I am compelled to make this film because I believe it is the most important story not being told right now. Stephanie Kelton and her cohort of unorthodox economists assert that mainstream economics has the whole story of money wrong, including who creates it, where it comes from, and what gives it value. And she argues, this changes everything in terms of understanding what a nation can afford. Known as Modern Monetary Theory, and developed far from the sanctity of Ivy League Institutions, the ideas have so far invoked near unanimous condemnation from the field of economics. However the outcome of this debate will affect every other political debate citizens are engaged in, from healthcare, to inequality, to climate change. Kelton seeks to flip our understanding of money, debt, and taxes perfectly upside down, and forever change the traditional partisan divide over taxing and spending.
However a deeper look at history is needed to see the full picture and understand the root of the conflict. We introduce the conventional origin story of money as the story of barter. It is this “myth of barter”, which has been called the “foundational myth of economics”. By claiming that money was a natural physical object, outside the realm of human political control, and that ‘the economy’ itself was akin to a ‘natural force’, economics sought to extricate itself from politics and ethics.
This film shows that the story we tell about money matters. It matters whether money was the invention of a naturally occurring private free market, or whether it has always been a tool of political authorities. MMT economists seek to show we humans fundamentally write the rules to the game we call ‘the economy’. I believe it is this revelation which has the most relevance for our current political debate; whether we believe as a society we have the tools and the capacity to address our greatest challenges, or whether we believe we are powerless against the insurmountable force of money.
We watch as mainstream economists resist the change represented by MMT, and we explore the juicy conflict. Is it that certain economists want to hide this information from politicians and the public out of fear of abuse of the ‘power of the purse’? Or could this debate represent a long held misunderstanding over the nature of money of itself?
What can we as a nation afford, and what are the limits? Stephanie Kelton implores us to envision the world we want to live in, one that respects ecological and inflationary limits, but also a world in which anything that is technically feasible is financially affordable. It’s our democracy, it’s our money, and it’s our economy.