Music

Apparently core MMT idea is now supported by the mainstream

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/10/2019 - 6:38pm in

It’s Wednesday and only a collection of snippets today. Today we saw some self-aggrandising hypocrisy with a short memory come out of the sewers, and a statement by a government denying that they are a “successful case of MMT”, an advertisement (call for help) and some music linked to a recent, rather significant death, when considered in the history of contemporary music. Pretty full day really.

Short-memory hypocrisy on display …

Recall this blog post – When mainstream economists jump the shark and lose it completely (January 23, 2017).

And this one – Marxists getting all tied up on MMT (May 1, 2019).

The central character (Richard Holden) is a Sydney economics professor who moonlights as a main economic advisor to the Australian Labor Party.

Which helps to explain their dramatic failure at the last federal election when they lost the unloseable election because they played cute about achieving larger fiscal surpluses than the conservatives at a time the economy was slowing rather dramatically.

Well having gone on the public record as being vehemently opposed to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), accusing MMT economists (and me in particular) of being “a bunch of cranks” and characterised Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) in this way:

Modern monetary theory, a term coined by Australian economist Bill Mitchell, says the following: (1) Countries that control their own currency cannot default on sovereign obligations because they can always print more money. (2) Thus, said countries can provide unlimited resources, pay for whatever they want, and create full employment. Nirvana, here we come!

In the first cited blog post above I deal with this misrepresentation and the rest of his claims in some detail.

Holden also claimed MMT economists pushed “neo-charlatanism” – which was his final comment – clearly he had worked on that a bit and thought he was being very clever.

In the Q&A section of the Conversation article that blog post discusses we read these claims from the author “MMT proposals lead to inflation. end of story. why haven’t they been tried? because nobody serious thinks they would ever work.”

And then there was this sequence:

(Commentator A): There is no reason why we cant have a job guarantee with full employment … Australia had full employment before big business demanded unemployment be kept above 5% so they could control wages.

(Holden): i would like unemployment to be much lower, but when exactly did we have “full employment” as you say?

(Commentator B): When we had a full employment policy prior to 1975

(Holden): and what was the unemployment rate then?

(Commentator B): Avg unemployment from 1945-46 to 1973-74 was 2%

(Holden): not at all clear–please provide the data. but, arguendo, sure. is 2% too high? should we print money like crazy then? or 1.5%? or 2.5%? what is the right topology?!

(Commentator B): (link) Menzies nearly lost govt by letting unemployment rise above 2.1% why all those years of deficit spending ? Don’t mainstream economists study history anymore ?

Job Guarantee is MMT’s only policy so 0% involuntary unemployed is feasible, really should go back to school, Bill Mitchell is starting MMT University later in the year, you should enrol.

As I noted in the blog post cited above, this lack of knowledge of our Post World War 2 economic history is symptomatic of the new era of economic Phds.

The problem is that students of economics in the neo-liberal era are not required to study economic history as part of their education. So we have a generation of PhDs in economics, particularly those from most mainstream American programs, who have very little understanding of history and what has gone before them.

Holden disclosed that naivety when he demanded the commentator provide data to prove that the average unemployment was 2 per cent in the Post World War 2 period up to the mid-1970s.

It is just basic required knowledge for a professor of economics to know that Australia’s unemployment rate was at or below 2 per cent with zero underemployment for more than 3 decades following the Great Depression.

A stunning ignorance was revealed in that particular interchange.

Especially for someone who holds out his advice to one of our major political parties – the party that is supposed to represent the political voice of the trade union movement.

At the time he was holding forth against MMT, Holden had no published track record in macroeconomics or monetary economics and his teaching at that stage did not involve macroeconomics. So, his intervention was hardly from the perspective of the intellectual or research cutting edge and his reliance on simplistic mainstream textbook notions was evidence of that.

Anyway, he resurfaced in the press again this morning in this New Daily article (October 15, 2019) – Union calls for Great Depression-style ‘Green Jobs’ program – which if anything is about the key idea that MMT economists have been championing for 25 years, mostly as the sole voice in this advocacy.

One would find it hard to substantiate a claim that this idea has come out of mainstream economics in any way.

Over the years, the core MMT economists have taken massive flack in advocating for a Job Guarantee, which is a central aspect of our macroeconomic stability framework.

The article talks about a proposal from the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) which was submitted to the – Jobs for the Future in Regional Areas – enquiry being conducted by the Australian Senate at present.

In their submission – Possibilities for a Regional Green Job Guarantee – you will see the document relies heavily on work done by myself, on work done with my colleagues at my research centre, the – Centre of Full Employment and Equity and on our textbook (Mitchell, Wray and Watts) – Macroeconomics.

Pure MMT.

It writes:

The Australian economist Bill Mitchell has developed a workable model of what a GJG would look like. Mitchell (2013) argues that as a first step to introducing a rights-based commitment to full employment the Australian government needs to introduce an open-ended public employment program. This would create a buffer stock of available jobs, into which workers would be shed when the mainstream labour market contracts, and from which they would be drawn when there is growth in employment demand.

And more.

I have had extensive discussions with the Australian Unemployed Workers Union over the years.

But all that seems to escape Holden, who was quoted in this morning’s New Daily article as saying:

According to University of NSW economics professor Richard Holden, the idea of a GJG has merit – especially given interest rate cuts are “running out of firepower”.

Dr Holden said such a scheme would provide a much-needed boost to the economy, as workers would likely spend most of their income.

He is quoted as saying the “scheme would have to satisfy two requirements to be successful”

The first thing is the jobs people are doing would have to be socially productive in some way – in other words, the environmental benefits would need to be real …

The second point is that you need to be careful with any of these job guarantees not to crowd out private-sector employment.

If your goal is to provide jobs for the unemployed, and you create some jobs in one part of the economy, but destroy jobs in another part of the economy, that’s counter-productive.

Core and pure MMT.

