Monday update

IDEAeconomics' principals and key collaborators got together Sunday last for consensus building and course correction. Very useful. We are operating at near capacity in terms of time and talent, which means we need to expand capacity. That means fund-raising, but it also means tapping the energy that comes available, almost spontaneously, from the mission and from Steve's efforts.

The two agenda items were fund-raising and encapsulating the purpose. Taking the second first, it is clear that we are Steve Keen's shop, committed to the reform of economics. But while that is clear to some of us, what it means to others and to the broader public is sometimes not so clear. (Noting there is a range of views on the board itself, from the narrow focus on the academics to the much broader need to make basic changes in understanding and policy to avoid a deep societal crisis). The programmatic structure of IDEA is clear. (If you would like an org chart and description, reply to this and I'll send you one.) It is the conceptual framework that seems to be the focus of most concern. It is a work in progress. I offered my "what the world would look like if we were successful" characterization:

What would the world be like if we achieved our mission? 

  • Excess debt would no longer burden households and governments
  • Development would be freed from the fallacy of austerity
  • Unemployment would be very low
  • Governments would be freed from artificial and damaging policy restrictions
  • Businesses would confront robust demand for their services and products
  • Financial markets would no longer dominate the real economy
  • Bubbles and instability would be reduced
  • Monetary policy would be freed from delusions about money and banking
  • Economics education would not teach unrealistic assumptions nor outright error; economics students would have tools which related to the real world

If you have perspective on this, please let me know. Personally, we do not feel confused, but we definitely see the eyes glazing over when we try to explain.

Consensus in the working group was that priority should move to fund-raising, particularly focusing on larger donations. A rule of thumb (we recently read) among nonprofits is 80% of donations come from 20% of the donors. We have some experience in this arena, with chuck, but there was a recognition that more skill needs to be developed, either in-house (i.e., by Alan), or added in the form of board members, volunteers or hired out-sourcing. There was at the same time the recognition that our membership base is a fundamental part of the operation, the constituency which brought us here from the bar at the Sorrento Hotel, and which is the base of talent from which we need to draw, as well as the front door for larger donors.

So. We have our program in place and it will be delivered. We are already well down the road on most projects: Econ101R, the TSL tool, Pundit's Guide, Steve's "Critique of Dynamics in Neoclassical and Post-Keynesian Economic Models," and the Data Store. TSL and the Data Store were not anticipated when we started IDEA, but will demonstrate we are a serious player in the research arena.

All that said, there are two large holes in the operation: the fund-raising with large donors expertise and the need for a good, easy way to communicate with the broader base. We moved this week to fill both holes. First, in continuing to learn the basics and to build out the constituent communications software. Second, in scoping a communications tool, call it a newsletter. We have too many relationships that we value that are not being attended to appropriately. The instrument as currently conceived (a) would contain some of the inside material from here on Saturday Notes, (b) would solicit the expertise we need to expand capacity, (c) would inform on Steve's many activities, and (d) along with that offer the links and connections to inform on the larger adventure in the battle for reform.