visual memory. So please don’t insult me.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          An insult was the farthest thing from my mind. But I am dealing with an information deficit regarding your time in the UK, apart from your having secured an exclusive post-doc slot at Cambridge and your recollection about having met an iconic musician during a flight to the UK in the mid-1970s.

        • Valley girl says:

          Yeah, well, if you are dealing with an information deficit, why conclude “Then you never left the lab except for…” Treat that as a rhetorical question.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          My intent was to frame it as a question, but the edit button failed to appear. But then I misread your question in the first place.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          If your question was where in East Anglia, Bill Bryson recounts, in A Short History of Nearly Everything, that a farmer found a small gold phallus from the Roman era in a mid-Norfolk field in about 2000.

        • Valley girl says:

          Yes, my question was where. I had imagined that you were talking about the interior or exterior of particular buildings, or an edifice, like Hadrian’s wall, but lesser known. Just because I can’t report finding a golden penis in the literal muck of East Anglia when I explored the fens and dykes between Cambridge and Ely doesn’t mean that I never got out of the lab except to go drinking or punting.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Needless to say, it’s rare to find anything nearly 2000 years old. They’re not as common as what farmers find in Flanders each spring. All I found was muck on my cycle tires from the B roads.

          I suppose that like Richard III, one might occasionally find one buried under a car park.

          A couple of friends are walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall this summer. I’ll have them keep a look out.

        • P J Evans says:

          I understand they had things like necklace charms that were phalli, along with wall paintings and just about anything else they could put one on (lamps, even, I’ve heard!), in particular garden statues. But then the Greeks had herms….

  6. SAO says:

    The issue is not that technically, we can’t afford the green new deal. Obviously we can. We spend over 50% of every discretionary dollar on the military. But, in order to make it happen, politicians have to link this. They have to ask, what will make you safer? Healthcare that won’t bankrupt you if you get sick? Protection from floods and fires? Or an endless series of wars in the Middle East?

    Without an explicit and realistic promise to not increase taxes, the green new deal will go nowhere. Too many people are struggling to make ends meet to have an appetite for solving problems that can be put off.

    And before you say it can’t be put off, I’ll offer an analogy — when I lived in Haiti in rural farming area, advisors like me were full of good advice, like mango trees produce a ton of fruit every year, don’t cut your mango tree down for wood for charcoal, as that money will be gone and so will a lifetime of fruit. But people did. Why? Not because they were stupid or shortsighted or didn’t listen to earnest American advice, they did it because their needs were so pressing today, that they had no ability to think about or invest in tomorrow.

    That’s the way a lot of Americans who voted for Trump feel. The Trump voters who aren’t MAGA hat wearing fans. Those people will vote against a green new deal on the hint of higher taxes.

    • Ed Walker says:

      People are short-sighted. See, e.g., The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss, or read about the end of Easter Island.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        You could extend the examples to most mining operations, especially hard rock mining. Roman mines in Spain,16th century silver and mercury (quicksilver) mines in Latin America, similar era Fugger family mines in Europe, the once-Anaconda Copper owned silver and copper mines in the West, and the Hearst silver and gold mines remain among the most polluted places on earth. Entire mountains were washed down the Sacramento River as highly-capitalized mine companies used high-pressure water jets to break them up in the search for California gold.

        An accessible and lively resource to explore the theme is Grey Brechin, “Imperial San Francisco.” [https://www.graybrechin.net/]

        • Valley girl says:

          Thank you for that link. I have a collection of books about SF and surrounding areas at that time that I’ve enjoyed reading.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Then you’ll enjoy reading Brechin’s, “Imperial San Francisco.” It is focused, of course, on the city’s history. But as a geographer, Brechin focuses on its physical and economic history, including how the city’s “latifundia,” the territory from which it draws the raw materials the city claims as its own (food, water, timber, other raw materials), has grown and damaged that territory.

          His history of the city’s celebrated (and continuing) search for gold is an eye-opener, like having a double shot of rye for breakfast. The discussion of gold mining and its effects downstream to the bay and beyond, is depressing, but it fits right in with why we need a GND.

          So, too, with its coverage of the city’s social geography, such as the areas the haves claimed as their exclusive turf and what that meant for everyone else. His viewpoint is starkly at odds with the Bancroft school at Mrs. Hearst’s Berkeley, for which unrestricted resource extraction was the key to the future and those who led the effort were heroes.

          A factoid I found startling was that once upon a time, PG&E fought fiercely to place a nuclear power plant over the San Andreas fault near Bodega Bay, sixty miles north of the city.

        • Tom says:

          Ice core samples from Greenland have found traces of lead pollution dating from Roman and Carthaginian silver mining operations in Spain in the third century B.C. They have found similar traces of lead pollution from smelting operations carried out by the Phoenicians in the eastern Mediterranean dating to around 900 B.C.

    • Katherine M Williams says:

      “You have to admire the chutzpah of Republicans”

      No you don’t; and it isn’t chutzpah, its brain-numbing propaganda for numbskulls.

