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Depression era photo - man in overalls and hat leaning against a store front
Photo by Dorothea Lange
This past week, the leading nominee to be Italy's new prime minister indicated that he would move away from the austerity program imposed on his nation. Then a funny thing happened. Interest rates on Italian bonds didn't rise. There was a distinct lack of dire warnings from other governments and international organizations. It was perhaps the clearest sign to date that, in Europe at least, the fires of austerity are burning out.

The flames from the massive experiment with austerity won't gutter immediately. In their wake they are leaving extraordinarily high levels of unemployment, increased doubt about the social contract between government and citizens, and debts that are actually higher than before the fire began. Those wounds will ache for a long time to come.

And of course the flames still burn bright in America, where austerity hides under the name of sequestration. Only in America, the damage from this fire is rather localized. Just this week we had a sterling example of how any aspect of austerity that inconveniences the well-heeled immediately draws a bucket brigade of het-up senators (including many who should damn well know better) while programs for the poor are allowed to crumble into ash. After all, children going without a teacher (or a meal), or a CEO forced to wait an extra half hour or that flight to Vegas... what's really important here?

That the major academic paper many European economists had used to justify their actions has proven to be stitched together from bad math and built-in presumptions only greased the tracks for this change of direction. The reason that European countries are turning away from austerity is more simple than a couple of economists being caught with their fingers on the scale: Austerity doesn't work. Nation after nation gave it a go, and nation after nation watched as it made a bad situation much worse.

The real wonder is that anyone ever thought it would. It's not just that the principles behind austerity defy common sense, it's that they have also failed every test of history. Keynesian economics didn't appear just because one British economist had a dream. They evolved in response to the utter failure of previous instances of austerity. They persisted for decades precisely because they definitely and demonstrably worked.

So why turn again to the system that has failed so often when you had right at hand a tool that you know will work? Simple enough. Keynesian economics has answers, but not the right answers, not the treasure that economic schools from Austrian on have sought for so long. They don't provide justification to blame the failures of the economy on the actions of government and the sloth of the poor. For just a moment there, with austerity in hand, they thought they'd found the grail.

The last sixty years of economics, the whole Chicago School—Heritage Foundation—American Enterprise Institute—Amity Shlaes fantasy epic, has been about the quest for that justification. Has been about promoting the evidence-free contention that the solution to any economic woe is fewer taxes for the rich, fewer programs for the poor. Has been about building the poor into the whipping boy for any economic sin. It's been perhaps the greatest slight of hand in history, and the most effective. It still is.

How do know it's still working? Because people, even people who are far from wealthy, are still focusing their fears in the wrong direction.

They're still blaming the economic crisis on loans awarded to the poor, rather than the banks and brokers who created speculative investments valued at many thousand times the sum of all those loans. They're still more concerned that someone on welfare might not be working hard enough to deserve a life of grinding poverty rather than being upset as CEO salaries move inexorably from merely extravagant to obscene. They've accepted that cutting spending is a good thing and that "redistribution of wealth" is one short step away from the Holocaust. They've agreed that making sure air travel is speedy is more important than making sure the homeless are sheltered. They've bought into austerity.

The real threat to our economy, in fact to our whole economic system, is the unprecedented concentration of wealth. The shift of more and more capital into fewer and fewer hands is directly responsible for the latest crash, directly responsible for the slow recovery, directly responsible for the failure of four decades of innovation and sharply increasing productivity to produce security and a strong middle class.

A stable, flexible economy has its base in a broad middle class. It has wealth spread across many hands. That kind of economy fosters the development of new industries, promotes economic mobility, insists on some relationship between risk and reward. But an economy where all the resources are in a few hands is built of walls; walls that restrict upward mobility, that shield existing roles, that protect the wealth of the few no matter how wildly they risk it.

It's an osteoporosis of the economic system, a weakening of everything that makes a market economy work, but don't worry. If you have a problem, the congress will hurry to provide a solution. As long as you're rich.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The reason we got the New Deal . . . (51+ / 0-)

    is because a significant segment of the capitalist ruling class of the time recognized that in the long run, it was in their own best interest to have a functional economy and society. Alas, bottom up organizing didn't have much to do with it, although it did manage to build labor unions, which helped spread prosperity a bit further in some industries.

    Nowadays, it seems, we are in dire need of a better class of plutocrats.

  •  Come on Hunter....Plantation life weren't so bad. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, rbird, 3goldens
  •  A duality of thought is coming of age these days (9+ / 0-)

    and the ideals of the less fortunate are making inroads into the psyche of the American people.

    In my estimation, when the going gets so tough that a struggling Mother and Father of a middle class family is not only taking care of their grown children due to dire opportunities in the occupation world, but also caring for their now needy parents, something has to give.

    For many, all of a sudden paying attention to why this is happening is most important.

    Be confident yet careful in explaining that to those who are opening up to reality.  

    Someone once asked me why do you always insist on taking the hard road? and I replied why do you assume I see two roads?

    by funluvn1 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:13:38 AM PDT

    •  Unfortunately there are so many (6+ / 0-)

      misleading narratives out there that many of the conclusions being drawn--for example, among our conservative and corporate Democrats--that realizing something is wrong is not necessarily a cure.

      I wish I shared your confidence.

      I'm not certain I'm reading your meaning of the use of  "careful." We seem dependent upon media like DKos for informing each other and coordinating to some extent. In our hyper-surveillance state, how "careful" is this and what are the alternatives?

      Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

      by Words In Action on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:44:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some of us are old enough to remember the 30s. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mark Sumner, Eric Nelson, Odysseus

      I was three years old in 1939, and I asked my mother why she had taken a tray of food to a stranger sitting on our back porch.  "Because he is hungry," she said.  Through a window in the kitchen, I watched him eat our left overs from the night before.  After a short while, my mother told me not to stare at him.

  •  In America The Rich Haven't Finished (20+ / 0-)

    Europe has been sucked dry but I think the wealthy in America still see a potential for austerity to shift the money the 99% still hold into their pockets as well.

    This head movie makes my eyes rain.

    by The Lone Apple on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:14:54 AM PDT

  •  Even Worse (43+ / 0-)

    Is that it is no longer the creation of goods and services that sell and generate revenues that equal a healthy entity, it's how said entities assets can be "financialized" and bet on--how businesses actually perform now is irrelevant, it's how they can be gambled upon or bought out via leverage and debt that matters.

    Wall Street is now completely divorced from the real world.

    Hence the obscene salaries and amazing tax breaks they've purchased from the lawmakers they own.

    It will only get worse, as long as the average person buys into the idea without protest--Occupy was a good start, but a small one.

    NEW SINGLE! http://johnnyangelwendell.bandcamp.com/

    by Johnny Wendell on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:17:22 AM PDT

  •  Cogent, but (0+ / 0-)

    ...it's hard to be moved to share this post without links and citations.  No matter how logical and well-reasoned the argument, persuasion often turns on the appeal to existing authority, data, statistics, etc.  Wish this post had had more backing to support its assertions, no matter how much I believe them myself.

  •  That's why I always say... (16+ / 0-)

    ...Instead of looking down your nose and kicking people who have even less power than you, look up and see who's really responsible for your misery...

  •  fear (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, eps62, 3goldens

    The right expects to win elections by fear--be it "colored" people, immigrants, terrorism, deficits, or "values."  What surprises me is the CEOs who support these fools even though it's bad for business.  Yes, there's the promise of lower taxes, but incomes will be lowered also.  Prostitutes and johns are not always the smartest people in a room.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:31:13 AM PDT

  •  "austerity hides under the name of sequestration" (18+ / 0-)

    But "sequestration" is more radical than austerity;

    Sequestration (in law) is the act of removing, separating, or seizing anything from the possession of its owner under process of law for the benefit of creditors or the state
    Austerity in Europe is done by the state.  Sequestration in America is done by a radical group of Ayn Randists who have occupied Congress through un-democratic means (Citizens United, voter suppression, gerrymandering, media ownership, etc.)

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:32:19 AM PDT

  •  Until corporate Democrats are willing to stand (23+ / 0-)

    up to their conservative peers and reject phony, destructive "free market" capitalism and embrace a robust Mixed Economy with strong regulations and regulatory enforcement and a more equitable distribution of income and wealth--which means rejecting the false, debunked core tenet of supply-side economics--then misguided travesties like austerity during a Great Recession for the 90% will continue to be considered "serious" policy solutions.

    The problem is that the Democratic neoliberals have employed Neville Chamberlain-esque Third Way economic policy accommodations for so long they now more than half believe in it all. All things Pete Peterson are pragmatic marketplace attitudes: excessive finanical compensation for executives and the investment class; corporate and individual tax policies, corporate welfare, the concentration of income and wealth; de-regulation and lax regulatory enforcement; laissez-faire attitudes toward white collar crime, institutionalized corruption (influence peddling and graft), and of economic injustice in general.

    At the very least they believe it is an acceptable and inevitable cost of some unsupportable notions of the benefits of "free" markets.

    In this regard, corporate Democrats share more in common with Republicans they than do with their fellow Mixed Economy Democrats.

    Until that changes, the idea of fixing problems like this immoral embrace of austerity through electoral politics is a daydream of the Left, because the Middle just isn't that into it and the system is rigged against it.

    As I've said before: we could overwhelm the Republicans and destructive, unfettered neoliberalism if there wasn't such a high pile of Third Way Chamberlain Democrats in the way.

    Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

    by Words In Action on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:34:56 AM PDT

  •  We keep complaining about the symptoms... (12+ / 0-)

    that Congress is bought and paid for by lobbies, but seldom discuss the system of campaign funding that allows it to be so.
    If forums and blogs really worried about the "disease" instead of complaining about the "symptoms," they'd be pushing for massive, effective reform of campaign funding laws in this country.  
    Only when we have public finance of Congressional campaigns, can we expect true reform to begin. Campaigns could, for instance, be funded by anonymous pools of money from public donors, with the funds shared equally between all candidates.
    If we don't isolate our elected officials from the sources of their campaign finds, they will always be susceptible to financial inducements to support one lobby or another.

    •  Campaign funding is chump change (11+ / 0-)

      The real payoff to pols is on the other side of the revolving door.  The sweet one-day-a-year directorships for six or seven figures for those who have loyally served corporate interests while in office.  

      Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

      by ActivistGuy on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:46:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The capture of campaign finance... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Australian2, ozsea1, Eric Nelson

        ...by the Financial Elites creates a "checkpoint" which narrows the number of perspectives allowed to legislate and execute for "the common good." And yes, many of the carefully screened and appointed "elected officials" do get rewarded for multiple terms of manning the barricades against the teeming masses in the form of "back end payoffs" such as directorships and other "tokens of appreciation" that come with obscene income streams. I'm certain that soon to be former Senator Baucus will have an appropriately impressive "Golden Parachute."

