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Economic propaganda—not education

from David Ruccio

There’s no doubt, after the crash of 2007-08, students—including those in middle schools—could use more economics education.

Unfortunately, they’re not getting it. They’re just being exposed to propaganda.

“What is the basic economic problem all societies face?” April Higgins asks her sixth-grade class.

Ava Watson, raises her hand: “Scarcity.”

The teacher asks for a definition and the class responds, in unison: “People have unlimited wants but limited resources.”

Not bad for a bunch of sixth-graders.

What April Higgins is engaged in is not economics education. It’s just neoclassical economics.

You see, there is no single “economic problem.” It all depends on which theory we’re looking at. According to neoclassical economists, all societies in all places and times have faced the same problem: scarcity. And, of course, private property and markets are their proposed solution.

But that’s not the economic problem as defined by Keynesians (how to analyze and use the visible hand of government to get out of less-than-full-employment equilibria) or Marxists (how is the surplus produced, appropriated, and distributed and how can exploitation be eliminated) or many other schools of thought.

The fact is, middle-school economics education (like high-school, undergraduate, and graduate economics education) is dominated by one school of thought, one approach among many, that is presented as “economics.” In the singular.

And that’s because it’s run by the Council for Economic Education and stipulated, in some instances, by government decree:

The Texas education code states that economics must be taught with an emphasis on the free market system and its benefits.

Economics education, at any level, means exposing students to and having them grapple with the assumptions and consequences of different economic theories and systems. Focusing only on one approach and system—neoclassical economic theory and capitalism—is just propaganda.

  1. graccibros
    March 4, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Thanks David, I’m worried about this issue as well. It sent me scrambling to find an issue of the NY Review of Books which contained an article by Michael Massing, former editor of the Columbia Journalism Review entitled “How to Cover the One Percent.” It was in the Jan. 14, 2016 Print Edition (Volume LXIII, Number 1 if you’re trying to find it online).

    On the second page of the article is this long paragraph, so bear with me, but I think readers will find it worth it:

    “In 2009, for instance, the billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson gave New York University $20 million to create both an Alan Greenspan Chair in economics and a John A. Paulson Professor of Finance and alternative Investments. In 2010, the Peter G. Peterson foundation, which is dedicated to reducing government spending and the national debt, gave a three-year $2.45 million grant to Columbia University’s Teachers College to develop a curriculum ‘about the fiscal challenges that face the nation,’ to be distributed free to every high school in the country. The philanthropic arm of BB & T, a financial services company in the North Carolina, has given millions to more than sixty colleges and universities to examine the ‘moral foundations of capitalism’ and promote the works of Ayn Rand. What has been the impact of these donations? How much control, if any, do the donors have over what’s taught? The type of website I’m proposing would seek to answer such questions.”

    Now it’s hard to say, for me at least, which of these donations is more troubling; maybe the Peterson Foundation one to Columbia because it superficially seems more neutral, but it’s scope of reach is breath-taking. I tried to do some follow up with Columbia to see what type of review board them might have set up to make sure the content was as neutral as possible, but that’s never easy even if the grant were given over entirely to economists themselves free from Peterson fiscal bias looking over their shoulders. So if anyone knows what the final product was like or can share some insights into the process, by all means chime in.

    And notice that there are no large donor grants to set up the Robert Heilbroner, Robert Lekachman, Michael Harrington or George Lichtheim chairs or educational material in their names…it all slants Right with varying degrees. Not even the ending to Greenspan’s term with the Great Financial Crisis and his role in deregulation, “Greenlighting” it, prevents the honors.

    • March 7, 2016 at 9:42 am

      I agree wholeheartedly. It’s an issue of how vested interests pursue the indoctrination of thee future economist-minions. The narrative spreads like a virus through the minds of the students, it is picked up by the rest of the population and by the politicians and lawmakers. An idea thus becomes “reality”, “truth” and “fact based” and in last instance “immutable”.
      Witness the current debate(s) on basic income and the screaming attacks from the proponents of the neoclassical model.