      As for the economics of the Green Deal, it should not need to be said that the Green Deal is a fantastically good way to CREATE wealth. Of course, Fuddy-duddy-old-poop Rich People resist investing in new technology; it’s so much easier to increase their earnings by cutting employee wages or stealing employee pension funds. Or getting the gov’t to gift them with billions in tax breaks/refunds. But when they see the Green entrepreneurs raking in the big bucks, they’ll climb on the Green Bandwagon and grab the reins. Hopefully, THIS time they won’t be allowed to drive the bandwagon over a cliff.

  7. Pete says:

    Whose “wealth” is impacted the most:
    1) if nothing is done?
    2) if GND is implemented?

    Since “wealth” if terribly skewed to the – well – wealthiest – I suppose that question is already answered.

    If nothing is done, does cumulative wealth go into the dumpster? I think likely so.

    If the GND is done, wealth could be increased, but is likely to be more equitably distributed if we are mindful. Aye, but less wealth for the wealthy…short sighted indeed.

  8. jaango says:

    When it comes to almost any discussion regarding the New Green New Deal or Climate Change, I am pleasantly enjoying these discussions on the internet, and yet, no one ‘discusses’ the verbiage that is the Latino Perspective.

    Take, for example, demographics, hence 20 years, means tht the Latino Perspective will be front and center, given the level of discourse, among Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. And to date, the internet “political plaforms” have never talked to these over 7,000 Elected and Appointed Officials, and thusly, this ‘closed circle” of talented conversations, are being segregated out of our daily conversations.

    Of course, I could go on an on in this vein of thought, but this vein of thought is lurking just around the corner, and will come full force, since no media outlet, is listening or hearing of such as an effort for “Latinos Talking To Latinos.” And which effectively demonstrates that the Third Stereotype of Politics is: “I don’t care…I’ll be dead…So, What’s Your Point?” remains cognizant for the daily circumvention that is our political dynamic.

    However, who own’s America is recognized by who ‘owns’ the votes. In our next election cycle, nationally, 23% of the votes will be cast by voters over the age of 65, and which has brought us to where we are today. As such, more of the same remains the Tradition.

    And needless to say but I will, the States of New York, Florida, Texas and California, will change this discussion, ever more.

    • Rayne says:

      Some of what you are saying from a Latinx perspective is already dated. Look at Ocasio Cortez as the single best example of how the dialog on climate change has bee elevated by Latinx POV to top level nationwide. Or the damage to Puerto Rico as an example of how climate change affects Latinx Americans.

      The problem is that the states you point to as those changing the discussion already are doing so, yet that the greatest percentages of Latinx American voters are marginalized by the electoral college and the Senate.

      Move to the next level and then think at least another level out.

      • jaango says:

        Sorry about the my delay in responding to your post above. I was on an extended trip to the Rez.

        One of the joys in my life is having the ability to climb down into the political sewer and address the rampant racism among both the Democrats and the Republicans alike. And in doing so and upon my return to the surface, I know that my fellow camaradas and compradres will be readily available with an abundance of soap, buckets of clean water and a tall stack of towels, and taken together, permits me to wash away the accumulated filth and stink.

        And that’s just one element or a small part and parcel to my “history” for perputating Decency Personified.

        And from another political aspect, the “national security and defense” umbrella includes Trump’s ‘border wall.” In response the ‘new’ House chamber should reach into the trash bin of ‘history’ and lift out and place the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2013 into today’s viability, thusly, bring this legislation to a full floor vote. And in doing so, the Democrats would effectively destroy Trump’s “tenates” for once and all time, however, being distracted with “impeachment” demonstrates that Democrats have adopted the Republican-oriented behavor for the marriage or the Nexus that is intentional ignorance and criminal stupidity.

        Need more be said?

  9. Jonf says:

    That is a great little book Ed references and easy reading. I recommend it to everyone.

    When it comes to affording something the key point is: are the resources available? Bc, if, for example, you have no more steel, you cannot build the bridge, no matter how much or little it costs or how much money you throw at it, at least if you are unwilling to accept inflation. One critical resource is always labor.

    Assuming all the resources are available the money is just a matter of key strokes, since no one finances the construction other than the federal government (at least in our country). It matters not whether we raise taxes in that circumstance bc by definition all the resources are available. We are all republicans at times like this, like when they recently cut taxes and created a deficit.

    So imagine we already pay for something, every damn nickel, say health care. Might we not simply decide to reallocate who pays what? And then rearrange the administration of it and call it single payer?

  10. Fr33d0m says:

    I remain somewhat skeptical of MMT, so the discussion is useful. But lets set it aside for a moment.

    As I see it, most of the GND is investment, certainly the higher ticket items are. Investment shouldn’t need to be paid for as it pays for itself over time. You don’t need MMT to say that IMHO.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Whether investing in a GND project pays for itself over time depends greatly on who is doing the investing, in what, and on what terms. CalPERS investing in an opaque PE-managed project would be different from, say, the USG – without any vaunted private partners – investing in a transparent GND infrastructure project.

