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Occupied interview

November 1st, 2011

A week or so ago I did an interview by Skype videolink with Taryn Hart of Occupied Media, talking about the issues raised by Occupy Wall Street. It’s now available online. I never watch myself on video, but I did listen to the whole thing and, allowing for a fair number of ums, ahs, and circumlocutions, I think the questions gave me the chance to state my ideas, and in some cases to work out on the spot what I thought about various issues.

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  1. jrbarch
    November 1st, 2011 at 11:14 | #1

    Dear John,

    I took the time out to watch your interview this morning – nice to see you relaxed and enjoying yourself.

    My (honest) impressions were you have a kind of naivety and innocence that needs sharpening (without losing your evident humanity). UMKC’s Bill Black and Michael Hudson spring to mind.

    On the bit about ‘paying for Govt. spending’ (I think as a lay-reader) MMT would say that Govt. neither has nor does not have money. Am still hopeful you will clear your mind, focus, and look deeper into the academic work of Fulwiller, Kelton (Bell), Mitchell, Mosler, Wray to understand how they construe a fiat modern monetary system could minister successfully to both private and public need! From the interview I think destinations at least are aligned.

    Bill Mitchell once suggested:

    • Forget who you are.
    • Forget what you think of government – good or bad – unless you are going to be able to get rid of government (that is, establish pure communism) you are stuck with it.
    • Forget what you think of social policy – you may hate the unemployed or you may feel compassion – forget all emotions.
    • Forget what nation you live in – it doesn’t matter.
    • Forget all prior economic concepts and training (if any).
    • Then just try to understand what you read.

    Of course your time, motivation, interest ect. are forever yours …

    Cheers …

    jrbarch

  2. Jim Birch
    November 1st, 2011 at 11:55 | #2

    Thanks. I enjoyed hearing you talk a bit more discursively across a range of subjects. Like you I’m unsure what the next step is and it would be great to see something develop to fill the space.

  3. Ian Milliss
    November 1st, 2011 at 12:48 | #3

    #1 has definitely earned some sort of award for patronising pissantry.

  4. Dan
    November 1st, 2011 at 12:56 | #4

    Agreed. Some people are just plain nice and the world would be a better place if more were.

  5. November 1st, 2011 at 13:27 | #5

    @jrbarch Actually, I just interviewed someone today who took a very different position on the criminal prosecutions issue and I am scheduled to interview William Black tomorrow. So, those videos should be posted in a week or so. But I appreciated Professor Quiggin raising the point – particularly with comparison to the Dot Com prosecutions. Given the outcome of those prosecutions, I think it’s a valid question that requires a substantive response.

  6. November 1st, 2011 at 17:51 | #6

    I enjoyed this interview. I was surprised that you came to identify so explicitly with the protesters but not alarmed at all by this. You seem to be enjoying your US sojourn. Please come home.

  7. jmh
    November 1st, 2011 at 20:56 | #7

    Bill Black (among others) has no doubt there is fraud/criminality that can be prosecuted. (Looking forward to the interview with him). There’s got to be a perp walk.

  8. jrbarch
    November 2nd, 2011 at 06:51 | #8

    Just to be clear: I watched the 51 min interview because I wanted to see the person behind the message. I found myself to be in agreement with much of what JohnQ had to say: and John to be genial and sincere with a certain sense of integrity about him. I also was surprised at a certain ‘naivety’ and in the context of my post, said so simply and honestly. I do not think this detracts in any way from John’s obvious humanity; he actually cares!

    Now, the truly outrageous part of my post was the quote from Bill Mitchell. Here’s a Prof. Economics with over 30 years experience recommending to start again. I wonder if he knows something?

    John didn’t have an answer to “where to from here”. There are thousands of minds meet on blogs every day and most of the time they are just crossing swords. As do academics. It’s hard to separate the ‘milk from the water’.

    As I said I am a lay-reader, but to date I have never read an argument that breaks the intrinsic logic of MMT as a description of the operational realities of modern fiat money. Or usurped an opinion that it is in fact a part of “where to from here” ….. unfortunately very few people understand that.

    Well, I know I have urged you to take a look at MMT in a deeper sense a few times before John, so won’t go on about it again!

    Thanks Taryn for the notice of the interviews coming up.

