Economic Issues

A Comfortable Betrayal

It would be a shocking scandal if it came to light that the professions of medical science had, for decades, known about an easy to treat, underlying cause of cancer—but conspired to obfuscate and suppress the information to protect their participation in a medical industry raking in hundreds of billions a year to treat the disease. Professional standings, tenures, licenses would be in tatters. Lawsuits would abound. Outrage would march on every city hospital and medical college in the nation—would it not?

Such a betrayal is not humanly possible, right? Yet is it not the case that the professions of economics, journalism and politics are guilty of something very like this kind of betrayal? Doesn’t it strike you as odd that, for more than five decades now, the U.S. government has been issuing and spending trillions of dollars of U.S. FIAT currency, and not once has a mainstream economist, journalist, or political leader found it worthy of consideration to even try to explain—from the perspective of what economic policy is all about—what a sovereign fiat currency actually is, and how it functions? While American democracy labors under the false belief its government is broke, deeply in debt, and cannot afford to pay for a humane and effective safety net for those who the corporate economy cannot profitably employ—while tens of millions of American citizens, in other words, struggle to get enough food to eat, desperately search for affordable housing, agonize over how to obtain essential health-care, and scramble to pay for the care and education of their children. Furthermore, while the nation’s infrastructures crumble and fall into obsolescence, while we struggle to rebuild after the catastrophic storms and wild-fires of climate change, while we fail to clean up the pollution that threatens our drinking water, our breathable air, our food supplies and fisheries—while all this great struggle debilitates the American prospect like a cancer, the professions of economics, journalism, and politics obfuscate and suppress the underlying possibility of an actual cure: The understanding of what sovereign fiat-currency is and how we can use it.

There are, of course, cogent voices in the wilderness: the UMKC economists (Stephanie Kelton, Randy Wray, Pavlina Tcherneva etc.) now scattered to Stonybrook, Bard College and the Levy Economics Institute; also there’s Bill Mitchell expounding reason from the Australian hinterland; there’s Warren Mosler who, apparently, was the first human being to discover the world is using fiat money; there’s the continuous twitter conversations trying to come to grips with our malaise as to why an apparent cure is being suppressed and withheld. But the mainstream voices guiding American democracy refuse to listen, refuse to even acknowledge, or discuss, the topic itself: U.S. Sovereign Fiat Money. What is it? How is it created? How do American citizens and businesses get their hands on it? Why does sovereign fiat money make it possible for us to collectively undertake and accomplish things we otherwise believe are not “affordable”?

No. The mainstream voices do not want this topic, these words, these questions on their tongues. For them, “money” is something that simply exists, and the only question is who should get to have it to spend. The government—to pursue collective goals? Corporate entrepreneurs—to generate profits? The single mom who can’t find full-time employment—to feed, house and get health-care for her family? The mainstream voices—the economists and journalists and political leaders—thrive on this question of how to divvy up the pot of “money” that America, by some inexplicable process, has been allocated to have. Staking out positions in this allocation argument is their career and sustenance. To take their argument away (by suggesting the pot of “money” is, in fact, expandable—as needed—by the direct sovereign spending of fiat-currency) threatens to leave them marginalized and irrelevant; even worse: possibly unemployed?

There are people in the mainstream voices, I’m sure, who genuinely don’t have a clue. There are many others, however, who understand all this very well—but who refuse to risk the comfortable and lucrative positions they’ve staked out in the false debate of the mainstream narrative. While these economic, journalistic, and political leaders bask in the celebrity-comfort—and pay-scale—of their argumentative positions, America’s precious democracy struggles with what it is told is its abject poverty, indebtedness, and helplessness. The magnitude of this betrayal, when you consider its consequences, is staggering.

I won’t be naming names here. But I think we should start calling them out.

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