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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The Monopoly Man!

9 October 2017At 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

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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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Counter-Messaging ISIS, Immigration & Transphobia

23 May 2016 – Middle East expert Landon Shroder (@LandonShroder) has returned to talk to us about the work being done to counter-message ISIS. His new company and foundation, Applied Mathematics, combines the skills of experienced foreign policy experts with the messaging genius of marketing professionals to create authentic, high quality content which will provide a counter-weight against on-line, violent, extremist media.

Will starts off the show with a story about flags. Because they had nothing better to do with their lives, Spanish soccer authorities tried to ban the Catalan flag, the Estelada, from being waved by fans during a championship match.  Will then goes on to talk about the tremendously dangerous environment which now exists for ALL women as a result of the new anti-trans, bathroom laws in North Carolina. Women across the nation have already come under active threat and it’s only going to get worse. Bathroom vigilantes are coming to a bathroom near you.

Transwomen look like women, because they are women. Take these women for example:

Do they look like they belong in the Men’s restroom?

What about her? But it’s not just women that this affects.

Does he look like he ought to be in the Women’s restroom? What about this couple? Which one should use which restroom?

North Carolina thinks they ought to use the same restroom. And honestly, I have no idea which restroom that would be, because the couple here haven’t informed anyone which one of them was assigned the wrong gender at birth.

I begin with the extravaganza that is Eurovision and the politics of the win this year by Jamala of Ukraine. You must, must, must take a moment to take a look at both the Ukrainian and Russian competitors. A…maz…carrots! My main take this week is on the economics of immigration and the enormous upside potential which exists for the US if we can force our way past the politics. This is one of those rare cases when we need business and money to do the talking because progressives, economists and American business are all on the same side.

Next week we have David Dayen for the interview on his new book, Chain of Title. Enjoy these few, final days of Spring. Carrots! –  Arliss

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If you’d like to contact Landon about his work, he can be reached at info@apmathlabs.com.

Interviewee Joe Firestone Gets Us “Extra Mad!”

5 October 2015 – We realized something this week. While we must maintain a tight 58 minute schedule for the version of our show which airs on Netroots Radio (at 8AM Eastern on Mondays) we have no such limitation for the version which posts here. Joe Firestone, who joined us to talk about his new book, “Who Needs Balanced Trade? Who Needs a Balanced Budget?” was so fascinating that we simply had lots more to ask…so we did. The version of the show here on the site adds an additional 25 minutes of the interview with Joe and you must listen because Joe really had time to dive down and give us some detailed answers to our questions. While we could have called the extended version either, “Extended” or “Directors Cut” we took the path less travelled and went with, “Extra Mad!” because why not have a little fun with it, right?

The show starts off with a few minutes on the crazy things happening in Indiana Congressional District 6 / Indiana House District 68. Basically, Jud McMillan needs to keep his pants on and stay off his cell phone. In the A Block Will goes into the background of the modern Catalan independence movement, something which will be more present in the news in the relatively near future. I get my paws dirty digging into the scandals at the Vatican Bank and the impressive work Pope Frances has done to get that long-corrupt institution forcibly dragged out from the shadows and into the light. Then we get to the exciting part, the interview with Joe Firestone.

Book Cover, "Who Needs Balanced Trade? Who Needs a Balanced Budget?"

I make a real effort to read everything Joe Firestone writes and that takes some doing because he is such a prodigious writer and touches upon so many topics. Still, Joe doesn’t fool around. If he has taken the time to write on it, it’s important. Joe, like me, is generally focused on the applications of modern monetary theory to the real world and recently he has been doing truly deep and detailed dives on pending trade treaties which are currently in negotiation. His newest book, published on 28 September, is his latest on the subject and is absolutely excellent. Even Will, who unlike me doesn’t usually spend all his spare moments reading about economics, could not get his nose out of Joe’s book once he started reading. He kept saying to me, “Wow! This is really good!” And so was our interview with Joe. We think you will love it too which is why you are getting “Hopping Mad” with a side of “Extra Mad!” this week. Carrots! – Arliss