      • Fr33d0m says:

        I’m thinking not about individual projects but from goals such as creating/expanding clean energy jobs and expanding our renewable sources of energy. The money the government spends on those things is an investment.

      • Rayne says:

        Insisting GND projects “pay for themselves over time” is problematic; it’s neoliberal thinking. What is the value of the 3000 Americans’ lives lost in Puerto Rico? What is the opportunity cost of restoration in Houston post-Harvey? What’s the cost of indigenous peoples’ losses as their cultures are decimated by the loss of homeland to rising ocean?

        We have to think differently about this. Some of this is also going to require better marketing to the folks who are least likely to be affected.

        • Valley girl says:

          Rayne, thank you for your comment. I’ve sat here for over an hour trying to come up with something cogent to say, not only in response to Fr33d0m’s first comment, but also how to talk about what “investment” means. I have all sorts of non-trivial thoughts roiling in my mind, as ever, but have never been particularly good at distilling such into cogent words. Especially in the political realm. That is why I rarely comment at EW, except with what might be fairly called trivial remarks.

          All I can say for now is, that in my view, talking about the GND in monetary terms, as a monetary investment in a win/lose monetary framework misses the point as to what the GND is about. It’s about a different kind of investment.

        • P J Evans says:

          I don’t think win/lose is even the right scenario for looking at investment – it’s supposed to be win/win, at least when they’re trying to encourage people to invest.

        • Alan K says:

          I guess “investment” is a loaded word. I think of it from the accounting point of view (and I think economists do, too): if it lasts more than 5 years it’s an investment. Less than that, it’s an expense. I don’t think of investment as an ideological term. But Rayne does, and probably others do too — so should we call it “infrastructure”?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I agree. The issue is not to analyze an investment and to prioritize it based on its rate of return to capital. As you and VG and PJE have said, that adheres to the rules capital sets for itself.

          The GND’s job is to help change the frame of reference and the considerations and priorities for making investments.

          Who asks what the ROI is when filling sandbags and shoring up the dike against a rising river? (Oddly, everybody asks what the cost is to avoid or reduce the rise in the first place). The ROI rarely comes up when the issue is putting out fires, or saving people from drowning, tornadoes or hurricanes. No president asks how much the Secret Service costs; he just wants them to do their job with any resource in the arsenal.

          The GND’s purpose is to say that society needs to reinvest in its members and their safety and well-being. Promoting the general welfare is the priority, not preserving or enhancing the wealth held by capital.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    How is it that Donald Trump knows so much and is so sure about the conclusions of the Mueller Report if he hasn’t seen it?

    Not that Trump reads anything. I think he’s as functionally illiterate as Geo. W. Bush, but less intelligent, which is saying something.

    His projection is pathological, like the rest of his personality. “You [the press] should look at the “oranges” of the investigation, where it started, the beginnings of the investigation.” And, yea, he repeats the “treasonous” allegation against unknown critics. I think they need to up his meds; whatever he’s using, it’s not enough.

    • P J Evans says:

      All of the people talking about how the report exonerates Tr*mp – none of them have seen it, so how do they know what’s in it? Even Barr didn’t say that (and he would have, if the report had said anything close to it).

    • Tom says:

      A big part of the problem with Trump is that his behavior has been so outrageous and grotesque–his boasting of his wealth, abilities, and accomplishments; his continued denigrating of John McCain; his two-hour rally rants; his insistence that the Mueller report exonerates him when it actually states the exact opposite; his fawning attitude towards Putin; etc.—that his corruption, self-dealing, and exploitation of the Presidency to enrich himself appears sane and reasonable by comparison and becomes part of the background noise of his administration instead of provoking the degree of anger and outrage that it might otherwise be expected to.

      • e.a.f. says:

        Trump’s 2 hr. rants at rallies, yes some one ought to suggest to him he is starting to sound some what like Fidel Castro, the length of the speech part. come to think of it, wasn’t there a Pres. of Iran who was given to long speeches also. Oh, perhaps its a sign of a dictator in training, the long speech part.

  12. Anon says:

    I’m afraid the issue is in the framing your opening question. You frame it as a tradeoff of costs to humankind or to society. If we choose not to do prevention (i.e. GND) we pay through disease and death. While that is the correct framing from a human standpoint the root of the opposition The root of the opposition does not lie in the premise that there will be no costs but that you will or won’t pay them. Doing the GND, or indeed anything at all will be paid for by the wealthy (except Carbon credits which they can use for financial fraud) through the higher taxes and regulation that they loathe. Doing nothing and letting disaster strike will kill others and impose costs on poor people but that is not a problem. Thus the root of the opposition lies not in a mistaken belief of immunity but in a self-interested calculation that disasters always kill the poor first and thus the costs aren’t bourne by the rich.

    I’m afraid

  13. James says:

    I live in a tiny village northeast of Kearney, Nebr. After the blizzard (the same storm which flooded the eastern part of the state as torrential rain), we’re left with flooding here from all the snow. We’ve since had another snowstorm adding to all the water. Thousands of cattle died during the storms here.

