Why is it so hard to understand?

Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


For the first four billion years of the earth’s existence, there were no U.S. dollars.

Even as recently as the year 1770 AD, there still was no such thing as a U.S. dollar. Yet, only 20 years later, there existed millions of U.S.dollars.

Where did all those dollars come from?

It does not take much knowledge of history or finance, or even much intelligence, to realize that a group of men created laws out of thin air (All laws are created out of thin air), and among those laws were a few that created dollars, also out of thin air.

Laws have no physical existence. You never have seen, smelled, tasted, felt, or heard a law. Whether printed in lawbooks, written on parchment, or spoken by a judge or by a policeman, laws are nothing more than representations of rulers’ beliefs.

Similarly, the dollars created by those laws have no physical existence.You never have seen, smelled, tasted, felt, or heard a dollar.

Whether they are printed on paper “bills,” typed in bank passbooks, or represented on your bank’s website, dollars are nothing more than representations of the full faith and credit of the ruling issuer — in this case the U.S. federal government.

The issuer of laws can create unlimited numbers and kinds of laws, never running short of laws, and can give these laws any desired reward and punishment value.

By these laws, the issuer of dollars can create unlimited numbers and kinds of dollars, never running short of dollars, and can give these dollars any desired exchange value.

That is known as “Monetary Sovereignty.”

Recently, in Florida, on a day too rainy for tennis or the pool, my grandchildren set up a game of Monopoly©. At one point I, in my role as banker, ran short of Monopoly dollars.  So I cut up pieces of paper, and wrote “1s,” “5s,” “10s,” and “100s” on them, and continued the game.

I didn’t need to levy taxes on the players. I simply kept the game going by creating paper records of “dollars,” ad hoc.

I just as well could have drawn up a grid showing how much money each player had after each roll of the dice and subsequent transactions. or, I could have kept records in chalk on a blackboard.  Or I could have maintained accounts on a computer-based table.

Any of these devices would have represented Monopoly dollars.

The point is that the issuer of money — any money — never needs to run short of his money so long as he controls the laws that create money. No tax collections are necessary. No debt in that money is “unsustainable.” The issuer is sovereign over his money.

Is this difficult to understand? I suspect not.

Why then is “Monetary Sovereignty.” so difficult for the populace to understand?

The following article, from the January 2017 edition of Scientific American, addresses that issue. Here are excerpts:

How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail
Why worldview threats undermine evidence
By Michael Shermer

Have you ever noticed that when you present people with facts that are contrary to their deepest held beliefs they always change their minds? Me neither.

In fact, people seem to double down on their beliefs in the teeth of overwhelming evidence against them.

The reason is related to the worldview perceived to be under threat by the conflicting data.

Creationists, for example, dispute the evidence for evolution in fossils and DNA because they are concerned about secular forces encroaching on religious faith.

Anti-vaxxers distrust big pharma and think that money corrupts medicine, which leads them to believe that vaccines cause autism despite the inconvenient truth that the one and only study claiming such a link was retracted and its lead author accused of fraud.

The 9/11 truthers focus on minutiae like the melting point of steel in the World Trade Center buildings that caused their collapse because they think the government lies and conducts “false flag” operations to create a New World Order.

Climate deniers study tree rings, ice cores and the ppm of greenhouse gases because they are passionate about freedom, especially that of markets and industries to operate unencumbered by restrictive government regulations.

Obama birthers desperately dissected the president’s long-form birth certificate in search of fraud because they believe that the nation’s first African-American president is a socialist bent on destroying the country.

By coincidence (?) the next President of the United States is an “anti-vaxxer,” “climate denier,” “9/11 truther” and “Obama birther,” a fact that will support the author’s coming conclusions.

In these examples, proponents’ deepest held worldviews were perceived to be threatened by skeptics, making facts the enemy to be slayed. This power of belief over evidence is the result of two factors: cognitive dissonance and the backfire effect.

In the classic 1956 book When Prophecy Fails, psychologist Leon Festinger and his co-authors described what happened to a UFO cult when the mother ship failed to arrive at the appointed time.

Instead of admitting error, “members of the group sought frantically to convince the world of their beliefs,” and they made “a series of desperate attempts to erase their rankling dissonance by making prediction after prediction in the hope that one would come true.”

Festinger called this cognitive dissonance, or the uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts simultaneously.

Two social psychologists, Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson (a former student of Festinger), in their 2007 book Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) document thousands of experiments demonstrating how people spin-doctor facts to fit preconceived beliefs to reduce dissonance.

In a series of experiments by Dartmouth College professor Brendan Nyhan and University of Exeter professor Jason Reifler, the researchers identify a related factor they call the backfire effect “in which corrections actually increase misperceptions among the group in question.

