Self-seeking economists & their fans

by Serban V.C. Enache

A year ago, on Twitter, I called Ann Pettifor incompetent and Frances Coppola a bitch. I got a lot of flack because I stated my mind. I personally didn’t make a big deal of it, even though Steve Keen hopped on the thread, swearing at me, trying to get me to apologize and then blocking me and encouraging others to block me as well. Patricia Pino jumped in too to claim that I owe those two respect because reasons. And Stephanie Kelton contributed a single word, saying “shame” to me.

Now it’s been brought to my attention that there’s a big split between the heterodox camps. Pettifor and Coppola calling MMT a cult [well, there are cultists in every organization or behind any leader or set of ideas], picking various beefs with MMTers. Hacks like Jo Mitchell employing strawmen and ad hominems against people like Bill Mitchell via proxy. That sort of thing. People tried to do that to me too, labeling me a sexist because of the language I employed and the jokes I cracked. One can’t criticize the #METOO political phenomenon without being in league with the rapists, it seems. And apparently I was ruining MMT and being a racist too because I invoked Oswald Mosley’s Birmingham proposals in this post as evidence that he was one of the founders of modern money – and inside those quoted paragraphs, Mosley refers to modern money theory. I wonder if Friedman got such flack when he said “We are all Keynesians now.” As a result of all this, MMTers blocked me, many of them. And I blame them for why it’s no longer raining in Bucharest [drip, drip, rain].

Anyhow, due to this conflict on social media among and between self-seeking economists and their fanboys and fangirls, I thought I’d explain why I portrayed Pettifor as incompetent and Coppola a bitch.

Firstly, Pettifor wrote this tweet in 2015, “The concept of sectoral balances belongs to the sphere of accounting, not economics. I am not comfortable with it [using the equation in economic analysis].” I never heard a dumber thing from a professional economist. I thought she had taken down that nonsense, but she didn’t. In interviews or articles, she could never bring herself to say ‘deficit spending’ or ‘fiscal debits’ when talking about how a currency issuer funds its spending. She used expressions like “loan finance” [wuut?]. She claims “The sale of gilts provides the government with finance for investment and expenditure.” So the currency issuer funds itself by selling someone Gov debt in exchange for Gov debt? This claim violates logic and accounting. The sale of gilts has nothing to do with funding. Funding is secured through spending. I place an obligation on the public in sovereign fiat, I spend [purchasing labor and materials necessary for my goals], then I tax a portion of what I spent. Selling gilts is about draining liquidity from the buyers of the gilts and rewarding them with interest.

In one of her articles, Pettifor tries to address the issue of asset price inflation. She calls for a Tobin tax and for higher property taxes. A Tobin tax won’t fix the problem, it may dampen it by a soft measure, but it won’t stop or seriously curb speculation. Property taxes are regressive, as they penalize property owners who invest to develop their property. Property taxes incentivize idleness: less value in the property, smaller tax bill. Pettifor claims that higher land values dampen productivity. That is only partially correct, or partially incorrect. Untaxed land values are the problem. Privatized land values are the problem. But I don’t expect economists today, be they left, right, or center, orthodox or heterodox, to distinguish between Capital and the Natural Commons. It’s better to just conflate the two for some reason.

As for why I called Coppola a bitch? Well, isn’t it obvious? Because of her fake outrage. Because of the way she sets people up for drama, so she can get hits on her blog and become ‘important’ on social media. Arrogant. Preachy. Her self-entitled feminism, or faux feminism [depends on how one defines contemporary feminism]. Sore loser. Virtue signaler. The way she exaggerates things to make it seem like something extraordinary happened on her watch and only she had the wits to see it. Click-baiting. Like when she falsely advertised a few years ago that some person was debunking MMT in her blog’s comments section – but then Stelios Xanthopoulos had a looksy and it was all a bunch of strawmen. He asked where’s the actual debunking, and all Coppola was able to do was deflect – a ‘go ask him’ type of response. As for the plight of the WASPI women, Coppola’s answer “Go get a job.”

I could go on, but this is enough. At the end of the day, I have no stake in it. I don’t have books to sell you on finance and economic theory. I don’t have a career in this field, I don’t have steps to ascend. So notoriety of any kind on this subject matter earns me zero dimes. I’m not chasing University positions, book deals, or government positions. I can think, and feel, and say whatever I wish. And I hope that more people would think for themselves, instead of living their life as fanboys and fangirls, attending an endless game of soccer politics, engaged in permanent tribalism.

Land-Value Taxation & Farming

Dan Sullivan, from Saving Communities, talks on LVT and farming on his stay in Sweden in November 2014. Sullivan brings in a wide array of keen observations in terms of methodology and socio-economic consequences. Labor efficient and land inefficient firms vs land efficient ones. The different types of farmers. The different type of farms. The different interests among farm owners. Incentives and penalties. Land trusts. Appealing assessments. And much more. The video quality is only 240p, but the sound is clear.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The folks from Saving Communities get everything right, especially from a moral standpoint, with a tiny observation in terms of banking operations, issue which can be tackled via asset side discipline reforms instead of full reserve banking, which has a regressive effect (doesn’t discriminate between lending for wealth creation and lending for wealth extraction) unlike the former. But I won’t get into that here – instead, I will quote their view on Money as a Common Medium and conclude this post with their Call To Action.

“Money is a common medium of exchange, without which modern production and exchange methods are impossible. Government, which demands money in taxes or as payment against necessary privileges, violates its charge if it forces taxpayers to resort to privately created money, and further violates its charge if it guarantees the value of privately created money or credit. Government’s demand for money requires that it issue enough money to satisfy the demand for money, and that newly issued money be distributed in a way that is fair to all citizens.

Government should issue enough money to maintain stable prices, with neither significant inflation nor deflation. However, it is even more important that government issue money directly into circulation rather than lending it to banks or granting banks the privilege of lending money they do not actually have.

Once money is rightfully issued, the exchange of that money is private matter, and the money itself is morally private property until it is redeemed by government.”

Justice Begins with You

“Each of us has an obligation, not only to advocate justice, but to be personally just toward ourselves and toward those with whom we interact. In this regard, charity without justice can be a device for sustaining injustice. That is, if you demand justice and another thing, you will get the other thing, and only the other thing.

In the aggregate, there is no such thing as ‘more than fair.’ That is, it is impossible to be more than fair to some without being less than fair to others, or to yourself. In every human interaction, other than that of punishment or restraint against those who had violated the rights of others, all parties should come out ahead. That is the minimum standard of justice.”