All of that is in our literature that we started developing together 25 years ago.

It was also in my fourth-year thesis from 1978.

So either Holden has had a memory lapse and forget his previous attacks on MMT or is just a self-aggrandising hypocrite.

Or both.

Well done to the Australian Unemployed Workers Union though!

And Japanese government issues statement …

Fancy a government that runs an economy that demonstrates that the fundamental principles of mainstream macroeconomics are incorrect and the dynamics of the monetary system ratify all the major insights provided by Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) issuing a statement that their economy is not “a successful case of MMT”.

The Bloomberg article (October 15, 2019) – Japan Denies Policy Influenced by Modern Monetary Theory In Any Way – reported a statement issued by the Japanese government that says:

As a government, we don’t implement policy based on the idea that Japan is a successful case of MMT because its inflation and interest rates are not rising despite massive debt … We are working to restore fiscal health

Bloomberg add that “The statement was issued in response to a lawmaker’s written request to clarify the government’s views on the theory”.

The Government hasn’t yet published its official answer on the Diet publications and I will comment further when they do.

But the question is publicly available and was filed by Japanese CDR politician Kazuma Nakatani on the opening day of the new Parliament (October 4, 2019) – Question No. 14: MMT (Contemporary Monetary Theory) Questions.

Hilarious.

I am off to Japan in two weeks and it looks like we will be having a lot of fun.

Call for financial assistance to make the MMT University project a reality

The – Foundation for Monetary Studies Inc. – aka The MMT Foundation serves as a legal vehicle to raise funds and provide financial resources for educational projects as resources permit and the need arises.

The Foundation is a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Delaware as a Section 501(c)(3) company. I am the President of the company.

Its legal structure allows people can make donations without their identity being revealed publicly.

The first project it will support is – MMTed (aka MMT University) – which will provide formal courses to students in all nations to advance their understanding of Modern Monetary Theory.

At present this is the priority and we need some solid financial commitments to make this project possible and sustainable.

Some sponsors have already offered their generous assistance.

We need significantly more funds to get the operations off the ground.

In order for FMS to solicit tax-exempt donations while our application to the IRS is being processed, the Modern Money Network, Ltd. (“MMN”) has agreed to serve as a fiscal sponsor, and to receive funds on FMS’s behalf.

MMN is a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Delaware, and is a federal tax-exempt public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Donations made to MMN on behalf of FMS are not disclosed to the public.

Furthermore, all donations made to MMN on behalf of FMS will be used exclusively for FMS projects.

Please help if you can.

We cannot make the MMTed project viable without funding support.

Remembering Ginger Baker

He was not my most favourite drummer. Nor person really. But he was part of a massive band – Cream – who made sounds when I was a teenager becoming obsessed with guitars and bands that made my head spin.

He died last week (October 6, 2019).

But I remember him less kindly (he was an aggressive character who hated Jack Bruce, who in my view was one of the great bass players) than I remember Cream and Blind Faith the band that followed from the wreckage of Cream, only to die a short term death from too much ego.

Here is a story about him – Ginger Baker, the drummer for rock supergroups Cream and Blind Faith, dies at 80 (October 7, 2019).

But here is a classic – White Room – which was written by Jack Bruce with the lyrics by Pete Brown.

It appeared on their 1968 double album – Wheels of Fire – which was released on August 9, 1968.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2019 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Remembering Ginger Baker: Cream of the crop

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/10/2019 - 12:00pm in

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Music


 Cream of the crop

Legendary rock drummer Ginger Baker has passed away, having inspired generations of drummers and leaving a remarkable legacy, writes Jenny LeComte.

GINGER BAKER, the volatile and unpredictable drummer who rose to fame with the 1960s rock supergroup Cream, has died at 80.

He was born Peter Edward Baker on 19 August 1939 in Lewisham, South London, obtaining the nickname “Ginger” in childhood because of his shock of flaming red hair. He started playing the drums when he was 15 and later took lessons from jazz great Phil Seaman.

Classical jazz training enabled Baker to achieve early fame with The Graham Bond Organisation, a rhythm and blues group with strong jazz influences. Through this group, Baker met legendary bass guitar player Jack Bruce and they reportedly hated each other with a passion. Their volatile relationship included on-stage brawls and sabotaging each other’s instruments. On one occasion, Baker, who reportedly had a fiery temper, pulled a knife on Bruce. However, despite the fact they quarrelled constantly, Baker and Bruce’s musical styles were highly compatible.

In 1966, Baker founded the supergroup Cream with future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Eric Clapton. Clapton had already achieved fame with The Yardbirds and admired Baker as a musician. However, when Clapton insisted on Bruce being included in the Cream lineup, Baker was reportedly so surprised that he nearly crashed the car he was driving at the time.

Cream got their name because Baker, Bruce and Clapton were considered “cream of the crop” amongst the blues and jazz musicians in the then-exploding British music scene. Although Cream only lasted for two years, it was phenomenally successful, selling more than 15 million records worldwide. All three members sang lead and backing vocals and their music spanned many genres of rock.

One of their finest songs was the blues number, Crossroads.

They also pioneered psychedelia, producing hits such as Strange Brew and White Room, which is arguably one of the most perfect rock songs ever recorded.

Another memorable single was I Feel Free, which was included on the American edition of the Fresh Cream album. In this song, Baker was the star performer as opposed to being relegated to a backing position, as many drummers were in those days.

By the time Disraeli Gears was released in 1967 and reached the top five on both sides of the Atlantic, Baker had developed a reputation as a formidable and powerful drummer. The standout track from Disraeli Gears was Sunshine of Your Love, a slick blend of British rock and Mississippi Delta Blues. It became the band’s unofficial anthem.