    Everything’s soaked. My town’s streets (all dirt) are practically impassible if you don’t own a truck or tractor (I own a Smart).

    Delayed planting also means reduced crop yields in the autumn. In the east, crop loss from the rainstorm is staggering (especially winter wheat – stand by for higher food prices at harvest).

    • Ed Walker says:

      Thanks for this confirmation. I hope you’ll post about it again on any of my threads. The lack of national coverage is shameful. It reinforces the stupid view described by Anon at 3:28, that someone else will eat the costs of lost cattle and agricultural products, not to mention farms and a way of life.

      • AitchD says:

        Last week (here in NC) my sister mentioned the unprecedented awesome preponderance of bacon advertised and sold, like everywhere. Right. Hurricane Florence slaughtered all the hogs (and baby back ribs) with flooding.

        I live in Charlotte. About a week before Florence made landfall, when the storm was in the middle of the Atlantic, all the birds here disappeared, I mean all. I asked around about it, but after a few days I quit asking because no one else noticed that no birds sing.

        • Tom says:

          Reminds we of accounts I’ve read of animals acting strangely in the time before an earthquake hits.

    • P J Evans says:

      I’m in California, and I’ve seen some coverage in newspapers – McClatchy has done some, though others are certainly not giving it anything like the coverage it should get.
      (One of my grandfather’s uncles lived in Minden, back in the 1890s.)

      • James says:

        We’re getting plenty of coverage, albeit all local and regional.

        Our flooding will get worse in the Nebraska Panhandle when the snowmelt in Wyoming starts in earnest.

        The North Platte River is right up to its banks now. It came out of the banks in my county seat once already and flooded part of that town.

        My town is safe, as it’s about a mile north of the river and partway into the Sandhills, but when Wyoming’s snowfall melts the whole valley is going to be clobbered.

        • James says:

          I should correct something I wrote above. I live northeast of Kimball, not Kearney. (I misread Kearney as Kimball. Lemme clean my glasses.)

        • P J Evans says:

          Here in California, they’re worrying about what happens when all the snow in the mountains starts to melt. It’s the fourth best snow year since they started keeping records, back in the 19th century. And it isn’t over yet. Floods are a real possibility. (They tested the rebuilt spillway at Oroville today. So far, so good.)

        • James says:

          There was an earthen/concrete dam collapse in eastern Nebraska.

          Part of the issue of climate change is mistaking weather for climate, and “both sides” do this. (That said, climate change predicts both more extreme and more frequent severe weather events, but not any particular event.)

          This is the rainy/snowy season in Nebraska. Huge snowfalls/rainfalls aren’t uncommon this time of year.

          The vast areas of my state underwater right now are flood plains of the Platte and Missouri Rivers and tributaries, which are defended by levees and dams.

          Conservative disdain for infrastructure maintenance means those hundred year-old levees and that hundred year-old dam failed.

          As such, water spilled through the levee breaches and was trapped behind the remaining levees. That water couldn’t flow back out into the rivers. Worse, it swamped septic tanks, manure piles, Omaha’s sewage treatment plant, &c, meaning when that water does get back out it goes down the river (or into the ground).

        • P J Evans says:

          Some of the levees around Sacramento are all of a century old. And they keep trying to build in the flats next to them, where a levee break – and it happens – will flood a lot of stuff. Even the bypasses can’t handle all the water, sometimes (and they basically double the capacity where they exist). Conservatives seem to think that if it hasn’t happened in a given area in the last 40 years, it ain’t going to happen. Life doesn’t work that way. (And yeah, the climate’s changing. I’m old enough to notice the changes in the last 40 years, and I’ve seen the annual rainfall charts, where it was pretty regular from 1870 to about 1950 – then it gets much less predictable.

        • So_n_so says:

          Conservative ‘thought’ is usually limited to only what can be seen in front of their face (except when it comes to Invisible Jesus and his extended family). The latter is always a convenient escape valve when an Inconvenient Truth is presented.

    • e.a.f. says:

      Thank you for reinforcing what this post advises us of. In Canada the American news we do receive doesn’t not include anything much regarding these floods nor does the Canadian news. While Trump has been spewing about everything and anything, my question has been what is he deflecting from. Perhaps it is these floods and the horrible impact they are having on people, the animals, and the land.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This is the second part of Michael Hudson’s conversation with classicist John Siman about his three-part history of economics and debt. [https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/04/the-delphic-oracle-was-their-davos-a-four-part-interview-with-michael-hudson-mixed-economies-today-compared-to-those-of-antiquity-part-2.html]

    It continues his discussion of part two of that trilogy, “The Collapse of Antiquity.” He introduces this part by describing the importance of debt jubilees in maintaining the social stability of ancient Near Eastern monarchical societies – by limiting rentier extraction. He then discusses the idea of the mixed economy:

    All these degrees of “mixed economy” were market economies. But their markets were regulated and subordinated to broad social and political objectives rather than to personal rent-seeking or creditor gains. Their economic philosophy was long-term…and aimed at preventing economic imbalance from debt and land monopoly.

