Month: June 2020

The COVID Class War

The European Union’s proposed recovery fund to counter the pandemic’s economic fallout seems destined to leave the majority in every member state worse off. Finance will again be protected, if badly, while workers are left to foot the bill through new rounds of austerity.

The euro crisis that erupted a decade ago has long been portrayed as a clash between Europe’s frugal North and profligate South. In fact, at its heart was a fierce class war that left Europe, including its capitalists, much weakened relative to the United States and China. Worse still, the European Union’s response to the pandemic, including the EU recovery fund currently under deliberation, is bound to intensify this class war, and deal another blow to Europe’s socioeconomic model.

If we have learned anything in recent decades, it is the pointlessness of focusing on any country’s economy in isolation. Once upon a time, when money moved between countries mostly to finance trade, and most consumption spending benefited domestic producers, the strengths and weaknesses of a national economy could be separately assessed. Not anymore. Today, the weaknesses of, say, China and Germany are intertwined with those of countries like the US and Greece.

The unshackling of finance in the early 1980s, following the elimination of capital controls left over from the Bretton Woods system, enabled enormous trade imbalances to be funded by rivers of money created privately via financial engineering. As the US shifted from a trade surplus to a massive deficit, its hegemony grew. Its imports maintain global demand and are financed by the inflows of foreigners’ profits that pour into Wall Street.

This strange recycling process is managed by the world’s de facto central bank, the US Federal Reserve. And maintaining such an impressive creation – a permanently imbalanced global system – necessitates the constant intensification of class war in deficit and surplus countries alike.

Deficit countries are all alike in one important sense: whether powerful like the US, or weak like Greece, they are condemned to generate debt bubbles as their workers helplessly watch industrial areas morph into rustbelts. Once the bubbles burst, workers in the Midwest or the Peloponnese face debt bondage and plummeting living standards.

Although surplus countries, too, are characterized by class warfare against workers, they differ significantly from one another. Consider China and Germany. Both feature large trade surpluses with the US and the rest of Europe. Both repress their workers’ income and wealth. The main difference between them is that China maintains huge levels of investment through a domestic credit bubble, while Germany’s corporations invest much less and rely on credit bubbles in the rest of the eurozone.

The euro crisis was never a clash between the Germans and the Greeks (shorthand for the fabled North-South clash). Instead, it stemmed from an intensification of class war within Germany and within Greece at the hands of an oligarchy-without-frontiers living off financial flows.

For example, when the Greek state went bankrupt in 2010, the austerity imposed on most of the Greek population did wonders to restrict investment in Greece. But it did the same in Germany, indirectly repressing German wages at a time when the European Central Bank’s money-printing was sending share prices (and German directors’ bonuses) through the roof.

Class warfare is arguably more brutal in China and the US than it is in Europe. But Europe’s lack of a political union ensures that its class war verges on being pointless, even from the capitalists’ perspective.

Evidence that German capitalists squandered the wealth extracted from the EU’s working classes is not hard to find. The euro crisis caused a massive 7% devaluation of the surpluses that the German private sector had accumulated from 1999 onwards, because capital owners had no alternative but to lend these trillions to foreigners whose subsequent distress led to large losses.

This is not only a German problem. It is a condition afflicting the EU’s other surplus countries as well. The German newspaper Handelsblatt recently revealed a notable reversal. Whereas in 2007, EU corporations earned around €100 billion ($113 billion) more than their US counterparts, in 2019 the situation was inverted.

Moreover, this is an accelerating trend. In 2019, corporate earnings rose 50% faster in the US than in Europe. And US corporate earnings are expected to suffer less from the pandemic-induced recession, falling 20% in 2020, compared to 33% in Europe.

The gist of Europe’s conundrum is that, while it is a surplus economy, its fragmentation ensures that the income losses of German and Greek workers do not even become sustainable profits for Europe’s capitalists. In short, behind the narrative of northern frugality lurks the specter of wasted exploitation.

Reports that COVID-19 caused the EU to raise its game are grossly exaggerated. The quiet death of

European debt mutualization guarantees that the gigantic increase in national budget deficits will be followed by equally sizeable austerity in every country. In other words, the class war that has already eroded most people’s incomes will intensify. “But what about the proposed €750 billion recovery fund?” one might ask. “Is the agreement to issue common debt not a breakthrough?”

Yes and no. Common debt instruments are a necessary but insufficient condition for ameliorating the intensified class war. To play a progressive role, common debt must fund the weaker households and firms across the common economic area: in Germany as well as in Greece. And it must do so automatically, without reliance on the kindness of the local oligarchs. It must operate like an automated recycling mechanism that shifts surpluses to those in deficit within every town, region, and state. In the US, for example, food stamps and social security payments support the weak in California and in Missouri, while shifting net resources from California to Missouri – and all without any involvement by state governors or local bureaucrats.

By contrast, the EU recovery fund’s fixed allocation to member states will turn them against one another, as the fixed sum to be given to, say, Italy or Greece is portrayed as a tax on Germany’s working class. Moreover, the idea is to transfer the funds to national governments, effectively entrusting the local oligarchy with the task of distributing them.

Strengthening the solidarity of Europe’s oligarchs is not a good strategy for empowering Europe’s majority. Quite the contrary. Any “recovery” based on such a formula will short-change almost all Europeans and push the majority into deeper despair.

Do Whatever It Takes To Cushion The Blow Of COVID-19

During the week I joined a fascinating webinar given by the brains and policy guru behind the European Central Bank, Philip Lane, its chief economist. He looks like a man with the job he always wanted and is comfortable with it.

The reason I used the term “brains” is very simple: Lane is now the intellectual driver of policy. As I listened to him, I heard a combination of Ben Bernanke’s deep appreciation of monetary history and Mario Draghi’s sharp understanding of the power of the central bank and the breathtaking array of tools at his disposal. Lane grasps what is at stake and is prepared to act comprehensively.

The implication for the profile, maturity and cost of debt in euro zone countries is enormous. The only risk is that governments do not fully comprehend the gravity of what the ECB is saying and the opportunity it affords.

It is an institution on the ascendancy that has just slapped down the German constitutional court, has the full backing of the German government, realises that it has to save the European economy and – in practice, if not in theory – is becoming more like the Federal Reserve by the day. In a comprehensive analysis of its role, Lane reiterated the message that the ECB will finance everything any government, or indeed corporate entity, wants to do in the fight against this Covid-19 “pandession”.

