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The Failure of Mainstream Media

The way in which the mainstream media (MSM) chooses to report and discuss the economy, i.e. in conventional neo-liberal terms, reinforces the notion that the economy is some sort of God who must be served and obeyed by the people in one particular way to the exclusion of any other. This is a false concept wrapped in metaphorical jargon that has not only poisoned our minds but, in the process, allowed us to become enslaved to its will.

The way the media frames its articles and the language it uses to present them, crowds out any alternative discussion and prevents alternative concepts being presented. As a result, the present government’s ideological agenda of austerity and surplus driven macroeconomics becomes something akin to the Ten Commandments, which we must obey and accept. This too, is a false concept.

It is time for a more progressive view to be aired, discussed and debated.

The progressive vision of an economy is the reverse of the existing one, where it serves the people, advancing public purpose, whatever that might be. It is a vision where, within the constraints of a healthy environment, we live in harmony with the planet, where equality is the principle commandment, where we control everything about it and we use it to advance our quality of life, without destroying the planet and without leaving anybody behind.

The barrier that is preventing this progressive view from being debated is in the language used to explain it. We are trained in our early language to think of the word ‘deficit’ as bad. It equates with concepts of debt, of owing, of a burden, of having to restore a shortfall, etc. It isn’t helped at all by comparing a nation’s economy to household budgeting.

We haven’t been able to link the word, ‘deficit’ with something good, with employment, with growth, because the mainstream media won’t indulge it. They are seduced by convention, afraid to think outside the square.

To this end, the MSM have allowed the present government’s failed ideology to prevail. Where it fails is in thinking that a surplus is a goal rather than a tool. Surpluses and deficits should be determined by what we, as a nation, want and should be used to suit the circumstances at the time. Surpluses and deficits are not an end in themselves, they are tools used to achieve an outcome.

What we want right now is full employment or as close to full employment as we can come. In our present circumstances, that will not be achieved by trying to bring the budget into surplus. The media’s so-called economic experts should be framing their articles to reflect this. At the moment they are seduced by the metaphorical language that undermines any hope of full employment.

Using the current issue of welfare, the one the media love to milk, where they grasp at any suggestion of waste and abuse, of lazy people not trying to find work, of the sick bludging on the system, we can demonstrate an economic imperative they never highlight.

What they never explain and what the present government doesn’t realise is that when tax revenues fall, welfare payments increase. One works inversely with the other. These are the automatic stabilisers where the common denominator is the workforce participation rate and by association, the GDP growth rate.

These stabilisers restrict the range of the business cycle by expanding and contracting depending on the level of fiscal policy. When unemployment rises so do welfare payments. If, for example, Scott Morrison thinks he can reduce welfare payments while tax revenues are in decline he is effectively trying to reverse a natural outcome. It is a bit like trying to go forward when the car is in reverse gear.

So, if his approach to welfare payments is similar to his approach to stopping the boats, i.e. having no time for the personal impact on his decisions, just the outcome relative to the government’s policy position, he will discover that just like stopping the boats, reigning in welfare spending is a dirty science. Outcomes will vary in ways he and the government cannot foresee.

Thinking that having a business friendly conservative government will automatically generate business confidence is foolhardy at best, also lazy and already proving to be a false expectation. Only full or near full employment will generate demand of the kind that will lift us out of stagnation. The unemployed cannot find jobs if the jobs are not there. At the last count, there were approximately 770,000 unemployed and less than 150,000 jobs advertised.

As long as governments, like our present one, push supply side economics (if you make it, buyers will come), instead of demand side economics (making what buyers need and want), unemployment will continue to rise. The private sector will not manufacture or produce goods without a known ready market.

The media has failed dismally in explaining this to its readers. It has failed the people it is there to serve. It peddles a false and misleading language that serves an exclusive minority, the super-rich. Little wonder circulation has plummeted.

The task of explaining alternative, progressive economics has fallen to the blogosphere and social media sites where much of the lost readership of the MSM has found a new home, found what it wants to read and the language it prefers.

Is it a forlorn hope that 2015 will see a breakthrough in progressive economic theory? We will certainly try.


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  1. Kerri

    Good article John. Again simple common sense understanding of economics that is way too hard for eleventy Joe to comprehend. He merely want s to punish all those lazy welfare bludgers for not doing what he should be providing. Also I think it is important for the populace to see taxes correctly. They are not a punishment doled out by a Government to prop up lazy welfare bludgers and immigrants. Taxes should be regarded as an investment or a downpayment on a business or trade to carry out some business that benefits you in return. Went to Chile about 4 years ago and our tour guide explained that the. Chileaens pay no tax! Every year they make a loan to their Government who use the money for public works. Sounded simple. We asked if anyone avoided paying the loan which was voluntary. He laughed. Of course not! You always get a dividend at Christmas. No one is silly enough to not make the loan. Funds are raised through toll roads and other forms of user pays taxation so a profit is usually made. I am happy to accept more detailed explainations of how this actually works but my point is they have a good attitude to tax seeing it as a win win situation that benefits them directly.

  2. DanDark

    John K spot on, the mainstream “meeja” is dying a death of a thousand cuts
    They all need a therapy session or two they have all lost the plot
    Piers Akerman needs the padded cell, Bolt needs a jail cell
    and Tones and Co well we all know they are headed to the big cell in the sky called….. Hell……

    “Saul Eslake, chief economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said that to call the Australian debt situation a crisis was “to abuse the English language.”

  3. Sir ScotchMistery

    How then I suppose does one convince the “lifters” the Gina’s, Twiggies and the BHP’s as well as the Googles of the world that if they are going to rape a country, they should pay their fair share of the tax burden, when the tax office are running after folks for $3,500 instead of those who should be paying millions?

    At the end of the day, they want to own the country, particularly Murdork, who drives our thoughts and processes at a government level, and Jones who has a population of bogans enslaved to his words, as found by the NSW court of appeals this last few days?

  4. Harquebus

    We have reached the limits to growth and are now entering a period of diminishing energy returns. Peak oil mates, peak oil.
    Journalists and politicians do not understand the exponential function and do not realize the consequences nor the magnitude of destruction that compound growth produces.
    Population control is the only viable solution. Economic solutions will only make things worse.