        Campaign finance is the key, however. Without the assurance that a paltry few million dollars will leverage policy and appropriations as the Financial Elites desire, the "back end payoff" (which is also relative couch cushion money for the "Owners") will dissipate rapidly.

        When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

        by Egalitare on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:58:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm in agreement with Lawrence Lessig (13+ / 0-)

      That until we solve the funding issue nothing of significance can happen.

      •  Exactly right.....it always amazes me that people (5+ / 0-)

        aren't constantly organizing around the biggest single issue.  Why do people think legalized bribery is good?  Its always been a mystery to me.  I remember so clearly all the speeches that Lessig quoted Obama from in his book during the 2008 campaign about having to change the system and the corruption....I still believe that THAT was the reason why people were so excited about his potential presidency, he portrayed himself as someone that would actually fight to reform our bribery system while Clinton seemed like more of an insider (not to mention her support for Iraq).....Alas it turned out that Obama was nothing but a corporate neo-liberal stooge just like the rest of them.

        "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens

        by Auburn Parks on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:20:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think the root cause is even deeper. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, eps62, historys mysteries

      The funding imbalance would not be an issue if the excessive disparity in compensation and tax policies didn't favor such egregious concentration of wealth. And a healthy portion of that is based on social acceptance the of supply-side economics that it is good to make the rich richer at every turn. Perhaps 30% see through these destructive attitudes and the policies they drive. Change that to 70% and we might get somewhere. But that would mean converting corporate Democrats...

      Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

      by Words In Action on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:56:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Chamberlain Democrats, Clinton Democrats, (5+ / 0-)

        no matter what you call them, they're actually Reagan Democrats.  Voters turned to Reagan because he was so good at political rhetoric, but elected Democrats turned to Reagan because they swallowed the benefits of "trickle-down," supply-side economics to cure the economic ills that hit the nation like a pandemic in the '70s.  

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:29:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly. The last 4 decades have been (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SueDe

          an uninterrupted continuation of Reagan/Thatcherism. I guess that's what Obama meant about admiring Reagan: he left behind a lasting, distorted frame that has trivialized social and political discussion ever since. Unfortunately it now appears that Obama himself, much less the majority of elected Dems, can't quite go cold turkey on the poisonous  legacy that Reagan injected.

          •  "can't quite go cold turkey"? (0+ / 0-)

            What makes you think he even wants to quit at all?

            "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

            by bryduck on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 08:58:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Respectfully, I disagree. (9+ / 0-)

    Neither the banks nor the hoarders are initially responsible. The Congress is tasked with managing the currency. They are the source of dollars, which the spend into the economy and then collect as "revenue" to make the dollars come back so they can be spent again. Setting up the Federal Reserve a hundred years ago to, in effect, launder the currency through the banks so they can get a "cut" by lending it back to the Treasury is a scam that serves two purposes. On the one hand, it disguises that Congress has relinquished an obligation (to manage the currency) and on the other it rewards the banksters who fund Congressional campaigns and their friends in the country club.
    It may be ironic, but the euro nations, in going with a common currency, have voluntarily put themselves into the position of our several states since the end of the Civil War and the demise of the confederate currency. And the results of the bankers getting their cut by persuading countries to consolidate their debts are the same.
    I have no evidence, but would argue that Congress rationing dollars (instead of sharing revenue equitably) has the same effect as rationing anything does. People start hoarding. So we now have evidence that our private corporations are hoarding as much as two trillion in cash.
    Some people hoard out of habit. But, most people hoard when they think they won't get more of something they need. Congress, by rationing (now called sequester) has been sending exactly that message. It makes no sense, because we can issue as many dollars as we want.  So, the only explanation is that Congress is running a scam.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:38:15 AM PDT

    •  Hey hannah, great post.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eps62

      "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens

      by Auburn Parks on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:55:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  True, but (8+ / 0-)

      Congress is running the scam for the banks and hoarders.

      Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

      by Words In Action on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:57:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  someone is running a scam . . . (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, maryabein, ozsea1, 3goldens, emal

      but Congress is just a tool . . .

      The real power, and the real beneficiaries, reside elsewhere . . .

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:58:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's what they like the electorate to think. N/T (0+ / 0-)

        We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

        by hannah on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:49:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  respectfully dissent (5+ / 0-)

          Financialized leverage by the global banking cartels.

          Their track record of controlling nominally civilian governments extends back in history to at least the Medici family, if not earlier.

          My tinfoil hat looks rather jaunty and fashion-forward, eh?

          The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

          by ozsea1 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:17:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  True. But it is a new day. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ozsea1, RiveroftheWest

            Once upon a time reading and writing were reserved to certain segments of the population and prohibited to others. Dollars are nothing but certified IOUs, issued by our agents of government, instead of the Dutch bankers who managed to accumulate all the gold Spain stole from the Americas, hide it away in their vaults and then issue certificates of deposit or notes, instead of the gold, to finance the industrial revolution in Britain and, very likely, some of the slave trade.
            IOUs are certificates of obligation, not unlike marriage certificates which, as we are all aware, are also being denied to some individuals, while others can get them whenever they fill out the proper paper work.  Why ordinary folk have to either work first before they can get money for food, which they can't access on their own because property rights have rendered most productive land exclusive, while bankers can just requisition currency from the Federal Reserve and then lend it back to the Treasury for a bonus is a puzzlement. I can only assume TRADITION accounts for it. And tradition can be changed.
            The euro zone is a good example. Some seventeen nations just went from their own currencies to a common one and are seeing what a mess that can make when bankers start deciding what public corporations can spend.