    Today’s “mixed economy” usually means an active public sector undertaking investment in infrastructure and controlling money and credit, and shaping the context of laws within which the economy operates….

    Every economy is a “market economy” of some sort or another. What is at issue is how large a role governments will play — specifically, how much it will regulate, how much it will tax, how much it will invest directly into the economy’s infrastructure and other means of production or act as a creditor and regulator of the monetary and banking system.

    The GND would help reframe and replace the dominant neoliberal view that unrestricted rentier extraction is the natural order of things and that its consequences are preordained. It would expand the horizon of what constitutes a worthwhile investment, now limited to preserving and growing the holder of capital’s net worth. And it would further the process of reorienting society toward meeting the needs of the vast majority of people who make up that society instead of only meeting the needs of the largest holders of capital.

    Them is fightin’ words on Wall Street, inside the Beltway, and in every economics and B school in the country. But as the Sage of Omaha has said, in effect, we are already in a fight: the question is whether we fight back. The GND is an important and constructive way to do that.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The idea that taxes “pay” for specific government spending is entirely antithetical to MMT. So Henwood’s position seems more than skeptical.

      Tying tax revenue directly to expenditure – something not done with the huge Pentagon budget – would be a helluva cudgel opponents of the GND could use to argue against changing neoliberal priorities and who gets to set them.

  15. Kick the darkness says:

    If projections are correct, at some point a pay as you go approach for offsetting the costs of climate change will cease to be a sustainable option. At that point, economic theory probably won’t help us much. Our grand children or great grandchildren will then be called upon to atone (as opposed to pay) for our collective actions and in-actions. I was re-reading parts of Jared Diamond’s Collapse in which civilizations peak, encounter environment limitations, collapse, and diminish or fade away. Scraps of memories linger on and get wrapped up into the fabric of myths and legends. He does provide examples where people made good choices, but by and large it’s sobering stuff. Bringing up the mid west flooding in the post brought to mind this great Native American flood/re-creation story where Earth was reformed on the back of a giant turtle. Deities and animals work together to get the job done. This wonderful illustrator Paul Goble captures the story brilliantly in a children’s book; if you are so inclined you can get a click peek here: https://books.google.com/books?id=LjJQfiRCposC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false. Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island poems draw on such stories, and it feels like a good morning to share a dose of Mr. Synder. Not sure what this has to do with the green new deal per se but the currents seem to flow in parallel, hopefully merging at some point we can’t yet see clearly.

    I pledge allegiance to the soil
    of Turtle Island
    and to the beings who thereon dwell
    one ecosystem
    in diversity
    under the sun
    With joyful interpenetration for all.

    • Kick the darkness says:

      I guess I’ll add this. Reading over what I wrote, I’m reminded that my own perspective on AGW is what might be called eco-centric. Straight out of the mainstream environmental movement. I mean, laughable in retrospect but I entered a Ducks Unlimited “saving our environment” essay contest when I was 8-9. There was a veering off into and out of a deep ecology phase later on but that was the starting point. The environmental justice perspective, which I think of as more anthro-centric, however, represents the main thrust behind the GND. Robert Bullard hoped to synthesize traditional environmentalism with the environmental justice movement, but underlying issues of race and class are major challenges (here is a recent interview with Bullard: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/20/robert-bullard-interview-environmental-justice-civil-rights-movement). And then there’s what I’d call the techno-centrics that largely view AGW as a mole CO2/$/unit time problem that can be-and in fact must be-addressed without waiting for transformative social change. For example, here is a critique of the GND from the Skeptical Science website:https://skepticalscience.com/GND-must-not-sabotage-climate-goals.html. BTW, if you are interested in climatology it is worth scanning the comments on Skep Sci. There are plenty of spreadsheet cowboys but also occasional commenters who know their stuff.

      While these perspectives overlap and share goals, it seems to me the tensions between them manifest most strongly in the realm of political economy. Not so much whether to pay, but who pays, what’s the investment actually going to be used for, and what’s the time frame? Setting aside the deniers, balancing these constituencies is perhaps the most daunting challenge of a GND type of program.

      • Christenson says:

        Just one fly and n the ointment of environmentalism: The environment has been being modified by and for humans for so long that it no longer has a “natural” state.
        As long as we remain billions or even hundreds of millions, the question is whether our collective actions will leave an environment that will sustain us or not.
        Many of the problems will not care if you are rich or not.

  16. Dale says:

    As a quick aside, how many people remember that 30 years ago Ronald Reagan was demanding that the Communists ‘Tear down that wall!” Now we have another Republican president demanding that we build a wall.

    I am 70 y.o. When I was born the world population was 2.5 billion. The U.S. population was 151 million. Today’s world population stands at 7.76 billion and our country’s is 325 million. A recently published scientific report states that within my lifetime over half the planet’s wildlife have disappeared. They are gone forever.

    This discussion of economic theory is irrelevant if we continue to destroy the planet. Tell me how many wealthy Mayan or Easter Island elites sit on Wall Street boards. The ancient Egyptian and Incan civilizations seen to have done very well without coinage. Egypt apparent went done to climate change events, as did many other ancient middle eastern civilizations. The Incas were lost to European disease and Spanish steel.