Why? “Because it threatens their worldview or self-concept.”

For example, subjects were given fake newspaper articles that confirmed widespread misconceptions, such as that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. When subjects were then given a corrective article that WMD were never found, liberals who opposed the war accepted the new article and rejected the old, whereas conservatives who supported the war did the opposite … and more: they reported being even more convinced there were WMD after the correction, arguing that this only proved that Saddam Hussein hid or destroyed them.

If corrective facts only make matters worse, what can we do to convince people of the error of their beliefs? From my experience:

  1. keep emotions out of the exchange
  2. discuss, don’t attack
  3. listen carefully and try to articulate the other position accurately
  4. show respect
  5. acknowledge that you understand why someone might hold that opinion
  6. try to show how changing facts does not necessarily mean changing worldviews.

These strategies may not always work to change people’s minds, but now that the nation has just been put through a political fact-check wringer, they may help reduce unnecessary divisiveness.

The author submits that the desire to reduce the uncomfortable tension from holding two conflicting thoughts (“cognitive dissonance”),  prevents people from accepting clear facts.

And given that people have been trained to believe in the scarcity (for them) of money, a belief that is reinforced almost daily by authority figures, should their cognitive dissonance be surprising, when faced with the fact that money is not scarce for the federal government?

On the very next page of the Scientific American magazine, there appears a related article:

Data Deliver in the Clutch
Where does the shortstop play in a paradigm shift?
By Steve Mirsky

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong,” wrote Thomas Paine, “gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”

Almost two centuries later Thomas Kuhn, in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions described how science moves along within a framework until anomalies require what has become a cliché term for a change in outlook: a paradigm shift. He stated that his “most fundamental objective is to urge a change in the perception and evaluation of familiar data.”

(He described) the problem a wide array of human enterprises face: Insisting on remaining stupid when becoming smarter is an option.

Nobel economist Daniel Kahneman said that “people can maintain an unshakable faith in any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers.”

He could have been talking about the like-minded believers of the “Big Lie,” that the federal government needs tax dollars in order to avoid insolvency.

And then there’s Bill James, the former security guard who, in his groundbreaking writings, (said), “People horribly overestimate the extent to which they understand the world. The world is billions of times more complicated than any of us understand, and because we are desperate to understand the world, we buy into these explanations that give us the illusion of understanding.”

In short, people buy into a false description of federal financing that is the same as the description of personal financing, because it is familiar and sustained by like-minded believers. 

False belief gives us the illusion of understanding.

A better-informed electorate would have been deeply troubled by Mr. Donald Trump’s outrageous statement in March 2016 that the owners of the Chicago Cubs were doing a “rotten job.”

In fact, the team’s trajectory had been steeply upward over the four previous years—the direct result of bringing in new thinkers well versed in modern baseball’s scientific analysis.

So how was such an obviously misinformed Mr. Trump able to maintain his large fan base of “like-minded believers”?

A clue can be found in the actions of some of them after the first presidential debate. A few Donald devotees disliked newscaster Lester Holt’s performance as moderator. So they tweeted nasty comments at Cubs pitcher Jon Lester.

In any field, remaining willfully ignorant just isn’t a viable, long-term strategy.

The misunderstanding of Monetary Sovereignty — or should we say, the refusal to understand — is based on several converging factors:

  1. The truth is a threat to the worldview that “there is no such thing as a free lunch,” and “there must be a good reason why I have been paying taxes.”
  2. Politicians, the media, economists, and all my friends have said the same thing for many years.
  3. Economics is way too complex for most people, but I understand it because I know the federal government’s finances are just like mine. 

The pain of cognitive dissonance, the powerful urge not to be proven wrong, the equally powerful urge to win every debate, all combine to obliterate the simple truth of “Monetary Sovereignty.” :

The U.S. federal government can make its sovereign currency, the dollar, anything it wishes it to be — any quantity, any value, any laws.

The government doesn’t need to ask you or anyone else for anything related to the U.S. dollar — not taxes, not borrowing, not assistance with anything.

Is total, absolute, complete sovereignty over a currency really so hard to understand?  

After all, I had it in my Monopoly game.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty


The single most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the have-mores and the have-less.

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 (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich can afford better health care than can the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE AN ANNUAL ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA, AND/OR EVERY STATE, A PER CAPITA ECONOMIC BONUS (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:

Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012

Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONEFive reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefitting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
Corporations themselves exist only as legalities. They don’t pay taxes or pay for anything else. They are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the government (the later having no use for those dollars).
Any tax on corporations reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all corporate taxes come around and reappear as deductions from your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and corporate taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.