The implication is that all debts in Ireland could be restructured at much lower – almost zero – rates. This Irish State borrowed at 0.28 per cent a few weeks back. The only issue preventing Irish mortgages being repriced at these levels is the willingness (or claimed ability) of the banks to follow suit.

I specifically asked Prof Lane this question and he said the purpose of lower interest rates was to get them to work on the street via the banking system. Lower official rates need to be “passed on” for them to work. He implied there was little point otherwise. Let’s come back to this in a bit.

In a series of slides, Lane suggested that euro zone policy could be yet looser. He implied, even at these low rates, that there is more the ECB can do if needed, which is something this column has been highlighting for the past ten weeks.

There is simply no financial constraint on borrowing or refinancing right now. In fact, because inflation is well below the ECB’s target, the next move in short-term interest rates will in all likelihood be downwards again.

In addition, the pandession has led to levels of unemployment that are unprecedented, implying that the ECB will buy more government debt because falling tax revenue might trigger higher bond yields, which the ECB will not tolerate now.

‘Downward loop’

The theme of the talk was very much centred on the ECB stepping into an unprecedented situation and deploying all its tools to prevent what is termed the “downward loop” – when higher bond yields lead to less lending, leading to lower tax revenue and economic growth, leading to yet higher bond yields and the downward spiral takes hold.

The stakes are extremely high and, although not stated, the focus is on Italy and, to a lesser extent, Spain. The ECB will not give the markets any excuse to envelop the euro zone bond markets with “selling contagion”, the type of contagion that almost led to the euro unravelling in 2012-13 under the leadership of the hapless Jean-Claude Trichet.

If member states of the euro zone avail of the opportunities presented by the ECB, this will not happen. Italy provides “cover” for other euro zone countries, particularly smaller ones, to act assertively on the interest rate front.

In a general point, Lane suggested the euro zone economy won’t get back to 2019 levels until 2022 and, during this period of weakness, the ECB stands ready to do more. Therefore, these policies are likely to be with us for some time.

In one of his slides, Lane revealed that the ECB is currently buying just over 20 per cent of all new government bonds issued and that this figure will go higher if necessary. Such a commitment to buy means the market is reassured that anything it buys will be bought from it by the central bank. This provides endless liquidity and therefore profoundly reduces any risks in the euro zone bond market.

In plain English, this means the ECB has said to the governments, “Do whatever it takes to cushion the blow of Covid-19, we are behind you and we will buy whatever isn’t nailed down!”. The ECB has no intention of standing idly by.

This means that right now, because the ECB is behind us, if Ireland wanted to avail of these opportunities, the State could issue a “perpetual” bond to cover all investment spending, ranging from the New Green Deal or it could refinance the entire mortgage book of State-owned AIB, bringing the average mortgage rate in AIB down from around 4 per cent to 0.5 per cent. Where AIB goes the other banks will follow. If they don’t, they will shrink.

Interest rates

Imagine the relief of customers and the increase in take-home income if the same low rate of interest charged to the State were to be charged to the citizens? Given that the risk implicit in Irish government debt is only the aggregation of the Irish citizens’ ability to pay, there is no reason why the State and the citizen shouldn’t face the same rate of interest, particularly if those loans are collateralised by Irish property.

The ECB has said that everything is on the table. Today the average mortgage in Ireland pays 3.5 per cent interest and above. That is more than twice the 1.5-1.75 per cent rate that German and French mortgage holders pay in the same currency. Why?

Equally, the rate of interest faced by the State is almost zero; contrast that “free money” with the cost to the State in terms of lost taxes, unemployment and bankruptcies of letting the tourist/hospitality sectors go bust?

Prof Lane was clear this week. We are in extraordinary times, which demand extraordinary measures. We should not be hamstrung by rules that apply when things are normal because things are not normal. The chance of us getting back to normality will be determined by the courage and vision we show now.

In a crisis, we need new thinking. What was radical before the crisis becomes mainstream, and what was mainstream becomes redundant. When an institution such as the ECB, arguably the most conservative institution in Europe, is prepared to rip up its own rule book, you know the time has come to act differently.

What Jamaal Bowman’s Historic Win Represents For The Palestinian People

On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Jamaal Bowman made history by winning the Democratic Party primary in New York State’s 16th Congressional District. Here’s why his victory is so significant.

Bowman beat Eliot Engel, a 16-term incumbent Congressman who served as Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and had the backing of nearly the entire Democratic Party establishment, including former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. He is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and ran on an unabashedly progressive platform that included support for Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. He was outspent by a margin of two to one. And because Bowman had taken positions calling for justice for Palestinians, “dark money” pro-Israel super-PAC’s spent an additional $2,000,000 in independent expenditures in an effort to tear down his character and defeat him. Despite all of these challenges, Jamaal Bowman won, sending the message that change is on the way.

Bowman’s victory against an entrenched incumbent came on the heels of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 unseating of 10 term Congressman Joseph Crowley in the nearby 14th District of New York. There were similarities between the two races and some important differences.

Both Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman are young people of color who defeated older white men whose constituents in their congressional districts are majority minority voters. And because both of the young winners were community activists who had developed strong grass roots networks and the incumbent Members of Congress they were challenging had grown lazy and entitled, assuming their victories were assured, Bowman and Ocasio-Cortez represented both generational change and the importance of maintaining direct contact with the voters one seeks to represent.

Both of these upstart candidates were members of the DSA, running on a progressive agenda that promoted universal health care, a quality education, a decent job, a clean environment, and affordable housing as fundamental human rights. Both were endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders (Bowman was also endorsed by Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren), while Crowley and Engel had the support of the Democratic leadership in the Senate and House of Representatives. As such, they represent the insurgent left’s victories over the party’s centrist establishment.

While both of the defeated Members of Congress relied largely on large donations from big donors or political action committees to fund their campaigns, Bowman and Ocasio-Cortez raised their campaign funds from individual small donors – replicating the approach taken by Sanders in his 2016 and 2020 presidential runs. Their wins were victories for campaign finance reform.