    Here’s the problem:
    Increase energy production, grow populations, grow the economy, build massive amounts of energy guzzling infrastructure and pay off debt all while trying to reduce greenhouse gasses and the budget deficit. Ha!

    My solution:
    1: Forget economics. It is “fatally” flawed. It has polluted the planet, poisoned us all, does not factor physics nor the environment and is what has got us into this mess in the first place.
    2: Implement national and encourage international population reduction strategies. One way or another, nature will drag us back to sustainable levels and it won’t be pretty.
    3: Properly manage our finite resources which, are currently being pillaged.
    4: Reduce consumption using quotas and not with unfair taxation. We can not shop our way to sustainability.
    5: Plant lots and lots of trees. Massive scale reforestation will help the climate, rainfall and be a valuable renewable resource for future generations.

  5. Lee

    @Harquebus – What do you have in mind for reducing consumption? How does this help to create jobs?

  6. Peter F

    Harquebus: “One way or another, nature will drag us back to sustainable levels and it won’t be pretty.” You are correct. The indigenous population were living at a sustainable level in this country before western ‘civilisation’ arrived. If we want to see what the future holds, take a look at what this country supported before 1788. Eventually, after we have destroyed the means to sustain our way of life, the earth will give a big shrug of its shoulders and say ‘ An interesting experiment. Here is a link to a series of lectures which point out the folly of continued ‘growth’.

  7. Harquebus

    Here is the original and predates your link. I have watched it many times.

    Dr. Bartlett is one of my heroes.
    I have been informed but, can not find corroboration that, without fossil fuels, Australia’s sustainable population is about 8 million which, I think is also the estimated indigenous population at the time of white settlement.

  8. Harquebus

    How else do you propose saving our world? Too many people and not enough jobs so, we can create more jobs, depleting ever more resources and causing ever more pollution as we go or we can reduce the number of people.
    The choice is obvious to me.

  9. Lee

    @Harquebus – You haven’t answered my questions. In addition to the above, do you have any children? If not, do you plan on having any?

  10. Harquebus

    Unemployment is the cheapest option. No jobs on a dead planet and no children either.
    Methane is starting to bubble from the Arctic. If it accelerates, we are going to die so, just how important are those jobs?

  11. Peter F

    @Lee : In the end there will not be any jobs: the question is ‘How long do we have?’

  12. Lee

    Ok, you two are a couple of trolls with nothing of value to share. Ignoring now.

  13. Harquebus

    Not trolling and I do not see anything of value in your posts either. You don’t see the problem. Neither do journalists nor politicians. That is why we are in it.
    How do we wake these imbecile journalists and politicians? Hopefully, by convincing people like you which, so far, has been very frustrating. What’s your solution then? Our situation is serious.

  14. dee

    @ Lee, Harquebus and Peter are trying to expose an unpleasant but true reality. That doesn’t make them trolls.

  15. John Fraser


    "Harquebus" is stuck in the world when Australia was first populated by Anglo saxons.

    " Australia’s sustainable population is about 8 million which, I think is also the estimated indigenous population at the time of white settlement."

    Sustainability and science go hand in hand.

  16. Rossleigh

    “Malthusianism is a school of ideas derived from the political/economic thought of the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, as laid out in his 1798 writings, An Essay on the Principle of Population, which describes how unchecked population growth is exponential while the growth of the food supply was expected to be arithmetical. Malthus believed there were two types of “checks” that could then reduce the population, returning it to a more sustainable level. He believed there were “preventive checks” such as moral restraints (abstinence, delayed marriage until finances become balanced), and restricting marriage against persons suffering poverty and/or defects. Malthus believed in “positive checks”, which lead to ‘premature’ death: disease, starvation, war, resulting in what is called a Malthusian catastrophe. The catastrophe would return population to a lower, more “sustainable”, level.[1][2] The term has been applied in different ways over the last two hundred years, and has been linked to a variety of other political and social movements, but almost always refers to advocates of population control.[3]”
    From Wikipedia.

  17. Lee

    “@ Lee, Harquebus and Peter are trying to expose an unpleasant but true reality. That doesn’t make them trolls.”


    Is that so? I asked some perfectly reasonable questions because I want to understand where this person is coming from and what he/she means, and he/she refuses to answer. What reality does that expose exactly? How does Harquebus hope to convince “people like me” if he/she is vague and refuses to answer questions?

  18. rossleighbrisbane

    The actual estimates on the indigenous population at the time of white settlement was about 800,000, not 8 million.

  19. stephentardrew

    A bit long however Hans Rosling is the seminal expert on population growth and health stats. It really is worth viewing and is much more positive than most people assume. He confronts the doom sayers front on and though there will be problems they are not insurmountable.

  20. Pingback: The Failure of Mainstream Media. | THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN

  21. Harquebus

    My original post contains this. “Reduce consumption using quotas”
    As for jobs, don’t create them. Reduce populations instead. Our environment will thank us.

  22. Lee

    @ Harquebus

    Thank you. I am literate and it’s just as vague the second time around as it was originally, unless you’re referring to reducing consumption of oxygen.

    How do you intend to do your bit for population reduction?

  23. Harquebus

    Reducing consumption with quotas. Each gets a share. Electricity, fuel, food, etc. Carbon taxes, GST etc. are unfair. Should the wealthy be allowed to splurge while the poor pay the price?
    My choice would be one child policy although, there are other options. I do not have children, that is “my bit”.

    Until the advent of sanitation and modern medicine a woman could, on average, expect to have two children survive. Modern agriculture, the process of turning fossil fuels into food, has fed the exponentially increasing number of survivors. It is the depletion of crude oil that will starve our world back to sustainable numbers if, war doesn’t do it first. I hope to avoid this by convincing others to reduce our numbers before it is forced upon us. As I said, it won’t be pretty.

    I regularly email politicians and journalists from all over and am failing to convince them, as I am failing to convince you, that our situation is deadly serious. Please keep asking questions.

  24. Lee


    So do you think that people are incapable of voluntarily adopting new strategies, such as the implementation of renewable energy sources, before the depletion of fossil fuels “forces” us to reduce our population?

    We have successfully used science to resolve our problems in the past. Could we not do so again?

    Do you view your quota system as force-free?

    I commend you for your contribution to population reduction.

  25. John Fraser


    Funny how 400 years ago the "New World" was discovered.

    And funny how humans are still going forward with new "world" discoveries every day.

