I agree with Tom (and Tim).
Surely we know the difference between a “crisis” and an “opportunity.” They may coincide, but the crisis needs our attention first.
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As an early contributor to this thread I’m going to hop in here (Although I am sure I’ll regret doing so.)
Tim put together a letter and asked if people were willing to sign on. Indeed, this has been done many times by many people in the past on this list.
If you agree with what the letter says – go ahead and sign on. If you don’t – let it be. If folks have a better idea go ahead with that.
For sure we won’t do anybody any good debating the details of *potential* future policy on a listserv with limited distribution.
Indeed, I’m reminded of the thesis of a recent Veblen/Commons acceptance speech: “Be Useful”
Stay safe out there everybody.
Dr. Thomas Kemp
Professor and Chair
Department of Economics
University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
715 836 2150
Now it is quite visible what is wanted. In words used by people here towards the other side "Never waste a good crisis." The people out there who are about to be evicted are not means to and end, they are the end. Your letter is disappointing at best and potentially morally bankrupt at worse. You know for a fact that below reforms as a listed are impossible to get through congress in a matter of weeks and are equivalent to a shock therapy approach offered to the USSR that failed utterly. How is this "evolutionary?" How is this changing the institutions in our society in a reasonable manner with a minimum of social displacement?
"Do not support president Trump's re-election gambit"
I suspect this is the most important aspect of the entire letter. This isn't about helping the millions of people who are about to be screwed, this is about pushing the ideological agenda at all costs. And you are willing to pay that cost in the form of the weakest and poorest families being destroyed. I am not willing to pay the price with other people's misery. You are offering the equivalent of the argument that Trump is holding a gun to the peoples head and we should tell him to go ahead and pull the trigger. Or better yet to just be quiet and let him pull the trigger. As if somehow, after he has killed the hostage, we will get our changes.
Here is the thing, after the hostage is dead we still won't get the change. The only thing we will have is a dead hostage as the gunman chooses another hostage.
There is not a single thing below that I do not support completely and utterly, however I am NOT willing to burn millions of people in order to achieve them. Further letting the poor fall off this cliff won't get us any closer to what you want below. If you want the radical systemic changes below then why don't you truly call for what you are aiming for? Why not make a call for people to go out into the streets. That is what your letter ultimately would require. Hell I might even heed that call, but at least its an honest call for a sharp opposition to the system.
Your letter essentially implies unless we can get it all, we should do little to nothing. That somehow giving families large chunks of money would only alleviate the pain for a short while so we shouldn't do it. I am not sure how this is different from the world bank and IMF telling poor countries they need to have a massive "shock" to get the therapy. Frankly I am not sure how alleviating the pain for millions of families for a short period of time makes anything worse. How would any of the problems we face be made worse by giving all families 15 to 20k? How would the lack of healthcare system get worse when households are better financed? How would lack of sick leave get worse if households have more money? How would giving this money in anyway stop us from pushing hard for all those other things?
Short answer it wouldn't, but it would take some pressure off thus making our bargaining position stronger. In other words you argue we need that hostage to get what we want. Am I the only one that has a problem with that?
Your augment is premised one point, a move to alleviate household pain will take the pressure off the system and it will take longer to get the reforms you think essential. Your letter is about using household pain to force systemic changes. I am not sure I see a moral difference between the letter below and the methods the Oligarchs use.
Then again from the reactions so far I have seen I am clearly in the minority.
Timothy A Wunder
Clinical Associate Professor of Economics
Department of Economics
From: AFEEMAIL Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Wray, Randall <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, March 19, 2020 11:02 AM
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: COVID-19 Pandemic
Tim asked for my "letter" as an alternative to the free cash proposal; not sure you all want to sign on, but here's a more detailed policy response (draft):
How to deal with the crisis
L. Randall Wray
Naomi Klein: Disaster capitalism creates crises and uses those to implement Shock Doctrine; most of the proposals coming out—writing checks to all, bail-outs for banks, hundreds of billions for corporations—are all examples of taking advantage of the shock of a crisis to further the doctrine of “free markets”. Klein argues that what usually happens in a crisis is that all the progressives get co-opted and abandon progressive policy because they see the crisis as so severe, and causing so much suffering, that they’ll settle for the Doctrine as better than nothing. Slowly but inevitably, we lose all social protection as progressives abandon their principles to deal with the immediacy of the serial crises created by disaster capitalism.
Of course you will see this agenda as “politically infeasible”—and it is infeasible if you accept the premise of the Doctrine that there is no alternative to Neoliberalism’s Disaster Capitalism.
L. Randall Wray
Senior Scholar, Levy Economics Institute
Professor of Economics, Bard College
Emeritus Professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Co-editor Journal of Post Keynesian Economics
ISSN 0160-3477 (Print), 1557-7821 (Online)
A Great Leap Forward: Heterodox Economic Policy for the 21st Century; Randall Wray; Paperback ISBN: 9780128193808; Academic Press; Published Date: 22nd January 2020; https://www.elsevier.com/books/a-great-leap-forward/wray/978-0-12-819380-8
Macroeconomics; Author(s): William Mitchell, L. Randall Wray, Martin Watts; Red Globe Press, Macmillan International; February 2019; https://www.macmillanihe.com/page/detail/Macroeconomics/?K=9781137610669.
Why Minsky Matters: An Introduction to the work of a maverick economist, Princeton University Presshttp://press.princeton.edu/titles/10575.html
Modern Money Theory: a primer on macroeconomics for sovereign monetary systems, Palgrave Macmillan http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/modern-money-theory-l-randall-wray/?isb=9781137539908
Please make note of my new email address as I will be transitioning all email to:
From: AFEEMAIL Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Dell Champlin <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 12:38 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [AFEEMAIL] COVID-19 Pandemic
Thanks, Geoff, for posting this.
The contrast with our “leader” is heartbreaking for those of us in the US.
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Thanks for the interesting discussion of what should be done to deal with the COVID
-19 pandemic. I paste below the text of President Macron’s speech of 16 March.
Compare and contrast with US and UK “leaders”.
President Emmanuele Macron 16 March 2020
“We are at war. This is a war of sanitation. We are struggling against an enemy we can’t see. We are at war. We need everyone to fight this enemy. Nobody can break this new rule.
We are at war. Everyone, every leader of all parts of French society, we call upon you to fight together. We must care for everyone. We cannot let anyone slip through the net.
Special medical services will be available for the elderly. Things will be available in your pharmacies on Wednesday.
Keep our children safe. We owe them a duty of care and safety. I assure everyone that money does not matter. We will open hotels, we will use taxis as ambulances, we will use the army and their ambulances. We will use military hospitals. We are at war.
We must take this decision to protect everyone. If you are French and overseas, come home now.
The consequences of this war will require everyone to make sacrifices.
We will support everyone economically. No company, whatever it is, will be put at the risk of bankruptcy. No individual will suffer .
We will defer all payments for taxes, rents, so nobody is left without resources.
We will massively widen social security payments.
We will work with our economic advisers to ensure security for all.
We cannot say how long this will go on. We are guided by experts. We continue to work to finding treatment.
I say to each of you I will tell you the truth at every stage of this war. If we work together as citizens, my dear people, we will accept and bear these constraints. We will all do this.
These are things which we know. A lot of things we thought to be impossible are happening. Remember this, on the day after we have finally won this war, we will never be the same. We will be stronger. We will be united. We can win this war together.”
Geoffrey M Hodgson
Professor in Management at Loughborough University London
Editor in Chief, Journal of Institutional Economics
Secretary of the World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research (WINIR)
Secretary of Millennium Economics Ltd