These similarities aside, there were two fundamental differences between the Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman victories that contribute to making the Bowman win historic. Ocasio-Cortez’s victory was a shock that caught both Crowley and the Democratic establishment by surprise. Determined that it wouldn’t happen again, New York State’s Governor, its two Senators, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Clinton (in her only endorsement of the 2020 election) all lined up behind Engel. By winning against this formidable line-up, Bowman demonstrated that the progressive wave isn’t a fluke.

“Just as the police force is an intimidating force in so many black communities, I can connect to what it feels like for Palestinians to feel the presence of the military in their daily lives in the West Bank. I can also understand the crushing poverty and deprivation in the Gaza strip.”

And then there’s the role played by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While Ocasio-Cortez’s position on justice for Palestinians matches those of Bowman, it never became much of a factor in 2018, largely because Crowley hadn’t made it an issue and because Ocasio-Cortez’s race was run largely under the radar. She didn’t come under attack from pro-Israel groups until she was in Congress and came to the defense of her sister freshmen members, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.

Because Bowman was running against the very pro-Israel Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the party’s establishment and the pro-Israel lobby didn’t want a replay of the Ocasio-Cortez win, they invested heavily in the effort to defeat Bowman.

Engel had long been an AIPAC point person in Congress. In 2018, as he was poised to become the HCFA Chair, speaking at an AIPAC conference he pledged to use his position “to make sure that Israel continues to receive support… I want to tell you that I sit down with AIPAC on every piece of legislation that comes out.”

Protecting Engel was important. One AIPAC-allied group, Democratic Majority for Israel (DMI), spent more than $1.5 million in the Engel/Bowman race. And not unlike the $1.4 million they spent earlier this year to attack Bernie Sanders, their ads were largely personal attacks on Bowman’s character. The DMI was smart enough to know that there were no votes to be won by supporting Israel – since Democratic voters were so alienated by Netanyahu’s policies nothing was to be gained by selling spoiled goods.

Despite the money spent against him, Bowman never wavered. A week before the election, he was challenged by a rabbi from Riverdale, an affluent neighborhood in his district. In an “open letter” published in the Riverdale Press, the rabbi expressed his concern that Bowman was espousing anti-Israel views and made a number of rhetorically inflammatory charges – with Palestinian terrorism mentioned in seven consecutive paragraphs.

Bowman refused to accept the bait and instead responded in a deeply respectful “open letter” of his own in which he made clear his views on foreign policy, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “are rooted in the values of human dignity” and his life experiences. In one moving passage, he noted:

“The uprising across the country against police violence also makes me empathize with the everyday experience and fear that comes with living under occupation. Just as the police force is an intimidating force in so many black communities, I can connect to what it feels like for Palestinians to feel the presence of the military in their daily lives in the West Bank. I can also understand the crushing poverty and deprivation in the Gaza strip. I believe Palestinians have the same rights to freedom and dignity as my Jewish brothers and sisters. I will fight for their liberation just as hard as I will fight for yours.”

In the end, not only did Jamaal Bowman win, he won by a decisive margin carrying all areas of his district and all major demographic groups. Interestingly, from vote tallies I’ve seen, he also beat Engel in precincts that were heavily Jewish.

This is yet another reason why Jamaal Bowman’s victory was historic.

For decades, the pro-Israel lobby was able to carry the day in Congress because Members feared the repercussions of criticizing Israel. That tide is turning. Polls show that a majority of Democrats now support greater balance in US policy, oppose Netanyahu’s behavior, and believe that aid to Israel should be cut because of violations of Palestinian human rights. That’s why AIPAC was forced to “allow” Members of Congress to condemn Israel’s plans to annex West Bank lands. And now their efforts to hurt Jamaal Bowman and save Eliot Engel failed.

This isn’t the first time that AIPAC has lost in their effort to defeat an “enemy” or save a “friend.” And it may be too much to hope that Bowman’s win will finally shatter the myth of AIPAC’s invincibility. The most extreme elements of the pro-Israel lobby will not give up easily, so we must remain vigilant. But as Jamaal Bowman’s win demonstrates, change is coming and that is what makes his victory so historic.

How Inequality Fuels COVID-19 Deaths

High inequality undermines social cohesion, erodes public trust, and deepens political polarization, all of which negatively affect governments’ ability and readiness to respond to crises. This explains why the United States, Brazil, and Mexico account for nearly half of the world’s reported deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Three countries – the United States, Brazil, and Mexico – account for nearly half (46%) of the world’s reported COVID-19 deaths, yet they contain only 8.6% of the world’s population. Some 60% of Europe’s deaths are concentrated in just three countries – Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom – which account for 38% of Europe’s population. There were many fewer deaths and lower death rates in most of Northern and Central Europe.

Several factors determine a country’s COVID-19 death rate: the quality of political leadership, the coherence of the government’s response, the availability of hospital beds, the extent of international travel, and the population’s age structure. Yet one deep structural characteristic seems to be shaping the role of these factors: countries’ income and wealth distribution.

The US, Brazil, and Mexico have very high income and wealth inequality. The World Bank reports the respective Gini coefficients for recent years (2016-18) at 41.4 in the US, 53.5 in Brazil, and 45.9 in Mexico. (On a 100-point scale, a value of 100 signifies absolute inequality, with one person controlling all income or wealth, and zero means a completely equal distribution per person or household).

The US has the highest Gini coefficient among the advanced economies, while Brazil and Mexico are among the world’s most unequal countries. In Europe, Italy, Spain, and the UK – with Gini scores of 35.6, 35.3, and 34.8, respectively – are more unequal than their northern and eastern counterparts, such as Finland (27.3), Norway (28.5), Denmark (28.5), Austria (30.3), Poland (30.5), and Hungary (30.5).

The correlation of death rates per million and income inequality is far from perfect; other factors matter a lot. France’s inequality is on par with Germany’s, but its COVID-19 death rate is significantly higher. The death rate in relatively egalitarian Sweden is significantly higher than in its neighbors, because Sweden decided to keep its social distancing policies voluntary rather than mandatory. Relatively egalitarian Belgium was battered with very high reported death rates, owing partly to the authorities’ decision to report probable as well as confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

High income inequality is a social scourge in many ways. As Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson convincingly reported in two important books, The Spirit Level and The Inner Level, higher inequality leads to worse overall health conditions, which significantly increases vulnerability to COVID-19 deaths.