            We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

            by hannah on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 01:28:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Technical note: the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury has (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1

      responsibility for the currency (meaning the physical paper form that money takes) and coinage of the U.S.

      The Federal Reserve manages the 'money supply' (a portion of which is currency but far more of which is bank balances and the like).

      So the Federal Reserve manages monetary policy, while the Congress and Executive jointly administer fiscal, i.e., spending, policy.

      In the context of this piece, austerity has far more to do with the 'fiscal' component than it does with the monetary component.

      •  That function is a matter of delegation. (6+ / 0-)

        Congress has long been delegating its responsibilities. "Privatization" is just a modern word for it, much as "sequester" is a new term for hide/ration/deprive.

        Fact is that "let the private sector do it," is itself a scam. We hire public servants to manage our public resources but, instead of meeting their obligations, they prefer to dick around with various kinds of intrusive and restrictive legislation to distract the citizenry from their own dereliction.

        Why do we hire such people?  Because, they talk a good game and we do not know ahead of time they are full of hot air and basically incompetent. The U.S., as far as I can tell has always been vulnerable to cons. Melville wrote about them and so did Mark Twain. Generosity and giving people the benefit of the doubt makes us vulnerable to being taken advantage of and abused. Generous people have to learn to say "no." This is sort of ironic. It seems useless to tell people who aren't doing "no," but we have to keep in mind that public officials are hired to do, so when they don't, they perpetrate a fraud.  
        Presumably, when people are hired and they don't perform as direct, the logical response is to fire them. But, recent history seems to suggest, that's not enough. Not doing has become epidemic.

        We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

        by hannah on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:47:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Can kicking (0+ / 0-)

    Austerity isn't for fun or as a "way to transfer wealth to the rich", it's there to curb budget deficits so that nations live on what they make.

    If you are unable to run a balanced budget, stopping your austerity program will feel good in the short term but will be paid for eventually, all the time.

    And secular employment trends will continue regardless, since the government can't stop private industry from designing and fielding more and better machines to displace more manual or semi-skilled work.

    Economic policies must take these realities into account.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:40:51 AM PDT

    •  complete nonsense. (15+ / 0-)

      The Govt is the currency issuer, the US dollar is not a commodity, it is a simple public monopoly and utility.  There is absolutely no connection to household budgets and the Federal Govt.  A growing economy needs a growing money supply otherwise deflation is the result.  Deficit spending is the best way to grow th emoney supply because it is not associated with a liability from the perspective of the private sector like bank created money.  You are operating out of paradigm....the gold standard has been over for 40 years....its time to accept the reality of our fiat monetary system.  You may wish it still worked like it used to but the undeniable reality is that it doesn't

      MMT =Reality
      neweconomicperspectives.org

      "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens

      by Auburn Parks on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:47:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Government is not a business (17+ / 0-)

      And trying to run it like one isn't good for government, or business.

      •  Government is not a boundless cornucopia either. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, soros

        Trying to make sure that what goes in one end of the horn of plenty is roughly equal to what comes out the other end, except in times of war or severe economic distress, would seem to be a reasonable expectation of the taxed, wouldn't it?  

        The patellar reflex is a deep tendon reflex which allows one to keep one's balance with little effort or conscious thought.

        by SpamNunn on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:55:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ozsea1, limpidglass, Eric Nelson

          That is a completely false comparison.

          "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

          by bink on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:59:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I didn't make a comparison. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, soros

            You can't make a serious comparison of something that's real to something that's imaginary.  

            The patellar reflex is a deep tendon reflex which allows one to keep one's balance with little effort or conscious thought.

            by SpamNunn on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:03:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And is that not a reasonable expectation, at least (0+ / 0-)

              for people who pay the taxes?

              The patellar reflex is a deep tendon reflex which allows one to keep one's balance with little effort or conscious thought.

              by SpamNunn on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:04:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The Comparison Was to a Cornucopia (6+ / 0-)

                In the negative ...

                It's not like that.

                An economy is a system of exchange. Money is tokens that allow participants to exchange goods and services.

                We grant government a monopoly on the production of the tokens -- not just to ensure their integrity, but to ensure that the hand of democracy controls the amount of tokens in circulation. We further grant the government power to confiscate and redistribute tokens for the greater good.

                When government borrows tokens from participants in the economy, or confiscates them through taxation, it's merely playing the game of adjusting the amount of money in circulation, or redistributing it according to the aims of its policy.

                In fact, no taxation at all is really required by the government, nor borrowing. The Republican Party could have its dream -- and government could simply print all the money it needs and spend it into the economy annually.

                This, however, would make it difficult for the population to sustain the illusion that money means something in and of itself -- and would erode confidence in it as an instrument.

                This is an entirely different game than a household or business budget, which is subject to a money supply that is created and managed by a second entity.

                The project of government when managing money is not to "keep budgets under control." That is high absurdity. The project of government is to manage the size of the money supply and its distribution in such a way that benefits the largest number of people participating in the economy.

                What we have now is a concerted effort by government to create a shortage of money ... in the interest of protecting its value for the few that have much of it. A consequence of this is high unemployment and economic stagnation.

