Rural Spaces

13 November 2017 – We accidentally ended up with a theme this week – rural spaces. During our interview block we were fortunate enough to have Lane Siekman (@LaneSiekman), Congressional candidate in IN-6, and Dearborn County, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman, Tricia Gaustad (@GaustadTricia). Lane gave us an articulate and well thought out rundown of his priorities including progressive favorite, Medicare for All. Tricia talked about why the 2018 cycle is not at all the same as the 2016 cycle even in her deep red county. She is listening to local Dems and has built a strategy to truly fight the good fight.

Will started the show talking about the ways in which some conservatives are trying to twist the current conversation about powerful people sexually abusing others into a diatribe which reinforces feelings about LGBTQ people. They do this, of course, at the expense of women but that is their normal operating procedure so we should not be surprised. In his block Will gets serious about rural spaces and why the Democratic party simply must find a way both to honor our base and to reach back into rural areas for those who have priorities which are not all about racism. He reminds us that rural areas vary in demographics from state to state and that those variations represent opportunities.

I begin the show with a couple of brief observations about the elections this past week. In my block I explain carried interest, why it is part of the GOP tax plan debate and the fact that the issue with carried interest is not about how much the wealthiest Americans pay in taxes, it is about increasing inequity and inequality. …Oh, and eliminating the carried interest loophole represents yet another promise which Trump has broken. I spend most of my block talking about new research, summarized in an article in the Harvard Business Review, which evidences a strong correlation between opposition to federal spending and racial resentment. We keep thinking that it is possible to wrap our minds around all the ways in which racism is systemic in our society and, as this research shows, we are nowhere close to understanding.

On that cheerful note…the interview I was expecting to have this week really is happening next week. It will be very different from our normal fare but I think it is going to be wonderful. Stay tuned! Carrots! – Arliss

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JD Alt Dreams in MMT Reality

6 November 2017Architect and author JD Alt again graced us with his thoughts, this time talking about his new novella, Low Earth Orbit. The novella takes the functionality of modern monetary theory and applies it to solve major issues facing a society on the brink. The novella lives at the intersection between architecture, environment, society and economics with a light touch which will bring you back to it again and again in the future. Low Earth Orbit demonstrates the dreams of which reality is made and I could not recommend it more.

I begin the show with background information about Trump’s nomination for the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome “Jay” Powell. Powell is currently on the board of Governors of the Fed and it is thought that he will continue the practices of his predecessor, Janet Yellen. Trump could have nominated a number of truly despicable people, including Mike Pence’s favorite, John Taylor. Instead, the next Fed chair is known to be hardworking, calm,  interested in both sides of any question as well as being…frankly…rational (something in short supply these days.) In Trump-adjusted terms, Powell is basically a “win.”

Will pushes back against the not particularly factually-based spin being tossed about by former DNC chair, Donna Brazille. Here’s the bottom line:

We need a functional DNC which works for everyone.

We MUST win in 2018.

Nothing else is as important.

Will then moves on to a discussion of the upcoming race in Virginia. Virginia, he notes, tends to vote contrarian and is not necessarily the bellwether some are insisting upon. The race is being impacted by Trump’s impossible claims around coal and restoration of coal-based jobs while job training lacks a viable program.

Hopping Mad Associate, Dave Paquette, who is, himself, a registered nurse, updates us on the opiates crisis and the latest, minimal actions by the Trump administration. While Trump claims to have declared a “national emergency,” with all the funding and support such an act involves, in reality he only declared a “public health emergency.” The fund available for use in such emergencies is $56,000. So, not even sofa cushion change. Meanwhile, the family-owned Purdue Pharma has been profiteering wildly from sales of opiates. Purdue’s owner, the Sackler family, simply must be pulled out into the light of day. More than 2.5 million Americans are thought to be addicted. Overdose is now the leading cause of death for adults under the age of fifty. In 2016 up to 65,000 people (depending upon how the count is done) died from opiate overdose but, somehow, it is not a national emergency.

We will be back next week with an unusual interview I think you will love. Until then, carrots! – Arliss

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Amanda Werner, Brad Voracek & Michele LeSure are All Back!

30 October 2017 – It worked! Brad Voracek (@bradvoracek) is back this week and the wait was worth it. This time you are able to hear his full answers on youth employment, Senator Sander’s & Congressman Conyers’ Employ Young Americans Now bill, the science versus human aspects of economics and his thinking on so-called (and wildly mis-named) “Right to Work” laws. Brad is a founder of the not-to-be-missed website, The Minskys and I recommend regular visits there.