By 1968, the mutual enmity between Baker and Bruce had reached the point where Cream could not continue. After briefly working with Clapton in Blind Faith and leading a band called Ginger Baker’s Air Force, Baker became enamoured of African drumming and music in general. He set up a recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria in 1971 and began working closely with Nigerian musician and human rights activist, Fela Kuti. Baker also collaborated with various artists, including Gary Moore, Masters of Reality, Public Image Ltd and Atomic Rooster.

In the early ‘80s, Baker decided to take some time out from music and moved to an olive farm in Italy. He briefly joined Hawkwind and eventually found regular work as a session musician.

However, it could be fairly said that Baker was perhaps his own worst enemy. He was noted for his eccentric and often self-destructive lifestyle and battled heroin addiction for many years. That said, Baker was respected for his style and showmanship. He used two bass drums instead of the conventional one and performed lengthy drum solos in many of his songs.

In 2005, Baker reunited with Clapton and Bruce for a series of Cream concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and Madison Square Garden. In a Rolling Stone article, Bruce commented on the bad blood between him and Baker. At the time, he was living in the UK and Baker was in South Africa.

Bruce said:

“It’s a knife edge thing between me and Ginger. Nowadays, we’re hapily co-existing on different continents, although I am thinking of asking him to move. He’s still a bit too close.”

In 2008, Baker was swindled out of almost half a million rand (U.S. $60,000) by a bank clerk called Lindiwe Noko, whom he had hired as a personal assistant. Noko gained access to Baker’s bank accounts and made unauthorised withdrawals, claiming the money was a gift because she and Baker had since become lovers.

Baker said:

I’ve a scar that only a woman who had a thing with me would know. It's there and she doesn’t know it’s there.”

Noko pleaded not guilty but was ultimately convicted of fraud and served three years of community service — a sentence Baker described as “a travesty”.

In 2012, an unflattering documentary called Beware of Mr Baker was released. It got its title from a sign outside Baker’s South African compound and was a disturbing depiction of Baker’s combative personality.

Rolling Stone reporter David Fricke commented:

‘...you get closer to Baker at your peril.’

While Baker was not an easy man to get to know or like, his musical legacy is nonetheless impressive.

Author and columnist Ken Micallef observed:

‘...the pantheon of contemporary drummers from metal, fusion and rock owe their very existence to Baker’s trailblazing work with Cream.’

Rush drummer Neil Peart wrote about Baker's legacy:

‘His playing was revolutionary — extrovert, primal and inventive. He set the bar for what rock drumming could be. Every rock drummer since has been influenced in some way by Ginger — even if they don’t know it.’

Robot Heavy Metal Band Sing ‘Ace of Spades’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/10/2019 - 9:55pm in

More robotics now. I’ve put up a number of pieces about the German all-robot heavy metal band, Compressorhead. I found this video on YouTube yesterday of them playing Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’. They’ve done it before, but this time they’ve got a robot singer for the vocals. As he was in the late 80s SF movie, Hardware, about a war robot going berserk in a devastated future, I feel the late, great Lemmy would have loved it. It even begins with a dedication to him.

The whole style of the piece reminded me of the old ‘Robusters’ strip in 2000AD. In one story, the two heroes, Rojaws and Hammerstein, go to ‘Greasy Gracie’s’, a robot cafe and nightclub. There, as the robotic clientele drink their pints of oil – what else? – other robots dance the light fantastic while a robot band plays hits like ‘I Am Your Automatic Lover’. A few years ago, writer Pat Mills revisited this story. In this version, the two are still helping robots flee Earth and human oppression. However, the strip also draws on the Black experience during slavery and segregation. The Black slaves on the plantations developed the Cakewalk dance as a parody of the airs and graces put on by the White overlords as a piece of very conscious social satire. So robots, the slaves of the future, parody humans by mimicking them dancing. Thus Rojaws and Hammerstein climb onto the stage to perform ‘We Ain’t Got a Barrel of Money’ before the joint is raid by the human police. One of the characters, a robot resistance leader, is a blind bluesman.

‘Greasy Gracie’s’, from ABC Warriors: Return to Robusters, Pat Mills writer, Clint Langley, artist, Annie Parkhouse, letters, (Oxford: Rebellion 2016).

Fortunately for human artists, robots aren’t so intelligent yet that they can actually write songs, except through programmes written for them to produce music like particular artists. But in Compressorhead, Mills’, O’Neil’s – who was the first artist on the ‘Robusters Strip’ – and Clint Langley’s vision of a robot nightclub is coming close to reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Private Eye on Deep Rift Between Boris and Queen after Prorogation of Parliament

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/10/2019 - 7:59pm in

According to Mike, our boorish, aristo enemy of democracy, Boris Johnson, is planning to prorogue parliament again. It seems he wants to do this on October 8th and then reopen it on the 14th with a new Queen’s Speech. Despite the fact that he has absolutely no new policies. Mike states that the big question is whether the Queen will accept a second attempt to gag parliament. It has been said that she’s seeking advice on the legal mechanisms to sack a prime minister. He therefore boils this down to the bare essentials. BoJob is trying to turn this into a conflict between the people and parliament, while it’s becoming more like Boris versus the Queen, and wonders who will win.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/10/02/johnson-has-a-new-prorogation-plan-despite-having-no-new-policies-to-reveal/

Good question, and I predict that whatever happens, the winner will probably be the woman Private Eye calls ‘Brenda’. Prime Ministers come and go like political mayflies, but the monarchy is supposed to be the central, British institution along with parliament itself. In a clash between Prime Minister and an increasingly unpopular prime minister – last time I looked at the polls BoJob’s personal popularity was -44 – the real guardians of the British constitution will probably throw their weight behind Her Maj. And according to this fortnight’s Private Eye, she is definitely going to be far more cautious about anything Boris suggests in the future. This includes the Queen’s speech and the possibility of sacking the bumptious, anti-democratic clown.

