The Deficit Myth By Stephanie Kelton: Introduction and Index

Stephanie Kelton’s new book, The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy is now available, and I will be discussing it in a series of posts. [1]

Kelton lays out the structure of the book in her Introduction. She starts with a common bumper sticker approach to the federal deficit: Uncle Sam looking abashed while holding out his pockets to show they’re empty. That image dominates most discussion of budgeting in the US. It depicts an individual facing the limits of personal finance. It relies on this image to create panic about federal deficits. This is the dominant view among politicians of both parties. In a New York Times opinion piece, Kelton reminds us that a group of 60 Congressmen, 30 from each legacy party, are terribly worried about the deficit. This kind of deficit hawkery hit President Obama in 2010 after the weak financial stimulus offered by Democrats after the Great Crash.

That month, in his State of the Union address, he committed to a reversal of fiscal stimulus, telling the nation, “Families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same.” What followed was a sustained period of self-inflicted harm.

These 60 legislators learned nothing from the misery created by Obama’s turn to austerity, and just like Obama are prepared to hurt Americans in desperate need of assistance following the collapse of the economy, a pandemic, and political upheaval. These supposedly principled people couldn’t agree on actual proposals to increase taxes or cut programs.

Instead, they called for the Government Accountability Office to issue an annual report detailing the government’s fiscal health. They also endorsed legislation introduced last year that would create “rescue committees” to recommend fixes for Social Security, Medicare and other trust funds that are projected to become insolvent.

And they called for adopting goals for managing the debt, such as setting a limit based on its share of the economy. Such a move, they said, “would reduce debt-limit brinkmanship as long as the budget remains on a responsible path.”

It would serve them right if the GAO read Kelton’s book and concluded, as she does, that they are dangerously wrong. By the way, the Fed disagrees with these spineless wonders, and says more fiscal stimulus is needed. It goes without saying that the Fed is more likely to be right than legislators mired in the economics and politics of the past.

Kelton calls for a Copernican Revolution:

MMT changes how we view our politics and economics by showing that in almost all instances federal deficits are good for the economy. They are necessary. P. 7.

There is no doubt that Modern Monetary Theory would require a revolutionary change in our understanding of economics. Here’s a tweet from Paul Krugman [2]:

No revolutionary thinking needed says Krugman, carry on. I assume this is a reference to Krugman’s general view that the US can borrow cheaply thanks to the low interest rates set by the Fed, and that bonds will be issued to “pay for” economic support. That’s not what’s happening. The Fed is buying the securities issued by the Treasury to “pay for” whatever Congress said to pay for. Between February 27 and May 31, the national debt increased $2.4 trillion while Fed holdings of treasuries increased by $1.657 trillion. [3] In other words, the Fed bought about 70% of the new issuance, simply by marking up the Treasury’s account at the Fed. That’s blatantly creating money out of thin air. It’s important to add that no one is going to pay off the securities owned by the Fed unless the Fed decides to sell them to third parties. I wonder if the 60 Representatives who signed that letter know that. Or care. Or understand why it’s relevant.

Kelton takes up six myths about the economy in her book.

1. The US government should budget itself like a household.
2. The deficit is evidence of overspending.
3. Deficits will burden the next generation.
4. Deficits crowd out private investment undermining long-term growth.
5. Deficits make the US dependent on foreign investment.
6. Entitlements will cause a huge future problem.

Then she discusses our real crises:

The fact that 21 percent of all children in the United States live in poverty—that’s a crisis. The fact that our infrastructure is graded at a D+ is a crisis. The fact that inequality today stands at levels last seen during America’s Gilded Age is a crisis. The fact that the typical American worker has seen virtually no real wage growth since the 1970s is a crisis. The fact that forty-four million Americans are saddled with $1.7 trillion in student loan debt is a crisis. And the fact that we ultimately won’t be able to “afford” anything at all if we end up exacerbating climate change and destroying the life on this planet is perhaps the biggest crisis of them all. These are real crises. The national deficit is not a crisis. P. 11-12.

And I’ll add one more: the grotesque skewing of wealth and income to white poeple is a crisis.

This book is a joy to read. It’s written for non-economists. The language is lucid and precise, with no jargon. I hope people will discuss it in the comments as I move through it. I’ll try to answer any and all questions to the best of my ability.