    Cheers …
    jrbarch

  9. John Brookes
    November 2nd, 2011 at 14:13 | #9

    Here is an idea for where to go from here, at least in Australia.

    I have money in a few super funds. They no doubt own shares, and vote at AGMs. They’ll presumably vote in favour of the executive remunerations packages, because the boss of the super fund is himself an executive, and any upwards movement in executive salaries will improve his chance of getting a pay rise.

    So, set up a super fund. I’ve already chosen the name, Super Cheap Super. The fund promises that it will vote against the remuneration package of any company where any salary package exceeds (say) 50 times the basic wage.

    Super Cheap Super has two chances of success. Firstly, it may be wildly popular. Secondly, it may attract generous offers from its competitors wishing to see it out of the market place.

  10. rog
    November 2nd, 2011 at 16:49 | #10

    I didn’t watch the whole interview (its a real big download and should be converted to an mp3 format – I can do it) but it was really good. From what I saw John you managed to draw all the seemingly dispararate threads into a singular cogent argument that doesn’t require the listener to have undertaken honours in just about everything to understand. This is the where the right side of politics is at a disadvantage, they are unable to rely on logic that is sustainable and require sleight of hand to get by.

  11. jrbarch
    November 3rd, 2011 at 07:24 | #11

    L. Randall Wray takes a look around the world’s economic problems in the context of sectoral and other ‘balances’ – you will disagree with the means of funding John but overall, it’s a pretty good summary and akin to the topics you touched on in your interview: Imbalances? What Imbalances? A Dissenting View

    Also, what started my day with a smile: HARVARD & THE MANKIW REVOLT

    jrbarch

  12. Ikonoclast
    November 3rd, 2011 at 08:23 | #12

    @jrbarch

    The question of where to from here is simply answered in theory, though difficult tp put into practice. A country needs to run a full empirical MMT experiment for at least 10 years. I would seriously suggest New Zealand. With backing from other countries and the IMF (in the form of indemnities to repair the economy if it is damaged) and clauses to exit the experiment earlier if it obviously disastrous, the experiment could be run without serious sovereign or human risk.

    Let a small panel of MMT experts run an independent Commission of the Economy and implement MMT. Have IMF safeguards in place to prevent international currency attacks and other intentional corporate sabotage derailing the experiment. Then assess the results. New Zealand and the world might be amazed. (I suspect the experiment would be a resounding success.)

  13. Jill Rush
    November 3rd, 2011 at 09:52 | #13

    John Brookes – I suggest that to change superfunds voting there is another strategy. It would be better to target firms the Australian Council of Super Investors (ACSI) which is seen as an expert third party and advises super funds on how they should vote. They recommended that the remuneration package at Qantas be supported and so it was. What they do is look at other relative remuneration packages – something that unions are not encouraged to do – and use those packages as a bench mark. There is nothing in this system that encourages restraint.

  14. Ikonoclast
    November 3rd, 2011 at 11:19 | #14

    Corporations law in Australia is more rotten than a bucket of old fish-heads in the hot sun. The great bulk of laws in this area and in tax and labour relations are very heavily weighted in favour of corporate capital and against ordinary people. The major parties are traitors to the Australian people for allowing it.

  15. Dan
    November 3rd, 2011 at 11:33 | #15

    Ikonoclast – as much of a bleeding heart as I am, I try not to forget that business is a constituency too…

  16. Freelander
    November 3rd, 2011 at 11:55 | #16

    The system of governance of super funds needs to be radically changed so that the shares citizens own through super funds are not used by overpaid executives to vote for executives to be even more heavily overpaid.

  17. may
    November 3rd, 2011 at 12:48 | #17

    @Dan

    you mean like in america where a business is a person?

  18. Freelander
    November 3rd, 2011 at 13:58 | #18

    @may

    Where a business is a person and has more rights than any person, and can’t be put in jail, and is rarely, in fact, punished regardless of what it does!

  19. Dan
    November 3rd, 2011 at 16:14 | #19

    No, I just think we need to be real about the fact that businesses do employ people and therefore have a political voice, like it or not. That they lobby and donate to political parties is also germane.

