Why Minting the Coin Is A Threat To The Established Order

I really think the upcoming Debt Ceiling

fight is going to be a turning point of some kind. The right intends to let the country default to stop “government spending.” They mean it.

Biden’s choice is to let that happen, cave like Obama did, or enforce the Constitution, which says the govt has to pay its bills.

Gimmicks

For those insisting that “Mint the Coin” as a solution to this is a “gimmick” – (as if the debt ceiling wasn’t just a gimmick) – compare that to what we do now:

Our Government Issues Currency

Our federal budget is not like a family “kitchen table” budget. We stopped using gold as our currency a long time ago. We don’t mine or “round up” money at the federal level. Our government does not get “revenue” from taxes. It does not “borrow” money, it prints it.

(In this clip economist Stephanie Kelton explains that our government does not operate like a family “kitchen table” budget):

We (representative democracy through our Congress) decide that we’re going to allocate our resources toward accomplishing something, and we issue dollars as an exchange medium toward that. There are things Congress should do along with issuing currency (which we are not doing because of neoliberalism): Make sure we allocate resources we have (allocate toward steel increasing capacity before allocating toward using more steel than we have) and tax enough to balance the distribution (tax the rich) and soak up some of those circulating dollars.

This is the modern way of understanding money: Modern Monetary Theory, or MMT.

MMT Is A Paradigm Shift

Breaking away from the idea that the federal govt operates with “kitchen table economics” is a paradigm shift. You see it completely one way (deficits, debt, govt spending are bad), and then when something clicks you can’t see it that way anymore, only the new way (MMT, govt issues currency), and then you are frustrated seeing so many getting it so wrong.

Our government issues currency. So of course we could just “mint a coin” to issue dollars to pay off bondholders. But if we did that, the most dangerous question arises: If we can just issue money to pay bondholders, why can’t we issue money to … do things that people want and need?

Shake The Foundation

Minting platinum coins with a face value of $1 trillion and depositing them with the Federal Reserve is Constitutional and solves the problem. But it brings up questions that shake the foundations of neoliberalism. If we can “mint coins” to pay bondholders, why can’t we mint coins to do things that people want and need? Instead of just relying on private capital (the rich) to make investment decisions and get things done in our economy?

So Biden can do the right thing and just … pay our bills. But then the neoliberal order breaks down. If We (through Congress) can decide to … you name it, then why are we depending on “the investor class” (capital) and “market solutions” etc to decide where to invest, allocate resources, do the planning and everything else?

PS We CAN Have Nice Things!

Mint The Coin!

It is argued that the way around the “debt ceiling” argument is for the government to mint $1 trillion platinum coins and deposit them with the Federal Reserve. This would then reduce the “national debt” by $1 trillion for each coin minted.

The problem people have with this is people just don’t understand what money -IS-.

Money Is Created Not Mined Or “Raised”

I hope everyone reading this understands where banks get the money they loan out from. The answer is they “create” it. They are not loaning out deposits. They create the money out of thin air. If you don’t believe this, go look it up and come back when you understand it.

Like banks, the US CREATES money; it doesn’t get money from taxes or borrowing. The US does not round up gold to trade for armies anymore. The government doesn’t have to “borrow” money or get it by taxing. It just doesn’t. It creates it.

Our “money” says right on it that it is “legal tender for all debts public and private.” It doesn’t say you can trade it in for gold or something, it says it IS the money.

The US govt “appropriates” spending. Money is CREATED to use as the intermediary – the token – of that appropriation. The money the government spends minus the money it taxes bak is the amount of money in circulation. (Think about what “paying off the debt” would mean – it would require taking $30 trillion out of circulation.) Stephanie Kelton does a good job explaining all this in her book about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).

Republicans Understand Money

Republicans understand money and know that Democrats and the public do not. This is why they ALWAYS use deficit spending and then beat Democrats over the head for “borrowing.” They do this so they can deliver things to the public and keep Democrats from doing the same. They do this every time, and Democrats respond by being “responsible” and imposing austerity on the public.

MMT and Inflation

One last important point. MMT does NOT say we can just print all the money we need. It explains that our govt needs to analyze spending for inflationary effect BEFORE spending. Like how China built tens of thousands of miles of HS rail – they ramped up steel plants etc first. What we do now is superstition – don’t spend “too much” or you “might trigger” inflation. And then you “fight” inflation by putting people out of work.

So Why Can’t Leaders Admit This?

Thinking about WHY Biden and Yellen and all Republicans and Wall Street types maintain this illusion that it would be “irresponsible” to mint the coin or get rid of the “debt limit.” It seems that maintaining the public’s “kitchen table” misunderstanding that the US gets money from taxes and borrows the rest, is the underpinning of the neoliberal order.

If the powers-that-be ever admitted that the US creates money through appropriation, and can control inflation by planning, (and therefore give everyone a job with good pay,) that would undercut the ideology that “markets” are superior to public planning, that capital is better at allocating resources than the public.

The website We CAN Have Nice Things explains MMT and links to many sources, articles, videos, etc.

Math Degree Needed To Understand Medicare

You’re going to need a Math degree to follow this, as with everything about Medicare. Actually I HAVE a Math degree and have trouble following it.

