Comments on Baker/Bernstein book

Seems there’s new full court press on for full employment by the headline left. And they lifted it directly out of what I’ve been posting and publishing at least since ‘Soft Currency Economics’ written in 1993, with editorial assistance by Art Laffer and Mark McNary. And even earlier Professor Bill Mitchell had been independently writing about and urging what he then called buffer stock employment, which he has continued to promote on his widely read blog as the Job Guarantee. In fact, throughout the later 1990’s we co authored and published numerous times on exactly this topic.

In 1996 with the urging and intellectual support of Professor Paul Davidson, I wrote ‘Full Employment and Price Stability’ that was published in the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics and gives a full outline of the current Baker/Bernstein proposal in full detail, including the debits and credits at the Fed that support it. And, at the same time, a supporting math model was published by Professor Pavlina Tcherneva.

In 1998 Professor Randall Wray, a student of Hyman Minsky and one of our original ‘MMT family’, published ‘Understanding Modern Money’ which again outlined the same proposal, which he called ‘the employer of last resort’ (ELR), a term believed to be first used by Professor Minsky.

In 2010, I published ‘The 7 Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy’ that again promotes an employed labor buffer stock policy, vs today’s policy of using an unemployed labor buffer stock. By that time I had begun framing it as a ‘transition job’ policy, to facilitate the transition from unemployment to private sector employment, recognizing that employers prefer to hire people already working. And directly to the point of this post, a few years ago I met with Dean Baker for at least two hours in his office, after he had read my book, discussing the fine points of the various proposals. Not to mention the continuous stream of research and publications on full employment and the transition job concept by UMKC Professors Mat Forstater and Stephanie Kelton, Professor Scott Fullwiler, and all the UMCK PhD alumni now teaching and publishing globally. Additionally, Professor Jan Kregel published a similar proposal for the euro zone.

I apologize in advance to everyone I’ve inadvertently omitted who have also worked to advance this proposal over the last 20 years.

So with this context please note the following from the new Baker/Bernstein book:

Page 73:

” The second policy idea is to launch a system of publicly funded jobs that can ramp up and down, expand and contract, as needed, in tandem with the business cycle. Under such a system the federal government, working through local intermediaries, would supply funds to subsidize hiring in the private sector as well as in important community services like education, child care, and recreation.”

Page 81:

“Thus, a transitional jobs program, which could offer extra services to hard to employ populations or simply provide a temporary public or subsidized private job to a long term unemployed person, would be a useful component of a strategy of publicly funded jobs. For the long term unemployed, it will be easier to find a permanent job if theyve already got a temporary one”

The promotional page can be found here.

The full book can be found here.

But don’t bother to read the text. It’s highly flawed and ‘out of paradigm’ throughout, and wouldn’t get anywhere near a passing grade in any UMKC classroom.

The only interesting part and the point of this post is the shameless lack of any attribution whatsoever to any of the above mentioned MMT economists for ideas and language ‘copied and pasted’, so to speak.

I recall the critical outcry when MLK was found out to have plagiarized some paper when he was in school and suspect in this case we’ll see the old double standard at work leaving this stone unturned.