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Raúl Carrillo @RaulACarrillo
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🌩️ In this (free!) @curaffairs podcast, @rohangrey & I chat with @PeteDDavis about the need for the Left to abandon the “tax & transfer” approach. At ~29:20, I joked that we need to switch to “create & destroy.” We all laughed. It's intense. But I meant
I don’t think “tax and transfer” is a liberating lens on most any level. Whether or not you agree with MMT, acting like “money grows on rich people” and we must depend on their funds to offset the spending for a better world is a very restrictive approach to political economy.
When leftists refer to “taxpayer money”-- as opposed to say, “public money” -- we prolong the illusion we all depend on certain people’s economic contributions and not others. It’s atomizing.
When leftists talk about “taxpayer money”, we reinforce the tropes of the put-upon khaki-clad patriarch...and the “undeserving benefit recipient.” Any movement for economic justice must overcome these tropes, as Angela P. Harris argues in @LPEblog.…
As I argued in @splinternews, the concept of “taxpayer money” is a gift to right-wingers. “Taxpayer money” narrows our vision and divides us. It reinforces hierarchies across the board.…
“If we’re looking out for “taxpayers” and not the public as a whole, we are favoring wealthier groups over poorer ones—white people over Black people, men over women, U.S.-born people over immigrants, and so forth.”…
As @redheadmenace has argued, the (U.S.) concept of “taxpayer citizenship” -- the idea that you deserve more of a say in society because of your ostensible tax contributions -- has explicitly racist origins. It’s been dog-whistle from the jump.

Furthermore, there is no legal or macroeconomic reason to key public funding for something like a #JobGuarantee, #M4A, or #HousingForAll to our ability to soak the rich quickly and efficiently. #MMT is especially helpful for understanding the technicals behind this insight.
Leftists often think taxing the rich or expropriating real resources = social provisioning. But as @NathanTankus says, “people can’t eat yachts.” We can seize what we want, but we still need to spend $ to create public goods for our use. We either have that capacity or we don’t.
More importantly, we have no reason to fear expansive federal deficit spending. Selling Treasury securities to dedicated buyers we can always pay...isn't relying on the rich. (I think the Tsy market is vestigial and prefer an explicit OMF scheme, but hey).
Inflation can be a concern, but leftists suffer from another RW inflicted disease when we insist our first-order price stabilization mechanisms must be maintaining involuntary unemployment or otherwise curbing public spending.……
But technicals aside, I’m, again, convinced the tax-and-transfer conceptual framework makes for bad political strategy. I struggle to see how it’s yielded net positive results since the advent of neoliberalism.
As @rohangrey and I both state on the podcast, we’re super down for heavy taxes on the rich. But it doesn’t make sense to act like our goals and dreams are contingent upon the rich...and thus reify their political power.
I very much want to end the monstrous maldistribution of worldwide wealth. But I’d like to think about multiple paths toward that goal. Confiscation, conversion, etc., is necessary. But so is seizing the money machine and building alternative institutions.
You don’t have to identify as an MMTer to know Democrats (and leftists!) are getting played on deficits and the national debt.

(Here’s one of my fave @JoshMound pieces:…)

(Here’s Jamie Galbraith on why Wall Street loves austerity:…)
What MMT does, though, is provide a descriptive understanding of money and its workings, that in turns opens up new possibilities for struggle that most leftists tend to ignore. MMT knocks down the fake guardrails the right already knows are fake.
MMT denaturalizes money and exposes conventional wisdom about money as yet another political construct. Public authorities don’t have to balance budgets like households. We don’t have to key spending to taxation. We don’t have to rely on bank-originated debt to fuel the economy.
Once we understand money as a creature of public law rather than private markets, we see new options for confronting power. We still have to engage in political struggle, but we’re opening up new fronts.
And as we open up new fronts, and explain how false financial scarcity (and its attendant policies) help the right, we spur conversation about what it would mean to decommodify money (With a deficit-financed JG, we spur talk about decommodifying labor, too!).
While we’re doing that, we can still go HAM on destroying evil institutions. In fact, it’ll become easier!
For instance, if we push for a (truly) fully-funded #JobGuarantee we can work toward the elimination of entire industries -- those focused on war, extraction, incarceration, deportation, etc. -- without tiptoeing around concerns about job losses and tax base erosion.
Out with the old. In with the new. And we don’t need the old to fund the new. Many organizers have argued as much for a long time, in different ways. And campaigns like #AbolishICE (hey, @SeanMcElwee) suggest an already-existing appetite for *destroying* harmful institutions.
As @rohangrey said on the podcast, it’s time to “move on” from our break-up with capital. We’ll def have to fight the wealthy. But let's do it on our own affirmative terms. Not as hostages to their tired conventional wisdom. 🌦️
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