    Why are you all spending so much time nickel and diming the present situation? In the long run, your economic theories are dust in the wind.

    • Rayne says:

      The societies before us who built those monolithic pyramids and Great Walls surely had discussions about the economics involved — like the cost to obtain and feed slaves while crushing regional threats at the same time versus simply fighting back invaders. This has been the human condition.

      What’s different this time about this economic discussion is that the threats aren’t localized but global; there’s no escape. We can also take a much longer view than our antecedents in antiquity. We have the ability to collect — and have collected — masses of data combined with our current computing power to realize informed decision-making. We also have open forums like this one in which to discuss how we will meet the future, a mechanism our forebears did’t have at scale.

      You may believe this discussion is all dust in the wind, but if we do not discuss the means and methods — which is in essence the economics — by which humans will slow the pace of climate change, it will become dust even more quickly.

      If you still don’t like this discussion, can’t find the value in it and consider it futile, find the exit. We have plenty to do without pooh-poohing naysayers.

      • Dale says:

        Rayne,

        I believe you missed what I was trying to point out completely. First a point of clarification; neither the ancient Egyptians nor the Incas used slaves in building their Temples, pyramids, and system of roads. Second, you denigrate the intellectual abilities of our ancestors. Their understanding of the passage of the seasons and time in many ways is superior to our own. Mayan Astro-mathematicians created a better calendar than the one we moderns use today. Ask your average American citizen the difference between a waxing gibbous and a waning crescent and see what kind of answers you get. The Spanish never could replicate the magnificent roads of the Incas, nor their massive stone building blocks. Roman roads and aqueducts have lasted two thousand years. How long do our modern concrete and asphalt roads last?

        It seems to me that economists cannot get beyond a dollars and cents evaluation of problems. This limits the effective evaluation the underlying causes impacting our world. Not every problem has a dollar and cents solution.

        As a retired earth scientist I see our situation caused by three interlinking issues; human overpopulation, resource depletion,and climate change. Climate change has impacted human civilization since the end of the last ice age. As you point out, in the past humans could pick up and move to an environment more amenable to to them. With human overpopulation and globalization that is no longer possible. Nor is it possible for every human being to achieve the lifestyle presently held by those in the industrialized nations. We live on a finite planet and won’t be leaving here soon. From an economic standpoint a NGD will actually increase our carbon footprint by rebuilding infrastructure, building solar panels and wind turbines. Doing more of the same seems to fit Einstein’s definition of insanity. What worked to get us here won’t work to fix the problem. Nor will traditional economics.

        I pointed out that as human populations grow wildlife diminishes. Economics from what I can see doesn’t have the capacity to ask whether or not this is morally responsible. Are humans more valuable than all other life? From an environmental standpoint everything about this planet is interlinked. As humans destroy the planet they are destroying themselves.

        We are deeply into the sixth major extinction event to occur on this planet in its 3.6 billion year lifespan. Life continues after each event but with different dominant species. From what science is telling us, this extinction event is the first to be caused primarily by a single species’ actions. Facing these facts, to me, is much more important that to debate neoliberal versus MMT economic theory.

        Let’s get back to the basics. What can we do about the human population and its resource consumption issues. What is our moral responsibility to the entire planet? What actions can we do to support a healthy planet?

        The field of economics seems more like astrology than a true science. It is being used to create something called “wealth” without any consideration of its impacts on the planet. What are you going to use your wealth for when everything of real value is destroyed?

        • Dale says:

          Sorry about the rant.

          Has anyone come up with a multi variable experiment to prove the existence of Adam Smith’s “Invisable Hand”?

        • Rayne says:

          Dude. Don’t get all mansplaining with me because I’m the wrong person to pull that with.

          You want we should do something different to save humanity from itself?
          White men need to shut up and listen.
          White men’s science needs to realize it has aided and abetted the pillaging of this planet.

          You can start by knocking off the lecture. Try exerting yourself to helping women protect their reproductive rights here and abroad. Ask them what they need to do that or give them money to do it. They can put the brakes on reaching 10 billion you’re so worried about if you just shut up and help them.

          And yes, it’s economics. Women would like to make their own economic decisions which also mean fewer children and more education so they can improve their lives.

        • Dale says:

          Rayne,

          Thanks for womansplaining everything to me. This may surprise you but I essentially agree with everything you said in your last comments. You should have included that we need many more women to run for political office. White men do need to get out of the way, need to open up and allow women as co-equals at all levels and positions within society. They definitely need to support education for women worldwide. It is one thing that could honestly make a difference.

          The part I disagree with you on is my supposedly not supporting women in education and reproductive rights. You don’t know anything about me or my wife’s history. We both have espoused the idea of Zero Population Growth for almost 50 years, ever since we read Paul and Ann Ehrlich’s “The Population Bomb” back in collage in the late ‘60’s. You should read it if you haven’t. The timing may have been a bit off but they were/are right on with their prognosis. We have supported women’s right actively and financially throughout our marriage. After our second child was born I had a vascectomy so she wouldn’t have to subject her body to birth control for the rest of her reproductive life. We have no biological grandchildren but three through marriage. We consider ourselves blessed.

