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
The Monopoly Man!
9 October 2017 – At the last minute we were incredibly lucky to get an interview with the oh-so-popular Monopoly Man! Amanda Werner, of Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen, joined us right at the top of the show to talk about her experience as the Monopoly Man at the recent Senate hearing on SJ Res 47. GOP members of the Senate want to rollback the new rule from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) which eliminates forced arbitration clauses. Due to careful tactical planning, the Monopoly Man was able to get a seat behind and just a bit to the left of the (now former) CEO of Equifax so that every time the CEO was on camera Amanda was right behind him making her point by clowning it up. Within a matter of minutes the meme blew-up on Twitter and generated a truly phenomenal amount of coverage. Obviously, this was a powerful and funny way to get the word out about a topic many would otherwise overlook. Amanda (cough!), I mean, Monopoly Man, take a bow! Now the rest of us need to do our jobs and call our Senators to let them know we oppose SJ Res 47. We cannot let this one slip through the cracks unnoticed.
Since we had already recorded the entire show and because it was an unusually formatted episode anyway, the only way to hear the complete show is on the website or through your favorite podcast app. The last ten minutes of Will’s block and all of my block are pushed back into Extra Mad.
Following the Monopoly Man interview, in the original top of show block, I talked about the work Big Pharma, and especially Indiana-based Eli Lilly, is doing to support their employees in Puerto Rico, to mitigate supply-chain disruption for critical medications for the US and to supply medication into the region. Pharmaceuticals comprise 72% of Puerto Rico’s exports and the 80 pharma and medical device facilities there employee nearly 100,000 people. It is an enormous job made no easier by the failure of the Trump administration and their disaster response. Will followed-up by talking about the response of private individuals and companies to the problem of entirely rebuilding the electrical grid and cell service system in Puerto Rico. Again, a massive task which should be the responsibility of the US federal government but which is being totally mishandled by unqualified Trump appointees and understaffed, under-resourced agencies.
Will did an extended block on self-determination. This was especially timely because of the recent vote in Kurdistan and the attempted vote in Catalonia. Will underpinned his later discussion of specifics with a thoughtful backgrounder on who it is who determines who will be “allowed” to determine themselves. He moves from there seamlessly to use the nationalist movements of the Kurds and the Catalonians to illustrate his points.
In my block I talk about why cash is still king. Unlike electronic transactions, cash is resilient enough to accommodate disasters like that in present-day Puerto Rico. But that is just a small thing in comparison to the fact that we are rapidly being trained to believe that a so-called cashless society is upon us and if we don’t give up (literally) dirty and ecologically harmful cash then we are falling behind the trend. This is a corporatist agenda being pushed by the companies who are skimming a bit off every single digital transaction. …and then there’s the digital trail. A cashless society is one where we forfeit the power of a transaction to the middlemen and we leave behind us a record of the “micro texture of our electronic life,” to quote economist/anthropologist Brett Scott. Preventing the subversion of cash to a cashless society not only preserves choice, it preserves our option to be anonymous. Cash equals privacy for all of us equally.
Until next week, many carrots! – Arliss
P.S. Giving Arliss the “Wild Haggises at Dawn” treatment, I closed out the show with a bit of a song called Subdisco by Niteworks, an Electronica band from the Isle of Skye who make a ton of great music, much of which modernizes Gaelic song traditions. –Will
Action, ACA & #SonomaCountyProud
16 October 2017 – Charles Gaba (@charles_gaba) comes back again to explain why Trump’s latest move against the ACA is so incredibly dangerous. This time, however, there are some really specific things we can be doing to help to keep the ACA from imploding. Join the Indivisible ACA Sign-up Project (@2018ACASignUps) and get involved on the ground with GetAmericaCovered.org. As I mention at the end of the interview, Charles is a national resource who is taking time away from his real job to maintain expertise and educate us in all kinds of ways on all the subjects associated with the ACA. Please go to Charle’s excellent website ACA Signups and support him. He is certainly supporting millions of us.
At the top of the show I talk a bit about the fires in my in my hometown of Santa Rosa. Will talks about the hate that Trump is sending out and pushing right into Will’s home and that of every LGBTQ person in the country.
I have handed-off my main block to Will and Joel. Will will tell you about it below. For all the years and years it will take to rebuild, I remain #SonomaCountyProud. Carrots! – Arliss
For my block, we discussed millennials, guns, and regulation. Millennials aren’t willing to accept the all-or-nothing dichotomy we’ve been handed on the gun debate. We’re perfectly willing to let people keep their guns, but also perfectly willing to enact heavy restrictions such as a national gun registry, a ban on offenders convicted of domestic violence owning weapons, mental health screening, and gun insurance. This fact, that we tend to be both pro-guns and pro-gun control, confuses people. Due to time, I cut this block from the broadcast edition, but it’s in our podcast.
For Joel’s block, we discussed the upcoming 2018 elections, the metrics beforehand, and what we can do to actually win. – Will
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.
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