      • graccibros
        March 7, 2016 at 5:35 pm

        Yes, Redditobase:

        And that’s what Sheldon Wolin feared in the book I listed second, “Democracy Inc.” The depoliticization of the general population and the highly ideological nature of field of economics, which young students are perhaps least likely to be able to identify, unravel and act on…given their dependencies…(of which there are lots more after they graduate…)

        I have read all the reservations about lists and counter lists, and I share those reservations…and I drew up a paragraph of books and articles which I left out that I could add or substitute…my point in doing so was not to be pedantic or to start and ideologically correct list to answer the Right’s famous names of Hayek, Rand and Friedman…I’m sure there are Right wing lists at the think tanks and U of Chi…
        …but rather my purpose was to jolt the students I spoke to a bit, and also, because I sent out a little essay about it to my Email list and posted at the DailyKos where I am BillofRights, precisely to counter the depoliticization I see all around me in a little red state area in a supposedly blue state. You can ask Bernie Sanders about the lack of power to alternative economic ideas in deep red states…yes it race trumping class interest…but there is nothing out there to balance the equation more towards class and mutual economic interest. How come there is no “right to a job” to go with “right to health care” and that’s from a candidate who plugged FDR’s Second Bill of Rights?

      • March 7, 2016 at 8:03 pm

        I’m with you on efforts to expand interactions on how and why economic actions are organized as they are and some of the alternatives to these. As Twitter and Facebook prove everyday helping things go “viral” can have significant and widespread impacts. But also as Twitter and Facebook show most of these “viral” processes don’t last very long. How to make such considerations durable and useful are the real concerns we must deal with. And then how to translate them from gossip and “bitching” to changes in collective organization, even against opposition?

      • March 7, 2016 at 7:54 pm

        Don’t get too carried away about “vested interests.” We’re all involved in vested interests. In work we believe in and want to see expanded. In the way government is organized and carried out. In how our lives are organized, and who/what has the right to organize them. Earlier versions of “economics” had vested interests in well functioning households and nations, focused on the ways a study of these could help societies prosper and endure. Neoclassical economists had different vested interests. Many of which are opposed by the vested interests of authors on this blog. And compromises are often the order of the day.

  2. March 5, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Who would trust Fox News or the Wall Street Journal to publish textbooks dealing with labor issues. By the same token, why should this be any different for McGraw-Hill or Newsweek magazine in the 1940s?

    In the 1940s, Mason Britton, vice chairman of the McGraw-Hill board of directors chaired the Advertising Federation of America which spearheaded the campaign against Harold Rugg’s social studies textbooks.

    Joining the Advertising Federation and the American Legion’s campaign against the Rugg textbooks, the National Association of Manufacturers commissioned Columbia professor Ralph Robey to review 600 textbooks. Robey wrote the Newsweek economics column from 1937 to 1946 that was subsequently taken over by Henry Hazlitt when Robey moved on to become chief economist of the NAM

    In his 1958 article, “How Pressure Groups Operate,” Henry Turner wrote, “The National Association of Manufacturers and other groups have prepared and distributed to the public schools posters, booklets, books, radio skits, film strips, and other ‘teaching aids.’ In 1957 the NAM announced that it distributed “at least two million booklets” free to the schools every year.’5 The gas and electric public utilities during the 1920’s surveyed textbooks and suggested changes in the presentation of materials regarding public utilities. Approximately three decades later an official of the National Association of Real Estate Boards told a Congressional committee that his organization had stimulated the writing of textbooks that were used ‘in 127 colleges and universities in teaching . . . the economics of real estate.'”

    From the 1920s to the 1950s, the NAM boasted about teaching the college economics teachers and writing the textbooks. In 1922, the NAM Open Shop Publicity Bureau “supplied 1,500 colleges and university teachers of economics and sociology with material…. Practically all of the college and university teachers of sociology, government, and economics receive our publications.”

    At the NAM’s 1923 convention, president John Edgerton credited Sargent with attracting “a great deal of favorable attention from our seats of learning in this country. He is teaching the teachers. He is teaching the professors and college presidents.”

