A few days ago I came across a short book on the subject (Free PDF here, Amazon Kindle format just a buck, here) It’s written named Warren Mosler. He’s an American broker, banker, economist, and sports car engineer.The heart of the book is about 50 pages. So not too long a read. But MMT makes a bunch of arguments that go completely against intuition and prior education — that seem completely wrong — until you change your intuition.
And before reading it, I recommend reading what I’ve written below because I think it will help you prepare your mind for reading something that MAKES NO SENSE at first.Also I spent a bunch of time writing it, so I think you owe me that.
We’ve got good intuition about the way things like baseballs behave. Our intuition is based on lots of experience with baseballs, rocks, and other similar objects. And it helped our ancestors survive. But if you believe that science knows what it is talking about, then you must believe (along with science) that the intuitive laws of physics that we are familiar with, the ones that seem so right, that we have depended on for so long, are wrong because they don’t match the observed behavior of objects at quantum and relativistic scales.(If you don’t believe science knows what it is doing when it comes to relativity and quantum physics, then stop here, because really, we have nothing to talk about.)
Then I’ll tell you why I’m thinking about reversing some of my prior political opinions based on my new intuition. Said more clearly: I’ll tell you why MMT makes me think I might have been wrong.Why not change right away? Because it’s hard for me to conclude that I have been so wrong. So I’m sort of sidling up to the idea.
And then I’ll remind you again to read the book, and provide the links, so if you have gotten all the way through my wall of words and you’re convinced that it’s worth reading that which was so inspiring to me, you won’t have to scroll all the way back and find the links. They’ll be right there.
It’s hard to change intuition, but if the data you collect goes against you intuition enough times, you’ve got to change your intuition.Actually you don’t have to. There’s another option. You can learn a new, correct rule and use it — ignoring your intuition, and get correct answers, despite the fact that they don’t intuitively seem right.
Actually, there’s a third option. You can stubbornly continue to use your old intuition, and your old rules, even if the data doesn’t match. You can do it, but if you do, you’re an idiot. If you’ve gotten this far, I assume you are not an idiot, but that’s just a theory. I could be wrong.
If you learn the correct rule but don’t change your intuition to match, then you’re not an idiot, but you are missing an opportunity to think more clearly.
Our intuition tells us that the earth stands still and the sun rises and sets, and that’s what our ancestors believed for thousands of years. Now, most of us know that the earth spins and it also circles he sun, and that explains the apparent rising and setting of the sun. We can shift from one set of intuitions to another when we have to.Some of us have learned, and believe that the sun is rotating along with the rest of stars in the Milky Way galaxy; that it changes its position within the galaxy; that the galaxy itself is moving at an enormous velocity relative to other galaxies, and so on. But most of us don’t have any intuition to match. Which is OK. What’s not OK is to say: the stars don’t seem to be moving, so they’re not.
Our intuition tells us, and our ancestors believed, that the earth is not moving and the sun and the moon move around the earth. Now most of us believe that the sun is stationary (relatively) and the earth moves around it. But that new intuition turns out not to be exactly right, either.The reason that the heliocentric view took over from the geocentric view is because the math needed to explain the motion of all the planets in the solar system is (relatively) simple if you assume that the heliocentric view — the earth is moving and the sun is not — despite your intuition that says otherwise. And math needed to explain these same facts is gawdawful complex — to the point of impossibility — if you assume the geocentric view.
So we’ve fixed our intuition (some of us) to believe the better model. But according to relativity, it’s perfectly OK to assume that any point or any object in the universe is fixed and the rest is moving. That’s why it’s called relativity. One of Einstein’s insights was to show that if two things are moving relative to one another you can’t tell which one is moving and which one is still and the laws of motion must be correct whatever, in your head, you decide is true.Not intuitive.
So earth moving. Sun moving, doesn’t matter. Me center, you center, doesn’t matter.When people measured the speed of light moving from the sun, from the planets, in different directions and from different objects moving at different speeds, they discovered that the speed of light (in a vacuum) was always the same. In every case. Regardless of how fast they were moving toward or away from the light source, or how fast the light source is moving toward or away from them, the measurement has always been the same (within measurement accuracy).
Later, after Einstein discovered the governing laws. other people created other, even better thought experiments. And then they turned them into YouTube videos. And by watching the videos, and doing those thought experiments myself I was able to get past my old, wrong intuitions, and develop new intuitions that made relativistic behavior seem more like common sense.It was hard.
The Hafele–Keating experiment was a test of the theory of relativity. In October 1971, Joseph C. Hafele, a physicist, and Richard E. Keating, an astronomer, took four cesium-beam atomic clocks aboard commercial airliners. They flew twice around the world, first eastward, then westward, and compared the clocks against others that remained at the United States Naval Observatory. When reunited, the three sets of clocks were found to disagree with one another, and their differences were consistent with the predictions of special and general relativity.
It’s hard to rely on counterfactual arguments, but I’m going to make one: MMT says that if EITHER the Republicans had their way and increased tax breaks OR if the Democrats had their way and increased spending on infrastructure, education or whatever — either of which would have run up the debt — we would be better off. But each party kept the other from doing what MMT says would have been most helpful.4.
Anyway, here are the links to book, I promised at the top (Remember? Free PDF here, Amazon Kindle format for a buck here.)And to whet your appetite (or turn you off) here are the things that are intuitively true, that MMT says are WRONG: