WHOSE 'AUSTERITY' ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
What’s all this nonsense about ‘austerity’? I listen to the news and I feel like I’ve stepped into George Orwell’s 1984. Apparently ‘austerity’ means sacking some public sector workers, who are paid for out of taxation. ‘Growth’ means hanging onto them and maintaining high taxes.
Whose austerity are we talking about here? Let’s be clear. All ‘government money’, no matter whether it’s raised from direct taxation, borrowing, or printing money, ultimately comes from us (by ‘us’ I mean tax producers in the productive economy). All public spending means higher taxes. There is no magic pot of gold. No public spending can be paid for, other than by moving funds out of the productive economy. The government cannot conjure up resources from nowhere. The choice is simply, are those resources better left in the productive economy, or are we be better off with more social workers and climate change liaison officers? Which, do we imagine, will lead to more real economic growth?
The absurd, topsy-turvy framing of the ‘austerity or growth’ debate clearly shows that the tax consumers (publically-funded intelligentsia, the BBC & Co) dominate public discourse in this country. Where are the opposition voices?
The current economic crisis, in essence, amounts to a grand battle between tax producers and tax consumers. The question is simple. Will it be their austerity or ours?