Moreover, higher inequality leads to lower social cohesion, less social trust, and more political polarization, all of which negatively affect governments’ ability and readiness to adopt strong control measures. Higher inequality means a larger proportion of low-income workers – from cleaners, cashiers, guards, and delivery persons to sanitation, construction, and factory workers – must continue their daily lives, even at the risk of infection. More inequality also means more people living in crowded living conditions and therefore unable to shelter safely.

Populist leaders exacerbate the enormous costs of inequality. US President Donald Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were elected by unequal and socially divided societies with the support of many disgruntled working-class voters (typically white, less-educated men who resent their declining social and economic status). But the politics of resentment is almost the opposite of the politics of epidemic control. The politics of resentment shuns experts, derides scientific evidence, and resents elites who work online telling workers who can’t to stay home.

The US is so unequal, politically divided, and badly governed under Trump that it has actually given up on any coherent national strategy to control the outbreak. All responsibilities have been shifted to state and local governments, which have been left to fend for themselves. Heavily armed right-wing protesters have, on occasion, mobbed state capitals to oppose restrictions on business activity and personal mobility. Even face masks have become politicized: Trump refuses to wear one, and he recently said that some people do so only to express their disapproval of him. The result is that his followers gleefully reject wearing them, and the virus, which started in the “blue” (Democratic) coastal states, is now hitting Trump’s base in “red” (Republican) states hard.

Brazil and Mexico are mimicking US politics. Bolsonaro and Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador are quintessential populists in the Trump mold, mocking the virus, disdaining expert advice, making light of the risks, and flamboyantly rejecting personal protection. They are also guiding their countries into a Trumpian disaster.

With the exception of Canada and all too few other places, the countries of North and South America are being ravaged by the virus, because almost the entire Western hemisphere shares a legacy of mass inequality and pervasive racial discrimination. Even well-governed Chile fell prey to violence and instability last year, owing to high and chronic inequality. This year, Chile (along with Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru) has suffered one the world’s highest COVID-19 death rates.

Inequality is certainly not a death sentence. China is rather unequal (with a Gini score of 38.5), but its national and provincial governments adopted rigorous control measures after the initial Wuhan outbreak, essentially suppressing the virus. The recent outbreak in Beijing, after weeks of zero confirmed new cases, resulted in renewed lockdowns and massive testing.

In most other countries, however, we are witnessing once again the enormous costs of mass inequality: inept governance, social distrust, and a huge population of vulnerable people unable to protect themselves from encroaching harms. Alarmingly, the epidemic itself is widening inequalities even further.

The rich now work and thrive online (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s wealth has risen by $49 billion since the start of the year, thanks to the decisive shift to e-commerce), while the poor are losing their jobs and often their health and lives. And the costs of inequality are sure to rise further, as revenue-starved governments slash budgets and public services vital for the poor.

But a reckoning is coming. In the absence of coherent, capable, and trustworthy governments that can implement an equitable and sustainable pandemic response and strategy for economic recovery, the world will succumb to further waves of instability generated by a growing array of global crises.

Cornel West Discusses This Moment Of ‘Escalating Consciousness’ And The Need For Radical Democracy

While the mainstream news media’s attention has mostly moved on to other things, the George Floyd protests continue into a fourth week. The Black Lives Matter movement is gaining momentum, in both small majority-white communities and larger more racially diverse cities. Confederate statues and other monuments to white supremacy are being torn down by protesters. Internationally, BLM continues to expand its influence.

There are broad shifts in public opinion, where white Americans – at least for now – are increasingly acknowledging that racism and other forms of social injustice exist and limit the life chances of their fellow Black and brown Americans. Such changes in the public mood are necessary precursors for enacting public policies that can help ameliorate the harm caused by structural and institutional racism and white supremacy in the United States.

Writing for Jacobin, sociologist Douglas McAdam, a leading scholar of social movements, describes this moment:

At least since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August of 2014, every publicized death of an African American at the hands of police has triggered a spasm of protest — before winding down. … The protests that have erupted across the United States in the three weeks since the horrific killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day are very different. … Given this is an ongoing and young movement, it is hard to get a systematic handle on the demographics of the protesters, but there is simply no denying the diversity of those taking part.

McAdam continues by arguing that “we appear to be experiencing a social change tipping point that is as rare as it is potentially consequential”:

The best we can hope for is to do everything we can to maintain the momentum, energy, and inclusive, pragmatic, and nonviolent character of the current protests. Our goal should be twofold: to capitalize on the possibilities for change inherent in this moment, and to begin to pivot toward forms of electoral mobilization crucial to success in the fall. The survival of American democracy will likely depend on how successfully we attend to this agenda.

The political terrain in America is shifting rapidly. The George Floyd protests, in combination with the pain caused by Trump’s neofascist regime, a broken economy and a lethal pandemic that has now killed more than 120,000 Americans, are a series of system shocks that cannot be ignored by the country’s elites.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand.” The question now becomes, how will the powerful respond?

In an effort to answer this question I recently spoke with philosopher, public intellectual, activist, scholar and author Dr. Cornel West, who is professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard and a professor emeritus at Princeton. He is the author of several bestselling books, including “Democracy Matters,” “Race Matters” and “Black Prophetic Fire.”

In this conversation West counsels that the American people must prepare for a long and brutal reaction from the country’s right-wing elites to the rising demands for social justice. He warns that Donald Trump and his regime constitute a neofascist disaster that could doom any hope for multiracial social democracy in America, which is why supporting Joe Biden — despite his party’s harmful allegiance to neoliberal gangster capitalism — is a necessary compromise for our country’s survival, and the world’s.

We have seen something beautiful in America and around the world these last few weeks as so many hundreds of thousands of people have protested and risen up because of the police murder of George Floyd. The people marched and kept on going, even though the police beat them, tear-gassed them, shot them with rubber bullets and arrested them. People of conscience did not stop even in the face of raw state power.
Lord, yes, it was beautiful. Anytime you see human beings straighten their backs up and are willing to walk together, struggle together, sing together, and fight together — whatever color they may be — there is a moral majesty and a spiritual beauty that cannot be denied. But now we have got to get ready for the neofascist clampdown and the white backlash. That is what is on the horizon.