                This is directly related to -- in fact a product of -- the unwillingness of the government to either run the printing presses or sufficiently confiscate money from the horders.

                "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

                by bink on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:14:26 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm guessing you don't think it makes much (0+ / 0-)

                  difference whose hand is on the throttle of the mighty machine that controls the flow of tokens, then.  

                  We might agree more than I first suspected.  

                  The patellar reflex is a deep tendon reflex which allows one to keep one's balance with little effort or conscious thought.

                  by SpamNunn on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:19:57 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I Guess I Believe It Matters (6+ / 0-)

                    Since, in a democracy, the people are supposed to have their hands on the throttle and, implicitly, the beneficiaries are supposed to be the largest number among them.

                    Our constitution speaks of "general welfare" not "private gain."

                    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

                    by bink on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:21:53 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  I'm guessing you don't know jack (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Auburn Parks, tardis10, emal

                    about sovereign currency and MMT, do you?

                    Yes, deficits do matter; there, I've said it.

                    But nowhere near to the extent that you and your fellow (redacted) Sparrowhawk imagine it is......

                    The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

                    by ozsea1 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:21:18 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Sovereign currency and Modern Monetary Theory.... (0+ / 0-)

                      ...are fraud and hucksterism dressed up as legit economic theories.

                      All that matters is: what physical good or service do you produce? Is the rest if the world willing to pay the price you charge?

                      Money is just a way of keeping score. The real value is the goods and services being transacted. You have to provide real value of goods and services in exchange for whatever you import. A budget deficit means you aren't doing that. To fix the problem you either have to produce more real stuff or cut your imports.

                      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                      by Sparhawk on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 11:32:45 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  were it as simple as you assert it is.... (0+ / 0-)

                        but's it's not, and your economic thinking just can't handle the historical reality.

                        Ask yourself this, if you want to learn, instead of offering your brand of "fraud and hucksterism dressed up as legit economic theories."

                        How are public debt and private assets connected? Hint: double entry accounting.

                        Why is the trade deficit important to public debt of which you are so obsessed? Same hint.

                        Decoupling our sovereign currency from the gold standard changed the game so that the rightwing/libertarian meme of comparing the federal budget to a household budget is invalidated. Explain. Show your work.

                        Finally, our buddy and pal (The) Dick Cheney simply stated - for simple minds - that deficits don't matter.

                        Likely he knew things that you clearly do not.

                        The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

                        by ozsea1 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 12:23:45 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                •  Hey Bink, I really like your description (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bink, 3goldens, ozsea1

                  you do a really a good job of laying it out here.  

                  "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens

                  by Auburn Parks on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:38:54 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  What's changed isn't just the tax rate. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tardis10, eps62, lostinamerica, ozsea1

          It's what the wealthy have allowed to declare as their fare share of the profits in the first place. Take the exorbitant increase of that and then sharp reduction of taxes, and you have a marketplace designed to fail. Not to mention a broad range of inflamed social ills.

          The rich operate as if they are islands and the Second Law of Thermodynamics does not exist. And their supporters are equally blind.

          Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

          by Words In Action on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:04:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Severe economic distress (4+ / 0-)

          We're having that now.

          Some of the long-term unemployed may never be able to get back in the job market.

          Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

          by Dogs are fuzzy on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:36:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Many will not. And most of the long-term (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ozsea1, 3goldens

            unemployed who do re-enter the market will do so for permanently reduced earnings.

            The destructiveness of austerity the financial collapse, the immediate failure to deal with it alone will last a generation or more. Adding austerity simply extend the destruction further in time and space.

            Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

            by Words In Action on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:41:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  And we can bet that the private sector won't (3+ / 0-)

      anticipate or humanely address the impact of "fielding more and better machines to displace more manual or semi-skilled work," because there are no ethics or morals built into the market.

      That's why government must address these and other market issues by imposing a Mixed Economy, because private interests will not. Strong regulations and enforcement are needed to mitigate inevitable legal and illegal exploitation of resources, human and otherwise.

      Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

      by Words In Action on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:01:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ah yes, the good ole' Household Budget analogy. (14+ / 0-)

      Ma and Pa Kettle don't need to know no macro, it's all right there on the kitchen table. Send Pa to Washington, he'll straighten 'em out.

      The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

      by Azazello on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:09:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There's a time for budget surpluses (8+ / 0-)

      That time is when the economy is booming.

      Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

      by Dogs are fuzzy on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:24:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And we are starting to see inflation. The budget (0+ / 0-)

        should never be balanced or in surplus because the Govt needs its own currency from the citizenry.  The only reason would be to slow down aggregate demand because inflation is becoming a problem due to capacity being maxed out..........what a great problem that would be to have!

         "we need to slow down demand because there is so much output and employment we just can keep up!"
        (assuming of course the output growth isn't based on a financial asset bubble like the Clinton and Bush years)

        "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens

        by Auburn Parks on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:50:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Starting to see"? (0+ / 0-)

          Inflation has been with us this whole time, other than in housing prices. Compare the cost of a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk over the last 5 years, let alone 10 or more . . .
          They do not care about curbing inflation in the least, for those of us who have to budget our money for the essentials.

          "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

          by bryduck on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 09:03:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Rubbish - creates a false equivalence between (4+ / 0-)

      the budget of a household (which must live on what it makes and borrows) and a sovereign government (which may find deficit spending necessary to maintain a given level of GDP when other components of the macroeconomic equation have cut spending).

