Summary of the Campaign
This project is for everyone tired of hearing economic commentary from those who got everything wrong. For decades the doctrine of "Fiscal Responsibility" interpreted as long-term deficit reduction and Government austerity has had a secure place in American politics. The three of us proposing this project believe that this doctrine is the economic equivalent of the medieval notion that patients must be bled to cure them of disease.
The notion that austerity is necessary after running budget deficits caused by economic downturns is false and damaging to economies all over the world. We have opposed targeted deficit reduction and austerity in the blogosphere and in an e-book since 2010. Yet despite our efforts and the efforts of many others who using the Modern Money Theory (MMT) approach to economics, as well as other post-Keynesians, the mythology of austerity still survives, waiting in the wings until the next debt ceiling or budgetary crisis provides an opportunity for austerity partisans to push their nostrums of spending cuts and "Grand Bargains" once again.
We value Real Fiscal Responsibility highly, but that doesn't lie in targeted deficit reduction, or in spending cuts for their own sake. Instead, it lies in targeting real impacts, real benefits, and real results, and fulfilling the needs of real people. We want to replace the false and damaging austerian accountant's green eyeshade paradigm of so-called Fiscal Responsibility, evaluated against the arbitrary standards and scare tactics of debt-to-GDP ratios and public debt levels, with the human scale paradigm of Real Fiscal Responsibility, evaluated against the standard of fulfilling public purpose.
We seek funding for a pilot project for a new radio/video series that will present, and advocate for this paradigm change. The project will create six shows that we will then use to get the series picked up by an existing cable network.
Only by exposing the fallacies of austerity systematically, week by week, can we end its reign of error. Only by describing the implications of fiat currency systems in detail can we communicate the opportunities existing for people who will use the expanded policy space they provide.
Getting this done is enormously important because our paradigm of Real Fiscal Responsibility makes clear that Governments with fiat currency systems like those found in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, and many other nations issuing their own currency cannot run out of money. They have no solvency risk. Their level of debt and debt-to-GDP ratios don't matter from a financial risk point of view.
Once people understand the expanded policy space implications of fiat currency systems they will know that any budget cuts or tax increases or rejections of new legislation on solvency or financial scarcity grounds alone are unjustified. And they will know that all the troubles caused by refusals to pass full employment, Medicare for All, new energy foundations, educational reform, infrastructure reinvention, extensions of the social safety net, and other highly desirable fiscal policies create gratuitous and cruel individual and societal hardships for most of us. All proposals to cut entitlements and the social safety net on grounds of cost or so-called future liabilities are equally unjustified, and certain to cause entirely unnecessary suffering.
These spending cuts harm America. They sell it short. They damage future generations. They must be eliminated as a factor in politics once and for all if we are to progress as a nation.
Our proposed Radio/Video program is about presenting the paradigm of Real Fiscal Responsibility to the general public. It will explain all facets of the new paradigm through interviews and discussions with the main thinkers in Modern Money Theory and other post-Keynesian approaches who have developed aspects of the new approach.
Our goal for this pilot project is to raise $30,000 to create the six programs. Please help us to meet this goal. If we can do it and then get the program picked up, our voice may be the decisive one in defeating the austerians and their policies, and in opening the way to create the America of economic opportunity and social justice we all long for.
The Problem: People Assume That Federal Money Is Limited by What the Government Can Tax or Borrow
Most people will agree that Federal Government fiscal policy, tax and spending policy, ought to be for “the public purpose.” But what is that? We think it is always to create outcomes that solve problems that are important to most people. Here's a list of such current problems:
Replacing a stagnating economy with one operating at its full potential, closing the current output gap;
Creating and maintaining full employment along with implementing the right to a living wage;
Creating and maintaining Price stability;
Implementing the human right of healthcare for everyone;
Creating a world class educational system once again;
Preventing further environmental degradation and ending climate change-inducing impacts of human activity before reaching the climate tipping point;
Reinventing/repairing US Infrastructure and transportation systems;
Reinventing US energy foundations to rely primarily on solar and wind energy, and other renewables;
Reducing racial and gender inequality to a minimum;
Reducing educational inequality to a minimum;
Reducing inequality of opportunity to a minimum;
Reducing economic inequality over time to a level that is not threatening to democracy;
Reducing poverty to a minimum;
Creating a legal system providing equal justice for all rather than preferential treatment for the wealthy and large corporation;
Compensating working people for economic suffering caused by the crash of 2008.
