“There’s No Such Thing as ‘Free Money.'” Yes, there is, Mr. Greenhut. Friday, Aug 2 2019 

Economics is a unique science.

It is the only science in which people who have no background, no education, no history, and no knowledge, feel absolutely confident in their opinions about it.

I’m sure they don’t feel confident in arguing about quantum mechanics or about relativity, or about rocket science, but when it comes to economics, everyone is an “expert” — often a laughable expert with a way-too-loud megaphone.

I suggest Steven Greenhut is one such “expert.” Here are excerpts from his recent article:

There’s No Such Thing as ‘Free Money’ or Meaningless Deficits
STEVEN GREENHUT, Reason Magazine

Vice President Dick Cheney famously said that “deficits don’t matter.”

Such conservatives weren’t interested in using federal spending to fight poverty and inequality, but they didn’t want growing deficits to curtail their military efforts in Iraq or quash their desire to step up tax cuts.

Greenhut is 100% correct about the motivations of the conservative right.

Cheney’s ideological heirs now argue that deficits are fine as long as interest rates are low and the Gross Domestic Product keeps growing.

Deficits not only are “fine,” but deficits are absolutely necessary for economic growth, and this has nothing to do with low interest rates.

Federal deficits add dollars to the economy. It is functionally impossible for an economy to grow, without the money supply growing.

In fact, the formula for Gross Domestic Product, our most common measure of economic growth, is a money measure.

GDP = Federal and Non-federal spending + Net Exports

When federal deficit spending doesn’t grow, the economy doesn’t grow. Reduced deficits cause recessions, and increased deficits cure recessions, as the following graph demonstrates:

Recessions (vertical gray bars) begin with reduced deficits; they are cured by increased deficits.

Sorry, but deficits and debt do matter.

There’s no short-term crisis, for sure, but debt “will depress economic growth over time and could potentially lead to a fiscal crisis if borrowers lose faith in the country’s ability to pay,” explained Yuval Rosenberg in The Fiscal Times.

Federal “debt” is nothing more than deposits into Treasury security accounts (T-bills et al).  The government pays back the “debt” every day simply by returning the dollars in those accounts.

And what does this phrase mean, “borrowers lose faith in the country’s ability to pay.”? Makes no sense, unless he means “lenders lose faith . . . ”

Even then, the federal government does not borrow. It accepts deposits into T-security accounts and it never touches those dollars.

The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, creates all the dollars it needs, ad hoc, each time it pays a creditor. The government never has any difficulty returning those dollars to the account holders.

See: It is 2019, and the phony federal debt “time bomb” still is ticking. Thursday, Jan 24 2019.

Periodically, I remind you about a disaster that was considered to be so imminent, it repeatedly was referred to as a “ticking time bomb.” I have evidence of the warning as early as 1940, and then every year thereafter.

I’m talking about the federal debt that not only was said to be a “ticking time bomb,” but “unsustainable” and “the time bomb of doom“!

Year after year, that time bomb of doom has kept ticking, and here we are, in 2019, with a  healthy economy, and still that bomb hasn’t exploded. Eighty years of warnings, eighty years of being wrong, eighty years, and people still believe the doomsday sayers.

The phony “time bomb” began to “tick” back in 1940, when the total debt was $40 Billion. Today, 80 years later, it has risen 52,500% (!) to $21 Trillion, and still it ticks.

Go to the above reference, and you’ll see that year, after year, after ridiculous year, “experts” like Greenhut repeatedly referred to the federal debt as a “ticking time bomb.”

Wrong for 80 consecutive years.

Continuing with his article:

Furthermore, he (Rosenberg) notes, debt hampers government’s ability to react to real emergencies “such as recessions, wars or natural disasters.

As debt soars, federal payments to service the debt will crowd out the government’s core spending responsibilities.

The above is a perfect example of closing one’s eyes and ignoring the reality standing before one.

Here we are, looking at 80 past years of a dramatically increasing debt (deposits), and the federal government’s continual “ability to react to real emergencies “such as recessions, wars or natural disasters.

Since 1940, America has fought dozens of wars, all over the world, had numerous recessions, and dealt with all manner of natural disasters. And today, the nation is wealthier than ever.

