I got an ugly reminder today of how some people are rabidly attached to the view that debt is the worst evil afflicting modern society (see what happens when you make it easy to get laid and make a boatload of mood altering drugs available with a prescription? The moralists focus their vitriol on the now shorter list of remaining vices).
A fellow panel member at an upcoming conference started running a series of right wing tropes: democracies inevitably led to unsustainable debt levels because the voters aren’t disciplined and responsible; if we don’t cut government spending, we’ll get hyperinflation (this after mentioning deflation-mired Japan as one of those irresponsible democracies); how the public isn’t willing to take pain (ahem, no mention of the pain the banksters, who are the reason debt levels blew out, need to be taking?). And it wasn’t simply that he held those views; it was when he got on this line of thinking, he became vehement and angry. And this panel is before an audience that isn’t economically savvy, which means they probably believe the MSM scaremongering on the deficit front and they’ll tend to think his bumper sticker comments are sensible because they are familiar. I’m not looking forward to this, needless to say.
And I got a reminder of how hard it is to dislodge frameworks that people have internalized via this video on money (hat tip New Economic Perspectives). As much as people who know MMT are sure to like it, I’m doubtful it would be persuasive to viewers who hadn’t had some exposure to those concepts. Indeed, there were points where the bear that was doing the explaining seemed almost annoyed and curt. I also question whether a dialogue is an effective way to present complex ideas like this. It may need to be describes tout ensemble, whether verbally or in writing, and then a conversation like this might follow.
Mind you, I think (and suspect you’ll agree) that this video is well done; I’m just not sure that anything in this format (the Bears in less than 10 minutes) could make any progress with someone who wasn’t on his way to being sold.
If the foregoing is correct, I may need to think about this upcoming conference differently. It may be a bridge way too far to try to turn audience views around; perhaps I need to set my aims lower and merely set out to establish that the austerian moralist prescription just doesn’t work.
This post was originally published at Naked Capitalism and is reproduced here with permission.