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

Have you ever played Monopoly? You know all you need to understand U.S. finances.

Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


Have you ever played the board game, “Monopoly”? Sure you have.

Since 1934, it has become the leading proprietary game not only in the United States but throughout the Western World. As of 1994, the game is published under license in 43 countries, and in 26 languages; in addition, the U.S. Spanish edition is sold in another 11 countries

Monopoly is about buying and selling real estate, and keeping score with Monopoly dollars.

What do Monopoly dollars look like? Your answer might be something like:

“They are rectangular pieces of printed paper, ranging in denomination from 500 dollars on down to 1 dollar. The 500’s are gold and the others are of varying colors, with the 1 dollar being white.”

And you would be wrong.

What you would have described are papers that represent Monopoly dollars. You have described Monopoly bills, not dollars.

You may have played Monopoly, but you never have seen Monopoly dollars. And I can prove it.

Here are two paragraphs from the official Monopoly rules:

Each player is given $1500 divided as follows: 2 each of $500’s,
$100’s and $50’s; 6 $20’s; 5 each of $10’s, $5’s and $1’s.
All remaining money and other equipment go to the Bank

The Bank never “goes broke.” If the Bank runs out of money, the Banker may issue as much more as may be needed by writing on any ordinary paper.

So now tell me, what do Monopoly dollars look like? Image result for four column chart

If, to keep score, the Bank simply can write numbers on pieces of paper, it also can keep score simply by taking a single sheet of paper, dividing it into 4 columns and labeling each column with the name of a player.

Start each column with $1,500 (or whatever number you choose) and as the game is played, add or subtract from each column.

In the end, one player will have all the dollars in his column and the other players will have none.

I actually have played Monopoly this way, when we opened the box to find that many of the bills had been lost and damaged.

So now tell me, what do Monopoly dollars look like?

So far, you have learned:

  1. Before 1934, there were no “Monopoly dollars.” They were created arbitrarily, out of thin air, by a man named  Charles B. Darrow of Germantown, Pennsylvania. He created as many as he wished.
  2. The Monopoly Bank never can run short of dollars. It never can go broke. It can pay any bill of any size simply by creating more dollars. It does not need to “print” dollars. It simply can keep score without printing anything.
  3. Monopoly dollars have no physical existence. They merely are accounting numbers that are recorded in any way the players wish.  They could be recorded on paper or on any electronic device. No one ever has seen, smelled, tasted or held Monopoly dollars.

What are those rectangular pieces of paper that you erroneously have been calling “dollars”? They are dollar bills.

You have seen an electric bill and a water bill. And you have seen a dollar bill. So what is a “bill”?

A bill represents a debt. The electric bill represents your debt to the electric company. The water bill represents your debt to the water company. The dollar bill represents the U.S. government’s debt to the holder of the bill.

What does the government owe you, the holder of a dollar bill?

Answer: The government owes you a dollar.

Let’s go back to the beginning. Just as with the Monopoly dollars, the U.S. dollar had a starting point. Before the creation of the United States, there were no U.S. dollars. They were created arbitrarily by a group of men, who created as many as they wished.

No one ever has seen, smelled, tasted or held U.S. dollars. They merely are accounting numbers that are recorded in any way the users wish.  U.S. dollars could be represented on paper (dollar bills) or on any electronic device. You can see your record of dollars (though not dollars themselves) by accessing your bank’s web site, and looking up your account.

Those numbers represent dollars, just as a U.S. dollar bill represents a U.S. dollar.

The Monopoly Bank never can go “broke.” Because the Monopoly Bank never can run short of Monopoly dollars, it can pay any debt of any size, and does not need to ask any of the players for dollars. To pay any amount, it merely can increase the numbers in any player’s column.

When the Bank’s outgo is greater than its income, the dollars go to the players, who are enriched by the Bank’s deficit.

Similarly, the U.S. government, the creator of the U.S. dollar, never can go “broke.”

Because the U.S. government never can run short of U.S. dollars, it can pay any debt of any size, and does not need to ask any of us for dollars. This means, U.S. taxes are unnecessary for paying U.S. creditors. Even if federal taxes were $0, the U.S. government pays creditors merely by increasing the numbers in the creditors’ bank accounts.

(Note: States, counties, cities and businesses can’t do this, because none of them were the original creator of the U.S. dollar, nor did the write the Official Rules concerning the dollar.)

You never will hear a Monopoly player worry about the size of the Monopoly Bank’s deficits. Monopoly players are smart enough to understand that the creator of the Monopoly dollar never can run short of the dollars it creates.

Unfortunately, many otherwise intelligent people, worry about the size of the U.S. government’s deficits. These otherwise intelligent people are not smart enough to understand that the U.S. government, the creator of the U.S. dollar, never can run short of the dollars it creates.