How do we prepare the American people for that backlash and revenge? The empire always strikes back.
Very much so, and especially when the empire is weak and desperate.

There is Trump’s personal desperation because he is a neofascist gangster but there is also an entire political system that knows it cannot reform itself. The American political system and the corporate-ocracy and the neoliberal gangster capitalists know that they cannot meet the people’s escalating demands.

So there is Trump’s backlash to prepare for, but there is also the reaction from the neoliberal milquetoast Democrats, such as Nancy Pelosi and others in the Democratic Party leadership who are putting on kente cloth and acting like somehow they’ve been on the cutting edge of the struggle for human rights and human dignity and justice.

The neoliberal Democrats have been in power for years while Black brothers and sisters have been getting shot and killed and otherwise abused by the police, but those same Democrats have pushed through crime bills and militarized America’s police. All of a sudden those neoliberal Democrats put on some kente cloth, get down on one knee, and we are supposed to think that they are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s second cousin? Please. Give me a break. It is absurd.

Is George Floyd a martyr?
I do believe that George Floyd is a martyr. The Greek origins of the word “martyr” is “witness.” “Witness” and “martyr” are almost synonymous.

You can bear witness to something without necessarily having a design for the particular act that your act of witnessing would generate such a response to.

I think Emmett Till was a martyr. But when Emmett was standing outside of that grocery store, he wasn’t thinking about Frederick Douglass. But his witness became one in which his death was a catalyst for a wave of social action and contributed to the civil rights movement. George Floyd’s death is now the catalyst for a social movement here in the United States and also abroad. But Floyd of course is a different type of martyr than Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Jr.

Malcolm and Martin had a deliberate design and many years of acts where they offered up a public critique of American empire and social injustice. Based on what I know — and I may be wrong — George Floyd did not have that type of ideological worldview.

Floyd’s primary witness was that he was the brother who had a heart of gold that connected him to people around him. He supported them, he made them feel good. And even when he went astray and he got into some criminal activity and so forth, even in prison they say he was just as kind and helpful and supportive of people. That is a type of witness too. There are many different kinds of martyrs.

Are we seeing a paradigm shift in America, with the George Floyd protests and people’s uprising? Being in the middle of what feels like great change often robs one of a larger context and perspective.
No. What we are seeing with the protests and people’s uprising is not a paradigm shift. I wish it was. A paradigm shift would have to connect the critique of police murder and brutality with a critique of Wall Street and the Pentagon simultaneously. That’s a paradigm shift. Right now, we are seeing an escalating type of consciousness, which is beautiful, about police brutality. But we are not seeing a paradigm shift in this country.

What are your thoughts about Barack Obama’s comments about the killing of George Floyd and the public’s reaction?
What Obama has offered so far in this time of protests and positive social energy consists of nice little clichés and platitudes. Barack Obama is a brilliant brother. He’s got tremendous charisma and poise, and no one can ever take away his historic significance as the first Black president in the symbolic sense. But when it comes to issues of substance, history is not going to be kind to Barack Obama. Black Lives Matter started during his presidency. The Democrats had control of the House and Senate. Did Obama and the Democrats do anything substantive when all those Black brothers and sisters were being shot and killed and otherwise brutalized by America’s police? Barack and the Democrats did not say a mumbling word about the new Jim Crow during his and their time in power.

Obama, with the Republicans, also moved the country towards austerity. He was dropping bombs with drones in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. Obama decided to become part of a neoliberal regime that had blood on its hands and still does. Obama and the neoliberal Democrats now want to act like they are members of the Black Lives Matter movement. Please, that is absurd.

A juxtaposition of images. We saw an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, being smothered to death by a white police officer while begging, “I can’t breathe.” We also have the image of that 75-year-old white brother being pushed down by the police in Buffalo, suffering a serious brain injury, bleeding from the ears, and the police walking over him like he was human trash. How are you making sense of those two images?
It is the typical gangster attitude of saying and doing anything and then thinking that you can get away with it. A white cop thought he could kill a Black man, publicly lynch him, all the while keeping his hands in his pocket like he’s a big game hunter. That white cop in Minneapolis killed George Floyd like it was as natural as breathing.

The same thing is true with the white brother in Buffalo who was knocked over by the police. Blood coming out of his ears. The police see him lying there and they just keep on walking. It’s not just the callousness, it’s not just the indifference. It’s the get-away-with-anything quality of the gangster culture that we’re dealing with in America among the powerful.

Trump epitomizes this at the highest level. He thinks he can say and do anything and get away with it. Wall Street believes that it can say and do anything — and they do get away with it. When Trump talks about “law and order,” he does not mean policing Wall Street.

Some of the biggest crimes in the last 50 years in America have been committed by Wall Street with its insider trading, market manipulation, fraudulent activity and predatory lending — much of the latter targeting Black people. How many Wall Street executives go to jail? Basically zero. They walked away with many billions of dollars. That is on the same continuum as what the police did to that white brother in Buffalo and our Black brother in Minneapolis.

What happens when a whole culture becomes infested with gangsters at the very top? Neofascist leaders such as Donald Trump. The neoliberals as a class are complicitous. And that includes Black neoliberals too. It includes the decadent Black leadership class. Gangster culture is a problem across the board in America.

Why do you think the police killing of George Floyd has resonated with so many people in America and around the world? Especially our white brothers and sisters? There is nothing new about police thuggery and brutality against Black and other nonwhite people in America.
I do not believe there is an adequate answer to that question right now. History has a mystery and an unpredictability about it. We could chart out the factors, such as the pandemic and people being on lockdown, which forced them to think about issues many of them would have otherwise ignored.

We could also talk about Depression-like levels of unemployment and underemployment. That almost always generates some kind of social disruption.

We could talk about Trump’s neofascist ways that are more and more difficult to deny. All of those factors play some role, but we never really know why what happened with George Floyd sparked this reaction, as opposed to the tragedy with Eric Garner. The American people saw him die, too. He was lynched publicly. But ultimately, I do not know.

But the crucial thing is we got to fortify ourselves for what is coming in terms of the backlash and keeping the struggle alive.