          In today’s world economics hold women in servitude much as they have for millennia. If you think modern economic theory is going to save the planet or empower women I think you are mistaken.

          The best way to beat your enemies is to know them. We are not enemies. We share many of the same goals. Our enemies have used our differences for too long to keep us from working together to make a better world. What I am trying to say is that expecting to use the economic theories of the past that caused these problems to solve them is insanity.

    • Kick the darkness says:

      In reading this exchange the Drawdown Project came to mind, which, in part, attempts to link environmental/social justice policies to specific carbon emission reductions. In this case, specifically, “advancing key areas of gender equity can reduce emissions—that is what defines the Women and Girls Sector”. Equating to a calculated 105.02 GT reduction in CO2 by 2050. https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/women-and-girls. Drawdown has something of a glossy brochure feel to it, at least to me, but it is certainly an interesting exercise. I go back and forth with myself on whether the GND might benefit from organizing recommendations in terms of an overall carbon budget. I suspect it might ultimately lose stakeholders who felt the focus was shifting from people to carbon.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Democrats rarely pass up an opportunity to bring a handshake to a knife fight…

    That was Dan Gillmor, responding to Gerry Nadler’s decision to obtain – but not to issue – subpoenas for the full, unredacted Mueller report that AG Bill Barr was supposed to deliver to Nadler by April 2nd. He missed his deadline. [https://twitter.com/dangillmor/status/1113439736234778625]

    Nadler seems to hope that the threat of subpoenas will be sufficient to give the arch-conservative, George H.W. Bush era, Iran-Contra investigation stonewalling Attorney General more time to come to his senses and cooperate with a determined Democratic Party opponent.

    Even Mowgli knew that tying a flaming torch to Shere Khan’s tail would be more persuasive than threatening to do it.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Nadler is, however, a stalwart compared to the chair of Ways and Means, who is slow-walking the task of his committee getting its hands on the tax returns for Trump and his businesses, which they are statutorily entitled to obtain, an obligation that gives the IRS no discretion to refuse.

    • Kick the darkness says:

      And I thought part of the logic of a slow increase in pressure was that, for the legal arguments to come, it would be important to document an effort at good faith negotiation with the justice department.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        If that were true, one would build that into a deadline, rather than let it pass without effective consequence. Then there’s that the other side has not shown good faith since Obama became president.

        There is a need to establish credible positions, with defensible foundations. Setting deadlines the other side fails to meet, then doing little takes neither the high ground nor a solid position one can sell in the media. It’s just a cave.

        I’m pretty sure Nadler’s better than this. But who knows what counter-pressure he’s getting from his leadership, which seems more comfortable with the Obamaesque, giveaway the store at the start, than playing anything like Republican hardball.

        • Kick the darkness says:

          Thanks. Maybe the rumblings starting to be heard behind Barr’s curtain will help.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The media, of course, has decided that there must be some preferred middle ground between what the partisan Democrats want and what responsible Republicans are willing to offer. Help me.

      In Nadler’s case, his committee is entitled to the full Mueller report. (That’s not true of the full Congress or the public.) In the case of Trump’s tax returns – and supporting documents, such as schedules and correspondence – the Ways and Means Committee is fully entitled to them under a statute that allows the IRS no discretion to refuse or redact them. Congressional rights notwithstanding, given this Republican Party, it is assert them or lose them.

      More importantly, some mythical middle ground could exist only if one willfully ignored Trump’s behavior. He has frequently demonstrated that congressional oversight and investigation is amply justified.

      Picking examples at random, there is the serial financial mismanagement of the Trump Foundation, leading to its court-supervised closure; the pay-offs to women to keep them quiet about alleged sexual affairs with the president; and the president’s apparent gross abuse of the clearance process. And there’s whatever is in the Mueller report….

      At a minimum, Congress needs to reform the rules covering financial disclosures and divestitures, the avoidance of real and apparent conflicts of interest, mandatory physical and mental exams, presidential records retention and real penalties for more than trivial breaches, and so on.

      Of course the House leadership needs an overall litigation strategy. It needs to put its limited staff and resources to the best use. And it needs to manage the public relations side of this, contemplating an absolutely scorched earth response from the president and his party. It’s important to get much of this done or well along before the start of the normal campaign season next year. The clock is running.