I will also add my own comments, but I will separate my thinking from Kelton’s. I know of two areas I want to discuss in more detail. First, as I see it MMT is an example of a pragmatic approach to the study of economics. I offer a primer on pragmatism in three posts, here, here, and here. In contrast, mainstream economics rests heavily on Bentham and Mills’ Utilitarianism, but it’s buried deeply in the history of economics, and is never discussed as a normative principle. For an introduction to this area, search the site for William Stanley Jevons.

The value of pragmatism is that it strives to be non-normative. It leaves discussion of what should we do to political or some other discourse. Mainstream economics claims to know how things should be: the market is all-knowing and politics should never interfere with its operation.

This book lays out an argument for MMT as the foundation for an economics for progressives. It offers an understanding of the way our government funds itself which can free us from the constraints demanded by the rich and powerful. It shows us how to use federal monopoly control over money for the benefit of all of us, not just the filthy rich. With this book, we can master the basic concepts and teach them to our friends and neighbors, and especially to our politicians.
========

[1] My original plan was to discuss John Dewey’s The Public and Its Problems, but that was derailed by a bad case of quarantine brain. I’ll return to that excellent book next. One of the reasons to discuss that book is that Dewey, the leading pragmatist, opens with a discussion of that theory.
[2] I replied to this tweet.
[3] The Fed’s weekly balance sheets are here. Debt figures from the Treasury are here.

[Graphic via Grand Rapids Community Media Center under Creative Commons license-Attribution, No Derivatives]

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48 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    I’d love for legislators to learn that Social Security and Medicare aren’t entitlements: they’re insurance and premiums are paid by the users.

  2. Parker Dooley says:

    Reading it now. But MMt should be called “Modern Monetary Practice” — otherwise it’s “just a theory”.

    • bmaz says:

      Eh, until it is put in practice, it “is” still just a theory. And I love Steph Kelton. Maybe we shall get to see such constructs in real play soon.

      • Parker Dooley says:

        Thanks, bmaz. My point was that certain facets of MMT are indeed being practiced — but not the socially beneficial ones. For example, we never run out of money for “defense” or 1% bailouts. The core concept of MMT is that the monopoly currency issuer can always pay for anything that is for sale in its own currency. Unfortunately, when it comes to health care, education, or productive infrastructure capital expenditures, congress pretends that the government is a currency user.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, exactly. For it to be really implemented would take some legislation (remember the kerfuffle over the platinum coin), but it could happen. And, at least as to Stephanie, won’t speak for her, but I think she would agree with you 100%. I dunno, ten years ago I was inclined to scoff at MMT, but have come around a lot. Whether fully or not I don’t know, but Ms. Kelton is very compelling.

        • Ed Walker says:

          I’d put this somewhat differently. At its core MMT is value-neutral. It merely describes the actual workings of the economy. It tells us what our limits are and how we an operate within those limits.

          Politics is normative, value-laden. The current budget says what politicians are willing to support and what they aren’t. They want to spend money on military weapons and research to develop more. They don’t want to spend money to take care of American Citizens.

          They use neoliberal economics and neoliberal arguments to support their value choices. But they aren’t willing to take up the direct argument about spending money to make people’s lives better. Instead politicians of both parties use pay-for language to avoid addressing real problems.

          MMT is descriptive, not normative. The direct implication is that legislators must make the normative decisions about use of resources including labor, technology, and natural resources. They don’t get to hide behind bullshit arguments about markets. They have to take responsibility, and be accountable for the outcomes.

          I’ll address this in more detail in future posts.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Nice, succinct. Your comment illustrates one of the major stumbling blocks MMT has to surmount. It exposes economic choices as just that – choices – and not mandates from heaven. It describes a world in which the king and his entire retinue have no clothes.

  3. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Absolutely delighted to see this post, and looking forward to more.
    This is a moment when I think that all of Yves Smith’s toil, along with a generation of MMT thinking, has mulched the soil, which is now ready for ideas to germinate.

    Look forward to the discussion. So glad to see you taking on this role.

  4. SonnyBonoFan says:

    I’m not an economist but I followed probably 95% above. Can someone explain or debunk this statement “That’s all good, but it works until it doesn’t.” As in other countries start to demand more dollars for the products they sell us as they lose faith in our currency. As in countries make a concerted move away from the dollar as the reserve currency, etc. There was a Stanford professor that did a study in the mid-2000’s that showed countries and their economies become unstable as the debt approaches 125% of GDP. Is that not a valid concern?

    • bmaz says:

      Huh. “It works until it doesn’t” seems a perfect description of the traditional economy model over the last 40 years.

      • SonnyBonoFan says:

        No doubt. Especially in terms of inequality. In terms of the moral hazards the Fed has created w/ bailouts. But can we really have our free lunch into perpetuity? I don’t know but my gut says no.

