We hear all the time about how the U.S. doesn't do enough to invest on science and technology. In 1993, Comgress canceled the Superconducting Super Collider over funding concerns. Atheists love to rail against Congress's blinkered priorities, usually by comparing NASA's annual budget to just a few days of spending on the Afghanistan war. Although clearly NASA represents a far greater potential return in investment, nothing ever seems to change. Science funding is a low priority item, it lacks an effective political lobby, and there's only so much pie to go around. Public science investment, we're told, is doomed to be just a tiny sliver of that pie.
And that's where MMT comes in. Atheists love learning that their common sense assumptions are false, so they may be more open the most to learning that spending a federal dollar on one thing need not take that dollar away from anything else. Because government spending (by a sovereign currency issuer like the US) is never revenue-constrained, the government can afford to spend whatever amount on science Congress thinks would be useful, without taking that money out of other programs or raising anyone's taxes.
The common sense assumption, on the other hand, says that there's only so much money to go around, and science is just going to have to take a back seat to more important things. From the point-of-view of a small government libertarian it's actually quite ingenious. By convincing people that all government spending comes at the expense of other government spending, the end result is hundreds (or thousands) of "special interests" competing with one another for every discretionary dollar.
MMT throws this kind of thinking out the window. Since a sovereign currency issuer is not revenue constrained, there is no static pie to be fought over in a zero-sum battle of political influence that science will never win. The pie can be as big as we want it to be. If science research needs a bigger slice of pie, we can grow the pie directly, rather than sticking anyone else with a smaller slice. This changes the criteria for justifying public spending. It eliminates the issue of affordability, and focuses attention instead on the real consequences of the spending on the public interest. And that's a much easier battle for science to fight.
Unfirtunately, the atheist community doesn't seem to have much interest in economic theory. This is a mistake, and a surprising one. Over recent years, the online community has been getting more and more politically engaged as more and more politically engaged people have gotten involved. Under the moniker of Atheism+, some atheists are making politics and social justice a fundamental part of a broader atheist worldview, but the it's mostly standard liberal identity politics type stuff. I don't mean to be dismissive of efforts to make the atheist community more diverse in terms of gender, race, and class (such efforts are extremely important, and the work is not yet nearly done), but that's just the beginning of real political engagement. I admire and am inspired by the Atheist+ commitment to giving all people a seat at the table, but then what?
There are many answers to this question. There are many areas where I would like to see atheists applying the principles of skepticism to political questions. MMT represents just one opportunity to do so. I want to see atheists using their skeptical toolkits to attack the persistent myths of economic policy that stand in the way of progress on each and every political issue we face.
I'm just a humble blogger with not much of an audience and no influence whatever, but I plan to be on the lookout for opportunities to do just that.