MMT allows inner thought. Mainstream economics doesn’t.

This post is a brief discussion on how Modern Money Theory (MMT) enables independent and inner thoughts (such as opinion, feeling, instinct, distress, concern, and even imagination and dreams). This implies MMT to be an interdisciplinary school of thought. It also suggests that these inner and independent thoughts are not just desirable, but critical to the MMT project, and critical to understanding the world around us.

I also share my own experience in this post of how these inner thoughts are not just rejected by the mainstream school of economics, but dismissed and suppressed before they can ever be spoken.

Note that this particular post is currently blog-like and opinionated, and should not be considered a normal “MMT reference” – it certainly is not the official view of the MMT project.

Related post: The common tactics of bad-faith critics

This post was last updated January 10, 2021.

Disclaimer: I have studied MMT since February of 2018. I’m not an economist or academic and I don’t speak for the MMT project. The information in this post is my best understanding but in order to ensure accuracy, you should rely on the expert sources linked throughout. If you have feedback to improve this post, please get in touch.

On December 23, 2020, I commented on this question on the new Facebook group MMT for Newbies (I’m a moderator on its sister group, Intro to MMT):

Also yesterday, I responded to this reddit post:

My reddit answer was rejected by the group’s (subreddit’s) moderators, meaning it was unsubmitted, as if I never wrote the comment to begin with. I asked the moderators for feedback:

The rule being referred to:

The answer is “bad” not because it doesn’t make sense but because it doesn’t conform to a particular neoclassical formula. Rejecting the premise is unacceptable, even if the premise is worthy of rejection – that is, contradicts the world in which we actually live. In other words, reality must be altered in order to conform to mainstream theory. Altering the theory to conform to reality is simply unacceptable. Anyone who questions the questions is dismissed out of hand.

Another example:

In September, I answered this question on Stack Exchange Economics. (My Stack Exchange username is “aliteralmind” and my profile pic is, of course, Kermit the Frog.) The topic is crowding out, and I think the answer is, if not as elegant as I would write it today, completely accurate: real crowding out is possible, financial crowding out is not.

Look especially at the final comment in the discussion:

(Here’s some discussion of the experience on Facebook. Here’s the post I mention, containing “good faith” criticisms, which now includes the Mankiw’s [not good faith] criticism with MMT responses.)

MMT (and, to an extent, the Post Keynesianism on which it is based) allows inner thoughts to be felt and expressed. This is essentially another way of saying the underlying assumptions can be questioned and challenged. Several assumptions mainstream cannot be challenged, as they are considered to be at (unquestionably correct). Daring to even consider they may be wrong is disqualifying if you wish to be part of the conversation. So a prerequisite to even walking in the mainstream door is accepting those assumptions fully. (John Harvey calls this “self-selection.”)

Final thoughts and sources

Free Lee’s 2006 book, A History of Heterodox Economics, is a century-plus long history of the discrimination endured by those who dare to question or reject those assumptions. (The book had a great influence on me and my podcast.) Finally, and in addition, the first three chapters of John Harvey’s Contending Perspectives (through and including the mainstream chapter) discusses how mainstream shuts other schools out of the conversation.

Finally, my recent interview with Asad Zaman (parts one and two) discusses the concept of logical positivism, which substantially reflects the above: don’t believe anything except what can be objectively and externally measured with scientific instruments. Professor Zaman also agrees that MMT makes Islamic economics possible. Neoclassical economics makes it impossible.

Update: January 7, 2021

A post in r/AskEconomics asked about an assertion by MMT, regarding if the national debt is deliberately reduced, does that contribute to depressions. Two responses were posted by me and another MMTer, but were rejected by group moderators. So even in posts that directly related to MMT concepts and assertions, responses related to (actual) MMT are rejected – as if never submitted to begin with. I’ve documented those two answers in this post.

Top image: From AbsolutVision on Pixabay (license)