        • bmaz says:

          I do not know, that is not my wheelhouse. But I know both Stephanie and Ed well, and am willing to consider an alternative to that which is clearly broken. There is a better way somewhere here, even if it is in between.

    • Ed Walker says:

      In general, economists support the status quo. They have little tolerance for new ideas, and enforce an academic hierarchy that excludes a whole lot of people. For a discussion, see The Superiority of Economists by Marion Fourcade and her colIeagues at Berkeley. http://www.maxpo.eu/pub/maxpo_dp/maxpodp14-3.pdf

      I also don’t think much of studies like that one, because of the vast differences among countries. Japan seems fine, for example. Without reading the study, I wonder about the degree of sovereignty in their own currency of the countries studied. Kelton points out that there is a spectrum of how sovereign in their currency different states are. For example, some countries peg their currency to the dollar, and thus don’t have full sovereignty.

      Suppose those studies are somehow, by chance, right. That’s just one piece of evidence to be used by Congress to decide what to do. If Congress is worried, it can stop spending, raise taxes, raise interest rates and so on.

      The idea you ask about is based on the idea that the economy will spin out of control if we keep spending without regard to any constraint. MMT says that there are constraints, and that the government must pay attention to them. I’ll be discussing those in future posts.

    • Budd says:

      I believe (probably from reading Krugman) that the United States is in a privileged position because our national debt is measured in our own dollars. Other countries have to trade something to get the U.S. dollars they owe; we can create them as needed.

      The cost of doing this too much, I expect, is that the U.S. dollar would lose value and lenders would demand either higher interest rates or payback in other units (e.g. yuan). But we won’t run out of money to pay debts measured in U./S. dollars.

      My mother’s wisdom on borrowing (both personal and governmental) is that borrowing for investment (e.g. infrastructure) can be smart, while borrowing for living/operating expenses is bad.

      • Ed Walker says:

        Your mother’s wisdom is exactly right for individuals and states who are currency users. It is not applicable to currency issuers. Obviously when demand drops the Government fills the gap, regardless of what it chooses to buy, that is, whether it just increases unemployment benefits or buys PPE and ventilators, or just hands money to hospitals so they can function.

  5. Rapier says:

    The bedrock principal of monetary systems that operate via banking systems with a Central Bank at its head, is, or was, that the Central Bank will not monetize a significant portion of government debts. Just to be clear monetize means print money to buy the government bonds. As opposed to market participants buying that debt.

    That principal started having exceptions made in the case of Japan. For Japan, no sweat. For Zimbabwe, forgetaboutit. Argentina? Surely you jest. Then the US and the EU and the BOE became exceptions. Those exceptions looked pretty big in 09 but now in the case of the Fed, in March and April printed at a rate 100 times 09.

    Sure this works. It is MMT of a sort but remember this new theory doesn’t apply to everyone. Only special countries can have their central bank monetize trillions. Perhaps one should ask themselves why this is. Shouldn’t a system work for everyone?

    The biggest problem with MMT is that it’s based upon the loose idea that the problem is there isn’t enough money. If your of the opinion that our problem is not enough money,,,,,, well, let me suggest you think again.

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/M2

    • drouse says:

      I see your mistake. The big idea behind MMT isn’t that there isn’t enough money but that the money supply at any given time is as big as it needs to be.

      According to your link to the M2 supply, it shows it has grown by about 4 trillion. New treasuries account for less than half of that amount. The rest is going to various facilities they set up to support banking ect. A good chunk is going toward stealthily deflating an incipient bubble of CDOs. This time dealmakers were using corporate bonds rather than mortgages.

      • drouse says:

        I made a mistake there. The public debt increased by 2.4 trillion, leaving “just” around 1.5 trillion for whatever else they’re doing.

          • drouse says:

            I apologize for the non sequitur about the Fed. Its just that the Fed has massively increased the money supply and the money appropriated by Congress doesn’t account for a good chunk of it. The actions that the Fed is undertaking just aren’t getting enough scrutiny.

    • Ed Walker says:

      Not enough money? That’s not what MMT economists say or mean. Do you have a cite to a work by an MMT economist saying that?

      • DTK says:

        Dear Ed,

        Right, saying there is not enough money is like saying there’s not enough points (to put on the scoreboard) at the beginning of a basketball game.