We were also extremely lucky to have Amanda Werner, of Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen (aka The Monopoly Man), back with us to fill us in on the loss this week when the Senate voted to support Wells Fargo and Equifax in their illegal/incompetent behavior by making sure that citizens cannot sue these corporations either singly or in class actions suits. Forced arbitration is, apparently, forever, just like diamonds.

We also had Hopping Mad associate, Michele LeSure giving us more information on the strange anti-boycott legislation which has been passed in Texas and Kansas and is, supposedly, in support of Israel. This legislation is preventing some Texans from receiving federal aid post Hurricane Harvey. It’s strange and wrong and the ACLU is on it.

Will updates us on the latest in the rapidly changing situation in Catalonia as the Spanish government attempts to “fire” the elected government of Catalonia. The Spanish government claims it will hold “legitimate” elections in December but the specifics remain to be seen.

As always, there is a great deal going on and we will be back next week to take another swing at it. Carrots! – Arliss

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Brad Voracek from The Minskys – Part 1

23 October 2017 – This was one of those shows which fought every step of the way.* While at the MMT conference this summer I recorded a terrific interview with the bright and articulate young economist Brad Voracek (@bradvoracek) from one of my favorite websites, The Minskys. Embarrassingly, I managed to error during the recording process and had both a sound problem and actually lost part of the interview…twice. As I say in the show, I am making it my life’s work to have Brad back for a fully and competently recorded interview very, VERY soon.

Meanwhile, though Will told me weeks ago that he was traveling this week, I have been so distracted by the fires in my hometown of Santa Rosa, CA,  that I forgot to make arrangements in advance for a cohost. Fortunately, Michele LeSure stepped in and went well above and beyond not only doing nearly all the editing but presenting two blocks. We decided to update you on some of the issues surrounding three of the four major disasters all of which are only in the earliest stages of recovery. Michele talked about Florida and Houston. I, of course, am still on what is now being called the October 2017 Fire Siege which has savaged Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino Counties in California.

Michele concentrated on the poor quality of the support being rendered in Florida and Texas. She also discovered an issue I had not heard about at all which manages to entangle disaster recovery aid in Texas with the politics surrounding Israel. Yes, you read that correctly. Michele just touches on the subject this week and has promised to come back next week with more.

It will not surprise you to know that in progressive, liberal Sonoma County the experience around receiving the basic necessities for survival for the more than 5500 families who have lost their homes is the polar opposite of that in states controlled by Republican legislatures. Additionally, the Sonoma County Sheriff, Rob Giordano has distinguished himself not only demonstrating superhuman leadership during the crisis but by being an extraordinary protector of all the residents of his county, including a homeless, hispanic man that ICE and Breitbart are falsely accusing of setting the fires. Sheriff Giordano is the kind of experienced, fair and thoughtful law enforcement officer who seems to live the ethic of “to protect and serve.” Sonoma County is fortunate to have him at this sad, terrifying, challenging time.

Will will be back next week. Many carrots! – Arliss

* Note:  among many of the other things which went wrong while I was flailing about trying to get this show out,  Comcast had an area blackout as I was uploading the show…because it really was just one of those shows.

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Pavlina Tcherneva & the World Beyond Trump

2 October 2017 – Some days it’s hard to remember that despite all appearances, there is a world out there beyond Trump and all the many, many ways he is failing this week. The truly dazzling economist Dr. Pavlina Tcherneva (her excellent site is here) is with us for the interview. I was able to interview her in person at the First International Conference of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT Conference). We talked about how the, now famous, chart (see above)  she developed was able to influence the conversation around inequality and how a job guarantee program can add more than just jobs to a society. It is inspiring to know the modern monetary theory rests in the hands of economists, like Pavlina, who have a clear connection to the ground truth of the programs and policies they imagine into existence.

I start out the show with just a quick overview of my experience at the MMT conference. It was genuinely compelling and I was overwhelmed by all the ideas and applications of MMT to which I was exposed. You will be hearing about many of these in depth in the future and I promise you will be intrigued too.

Will then updated everyone on the events in Catalonia related to the independence vote. Spain is refusing to acknowledge the vote and tension is ratcheting up. Will has covered Catalonia in the past and promises a deep dive next week.

We touched briefly on Puerto Rico. Now that it is (finally) being followed by major media we are leaving most of that to actual journalists but people are suffering and our President, while golfing, is too busy trying to shame the Mayor of San Juan with tweets to actually send an appropriate level of support. It’s not just frustrating or inhumane, it’s evil.

In Will’s main block he talked about Brexit. Many are saying that all the economic ills projected by those who wanted to remain in the European Union have not come to pass and were therefore simply election scare tactics. Will points out the obvious, the UK is still in the EU and the pain from Brexit will not be felt until Brexit actually occurs. It remains reasonable to expect cost-push inflation (also known as supply shock) as the UK strikes out on its own.

