The government says that austerity a necessary because we must ‘live within our means.’ Granted, cutting public services certainly sounds like a common sense approach to repaying the massive public debt. Err, I have a problem. Austerian wisdom omits a key factor. The massive debt only accumulated because the government rescued banks, private businesses, with public money. So, to be clear, instead of letting the banks collapse the government borrowed money to bailout the banks. To pay the debt funds are diverted from the public services used by everyday people. So the public is paying twice and women thrice; For women are left in more poverty. Austerity is a load of balderdash and as a concerned citizen, I know it must end. It is a core principle of neoliberal thinking which always sought to remove government responsibility for citizens.
Austerity Hurts Women Most
There are winners with austerity but not everyday people or women. The public sector pay cap will affect men, but women are more likely to work in the sector. Society has designated women as caregivers. So, it is they who unpaid, take up the slack when there are cuts to services like social care. It negatively impacts on their earning potential and future pensions.
As carers women are at greater risk of poverty. They are more reliant on tax credit and universal benefit to help their income. As the state reduces support, women become poorer. Single parents, 92% of whom are mothers, have seen their standard of living fall by £9,000.
Austerity Doesn’t Work
The pain and suffering of austerity are all around us. The rise of child poverty, food banks, homelessness and income stagnation. Austerity would not be worth it even if it worked. But it doesn’t.
In response to the financial crash, most governments increased spending and or cut taxes to stimulate the economy. But not Britain. It is no coincidence that our economy is not really growing.
We have seen neoliberalism, the overarching ideology of austerity, applied in South Africa. There are now more black people living in poverty. In Pinochet’s Chile, Margaret Thatcher’s poster boy of neoliberalism, it collapsed. In Russia, it created a few ridiculously wealthy oligarchs. They are spending their money in London, artificially propping up our economy.
Austerity A Tory Tool
The Tories embrace austerity. Under its guise they have been able to employ the other fundamental principles of neoliberalism; shrink social benefits, privatise public services and deregulate. That is why they are out of step with western governments’ standard approach to the financial crash. To admit spending money stimulates the economy would be self-defeating for them.
At this point, I know some readers are fuming. I can hear that election slogan, ‘money doesn’t grow on trees.’ But the modern banking system creates money faster than trees can grow. American Representative Ron Paul has observed its creation out of thin air by institutions like the Federal Reserve. The Bank of England creates new money the same way.
The aim of austerity is to reduce the deficit, the gap between the government’s spending, and what it gets from taxes. However, the deficit has grown. This government has borrowed more in 4 years (over £430bn) than Labour did in 13.
What austerity has increased is inequality. The wealthy have escaped any penalty for financial wrongdoing and are getting richer. Their lifestyle never wavered. On the other hand, the rest of us are picking up the tab and stagnating. Women are getting markedly poorer. It’s time for the government to rescue women, children and the disabled from poverty. They also need to start showing the public sector the respect they deserve. Lifting the 1% pay cap is a good start.
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