Others may have a different list specifying public purpose, but assuming that this one is not too far off the mark of important problems whose solution can be facilitated through Government spending and taxing, we'll use it to get to the idea of Real Fiscal Responsibility.
There are a variety of reasons why we haven't solved these problems and why they've accumulated and intensified during the past 40 years; but one single rationale that often puts a stop to consideration of policies that might work is that "we can't afford it" or "we're running out of money" or "the Government is broke" or "the Federal Debt is too high” or “the United States Government is bankrupt”, and so, it would be fiscally irresponsible to implement this or that deficit spending to pursue a proposed policy. We certainly don't want to get the money from other needed programs or from tax increases, such advocates continue, because people can't stand tax increases.
Neoliberal views like these assume that Federal money is limited by what the Government can tax or borrow, and that using this limited resource responsibly requires deficit reduction, or balanced budgets, or paying back the debt. But this view of fiscal responsibility is based on a false premise, if you bother to read the US Constitution. That false belief is the common obstacle that blocks our efforts to solve all the problems we have listed.
Our project, Real Fiscal Responsibility, offers the opportunity to expose the false belief of scarcity and reset the governing neoliberal beliefs that bedevil fiscal policy. That is the belief we must persuade people to give up if we're going to get Government working for the public purpose and helping us to build a better economic and social life for us all.
There is, in fact, no constitutional limit on the amount of money our Federal Government can create and deficit spend if we expect that the impact of such spending will fulfill public purpose. And both the Federal Reserve and the Treasury can create (but not spend) money in unlimited quantities using authority delegated to them by Congress.
So, what we need to do to be fiscally responsible is not to restrict spending according to some arbitrary standard, like the debt-to-GDP ratio, or debt levels; these have nothing to do with US solvency; rather, we must make sure that Government spending, using deficits or not, always fulfills public purpose in the sense that it is a reasonable attempt to solve our problems in such a way as to produce the outcomes that most people think are representative of what they value for themselves, their neighbors, their communities, and their nation. That's Real Fiscal Responsibility because it is also the way to solve our major problems. And right now, solving these problems defines the meaning of public purpose.
Why It's Important: The Developing Oligarchy Uses The Idea that Federal Money Is Limited
to Justify Its Refusal to Support Solutions to Our Problems
We said that the rationale of our having limited Federal funds to spend is a big factor in preventing us from solving the major problems we face in the United States. But even more, it prevents us from achieving Real Fiscal Responsibility. In fact, it has rendered the Government ineffective in enabling a solution of those among our problems that were relevant, to greater or lesser degree, during the time of every single US Federal Administration since Jimmy Carter.
To put our present situation plainly, the combination of every Congress, President and Federal Reserve, during each Administration since Jimmy Carter, have all been fiscally irresponsible. Every single one of them, regardless of Party, have failed to even attempt to fulfill important dimensions of public purpose. In so doing they've failed to represent the people of the United States.
Think about it. During how many Administrations since Carter has the country gotten close to full employment defined by the old post-WWII standard of 3%? Answer: exactly one. During the second Clinton Administration, U-3 unemployment fell to 3.8%; still more than 1/2 a percent greater than that standard which just after the war, during which unemployment fell to less than 2%, was thought to be a perfectly reasonable one. How many Administrations have passed enhanced Medicare for All implementing FDRs economic right of universal health care for all? Answer: exactly none!
How many Administrations since Jimmy Carter’s Administration began have passed legislation enabling recovery from economic stagnation? Answer: none. The economy grew under both Reagan/Bush, and Clinton. But that growth wasn't due to fiscal policy, but credit bubbles, technological innovation, and Federal Reserve relaxing of recovery-killing interest rates; and, of course, much of the value of that growth for working people was wiped out or reduced due to the crash of 2008 and its after effects.
Move on down the list of current problems. You'll find that most Administrations including the associated Congresses and Federal Reserve Boards haven't used their powers to enable solving any of the currently outstanding problems through fiscal policy. Why not? Because they've had a great rationalization: “we're running out of money.”
Recently, many have come to the conclusion that the United States has become a plutocracy, perhaps even an oligarchy, run by the financial sector, the extremely wealthy, and the leaders of a few large corporations, who have bought our political system. That's true, but part of the development of oligarchy has been the refusal of our bought representatives to fulfill the public purpose by solving various problems in our list, and in so doing maintaining a modicum of economic and political equality in America.
