William Halal: Welcome and Introduction

April 28th, 2010 by selise


“Welcome and Introduction”
William Halal, Professor, Department of Management at George Washington University, Washington DC.

1st Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In and Counter-Conference
George Washington University, Washington DC, April 28, 2010



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TRANSCRIPT (Thanks to the Volunteer Transcription Team):

Bill Halal: I’m Bill Halal, professor in the school of business. It is my honor to get things going here. I think this is a very provocative topic. It’s pretty obvious to most people that the most obvious, the most immediate thing that could be done to solve the national fiscal crisis is to raise revenue by raising taxes or cutting costs but, and that may be necessary to some degree, but any business person knows that you can’t get out of a crisis with sheer austerity alone. There’s always a need for new vision, new ideas, new opportunities for growth and that’s what I think this topic is about. [00:00:45]

I think you’re going to find it a really interesting topic and I want to, I’ve also been asked to acknowledge the special help of Howie Klein and the whole Blue America team for their support. So you have a very interesting program here. Now I’m happy now to turn things over to Joe Firestone who will introduce the first speaker. Thank you for your attention. [00:01:20]

Joe Firestone: Well this has been a quick one. I guess three weeks ago I read an article by Kuttner, actually, concerning the Peterson Foundation conference, The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. And I got really angry, really, really angry. And I said to myself this is all wrong, we really need to have an answer to this. So, I published a blog post at FDL (at Fire Dog Lake), some people read it, and also a Corrente blog post on that day, and on my own blog as well. I didn’t get any comments on my own blog but I got some pretty favorable ones on the other two and people were volunteering to do things. Now I had never intended to do any of this, I mean, I had the idea and I called for the Huffington Post, FDL, and other people to run with this idea. They weren’t running. They didn’t want to do anything. So I said, well… And then we started working and we started with a small team of people who were working and we contacted the speakers that you see here today and everybody felt that something had to be done, there had to be an answer to this. [00:03:14]

And we wanted an answer which was not just an ad hoc answer. We wanted an answer that was coherent in terms of the conceptual ideas and we wanted an answer that was fact based. And so the economists we asked to speak here are all economists who come from the Modern Monetary Theory school, or the MMT school, of economics. And that school has a very coherent position with respect to deficits and debts and debts to GDP ratio and basically what it says is that for certain kinds of countries, you do not manage the economy based on those particular statistics, that that’s not what is important, that public purpose is important and that those statistics will basically take care of themselves if you fulfill the public purpose. [00:04:42]

So we assembled this group to talk to us about that and our first speaker will be Bill Mitchell who is Professor of Economics from the University of New Castle. He has traveled, he took a twenty-four hour plane flight, or a twenty-six hour plane flight to come here and stay for a couple of days to talk to us. He’s been working on full employment problems npw for — how long Bill, thirty or forty years? He’s really dedicated himself to that and he doesn’t see any reason why we can’t have a full employment situation by which he means roughly two percent unemployment and he thinks that that is one of the elements of fiscal sustainability. So now I’m going to turn things over to him to talk about fiscal sustainability and what it really means. Bill, would you like to…


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