    •  Austerity isn't for fun, no. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, tardis10, Mark Sumner

      It's there for the purpose of transferring ever-higher piles of money from the poor to the rich, until the poor have nothing....and the rich are wondering why there's a revolution going on.

      "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

      by Australian2 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:14:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  They have no problem (15+ / 0-)

    with redistribution of wealth, as long as that redistribution is upwards.  Note that they've successfully managed the language that even the OP here assumes "redistribution of wealth" means downward, and that for money to cycle upwards is apparently something entirely natural and normal.  This is what we take for granted in  the hegemony of capital.

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:40:53 AM PDT

  •  If the rich take everything, then we'll have (14+ / 0-)

    nothing to lose. When we have nothing to lose, we have nothing to fear. This has happened before and ended very badly for the rich.

    •  from your mouth (8+ / 0-)

      to history's ear . . .

      Yes We Can

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:00:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes. In some sense, it's best (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eps62, ozsea1

      we shed are material desires and beat them to it. Once we starve the beast, through 1) reduced consumption of new goods and services, 2) alternative, parallel economies (barter, time banks, local currencies, etc.), and 2) Right Livelihood that reduces their labor pool, then we can move on to stepping on its neck and establishing a new, conscious social order that sizes its "needs" to the resources of the planet rather than the avarice of the plutocrats.

      Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

      by Words In Action on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:09:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They can't take everything (0+ / 0-)

      That may be their fantasy, but things never get that far before people kick back, whether through sabotage or nonviolent noncooperation or outright rebellion or "terrorism."

    •  jck - YOU NAILED IT! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jck

      If the situation you describe comes to be, the French Revolution will look like a walk in the park.

      Look out when the average American who has "played by the rules" concludes that the system is making him or her a serf.

      Austerity pushes DOWN economic activity.

      That reduces incomes on average.

      Because debts are not reduced, the reduction of average income makes paying debts back that much harder.

      Both the person who owes the debt and the person to whom the debt is owed lose, the former by having a harder time managing their finances (to the point that they might go bankrupt) and the latter by having a harder time collecting on the debt (which in the extreme can also cause that entity to go bankrupt).

      In short, YOU CAN'T CUT YOUR WAY TO PROSPERITY.

      I run a business, and over the past few years we have had to write off some business that would have been profitable had the deal been a success, but that became a loss when the purchaser couldn't make good on the purchase.  It hasn't been enough to severely harm our business, but in the short term, we have become more particular about deals that we will do, and more insistent on up-front payment in part for deals we enter into (even small deals).  That is what happens when one starts to question the ability of business counterparts to hold up their end of a deal.  

      It is not good for anyone.  

      You want more of that? Add AUSTERITY to the mix, so now I have even more reason to question your credit rating.  

      And then propose a business deal to me ...

      "The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave." -- Patrick Henry

      by BornDuringWWII on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:47:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  yeah well, fuck Obama's budget too! (3+ / 0-)

    I am not going to substitute one sort of austerity for another!  Fuck that!  Just cancel the sequester.  Otherwise, live with it and fight for money issue by issue.
    You know more issues will arise though no doubt in my mind that the poor will get fucked over ... they always do!

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:45:14 AM PDT

  •  GOP Brews Unemployment, Mysticism, Sexual Hysteria (6+ / 0-)

    That's how Wilhelm Reich explained "The Mass Psychology of Fascism" in Germany in the 1930s.

    Austerity seems to be some sort of mystical cargo cult.

       We want to pick up the thread of our main problem. If fascism relies so successfully on the mystical thinking and sentiments of the masses, then a fight against it can be effective only if mysticism is comprehended and the mystical contagion of the masses is tackled through education and hygiene. It is not enough that the scientific view of the world gains ground for it move much too slowly to keep pace with the rapid spread of the mystical contagion. The reason for this can only lie in our incomplete understanding of mysticism itself.
        -Wilhelm Reich, the Mass Psychology of Fascism, 1945

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:49:26 AM PDT

    •  And the loyal response of consevative, corporate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1

      Dems to plutocratic fascism today has direct parallels as well.

      Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

      by Words In Action on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:44:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  History: US Economy in 1937 (13+ / 0-)

    President Roosevelt gave in to Republican demands to start austerity programs in the midst of the Great Depression and what he got was a RECESSION!

    Recession of 1937–38

    "The economy reached bottom in the winter of 1932–33; then came four years of very rapid growth until 1937, when the Recession of 1937 brought back 1934 levels of unemployment."

    How often do people have to repeat the mistakes from the past before learning how to do the proper thing?

    Currently, the UK, under its conservative leadership, has been all about austerity for years and what they got from austerity was a DOUBLE-DIP RECESSION!

    When DEMAND is stiffled, there is no hope for growth.  No country that I'm aware of that has adopted strict austerity programs has demonstarted improved growth in GDP while these programs were in effect.

    *Austerity is the opposite of Prosperity*

    by josmndsn on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:51:10 AM PDT

  •  What is the definition of austerity? Seriously. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    josmndsn

    The patellar reflex is a deep tendon reflex which allows one to keep one's balance with little effort or conscious thought.

    by SpamNunn on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:51:49 AM PDT

  •  Driving me nuts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens

    Austerity may not be the answer, but what the US is doing now is also not the answer. It seems like an attempt to get back to the glory days (which remember were unsustainable) by printing money until things eventually get better .. and they won't, so then what? 5-10 years wasted and deeper in the hole than ever.