    Among the contributors to NAM “educational literature” were Harvard University President Charles W. Eliot and University of Chicago economics professor and founder of the Journal of Political Economy, J. Laurence Laughlin. One doesn’t have to take their word for it to at least suspect they had a good deal of influence.

    • Robert Locke
      March 15, 2019 at 9:13 am

      Despite their influence, the efforts to shape the economy sometimes stops at the border. NAM and the US chamber of commerce vehemently opposed the German laws on co-determination, and lobbied in Germany to stop their adoption, but they were adopted anyway and have fashioned German firm governance.

  3. March 5, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Economies are networks and we should be teaching economics using graph theory from an early age. How do you represent a company as a network, both internal person-to-person transfers and external? Is a family similar?

    How about a country, what does “free trade” do to the networks that it connects? Can you compare migration with off-shoring as networks? Unemployment, it’s being disconnected from the network. How do you abstract a market as a network? What kind of network causes more inequality than another?

    If we bring out the idea that economies are networks and can be analysed fruitfully with graph theory it’ll be more engaging and more real-world relevant than finding the crossing point of two made-up curves.

    • March 5, 2016 at 12:48 pm

      Pavlos, are you entirely agreeing with me, or just I with your first and last sentences? The problem with these blog discussions is that we cannot show networks visually, nor even (by a quick glance at a writer and his words, whether his theme is networks (which include ourselves), and what is going on in them, and how most simply to represent them.

      Here I find your questions most stimulating, because I rarely, myself, think in terms of questions rather than problematic situations. Over the last several years I have attempted to answer them by reference to and explanation of graphical methods, notably the interpretation of economics in the terms of SSADM relational analysis of macro and micro systems, feedback circuit analysis of PID error control systems and an in-depth educational plus physiological/functional/maturation level explanation of the Myers-Briggs findings on personality differences. As I have had no feedback to suggest you have even noticed this, or even the instructions I have given for where to see (e.g. a Wheatstone Bridge) or how to construct the minimal (macro) diagram of system relationships, I am at a loss as to how to respond to your stimulating questions. I would like to show you my answers, but without a graphical flow diagram to discuss I can’t. Is this not worth pursuing via email/attachments?

    • Rob Reno
      March 15, 2019 at 8:29 am

      Economies are networks and we should be teaching economics using graph theory from an early age. How do you represent a company as a network, both internal person-to-person transfers and external? Is a family similar? ~ Pavlos

      I would be interested in some sources to read to get an idea of your ideas. Being a software engineer by profession it sounds interesting. A few good books and/or accessible papers would be nice.

  4. March 5, 2016 at 11:30 am

    To quote a fairly decent James Bond movie, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” So how do we decide the difference? Whether April Higgins is involved in education or propaganda is decided by the relationships in which Ms. Higgins’ teaching and the materials from which she teaches are involved. If those relationships are built around the most common and most written about aspects of “economic” actions, then Ms. Higgins is teaching those to the students and meeting her obligations as an educator. If those relationships are centered around questioning and perhaps challenging the most common and most written about aspects of “economic” actions then Ms. Higgins fails to point out and explain those questions and challenges and tor that reason is not meeting her obligations as an educator. So both are correct, depending on the relational starting point.

    Tom’s comments support my points. Clearly the relationships making Ruggs’ research and textbooks are nearly 180 degrees from the relationships making the critiques of Ruggs’ research and textbooks by the NAM, American Legion, and the Advertising Federation. Moreover, the relational basis of the opposition of the second and third are clearly different from relational basis of the NAM’s opposition. Studying these relationships processes is how we figure out how, why, and by what means these conflicts began and continued. And if so inclined how we might intervene to change them.

  5. March 6, 2016 at 1:59 am

    Thanks David for sharing such a important information about the subject. I am high school teacher and teach economics and business studies. I agree with you that we are not teaching what is economics rather how neoclassical economists define economics. Time has come to seriously think and do something about economics syllabus at high school and college level as we already know that how dangerous these neoclassical theories can be.

