Andy Piascik: Austerity hits home with a vengeance
Published 5:14 pm, Thursday, May 30, 2013

Austerity is a word we don’t hear much in the United States, as business elites, politicians and the corporate media avoid the word at all costs. They talk instead at great length about “deficits,” “out-of-control spending,” and the need for all of us to “share the pain.” This is a convenient dodge and an intentional one, for it shifts attention away from the super rich and the unprecedented upward redistribution of wealth we’ve experienced in the last 40 years.

People in the rest of the world, as well as people of color here, by contrast, are all too familiar with austerity. They’ve been force-fed it in large doses over many years, largely to the benefit of U.S. investors and often literally at gunpoint. Though each case varies, the general scenario is similar: to qualify for much-needed, high-interest loans, states around the globe cut social programs, submit to privatization of public services, bust unions and slash wages while loosening regulations that protect the environment and workplaces.

The results invariably are the further impoverishment of the vast majority, greater profits for investors and an increase in the purchase by states of the weaponry required to quell the social unrest that generally follows (weaponry the U.S. is all too eager to supply). Never mind the misery of large swaths of the populace, the violent repression of dissent, overflowing prisons or all those dead bodies; to business elites, all are acceptable offshoots of profit-taking. Name a country in the global south and it has almost certainly been through this ringer, often more than once and sometimes with no end.

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