Given the legal precedents, Derek Chauvin and the other Minneapolis police officers who murdered George Floyd are not going to be convicted.
The system is unable to reform itself. Banning chokeholds is not going to result in police going to jail for their crimes, because the problem is systemic and includes the judges, the prosecutors, the jury and an entire American cultural problem. The system is ultimately too tight and inflexible to allow for the fundamental change that is required for real justice.

This is another example of how and why Martin King Jr. was so very correct when he called for a nonviolent revolution in America. If a society cannot democratically share its wealth, power, respect and resources, it is not going to be a real democracy.

Do people of conscience push the American empire over the cliff and try to remake it, or do they try to hold onto it and fix it?
We must democratize it. Remember that Brother Martin King Jr. turned to Harry Belafonte and said, “I think we’re integrating into a burning house.” Harry said, “Martin, what do we do?” And he said, “We got to become firemen and women.”

Now some people would say, “You’ve got to just burn it down or help to burn it down.” No, you don’t burn down the house when your babies are in there! You don’t burn down the house when your mother is in there!

As the empire is about to go off the cliff, we the people must stop it and hold these greedy Wall Street elites accountable. We have to make sure that the military budget is massively reduced so that America can make a huge investment in its poor communities, especially Black, poor, and brown and indigenous people’s communities.

We must have radical democratization because the American empire does have a history of freedom fighters inside it. That is where we as Black folks come from. Never forget that as the American empire burns down it will be poor Black and brown folks who will suffer first.

We have to fully democratize America to save it. But it can’t be cheap, neoliberal so-called reformism, because that is not going to work. Certainly, it can’t be the neofascists. We are even willing to vote for these milquetoast, mediocre neoliberals in order to push out the fascists, because the situation is so dire with Donald Trump and his Republican Party.

This is why Black Americans and many others are voting for this neoliberal disaster with Joe Biden and the Democrats, because we are trying to push out a neofascist catastrophe. People understand the difference between a disaster and a catastrophe. And the difference is huge.

If one were to take a snapshot of these last few weeks, and Trump’s time in office more generally, it might look as though America is unmoored from time. Violent armed white mobs are patrolling American towns to stop Black Lives Matter activists and anti-fascists from protesting. The Ku Klux Klan is emboldened and encouraged by Donald Trump. Nazis and other fascists have been engaging in terrorist violence. Trumpism is a rejection of the civil rights movement and embraces a new type of Jim Crow. Police are running amok brutalizing nonwhite people and their allies who are marching and protesting for social justice. What advice do you have for people who feel disoriented right now?
Multiracial solidarity is so fundamental in this moment. You must come to terms with your fears because these are not the times for summer soldiers. We got to be all-season love and justice warriors.

When I was in Charlottesville standing in front of white supremacist gangsters in 2017, you look in the eyes of those folks and you saw folks who were willing to live and die to subordinate Black people, just like the Confederate Army did. For all their hatred and the corruption of their souls, they did have a particular kind of courage. But we have to have even more courage in our struggle for love and justice than the courage they have for hatred. White supremacists are willing to live and die for their cause. They really are. I saw it with my own eyes.

Donald Trump’s supporters are willing to die and kill for him. The Democratic Party does not understand what it is up against. How are you making sense of this crisis? And how can good people of conscience prepare themselves for this perilous moment — especially as matters become even more dangerous with the approach of Election Day?
Remember what Martin King Jr. told the marchers in Birmingham. He said, “When you come to this movement, I want you to put on your cemetery clothes, because the people who we are fighting are themselves willing to die. And if we are not willing to die, we’ll never win.”

Remember and draw strength from Martin King Jr. and his wisdom when he said, “I’d rather be dead than afraid.”

We must come to the freedom struggle with our cemetery clothes and be coffin-ready, because these folks are willing to die. You have got to keep fighting. Don’t give up. Don’t sell out. Don’t cave in. You’ve got to stay in motion. You’ve got to keep on pushing and fighting, no matter what. Be faithful until death, until you can’t push no more, and then it’s over. You pass it on to the next generation and that is what is most crucial.

Bill McKibben On What Could Possibly Go Right?

In this episode of What Could Possibly Go Right? Conversations with Cultural Scouts, host Vicki Robins interviews McKibben about our concurrent crises of climate change, the pandemic, and racial injustice, and the lessons we can glean to build solidarity to make systemic change.


Big Tech Must Be Broken Up

The combined wealth of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Google’s Sergey Brin, and Larry Page is larger than the combined wealth of the bottom half of the American population.

They are the leaders of a second Gilded Age – ushered in by semiconductors, software and the internet – which has spawned a handful of hi-tech behemoths and crushed competition.

Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft now have the highest market values for all public corporations in America.

As of today, only three countries in the world have a GDP higher than these companies’ combined market value of approximately 4 trillion dollars.

America’s first Gilded Age began in the late nineteenth century with a raft of innovations – railroads, steel production, oil extraction – that culminated in mammoth trusts run by “robber barons” like J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and William Vanderbilt.

The answer then was to break up the railroad, oil, and steel monopolies.

The answer today is the same: Break Up Big Tech.

First: They have a stranglehold on the economy.

Nearly 90 percent of all internet searches now go through Google. Facebook and Google together will account for nearly 60 percent of all digital ad spending in 2019 (where most ad money goes these days).

They’re also the first stops for many Americans seeking news (93 percent of Americans say they receive at least some news online). Amazon is now the first stop for almost half of all American consumers seeking to buy anything online.

With such size comes the power to stifle innovation.

Google uses its search engine to promote its own products and content over those of its competitors, like Yelp. Facebook’s purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram killed off two potential rivals. Apple stifles competition in its App Store.

Partly because of this economic concentration, the rate that new job-creating businesses have formed in the United States has almost halved since 2004, according to the Census Bureau.

Second: Such size also gives these giant corporations political power to get whatever they want, undermining our democracy.

In 2018, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft spent 70.9 million dollars on lobbying and supporting candidates.

As a result, Amazon – the richest corporation in America– paid nothing in federal taxes last year. Meanwhile, it held a bidding war to extort billions from states and cities eager to have its second headquarters.

Not to mention, these companies have tremendous influence over how Americans receive information. And as we’ve seen, Facebook and Google have enabled the manipulation of our elections.

Third: Giant tech companies also hurt the environment. 