        • Budd says:

          I would enjoy a skit about the intern who has to gather up all the used points after the game and put them back in the box. And in a high-scoring game, has to run around frantically trying to buy/mine/hunt/build more points so they don’t run out. And they end up using some old baseball points and hope nobody notices, but they’re the wrong size for the scoreboard.

          I guess the more on-topic analogy would be one team that’s allowed to print more points for themselves , but if they do it too much nobody wants to play with them anymore.

  6. jo6pac says:

    Thank You Ed..
    “Obama’s turn to austerity”

    It was helped by big dogs destroying the banking laws put in place to protect us on Main Street. Sadly it been a downward trip since.
    We have the crazy potus and criminal gang running banking now and if biden wins we have a repeat of larry summers. It doesn’t look good at this time.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Suppose that we all read Kelton’s book, follow Ed’s discussion of the ideas that it contains, clarify our thinking, and then just chat with friends and family (on Zoom, or otherwise). They chat with others, who chat with others… that’s how change happens. Think of this as the embryonic phase.

      I’d argue that if the Big Dogs had actually understood what money is, and/or how it is created, they would not have destroyed the banking laws. Many errors and much grief stemmed from misunderstandings about economics, and we (collectively) need to gain clarity in order to avoid costly errors in the future.

      As MMT gets traction, Larry Summers will either: (1) become an MMT acolyte, or (2) risk finding himself in history’s dustbin.

      All you have to do is look at Larry Kudlow, or Sec of Commerce Wilbur Ross (formerly of Bank of Cyprus, aka Russian Laundromat #300) to get a pretty clear sense that neoliberalism has run its course. A much better grasp of economics is urgently needed, and MMT seems promising.

      Biden can’t afford a repeat of Larry Summers or the mistakes of 2008, and it’s a safe bet that even Biden knows it. And this time out, the Dems have to be practical and competent. MMT would be a good start.

      • madwand says:

        We may have to deal with this first if things keep getting worse.

        https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/07/coronavirus-banks-collapse/612247/

        I remember reading in 2006 of a town in Norway that had invested in CDOs and they were on the lower rung of the investment/debt ladder and their investments were no longer giving dividends and the town was unable to fund it’s necessary requirements. 2009, as we know, was the result.

        Now US banks are heavily invested in CLOs which essentially mimic CDOs and conditions are ripe that there will be many defaults starting at the lower rated ones and preceding to the higher rated ones. The result may be the same as the 2009 crisis only the banks will once again be in the crosshairs and the consequences will filter down to the innocent.

        This article by Frank Partnoy is a warning of what can go wrong, again.

  7. Rapier says:

    There is a branch of MMT that proposes another way of money creation besides credit. All money today is created by bank loans. Bank loans create money. All money today is created by crediting a bank account, to put it another way. Period. Full stop.

    So the other MMT idea is the trillion dollar coin. The Treasury makes a coin, says it’s worth a trillion, then spends it. Except that coin cannot credit a bank account. If the Treasury took the coin to the Fed and said ‘put this in my account, $1TN, the Fed would say get that thing out of here. Without a bank account from which to pay Boeing or your SS with a check or bank transfer, ,that’s the sound of one hand clapping. There is no payment. That isn’t saying that any system that can be invented can’t be legislated. What can’t be legislated however is faith in the money. Don’t get me wrong, Fuck gold and all that nonsense.

    • Ed Walker says:

      That idea that banks create money by lending is standard Econ 102, followed by a discussion of the multiplier effect, if I remember my class from long ago. The underlying idea is that banks lend money deposited by savers or checking account holders.

      But reality is different. The Constitution says that only the Federal government can create money. I expect to see a discussion of the role of banks, and will go into this then. If not, remind me and I’ll deal with it later.

      On edit, I believe Wray takes this up in his book Modern Money Theory. Unfortunately I no longer have accest to my copy, or I’d address it now.

      • Anne says:

        I remember that Econ 102 class. As a math major, I had no trouble defining a new space or wrestling with a sigma algebra. Econ 101 was easy if you’d studied calculus. But in banking theory, with definitions of money supply, we kept stopping the prof with “wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense, can we go through that again?”

        • Ed Walker says:

          Anne, I was a math major too. Econ 101 made some sense, but the bank money-creation thing was the first time I saw that these guys were fantasizing.

      • Rapier says:

        You get a gold star for rejecting the ‘money multiplier’ idea which still lives on in popular imagination.

        As to the constitution saying only the Federal Government can create money, well, as I said and you just affirmed, banks create money when they make a loan. Even State charted banks, not Federal Reserve member banks can thus create money.

