"The People's Money": A crisp, simple, thorough explanation of how government spending is paid for

Modern Monetary Theory is an economic paradigm that treats money as a utility that governments issue and tax in order to mobilize resources needed to provide the services that the public wants; it explains why some kinds of government spending leads to inflation while other kinds do not, and how sovereign states use different levers to control inflation, even when they're spending extraordinary sums, as in WWII. Read the rest

Washington establishment freaks out as Modern Monetary Theory gains currency

Modern Monetary Theory (previously) is an economic philosophy based on the idea that all state spending is "deficit" spending, since money comes into existence when the government spends it, and when the government raises taxes, it does so in order to take that money out of existence, both in order to control inflation and to limit the concentration of power in the hands of the wealthy. Read the rest

On Fire: Naomi Klein's book is a time-series of the shift from climate denial to nihilism to Green New Deal hope

My latest LA Times book review is for Naomi Klein's new essay collection, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, which traces more than a decade of Klein's outstanding, on-the-ground reports from the pivotal struggle to begin the transformational work needed to save our species and the rest of the Earth's living things from a devastating, eminently foreseeable, and ultimately avoidable climate catastrophe. Read the rest

My MMT Podcast appearance, part 2: monopoly, money, and the power of narrative

Last week, the Modern Monetary Theory Podcast ran part 1 of my interview with co-host Christian Reilly; they've just published the second and final half of our chat (MP3), where we talk about the link between corruption and monopoly, how to pitch monetary theory to people who want to abolish money altogether, and how stories shape the future. Read the rest

My appearance on the MMT podcast: compelling narratives as a means of advancing complex political and economic ideas

I've been following the Modern Monetary Theory debate for about 18 months, and I'm largely a convert: governments spend money into existence and tax it out of existence, and government deficit spending is only inflationary if it's bidding against the private sector for goods or services, which means that the government could guarantee every unemployed person a job (say, working on the Green New Deal), and which also means that every unemployed person and every unfilled social services role is a political choice, not an economic necessity. Read the rest

We could fund the transition to green energy with 10-30% of the world's fossil fuel subsidy

A new report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) estimates the cost of subsidizing a full transition to clean energy, and comes out with a figure that is only 10-30% of the subsidy presently given to the planet-destroying fossil fuel industries. Read the rest

Shahid Buttar: the civil rights cyberlawyer and community organizer who's challenging Pelosi from the left #ShahidVsPelosi

I endorsed Shahid Buttar's primary challenge to Nancy Pelosi in 2018, and I'm proud to do so again for the 2020 primary, especially as Pelosi has allowed herself to be played by Trump on American concentration camps and mass ethnic-cleansing raids. Read the rest

Countries with higher levels of unionization have lower per-capita carbon footprints

In Is Labor Green? (Sci-Hub mirror), three Oregon sociologists investigate the correlation between high rates of trade unionization and low carbon footprints. Read the rest

You can't recycle your way out of climate change

Mary Annaise Heglar of the Natural Resources Defense Council is tired of her friends confessing their environmental sins to her, like using disposable containers; as she points out, climate change is a systemic problem, not an individual one, and the Ayn-Rand-ish framing of all problems as having individual causes with individual solutions is sheer victim blaming. Read the rest

All weekend, California Democrats booed neoliberal would-be presidents who talked down the Green New Deal and Medicare for All

John Delaney (a finance friendly millionaire) wants to be the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, and he thinks he knows how to win: "Medicare for all may sound good but it's actually not good policy nor is it good politics." It's an idea so unpopular with California Democrats that it attracted a full minute of heartfelt boos when he assayed it last weekend. Read the rest

Paolo Bacigalupi's "A Full Life": climate apocalypse with a side of intergenerational warfare and science denial

Paolo Bacigalupi's (previously) A Full Life is a new short story in MIT Technology Review that traces the hard young life of Rue, whose family has to move and move again as climate disasters destroy the places they try to make their homes: the water for their ecologically sound farm dries up, then Austin becomes unlivable when heatwaves spike rolling blackouts, then Miami is washed off the map by a string of floods that overwhelm the levees built to "American standards" that were cooked by US oil lobbyists, and then life in New York comes to an end when a global financial crisis wipes out the last family member with any money -- an uncle who was an investment banker who ends up losing all the money he made shorting Miami when the crash comes. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren calls for a zero-emissions military, serviced by zero-emissions contractors

In her latest detailed policy proposal, would-be 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Elizabeth Warren sets out a Green New Deal for the US military, whose own policy analysts have identified climate change and energy independence as serious risks to US security. Read the rest

Assessing Occupy's legacy

In 2011, activists began an occupation of Zucotti Park near Wall Street, starting a movement that spread around the world and changed the discourse around wealth, inequality, corruption and justice. Read the rest

AOC is going to Kentucky

First AOC gave a great speech about how the Green New Deal was good for workers, including coal workers; then she accepted GOP Rep Andy Barr's invite to visit the coal-miners in his Kentucky Appalachian district; then Barr disinvited him, citing her "incivility" in her response to the racist attacks on Rep Ilhan Omar; then it transpired that Barr has no coal mines in his district, but it doesn't matter, AOC is going anyway: "Luckily, we still have open borders with Kentucky, we are free to travel there. We hope to visit and have a town hall, listen to concerns of workers in Kentucky." Read the rest

"A Message From the Future": short film about the "Green New Deal Decade," narrated by AOC, drawn by Molly Crabapple, presented by Naomi Klein

The Intercept has just released "A Message From the Future," a short science fiction movie narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and drawn by Molly Crabapple, describing the coming "Green New Deal Decade," when Americans pulled together and found prosperity, stability, solidarity and full employment through a massive, nationwide effort to refit the country to be resilient to climate shocks and stem the tide of global climate change. Read the rest

AOC is going to Appalachia to talk to coal miners

After Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivered a blistering rebuttal to Rep Sean Duffy's [R-WI] charge that the Green New Deal and environmentalism were "elitist" concerns that ignored the needs of rural people, Congressional Coal Caucus member Rep. Andy Barr [R-KY] invited her to visit Appalachian coal-towns and "go underground" to talk to people in the mining industry. Read the rest

Peak Indifference: are we reaching climate's denial/nihilism tipping point?

I use the idea of peak indifference to describe the moment when activists no longer have to try to convince people that a problem is real (the problem does that itself, by ruining ever-more-people's lives), and then the job switched to convincing people that it's not too late to do something about it (if the day you finally decide to take rhino population declines seriously is the day they announce there's only one rhino left, there's a powerful temptation to shoot that rhino and find out what it tastes like). Read the rest

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