    • March 6, 2016 at 4:51 am

      Just to keep the record straight, neoclassical theories are not the only dangerous ones. Classical theories have dangers embedded in them. As do Keynesian theories, Marxist theories, and socialist welfare theories. It’s not so much the first word that makes them dangerous, but the second – theories. Theories can be useful tools. But like chain saws and blow torches – also useful tools – failure to control the theories by keeping a close and constant focus on how they are used can cost more than a severed hand or 3rd degree burns. It can cost our link with the objects of our study, actual actors doing actual things. Much of which the theory will not explain or even anticipate.

      • Robert Locke
        March 15, 2019 at 9:41 am

        ” It’s not so much the first word that makes them dangerous, but the second – theories.”

        People who deal in theories have great problems with historians, because they deal in specific-ties, based on a study of primary and secondary sources. Almost every historian can point out the incongruities between theories and what they are reading in the sources. The question is what do we do about it; ignore the historians, treat their results as exceptions, or try to bring theory into line with the historians’ version of the real world. Rarely is it the third option.

        Here is example of what I mean: Rob Reno and his wife are in Japan working for Toyota, where he reports that firm governance in Japan is not like firm governance in America. There is a considerable literature about that, which has accumulated over the past forty plus years. Will Rob’s observation stimulate the people on this blog to reexamine the nature of capitalism? Or will they be ignored or Japan treated as an anomaly.

    • David Chester
      March 6, 2016 at 7:44 am

      Ashish, Indeed it is a heart-felt wish by many serious thinkers in economics that the subject be better taught, but first the teachers themselves need some improved information and methods. May I suggest that my working-paper SSRN 2600103 and the associated book in its reference list, can show the way that this can be achieved?

  6. graccibros
    March 6, 2016 at 3:20 am

    Ashish:

    You mean like this one I handed out Thursday evening at my talk to a business major Fraternity at Frostburg State Univ. in Western Maryland?

    Upon further thought, I re-named it a “Syllabus for a New Political Economy.”

    Sorry that MS-Word doesn’t carry over too well into the blog.

    Suggested Readings for Young Business and Economic Majors

    1. Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (1944).
    2. Sheldon S. Wolin, Democracy Inc.: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (2008).
    3. Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (2015)
    4. Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2013).
    5. David Harvey, The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism (2010).
    6. William Greider, One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism (1997).
    7. John Gray, False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capital (1998).
    8. Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate (2014).
    9. Alyssa Battistoni, https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/12/naomi-klein-climate-change-this-changes-everything-cop21/
    10. ________________, https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/01/alive-in-the-sunshine/
    11. Donald Worster, Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930’s (2004).
    12. Robert d. Leighninger Jr., Long-Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal (2007).
    13. Cass Sunstein, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More Than Ever (2004).
    14. James A. Morone, Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History (2003).
    15. Gary Wills, Reagan’s America (1987).
    16. Russell Banks, Dreaming Up America (2008).
    17. Christopher Lasch, The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics (1991).
    18. Mark C. Taylor, Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World Without Redemption (2004).
    19. Michael Lewis, Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street (1989)
    20. _____________, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (2010)
    21. James Galbraith, The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too (2008)
    22. _______________, The End of Normal: The Great Crisis and the Future of Growth (2014)
    23. Yanis Varoufakis, http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/02/yanis-varoufakis-can-internet-democratize-capitalism.html
    24. _______________, http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/12/yanis-varoufakis-confessions-erratic-marxist-midst-repugnant-eurozone-crisis.html
    25. http://harvardlawreview.org/2015/04/policing-and-profit/

    • March 7, 2016 at 3:09 am

      Okay, you hand out a “Syllabus for a New Political Economy.” Someone else hands out the “Syllabus for a really new political economy.” Then comes “Syllabus rebutting the new political economy.” Where’s it stop? This is what happens frequently in court cases. How do courts settle on an answer and a decision? Since this is not criminal law, the criterion is “preponderance of evidence.” Which set of texts and conclusions is supported by a majority of the evidence? There are two problems with using this in a teaching situation. First, even “minority” evidence may help us understand parts of events. But which evidence and which parts? Second, teaching the subtle mixing of evidence from different perspectives is difficult, particularly for secondary school students, and even college undergraduates. But substituting one set of “truths’ for another is not the answer. In teaching US history one topic in particular creates tension. Is the US the greatest country in the world? In some respects that’s possible. In others, it’s questionable. No “black and white” answers! Why should economists assume they could do any better in their teaching?