  18. Loki says:

    What a fantastic discussion! I’ll have more to add in a subsequent post (middle of the night here in Houston), so just wanted to introduce myself to the group for now. I’m not an economist, but pay taxes like everyone else (save Trump et al.), and like at least one member of the round table above, I also have an earth science background (geochemist). I started reading about MMT a couple of years ago, discovering Michael Hudson and Warren Mosler by accident, and find it a tremendous breath of fresh air. It explains banking and monetary operations as they actually occur (thus exposing the failings of ~40 years of neoliberal policy), and highlights the true constraints of an economy with a sovereign currency: resources and labor. I’ve since devoured all I could by Minsky, Wray, Kelton, Fullwiler, et al. Found Ed Walker’s excellent threads on this site by following Marcy’s posts. Reading the discussion above gives me great hope and inspiration — these days in very short supply. So thanks to Ed and all above for that. That’s all for now.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If you like Hudson, you’ll like Bill Black and Cambridge University economist Ha-Joon Chang. Several of his works are very readable for the non-economist. Goran Therborn, also from Cambridge, has much to say about the sociology of neoliberalism. A harder read, but worth the work, is geographer David Harvey.

      Geography is where economics and politics confront the limits of the real world. An uncomfortable subject for US culture. Not surprisingly, and like sociology and economic history, its teaching has been infantilized for school children or made off limits by having its teaching relegated to elite schools.

      • Loki says:

        Earl, thanks very much for these recommendations! I have indeed read Ha-Joon Chang (23 Things …), and have followed Bill Black’s many posts on http://neweconomicperspectives.org/ as well as interview segments elsewhere. I will look with interest at Therborn’s and Harvey’s work as well. Thanks again —

      • Loki says:

        Earl – just as an edit to the above, I had brain fade on David Harvey. I *have* read him, primarily as a means of wading through Marx, both in “Marx, Capital, and the Madness of Economic Reason”, and “A Companion to Marx’s Capital” (the latter in two volumes, neither of which I’ve even opened yet). But you are indeed right: Harvey is well worth the effort invested.

  19. e.a.f. says:

    Thank you for the post. It not only deals with the issue but provided me with additional information regarding the flooding in Nebraska, which I had only read about.

    When I think of the California fires last year and the potential for more on the west coast of North American, it scares the whatever out of me. British Columbia, Canada’s west coast was not only referred to as the “left” coast, but the wet coast. Now its dry. We have droughts. Last summer started in May. This year its more like late March. In our area one of the rivers is running low. what we will do once the real heat starts, don’t know beyond there will be no out door water usage permitted. We can not continue as we have. An environmental report which came out last week, advised Canada has the highest increase of climate change, etc. in the world.
    I ask myself how can the world continue like this. Answer to me, the major power brokers don’t care. It won’t impact them. The people in economically deprived countries will die and not many are going to care. Lands flood, but as long as the corporate and financial elite continue to make money, they don’t care. they can move to higher and drier ground. The farmers if they can not grow crops and feed the world, how will the rest of human kind survive if they live in urban centers. If you live as some of us do, in rural and semi rural areas, where there is land to cultivate and produce food, you’re good to go, but for billions that is not an option. The U.S.A. alone is going to suffer huge financial looses. At some point, people will get fed up with not eating, having a secure place to live, etc. Americans and Canadians are used to government providing financial assistance after natural disasters but at some point in time that may not be forthcoming. From what I’ve read the American government isn’t passing a bill to provide financial aid to the mainland because Trump doesn’t want to provide aid for P.R. That is crazy. It’s like Canada saying they’re not going to provide financial assistance to NFLD.

    Billions upon billions will have to be spent or there may be civil unrest. By 3 April, B.C. had 5 forest/grass fires in a week. That is unheard of in our province. Just the thought of the volume of smoke from last year returning this year, is giving me pause. Where do I go to breathe. Our forest fire smoke was like smoking 3 packs a day. I’m sure California was about the same. Just the medical costs over time are going to be huge.

    In Canada we have a carbon tax. Some are opposed to it, but as a friend said to me, they got people to quit smoking by making it too expensive ($12 to $15 a pack) and difficult, No smoking in Vancouver parks, no smoking at work, not on B.C. ferry property. Now they are looking at passing a provincial law to prohibit smoking in condos which you own. they’ll do the same with gas, etc. We will change because it costs too much money to not change.

    The GND can be accomplished. Revoke the tax breaks given last year and up the taxes. Problem solved. When we speak of the 1%er and their financial clout, they still only have one vote per person. We out number the 1%ers. Those who say the rich are just like us, they put their pants on one leg at a time, don’t understand that the rich, if the water is over their ankles, can order their helicopter to extract them. Those who are not rich will drown. Those who owned estates which burnt in California’s fires last summer, they could afford to move elsewhere while their homes were rebuilt. Those who go to work every day and are making under a $100k a year had much more difficulty recovering and dealing with it all.

  20. Eureka says:

    Rayne* taught me a new word today, which I near-immediately tinkered into the promise of only-superficially-facetious joy. To co-opt a phrase with it,

    We’re gonna findomme the motherfuckers! Nihilism has met its limit; Ayn Rand stands no chance. Of course they’ll enjoy the clean water and air, too– we just won’t tell them.

    Thank you, Ed, and commenters, for the varied discussions. Also thanks for entertaining my optimistic, if odd, metaphorizing.

    *
    https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/04/04/the-irony-of-glenn-greenwald-cuddling-up-with-bill-barr-the-grand-father-of-ed-snowdens-phone-dragnet/#comment-784554

Comments are closed.