    I suppose if humans decide to stop exploring then they may have to check population growth.

    Perhaps "Harquebus" could explain how humans will lose the desire to explore.

  26. Harquebus

    Some will not be happy but, that is better than frying to death which, is where we are headed.
    I recommend viewing these. You will have a much better understanding of what I am trying to say if you do.

    If we keep growing populations, this will be the result.
    The late great Dr Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy

    If we don’t stop greenhouse pollution, this will be the result.

    Renewable energy generators do not return the “total” energy require to manufacture them. They are a waste of precious fossil fuel energy. Those that say they can are not factoring far and wide enough up the supply chains. Items to include in the energy are, infrastructure, sustaining and protecting a workforce and education etc. before we even get to the factories, transport of everything, processing raw materials, manufacturing consumables etc. Renewable energy will not power trucks nor airplanes.

    As I keep saying, population reduction is the only viable solution.

  27. Lee

    “As I keep saying, population reduction is the only viable solution.”

    @ Harquebus

    I once read somewhere that two children in the United States consume the same amount of resources as twenty children in sub-Saharan Africa. Do you envisage applying population control equally across the globe?

  28. John Kelly

    Getting back on message, the following post came from Ken Hemmes on Facebook:

    The whole surplus idea is a joke. The government can print as much money as it likes. Yes there are dangers like inflation and devaluation of the dollar. But this is offset by investment in infrastructure and value adding, fiscal multipliers. i.e. education, Health, transport efficiencies like public transport etc. Welfare? Yes welfare helps the economy stay afloat. It is not a burden. You can improve things like NDIS. Help people to become productive. The govt, IPA and dome wealth right wingers don’t want people to understand that the budget emergengy is s farce. Because they are part of a very small minority that belive they will benefit from moving all wealth into thier hands. Only problem is that a currency is only worth as much as the GDP of a country. So, if like a third world country, all the wealth is in the hands of a few it is not worth very much. It needs to be circulated.

  29. John Kelly

    This post came from Jason Blake on Facebook.

    It comes down to consumer confidence and business confidence. No one is buying, so business reduces production and removes excess workers. Who then enter the unemployed, which drives down consumer spending more, which reduces business production, which rids itself of excess workers – and so on and so on……..
    When we have full employment using the excess unemployed to build vital infrastructure and help in an efficient economy – people have money to spend, private sector requests employees, which increases production and with the new infrastructure savings are made by business and productivity increase – increasing GDP, increasing government revenue—–

    Although this doesn’t account for tax rorting and monopoly of industries, as well as off-shore outsourcing.

  30. John Kelly

    This post came from Joanlin Taylor on Facebook:

    Why does it take so long for the idiots in power to understand a simple mathematical act? Be employed, equals paying tax, and off benefits. Closing jobs down, equals on benefits and being labelled “Leaners”. Employment means the money goes round, and we all benefit. Wow, how complicated is that?

  31. John Kelly

    This post from Aaron Reynolds on Facebook….

    We need to create an awful lot of jobs and skill an awful lot of people if we are to achieve our full employment goal. Neither of these conditions will be met in a climate of economic austerity.

  32. Erotic Moustache


    You don’t think this is a bit pie in the sky? You think the mainstream media (whatever the hell that even is) ought adopt your new play thing – MMT? You think they should be extolling its virtues as though its natural superiority to conventional economic “wisdom” is something established by – well, by whom, really? MMT is an economic theory in the midst of 12,886,996 other competing economic theories. You would have to establish that it is accepted by the mainstream economic community (i.e. by a global governmental acceptance of fiat economies working together in that principle) before arguing that the media ought be talking about it – let alone pushing it, which seems to be the thrust of your piece. Can you establish that acceptance?

    The proponents of MMT need to get the ideas established properly in the global economic discourse before you ask any media outlet to give a crap about it. Are you saying that step has been taken? If so, cool. But I’d like to see it.

  33. CMMC

    Back to Murdochistan, I am waiting for the whispering campaign ‘Shorten hasn’t got the ticker’ to begin.

    That is all the Murdoch dynamic is composed of, snitching lower-middle class stickybeak gossip.

  34. Lee

    “You don’t think this is a bit pie in the sky? ”

    @EM – Studies have already demonstrated that everyone benefits when the gap between rich and poor is narrowed. Several books have been written on this topic. Just check out Amazon for some of them!

    This link has been posted on this site a few times in the last few weeks.

    Trickle down economics – the evidence is damning

    “The OECD released a working paper yesterday (December 9, 2014) – Trends in Income Inequality and its Impact on Economic Growth – by Federico Cingano. It provides evidence that destroys the basic tenets of neo-liberal economics and supports a wider social and economic involvement of government in the provision of public services and infrastructure, particularly to low income groups. The fiscal implication is that deficits need to be higher.”

    The link to the paper is provided in that passage.

  35. Matters Not

    Can never understand why, when it comes to talk of government ‘debt’, the debate, in accounting terms, is limited to the concept of ‘cash accounting’. Simply put, cash accounting is concerned with the concepts of ‘income’ and ‘expenditure’ and little else. ‘Debt’ results when income does not equal expenditure. The comparison often employed is a mythical ‘household’. QED.

    Except of course, it’s not. For decades, I had to budget to ensure that my ‘income’ was able to meet my ‘expenditure’ obligations, and here’s the rub, such obligations included paying for ‘asset accumulation’, including an allocation to pay for a residence, investment properties (in later years), superannuation and the like.

    ‘Cash accounting’ is very much a simplistic way of understanding the world. Most households, generally speaking, don’t use it and more importantly Government Departments and businesses (apart from vey small ones) don’t use it as well.

    Instead they employ the concept of ‘accrual accounting’, which takes into account that government ‘income’ (among other things) creates usable and (‘saleable’) assets as well as being used for recurrent ‘expenditure’. (And for those who don’t believe that governments have ‘saleable’ assets, look at the sale of Telstra, Medibank, Airports and the like.)

    All Federal and State Governments work on the basis of ‘accrual accounting’ that takes into account that, while building a port, road, rail or whatever is an expenditure, it also creates an ‘asset’.

    I should add, that ‘accrual accounting’ has its limitations. And big ones at that. For example, it doesn’t include investments in ‘social capital’, ‘education’ and the like. But it at least it lifts the debate above the simplistic ‘cash accounting’ view of the world.