      • blocke
        March 7, 2016 at 8:00 am

        I really don’t see the difficulty in answering a question like
        “Is the US the greatest country in the world?” It all depends on what is meant by great, and you start with the students there. In my book, The Collapse of the American Management Mystique, I said that America could not be America without a people of plenty residing within its border. That was my definition of great and the entire book worked on the theme. Set up different purposes and metrics and find different answers and modes of analysis. That is pretty good education for students because it requires them to think.

      • March 7, 2016 at 7:45 pm

        Students may be a place to begin. But they can’t be the end of the process. Since creating understanding and knowledge (“reality”) is both collective and processional, interactions on such topics need to extend beyond any classroom. So how to go about extending the interactions (verbal and physical) on such topics beyond any one setting is the tough issue we face. And it’s becoming tougher to resolve as more and more efforts are made to limit such interactions to news analysts, experts, and “leaders” of business and opinion.

  7. Christina
    March 7, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    In NYS economics education is required not just in high school but in elementary school as well. Ten years ago a fifth grade teacher asked me to speak to my child’s class. I used M&Ms to help them visualize the disparities in per capita GDP. I held up two bags, one with 300+ candies for the US and one with less than10 candies for Ethiopia. The class went silent except for one student who said, “Well, that’s not fair!”
    Sometimes simply presenting data will encourage outside of the box questions and comments. Of course, the chocolate didn’t hurt either.

    • March 7, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      Great strategy. Learning is always more than just words. Now the questions are: will these students ask their parents about this “unfair” thing? And will their parents ask their government representatives, their ministers, their bankers? With this, big trees from little acorns grow.

  8. quote
    March 12, 2019 at 1:08 am

    “In the past seven centuries bookkeeping has done more to shape the perceptions of more bright minds than any single innovation in philosophy or science. ”

    From Historian Alfred Crosby’s book The Measure of Reality

    • Ken Zimmerman
      March 13, 2019 at 8:55 am

      Crosby’s assertion may be correct. But if it is, it is so often tacitly. Many people don’t want to know about bookkeeping; dislike bookkeeping. Find it dull and confusing. By tacitly I mean people gain knowledge of bookkeeping through their jobs or leisure activities where the term bookkeeping is never used. For example, tallying up receipts at a convenience store part time job in high school. Or, keeping track of contributions in a local charity. Bookkeeping permeates almost every aspect of modern life. So much so that it has become invisible.

      • Craig
        March 13, 2019 at 7:44 pm

        Double entry bookkeeping is actually one of the top 3-4 inventions of man. As Steve Keen bemoaned several years ago when he was studying stock/flow consistency, economists could get their PhD in economics without taking so much as a basic course in accounting.

        The real problem with accounting ignorance isn’t that it’s “just irrelevant bean counting”. It’s that economists haven’t thought economically about the data to be found in it. Also, they’re not looking for the place and time in the economic process where a monetary and price policy can invert and transform the scarcity of individual income they all agree is ongoing.

        No economist is looking for that place and time, and they mistake the simplicity of the debit/credit aspect of accounting for “mere bean counting” instead of realizing that one of the signatures of accomplished paradigm change is that the operation that actually affects the paradigm change is always simple.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        March 14, 2019 at 11:54 am

        Craig, I agree that double-entry bookkeeping is a turning point in western history. I also agree that economists in general don’t know beans about it. I also agree that double-entry bookkeeping has been in the west since the 15th century a major force in organizing the world. Many of the dividing lines we take for granted today – credit, debt, borrowing, credit risk, etc. – first began with double-entry bookkeeping. My only point is that most ordinary American citizens today are not aware of any or this and aren’t likely to become aware of it.