Explain that Messrs. Rosenberg and Greenhut.

In a way, these denials-of-the-obvious remind me of Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf  (aka “Baghdad Bob”). He was the Iraqui, who during Desert Storm, kept going on television to deny that American tanks were in Baghdad, while they were visible over his shoulder.

Rosenberg’s and Greenhut’s comments are that ridiculous.

And now for the source of their ignorance: They don’t understand the differences between personal financing and federal financing.

You could borrow an immense amount of money to upgrade the kitchen and take Hawaiian vacations and then claim that it doesn’t matter as long as you can cover the monthly interest payment.

But that’s a road to eventual ruin.

The federal government is Monetarily Sovereign, meaning it is sovereign over the dollar.

At the beginning of this nation’s existence, our new federal government created laws, and those laws gave the government the unlimited ability to create U.S. money.

So the government created millions of U.S. dollars — from thin air.

So long as those laws and others like them, exist, the federal government will continue to have the unlimited ability to create U.S. dollars.

Here’s how they do it:

To pay a creditor, the federal government sends instructions (not dollars) to the creditor’s bank, instructing the bank to increase the balance in the creditor’s checking account.

At the moment the bank obeys those instructions, brand new dollars are created.

So long as the federal government doesn’t run out of instructions, it won’t run out of dollars.

You and I don’t have this ability. Neither do our cities, counties, and states. And neither do France, Germany, and Italy, all of which don’t have a sovereign currency, but rather use the euro.

All are monetarily non-sovereign.

Ask Messrs. Rosenberg and Greenhut what “Monetary Sovereignty” means, and they won’t have a clue, even though it is the basis for modern economics.

Now we get to what Greenhut thinks is absolutely necessary and what he thinks, isn’t:

Some debts can’t be helped—e.g., capital expenses—but look at the nonsense that our massive federal budget is funding.

Easy debt drives easy spending. It enables our government to do things it shouldn’t do, such as wage unnecessary wars and create boondoggles like the Green New Deal or a space force.

Which capital expense “can’t be helped,” Mr. Greenhut? Building a wall on our southern border? Buiding cages to house children we have taken from their parents?

Which wars are “unnecessary” and which are necessary?

And as for the “Green New Deal,” it describes the various efforts to reduce climate change. To you, that’s a boondoggle?

We’ll end with Greenhut’s final bit of nonsense:

Deficit spending creates constant pressure for tax hikes. We shouldn’t spend what we don’t have.

“Constant pressure for tax hikes”???? You mean the recent tax cuts, that came with the billions in increased deficit spending?

Will someone please contact Messrs. Greenhut and Rosenbert with the facts so that they don’t continue to make fools of themselves.

It would be the charitable thing to do.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty
Twitter: @rodgermitchell
Search #monetarysovereigntyFacebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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The most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the richer and the poorer.

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.

Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts a, b & d, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Provide a monthly economic bonus to every man, woman and child in America (similar to social security for all)

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

 

–The needless Medicaid dilemma, and how to solve it Saturday, Feb 4 2012 

Mitchell’s laws: Reduced money growth never stimulates economic growth. To survive long term, a monetarily non-sovereign government must have a positive balance of payments. Austerity = poverty and leads to civil disorder. Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
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Most people do not understand the differences between Monetarily Sovereign (the U.S. federal government) and monetarily non-sovereign (you and me, the states, counties and cities). Spending by us people is limited to the dollars we have or are receiving. So, by intuition, most people feel the U.S. government is monetarily non-sovereign, i.e. like us, should spend no more than it collects in taxes.

Thus, we hear all those misguided concerns about federal deficits and debt, when in fact, deficits are necessary for economic growth and debt could be eliminated tomorrow.

I frequently criticize the editors of the Chicago Tribune for their ignorance of Monetary Sovereignty, and their tacit belief the U.S. is monetarily non-sovereign. In this, they are little different from the vast majority of media writers, politicians and even economists in America. We as a nation, suffer for their ignorance.

But while the Tribune is clueless about federal financing, they can be equally clueless as regards state and local financing, where they really should know better. This is what they wrote about Medicaid, a program largely funded by the states to benefit the poorest among us:

Editorial: Chicago Tribune: Time to move on Medicaid spending
February 4, 2012

When Gov. Pat Quinn spoke Wednesday about the state of the state, he gave a brief nod to the groaning cost of Illinois’ single biggest operating expense: Medicaid.