The magazine’s ‘Court Circular’ on page 8 covers the fall-out from Lady Hale’s judgment, including the Queen’s immense displeasure at hearing that the judges concluded that sovereignty lay with parliament and the orders written in her own hand were absolutely valueless. But she is also angry with Dictator J. Peasemold Johnson for not defending her in this fiasco. The mag’s correspondent, ‘Flunkey’, writes

Johnson’s phone call with Brenda later on Judgment Day was similarly perplexing. He had part-blustered, part-charmed Brenda into believing his vision of a prorogational paradise and presented her with legal opinions to back up his case. But lawyers can be found to argue that black is white if someone is paying them to. Brenda bowed to Johnson’s demands because she had no choice. But it is the job of prime ministers to protect a monarch who has no voice, and that is what Johnson failed to do. Worse, he didn’t even try very hard. The palace had assumed that Johnson’s phone call, with officials listening in on both sides, would consist of an apology and a request that she return to London to accept his resignation. But no. Despite briefings to the contrary from Downing Street, Johnson merely told her he “deeply and sincerely” regretted the supreme court’s decision… and that was it.

Things look set to change now that the Supremes have sung. The palace will not indulge Johnson so readily in future. A normal state opening of parliament this month has been almost impossible: what if Lady Hale and her colleagues were to conclude that the Queen’s Speech, too, was written in invisible ink? private audiences between Brenda and Johnson may become not so private, with suggestions they should be recorded in some form and stored in the archives just in case. And it is possible that a very reluctant Brenda might be talked into using her untested reserve powers to act in a crisis by dissolving parliament or sacking the prime minister.

I don’t have a crystal ball, and I’m no constitutional expert, but I’d say that the chance of BoJob being able to prorogue parliament again is exactly nil. Not unless he really, really wants an almighty row with everyone piled against him. 

 

 

 

Travelling all day today …

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/10/2019 - 8:26am in

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Music

There will be no blog post today as I am travelling for the next 24 hours or so back from the US. It has been a very busy two weeks or so that has taken me to many cities and meetings with many different people. A lot of different agendas to absorb and think about. From West Africa to the struggles within the US, to the Eurozone and the chaos of Britain. But the commonality is a desire to understand MMT and apply it to better deal with the problems that face us and our planet. While I am flying I will not be attending to comments that need moderation. So it might be some time before you see your comment published (or not). I am now preparing for my next foray which will take me to Japan later this month.

MMT and the Green New Deal – Labour Party Conference Fringe Event, Brighton, September 23, 2019

While I am out of contact, you might like to view the lecture I gave in Brighton on the Green New Deal.

Thanks to the great work of the GIMMS team – for organising and staging the event.

And thanks to Claire for her excellent filming and editorial work.

You will see that I am not necessarily confident that we can pull this off but it remains that without an understanding of MMT we will not event get close.

Among the albums I am listening to across the Pacific

This song – Preacher’s Kid – is from ace-bass player – Marcus Miller’s – 2018 album on Blue Note – Laid Back.

The song features Kirk Whalum on saxophone, the beautiful voices of Take 6 and alto sax player Alex Han.

Jazz. The best.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2019 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

New Music Through Old Ears: Post Hart Stagger Tool

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 28/09/2019 - 4:30pm in

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Music


 Post Hart Stagger Tool

It’s time for some new music as entertainment editor John Turnbull checks out recent releases from metal groundbreakers Tool, blues chanteuse Beth Hart, Canadian journeyman Leeroy Stagger and facial tattoo aficionado Post Malone.

New Album from an Old Artist

Tool: Fear Inoculum

Formed in 1990 in Los Angeles, Tool are one of those bands that evoke a kind of hushed reverence among serious musicians and critics. Starting life as a metal band with more  intelligent than usual lyrics on their 1993 debut Undertow, the band quickly evolved beyond the constraints of a single genre. Led by vocalist Maynard James Keenan and drummer Danny Carey, the band embraced prog-rock on 1996’s Ænima before taking a deep dive into musical experimentation with 2001’s Lateralus and 2006’s 10,000 Days.

And then… Tool went quiet. Well, as quiet as a band like Tool can go. Rumours of a new album circulated while the band fought lawsuits and pursued side projects, with fans hoping for a release in 2014. And then again in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Finally, on 30 August 2019, Tool released their fifth studio album, Fear Inoculum. And do you know what? It’s worth the wait.

Kicking off with the ten-minute title track, Fear Inoculum builds a mood of menace that continues to grow throughout the 80-minute runtime. Referencing themes from ageing and the inevitability of change to the declining state of the world, Fear Inoculum is a complex album that absolutely requires repeat listens. On first pass, it’s amazing and almost overwhelming, but subsequent plays reveal hidden layers and recurring themes, not least the prevalence of the number 7.

While the music is undeniably awesome, possibly my favourite thing about Fear Inoculum is the story of Taylor Swift fans taking to social media in droves to complain about this ‘new band’ Tool that had pushed their heroine off the top of the pop charts.

Standout tracks: Fear Inoculum, Invincible, Pneuma

Sample lyric: “We are spirit bound to this flesh, we go around one foot nailed down.” (Pneuma)

Verdict: 9/10 – damn near a masterpiece.

Don’t Call it a Comeback

Beth Hart: War in My Mind

Canadian singer-songwriter Beth Hart holds a special place in my heart, holding the (possibly dubious) honour of being the first artist I ever interviewed for Independent Australia. Of course, this was way back in the halcyon days of 2014, when the idea of a Trump/Boris/ScoMo triumvirate of idiocy was only a pipedream in the minds of conservatives and Taylor Swift battled the Frozen soundtrack for the biggest album of the year.

After building her musical chops in smoky bars and blues clubs around Los Angeles (and on Star Search), Hart got her first big break when her track L.A. Song (Out of This Town) featured in the final season of Beverly Hills, 90210. From that point on, Hart was a fixture on the modern blues scene, her distinctive voice only growing stronger with experience. At age 47 (and proud of it), Beth Hart is in her prime, and War in My Mind is a great example of a singer/songwriter at the top of their game.

