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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HRC & DNC Conspiracy Theories & the IMF Says “Whoops!”

8 August 2016 – This week we had a lot of territory to cover and very little time due to scheduling issues. We have no interview or Extra Mad today but do start with breaking news on a new and unexpected humanitarian crisis. From there I plunge into Trump’s views on and utter lack of knowledge about nuclear weapons. (Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.) Will then moves on to the newest nation in the world, South Sudan, which represents an incredible opportunity missed and a sad story we will be hearing for a very long time.

Will wanted to spend some time this week really talking about several of the conspiracy theories surrounding Hillary and some of the misunderstandings/conspiracy theories which are frustrating regarding the Democratic National Convention and Committee. Will talks about the truly hideous conspiracy theory about Hillary having Vince Foster Seth Rich murdered recently. Will also, apparently for my entertainment, brings up an old theory where President Obama has ordered a nuclear attack against Charleston…South Carolina. He then chats about the false claims that the DNC rigged the primary election and I end up ranting while reminding everyone that the DNC is not a public organization and not part of the government. It’s a private organization, a club…a treehouse, and because this is the case the DNC gets to write its own rules. I also mention why I feel like Bernie delegates, to the national convention, had expectations which could not be met because they were not fully briefed by the Sanders campaign. I do feel bad that it happened this way.

I close out the show with a review on the recent report from the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of the International Monetary Fund, “The IMF and the Crises in Greece, Ireland and Portugal.” This is a WOW report. The IEO has provided a very constructive but extremely brutal review of the many, many failures of the IMF in dealing with the European banking crisis. The thing I am most pleased by is that so many of the things the MMT community has been shouting for years now are bourn out in this report but this is small comfort beside the gravity of the impact of the errors made by the IMF and the troika.

Will is traveling this next week but we will be back on 22 August with an all new show. – Carrots! Arliss

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Dr. James Brusseau on Inequality & Philosophy

20 June 2016 – Both of the main topics this week, inequality through the lens of philosophy and Brexit, ended up stretching me to a new perspective. In both cases I default to the economics and the associated numbers but it turns out this wasn’t the week for that. Dr. James Brusseau is an author, a professor at Pace University and recently hosted a new documentary, the Wealth Inequality Workshop. Most people think about inequality in terms of the political sphere or the economic sphere but James brings a new voice, philosophy, into the conversation and in so doing the realization that the reason so many of us talk past one another on this topic is because we are starting from opposing perspectives on the equality/freedom continuum. Once you listen I suspect you too will be surprised at where you find yourself in the end.

Will and I are both on Brexit this week. I thought I was going to be talking about Brexit economics but following a Twitter conversation with a listener I ended up really thinking about the emotional content that has come to be so closely wrapped into Brexit. I tried to think about it in several different ways, as an MMT wonk, as a pragmatist and as just a feeling being. All of this was made immeasurably more sad by the assassination of Labour MP Jo Cox (photo above). Her loving, generous, brave life was taken by a man acting on a wave of the current of hate which is insidiously sweeping through the Leave side of the referendum. It’s easy to recognize because it is here in the US too, in the campaign of Donald Trump and even, to a lesser degree, in that of Bernie Sanders. As is the first line of the editorial in The Guardian about Jo’s death, “The slide from civilization to barbarism is shorter than we might like to imagine.”

#MoreInCommon – Carrots! Arliss

Just a quick note, I mentioned almost offhandedly the complexities of the relationships that surround the European Union.Wikipedia actually has one of the best breakdowns charted out here. That explains all the ancillary agreements and groups that surround the EU.