But what about inflation? Some people acknowledge that the U.S. never can run short of dollars, but their next comment often is, “But that would cause inflation.”

The Value of a dollar (i.e. inflation) is based on this equation: Value = Demand/Supply. An increase in supply would cause inflation unless there were an offsetting increase in Demand.

The game of Monopoly can reflect this. Though not exactly in the Official Rules, the way my family plays, we can buy or sell or trade properties from each other at any time. So when there is an increase in the money supply prices indeed can go up, as “richer” players compete for properties.

But if a player suddenly has huge debts, and his dollar needs (dollar Demand) increases, he may be forced to sell his properties at a discount. Prices go down.

For the U.S., Demand for dollars relates to interest rates. Interest is the reward for owning dollars. Higher interest rates stimulate investors to want dollar-related investments (bonds, notes, CD’s bank accounts, etc.) as opposed to other investments (stocks, real estate, etc.) The U.S. Fed fights inflation by increasing interest rates.

O.K., you now see that.

  1. The U.S. federal government, like the Monopoly Bank, never can run short of dollars.
  2. U.S. taxes, like Monopoly taxes, are unnecessary to fund U.S. (or Bank) spending
  3. U.S. deficits, like Monopoly deficits, are beneficial because they put dollars into the pockets of Americans (players).
  4. Since Value=Demand/Supply, inflation can be fought by decreasing the dollar Supply or by increasing the dollar Demand. For the U.S. this primarily is accomplished by increasing interest rates.

Now, when you hear that the U.S. deficit or debt are too high or “unsustainable,” or the government or its agencies (Social Security, Medicare et al) are “bankrupt,” think about the Monopoly game. Can the Monopoly Bank’s debt or deficit be too high or unsustainable? Can it ever go bankrupt?

In the Monopoly game, the Monopoly rules and the Monopoly dollars were created arbitrarily from thin air, and can continue to be created arbitrarily from thin air.

The same is true of the U.S. dollar and its rules.

You now know more than 99% of Americans, including politicians, the media and even economists.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

Ten Steps to Prosperity:
1. Eliminate FICA (Click here)
2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D plus long term nursing care — for everyone (Click here)
3. Provide an Economic Bonus to every man, woman and child in America, and/or every state a per capita Economic Bonus. (Click here) Or institute a reverse income tax.
4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone. Click here
5. Salary for attending school (Click here)
6. Eliminate corporate taxes (Click here)
7. Increase the standard income tax deduction annually Click here
8. Tax the very rich (.1%) more, with higher, progressive tax rates on all forms of income. (Click here)
9. Federal ownership of all banks (Click here and here)

10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99% (Click here)

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

10 Steps to Economic Misery: (Click here:)
1. Maintain or increase the FICA tax..
2. Spread the myth Social Security, Medicare and the U.S. government are insolvent.
3. Cut federal employment in the military, post office, other federal agencies.
4. Broaden the income tax base so more lower income people will pay.
5. Cut financial assistance to the states.
6. Spread the myth federal taxes pay for federal spending.
7. Allow banks to trade for their own accounts; save them when their investments go sour.
8. Never prosecute any banker for criminal activity.
9. Nominate arch conservatives to the Supreme Court.
10. Reduce the federal deficit and debt


Recessions begin an average of 2 years after the blue line first dips below zero. A common phenomenon is for the line briefly to dip below zero, then rise above zero, before falling dramatically below zero. There was a brief dip below zero in 2015, followed by another dip – the familiar pre-recession pattern.
Recessions are cured by a rising red line.

Monetary Sovereignty

Vertical gray bars mark recessions.

As the federal deficit growth lines drop, we approach recession, which will be cured only when the growth lines rise. Increasing federal deficit growth (aka “stimulus”) is necessary for long-term economic growth.


Mitchell’s laws:
•Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
•Any monetarily NON-sovereign government — be it city, county, state or nation — that runs an ongoing trade deficit, eventually will run out of money.
•The more federal budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes..

•No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth.
•Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.
•A growing economy requires a growing supply of money (GDP = Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports)
•Deficit spending grows the supply of money
•The limit to federal deficit spending is an inflation that cannot be cured with interest rate control.
•The limit to non-federal deficit spending is the ability to borrow.

Liberals think the purpose of government is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Conservatives think the purpose of government is to protect the rich and powerful from the poor and powerless.

•The single most important problem in economics is the Gap between rich and the rest..
•Austerity is the government’s method for widening
the Gap between rich and poor.
•Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.
•Everything in economics devolves to motive, and the motive is the Gap between the rich and the rest..