        The Federal Reserve is a bank that is not part of the government. It should go without saying your bank that gives you a car loan isn’t the government and they create money when they make a loan.That doesn’t mean it is some secret cabal as gold bugs and the descendants of John Birch still maintain. At the same time, still, the Fed is not the government.

  8. Rapier says:

    Perhaps everyone should read this first.
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41588.Money

    Money has a long and very fraught history. Galbraith points out that the history of monetary innovation is not a happy one. This book is from 1975, a few years after Bretton Woods collapsed and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. As reflected in my M2 chart and that’s just the US. Worldwide, especially China, the amount of money has exploded. China’s rise can be explained in terms of a stupendous monetary expansion. Why China can build nice things, entire new cities by the dozens, high speed rail networks, giant universities and on and on is another story. One that could provide an avenue for the changes MMT envisions. Except for the existential question of if debt can increase at a rising rate forever.

    One more thing. Everyone thinks in terms of the economy being a money system but an alternative view is that it is an energy system. The moment the steam engine was invented economies exploded. Fooling around with money isn’t going to save us. I’m talking about climate, and everything else.
    https://surplusenergyeconomics.wordpress.com/

    Throw in this too
    https://www.amazon.com/Payback-Debt-Shadow-Side-Wealth/dp/0887848001

    I will now shut up because I am too meta.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, if you read and listen to Steph, funding a greener and healthier climate economy is one of the goals. The current economic principals have not served the people or climate well.

      • Rapier says:

        I am not questioning the motives of the MMT crowd. I am all in on re imagining the monetary and financial system.

        It is funny that I, a nobody with zero bonfides, who often injects my meta points into liberal forums, citing Margret Atwood and JK Galbraith and the like, am routinely accused of being some sort of gold bug or wingnut agent. Such is the fraught reality of modern Liberalism the moment the subject of money and finance arrives.

        • bmaz says:

          Hey, I did not make any such accusation! It is a complex discussion, we shall see. But Kelton an MMT deserve a seat at the table at this point.

    • gmoke says:

      In May 2019, I attended a day-long symposium on “How to Pay for the Green New Deal” at Harvrd Law School which turned out to be mostly about Modern Monetary Theory. One of the speakers was Stephanie Kelton. I’ve since seen her speak on another webconference about the same topic.

      What frustrated me both about the symposium and the webconference talk was that in neither was there any estimate of what a Green New Deal would actually cost, what we are paying for the energy to run our society now, and the scale of the changes necessary.

      Because of that, I did my own back of the envelope calculations and found that the USA spends roughly $661 billion per year for the coal, oil, and gas we burn and the IMF estimates that we pay another $649 billion per year in what they call “subsidies” for what I call “fossil foolishness.” That adds up to about $1.2 trillion per year or about 7% of USA GDP. You can see more at https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/7/3/1869269/-How-Do-You-Pay-for-the-Green-New-Deal-Cost-of-Fuel

      Without dealing with these figures, MMT is only theory and does not substantively engage with the energy transition needed to deal with climate disruption. I’m glad that Stephanie Kelton and others are thinking about economics and money in new (possibly) ways. I have not seen them grapple with the basic numbers and the ground reality that they say they want to address and that is what we desperately need.

      • bmaz says:

        That is exactly what Stephanie has been doing for years. Now you can agree, or disagree, with her, but saying she has not grappled “with the basic numbers” is exactly the contra of what she argues. She not only has, but argues that that viewpoint is wrong and outdated. Again, you can agree or disagree, but to say that such is not covered is simply wrong.

      • sand says:

        I want to take a moment to recommend the energy flow charts from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/). They have been doing research on where our energy comes from and where it goes since the 1970s. The charts convey a very large amount of data in a very concise format. Most interesting is to see how the chart has changed over time. I’ll note that there have been some changes in the charts that cause some prior years to be not directly comparable to others. I’ll also note that most energy is “rejected” because physics makes it so damn difficult to ever break even in this universe. We just have to do the best we can. The U.S. is actually getting much better, but we still have a long way to go.

      • Ed Walker says:

        That’s not the point of this book. The point of this book is to explain how the economy works, and to expand the range of choices available to us to fund the needed changes.

        Your claim that MMT Is only a theory does not convey any useful information. With the ideas of MMT we have a way to fund whatever the actual costs of transition are. We are currently using an MMT idea to fund the CARES Act and the cost of the Trump tax cuts for the rich and powerful.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          MMT more accurately describes a currency-issuing country’s economy, and the political choices underpinning it, than all the “assume a hammer” economists in the world – fresh water or salt.