Many are failing to reduce greenhouse emissions, as they promised, and are unwilling to commit fully to renewable energy.

Finally: Their huge wealth isn’t being shared with most of their workers. 

Nine in 10 workers in Silicon Valley make less now than they did in 1997, adjusted for inflation. And many are part of the “working homeless.” That is, people who work full time and yet are still homeless.

The answer is to break them up. That way, information would be distributed through a large number of independent channels instead of a centralized platform. And more startups could flourish.

Even one of Facebook’s founders has called for the social media behemoth to be broken up.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced a proposal to do just that. It would force tech giants to open up their platforms to more competition or break up into smaller companies.

Other countries are already taking on Big Tech. The European Union fined Google nearly $3 billion for antitrust violations in 2017.

Let’s be clear: Monopolies aren’t good for anyone except for the monopolists, especially when they can influence our elections and control how Americans receive information.

In this new Gilded Age, we need to respond to them as forcefully as we did to the monopolies of the first Gilded Age and break them up.

What Stands In The Way Of Making The Climate A Priority

Inertia and vested interest, it seems to me, are the two forces that make changing the system for the better so rare. Once things are as they are, some group benefits from them—and that group usually has more of a stake in maintaining the status quo than others have in changing it.

But, as I wrote last week, moments arise when the Zeitgeist is threatened—when what is considered normal, natural, and obvious seems suddenly up for grabs. Right now, traditional policing seems less obvious than it did a month ago, and, though the police unions and the administrators will work hard to make that thought disappear, at least for the moment, the discipline and the passion of the people marching and organizing are actually overcoming the tendency for the focus to drift away. And, as a result, all of a sudden the rest of us notice that a few people have been hard at work all along, imagining why it might not make sense to send combat-ready troops into our cities to deal with the slight but inevitable tensions of living together in a society. Here, for instance, is a series of interviews on CNN about how one might deal with speeders or drunk drivers without tickets or arrests. When you first listen, you think, That’s different—would it really work? But that’s the good thing about moments like this: our minds are open to new possibilities in ways that they usually aren’t.

Inertia and interest are the main reasons our energy systems have been slow to change, even though rapid climate change represents the ultimate in imaginable violence, injustice, and chaos. (Indeed, the evidence shows that, around the world, emissions are “surging” back to typical levels as societies emerge from the post-sheltering phase of the coronavirus pandemic.) Sometimes, the efforts of vested interests are almost comical. Consider, for instance, the fact that many of our homes have a large tank of flammable gas that we burn when we wish to heat our food, resulting not only in global warming but also in levels of indoor air pollution that are often so high they would be illegal were they outside. At some point in our history, this was perhaps an improvement over burning wood or dung. But now we have easy-to-use and more affordable induction cooktops, which make far more sense (at least in new homes, where there’s no sunk investment in cooktops and ranges). Some jurisdictions have started mandating the installation of such electric appliances in new construction, threatening the power of the incumbent inflammable technology. I’ve written in this column before of the California gas-workers’ union that, as the journalist Sammy Roth discovered, threatened a “no-social-distancing” protest in a town, at the height of the pandemic, in an effort to block such a law. Now Rebecca Leber, writing in Mother Jones, reports that the natural-gas industry is systematically paying Instagram influencers to plug its product with a targeted audience of “hispanic millennials,” “design enthusiasts,” “promising families,” and “young city solos.”

But inertia plays as large a role as interest, sometimes. A couple of weeks ago, the Washington Post ran an excellent account of the effort to make the Empire State Building more energy efficient. Aided by gurus from the Rocky Mountain Institute, who have been working on such projects for decades, the management changed out old lights, added insulating film to the building’s sixty-five hundred windows, stuck reflecting foil behind the radiators, and provided “regenerative braking” for the building’s seventy-three elevators, so that, when they slow down, the extra electricity is returned to batteries. These and other changes reduced the building’s electricity use not by five or ten per cent but by forty per cent. Forty is a big number, considering that the tenants still get the same use from their offices, which are as well lit, warmed, cooled, and ventilated as before. We obviously have to install a lot of solar panels and wind turbines in the next decade to meet climate goals, but if we cut electricity use by forty per cent we’d have to install far fewer. That we haven’t done so is, I think, mostly a function of that inertia. If you’re running a building, you have many jobs: finding tenants, collecting and raising rents, providing basic services and maintenance. And business school might not have taught you about regenerative braking. But now you may have to learn: last week, the Times reported that even institutions as sacred as the thirty-year mortgage are under threat, as banks start figuring out they don’t want to be left holding properties that are literally underwater. As the great poet James Russell Lowell once observed, “New occasions teach new duties.” The past seven years have been the hottest ever recorded, and, on Saturday, a spot on the Siberian coast became the northernmost place on Earth to record a temperature of a hundred degrees Fahrenheit; this is a new occasion.

Passing the Mic

R. L. Miller is a California climate activist who, for some years, has run a PAC called Climate Hawks Vote, which tries to elect candidates who are particularly eager to combat global warming. (I’ve sat on the board of the group.) She has also served as chair of the climate caucus in the California Democratic Party, and has just been elected by fellow California Party members to the Democratic National Committee, with the goal of making the climate a priority in the campaign.

What’s the strategy for the D.N.C.?

Top priority right now is the platform! I ran for the D.N.C. on a platform of transparency and accountability. I was particularly fired up about the D.N.C. leadership’s refusal to hold a climate debate.

The D.N.C. Climate Council has released a bold, visionary set of policy recommendations. I helped set up the council, and am on its advisory board, but can’t take credit for drafting the recommendations. Check out the platform!

Separately, the Biden-Sanders unity task forces are finishing up their work and are due to release their recommendations soon. I don’t know whether those recommendations will play into the platform. Everything has been done behind closed doors, and I’ve heard rumors that the recommendations may not be made public. Having said that, there are some very good people on the climate task force, whom I trust to convey the urgency of the climate crisis.

Finally, there’s the official platform-drafting committee of the D.N.C. Apparently, the Climate Council’s work has offended some old-school types at the D.N.C. To be clear, I’ve been elected to the insurgent wing of the D.N.C.! If the official platform committee is doing anything at all, besides sniffing at insurgents, it’s not happening in public. So I believe the D.N.C. needs to be holding public hearings on the platform.