Catch you all next time! – Will

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Ariella Barker on PwD Advocacy

13 June 2016 – We always think our interview guest is going to give us a strong interview but there is no way to predict when an interview is going to be breathtaking. Ariella Barker, advocate and activist for persons with disabilities (PwDs) gave us a truly stunning, erudite and heartfelt interview. It is no surprise that this is our longest interview to date. Ariella had a lot to say and all of it was important. I tracked Ariella down after I read her 18 May blog post, “‘Berned’ by Bernie,” which was suddenly all over my Twitter timeline one day. You. Must. Read. This. Blog. Post. There is a reason it went viral. Even more than this post though, I was astonished by the revelatory honesty and genuine humanity of Ariella’s blog as a whole. She goes by “shiksappeal” on WordPress and that is only one of the lovely things about her. I always gravitate to smart people who can laugh at themselves. Ariella is my kind of person. I guarantee you will learn an astonishing amount about the political issues with which the PwD community is grappling. I did. Did you know PwDs are the largest minority community in the United States! Fully 20% of all Americans fall into this group. Twenty. Percent!!! I had no idea and I suspect that most people don’t. Shiksappeal is a natural storyteller and she teaches by sharing her life with us. I, for one, am so grateful.

In my block I am finally turning toward Brexit, the 23 June referendum when the UK will vote to either stay in or exit the European Union. The two campaigns, Leave and Remain, are neck and neck and there is so much more on the line than most people realize. Certainly there is more involved than most in the Leave camp are taking into consideration. One of those things would be the end of peace in Northern Ireland. No joke. I spend my time this week talking about Ireland v Brexit and how both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will be deeply damaged, both economically and culturally, should Leave win the vote. Next week I’ll be on the economics of Brexit.  Basically, both this week and next Will and I are all Brexit all the time. (You had to know it was coming, right?)

I was a busy bunny this week. I was on the 10 June Kagro in the Morning show with the always interesting David Waldman. David had spent time in each of his two previous shows talking about Social Security and I had some additional information which I hope was helpful. I was also fortunate enough to be a guest on the newest episode of Irreverent Testimony. Travis and Rachel are such a joy. Smart, snide, funny and never afraid to say what they are thinking – they give me hope for the future. We talked about the end of the Dem primary, what it means for Rachel and I as women to see this moment in US history, potential VPs and the hot mess that is Trump.

With that I will leave Will to say a few words. Carrots! – Arliss

We had a last minute change to the program because of the attack on the Pulse LGBT Club in Orlando. Arliss and I had a long conversation about that, about grief, and about healing. We talked about giving Orlando space to grieve. Sunday was a very difficult day for a lot of us. – Will

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Reprise: Alexis Goldstein & Dodd-Frank

6 June 2016 – Will and I were unable to record a new episode this week so we are reprising our episode from March which featured Alexis Goldstein of Americans for Financial Reform. Alexis gave us a truly exceptional interview on Dodd-Frank and given that our interview last week was on the foreclosure crisis, with David Dayen, we thought touching back to our conversation with Alexis made sense.

You can go here for our original episode notes.

We will be back next week with an all new Hopping Mad. – Arliss

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David Dayen on “Chain of Title” & Housing Choices

30 May 2016 – I have a house rabbit named David Dayen. That’s how highly I think of our guest this week.  Dayen is a highly respected financial news and economics journalist for a reason. He finds a way to make even the most dry and dense topics understandable while also making it absolutely clear why we should all care. David’s first book, Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud (also on Audible.com  here),  is meticulously researched and a deep dive into the foreclosure crisis. Typical of David he found a unique way into the story through the lens and lives of three regular people who, instead of going quietly into the dark of foreclosure shame, chose to shine a revelatory light. Whatever you know about the foreclosure crisis sprouted, quite directly, from the questions Lisa, Michael and Lynn asked and the shocking answers they unearthed. Heroes are those who run into the fire, into the storm, to bring others to safety. Chain of Title is a gripping, true-to-life rendering of the lives of heroes and the deeds of villains. And, whether you know it or not, what this handful of people discovered changed your life. You can follow all of David’s writing here and I strongly recommend subscribing to his weekly summary e-mail.

I lead into David’s interview with some information about Gresham’s Law, the idea that bad money drives good money out of the market, meaning that Wall Street criminals make it virtually impossible for competitors to continue to abide by the law. I also talk about something that seems obvious, asymmetric information, meaning that the seller knows more than the buyer. One would think that was as plain as the orange on a carrot but three people won the Nobel in economics for describing how asymmetric information influences macroeconomics and, in the case of Wall Street, further influences the criminographic environment.