Thematically, War in My Mind is all about Hart’s life — her loves, her addictions and her ongoing struggle with bipolar disorder. The death of her sister Sharon hangs heavy across the album, particularly on the moving track Sister Dear, but it's countered with moments of levity and joy, particularly on the gospel-infused Let it Grow.

With the voice of a fallen angel and a lifetime of experience to draw upon, Beth Hart is a unique talent. If you’ve never heard of her, start with War in My Mind and work your way backwards.  

Standout tracks: Bad Woman Blues, Sister Dear, War in my Mind

Sample lyric: “It’s my party and I don’t dance, just want your liquor and your cheap romance.” (Bad Woman Blues)

Verdict: 8/10 – a transcendent mix of rock, blues and jazz.

Album I Expect to Suck

Post Malone: Hollywood’s Bleeding

The enduring career of Post Malone is testament to how little I know about popular music. When I reviewed his sophomore album Beerbongs & Bentleys last year, I observed:

‘Malone’s sprawl of ill-judged facial tattoos are like his songs writ large — good for a laugh once or twice, but deeply regrettable after that.’

It seems the ongoing success of the autotune rapper (20 million video views in a week for Circles) marks me as a hack and a fraud. I also predicted that Malone would probably die of a drug overdose and, as of the date of writing, I’m wrong about that, too.

Far from being dead, Post Malone has dropped a new album and some critics are calling it his big move into mainstream pop music. I would counter that the mainstream has shifted towards the stoned-out pseudo-rap that Malone peddles, because Hollywood’s Bleeding sounds like offcuts from Beerbongs & Bentleys, spiced up with the obligatory slew of guest stars.

In no particular order, guest artists on this album include Halsey, Future, Meek Mill, Lil Baby, Swae Lee, Young Thug, SZA, DaBaby, Travis Scott and Ozzy Osbourne. If that last name looks a little out of place, check out Malone’s laughable attempt at heavy metal, Take What You Want, wherein Ozzy sounds a little confused about what’s going on. The one thing I’m thankful for is a lack of collaboration with Malone’s new buddies Metallica — perhaps they’re too busy returning to the well with another symphony orchestra.

There is nothing particularly surprising on Hollywood’s Bleeding. As ever, Malone has an ear for a catchy hook and there’s no doubt that you’ll be hearing a bunch of these songs played ad nauseum across the upcoming summer, but it’s almost immediately forgettable.

Standout tracks: Sunflower

Sample lyric: “Seasons change and our love went cold, feed the flame, ‘cause we can’t let go.” (Circles)

Verdict: 3/10 – exactly as good as I expected.

Ch…check It Out!

Leeroy Stagger: Strange Path

Born in California, singer-songwriter Leeroy Stagger has covered a lot of ground in his life, both physically and emotionally. After starting his career with a bunch of different local BC bands, Stagger struck out on his own as a solo artist with the 2002 EP Six Tales of Danger. The next dozen or so years were spent touring the world with acts such as Modest Mouse, The Pixies and Evan Dando. Over the same period, Stagger developed a fondness for alcohol (among other things) that came close to ending both his career and his life.

But then, somewhere along the way, Leeroy Stagger saw the light. He also recorded 11 albums, got married, gave up drinking and had a couple of kids, all of which informed his outlook on life. Strange Path is a chronicle of that journey and is complemented by a book of the same name (also on sale now).

While Stagger is an impressive talent, Strange Path is really brought to life by the band surrounding him, including Pete Thomas on drums (hailed as the best drummer in the world by croaky weirdo Tom Waits), Tyson Maiko on bass and Paul Rigby on guitar. Also featuring on the album is Stagger’s touring band the Rebel Tone Sound, with production duties shared between no less than four producers. But somehow, it all comes together.

While Stagger’s brand of God-fearing folk rock won’t be for everyone, it’s a refreshing change from a lot of the over-produced trash that fills the airways and streaming services.

Standout tracks: The Light, Strange Attractor

Sample lyric: “Are we interconnected? We all die and we all feel pain.” (Strange Attractor)

Verdict: 7/10 – honest and authentic.

Books by John Turnbull are available on Amazon and Kindle, including supernatural thriller Damnation’s Flame; action/romance Reaper, black comedy City Boy and travel guidebook Bar Trek: EuropeDamnation's Flame by John Turnbull is also available in paperback in the IA store HERE (free postage).

Fascism and Black metal

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/09/2019 - 4:29pm in

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fascism, Music

image/jpeg iconDHZh2KiXoAEr7J5.jpg

Analysis of Fascist presence in black metal scenes in how to resist it.

If you like black metal, enjoy, and put some thought into what you can do to oppose Fascism in our scene.

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Musical Comment On the Supreme Court’s Decision – Boris Sings the Clash!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/09/2019 - 4:52am in

Those merry funsters at JOE posted this hilarious parody of Johnson over a week ago on YouTube. However, I thought it would be premature to put it up before the Court gave its decision. And given it they have! Johnson’s persuasion of the Queen to allow him to prorogue parliament is illegal, null, and of no effect. Bercow was right to condemn it, and the MPs are returning to their seats. Johnson has been attacked for this assault on Democracy by Jeremy Corbyn, Jo Swinson, Caroline Lucas and Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP. Corbyn has demanded that Johnson rethink his position and resign. And up and down the country others are demanding the same thing. This is the man, who has done nothing but try to seize power for the sake of his own massive, bloated ego and lust power. Oh yes, and the profit of his corporate donors. Who include hedge funds and venture capitalists making their money on betting that this country will be wrecked by a no-deal Brexit. This is the man, who’s made us the laughing stock of the EU. He showed a yellow streak as broad as the English Channel when he turned tail and ran away from a press conference outside in Luxembourg, because he couldn’t face being challenged by the ex-pats there. The Luxembourg Prime Minister then told the crowd exactly what the situation was, leaving Boris and his cheerleaders in the Tory press and the BBCm to lie and make up stories in order to save his face. He’s a disgrace to this country, who has brought it and the office of Prime Minister into gross disrepute, and should be thrown out at the soonest. As should his wretched party as a whole.

