August 15, 2018

MMT, Bill Mitchell, and the lack of basic scientific integrity

Comment on Bill Mitchell on ‘MMT is just plain old bad economics ― Part 3 = MMT is just plain good economics ― Part 3’


The key point for understanding economics is that there are TWO economixes: political and theoretical economics. The main differences are: (i) The objective of political economics is to successfully push an agenda, the objective of theoretical economics is to successfully explain how the actual economy works. (ii) In political economics anything goes; in theoretical economics, the scientific standards of material and formal consistency are observed.

Theoretical economics (= science) had been hijacked from the very beginning by the agenda pushers of political economics. Economic debate is, since the founding fathers, characterized by rhetorically switching between political and scientific arguments. In this shuffle, science got entirely lost. After 200+ years, economics is still at the proto-scientific level. To this day, economists are NOT scientists but only useful political idiots.

Bill Mitchell is a case in point. He is one of the academic representatives of MMT. He claims
  • that neoclassical = mainstream economics is proto-scientific garbage (true),
  • that MMT monetary theory is superior to neoclassical theory (true),
  • that MMT is a scientifically true theory, i.e. materially and formally consistent (false),
  • that MMT policy guidance is progressive, i.e. promotes the cause of the ninety-nine-percenters (false),
  • that most of the critique of MMT, especially mainstream critique, is way beside the point (true),
  • that MMT is not political agenda-pushing but a scientific tool, i.e. a lens for analyzing how the monetary economy works (false),
  • that his blog is only “an extension of [his] role as an educator” (false),
  • that on his blog, Bill Mitchell has extensively refuted all scientific and political arguments against MMT (half-true). The proof that MMT is a distributional catastrophe#1 has NEVER been refuted.

The fact of the matter is that MMT is scientifically untenable and politically biased against the ninety-nine-percenters. The social appearances of MMT are a deception of the general public.

Against critique, Bill Mitchell answers with rhetoric (neoliberal framing, attention-seeking smart-guys, misrepresentation, a Twitter storm of lies) and holds up his academic credentials: “One of the things that an academic is trained to do and required to do before entering public debate is to make sure they have read the relevant literature. We are not paid to be attention-seeking, social media heroes who tweet our heads off by making stuff up. We have a responsibility to the public to speak with authority and knowledge.”

Here is the benchmark for academics: “In order to tell the politicians and practitioners something about causes and best means, the economist needs the true theory or else he has not much more to offer than educated common sense or his personal opinion.” (Stigum)

MMT falls short of the scientific mark. MMTers do NOT have the true theory and they violate scientific standards on a daily basis. Bill Mitchell is an agenda pusher, he promotes the cause of the one-percenters, and he falsely claims to speak with scientific “authority and knowledge”.#2 Bill Mitchell does NOT even know what profit is and this is disqualifying for all academic MMTers.#3

MMT’s economic policy guidance has NO sound scientific foundations. MMT is in NO position to criticize the Labour leadership on scientific grounds. MMT is plain academic fraud.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Keynes, Lerner, MMT, Trump and exploding profit
#2 Cryptoeconomics ― the best of Bill Mitchell’s spam folder
#3 For the full-spectrum refutation of MMT see cross-references MMT

Related 'How Bill Mitchell stalks Jeremy Corbyn'.