Will brings up something which so often gets left out of the political mix, housing. He observes that the desires and right to choice of those who are among the most vulnerable in our society, the homeless, must be sine qua non to any array of solutions. Will uses, as an example, a heart rending description of the state of homeless shelters in Washington, DC.

Will and I open the show with what can only be described as a rant. I read an article this week which eloquently encapsulates my feelings regarding the 2016 Democratic primary, Misogyny Rules the 2016 Election by Victoria A. Brownworth. I truly am done with the sexism which is spreading, from the top down, through the Sanders campaign. Bernie’s silence, in some cases, and defense, in others, regarding the violence being committed against women by his campaign makes it clear that it is a leadership-lead issue. Bernie reveals himself with the lack of women (with the glaring exception of his wife) in the upper tier of his campaign as well as his shocking opinion that he believes Hillary to be “unqualified” to be President. (His too little, too late “apology” not withstanding.) Bernie’s personal rage at the world has permeated all facets of his campaign. He and his cult are frightening women…on purpose. Bernie could have been great. Instead he is the leader of a cult that is tilting ever more toward increasing degrees of violence. History will remember him as an old, white man who, while choking on his privilege, turned away from leadership and toward ignominy. Good riddance. – Arliss

First off, I apologize for the lack of music in today’s show. We simply had too much content and not enough time. I had to cut my discussion of Bernie’s e-mails and a section from my block where Arliss and I discussed the Tiny House movement. Across the nation communities have begun using tiny house neighborhoods as part of a menu of solutions for homeless housing. Tiny houses provide homeless folk with a place of their own, an address, a place to sleep protected from the elements, a place to cook their food, and a place to feel safe.

But I also made a promise at the top of the show which I was forced to cut: that I’d provide access to the threats Roberta Lange recieved. For those who want to see just a small selection of the nearly 1000 phonecalls and hundreds of thousands of harassing text messages received by Lange, here’s a dropbox folder released by the Nevada Democrats. 

I’m really frustrated with the situation. I want to talk about what we can do to make the Democratic Party better, more transparent and the process more trustworthy. I want to talk about things like Modern Monetary Theory and work on the housing policy I described in today’s show. But unless the people who step-up to lead chase the dangerous nonsense out of the process we can’t have those conversations. We simply can’t be silent while women are harassed and while people call for their public lynching. If we want to change the conversation we absolutely cannot afford to let it fall into the gutter. We need leadership, not rhetoric. – Will

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@DeRay McKesson For Mayor!

11 April 2016 – Every time I hear DeRay McKesson speak or read an article he has written I am again convinced that we need someone like this running every major city in America. Our interview with the Baltimore Mayoral candidate, civil rights activist and educator reveals him to be a holistic thinker, a realist and a revolutionary all at the same time. If you don’t already, you must follow him on Twitter at @deray. Will has referred to DeRay’s platform on past shows and, if you have not already done so, go and read a plan for an American city that is grounded in what works and the mechanisms for scaling already tested, functional programs.

At the top of the show I talk about the realities of presidential campaign financing which Bernie consistently avoids. I have to admit, I see him differently after his utter failure at the interview in New York and his, frankly, unforgivable (from my perspective) remark about Hillary. I don’t know if he realizes how very differently women heard him. For me, Bernie has crossed a rubicon and we are never, ever, ever getting back together.

I suspect you are thinking I will talk about the Panama Papers and I do…in a way. I spend my time (and Will’s) talking about the mechanisms of tax havens, why they are usually bad but not always and some of the unexpected questions about privacy.

I talk a lot this week but, fear not, I am about to be away for two weeks and Will will be running the show. I know you will all have a spectacular time. I’ll be back in May for our interview with…wait for it…the Chief Economist of the AFL-CIO, William Sprigs!  Later in the month we have the editor of the “Intelligence Report” from the Southern Poverty Law Center, Mark Potok. All of that and root vegetables too. – Carrots! Arliss

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Apologies all, for some reason this Blog entry never posted like it was intended to. New Episode tomorrow.

Will