But I doubt he will. He’ll try to cling on whatever happens, despite this ruling. You can expect his supporters in the press to attack the judges and Gina Miller, just like the Mail called the judges, who made a ruling against Brexit ‘enemies of the people’ in an echo of the vilification the Nazis meted out to the democratic authorities in Weimar Germany. Gina Miller has already suffered gross and utter disgusting racist abuse, because she’s Guyanian. And you can be absolutely sure that the same right-wing hacks and bigots that did so will do it again.

But in the meantime, let’s have a laugh at the buffoon’s expense with this musical parody. It’s another carefully edited piece of clips of Boris and Her Maj, which make them say things that are utterly ridiculous. In this case, they sing a version of the Clash’s ‘I Fought the Law and the Law Won’.

The lyrics are:

Boris: I tried to force No Deal

on the nation.

I fought the law

And the law won

I fought the law

And the law won

When I put the Commons into prorogation,

I fought the law

And the law won.

I fought the law

And the law won.

The Queen: One got deceived

And One feels so bad.

Boris: I guess my race is run.

The Queen: You’re the worse PM

that we’ve ever had.

Boris: I fought the law

And the law won.

I fought the law

And the law won.

 

 

 

The ‘rats’ are deserting the mainstream ship – and everyone wants in

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/09/2019 - 2:36am in

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It is Wednesday today and only a short blog post. I am heading to New York city today from London. More on that tomorrow. It is clear now that journalists from all over the globe are starting to pick up on the shifts in policy thinking that I have been writing about – the admission by policy makers that monetary policy has reached the end of its effective life (not that it was ever particularly effective) and that there is a crying need for a return to fiscal dominance, which was the norm before the neoliberal era began several decades ago. We have not yet reached the stage where the dots are being fully joined – monetary policy dominance dead -> fiscal policy dominance desirable -> neoliberalism dead. But that will have to come because the fiscal policy activism will have to be aimed at addressing targets that have been neglected by the neoliberal era – real wages growth, quality and security of employment, restoration of public services, environmental care priorities, scope and quality of public infrastructure, and the like. But as the journalists are starting to file copy on this topic, some are very lazy – and just want to have it on the record that they were part of the throng. One of the laziest offerings I have read was published today in the Australian on-line newspaper, The New Daily (September 23, 2019) – The economic weapon too hot for the RBA to mention: Helicopter money – and written by finance journalist Michael Pascoe, who is usually more careful with his words. While many might think any publicity is good for the spread of our Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) work, my view is that falsely constructing MMT can add to the already stifling dissonance among the public that has been mislead for years by the framing and language of the mainstream economists.

Being lazy

Michael Pascoe begins with the questions:

What if the Reserve Bank had an economic weapon that would let the government have its budget surplus cake and eat it too?

A weapon that could push billions of dollars directly into the economy without increasing Commonwealth debt or moving interest rates?

Yes.

Neither question is particularly profound.

Anyone who would pose them as if they were sort of unfathomable mysteries is just rehearsing the usual mainstream economics narratives that suppress clarity about what it means to be a currency-issuing government.

The Australian government is a currency issuer.

And as the monopoly issuer of the currency, its spending can never be intrinsically revenue constrained.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is a creature of government legislation, the – Reserve Bank Act 1959.

It tells us that:

1. “the Governor is the accountable authority of the Bank”.

2. “The Bank has such powers as are necessary for the purposes of this Act” – which are extensive in relation to the issuance of currency.

3. The Treasurer has powers to override the decisions of the Bank.

4. “The Governor and the Secretary to the Department of the Treasury shall establish a close liaison with each other and shall keep each other fully informed on all matters which jointly concern the Bank and the Department of the Treasury.”

5. “The Governor and the Deputy Governor … are to be appointed by the Treasurer”.

6. “The Bank shall, in so far as the Commonwealth requires it to do so, act as banker and financial agent of the Commonwealth.”

7. The Treasurer can determine the distribution of any profits the RBA makes including that “the remainder shall be paid to the Commonwealth”.

8. The RBA issues the currency under the direction of the Treasurer.

That is pretty categorical.

There is no question that the government can spend its currency into existence without have to increase Commonwealth debt. It never needs to issue Commonwealth debt.

And when it does issue Commonwealth debt, such transactions are not providing the ‘funds’ that enable the government to engage in the act of spending.

In fact, as I have noted often, the non-government funds that are used to purchase the debt are correctly seen as being past deficit spending that the government has not yet taxed away.

And, further, all spending comes from ‘nowhere’ – some official in the Department of Treasury (the policy arm) telling some official in the Department of Finance (the accounting arm) to instruct an official in the RBA (the currency arm) to change some numbers in relevant accounts to facilitate the accounting record of the spending decisions.

So if you understand that you will easily see how lazy the Michael Pascoe article is.

He talks about this “weapon” as bing in some way an “unconventional option” which no RBA official dares talk about because:

You don’t want little kids to get ideas about dynamite fishing in the dam.

He calls the ‘weapon’ – “helicopter money” and claims (in the sense of trying to ‘scare the horses’) that it is:

… at the nuclear end of the central bank’s arsenal and, like nuclear reactions, is powerful and dangerous, requiring very careful control.

And soon after we get the obvious links that have held back understanding for decades:

It’s a process that can take an economy the way of hyperinflation – the Weimar Republic, Zimbabwe, Argentina.

Okay, I am not going to provide a history lesson here.

Please read my blog post – Zimbabwe for hyperventilators 101 (July 29, 2009) – for more discussion on this point.

Note that has been in the public domain for more than a decade.