  36. Wun Farlung

    MSM hasn’t failed they were instructed to get rid of Julia Gillard/Labor led Government as they weren’t going to toe the King Rupert et al line.
    Job Done…
    I am still unable to understand why Kevin Rudd was anointed and what he’d agreed to do after going to ‘have lunch’ with Murdoch in New York.
    Did he use Abbott’s tell ’em what they want to hear method?

  37. Erotic Moustache


    Bill Mitchell is pretty cool, but I don’t see how that speaks to what I asked of John.

  38. Lee

    EM, perhaps you can start by defining ‘conventional economic wisdom’.

  39. Lee

    MMT is not a new idea. It worked very well for us for over 3 decades, during which time we saw full employment, an economic boom and the establshment of infrastructure that made Australia one of the best places in the world in which to live. That was back in the days when politicians saw their role as serving all of the people instead of kissing the arses of a few powerful, wealthy, greedy people and abusing their positions by passing laws that benefited themselves and their powerful friends.

  40. Matters Not

    MMT is not a new idea.

    Yes and no. Advocates claim it’s simply a new way of ‘understanding’ or, as I prefer, a new way of ‘giving meaning’, to what is actually happening in regard to ‘fiat currencies’ and how they operate. Or perhaps how they might operate, given political will. Such a perspective has merit in my view.

    As I understand MMT, it has its roots in ‘Chartalism’ which dates from the early 1900s.

  41. John Kelly

    Erotic Moustache, MMT is no more pie in the sky than landing a man on the moon, although when President Kennedy announced that to the world in 1961 there were many who were sceptical. Do I expect the mainstream media to pick it up and run with it? I certainly do. In fact it staggers me that they haven’t done so already. The LNP will never adopt it, not ever. But Labor could be persuaded if they had the backing of the media and the business community. That would take some doing but so did landing a man on the moon. It does not require the rest of the world to agree. It could start with any currency issuing nation with a solid GDP. There is no impediment save the will to make it work. No global economic discourse is necessary. However, the media is necessary and because the neo liberal opposition will be fierce, their support is critical. The MMT community’s implementation plans are already well established. All it requires now is the political will and for that the media is essential. So what else do you have?

  42. Lee

    It speaks volumes about the quality of much of journalism these days that the MSM isn’t picking up MMT and running with it. MSM is serving some very powerful masters and doing so is far more important than revealing the truth. Australia started to go downhill when politicians decided that they had to follow American capitalists. That concept of following every dumb idea that Americans have started decades ago. We’re extremely slow learners! Today, thanks to capitalism, unemployment is 30% in some EU nations, while youth unemployment is now 60% in those same places. That’s a higher rate of unemployment than we experienced in the Great Depression. A staggering 80% of Americans are now living in poverty or very close to it. Capitalism is an abject failure for most of us.

  43. Erotic Moustache


    I didn’t say or suggest MMT was pie in the sky. I was obviously responding to your belief that the MSM (whatever the hell that is – please define it) should be advocating it. It’s not the job of the media to push social/economic theories. Sell it to the Labor Party then we can talk about what the MSM ought be doing.

    The media ought report the news, not create it. Rule of thumb.

  44. Lee

    “The media ought report the news, not create it. Rule of thumb.”

    Yes! So let them stop creating it and start reporting it in an unbiased manner. They don’t need to push social and economic theories. All they need to do is report the truth. They are feeding lies to the public and many of the public are forming opinions and voting for the rulers of our nation based on those lies that are promoted by the MSM.

  45. John Fraser


    I think "Miniscule erotic moustache" meant "charlatan" …….. which he indubitably is.

  46. Erotic Moustache


    How are you defining and what parameters are you using for “MSM”?

  47. John Fraser


    Now "Mem" that really is a "charlatan" type of comment.

    Lets hope you "pick up" your game.

  48. Lee

    Mainstream media (MSM) are those media disseminated via the largest distribution channels, which therefore represent what the majority of media consumers are likely to encounter.

    When is EM going to define ‘conventional economic wisdom’?

  49. Matters Not

    MMT is no more pie in the sky than landing a man on the moon

    I suspect it is. Landing a ‘man on the moon’ happened because a whole bunch of scientists had beliefs (theories) it could be done and proved same by actually doing just that. Much of that ‘theory’ was rooted in the ‘truth’ of mathematics and logic. Or at another level, if you like, ‘the proof of the pudding was in the outcome’.

    Not so with Modern Monetary Theory. While one shouldn’t hold MMT to the standards of truth as in the case of mathematics or logic or indeed the standards of ‘probability’ or ‘degrees of confidence’ applicable in the ‘hard’ sciences of Physics, Chemistry and the like, one shouldn’t expect that Modern Monetary Theory will be accepted until it has proven ‘useful’ after it has been applied in reforming a real economy.

    Or perhaps there any examples, I may have missed?

  50. Erotic Moustache


    Mainstream media (MSM) are those media disseminated via the largest distribution channels, which therefore represent what the majority of media consumers are likely to encounter.

    Ok, then I’m not sure general statements can be made about it as John did in this article. The economic coverage and analysis between News Corp and Fairfax and places like – well, everywhere Kaye Lee uses for her articles – are world’s apart, in truth. They might not be what John wants but he hasn’t made any case for that, in reality.

    Conventional economic wisdom is anything residually based on a gold standard concept. Or, that was was my meaning, which I probably should have expressed. My bad.

  51. John Fraser



  52. Lee

    The gold standard ceased to exist in 1971.

    “Let me just restate for emphasis: the need for balanced federal budgets is a myth. Like many myths, it does have some factual historical origins. Back when currencies were backed by gold it was possible for governments to go broke. Because modern currencies are not backed by anything material, sovereign governments cannot run out of money and can never be insolvent in their own currency. Somehow, mainstream political thinking hasn’t kept up with the dramatic changes in the monetary system that occurred more than 40 years ago.

    The first of our politicians to really understand this and to communicate it effectively to the public will have at their disposal the tools to completely reshape our economy for the better. I know politicians can be slow off the mark but 40 years is long enough. It’s time they caught up.”

    “Some of the highest employment rates in the advanced world are in places with the highest taxes and most generous welfare systems, namely Scandinavian countries. The United States and many other nations with relatively low taxes and a smaller social safety net actually have substantially lower rates of employment.”