The state expects to have about $1.7 billion in unpaid Medicaid bills on hand at the end of fiscal 2012. That backlog will balloon to $21 billion in just five years if the state doesn’t overhaul Medicaid spending.

As you read this, ask yourself, “Why are states, which have limited finances, forced to pay? Why doesn’t the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to service any bills of any size, pay for Medicaid?”

That will be a diaster for the 2.7 million Illinoisans who depend on Medicaid, for taxpayers and for medical providers. More doctors are likely to stop accepting Medicaid patients because they won’t get paid remotely close to on time.

Quinn’s budget address is Feb. 22. That’s when we should learn the details of how he proposes to curb Medicaid spending. Here’s what he needs to do:

Speed the switch to managed care. Managed care generally means patients are assigned a “medical home” — a doctor (it could be an HMO-style clinic) who oversees their care. Doctor and hospital fees are geared to delivering better health care, not just more of it.

• Accelerate the move of residents from obsolete and expensive institutions for the developmentally disabled to community-based care.

End Illinois Cares Rx. That’s a prescription drug program that supplements coverage for (poor) seniors. But the feds don’t help pay for it. Eliminating it will save $54 million.

According to the Illinois Cares Rx web site: “Illinois Cares Rx provides prescription drug assistance to low-income seniors and disabled persons. For participants enrolled in Medicare Part D, Illinois Cares Rx helps lower the participants’ copayments and cost-sharing. Illinois Cares Rx provides direct prescription drug coverage for participants who are not eligible for Medicare.”

So eliminating this service will stick the poorest, elderly Illinoisans with $54 million in expenses they can afford even less than can Illinois. The whole notion, of forcing poor people to bail out the state, is an anathema to me. The Trib is dead wrong on this one.

Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services director Julie Hamos is expected to deliver a wide-ranging list of Medicaid cost-cutting options to a bipartisan committee of state lawmakers later this month. The goal: Save as much as $2.7 billion in the $14 billion Medicaid budget.

If the “wide-ranging list” includes only efficiencies, I’m all for it. But if it merely transfers expenses from the state to the poorest people, it will be a disgrace.

“Everything has to be on the table to keep the program solvent,” Illinois Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, tells us. Nothing’s final yet. But we like what we’re hearing.

The state could save big, for instance, by capping how much it will pay per patient for so-called “optional services.” That includes dental work and prescription drugs. The idea: Patients should be allowed to choose from those services, but the state would set a cap on how much it will spend for each patient.

If the state will save big, who will pay? Doctors? Dentists? The poor patients? Or will this all come down to greater efficiency? (I doubt it.) Making doctors and dentists pay is stupid. Forcing the poor to pay is ridiculous and heartless.

Another good idea: Require a co-payment from Medicaid recipients for emergency room visits that aren’t emergencies. That could save millions by cutting down on expensive visits to the ER.

People take non-emergencies to the emergency room, because they can’t afford health insurance. These people are poor. So to require co-pays merely will discourage them from seeking medical help. Their non-emergency situations will devolve to real emergencies, which will cost the state even more, not to mention the terrible human toll.

Providers also need to be in the savings mix. For Medicaid to thrive, hospitals need to reduce costly readmissions. Illinois has the highest rate of such readmissions in the nation, according to a 2010 study by the Center for Health Care Strategies Inc. The state should offer hospitals incentives to cut that rate, and penalize hospitals that fail.

The question this editorial doesn’t address is, “What causes readmissions?” Without examining the various causes, merely saying they “need to reduce readmissions” makes no sense.

Those are just some of the ways to save money while delivering quality care. There are many more.

There is very little in the editorial that discusses the preservation of quality. The focus is on transferring costs from the state to the poor.

Let’s also remember that the state’s Medicaid program will add up to 800,000 people beginning in 2014, when the federal health care overhaul kicks in. The feds will fully reimburse the state for those beneficiaries … for three years. Then Illinois will be stuck with a slice of that bill.

And therein lies the problem. If the feds “will fully reimburse the state” for three years, why don’t the feds continue to reimburse the state?