  20. Freelander
    November 3rd, 2011 at 18:21 | #20

    It should be illegal for businesses to donate to political parties and their lobbying activities should be curtailed. Only individuals should be allowed to donate to parties and only individuals who are able to vote in Australia. There ought also to be a limit on how much any individual can donate to political parties per year, to stop the very rich from buying influence. The penalties for breaking these laws ought to be harsh. We don’t want to end up like the US where politicians can only be elected if they are receiving mountains of cash, and hence have to reciprocate to those providers of re-election cash.

  21. Dan
    November 3rd, 2011 at 18:42 | #21

    Yep.

  22. Ikonoclast
    November 3rd, 2011 at 22:47 | #22

    @Freelander

    Yep, Freelander I have blogged the same thing. Ban corporate donations to political parties.

  23. may
    November 4th, 2011 at 13:47 | #23

    so because business employs people the political voice of their interests ,like it or not,is special compared to say,the work done by the voluntary workers or the work done by the medical profession or the work done by public servants,how about those working to bring up children?
    and which business voice are we talking about here anyway?the voice of the small business community which accounts for about 80% of the private sector jobs in Aust or the large voice of the globally connected corporate command and control sector.

    i smell obfuscation.

  24. may
    November 4th, 2011 at 14:23 | #24

    our qantas?more engine trouble.

    wouldn’t it just be cheaper in the long run to pay the price of first class,in Aust maintainance and obviate the cost overruns of all these recent “not our fault”mishaps?

    this management mob looks a lot like the masters of mastery frerm texas that dragged telstra over the coals.

  25. Catching up
    November 4th, 2011 at 14:38 | #25

    @may
    As they say, a stitch in time says nine.

    The publicity they are getting to day, would not encoourage one to board the planes, especially Jet Star.

  26. Freelander
    November 4th, 2011 at 14:54 | #26

    @may

    Business should have no voice. Businesses should not be able to spend money on political activities and claim the money as an expense. They ought not to be able to spend money on political activity at all. This is especially true of companies with diverse shareholding because when they spend money on political activity it is shareholder money anyway and they spend the money without the unanimous approval of shareholders. Let the money go to the shareholders in dividends and then those shareholders can spend it as they like.

    Individuals, who may own shares or may own businesses can spend money out of their own pockets, but business themselves should not be given the privileges of individual citizens. Business should have no ‘interests’. Only individuals have ‘interests’. And individuals who own businesses or shares can pursue their ‘interests’ and spend their money subject to the same restriction that everyone is under.

    I agree with your comment re:Qantas management. Seems they are just as good as Telstra’s management at destroying shareholder value. I am expecting one of these regular ‘faults’ to result in a tragedy. These frequent faults are perfectly consistent with extreme cost-cutting.

  27. Ernestine Gross
    November 5th, 2011 at 09:11 | #27

    Freelander, you are proposing ideas for regulations which would make an important aspect of the philosophy of a ‘market economy’ more compatible with democracy.

  28. smiths
    November 7th, 2011 at 10:26 | #28

    i think it was a good interview john, i liked the informal feel of the whole thing as well,

    it struck me afterwards that for people of some loose democratic left, the kind of interviews people do at this stage really matter,
    as far as i can see, the left needs to stop worrying about and engaging with the bogeymen and the corporations of the right
    for the last 40-odd years, the warnings that have come from those loosely on the left, about;
    the corporatisation of the world and its cultures, increased surveillance and the militarisation of western governments, erosion of fundamental law and justice, overly-powerful banks and Inter-Governmental organisations like the IMF and the BIS, have all been proven correct.
    The greens warnings about the fragility of the environment were correct.

    Spokespeople and apologists for the ‘free-market’ right were wrong.

    They are discredited, and so organisers and spokespeople for the re-emerging left like yourself John, shouldnt be engaging with and worrying about the right and its institutions anymore i think.

    i humbly suggest that all organisers and spokespeople ofthe left should simply stop doing mainstream/corporate engagement of any kind. Dont go on Tv, dont write op-eds for right right wing rags. The medium is indeed the message. Dont be part of thier message.
    Pursue the great new indi opportunities and encourage everyone to seek out their news and info in non-stream ways.

    sorry for the rant, it just suddenly struck me as i was eating my breakfast and like the quintessential modern stooge i am i just had to share it on a techno-cultural level

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