The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. They, who do not understand monetary sovereignty, do not understand economics.
A reader, KK Tipton, asked what I suggest our government actually do, since being monetarily sovereign, it has the unlimited power to create money, without support from taxes or borrowing. First a little background:
Yes, the spending by a monetarily sovereign government is constrained neither by tax receipts nor by borrowing. So with no financial constraints, it could, as KK humorously suggests, build “ . . .two walls of aircraft carriers, end to end tomorrow, to protect our shores. Why not?”
Well, the “why not?” has to do with the only constraint on federal spending: Inflation. There is a point at which federal spending could become so massive as to cause inflation. Pump $100 trillion into the economy next month and I can guarantee a great big inflation.
However, we are nowhere near that point, and have been nowhere near that point since 1971, the year in which the U.S. federal government became monetarily sovereign. Even the inflation of 1979 was not caused by federal deficit spending, but rather by oil prices.
The above graph shows that inflation (red line) generally reached its peak at a time when federal deficit spending (blue line) was reaching a trough, and that inflation peaks correlated most closely with peaks in energy prices (green line).
Because federal deficits stimulate the economy and are constrained only by inflation, the goal is to maximize stimulation while keeping inflation at an acceptable level, perhaps 2% – 3%. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) holds that inflation can be cured by increasing taxes. This is true, but it’s like preventing facial acne by cutting off your head. Increasing taxes removes money from the economy, which is anti-growth, causing recessions and depressions. (See: A quick summary of the facts )
I prefer to prevent and cure inflation by increasing interest rates, which increases the reward for owning money. This increases the demand for money and makes money more valuable. MMT followers say high interest rates increase business costs, thereby actually causing inflation. Nice theory, but not in accord with the facts. Contrary to popular wisdom, there is no relationship between high rates and slow growth, or low rates and fast growth. See: Interest Rates . Both Chairmen Greenspan and Bernanke may have learned this after 20 rate reductions accomplished nothing.
Given all of the above as a background, here’s what I suggest we do:
1. Eliminate T-securities. A monetarily sovereign nation does not need to borrow the money it created earlier – money it can create without limit. This would end all federal debt along with the misguided concerns about federal debt – concerns that have helped destroy our economy..
[All of the next suggested activities would be done incrementally, the way a lion stalks its prey. Make a small move, then stop to see what happens, then make another move, always getting closer and closer to your goal of maximum growth with acceptable inflation.]
2. Eliminate the FICA tax. This is a tax collected weekly or monthly, so it neatly allows for the “lion stalking” approach. A more complete discussion is at Ten reasons to eliminate FICA, but briefly, this would put about $1 trillion (See: Budget of the United States Government 2011) into the economy next year, exactly where it is needed most: Half in the hands of business; half in the hands of employees.
3. Eliminate taxes on business. These are projected to be about $300 billion next year, less than 12% of total federal projected receipts of $2.6 trillion. Business is the engine of our economy. Pulling money out of the engine is the worst way to grow an economy.
4. Gradually reduce personal income tax collections, which are projected to be $1.1 trillion next year, by increasing the standard deduction. We could begin by freeing from taxes, anyone earning less than $50,000 a year. Then we could incrementally raise the amount, until the last people in America paying personal income tax would be Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. (Of course, we would have to find jobs for all those accountants, tax lawyers, IRS employees, prosecutors and federal prison guards, whose livelihoods depend wholly or partly on income taxes. But a healthy growing economy should take care of that.)
As you can see, I would begin by slowly but persistently eliminating taxes, and putting the money back in the hands of the people. After the tax situation was resolved, I would begin to increase spending, on humanitarian things like Social Security, universal health care insurance and unemployment insurance. I would fund the states by providing a per-capita allowance. Being monetarily non-sovereign, they cannot create money, and so require outside support (See: “–Here is the financial solution for your state, county and city”).
So there you have a quick summary. Like a lion, creeping up on a covey of ignorant debt hawks, I first would reduce/eliminate taxes, then increase federal spending.
What are your thoughts?
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
No nation can tax itself into prosperity. Those who say the stimulus “didn’t work” remind me of the guy whose house is on fire. A neighbor runs with a garden hose and starts spraying, but the fire continues. The neighbor wants to call the fire department, which would bring the big hoses, but the guy says, “Don’t call. As you can see, water doesn’t put out fires.”