    What is needed is real reform, of the economy, of the political system, of the financial system .... None of which is happening.

    There's room at the top they're telling you still But first you must learn how to smile as you kill If you want to be like the folks on the hill

    by taonow on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:54:24 AM PDT

  •  There is only one simple thing anyone needs to (12+ / 0-)

    know to understand why austerity is truly stupid and illogical....And why Keynes was right....

    How do we measure an economy?
    By calculating GDP = (G)overnment spending + (C)onsumer spending +
    (I)nvestment spending + Net Exports
    So how is cutting (G)ovt spending supposed to increase GDP = economic growth
    And for us progressives to remember: cutting taxes (its really only worth it on income below $250,000) increases (C)onsumer spending.

    It's as simple as that.  How can any reasonable person expect a mathematical outcome to increase when you shrink the size of any of the input variables?

    Furthermore:

    There are 3 sectors of the economy Domestic Private (households and businesses) + Govt + Foreign sector.
    As anyone with an understanding of basic double entry accounting knows, one person's spending or debt is another persons income or asset......the same is true of each of these sectors. A dollar the govt spends into the economy becomes someone's income in the non govt sectors.
    It follows logically that not all 3 sectors can be in either deficit or surplus at the same time.....where would the money come from?  The global US dollar economy is a closed system, money is not a commodity that grows on its own, either banks grow the money supply by extending loans (which nets to zero because the new money is associated with a liability and when the principle is paid off that money effectively disappears) or the Govt grows the money supply by creating new money any time it deficit spends....the good thing about new money from the Govt is that nobody owes a debt on it.... its a new NET financial asset for the non-Govt sectors.
    So if you're going to run a trade deficit and the households and business want to net save dollars (like they always WANT to do)....you guessed it......the only place those dollars can come from is the big bad GOVT.
    http://soberlook.com/....
    Thankfully the US dollar comes from the US govt and we can never run out.

    http://neweconomicperspectives...
    MMT=REALITY

    "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens

    by Auburn Parks on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:54:58 AM PDT

    •  mysticism (5+ / 0-)

      It's right wing mysticism.  Nothing has to be true, real or make logical sense.  Its true because they assert its true loudly and often.

      "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

      by noofsh on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:25:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The way I explain if and when I'm asked is (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, Azazello, ozsea1

      that  when one component of the right-hand side of the equation decreases (like consumption, for example), another component (like government spending) must increase to keep the left-hand side of the equation (GDP) teh same.

      But thank you for fleshing it out a bit.

      This has been generally accepted macroeconomic wisdom even in Reagan's heyday.

      •  You mean the Second Law of Thermodynamics, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ozsea1

        too?

        /snark

        And energy consumption?

        Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

        by Words In Action on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:46:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You're absolutely right too, its crazy that the (5+ / 0-)

        right has so many people convinced that if only the govt wouldn't contribute so much to GDP then all will be better.  All those unemployed people and unused capacity.....guess what market fundies.....your perfect precious private sector doesn't want those resources, if they did they would use them.  But after so many decades of no wage growth, with the private credit bubble finally popped and not adding to consumer spending, there just isn't enough money to be spent by the middle class to employ everyone anymore.  

        http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/...

        So we can either lower the trade deficit (which isnt necessarily a good thing, it could be the Americans out -competing those poor Bangladeshians on wages is hardly a direction I would like to go or exporting natural gas so that our prices for the fuel go up) or we can increase the Govt's deficit.  If the right would agree to increase the deficit, I would certainly agree for it to all be on the tax reduction side....not that thats the best way to do it but as long as its tax cuts for the middle class only like the payroll tax holiday, I could live with that in our current divided Govt environment.  The private sector simply needs more money to spend, because nobody's wages are going anywhere until we have full employment and the workers have a little more leverage (more unionization would help immensely also).

        "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens

        by Auburn Parks on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:54:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  On the monetarist side, those who are concerned (0+ / 0-)

          that the Fed's various QE programs are debasing the money supply forget (or never knew) that money supply is only one part of the equation of exchange and that velocity of money is another key component:

          M * V = P * Q (basically 'GDP')

          So, after 2007, when the velocity of money declined calamitously, i.e., people and businesses were simply not spending their money, government (the Fed) had to increase the money supply dramatically to maintain a given level of economic activity.

          Once V picks up, it will be time for the Fed to reduce M (by selling bonds in its inventory, thereby causing real interest rates to rise), lest we have significantly higher inflation. Until V increases, though, there is every reason for the Fed to maintain its loose monetary policy. I have seen little sign of a sustained pick-up in V off the moribund floor of 2007-08. Witness the TBTF banks' current balance sheets, flush with cash that is not producing one iota of economic activity.

          I know that Keynesians can and often do object to monetarist theories, but it's been quite awhile since I studied the matter in depth and I have forgotten the specifics of their objections.