  53. stephentardrew

    Erotic Moustache philosophy is not your strong point is it?

    Demonstrate the causal connection between your arguments and facts that are not relative to you and your conditioned expectations bound by personal prejudice and historical conditioning. Stop trying to make out that opinion is proof for it is surely not truth. Do you know the difference between opinion, evidence, proof and truth and if not you should find out. You continually deflect from the empirical evidence by backward referring to past conditions that do not obtain today. The causal chain is broken when you place opinion over evidence and dogma over critical thinking based in logic, evidence and reason. It is the case that not anything goes when facts conflict with opinion.

    Your opinions do not have precedence over facts nor are they empirically demonstrable proofs. Point is there is no truth.

  54. Lee

    John Kelly, do I remember correctly that you are a retired journalist?

  55. Lee

    This link is to a working paper, dated November 2013, entitled ‘Modern Money Theory 101: A reply to critics” by Eric Tymoigne and L. Randall Wray.

  56. Erotic Moustache

    The Gold Standard ceased to exist in 1971. When did the economic concepts that go with it cease to exist in the electorate’s psyche? People understand fiat economy on the level of Pauline Hanson saying we can just print money, or do you think she was right to say that?

    I’m making a political point, not an economic one.

  57. Lee

    @EM – I don’t think News Corps and Fairfax are worlds apart. I used to regularly read the SMH and The Age at one time but in recent years they’ve been drifting to the right. Gina Rinehart is now their largest shareholder. I don’t think that is any coincidence.

    Many times I’ve posted comments to opinion pieces on various News Corps websites that were obviously biased in favour of the Liberal Party. I’ve been polite, factual and presented an alternative view but my comments are seldom posted. I know several other leftie friends and colleagues who have experienced the same when they have tried to present a more balanced view.

    Take a look at the news today. MSM is running with a very inflammatory piece about Gary Johns wanting welfare recipients to use contraception. On ACA and every MSM news website I’ve seen he is being portrayed as an ex-Labor minister, yet his political leaning is now quite obviously to the right. Not one of the reports I’ve seen mentions that he has moved away from the ALP platform. It is so obviously an attempt to turn welfare recipients away from the ALP.

  58. Erotic Moustache


    Erotic Moustache philosophy is not your strong point is it?

    You may be surprised; it certainly isn’t yours.

    Demonstrate the causal connection between your arguments and facts that are not relative to you and your conditioned expectations bound by personal prejudice and historical conditioning.

    $20 says no-one but you has any idea what the sentence actually means or how it pertains to anything I’ve said in this thread. I suspect you pulled it out of your quote jar.

    Stop trying to make out that opinion is proof for it is surely not truth.

    Stop trying to make out that I’m making out. Are you a pervert or what? That was a joke. You might want to make that point to every single poster at this site; but you won’t, because you reserve it for those whom you foolishly think are your opponents. Some philosopher.

    Do you know the difference between opinion, evidence, proof and truth and if not you should find out.

    Apart from that being a total non sequiter, yes I do. I once wrote an essay on belief, faith and evidentiary principles that you, as an atheist, would have enjoyed. So, yes, I know the differences very well, as it happens. But thanks for patronisation.

    You continually deflect from the empirical evidence by backward referring to past conditions that do not obtain today.

    Those who do not learn from history, my boy. Are you suggesting that principle is unsound?

    The causal chain is broken when you place opinion over evidence and dogma over critical thinking based in logic, evidence and reason. It is the case that not anything goes when facts conflict with opinion.

    Ain’t that the truth. Pity no-one here cares when it suits them to forget. Pardon me if I choose to be the synapse that remembers. Btw, you haven’t specified any facts I’ve gotten wrong, yet. You’re just posturing so far. You’re almost out of statements…

    Your opinions do not have precedence over facts nor are they empirically demonstrable proofs.

    Well poisoning. I never said they were. Nor are yours, btw.

    Point is there is no truth.

    As a Rationalist I’m forced to point out that statement is self contradictory.

    Be well, Stephen.

  59. Erotic Moustache


    I think there’s a demonstrable difference in Murdoch/Fairfax economic and social reporting. I’ve never tried to post at Murdoch based media outlets. I can’t do it because it makes me want to harm my fellow man and that’s not good when I know people I daily say hello to are probably them. Sucks to have a conscience.

  60. stephentardrew

    Erotic Moustache look at the philosophy of science then get back to me. Try Thomas Kuhn and incommensurablility. All other replies are negated by the final statement. Try finding out if my last statement is fact before rabbiting on.

  61. Erotic Moustache


    Your final point is rubbish taken verbatim. Do you mean there is no empirical truth? If so, I agree, as there cannot possibly be such a thing. If you mean it in a general epistemological sense, then it is self contradictory.

  62. Lee

    “The Gold Standard ceased to exist in 1971. When did the economic concepts that go with it cease to exist in the electorate’s psyche? ”

    Many people don’t understand it. Many have not studied economics and they are believing the lies that they are told by politicians. Those lies seem credible because the people do understand how a household budget works, so they accept the lie that the Federal budget works the same way. I’m still meeting people who think that our Federal budget is in crisis because the LNP says so. It doesn’t matter how much evidence is presented to the contrary, they want to believe the LNP. Look at how much information has been presented on this site in recent months about MMT, including numerous links to further information. Some of those links have been posted at least three times. It is quite apparent that some of the posters here, especially those who don’t agree with the political articles published on this site, don’t read the information presented.

    I recently met a young woman who is studying for an Economics Degree. She said when she compares what she is being taught at uni with what members of the LNP are telling us, it is obvious that the LNP are clueless. Actually I think many of them do know the truth. They are lying to us to promote an agenda that benefits them and their powerful mates. With a very successful investment banker as a wife, I do not believe that Joe Hockey believes the nonsense he tells the public.

  63. Erotic Moustache


    I agree but add that Labor spins the same economic line. It’s not a Coalition/conservative problem. People understand a fiat economy at a Pauline Hanson “let’s print more money” level. I actually don’t know what economic theory she was espousing when she said that; all I know is the electorate shat itself. The MSM isn’t going to talk about MMT unless more people are talking about it as something normal.

    Given the electorate’s understandable economic ignorance, spruiking MMT could be disastrous if not done sensibly and evolutionarily – he said making up a word which is what we do now, apparently.

