Austerity! Austerity! We must have Austerity!
The concept of Austerity with a capital A is mostly a European invention. It was used during the second War to End All Wars, aka WWII, to bolster popular support for doing without essential commodities so that the Allies could win the war. Germany imposed its brand of austerity but more with the butt of a rifle than with the rhetoric of the Ministry of Food and other governmental bureaucracies. The populace was exhorted to conserve, ration, and do without in order to spread around what supplies remained available so that everyone had something.
During WWI and WWII the shortages were due to Germany’s armies attacking the supply ships and resource producing capacities. Today the austerity stems from government inaction, willful refusal to raise the necessary financial revenues that the economy needs and the unfunded growth in living population that requires support.
In America we call it “cutting entitlements” while the rest of the world calls for Austerity. In the US the Conservatives disparage the poor, low-wage employees, the lazy, and moochers for the state of deficit and growth of spending. The reality is that the greatest growth in public spending is military, increased cost of pharmaceuticals and other medical costs, the cost for each additional American who reaches retirement age and tried to start collecting his/her pensions and Social Security. Public welfare costs are the smallest portion of the total costs.
In the US a sizable portion of the retired and soon-to-be retired population has privately funded and employer paid pensions. In the European economic sector most people are expecting to receive publicly funded pensions. Here in the US, Republican-led legislatures are gutting the public pension sectors in advance of accelerated retirement of our “baby boom” population that is 59 million strong. The people who were in charge of making sure that the revenue collections and investment returns were adequate to the task failed to perform. Now they seek to pin the blame of too many “welfare queens”, moochers and Union Thug attitudes that gift big pensions to public sector union employees at taxpayer expense.
On both sided of the Atlantic the underlying causes of national debt and budget deficits are the aging population and the failure to assess and collect taxes on business profits. In Greece the businesses just don’t pay and nobody has the juice to pursue…