Nobody is perfect. I get it. What I don’t get is why so many people of all ages refuse to accept facts or ignore them when presented. What do we gain by doing this? What do we lose?
This isn’t an idea that just popped into my head yesterday. I’ve thought about folks’ aversion to facts for a long time and even more so in the last year since I was presented with the details of how our economic system works today. What didn’t occur to me was that I would spend so much time reading economics and attempting to share that knowledge with others.
Before I proceed, let’s get something straight: I’ve never been one to spread falsehoods. Want to call me out on that, fine; but I am not in the habit of lying. Lies are too hard to keep up with. Tell the truth and stick with it. That’s so much easier. Much less to remember.
When I was introduced to Modern Monetary Theory exactly one year ago this month, I started considering everything through the lens of MMT. My thinking changed. It was really like Professor Bill Mitchell, one of the originators of MMT, has stated: “MMT is not something you do, it is something that is!”
So if this is how the economic system works today, why don’t people accept facts when explained? Why didn’t people believe the world was round? No different. Maybe most people are comfortable the way they are and don’t question what they have come to believe. There is the possibility that candidates, politicians and your relatives think the economy works a certain way because that’s what they were taught. Textbooks and teachers couldn’t be wrong now, could they? And also consider there are those in government who understand exactly how the economy works but would never say that publicly for fear of going against popular “wisdom” that rings as true as mom and apple pie.
It is a fact that the federal government creates the currency and can’t run out of that currency. You and I can run out of currency and the ability to purchase things, but the creator of the currency doesn’t run out of it. The U.S. is monetarily sovereign; the federal government is the only entity that has the authority to issue money. The government can’t run out of its own currency unless the government topples and there is no more United States.
That seems easy enough to understand, yet people think the U.S. is broke. We are running out of money and the federal budget is just like yours and mine.
We hear this over and over again from candidates and politicians and countless “regular” people who either don’t know that the United States is monetarily sovereign or they choose to ignore that fact. All these folks know perfectly well that if they printed U.S. currency and were caught, they’d pay the consequences.
Yet people hold on to beliefs even when they can be shown they are wrong. They know what they know and there is no changing that. Stubborn? Maybe. Brainwashed? Maybe. Set in their ways? Maybe. Don’t know what they don’t know? Maybe. I could continue, but I’m going to stop.
I’m looking for answers. We believe 1+1=2, so why the hesitation when it comes to an explanation of how the economy actually operates?
We could question what we’ve been taught throughout our formal education and might learn that not all textbooks are up to date. Why? Perhaps we need to be less trusting of the “powers that be,” not hang on their every word and be more discerning about the media we consume. Maybe we should change the channel on the TV once in a while and watch something that takes us out of our comfort zone. Or, we could try reading a little more and learning something new each week.
What does isolating ourselves from facts get us? Facts are still facts, whether we ignore them, deny them or say they aren’t so. No amount of twisting, convoluting and foot stomping will make 1+1=5.
That’s a fact.
Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She is the national outreach director for Real Progressives. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-339-9082.