      • Robert Locke
        March 14, 2019 at 1:58 pm

        Ken, Craig, when I studied the development of German economics, which was largely accounting based, I learned that people like Schmalenbach in his Dynamische Bilanz and Kontenrahen, made accounting a useful instrument for management decision-making and so fashioned it in their research and teaching. It matters not if the books at the end of the year say you are bankrupt, it matters a lot if the accounting methods can pinpoint when the losses began.

      • Craig
        March 14, 2019 at 5:03 pm

        Yes, I see the truth in each of your points. My point is that economists are so culturally enmeshed in the paradigm of Debt Only that they cannot see outside of it…and not looking deeper at accounting so as to decipher the economic and monetary truths to be derived from it (especially its subset of cost accounting) they splash around on the surface of economic analysis. If as C. H. Douglas discovered “the rate of flow of total costs (and so by the convention of cost accounting that all costs must go into price) and so total prices exceeds the rate of flow of total individual incomes” then the economy is in a continual state of monetary and price instability. Steve Keen has re-discovered this same thing via macro-economic abstraction instead of cost accounting in realizing that as soon as the rate of change of credit falls without injecting more money/credit it will go into recession.

        Douglas being a cost accountant was closer to the “on the ground” problem and devised a more direct “remedy” of a direct dividend and a reciprocal policy at the point of retail sale (because again he was closer to the problem) and recognized that the ending point of the entire economic process for every item or service WAS the point of retail sale….and so the effect of a policy there could not be altered further as it was also the point where production became consumption.

        Douglas’s problem was he was still enmeshed in the 5000 year old culture of Debt Only, was also stuck within the culture of classical economics whose ideal was economic equilibrium and died before Kuhn wrote his book on paradigm change.

        I’ve taken these insights, innovated and extended those policies and by integrating my studies of paradigm changes, quantum physics and the world’s major wisdom traditions devised a policy agenda that creates not a general equilibrium, but “the higher free flowing disequilibrium.”

      • Ken Zimmerman
        March 15, 2019 at 1:09 am

        Craig, debt has been a part of human history for over 5,000 years. But not as is it’s often depicted in current economics discussions. Consider for example this statement, from an essay by French economist Bruno Théret with the lifeless title “The Socio-Cultural Dimensions of the Currency: Implications for the Transition to the Euro,” published in the Journal of Consumer Policy in 1999:

        “At the origin of money we have a ‘relation of representation’ of death as an invisible world, before and beyond life—a representation that is the product of the symbolic function proper to the human species and which envisages birth as an original debt incurred by all men, a debt owing to the cosmic powers from which humanity emerged.

        Payment of this debt, which can however never be settled on earth—because its full reimbursement is out of reach—takes the form of sacrifices which, by replenishing the credit of the living, make it possible to prolong life and even in certain cases to achieve eternity by joining the Gods. But this initial belief-claim is also associated with the emergence of sovereign powers whose legitimacy resides in their ability to represent the entire original cosmos. And it is these powers that invented money as a means of settling debts—a means whose abstraction makes it possible to resolve the sacrificial paradox by which putting to death becomes the permanent means of protecting life. Through this institution, belief is in turn transferred to a currency stamped with the effigy of the sovereign—a money put in circulation but whose return is organized by this other institution which is the tax/settlement of the life debt. So money also takes on the function of a means of payment.”

        Long story short. Humans can be redeemed from debt only through death. Money can’t defeat debt.

      • Craig
        March 15, 2019 at 5:12 am

        That quote is one of the most inane and irrelevant examples of complete gobbledygook I have ever read.

        On the other hand the monetary policies, regulations and structural aspects of Wisdomics-Gracenomics are deeply rooted in both empirical results and the highest rationality guiding its philosophy.

        They immediately more than double everyone’s potential purchasing power with a 50% discount at the point of retail sale and a universal dividend every month from age 18 until they get planted isn’t of value to …..everyone????