  64. Lee

    From L. Randall Wray’s blog today:

    Posted: 29 Dec 2014 04:13 PM PST
    OK, it is now official. The Owl has Flown. Stephanie Kelton is on her way to Washington.

    Here’s a clip from the press.

    Sanders names ‘deficit owl’ his chief economist

    A prominent advocate of bigger deficits and unconventional economics will be Sen. Bernie Sanders’ chief economist when he becomes the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee in January.

    Stephanie Kelton, a self-described “deficit owl” and a leading proponent of the alternative economics theory known as modern monetary theory, announced that she would be the chief economist for the minority on the Budget Committee Friday.

    “We’re very excited to have her on our team,” Sanders aide Warren Gunnels told the Washington Examiner, noting that Kelton has “very strong academic credentials.”

    Kelton is currently the chairwoman of the economics department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition to her academic career, she has a strong presence on social media, especially on Twitter.

    Since the financial crisis, Kelton has developed a following as a defender of larger deficits to counteract the recession, as well as one of the leading exponents of modern monetary theory, popularly referred to as MMT.

    Deficit owls distinguish themselves from deficit “hawks,” who favor spending cuts and, in some cases, tax increases to reduce deficits.

    University of Texas professor James Galbraith, another self-described deficit owl, said in a 2012 interview that “a deficit owl believes that the deficit is a result, not a cause, of economic difficulty, and that it’s not something policy should work on directly. In my opinion, the deficit is a symptom, not a disease in itself.”

    Modern monetary theorists, who have pressed their case in journals and blogs in the wake of the recession and ballooning federal deficits, argue that the federal government can never run out of money, as it can print its own, and that deficits are helpful for growth.

  65. Lee

    “I agree but add that Labor spins the same economic line.”

    Yes they do to a point. The last time Tanya Plibersek appeared on Q and A she did state (and I paraphrase) that we’re all better off when the gap between rich and poor is narrowed. That view appears to be shared by Bill Shorten and others, considering some of the speeches they have made since the last Federal budget.

    “People understand a fiat economy at a Pauline Hanson “let’s print more money” level.”

    I don’t think they do. Often when such a comment is made there are responses referring to hyperinflation as a guaranteed result of printing money, Zimbabwe, Greece, Germany in 1938, etc. If I had a dollar for every time I heard or read someone’s opinion “we have to stop spending or we’ll go the same way as Greece” I’d have a decent sum of money by now.

  66. Lee

    “People understand a fiat economy at a Pauline Hanson “let’s print more money” level. I actually don’t know what economic theory she was espousing when she said that; all I know is the electorate shat itself.”

    I also recall Pauline Hanson proposed a 2% easy tax. That put people in a tailspin too.

  67. stephentardrew

    Erotic Moustache: There is proof not truth as proof depends upon the adequacy of evidence and rational argument nevertheless there is no truth. It is the idea of truth that leads us astray because all knowledge is epoch relative and succumbs to further evidence that will radically change the concept of truth and interpretation of proof. New discoveries are incommensurable with past constructs. The causal and logical constructs of science provide engineering solutions which most of our political and sociological problems are. As Steve Keen demonstrates engineering based economics makes much more sense than epoch relative left/right dichotomies. Causation and evolutionary biology are much more amenable to justice, equity and utility than discriminatory models based upon economic rationalism and brute wealth selection. Individual competitive advantage alongside communitarian, cooperative utilitarian redistribution to alleviate poverty and inequality. It is not that difficult unless religion and dogma get in the way of the facts. Darwin himself was clear about the necessity for communitarianism. Adam Smith was a moral philosopher who was misled by the ridiculous notion of the invisible hand and self-regulation for which there is no empirical proof. He was concerned with inequality and poverty and did not support unbridled greed and exploitation. A dysfunctional hominid let free to do what it likes. I don’t think so.

    An over reactive limbic system, or if you prefer reptilian brain, is geared to tooth and claw yet as environmental threats diminish overall reflexive desires driven by autonomic fear based responses and the heightens fear of death led to subsequent unwarranted accumulation of unjustifiable wealth alongside abject poverty. In short our emotional dysfunction fails to keep pace with the rational proof that demonstrates people do not create their realities and that they only have nominal choice given unit volume complexity. Free will is the monster in the room that is leading to immense suffering and inequality. If you do not understand the causal facts of science then whatever ideological framework produced will be deeply flawed and incoherent.

    The religious ideologues left and right are causing untold damage due to a lack of scientific literacy and foundational ethics based upon causal contributors to suffering and inequality. Mirror neurons, empathy, reciprocity and goodness are the glue that will hold society together not irrational greed and inequality. If the foundational facts and proofs are not rationally and empirically derived then we have the madness that is corporate oligopoly dividing nations in two represented by wealth and poverty. These are the facts all else is ideological opinion.

    Unfortunately the pathways from the amygdala to the cortex are much more dense than the feed back from pre-frontal lobe to amygdala thus preventing the rational mind from intervening in emotionally reactive responses turned into beliefs in judgment, blame and retribution. In short we are all to some degree emotionally crippled, though evidence demonstrates that conservatives, because of their habituated backward referring dogma and inflexibility are more prone to emotions than reason.

    So no there is no truth just change driven by intelligent critical analysis of complex systems and feedback mechanisms that bring about the current state of sentient proof and knowledge. Stagnation and stasis are for living fossils whereas creativity and innovation are not bound by dogma or backward referring conservative traditionalism. Is ignoring global warming an adaptive strategy or a self-destructive drive mediate by habituation and rigid fear of change. Sounds very much like a virus to me.

    Conservatism is a worn out meme destined for extinction.

  68. John Fraser



    Completely wasted on one whose preconceived ideas overrule any other objective ………… bar being a situationist.

  69. John Kelly

    Lee, yes I am a journalist but I have never worked as a journalist until after I retired. I worked in oil and wrote novels on the side.

  70. Micmerty

    Most journos don’t give a rats arse about politics or the economy … or waffle about bias or agendas … they just knock our their shit as fast as they can so they can go home to their family before they go to bed. The work of commentators or columnists, or any old knob with an opinion, shouldn’t be confused with journalism.

  71. sam

    Amazing that as soon as you label something eg: ‘MMT’ it makes some peoples emotional circuits in the brain light up and all logic is lost.