Before I Start

(You can skip this section. I wish I could have. You’ll wish that when you’re turning 65.)

I’m old enough that I am on Medicare. Figuring out what to sign up for was AMAZINGLY difficult. Part A, Part B, Part D (privatized) and then you need a private “Medigap” Supplemental plan. You can get Plan A or B or C or D or E or F or G. I think. See if you can understand this from Medicare.

Note: Medigap plans sold to people new to Medicare can no longer cover the Part B deductible. Because of this, Plans C and F are no longer available to people new to Medicare on or after January 1, 2020. However, if you were eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020, but not yet enrolled, you may be able to buy one of these plans that cover the Part B deductible (Plan C or F). If you already have or were covered by Plan C or F (or the Plan F high deductible version) before January 1, 2020, you can keep your plan.

Or you can get Medicare Advantage, which are really almost all privatized scams. And then there are private supplements for vision & dental (both absolute scams worthy of another post!!!) Payments for these all come out of my Social Security.

Fortunately where I live we have Kaiser, which is NOT a for-profit corporation so it isn’t a scam and actually is pretty good. I was already on Kaiser so I stayed on Kaiser’s Medicare Advantage.

Now I’ll Start

ANYway… That’s not what this post is about.
Continue reading

What Happened At Southwest Airlines Is What Is Happening To Every American Company

Everyone please read this Facebook post “from inside Southwest.” It is spot on. It describes how the meltdown happened because the company had been stripped for two decades by executives looking for short-term profits at the expense of the company.

What it describes is not just happening at this airline, though, and not just at airlines. This is what has been happening at HOW MANY companies for a long time! But more than that, it is of a piece with what has been happening to our democracy.

All the incentives are for squeezing everything out of a company to get the appearance of profit THIS QUARTER to get the STOCK PRICE UP to get the EXECUTIVE QUARTERLY BONUS and it is all at the expense of everything else – the customers (obviously) , the suppliers, the employees, and the future of the companies.

Our government is supposed to oversee the way companies operate. They operate under RULES set up by our government.

Rather than get into the specifics of those rules, ask yourself if a government operating in the interests of the people of the country and the long-term good of the companies of the country would allow what we are seeing at SWA and so many other companies to continue? Of course not!!!
Continue reading

A Game As Old As Wealth

This post originated at Imagine Democracy. If you follow all the links, it pieces together.

Over at sister-site Government Cheese, a discussion of capitalism, propaganda and how a few wealthy people keep things under control

Capitalism literally means that the people with wealth make the investment decisions for society & get the return on investment, and the broad public don’t.

All the rest is just propaganda. Capitalism has nothing to do with “markets” or “freedom” or any of the rest.

It’s really so simple. It’s how a few people maintain control of society for their own benefit and it’s been this way for thousands of year, under different labels. It’s what a monarchy is. The King and his buddies control the wealth. “WE should have this and you should not and here’s why.”

It’s why the United States was such a breakthrough. WE THE PEOPLE will decide what’s best for us, not you. Government of, by and for THE PEOPLE. Not the elites, the wealthy, the aristocrats, the priesthood, the monarchy, the warlord, whatever label put on the ruling wealthy. A country run for the benefit of the people in the country. Whatever label we put on that – democracy, socialism, whatever.

That’s all. All the rest is just propaganda.

Read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in the context of the monarchies of Europe just salivating waiting for “the Union” – the experiment in democracy – fail so they can get the world back where they want it.

Capitalism Parts 1 and 2

This post first appeared at Government Cheese – Chronicling the collapse of democracy.

Capitalism: Maintain a “reserve army of the unemployed” to keep wages low. Keep public services (the things government does to make people’s lives better) and taxes at the top down and keep the people from organizing (democracy) to protect themselves.

Capitalism part 2: As life gets worse, bathe the masses in propaganda and point them at “the other” for blame.

Austerity breeds fascism.

Mirror Propaganda

Since forever I’ve had a category at Seeing the Forest named “The STF Rule.” “When right-wingers are accusing others of something it is usually a cover for something THEY are doing.” Republicans do what they accuse.

I just learned the name for this is “Mirror Propaganda.”

From the UK’S Open Democracy, ‘Anti-trans activists are using ‘mirror propaganda’. Here’s how to spot it‘,

There is a name for this mechanism of power: ‘mirror propaganda’. Mirror propaganda means doing to your enemies what you are falsely accusing them of doing to you.

[…]

The invention of mirror propaganda has been attributed to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, and so far the earliest identified deployments of it are by Goebbels and Himmler in 1940s Germany, targeting Jewish people.

More recently, Alison Des Forges and Jean-Pierre Cretien identified mirror propaganda as a significant factor in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, when hundreds of thousands of Tutsi men, women and children were killed.

Susan Benesch, director of the Dangerous Speech Project at Harvard University, has also identified mirror propaganda as one of the main techniques for inciting genocide.

Googling around, I see it’s also called “Accusation in a mirror.”

Citing Wikipedia is bad, but there’s this.

Twitter And America’s Billionaire Problem

A democracy would never let this happen.