By what logic has medical care for the poor become an obligation of monetarily non-sovereign, financially strapped states, when the Monetarily Sovereign, federal government easily can and should pay the whole thing? The states’ only recourse is to shift the cost to the poor, who because they can’t afford it, simply will fail to receive medical services, until they are so sick, they are dragged to the emergency room, where costs are highest.

I wonder how many of the Tribune editors are on Medicaid.

Far better, it would be, if everyone could receive medical services early, before their conditions became more serious — better financially and better medically, and better humanely. The federal government can afford to do this.

Funny how all our economic problems seem to boil down to ignorance of Monetary Sovereignty.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
http://www.rodgermitchell.com


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No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia. Two key equations in economics:
Federal Deficits – Net Imports = Net Private Savings
Gross Domestic Product = Federal Spending + Private Investment and Consumption + Net exports

#MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

–Does this report from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget make you angry? Does it make you afraid? It should. Saturday, May 14 2011 

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. Those, who do not understand Monetary Sovereignty, do not understand economics. If you understand the following, simple statement, you are ahead of most economists, politicians and media writers in America: Our government, being Monetarily Sovereign, has the unlimited ability to create the dollars to pay its bills.

Does this report from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget make you angry? Does it make you afraid? It should.

Analysis of the 2011 Social Security Trustees Report, May 13, 2011

Today, the Social Security Trustees released their 2011 report on the financial status of both Social Security and Medicare. The reports make clear that both programs are on unsustainable paths, and reforms will be necessary to make them solvent. This analysis focuses on the financial status of Social Security.

The latest Trustees report shows Social Security’s position has deteriorated since last year. The Trustees estimate that the 75-year actuarial imbalance has now increased to 0.8 percent of GDP (2.22 percent of taxable payroll) compared to 0.7 percent of GDP (1.92 percent of taxable payroll) in last year’s report. Over the coming decade, the Trustees project cash-flow deficits of about $490 billion (including $131 billion in 2021 alone), compared to about $380 billion in last year’s report.

The Trustees now estimate that the program will exhaust its dedicated trust funds (one for old-age and the other for disability) in 2036, a year earlier than the 2037 date projected in last year’s report. At that time, absent changes in law, all current and future beneficiaries would experience an immediate 23 percent cut in benefits.

Even more pressing is the state of the Disability Insurance trust fund, which (if not allowed to borrow from the rest of Social Security) will run out of money by 2018, only seven years from now.

According to the Trustees, making Social Security sustainably solvent would take savings equal to 0.8 percent of GDP (2.22 percent of payroll) over 75 years and 1.5 percent (4.24 percent of payroll) in the 75th year.

Well, did that make you angry or afraid? It should have, because it is based on a lie – a government lie – and having the federal government lie makes all of us especially angry and afraid.

The lie, very simply is the implication federal spending relies on federal taxes. Social Security and Medicare are federal programs. FICA taxes paid to the government are less than benefits paid. Based on this, the Trustees say these federal programs will “run out of money.” A lie.

Were it true, the entire federal government already has “run out of money,” because federal taxes, with very few exceptions, have been less than federal spending, every year in our nation’s history. So beginning in 1776, America has been on what the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget would call an “unsustainable” path and insolvent. Yet here we are, 235 years later, still “unsustainable,” still “insolvent” and still the most powerful nation on earth. Amazing, isn’t it?

Well, it would be amazing if you didn’t understand the federal government creates the dollars you use. It would be amazing if you believed federal taxes pay for federal spending and FICA pays for Social Security and Medicare. They don’t.

The U.S. is Monetarily Sovereign. If all federal taxes, including FICA, were reduced to $0 or increased to $100 trillion, neither event would affect by even one dollar, the solvency of any federal agency, including Social Security and Medicare. There is no functional relationship between federal taxes and federal spending. The federal government always pays its bills, regardless of taxes collected.

(The situation is different for states, counties and cities, which are not Monetarily Sovereignty, , so they do use tax money to pay their bills. The situation also is different for Greece, Ireland et al, which also are not Monetarily Sovereign. And the situation is different for you and me. We too, are not Monetarily Sovereign. For reasons I cannot explain, the federal government, the media, and even most economists, do not know the difference between Monetarily Sovereign and monetarily non-sovereign, and therein lies the problem.)

