Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In Counter Conference


-by Selise

Goal Thermometer

"The Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In Counter Conference will be the important event in Washington on April 28. Unlike the other meeting, this one will feature important work by honest scholars. It deserves at least equal attention, and very much more respect."

--- James K. Galbraith, The University of Texas at Austin. [April 19, 2010 via email]

* * *

The deficit hawks at the Peterson Foundation are at it again: attacking Social Security and Medicare with their false economic notions, this time with a "Fiscal Summit" to "Discuss Nation's Rising Deficits and Debt."

We have a massive need for a counter-narrative to the false but conventional notion that Federal deficit spending is bad, that it is a burden to the next generation, that deficit spending risks insolvency -- basically that the Federal Government Budget is some how analogous to a household budget when, in fact, it is no such thing.

The Teach-In Counter-Conference on Fiscal Sustainability on April 28th, 2010 in Washington, DC aims to do just that with some real world, honest economics. The date was chosen as an alternative and counter to the deficit hawks at Peterson Foundation's "Fiscal Summit."

We can move beyond the false economic orthodoxy that got us into the current economic mess and that are now being promoted to attack Social Security and Medicare -- and harming our Nation and it's People in so many ways. You can help.

The tentative program schedule, topics and presenters as of 04/16/10:

Time Period Topic Team Leaders
8:30–8:45 AM Welcoming Remarks
8:45–10:15 AM What Is Fiscal Sustainability? Team Leader: Professor Bill Mitchell, Research Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the University of Newcastle, NSW Australia, and blogger at billy blog
10:15–10:30 AM BREAK
10:30 AM–12:00 PM Are There Spending Constraints on Governments Sovereign in their Currency? Team Leader: Stephanie Kelton, Associate Professor of Macroeconomics, Finance, and Money and Banking, Research Scloar at The Center for Full Employment and Price Stability (CFEPS), University of Missouri - Kansas City, Research Associate at The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, and blogger at New Economics Perspectives
12:00–12:15 PM BREAK
12:15–1:45 PM The Deficit, the Debt, the Debt-To-GDP ratio, the Grandchildren and Government Economic Policy Team Leader: Warren Mosler, International Consulting Economist, Independent Candidate for the US Senate in Connecticut, and blogger at moslereconomics.com
1:45–2:00 PM BREAK
2:00–3:15 PM Inflation and Hyper-inflation Co-Team Leaders: Marshall Auerback, International Consulting Economist, blogger at New Deal 2.0 and New Economic Perspectives, and Mat Forstater, Professor of Economics, Director of CFEPS, Department of Economics, University of Missouri — Kansas City, Research Associate at The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, and blogger at New Economic Perspectives
3:15–3:30 PM BREAK
3:30–5:00 PM Policy Proposals for Fiscal Sustainability Co-Team Leaders: L. Randall Wray, Professor of Economics, Director of CFEPS at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, and Senior Scholar at The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College; and Pavlina Tcherneva, Assistant Professor of Economics at Franklin and Marshall College, Senior Research Associate at CFEPS and Research Associate at The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College and bloggers at New Economic Perspectives

What you can do to help:

  1. Contribute to the cost of the Conference -- Here

  2. Attend the Teach-In -- watch these pages for location and other logistical information

  3. Spread the word -- write a blog post, talk with your friends.

  4. Educate yourself -- some great introductory resources are:



At 6:20 AM, Blogger selise said...

Howie, thank you so much for letting me cross post here at DWT and for everything else.

in Sept/Oct 2008 i was astounded by the panic, confusion and lies from government officials and especially from congress as the economy apparently went into free fall (i was watching a lot of cspan). so, while most of the politically active part of country was, i think, caught up in the nov elections, i was trying to make sense of what was happening.

i called it my search looking for a macro econ that is not stupid.

these economists are the first and only i've found who can actually explain with, instead of substance free assertion, mechanistically and theoretically some of the most important economic issues our country and, i think, the world now face.

helping them have the opportunity to teach us that some of our most basic economic assumptions are not just all wrong but also to offer something that makes sense in their place, may be the most important thing we can do right now to protect Social Security, Medicare and indeed far more.

At 6:43 AM, Anonymous BDBlue said...

Yes, thank you. Like selise, in the aftermath of the 2008 crash, I've been working to learn as much as I can about economics. It's clear, at least to me, that our economic elite have failed. If we're ever going to take our country back, we've got to be able to talk about economics and push back against the neoliberal paradigm that now seems to dominate so much economic thinking by our political and media elite. This conference is a good start.

Thanks again.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger selise said...

Hi BD!

the idea that the federal government budgeting was nothing like household budgeting (or business, or state and local govs) was a revelation when it was explained to me.

taxes do not fund fed gov spending
borrowing does not fund fed gov spending

and yet the deficit hawks at Peterson and others have helped create a neoliberal orthodoxy so deep and unquestioned that the idea that our fed debt and our fed budget may not be at all analogous to household budgeting is rarely even considered.

At 7:01 AM, Blogger selise said...

if anyone has a question, please ask. i think some of the experts are going to stop by later to see if they can help provide answers.

At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome, thanks for posting this. It is great to see the reality base community pushing back against thte deficit hypocrites.


At 8:08 AM, Anonymous sisterkenney said...

Thanks, selise, for posting this! My question to the Peterson people and their neo-econ supporters would be, simply, this: "Why would ANYONE take ANY of your economic theories seriously after the last 40 years of failure?"

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Letsgetitdone said...

Thank you Howie, for inviting this post. And thank you selise for a clear statement of what the Conference is about and some of its key issues. I can't emphasize too heavily the importance of the MMT approach to fiscal sustainability.

The big idea about it is that it holds that fiscal sustainability is ultimately about pursuing and achieving the public purpose, and not about trying to regulate deficits, debts or debt-to-GDP ratios. Those things are but effects, not causes.

If they look bad, and you care about them (which you shouldn't because they are distractions from real issues), then a cure that goes at them directly by trying to cut spending, or raising taxes, will only make things worse because it doesn't treat the root cause of the problem which is the economy's poor performance along with its structuring to serve an increasingly small number of very wealthy people. It's that which must be attacked, and one major tool for doing so is the Government's ability to spend without borrowing or taxing. We need to use that ability to end unemployment and remake the economy to produce human value.

That's why MMT might just as well be called value economics, and that's also why the MMT approach to fiscal sustainability is the perfect answer to the deficit lies, myths, and deadly innocent frauds spread by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and, increasingly, the "yes we can" Administration, which is rapidly morphing itself into the "yes we can't" Administration by aligning itself with the deficit terrorists.

Down with the tyranny of deficit hawkism and its attempt to starve working people and the middle class into submission. And up with an approach that enables Government to do its work as instrument for people to work together to build a better, more equal, and more open society.

At 8:39 AM, Blogger selise said...

"Why would ANYONE take ANY of your economic theories seriously after the last 40 years of failure?"

sisterkenny, i think it's because we don't know what to replace the false ideas with. most of us don't know that there are some economists -- "honest scholars" james galbraith calls them -- to help us challenge our assumptions and find something real to replace the neoliberal orthodoxy with.

that's why we need the conference to happen. this is not a fundraiser where as soon as the amount requested is met, the goal goes up -- the amount you see in the thermometer is what the organizers still need to raise to to bring the 7 economists to DC and all ancillary expenses to make the teach-in a reality. it's a shoe string budget with donations in kind and volunteer hours.

every $5 is a big help.

At 9:11 AM, Blogger hipparchia said...

i'd like to add my thank you to howie and to selise for this.

thank you.

At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you guys think of the idea that deficits are beneficial to Wall Street, and tend to give Big Finance influence with the Government?


I find it interesting that we got started with large, permanent government deficits starting with Reagan, and since then the FIRE sector (Finance-Insurance-Real Estate) has exploded in size.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments!

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Letsgetitdone said...

Anonymous asked:

"What do you guys think of the idea that deficits are beneficial to Wall Street, and tend to give Big Finance influence with the Government?"

I don't think there's a correlation. Deficits were large under Reagan and Bush 41, declined under Clinton, and then came back under Bush 43 and continue now. Wall Street did fine with the exception of some sharp declines near the end of Clinton's years and Bush's.

I think Wall Street's success has been much more closely correlated with easy credit, the appearance of novel financial instruments, and the abandonment of regulation. It's those things that have created the bubble economy. Not Government spending, which still isn't large enough to put everyone to work.

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Letsgetitdone said...

Hi sisterkenney, I think that's right. The problem is that from their point of view, they were successful for most of the past 40 years, but just had some "glitches" from time-to-time, most recently in 2008. So, they'll just claim success and Pete will point out that it worked for him because he got real rich. And I think that's the point. PGPF's ideas ae not about good economics. They are about doing the things that Pete thinks will continue to protect his position.

I mean its other cut entitlements, or tax him more, right? Or at least that's the way he sees it.

At 2:55 PM, Anonymous sisterkenney said...

Hi lets. So, basically, the position of Peterson et al., that our current economic path,as is reflected by the many graphs that show income stagnation/falling behind of the middle and lower classes, a concentration of wealth towards the top 5% that is actually worse than the Golden Age, a high unemployment rate predicted for the next ? years, (thus followed by a loss of pensions, homes, medical care, etc.)- and I'm not even addressing the recent Wall Street crimes (or "glitches") - this situation is OK with him and his neo-econ buddies because "hey, I got mine!" Swell. So their answer is to rape the little bit we have left of the social safety net? We really need this conference to go viral!!!
And hi Selise! You're correct-without a coherent alternative, these robber barons will fleece us without so much as a peep from the citizens. (BTW-already donated.)

At 3:15 PM, Blogger VG said...

Thanks Selise and Thanks Howie- for pushing this and helping get the word out.

Just kicked in some $$.

Howie- an TY for your HuffPo piece. I have I ever told you you have a way with words? *g*


At 3:34 PM, Blogger VG said...

oh, Selise-

"every $5 helps"

Howie I think would say that also. In fact, he probably has, more than once. I got to know Howie when I helped out on his Blue America work, and have the highest regard for him.

And, he's not the kinda guy who pisses on people who don't donate, for whatever reason. Truly a mensch. I know this verges on OT, but I just had to say it. Waving to Howie!

So, in that spirit, I totally endorse "every $5 helps".

At 4:21 PM, Blogger Letsgetitdone said...

Hi VG -- Me too.

Btw, nice to see you here waving to Howie and selise.

At 11:43 PM, Anonymous selise said...

VG, i think i probably got the 'every $5 helps" from howie originally. but it's true -- many hands make for light work and even kicking in small amount feels really good, knowing that your contributing to something important.

thanks VG! (and i agree, howie is the best!)


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