GOOD for The National for providing space for debate about the economic future of an independent Scotland, particularly the discussion about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)!

I think the two articles by Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp (decidedly anti-MMT) and George Kerevan (pro-but with reservations) were very interesting for different reasons.

Gordon’s article (Hot new economic theory is just one piece of the puzzle, January 3) is lamentable in its misrepresentation of MMT, in particular its claims about how it would (or would not) use taxes, and its supposed effects on government spending.

I read that essentially all common sense would evaporate about the effects of government spending on the environment and the military if MMT claims were believed. Tell that to the governments of the USA and China, who are doing quite well destroying the planet already. The article is full of these straw men, citing things that have nothing to do with MMT. I wish Gordon would read some original work on the subject before writing any more.

George’s article (How Modern Monetary Theory could help indy Scotland – in the short term, January 7) is informative and well written, however I think he is also misinterpreting some of MMT as well, thankfully to a much lesser extent than Gordon.

Gordon’s main objection seems to be that MMT ignores the essence of capitalism and class conflict, which is rather strange, as one of the main originators and proponents of MMT, Professor Bill Mitchell, is an avowed Marxist. I note that essentially all economic theories apart from Marxism would fail his test also. Obviously there is not space in a letter to go into the details of why he is wrong, but it seems George also has a little reading to do of Bill’s work to complete his obvious knowledge of MMT.

What both articles have in common is the belief that MMT is a proposal or simply a theory of how most governments with their own sovereign currency, a central bank, little foreign debt etc can spend that currency in future.

It’s not a proposal, it’s a description of how things operate right now. The reality of government spending is obfuscated by mainstream economists and politicians and is claimed to be limited just like a household budget is. This framing is repeated by the media such as the BBC so that the austerity practised by recent governments seems justifiable. Knowledge of MMT frees us from that mindset.

I hope The National can find the space in the future for an article explaining MMT from some people who know their subject. I suggest contacting MMT Scotland (Facebook) for a Scottish perspective in the first instance. Failing that, the Gower Initiative for Modern Monetary Studies has an excellent UK website with good videos, articles and links.

Brian Stobie

I MUST take issue with D Turnbull’s Long Letter regarding railways and subsidies in last Saturday’s National (January 5), particularly two assertions. Firstly: “the question of public v private ownership is immaterial”. If British Rail had received the amount of subsidies that those who now run the services for profit get we could have had one of the best railways in Europe by now, instead of one of the worst. Virgin Trains alone gets more subsidy than the whole of British Rail received to run the trains and maintain stations, track and signalling. We must have a not-for-profit railway.

As usual the road lobby shout loudest and usually get what they want. The second bald statement I disagree with was: “road vehicle tax is the only one that pays its way and subsidises cyclists and public transport”. Piffle! We all pay for the roads, and if it were truly to be only motorists who paid for them their “road tax”, as they like to call it, would have go up at least five-fold. Also, the Tories have got us back to their preferred position of rail users subsidising car drivers – “road tax” has been frozen for a number of years now while rail fares are increasing year on year above inflation.

J Kirk

I’D like to ask which definition Dr Dryburgh from Edinburgh is using when he claims that excess CO2 emissions are not pollution (Letters, January 7)?

According the Oxford English Dictionary, pollution is “the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects”.

CO2 may not be poisonous in small quantities in our atmosphere, but the excessive introduction of CO2 into the environment that currently takes place has clearly proven to be extremely harmful to our climate and is already badly impacting on us and nature, and if we do not stop this it is only going to get worse.

So yes, excess CO2 emissions are most definitely a form of pollution according the above definition, the same that excessive light is generally known as “light pollution” and excessive noise as “noise pollution”. Neither light nor noise are harmful in small quantities. But I am also not entirely getting the point of the letter. What does it matter what we call it? It will not change one iota the fact that excessive CO2 emissions are causing climate change with all its harm.

Maarten de Vries