    • ducktree says:

      My personal philosophy (with nothing to link to or back it up) is that ecology and economy must be maintained in a harmonious balance or we’re doomed. Alas, that horse is long ago out of the barn which is now burning to the ground . . .

  9. Budd says:

    I’m glad to see this idea that our goals are health, education, environmental integrity, and other forms of actual human well-being, rather than money performance. When I was growing up, economic success was advertised only by how many dollars a person or community exchanged in a given time period – not by what that community actually accomplished.

    I like that many people are now looking at ultimate goals and working backwards, using economics as a set of organizing tools rather than a scoreboard – for instance, using economics to argue how to reduce global CO2, not whether to.

  10. sand says:

    “The fact that our infrastructure is graded at a D+ is a crisis.”

    This grade comes from ASCE’s infrastructure report card (https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/). As a member of ASCE and having worked on that project, I feel compelled to note that civil engineers have a vested interest in driving infrastructure spending. We have a lot of infrastructure that is in poor condition, so I agree with the drive for spending, and now would be a great time. However, I think D+ is overly harsh.

    If the United States is a D+ (call that 67%?) Then who gets an A (93%)? I’d say no one. Norway, Germany, South Africa, Singapore, . . . ok, Singapore probably still gets an A. But I think the curve is off. I’d say Singapore is an A and the U.S. is a B or B- if we’re grading based on our current world. If we’re grading based on our hopes and dreams then Singapore is a C and everyone else is an F.

    Regardless, the U.S. should prioritize investment in drinking water and sewage infrastructure along with far more massive work on levees, sea walls, and stormwater management planning. Alternatively, we should make sure to waterproof everything really well, because we’re typically designing these assets for a 100-year economic life. Trains, planes, and automobiles don’t run very well underwater. Neither do solar panels or windmills. Unfortunately, it is very hard to get priorities aligned based on data because sewers and levees aren’t nearly as sexy as fancy inter-city high-speed trains, which are an unfortunate boondoggle in about 90% of the cases proposed in the U.S.

    • ducktree says:

      sand ~ thank you for your informed list of infrastructure priorities we’ll need to undertake to deal with the consequences of disastrous weather events. Widely available high speed internet connectivity should also be included on the list for those who become periodically isolated behind flooding, snowstorms, etc.

    • Ken (Sundog) says:

      Also, as someone who has to drive on shitty roads every day, not funding infrastructure, such as in the poorer area of the U.S. where I live, is a hidden tax on everyone who lives here. Potholes forced me to spend over $3000.00 on wheels, tires, and towing, when I purchased my last car. I finally had to spend more money to put smaller wheels with larger sidewalls than what the car came with, just to be able to survive driving on the crappy roads around here.

      Just saying.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Yeah, yet one more mostly hidden cost of urban poverty: even if you can afford to own a car, the lousy roads (unmistakably worse in minority neighborhoods) pile on in the form of maintenance (tires and alignment). Or worse case, unrepaired potholes cause accidents; I lost control of my teenage CRV when it careened into a foot-deep pock in a busy downtown on-ramp. Infrastructure means investment: the money flows into the communities along with improved roads and bridges. Think of it as the obverse of “broken-windows” policing–if government fixes the small things, the overall picture starts to look less bleak.

  11. Savage Librarian says:

    I have always been allergic to all things related to the economy, banking and Investment. And I have long thought of shopping, and even the world at large, as a kind of gigantic museum.

    Less is more. That has suited me just fine. It reduces the cost of dusting and having to care for things. And it eliminates the need for worrying that someone feels the need to take things I may have. But, as I am human and subject to consumerism, I still have too much stuff.

    Maybe that is why the following articles caught my eye several years ago. I think they may relate indirectly to the subject at hand.

    “Environment Or Economy Is A Nonsensical Question” –
    Cylvia Hayes, Contributor,
    Author, Speaker, New Economy Strategist, Empowerment Coach
    04/13/2017
    …..
    “In Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon noted, “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” The question is not whether we should and can grow jobs – the question is what kind of jobs do we want to grow? And perhaps the most important question of all is, do we really believe we can have a thriving economy on a decimated, depleted planet? At the end of the day the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment that sustains us. To believe and act differently is not rational, but ideological.”

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/environment-or-economy-is-a-ridiculous-question_b_58f0189ee4b048372700d70a

    “5 reasons why the economy is failing the environment, and humanity” – World Economic Forum, 1/10/17

    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/5-reasons-why-the-economy-is-failing-the-environment-and-humanity/

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