Well, who’d have thought it? Cut back on public services, work as hard as you can to entrench the inequalities in society that lead to unemployment, homelessness and mental illness, and what do you get? Increased suicide rates, widespread depression and suffering. But no matter. We have to hold the course. Austerity is the watchword. Belt tightening all round. Jonquil might even not get a new pony this year! What are a few community centres closing, a few old people being ever more isolated, prisoners in their own homes, compared to that?
Seriously, it’s pretty damn obvious that a policy of rigid austerity (for the little people) is not an appropriate response to a recession and widespread unemployment. But, if you’re too stupid to attend to lessons like that of the US post-World War II public works programme, there is now some more recent and pretty unequivocal evidence.
Remember Iceland? A few years ago, they were faced with financial disaster, and all the predictions were dire. In the face of widespread condemnation from other European governments and the banking sector, the Icelandic public essentially voted to tell the banks holding their national debt to piss off. And now? They’re doing fine, thank you very much. Unemployment down, economy booming.
That’s just one example of many. Across the board, austerity measures are correlated with negative outcomes, both economically and socially. Investment in public health and social welfare provide a better return, euro for euro, than investment in any other sector, including tax cuts for industry and defence, the two holy cows of the right.
Go and read the article. It’s pretty depressing.