So any person who was interested in the topic and tying it to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) would surely have done the simple research to see what the core body of MMT work might have said about Zimbabwe and associated hyperinflation discussions.

Obviously, laziness reigned and Michael Pascoe thought he could then write:

There is a tribe of “modern monetary theory” economists who claim the government doesn’t need to ever worry about budget deficits, that governments can just let debt rip to keep the economy running.

The helicopter money concept is different – there’s no government borrowing.

Well, I suppose being a “tribe” is slightly more organic than being a ‘sect’, which is another collective label that is bandied around by those seeking to discredit us.

But his description of our work is plain wrong.

1. We do not claim (and have never claimed) that the government never needs to “worry about budget deficits”. We contextualise the fiscal position in a way that mainstream economists fails to.

We show the conditions that will determine whether a particular fiscal position is appropriate or not.

But we do that by analysing the real economy and how the spending and saving decisions (and outcomes) of the government and non-government sectors impact on the real economy.

We see no meaning in analysing financial ratios or aggregates in isolation.

So, under certain circumstances, a fiscal deficit of 3 per cent of GDP will be appropriate, but, under other circumstances, a fiscal surplus of 3 per cent of GDP might be required to maintain responsible fiscal policy.

Then, again, a fiscal deficit of 10 per cent of GDP might be warranted.

The point of departure of the MMT economists, such as myself, is that the fiscal position is only relevant when we consider the real state of the economy.

It is never a matter of financial solvency.

2. The core MMT position is the a currency-issuing government should not issue debt.

It should use the central bank-treasury nexus to ensure that fiscal policy is implemented and bank accounts are credited and debited, as appropriate to facilitate that implementation.

That is identical to ‘helicopter money’.

I have written about that extensively:

1. Helicopter money is a fiscal operation and is not inherently inflationary (September 6, 2016).

2. Keep the helicopters on their pads and just spend (December 20, 2012).

3. The consolidated government – treasury and central bank (August 20, 2010).

Those blog posts provide the detail that defines what an MMT understanding provides. I urge you to read them so that you are clear on these issues.

Sure, as Michael Pascoe notes:

What’s interesting now is that influential, relatively conservative economists are proposing ways to use the nuclear option safely given that the developed world has reached the limits of monetary policy and many governments’ fiscal options are also limited.

But the MMT economists have consistently argued in this way and the rest of the profession is slowly catching up as their previous prognostications have been demonstrated to be false, ineffective or something similar.

The rest of Michael Pascoe’s report just follows the trail of the ‘rats’ who are deserting the mainstream ship and starting to advocate for policies that better exploit the currency-issuing capacity of the elected government.

I keep running into economists when I am abroad …

The Adam Smith Wikipedia Page, tells us that:

A large-scale memorial of Smith by Alexander Stoddart was unveiled on 4 July 2008 in Edinburgh. It is a 10-foot (3.0 m)-tall bronze sculpture and it stands above the Royal Mile outside St Giles’ Cathedral in Parliament Square, near the Mercat cross.

It was funded by the Adam Smith Institute and is located at 192 Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 1RF.

The problem is that many people think of Smith as being the father of ‘free market’ economics (the so-called ‘invisible hand’ of the market).

The reality is that his body of work which is often summarised by his 1776 book – The Wealth of Nations – also includes his earlier book in 1759 – The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Taken together, they do not provide a manifesto for the unfettered greed that the likes of the Adam Smith Institute would like to promote.

I will write more about his some time in the future.

This is music …

I was taking a deep breath this morning in London after a somewhat whirlwind week of bunny-hopping around Europe talking about MMT and the Green New Deal.

This song – Flamingo – is taken from the 1959 Blue Note album – The Sermon.

This was a monster recording and featured Jimmy Smith (Hammond organ), Lee Morgan (trumpet), Art Blakey (drums) and one of my favourites, Kenny Burrell (guitar).

It was recorded on February 25th, 1958 at the Manhattan Towers in New York City.

At the time – Lee Morgan – was just 19 years old and only lasted to 33 years of age. He was shot by his de facto wife in a jazz club where he was performing.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2019 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Establishment Media Bias and the Cheltenham Literary Festival

Someone really ought to do a study of the way the big literary festivals – Haye-on-Wye, Cheltenham and the others – select the books and media celebs they want to push and the way they try to manipulate public opinion towards the establishment consensus. Because, believe me, it is there.

In a couple of weeks’ time, right at the beginning of October, it’ll be the Cheltenham Literary Festival. As it’s booklet of coming events tells you, it’s been proudly going for 70 years. I think it was set up, or given a great deal of assistance when it was set up, by Alan Hancock, who owned a secondhand bookshop on Cheltenham’s Promenade. It was a fascinating place, where you could acquire some really fascinating, valuable academic books cheaply. But it had the same internal layout as the fictional setting of the 1990’s Channel 4 comedy, Black Books, but without Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey or Tamsin Grieg.

The festival’s overall literary stance is, very roughly, broadsheet papers + BBC, especially Radio 4. It pretty much shows what’s captured the attention of the newspaper literary pages and the BBC news team, several of whom naturally have books coming out, and who are appearing. In past years I’ve seen John Simpson, Simon Hoggart, Quentin Letts, Giles Brandreth and John Humphreys talk or appear on panels. This year they’ve got, amongst others, Emily Maitlis and Humphrey’s again.

Much of the Festival’s content is innocuous enough, even praiseworthy from a left-wing perspective. For example, there are a number of authors talking about their books about empowering women and ethnic minorities. These include Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene talking about their book, Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, which is what it says: a guide for Black girls. Other topics and books discussed are on how empowered Black men are, and various feminist works about how gynaecological problems should be discussed openly, and the changing nature of the female muse. Rather than being passive creatures, modern muses are active, liberated women conquering business, sports, the arts and science. There’s also a piece on the future of masculinity, titled ‘Will Boys Still Be Boys’, which asks what will happen to boys now that the idea that there is a natural realm of masculinity, such as superiority and aggression, has been disproved. The concern with ethnic minority authors has always been there, or at least since the 1990s. Then, and in the early part of this century, a frequent theme of the Festival was ‘crossing continents’, which gave a platform to prominent literary authors from outside Europe and the West. It also gave space to Black and Asian literature from the UK. I can remember too, how one of the events staged at the Festival was a celebration of Black British poetry, much of it in Caribbean Patois.