Twitter is the de facto town square, information source here and in much of the world. This is because of the “network effect.” Everyone has to be there because everyone else is. It doesn’t work any other way. Facebook is that for connecting with friends and relatives.

That’s what a public utility is.

Our government used to recognize and regulate that. The telephone system required the network effect in order to work. That could be only one. So the government regulated it.

We all know the reason the government doesn’t regulate now is because it is captured by vested interests.

This is what happens when our “system” is run at the whim of billionaires and petrostates. $44 billion (44 thousand million) is actually not that much money to Musk and the Saudis.

Regulate Twitter – And FB, Google Etc.

So Twitter is melting down. Twitter became the de facto “town square.” It was a “public good” where We the People could get news and discuss things.

One super billionaire (plus Saudi Arabia) purchased it and is destroying it. He was allowed to purchase in an obvious attempt to influence what the pubic understands – against the “public interest.” This is because we no longer have a functioning government.

We are SO FAR from remembering that corporations are entirely creatures of law, which means they are created by OUR laws. Nothing more. We the People – government – created the idea of corporations as a way to get investment for large projects – things WE want done. Corporations were created to SERVE US.

We used to REGULATE corporations to be sure that these entities we created act in the public interest. Here we are with such an OBVIOUS demonstration of the need for government to step in and regulate. Quickly. But the concept has been erased from our brains.

We Are Supposed To Be The Boss Of Them.

Government is supposed to be We the People acting to make OUR lives better. It has been “captured” and acts now only on the interest of those who own these entities and so often against the interest of We the People. We allowed corporate money to “leak out” of the corporation and be used by individuals (the executives of the corporation) to literally bribe government officials to look the other way and allow them to loot the corporations and public sphere. That money also feeds a massive propaganda apparatus that brainwashes us into forgetting the very idea that We the People are supposed to be in charge here.

I recently wrote about this here: Understanding What a Corporation Actually Is Can Help Restore Democracy

Spending Is The Purpose of Government in a Democracy

This post originally appeared at Imagine Democracy Oct 10, 2021.

How often do we hear that “government spending is bad,” or “the government spends too much money”?

The purpose of government in a democracy is to do things for We the People to make our lives better. We the People make the decisions, and allocate resources toward making our lives better. Government spending is the point of democracy. Government in a democracy spends to make our lives better.

Here’s an experiment. When you hear the word “government” substitute the words “decision-making by We the People.”

When you hear, “Government regulation gets in the way of business” try this, “We the People are supposed to decide to regulate business activities to protect US”.

When you hear “the private sector should decide how to spend money,” try this, “In a democracy We the People decide to have roads and rail and solar power, etc.” When you hear that “taxes are theft,” try this, “We the People decide to tax the rich and their corporations so they don’t get so big that we can’t control them.”

This is not how it is today in this country. For decades we’ve been told that government – decision-making by We the People – is bad, that government spending – We the People doing things to make our lives better – is bad, that regulating – We the People protecting each other – is bad. And this has made our democracy weak.

So now many people believe anything government (democracy) does is bad and government spending is bad. That is anti-democracy, and we are living with the consequences of decades of that anti-democracy propaganda.

You Can’t Shame A Corporation But You Can Shame Executives

The tactic of trying to “shame” a corporation away from harming the environment, consumers and/or democracy relies on a misunderstanding of what a corporation is. Corporations serve as masks for the actual power-brokers, absorbing the public disdain for the power-brokers’ decisions.

If activists want to change the decisions made they have to realize that a corporation’s executives and Board members make decisions, corporations don’t. The recent post Understanding What a Corporation Actually Is Can Help Restore Democracy explains,

Here’s the thing: A corporation is a contract. It is a legal agreement enabled by our (“We the People”) government. That’s it.

Corporations are not sentient entities. Contracts don’t “think” or “want” or “need” or say” or “care” or “do” anything. Neither does a will, nor a lease, nor a confidentiality agreement. Corporations also can’t be “greedy” or “criminal” or “good” or “altruistic.” But people can.

Corporations don’t do things, but the executives & Board of the corporation do do things.

Go After The Doers

Corporations don’t “behave,” executives and Board members do. Executives and Board members also care more about their personal interests than about the interests of a corporation or institution they are supposed to be managing. Instead of thinking you can change corporate “behavior,” activists should instead go after the executives and Board members who actually make decisions.

Unions Understand Power

Way back when I was consulting for unions I was involved in a campaign to get a large public institution to stop hiring non-union construction companies. This involved researching the Board members of the institution, learning about their public lives, and finding strategic points to target.

Example, one Board member funded a symphony. The union targeted the symphony with very public actions naming and shaming the Board member for forcing people’s living standards down, risking worker’s safety, etc. The Board member cared what the symphony social group thought about him. The union shamed him in front of people who mattered to him.

Another Board member was an executive at a company that was getting ready to go public. The last thing he wanted was bad publicity of any kind directed at him.

The union conducted other similar public shaming actions targeting the actual decision-makers.

The union publicly shamed the decision-makers, not some non-sentient entity (a corporation or institution) that masked the actual decision-makers. Things changed real quick.