Reposted from Daily Kos 30 July 2014 – go there to see the excellent discussion thread
Having just returned from NN14 I have confirmed something I always knew down deep in my heart. If you want to watch the life go out of the eyes of all but a handful of very wonky progressives you say two simple words, “monetary policy”. I would be standing in a clump of progressive activists and someone would ask, “So, what do you do?” I would respond, “I write on monetary policy.” People would step away. Getting another cookie in the Netroots lounge would suddenly become an urgent priority. As they were fading into the sunset I would say, “but I try to be accessible and funny!” No matter. They were long gone.
There you have it, the problem in a nutshell. Changing the understanding of monetary policy could do more to make the progressive social and environmental agenda possible than anything else but it remains the ugly stepchild. Maybe it is because we, as liberals, are so immersed in the philosophy that money isn’t what is important in our lives. Maybe it is that we think it will be too hard to understand (it’s not) or impossible to change (it’s not). Regardless, we have never developed a vocabulary for talking about it and we generally don’t have the underpinnings of a foundation to understand it. Until we get there we will be stuck allowing the ultra-conservative right and big business define the economy in ways that best suit them no matter how destructive and inaccurate.
Of course the thing about change is that it takes work and effort. Here are the small things I am doing as a start and if any of you are also working in this area I would love to connect to you if I have not already done so.
First of all, I am working on a series of books that are short, accessible, possibly funny, and illustrated covering both the most basic elements of monetary policy and how our government spends money. [I am not covering what we spend money on (fiscal policy) as that is its own huge litterbox of a mess. I am covering the process of spending so that we can each best figure out where we can generate pressure.] My first short e-book can be found on Amazon, “The Smart Bunny’s Guide to Debt, Deficit and Austerity.” The second, “The Smart Bunny’s Guide to Government Spending” will be out near the end of September followed closely by the page-turner, “The Smart Bunny’s Guide to the Federal Reserve”. After those I will take a break and then move on to banking reform and then the IMF and the World Bank (because who wouldn’t want to spend their late nights researching the IMF?)
In the meantime I will be joining Justice Putnam on Netroots Radio “The After Show” every Thursday starting at 11:30AM EDT this Thursday, 31 July. I’ll take about fifteen minutes to cover one bite-sized morsel of information so that those who follow “The After Show” will develop a vocabulary and understanding over time. [In case you don’t know, “The After Show” streams live on Netroots Radio and is also available in podcast on Stitcher and iTunes.]
In case you are both interested in monetary policy and ready to wade in, I recommend the amazing website: New Economic Perspectives. It is run by the incredible Dr. Stephanie Kelton, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Research Scholar at The Levy Economics Institute and Director of Graduate Student Research at the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability. [Take a second to imagine her business card.] For those of you who met Dr. Kelton at NN14 you know she is on fire on this subject and her ability to describe the real world of monetary policy to the uninitiated is surpassed by no one.
Anyway, we all do what we can. Stephanie and her associates do what they can, I do what I can. Together, we can do more.