Poll after poll during primary season showed climate change was the top priority for young voters, and second only to health care for Democratic voters in general. Do you sense that the Party is ready to make it a priority, too? What stands in the way?

What stands in the way of making climate a priority is a lot of old-school Democrats—some in trade-union labor and some just plain establishment folk—who think that bold climate action will cost us key states. And they’re badly missing the point. Poll after poll after poll shows that the American people are hungry for bold climate action. People generally see the enormous job potential of a hundred-per-cent clean-energy transition.

And then there’s the scary part. What I’ll be taking to the D.N.C. is a very personal perspective on a climate-fuelled disaster. The Woolsey Fire, of November, 2018, came within five hundred feet of my home. I heard about it early enough, via Twitter, that I was able to evacuate my frail, elderly mother safely. I watched my children’s childhood memories burn down on national television: their preschool, their soccer fields, their neighborhood parks. I remain nervous and jumpy every October, when the hot Santa Ana winds blow. I don’t know if anyone else on the D.N.C. can say they’ve been directly affected by a climate disaster. But it changes one’s perspective.

You keep track of lots of congressional and local races around the country. Who are the candidates you’re watching most fondly?

Everyone who’s not focussed on the Presidential race is working hard on flipping the Senate. At Climate Hawks Vote, we’ve endorsed Mark Kelly, in Arizona, and Jaime Harrison, in South Carolina, both of whom were unopposed in their primaries. We stand with every other green group in the nation for Ed Markey, of Massachusetts, the co-author of the Green New Deal and countless other climate bills.

Probably the best race from a climate perspective is the Colorado Senate primary, on June 30th. Andrew Romanoff is running explicitly on a Green New Deal, and his initial climate ad went viral. Washington Democrats prefer John Hickenlooper, known unfondly as Frackenlooper. Romanoff has recently gained ground on Hickenlooper in the polls.

At the same time, there’s room for more real climate hawks in the House. Too many Democrats, still, pay lip service to the climate crisis, but witness how rank-and-file members of Congress have had to beg leadership for crumbs of clean-energy tax-credit extensions. We’ve endorsed Cathy Kunkel—yes, there are climate hawks in West Virginia—and Christy Smith, in California, and are planning more endorsements.

[I should note, for the record, that I’ve done events with the Kunkel and Romanoff campaigns as well.]

Climate School

Speaking of bracing challenges to business as usual, the invaluable Kate Aronoff offers an update on New York City activists’ plans to turn the fetid penal colony on Rikers Island into a solar farm. A quarter of the island’s real estate could provide enough energy to turn off the gas “peaker” plants scattered around the city, many of them in the communities housing the people of color who, at the moment, end up on Rikers in disproportionate numbers. An alternate plan? Another runway for LaGuardia, which would pretty much define business as usual.

A warming climate causes sharp increases in stillbirths and low-birth-weight babies, according to a new study. During the hot months of the year, a one-degree-Celsius increase in temperature in the week before delivery raised the chances of stillbirth six per cent, and—per usual—the effect was worse for black mothers. “Black moms matter,” one of the study’s authors said. “It’s time to really be paying attention to groups that are the most vulnerable.”

There has been some alarm in the climate-science community these past weeks over a new study suggesting that the planet’s temperature may rise even faster than feared. According to this new research, clouds seem to exacerbate warming, so the damage from doubling carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may be a rise of five degrees Celsius, not three. There has been some pushback, too, from climate experts such as nasa’s Gavin Schmidt, who argues that the consensus figures are probably more likely to be accurate, and that any reëvaluation is at best “premature.” It seems to me that this debate overshadows the more important growing sense that any given temperature rise produces more ecological havoc than scientists predicted. With global temperatures up just one degree, for instance, we have seen a hellish heat wave across Siberia. A sobering account in the Guardian reports that, among other things, “swarms of the Siberian silk moth, whose larvae eat at conifer trees, have grown rapidly in the rising temperatures.” A moth expert named Vladimir Soldatov told a reporter, “In all my long career, I’ve never seen moths so huge and growing so quickly.”

“Everywhere I have been—inside BP, as well as outside—I have come away with one inescapable conclusion,” Bernard Looney, the C.E.O. of the British oil giant, said in a speech in February. “We have got to change.” Maybe the company is set on shifting, as the Times reported last week, but Amy Westervelt—whose Drilled blog is an endless source of good information—got her hands on a video of Looney talking to his own troops. “We’re probably going to be in oil and gas for decades to come,” he says, “because how else is that eight-billion-dollar dividend going to get serviced?”

An interesting examination by Ted Nordhaus and Seaver Wang of the reasons that some East Asian countries may be turning away from nuclear energy proposes that the trend may be less because of the technology and more because of nuclear power’s historical ties to regimes now out of favor.

The Irish government seems close to becoming a world climate leader: if the various parties agree, a new “programme for government” would not only mandate seven-per-cent annual emissions cuts but would also stop all new exploration for oil and gas in Irish waters, and would ban the importation of fracked gas from the United States. (Though there’s always a local angle: the proposal doesn’t put a solid end date on the practice of burning peat.)

In the United Kingdom, the veteran campaigner Jonathon Porritt, whose activism stretches back to the nineteen-eighties, has a new book out, “Hope in Hell,” which argues that this could be the “climate decade”—but only if we summon “a sense of intergenerational solidarity as older generations come to understand their own obligation to secure a safer world for their children and grandchildren.”


A rather large win this past week: the Vatican Catholics to divest from fossil-fuel companies—indeed, to “shun” them. The Vatican Bank said that it is following this advice.

Warming Up

If there’s one thing this newsletter appreciates, it’s good organizing, especially when no one sees it coming. Apparently, K-pop stans played no small role in persuading the Trump campaign that massive crowds of true believers were heading for its Tulsa kickoff rally, instead of the less-than-sell-out number that actually showed up. I think BTS would almost certainly sell out the B.O.K. Center, and with luck they’d perform “Not Today.”

“You want a new world, too? Oh, baby, yes I want it.”


Stephanie Kelton On Modern Monetary Theory

Kelton joins Slate Money’s Emily Peck, Felix Salmon, and Anna Szymanski for a long awaited episode on Modern Monetary Theory. She answers their many questions about MMT and discusses her book The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy.