Stop the Austerity Craze! Massive Budget Slashing Can Lead to Economic Disaster, Violence and Repression
The DC-Wall Street power circuit, with a big assist from the corporate media, is blindly pushing an agenda that could lead to massive social upheaval.
Mark Ames January 25, 2011
Now that the shock of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting is starting to wear off and the country is returning to its more familiar climate of insanity, we’re back to facing a far worse, far more serious, and far more violent threat than mere rampage shootings: Austerity.
The Washington-Wall Street power circuit has already decided for the rest of us that “austerity” will define the 2011 political agenda. Austerity is what the oligarch-sponsored Tea Party demanded, what the Republicans are promising to deliver now that they’re in control of drafting the budget in the House, and what the Obama administration is going to try to enact as part of its neo-Clinton triangulation strategy. And the DC pols have the total endorsement of the corporate media, which have been hammering home the same message for months now: Austerity is the answer to our problems — problems that were created by the same establishment which wants to make us scream in pain again.
The way this austerity debate has been framed in all the major media outlets, anyone pushing for austerity cuts and “pain” is automatically labeled “courageous”—which is an odd way of defining courage, since not a single rich politician or pundit pushing for "austerity" will actually suffer that pain, and most will profit from it. But that’s what counts as courage in our era.
Bush speechwriter-turned-Washington Post pundit Michael Gerson has been an early promoter of the courage-austerity complex. Here's Gerson writing about his old colleague, former Bush OMB director Mitch Daniels, now Indiana governor, whose first act upon taking oath was pawning the Indiana Turnpike to a multinational as fast as you can spell courageous: Daniels became a highly successful Indiana governor, combining a motorcycle-driving, pork-tenderloin-eating populism with courageous budget cutting, a solid record of job creation and a reputation for competence. more
22 Painful Signs That Austerity Has Arrived In America
Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse | Jan. 18, 2011
Over the past couple of years, most Americans have shown little concern as austerity measures were imposed on financially troubled nations across Europe. Even as austerity riots erupted in nations such as Greece and Spain, most Americans were still convinced that nothing like that could ever happen here.
Well, guess what? Austerity has arrived in America.
At this point, it is not a formal, mandated austerity like we have seen in Europe, but the results are just the same. Taxes are going up, services are being slashed dramatically, thousands of state and city employees are being laid off, and politicians seem to be endlessly talking about ways to make even deeper budget cuts. Unfortunately, even with the incredibly severe budget cuts that we have seen already, many state and local governments across the United States are still facing a sea of red ink as far as the eye can see.
Most Americans tend to think of "government debt" as only a problem of the federal government. But that is simply not accurate. The truth is that there are thousands of "government debt problems" from coast to coast. Today, state and local government debt has reached at an all-time high of 22 percent of U.S. GDP. It is a crisis of catastrophic proportions that is not going away any time soon. more
Recovery Recedes, Convulsion Looms
The Triumph of Austerity
By WALDEN BELLO January 14, 2011
The dominant mood in liberal economic circles as 2010 drew to a close, in contrast to the cautiously optimistic forecasts about a sustained recovery at the end of 2009, was gloom, if not doom. Fiscal hawks have gained the upper hand in the policy struggle in the United States and Europe, to the alarm of spending advocates like Nobel laureate Paul Krugman and Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf who see budgetary tightening as a surefire prescription for killing the hesitant recovery in the major economies.
But even as the United States and Europe appear to be headed for deeper crisis in the short term and stagnation in the long term, East Asia and other developing areas show signs of decoupling from the western economies. This trend began in early 2009 on the strength of the massive Chinese stimulus program, which not only restored China to double-digit growth but swung several neighboring economies from Singapore to South Korea from recession to recovery. By 2010, Asia's industrial production had caught up with its historical trend, "almost as if the Great Recession never happened," as the Economist put it.
The United States, Europe, and Asia seem to be going their separate ways. Or are they?
In the major economies, outrage with the excesses of the financial institutions that precipitated the economic crisis has given way to concern about the massive deficits that governments incurred to stabilize the financial system, arrest the collapse of the real economy, and stave off unemployment. In the United States, the deficit stands at over nine percent of gross domestic product. This is hardly a runaway deficit, but the American right managed the feat of making the fear of the deficit and federal debt a greater force in the mind of the public than the fear of deepening stagnation and rising unemployment. In Britain and the United States, fiscal conservatives gained a clear electoral mandate in 2010 while in continental Europe, a more assertive Germany put the rest of the Eurozone on notice that it would no longer subsidize the deficits of the monetary union's weaker southern-tier economies such as Greece, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal. more