The Festival also caters for more popular tastes. In the past it had speaking the Fantasy author, Terry Pratchett, along with the approved, heavyweight literary types. It has events for children’s books, and this year features such media celebrities as Francis Rossi from Status Quo and Paul Merton. So, something for everyone, or so it seems.

But nevertheless, the Establishment bias is there, especially as so many of the speakers, like Maitlis and Humphreys, are drawn from the mainstream media. Back in the 1990s the Festival was sponsored by the Independent. Now it’s sponsored by the Times, the Murdoch rag whose sister paper, the Sunset Times, has spent so much time smearing Corbyn and his supporters as Communist infiltrators or vicious anti-Semites. Maitlis and Humphreys are BBC news team, and so, almost by definition, they’re Conservative propagandists. Especially as Humphreys is retiring, and has given interviews and written pieces for the Heil. Any chance of hearing something from the Cheltenham Festival about the current political situation that doesn’t conform to what the Establishment wants you to hear, or is prepared to tolerate? Answers on a postcard, please. Here’s a couple of examples. One of the topics under discussion is ‘Populism’. I don’t know what they’re planning to include in it, but from previous discussions of this in the media, I’m prepared to bet that they’ll talk about Trump, possibly Boris Johnson, the rise of extreme right-wing movements in Europe and elsewhere in the world, like Marine Le Pen former Front National in France, the AfD in Germany, Orban and so on in Hungary, Bolsonaro in Brazil and the Five Star Movement in Italy. All of whom are definitely populists. But they’ll also probably include Corbyn and Momentum, because Corbyn is genuinely left-wing, challenges the Thatcherite neoliberal consensus and will empower the masses. All of which threatens the Establishment. There are also individual politicians speaking this year, but the only one I found from the Left was Jess Philips. Who isn’t remotely left-wing in the traditional sense, though she is an outspoken feminist.

The other topic is about what should be done with Putin. Now let’s not delude ourselves, Putin is a corrupt thug, and under him Russia has become once again a very autocratic state. Political and religious dissidents, including journalists, are being attacked, jailed and in some cases murdered. Among the religious groups he’s decided are a threat to Mother Russia are the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m not a member of the denomination, and find their doorstep campaigning as irritating as everyone else. But they are certainly not a dangerous cult or terrorist organisation. And they have stood up to tyrants. They were persecuted by the Nazis during the Third Reich, with their members imprisoned in the concentration camps, including a 17 year old boy, because they wouldn’t accept Hitler as a secular messiah. For which I respect for them. The Arkhiplut has enriched himself, and rewarded his cronies with company directorships, while assassinating the oligarchs, who haven’t toed his line. And I still remember the genocidal butchery he unleashed in Chechnya nearly two decades ago, because they had the temerity to break away.

But geopolitically, I don’t regard Putin as a military threat. In terms of foreign policy it seems that Putin is interested solely in preserving the safety of his country from western encirclement. Hence the invasion of the Ukraine to protect the Russian minority there. If he really wanted to conquer the country, rather than the Donbass, his tanks would be in Kiev by now. I’ve blogged before about how Gorbachev was promised by the West that in return for allowing the former eastern European satellites to break away from the USSR, they would remain neutral and not become members of NATO. That’s been violated. They’ve all become members, and there are NATO military bases now on Russia’s doorstep. The Maidan Revolution of 2012 which overthrew the previous, pro-Russian president of Ukraine was stage managed by the American state department and the National Endowment for Democracy under Hillary Clinton and Victoria Nuland. There’s evidence that the antagonism against Putin’s regime comes from western multinationals, who feel aggrieved at not being able to seize Russian companies as promised by Putin’s predecessor, the corrupt, drunken buffoon Boris Yeltsin. Putin also seems to be quite genuine in his belief in a multipolar world, in which his country, as well as others like China, are also superpowers. But the Americans are interested only in maintaining their position as the world’s only superpower through ‘full spectrum dominance’: that is, absolute military superiority. The US’ military budget supersedes both the Russian and that of the four other major global countries combined. Arguably, Russia ain’t the global threat. America and NATO are.

Festivals like that of Cheltenham are important. They’re business arrangements, of course. They exist to sell books. But they also encourage literacy, and allow the public to come face to face with the people, who inform and entertain them through the written word. Although here the books’ pages of Private Eye complained years ago that the Festival and others like it gave more space to celebrities from television, sport, music and other areas, rather than people, whose primary living was from writing. But the information we are given is shaped by the media – by the papers and broadcasters, who give the public the news, and the publishers, who decide which books on which subjects to publish. And then there’s the bias of the individual festivals themselves. And in the case of Cheltenham, it is very establishment. It’s liberal in terms of feminism and multiculturalism, but other conservative, and increasing Conservative, in others. It’s through events like Cheltenham that the media tries to create and support the establishment consensus.

But that consensus is rightly breaking down, as increasingly more people become aware that it is only creating mass poverty. The Establishment’s refusal to tolerate other, competing opinions – their demonisation of Corbyn and his supporters as Communists, Trotskyites and Nazis, for example – is leading to further alienation and disaffection. Working people don’t find their voices and concerns reflected in the media. Which is why they’re turning to the online alternatives. But Festivals like Cheltenham carry on promoting the same establishment agenda, with the odd voice from the opposition, just like the Beeb’s Question Time. And this is going to change any time soon, not with lyingt rags like the Times sponsoring it.

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