    NOTHING about the mechanics of how a central bank operates, endogenous money works (banks create deposits they don’t loan money from one party to another). And even job guarantee, full employment function within the framework. And observations on how unemployment/underemployment are all standard metric.

    You can go on a guided tour of a Reserve Bank and they WILL TELL YOU how a government spends and taxes IT IS EXACTLY as MMT describes.

    Draw a finite state diagram of a modern monetary system with stock flows (as an accountant would do) MMT is just these very mechanics.

    If anything people should be looking at some of the conventional economics taken as ‘scripture’ and look at that with a critical eye:

    *Where is stock flow consistency? (you know: modelling debt, banking systems, money, accounting identities)
    *Why are there still DSGE models anywhere still? The mechanics of which don’t work by mathematical proof of contradiction. Dont scale accurately over one represenative agent. For these models to start to work they make assumptions like: ‘consuming agents consume to infinity’, ‘have no product preference/dont consume a different similar product’, ‘do not actually work to produce anything themselves/just consume’.
    *Why does the use of any micro modelling even get used in macro-economics? What 30 years of white noise/random walk/no imperical evidence is not off-putting? (remember the majority ofpoliticians/media/journalists/economists will give you nothing better than gut instinct).
    *Why use excuse that an economy operating WAY under capacity is approaching some inflation limit if the government spends. The old ‘quantity of money’ friedman theory rears its ugly head again. (the formula doesnt even work you LITERALLY CANNOT have a fixed amount of money in the equation to produce a result with the equation and by empirical evidence it has never predicted ANY inflation accurately in 30+ years just look at IMF inflation expectations in europe 2014)
    *Gold system? It was operational over a 150 year period and was constantly revoked every time there was instability/war (dont want your enemy demanding currency convertability into you gold ;). This system is more backward than the accounting system of trades used by the ancient sumerians. How about a currency convertability into spices (this makes more sense than choosing gold from multiple levels of abstraction).
    *Austerity: riccardian agents, infinite ‘generational networks of savings’ people draw from. People rationalising smaller government equals lower ‘future’ tax obligations then spending money they dont have like mad in anticipation of the savings which is the DIRECT mechanism inthe literature that causes a recovery from a downturn 😉
    s**t by corollary that means the privitised services must be a real bargain for the consumer (try explaining that to someone paying for medical care, water, electricity, gas that its cheaper than when the government ran it).
    *Government funding by taxing? Good luck with that modelling the flow of money using that idea!
    *Like to call utter bulls**t the ‘law of ‘. With no empirical evidence OR a sound heuristic/algorithm to test the observations?
    (yes there is even more because all the laws of rely on eachother to make sense)

    The tools used by neo-classical economics have a striking resemblance to Homeopathy.
    Liberal party would have us believe they are the party of preference for all the ‘business’ issues but they make a dodgy car machanic look like a saint!

    Even the language is rubbish:
    ‘balance the budget’ == ‘by ACCOUNTING identity of sectorial balances the government adopting a contractionary fiscal stance’
    ‘budget surplus’ == ‘Government over x iterations rationalising foward facing tax of the currency it issues as being higher than spending’.

    How many journalists asked a question last fiscal statement (budget night) ANYTHING like this: ‘why do you wish to withhold an expansionary fiscal stance in favour of likelyhood of increased private sector deleveraging and bankruptcy?’

    ‘with private sector debt ratio at ~160% do you think it wise mr minister of economics to adopt a taxation strategy to increase said level of private sector debt?’

  72. sam

    “””Not so with Modern Monetary Theory. While one shouldn’t hold MMT to the standards of truth as in the case of mathematics or logic or indeed the standards of ‘probability’ or ‘degrees of confidence’ applicable in the ‘hard’ sciences of Physics, Chemistry and the like, one shouldn’t expect that Modern Monetary Theory will be accepted until it has proven ‘useful’ after it has been applied in reforming a real economy.

    Or perhaps there any examples, I may have missed?”””

    Ill be blunt.

    I think you’re missing the point. MMT is not an indivisible ‘object’ tesatable as a scientific theorem.

    Its a collection of techniques available to a currency issuing modern economy that work withing the existing framework of functionality. Stop thinking about it like that and it will make more sense.

    Eg: something speciic randomly pulled from the toolbox: What does MMT say about sectorial balances:
    (S – I) ≡ (G – T) + (X – M)
    Is it scientific as in it observes the behaviour of a system? Yes
    Does it define a domain limit of functionality of a system? Yes
    Can you claim with ‘degrees of confidence’ a future general outcome outside the domain of its functionality? No

    Here are some examples ad-hoc where mechanics of MMT have proven ‘useful’:

    *Government spending counter cyclically in any crisis: The new deal (end of great depression). The marshall reforms (rebuild europe post WW2).

    *Inflation shocks like OPEC oil 1970’s.

    *In Australia every city was at some time augmented with job guarantee style full employment schemes. (historically its all there staring us in the face with infrastructure build by said projects).

    *Argentina 2001 and subsequent recovery was mechanics of currency independence, re-denominating debt in argentinian currecy as opposed to USE dollar. The use of a fairly effective job guarantee. The reprimand of ‘no confidence’ by authorities like the world bank, IMF that argentina would collapse because of this decision were completely wrong withing 3-6 months. Capitalism won and all the markets and trade continued/increased in conjunction with the recovery.

    *Iceland post GFC deal with level of private debt/minimise real economy defaults (contain within financial system).

    *Norway: government is a large employer functions job guarantee style buffer stock of employed publicservants rather than welfare recipients.

    *India: Large scale job guarantee style employment system in rural areas to stop urban/city areas being flooded with people.

    *Japan: highest GDP/debt ratio. Still no end in sight for acceptance of said currency, central bank of japan happy to buy yen denominated bonds. Government can always finance its spending.

    *Japan: Real constraints (not soft currency ‘the budget balance’ constraints) problem: recovery after tsunami where most of the funds have not been spent yet because the actuators to physically build/repair/relocate dont exist. In general: society problems with participation in workforce and economic structure.

    *Japan: Q2 2014 adopted a contractionary fiscal stane and has stagnated again.

