On April 28, 2010, The Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In Counter-Conference was held at The Marvin Center of The George Washington University In Washington, DC. The Conference was first proposed in a post I blogged on April 7th at a number of sites including this one. A group of bloggers responded and collectively, using primarily the Correntewire.com and fiscalsustainability.org sites, we built a team that, with the support of our fine speakers, Professors Bill Mitchell, Stephanie Kelton, Pavlina Tcherneva, and L. Randall Wray, and international financial consultants Warren Mosler and Marshall Auerback, and fund raising through Howie Klein, the whole Blue America team, and many small contributors successfully organized the Conference in a little more than three weeks time, so that we could hold it on the same day as the extremely well-funded, Peterson Foundation-supported Fiscal Summit, which delivered the deficit hawk narrative on fiscal sustainability and fiscal responsibility. The purpose of our Conference was to provide an explicit counter-narrative to the Fiscal Summit “story” of long-term deficit problems that the United States must act to counter; and also to the narrative of the National Commission On Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (the “Catfood Commission”) which had held one of its early meetings the day before.
Audios and presentations of the Conference were posted quickly and were made available by selise within a few days of the Conference at her web site. The video and transcript work has taken a much longer period of time to complete, but thanks to a team wishing to remain anonymous, who developed the initial version of the transcript, and selise, who pulled the materials together and never gave up on the video work, have now been made available on a Creative Commons, non-commercial, share-alike basis here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
These videos and transcripts and the earlier Teach-In materials are enormously important because they provide the best counter-narrative to the austerity views of the Peterson Foundation, the President’s Catfood Commission, the views of deficit hawks, in general, and even the views of deficit doves such as Christine Romer and Paul Krugman. The counter-narrative shows that the economic policies of austerity favored by the hawks are an unmitigated disaster, providing for a race to the bottom among nations. And even the counter-cyclical stimulus/austerity policies favored by the doves, which only periodically result in avoidable recessions are both damaging to people, and the economy in general. Only the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) -based policies of the deficit owls can be counted on to guide the macro-economic policies of the Federal Government, and other nations with fiat money systems who are sovereign in their own currency.
In the face of the release of the Co-Chairs’ Proposal of Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, and as we approach the time when, reportedly, the Catfood Commission will deliver its recommendations to the Lame Duck Congress, and when Congressional leaders may allow these recommendations to be voted up or down and perhaps passed, in part, through the support of many already defeated and no longer accountable Representatives and Senators, the importance of this counter-narrative becomes even greater, since it denies both the necessity and the desirability of any austerity measures that may be coming out of the Commission, and also the idea that a deficit, debt, or fiscal crisis even exists. And also because it points to a different way forward that would provide for a brighter future for both America and the world.
I urge everyone to spend some time looking at these materials and reading the transcripts. They are worth 10 Peterson Conferences and all the austerity spin you’ve seen come out of the Administration, and the punditry. They reveal that when it comes to economics, the President, his advisors, and the myriad MSM and cable talking heads who have uncritically jumped on the austerity bandwagon, because they’re attracted by the narrative of “shared sacrifice” for everyone but themselves, truly have no idea which end is up, and that their intention to subject us all to the dictates of fact-free austerity ideology is a disastrous choice for our country, destined to make many of us much poorer, deny opportunity and decent lives to our children and grandchildren, and further the increasingly rapid march of the United States away from democracy and open society and towards plutocracy and tyranny.