The developing oligarchy uses its false notion of fiscal responsibility to justify its refusal to support solutions to our problems. So, the importance of our project is that it is aimed at overturning their myth of fiscal responsibility and replacing it with Real Fiscal Responsibility. If we can do that, with your help, then an important tool used to create and maintain the oligarchy will be gone, replaced by one that we can use to drive fiscal policies designed to fulfill the public purpose as seen by we, the people.
The Project and the Solution: To Spread the Good News That Federal Spending is Only Limited By Fulfilling Public Purpose
We need to help people learn that there is no limit on the amount of money our Federal Government can deficit spend if we expect that the impact of such spending will fulfill public purpose. The way we do that is to found a continuing radio/TV show on cable media. How to implement Real Fiscal Responsibility will be the main subject and theme of our talk show.
This project is for everyone who shares our dismay at the economic distress our country is undergoing and the unnecessary suffering of so many of our fellow citizens. We need to change the fiscal policy debate. We need a television talk show that will take as its point of view that any approach to fiscal policy that does not bring about a better life for the vast majority of Americans is a failure, and must be rejected.
This project is for everyone who is tired of hearing economic and fiscal policy commentary from those who got and continue to get everything wrong by appealing to a false view of fiscal responsibility to support Federal spending cuts and fiscal austerity for the 99%. Help us launch the Real Fiscal Responsibility talk show, to help people learn what is really fiscal responsibility and what is not.
“Fiscal Responsibility” is a moral cudgel to get things done. Thus far, it has been used to get the wrong things done in the wrong way by politicians and pundits of every stripe working at the behest of a dysfunctional elite.
It has also been used in that way by the so-called non-partisan CBO; which is actually terribly partisan in supporting needless and damaging deficit and debt reduction with completely fanciful long-term projections, that often turn out to be inaccurate even four months after their publication. Help us now to re-purpose it, so that “REAL Fiscal Responsibility” can be used to get the right things done in the right way: the way of getting to the public purpose, and away from private looting.
The show will feature discussions of policy alternatives that may be effective in solving the problems listed earlier. It will feature advocates for alternative policies and discuss their proposals. We will talk to economists and policy makers who share our perspective and also to some who don't.
We will also provide a forum for discussing all the implications of Real Fiscal Responsibility for both fiscal policy and for politics more broadly. The show will be supplemented by a web site providing blogs, commentary, and discussion forums about the various policy issues covered in the shows.
The purpose of our proposed radio/TV program is to spread the good news far and wide that the Federal Government has no limits on the amount of money it can create for spending (deficit or not) that will fulfill the public purpose. We will, in addition, explore the implications of this good news for full employment, price stability (i.e., lack of inflation), and the other problems listed above, and to show people how good life could be in the United States for all of us, if we accepted this view and based our policies on the truth that we can afford whatever funds are needed for fiscal policies targeted on fulfilling public purpose, rather than the idea that the Federal Government can only spend the money it receives in tax revenues or borrows from the public and foreign nations.
Everyone wants or even demands fiscal responsibility. We include ourselves. We want it very badly. But we also know that fiscal responsibility doesn't lie in deficit reduction, balanced budgets, or paying off debt in the abstract. We know that this kind of conception of fiscal responsibility is actually the height of fiscal irresponsibility, because it has been responsible for most of the increasing economic misery and growing idleness and economic inequality that many of the people of the United States have endured for decades.
We also know that Real Fiscal Responsibility lies in good fiscal policy that uses the Government's power to issue coins, currency, and reserves only to fulfill public purpose, as that is determined by the people in our democracy. We want our show to lay out exactly how this can be done through fiscal policy, supplemented by a monetary policy posture which will not interfere with the impact of fiscal policy on public purpose.
Before we can market our show, however, we need a prototype. We need a proof of concept, and we also need a pilot series. We need to demonstrate that we have the ability to produce a quality discussion show that would attract a large audience. That is why we are seeking your support to fund this project in the amount of $30,000.00.
What Your Donations Will Pay For
The $30,000.00 we are seeking will fund:
-- 6 pilot shows that will demonstrate the proposed program's quality and ability to attract an audience
-- Research and planning sufficient to produce the 6 pilots.
-- Publicity and outreach to attract our audience and build community.
-- Software and web design to support the show
-- Equipment necessary to produce a high quality talk show.
-- Marketing efforts to attract the backing for a weekly or twice weekly radio/TV show on an alternative cable network to the primary corporate media channels.