    * USA Pick Any ‘financial’ crisis even in the GFC the central bank was depositing account with stimulus money. But then the overall solution was terribleand there was one point in 08 for a period of 3-4 months where they just let it all unravel (political theartre)
    (size, quantiy, objective of stimulus was QE of balance sheets with the aim to inflate assets, no markdown in liabilities of commercial banks just the government schemes to buy the bad assets, QE money does not reach the real economy etc etc) Hence ‘jobless’ recovery of 2004 bush admin recession as a pre cursor also.

    Hope this helps.
    Point is MMT is a set of functionality. If a screw is loose you dont use sticky tape. Get the screwdriver.

  73. Lee

    From Bill Mitchell’s blog yesterday:

    “The number of persons interested in Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) grew throughout 2014 and that is both good and bad. The good is obvious. The bad is that a lot of misinformation about what MMT is now gets pumped around comment sites on various pages in various languages. Enthusiasm is good, knowledge is better. Both are perfect.”

  74. Kaye Lee

    I’m not sure that it’s bad that people are talking even if they are making mistakes. You cannot expect people to go from ignorance to omniscience overnight. Be patient, don’t dismiss and ridicule those who do not yet understand, explain at a level appropriate to the other’s knowledge, and hopefully we will all improve our understanding and be better able to pass on the discussion.

  75. Sad sack

    Pyne has given school leavers, all unemployed and low paid workers loans up to $96000 for study. Billions on a signature. Does that put the political understanding of economics by our elected representatives into perspective? Will the hunt for such wealth inspire ‘pink batts style rorts’ by vet providers??? Will the universities, already pocketing billions to teach reading and writing(arithmetic is too difficult) to ‘university students’ take full advantage? The women who chose to take abbott’s daughter’s course in 2015 have access to $60000 vet fee help. If they get ‘married’ and are out of the workforce(or simply don’t get a job) for 10 years, their debt will be $110000. By the time they are 40 it will be quarter of a million. So what effect will that have on economics?

  76. Lee

    “I’m not sure that it’s bad that people are talking even if they are making mistakes.”

    Agreed Kaye. We need to get people questioning, talking, seeking further information and taking a closer look at history with regard to sociological and economical problems. When greedy capitalists persuaded politicians to let them have more power, that’s when we’ve gone downhill. Our governments are still assisting the capitalists to acquire more power and now we’re not allowed to see what is contained in the TPP documents. Our apathy towards politics, economics and sociology is costing us dearly.

  77. Harquebus

    @John Kelly
    What are your views on conventional peak oil, the shale oil ponzi scheme and why are MSM not reporting on them?

  78. John Fraser



    Still busy following up on your "peak" population problem.

    You know ? ……. the one where human discoveries has the world currently starving from overpopulation and when unmanned satellites will soon be sending information back from Saturn.

    Oh ! …. woe is humankind !

    The only thing you have to fear is fear itself ……. and Abbott.

    Look up above :

    “December 30, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Funny how 400 years ago the "New World" was discovered.

    And funny how humans are still going forward with new "world" discoveries every day.

    I suppose if humans decide to stop exploring then they may have to check population growth.

    Perhaps "Harquebus" could explain how humans will lose the desire to explore."

    Appears your desire to explore suffers from a Nelsonesque eye.

  79. Harquebus

    @John Fraser

    Look this full stop. If we draw the solar system with the full stop as the sun, the earth of which, one million will fit inside the (sun/full stop), would orbit at a radius of one inch. Now imagine the largest space ship that we could build which, would be billions of times smaller again than the Earth which, at this scale, we would need an electron microscope to see.
    Also at this scale and by sheer coincidence, one mile is exactly one light year. The nearest star, not including our own, is four light years away. Now imagine that infinitesimally small space ship traveling four miles under its own power and you will start to see just how unimaginably hard interstellar space travel really is.
    Mars is no substitute. We only have one planet Earth and we bloody well better look after it.

    Our oceans are being poisoned, the environment is in terminal decline, we have large scale species extinction, increasing inequalities, massive amounts of debt, global warming, methane is being released from the Arctic, loss of liberties, increased surveillance, etc., etc. Journalists are to blame. They do not hold governments nor corporations to account.

    You might think that things will be just fine, I do not. I think we are in for hardships the likes mankind has never seen before only because, we are overpopulated. Oil depletion is going make that fact stand out in a cruel way.

    BTW: The average distance between the stars is something like six to eight light years and is why, when galaxies collide, collisions are rare.


  80. Alphonse

    ” Only full or near full employment will generate demand of the kind that will lift us out of stagflation.”

    John, I think you mean stagnation. In an economy lacking demand, with increasing unemployment and slowing wage growth, inflation is not a concern. In fact, it’s the twin bogeyman to deficit right now among the right wing shill economists of this planet.

    @Alphonse, thank you. Fixed. Brain fade on my part.

  81. John Fraser



    I look forward to the day you post something … via a system that didn't exist 25 years ago ….. that is optimistic.

    Perhaps you will send it via your Dick Tracy watch.

  82. Matters Not

    Just noticed that ‘sam’ responded to my post. He/She asserted at the outset:

    I think you’re missing the point. MMT is not an indivisible ‘object’ tesatable (sic) as a scientific theorem

    Please. I, for the life of me. can’t respond to such nonsense. ‘Indivisible object’? I shake my head. But ‘sam’ continues:

    Its (sic) a collection of techniques available to a currency issuing modern economy that work withing (sic) the existing framework of functionality

    So it’s not a ‘theory’, a way/method or whatever, of constructing and explaining how a fiat currency works but a ‘collection of techniques’ that work within the ‘existing frameworks of functionality’.

    Wow. Please explain? (But I suspect that the irony will go through to the keeper.) But never mind.

    Hope this helps.

    Actually, it doesn’t. Your post is not ‘scientific’ but, it seems to me, an ideological list of assertions that border on the ‘religious’.

    Hope that helps.

  83. sam

    @Matters Not – don’t let the cognitive dissonance door hit you ass on the way out.

    I was not being adversarial but you’re obviously a bit upset about a simple blog post you dont agree with.
    The literature is all there if you want to google anything on this ‘ideological list’ which contains things you say is bordering on ‘religious’.

    It seems you have nothing more to say about MMT (or ‘science’ as you continaully pontificate) other than make emotional statements and attacks based on the wording i chose to use. If you didnt like it then its nothing wikipedia or a basic google search could’nt have cleared up. But it does not seem you’re interested in the information just your own opinions.

    How about: Have a nice day instead!

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