        Forget all of the other “knock on” benefits it also enables. No one addresses this here. It’s a complete non-confront of an exquisitely doable temporal reality accomplished with only 2 policies. What do you mean you need someone to demonstrate the value of such. I’ve been posting here for years and almost no one apparently sees the simple and undeniable reality of combining those two policies.

        ???????????????????????????????

      • Ken Zimmerman
        March 15, 2019 at 9:21 am

        Craig, my intent in presenting the quote is to demonstrate that the issues of debt are complex. Complexity is not something Americans deal with well. American economists in particular. Bruno Théret is something that’s unusual in the USA but much less so in Europe. Théret is an economist who’s also an engineer and a sociologist. He also has extensive understanding of history. If you read this article this all is combined in it. Théret makes clear that debt is originally a religious notion, then political, and finally economic. I view wisdom in the same way, historically. Look at Wisdom: a history by Trevor Crunow. Théret might have the same response to what you write as you had to the quote from his article. Please read the article here, https://www.academia.edu/5775571/The_SocioPolitical_Dimensions_of_the_Currency_Implications_for_the_Transition_to_the_Euro
        I believe you’ll find it enlightening.

      • Robert Locke
        March 15, 2019 at 10:19 am

        Craig, what are costs? Usually accountants, when, for example, dealing with replacement of worn out equipment, look at their historical costs, but in times of great inflation, as in Germany during the 1920s historical costs are useless. But if one abandons historical costs, on what cost basis would a depreciated item be determined? Business economists and production engineers grappled with this problem a hundred years ago.

      • Craig
        March 15, 2019 at 10:21 pm

        Ken,
        Of course the issues of debt are complex, and most of those issues have been regurgitated here ad nauseum for the several years I’ve been posting here. THAT is the problem. Everyone but me here is caught in the weeds of complexity….AND THEY’RE NOT THINKING PARADIGMATICALLY/INTEGRATIVELY/WISELY IN ORDER TO CUT THROUGH ALL OF THAT….AND FIND THE SINGLE CONCEPT THAT DEFINES AND CREATES THE NEW PARADIGM/PATTERN. I’m not in any way against research and discovery, but neither am I for blathering on about things we all basically already believe in and that at best are only going to palliate the individual and systemic problem.

        Robert,
        Under normal circumstances cost accounting matters. Under the circumstances of war or one of the rare occurrences of hyperinflation….it doesn’t. The point is to deal with costs, not by equilibrating them, but rather by proactively and in a paradigmatic way…..by inverting the effects (individual and systemic monetary scarcity) of those excessive costs.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        March 17, 2019 at 12:45 am

        Robert, having worked with cost accountants in a regulatory setting, if historical costs and depreciated cost are not available or are in some way can’t be confirmed, our move would be first to original cost (even if not for the company in question) or current cost discounted back to the time the equipment was entered into service for the company in question. I’ve tried cases with both.

        Craig, you miss my point. Debt (the name given it today) was the original connection of humans to one another. Humans owed a debt (obligation) to the universe (later God) for their creation, payable only through returning to the universe through death. Over the millennia that was translated to payment via sacrifice or sacrificial substitutes. Later is was translated to payment via sacrifice to fellow humans through commitment and service. That was translated in Christian lands to living a good life through “service to man and God.” In whatever way it was translated it came out as service and sacrifice for God and fellow humans. Consequently, doing away with debt is impossible. Humans created it 20,000, maybe 30,000 years ago to bind themselves to one another and the universe. Destroying it is destroying one of the basic foundations of human life on earth. Even as bastardized as the notion has become with current economics and neoliberal ideology, it’s still one of Sapiens basic cultural adaptations for survival.

  9. mahmoud herbawi
    January 19, 2022 at 6:37 am

    i agree completely with you have you made any progress in trying to change the situation i think this propaganda is reducing innovation and creating massive inequality and death and i think we should try to fix this problem anyway we can , would writing a book help this situation whats the best way to reach the most people ?

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