George Graham

The Bleak Future of “Austerity” is Plain to See

It would be understandable if some Americans bought the “austerity” program touted by the Republicans – if there were no example already in existence to demonstrate its consequences.

Not excusable, of course, but at least understandable. There’s a simple minded logic to it.

Basically, the argument is that you can’t spend money you don’t have. At least, you shouldn’t spend money you don’t have.

My mother used to drill that precept into our heads: If you make a dollar and spend a dollar and one cent, it leads to ruin. If you make a dollar and spend ninety-nine cents, it leads to success.

Of course, the real situation is far more complex. Governments are different from individuals. Governments can and do spend money they don’t have in order to stimulate the economy and (hopefully) bring in more than enough revenue to pay for the borrowed money. That’s the basis of capitalism. It’s how businesses make money. They borrow from the banks and use the “capital” to make a profit.

Politicians who argue that governments should function on a pay-as-you-go basis are pandering to the simple minded.

But I would think that the simplest of minds could look across the Atlantic and see the havoc that bank inflicted austerity programs are wreaking in Europe.

So why would Americans willingly go down the same path as Britain and the other European countries maneuvered into austerity by the global bankers and their conservative political allies?

In an article about a group of English youths who are trying to opt out of the corporate culture, the UK Guardian’s George Monbiot explains:

To be young in the post-industrial nations today is to be excluded. Excluded from the comforts enjoyed by preceding generations; excluded from jobs; excluded from hopes of a better world; excluded from self-ownership.

Those with degrees are owned by the banks before they leave college. Housing benefit is being choked off. Landlords now demand rents so high that only those with the better jobs can pay. Work has been sliced up and outsourced into a series of mindless repetitive tasks, whose practitioners are interchangeable. Through globalisation and standardisation, through unemployment and the erosion of collective bargaining and employment laws, big business now asserts a control over its workforce almost unprecedented in the age of universal suffrage.

The promise the old hold out to the young is a lifetime of rent, debt and insecurity. A rentier class holds the nation’s children to ransom. Faced with these conditions, who can blame people for seeking an alternative?

Monbiot adds:

Almost 800 years after the Magna Carta was approved, unrepresentative power of the kind familiar to King John and his barons still holds sway. Even in the House of Commons, most seats are pocket boroughs, controlled by those who fund the major parties and establish the limits of political action.

Through such ancient powers, our illegitimate rulers sustain a system of ancient injustices, which curtail alternatives and lock the poor into rent and debt.

Why would Americans follow a path that has led to such bleak conditions in Britain?

Why would they buy the argument that the way to economic health is by slashing the social safety net, destroying trade unions and outsourcing productive jobs while reducing taxes for the rich and for global corporations?

This would be, in effect, a return to a feudal system that past generations fought, sacrificed and died to overturn.

It was the middle class that brought prosperity to America, Britain and other developed countries. And “austerity” would inevitably mean the demise of the middle class.

As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, we would inevitably descend into the misery and hopelessness of a new Dark Age.

¬†Click here to read Monbiot’s article.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for