In my block I briefly lay out my reasons for supporting Bernie’s current “Medicare for All” bill. This may surprise some of you but I find this bill to be essential and extremely well-timed. Don’t get me wrong, this bill won’t move and, ultimately, the bill that does move will look different but here’s the thing – we can’t legislate until we get elected. Will disagrees but I think “Medicare for All” is a good bumper sticker way to sum up the shared Democratic party value that healthcare is a right. I think having this bill under active discussion now gives us an opportunity to build coalition and consensus in preparation for a non-Trump future. No matter what, this bill has already moved the Overton Window and that in and of itself is critical. Bernie has written a solid bill and he is gathering important voices. There is long, hard work ahead to build unstoppable grassroots momentum but this is how healthcare gets changed for real. It will take all of us…and it should. Carrots! – Arliss

Since recording this episode, the Spanish government has acted without restraint or dignity in Catalonia, attacking unarmed civilians with a wave of brutal repression. Many folks who oppose the referendum say that holding it is illegal. That may be true, but it isn’t an excuse for state violence. Spain had every ability to refuse to acknowledge the vote, which was itself an act of civil disobedience. But instead of responding to this act with restraint, and refusing to acknowledge the results, they chose to wage an unnecessary and unnecessarily brutal campaign of violence against the Catalan people. These actions bring the legitimacy of Rajoy’s governance of Catalonia into question. Things will likely only get worse in the coming days. I will report in depth on the situation next week, and talk about Kurdistan and its referendum as well. –Will

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Landon Shroder on Terrorism & White Nationalism

17 July 2017 – Will is back and he brought political risk and security expert Landon Shroder (@LandonShroder) with him. The interview, both in the broadcast and in the podcast versions of the show, is longer than usual and with good reason. We go wide getting into Mosul, the Kurds, Saudi, Yemen and the UAE during the broadcast show and then, in Extra Mad, coming stateside to talk about the rise of terrorism within the white nationalist movement.

Will continues his series on small “d” democratic principles and progressives. For this show Will is thinking about citizenship and it’s relationship with social responsibility. I push back just a bit asking Will about the difference between what is a right and what is earned. Also, Will and I talk about distinguishing between ideals and the reality of history and privilege.

I geek a bit on this show about the continuing rise of the discussion about how modern money really works (aka modern monetary theory or MMT) and the implications of having the power of fiat money recognized and utilized by society. It turns out that the debt-ceiling battle of 2013 really was an inflection point for MMT and voices have been added at a steadily growing clip. The Nation has a great article on 8 May 2017, The Rock-Star Appeal of Modern Monetary Theory, and that is just one of the many, many places MMT is being discussed.

I love having Will back and, friend of the show, Landon on with us again. We have another strong interview lined-up for next week too. We are definitely getting our hop back on! Carrots – Arliss

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NRA Ad Abomination & Trade War Trouble

3 July 2017 – Will is on vacation this week (and next) so I am joined on the show by two of our three new associates, Joel Dent and David Paquette. David, a self-professed connoisseur of lies, starts us off with a spectacular lie direct from a true master of the subject, Senator Orrin Hatch. I respond with a whopper from Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry but Hatch won the day on style points. Here, by the way, is David’s recommended maple syrup video. “The moment” is right at the very end but the whole thing is hilarious. Remember as you watch it that this is the man curating the nuclear arsenal of the USA.

Joel brought us the latest NRA ad which is so filled with hate that it just blows right past “abomination” as a descriptor. After the election, the NRA and the gun manufacturers had a problem. With Obama gone and no enemy to focus on how are they going to sell mountains of guns? They need a new enemy and they have found one…all of us. Joel uses video shot during one of the Milo Yiannopoulos protests (also here) as an example of the depth of the problem. He also quoted from some alt right gun blogs here and here. The psychosis is both depending and spreading.

I go back to my roots a bit to talk about the modern money take on trade and how trade works in economies like ours. The meme of the trade deficit being a problem is the same as the meme of the US needing a balanced budget. Both are ludicrous on the face if you take a minute to think about it. We give away pixels (fiat money) and get real goods and services in return. That’s the best possible deal especially when there is absolutely nothing standing in the way of making sure that everyone who wants a good job has one…except, of course, political will. *sigh* All of this is especially pertinent because while the whole country is looking the other direction, Trump is starting a trade war with our closest allies!

We have no interview this week (so no Extra Mad). Again a thank-you goes out this week to Michele LeSure, for her assistance in editing this episode. Michele will be on the show next week so you will have the chance to hear from her too! If you are in the US, enjoy your holiday! Many carrots! – Arliss

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