          I agree with you that tax cuts are one way to achieve a modestly stimulative effect, albeit not the most efficient way. (Direct transfer payments via programs like unemployment insurance and AFDC are probably the most efficient way.) Another heretical way to do so is to tax savings accounts to provide a disincentive to save and an incentive to consume. After the Cypriot debacle, though, I doubt that heresy will be up for consideration. :)

          •  Much of what you say is true (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ozsea1, OrdinaryIowan

            However, I would like to point out one important concept:

            If the money supply and velocity increase, its not a guarantee of inflation as long as its accompanied by a corresponding increase in the production of goods and services (like we would see with a lowering of the unemployment rate).  This is why, we MMTers assert that we almost never need to worry about DEMAND pull (supply shock inflation like health care, college tuition, oil induced inflation of the 70's is always a possibility that needs to be watched for) inflation until the economy is operating at full capacity and employment.  This is also the basis for why we believe that we can have full employment and price stability given the right Govt maneuvers (Job guarantee for example).  We could set the price of labor by employing all the unused labor resources and let the supply of Govt guaranteed work float.....as long as we do this on the low wage end of the pay scale so as not to bid up labor and add to inflationary pressure.

            "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens

            by Auburn Parks on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 12:16:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  "Cargo Cult Science" (5+ / 0-)


    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:56:50 AM PDT

  •  Suggested rebranding for "austerity:" (10+ / 0-)
    Poverty

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:06:23 AM PDT

  •  We need to drive a stake through austerity's heart (9+ / 0-)

    Here at home and in Europe.

    •  How do we get our Neville Chamberlain Third Wayers (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1, 3goldens, Ian Reifowitz

      on board?

      That's the question of the century. Really, with the climate impact of the class war, literally everything depends upon it.

      Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

      by Words In Action on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:48:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "The Austerity Delusion".... (10+ / 0-)

    Mark Blythe explains in this article at Foreign Affairs.com why austerity is a delusion, and why it is dangerous:  

    ...Unable to take constructive action toward any common end, the U.S. Congress has recently been reduced to playing an ongoing game of chicken with the American economy...

    ...much of Europe has been pursuing austerity consistently for the past four years. The results of the experiment are now in, and they are equally consistent: austerity doesn’t work....and in the fourth quarter of 2012, the eurozone as a whole contracted for the first time ever...

    The first factor is distributional, since the effects of austerity are felt differently across different levels of society. Those at the bottom of the income distribution lose proportionately more than those at the top...

    ...Trying to get the lower end of the income distribution to pay the price of austerity through cuts in public spending is both cruel and mathematically difficult. Those who can pay won’t, while those who can’t pay are being asked to do so...

    ...The second factor is compositional; everybody cannot cut their way to growth at the same time...

    ...The third factor is logical; the notion that slashing government spending boosts investor confidence does not stand up to scrutiny...

    ...Austerity, then, is a dangerous idea, because it ignores the externalities it generates, the impact of one person’s choices on another’s, and the low probability that people will actually behave in the way that the theory requires...

    ...During the 1920s and 1930s, austerity didn’t just fail; it also helped cause World War II...

    Yet, rich, selfish, and ignorant and/or arrogant "leaders" continue to foist the policy of demanding that "those who can't pay be required to do so", so that "those who can pay" won't have to.  Not only is this an unnecessary cruelty, this austerity delusion is a dangerous game, where the outcome could be far different, and far more negative than its proponents understand.  

    •  blood from turnips etc. (5+ / 0-)

      The delusion is that somehow the people in the bottom 20% really CAN pay the price -- that if only the government stops "oppressing" them by providing, for example, heating assistance and Section 8 housing subsidies and food stamps and Medicaid, those people will pick themselves up and go out and get a $45,000 job and pay taxes and rent and a new car.

      My sense is that there are some people in the bottom 20% for whom that may be true -- the culture of getting support without even trying. There are others who are collecting all the benefits while working under the table, either cash jobs or drug deals or whatever. It does exist, I see it daily, and we don't help our cause by arguing that it's a total myth.

      But the problem is that unless you are extremely good at screening, it's hard to find those people -- so instead, "austerity" just eliminates all the social programs. It's like knowing you have ants in your kitchen, but you can't find them, so you burn the house down.

      And the other problem is that there is just as much taxpayer money going to the "idle rich" -- the oil companies, agribusinesses, and defense contractors who also get paid NOT to produce, or get paid for existing, or whatever else they have managed to write into the tax code and subsidy laws. The human desire to get something without working for it seems to me evenly distributed regardless of social class; it's just poor people don't have the power to cut off rich people's ways of doing it.

  •  This new move, to make sequestration (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, tardis10

    (we need a different word.  It pains me to type it) a selective show of who has political power is important.

    How can/will the 99% respond in the current environment?

    "To recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government." Historian Barbara Tuchman

    by Publius2008 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:10:59 AM PDT

    •  I doubt there is going to be much (0+ / 0-)

      response by the 99%. Thought experiment: Should a US senior starve to death tomorrow, as a clear result of a sequester policy,what do you think the outcome would be? A news story? Viral tweets? A quick change in that specific sequestration policy by congress? Massive marches? A revolution?
      Me,I can only count one of those outcomes as highly probable.  

      "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

      by tardis10 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 11:11:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Best comprehensive expose of the austerity scam (3+ / 0-)

    I've seen anywhere. I hope it gets circulated far beyond DKos. Thanks, Mark.

    My only small exception is that the article leaves an impression that austerity is largely a problem for the poor. Which is true when viewed through the lens of simple human decency. But at a system level, austerity doctrine has the power to destroy American society for all but the greediest of parasites at the top. Low-wage workers, teachers and other government workers, and, eventually the vast majority of Americans will find ourselves in grinding poverty and physical ruin if we live under the austerity scam long enough.

    I wish I had more faith that America is capable of following Europe's direction and waking up to the obvious before it's too late to, as they say, get our country back. Current political indicators leave minimal room for optimism.

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