So yes, be afraid. Be very, very afraid, especially with both the Democrats and the Tea (formerly Republican) Parties believing our federal social programs must be cut. Your future and the futures of your children and grandchildren are in the hands of people who do not know what they are doing.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
http://www.rodgermitchell.com


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No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. It’s been 40 years since the U.S. became Monetary Sovereign, , and neither Congress, nor the President, nor the Fed, nor the vast majority of economists and economics bloggers, nor the preponderance of the media, nor the most famous educational institutions, nor the Nobel committee, nor the International Monetary Fund have yet acquired even the slightest notion of what that means.

Remember that the next time you’re tempted to ask a dopey teenager, “What were you thinking?” He’s liable to respond, “Pretty much what your generation was thinking when it screwed up my future.”

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

–Psychologist wanted. Friday, May 13 2011 

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. Those, who do not understand Monetary Sovereignty, do not understand economics. If you understand the following, simple statement, you are ahead of most economists, politicians and media writers in America: Our government, being Monetarily Sovereign, has the unlimited ability to create the dollars to pay its bills.
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Although economics can be mind-spinningly complex, the essence of economics is rather simple, in that it boils down to a few facts, about which there can be no argument:

Fact 1. The U.S. federal government is different from you and me. It alone has the unlimited ability to create (“print”) dollars. If it wished to do so, the government could create a billion trillion dollars tomorrow, merely by pressing a computer key. It has had that power since 1971, the end of the gold standard, and that power is called Monetary Sovereignty.

Fact 2. Given such power, the federal government has the unlimited ability to spend dollars, and does not need to tax or borrow in order to spend. Were taxes and borrowing to fall to $0 or rise to $100 trillion, neither would affect by even one penny, the federal government’s ability to create and spend dollars and to “sustain” any size debt. In federal terms, taxes and borrowing do not fund spending.

Fact 3. Therefore, the only limitation on federal spending is not taxes or borrowing, but uncontrollable inflation.

I know of no economist, no columnist, no politician who disagrees with the above. Yet virtually all of them seem to agree that the federal debt and deficits are “unsustainable,” and should be reduced, despite the fact our massive deficits have brought us nowhere near uncontrollable inflation. (Only recently, we were worried about deflation.)

Logically, that makes no sense. How can a debt or deficit be a problem, if the government can create unlimited money and inflation is not a threat? It’s as though one part of the brain was not communicating with the other part. The psychologists call it “cognitive dissonance,” and since they have a name for it, perhaps they have an explanation, too.

So if you are a psychologist, and/or understand cognitive dissonance, I ask you; Why do otherwise intelligent people hold two, mutually exclusive ideas about our economy?

Some have speculated it’s merely the confusion between personal finances (which are not Monetarily Sovereign) and federal finances. But economists should not be confused about so simple a concept. Even the dullest economist should understand the difference between a personal bank account and the federal government’s money creation. There must be something more than mere confusion.

Perhaps, we hard-wired to believe the “no-free-lunch” idea that you can’t get something for noting. But can it really be so difficult to see that the federal government can “print” dollars?

I just don’t understand it. No one debates the underlying facts, which seem obvious and straightforward. The federal government can create infinite dollars, limited only by inflation, which we are nowhere near. Everyone agrees. Yet, after that there is a huge disconnect, leading to notions about needing tax increases and debt ceilings and the deficit being unsustainable. It’s beyond logic.

So because it is beyond logic, I am asking for assistance from psychologists to explain why the logical and obvious are invisible to people, who acknowledge the facts while simultaneously being blind to them.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
http://www.rodgermitchell.com


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No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. It’s been 40 years since the U.S. became Monetary Sovereign, , and neither Congress, nor the President, nor the Fed, nor the vast majority of economists and economics bloggers, nor the preponderance of the media, nor the most famous educational institutions, nor the Nobel committee, nor the International Monetary Fund have yet acquired even the slightest notion of what that means.

Remember that the next time you’re tempted to ask a dopey teenager, “What were you thinking?” He’s liable to respond, “Pretty much what your generation was thinking when it screwed up my future.”

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

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